IF recent reports are anything to go by, it would seem the novelty of the light rail has worn off before the trams have even started running.
Considering the manner in which the government has gone about the whole project, this is hardly surprising. The report from the auditor general (‘Light on plans’, Newcastle Herald 13/12) summarises where the government and the corporate sector got it wrong.
In my view not only was there no community consultation, not only was there no business case, not only was there not enough thought put into the whole project, but it would seem there was a lack of understanding of the reasons behind the problems being faced by business in the city such as the emergence of large suburban shopping centres and the lack of parking, which was expensive.
There has also been a lack of understanding of the value of the assets in the city. By that I'm talking of the fast direct train service into the city centre (which other cities envied) and the collection of heritage buildings. In other cities I have been to much has been done to improve the look of heritage buildings to make the cities more attractive and I'm surprised that wasn't done here. I'm not convinced that forcing people onto the light rail will attract people into the city, particularly when this will increase journey times and will be seen as an inconvenience by many.
When one considers just how fast, direct and efficient the trains were, the light rail seems to be a poor substitute. I hope the light rail is a success, but in the light of the Auditor-General's report it's hard to be optimistic
Peter Sansom, Kahibah
BOWLED OVER BY CHOICES
MUCH has recently been written about Australia's batting woes, but hardly a word about our bowling attack.
It appears to me that Hazelwood and Starc are akin to protected species. Neither of these quicks has in my opinion produced sustained recent performances that would warrant their continued selection in the Australian team.
Meanwhile, several up and coming quick bowlers must be disheartened when they see Hazelwood and Starc failing to perform but getting picked anyway.
I believe Starc in particular uses the new ball as an object to assist opening batsmen by allowing them to just watch the ball pass by about four times each over.
While our selectors keep picking Hazelwood and Starc; the Australian captain brings our undoubted best fast bowler, Cummings, on at first change. I am sure that many are as confused as I am.
Adding to the Australian team’s woes, the selectors appear to believe the next in line fast bowler is a 34-year-old with a Test bowling average close to his age.
Shane Warne, love him or hate him, knows a bit about test cricket but has been lambasted in some sections of the media for criticising our fast bowling attack. I think Warne got it right and it is time to give our protected species fast bowlers the chop.
Perhaps dropping Hazelwood and Starc may help them realise that their recent lethargic performances have been just not good enough.
Mike Sargent, Cootamundra
WE’RE FOOTING THE BILLS
BRENDAN McKay (Short Takes, 2/1) and Peter Wickham (Letters, 3/1) are both spot on with their comments about Newcastle Council’s hare-brained idea for a skate bowl, on a beach of all places, and this eyesore of a toilet stuck on the side of the historical Nobbys Surf House.
It seems to me that this council has a lot to answer for by failing to formally announce the sale price of the roundhouse (‘New top for city landmark’, Herald 13/12) disclose the true cost of putting on the Supercars race each year (‘V8s race deed kept secret’, Herald 9/6/18), the accurate attendance figures (‘Phone data counters Supercars crowd tally’, Herald 16/11) and fair dinkum cost to ratepayers of the move to rented premises for council staff (‘Moving costs’, Herald 12/12) which I expect will only increase each year.
I’m sure people would like to know this information. It is, after all, ratepayers’ money being spent isn’t it?
Another gripe people have is the lack of parking in the city centre, it’s all very well to promote public transport and use of bicycles, but these ideas don’t suit everyone. What about the elderly and infirm plus parents with children who really do need to use their cars? It’s not much fun riding a bike in howling winds, heavy rain and searing heat even for avid cyclists.
As I’ve said, Newcastle Council has a lot to answer for in my opinion.
Ian King, Warners Bay
OTHER SIDE OF THE CHURCH
‘DIATRIBE' is hardly 'hate-speech' John Ure (Letters, 8/1), although I confess I hesitated to use the word, not because it was too strong, but because I thought too many readers would have to scurry for their wiktionaries, and didn't George Orwell say never use a big word when a small one will suffice.
As for Mr Ure's criticism of the Catholic Church, I'll reiterate what Hilaire Belloc said:
'The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine – but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.'
I don't dispute all his claims, but there is another side of the ledger.
For instance, in the present debate on euthanasia, I believe the Catholic Church has a positive message, but has been misrepresented and misunderstood, and not for the first time.
Belloc also said the Church is perpetually defeated, but outlives its conquerors, so I am not unduly pessimistic.
Peter Dolan, Lambton
A COOL, CLEAR PRIORITY
I MAKE no apology for once again bringing up the subject of fresh water infrastructure. I will continue to do so until the powers that be come to their senses, or are forced into facing up to it after much irreversible damage has been done like the fish dying in the Murray river.
I could write a page on the benefits and value that come both directly and indirectly from such a project and cannot think of a single system, or community that would not gain a benefit, but will encourage you to use your imagination and visualise what would happen if all the main inland river systems were brought back to full and constant flow.
A big project yes indeed, but doable, cost a lot of money yes it certainly will, but money that will be returned tenfold over and over again. Is there a better investment or legacy than the survival and prosperity of your own country?