WHAT needs to be pointed out to Israel Folau is his social media comments are not Christian. Believers always assure us that their religion is all about peace and love for our fellow human beings, threatening particular groups with punishment in the after life is not consistent with this message. It is also completely without respect for different beliefs.
While I absolutely support anyone's right to their belief I only ask that my right to have different beliefs is also respected. What he also doesn't grasp is the threat means nothing to say atheists who don't believe in an afterlife, don't regard life's mistakes as sins and certainly have nothing to repent. Hate speech toward gay people, however, has such a long and nasty history that in some countries zealots still call for them to not exist, so these threats are real and very damaging.
What also has to be accepted is that telling small children they will go to hell if they are naughty and that a superior being watches them all the time is emotional abuse. We have just had a royal commission into sexual and physical abuse by institutions we need an inquiry into what is being said to children in order to increase the fold.
I have no problem with children being taught love, respect and ethical behaviour, but it must be age appropriate and never frightening.
Sarah Taylor, Merewether
Climate keeps on changing
TAKE a walk on Nobbys beach, or any east coast beach from Queensland to Tasmania, to see pumice strewn all over it from underwater volcanoes; Oregon State University estimate there are many volcanoes under the world's oceans, with a lot active.
Hunga Tonga, in the Tongan group of islands, erupted in 2015 and is now covered by vegetation and bird colonies.
In the Newcastle region, we had heavy rain on the evening of Saturday May 4 which cleared the sky of smoke and dust, the sunset on Sunday May 5 was a volcanic sunset with a blue and mauve sky looking east; this was caused by sulphate aerosols and ash reaching the stratosphere, above the weather, where they may remain for some years, colouring the sunsets and cooling the planet.
Stopping land clearing, stopping coalmining, and raising taxes won't stop Ma Nature changing the climate.
Andy Ferguson, Kurri Kurri
Doing math on schools
JOHN Arnold (Letters, 11/5) says vested interests of Catholic and independent schools compromised Gonski's principles and destroyed Gonski's vision.
But the Gonski report itself called for a review of the methodology determining non-government school funding, and recent changes preserve Gonski's central design. These include boosting funding for low-fee schools catering for poorer students and introducing a fairer means test based on personal income tax data rather than ABS household census data and students' addresses. Non-government school parents contribute according to their capacity to pay, and government schools remain fully funded by taxpayers. While more federal funding now goes to private or Catholic schools, from 2020 high-fee non-government schools will have their funding reduced, and, besides, three-quarters of government funding comes from state and territory governments, over 90 per cent of which goes to public schools. As for the kids most desperately needing funding not getting it, I repeat that Australia's underperforming students are already the best resourced among OECD countries. Other reasons, not funding, might explain Australia's 'going backwards'. OECD research indicates that less government control, with increased autonomy and diversity for schools, improves student performance. Quality teaching and school discipline matter. OECD's PISA survey ranks Australia 63rd out of 68 OECD countries for classroom discipline.
Peter Dolan, Lambton
Our very own utopia
EVERY time I see articles like the one in Saturday's Newcastle Herald featuring the possible clash between the proposed motorsport park at Wakefield and the proposed Lower Hunter Freight Corridor I cringe with laughter ('Motorsport park on rail collision course', Herald, 11/5). I can't help but think of the ABC program Utopia. For those not familiar with it, simply put, it is based on the operations of a public service section solely responsible for developing infrastructure projects, usually for political announcements, that are purely hypothetical and realistically with never see the light of day. It was a pleasant surprise to see the councils reply in defence of the motorsports park consent, telling the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor that they had shown no real design other then a line on a map, timeframe or have any statutory authority to ask additional conditions on the motorsport park. As someone who worked in engineering design for over 35 years, and had to deal with these imaginary lines on plans, it's pleasing to see commonsense has prevailed.
Tony Mansfield, Lambton
A story worth telling
I DIDN'T see any noteworthy report about Australian Story last Monday night (ABC, 6/5). I didn't view it until 8pm on May 11. My message is to express my serious concerns about the lack of media coverage during the week regarding the story about a young country woman who was selected by a fashionista company inviting her to become a model. She appeared to be outstandingly suitable for the position. She gave it a crack, but decided her passion was to expose and find a way to rehabilitate one of the worst catastrophes in NSW history, the deliberate degradation of the Murray Darling Basin which has caused the choking to death of an insurmountable amount of fish and other species yet to be revealed. Most of us have learned that our two penneth worth means nothing to governments who control this commodity. I believe subjects appearing on Australian Story are well researched then produced because of their passion and commitment to make society a better place. Why are we bombarded with up to three a day reports about criminals? We are supposedly a democratic country. We have police, lawyers, religious and social services which are designed to take care of people in our society who are unable to "abide the law". We depend on the media to advise and support us. Please give some space to important issues that affect everybody and the environment.