JUST as it's impossible to police no smoking areas such as around John Hunter Hospital, where inconsiderate people ignore the signs and puff their heads off, so it is also impossible to educate people regarding mobile phone use while they are driving and as pedestrians. Yesterday, a young bloke with his eyes glued to his mobile phone walked straight out onto the pedestrian crossing in front of Coles at Warners Bay without so much as a glance at the road, right in front of me. Fortunately the ABS on my car stopped me from hitting him, but I was lucky not to have the car behind me in my back seat. Such ignorance and plain stupidity is quite common where pedestrians with head down and eyes on their phones almost, and sometimes do, walk straight into the path of someone coming the other way. I don't know what the answer is, but by crikey wouldn't it be good if people could just stand still while using their mobiles? One can only wish.
Ian King, Warners Bay
Learning in real world
REGARDING the story 'Encouraging shared plan for region', (Newcastle Herald, 8/6). The vision Professor Alex Zelinsky has of more collaboration between business and university is an important move in preparing the next generation to meet the challenges of the near future. My diverse career that started at ABC television studios in 1957, one year after TV started in Australia and ended through the late 1990s exploring the new world of online learning at South Eastern Sydney Health Area. I have always found that the application of theoretical knowledge to the real-world fixed the concepts in the mind. Bringing a retirement village on campus would expose young people to the elderly and the elderly to youth, illuminating the challenges of aging and exposing them to wisdom and history of lives well lived. The one danger I see is the potential for businesses onsite could become a university aged care centre or the University Centre of Psychology. It would seem far preferable to encourage the concept of making Newcastle a University Town. Considerable effort and some funding would be needed to encourage businesses to fully embrace the value of integrating students into the workspace. An onsite coordinator funded by the university would help. Overall this is a great idea that deserves the support of the university, business and government.
Peter Lipscomb, Maryville
War on numbers
ALLAN Earl's numbers on the cost of wars and national debt are a little off (Letters, 14/6). His claim that the cost of our involvement in Middle East wars is "enough to wipe out all our debt and have all services fully funded" doesn't stack up - unless we count the cost of all Middle East deployments back to Egypt in 1915. Our shameful Commonwealth government debt currently sits around $635 billion - that's just bonds and loans, not all liabilities. The total cost of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan this century is around $12 billion, including $2.5 billion spent on the Iraq invasion in 2003. War is an expensive business, but not quite that expensive.
Scott Hillard, New Lambton
Fighting for workers
I THINK Peter Gleeson (Short Takes, 14/6) is mistaken regarding the current laws that this government has in place regarding access by unions to workplaces. It is illegal for unions in Australia to access worksites without permission. Yes Peter, it would be a safer site if unions could just visit and inspect at will, but unfortunately the conservative way is to react to issues rather than prevent them. This government is doing its best to shut out the union movement. What do you think this will mean if successful? Penalties gone, sick days gone, overtime gone or paid at no extra penalty, annual leave entitlements attacked and yes, safety in the workplace ignored. The list goes on. The 38-hour week has already been attacked and this will become a memory as well. Peter, do some research before accusing the very people who do care about workers' welfare a serve. We need to be encouraging union memberships, not creating false assertions like this ridiculous statement did.
Glenn Jones, Weston
Trepidation over trees
I HAVE noticed over recent months that several native trees have disappeared from Swansea car parks. One couldn't fail to notice that the skyline has changed from beautiful greenery to stark ugly roofs and mobile phone towers. I am concerned that trees can apparently be destroyed virtually overnight, with no thought for the birds, bugs and other wildlife that inhabit them. With the destruction of the tree comes the displacement of countless birds that lived in that tree, many of whom are territorial, so they can't just fly to the next tree and hope to make a new home there. Possums are also victims of this eviction process. They find it even harder to relocate as they are fiercely territorial. Whenever I hear the sound of a chainsaw I am filled with gut-wrenching trepidation. In fact as I am writing this letter, I can hear a chainsaw taking the life of yet another tree along with its inhabitants. I believe the council should seek public consultation before trees are sentenced to death. Many residents have grown up with these trees and many others have chosen to make Swansea their home because they love the serenity and shade that trees provide. Trees need to be appreciated and protected; they are magnificent and deserve our respect. Without trees we are all doomed.
Julia Riseley, Swansea
Oh to have chosen oxygen
A WHILE back, 20 years or more, when climate change was global warming and people were being told too much green gas was being created, the solar hot water heater was introduced to lower electricity bills which was also the start of rooftop solar panels, wind turbines and solar farms. Someone in Parliament, not sure who, said why spend all this money to reduce our carbon footprint when growing trees in planted forests will do the same job? They suggested farmers could be paid to plant and maintain these forests of trees (which were referred to as oxygen farms). This idea was quick to hit the cutting room floor because the renewable market was taking off, with big dollars. Up to this point most would have agreed that many factors could be creating extra carbon, but the renewable industry convinced many that coal-fired power stations were to blame. I still wonder why the Greens never took the green option, because if the oxygen farms were given a fair go, governments may have held onto and upgraded our power stations, giving them time and money for more important issues.
Carl Stevenson, Dora Creek
LETTER OF THE WEEK
The Herald pen goes to Kathleen Wild for her letter about climate change.