ALAN Metcalf (Letters 24/10) is right. The Australia I grew up in is gone.
It had about half today's population but the road toll for NSW alone was higher than for the whole country today. In public and church-run hospitals, the babies of unmarried mothers were routinely stolen. Thousands of children were sexually abused but no-one noticed. Thousands died or suffered disabilities from contagious diseases that have since been eradicated or controlled.
There was widespread corruption in the police forces of several states. Butchers were fined for putting too much meat in their sausages. It was common to see drunks lying in the gutter in the Newcastle CBD in the middle of the day. Advertisers were permitted, and did, make outrageous claims about their products without a shred of supporting evidence. The banks were only open when ordinary people could not get to them.
Aboriginal Australians did not have the vote. When a company needed to reduce its workforce, it sacked all its women. You could not drink on a Sunday unless you drove.
There is still plenty of room for improvement but I am thankful that we no longer live in the country I grew up in.
I BELIEVE the mistaken instruction from the royal commission on confessional privacy (‘Sanctity of confessional should be breached: royal commission’, Newcastle Herald 14/8/17) needs to be addressed.
Firstly, the words describing a procedure whereby Christian/Catholic persons approach a priest to speak to him about their state of spiritual well-being is their own business. Secondly, the word confession has been replaced by the word reconciliation, which means an encounter with the priest knowing the person can and will be reconciled with a higher power by voicing concerns about wrong-doing and being aware of the repercussions of their action.
From an ordinary person’s perspective, verbalising a concern large or small can assist that person to be helped in the inner conflict which may be causing them disturbing unrest. It is well known by most people who worry about any situation concerning their own welfare that if they speak with a trustworthy person, the mere voicing of a subject will bring an alleviation in part of that problem and knowledge of a certain peace within. So it is with reconciliation, but with one important distinction: the priest is a person who does not usually know who he is speaking with, as most places are chosen for confidentiality and privacy.
However, there is also an alternative: a general rite of reconciliation whereby a group of people can attend a gathering and a person can choose to speak confidentially, face-to-face with a priest, after a short ceremony.
One must remember and fully understand that an important aspect of speaking privately to another personis choosing to bare their innermost thoughts. It takes courage and a strong, will plus a controlling nervous disposition to admit any wrongdoing or troubling concerns to anyone.
I RECKON this could be a prime example of bureaucratic buck-passing.
Sick of copping foul-mouthed abuse for reminding people of the smoking ban at my local bus stop, I approached Keolis Downer to see if they could provide a simple no smoking sign.
They said no, I’d have to speak to Newcastle City Council. The council said no, I’d have to speak to NSW Health. After six weeks of inaction, I again approached the bus company to be told once again that I would have to speak to the council.
So, do I stay on the merry-go-round or just accept the fact that laws are useless unless someone cares enough to take responsibility for enforcing them?
WEDNESDAY’S Herald pointed out that while Newcastle Council had got its finances back in the black, there was still a shortage spent on essential infrastructure (‘Council in black but backlog up’, Herald 25/10).
It is a problem that confronts almost all councils. Back in 2010 we were warned by retiring federal finance minister Lindsay Tanner that our deficit in infrastructure was about $750 billion, which he blamed on our high population growth. That figure is more alarming when you recall that in 1983 the Fraser government was accused of allowing this deficit to reach $20 billion.
Since Tanner, no government seems game enough to publicly admit to a figure for this shortfall because both sides are committed to policies of high immigration. This, despite the cost of supplying all the essential requirements for a growing population such as schools, hospitals and transport, have grown exponentially and are often disruptive processes.
NEWCASTLE City Council’s coastal zone management plan recommends that the city "investigate, design and implement opportunities for the relocation of public assets to minimise the potential impacts on coastal hazards (e.g. surf clubs could be relocated further landward when being replaced). That’s from Part B, page 29.
What I’m wondering is, if the council's own report thinks we need to relocate surf clubs, why would we consider building a skate bowl east of the sea wall and on the sand at South Newcastle beach even closer to the water (‘Beach bowling ahead’, Herald 25/10)?
I TAKE some umbrage from a person who I do not know (Short Takes 20/10) calling me a hypocrite, but maybe I am a bit unkind. Perhaps the gentleman drives a Tesla or is an organic farmer, who knows?
Now I will get on my high horse (or donkey). Most of my hot water is solar, I have solar panels for electricity and I have battery storage.
We have 10 large trees on our land, plus multiple shrubs. I belong to five Landcare groups. I was also involved with growing native plants - (roughly 12,000 last year, and I was personally involved with planting over 6000. This, I feel, is enough to offset a drive up the Hunter Valley in my Prius.
I see time and time again from certain people that if they have no decent facts behind their arguments, they put down the messenger.
So, I would not like to travel anywhere with the person who called me a hypocrite or even respond to any of his future correspondence until he researches his stories and has something useful to add in debate.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or send a text message to 0427 154 176 (include name and suburb). Letters should be fewer than 200 words. Short Takes should be fewer than 50 words. Correspondence may be edited and reproduced in any form.
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