IN TUESDAY’S Newcastle Herald (‘Swear blind’, 5/2) lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes is quoted as saying she was "not interested in John Church's muck raking" and "I've seen this lowest common denominator behaviour from his ilk over the years".
I can only comment on my understanding of the situation, in which I believe Cr Church queried the cost of the workshop (‘Councillors’ $10k bay stay’, Herald, 2/2) and as a result someone in attendance at the workshop vented their objections by calling him a "f...wit".
While all businesses must have planning meetings, I suspect most ratepayers would expect council to run theirs cost effectively and expect councillors to ensure it. Am I right to assume Cr Nelmes objects to any councillor with a contrary view and is okay with them being name-called? I would think the lord mayor should condemn the statement, not fire a further broadside, and I think we need more of Cr Church's ilk.
Stan Rippon, Merewether
HOLDING CANDLE FOR COAL
AUSTRALIA has some of the highest coal reserves in the world, and other countries are eagerly buying our coal to power new coal fired power stations they are building. We now see blackouts increasing while our politicians sit back and do nothing about our ridiculously high power bills. Not only do we have to pay our own accounts, taxpayers are actually paying politicians’ power bills as well because of the salaries we pay them. When I was a boy my parents always kept a ready supply of candles in the house for the inevitable blackouts that happened regularly in those days. Unless someone commits to building some new clean coal fired power stations, it won’t be long before we all have to stock up on candles again.
Jim Gardiner, New Lambton
PARKING PLIGHT IS WORSE
WELL, Revitalise Newcastle, you have done well taking most of the parking out of Hunter Street. I'm sure the patrons of the Civic Theatre love you, and also the people that came into town on New Year’s Eve and Australia Day who drove around for ages looking for a parking spot near the theatre or fireworks.
Before the light rail to nowhere started construction you stood some chance, but not any more. The people will know better next time and give Newcastle a big miss! If the greedy state government used the old rail corridor none of this would have happened. I’m sure a lot of people would love to know what the state government is ultimately going to do with the old rail corridor!
I also feel sorry for the delivery drivers and taxi drivers with nowhere to stop. The list goes on.
Wayne Ridley, Gateshead
DIG UNDER STEWART AVENUE
THE Newcastle tramway will never be completed until the crossover from Stuart Avenue to Hannell Street at Wickham is by an overhead road bridge, or the tramway starts at Wickham station.
The original reason for stopping the train short of Wickham station was to leave this crossover for cars only so it would not be restricted by a few trains every hour. Now we have trams stopping traffic every few minutes with little room left for cars to back up, affecting the traffic movement of Hunter Street and Stuart Avenue.
As time goes on, this transport mess only gets uglier and road rage will take on whole a new meaning in the CBD.
I think it’s better to simply stop heavy rail at its present location and have trams leave from Wickham station with an under-road walkway from the bus and heavy rail terminal to Wickham station. This way, Hannell Street to Stewart Avenue is clear of obstruction because an overhead road bridge would never be built.
Carl Stevenson, Dora Creek
NEXT TIME, IT’S PERSONAL
FUNDING of Australia’s politicians and political campaigns is a mess. Politicians and their campaigns should be funded by small donors and taxpayers, as opposed to wealthy third-party donors. This will help ensure that parties’ policies truly reflect the interests of voters, not just big donors.
The NSW government’s law which capped individual donations at $500,000 seemed superficially to be well intentioned and apolitical but it wasn’t. It was unfair and politically intentioned, aimed squarely at Labor’s union funding.
This wasn’t the High Court’s reasoning when it disallowed the law. Instead it decided the law infringed citizens’ free speech rights. Big unions and big business apparently need to have their citizens’ free speech rights protected. Really?
Taxpayer funding of politicians and their campaigns minimises the influence of third-party donors, but it also discourages new parties and politicians. This needs to be reviewed or we keep getting the same tired faces and tired policies.
Geoff Black, Caves Beach
FRANK AND PROPER TAXES
BILL Shorten has proposed to remove refunds for 'unused' or 'excess' franking credits. Instead of paying a 100 per cent dividend directly to shareholders, Australian and New Zealand companies pay a 30 per cent tax to the government. No taxes are paid on dividends in Singapore.
Other investments, such as fixed interest, pay 100 per cent of dividends directly to the taxpayer. In order to avoid a double taxation on company dividends, the 30 per cent is passed on to the shareholder as a franking credit for tax paid. At tax time, the total of the shareholder’s franking credits is added to their taxable income, so the shareholder pays tax on all their franking credits at the shareholder's marginal tax rate plus Medicare levy. The proposal is an additional tax on lower to middle income investors; it will not affect those in higher tax brackets. It is difficult to understand how politicians and journalists do not comprehend that shareholders pay tax at their marginal rate on their entire franking credits.
Alan Parsons, Tea Gardens
THE answer to reducing electricity and gas prices lies with the federal government. It should set up two companies to compete with privately owned multinational companies to help drive their prices down.
The first company would be a gas and electricity producer, and the second would be a retail energy supplier. Both would have a brief to produce or sell gas and electricity at the cheapest possible rates while still making a small and reasonable profit to reinvest in future energy infrastructure. Both companies would have committed but not overpaid executive staff. I believe that that would have a far more beneficial effect for business and for residential consumers than any newly proposed regulations.