MEDIA reports and letters to the editor sections clearly suggest that many community groups and individual ratepayers are sick and tired of the 'development at any cost' philosophy which has infected local government in recent years.
The creation of these new modern, fun-filled high-rise lifestyle locations may look good on the glossy planners' brochures and council advertising but there is a dark side.
'Densification', if we can call it that, is accompanied by belated recognition of traffic management problems, parking inadequacies, green and recreational space losses, social stresses, and developer delinquency.
In Sydney, it's easy to identify the areas of suburban unhappiness where planning policies have been changed willy-nilly, and spot zoning is used to overcome any problem. Cashed-up developers get their way - and, of course, the wishes of communities are sidelined. The result of all this is that communities are being left with enduring unwanted legacies.
Now, even Planning Minister, Mr Rob Stokes, has been reported recently as wanting to 'change the culture' of development in Sydney to end the apparent understanding by developers that planning controls are simply 'advisory'.
The Lake Macquarie City Council's determination to override appropriate policies protecting the foreshore of Toronto has seen the sudden appearance of a plan for a $25 million six-storey 'premium' accommodation and commercial complex on the foreshore (only 10 per cent, says Lake Macquarie council). The prospect of losing the facility and potential of this community foreshore land has upset many people. Come on up, Mr Stokes.
John Dunnet, Toronto
SIONE FOR THE BLUES
IT is with great interest, and sometimes boredom, that I listen to the pundits and their State of Origin predictions each year.
NSW would need 50 players to accommodate all the experts who nominate players as a "must" for the Blues.
However, I continue to wonder at why Sione Mata'utia's name does not come up in the conversation as a utility player.
He can play anywhere in the backline as well as second row, lock and I would assume would do a great job as hooker.
He was picked by Wayne Bennett as an 18-year-old for the national team, so Bennett must have seen something in his game.
His courage in defence and stamina are without question and I think his work ethic and temperament would be ideally suited to the origin cauldron.
To my knowledge he has never appeared adversely in the press due to his behaviour and I think he would suit Brad Fittler's mandated policy of "no idiots" in the team.
Richard Campbell, Valentine
Pooches in their place
I CAN understand the sentiments of the writer of "When dogged love starts to grate on others" (Letters, 6/6). I am the same, or perhaps not quite so bad.
I have always loved my dogs; I don't have one now having just lost my Scooby a month ago, but I think a dog has its place and it is not in bed with you or in the kitchen when food is being prepared whether it is in your home or in a restaurant.
Also I can understand how dogs can be quite therapeutic, but I must admit I was quite shocked when, while visiting a friend in a nursing home, I saw another visitor's dog lying on her bed.
I am reminded of a saying my uncle had years ago regarding dogs: "People inside, dogs outside". While this is perhaps a little too severe on our pooches I can understand how he felt.
Elaine Richards, Salt Ash
Protect the press
SCOTT Morrison was in government when both prime ministers Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull enacted draconian changes to media laws, which George Brandis implemented.
These are the changes that the AFP has followed in relation to the raid on the ABC.
It is my belief that section heads cannot authorise the AFP to carry out such raids without the approval of ministers. I stand to be corrected.
This recent restrictive legislation not only places constraints on those working in the media like Ben Fordham, who may now be investigated by Home Affairs, but also in raids on journalist Annika Smethurst.
In certain circumstances journalists and whistleblowers like Richard Boyle can face prison sentences under Section 35P.
I also believe that the raid on the ABC was a misuse of power and this has been vindicated by worldwide condemnation.
Freedom of the press is paramount as is the ability to function without interference. It seems the Liberal Party are afraid that journalists may expose material that may be detrimental to them.
What next? Raids on contributors to the letters to the editor and opinion pages in newspapers? Maybe we need another Lionel Murphy to do raids on ASIO and the AFP.
Dennis Petrovic, Rutherford
FLASH THE LIGHTS
REFFERING to the dangers at the Stewart Avenue light rail crossing (Herald, 7/6).
The light rail transiting across Stewart Avenue is in its dedicated corridor. Stewart Avenue has a road speed limit of 60kmh and visibility is an issue at the crossing for road and light rail vehicles.
The application of railway level crossing rules at this location would see at least flashing lights and boom barriers. This would probably be rejected on various grounds.
There is some suggestion that the issue is the location of the traffic lights, sometimes you just don't see them. The location and height of the lights relative to the Honeysuckle Drive lights can lead to confusion.
A pragmatic approach is warranted, and would see level crossing flashing lights installed (no bells).
This would differentiate the road traffic lights from the light rail corridor.
Larry Greentree, Cooks Hill
SPEED UP CONNECTION
LES Field, (Letters, 7/6), you're comparing oranges with apples. No country in the advanced world is shortening intercity railway infrastructure, full stop. Basic frequent, swift intercities should be efficiently capturing the escapist Sydney goldmine market.
Third-world average speed of 65km/h doesn't cut it.
Newcastle station is the natural location for the nation's most Australian destination, on the best part of the prized NSW coast.
It's 2019, so engineering can sort out any CBD connectivity issues. Trains are now battery or hydrogen powered.
The Lower Hunter should be drowning in money, year round. None of this excludes light rail for local travel.