The government should be commended for its future expansion of the John Hunter precinct ('Next gen John', Newcastle Herald 20/8). However, I believe one important item has been left out. Novocastrians might find it interesting that the John Hunter Hospital attracts more car movements in a day than any other place in the Hunter, estimated at 26,000. The university trails at 22,000; Cardiff industrial estate 20,000 and Newcastle CBD at 11,000.
Another interesting fact is that the critical mass of people in the Hunter live from Caves Beach to Mayfield, all of which can only ever be serviced by buses. This makes us a bus-based city whether we like it or not. Unfortunately, for 40 years the whole discussion about public transport in Newcastle has been about the CBD train line and not a holistic approach.
There is still no concept, as demonstrated by the plans for the John Hunter.
At the very least, an at-grade bus interchange must be built at the John Hunter. The majority of buses need to intersect the hospital. It's all nice and warm to consider the light rail going there, and it can be planned for the future, but for most of us it will always be about getting the bus. The John Hunter is open 24 hours a day, putting more pressure on the site. It needs to be considered how staff feel safe coming and going at night, remembering also that the old Royal Newcastle hospital was only ever served by public transport.
I do hope that all councils and state members will work together to come up with a plan not only for the John Hunter but how the whole lower Hunter will move around into the future. The planning, zoning and development, the park and rides, the interchanges and bus routes and lanes are all the responsibility of local and state governments, we really need that plan.
Aaron Buman, Carrington
FAN OUT FAITH CLASSES
YOUR editorial ('Clear messages about child protection', Opinion 12/8) drew a very long bow to "draw the conclusion the 'politics' of scripture in schools, is being prioritised over basic child protection principles". Why is it politics?
In my student years (1940's), a weekly hour of scripture was a part of the curriculum. All attended. The leader/teacher spent much time keeping reasonable order, but did increase our knowledge.
Australia was then a predominantly Christian society, and a period of religious instruction was accepted. Perhaps now that we are multi-cultured we should also cancel Easter and Christmas holidays as not relevant. In the armed services we were forbidden to discuss religion and politics because of many strongly-held opposing views which may lead to conflict.
Religious fervour has been, and is, blamed for the cause of many world conflicts, wars, and rejection for those who do not accept a religion or belief. Most religious texts promote peace, love, tolerance, acceptance as core values. I confess to being a practicing Christian, but I will never attempt to forcefully demand anyone accept my belief.
I firmly advocate that a reasonable depth of understanding of all religions and sects by all would develop more acceptance, tolerance and love.
To this end, I would love to see a school subject dedicated to such understanding made available to all students, and compulsory to base level. Religious Studies, a HSC subject, is optional and limited. I would also wish to have included studies of Australian Aboriginal culture.
It may take a few years to develop the curriculum and train sufficient teachers, but might it not increase our degree of acceptance and tolerance?
Jon Yoole, Ashtonfield
BOUNDARIES ARE BLURRED
LAST week I wrote about double standards as far as we understand touching and sexual abuse (Letters, 8/8). I watched a show on SBS called The Hunting which had a great message to young people and parents about the dangers and consequences of sending naked photos or sexting to each other on social media.
The behaviour of the young teachers while arguing about the consequences of reporting to the police what had happened, the female actor points to a bottle of wine they were going to share and says "a good f--- would have been okay with that" and walks out. Have we taught the younger generations that our bodies and sex are about as important as a cup of coffee, able to be used and abused in a casual way, but don't even touch me on the shoulder unless you ask?
No wonder there is so much mental health issues, with confusing issues over boundaries. Is nothing in this world straightforward anymore?
Diana Taaffe, Belmont North
IT'S A MEATY PROBLEM
PACIFIC leaders are appealing to Australia to do something about greenhouse emissions. Our own children are striking to protest inaction. But what can we do?
A new research report suggests that meat could be targeted for higher taxes, given the industry's role in climate change, deforestation and animal cruelty. Fitch Solutions said "the global rise of sugar taxes makes it easy to envisage a similar wave of regulatory measures targeting the meat industry".
The idea is taking off in Europe, where German politicians are voting to remove the VAT discount on meat. A report in scientific journal The Lancet estimated that reducing meat consumption would result in the prevention of more than 11 million premature deaths each year, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and preserving of land, water and biodiversity. The report added that unhealthy diets currently cause more death and disease worldwide than unsafe sex, alcohol, drug and tobacco use combined.
We tax sugar, tobacco and alcohol based on the damages they cause to people's health, and we should tax meat accordingly. But reducing meat consumption will also lessen the appalling cruelty of the meat industry, where many cows are branded with hot irons, their horns are cut or burned off, and males' testicles are ripped out of their scrotums - all without pain relief.
It's time to tax meat or, better still, to ban it altogether.
Mimi Bekhechi, PETA campaigns strategist
TAP ON WRIST NOT ENOUGH
AS a very regular user of public transport, I can't help feeling disgusted with just how many times I've seen transit workers and police let people off with a wag of the finger instead of a fine on the train system for not having an Opal card or for not swiping on. I was under the impression that these people are employed to do a job. Unfortunately, I think they need a foot in the bum and possibly re-training to iterate what their role is and to start policing it for the sake of transport users who comply with the law.