A CYNICAL Newcastle resident may regard the latest announcement ('Mixed view on baths plan', Newcastle Herald, 5/11) of another round of expressions of interest for Newcastle Ocean Baths as an excuse for further inaction at the pool facility.
When it comes down to it, the Newcastle Ocean Baths are just that: ocean baths designed for public bathing in ocean pool water. Quite simple, really.
To provide this simple bathing purpose for the citizens and visitors of Newcastle does not in my opinion require expressions of interest or the latest flashy architectural concept designs. However, it does require the will from sitting councillors, as the stewards of our city, to ensure that infrastructure facilities such as the baths are provided with the appropriate funding and planning regimes to maintain the bathing facility now and into the future.
I believe a barefoot stroll around the broken concrete promenades of Newcastle Ocean Baths is testament to the lack of will and care this facility has received from council in recent years. The concrete promenades are crumbling away at a rate never before witnessed. It is this council's responsibility alone to put a stop to this and renew the entire concrete promenades for the safety and comfort of its patrons.
The availability or not of restaurants and cafes at the site has no relevance to council's stewardship, care and maintenance of the actual ocean bathing pools and surrounds. Please do not let another baths expression of interest process stall, complicate or stop necessary works that are required now at Newcastle Ocean Baths.
Mel Horadam, Newcastle
BOOM IS JUST MORE NOISE
IN his Saturday article ('Newcastle house prices spring back', Herald 2/11), I believe Michael Parris uses the all-too-common lexicon of the housing market promoters by putting a positive spin on what is a dangerous trend.
Describing Newcastle as the worst-performing region also means it's a bit easier to buy a house than in areas that are "booming". It's hard to imagine price rises in energy or water described in such glowing terms, yet the impact is the same.
Higher prices have left almost a million households teetering on defaulting on mortgage payments. There will be many more unable to afford a house, leaving them with great financial difficulties when they retire.
Rising house prices don't make us richer, they just increase our council rates and the cost if we have to sell.
Don Owers, Dudley
YOU CAN SEE IT COMING
IT looks like the government contractors operating mobile speed cameras in NSW are not raking in enough revenue, so what do we do? Give the right minister a jab in the ribs and change the rules so that they can be set up without a warning ('Camera signage could be pulled', Herald 5/11).
Where will we now find them; on downhill slopes, around blind corners and hiding in other places that do not have a record of accidents due to speeding? I live in Forster Tuncurry, where roads are mostly 50km/h, and where do we already find these cameras? The plan and installation of these cameras was originally designed to educate the motoring public, not be a revenue raiser. What has changed in the system to warrant the rule change?
Ian Reynolds, Forster
PHONEY LICENCES ARE A RISK
HOW many of you out there are going to be joining me in the lock-up when Gladys essentially makes it mandatory to carry your mobile phone with you whenever you go out of the house ('Half a million digital licences downloaded', Herald 3/11)?
I know the younger ones won't care because they are already surgically attached to the device, but a small band of us can still step into the world, or the toilet for that matter, without carrying the cumbersome half-brick phone with constant updates of their friends' lives.
Yep, I'm 62 and probably should be turned into fertiliser as far as phone companies are concerned, but to have to carry one so I can drive a car? The irony is that if you pick up your phone to show your licence before being asked for it, you're breaking the law. Gladys said that plastic licences won't be phased out anytime soon. Wasn't it Young Einstein who said if you can't trust the government, who can you trust?
Peter Grant, Speers Point
WE KNOW THE PROBLEMS
WHAT a joke and an insult the aged care commission report (''We want action on aged care'', Herald 5/11) is to anyone who works, provides care or just visits aged care.
After months of submissions and thousands of taxpayer dollars, three aspects have been identified. What about the basics that are missing?
There are staff shortages, not enough training, and staff often don't have enough time to give the basic care to residents due to lack of government funding. That would not be news to our government, as ScoMo was treasurer when funds were removed aged care funding. Put the funds back, please.
Christine Gilkinson, Maryland
PACKAGES FOUND LACKING
THIS morning I saw Minister Greg Hunt (not) answering questions about aged care. In an attempt to skirt around a question put by Fran Kelly, Minister Hunt stated that the government intended to double the number of 'at-home-care' packages. That's all very well, but how will they ensure delivery?
It seems that people who have been allocated packages are waiting long periods for help. It is obvious to me that the problem is not with the number of packages, but with the elapsed time before delivery. We need more service providers, not more packages.
Stan Keifer, Arakoon
PRIVATE MATTERS TROUBLING
THE aged care investigations have turned up some horror stories, but they don't seem to have looked at the biggest problem of all: the privatisation of formerly public functions. A private aged care nursing home will naturally cost more than a public one due to the need to produce a profit for the investors, and a perceived need for high CEO salaries. I believe this requires replacing qualified nurses with cheaper people who have had such little training that they have no idea how to deal with aged people.
In the home care sector, we are seeing high portions of clients' funding go to "management costs". I believe this is a system that rewards the managing businesses, and leaves the clients short-changed. Many clients don't have the skills to know that they are being cheated, and there is no oversight system to check for the mismanagement.
The home-cladding rort taught us something important: if you throw lots of public money at a problem, you will attract scammers. The present government appears not to have learned this lesson.
Peter Moylan, Glendale
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WITH Christmas not too far away, it's worth reflecting on a miraculous birth that occurred in the days of ancient Rome. Born of a human and a deity, the story of this remarkable man is recorded in a famous book. I refer to Aeneas, the hero of Virgil's Aeneid. Incidentally, I'm told something similar happened to a Galilean carpenter.
Neville Aubrey, Wallsend
PERFECT words to the fun police, Paul Scott ('Frayed? Thanks Sarah Kendall, it's a hoot', Opinion, 4/11). Frayed ain't Catalyst.
Fran Chapman, Glendale
I COULDN'T agree more with Peter Newey (Short Takes, 2/11). Capital punishment should be an option for the worst offenders. I see no reason why the likes of Ivan Milat and the evil bastards that killed Anita Cobby should be kept alive for a nanosecond longer than they need to be. Maybe we should put the reintroduction of capital punishment to a referendum and let the people decide.
Peter C Jones, Rathmines
I'VE just been to Mamma Mia at our beautiful Civic Theatre. This show was fantastic; actors, singers and dancers as well as the orchestra was top class. We are very fortunate to have these Newcastle performers. Well done, with more to come I hope.
Susan Gamble, Charlestown
JO Coombes (Letters, 4/11), driving half an hour to Redhead Beach because you don't want to pay for parking at Newcastle is ridiculous. Can't find a park in summer? Catch the bus. Your suburb has a direct service to Watt Street, and it runs every 15 minutes. Inconvenienced by that? Try living somewhere like Kurri or Cessnock.
Matt Endacott, Wickham
IN 2012 Mr Hazzard stated the rail corridor would stay in public hands. Now it is up for sale ('Final stop on the corridor sell-off', Editorial, 2/11). Thousands of new residents have now, and will, move into inner city apartments. Newcastle needs a user-friendly creative area for these new apartment residents and families to congregate, children to run and play, area for picnics, children's playground, exercise circuits or just sit at tables and read. Not all apartments have balconies or sunny areas to sit, so it's a responsibility of councils to supply a percentage of open, usable green space. The future Darby Plaza public space should be extended into the Rail Bridge Row and create a friendly landscaped area. The council should reverse its rezoning decision of December 2017 to allow this area for private development
Sue Marshall, Newcastle East
THE front page of the Newcastle Herald on Monday ('Boom time', Herald 4/11) reminded me of a recent visit to Brisbane. A number of building sites in inner Brisbane had converted these areas into a spectacular light show at night. The tower cranes had a string of light bulbs attached to the length of their high jibs. This brought that otherwise drab section of the city to life. Maybe City of Newcastle council could encourage some of the developers with building projects in Newcastle to adopt a similar idea, especially over the approaching summer holidays.