THANK you, Benjamin T Jones, for the article about the republic ('Twenty years on: what next for republicans', Opinion 6/11). Now the question that we all want to know is not whether we will be a republic, but what type of republic we are going to be.
Will we elect our head of state with separate elections, as per the American system, or will they be selected some way by the elected parliament? Will our head of state be able to commit our armed forces into an overseas conflict without Parliament's authority? Do we have to rewrite our Constitution? Who will do it? The last time I tried to get answers to these questions I was told that all we had to do was take the Queen's head off the postage stamp.
There are so many unanswered questions it seems that the republicans are asking us to vote for a pig in a bag. We know what we have now, and have no idea what we are going to get. When people start to explain the republic and precisely what system we are going to get, we might start to get some were with it.
A warning to all politicians: please think carefully before putting something to a referendum, as you may not get the vote that you wanted as in the Brexit vote in England. We do elect these people to make these decisions for us, but it seems to me that when they have a sticky issue they want a referendum like it is almost a cop-out.
Tom Randall, North Rothbury
A STEP IN RIGHT DIRECTION
WAL Remington (Letters, 7/11) is correct; Indigenous people are custodians of Uluru (although their relationship with country is symbiotic, not proprietary, which is difficult for us Europeans to understand) and this relationship should be respected.
On the other hand, in my opinion Peter Devey (Letters, 7/11) thinks it is all about him and cites the "emotional and almost spiritual experience" he had looking out from the top of Uluru. Perhaps that emotion and spirituality might have been dampened a little if he had thought through the impact that his presence was having on the Indigenous people.
I believe Mr Devey is wrong in asserting that the Aboriginal custodians had no problems with people climbing Uluru. Until relatively recently, the local Aboriginal people had no say whatsoever about Uluru. In 1985, custodianship was returned to the Anangu people but on the condition that they lease it back to the government and that climbing be allowed. Since that time, the Anangu and Australian National Parks have jointly managed the area and there has been an ongoing, determined campaign to educate people as to why Uluru should not be climbed. This has had an impact, and once numbers dropped below 20 per cent of visitors the decision was taken to close the climb. It is a decision that should be applauded by all thinking, caring Australians.
John Ure, Mount Hutton
FREE SPEECH WORTH THE COST
HAS Scott Morrison abandoned Liberalism for his conservative values? I believe his recent demonisation of Australian citizens who want real action on global warming is contrary to Liberal values and recognition of the right to free speech.
I consider Mr Morrison is simply trying to shut down the most important discussion on what the nation should be doing to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and the necessary transition from a carbon-based economy, i.e. the production of electricity from fossil fuels and the ever-increasing use of plastics, to renewable energy production and reduced use of plastic packaging.
Yet he is saying he wants to outlaw certain members of the public's behaviour. Criminalising protest is outrageous and anti-libertarian. He is effectively saying you can't say this or that. This, from a person who wants religious adherents to have a greater right than the ordinary, non-religious Australian.
So is it the case that Mr Morrison only wants freedom for those who agree with him? This is irrational and against the principles of democracy. Similarly, our right to protest against government decisions that can be viewed as inconsistent with environmental protections, civil rights and freedoms is under threat. The right to protest has been contentious throughout history. The NSW coal strikes, most notably the Rothbury coal strike of 1929, were landmark protests which resulted in positive economic and social change. The environmental protests of the 1960 and '70's led to dramatic improvements in our lives and the necessary reductions in pollution by big corporations.
Scott Bell-Ellercamp, Clarence Town
WE WANT MYUNA TO STAY
IN regards to the Myuna Bay Sport and Recreation site, we need more action. The site will not be demolished for two years (Lakes Mail, 10/4), but we do not want the site demolished at all.
As the site is sitting unused, it enters a further state of disrepair and as such action needs to be taken now. In my view it would be better to demolish the power station rather than Myuna Bay if it is the cause of these issues. Without the ash dam we would not be facing these problems.
If this area is so dangerous, then why is the road and the surrounding picnic and children's areas still open? My next question is related to a recent 60-page report by Environmental Justice Australia ('Ash dumps a 'time bomb'', Newcastle Herald 1/7). This report cites research and water sampling done by the Hunter Community Environment Centre earlier this year found that creeks attached to the Eraring ash dump had a selenium concentration of 110 parts per million, which is more than 55 times the recommended level to protect wildlife. I imagine this must eventually enter Dora Creek, Whiteheads Lagoon and then Myuna Bay. We're putting you on notice, Premier, that we do not want our fauna poisoned.
Joy Conquest, Dora Creek
BUTT OUT RESERVE PROPOSAL
FEW readers will be aware that Optus has submitted a proposal to install a 35-metre monopole and ancillary equipment for a telecommunications facility on a proposed site given as 123 Lookout Road, New Lambton. Actually, the proposed site is far from Lookout Road. It is within a Blackbutt Reserve car park, at the end of Queens Road and Mahogany Drive.
I am opposed to any construction in Blackbutt Reserve simply for the convenience of a commercial enterprise. Federal, state and local governments recommend using existing telecommunications infrastructure for the development of new base stations in order to avoid a proliferation of telecommunication towers.
Blackbutt is a reserve. We are its custodians and are entrusted to keep it for future generations as a natural recreational area, not as a facility of convenience for commercial interests.
Barry Boettcher, New Lambton
LETTER OF THE WEEK
THE pen goes to Judith Wilson for her letter on aged care providers.
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SECRECY is the elephant in the room. Hundreds of developments with potential flammable cladding, however the government refuses to publish the list. Our conveyancing system can allow defective properties to change hands seamlessly when someone who has been burnt by the system is prepared to offload defective strata property. Oh, I forgot to mention the billions of dollars windfall the state collects on these transactions. How good is that?
Aidan Ellis, Wickham
IF you are against the removal of speed camera warning signs, be careful when driving in Victoria where they already don't exist. Maybe that's why their accident rate is much lower than NSW's. The former Labor minister Carl Scully, who introduced the signs says that their purpose is to slow drivers down in black spots. I guess that means that it's okay to do 20km/h or 30km/h over the limit again once you pass the camera, like a lot of people do.
Jim Gardiner, New Lambton
I WOULD like to draw your readers' attention to the addition of large posters advertising alcohol and gambling placed directly opposite residents homes in Newcastle's East End. I believe this appears to be a direct act of provocation.
C. Whelan, Newcastle
THE family-friendly credentials of Supercars have in my opinion hit a new low in Newcastle East. In streets where hundreds of locals live almost on the track, and whose inhabitants are suffering from the earlier than usual bump-in for the event, a huge alcohol advertisement has been I believe strategically placed to maximise family discomfort. They can't miss it when they look out or step outside. There is no other alcohol advertising anywhere else around the circuit, so why did Supercars choose to plonk this right in front of residential terraces? In my opinion this goes against all recommendations made in the Alcoholic Beverages Advertising Prohibition Bill 2015 and goes to show they don't give a toss.
Karen Read, Newcastle East
AUSTRALIA'S reduction of world aid draws comment from Pat Conroy ('Our nation must lift its game on foreign aid', Opinion 6/11) but I suppose that's the job of Opposition members to highlight anything that may cause concern. From my understanding, Australia gives aid to Indonesia and China in the amount of $500 million annually, just two of many because these and others are considered developing countries. However, I reckon what would make good reading is the full list to whom we give aide, how much and for how long, because I don't consider countries like China deserving or in need. After all, it is our money.
Carl Stevenson, Dora Creek
WHEN we kindly handed Uluru back to its rightful owners of 30,000 years, along with that came responsibility for the safety of visitors. Coming from a litigious culture, it's always someone else's fault if you get injured or worse. Compensation. I've also been to quite a few places of worship in Europe and never had the need to stand on top of Notre Dame or St Peters for a spiritual experience.