ON September 19 2006, my letter was published in the Newcastle Herald. I pondered my daughter's future through the prism of climate change.
I called for change, for the future of the planet, 13 years ago.
So what's changed? Well it's hotter, drier, and fires are now catastrophic and burning year round. We export more coal, deforest more land, and are stuck in a cycle of political inertia. I was terrified then, and I remain so. I'm healthy, but am struggling to breath through the smoke haze. I despair for the people at the forefront of these changes and send them my solidarity.
Let your voices be heard, Newcastle. What will our future look like in another 13 years? It is up to us to demand action from our politicians, so demand it.
Sarah Harden, Merewether
CLEARING AIR ON NEEDS
HEY ScoMo, I'd really like to breathe some fresh air. From the disgruntled mutterings of the people in my local community they too want a healthy and clean environment, and presently our proximity to the widespread fires is nothing compared to other, much worse off communities.
Maybe you could convince your cohorts and powerful mates (who may have more life-sustaining climes to jet into, if there's anywhere left) and the rest of the population to clean up the mess. The ghastly stories of the suffering of burned wildlife should move you, surely, even if our situation doesn't.
If you and your mates aren't up to the task, pass the baton to others who can. Don't rely on your God; a species hell-bent on self destruction evokes little sympathy.
Anne Phillips, Wallarah
HELPERS GIVE PLENTY BACK
THURSDAY was International Volunteer Day, a day to celebrate the contributions Australians are making in 26 developing countries in the region through the Australian Volunteers Program.
The Australian government has supported people like us to volunteer internationally since the 1960s. More than 15,000 of us have packed our bags, said goodbye to family and friends, and headed off in support of incredible organisations overseas.
In saying farewell to our own communities, we've supported communities in developing countries to achieve their goals. While our skills, experience and motivations are many, we're united by a desire to broaden our horizons, learn from others, and bring out the best in those we work alongside. Today we say thanks to all volunteers: for what they give and for what they bring home.
Jacinta Harford and Emily Cottman, Returned Australian Volunteer Network
OUR LINGO IS LOSING IT
WHAT'S happened to plain English? For instance, when did the beginning of anything become the "get-go"? When did merely playing another team become "going head-to-head?" Why is it mandatory now to add the term "solutions" to your business name, such as "House Painting Solutions", "Funeral Care Solutions", or "Industrial Solvent Solutions"? And who decreed that the future should be denoted by the annoying phrase "moving forward", as in the sentence "moving forward, my government will no longer vilify anyone."
In founding (just now) our fledgling Society for the Preservation of Prepositions and Plain Speech, our membership (of one) wishes to signal its profound distress over inappropriate uses of our tiniest linguistic particles, prepositions.
Had we, like the French, an academy to protect the language, its punitive powers and its linguistic guillotine would have worked overtime in recent days. No longer do we merely "sign" a document, now we "sign off on" a commitment, a scandalous and unnecessary waste of two precious (though totally opposite) prepositions, and adding to the workload of those in positions of authority. Alarmingly, cyclones now gather "off of" Queensland's coast, just as they do near Florida. We don't simply name a person whose views we find obnoxious, instead we "call them out" as racist or whatever or, worse, we "name check" them.
Perhaps these linguistic peccadilloes can be put down to a failure to "onboard" new staff members from the get-go, going forward that is, when they should have been shown when not to use the apostrophe (in plurals, hopefully), and the distinction between "complementary", and someone just saying something nice to you.
All in all, it's, like, a shameful situation.
John Beach, Cooks Hill
THERE IS ANOTHER WAY
I HAVE been following the outcome in Portugal, where they decriminalised drug use for the past 15 years. They spend the money that once went to outlaw drugs on medical assistance to those that needed it. No drug arrests, no convictions; a reduction in drug use and abuse within the population. Adopting this system would surely be beneficial for all concerned. Instead of spending revenue on policing concerts, that money could help man events with medically-qualified people. Those attending concerts would feel a lot better knowing that they have the freedom of assistance without being reported to police.
I think the reason Portugal's system is not adopted elsewhere is simply that there is too much money involved and too many sticky fingers within our system to allow such change to happen. Would it not also reduce corruption within our legal services, freeing up courts and reducing custodial sentences? It is plainly obvious that the way we are doing it is not working and never has. All I can see are those in need of assistance being denied it simply because those who have the power to change it are too gutless to take the first step, even though there is a country proving they are wrong in not doing so.
LR Woodward, Beresfield
UNION TIDE LIFTED US ALL
HERE we go again: the Liberal Coalition win an election, and the first thing they do is to bash the union movement. It's been going on for donkeys years as it's apparently okay for other groups to have their associations, but it's not okay for the working class to have their unions.
The government is bashing the unions with its union-busting bill. I say it's a lot of bull, and I believe it's all about bringing cheap foreign labour into the country.
The Australian union movement has suffered brutality by the establishment for centuries; being shot and killed, thrown off the jobs, thrown off buildings, sent to prisons and endured the Hungry Mile with the women standing side by side and, with many thanks, they stood their ground for a better and fairer society. The eight-hour day, safe working conditions, equal pay, penalty rates - the list goes on. Self-respect or slavery; the stepping stone was laid for future generations.
Australia profited and the economy grew. A union-busting bill is a backward step into poverty and misery, the dark ages.
Maureen O'Sullivan Davidson, Swansea
SHARE YOUR OPINION
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or send a text message to 0427 154 176 (include name and suburb). Letters should be fewer than 200 words. Short Takes should be fewer than 50 words. Correspondence may be edited and reproduced in any form.
WHY review new Aussie movie Judy and Punch ('A story with punch', Weekender 30/11) when it is not screening anywhere in the Hunter Valley? I can't even see it coming soon at any cinema here yet.
Andrew Mercado, Islington
ISRAEL Folau uses Leviticus to castigate homosexuals. Perhaps he should read Leviticus 19:28: "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves". Like most Christians, I believe he chooses only the bits of the Bible that he likes and ignores what he does not.
Joan Lambert, Adamstown
MR Fitzgibbon, look at the latest election results. Get your head out of the sand. Somebody attempted to address the issues regarding mine workers which in my opinion you have neglected ('Fitzgibbon says Roberts 'rubbish' on coal', Herald 2/12). If that didn't get you smelling the rot setting in, it may be time to say goodbye.
Mick Kembrey, Cessnock
IS Angus Taylor going or not going to the UN climate change conference being held in Madrid? I am not sure whether it is better for Australia to not be represented or to be represented by a climate change denialist. Not a good prospect either way.
John Queripel, Kotara
MY wife and I have travelled around Australia. We agree with Scott McLaughlin's comments ('McLaughlin: Cars are 'too fast' for the track', Herald 26/11). We found not only King Street McDonalds a disgrace in our opinion, but several other McDonald outlets around Australia were in a disgraceful condition. Their cleanliness was not up to the previous standard that was experienced in the past. It is not the employees' fault, but improvements are needed by way of amenity upgrades and more regular cleaning of tables and floors.
Ken Hall, Cardiff South
GOOD to hear Albo talking about quiet Australians. He said they've become that way because Scott Morrison told them to shut up and let him talk. Lucky they did or he would use his "big stick" on them.
John Butler, Windella
SO a pig-headed government gets its way and the medevac bill has been repealed. I think we can honestly say the $180 million dollars they outlaid to reopen the Christmas Island detention centre in a panic after the bill was initially passed has been totally wasted. Tell that to the struggling farmers.
Darryl Tuckwell, Eleebana
DENISE Lindus Trummel (Letters, 3/12) uses the same old argument of moving the race to in front of my place. I would love to live on the Newcastle East track. Adamstown has its own far share of traffic problems: the gates, a dangerous pedestrian crossing ('Tributes for vibrant Raani', Herald 16/11), and narrow streets that are not even wide enough for two cars to pass each other which people use as main thoroughfares to dodge main roads. I am not the only one that has had enough of constant letters of complaint that are not the opinion of the whole Newcastle community.