WHAT'S in a date? If you're talking about January 26th that would depend on who you ask. For some it represents a celebration, or even an expression of patriotism; for others it is a day of sadness, a day of genocide and a day of loss. I'd even suggest that if you asked a large proportion of the population, they'd probably have to consult Google before giving you the historical answer to that question.
So why is there such contention around the date? The Australia which exists now really isn't an accurate representation of the ideals of those first European settlers.
Outwardly, we celebrate our diversity and multiculturalism. We aren't all directly descended from those early settlers. Why hold so tightly onto this particular date? Maybe it's an inert sense of racism amongst those vocal supporters, an intergenerational layover of the propaganda of ancestors long gone? Maybe it represents another way to exert control over a minority? Either way it doesn't really stack up.
The government actions speak so loud I can't hear a word they're saying. That is if you could consider a distinct adversity to change as an action? We speak of reconciliation, yet what does that mean if you don't back it up with the real work? We've built our palaces on the graves of our Indigenous forebears, yet we continue to celebrate the atrocities which this entails.
I'm all for celebrating our ancestral identity, but that is not what January 26th is about. Let's ditch the date and find another on which we can truly celebrate what it means to be Australian, for the thing that makes us all the same is that we're all different.
Simon Jones, Stockton
Head shake at quake cash
I WAS interested in your recent article concerning the Newcastle Earthquake Disaster Fund set up to assist residents who were adversely affected at that time ('Fund feud', Herald, 27/12/19).
I was surprised to learn that now 30 years later there is more than $1 million remaining in the fund. It was also disappointing to learn that many people are still suffering as a result of that disaster but because they were urged to sign a legal release at that time, further assistance has been denied.
My wife lost her unit on Chatham Road in the earthquake including all her clothes, belongings and personal effects. She was paid $25 compensation from the fund and was urged to sign a release before any payment was made. Yes, the princely sum of $25 for her losses. She still had to continue her mortgage payments and body corporate fees, as would all other displaced persons.
Surely, it's time this fund was wound up and the money distributed to those in need.
Gary Phillips, Hamilton South
Doggy doo, and don'ts
I HAVE walked along various parts of Bathers Way over the last three or four months and have to express my absolute disgust at the dog faeces left by the owners of said animals. I don't have the joy of ownership over a dog, and I believe that those who do are lucky.
Unfortunately Dog Shit Way and the areas around the cafes at Merewether are being overrun by the presents of the doggy-doo bunch with their unruly fighting dogs on their extended leads tangled around various legs, columns and other users' leads.
Can the council enforce the various by-laws to prohibit the presence of dogs at the counters, on the seats and tables that people have to use?
I have suffered the verbal abuse of owners when 'Cuddles' placed its urine on the leg of my seat, and I had the temerity to tell her what to do with the beast. I have also seen the result of dog faeces left where a child was playing on the sand and the faeces came in contact. Not a very good image for such a magnificent community asset.
Stephen Watson, Jewells
Pay packet isn't handsome
PETER Dolan (Letters, 15/1). Your letter implies that people working in science are paid "handsomely". I would suggest you do some researching. You will find that science graduates are the lowest paid in the world of "academia", and indeed, the working world.
I worked with science graduates for 37 years, although this was not in my field of expertise, and I found that monetary rewards were never in the forefront of their mind, only research looking for the truth. People working in science do not state opinions, only results of careful research.
I am certain we can rely more on these than opinions from certain politicians based solely on their beliefs. Some politicians need to learn that they do not have infallible knowledge, and that an intelligent person is one who listens to people with more knowledge and expertise than they.
Michael Stevenson, Warners Bay
Getting smart about help
ALMOST one quarter of young Australians are experiencing psychological distress, according to the latest Black Dog Institute and Mission Australia Youth Report. Treatment alone is not enough to fix this growing problem.
Rather than scapegoating technology as the root cause, it's time we considered how teens can use screens for good.
The Black Dog Institute is excited to be running a world-first study - Future Proofing - to see whether smartphone apps can enhance and protect youth mental health.
This five-year trial with 400 schools and up to 20,000 year 8 students will test apps at scale, collecting sensor data from smartphones such as sleep patterns and activity levels to give researchers the clearest snapshot yet into young people's health. This trial is the first step towards empowering our young people with the tools to thrive, connect and succeed in a rapidly changing world. We encourage NSW-based schools to get involved in the study ahead of term 2, 2020 by registering their interest at email@example.com.
Dr Aliza Werner-Seidler, Randwick
Realistic about changes
I AM not a climate change sceptic, but rather a climate change realist. Australia is acknowledged as the Earth's driest continent, and it is recorded that in just the past 22 years alone the continent has moved northwards by 1.5 metres.
Drought conditions are not new, with the Bureau of Meteorology stating that Australia goes into drought on an average of every 18 years. The 1896-1899 drought was so severe the Darling River ceased to flow for a year, and 437 people died due to the heat.
Are extreme heat conditions something new? No they are not, and Australians simply have to adapt to handle the change. Why the politicians don't commit to distributing excess flow of water from northern rivers whilst in flood to areas that need it beggars belief. Obviously pollies are only in to feather their own nests and don't care about looking to the future of Australia.
Brett Cutler, Thornton
OUR PM states that Coalition MP and NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean would not know what he is talking about concerning federal government policy on climate change and would not know what is going on in the federal cabinet. Does federal cabinet have any ideas, at all, about anything that is going on? I fear not.
Robert Racon, Adamstown Heights
I'D just like to remind the council it gave away, whoops lost, over 200 parking spots with the building of the light rail to nowhere and at $4.50 an hour people have woken up to the fact they can park for three hours free and undercover at the shopping centres.
Wayne Ridley, Gateshead
READING the article on golf ball size hailstones trashing CSIRO glasshouses brings me to ask how solar panels fare in such a hailstorm ('Gold sized hail stones put science research on ice', Newcastle Herald, 22/1)? Unless they are "hail proof" the repair bill would negate any savings on electricity, although some think the initial expense doesn't save much in the long run anyway.
Geoff Heath, Tuncurry
IF it is in our Constitution that it is illegal for our government to trade water, how it is allowed to to do so and how do we stop it?
Mick Kembrey, Cessnock
I WAS recently shocked to witness the destruction of two stately trees that have graced our neighbourhood for ages. A tall pine and a wonderful giant grevillea, a Silky Oak that blooms with gold every spring and is home to many birds. My wife sobbed and I was just plain angry. To the people responsible, you have successfully created more of an ugly urban desert in this old suburb.
Tony Winton, Wallsend
PETER Ronne hit the nail right on the head with his letter re penalty rates (Letters, 20/1). The hairdressers may have lost theirs if not for the help of the industrial relations commission and the Australian Workers Union. It just proves it pays to be a member of a union.
John Keen, Gateshead
STEVE Barnett (Short Takes, 21/1), one has to wonder at the motives of those who call for a reduction of subsidies to renewables, when the fossil fuel industry is getting $12 billion a year in subsidies. Is it ignorance of the fact or just straight out denial of the need for a reduction in carbon emissions?
Allan Earl, Beresfield
I AGREE with Colin Geatches (Short Takes, 20/1) regarding sharing the road with semi-trailers and shipping containers. When we were travelling, we usually only encountered courtesy from the larger vehicles. If we wanted to pass we would enquire if it was safer to pass and the one in front would answer if it was etc. Once passed we would give thanks by acknowledging by signalling.
Daphne Hughes, Kahibah
THE brave Scott Hillard (Short Takes, 20/1) is obviously not afraid of perishing in flood or fire. I would rather most reluctantly listen to Scott Morrison or Donald Trump than perish in a climate apocalypse.