JOANNE McCarthy's article on Wednesday expressed the community view that Port Stephens has lost a great servant of the people with the passing of my former colleague Geoff Dingle ('Port Stephens 'man of principle' mourned', Newcastle Herald 1/1).
I had the privilege of serving on Port Stephens Council alongside Cr Dingle and supporting him in his many clashes with then mayor Bruce MacKenzie, who had the controlling numbers on the council of the day. Whilst on most matters I believe he has been proven right in the light of history, I know that Geoff always regretted that we could not get the council to always act in what he considered the best interests of the community as he proposed.
One of the lasting memories I have of him is that, despite the many pressures for him to desist, his greatest motivation was that he always referred to the need to act in the interest of "my community". I am sure the people of Medowie know even better than me how much his community meant to him, as he had served it in so many other ways beyond his terms as a councillor.
I am proud that Geoff choose to call me around 4.30pm on Monday, but my phone was off so I returned the call at 7pm and he told me he was in Calvary. We talked for a few minutes in which he spoke of his delight that his mother was down for Christmas. He also spoke of the council and expressed his pleasure that Councillor Giacomo Arnott had been vindicated in his dispute with the mayor ('Police call for council removal 'regrettable'', Herald 16/12) and we exchanged best wishes for the new year.
My deep condolences to Geoff's wife Libby and the Dingle family.
Frank Ward, Shoal Bay
LIFT OUR GAME ON CLIMATE
GEE, I think Graham Kime (Letters, 31/12) has a thick hide to be attacking "so-called climate activists" even as the holocaust they have been predicting for years incinerates the east coast.
Mr Kime claims activists should address their own contribution to global warming. Such activists as I know actually bend over backwards to minimise their carbon footprint but that does not replace effective action from governments.
Individuals cannot, for instance, transform our power grid to mainly renewable energy with storage.
Mr Kime asserts that Scott Morrison is doing plenty to address climate change compared to other countries that he incorrectly claims are doing nothing. Even if some were doing less, that's no excuse for a nation as wealthy as ours to become climate leaners rather than lifters.
Michael Gormly, Islington
DON'T CLUB THE GOLFERS
WITH due respect to Neil Fletcher (Letters 31/12), golf clubs do not use water supplied by Hunter Water to irrigate their course. The simple fact is that to use that source of supply just to maintain their greens would cost in excess of $300,000 per year and to irrigate the whole course would be upwards of $800,000 per year. No golf club could afford that.
Almost all golf clubs rely on rainwater that is collected and stored in dams within the course. A few clubs have access to treated effluent and a small number may have some bore water supply. All clubs are suffering from the drought, just as are the rest of the population, and are all doing their best to survive. Whilst it will be possible to replace lawns and gardens once the drought breaks, there is a huge risk that a number of clubs might have to close before that occurs.
Once they run out of water completely the cost of replacement will be many millions of dollars for clubs concerned. They don't have those funds. Because they don't use "town water", as it is often referred to, they are also not in a position to help by reducing usage.
Allan Milton, Adamstown Heights
LIGHT ON LATE NIGHT SERVICE
ON Wednesday at 12.45 AM, after seeing in the New Year, we arrived at the Newcastle interchange to discover the light rail service had been discontinued for the night.
Our telephone calls to the local taxi service were futile because of over-demand at that hour. Our only alternatives were to wait until 5AM for the next tram or to walk to our home at the eastern end of Scott Street as the buses to the east were also not in service. About 15 others were also stranded at the interchange as were many vainly waiting at tram stops along Hunter Street.
In comparable cities, public transport on New Year's Eve generally continues until early morning (to around 4.00 AM) to ensure alternatives are available and to discourage private motor vehicle use and drink driving.
I believe city transport providers should have the safety of the public in mind and not just the company's daily bottom line.
Most recognise that, when privatisation of a public service occurs, service usually comes second to profit.
In the interests of the safety of citizens, I believe our elected members must insist that immediate action is instituted to ensure that Keolis Downer quickly strikes a better and fairer balance between private profit and decent public service than they achieved on New Year's Eve.
Richard Marr, Newcastle
IT'S AMAZING THAT WE BRAG
PRIME Minister Scott Morrison urged us all during his New Year message to celebrate living in the most amazing country on earth, the best place in the world to raise our kids.
I presume he is referring to this country, Australia. The country that refuses to acknowledge climate change as this amazing country burns down in front of us; this country that conducts arguably the most strident, inhumane and cowardly refugee policies in the developed world; this country that has unprecedented levels of domestic violence and death occurring behind our suburban doors.
This country that uncovers the most excessive and blatant forms of white collar misconduct via our banking industry that only came to light when this government reluctantly agrees to a royal commission. And speaking of royal commissions, this amazing country that had to run another one to identify the despicable and inhumane treatment of our elderly and infirmed that are housed in aged care facilities.
This amazing country to raise our children that refuses to recognise our first people in our constitution, 119 years after we first wrote it. This amazing country that doesn't want to protect our lucky children through pill testing at concerts because they are so lucky to grow up here, why would our children want to experiment with drugs?
Yes, Prime Minister, no doubt Australia has become an amazing country. After living here all my life, nearly 60 years,
I am totally amazed as to how we remain adherent to this jingoistic 'she'll be right mate' Aussie crap as our elected representatives simply bury their heads deeper in the very dry sands that we are left with in this most amazing country on earth.
Antony Bennett, Bar Beach
DARYLL Hadfield's maths (Short Takes, 31/12) are correct. The second decade of the 21st century still has one year to run. The third decade will commence on January 1, 2021. The world, it appears, always wants to celebrate earlier and examples were the end of both the last century and the second millennium. Historically, it all commenced with the year 1 A.D. Just count from there.
Jim Richardson, Charlestown
CARL Stevenson (Short Takes, 1/1) says the prime minister and his family deserve a break. The country is in crisis, with fires burning all along the east coast of Australia, and he decides he would rather be in Hawaii. He is supposedly the leader of this country and he knew what that job entailed when he took it on. After all, enough people were stabbed in the back for him to get it. Then there are the people who have been putting their lives on the line fighting these fires for months now, trying to save people's properties and lives while some of them are losing their own. Don't you think they deserve a break too, Mr Stevenson? They do more to help the people of this country than ScoMo will ever do. Talk about Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burned.
Barry Reed, Islington
THANKS to Joanne McCarthy for her piece on the life of Geoff Dingle ('Port Stephens 'man of principle' mourned', Newcastle Herald 1/1). I knew Geoff very well for 45 years due to us both been members of the scouting movement. Geoff was a leader of outstanding ability. I and many others will miss his leadership immensely.
Steve Fernie, Maryland
HEY John Hudson (Short Takes, 1/1), at last someone with a positive vision for Newy and the East End. I couldn't agree more with the Supercars fiasco; too much unnecessary disruption in a highly built up and populated area. The Station area is a fantastic asset, and if we could just encourage a bit more diversity with music, markets and general activities particularly in the mall area we just might achieve something. The connection with Honeysuckle and the mall is just about complete. All we need now is a point of difference to attract people back into the retail side of town.
Tony Morley, Waratah
CARL Stevenson (Short Takes, 1/1) you make no sense to me when you state that the Prime Minister is doing exactly what a leader should be doing by leaving it to the experts. Why have a government at all, why not just have panels of experts in every field? The prime minister holds the highest office in the land and the buck stops with him. Secretly slipping out of the country in the middle of a crisis ('PM apologises for holidaying during crisis', Herald 23/12) is hardly showing leadership.
Bob Watson, Swansea
IF Donald Bradman used today's bats, played on roped off smaller grounds with a surface like a bowling green and played more often, how do you reckon his batting average would stack up today?
Stan Aitken, Portland
ROME burns while Nero fiddles. Sound familiar?