CONGRATULATIONS to all the wonderful people who have made donations to the bushfire appeals, whether they be monetary or food and clothing. Now the question arises as to how all these funds are distributed and what will happen to what is not required. I do hope it will not become landfill after all the effort people have put into gathering it.
As for the millions of dollars raised, how about someone puts out a balance sheet when the funds have been distributed that tells us exactly how much was raised and where all the funds are gone? My concern is that many people who really need financial help will not get it because they don't know how to access it and there will be those in the know who will abuse the system. It has happened before, and it will happen again. For some the temptation will be too much, so let's make sure that those who genuinely need help get it and the funds don't get pilfered by those who are not entitled. My very best wishes go to absolutely everyone affected by these horrendous fires.
Olwyn Edmonds, Eleebana
QUAKE EXAMPLE IS TIMELY
CAN somebody out there tell me what will happen to all this money collected for the firestorm we just had? How will the monies be allocated, and who handles it?
I look back at Newcastle earthquake and remember that we gave to what I thought was a fund to help the people devastated and their properties in ruin. I did not know it was going to be given out in a loan fashion, and I read that there is still money in this account ('Fund feud', Newcastle Herald 27/12).
I believe it is a pertinent question now given the scale of monies collected for the bushfire victims. Is this too to be issued in a loan fashion? Who is going to allocate it, and will there be some sort of balancing accountability that, when it is all added up, people who need it are not tied to some form of contract?
John Matthews, Belmont North
NOT SURE IT'S ASSURED
FOR as long as I can remember we have been told by insurance companies and their agents that to under-insure property in cases of total destruction, mainly housing and contents, means we will receive the amount initially covered less the percentage they consider was not paid for in the premiums.
My understanding is that most valuations are verbally estimated by insurance companies to arrive at a agreed value using size and the method of construction in the building. In my opinion this means most people trying to do the right thing have been conned into paying more than they needed for many years.
With so claims about to be made, in my opinion this is one case where governments should step in and say to the insurers that they accepted the money, so they should pay out at least the amount people paid for. Otherwise, they need to start giving back years worth of overcharging. You can't have it both ways .
Carl Stevenson, Dora Creek
NO TIME FOR TURF WAR
MUCH is being said about the Commonwealth government not intervening earlier with the defence forces in regard to the horrific bushfires earlier, yet few recognise the legal connection between the Commonwealth and the states in regard to these matters. The Constitution divides the rights and responsibilities between the states and the national government. While there is cooperation on some matters not in the Constitution, those matters are by mutual consent. It is worth noting that the Victorian government sought and obtained Commonwealth assistance.
This is not a time for state's rights. All available hands are needed on deck. I believe the criticism of the Prime Minister is unwise if our Premier was not immediately seeking all available help for a job that is not manageable by the state's firefighting capacity. Let's be balanced in our comments and put our premier and her government in the hot seat.
We need a change to establish a protocol for emergencies where state's rights cannot prevent Commonwealth intervention to assist in overcoming emergencies.
Milton Caine, Birmingham Gardens
TRAINS DELAYED, WELCOME
IT was pleasing to read that Singleton will have two extra train services a day ('Extra trains running on Hunter line', Herald 6/1). I wonder what took the government so long. I hope this is a sign of things to come with more services to Scone, Dungog and maybe Cessnock. When people are presented with good train, tram and bus services they will use them.
I saw this recently during a visit to Melbourne where my wife and I spent Christmas with our son. This time we flew. The car was left at home and we used public transport. I found the trains and trams generally ran to time and when I had to change, I didn't have long to wait. I think about 10 minutes was the longest time. Many of the trains ran directly into the city (something which we once saw in Newcastle) via the underground city loop. That's an idea.
Overall I found the trains fast, effective, quiet and comfortable. If they can do it in Melbourne, then why can't do it in Newcastle? I realise it will be a long time before the light rail will be extended, but in the meantime I see no reason why the buses, trains and trams can't be co-ordinated better than they are now. If there was better co-ordination between services, and if there were more direct services where people didn't have to change unnecessarily, then our public transport services would be a lot more attractive to commuters and shoppers. As I said, if they can do it in Melbourne, I fail to see why they can't do it here.
Peter Sansom, Kahibah
SCIENCE AND FAITH DOVETAIL
I BELIEVE John Arnold (Letters, 6/1) falls into the trap of scientism: the belief that science is the only truth. He says not just gods, but nations, human rights, money systems, and limited liability companies are fictions which we imagine and invent but which don't actually exist.
For Mr Arnold immutable scientific laws have the answers we need, not primitive religious superstitions. But doesn't the existence of these laws imply a lawgiver? Mr Arnold notes the incredible difference between humans and other sentient beings. One difference is that humans have a moral perspective, and even Mr Arnold might agree that saving the planet is a moral responsibility, not just a scientific problem.
For me there is no conflict between faith and science. I read scripture as including best scientific practice along with everything else that is in accordance with God's will for our betterment and flourishing: "If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit" (Lev 26 3-4).
Peter Dolan, Lambton
DAVID Littleproud said that he couldn't give a rat's what Craig Kelly said, yet Craig Kelly is on a government environmental advisory panel. Maybe Israel Folau is right when he said God is punishing us with bushfires, but it's for voting in this incompetent government at the last election.
Bob Watson, Swansea
ANDY McFadden (Short Takes, 7/1) is another armchair expert in how to manage the country. It seems there are certainly many of them in this city. Australia's prime minister does not have absolute power for the military during natural disasters. It is the responsibility of the relevant state or territory to protect life, property and the environment. The states can request military assistance with response and recovery. I'm sure that had the prime minister accepted Mr McFadden's advice and arbitrarily sent the military in, Mr McFadden would then be calling him a dictator. The prime minister's credibility may be shrinking for Mr McFadden, but I certainly know whose credibility I believe is lost.
Brian Agland, Hamilton
HERE'S a radical idea: follow the people of Israel. Everywhere in Israel where there are deserts, you see palm trees and the like growing. Why? Because they use desalination. It's simple, and they have an ocean all the way up their coastline. Now, if Hunter Water stopped sending profits to Sydney ('Hunter Water board confirms big dividend', Herald 9/5) they could build desalination plants and we would never run out of water. They might actually realise the ocean is there for them to use. It's free, no cost to taxpayers, and all they have to do is collect it. Newcastle, a smart city? Only in the minds of some elected representatives.
Roland Millbank, Adamstown
AFTER Jets management sacked Scott Miller, I didn't renew my membership for the next year. Now they have sacked Ernie Merrick ('Crashing Jets sack Merrick', Newcastle Herald 7/1), I doubt that I will renew next season's membership. They had two good coaches. Maybe the FFA should sack Martin Lee. In my opinion he isn't helping the situation by tightening the purse strings. I also think that it's about time the players stepped up on the field.
Robert Dixon, Morpeth
BRAVO Micheal Hinchey (Letters, 8/1). This lifelong Liberal voter will never vote for them again after such failure of leadership.
Suzan Peak, Kurri Kurri
THE ABC coverage of the fire risks to people and property has been excellent. The additional costs involved should be covered by supplementary Federal Government funding. I have written an email to my local MP (Joel Fitzgibbon) suggesting extra ABC funding should be ALP policy.
John Turner, Carey Bay
I BELIEVE Sarah Taylor (4/1) is right to "think water restrictions are a joke." But if the salt water and sand aren't washed from bodies and boards, rust can ensue and more breakdowns may occur in a ripple or domino effect. Who is watching the when the dominoes are drawn?