MY wife and daughters attended the Sunday Elton John concert in the vineyards ('Elton John bids fond farewell before sun goes down on career', Newcastle Herald 13/1). They enjoyed the concert, but unfortunately had to suffer what I consider the number one hazard of vineyard concerts: the drunken buffoon.
This particular individual had a copious supply of wine bottles and was swearing and insulting to all and sundry. He had already been removed from the walkways for his boorish behaviour, so my understanding is that security was aware of him.
It leads me to question why security apparently couldn't, or chose not to, remove someone who was disruptive and that I would guess had perhaps been drinking since the gates opened in the afternoon, if not before that.
Andrew Boyd, Singleton
DON'T DILUTE THE SCHOOL
IT is disappointing that the leading practitioners in the architecture programs at Newcastle appear to be cast aside ('Architecture elite dumped in university shock', Herald 19/12). In 2011, as head of the architecture programs, along with Paul Berkemeier, chair of the Institute of Architects Education Committee, and with goodwill from leading architects, I initiated the practice professors positions.
The equivalent of one full-time position was made up of a number of fractional appointments, the remuneration split proportionally. The architecture programs at Newcastle, for many decades, have unashamedly prepared graduates ready to contribute to architectural practice. This preparedness has been applauded by accrediting bodies and practising architects and is the reason Newcastle graduates are in demand. It has been the point of difference. Not all architecture programs share this approach. It is my view that the school has managed to adopt a sound philosophy of architectural education, including a balance between the teaching of theory and practice. If this is to be maintained, I believe the continuation of the role of the practice professors remains critical.
The program of visiting architects is a well-regarded means of engaging students. However, it is not the same as having practice professors on staff who bring prestige, influence the curriculum, are available to students long-term, are focused on core teaching and add a vital dimension to the collegiality of the school.
Both are needed. Rather than sacrifice the equivalent of a full-time professorial position, I suggest finding budget savings more creatively, not by eliminating gold medallist practitioner academics. In my view the long-term health and reputation of the school depends upon it.
David Stafford, Martinsville
IT'S ON FOR YOUNG AND OLD
WHILE Jeff Corbett's piece on Saturday ('Age, it can truly vary us', Opinion 11/1) was nothing more than an oped, a bit of light entertainment on the weekend, I think Mr. Corbett's essay expressing his perception that he's not getting older, he's getting better ends on a truly repugnant note.
He is certainly entitled to his opinion, as is the mayor of Kangaroo Island and the other ostriches who continue to be granted too many column inches.
Young Greta Thunberg is a representative of millions, both young and old, who are fed-up with patronising old men like Mr. Corbett, Scott Morrison, Craig Kelly, and others who seem to have a fixation on denying science while protecting the economic status quo, and who actively seek to not understand the perils of continuous exponential growth, positive feedback or tipping points.
John Wyndham's words, taken up by Grace Slick back in the 1960s, succinctly express the dichotomy: "In loyalty to their kind, they cannot tolerate our minds. In loyalty to our kind, we cannot tolerate their obstruction." Particularly poignant for Mr. Corbett et al is the line: "Soon they will obtain the stability they strive for, in the only way that it's granted: in a place among the fossils of our time."
Greta is definitely young. As this happily eponymous year begins, Mr. Corbett may wish to rest his weary and bleary old eyes to experience the 20/20 point-of-view of young Greta and her swelling cohort.
Rusty Cherkas, Cooks Hill
AUSTRALIA FOUND WANTING
SCOTT Morrison, I am so very concerned about the future of Australia. I am concerned that you are not in touch with the ordinary Australians. our real concerns and our real interests. We are not all interested in economic growth and a surplus economy, regardless of the press on this matter.
We are concerned for our friends, families and our environment. We want good public schools and public healthcare. We need decent public transport options. We need to invest in renewable energy. We need to keep our welfare system fair and easy to access.
We don't want our leaders allowing the country to be sold to foreign investors. We don't want huge corporations taking control of our resources. We don't want our politicians having higher superannuation and ongoing allowances than the rest of us. It is time to stop the perks of office. Your government needs to do some of the personal lifting of their game.
We want transparent allocations of resources to ordinary people. We want to show our humanity and care for each other and our wildlife and environment, earth, ocean and air. Without these basic qualities of life we are doomed as a nation and as a planet.
Money spent on border control and foreign warfare does not make sense in light of what we are witnessing on such a vast scale across the whole country: the demise of our environment.
What are you going to do to show any kind of leadership, Prime Minister?
Ruth Boydell, Garden Suburb
THE PLANET MUST COME FIRST
THE prime minister has hinted just hinted, not declared that his Coalition governments climate change policies may evolve as a consequence of the catastrophic fires that have destroyed much of Australia (Coalition climate policy, emissions targets must evolve: PM, Herald 13/1).
However he cautions that some within the Coalition ranks reject the obvious reality that climate change has had a significant influence on the bushfires. Who are these recalcitrants, and how many of them are there? Five? 10? 20?
Since John Howard lost government (and his seat) in 2007, this handful of climate change deniers has held this country and, by extension the world, to ransom. Since 2013 we have had a succession of Coalition prime ministers who have put their own survival ahead of the survival of the planet.
When will we have a prime minister with the spine to put Australia and the environment first? When will we have a leader instead of a puppet as prime minister?
John Ure, Mount Hutton
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.
DAN Kirkpatrick (Short Takes 10/1) says scientists have no hidden agenda in the climate change debate, unlike fossil fuel companies and our government. I believe many scientists work hard to persuade us that the sky is falling in because they are paid handsomely to do so, and don't want to risk becoming pariahs in academia by saying otherwise.
Peter Dolan, Lambton
SUZANNE Peak (Short Takes 9/1) was apparently impressed by Michael Hinchey's letters attacking the federal government (Letters, 6/1; Letters, 8/1) and praises that they didn't pull any punches. Personally, I thought they were a load of tripe, but then again, it seems that you really can please some of the people some of the time.
David Stuart, Merewether
I'M so disappointed with the decision to sack Ernie Merrick ('Crashing Jets sack Merrick', Newcastle Herald 7/1). He has been the best coach we have had for so many years and I don't think there is another coach any where who will come here and give as much as Ernie to a team that is struggling to stay competitive, with the lousy budget he was expected to work with. Thanks Ernie. We are going to miss you.
Helen Hunstone, Cardiff South
Shanghai Sam Dastyari could well ask what Maui Scott Morrison plans for his next trick to shore up a few votes.
John Bonnyman, Fern Bay
WENDY Davidson (Letters 10/1) writes that we will see hotter, dry summers. Noting that the majority of rainfall in the majority of the fire affected southeast of Australia falls in the summer months and trees need water to grow, then in my opinion we can likely expect smaller fuel loads over a given time span in the future. An old bushman's rule of thumb is that if you do not control burn you can expect a major fire every 20 years. If the climate change is as severe as Ms Davidson suggests, then in my opinion the areas recently burned out could take longer to replenish its fuel load. Maybe we have 30 to 50 years until the next catastrophic fire in those areas? It certainly won't be next year in my view.
Ben Scott, Mayfield
PETER Dolan (Letters, 9/1), over 2000 gods have been invented and are worshipped around the planet, many of those by other fellow Australians. You say your god is wreaking the current havoc on Australia because we have not been "careful to obey his commands". How come it's only your god that dislikes Australians so much? You should reconsider who you choose to follow. There's plenty more gods where he came from.
John Arnold, Anna Bay
SO the gravy train, namely Harry & Meghan, has already begun with the announcement they will step back from royal duties. Perhaps it won't be too long before Meghan changes back to a few suits?
Daphne Hughes, Kahibah
HAS anyone else noticed the deafening silence of the Greens since the bushfire emergency started?