WHEN I was a kid of 11 and we got our first car, once a week, usually Sunday afternoon, we headed off around The Esplanade, turning left into Warners Bay Road and further on through Mount Hutton till we reached Windale.
Our destination was South Street where my uncle, aunt and their children (my cousins) lived. We always had a wow of a time and got to know many of the neighbours.
We were very fortunate. Dad was an apprentice fitter and turner and was exempt from serving in World War II. On meagre wages, he was able to purchase a block of land and with the help of his brothers built a small home.
My uncle, on the other hand, served his country in the Middle East and Papua New Guinea where he was hit with shrapnel and sent home. He ended up with a steel plate in his head and was only ever able to do work that involved light duties.
There was never any prospect of being able to buy a house and that is the reason they ended up at Windale with a government housing roof over their heads.
They have long since moved but whenever I can, I drive out past Lake Macquarie Fair and down through South Street. I see their house and remember the love and community spirit there.
I can understand how threatened Windale residents must feel about the rezoning of land ('Wind of change', Newcastle Herald 11/1). After all it is their suburb, their home.
Julie Robinson, Cardiff
IT'S TIME FOR TRANSITION
CONGRATULATIONS to Jamie Miller for having the courage to expose the conflict that arose when closer examination of Greta Thunberg's stand on climate change, and to admit his initial view that "she sounded like a bit of a nutcase". It led him to search for something he wrote 30 years ago at his school, prompted by Margaret Thatcher's calling for action on climate change he wrote a long poem warning that "it won't be long 'til the world is a wreck" and "we'll all burn up from the greenhouse effect" ('Looking to past for a better tomorrow', Herald 14/1).
Jamie went on to study Environmental Management at the University of Newcastle and then worked directly in coal mining till 2018. He now respects Greta Thurnberg and the students striking for climate change action and calls on federal and state governments to rethink planned Hunter mine expansions, however, his experience in mining convinces him that governments must take seriously development of a transition plan for the region.
His balanced approach is totally refreshing. The reality is there is going to be a downturn in the demand for coal. A Bloomberg analysis published December 23 2019 predicted "misery" for Australian coal exporters and US coal stocks dropped an average of 50 per cent in 2019. This, together with the automation of coal mining, will inevitably reduce mining jobs even more.
It's time for our governments to bite the bullet to provide for a transition for the industry and employment to a renewable power economy. We will not be able to rely on coal for our prosperity. It's time to do some urgent planning.
Peter Lipscomb, Maryville
WE'RE ACTING FOR THE KIDS
WHY do so many people still have their heads in the sand when it comes to climate change? All climate scientists, not shock jocks, right wing journalists and politicians, agree that the earth is in the process of changing, and not for the better.
I still cannot see how the climate deniers think that there is an ulterior motive other than wanting to save the planet for future generations.
The media has a role to play also. So, to the media: stop giving climate deniers air time, space in print media, or even letters to the editor.
We all need to do our part. The kids are absolutely scared. Stop criticising them for wanting to live on a planet that isn't ruined.
To the many climate deniers, if you're going to tell me how wrong I am, back it up with empirical evidence. Anecdotal evidence doesn't cut it.
Ryan Adamson, Hamilton South
THE BARBARISM HAS BEGUN
I COMMEND the Herald for having the courage to print the opinion piece by Jeff Sparrow ("What far-right environmentalism looks like", Opinion 11/01). It's an accurate title because in my opinion all we can see today is the debris of far-right environmentalist practices.
Sparrow claims it's not farfetched to imagine local politicians who are unwilling to address climate change, scapegoating immigrants for Australia's environmental woes.
It certainly isn't farfetched because I believe governments here over the past 20 years have benefited immensely by scapegoating immigrants over the entirely fictitious issue of border protection. In fact, in my view their way of dealing with significant issues is to distract with fictitious issues.
In his book Sparrow nails the formula: the practices of government legitimise the rhetoric of the right, and the rhetoric of the right makes possible punitive government approaches.
He calls a response based on authoritarianism and xenophobia 'climate barbarism'. We are already barbaric. We spent unaccounted millions to lock up two infant girls and their parents.
Scott Morrison may have burnt his bridges among Australians sickened by this, but the prospect of Anthony Albanese, who is still cosy with Adani, coal exports and detaining infants, is not a viable alternative. So, how do we break this headlong fall into a new kind of hell?
Dr Niko Leka, Mayfield
DON'T STICK HEADS IN SAND
FURTHER to Paul Scott ('Kevin predicts big build up in second half', Opinion 13/1) I believe there are issues of public safety at Merewether Ocean Baths.
When the Merewether pool area was upgraded some years back, one of the issues cited for remediation by City of Newcastle was an upgrading of the pool surrounds to enable disability access. Steps were removed from the southwestern corner of the precinct and a level walkway was constructed.
This walkway enabled wheelchairs, mobility walkers, prams and people with mobility issues to navigate the perimeter of the pool area in safety.
This southwestern area where the steps were is now deeply covered in sand, effectively rendering the area all but inaccessible to mobility aids and in fact quite slippery and dangerous for those with mobility issues to navigate safely.
It is also obvious to me that the steps and railing into the smaller pool, which is now almost completely covered in sand, could cause a nasty accident if someone were to slip in that area, unaware of what is hidden just under the sand in that same corner.
Glenis Powell, Merewether
I WOULD like to inform the Newcastle Herald as to the efforts of Newcastle Surf Life Saving Club and all members of the public and businesses from Newcastle East who supported the event. We were able to raise $24,700 last Friday for the four charities nominated: the Salvos' bushfire appeal, Red Cross, WIRES and Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. Every dollar over the counter went to charity.
David Tape, Newcastle
HOW many hundreds of times in recent years has the prime minister stood in front of the nation and told us that his government's first priority is keeping us safe? Well, the country is on fire, we can't breathe our air and we are all frightened of the future. In the face of this catastrophic threat to the very fabric of our existence, it does appear that his commitment to "keeping us safe" is selective, and only seems to surface if Peter Dutton is standing next to him. When it comes to something real, something requiring actions of substance, I believe he has been found to be sadly inadequate.
John McDonald, The Hill
REGARDING the article about Ross Cadell taking up a job with the Port of Newcastle ('Port hires Nationals boss', Herald 16/1): seriously, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie residents, are you happy to share your roads with a substantial increase in semi-trailers with shipping containers on board? Our roads are already congested and dangerous.
Karen Cairns, Belmont
YOU cannot be serious, Andrew Colvin. $10 million to a volunteer army, $10 million to communities in collaboration with charities and here is the kicker, $50 million towards developing a national blueprint for fire resilience. I wonder what the donor of the $70 million thinks about that. Maybe we need a royal commission into this.
Geoff Heath, Tuncurry
NOW that Harry and Meghan are unemployed and homeless, I wonder how long they will be on the public housing list.
John Keen, Gateshead
PETER Moylan (Short Takes, 14/1) is looking at things precisely the wrong way. Countries, whether northern hemisphere or southern, are not going to the expense of maintaining firefighting resources that can meet the worst possible disaster on their own but borrowing from less affected countries when necessary. It is a sign of common sense and magnificent international co-operation rather than shame.
Sean Farnham, Kurri Kurri
SCOTT Morrison is not doing what the people want: a price on carbon, support for renewables, no new coal mines and a living wage. He should call an election.
John McLennan, Charlestown
I RECENTLY asked the lord mayor of Fingal Bay, a 90-year resident, if he thought the water level had risen at all. He said if the water has risen, then so have the rocks.
Steve Barnett, Fingal Bay
DAVID Stuart (Short Takes, 15/1) thinks my letters are a "load of tripe". That's a relief.