THE NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler has warned that a major fix to measures to better protect owners from shoddy industry practices from the state's current residential construction crisis is two years away.
Former NSW treasury secretary Michael Lambert, who led a landmark review into building regulations in 2015, said there would continue to be a risk over the next two to three years in the large strata buildings erected. "There will be dodgy brothers around building dodgy buildings," he told media earlier this month.
Infrastructure Australia warned late last year that the volume and scale of infrastructure construction in NSW and Victoria is in some cases exceeding industry capacity,
Australian infrastructure giant Lendlease last year sold its troubled engineering business, which had been under pressure from delayed or over-budget projects.
In my opinion a great deal of blame for these problems can be attributed to financial pressure on universities and the introduction of private colleges in the vocational education and training (VET) sector. John Howard allowed the private, for-profit sector to take trade training away from TAFE. Many of these colleges handed out qualifications with minimal training, marketing shorter time frames than TAFE to finish their courses. Many of them just folded and took the students' money.
Personally I suspect that some of the people working on building sites from labourers to engineers and draftspeople are not up to the job. The volume and scale of infrastructure construction in NSW and Victoria, and the greed of the developers, exacerbates the problem. The solution to these issues is to strengthen TAFE and to properly fund our education to ensure fully qualified people on the job.
Peter Lipscomb, Maryville
WE DON'T CARE FOR THE AGED
WHAT a drag it is getting old in Australia.
If the low percent of GDP devoted to aged care (1.2 per cent) is any indication, Australia doesn't care as much for its elderly citizens as do other advanced nations.
Catherine Henry ('Looking overseas for ways to fix aged care', Opinion 8/2) refers to two research reports into aged care conducted by Flinders University. Both reports state that with an ageing population Australia needs to do better, whether it is home care or nursing home care.
Both these types of aged care need more money and supervision. But giving more taxpayer money to inadequately supervised private sector operators does not work. They don't seem to spend enough of this extra money on client care. Instead, they give more dividends to shareholders and increased bonuses to their executives.
Welfare service providers that rely significantly on government funding should never be privately owned and profit-driven. Such entities should either be in public hands or, if they are privately owned, run as mutual cooperatives for the benefit of their clients. In both cases, arm's-length close supervision should be provided by an adequately funded and independent authority.
Geoff Black, Caves Beach
DRIVING THE DETAILS HOME
I FOUND an interesting story on the back page of a Sydney newspaper this weekend. The writer gave of his experience in owning a Tesla electric car for 18 months. I'm pretty sure readers won't read this sort of information in any Murdoch media as it really gives a good report for electric cars. The fossil fuel people will not be at all impressed with his findings.
Prior to the May 2019 federal election, I found Murdoch media were hugely critical of an announcement by the Labor Party that in the future they would be restricting the production of petrol and diesel cars. This was somewhat backed off when it was made known that the Coalition also had a similar but less publicised policy for car production.
However, I am glad that the Sun Herald published the story on the electric car issue. There are negatives, which were noted along with the positives, but it was up to the reader to weigh them up. I certainly think that the article was worth a read.
Fred McInerney, Karuah
COALITIONS OF THE WILLING
Greg Harborne (Letters, 8/2) proposed an interesting idea in Saturday's Newcastle Herald : "If Labor sticks with the Greens, they will never win an election."
This begs the question; where would the Liberals have come in the last election if they didn't add their votes to the Nationals? Or equally, where would Labor have come if they had added their votes to the Greens?
Australians never elect the Liberals as a majority outright, yet the Liberals virtually control the government because they outnumber their Nationals colleagues. This brings to mind the "hillbilly dictator" Joh Bjelke-Petersen's attempt to govern in his own right, which ended in failure as would any Liberal or National attempt to represent Australia in their own right. So, how about a Labor/Green Coalition? Great idea, Greg.
George Paris, Rathmines
FIXES UNLIKELY FROM LETTERS
IF Scott Hillard's claim (Letters, 8/2) that Ross Garnaut's 200-page book titled Superpower was short on detail to address his call for detailed plans for a transition from coal, then the mind boggles how it can be addressed via letters to the editor in this newspaper.
I believe he also has some facts wrong. Mr Garnaut explains how Australia can become a relatively cheap energy producer and not continue to be more expensive, as Mr. Hillard implies. This is a basic theme of the whole book and one wonders how much of the book Mr. Hillard actually read to miss this point.
With cheaper electricity, we can then compete with other countries in producing goods with a high energy requirement such as steel and aluminium. That still requires mining of iron ore and the ingredients to produce aluminium but it is globally more efficient on emissions to produce the final product at close to the source of the raw material rather than carting the bulk material to another country for processing.
This is even more the case if the electricity used for processing locally is from renewables compared to processing overseas that might use fossil fuels for power.
Mr. Hillard also points out that Australia is at a disadvantage compared to other countries due to our high labour costs and higher taxation rates, but these are faced by all industries including mining.
Lloyd Davies, Stockton
DEANS SET UP JETS' SURGE
I WOULD just like to say what a good job Craig Deans has done with the situation he was put in. They probably should have won more games, and in my opinion he should have taken them to the end of the season because the women didn't make the finals.
Mick Walker, Elermore Vale
SHARE YOUR OPINION
Email email@example.com 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.
WHAT'S your point, Scott Hillard? (Letters, 8/2). That there shouldn't be a transition from fossil fuels to renewables until readers of the Newcastle Herald come up with a plan for it to happen? Here's a plan for you. Step 1: political leaders, corporations, unions, scientists and economists get together and devise a transition plan. Step 2: implement.
Michael Hinchey, New Lambton
MICHAEL Hinchey (Short Takes, 8/2) sees modern conservatives as the biggest threat to Western values, traditions and institutions. I find this a bit rich coming from someone who seemingly suggests censoring opinions about climate change (Letters, 25/1). Isn't freedom of speech one of those Western values and traditions? Further, he says the political right have entered a permanent war footing in which everything is subordinated to the quest for total victory. I see Mr Hinchey as on a war footing, labelling climate change a national security threat and likening climate deniers to traitors in his quest for total victory.
Peter Dolan, Lambton
AT least now we know what ScoMo means by "We are the best money managers!" He means that the Coalition always manages to transfer any slush fund to Coalition voters, or to in my opinion bribe recalcitrant voters to become so. Are we to believe that sports rorts were not sanctioned from the top?
Robert West, Woodrising
WHILE many people feel sorry for the passengers on the cruise ship currently quarantined in Japan, let's not forget that it is a one-off situation. However, for the residents in aged care facilities this is a frequent event whenever a resident comes down with a contagious illness. All residents are quarantined for similar periods.
John Scott, Kahibah
I AM bewildered to understand the sports rort. Each public service employee must undergo training on corruption each year. That is teachers, nurses and many more. I believe they are more worried about the nurse or teacher whose family is grateful and offers them a night out that may cost more than $50 than the rorting for political advantage by elected representatives.
Andrew Wells, North Lambton
THIS morning I was at Stockton Beach watching one of the caravan park units about to fall into the ocean ('On the edge', Herald 11/2). A woman from the council was there so I said to her what a great idea it was to spend $350,000.00 on sand to shore up that part of the beach. Her reply says it all about fixing the beach "there is a sandbar out there so it's not as bad as it could be."
Gerald Borthwick, Stockton
LITTLE appears to have happened over the 4 months since Lake Macquarie Council rescinded a resolution to proceed with a six-storey lakeside development at 4 Bath Street, Toronto. While preparation work has stopped and the property included in the foreshore master plan, this has resulted in very little community consultation. Is this a stalling tactic prior to September's council elections? Toronto residents want involvement, not to be sidelined again.