IT was one year this weekend since the trams started running. What a great day that Sunday was; thousands of locals gathering to try the service out, with hundreds boarding each tram and travelling from Newcastle Interchange to Newcastle Beach. Each trip taken the trams were full to capacity, and it was all for free.
Come the next day, and every day since, I would estimate the trams per trip would average less than 10 passengers. In the middle of the day or mid to late evening there are only ever a handful using the service, and sometimes no-one except the driver. This equates to the fact that in my opinion the trams are being used to about 5 per cent of their capacity.
It is well known businesses along Hunter and Scott Streets have suffered. Of late we have seen the Diggers Club close. I believe all of this is mainly due to lack of access and lack of parking available. We have also seen two deaths in Scott Street, a cyclist and a motorbike rider, over the past year.
The manhole covers and drain grates along Scott and Hunter Streets rattle every time a vehicle runs over them. Despite repeated requests for these to be fixed, after a year they still have not. This I know is upsetting to a number of the locals.
Now the service has completed its first full year, it would be great to obtain some facts and figures from either Keolis Downer, NSW government or City of Newcastle as to the costs of running this transport system. I'm sure we would all like to know.
John Fear, Newcastle East
LEAVE SOME SPACE ON ROAD
RECENT storms at night can put water over roads. The NSW SES pleaded with people to slow down at the bottom of McCaffrey Drive because the people could not see the water over the road. Visibility is greatly reduced when it rains at night, but people are pressured to drive near the speed limit at all times. What about being able to go slower than the speed limit sometimes for safety? What about keeping the five second recommended visuals of all hazards on the roads in front?
Few motorists keeping a safe distance behind vehicles in front. From the NSW Roads and Maritime Services webpage: "To reduce the risk of driving into the rear of a vehicle, the three-second crash avoidance space is essential, as the vehicle in front has the potential to stop very quickly if it collides with another vehicle or stationary object."
So you drive assuming the car in front will possibly do an emergency stop. This is the government's interpretation of the rule and their recommendation for low-risk driving. Just because almost all car trips end up with no crashes does not mean people have driven low risk; it just means the car in front did not do an emergency stop.
You sometimes need a four-second safety gap. The NSW guideline is for a three-second safety gap.
Daniel Endicott, Islington
BULK OF DECISION FLAWED
IN their combined wisdom, the powers that be have made health access harder for those who need it most. Until recently, bulk billing has been available to those on health care cards, pensioners, NDIS recipients and more at the discretion of doctors. Now that has largely been withdrawn.
People with mental illnesses who are stable on their medication are no longer able to access doctors for those medications with no cost. This is incredibly difficult to understand. Cuts made for fiscal reasons shift the bar. I believe that puts not only the patient but the community at risk.
The police put their lives at risk. Accident and emergency staff have an influx of yet more irrational patients, and the general community is as usual left to deal with the fallout. Who makes these decisions?
We are the lucky country?
Does anyone know who or where these people in need can get the practical help they need? If so, contact local health services or the police. Those front-line services may be able to get word out to folk who need it.
Lyn Rendle, Rankin Park
PM HAS CHANGED HIS TONE
MR Morrison, as I read what you have written in the Foreword to the Closing the Gap Report and listened to your speech in the tabling of the report in the Federal Parliament on February 12 ('PM flags new era to close huge gap', Herald 13/2) I am wondering whether you have had a sudden conversion.
You wrote in the published report: "It is clear we have more to do, but we must do things differently. Without a true partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people we will hamper our progress."
In parliament you stated "our top-down, government-knows-best approach has not delivered the improvements we all need," and later "we perpetuated an ingrained way of thinking passed down over two centuries and more, and it was the belief that we knew better than our indigenous people. We don't."
It is almost two years since our First Nations leaders delivered to you the Statement from the Heart, which is their prescription for genuine recognition and a voice to both politicians and the people of Australia.
Yet you dismissed it without any serious consideration, and gave it an interpretation that was not the intention of Indigenous people. Does your response to the Close the Gap report signal a change of heart? Can we now expect a more enlightened reception of the voices of indigenous leaders?
Doug Hewitt, Hamilton
MEAT ADDS TO VIRUS THREAT
THE news is full of reports of viruses and bacterial infections, some of which are resistant to antibiotics ('Morrison extends China travel ban as coronavirus spreads', Herald 14/2). Most come from animals being abused for human use.
The latest shock is the recall of milk by Dairy Farmers due to potential contamination with E.coli. Earlier this month, researchers reported on meat and offal collected from NSW, Victoria and Queensland from 2016-2018. They found, in most chicken meat and offal, campylobacter bacteria, the most common cause of human gastroenteritis in the world.
I believe the solution is obvious: stop raising, killing and eating animals. Crowded, filthy factory farms are perfect reservoirs for disease. Chickens are packed into sheds teeming with bacteria and ammonia fumes where many die from the unsanitary conditions. Cows are bred to produce enormous quantities of milk, resulting in mastitis (infection of the udder) before they are forced onto a slaughterhouse truck.
The coronavirus originated at a fish market, where close contact between humans and live animals helped the virus to jump species.
Eating animals has apocalyptic consequences. The most significant thing that you can do to help animals, the environment, and your own health is to go vegan.
Desmond Bellamy, PETA Australia
SHARE YOUR OPINION
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Relating to Daniel Starr's comments regarding weather forecasting, I advise all school leavers to apply for a job with BOM as a forecaster. It seems it's the only job where you can be wrong every day, and still hold your job.
Dick McGuigan, Shortland
IN answer to Daniel Starr's query on climate and weather (Short Takes 13/2), the former is the provenance of meteorologists who gather real time information on air temperature, pressure humidity and wind speed to make predictions on the weather in the immediate future. Climate predictions, on the other hand, are based on ancient information gathered by many different disciplines using drilling cores in ice, coral and sediment as well as data from satellites to determine what the climate was like in the past with known levels of carbon dioxide. These can then be used along with climate modelling to predict our future climate, and it doesn't look good for Australia.
Don Owers, Dudley
SURELY a simple and inexpensive way to save Stockton beach ('Prepare for the worst', Newcastle Herald 14/2) would be to sink a large decommissioned naval ship to stop the turbulence in the vicinity of the pines.
John Bonnyman, Fern Bay
WHO in their right mind thinks for one minute there will be an open and transparent investigation into the latest sports rort? The Auditor-General himself stated unequivocally that the last one was a stinker ('Flawed process' in sports grants', Herald 14/2). This latest effort will likely fare exactly the same. I sometimes think that the Coalition get their inspiration from that disgusting excuse for a politician in America. You know the one, he who will say and do anything to stay in power.
Kevin White, Muswellbrook
COULD not have said it better, Doug Dowton (Short Takes, 13/2), and don't forget the other two.
Bruce Cook, Adamstown
I HAVE heard flood clean-up costs are expected to be in the millions. The government should have spent this type of money on dams. Instead of wasteful charity, they should start spending on this country's future. I think that there should be a test on all pollies prior to getting office to see exactly how smart they are, instead of voters using our hindsight. I for one will be honest and declare that I voted for ScoMo. With hindsight, how dumb that was.
Dennis Crampton, Redhead
IT'S great to hear Scott Morrison is following scientific advice on management of coronavirus. It will be fantastic if the Prime Minister does likewise and accepts scientific consensus to step up action on climate change.
Martin Frohlich, Adamstown Heights
MY beer of choice now costs $70 a carton. Cans of drink at work have gone up 20 cents. How much water can we drink from the tap due to restrictions? We may have to literally take candy from babies to be able to afford to rehydrate after being dehydrated.