WITH the resumption of tertiary education for the ensuing year, I note the emergence of more extensive TAFE diploma and vocational courses at last being touted and emphasised via the media. The privatisation of vocational education and the accompanying demise of TAFE has been counter-productive to the needs of our economic and social sectors during the past decade.
The abandonment of the secondary school Year 10 school certificate, with students now directed towards Year 12 tertiary education, has seen a profound shortage of trade-based apprenticeships in major construction and technical field occupations.
TAFE upfront course fees could be overcome by the availability of a HECS-type scheme, or even with the rider of an apprenticeship pathway. There is a "strong demand from industry for employees trained in community services such as health care, early childcare and traditional trades including building". ('Demand for leavers firm in shortfalls', NewcastleHerald 17/1).
Trainee and apprenticeship trades' skills training present a balance between the practical and theory, with skills master guidance ever present, and trade training TAFE orientated (Letters, 12/2).
Not all pupils are blessed with academic clout throughout their secondary schooling, though they may fit an apprenticeship well at this early developmental stage. It is not unknown for some TAFE trade graduates to eventually embrace tertiary extension courses as mature-aged attendees at a later stage. The belated government re-recognition of TAFE and VET pathways, which I recall were downgraded during the Abbott leadership era, will surely be of benefit towards employee employment satisfaction and social needs.
Bob Allen, Hawks Nest
BANK ON VALUE OF THE BREAK
I HAVE had some of the best waves of my life all along Stockton beach, and I believe the current erosion issues are a tragedy not assisted by a confused and inactive state government and Newcastle council.
We have but one chance to really not just fix the problem but to create something better than before, a solution which will have a lasting impact for the local community. It will cost money, but the reasonable amount to make this better and the associated windfall this will create cannot be overlooked.
Stockton should be preserved as a surfing reserve. A few well-designed groynes (small break walls) strategically placed across the beachfront will generate better surf conditions, aid sandbank retention and aid in beachfront sand from eroding. We can manufacture superb surfing conditions with a real and lasting financial win for the Stockton community.
Surfing comps, perhaps even Surfest, could one day held at Stockton. Camping grounds, shops and the like would all benefit from this once-in-a-lifetime plan.
One only has to look at the man-made creation of the super bank on the Gold Coast as to what can be done by us to change beach conditions. We could bury our heads in the sand, but there is not much sand left.
Terry Banks, New Lambton
LEXIE'S DESERVED BETTER
CITY of Newcastle council state that there is no other option, but to close Lexie's on the Beach due to a risk of inundation just goes to show that this council is reactive rather than proactive ('Cafe strip', Newcastle Herald, 19/2). How quick were they to move their cabins from the caravan park to crown land near the pool and make them semi-permanent, yet they couldn't look at a similar alternative for Lexie's?
I believe Lexie's should be allowed to continue to trade. If you took a poll, I believe you would find 100 per cent agreement that Lexie's should stay open. If you use the logistics in closing Lexie's, then why not evacuate all the homes in the area where the childcare centre was? Ridiculous.
The council has also stated that a development application will be submitted for the cabins near the pool. I might be cynical, but is this the start of the Newcastle-ization of all that extremely valuable parkland along the harbourside in Stockton?
Tony Morley, Waratah
VETERANS SHOT DOWN AGAIN
GOVERNMENTS always like to keep their bad acts secret, but what is probably the worst bad act Australian governments have tried to keep secret? Could it be the sports grant rorts, or perhaps it was our PM being on a Hawaiian beach while Australia burned? No, probably the biggest failure governments on both sides of the political divide wish to keep secret is the appalling treatment of many of our military veterans.
Although federal governments are to blame for the many problems facing our veterans; now the NSW government has decided to get in on the act.
Totally and permanently incapacitated (TPI) veterans prior to 1992 were entitled to a gold card covering all of their medical treatment requirements. Then the government of the day decided to change the scheme, no longer issuing gold cards.
By 2003 the government decided that the scheme of no gold cards was rubbish so they reintroduced the issue of Gold Cards to TPI veterans. However, the government didn't backdate the new scheme, so veterans who became TPI between 1992 and 1 July 2004 can only have a white card. They require permission for medical treatment. Now the NSW government has introduced the travel card and approved it for gold card holders only. Unfortunately, this decision will leave many of those who became TPI 1992 to 2004 unable to access the card.
If the treatment of these veterans wasn't so sad, it would be laughable.
Mike Sargent, Cootamundra
INDEPENDENCE IS PARAMOUNT
THERE was an intriguing article by Stephen Galilee, CEO of the NSW Minerals Council in Tuesday's Herald ("Proposals a step in the right direction", Opinion 18/2). He applauds the proposed curtailing of the powers of the Independent Planning Commission which, under the NSW government's amendments, will only review mining applications referred to it by the minister. Presented under the guise of recommendations made by the Productivity Commission in response to "delays in assessment" and "bureaucratic duplication," I believe the amendments are in fact legislative payback for the Commission's rejection of the Bylong project. That was a blow, no doubt, for those whose sole interest is in promoting the fortunes of mining companies.
Perhaps someone should explain to Mr Galilee that the first letter in IPC stands for independent and that a body which does only what the Minister asks it to do cannot claim to be that.
Dr John Woodward, University of Newcastle associate law lecturer
LETTER OF THE WEEK
THE pen goes to Peter Mullins for his letter on buying Australian produce.
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.
This royal commission into bushfires will not help avoid future climate catastrophes. The Liberal-National government signed up to the Paris climate agreement in 2016, though has not set a meaningful timeline or target for emission cuts between now and 2050. Now Prime Minister Morrison's royal commission will not look at overarching climate change. What sort of people have weaselled their way into government?!
Martin Frohlich, Adamstown Heights
I TOOK Stan in a wheelchair to Newcastle by train, light rail and Stockton ferry. It was our 60th wedding anniversary and a special treat for Stan, who has been in care for over two years. We both enjoyed how easy it is to get there with a wheelchair and the kindness of all. Thanks, great town.
Connie Hindle OAM, Buff Point
OKAY, Sean Farnham (Short Takes, 20/2), I thought that John Bonnyman (Short Takes, 11/2) was humorous, you don't. However, I'm glad that you mentioned the government's re-opening of Christmas Island, which is much more laudable than the very expensive, wasteful pre election stunt blaming medevac laws. This government seems to think that taxpayer money is only to be used to suit their ends. But this is another non-sequitur. Good luck, Mr Farnham.
Bob Salter, Stockton
I WOULD be interested to know how much of an effort China is putting into curbing or helping cure this deadly virus which emanated from there. The Communists are great telling the world of their successes, but we hear little or nothing of their failures.
John Hallam, Kurri Kurri
THE Prime Minister could be holier than God and John Butler (Short Takes, 20/2) would find something to criticise him for. We get the picture and totally understand which side of the political fence you are on, which unfortunately doesn't leave too much room for open discussions on subjects.
Tony Mansfield, Lambton
I WONDER, as do others, were the Australian passengers quarantined inside the inner cabins on board the ship in Japan moved to the vacated balcony cabins when other passengers were allowed to disembark? I was struck down with a virus on my last cruise, so it doesn't surprise me that 88 more cases have been detected. Those 180-odd passengers who are coming back to Australia tonight should be pleased to be coming home even if they have to spend 14 more days in quarantine. They should realise that the health and safety of fellow Australians should be first and foremost, but welcome home.
Graeme Kime, Cameron Park
Michael Hinchey (Letters, 20/2) values cohesiveness over conformity (Letters, 25/1). Now we all must get on board with constitutional rights for Aboriginal Australians, an Aboriginal "voice" and perhaps even a treaty. How does a special status in constitutional law for Aboriginal Australians make us equal and cohesive? Has English common law conferred no benefits on Aboriginal Australians? I agree that an Aboriginal "voice" and treaty seem unlikely, and I suspect the majority of us would reverse the new High Court ruling.