IN better times past, the government kept its purse string closed to those on Newstart. It seems that they were the undeserving poor. The government is now facing the prospect that the previously undeserving poor are being joined by a cohort of what they consider more deserving poor ('Hundreds seek help after losing their jobs', Newcastle Herald 24/3).
Now that the unemployment rate is set to soar and the economy requires the populace to spend more, there is to be a temporary increase in Newstart. It could be a long time before the unemployment rate comes anywhere near where it has recently been. Now is an opportune time for the Newstart allowance to be increased on a permanent basis.
The populace will likely treat the federal government kindly at the next election for the way it is proposing to help the unemployed. Not so, however, if Mr. Morrison throws millions towards his favourite sport, the footy. It is enough that in the tough times ahead the state of NSW is spending billions of dollars tearing down perfectly adequate stadiums and replacing them with new ones. If the government in Canberra also throws money at the footy, then it had better be prepared to give up the government benches at the next election.
Les Brennan, Newcastle East
FLAUNTING IS JUST FOOLISH
I HAVE a local example of the kind of thoughtless behaviour that simply has to change.
Last Friday afternoon at Redhead Beach Café, I sat at an outdoor table with a group of 20-somethings sitting at the next table. I suddenly became aware of someone sitting down right next to me, with her back to my table, chatting to the other table.
No asking, no courtesy, no care, no thought. Not even 0.5 metres - let alone 1.5 metres. The tables would have been otherwise perfectly okay.
I politely ask if she could move along the bench, this provoked mock outrage and much amusement amongst the group, who eventually walked away poking fun at me.
Despite being outdoors, this was such a thoughtless, ill-informed and selfish act, a bit like the hordes on Bondi Beach the same afternoon.
I really hope they were not infected, not just for my sake but for themselves and for any elderly relatives they have.
Times are changing; behaviour must change immediately for our community's well-being going forward.
Adrian Eisler, Eleebana
SCHOOL STANCE CONCERN
I AM rather bemused by the comments by politicians that children are safe from this virus at school ('Worried teachers set to call in sick today', Herald 24/3). As an ex-doctor, I would ask that the media ensure that this advice is correct, because I cannot believe that children can't spread it. Where is the evidence?
I know that we are living at a difficult time, and we need to make extraordinary sacrifices to keep us all as safe as possible, but I suspect that political decisions rather than purely medical ones are being made.
Rod Woodhouse, East Maitland
FOLLOW THE RULES CLOSELY
CORONAVIRUS is indiscriminately bearing down and significantly impacting family, work and social life. The speed with which COVID-19 is changing daily life is challenging and unprecedented.
Coronavirus is infectious. Without authorities continuing to roll out stringent and proportionate measures, then most Australians could be affected within 120 days, with just a 10 per cent daily increase in cases. Federal and state governments are mobilising to contain the widespread local transmission of coronavirus, whilst attempting to ensure the economy is best placed to emerge from this global health crisis.
It's incumbent on all Australians to follow official announcements and consistently make responsible decisions to minimise infection rates and protect vulnerable citizens.
Dr Michael Walton, Lambton
FORGIVENESS IS A VIRTUE
FRANK Hinchey (Letters, 20/3), Jesus didn't order His followers to place millstones around the necks of paedophiles. He meant (Mt 18:6) it's better to have a millstone hung around the neck and be drowned than to sin against the innocent.
Doesn't scripture say (Mt 12:31) that dying unrepentant for one's sins is the only unforgivable sin?
Is this why convicted paedophile Vince Ryan, in the recent ABC program Revelation, said God can forgive him? Many, understandably, would say he deserves no forgiveness.
A recent example of radical forgiveness is Oatlands mother and devout Maronite Catholic Leila Abdallah, who said of the alleged drunk driver who killed three of her children, "I think in my heart to forgive him ... I'm not going to hate him, because this is not who we are" (SMH 8/2).
Maybe this is a step too far for many of us, but who does withholding forgiveness hurt the most: victim or transgressor?
Peter Dolan, Lambton
WE COULD ISOLATE OUR CITY
AS the COVID-19 virus has now spread to our city, I'm making a suggestion that we now close the borders of Newcastle for a few weeks, thus preventing anyone coming in or out of our city.
I believe this would be possible by shutting road, rail, harbour and air access to our city. In other parts of the world this preventative strategy has had to be done, but it has largely been enforced too late to prevent high numbers of people contracting the virus and there have been many deaths.
If we act now, when the known number of infections is relatively low, in my opinion we may prevent the pandemic getting out of hand in Newcastle.
Carylyn Lightfoot, New Lambton Heights
SHE WON'T JUST BE RIGHT
I LOVE a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, our Aussie attitude in fires, floods and rains. She'll be right is what is said in most of our situations, but not I'm afraid of the crisis now within our nation.
This attitude of she'll be right is completely out of whack, for once you've lost a loved one you can never get them back.
The young, the old and in between should look at what is happening, and, wake up and not get caught napping.
It's not alright and you should try to stop this in its tracks, then once it is all over give yourselves a pat on the back.
Our loved ones are so precious.
So social isolation should be practiced by our nation. Wake up, Australia.
Dave Watson, Dungog
TIME TO SHUT IT DOWN
I BELIEVE that we really need to shut down for two weeks. Everything except essentials. If we don't this will never end.
Karen Robertson, Blackalls Park
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.
GIVEN the fact that the majority of our Coronavirus clusters have been derived from overseas air travellers, it was clearly prudent to prevent foreign nationals from entering Australia. But what about the three hundred thousand Australians still living abroad. Are we going to let them dribble back into the country over the next year, hope they will self-isolate for 14 days which many won't, and then fight a rear guard action against new infections as we endeavour to flatten the curve with local restrictions? I say not. The government has already encouraged them to come home so why not now impose a cut-off date sooner rather than later.
Ken Winning, Belmont
I AM one of those people that can get access to a supermarket before 8am. This morning I was able to get one pack of toilet paper. It was one of the last on the shelf. By 8am there were none left. I hope that supermarkets stagger their repacking of the shelves throughout the day to give shoppers after 8am access to items in short supply.
Ken Thornton, Rathmines
I TOTALLY agree with Rick Miller (Letters, 21/3) in response to the ABC's Revelation. I also am thankful for the guts of great journalists like Joanne McCarthy.
Kathryn Hancock, Newcastle
JOANNE McCarthy's haunting portrayal of Brett Sangstock's horrors of sexual abuse at the hands of Hillsong Church founder, Pastor Brian Houston's, father left me quite horrified and profoundly sad so it has taken me awhile to respond (Try walking in our shoes, Herald, 5/3). It will be a great day when reigning PM and famous revered clergy try 'walking in Brett's shoes'. Thank you again to Julia Gillard, a PM who listened and gave us forgotten Australians the chance to tell our stories of sexual abuse by those who were meant to 'care' for us.
Yvette Parr, Woy Woy
STOCKTON beach is in a mess. The council is wasting money putting sandbags there and it needs big rocks like on break walls. At Coffs Harbour they are dredging sand in. Also, we need sand pumped in from outside like they did in Queensland. I need to know why they can't bring down the boat that did the job in Queensland. They talked about doing that a long time ago and put it in the too hard basket.
George Tattersell, New Lambton
I THOUGHT John Levett's swipe (Short Takes, 20/2) at Premier Gladys Berejiklian over the toilet roll virus, was below the belt.
David Stuart, Merewether
I BET Bill Shorten is grinning from ear to ear, having lost the unlosable election and not having to deal with the coronavirus problems.
Ian King, Warners Bay
IT'S all right for Scott Morrison, complaining about panic buying and saying there's plenty of food available. He should visit a supermarket in Newcastle and see the empty shelves and freezers. I bet there's plenty of tucker and toilet paper in Parliament House. As usual, our politicians will look after themselves!