Scot MacDonald ("Hunter voters will collect in marginal seats", Herald, 23/5) tries to discern a "tectonic shift" in voting patterns, citing the Federal seat of Hunter as an example. This analysis is not supported by rational examination of recent election results. Certainly, Joel Fitzgibbon suffered a significant two-party 9 per cent swing against him in 2019, but in 2016 he enjoyed a 7 per cent swing in his favour, in 2013 a 9 per cent swing against him, and in 2007 a 5 per cent swing in his direction.
A more logical conclusion would be that some voters in Hunter are deciding afresh their voting preferences on the issues important to them at each election, putting parliamentarians on notice every term.
A more disturbing inference in MacDonald's opinion piece is that only marginal seats can attract funding. There is the finest of lines between this assertion, and the sort of pork-barrelling demonstrated by Nationals' leader John Barilaro, currently under investigation regarding arts funding.
MORE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
With disgraced former Arts Minister Don Harwin, Barilaro managed to channel all arts grants funding into marginal government seats, but just a tiny percentage to non-government seats. This in spite of expert independent advice on how that money should be distributed.
MacDonald seems to support this view, that government spending is determined by the "winability" of each seat, rather than by any independent assessment of the value of particular projects in competing seats. As we have seen in the ongoing "sports rorts" affair, this motivation appears to most as corrupt. Another consideration is that most seats in Australia remain faithful to just one party at all elections. According to the Australian Electoral Commission's figures, prior to the 2019 election 44 federal seats were classified as "marginal", from a total of 151, fewer than one third of seats. According to MacDonald's analysis, these safe seats aren't doing enough to attract special "favours" from governments.
The problem is of course that this sort of argument is used only against voters in seats held by non-conservatives. There is little pressure from Liberal strategists to change voting patterns in blue-ribbon Liberal seats such as Mackellar.
John Beach, Cooks Hill
Praise for quick action warranted
Robert Green and Craig Budden (Short Takes, 26/5) would do better if they look at the why the numbers were so far out in the estimate of the numbers that would be eligible for the JobKeeper support, before they joined the desperate Leader of the Opposition to criticise the government.
The numbers came from an electronic form that asked for an expression of interest and some filled in that form incorrectly. The form was clear, I filled in mine, but when it asked for the number of employees that would be affected, for some unknown reason some businesses put in multiples of 1500 (the amount of the fortnightly claim) instead of the number of employees. As these were electronic forms they would have been scanned in the first instance to determine the maximum of the financial exposure.
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Accountants and actuaries do this all the time to assist all manner of financial institutions to make sound financial decisions and all are subject to change when a detailed examination of the numbers are made.
If it were an underestimate I would understand, but we are dealing with a quick response to a need and we have an estimate that was found to be excessive and so no person eligible was forced to miss out. Give some praise for the quick action of relief at this difficult time.
Milton Caine, Birmingham Gardens
What's your suggestion, Labor?
As the old adage says, those who live in glass houses, should sweep their own doorstep before sweeping someone else's, or how about empty vessels make the most noise.
The Labor Party is quick to point the finger at the government about their overestimate towards assisting unemployed Australians during this pandemic.
If they had their way this excess would be divided out to those on work visas and supporting the Chinese communist party as the Victorian Labor premier has done with inviting huge investment into his state.
Please, this excess might have been an oversight, but I'm sure it will be properly utilised, whether being put back into Australians' pockets so that taxpayers don't have to repay this amount, or used to further the support of Australian workers, businesses and economy.
Back off Labor, what have you done or suggested?
Graeme Kime, Cameron Park
An alternative Supercars site
Since the Newcastle East End race has been cancelled this year and the disruption it creates when it is on, perhaps it is time to consider alternatives.
How about building a purposeful track using the funds that are used in preparation of the street event along with a post-corona stimulus package, and possibly from the event organisers themselves since they will be saving heaps by not having to erect and dismantle their facilities.
Rather than having a one-off event, the track could be used regularly by local motor enthusiasts and become a money generator and tourist attraction.
As a possible location, a small (relative) section of the old BHP site abutting Industrial Drive which has a sloping embankment suitable for spectators, and established road access/egress via George Street lights, may be suitable.
I am not sure who controls or owns this land but it certainly has advantages and it may take many years for anything else to be developed on this site. There is almost 18 months to consider and construct this facility and once built, it would benefit everyone.
Greg Rendle, Rankin Park
Young Greta is courageous
Recent Herald contributors in their high-minded ignorance labelled Greta Thunberg unhinged, not "having it all together", having a lot of problems and alarming her peers.
As she is at an age when many young people seek answers and wonder at the world around them she is courageously expressing without fear the sentiment of much of the youth of today, to have a voice.
Greta Thunberg has been invited and encouraged to use her voice with the freedom she is privileged with because she can.
Climate change rallies by the brave determined young students last year proves there is youth who will be heard other than to quieten down and to be seen and not heard.
Glenda Evans, Dudley
We're not helping our children
While happily "road mapping" to gift hundreds of millions of dollars to fossil fuel industries, the Morrison government will not countenance "putting a (tax) price on carbon".
If not from taxes, from where will these rivers of government largesse emanate?
Our back-to-business-as-usual government has not learnt anything from climate-induced increases in catastrophic droughts and bushfires. Sadly these subsidies will not reduce carbon emissions significantly or benefit our kids' future.
Martin Frohlich, Adamstown Heights
I want to add my voice of outrage in support of the other angry, old, privileged white men on these pages about Greta being invited to that meeting thingy. For starters she's a child and she's female. How will the lass ever learn to cook, sew and iron if she's always at these conferences? Surely our conservative hero, self-confessed "stable genius", Donald Trump should have been invited. His no-nonsense, ignore-the-science attitude is what humankind needs now. We need more ray lamps and injected bleach to fix this pandemic, not the contributions of an informed, influential, passionate young girl.
John Arnold, Anna Bay
"Bus trial postponed, could be shortened" (Herald, 25/5). I am very confused as to the 11-seat driverless bus Newcastle Council purchased. The article refers to the capacity of the vehicle and that it will require a "chaperone" under state law to be onboard at all times who can take control of the vehicle. So why doesn't it just have a driver? Can someone from council or Keolis Downer "please explain?"
John Fear, Newcastle East
Scott Morrison's way out of debt is on the backs of the poor pensioners and unemployed when he needs to learn marketing and how to talk to people. Josh can go back and do maths and talk about borders, Dutton should be thrown in detention.
Craig Budden, Hamilton
The words of Ann Williams on "nurses can't be replaced" (Letters, 25/5) are oh so poignant! Too often the role of the nurse is diminished. Current COVID-19 times, in particular, show their central role caring for people 24/7. Nurses do not perform menial duties and robots can never replace them. Thank you Ann for speaking up on the behalf of nurses.
Isabel Higgins, Valentine
Can the federal and state governments please put the NRL back in their place? Who do they think they are telling us when crowds will be back? Arrogance at its best.
Bruce Cook, Adamstown
John Cooper (Short Takes, 25/5), how can the cartoonists give the Libs a break when they provide some much material?
Daryl Frost, Eleebana
Seven years of Liberal government and only $3 billion cut from TAFE and training! Hang on everyone, it's ScoMo to the rescue with his JobMaker program announcement!
Mac Maguire, Charlestown
The Federal Government has made a $60 billion miscalculation of the cost of the jobs package and now claims this is good news. I trust we will never again see the conservatives claiming they are better money managers.
Robert West, Woodrising
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