I READ in Thursday's edition of the Newcastle Herald that the Premier of Sydney has decided to increase all public transport fares ('Fare dinkum', Herald 9/7). I guess it does not take too much to understand why she has done this; I believe it is to punish all public transport users for her failure to keep to budgets when building infrastructure systems for Sydney.
Our light rail system to nowhere was supposed to have been fully funded from the sale or lease of Newcastle Harbour. The Premier was more than a billion dollars over budget for her tram system, and not to mention the massive blowout for the tunnel system and the stadium cost blowout too. I'm not sure how we can get away from the state's incompetence with handling the taxpayers' money but they sure need a good lesson in economics and accountability.
Why have we left them in charge after all the cost blowouts for infrastructure?
Greg Lowe, New Lambton
Green light for job growth
AT the request of the World Wildlife Fund, professional financial analysts Ernst and Young has conducted a study into the employment outcomes of government investment in renewable energy compared to investment in fossil fuel projects such as coal, oil and gas.
It estimates that every million dollars spent on renewable energy and exports creates 4.8 full time jobs in renewable infrastructure and 4.95 jobs in energy efficiency. By comparison, a million dollars spent on fossil fuel projects has been found to create 1.7 full-time jobs.
That suggests that if just 10 per cent of what federal and state governments have indicated they will spend in response to COVID-19 was directed towards clean projects it could create 160,000 jobs, have a significant impact on atmospheric greenhouse emissions and partly drive a climate friendly economic recovery.
The report suggests fast tracking wind and solar farms already approved, increasing transmission capacity and backing new industries in battery manufacture, electric buses, renewable hydrogen and manufacturing powered by renewable energy.
The Morrison government has called for an economic recovery built on gas, which can destroy agricultural land and wildlife habitat, compete with agriculture for water and increase atmospheric greenhouse emissions.
There are many groups such as Beyond Zero Emissions who have viable plans for repowering Australia from renewable sources who are keen to share their expertise. Why are they being ignored?
Denis Rothwell, North Rothbury
Nothing sweet in honey dispute
AS people might be aware, the New Zealand honey industry is trying to stop anyone else using the term Manuka honey. The reason that it is an issue at all is that there is a claim that Manuka honey is said to have (almost magical) healing powers, and that it is more magical than "ordinary" honey. This is despite there not being, to my knowledge, any truly scientific basis to the statement.
Additionally, I believe that Manuka-labelled honey has been sold in Tasmania since the late 1800s, so (like the issue with the UGG boot debacle of a few years ago) the argument that because the New Zealanders were the first to market it as Manuka honey, with the claim that it is medicinal, is the reason any other country should not be able to sell it with the Manuka name, is spurious.
The honey is so called because it is made by bees feeding on Manuka plants, which are also native to southeastern Australia. Whether the name Manuka is a Maori/Polynesian word or not, is immaterial.
Money is the root of most evils.
Rod Woodhouse, East Maitland
Perseverance can pay off
THE story on the Johnson Property Group regarding council rules, regulations and perceptions of preferential treatment ('Push to bridge divide', Herald 9/7) is nothing new and I believe is present in many councils where some council employees may suffer from small poppy syndrome.
I myself once suffered setbacks when council objected to the removal of rubbish dumped in the water of a waterfront block of land I had purchased, calling it escalation of the lake frontage, even though it was only building material. The outcome had investigation from council, fisheries, the lands department and others providing much documentation and plenty of jobs. Fortunately for me, my neighbour submitted a letter in my defence, agreeing with my circumstance and saying sea grass was once more growing where this rubbish had accumulated, which was acted upon and agreed by fisheries officers. After that, no more was mentioned.
I sympathise with the JPG because they are not alone and hope their enterprise will eventually be worth the trouble.
Carl Stevenson, Dora Creek
No comparison between the two
SCOTT Hillard (Short Takes, 10/7) just does not seem to understand how dangerous COVID-19 is. It is not like influenza, which emerges, infects many people who may or may or not pass it on to a limited number of other people, then effectively disappears until the following winter season.
COVID-19 is highly contagious, as we have seen by the huge numbers of infections and deaths, despite the suppression measures which Mr Hillard rejects. Recent research describes COVID-19 as five to 10 times more deadly than influenza, so with its capacity to reach so many more people because of its virulent nature, it is many times more deadly than influenza - despite the oppressive measures that have been taken worldwide to suppress and contain its spread. It seems that it will not just run its course, like influenza. It appears that, just like his reluctance to accept the findings of climate scientists, Mr Hillard rejects the conclusions of medical scientists.
John Ure, Mount Hutton
We're focused on wrong borders
WHY are we still allowing international travellers to enter Australia? All they are doing is endangering residents of our country. If they are Australian citizens, why in blazes are they still filtering in? If they were concerned and true blue about the safety of their fellow Australians, they should have returned long ago. Premiers are closing state borders yet still allowing overseas travellers to enter our country, potentially bringing COVID with them. Stop this stupidity.
We have a case in Newcastle from an overseas traveller ('Health service says man's post-quarantine positive 'very rare'', Herald 8/7). If they don't lock down international flights we are certain to return to total isolation and the kind of fatalities experienced by other countries that didn't stop international travellers spreading this disease. I don't care if you're coming back to continue your university studies, or bringing your friends/families here because you feel Australia is a safe country; all lives matter, not just yours.
Graeme Kime, Cameron Park
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.
FOR the past few months some business houses, coffee shops, garages and more have been asking customers to pay by card to save the handling of money. Fair enough. However, some of these businesses are also insisting on charging 1.5 per cent extra in fees because their customers have used a card. This is totally unfair and against the spirit of the day.
Ian Stewart, Elermore Vale
SCOTT Hillard, it will not be known, with COVID-19, what we are dealing with, until the end of next year, at the earliest, (Short Takes, 10/7). The second wave of the Spanish flu was the big hit. Behind the deaths, far more people are ill for a long time. COVID-19's strengths are dangerous mutation, sneakiness and extreme infectiousness; we have seen it go from one person to over 11 million in six months, with lockdowns in place. Our governments know the effect of anti-contagion measures, which they have applied with a heavy heart. So much economic wealth today comes from travel, but that is made to order for viral spread. We're between granite and tungsten.
Graeme Tychsen, Rankin Park
IN reply to John Gare (Short Takes, 8/7), I did not acknowledge the adverse effects on climate from carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. It is generally assumed that emissions from coal-fired power stations increase the atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide. But my understanding is that this theory has never been shown to be scientifically true to any significant extent. At the very least other, more natural factors are known to exert far stronger inputs and outputs to the global atmospheric carbon dioxide balance. As I said before, any extra carbon dioxide supposedly emitted from our power stations would make no measurable difference to global levels and no discernible difference to climate.
Peter Devey, Merewether
IN February, severe storm activity from an east-coast low resulted in the emergency removal and relocation of some 17 cabins from the foreshore of the Stockton tourist park. Since that time we have been blessed with fairly mild weather. This has afforded five months for Newcastle council to place high-quality sandbags in front of the most vulnerable sections of the Stockton foreshore, namely from the northern harbour breakwater to the surf club seawall; from the Surf Club seawall to the southern end of the Mitchell Street seawall; and from the northern end of the Mitchell Street seawall past Corroba Oval to the north. At the time of writing I believe the council has done almost nothing to protect the vulnerable areas listed above. Weather forecasts predict an east-coast low to severely impact the local coast on Tuesday. Should the storm impact cause further erosion of the existing vulnerable areas of foreshore, then in my opinion the blame may be laid squarely at the feet of Newcastle council and not attributed to a natural disaster.
Bruce Niblett, Stockton
WOULD you attend a community event or festival at the end of the year if COVID-19 restrictions were eased?