For over a month it has been clear that the COVID-19 crisis was far from over. Yet in NSW we always seem to be about three weeks behind in making decisions that will prevent community transmission from increasing.
I ask that the Premier not continue this trend and more decisive action is taken. In particular:
- Stop 'recommending' against travel between parts of NSW. It needs to be regulated and limited to essential travel such as for work, study or medical care.
- Limit indoor venues to no more than 20 people with distancing, and close bars and pubs temporarily. Yes, this will impact many businesses, but acting now will prevent longer and broader shutdowns.
- Make masks mandatory on public transport, shopping centres and close contact situations.
I may not be an epidemiologist, but after more than 25 years in medicine, including over 15 as a specialist, I fear more lives will be lost, more people will be permanently physically and mentally damaged, and more livelihoods will be smashed unless the Premier acts now.
With utmost respect - every doctor, healthcare worker and medical administrator I know say they can see that the second wave is coming and that the government is lagging behind in terms of what needs to be done.
People are shaking their heads at every new case announcement, including recent cases in my city of Newcastle, because we all know there will be people who don't follow 'recommendations' so need enforceable regulations to stop individual actions impacting the entire community.
We had done so well crushing the first wave, but inaction has allowed the beast to resurface.
As a doctor, as an asthmatic, as a father and a son, and as a member of our community, I implore the Premier to take real action now to stop a full second wave and the terrible consequences that come with it.
Dr Nick Moncrieff, specialist plastic surgeon, Newcastle
We could join Hiroshima
I am writing, as a gravely concerned resident of Newcastle, about the Orica Ammonium Nitrate (AN) storage at Kooragang Island. Although I understand that with correct storage and handling of AN, the probability of an event like Beirut occurring in Newcastle is very, very small. However, I am concerned that the actual consequence, as pointed out in your recent story on August 5, has never been considered in planning decisions for the site.
GHD prepared a "Preliminary Hazard Analysis" (PHA) risk assessment for planning approval of the current site expansion. There are several deficiencies with this assessment that I think need re-assessing considering the event in Beirut on August 5. GHD finds that an explosion at the site would result in a shockwave that would barely extend beyond the site boundary. This does not match what we have witnessed in Beirut.
I am concerned that the true consequence of 12,000 tonnes of AN exploding has never been assessed. Unfortunately, the critical sections of the GHD report are withheld on the grounds of public interest.
I urge Newcastle residents to call for an independent inquiry into the ammonium nitrate storage in Newcastle, to give a panel of expert's access to the risk assessments and assess if the true consequence has been considered in approving the development. I ask you to consider if the true consequence; Newcastle potentially joining Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the history books is acceptable, regardless of probability, to the people of NSW.
Steve Saul, Merewether
'Gentle prick' to remind us all
I can sense the frustration of some readers who long for those good old uncomplicated days where you lived, loved, worked hard and raised a family.
Those days were great for many but across the sea there was slavery, segregation, lynchings and large groups of white men known as the Ku Klux Klan whose aim was to terrify, murder and oppress people of colour. This was happening while we were sitting down enjoying our Sunday roast dinners.
There were similar things happening here in Australia to our Indigenous people, things that we didn't see in our small white towns because it was tucked away from sight.
Now, it seems, there are those who want to upset the applecart and it has got to the point where some feel they can't say this or that openly for fear of offending. There is even a move to change the name of a favourite brand of cheese.
The Black Lives Matter movement is a gentle prick to remind us that life has not been and is not the same for people of different colour. And for those who find it gets under their skin it is only pointing out that black lives should matter just as much as white lives when it comes to respect, equality, freedom and justice, things that white people have enjoyed and taken for granted for so long.
Julie Robinson, Cardiff
Benefits of cycling on display
The proposed development of the Richmond Vale Rail trail is a progressive step by the councils to recognise the fastest growing sport and recreation in our country, cycling.
During the last school holiday period my area of Nelson Bay was alive with cyclists and when I spoke to the owner of the car he was from Newcastle and his family with five bikes and three surfboards were looking for places to ride..
Catering for the cycling tourists is now big business and on the last long weekend after the opening of the Tumbarumba-Batlow rail trail some 4000 visitors rode the trail and brought great business to the area.
The pandemic has caused bikes to outsell cars by a big margin and people are realising the benefits of sharing a ride with the family and getting great health and emotional effects of these activities.
Congratulations to all as I am sure this new project will be even more popular than the Fernleigh Track.
Frank Ward OAM, Shoal Bay
Purpose-built facility needed
Jill McGrath makes some interesting but confusing observations in her letter of 3/8.
Why would Newcastle council build a maritime museum at Queens Wharf when a perfectly good museum exists at Honeysuckle, especially when council does not own the maritime collection?
There is adequate room at Newcastle Museum for maritime exhibitions, certainly for the limited part of the maritime collection that was exhibited at Lee Wharf.
It is common sense that the maritime collection needs a purpose-built facility and people have been asking the Maritime Museum Society for some time to provide for the collection, rather than just an exhibition space.
I fear Jill's enthusiasm has not recognised the extent of the damage to the artefacts from the delay in providing storage for the collection.
Bill Storer, Charlestown
I WONDER if Newcastle City Council realises that if the proposal to place a pet crematorium less than 25 metres from residences in Warabrook goes ahead, it will be the only council in Australia, if not the world, to agree to such a close proximity? By world standards a crematorium of any kind placed as close as this to a medium density residential area is totally unacceptable. Most places consider that a buffer of 200m should be the bare minimum. Considering the vulnerable people living close by, including aged residents, small children attending childcare centres and people with disabilities at day programs, council leaves itself in the unenviable position of being labelled as not only non-caring but arrogant and inhumane. It would be a retrograde step for the city if the DA is approved.
Maggie Deaves, Warabrook
THE manner in which the NSW Health Minister "spoke" to the Leader of the NSW Opposition in Parliament last week was appalling. Apart from the fact that he avoided the question, he demonstrated misogyny at its worst. What a poor example he is setting. Forget political parties and point scoring, the Premier should reprimand him and demand he apologise.
John Pritchard, Blackalls Park
GRAEME Tychsen claims that the hospitals in New York were overrun/overflowing (Letters, 7/8). The truth is that in New York the hospital ship Comfort and the 4000-bed Javits Centre were barely occupied.
Zenon Helinski, Newcastle
ONE thing we have learnt from the pandemic is that privatising aged care was a disastrous mistake. The federal government needs to start immediately on phasing out private ownership of nursing homes.
Peter Moylan, Glendale
STOCKTON residents, you bought a house next to an industrial island where no-one wanted to live 20 years ago. Pull your head in, it's still next to an industrial area, not paradise.
Dean Harris, Belmont North
REGARDING Darryl Tuckwell's text about an explosion making "the majority of Newcastle disappear"(Short Takes, 7/8), it's lucky that he lives in Lake Macquarie.
Bryn Roberts, New Lambton
WITH Morrison's refusal to allow both sides of parliament to sit we are currently under the rule of Dictator Chairman Morrison.
John Bonnyman, Fern Bay
WE were warned early in 2020 that this year was going to be a bad year for influenza deaths. As a consequence we ended up with COVID-19. Last year we lost 902 people to influenza where the median age was 86. Let's keep safe, let's make 2020 a year to remember that we didn't lose as many people as 2019.