THERE is no disputing the Australian travel industry has been hit hard as a result of COVID-19 ("Workers bear brunt in travel refund frenzy", Newcastle Herald 28/9). Given the size and influence of the airline industry, Qantas (including Jetstar) and Virgin were quick to the door of the federal government, pilot's cap in hand in the hopes of walking away with a cash injection. However, the final party in the great travel refund outbreak has been the consumer.
Thousands of families, like ours, have been impacted by the problems stemming from the pandemic. Fortunately we - and our daughter's family - were able to finally, after almost three months, obtain a refund of the direct booking through Qantas.
Our son and family booked a Hawaiian trip with Jetstar, however the low-cost airline was determined despite numerous requests to force them to take a credit. They are locked down in Melbourne and are not likely to go anywhere soon.
When things settle down there is a good case to look at a better regulated process where monies paid to airlines, either direct or via a travel agent, are held in trust, administered by a separate body equipped to process refunds (within booking conditions) in a timely manner.
In the meantime our hope is that domestic air travel will take off once more and travel agents such as Brett Dann (pictured) will be back in business.
Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook
Right to die with peace is crucial
I RESPECT the Catholic Church's opinion on assisted dying (that assisted dying is intrinsically evil) but in return I beg that all those with similar views allow we, who only ask for a peaceful and dignified end to our lives, to have that choice.
Recently my terminally ill wife, whose incurable brain disease had racked her mind and body for many years (leaving her totally dependent on others for every aspect of her life and unable to communicate), also lost the ability to swallow. A joint decision by medical staff and family was made that she should not be tube fed, so an order of "nil by mouth" was agreed upon.
At that moment technically we had decided that my wife should die, so I fail to understand why she could not have been given a peaceful end there and then because, although she was given extremely good palliative care by way of sedating medication, it took her eight days to pass.
I cannot overstate the trauma on our family of those days which was increased by knowing that my wife had always said that she prayed for a quick and peaceful death.
If you agree with the sentiment of this letter, then contact your local MP and make your views known and fill out an end of life directive form in the hope that when your time comes you will be allowed a dignified end.
John Smith, Mount Hutton
Speed limit fast becomes trouble
ZERO road fatalities is a laudable goal, but it is unachievable unless cars are banned completely from roads.
Being unable to do this, it seems to me that Transport for NSW, supported by City of Newcastle, have decided to progressively strangle traffic in the city.
A case in point is the new 30km/h speed limit along the entire harbour from Nobbys to the highway because it is an "area of high pedestrian activity". In my opinion this is total nonsense.
You could mount a case that the area about 100 metres around Nobbys is an area of high pedestrian activity, but certainly not the rest of that route. Even if it is such an area, it is certainly a lot less busy than school zones at morning and afternoon peaks, where the speed limit is 40 km/h rather than the more onerous 30 km/h limit along Honeysuckle.
School zones have designated time periods when the reduced speed limit applies. The new speed zones along the harbour apply 24 hours a day.
Most of the pedestrian activity is along the harbour side, on a footpath at least 30 metres from the road. There are several pedestrian crossings in this area providing safe crossings for pedestrians.
I am unaware of any accidents involving pedestrians on this route.
People are inclined to obey rules which make sense. Rules lacking commonsense, such as the new speed limit, reduce community acceptance of, and respect for, rules in general, which is a worse result for all.
Phil Atkins, Newcastle East
Up in arms over militant changes
I BELIEVE there are very worrying implications in a bill being considered in federal parliament. It is called the Defence Legislation Amendment (Enhancement of Defence Force response to Emergencies) Bill, 2020. It enables the ADF and Reserves to be used in emergencies, but "emergencies" is undefined.
Bushfire assistance is one emergency which might be justified but could certain so-called disruptive industrial actions or disruptive mass climate change protests be considered emergencies? These are legitimate actions in our democracy, and I believe being confronted or suppressed by the defence forces or reserves would not be a legitimate use of these forces in a healthy democracy.
Further, the legislation includes the use of foreign military forces and foreign police to assist in emergencies. Surely we Australians are, with appropriate resources and organisation, capable of addressing emergencies without the need for foreign troops or foreign police? We certainly don't want these foreign forces confronting and suppressing legitimate protest actions by Australian citizens.
Our political representatives in federal parliament should be urged to halt this legislation until it is closely examined by civil rights and constitutional law experts to ensure our civil and democratic rights are not under threat or our sovereignty compromised by this legislation.
Bevan Ramsden, Lambton
Identify those who are responsible
MAYBE I am cynical, but someone within Daniel Andrews' government knows exactly who hired independent security agencies to oversee quarantine travellers in Melbourne's hotels ('Andrews backs embattled public servants', Herald 30/9). When you hire a firm to carry out such an important job that has no given time frame and at a huge wages cost, contracts would have to have been generated, agreed upon and signed.
The months of lockdown, infections and deaths caused by this blunder has caused the people of Victoria enormous heartache, uncertainty and insecurity. Accountability should be clear to the Australian public.
In my opinion this is a governmental cover up and they and all playing the same game. The consequences of this incompetence are not a laughing matter. Someone is being deceitful and must be held accountable to answer to the people of Victoria.