I ENJOY the Newcastle Herald's glass half-full view of plans to stabilise the grid using battery storage facilities. It wasn't that long ago the grid was stable and provided Hunter Valley residents with the cheapest priced electricity in the world. It also created thousands of highly paid jobs and encouraged investment in advanced manufacturing skills that placed Newcastle in the top echelons of engineering prowess. Sadly, battery-based electricity storage will not solve Australia's energy woes. It can't.
Our electricity supply chain must be designed to support always-on refrigeration and commerce. What I believe we are now witnessing is the wanton wrecking of the one reliable constant in our electricity supply: base-load coal generation. Australia desperately needs to build greater resilience into our electricity supply chain. That means investing in the latest coal generation technology and ensuring we can deliver interruption-free electricity. Intermittent solar and wind just don't cut it.
The other concern is implementing battery life-cycle plans. To date, no cost-effective method of recycling batteries has been developed. Can Australia develop this technology? History reminds us that the single reason Australia stopped transporting ships full of containerised garbage was because China and the Philippines placed embargoes on these shameful exports. Unless we have fully costed battery recycling plans ready to implement, the only alternative for disposing of batteries is landfill, the current destination for 90 per cent of Australia's garbage. Still jaded? Try to locate a facility that recycles phone batteries in our nation after three decades of consumer use. Good luck.
Mike Ryan, Mayfield
We've never been divided like this
WHAT ever happened to the catchphrase "we are all in this together"? What a joke with bickering premiers, on and off border closures, business and economic shutdowns and media sensationalism. What a traumatic year 2020 was for all, especially health officials and workers and separated families.
I agree with Peter Beattie that "Australia needs a national approach in dealing with pandemics and hotel quarantine". As he also asked, are we a nation or a collection of states and territories?
Australia has only been mildly affected by the virus with only 0.6 per cent of all deaths in 2020, so we really are the lucky country with a very high standard of living and medical facilities, and also being an island in the southern hemisphere with no immediate neighbours on our borders.
Social distancing, hand washing and masks where necessary I totally agree with, and this will most likely continue to be the new norm since this virus will be with us for some time. However, I am nearly 74 and live in the Newcastle area where we have had no local transmitted cases for at least five months, and yet I am being prohibited from visiting our son in Western Australia, who we haven't seen since March 2020.
NSW has over eight million residents and WA under three million, and despite what Mr McGowan thinks (and says) NSW has handled this pandemic extremely well. No-one has had to deal with this before, so it was always going to be a learning curve.
We booked flights late last year to fly to Perth at the end of this month, thinking that he would surely open borders and only close out clusters, but I guess we won't be going. Or will we? Again, I reiterate, this virus will probably be with us forever with or without a vaccine, so please can we return to some normality and cohesiveness in our country.
Sally Lucas, Newcastle
Feral cat fight is misguided
I UNDERSTAND that Port of Newcastle is continuing to remove all cats from the break wall at Stockton. This makes a lot of sense. Where else in Newcastle are petitioners defending feral animals?
The Shipwreck Walk should remain a safe environment for our native species like the Rakali and other small marsupials, as well as a haven for our many species of shoreline birds. We don't need predators, no matter how cute some of the photos. I'd love to see the Herald support the Australian animals at risk if the cull is stopped.
Warren Dean, Newcastle East
High time to strip the weeds out
MAX Moran (Letters, 7/1) and Col Page (Letters, 13/1) are right, I believe, to question the commitment to roadside and footpath nature-strip management. Max Moran mentions Newcastle Road as one site of weed infestation. To this we could add sections of King Street and other inner city locations. This neglect is puzzling in the light of the good work council does at places like Christie Place and the new native flora plantings in Hunter and Scott streets.
Also of great concern are the weeds in the garden plots along the light rail track. I'm told that this strip and some rail-side plots are the responsibility of Keolis Downer, who contracts to run the light rail. Only one segment of the strip is in good shape, and that is maintained by a volunteer who lives nearby. Good for her.
I reckon that City of Newcastle and Keolis Downer need to implement garden maintenance programs in these areas. It's not much use installing great plantings if there is no commitment to keeping them in order.
Roland Bannister, Newcastle
Workplace balance is off centre
UNION members working for Qantas are taking them to the High Court over underpayment of wages under the JobKeeper system. They had a win in the Federal Court, but on appeal Qantas won the case. I fear they will lose this case because the High Court will vote in the employers' favour. They are not the only workers in the country that have been shortchanged under the JobSeeker and JobKeeper system. I believe it was designed to work in the employers' favour. The workers will lose out again.
Darryl Tuckwell, Eleebana
Inoculate against misinformation
I SUPPORT Graeme Kime's view (Short Takes, 14/1) regarding the impending vaccination program in Australia. I think it is a good time to start the discussion about the different vaccines and give everyone the opportunity to understand their practical options. In particular I think it important whether it is possible to have a second round of different shots later and what the timing and medical implications are.
I'm sure some might succumb to buying off the net so having a clear understanding of the possible interactions and implications of the options would be not just helpful, but essential for us to make an informed decision. The government freely admits that holding back a while puts Australia in the enviable position of having a pause for thought, better analysis and understanding.
Let us use that time sensibly.
Vic Davies, Tighes Hill
THE politicians who say that children being asked to wear a mask is akin to child abuse definitely have no place in our parliament and it does not say too much for the intelligence of the people who voted them in.
Darryl Tuckwell, Eleebana
SOMEONE refresh my memory please. What were the policies Donald Trump espoused in 2016 to get him elected, apart from building the Mexican wall? No, not make America Great Again" that's a slick slogan not a policy. And considering where America is right now, he even failed dismally on that one.
Gordon Tindall, Belmont
I HAVE been interested to read opinions in the Herald of what is good and what is bad in Newcastle's architecture. No doubt it was also designed to stimulate further opinions. So here is my opinion: despite experts rating the University of Newcastle's NuSpace building in Hunter Street as among our most beautiful, I am far from impressed. To me it is ugly, out of context with adjoining buildings and very much hey-look-at-me. There seems to be a lot of wasted space under the supported section, and all that west-facing glass must be very energy inefficient.
Peter Thompson, Newcastle
FACADISM is a term that you are so wrong to refer to in a pejorative manner in the recent editorial (Comment, 12/1). Right across Australia civic minded citizens lament the removal of the finely crafted and enriching facades that once graced our city streets. Now, too often, we get our streets suffering building fronts that are cheap, bland, and boring. Please reform the all too-trendy but shallow attitudes.
David Rose, Hamilton
JOHN Bradford (Short Takes, 12/1), I live in Swansea and I fish the channel in a tinny. I can assure you that myself and all my friends that have boats are not in the upper class. Are you jealous of us boat owners?
Gary Bruce, Swansea
FIVE people lose their lives as a result of the violence at the Capitol building in America and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg thinks it is immediately important to bang on about free speech. If this is the calibre of our elected officials, it is a sad reflection on our society.
Susie Johnson, Adamstown
JUDGING from the many letters to the editor bemoaning the loss of democracy in the US following the riot at Capitol Hill, it seems Australians have a short memory. We were an early starter when it comes to attacks on national parliaments. It was nearly 25 years ago on August 19 1996 when a group of about 100 belligerent unionist who attended a protest rally organised by the ACTU and addressed by Jennie George and Greg Combet stormed Parliament House, smashing the front door before looting and wrecking the book shop and foyer and causing tens of thousands of dollars damage. Fortunately, they were prevented from actually storming the chambers. So, as they say those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.