The area where rugby union has struggled most, with competition from numerous other well supported football codes and sports, is at grassroots and junior levels. This has principally been left to individual clubs and dedicated groups of parents and friends ultimately achieving pocket money by comparison with the buckets of funds the other codes are being provided with. If you lose the grassroots you will ultimately lose the code. A perennial problem for rugby union at all levels is funding. In my opinion the NHRU Board has primary responsibility to promote the game to its fullest extent in this region and clubs across-the-region have done their best to chase scarce funding through sponsorship and the standard range of fundraising activities available to amateur sporting codes. And these just get harder every year putting more pressure on the clubs individually and their members.
In my opinion the board's pursuit of Shute Shield entry ('All fired up, Newcastle Herald 2/12), arguing funding comes from sponsorship, sadly ignores the impact this has on local clubs, exacerbating their funding problems. Not to forget the elephant in the room: player payments.
I believe the Wildfires in their previous iteration delivered little of lasting benefit to the code locally. Loss of key players, scarce sponsorship, club attendances dropped and arguably relegated the local premier competition too little better than park football. It also threatened the region's elite position in the annual NSW Country Championships.
What was the NHRU board thinking when they persisted with their pursuit of the Sydney-based Shute Shield competition?
Richard Cusick, Hamilton East
Hype shouldn't decide our future
I AM sure that many readers would share the sentiments of Milton Caine (Letters, 9/2) toward the incumbent of Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth ll. Such a paean could even serve as the basis of an adulatory TV series. But, hold on, it has already been made and obviously watched.
However the Queen's responsibility for the events of November 1975 culminating in the dismissal of the Whitlam Government cannot be ignored. The Whitlam Government had been elected in 1972 and again in 1974. By mid 1975 it had become unpopular by a combination of total unprincipled obstruction by an Opposition led by the populist Malcolm Fraser and the merciless bias of the Murdoch press.(This may have been the first time Rupert Murdoch engineered the election of a populist government, but certainly not the last.)
An elected government must not be dismissed simply because media hype makes it unpopular. Any government must and should make unpopular decisions that it judges to be in the long-term interests of its nation. For the continued existence of a democratically elected government to depend on the whim of an unelected alcoholic Governor General is simply unacceptable, and the ramifications of the Dismissal continue today.
We now see the ultimate results of the changes to Australia since 1975 with the Deputy Premier John Barilaro declaring his cynical attitude towards democracy with the chilling words "You want to call that pork barrelling, you want to call that buying votes, it's what elections are for".
Geoff Bryan, Mayfield East
Change can be good for nations
THE ABC has exposed facts that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton supported his own list of communities to distribute funds under the Community Safety Funds program. I believe this is what happens in a country when one government is kept in power too long. To my reckoning, the Coalition government has controlled power in this country for 19 years of the last 25. Not quite a dictatorship, but bordering on it. To have a government in power that we can trust to do the right thing by its citizens, in my opinion we need to change our federal government at least every six years. Any hint of corruption and they go after one term.
Darryl Tuckwell, Eleebana
Ignorance is not the defence
It really angers me that inner city residents groups can start to question the revival of the late night economy in Newcastle,"causing the rapidly expanding numbers of inner city residents significant distress and concern" ('Newcastle last locked out', Herald 10/2). People move to these areas knowing there will be noise from the working harbour, traffic, trams and the like. They move to these areas with the full knowledge that if they complain long and hard enough, they may even change the status quo. Move next to an established licensed venue? No problem for me, just complain and things will go my way.
Well, finally things are starting to happen in Newcastle and hopefully it will be a balanced approach so that everyone wins and we can get back to that vibrant city we all want and not the retirement village we are heading towards now. I live on a main road with heaps of traffic. Do people not think that I factored that in before I moved here? If I complained to council about something I was fully aware of, they would laugh at me.
Tony Morley, Waratah
Dam nation has its flaws
PERHAPS Bruce Kershaw (Short Takes, 11/2) needs to read the latest Productivity Commission draft report into the National Water Initiative reductions in water availability. It also calls for a new water initiative to include the key areas of climate change, droughts and population growth into water planning as climate change is likely to cause severe problems for indigenous people, who have a high respect for river systems, to have more say in water uses. The report also launches a scathing assessment of government funding around dams, weirs and pipelines. A report on the trends of water sector professionals also lists user pay as an important concept for future water users. Maybe Mr Kershaw would think differently about water use if he had to pay heavily.
Linda Bowden, Munni
Put power in our own hands
I RECENTLY read that in the early 1950s, one of the chief engineers on the NSW railways opposed replacing steam locomotives with diesels. The reason for this was that diesel fuel would have to be imported and, with the events of World War II still fresh in mind and rising tensions, the possibility of shipping being disrupted was real. The coal burnt by steam locomotives was produced locally. He had a point.
I'm not saying we should go back to using steam locomotives and I am no fan of coal, although the fact that coal is one of our most abundant energy resources cannot be ignored. Renewable energy makes a lot of sense. While we are seeing much in the way of wind and solar, I often wonder why we don't seem to be using tides or hot rocks as an energy source. We are hearing a lot about batteries and hydrogen. Whatever we do, we need to be self-sufficient and make all the parts for these energy sources here in case shipping is disrupted by another pandemic or disaster. That is why I often speak of a need for more rail transport. This is just one reason why closing the railway into Newcastle was so stupid. Self-sufficiency and rail transport need to have much greater priority than they have now; they just make sense.
Peter Sansom, Kahibah
WITH all these new mega-batteries announced for regional NSW, can I have $1 for every letter from the "sun doesn't always shine and wind doesn't always blow" crowd?
Darren Burrowes, Newcastle East
MARK Ryan (Letters 10/02) has a point in raising concerns about the advisability of the World Surf League event under COVID-19 conditions ('Our big break', Newcastle Herald 8/2). He also objects to the rushed deal that was done without any community consultation. While I would swap this event for Supercars any day, I share his concern about sporting events jumping the quarantine queue and wonder how social distancing is going to be managed for an event such as this. Then there are the same old commercial-in-confidence provisions that we know from our experience with Supercars that may prevent Novocastrians from ever knowing exactly what this event will cost ratepayers.
Christine Everingham, Newcastle East
SPEAK for yourself Cindy Grahame (Short Takes, 9/2). Jeff Corbett has no shortage of fans among Herald readers. His recent column that has irked you so much had me reminiscing about some of the many jobs I've had over the years and the characters I've met. I cringed when I thought how the 13-year-old me would have reacted to the kindness of the elderly lady. Like Mr Corbett, there are many of us who find it harder to do nothing than to be working hard, and I can assure you it has nothing to do with an agile intellect or body.
Dave McTaggart, Edgeworth
BRUCE Kershaw (Short Takes, 11/2), not sure if you're playing devil's advocate about building a dam, but you are way, way off the mark with this one. Dams destroy rivers downstream as well as totally wrecking ecosystems. A dam would be the biggest waste of taxpayers' money, not TV ads.
Graeme Bennett, Warners Bay
TODAY my letterbox announced that the sixth planned disruption to power in my area in the last 12 months would happen on February 18 from 7pm for five hours. After calling them to complain about the early start, they tried to say that they applied for a starting time between 3pm and 11pm and were told they could not start before 7pm because of traffic flow. They then told me that the RMS told them to start at that time. Between that time, as I listened they admitted that the afternoon shift was 3pm until 11pm. Curious.
Trevor Passfield, Lambton
IT seems Steve Paras (Short Takes, 11/2) has fallen for the idea that "if you aren't with me then you must be against me". I merely called for balance in the cartoons in this paper. I'm sure the selfish behaviour of most state Labor premiers is lampoonable on occasion.