I BELIEVE there is a simple solution to prevent a further culling of the cats on Stockton breakwall. If there are "only" 14 cats remaining (good grief, how many were there before?), and if they have such a good relationship with their "carers", then it should be simple matter to collect all those cats and rehome them to some of the 11,700 people who have signed the petition (Petition calls on Port to cease cat culling, Newcastle Herald, 26/2). A win/win.
The breakwall will be free from feral cats, and the rakali and birds and other native wildlife on the breakwall will be free from predation by them. The cats will be able to see out their days in happy homes.
However, if the cats are allowed to remain, it is obvious what will happen. Many more people than usual have acquired cats during the lockdown and it is inevitable that some of those will tire of them and wish to get rid of them. The issue has received such publicity that some of these people will think it a convenient way to do so by dumping their cats on the breakwall knowing that some well-meaning (but in my view misguided) people will care for them. The problem will become compounded.
Robert Muir, Fennell Bay
Embassy staff walk a fine line
A FEW years ago I met a young woman who worked in an Australian Embassy overseas. We were talking about some of the good and bad things about her job; travel, cultures and the opportunities to meet so many amazing people.
The bad was that when abuse occurred; physical, verbal or other she had no protection under the laws that apply in Australia.
It seems the little known fact is that although an embassy is technically Australian territory, the rights and obligations to protect staff do not apply.
Would there be any protection or support for our citizens employed in the embassy if they were attacked? Would we ever hear about this, because the contracts they sign are governed by the official secrets act? The world is full of duplicitous law, most of which we never hear about.
Lyn Rendle, Rankin Park
Empathy the key to island issue
MARK Gattenhoff (Letters, 25/2) is right about one thing. Coon Island derives its title from a nickname. But it's not, as he suggests, just like any other nickname. Far from it.
In 1915, Herbert Greta Heaney was recorded as the island's first permanent resident. His nickname was "Coon" because he often had coal dust on his face. In other words, it referenced a term then used, and still used as a derogatory, racist slur towards Indigenous people.
As for Coon cheese, any link with a "Mr Coon" is tenuous at best. E.W. Coon was an American who in 1926 patented a unique method of ripening cheese. However, the brand owner, Kraft, first mentioned Mr Coon in 1988 in response to accusations of racism. Further, when it registered the trademark with the US Patent Office in 1949, Kraft claimed it had been using the name since 1910, well before Mr Coon even went into the cheese business.
I accept we all form attachments with the familiar. However, it seems to me the basic issue here is empathy. If those who now object to discarding this term had been regularly called it during their lives, had felt its soul-destroying effect, and knew that generations of their family had endured the same indignity, would they still feel the same? Answering this necessarily involves walking a mile in someone else's shoes. If, even in the face of this country's history, we can't, or won't do that, what does that say about us? The question shouldn't be whether we should change such names; it is why on earth we wouldn't.
Michael Hinchey, New Lambton
Vaccine caution is an assumption
WHEN it is eventually my turn to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, I will assume that the vaccinator has successfully completed the free, mandatory online accredited training modules offered by the Australian College of Nursing in partnership with the Australian Government Department of Health. I will hope that the reconstitution of the drug and the dosage plus all other rights of safe medication administration including storage and expiry date is independently doubled checked by another colleague authorized to do so.
I hope that the dosage will be double checked in my presence. This is particularly important given that the COVID-19 vaccine dosage is obtained from a multi dose vial in which the risk for error is considerably higher than from a single dose vial. Independent double checking of all injectable medications is standard policy and practice at most hospitals and health care facilities for a very good reason as it considerably reduces the risk for human error.
Ann Williams, Hamilton North
We need a stronger link, foreshore
THERE should be a stronger link and innovative and enriched environmental integration between the Convict Lumberyard and Foreshore Park at the end of Bond Street. An upgraded pedestrian route from the light rail stop through the Lumberyard could be developed.
The refurbishment of the 1999 major Aboriginal public art work by Carole Hartwig in Bond Street, signifying the original high water mark, would further enhance these connections and entrance to the park. This could be combined with longstanding repairs and upgrades to the Convict Lumberyard and the removal of the platform at the intersection of Bond Street and the Earp Gilliam Bond Store car park that is in my opinion at present a safety hazard to park users and others.
Mik IIett, Newcastle East
Privatisation comes home to roost
THOSE who think energy providers and distributors care for the environment because they are going all out for renewable energy, think again.
These organisations are in the business of making money for their shareholders, it costs a lot of money to build and maintain power stations, far more than renewables that come with government subsidies, both in building and operating, plus the buyback solar scheme enabling a substantial profit.
I don't blame these enterprises because that's how capitalism works. I blame governments that are too lazy or incapable of building and managing essential necessities. All necessary matters of national importance and security were once the responsibility of governments and, like the railways, a continual service came before profits. How or when this cop-out started was a long way back, and if not for people of my generation who can remember how it was, I believe governments both now and into the future will become nothing but a rubber stamp redirecting their responsibilities.
Carl Stevenson, Dora Creek
ON Friday I was fortunate enough to be able to go sailing with Sailability at Belmont in front of the Belmont 16's. I felt a bump at the back of the boat when I looked back and saw a large dolphin was swimming next to me. It followed me for some distance. It then moved away to follow the other six boats on the water. The dolphin swam amongst us for about an hour and has been a regular visitor to Sailabilty for some time, getting close enough to allow some sailors to pat its fin. Truly remarkable, especially for all those on the water.
Maurie Gammidge, Valentine
GREG Hunt (Letters 27/2) cites the Institute of Public affairs to counter the "left leaning" programs of the ABC mentioned by Michael Hinchey (Letters 22/2). When quoting from the IPA he appears not to understand it is not as independent as he presumes. Hancock Prospecting gives significant donations and the IPA is a promoter of climate science denial in this country.
Ian Bowrey Hamilton South
NEWCASTLE dudded - surprise. The truncated, derailed Newcastle / Lower Hunter rail network is not part of the latest billion dollar spend ('Hunter left off track in train spend', Newcastle Herald 26/2).
Graeme Tychsen, Rankin Park
FEDERAL MPs get $250 or more per day living away allowance, but the cunning ones group together and stay in a mate's investment property and pocket the money. The JobSeeker gets an increase of $3.75 approximately per day, which gives him or her an increase of $25 a week. The trouble here in Australia is that there are too many cunning politicians who believe that you can fool all of the people all of the time. Why is it that as a 75-year-old, when I hear a politician speak on TV, I use swear words at him or her? They just speak the same old story; promises, promises. Now I understand the invasion on Capitol Hill. It could happen here.
Richard Ryan, Summerland Point
QUEENSLAND is refusing to pay NSW $30 million for looking after their quarantine people. How can they afford to stage the Olympic Games? You can bet they will hit the other state and federal governments for much of it. A cheaper Games might include across the pool swimming events, 25-metre sprints and 100-metre marathons so you can use fewer marshals. All events will be in the local park so they don't have to pay for the venue. It will be great, provided they don't close the borders.
John Hollingsworth, Hamilton
SITTING and reading Allen Small's criticism of solar panels and their cleaning (Short Takes 26/2), I have had solar hot water on my house for over 35 years and then installed 5kw of panels for my electricity 2.5 years ago that had paid for itself by the time I sold my Ashtonfield home in December. As for the $150 continual cleaning cost; if you can't stand on a ladder and hose the panels you have a problem.
Greg Parrey, Rutherford
SHOULD the name of Coon Island be changed?