IN spite of the rather jaundiced, in poor taste and unfunny political cartoon of Broelman's View (Opinion, 12/4), I think we can pay tribute to the life of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh ('Duke of Edinburgh passes away aged 99 at Windsor Castle', Newcastle Herald 10/4).
Prince Philip was an enduring and loyal consort to Queen Elizabeth II. A man of free thinking and good humour, he was an early supporter and patron of physical fitness, adventure and scientific study while promoting concern for the environment and even climate change. He was after all a co-founder of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). He was criticised for risqué remarks like the "Do you still throw spears at each other" said to Aboriginal Australians in ceremonial make-up, who took it in good humour in any case. But he was a hardworking and stabilising influence on the British monarchy through turbulent modern times.
What may be less well known, but was a strong interest of his, was his continued attention to and review of current affairs and scientific issues. For example, over the last 10 years he was an outspoken climate sceptic and critic. Contrary to Broelman's opinion, and as put by Monday's editorial ('Farewell Prince Philip, a life of service', Opinion 12/4), well may we say vale.
Peter Devey, Merewether
You know our past was better
AMANDA Woolford (Short Takes, 10/4) I thank you and I'm sure that thousands upon thousands of other Novocastrians thank you for your support and call to arms to support live music. With an enviable live music scene known nationally and sometimes internationally for at least 50 years, I find it somewhat surreal that we could go from the dozens upon dozens of live music venues we once had in the CBD to the roughly half a dozen we have now. A lot of bands like AC/DC and INXS cut their teeth playing pubs and clubs in Newcastle, and Jimmy Barnes has often name checked Newcastle as one of Cold Chisel's favourite places to play in the '70s. In the '90s during the height of the era of Seattle-bred bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, some American musicians even compared Newcastle to Seattle because of the talent we were fostering. This was around the time of The Screaming Jets; then later, Silverchair. Will Newcastle be able to produce the next Silverchair? I'd like to think so, but I doubt it will ever happen while there's still such a penchant for noise restrictions, lockout laws, and a plethora of apartments.
Adz Carter, Newcastle
Luck isn't always the way it looks
I JUST read of the Chinese curse of living in interesting times (''Ancient curse' hit the Jets' fortunes', Topics 12/4), but does Topics know this ancient Chinese parable?
An old Chinese farmer worked the fields with his only horse. One day the horse escaped and ran off. "That's bad luck!" said his neighbour. "Good luck, bad luck, who knows?" said the farmer. A while later the horse returned with three more horses. "That's good luck" said the neighbour. "Good luck, bad luck, who knows?" said the farmer.
When the farmer's only son attempted to ride one of the horses, he fell and broke his leg. "That's bad luck!" said the neighbour. "Good luck, bad luck, who knows? " said the farmer. Some days later, the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied young man; all but the farmer's son. "That's good luck!" said the neighbour. "Good luck, bad luck, who knows?" the farmer replied. Time passed and the son became an extremely successful and wealthy businessman. One day he rang his elderly father. "Father", he exclaimed "I have had some good luck. I've just bought an A-League football club named the Newcastle Jets". We all know what the old bloke said.
Mac Maguire, Charlestown
Our systems aren't squeaky clean
I WRITE frequently to state and federal MPs on the premise that our representatives counsel our opinions when making decisions. Realistically, I suspect most are read and answered by press secretaries as most replies don't specifically answer the questions but send placating statements that "everything is under control".
The recent ABC investigative documentary on the 1979 Luna Park ghost train fire has left me gobsmacked by evidence and allegations of corruption in the law enforcement systems all the way up to an untouchable NSW state premier, all allegedly driven by investor greed and corruption.
It would be naive to believe the 1980s era is now replaced by squeaky clean and ultra-transparent systems with God-fearing politicians committed to the best interest of Australia. I believe there will always be an element of greed, self-interest and corruption at all levels from local council to federal corridors. COVID-19 recovery and climate change has seen investors climbing over each other to promote their own agendas, with coal and gas advocates gaining the support of some politicians. These people are intending a fire sale of Hunter Valley resources; the impact on the environment, eco systems, and climate change objectives be damned. Anyone promoting more open cut mines in the Hunter Valley is blinded by ensuing royalties.
The parliamentary system of Australia has been dysfunctional for the last decade and has not served Australia well. Division and counter-productive party politics must cease. Vote.
Paul Duggan, Garden Suburb
Labour shortage doesn't add up
IT seems that we have high unemployment, officially 5.8 per cent but I believe more than five per cent higher if the Australian Bureau of Statistics counted 127,000 more who have zero work. Yet there is, according to government sources, a labour shortage. To fix this governments are prepared to pay the cost for quarantine for overseas agricultural workers at $7200 per person.
It is a risky process considering that most of our new cases of coronavirus are from overseas arrivals and it would only need one infested person to shut down the industry. Far easier to offer local people a bonus of $7200 to do the work, but it seems apparent that's something governments would not consider.
Roy Morgan's unemployment figure of 11.4 per cent for March is over five percentage points higher than the current Australian Bureau of Statistics estimate for February 2021 of 5.8 per cent. However, the figure for February counts as employed an additional 127,000 Australians who were working zero hours for "economic reasons".
Victoria is quarantining through Tasmania's quarantine facility. Tasmania is charging Victoria $7200 per worker, in which the government will absorb $4200 of this, with industry having to cover an additional $2000 for each worker.
Don Owers, Dudley
I HAVE to point out to Jo Mackenzie (Letters, 13/4) that an absolute prerequisite for reading Jeff Corbett's column each week is a boundless sense of humour. I personally found his article about lawn bowls to be absolutely hilarious: I fully expect that his wife did too. Jeff's loyal followers look forward to his weekly contribution. It may be philosophical or funny, but it's certainly always entertaining.
Jo Wark, Hamilton
THE Grattan Institute's latest report once again highlights that there is simply no need for new coal-fired power stations, similar to what had been reported in last year's Australian Energy Market Operator's 2020 Integrated System Plan. The hottest topic of late is the coming Upper Hunter by-election. Instead of promising to open up more coal mines, how about election candidates be honest and pledge to support the good folk of Hunter for the inevitable transition to other industries as the coal mining sector closes down?
Ching Ang, Kensington Gardens
CARL Stevenson, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that a NSW Treasury study on climate change risk concluded that "More frequent and intense natural disasters fuelled by climate change are forecast to cost NSW between $15.8 and $17.2 billion a year by 2061 - more than three times the current damage bill from weather related destruction". The Treasury has used what you call "real science" to predict what awaits us from our pigheaded attachment to fossil fuels and what the taxpayer will have to pay for it. And while Allen Small is defending the mining industry throwing a few dollars at the Knights for their annual propaganda week, he might like to factor the future financial and quality of life drain on our children and grandchildren. The financial cost will be massive. The big miners will be gone with their cash while we will be left to pay for the damage. That's just the financial cost. Unsurprisingly, I'm unaware of any study that has predicted the human costs involved. No wonder the kids are protesting in the streets.
John Arnold, Anna Bay
ALLAN Small (Letters,12/4) is correct that renewables have received significant amounts of government funding in recent years, but they are in the process of replacing coal-fired plants, many of which were built with full government funding. And fossil fuels have received far more government support, in a number of forms, than renewables over the same period. Something that is not widely advertised, but it can be found in the government budget papers.
Richard Mallaby, Wangi Wangi
WE don't have active COVID-19 in Australia. Why don't we all have a safe vaccine?
Bill Slicer, Tighes Hill
ARE you concerned about the safety of Australia's vaccine?
Yes 40%, No 60%
WOULD you pay more than $100 to have a celebrity send you a video shout out?