I HAVE coal dust in my veins. Generations of my family have laboured in the cold, dark corridors that lay beneath the Hunter Valley and Lake Macquarie. My family has benefited from the economic prosperity mining has brought to our region. We do, however, need to bring reason back into discourse on this topic.
Matt Kean's sacking of Malcolm Turnbull because Turnbull dared to suggest there should be a holistic planning process in approving new mines, quickly descended into the murky depths of the political and ideological.
What the shock-jocks and the likes of Mark Latham and Joel Fitzgibbon fail to mention in their commentary and misquoting is significant, including that 93 per cent of the people working in the Upper Hunter do not work in mining. The 23 new mines in question will lead to further lay-offs in existing mines given there is currently 100 million excess tonnes of coal. Most people are supportive of a halt on new mines until a plan can be developed.
My relatives still working in Hunter Valley pits deserve to be given the opportunity and economic support to transition to sustainable, economically viable industries. When will the pollies get on board as the corporate world has done and put the greater good before self-interest? The pro-coal megaphone continues to take the people of the Upper Hunter for fools. If their misinformation is continued to be believed, democracy will once again, be the canary in the coal mine.
Stephanie Strachan, Newcastle
We're giddy from all the spin
THE lockout laws are effective from 1am to 3am. They don't affect the ability of the big pubs to host live entertainment or sell alcohol during this time, and therefore have little or no effect on the night-time economy, unless you believe the spin.
What lockout laws do affect is the ability of customers to wander between pubs between 1am and 3am which is when assaults and other anti-social behaviours are most likely to occur. If you believe the facts, late night alcohol fuelled violence in Newcastle is still more than 20 times the state average. However, the Minister for Police and Emergency Services tells us "Community safety remains the NSW government's number one focus".
Pre-COVID, our night time economy was estimated at $1.36 billion and employed 12,000 people (Opinion, Lord Mayor, Herald 30-6-20), plus every small bar taking place in the Small Bars Trial opened after 2008. However, the Minister for Customer Service tells us "it's not fair to leave the city's nightlife stuck in 2008".
The people of Newcastle are so sophisticated now they can tell the difference between spin and fact. Who is going to benefit from lifting the restrictions? - the big pubs. Who pays for the damage to property, the cleaning bills and the cost to the public health system? - the community. Who are our politicians influenced by - the big pubs (AHA) or the community? The people of Newcastle are so sophisticated now they can tell the difference between spin and facts.
Barbara Ferris, Newcastle
Becoming a race to the bottom
THE warning by Molycop that cheap imports threaten local steel production is one that has come too late to save many other industries which succumbed to predatory business practices designed to destroy opposition companies ('Imports put jobs at risk', Herald, 17/4). The owner of Newcastle's last ship building industry pointed out that the price of an imported ship was less than the cost of the steel. Much the same occurred for railway rolling stock, whitegoods, electrical components and almost everything we once made in Australia.
Some companies simply moved overseas to continue manufacturing meaning we also lost intellectual property rights. The importing of cheap food products not only sent local producers to the wall but allowed in substandard and even contaminated products that put our health at risk. Australia once had a reputation for disease free food products but these have been put at risk from imports because the FTA overrode quarantine regulations. Free trade is enshrined in our economic culture because it is seen to boost GDP by increasing local consumption but it is a race to the bottom with many of our imports being produced by slave labour.
Don Owers, Dudley
Developers the real winners
HAVING been involved in every home boom since 1959, either professionally as a builder and estate agent, I read with interest your feature page headed "Why house prices rose despite COVID" only to find that no mention was made of the cause that I had observed over so many years.
This rapid rise in prices has been caused by the policy of the state and federal governments' action of flooding the market with free money and the Reserve Bank cutting interest to near nothing. The federal grants of $25,000-plus the state reduction of stamp duty makes up the $70,000-plus increase in prices that has occurred over this year. Coupled with this cash splash the Morrison government has allowed people to withdraw some $30 billion from our super funds to add to this cash that is burning a hole in buyers' pockets. Also pushing this demand is the so-called mum and dad bank where parents have advanced funds to make sure Johnny and Mary don't miss out.
The current low interest rates on borrowing has allowed buyers to over-commit without regard to future increases but as I have observed, rates increases come as soon as pressure develops in regard to workforce and material. These shortages are already being felt, just try to get a tradesman now, and the industry is putting pressure on the government to allow more skilled migrants to ease the shortage. When the Morrison government launched its grant scheme they spoke of 25,000 couples being assisted by the last figures I noted it said 75,000 home seekers had applied and the cost to the government had gone from $2.9 billion to some $9 billion. All this flow of funds into housing has been a great boost in profit to developers who have just increased their prices by the amount of the government subsidies. And sellers get no real benefit as any replacement is dearer. The government would have got a better result if they had provided the same funds to NGO housing groups to build social and affordable homes which would have given the industry a stimulus without giving great profits to developers.
Frank Ward OAM, Shoal Bay
Wests doing great with Knights
COULD Brian Burgess (Short Takes, 19/4) let us know just where Wests Group have gone wrong re:the Knights? The board has signed up the coach; the coach has gathered a small band of assistants to help with the coaching. The coach and the assistants have a good background in rugby league. So we get to the players. They are human beings and therefore can have a bad two hours or so now and then. I get down in the dumps if they lose, but not for long. At least I have a great evening after they have won. We, the supporters have had some great seasons and some disastrous seasons. But we line up year after year to pay our membership money. The Knights belong to Newcastle and surrounding areas. Wests are doing a good job as far as I am concerned.
Wal Remington, Mount Hutton
SO US and Australian forces are to be withdrawn from Afghanistan. They should never have been there in the first place as 9/11 was not a good reason for the invasion of a country that no foreign power has been able to defeat. Twenty years of death and destruction is the only outcome.
Joan Lambert, Adamstown
IN reply to Peter Selmeci (Short Takes, 17/4). My wife and I are two of the people mentioned in your letter. Yes we do get paid a huge amount for looking after our five grandkids on a regular basis. We get paid in kisses and cuddles and memories that will last us a lifetime. There are things much more important in life than money.
Doug and Cherylin Beever, Belmont North
WHY don't you tell us what you really think about our PM? (Barry Swan, Letters, 17/4). How long did it take you to come up with the "Smirk"? Hours? Days? How clever. If you check on Hansard you will find that Albo, Hanson-Young and others also had "hissy fits"re: Ms Holgate's actions. Why should staff receive Cartier watches for just doing the job they are being paid for? Good on you, ScoMo, ignore these Labor bigots.
Don Fraser, Belmont North
HEY Tony Brown, it's Saturday night and The Rubens are on at the Bar on the Hill. I live a kilometre away and can hear it from my back deck. No drama though. We love our live music in the 'burbs. No wowsers here.
Tony Morley, Waratah
NOT that long ago on this page, I learned I had a following of left wing "cronies" (3/3). The word suggests shady, nefarious activities. Now, Allen Small announces the existence of a group called "Hinchey's climate change disciples" (12/4). Confusing. Am I the Messiah or just a naughty boy? No confusion, however, about one thing. The increasingly emotive mythologising of the Hunter coal industry (witness for example the breathless hyperbole about its association with rugby league) is a desperate attempt to protect a cash cow by turning it into a sacred one.
Michael Hinchey, New Lambton
MY generation was more woke than today's. As kids we were entertained by a mute bear who wore a vest of many colours, no pants and a top hat. I'm still not sure of this bear's gender or race. This bear wasn't white and that didn't hinder career prospects. Unfortunately some less tolerant people took that as offensive and the bear was banished to the forest, I think it might have been Black Forest. I'm not sure of anything actually.
Steve Barnett, Fingal Bay
SO that's seven consecutive games the Jets haven't had a win. Must be another record they have broken. I hope that they are proud of themselves.