WE are fortunate to have passionate residents like regular Newcastle Ocean Baths swimmer of 60 years Pat Wilson ("Design doesn't wash with older community", Letters, 7/6) eager to share their thoughts on the site's upcoming improvements. The points Ms Wilson has made, however, regarding a lack of consultation and shortcomings in proposed disability access need to be responded to.
Following broad community engagement held over summer in 2019-20, where more than 1200 people shared their preferences, values and suggestions for the future of the Newcastle Ocean Baths, City of Newcastle formed a community reference group including representatives from user groups such as Friends of Newcastle Ocean Baths Inc, Newcastle East Residents Group, along with the city's Access Advisory Committee and community members. This reference group has been integral in shaping the Newcastle Ocean Baths Stage 1 upgrade and assisting our team to balance the needs of safety, heritage conservation and amenity for users. Ms Wilson suggests that the new accessible entry ramp on the western side of the pool will not suit people with a disability or mobility issues. The ramp design is in line with latest best-practice accessibility standards and has the endorsement of the Access Advisory Committee representative and other members of the CRG who identify as having a disability and advocate for others in their community.
Ms Wilson notes the impact of the new ramp on long-lap swimmers, those who swim north-south at the baths. The needs of long lap swimmers have been heard in shaping the latest design, with the original location of the ramp on the southern edge of the pool being realigned to the west following direct feedback from CRG members and a subsequent onsite meeting with users.
Ms Wilson raises concerns about work to address the existing undulating rock bottom of the baths which will improve safety for users when sand levels are low while allowing for more thorough cleaning and water quality benefits. The sand floor of the baths is currently created by occasional overtopping of the baths in big seas. Following work to cap the rock bottom with concrete, sand will still build up in the baths naturally as it does now, providing the sand bottom amenity the pool "joggers" enjoy.
Rest assured it's the best engineering, heritage, safety and accessibility advice gained through paid specialists and interested community stakeholders helping City of Newcastle upgrade the Newcastle Ocean Baths as they can be enjoyed daily by people like Ms Wilson for many decades to come.
Joanne Rigby, City of Newcastle's acting director infrastructure and property
Transport network is lacking
AN opinion piece I read last week spoke of how, given current relations with China, (although some disagree with this) we need to be prepared for war; and how we aren't.
The article spoke of what would be needed in the event of war breaking out. I won't dispute any of this, but what concerns me is the logistics of moving troops, weapons and supplies around a country the size of Australia. It's long been accepted that rail is the best form of transport for moving large tonnages long distances. However, the lessons from World War II where it was said our fragmented rail network with its multiple gauges would win the war for the enemy have not been learned.
Since then, some work has been done to improve the situation, but only one standard gauge line runs to the north and that goes to Darwin. Queensland's railways are still narrow gauge. This needs to change. When I've contacted MPs on this matter the responses suggest that the Coalition is not interested while the Labor Party doesn't understand the issue; they talk of the inland rail. I seem to remember the original plan for the inland rail was to take it right through to Darwin. I wonder how many MPs know that. In any case, if we find ourselves at war again we will be in real trouble as we won't have the transport network to move the troops, supplies or weapons to defend the country. Our political masters would do well to get moving on this one.
Peter Sansom, Kahibah
Nuclear support makes no sense
HERE we go again. I am disappointed by the report in the Herald ("Rethink ban on uranium: Barilaro", Herald, 5/6) of Mr Barilaro's comments on radio, supporting uranium mining and nuclear power.
I wonder who Mr Barilaro thinks he represents. Certainly not his constituents. The vast majority of Australian voters have consistently voiced their opposition to nuclear energy. Mr Barilaro conveniently ignores the "yes but" with his comments. For starters the "you beaut" new SMNR baby nuclear reactors he champions have never actually been built. They are still only a design concept. Then there's the cost of producing electricity. Careful expert analysis has put the cost of electricity from a new nuclear reactor at around three times the cost of renewable energy. And that also ignores the cost of cleaning up after a nuclear plant reaches the end of its life cycle. Possibly because the clean-up process has never been accomplished. Some are underway in parts of the world, taking an estimated 50 to 100 years to complete, and the cost is open ended. Also glossed over is the safe storage of nuclear waste for thousands of years. To me, Mr Barilaro's support of nuclear power makes no sense, unless all he wants to do is upset the "greenies" (you and me who oppose the nuclear option).
Bruce Graham, Warners Bay
Barilaro's dangerous suggestion
THE National Party's Bridget McKenzie and now John Barilaro are pushing the nuclear energy barrow.
It is difficult to believe that Barilaro can suggest that Chernobyl and Fukushima are irrelevant. Both of these sites are still dangerous and will be for centuries to come. Many thousands of people died in Chernobyl and others died of radiation sickness and cancer hundreds of kilometres from the site. Radioactive material is still leaking into the ocean from Fukushima. All this for a finite resource. If the world went nuclear, uranium would last just 20 years. Maybe McKenzie and Barilaro would like a nuclear plant constructed near their properties in Victoria and the Southern Highlands? I will not suggest that local contributors to letters, who support nuclear power, have one in their backyard. They live too close to me.
Marvyn Smith, Heddon Greta
Can't be complacent on tracking
COULD we not make COVID-19 tracking easier? Most league and RSL clubs have a log-in system where a member swipes their membership card upon entry.
How easy would it be for people to just swipe their drivers' licence, or any other card that provides identification, when entering a shop, cafe, hotel, gym or any venue that requires registration of attendance? I know the smartphone has such capabilities but not everybody has a smartphone. I'll bet that almost everyone has a card with identification in their wallet. My local supermarket used to have a sign-in sheet at the entry but they have dropped that system so now they have no idea who has visited. We cannot afford to be complacent about the need to COVID-19 track when required.
Stan Kiefer, Arakoon
MORE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
THE Kurri gas plant is a 'smokescreen' and a 'Trojan Horse.' A smokescreen; because it is a disguised $60,000,000 donation to assist Tomago Aluminium's need for electricity (it is owned by Rio Tinto and CSR). A Trojan Horse; because the future need for gas in the Lower Hunter will be exploited to justify fracking on the Liverpool Plains.
David Rose, Hamilton
GEOFF Hassall, (Short Takes, 7/6), should detail to us what "scientific and economic facts" were expressed by the CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation in the Opinion piece "Politicians failing a region at the crossroads", (Herald, 3/6). I failed to find any facts reproduced in that article. I found it to be no more than an anti-fossil-fuel and greenie aspiration diatribe.
Peter Devey, Merewether
WHILST standing by my comments on Scott Morrison it would appear, given Mr Hoepper's most recent correspondence that I misinterpreted his challenging Martin Schaefer's letter. I read it as more tiresome 'whataboutery' and Albo bashing. I urge Mr Hoepper to accept my mea culpa.
John Lawton, Belmont
WELL the game changed all around this week against the Eels; no good calls from the referee and our defence wouldn't squash a grape. I know we are down on troops, but the boys that came in for their chance to enhance their prospects didn't show much at all. The old boys would have been cringing watching some of the defence which was of schoolboy quality. O'Brien wants to get back to, hit hard and stick not this handy-pandy grabbing at players and dropping off. Maybe the rule for the head high tackle enforcement has got them gun shy.
Allen Small, East Maitland
RE: Dennis Crampton, (Short Takes, 8/6). Dennis, as a Newcastle Knights supporter I am very much offended by your nasty remark in your letter. To infer that the Knights are a bunch of misfits and jailbirds certainly doesn't sit easily for me. Dennis, how about an apology at least.
Wal Remington, Mount Hutton
NOW that the NSW Coalition government is calling for suitable quarantine facilities in this state they could solve two problems by buying the land affected by the poison around Williamtown and build the facilities on the land as it is next to an international airport and Newcastle has all the health services if needed. Seems like a solution to both problems.
Frank Ward, OAM, Shoal Bay
IS smoking at bus stops illegal? If so, does anyone ever get fined? May as well smoke anywhere, anytime. Would the world's smokers, more than 1 billion at a guess, be contributing to climate change? That's a lot of smoke going up into the atmosphere, let alone the toxic butts. Smokers should be made to eat the butts by law or go to jail.