I HAPPENED to be watching Peta Credlin when a news article came up in regards to the Chinese lease of the Port of Newcastle. Ms Credlin was interviewing a Liberal federal politician in regards to the excessive fees and charges that the Chinese put on the shipping companies. The federal government is now having issues with the amount of fees that is being charged ('Politicians demand action on Port of Newcastle', Newcastle Herald 22/6).
I sat there and watched it and found this issue highly amusing, that the federal government is now having a whinge when as far as I am concerned they haven't got a leg to stand on. It was the Liberal state government that privatised the port in the first place. Why didn't the federal Liberal government step in and stop Mike Baird's Liberal state government from giving it to the Chinese in the first place? If that was done originally, none of this garbage and aggression would be going on. It should have stayed in public hands.
Philip Carter, Metford
There's little Joy in Honeysuckle
I VISITED the city centre last week, the first time in quite a while and I noticed a few things. A good deal of traffic was heading into and out of the city, mainly via King Street since this is now the main transport corridor. However, while there was plenty of traffic, I didn't see many people on the footpaths. Not many people were waiting for trams either. And there were still a worrying number of empty shops.
This may change when the new developments are occupied. Mind you, I can't help but wonder how the city's transport infrastructure will cope. I noticed that the speed limit on Wharf Road, Workshop Way and Honeysuckle drive is now 30km/h. Will this cause more motorists to use King Street? I also noticed that many of the new developments in Honeysuckle have been completed, giving a clearer picture of what the city will look like.
The views of the harbour will now only be available to a fortunate few. Views of the harbour will only be seen from Wharf Road, the western end of Honeysuckle drive and parts of the east end. These new developments have done nothing for the look of the city. Just how well the revitalisation strategy will work remains to be seen. However I can't help but wonder if the Joy Cummings plan for parkland for Honeysuckle, retention of the railway and some sensible planning would have attracted more people to the city and therefore, been more successful at revitalising the city.
Peter Sansom, Kahibah
Travel a flashpoint under lockouts
TONY Morley (Letters, 21/6) we have certainly had similar experiences having trouble getting home via bus or cab after a night out in Newcastle. I myself definitely noticed an undeniable difference when catching cabs home from Newcastle on a night before and after Newcastle was saddled with the lockout laws.
It all became increasingly difficult to catch a cab after the laws turfed everyone out onto the streets at the same time.
Before these counterproductive laws, the longest I ever waited for a cab was about 10 minutes, and that was only once, on New Years Eve. I find it ironic that the laws were brought in to stop street violence, but I definitely saw more melees in the streets and in cab lines after the laws were introduced than I ever did before the laws existed. Whilst going out nightclubbing on average every Friday and Saturday night between 1998 and 2008 (before the laws), I only ever witnessed a total of three violent assaults on the streets of Newcastle during this time. After the lockout laws were brought in, I saw three within the first six months.
Adz Carter, Newcastle
Uni must defend independence
FOLLOWING shameful pressure from activists opposed to his appointment, Mark Vaile has withdrawn from his appointment as chancellor of the University of Newcastle, ('Vaile bails', Herald 22/6). A mere 50 protestors turned out to protest, and 16 disgruntled philanthropic supporters threatened to stop donating to the university, ('Heat rises on uni', Herald 18/6), but that, together with daily media coverage, was enough for Mr Vaile to feel intimidated to drop out.
While every financial support is welcome, the university shouldn't let itself be blackmailed into a political compliance on one issue by people with an activist agenda. I could not see any scientists amongst the 16 signatories to the full-page advertisement, even though science appeared to be a major concern for them. Criticising Mr Vaile for "questioning the science" was particularly odd. An essential part of the scientific method for 400 years has been continual questioning - of the science. Copernicus and Newton may well be spinning in their graves with the news of this. Tolerance of a diversity of views on all subjects used to be a hallmark of university life in western civilisation. Not anymore perhaps?
What will be next? The university being forced to cancel the appointment of professors or even junior staff because a small number of activists and donors don't politically approve of them? Will courses some activists believe are politically incorrect be cancelled? This is not a minor issue.
Peter Devey, Merewether
Parting criticisms cut both ways
MARK Vaile's parting statement was a gem of doublespeak. He describes his critics as "minority groups placing ideology before proper governance". I suggest this is a perfect description of the Nationals.
He accuses his critics of "contempt for proper process and the principles that underpin how institutions should operate". This could describe the way his company, Whitehaven, has repeatedly breached environmental conditions, as found by courts.
He speaks of "the growing pervasiveness of a dangerous style of activism infiltrating the political and now corporate worlds". Could this refer to the blatant revolving door between politicians and corporations which donate to them?
Michael Gormly, Islington
View from the recruitment game
I KNOW there is a lot of bewilderment in the community as to how Mark Vaile could have been the most eligible candidate for the position of chancellor at the University of Newcastle, when there must have been many suitably qualified people from around the world to choose from.
When I worked as a recruitment consultant, I learned very quickly to include candidates who did not meet the qualifications which were "essential", as it was often these rank outsiders selected. I suspected at the time that it was fear of breaching anti-discrimination laws which influenced the information provided, and the explanations for ignoring the candidates with the best qualifications related to personality issues and getting the best fit for the team. I believe it is possible the council put in its brief all the qualifications one expects of a world class chancellor to lead our wonderful university, when they were really looking for a white male, 60-plus years old, with no tertiary qualifications, but who had strong ties to our current federal government. If this is the case, it is not surprising only one applicant met their actual criteria.
Kathy Gall, Toronto
AT last, Mark Vaile stands down following actions and words from Richard Dennis, donators and people power. The (right) people have their say. Don't know how he could have been considered for the appointment in the first place!
Teresa Murray, Maryville
SAVOUR the irony. When the capitalists insisted the Port of Newcastle be privatised, the communists purchased it.
Peter Ronne, Woodberry
THERE has been a lot written and said about the Biloela Tamil family, but the facts are the parents both arrived after paying smugglers, and courts have found repeatedly that they are not refugees and there is no danger of persecution if they return to Sri Lanka where the civil war ended over a decade ago. They may well be a lovely family but they need to go back to Sri Lanka and apply through the relevant channels like everyone else. Our government needs to be congratulated on their strong stance. It's obvious some bleeding hearts would prefer the old Labor Party policy which led to hundreds of people drowning at sea.
Greg Hunt, Newcastle West
BARNABY'S back in a leadership spill that two days before he knew nothing about. The pantomime rolls on.
Gary Hayward, Cardiff
MARK Vaile declines the position of chancellor at Newcastle Uni and blames his decision on those who place "ideology before proper governance". He could have chosen to stay on as chancellor at Newcastle Uni and resign from his role as chairman of Whitehaven Coal, but he didn't. So who's the one choosing ideology over proper governance?
John Arnold, Anna Bay
I CONGRATULATE the University of Newcastle in attempting to appoint the best possible candidate as their next chancellor and compliment Mark Vaile on the way he handled the negative responses from some. As for certain members of the Students' Association and a number of academics, their behaviour relative to this matter could almost put a pig off its food.
David Stuart, Merewether
JOEL Fitzgibbon's attacks on Newcastle University staff as being " vindictive... excessive progressives" because of their protests against having Mark Vaille as Chancellor, shows again what a dinosaur he has become and how out of step he is with the world-wide reputation of Newcastle University as being a leader in ideas about the future. One only has to look at the formation of the innovative Medical School, a model which was later copied across the world. Joel seems intent on being seen as anti-intellectual and against modern thought. He seems much more suited to run as a candidate for the Nationals or One Nation at the next election.