IT is excellent to read that Mark Vaile has taken with good grace the community feedback and put the interests of Newcastle University first, well done ('Vaile bails', Newcastle Herald 22/6).
And well done to Professor Jennifer Martin, pictured, for the courage of speaking out and acting ('The professor and the protest', Herald 8/6). A win for Newcastle's future.
Tim Buckley, Pymble
Coal isn't evil, nor is it the future
MCCARTHYISM? If what has happened with the appointment of the chancellor is McCarthyism ('Jeans remains in top job as Joel slams shrill campaign', Herald 23/6) then Joel Fitzgibbon might find himself subject to some McCarthyism at the next election.
Reason being, I don't view it as such.
What has happened here is people have exercised their democratic right to protest, in a public institution which should be democratically run as much as it can be, and effected change against an appointment that blind Freddy could have seen was outrageous.
Regarding BHP: they are a diversified miner with an understanding of and a view toward a post coal economy. Whitehaven is not, and recently Mr Vaile stated that banks had a "moral obligation to support the coal sector".
At the end of the day he had a choice, and just as Mr Fitzgibbon did. He chose coal. But, as a relatively young (some would say middle aged) swing voter whose family has benefited hugely from the coal industry, I recognise that anyone spruiking yesteryear's technologies without a view to getting rid of it - and soon - is doing me and my children a huge disservice.
Dan Conway, National Tertiary Education Union Newcastle branch president
Open debate is a way to learn
AFTER the cancel culture struck again in forcing Mark Vaile, the best candidate, out as chancellor of Newcastle University ('Consequences are not 'cancel culture'', Editorial 24/6), I can see only one suitable candidate: Greta Thunberg. I was always under the impression that universities were places that welcomed and debated diverse opinions, but obviously I was wrong.
Greg Hunt, Newcastle West
Hunter women are up to the job
I BELIEVE the real blame for the Mark Vaile fiasco lies with the University Council, not Mr Vaile. What possessed them to choose someone with close links with the coal industry and no links with Newcastle and /or the Hunter simply on the basis of being on numerous boards and being Deputy PM, solely because he was National Party leader? Academic qualifications and/or background? Narrabri stock and station agent.
While Lucy Turnbull was asked and declined, did they then think to seek a Hunter-based woman? The last (and only) woman chancellor was Elizabeth Evatt (1988-94). She was a Sydney resident (like Turnbull) but had strong Hunter family connections via Maitland links. The late Margaret Henry, when an academic, networked strongly to support Ms Evatt's nomination.
And given today's article about more university staff sackings (" Uni to shed more jobs", Herald 23/6), why do we need an "Alumni House'' in the CBD? What's that about? Another thought bubble?
Keith Parsons, Newcastle
Lessons to learn from experience
SENSE has prevailed in this debacle ("Vaile bails", Herald, 22/6), but the story must not end here. Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge blames "cancel culture" for Vaile's retreat, arguing that free speech is in peril because "a very competent person [was] forced out of an important job ...". What rubbish! As chairman of a coal company, Mr Vaile has no constraint whatsoever on his freedom of speech. Nor is any member of the university community so constrained, as the university intranet discussion (Herald, 21/6) of this matter attests. Is Tudge accusing the 16 philanthropists who withdrew their support of the university (Herald, 18/6) of trying to stifle free speech?
No, in my opinion this is a story of how a vital public institution has lost its moral compass. In his message to staff on Monday, Chancellor Jeans wrote: "We respect Mr Vaile's decision and recognise that he has made this decision in the best interests of the university." Why did the university leave it to a coal company chairman to decide what is in the best interests of the university? That is the job of the University Council and its senior executives. I believe the university's appointment of Mr Vaile has damaged its reputation. As a public institution with the statutory role of "contributing to free and open enquiry", it should own up to its error and explain how it will protect against such failures in future.
Kypros Kypri, Professorial Fellow Medicine & Public Health
Cops aren't just there for crooks
BOTH Doug Hoepper (Letters, 9/6) and Neville Briggs (Short Takes, 15/6) seem to think that unmarked speed cameras are the ants' pants when it comes to road safety, but in my opinion they are more to do with revenue raising than road safety because getting a fine in the mail three weeks after the event is like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.
Visible police presence on the road reminds us to keep an eye on our speed. Patrolling police do a lot more than catch speedsters; they also pick up drunk, drug affected unlicensed and dangerous drivers as well as detecting stolen, unregistered and unroadworthy vehicles.
There should be very few drivers who haven't at some time inadvertently gone over the speed limit without realising it and if pulled up by police and given a caution or a ticket, depending on the circumstances, would make them more careful in the future. For those who deliberately speed, tailgate an on the spot fine, or in some cases, loss of licence would certainly do a lot more for road safety there and then, than a fine in the mail weeks later.
Ian King, Warners Bay
The exceptions border on bizarre
I WAS interested in a story on last night's 7.30. A dual Australian-American has been denied an exit permit to visit his father who is dying of blood cancer in the United States of America. He is prepared to remain out of the country for three months.
In 2020 the government allowed Matthias Corman to travel to Europe for weeks on end (with the provision of an RAAF aircraft) to apply for a job. The government also allowed a Liberal Party donor to travel to Greece to pick up a yacht. On both occasions the pandemic was at its height in Europe. We are now allowing our Olympic team to travel to Japan. Beach volleyball and BMX racing are listed as some of the events.
So an OECD job, a yacht and two sports the 1896 Olympic founders could never have dreamed of appear more important than an effort to comfort and be with a dying father. Shouldn't we question these decisions?
Peter Trenbath, Newcastle
I COULDN'T agree more with Tony Bennett regarding negative gearing. The immorality of poor people's taxes helping investors to acquire two, three or more properties is a disgrace. Unfortunately Bill Shorten and Labor took negative gearing changes to the polls and got hammered by vested interests, so I cannot see them revisiting that policy.
Robert Hutchison, Kotara
I WONDER if the critics piling on to Bruce Pascoe's book Dark Emu have actually read it? John Cooper sums them up when he writes "pre-colonial Aboriginal societies were indeed hunter-gatherers and not a race resembling traditional European farmers as claimed by Pascoe" (Short Takes, 23/6).
I did not take that meaning from the book. So I looked up every reference to "hunter-gatherer" listed in the book's excellent index and I still believe the critics' position is false, a straw-man erected in the name of 'accuracy'.
In fact Pascoe writes on P129, "Arguing over whether the Aboriginal economy was a hunter-gatherer system or one of ... agriculture is not the point. The crucial point is that we have never discussed it as a nation."
Michael Gormly, Islington
JOEL Fitzgibbon has really proved he is yesterday's man now ("Joel slams shrill campaign", Herald, 23/6). A little of that angst in parliament to support social housing would help restore credibility, Joel.
Susan Macleod, Clovelly
IT turns out I have been invited to a multilateral meeting in Europe where I have family members in different countries. They happen to be living, not ancestral. I have not seen these family members, including a grandchild I have never seen, since before the pandemic. Of course I expect to be able to home quarantine on my return just like other celebrities.
Marvyn Smith, Heddon Greta
ALLEN Small (Short Takes, 22/6), have faith the mighty Knights will make the finals and beat Penrith in the one that counts.
Mick Porter, Raymond Terrace
RAY Dinneen (Letters, 21/6). I "fear" you are missing the point of my letter. My complaint was the noise these mature male hoons make in showing off in their modified luxury cars. Nothing to do with roundabouts, changing lanes or driving courses. No, I will not accept your invitation to join you in your Porsche. I also drive a luxury car, which I enjoy driving as a mature adult.
John Fear, Newcastle East
SO the Morrison government is enraged at possible Chinese involvement in the declaration of the Great Barrier Reef as endangered. Why then are Chinese consortiums being permitted to destroy the natural habitat of many Whitsunday Islands?
John Bonnyman, Fern Bay
WHEN will federal Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon realise that the Labor members of his constituency voted him in to represent them, not the Liberal voters. His mutterings have more recently been hand in hand with those of the LNP than those of the party he is supposed to support. He, rather than Vaile,will be on a slippery slope.