I CAUGHT the train from Broadmeadow to Scone on Sunday. On the Broadmeadow platform there were several uniformed police asking each waiting passenger where they lived, where they were going, had they visited Sydney and were they feeling well: excellent vigilance.
Part way along the journey, I overheard a NSW rail officer ask the passenger two seats down from me where he had come from.
He'd come from Sydney, where he lives and attends university. He named his suburb of residence and the officer pointed out that that suburb is a COVID hotspot. He said that, yes, he knew that.
She then asked if he'd had a COVID test and he said that he had not. He told the officer that he was going to his parents' place to stay as his university work was now online due to COVID. The officer then advised him to get COVID tested.
I was horrified. Later I asked the officer if I'd heard correctly. She said yes, and agreed that it was alarming. She also said that even though all the travelling NSW rail staff must be COVID tested every three days, they could not prevent passengers like this one from travelling.
Jo Wark, Hamilton
It's not easy, but it's rewarding
IN response to John Beach, ("Political chamber a stifling influence", Opinion, 17/7), I admit I still find it odd to think of myself as a 'politician', but as the lord mayor once said to me, "you got yourself elected, of course you are".
I think of myself as someone who has worked directly with Novocastrians for nearly 30 years - in media, via Lost Newcastle, and now as an elected councillor.
Here's what I know: I ran for council to continue to stay in touch with the community, to be involved and to help where I can. I ran with a team whose values most closely sit with my own - fairness, social justice and equality.
Getting things done for our community is best achieved when people work effectively together, and I want to challenge the myth of the 'independent'.
Don't be fooled by the 'independent' tag. There have been great, true independents at every level of government, but Newcastle's so-called 'independents' are as much a bloc as any registered political party.
MORE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Disappointingly, they have rarely shown any genuine interest in working collaboratively with other councillors. They've damaged the 'independent' ideal so much that it will be difficult for anyone truly independent to get a foothold.
When you are elected, you are offered a myriad of ongoing training and educational opportunities by Local Government NSW. One of the first things you learn is that, unlike state or federal politics, local government is not a parliament. Regardless of which city ward you are elected to, you are elected to represent every resident, in every ward.
I am a member of a team that helps me be effective in my role and allows me the opportunity to discuss and challenge ideas and problems with my peers.
I have never been told what to say, or how to vote, but I am always encouraged to learn, think, and engage.
Is it perfect? Of course not. It's not easy, but the privilege of representing our community and working for the future of Australia's seventh-largest city is the most rewarding (and sometimes difficult) thing I've ever done.
Why not put your hand up as a candidate, John? You still have time to register at elections.nsw.gov.au.
Carol Duncan, City of Newcastle councillor
Negativity can't be foundation
LOCAL elections are always interesting, and why Liberals prefer to be called "independent" is an interesting issue.
The mayor's role is pursued with vigour - Phillip Penfold (in Maitland) has been campaigning from the moment the last election was declared, and John Church (in Newcastle) has been a certain starter for some time. Both have used the media - and social media - to build their profile.
The problem though, for Church is not one of recognition, it is his persistent negativity. Even when announcing his candidature he was telling us what he wouldn't do. He makes every effort to remind us of what the current council has done - but even as lord mayor of Newcastle he will still have to work with a council, and likely one with few Independents or Liberals around the table.
What Newcastle wants from John Church is a plan, an indication of what he wants to see, and things he wants to happen. Something positive, something to encourage us to consider him as a viable leader. He may have all that organised and ready to reveal ... but sooner would be a lot better than later.
Warren Dean, Newcastle
Ratepayers looking for change
FOR a long time I have felt frustrated with the continual waste of our taxes on undisclosed and wilfully expensive projects about which we have had no say.
Our rates continually escalate and it incenses me to know that there are luxuries in the absurdly expensive fit out of the new council building, that I am unable to afford in my home.
We also never did find out how much the Supercars deal cost us financially and I do agree with the East End residents' displeasure when they were so disregarded in the locating of this event.
I welcome a change which will allow ratepayers to feel there is more consideration of how their rates are spent.
Joanne Saddington, Merewether
Bypass only part of the solution
IT looks as if the proposal for the rail freight bypass between Fassifern and Hexham is on the agenda again.
While this may be a good idea, particularly if the amount of freight being moved by rail increases to the levels some say it will, this is only part of what is needed.
Additional track capacity will be needed between North Strathfield and Fassifern if congestion is to be avoided.
That's not all, the north coast line needs to be straightened out to allow faster running and the more efficient movement of freight and passenger trains.
This should have been done years ago.
Even when the inland rail line is completed the north coast line will still be needed to carry the higher volumes of freight that are anticipated.
The inland rail won't carry the freight on its own, particularly if the line has to be closed for maintenance or unforeseen events such as natural disaster or derailment. In any case, the freight rail bypass is only a part of what is needed for the north south freight corridor.
I hope those in power can see this.
Peter Sansom, Kahibah
THE Knights may rue not pursuing Matt Lodge. I have watched him in his last two games for the Warriors and he has been outstanding carrying the ball up, offloading and doing his share in defence. After watching the Knights effort against the Storm he would have been a handy acquisition and would have given us a bit of grunt in the forward rotation.
Allen Small, East Maitland
IF that's the best the Knights can do, they can stay in Queensland, or be forced to only play on a Sunday, so they don't ruin my whole weekend. Interesting that the Knights and Storm both played in predominantly white guernseys, but the Storm still knew who to pass to.
Bill Slicer, Tighes Hill
THANK goodness. Let's hope that the citizens of this city elect John Church. The council under this administration is out of control. Rising costs to do business in this town is ridiculous. It takes 20 working days to obtain a permit to set a crane up in the city. In Sydney it takes 48 hours. Inexperienced staff making ad hoc decisions is based on understaffed departments and poor budgets. Time for a change.
George Smith, Maryville
THE difference between McDonald's and our governments is the fact it only takes one clown to run McDonald's.
Steve Barnett, Fingal Bay
OVER on Sky News they are 'reporting' that the Prime Minister for NSW, Scott Morrison, intervened in the Sydney lockdown and wanted tighter restrictions because our Premier is indecisive.' Is this better than 'emotional' in the Scott Morrison 'woman problem' vocabulary? Watch that bus Gladys, it is coming your way.
Wendy Atkins, Cooks Hill
I READ with some amusement Bradley Perrett's hand wringing over local manufacture of WMDs, in this case ("Missile program a flaming waste", Herald, 17/7) missiles. He seems to think we would be better off wasting our money on the Yanks than on South Australians etc. All because of 'the Chinese threat'. Ironic, because buying weapons from the Chinese would be the least expensive option and might go some way towards mending trade relations with our largest trading partner.
Peter Ronne, Woodberry
HELP has existed for non standard working families since April 2001. It still exists, but without funding for the actual services since 2018. Services are all slowly closing as there is no money for bills and even to pay ourselves. If you want help you can still ask, but now we need your help. Please contact your local member and tell them it's not fair.
Amanda Johnstone, Mayfield
WHY would you trust doctors and scientists with years of training and PhDs on this deadly virus, when you can trust politicians, cash for comment media types, with some in the pocket of big business with opinions about vaccines. Only in Australia, may I say.
Richard Ryan, Summerland Point
OH well, better late than never Gladys.