WE live in a country where the provision of so much, by all levels of government, is taken for granted even if expectations are not always met. Health and education are of course top of the list followed by services important to our physical and mental well-being. They include sport and entertainment venues, small social and family gatherings in the park, or a walk along the foreshore.
One service that may not be front and centre of mind until it was curtailed is our local libraries. City of Newcastle's eight libraries have almost 100,000 registered borrowers and last year loaned almost a million items. It is one of the most used library services in NSW. My memory of it goes back to the children's library in a disused railway carriage in Civic Park just before the grand opening of the War Memorial Cultural Centre in 1957.
It may be of interest to remember back to those days when the library practiced discrimination not because of skin colour or gender but age. Children went to one end of the lending library and adults in the other, with a staff member behind the desk in the middle keeping watch! How proud I was when I fronted the desk wearing my high school uniform, asked ever so nicely if I could please have a borrower's card for the adult section.
Today the libraries provide a wide range of services. There is an excellent local history section in Laman Street, activities for all age groups, meeting and study rooms, school holiday classes, access to the internet, DVDs, CDs, audio books, magazines and e-books. Hard copy material remains most popular.
Closed for many weeks to meet LGA lockdown rules, this week the library began its Library 2U service. Fill out a simple form, choose your favourite type of material and five items are delivered to your front door the next day. On behalf of my fellow Novocastrians, thank you.
Barbara Heaton, New Lambton
Exceptions to rules confound
IF I am correct, we can now have a picnic in the park with family members if fully vaccinated. That is fantastic and I am sure we have many happy campers.
How is it that we can have a cast of thousands at our local beaches with the kiosks associated doing a roaring trade? (And good luck to them, no criticism intended).They have ample seating at these kiosks, so it's ok to take advantage of the situation for these businesses. But alternatively, we have countless cafes and restaurants in the local LGA with a lot of outdoor seating and they are not allowed to open beyond takeaway. Double standards, I think.
Then we have the relaxation in regard to alcohol at picnics in the park, which I have no issue with. My question is, and I hope the answer is somewhere out there, we can have a picnic in the park? Yeah? We can have a picnic in the park with alcohol? Yeah? Does that mean we can have a picnic in Wickham Park with alcohol? If that is the case, why can't we have a picnic in the beer garden at the Wickham Park Hotel with the best band in Newcastle, Fish Fry/Powwow, providing the music and the food?! I am sure Adz Carter would even break his alcohol ban if that were to happen. Cheers, Adz.
Tony Morley, Waratah
BHP had bypass in its sights
NOT only was the need for a rail freight bypass of Newcastle ("Train of thought", Newcastle Herald 27/9), identified by BHP in 1997 under its container terminal plan, but also the means to pay for it: railing containers from the port. But there is a bigger opportunity. Containers can pay for a freight line linking Newcastle, Badgerys Creek and Port Kembla, thereby providing direct rail access to a container port for every region of NSW. This would completely replace container trucking at Port Botany.
The impediment remains the Port of Newcastle container penalty, which is designed to prevent development of a container terminal. The penalty was concealed from Parliament when it passed the the two relevant bills. Despite more than 100 questions in Parliament as of July 2016, the penalty remained intentionally concealed before it was exposed by the Newcastle Herald on July 28 2016. I believe it was impossible for Parliament to intentionally legislate the penalty because the penalty was concealed from Parliament. Consequently, the unlegislated penalty is unlawful.
Greg Cameron, Wamboin
Hammer home lockdown rules
TODAY I had a need to visit a hardware store. On arrival at around 10:30am I was amazed at the full to overflowing car park, unusual for a store where you are only supposed to go in for emergency goods.
What a surprise; inside it was packed with people browsing and checking out all the aisles. I proceeded to the nursery section to pick up one item I needed to be greeted by a mass of people of all ages just wandering around. Having secured my one item I arrived at the checkout where I was met by a throng of at least 10 people waiting to check out. The checkouts were so slow I decided for my own safety and health I left the store vowing to think again before venturing there again. I cannot understand how this can be allowed to go on in these bad COVID times. It appears the dollar is mightier than COVID.
Kerry Harrison, Whitebridge
Salute to an inspiration
SUELLEN Hall (Letters, 22/9) was spot on acknowledging the formative and inspirational affect our teachers have on all of us.
I was a student of Merv Hall in 1965 and 1966 as he taught fifth and sixth class when Newcastle East Public School was on the corner of Bolton and Church street. I was school captain in 1966, when the school celebrated its 150th anniversary. We students were introduced to the word sesquicentenary.
During that year and the previous year Mr Hall, our headmaster, through embassies and consulates wrote to schools around the world. They were invited to send students projects relating to their country and school. At the sesquicentenary celebrations, these were exhibited at the school, covering every wall of the school.
He was an innovative and inspiring teacher. Every year he would take fifth and sixth class students to the courthouse across the road to watch a court case. Every year he would take the same senior students to a Gilbert and Sullivan opera at the Roxy Theatre in Hamilton. His classes were an inspiration to me. He was a kind, firm and very fair teacher. He was always immaculately dressed, and he played the clarinet. He had a love of cricket.
It was wonderful to catch up on the 200th anniversary. When the dignitaries were introduced at the main event, Merv received applause and acknowledgement by the crowd that exceeded the popular ex-prime minister, Julia Gillard. I consider myself very lucky to have had Mr Hall as my teacher and headmaster. He had a profound effect on me. He was one of the best.
Gavin Green, East Maitland
YOU'RE right Peter Noakes (Short Takes, 24/9), Scott Morrison won't be able to be held responsible for Melbourne's earthquake. However, I'm surprised that no one has tried to hold Daniel Andrews responsible for the earthquake, or praised Gladys Berejiklian for not letting an earthquake happen in her state.
Adz Carter, Newcastle
WHY are Woldring and Keating so against the sub deal Morrison and co have done when it is billions of dollars cheaper and we get a much more efficient submarine than the one Turnbull and Pyne signed up for?
Bruce Brander, Belmont
OFF with his head! (Adz Carter, Short Takes, 25/9). Our PM going home was an attempt at misdirection and he "tried to deceive the public". Talk about whinging Labor voters. And for the record, he went home the following weekend also before his trip to the USA. How petty can these people get?
Don Fraser, Belmont North
COULD it be that the diversity card of the Labor pack is actually a joker, after parachuting a privileged white female into a safe seat at the expense of a more than capable Asian candidate at the behest of the boys club?
Steve Barnett, Fingal Bay
MIKE Scanlon is normally spot on with his history. However there was a Parthenon Milkbar in Hunter Street in the late 1960s. It was on the opposite side of Hunter St to the Store and Bus Stop Disco somewhere between Wood St and Denison St.
Clive Jensen, Merewether
I'D say yes, Catherine Morgan, (Short Takes, 25/9), it has everything to do with the reduced trading hours. When I asked, at a lakeside branch, whether any consideration had been given to those of us who can't get to a branch before 3pm I was brusquely told I was "lucky we are open at all". That's the sort of response I would have expected from one of the big four and not the usual high standard of our Perm'.
Dave McTaggart, Edgeworth
HOW good to see the rioters exercising their right to create mayhem and disorder, in the guise of exercising freedoms of choice and speech relating to COVID-19. How long is it before we follow China's lead and institute the Re-Education Centres. I remember the jabs and syrups for polio, measles, diphtheria and more. I watched as the viruses and diseases diminished because of them. COVID has shown that it does not play favourites, and will take a life because it can. Should our rioters catch it, will they try to fight it off by themselves? I doubt it. They will expect access to the medical care that they have fought and protested against, and will rely on our freedom to provide it.
Bill Hancock, Adamstown
LET'S just get rid of Supercars completely. I believe it is not only an untenable imposition on those who live in Newcastle but also an environmental travesty, and the race should never have been allowed in the first place. It should never have been allowed to shut down the city as it does, and its suspension in the face of COVID-19 has been one of the pandemic's few positives.