I BELIEVE Gough Whitlam was one of the best prime ministers Australia has had; he had a vision for the people as a whole, he put to Parliament that a national disaster levy was needed for the victims who lost homes and properties that were destroyed by Australia's harsh climate of fire, flood and drought. He was howled down by both parties; the majority of politicians' only concern was for the insurance companies.
Now some victims of the recent floods have been left with no insurance as the price is far too high. They are now left stranded face down in the mud; losing their homes.
I think the time has come for a permanent federal disaster levy to be dished out and run strictly by the federal government immediately for the greater good.
We are in an emergency. We have to pick the people up, put them back on their feet to regain their lives and move on.
I APPRECIATE the effort of Allen Neirinckx in explaining the union concerns with the new intercity rolling stock, but there are a couple of non-safety issues with the new trains that may have longer-distance commuters up in arms as well.
Firstly, according to publicity, instead of the rather excessive two toilets provided in most carriages, the new ones have merely been provided with one (fully accessible) toilet per four-car set.
In a longish journey such as Newcastle-Sydney, a lot of elderly patrons would have occasion to need a toilet at least once or twice a journey. At busy periods, this number of toilets appears woefully (and uncomfortably) inadequate.
The second issue appears to be a problem with new trains worldwide: the tendency of the seats in new trains to be designed like boards, with headrests that force one's neck so far forward that neck pain is inevitable. The reason for the board backs is given as to make floor-cleaning easier, but the woeful lack of back padding is also no doubt to save money. I remember, with longing, the old "red rattler" suburban seats with well-stuffed seats with lowish back to support my weak back. Comfort always seems to give way to convenience (and saving money).
My recommendation for when the new trains arrive; Make sure you use the station toilets and travel with a well-stuffed cushion.
THE proposed changes to the kerbside pick-up may be fraught with abuse, which has and does happen in areas already utilising this system. What we currently have is the council picks up large household waste twice a year from designated sections of suburbs. The proposal is that when you want these items removed, you ring council and book, then a two-day notice will be issued. This is a problem if you need to organise friends and family to assist moving items to the kerb. As soon as you put items out, neighbours and those wanting to get rid of waste may pile it onto your waste, which leads to neighbourhood disputes. Then you get a nasty letter from council stipulating that you have exceeded your allowed allotment, and they refuse to collect. The last problem is the environmental impact; those who find organising this type of service too hard or too antiquated will opt for illegal dumping. If it ain't broke...
BULK waste seems to be a vexed issue that raises the hackles of those who want to retain the existing kerbside collection system in Lake Macquarie council area ("Load of flaws in the bulk waste change", Newcastle Herald 23/7). Waste of any kind is non-existent in nature. As I understand it the proposal is part of a larger program, the council's Circular Economy Policy. As the name implies it is a whole-of-society process - not limited to any one local area - underpinned by three principles: design out waste; keep products and materials in circulation; regenerate natural systems.
The sooner we adopt sales of service modes of doing business and enact extended producer responsibility protocols, the better off we'll be. We can then dispense with bulk waste as a means of disposing of things. The system driving this is explained and addressed within the circular economy framework as noted by, for example, the Australian Circular Economy Hub.
Readers might be interested to know that one of the leaders in developing circular economy programs is visiting Lake Macquarie next month. Professor Veena Sahajwalla, Head of Materials Science in the Faculty of Science at UNSW and Director of the SM@RT Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology, will be speaking from 10.30am on Friday 19 August at Warners Bay Theatre.
I AM pleased to update readers that finally my very dear 90 year-old-friend has had his phone re-connected after almost two months of total excuse-making by Telstra (Letters 14/7). There was no apology, but there were a number of people who hassled Telstra to sort out this mess that they created by not considering their responsibility to our older Australians. My deepest sincere thanks goes out to all who assisted but I am appalled that I and others had to spend so much time advocating on his behalf. It's disappointing to find the unhelpful bureaucratic processes in place as if to see that no one gets efficient and timely assistance.
I am pleased for him as now if there is a health or other emergency he will be able to phone for help as it is needed. It is about time Telstra was compelled to never cut off an elderly Australians phone as if there is an emergency they need that vital communication link to the emergency services. Shame that Telstra works so slow and are so unhelpful on the phone!
I HAVE to agree totally with Peter Mullins, ("Climate back and forth is tiresome", Letters, 27/7). Being an avid reader of the Herald I am sick to death of the few regular writers who carry on arguing with each other over matters that are rehashed over and over again. Can we get back to local subjects and stop this endless to and fro? Also I believe like a lot of people do that these so called demonstrators are virtually hypocrites. Do they not then go home and enjoy coal produced electricity for lighting and and heating. It is far more realistic to have nuclear energy with no more waste than batteries. All we need is a government with enough intestinal fortitude to look to the future and ignore these minority groups and do what's best for the future and greater good of our country and go nuclear as they have in Europe. When they count deaths from nuclear power they don't give you the reasons for the deaths. Tidal waves, maintenance etc No doubt Adz Carter and the other regular correspondents will get their teeth into this. Like I said, just argue with all the writers instead of discussing local topics.
THE best route for a rail freight bypass of Sydney is Newcastle - Badgerys Creek - Port Kembla. The best route for fast rail in NSW would be Newcastle - Badgerys Creek - Sydney. Removing freight from Sydney's rail network makes this capacity available for an express passenger connection, Badgerys Creek - Sydney. The rail freight line bypass is paid for by railing containers from a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle serving the entire state.
I AGREE with Paul Duggan ("Blinded by modern headlights", Letters, 25/7). The problem has been exacerbated by the "illegal" use of fog lights by all and sundry who appear oblivious of their impact, or who simply do not know how to turn them off. On another matter frequently appearing on the letters page, your contributor Peter Devey, obviously an educated person, must realise that global warming is happening as a result of the earth being drawn imperceptibly closer to the sun.
OUR new parliament is already suffering internal conflict, with the Greens threatening to withhold support of Labor's climate change bill. Adam Bandt described it as not only insufficient but largely symbolic because it does not require the government to actually cut pollution and allows more coal and gas projects. He wants Dutton-proof the legislation and therein is the rub because Climate Change minister Chris Bowen knows that any substantial reduction will require cutbacks to our polluting habits. Such a move would be viewed as an attack on our lifestyle and create enough public outrage that Dutton would suddenly become an attractive election option for those who cannot imagine the future that awaits.
HERE we go again; Colin Rowlatt, (Short Takes, 27/7), says Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott are Australia's worst prime ministers. I think Gillard and Rudd deserve the title, with Billy McMahon a close runner-up.
INVASION and murderous genocide. This is the reality in Ukraine. Forget about all the different thoughts and ideas we might have, Putin and his propaganda machine only want Ukrainian land. They don't care about how many Ukrainian people they slaughter. If the free world continues to act in a way that shows weakness, Russia will continue to hold the world to ransom. NATO, the UN and Europe must use all their collective strengths and intelligence gathering to overcome this regime; for all our sakes.
USUALLY I don't care who beats Manly, but I dips me lid to the team who played, when seven of their regular teammates refused to play because they didn't want to wear a rainbow guernsey.
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