I AM confused after reading in Saturday's Herald the story of E-scooters being trialled in our neck of the woods, ('E-scooters roll into Hunter', Herald, 27/8). I believe the E-scooters and E-bikes are dangerous.
From my observation of the many already using the roads in my local area, most of the riders are children or teenagers who wear dark clothes, and because the scooters are silent and cannot be heard approaching I believe the danger to others is increased.
I heard a man on talkback radio telling the host his story of buying an E-scooter to ride to work after losing his driving licence.
He was stopped and fined for a range of offences based around the scooter. He was told they were only allowed to be ridden on private property. To let them on our roads is an insult to those who pay hefty registration to use our roads.
Diana Taaffe, Belmont North
Finding industrial harmony
THE two-day jobs and skills summit, scheduled for this week in Canberra, will not solve Australia's long-term industrial relations problems ('Regional job focus ahead of jobs and skills summit', Newcastle Herald, August 16).
ACTU secretary Sally McManus wants a partial return to the 'glory days' (read 'bad old days') of centralised wage fixation. But if all the workers in an industry receive increased wages, regardless of whether they have earned them, this would re-institutionalise wage-cost inflation. Australia's current lower inflation rate is because of Australia's low wage-cost inflation.
Australia has a long-term disconnect between worker productivity and real wages. The designer market mechanism, the 'enterprise bargaining agreement' (EBA), has failed to deliver increased real wages that are commensurate with increased worker productivity for particular enterprises.
The EBA should remain the centrepiece of any future Australian industrial relations system. But it needs to be made to work. Industry-wide 'awards' should be abandoned.
Here is my suggestion. State and federal governments should legislate 'key work conditions' that must be present in every EBA, for example, total work hours, health and safety, leave, and security of tenure and termination. This could be periodically revised by the Fair Work Commission.
In 2022, the majority of workers are not in trade unions. They are casual or contractors ('gig') workers. These workers must have reasonable work conditions and should be brought under the 'key work conditions' legal umbrella. Rates of pay and productivity requirements would remain the subject of individual EBAs.
For this EBA system to work, employer-employee cooperation, not confrontation is necessary. To minimise acrimony and industrial action, expert government conciliators would be provided on request.
Both industrial stakeholders rely on each other. Each should receive a fair share of any productivity gains. As part of an EBA good-faith negotiation, financial statements, for example profit and loss, balance sheets, shareholder dividends, executive bonuses and BASs would be disclosed.
Geoff Black, Caves Beach
Waste of time and money
THE Labor government has announced a royal commission into the Coalition's unlawful 'robo-debt' scheme. A search of government archives reveals that an automated 'robo-debt' style scheme was announced in June 2011 by Tanya Plibersek and Bill Shorten as a new data-matching initiative between Centrelink and the Australian Taxation Office. It was expected to claw back millions of dollars from welfare recipients who had debts with the Australian government. The cost of a royal commission is substantial and this is only being used as a witch-hunt to discredit another political party. It's a waste of taxpayers' money. The hypocrisy of politicians never ceases to amaze.
John Cooper, Charlestown
Running out of time to change
WE must not forget that as Australia's coal earns record prices, and coal miners earn record profits, global emissions continue to rise ('Hunter coal producers earning billions as prices hit new record highs', Herald, 28/8). Profit and human greed are entrenched in global economic systems, and it's becoming clearer that a model that values something else is needed if climate change is to be effectively tackled.
The Albanese government's noises about a wellbeing chapter in the forthcoming budget, and a requirement for new projects to take into account their effect on climate change are encouraging. Time will tell whether old-school economic forces, and fossil fuel donations, can be resisted. However, as the world is ravaged by stronger and more frequent extreme weather events, it's becoming increasingly clear that time is something we no longer have.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn, Vic
New front in old battle
THERE has been much discussion and comment in news bulletins about the industrial action taken by the train drivers and the inconvenience caused to commuters.
I feel for the daily commuters who are trying to arrive at work on time. The major issue is safety, with the one-man operation of the new train fleet being at the centre of the dispute. With the trains being extended from eight to 10 cars, the drivers are worried about the safety of passengers, especially those with a disability.
I recall the bitter and protracted dispute between the Department of Government Transport and the union back in 1969 to 1972 when bus drivers refused to drive the double-deck Atlantean buses with a driver only. I think the current Rail, Tram and Bus Union remembers this dispute, and doesn't want to get caught ceding to government demands again. I sympathise with both sides. I guess a solution will eventually be found without the bitterness of the Atlantean fiasco.
Les Field, Wickham
Paying our respects
I HAVE been wondering if anyone can answer me as to why we have had a minute's silence to mark solemn occasions in Australia for more than 100 years (since 1919), but this past year the NRL has turned it into a few moment's silence?
I have asked the NRL and all 16 NRL clubs but have not been afforded the common courtesy of answer from any of them.
This was glaringly evident during the round to honour the late Paul Green when this moment's silence ranged from 30-45 seconds.
I started noticing this new trend during the Anzac Day round this year when only one of the home teams had the decency to observe a minute's silence. The other seven home grounds could only manage a measly 25-35 seconds.
I could only think of three scenarios for this change:
1. The fans and players only have short attention spans, though I did not see evidence of this at the games;
2. The clubs and the NRL are only half-hearted about the cause; or,
3. We need to shove more advertising in ... heaven forbid this is the reason.
None of these are a satisfactory excuse for such disrespect in my mind.
Robyn McAllister, East Maitland
ALL too hard, Newcastle. A weekend walk to the Nobbys lighthouse is a joyful thing. But no toilets? A predawn walk to the end of the Nobbys breakwall is exercise paradise. But no lights? Stockton breakwall has lights all night. All too hard Newcastle
Tim Roberts, Newcastle East
DON Fraser is way off the mark in his claim that an EV uses "25 times more electricity over one year than a refrigerator" (Short Takes, 27/8). Our Tesla 3 is mostly driven around Newcastle with occasional trips to Sydney and it uses almost exactly the same as a refrigerator. Former chief scientist Alan Finkel says "if you drive [an EV] 12,000 kilometres a year, which is close to the Australian average, the cost will be $600 a year. Beat that with petrol!" Both our experience and informed opinion show that an EV is a way to both a low-cost and low-carbon future.
Darren and Gunilla Burrowes, Newcastle East
JOHN Beach, ('Pollution and promotion', Letters, 24/8), raises some good points regarding council's promotion of carbon emission events. Council's 'green' environmental credentials could be restored if they were to host an all-electric car race. Just imagine - a race with zero emissions and extremely low noise. How good would that be?
Stan Keifer, Arakoon
TO Bob Watson, (Short Takes, 27/8), Ian Plimer is a well-known emeritus Professor of Geology. He was even a professor at Newcastle University for a while. He has spoken out authoritatively on climate change, paleoclimates, related topics and written several books on the subject.
Peter Devey, Merewether
ROBERT Dillon ('Testing our patience', Herald, 27/8), asks a very valid question as to why after one and a half weeks there is still nothing from the Knights regarding the results of the drug tests taken by Kalyn Ponga and Kurt Mann. Results for drug testing I believe only take 2-3 days.
Ivan Hecimovic, Lambton
WELL done Knights women. Well played.
Bill Slicer, Tighes Hill
I SUGGEST that an end-of-season Knights Challenge Cup be introduced. The fans might appreciate a match-up between the men's and the women's teams.
Robert O'Toole, Raworth
THERE are two rules of management. One: find someone to blame. Two: there is someone in the organisation that knows everything and everyone and is fully aware how the organisation functions in all aspects. He/she must be removed. Paul Broad is such a victim. Welcome to the brave new world.