SAGE Swinton's article regarding parking fines for Newcastle Ocean Baths early morning swimmers ("Baths swimmer fined before dawn", Newcastle Herald 9/2) and Damon Cronshaw's about an injury nearby ("Baths high jinks ends in stitches", Herald 8/2) in my opinion highlight the real lack of community consultation in the design.
While this facility looks rather attractive on the surface, it is a disappointment to many who have used it for health reasons. I believe it fails dramatically for the aged and disabled, who constantly find accessibility to public facilities has been shaped around the fit, fabulous and healthy.
Now it is more of a challenge for them every day. Congratulations, City of Newcastle council.
This place was once one of the few places where people with disabilities and the aged could feel supported in a natural environment. I believe the new design and structure of the pool has changed the demographics of the facility.
The City of Newcastle has questions to answer. Who designed this pool to end up with this result? How much was accessibility access considered and, most importantly, who signed off on the work that has been done? Did they do storm surge modelling? I am concerned the results so far don't bode well for the next stage of works.
Narelle Nelson, Maryville
Risks in end to negative gearing
THERE'S a lot of discussion around doing away with negative gearing. Negative gearing is a tax incentive to encourage investment in residential properties, offsetting some of the costs involved with owning these properties and making it a profitable option for those who have money to invest or who are setting themselves up for retirement.
There are risks involved that can impact on any profit, such as damage to properties, non-payment of rent, and periods of time when the property remains vacant. It seems to me that if negative gearing is dropped and owning a rental residential property becomes less attractive, it will have two effects.
Firstly landlords, who are often mum-and-dad investors, will sell these properties and put the money into shares and other more attractive investments, therefore decreasing the number of rental properties available and exacerbating the serious shortages in the rental market.
Secondly, landlords who choose to keep their rental properties will be less likely (due to removal of tax incentives) to maintain and upgrade properties that they own, leading to a significant drop in the quality of rental properties.
I think there are unintended consequences to this idea and it needs to be properly thought through.
Ruth Burrell, Merewether
Uncompetitive markets cost more
ON February 7, during his address to the National Press Club, Professor Allan Fels remarked that for Australian householders, 'prices are too high, too often' (Herald 8/2). Peter Dutton has been trying to score political points out of this situation.
He points out that Australia's latest inflation figures, which at around 4 per cent, are among the highest in the advanced nations of the OECD, and above the Reserve Bank's (RBA's) target of rate of two to three per cent. Following the Fels address, you do not have to look far for the reasons for Australia's stubbornly high inflation.
Australian markets are concentrated and uncompetitive. These include the retailing, finance, insurance, communications and power industries.
I believe large firms find it easier to clandestinely collude with other large firms in their industry to price gouge consumers, and this maximises everyone's profits without any unpleasant competitive argy-bargy.
Customers must pay exorbitant prices or go without, since the product cannot be obtained more cheaply elsewhere.
Rip-off merchants are quick to defend their practices.
They claim that they don't collude with other large firms in their industry and that they offer reasonable prices, given the small size of the Australian market.
But the lack of competition is a good reason to have an effective pro-competition cop on the beat. Australia does not need yet another inquiry or royal commission to shelve the problem.
The ACCC should be given the investigative and 'trust-busting' powers it needs to look after the consumer.
Geoff Black, Frankston
End for post office sends a clear message
I CAN'T believe Australia Post has decided to close Lambton Post Office from May ('Distress over decision to shutter suburban post office', Newcastle Herald 10/2).
It is a well used post office, most of the elderly people in the area cannot get to Jesmond shopping centre to get access to a post office to send and receive parcels, do their banking, pay bills.
It is a great family business, employing local people who are all helpful and caring for all who use this service.
Shame on you Australia Post. It just goes to show how much they care about people of Lambton. Hang your heads in shame.
Ken Stead, Lambton
Votes can ratify promises
ADZ Carter ("Tax backflip serves a greater good", Letters, 9/2), thank you for reminding us all about John Howard's GST policy change.
Announced whilst in government, but not introduced until after the following election; we voted on it.
Albo kept talking before the last election about greater integrity and restoring people's faith, but waited until the votes were in and his government needed a boost to break his foolish tax promise.
Where do you and others draw the line on broken election promises?
Dave McTaggart, Edgeworth
Luck seems in short supply
I DON'T think we're the lucky country anymore. Rather, a fledgling country and like any infant, we've a lot to learn.
Bryn Roberts, New Lambton
Which path will we choose
THE climate has always been subject to change. Humans have adapted to climate change to the best of their ability to do so.
The advent of the Industrial Revolution saw the creation of a new form of climate change, human induced climate change, caused by burning fossil fuels to create energy which has brought into existence a turbocharged version of climate change, which now challenges all life on Planet Earth.
Big money is involved in burning fossil fuels to create energy.
Will commonsense prevail and the practice of burning fossil fuels to produce energy cease, or will the attraction of more wealth rule the day leading to the final end of life on Planet Earth? Only time will tell.
Brian Measday, Kingswood
Reconsider position on the war
MEMO to Australian politicians: Israel has no right to defend itself on Palestine land. The settlers must be removed.