Letters to the editor Monday May 28 2018

SEEING RED: Reader Lindsay Brown says residents in the Williamtown red zone deserve support beyond rate relief proposed by Port Stephens Council.SO THE Williamtown red zone’sresidents may get a 50% reduction in their rates (“Rate relief for red zone”, Herald 24/5).Isn’t that good? Wait, no, it’s half good. Actually, no – it is a tokenistic gesture at best, when the only real solution appears to be a complete buy-back of their valueless properties (“No buyout”, Herald 8/5).

How very compassionate of Port Stephens Council to offer them some relief at least. Hang on – who is paying for it? Oh that’s right, I am, and we are. How very generous of Port Stephens Council to charge us all extra on our rates so they can buy some credibility with the poor souls being shafted by our federal government. Of course, I don’t begrudge the red zone residents the $2.50 per year, possibly every year for the rest of our lives, while the government continues its cruel avoidance tactics.

Wait a minute, didn’t I just read that the same council stands to receive $20 million in rental fees fromthe recently approved sand mine on Cabbage Tree Road (“Sand trap”, Herald 10/5)? The sand mine in the red zone, where residents are not allowed to disturb their soil?

Some simple mathematics, and some very basic logic, tells me that $20 million income from amining lease would go a lot further than my $2.50towards lowering rates for the red zone residents being further punished by that mine’s very existence.

There would probably even be some change.

Lindsay Brown,Anna BayNO TEARS ASVOLUNTEERSI READ with interest the article by Dr Rachel Winterton in last Wednesday’s Herald (“We must do more to help older volunteers”, Opinion 23/5)concerning older volunteers, many of whomare keeping the wheels turningthroughout rural and urban areas of .

It’s disappointing to read that the difficulties many of these good people are facing in their volunteer roles is causing them to withdraw support.

I encourage these people to look elsewhere if possible, find something close to home, choose another option if possible. Volunteering can be such a rewarding role.

I report almost every Thursday for duty at Lingard Hospital, where I am welcomed with smiles, asked how my week has been, thanked for what I do, and made to feel like part of the team. Yesterday the Lingard volunteers were taken out by the busy CEO and some executive staff for lunch, and presented with beautiful floral arrangements and certificates of appreciation.

I enjoy going there. I’m appreciated. I feel useful. It makes me happy. It provides companionship.

To the unhappy or burdened volunteers out there, please look for another option which will enrich your life, not burden you.

Thurza Snelson,MerewetherSHOT IN THE FOOT FOR PLANANOTHER day in America, another school shooting – the 16th so far this year and the 22nd mass shooting.

As usual, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its enforcer Donald Trump will trot out some diatribe in an attempt to defend the indefensible.

It is noteworthy that the armed school security officer, a retired police officer – presumably well-trained and skilled in the use of firearms – was critically wounded without impeding the gunman in any way. This makes a further mockery of Trump’s proposal for superficially-trained school teachers to be armed to defend schools. Just imagine if instead of an experienced former police officer, a school teacher surrounded by students was required to confront the gunman.

It would undoubtedly have led to even further carnage. It is yet a further reminder of how fortunate we are in this country where the laws and the culture do not bow to the ridiculous notion of individuals having an unfettered right to possess and use firearms regardless of legitimate need.

John Ure, Mount HuttonGET THE WHEELS IN MOTIONJEFF Corbett(“Breaking a killer cycle”, Opinion 19/5), banning cyclists from main roads goes against the council’s 2030 vision document. Directly from Newcastle City Council’s 2030 vision (with full community consultation) is: “Walking, cycling and public transport will be viable options for the majority of our trips”. It reduces congestion and makes main roads faster. Win, win, win for everyone.

Based on current budgets, it will take over 40 years to complete the CycleSafe network. This 2030 plan is a continuation of the last two decades of seeing active transport as a fringe transport option.

We need a drastic change of plans to get the majority of trips in active transport by 2030 (currently under 10%). We need council money and time put into the network to achieve its 2030 vision. The council’s 2030 vision is for most trips to be a viable option for walking and cycling, meaning short trips under five kilometres that are considered too dangerous now.

To achieve this vision we need a fully separated from cars pushbike network by 2019, then 11 years of intense social schemes to get the new generation transitioning to walking and cycling.

We need to reverse people’ habits people have gotten into for mental health, for liveable cities, for safety, for economic sustainability, for improved local business and for less road congestion.

Dan Endicott, IslingtonHONOUR PORT DESPITE STORMIN A port the size of Newcastle, with a maritime history second to none in the southern hemisphere, the largest coal port on our planet, a city whose raison d’être is its harbour and maritime, a community of people whose forebears are all in someway connected to Newcastle’s maritime traditions, it beggars belief that our Newcastle City Council, our Port Authority, the Hunter Development Corporation, harbour stakeholders, the Newcastle Herald and indeed the Newcastle community can betray such indifference and apathy to the demiseof our maritime museum (“Vote to wind-up maritime museum”, Herald 22/5).

How does one wind up 220 years of maritime history?

Erica Townsend, KotaraIT COMES AT A COST$75 MILLION (“$75M Sunk”, Herald 25/5)? If you need that much advice, personally I can only doubt whether you are qualified for the job.

Ed Matzenik,Maitland

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