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Marking environment day in our own way

UNDER WAY: Work to remove trees along Newcastle Foreshore has started, ahead of the Supercars race in the city’s East End in November. Picture: Simone De PeakNEWCASTLE has a peculiar way of celebrating World Environment Day;it cuts down 170 mature trees along Wharf Road and concretes a good section of Foreshore Park land.
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In addition, it plans to run with the big-time polluters and allow a race through built-up areas without giving any consideration to the concerns of the residents. It is time for Newcastle City Council and state politicians to wake up to the needs and ails of our environment and abandon this event other communities elsewhere did not want.

If Newcastle wants to become a smart city, some smart ideas have to be implemented, not actions that are pathetic samples of environmental vandalism and don’t comply with what the large majority of the concerned and caring citizens demand.

Martin Schlaeger,EleebanaCouncil ‘vandalism’I AM dismayed by the comments which the Herald published from the Newcastle City Council’s interim chief executive, Jeremy Bath, who appears to have adopted the political propaganda that I have come to expect from Supercars and the Lord Mayor (‘Council out to avoid repeat of figs’, Herald,6/6). How can he say “it’s part of delivering an event that is going to be a huge economic boon”when none of the colluding organisations using this argument to justify their vandalism have ever released a business plan for their event?

According to the article, Mr Bath said the council had learned it needed to communicate more clearly about why trees were removed. Can he please explain to me why it was necessary to cut down the tree that became part of the Resilience sculpture setting which was supported by public donations and dedicated to people affected by suicide and other mental health conditions? The destruction of this unique contemplative setting is just a callous act of vandalism by our council.

Peter Howe,Newcastle EastWhy not nativesG’DONYA Newcastle City Council. You’re sacrificing established native trees and replacing them with 230 “mostly six-metre Norfolk Island pines” (‘Cut Down’, Herald, 6/6).

D’ya know these exotic species provide neither food nor habitat for almost all Aussie native birds and animals? D’ya realise they’re fast becoming a dominant species around the harbour – subject to mass die-back and resultant widespread deforestation when the right disease or pest appears? That the area is one of the first seen in Newcastle by many tourists – wishing to see a bit of Aussie flora – and fauna?

How about a re-think? How about instead you use “mostly native trees” – like several of the many suitable Eucalypts and Corymbia (gums), Casuarina (she-oaks), Melaleuca (paperbarks) and Grevillea, etc?

All are native insect, bird and animal attractants, food and shelter sources. And most will produce usable shade faster. D’ya know that most native trees host native birds which resist the inexorable invasion of the even greater pest, the Indian myna?

Please, have a thought for the environment and the ratepayers – not just the needs of a temporary event sponsor. And please; no more figs either.

Peter Cousins,StocktonDrivers crash carsREGARDING John Gilbert’s comments (Letters, 6/6), I recall having a conversation with what I thought at the time was an old police man, probably close to 60 years ago. The discussion was about what caused an accident, with me suggesting road conditions and he suggesting driver error. His parting statement I still remember well, “you can place a car, faulty brakes, bald tyres and faulty steering on a rough slippery road with serious corners, no accident will happen until a driver gets in the car”. His last words: it is the nut holding the wheel that causes the crash.

Fred McInerney,KaruahTwisted equalityTHE homosexual fraternity and their promoters continue to abuse our natural time-honoured way of life and attempt to shove their twisted view of “equality” down our throats (Letters, 6/6).

There is an old saying: “He doesn’t know whether he is Arthur or Martha” which, of course, was merely a way of describing a person with a dilemma, not necessarily of unnatural tendencies.

The common facetious answer to that saying used to be, “well, he just needs to have a look”. That response, applied in today’s context, would easily display the natural inequality which is being denied.

Bruce Brown,Marks PointClose the bordersWELL, it goes on and on –our limp-wristed political leaders on both sides still ignore the majority and concern themselves with so-called political correctness. What do we have to do to get them to listen to the concerned populous and bite the bullet?

Close our borders for at least three years to all races and religions and then, on opening, offer the privilege of conditional residency, based on our country’s needs.

Forget what the out of touch United Nations say and start to run our country the way we want it run. We want our leaders to lead and make sure we don’t wind up like England, who appears to now be breeding home-grown terrorists.

It is long past time that we start to concern ourselves about our way of life and treat our populous with the dignity and safety that we as Australians take for granted.

Dennis Crampton,Belmont NorthCall for apologyTHE letter from Brian Ladd on behalf of the Newcastle Inner City Residents Group (Letters, 6/6) I believe highlights the “alternate facts” and “fake news” I have come to know from this group.

In Mr Ladd’s letter he says Jeff McCloy broke electoral laws whilst he was a Liberal Lord Mayor in 2011.If you check the 2012 LGA election records, Mr McCloy did not stand as an endorsed Liberal mayor in the 2012 elections. Instead he stood as an independent candidate during this election, and remained an independent afterwards Further to this, Mr McCloy wasn’t even mayor of Newcastle in 2011. At this stage John Tate was still the lord mayor.

Given these clearly inaccurate comments on behalf of the group, perhaps the Newcastle Inner City Residents Group should issue an apology to Mr McCloy for making these incorrect statements.

Mitchell Griffin,East Maitland

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Crisis is about supply, but not of houses

PLENTY: While rhetoric around the housing affordability crisis continues to focus on supply, one contributor argues it’s taxation and lending that need addressing. “SUPPLY, supply, supply”, was the answer provided by the Premier of NSW to the affordable housing crisis recently. In addition, at least twice this month I recall the Property Council of Australia Hunter chapter has also identified a lack of supply to be the Achilles heal of Newcastle’s apparent investment boom. In a simplified world, this supply-demand equation is one of those “no-brainers” that motivate us to invest.Demand is strong. Increased demand usually puts pressure on supply. Nothing unusual here, right?
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But weneed to look at the other more important factor; the supply and demand of credit (ie, bank loans for property). The supply and demand for debt-to-invest is where the housing crisis has become amplified.The current tax arrangements for landlords to offset losses on investment properties were instigated to provide rental stock for the growing population. The concept makes sense – but it has created a monster.

If you web search homeless numbers in comparison to empty homes in Australia, you will be in for a shock. We have enough housing stock to accommodate everyone and have homes left over. Rather than see this as a supply issue, many economists are now acutely aware the crisis is created at the investment level. Lenders are falling over each other to lend to existing home owners. This has created an ‘over-supply’ of credit, fuelling an ‘over-demand’ for property.

Narrow this formula down further and we see an over supply of credit fuelling investment, not in homes to rent out – we are seeing increasing investment in properties to ‘flip’. The buy and sell of property is easy money if you can get a shoe in. A $1 million property needs to yield at least a 3 per cent to be better than a term deposit. That means the tenant needs to pay $650-$750 per week, if not, the house remains empty. Thecapital gainis the return, as losses are tax deductible. This powder keg scenario makes property unaffordable for many and creates the perverted reality of 2017 where there are more empty houses than homeless people.

These economic rationalist outcomes are not what the Australian ethos was built upon. The ‘fair go’ is now a pipe dream. Increasing housing supply is not an answer when the supply already exists. Increasing fairness in the lending, investing and taxation regulations is the only place to start.

Scott Cooper-Johnston,NewcastleThe antidote to terrorismWHEN one hears about a terrorist attack, it’s in a country where the governments are reluctant to accept refugees. One doesn’t hear about terrorist attacks in Brazil, for instance, apart from one time to do with the World Cup, which was averted. Other countries in South America have accepted refugees, and do not have a problem with terrorism. Germany has had several teething problems with their influx of refugees, although many attacks have been from right wing extremists.

Terrorist attacks have occurred mainly in the countries that vocally try to reject refugees. Countries such as UK, USA and Australia hear about terrorism to such an extent that much of the news concerns it. Attacks from Muslim extremists have recently occurred in UK (Theresa May), USA (Donald Trump) and France (Marine le Pen).It is a relief Australia is so far away from the areas that terrorism abounds. We are so secluded, few terrorists are that bothered by us. But that could change in an instant. Several terrorism groups have made warnings against Australia for their actions.

This makes acceptance of refugees even more valuable for Australia. By accepting refugees and rejecting the rhetoric on terrorism, our problems with terrorism will melt away.

Tracie Aylmer,Perth WASupport for victims slowIT has been over four years since the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Sexual Abuse began. Thousands of hourswork and millions of dollars have been spent.

Initially, there were a few signs that justice would be served to deserving victims/survivors. While some victims have had satisfactory results, there are many who have described the ordeal as another level of abuse and have brought themediation to a sudden conclusion by exiting the belittling experience, and requesting they (thehard nosed panel) pay the bills and give them what is left.

This is an example of whymany survivors/victims are criticising what has been their experience of recommendations so far from the royal commission. I believe it is important when we look back and say “how did this happen”, that we recall the followingnewspaper articles to determinethe fundamental attitude of the Catholic Church and some state run institutions. ‘Holy delete’, (Herald,19/6), ‘Catholic archbishop intervenes in schools war’, (Sydney Morning Herald, 22/6), ‘Marist Hamilton head guilty of sexual abuse’(Herald, 22/6),‘Punched after child abuse’ (Herald,22/6),‘Pell’s man quits job’ (Herald,22/6),‘Schools breached gravest contracts of all’(Herald,22/6).This has been only one week of media which has encompassed an array of headlineswhich, I think, demonstrateit’s “business as usual” for the Catholic Church. Their inactivitywhen it came to investigatingcomplaints of sexual abuse is already well documented.

I think support for those suffering sexual abuse in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese has been sparse and slow.Is there any joy for these people in the near future and what form will it take?

Pat Garnet,Newcastle EastSurviving after sell-offTHE back slapping and high fives continue for the NSW Liberal government as they congratulate themselves for the massive budget surplus.

Now with the majority of the people’s public assets sold off and gone forever, we can enjoy the “sugar hit” as infrastructure and services aplenty are created for the state. Well, for Sydney, anyway. But after the sugar sweetness fades, the bills will still need to be paid for the running of the state.

With the lion’s share of our income-producing assets gone, we will be heavily dependent on duties and tax.

Well, at least the Liberals know how to reduce spending to allow for the pending income cuts.

Simply buy everything from overseas where it’s cheaper. After all, it’s the federal government who will pick up the tab for the then created unemployment costs.

Hats off to Luke Foley for daring to suggest Hunter manufacturing should be utilised for ambulance construction. It’s a step in the right direction, albeit a very small one.

John Gilbert, Lake Macquarie councillor

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Nothing ‘smart’ about butchering city assets

TIMBER: Work started last week on the removal of trees on the Newcastle Foreshore ahead of the Supercars race meeting to be held in the East End in November.ALMOST all of us in the Greater Hunter have an association with Newcastle, the region’s capital. My tertiary education was at Charlestown TAFE where I studied urban horticulture.
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Our field excursions involved studies in major Newcastle parks including the foreshore. It was in the early stages of planting back then and our teachers accurately described what it would be like in the future. I was also in the foreshore last week.

Those people attempting to justify the destruction, claiming all is well because of proposed shade plantings, need to swallow their words. This award-winning park is or was much more than that. A gift for the whole of the Hunter, ample open space was left for regular and major events. Shielding from roads and traffic was achieved by medium height shrubberies and mass plantings. Such shrubberies elsewhere had a dual purpose of creating “nooks and crannies” for private picnics and acted as windbreaks. This put an end to wind tunnels and created what are known as “winter sun traps”. The linkages and blend between the beach, river and city were superb as was the balance between formal and informal. While establishment took years due to the poor soil and sea exposure, it had just reached its designed potential.

Such parks are the second step beyond our backyard where, as toddlers, we are safely introduced not only to nature but the human world. They are essential for a society’s well being.

You would be in for a shock if you visited this long weekend. Locals and others from outside Newcastle have been warning us for months, only to mocked and labelled as liars. I really did think common sense would prevail, but alas it did not. This work is,in my opinion, not only morally deplorable but comes at a huge financial cost.

What a disgrace. Those responsible for allowing the butchery of a major asset of the third oldest, seventh largest city in a peaceful first world country ought to be ashamed and utterly embarrassed. “Smart City” – what a laughing stock.

Christian Patteson,Hawks NestWhat growth bought us”TWENTY-six years of economic growth” must be the greatest fraud ever inflicted on a democraticcountry in history.

Where are the factories/industries that powered our nation after WWII, which at one time meant we were over 80 per cent self sufficient in everything? People were paid a reasonable wage, goods were affordable, even though some had to be paid for, bosses probably received 50 per cent to200 per cent more than workers not 1000 per cent or much more. Everyone seemed to pay some tax and many great improvements and much infrastructure was completed.

Going back further to the late 1800s, great progress was made with schools and hospitals, roads and massive railway investment. Migration was in bursts and everyone was productive, sea ports were built, mining was in progress – mainly for the benefit of Australia. We had our battles but we carried on and progressed, with the leadership most times considering Australia first.

Twenty-six years of economic growth led by Hawke, Keating, Howard, Rudd, Gillard, Abbott and Turnbullhas taken much of what many decades of our hard working people had created;white anted, sold off, closed down, privatised but mainly lost to the Australian owner “our people”.

For the last 26 years looking on they see what they had created sold off to foreignerbillionaires and governments, powered only by a so-called mining boom, ultra high immigration and another so-called boom in housing. Not homes but housing. Which, once again weak governments crucified the chances of great numbers of good Australians owning their own home as they struggle to pay the much inflated rentsto the greatest number of landlords ever seen in this once fair country.

In the meantime, we see Australiawithby far the worstbudget debit in history.

Russell Schatz, NarrabriNot working with usJEREMY Flanagan calls on the EPA to monitor the work occurring in Newcastle East for the Newcastle 500 (Letters, 8/6). Don’t expect a favourable response Jeremy. Residents have been requesting information from the EPA, Safework and other NSW government departments for months now.

The usual response is that we should address our concerns to Destination NSW and Supercars. It appears to me Destination NSW’s only mandate is to make the race happen, no matter the cost to community, health and well-being.All the government agencies we have contacted say they are working with Destination NSW and Supercars to manage potential issues.They are not working with those directly affected by activities associated with this event.

Dominique Ryan,Newcastle EastInconvenient ‘truths’IN reply to my letter asking if there are any gods (Letters, 31/5), Peter Dolan commented that I seemed to be supporting Tony Abbott in criticising the Muslim religion regarding the Manchester bombing (Letters 3/6). Actually, I asked Abbott to fix his own religion first, but that sentence didn’t make it to print.The main problem is, if your white-bread Christian religion can have a God or gods, so can everyone else’s. Your God legitimises other peoples’ gods, even though it’s highly unlikely there are any gods. But let’s keep killing each other over religion to add to the stupid secular carnage.

Peter also asked: “Which man-made ethic” should we live by? Secular ethics is actually a science and moral philosophy, and is called modern or true or common-sense ethics. Firstly, ethics asks us to cause no hurt,and help out. If what I am doing hurts no-one, such as gay marriage, then this is not even an ethical issue. Imaginary hurt is not counted. Second, ethics asks us to live according to universal values, the top 5 of which are arguably Life, Love, Liberty or Freedom, Truth and Justice. But all life is precious. Third, the golden rule updated asks us to treat all living beings, and the planet, as we would be treated.

Toughest of all, true ethics requires us to recognise all available supportable knowledge. Inconveniently, ethics and science tell us that we human animals are not the only people or persons. Dogs, kangaroos, cows and sheep are feeling, intelligent people too. This is too hard for most self-interested humans – Bible-based bigotry is easier. Let us rightly mourn aborted unborn human foetuses but bashing kangaroo pouch and at-heel joeys to death is fine?

Les Hutchinson,South Maitland

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Ex St Pius X teacher set to face trial

ACCUSED: Former St Pius X maths teacher Ted Hall. Mr Hall has been committed to stand trial on 32 sexual and indecent assault offences dating back to the 1970s. FORMER St Pius X, Adamstown maths teacher,Ted Hall, has been committed to stand trial on 32 sexual and indecent assault offences dating back to the 1970s.
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Edward Smith Hall, 66, known as Ted Hall to St Pius students,appeared in Newcastle Local Court via audio visual link from Wagga Wagga Local Court charged with 40 offences against 11 St Pius students between 1973 and 1986.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions formally withdrew eight counts and Mr Hall, who was represented by solicitor Drew Hamilton, pleaded not guilty to the remaining 32 charges.

The matter was adjourned to Newcastle District Court on June 29 to set a trial date.

Mr Hall, who now lives in the Riverina region, is accused of nine counts of sexual assault (category 4), 20 counts of indecent assault on amale, two counts of sexual assault (category 3) person under the age of 16 years and attempted buggery, court documents state.

In July last year, Mr Hallwas charged with indecently assaulting four St Pius students at Adamstown and Merewether between 1983 and 1986.

Police allege Mr Hall touched the four boys, aged 15, on the genitals while they were under his authority, and allegedly forced one boy to masturbate his penis and “continued to masturbate himself in his presence”.

In December, he wascharged with a number of fresh offences, including allegations he indecently assaulted a boy at Adamstown in 1979 and indecently assaulted another boy at locations including Stroud, Neath and Merewether in 1980 and 1981.

He has also been charged with two counts relating to the alleged sexual assault of a boy at Merewether during 1984.

The earliest allegation dates back to 1973 when Mr Hall is accused of indecently assaulting a male at Barrington, court documents state.

Mr Hall was a maths teacher at St Pius between 1973 and 1983.

He was known asTony Hall to students atNewington College in Stanmore, where he taught between 1989 and 2000.

Ina Newington College report after Mr Hall’s retirement in 2000, hewas described as a teacher whose previous experience includeda period as a teacher at Trinity Grammar School in Summer Hill.

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Third time around, MP changes her story again

Weeks after apologising for falsely swearing to have lived in her electorate for a decade, a rookie MP has watered down her retraction and revived questions about her truthfulness with a third account of her ties to her electorate.
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MP Felicity Wilson told Liberal preselectors for the plum seat of North Shore she had lived in the electorate for 10 years since 2005 in a statutory declaration that was also her nomination form.

But she apologised amid a media storm last month after Fairfax Media revealed electoral and Liberal party records put her at addresses outside the electorate in 2005 and at points across another five years with another three unaccounted for.

A chastened Ms Wilson submitted a revised statutory declaration shortly before a by-election last month and said: “I should have been more careful with my words and I’ve made an apology for that.”

But in her first major speech to the Liberal party members whose support she will need for preselection next year, Ms Wilson suggested she was punished for a simple rounding error.

“I had spent closer to nine years in the electorate … not 10,” Ms Wilson said in a speech to a private event on Monday, according to a record of the meeting made by one attendee and verified by another. “I had lived at 17 addresses in 17 years [and..] I had made an error.”

Records only definitively put Ms Wilson inside her electorate’s boundaries at points across only four years and she has repeatedly declined to provide her residential history or say how long she has lived in the seat.

But Monday’s speech is her third different account of her ties to the electorate in two months.

After Fairfax’s first story, Ms Wilson said she should have said she had lived “in and around” the “North Shore region”, as opposed to the seat of the same name, which encompasses only the lower north shore.

In her maiden speech, earlier this month, Ms Wilson provided another formulation of her residential history, saying she had lived in her electorate for the “better part of a decade”.

Ms Wilson’s ability to win over local branches is critical to her political future after she won preselection by only six votes before the story broke. Afterwards there were widespread reports the party was short on election day volunteers, in a seat that is the historic home of the Liberal party.

Ms Wilson also implied the Herald had placed her under undue pressure to respond to questions for a story published the Thursday before a Saturday by-election.

“On 6pm on Wednesday night I got a call from a [reporter, who]??? wanted a quick answer,” she said.

But Ms Wilson was first called before 1pm that Monday, records confirm. She received followup inquiries on Tuesday and, finally, via a Liberal party spokeswoman about 3.30pm on Wednesday with an additional query about her having told former Prime Minister John Howard she cast her first vote in a federal election for him.

She later apologised when it was revealed she had been enrolled to vote in Marrickville in the 2001 election, on the other side from Mr Howard’s then north sydney electorate.

Fairfax Media contacted Ms Wilson to ask if she had further misled Liberal preselectors.

She requested a meeting, which Fairfax agreed to on the condition that all discussions were on-the-record and for quotation, but did not show up.

Ms Wilson was dubbed “Duplicity Wilson” by talk radio king Alan Jones and “Fibbing Felicity” by Labor leader Luke Foley.

On her oath and in her original preselection form, Ms Wilson said she had first moved to the electorate at Waverton in 2005. But in that year she had recently registered to vote at an address in North Epping, about 30 minutes’ drive away from Waverton.

A member of the public reported Ms Wilson to the North Sydney police, they said they would decline to investigate because a single typographical error on the form rendered it unenforceable as a legal document.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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