Short Takes

LAST Thursday, June 1, saw our family utterly devastated by the tragic death of a family member through suicide. Just two days before his death he was turned away from a mental health facility because he was deemed to be not sick enough, denying him the help he so desperately needed. We, his family, have been trying to raise awareness of mental illness via social media and elsewhere but so much more needs to be done. Please be mindful this disease is widespread and can happen to anyone. Some knew him as The Man in The Doorway. I knew him as a kind and gentle man. His name was Bernie, and he was my brother. Lifeline, 13 11 14.
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Michael Sessions,WaratahGOODBYE Bernie, always a wave and thumbs up. God bless.

Michael Casey,MerewetherBRING back Jeff McCloy (‘McCloy coy on mayor plan’, Herald,2/6). He actually donated his entire earnings to charity, where our current mayor eats smashed avo and lobster lunches. Shame on Nelmes.

Tony Padgett,Newcastle EastTO Steve Barnett (Short Takes, 5/6): Yes, gone are the days when you could go to your local pub with a few mates to actually engage in intelligent conversation and catch up on the iconic Aussie bands being the likes of Aussie Crawl, Cold Chisel, The Oils, The Mentals, just to name a few. The youth of today seem to be hell bent on frying their brain on chemicals never heard of in the ’80s, whilst texting or snapping a quick selfie to the mate on the other side of the table. Aahhh give me the ’80s any day, doof doof.

Freddy Fox,SingletonTO Trump, Abbott, Joyce and devotees: I have noticed the wattle coming out on the fourth day of winter. Usually early spring. Nothing strange?

Tony Lawler,NewcastleHERE we go again – the friends of King Edward Park, complaining about the Bather’s Way. Do they want to leave it like the old bowling club on the headland and just rot away over time? Newcastle is a place for everybody to enjoy.

John Gallagher,JewellsTO my old mate Colin Geatches; once again you are 100 per centcorrect about the lollipop Liberal Party (Short Takes, 3/6), however I beg to differ on the tram line on Hunter Street. I think it’s a great idea, the concerning factor is whether either party can bring it to fruition. Worst case scenario, if all fails paint the trams white, add a trunk and a big set of ears. The sight of empty white elephants trundling down Hunter Street could turn into a tourist attraction.

Brad Hill, SingletonI WAS astounded to read the article about Joseph Maxwell(‘Bravery, courage honoured’,Herald,2/6/) as there was no mention of the biography on him by John Ramsland. The book had excellent reviews and was published in 2013. Its title is, Venturing into No Man’s Land: The Charmed Life of Joseph Maxwell VC, World War I Hero.

Ross Edmonds,WaratahTHE POLLSWILL David Klemmer come to Newcastle?

Yes 32.79%,No 67.21%

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Short Takes

REGARDING Tony Cooper and greenies being hypocrites for turning on heaters and lights (Short Takes, 31/5):I hope in the late 2030s, say 2038, Tony can explain to his grandchildrenthat Santa can’t live at the North Pole, it disappeared after an unusually hot northern summer. Santa will not be coming this Christmas as there is nowhere to make toys to allow children’s dreams to come true because we burnt too many fossil fuelsin the last 100 years.
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Michael McGready,Tighes HillVERY sad to read about the passing of Bernie Sessions. I had to travel to Newcastle often to see my specialist when I was diagnosed with melanoma. Bernie was always sitting there, beer in hand, giving a wave. I never knew his name, but would wave back. His small gesture took my mind off my issues for a while and left me with a smile. Here in Nelson Bay, we have a man called Stefan; the locals look out for him. We, at the butchers, have become good friends with him, making sure he is OK. If you see Stefan say hello, he’s part of what makes the Bay great.

Steve Barnett,Fingal BayA QUESTION for the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition: Why do you, when making an address to the nation after some horrific terrorist event, pay tribute to the 41 of our soldiers who have paid the ultimate price in Afghanistan, yet refuse to acknowledge the more than that number (very hard to get accurate numbers) of our soldiers who have came home and taken their own lives as a result of the horror they have witnessed in this one-and-a-half decade long, ill-conceived and failing incursion in a civil and tribalwar? Their sacrifice should be valued no less and recognised than if they had died on the battle field.

Allan Earl,Thornton GETUP is worrying the Big Wigs in the Establishment. They fear that their power to run the country is being taken away from them by a community-based popular movement. They will be looking for a way to discredit the organisation. GetUp will have to watch their back.

John McLennan,CharlestownTHE subject of Tooheys Old was quite a topic in the mid ’70s, owing to the fact the original “Black” beer, that was brewed in Sydney and shipped to Newcastle and the Hunter, was replaced by Hunter brewed product from Cardiff brewery (‘Hunter beer history and old long necks’, Herald, 6/6). This beer was rejected initially by the Coalfields “Black” beer drinkers owing to suspect taste difference. Actually a couple of the Coalfield pubs insisted that their black beer came from Sydney. Eventually they acclimatised to the “Hunter Old” with newer generations opting for a greater selection of the now popular range of beers available.

Ted Gore,ChisholmTHE POLLSARE you happy with the changes due to Supercars?

Yes 52.85%,No 47.15%DO you believe animal cruelty penalties are sufficient?

Yes 9.62%,No 90.38%

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Short Takes

MAC Maguire (Short Takes, 13/6): If Alan Joyce’s ‘gong’ qualifies him to speak about same-sex marriage, Margaret Court, with both an AO and an MBE, must be doubly qualified.
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Peter Dolan,LambtonAFTER five days without precious electricity 10 years ago when the Pasha Bulker grounded, I have never begrudged paying my bills. But when learning that there are reputed to be 23 retailers of electricity, only one of which is Australian owned, I have changed to that company, after being told my previous supplier of many years is now owned by a Hong Kong company. We have labels on most foods now with country of origin and I endeavour to support Australian-owned suppliers as much as possible, but feel guilty for not having discovered where my money has been going all these years. Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.

June Porter,Warners BayAFTER advising the Tories during their recent election disaster, will our very own Sir Lynton Crosby be obliged to return his knighthood? I wonder, will he be added to the official list of British “knights in disgrace” like the Kaiser, Mussolini, the King of Italy, Mugabe, Thomas Cromwell, Emperor Hirohito, etc?

Keith Parsons,NewcastleLES Hutchinson (Letters, 13/6): We should give animals the right to bare arms. Cows with Guns, that song is a butcher’s nightmare.

Steve Barnett,Fingal BayPATRONISING speeches to the nation following each act of terrorism overseas is not what we want from our Prime Minister, or anybody else. Talk is rarely effective unless supported by appropriate physical action. Gallipoli and Kokoda can’t keep hacking it. They were then,this is now. We need less Chamberlain and more Churchill.

Ron Elphick,Buff PointTHE Prime Minister insists on claiming we are equal to the best in the world for protection. The Lindt Café siege inquiry proved that to be a false claim. Of all the number of people killed by parolees or people on bail, it has taken the minute fraction of people that have been killed by terrorism from that number to finally jog the government into realising that something is wrong with the system. This shows that there is something very wrong with the judgment used by governments in their protection of people.

Allan Earl,ThorntonAUSTRALIA has brought terrorism on itself. Australian troops invading Muslim lands, breeds terrorism. Take Iraq for example, an invasion concocted on American lies. Thanks to our warmongering commentators and politicians, Iraq is now a terrorist state. Australia has not yet experienced a major terrorist attack on our soil. Invading Muslim lands is to invite terrorism on our soil.

Richard Ryan, Summerland PointTHE POLLSHOWoften do you update your home insurance coverage?

Annually 58.5%,Rarely 35.2%,Whenever I make a big purchase 6.3%,Every six months 0%

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Man up because ignorance can be deadly

TAKE ACTION: Today, at the start of Men’s Health Week, Hunter Region men are being encouraged to smash stereotypes by listening to their bodies and getting help.SOME men will agree with this information while some others will not.
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That is, men need to lift their veil of silence and to express their feelings instead of saying “I’m good” because it’s a fact they will talk about cars and sport but are not prepared to discuss the workings of their own body;they think by talking to others about their health problems may be a sign of weakness on their part.

Men need to change their way of thinking because it’s very important for those men who have health problems that they don’t succumb to the temptation to just bury their heads in the sand and pretend there is nothing wrong.

Women on the other hand tend to be more open about their health issues, whereas men will clam up and go about their normal lives denying a problem exists. I think it’stheir defence mechanism against feeling insecure because of an inability to cope in coming to terms with the issue.

This kind of thinking can also manifest itself in other ways often, like keeping their health problem a secret from their family and friends.

However at the end of the day men need to “man up” and accept they are not bullet proof, their human bodies at some stage in life may have health issues and to be aware of the consequences and the risk associated by not acting on what their body is telling them.

At that point in time men should take heed to those warning signs and consult with their doctor about their concern. Not next week, or the week after, but right away – and take note of all the information their doctor is telling them. Remember seeking help is not a sign of weakness. You cannot change the past what you have or have not done, but you are in control of your future.

Men’s Health Week runs from June 12-18.

Barry Preston, chairman, Cessnock Prostate Cancer Support GroupSpeaking of donationsI WRITE in response to the Newcastle Inner City Residents Alliance (NICRA) spokesman’s antipathetic ‘apology’ to former Newcastle Lord Mayor Jeff McCloy (Letters, 9/6).

The spokesman again impels bias by implying it is easy to ‘confuse Mr McCloy as a Liberal’. My opinion is that Mr McCloy is a clever independent businessman and a passionate Novocastrian.

If anything, he backs a winner when he sees one and,as ICAC proved, asked for nothing in return.

What I want to bring to the NICRA spokesman’s attention is the electoral disclosure of the NSW state election, 2007. The disclosed contributions received by donors show a donation of $27,500 paid to the Australian Labor Party (NSW Branch) from the J R McCloy Family Trust.

I’m not interested in the legalities of the non-disclosure of the 2011 NSW state election. I would however greatly like to see the NICRA spokesman amend their Liberal bias agenda setting theory to include the Labor Party at their pleasure.

Brendan Tate,MerewetherNothing left to tightenWHILST I am outraged by the news that wholesale electricity prices have doubled in the last 12 months, I am in no way surprised (‘Power Shock: bills could soar by $660’, NewcastleHerald,8/6).

As Treasurer, Gladys Berejiklian was Mike Baird’s chief architect in the privatisation of our poles and wires.

At the time of the selloff, Labor argued that privatising a state-owned asset would guarantee price hikes, adding to the cost of living for people in NSW.

Not only did Ms Berejiklian ignore this warning, but I believe the Liberal government went to extreme lengths to maintain artificially high wholesale energy prices in order to fatten up the pig for market day.

The reality is Energy Australia have now increased their hardship program tenfold and St Vincent de Paul are warning consumers to “hold on to their seats and get ready for a bumpy ride” when it comes to power prices in NSW.

There are people in my community who simply can’t draw their belts in any tighter and it is clear to me that the Berejiklian government could not care less.

Yasmin Catley, Member for Swansea,shadow minister for innovation and better regulationA very important minuteWATCHING a sporting event is Australian as meat pies, Vegemite and rhubarb. When there is a tragedy everyone stands for a minute’s silence before the game as a sign of respect and solidarity, to show the deep concerns that translate deeper than their own plight and honour the dead and the suffering of those affected.

Watching the Socceroos last Thursday night stand shoulder to shoulder in unison to pay respect to the victims of the London terrorist attack that killed eight people, two of which were young Australian girls, I was overcome with pure rage.

The rage I felt was for the contemptuous act of the 11 so-called sportspeople representing Saudi Arabia in the World Cup qualifier.

Why was I so enraged? After all, some might say it is not their custom to acknowledge the time-honoured custom. I believe everyone has their own opinion and is entitled to voice that opinion whenever they choose.

I must be getting senile in my old age or just a cranky old man. After all when a Brazilian plane crashed last year the whole word united to remember those that perished in the disaster. Yes, even these same bunch that stood for a minute’s silence in a friendly soccer match against the Brazilian national side.

It is a sad reflection on not only these sad 11 souls, but their whole country and in effect the religious beliefs they hold so dear.

Sixty seconds is only one minute out of their precious lives, but it will stay with me a lifetime.

John Undery,Kotara SouthQuestioning the callsNATHAN Brown should take a leaf out of Geoff Toovey’s book and call for an investigation.

It appears to me that all the referees are treating Newcastle like second-class citizens – every time the Knights score a try it is an inquisition for five minutes to find a way to disallow the try.

The only time this season they got a fair go was when they beat the Raiders and they got some 50/50 calls.

I think the bunker referee on Friday night should be given his marching orders.

Allen Small,East Maitland

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A campus crisis only Kissinger can solve

STRIKING: The university’s new Hunter Street campus has been hailed as CPR for the Newcastle CBD, but there is still the one, tiny issue of parking to overcome.HENRY Kissinger once famously stated that he only dealt with crises “when they were hot”. Perhaps his not-so-good eminence could be invited for the imminent opening of the Newcastle University’s new city campus. Some of his past skills may be needed.
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The building itself will be a colossal success. Its architecture is already the greatest head-turner in Newcastle. Internally, it will house such a large influx of students and lecturers so as to permanently drag the city’s heart out of its cultural backwater status. This will be CBD CPR at its finest.

Then why, of all people, should we bring in Dr Kissinger to potentially spoil the party? It is exclusively because his years of “shuttle diplomacy” will make him quite handy as a traffic warden. Essential, in fact.

Due to a miniscule niggle in oversight planning, the campus will have as much parking as is freely available from Sydney’s Centrepoint Tower – but only when accessed from the top, ie. practically none. But with Henry to the rescue, this shan’t be a problem.He’ll certainly endorse the university’s efforts to ferry in 300 students at a time from the Callaghan campus parking. But this won’t account for the overflow. Additional students may avail themselves of the vacant spots at Marketown. Buses from here may then be needed. And then a third shuttle service may be necessitated for the disaffected shop owners. In their desperation they’ll need access to Newcastle’s lord mayor, due to the fall in customer numbers. Their spaces are no longer plentiful. And therein lies the crux.How can these business leaders reach the mayor when she’s busy at the East End’s car races, taking up on her chequered flag duties? Could they possibly navigate through the congestion? Easy, according to the one-time Harvard professor. Without being too circuitous, just keep the transport corridor in Newcastle open.

Now, if he could only stop the Korean Peninsula from going totally ballistic, much less nuclear.

Steven Micevski, DungogGame console missingCOULD the person who found the PlayStation on the wheelchair at John Hunter Hospital on Friday afternoon, May 5, please return it to the hospital as it belongs to my grandson who has been undergoing many months of treatment for leukaemia and had been in isolation for many weeks.

It was left on the wheelchair as they were so anxious to be going home for a few days, and when they realised and returned to get it, only about 10 minutes later, it was gone.Please, please return it as it has been a Godsend to my grandson during his isolation.

Marj Black,ShortlandQuality to boost ratingsMUCH effort by commercial TV media outlets to lobby to change the rules around media TV ownership is misdirected. They have gone all out to prove a case for changing the rules. TV viewers can only dream of this attention being given to them. TV executives must know how sick and tired viewers are because they turn to internet streaming in droves. Viewers know they don’t count at all.

Executives complain they are losing advertising revenue and profits are falling. They must see that serving up endless reality shows, loud, long doses of commercials, infomercials and endless repeats takes viewers to their devices.

They won’t invest in quality entertainment. Instead, they blame internet streaming, the government or the Labor Party. TV executives have the power to turn the situation around. I believe they can draw back an audience that is voting with their feet and finding quality entertainment online.

John Butler, Windella DownsFree speech and fair debateBACK in the middle of last century I had the privilege of taking a small part in the settlement of an Italian man, and later his family, in a NSW country town. We gave him friendship, taught him English, found him accommodation and employment.

Our gain was some wonderful friends. I recollect that in that era in Australia one could respectfully state an opinion in public and have a fair chance of an honest debate, without fear of personal denigration or vilification.At that time we did not have the benefit of anti-discrimination legislation nor the assiduous attention of a politically correct thought police pouncing on any diversion from their agenda.Australia seemed a fairer and better place back then, as now in 2017 it is dangerous to even question the values of our activists.

Alton Bowen, WallsendLessons from BritainI SUGGEST the following take-out messages from the British general election.

Firstly, they show that fewer people are letting the trashy tabloids tell them how to vote.Secondly, a recent terrorist attack does not necessarily favour the incumbent government.Thirdly, parties need to take more notice of the needs of younger people. Here in Australia, for a start, that means goodbye to the proposed Adani coalmine, and negative gearing for investment properties.It’s time for a big rethink by the major parties.

Brian Brown,KotaraEnough with the snipingI’VEnoticed an increasing tendency for Letters and Short Takes that target individuals and certain sectors of the local community.Where once there was relatively lively and intelligent debate regarding local concerns, now we have sniping, personal attacks and an all too frequent ‘us against them’ mentality.Whoever we are, whatever we think or believe and wherever we live, we’re all in this together. Can we, please, give the negativity a break for a while?(Goes into hiding as she’s sure she’ll be the target of criticism for voicing such an opinion.)

Maree Raftos,NewcastleSupport for Frazer-HolmesI WOULD like to comment about the ban given to Thomas Frazer-Holmes by FINA because of an honest mistake by missing a drug test while having a meal with his mother. I have known this brilliant young man since early childhood and can say that one could never meet a more honest young man. He is a credit to himself, his family and his country for his wonderful achievements as adual Olympian. I hope FINA can reverse their decision so Tom can represent our country at the Commonwealth Games.

Jimmy Gain,Caves BeachLetter of the weekTHE Herald pen goes to Karen Maloney for her letter about the Pasha Bulker storm.

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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.
Nanjing Night Net

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.
Nanjing Night Net

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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