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.

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