letters for Saturday, January 23, 2016

TO me, Australia Day has become another commercialised public holiday.


Commercialised just like Christmas, Boxing Day, Easter, Mothers Day, Fathers Dayand the myriad of other occasions -not the least of which is Valentines Day.

It’s another chance forthe multi-national corporations to extract money from the pockets of the proletariat.

Jacqueline Haines (“Dreaming of a day when we all celebrate”Letters 22/1) seems to express a sense of uneasiness and bewildermentabout Australia Day.

In my view,every day is Australia Day in this great country ofours.

We don’t needpoliticians to have a special day to self-ingratiate themselves at our expense; they do it unendingly.

To the true blue, it is about how you feel.

Why did Lleyton Hewitt get such a great receptionafter his match in Melbourne on Thursday night?

Because he personifies Australia, naturally. He does not have to be “naturalised”like others who seek his type of glory.

Bruce Brown,Marks Point STARS AND SWIPES: Marks Point reader Bruce Brown believes Australia Day has become too commercialised. Australia Day is more about how you feel.

SOME LIKE IT HOTTERSO, you thought it was hot in Newcastle this week.

How about being at Martins Creek on Wednesday afternoon.

At one point It actuallyreached 50 degrees on a thermometer in my back garden. I even checked it withanother thermometer.

How does anyone survive in this sort of heat when it is constant?

I guess we will find out in years to come if the temperature keeps rising.

Olwyn Edmonds,Eleebana SCIENCE OF VEGANISMVEGANISMis not merely a belief system, but a system of scientific advancement and ethical life choice practices supported with evidence and moral conscience.

The notion put forward byMerewether readerDarren Burrowesthat “no-one can support animal exploitation, cruelty or mistreatment”is ill-informed – atrocities are inherent in the meat and dairy industries, and are also present in (but not limited to) the entertainment, clothing and cosmetics industries.

Apart from soybeans (which are not a grain), the average non-vegan diet would also rely quite heavily on wheat and rice, with some exceptions. The issues of land use and degradation due to monoculture crops is ever-present outside the scope of veganism and should be addressed regardless.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction in contemporary society.

The space occupied by livestock and livestock feed covers about a third of the earth’s ice-free land.

This currently occupied space could harbour enough yield for the human race and then some, if utilised in a sustainable manner with the benefit of current technological and scientific advancements.

The Permaculture Research Institute published an article suggesting that perennial polycultures “may also include livestock, cultivated fungi, and other elements in their design guidelines”. These however, are not described as a necessity -not to mention the use of crushed bones as fertiliser. There are other plant based alternatives for fertiliser that have succeeded in thriving crop communities and are cruelty free.

Perennial polyculture is interesting food for thought. However, not every resident in Australia has the opportunity to integrate this into their day to day lives. Want to know of a reasonably simple – with some exceptions – day to day life choice that can make a significant difference?


Curtis Morton,Birmingham GardensCUT PENALTY RATESABOLISHING penaltyrates is a progressive step, but reducing pay for low-income workers is a regressive step.

Penaltyrates are outmoded and irrelevant in today’s employment market.

It’s good to see the Liberal Party taking one progressive move.

We haven’t heard anything about the replacement forpenaltyrates. It can’t be fair to shaft low paid workers and reward their employers.

This sounds too much like old-style Tony Abbott politics.

To simply get rid ofpenaltyrates and end the narrative there widens the gap for low-paid workers.

To add insult to injury, we may also slugged with a rise and a widening of the GST. The Liberals will offset this hike with tax cuts but no offsetting is on the table when it comes to cutting topenaltyrates.

Until a fair deal is reached, I believe strongly resisting cuts topenaltyrates is the only alternative.

John Butler,Windella DownsWE NEED A U-TURNREVELATIONSthis weekthat a Labor state government would not re-instate the heavy rail to Newcastle has put paid to thebelief that councils or parliaments will recogniseresidents’ submissions as legitimate.

This issue has caused themost discontent and protest seen in Newcastle for decades.

It is well documented that the disparity between the rich and poor is increasing.

We need to inform ourselves as to why and whois causing this.

In times gone by, I would have believed our governments had the interests of the people at heart.

Nobody at presenthas convinced me that this is happening.

It will probably take a U-turn and a lot of pain beforethat occurs.

The list of critical decisions that need tobe made is exhaustive.

It is time we examined why this is not happening.

Pat Garnet,Newcastle EastCARRY ON WITH BUSESRATHER than a discussion betweentrolley buses on rubber tyres or rail tracks in the Newcastle CBD (Letters 22/1)–both use overhead electric power connection and need ugly stanchion supports and cabling – why not use ordinary buses running on diesel motors?

At least regular busescan be diverted anywhere, at any time, for any reason.

The more l hear about Newcastle, the more l​am over it. I’m glad Ihave no need to go there – local shopping centres provide free parking, more variety, and less hassles.

And to think Newcastle CBD was once regarded as the life of the Hunter.

​Carl Stevenson​, Dora Creek