letters to the editor

ACCORDING to the official Australia Day website, Australia Day is a celebration of “what’s great about Australia and being Australian”.


It’s the day Arthur Phillip camped at “Cadi” (1788) and claimed the east coast of this sunburnt country as part of the British Empire. It is a celebration of one of the first days the British Empire neglected to acknowledge the 1500 generations who had walked our lands prior to this claim.

This strongly British celebration is very young, even in modern terms, given it wasn’t until 1935 when January 26 was celebrated uniformly throughout Australia.

We celebrate being Australian with a 32-year-old national anthem and under a flag which wasn’t widely flown until after the flag act of 1953, although selected in 1901.

Being Australian is very new indeed. Australia federated in 1901, however, the Privy Council in the United Kingdom remained the final court of appeal for state matters until the Australia Acts of 1986.

And Australian citizens remained British subjects until 1984.

In recognising our nation’s young traditions comes the joy of recognising its flexibility, the flexibility to recreate ourselves.

It is possible to change a symbol or a day of celebration in Australia to make it inclusive.

It may not happen for many years, but one day we will reach a critical mass of those who want to share this celebration without exclusion. This will be a day to smile.

Australia Day is yours to make as you wish, and I hope it is safe and happy.

JacquelineHaines, StocktonGet on the trolleysWITH the ongoing for and against debates about the light rail proposal for Newcastle, we wonder if our government have considered using trolley buses instead of trams.

Both require overhead cables to supply power, trams run on steel tracks and trolley buses have rubber tyres the same as our existing diesel buses.

Last year we were in Wellington New Zealand,where we observed trolley buses in their central business district. The buses were modern and very clean. We did not see buses impede other road traffic.

We believe using trolley buses would give our government huge savings against our suburbs.

We welcome our local people’s views on this subject.

Brian and BarbaraFishlock,Mayfield WestSupport our policeHOW sad to hear of another police officer losing their job because of post-traumatic stress (“Forgotten riots her” Herald18/1).

The public would be astounded at the number of police officers who are committing self harm or worsebecause of the stress of their job.

This man was protecting people from a bashing and yet he is the one that ended up losing out.

The hierarchy should come out of their air-conditioned offices and make sure their colleagues are given the support and professional help they need.

Our thanks to all the essential services who protect us and keep us safe.

Jan Wells,Cameron ParkLifeline: 13 11 14Not a new problemI HAVE enjoyed reading Tim Connell’sreportson housing.

I can remember 50 years ago,there was little chance of a married couple with threechildren getting a Housing Commission house in Sydney – a 10-year waiting list.

That is why so many parents then both strove to get a loan from banks, but when interest rates got up to 17 per cent, you needed a healthy deposit. There were no government handouts then.

The Labor Party is again mentioningabolishing negative gearing.Don’t they know that private landlords supply the most-neededrental properties?How is the government going to house all the refugees we are taking in?

June Porter,Warners BayOff the mark ALL-AUSTRALIAN DAY: Jacqueline Haines hopes one day we will reach a critical mass of those who want to share this celebration without exclusion.

IN MY view, Niko Leka’s opinion article (“No good can become of our immigration policy” Herald 20/1)contains inaccurate claims regarding the possibility of two-year jailterms for releasing protected information.Mr Leka even quotes that well-known purveyor of political spin, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, as an authority. She is not worth quoting in my opinion.

Contrary to the statements made by Mr Leka, the release of “protected information”by an “entrusted person”is permitted by Section 48 of the Australian Border Force Act 2015 (ABFA 2015) if it is to prevent or lessen a serious threat to the life or health of an individual.

Reporting of conditions at offshore detention centres are surely covered by this section of the Act.

In addition to Section 48 of the ABFA 2015 allowing for disclosure, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PIDA 2013) also allows for the release of information of poor conditions at offshore detention centres.

The PIDA 2013 legislation allows for the reporting of any wrongdoing by a government department without the fear of reprisal.The Commonwealth Ombudsman has stated that employees of contractors, as well as public servants, can report any Commonwealth department’s wrongdoing.

I do believe Mr Leko is genuine in his caring position on the matter of refugees but his use of what I regard asinaccurate information weakens his case.

Mike Sargent, Raymond TerraceUncomfortable truthTHEidea of the great Australian fair go has always been, and still is, a myth. From as far backas the treatment of Chinese gold miners on the goldfields tothe 1950s and 1960s when you could be denied employment for your religion. Fair go?

Then there’s thetreatment of immigrant Italians, Greeks, Maltese and eastern Europeans receivedafter World War Two.Caring and generous?The Turks and Vietnamese got the same treatment in the 1970s and 1980s. Australia is a great country but all myths, including religion, have to be questioned to make this a better place.

Anthony Hall,Cooks HillPOLLDo you support Port Stephens Council spending $200,000 to fight the merger with Newcastle?

Yes41.85%No 58.15%