SPARKS: A firefighter doing some backburning during the battle against the bushfire at Neath. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
AROUNDthis time of year,when the news is often dominated by devastating fires around our country, I getangryand saddened.
It’s OK to be talking about climate change, it’s been going on since the Ice Age. Butthe process has been exacerbated byhuman beings with a foot on the accelerator,scarring the country with big black and red holes. Now the growth of technology is at such a rate it is changing us at an alarming rate.
When white men came to this country, not that long ago, the only ashes and charcoal were near an Aboriginal campsite, not burnt trees.They knew how to care for their land and white man has failed to learn from them.
Having grown up in country NSW, I vividly remember as a teenager, 75 years ago,being with my father in a truck with firefighting equipment, trying to get ahead of a fire.We were traveling at 40mph, with thescary sight of the fire sweeping ahead at the same rate, wiping out a wheat crop and leaving a black carpet in its wake.
In those days, most farmers spent time around October creating firebreaks around paddocks and along roadsides, where permitted by council.These wouldn’t halt a fire of any consequence but did enable a point for backburning if required.
I believe local councils and many property owners have been negligent in not takingmorepreventativemeasures.It’s evident, seeing some visionof the thousands of hectares of burnt pasture and bushland across the states, thatno apparent prevention measures have been taken.I would like to see the RFSgiven more powers to protectareas of high risk. Some local councils could do more if they could put aside all thesquabblingthat consumes much of their time.
Leonard Buckland, BooragulGreen dreamingRICHARD Mallaby (“Tide is turning”, Herald 21/12)praised renewable energy projectsbeing built or planned at Broken Hill and Nyngan. The Broken Hill plant would occupy 140ha and theoretically produce 126,000 megawatt hours of power per year.That’s about14 megawattsper houraverage output –though it’s quite variable and zero output at night. A 2000 megawatt continuousthermal base-load plant would occupy about 14ha and could be located near a coastal city where the power is needed rather than out the back of beyond.All of Australia’s renewable wind and solar power together, even at maximum capacity, can’t provide our national base-load minimum even at 4am in the morning. Why would you want to go with renewables?
After the GFC, California almost went broke and couldn’t pay nurses and school teachers.Having some growth from there wouldn’t be hard. While they have an ambitious renewables program, it is driven byhuge state regulation and subsidies such as the $34 billion loans program. California also has huge back-up powerfrom neighboring states.The numbers on renewable energy don’t look goodfor it taking over energy production.The tide may look to be turning but it is well and truly out today.
Peter Devey,MerewetherBigger is not betterI THINK we are missing what the Baird government is seeking in the amalgamation of our councils –it is sothey onlyhave to satisfy a smaller number of big developers who will be calling the shots in council affairs.
When the O’Farrell Government amended the Local Government Act to allow developers and wheelers and dealers to go oncouncil,I predictedwe would see developers financing teams to control councils, and sure enough it has happened here and in the most blatant way in Auburn. Well-funded teams can spendfortunes to get control of their councils and have no trouble bending the rules to fit in with the developers to make more money at the expenseof residents.
When I was elected to council in Port Stephens in 2008, I spentabout $5000 to get myself elected in the East Ward. For a genuine independent to get elected in the Greater Newcastle-Port Stephens mega council, it will be like running for a State election and could cost $50,000.
In Noosaafter amalgamation, the council campaigned to get their councilback and in the referendum on the matter, the support for their own council was 90 per cent. Now they have their council back, lower rates and moreservices.
Frank Ward OAM,Shoal BayBring on the ElympicsWHEN I consider thesuccess of “tournament type”entertainment on televisionand other world-wide gladiatorial contests such as football’sWorld Cup and the Eurovision song contest, I feel the concept could be harnessed in the service of saving the planet.
The nuts and bolts of cutting fossil fuels are not particularly riveting and we all face five years of cutbacks and austerity if we are going to make a difference.
How about instigating an Elympics? An Energy Olympics, involving all or most countries of the world, could be held once every five years to coincide with the five-year check that is now envisioned. Countriescould be judged according to improvement in carbon use since the previous five-year check.The criteria could bea) use of solar power b) inventiveness c) philanthropy, such asassistance to small islands.
An element of fun could be injected into what could be a deadly serious andpedestrianprocess.Bettingon the results could be encouraged. Song anddrama could be included. The possibilitiesare endless. The aim would be to rank as thebest countryand the prize could be a world passport for eachcitizen of the winning country.
Brenda Bryant,MerewetherName nonsenseIT seems to me that having to find a new name for the transport interchange at Newcastle West or Wickhamis a nonsense.The best name is Wickham interchange, which will provide theNSW Government anadditional reason to ignore Newcastle and the Hunter Valley except for the coal revenue itdesperately needs
The plan to have a “world-leading”co-ordinator and provider of Hunterbuses, trams and ferries misses the point. How can a co-ordinator of transport for the Hunterbe effective unless that providerhas some control overthe rail services to the region?
Over the years I have enjoyedbeing a passenger,not a customer,on Newcastle Buses and am dismayed to hear that organisation has not been permitted to make a submission in relation to the Hunter transport plan.
Bill Storer AM, Charlestown