FROM THE EDITOR: Scroll through to see a selection of the letters we have received from readers. Some may be edited for brevity or for legal reasons. To share what's on your mind, upload your message via this link or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Only four years since the horrific 2019 drought and fire; ask any farmer in the local area and we will tell you this year's dry is significantly worse.
The Ellenborough River stopped flowing for the first time in settled history in December 2019. It is far lower now than in winter 2019.
The ground is harder, drier, dustier.
Yet PMHC - again - have no water restrictions in place. Port Macquarie residents are wasting water we will need to fight fires. Have we learned nothing?
Farmers are still repairing infrastructure destroyed in successive natural disasters, yet not one overture has been made by PMHC to farmers in the catchment area with regard to harvesting water for future fire fighting, repairing riparian areas, flood debris clean-up to prevent pollution of the Hastings and mitigating damage in the next floods. Or better reporting of rising waters.
For instance, if there had been a system in place to report the 4m in 40 minute water rise on 21st March 2021, thousands of homes and vehicles could have been moved and saved.
While we, on the land, are rebuilding and planning mitigation on the assumption that what we survived in 2019 and 2021 was the tip of the iceberg, council and coastal areas act as if nothing happened and it's "situation normal".
It's as if Climate Change is only real inland.
What will it take before habits and behaviour, policy and future-proofing thinking takes place?
Sophie Love, Ellenborough
I am writing to you concerning the lack of a bus shelter at Port Base Hospital.
I have already contacted Leslie Williams' office regarding this and they advised me that they have been petitioning for sometime for one to be installed.
However, they have hit a brick wall of inter-departmental buck passing about who should pay for it.
I am told there was some funding allocated but another department wouldn't supply the further funding needed, so the funding was lost.
I was hoping that the media would be able to expedite this very necessary need at the hospital as, at present, anyone wishing to catch a bus has to stand out in the open in all weather and with no seating, which is totally unsatisfactory.
I find it hard to believe that a hospital can be built with no bus shelter in its planning and construction.
Lynne Stoker, Lake Cathie
*EDITOR: We will certainly look into this.
The Salvation Army is one of the biggest providers of social services in Australia. We are a pragmatic movement, not really into empty gestures or performative virtue signalling. I don't think in our 140-year history in Australia that we have ever been called "elites"
But we do support the Voice.
We support the Voice, simply, because we believe it will make a difference.
For 140 years, the Salvos have rolled up their sleeves and helped where we can. We started small by assisting discharged prisoners at the prison gates in Melbourne and now we provide over 2,000 services across every state and territory in Australia. We support people experiencing homelessness, family and domestic violence, financial hardship, unemployment, substance use disorders, social isolation and loneliness, and help them recover from natural disasters.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are over-represented in almost every service we deliver - and that's why we support a Voice.
There is no escaping the fact that what we are doing right now, as a nation, is not working.
The Salvos will always do what we can on the ground, but the issues we see are deeper; they are structural and systemic. We believe the only way to practically address the hardship experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is to change how the government makes and carries out policy. We believe the best way to do that is to actually listen to the people affected - to give them a voice.
Not everyone agrees with us on this and that's okay. We just ask that people respectfully consider, before they decide on October 14: "Will the Voice make a difference for people who really need help?"
We think the answer is a resounding yes.
Captain Stuart Glover, The Salvation Army Australia
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia was drafted by a small group of men in suits in the age of Queen Victoria, 133 years ago.
No women were involved, no surfers in boardies, no tradies, no fishos, no Chinese miners, no Pacific Islanders, no First Nations peoples of the colonies, just elite men in suits.
It is not surprising that our Constitution has some content that is not inclusive of the diverse people we are in 2023.
The 1967 Referendum made two modest changes.
It removed a clause that had prevented the Federal Parliament from making specific laws for Australia's Aboriginal natives. It also deleted a section that prevented the inclusion of the number of Aboriginal natives from calculating proportional representation in the Parliament.
There is substantial information available on the websites of the National Archives of Australia and the Australian Parliament House describing this.
Why would the Member for Lyne (Dr David Gillespie) circulate a newsletter to all households in the electorate and publish on his website factually incorrect information on the 1967 Referendum This being:.
*The obvious problems were corrected in 1967, by removing race from the Constitution and giving the right to vote to all Indigenous Australians, which had been limited, and they were also counted in the referenda.
The 1967 Referendum did not remove race from the Constitution and there are remnant references still present today. The Referendum did not give the right to vote to Indigenous Australians. Rather, in 1962, the Menzies Government passed legislation which enabled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia to enrol to vote.
Understanding our electoral history is vital for informing ourselves in preparation for the 2023 referendum. Does the member for Lyne not value telling us the truth about our constitutional heritage?
Paddy, Port Macquarie
*EDITOR: Paddy has correctly identified an error in David Gillespie's May 23 address to parliament on the Constitution Alteration (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice) 2023 - Second Reading. The address is published in the parliamentary record, Hansard, and also on Dr Gillespie's website. Dr Gillespie's office has been contacted for a response.
We, as residents with homes on the opposite side of the Lendlease-owned Settlement City Shopping Centre (e.g. Ballina Crescent and Laguna Place), are devastated about the clearing of 90 per cent or more of dense and mature Australian native Casuarina trees and bushes on the 300 metre long section of shoreline.
In 2020, we were informed about the repairs but never about the almost total removal of bush habitats and vegetation. There is not a single person, (or bird or small animal), who is happy about this unnecessary destruction and loss.
In a 2018 study by Royal HaskoningDHV, a sustainability consultant for the council, it clearly states that vegetation could be retained. This would provide a visual screen between canal residents and the shopping centre.
We used to live in a beautiful urban environment with bush setting, on the water. It now feels as if we are living in an industrial park.
There is a petition signed by residents of seven properties of Ballina Crescent.
Hubert and Margaret Schmid, Port Macquarie
I'm writing in consternation at the actions of council yesterday, August 17, to do away with the position of deputy mayor.
Could you please look into this in some detail?
I know I'm just a nave local resident, but I can't understand Peta [Pinson's] (the mayor) thinking or why the other councillors would go along with her motion.
What had Rachel [Sheppard] (the now former deputy mayor) done wrong that she needed to be removed?
Sue King, Dunbogan
*EDITOR: Our council reporter asked the mayor to share her reasons for raising the motion. Her response can be found in this report about the vote.
The Voice to Parliament is a recognition by the Australian Government that First Nations' voices must be consulted about proposed laws and policies that affect them.
In late 2023, a referendum will be held in which Australians will vote on whether to establish an independent and permanent advisory body that would give advice to the Australian Parliament and government on matters that affect the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
This includes issues such as education, health, housing, justice, and other policies with a practical impact on First Nations people.
Healthy North Coast supports the Voice to Parliament, acknowledging the need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to have greater involvement in decision-making which directly impacts their lives.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we live and work, comprising in this region the lands of the Birpai, Bundjalung, Dunghutti, Githabul, Gumbaynggirr and Yaegl peoples.
We are committed to walking beside the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and community-controlled health organisations in advocating for social change that achieves equity and better health and wellbeing.
We also recognise the continuing rich culture and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, in the face of colonisation, dispossession, and discrimination.
The impacts of this trauma have led to unacceptable inequalities and health disparities that must be addressed.
Healthy North Coast Board Chair, Dr Adrian Gilliland: "Building a better future together requires us to engage with, empower and walk alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations within our North Coast communities.
Our commitment to closing the gap and reducing health inequity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities is paramount to all our objectives and outcomes.
Our support of the Voice to Parliament is a demonstration of this commitment, and we will continue to advocate for positive change."
Healthy North Coast CEO, Monika Wheeler: "Healthy North Coast is on a continuing journey of learning and understanding.
We are deeply committed to the implementation of our Reconciliation Action Plan and working in partnership with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to achieve better health outcomes for First Nations peoples.
We respect there are differing views and encourage our community to access reliable information on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament at voice.gov.au, which will empower us all to make our own informed decision."
Dr Adrian Gilliland and Monika Wheeler, Healthy North Coast
*Healthy North Coast delivers the North Coast Primary Health Network program on behalf of the Australian Government.
I was visiting the Camden Haven area over the past week, using the boat ramp at North Haven.
EVERY day, without fail, there were cars parked illegally in the designated "no parking, except for vehicles with trailers".
Why are locals so inconsiderate?
Why is the local council not here every day issuing fines?
I've lodged my concern direct with the local council... and included the attached pictures to highlight the issue.
The local economy is no doubt dependent on tourist activity and boat ramp users contribute substantially (fuel, bait, ice, fishing tackle, etc) over and above the usual accommodation of other visitors to the area.
Dean Townsend, visitor from Queensland
I'm just writing to you as a concerned citizen of West Haven.
I would just like to point out the complete height of hypocrisy and audacity of the new development on Ocean Drive at Kew, behind the child care centre.
The developer firstly comes and cuts down thousands of trees and completely cleared hectares of land and now has the audacity to call the new estate "Woodlands" Estate with a picture of trees on the advertising. What a complete joke.
Maybe it should be called "Woodchip Estate"
I'm not against progress, but a bit of thought and planning of these estates may be a good idea.
The rest of us normal citizens can't even cut down one tree without having to go through a fight with council first, and then still more than likely not get permission..
Warren Dyer, Unhappy resident of the Camden Haven
I would like to highlight the dangerous situation for bus passengers attempting to cross the Oxley Highway near the Sherwood Rd /Lake Rd roundabout.
Yesterday (June 19) I witnessed a woman with disability managing a shopping utility attempting to cross the very busy road from the bus stop on the far side of the highway.
She had to negotiate four lanes of very busy traffic. It was very scary to watch and being stuck in the traffic congestion myself I was unable to assist [her].
There is no allowance at all for anyone attempting that crossing. No barriers; no handrails; no signs; no actual crossing; nothing. Yet there is a bus stop approaching the roundabout where some people choose to alight and basically risk their own safety to cross the highway.
How can this be okay?
How can the safety of the public and pedestrians be completely disregarded in this manner and no attempt [made] by authorities to address this in any way, shape or form?
Despite letters to the local member and discourse with that particular office, I ask what does it take for positive change to occur in this community? Another tragic death on a level crossing?
Sue-Anne Taylor, Port Macquarie.
I feel strongly about the lack of action regarding our road system by authorities.
I refer specifically to the Lake Rd and Wright's Rd intersections. Both of which are legendary traffic flow delays and a heightened level of danger to negotiate most times of the day.
I live in Sherwood Rd and over the period of residing here (eight years) ,I have witnessed an increase in traffic volume and difficulty in accessing the roundabouts stated.
These are not safe even for someone who is an experienced driver as myself, let alone older folk residing in the numerous lifestyle communities here and who must negotiate the roundabout as their only entry and exit.
I contacted the office of Leslie Williams last year to express my concerns. The office responded to me by phone call. Basically I understood from that call that no action would be taken for at least three years!
I was heartened to see the recent addition of signage on the approach to the Wrights Rd intersection indicating the need for traffic to be in the middle lane if accessing the highway to Wauchope.
I recently heard that Pat Conaghan, the federal member, was commenting on the Wrights Rd intersection...
Would you be able to follow up with the Federal member regarding this very important issue of great concern to many. I have contacted his office via his survey and highlighted the road congestion issue to him as priorities 1, 2 and 3 - in my view.
Sue-Anne Taylor, Port Macquarie
I am pleased to say that with the help of more than 41,000 Australians - including your readers - we did it. We saved the Medicare Heart Health Check.
The Australian Government has heard and understood the importance of this vital Check to the heart health of Australians and is funding a two-year extension of the Check in the 2023/24 Budget, ensuring they remain available beyond 30 June this year.
We estimate that this means a further 250,000 Australians will be able to see their GP to learn their risk of heart disease before it's too late.
More than 41,000 Australians signed the petition to save the Checks in just five weeks. Many sent letters to their local MPs, who in turn took up the issue with the Government.
Heart disease is mostly preventable but it is a silent killer. As Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler acknowledged in his announcement, the Medicare Heart Health Check is our most potent tool in compelling people to pay attention to their heart health before it's too late.
The Check is available for people aged 45 and over (30 and over for First Nations) and looks at your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, family history, amount of exercise and what you eat, and provides you with an understanding of how likely it is you will have a heart attack or stroke in the coming years.
We extend our gratitude to the Heart Foundation's extended family: our sector partners, donors, volunteers and supporters, many of whom worked tirelessly to advocate for this life-saving initiative.
Thank you. Your efforts have helped improve the heart health of many Australians and we are grateful for your unwavering commitment to this cause.
And finally - now that you have fought so hard for this Check, we urge you to please take it up if eligible. For more information speak with your local GP or visit www.heartfoundation.org.au
David Lloyd, CEO, National Heart Foundation of Australia
Heart disease is Australia's leading cause of death and tragically takes the life of one Australian every 30 minutes.
The good news is, heart disease is largely preventable. The bad news? Our best tool for heart disease prevention - the Medicare Heart Health Check - is about to expire.
We are seeking a guarantee from the Australian Government that funding will continue beyond 30 June this year. Nearly 440,000 Australians have seen their GP for a Medicare subsidised Heart Health Check since they were introduced.
The Heart Foundation is asking the Government to invest $11.5 million per year, to continue subsidising Heart Health Checks into the future.
This is a relatively small investment compared to the $1 billion in healthcare costs that could be saved with broad uptake of Heart Health Checks in high-risk Australians and more importantly, the 67,000 heart attacks, strokes and heart disease related deaths that could be prevented over five years.
It's not too late for your readers to take action: I urge you to please help us save Medicare Heart Health Checks by signing our petition, writing to local MPs and sharing the petition with friends and family.
To take action, please visit heartfoundation.org.au/save-heart-checks
David Lloyd, Chief Executive Officer, National Heart Foundation of Australia
I have just read about the council's latest money grabbing idea to introduce paid parking in the CBD of Port Macquarie, just four days before the end of submissions.
I am a subscriber to this newspaper and it is the first I have read of such a scheme by this dysfunctional council. Only last week I saw the election promise by the Mayor to "freeze rates" has been rescinded and rates will rise by four per cent. What is next?
This council needs a big shakeup. We have the most expensive rates here I have ever experienced and I really would like to know what the money is spent on - certainly not on roads. Dead trees and rubbish still laying around from the storm just on eight weeks ago; graffiti everywhere I look; the list goes on.
Anne Pincott, Port Macquarie
Just at the main service centre roundabout and a ute (one for roadworks with an LED display on the rear) had the message on the back "BEER TIME I'M OFF".
Well, it made the whole car erupt with laughter. Well done that 'person :-)
My son-in-law runs three Bottlemart outlets in Canberra and thought it was brilliant. Knowing him, he'll probably put a copy on wall for his tradies to get a laugh.
Philip Cornwell, Nelson Bay
According to the Port News website, there hasn't been a single Letter to the Editor this year. What has happened to our public forum?
You can get involved in "discussions/arguments" on Facebook if they don't block you (thanks very much local councillor...) but where can you have a mature exchange of ideas/comments about the council, political issues, elections, etc.?
This forum used to exist in the pages of the paper, and online, and "Disqus" - but now, nothing! Who is holding our civic "leaders" and our politicians to account?
For instance, three of our local councillors, including the Mayor, were present at the public forum [this month] but declined to attend at the last minute for reasons unknown to their constituents.
The Mayor said 'I have no comment to make on that'. Pardon? What possible reason could cause you to decide to abscond? Where is the respect for your constituents? Where is your respect for the six speakers who went out of their way to seek your attention to their various issues?
This current council, in my opinion, needs closer scrutiny and needs to be held to account for the decisions they propose or have already made. But where can I discuss this?
Shane Stelzer, Port Macquarie
*EDITOR: Thanks for keeping check on us, Shane. As you're now aware, elections make it difficult to publish any contributed opinion piece about a party or candidate. It was even trickier for us because one of the candidates is also on council, so the issues became intertwined. Public commenting on social media posts also poses an increased risk of defamation action. But while commenting on our social accounts will stay limited, the election's over and at least the Letters to the Editor are back!
Some time back, about four years, my sister was living in Lake Cathie. My brother and myself wanted to see her, knowing that it was possibly for the last time. She was very ill at that the time.
We arrived and were staying at The Port Macquarie motel and had planned to try to get a bus in morning. We went into a cafe near the bus stop. Sitting, having breakfas,t my brother started talking with a local man having his regular breakfast there.
He said 'you don't want the bus', and that he would take us in his car. This he did and said that if we needed a lift the next day that he would be in the cafe the next morning. We never did see him again as my nephew arrived and took all of us to Sydney.
We got to spend time with our sister and her family. Our thanks to the very nice man who would take nothing from us. Sorry, I don't remember his name but I do remember what he did for us.
Peter Hodges, Great Wakering, Essex UK
If you guys are going to to do a story about the splash park at Westport Park, could you possibly ask the council why they have ruined the the look of it by erecting a colorbond shed in front of the park.
These sheds are something that you put in the work compound.
Artie Weir, Port Macquarie
*EDITOR: We'll certainly take a look, Artie.
This is not the first time I've seen this here.
The second of the mandatory signs is on the western side of the Central Road intersection, meaning that traffic turning left onto Lake Road from Central has no visible warning.
The guidelines are clear and the community has a right to expect that the contractors will follow them.
Instead we get "my dog ate my homework quality excuses."
The NRMA (Not Really Much Alternative) has the best breakdown of the new rules.
Why has the Port Macquarie Breakwall repair become a NSW State election issue as stated in the Nationals letter box drop pamphlet?
Both sides of community debate recognise the need for a wider breakwall path. The hired engineer has recognised some repair work needs to be done (Port News).
The push to retain memorial plaques on rocks (instead of temporary painted memorials) will only create a site for sadness.
Some of the pines in the caravan park are dying due to age. Even if the pines are retained, maybe suitable natives could replace them over time?
What is the real issue? The claim that it would affect the surf waves has not been tested by an expert. Hopefully this is not a repeat of creating an issue for an election as the tidal pool was five days before the 2016 election, when PM Scott Morrison pledged five million dollars for a tidal pool supported by our mayor, but not supported by PMH Council (high maintenance costs). Something to think about.
Joan Wilson, Port Macquarie
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