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More homes burn … when will we learn

LOST: 116 homes were destroyed by bushfire in Victoria. Reader Tom Edwards believes legislation is needed to ensure properties in bushland are better protected.
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ANOTHER 116homes lost to bushfires in Victoria – does anybody listen?

Ten years ago – and several times since – I wrote to many ministers with suggestions to mitigate this problem; all to no avail.

My suggestions were to legislate that all houses built in bushlandbe built of fire retardant material.

They should have a large source of water – either in a large tank or in a swimming pool.There should be a water pumping unit adjacent driven by a diesel motor or an electric motor with its own generator, should the electricity supply be cut.

The pump should have a 3Msuction head and – depending on the size of the house – a 6Mpositive head.This could be designed to operate automatically at a suitable temperature or switched on at the appropriate time.

From this, a pipe would run up the side of the house to an appropriate spray system; either a ridge pipe or a U pattern dependingon the roof structure.

This would have suitable spray heads to create a water mist over the house – in particular the gutters.I even worked out the horsepowerof the motor, the diameter of the pipes and the spray pattern – all to no avail.

If somebody is prepared to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a house, surely it is worth spending another thousand on preventing it being destroyed by fire.

Because of the damage caused by bushfires, insurance premiums are very high; there should be a reduction for homes conforming to a set of regulations.

Tom Edwards, Wangi WangiPlane painTHE new owners of Lake Macquarieairport need to have agood hard look at how they are operating aircraft out of this airport.

In my opinion, the airport is becoming a joke with stuntplanes doing loops and twisty twirls with smoke streaming out of the back.

The residents surrounding this airport want peace,not a stupid plane doing loops over their houses.When the airport was first approvedin1959 it wasn’tfor planes to be flying about doing stupid loop de loops.

There is a development applicationlodged with Lake Macquarie council to house twoWestpac Rescue helicopers at the airport.

If that goes ahead, I hope the council will supply me with earmuffs and sound proof my house.Let’s hope commonsense prevails,the DAis rejected and the helicoptersstaywhere they arenow at Broadmeadow.

Troy Williams, PelicanA win for shoppersFOR the first time, Hunter residents enjoyed the choice to shop on Boxing Day in their community rather than travelling to restricted zones or buying on-line.

This opportunity nearly didn’t happen as every Labor MP in the Hunter voted against the Retail Trading Amendment Bill in November.

Jenny Aitchison, Jodie Harrison, Kate Washington, Clayton Barr, Yasmin Catley, Tim CrakanthorpandSonia Horneryvoted to keep the Hunter as a second-class shopping precinct and against regulations preventing retail workers from being forced to work on these extended days.

Some of the speeches by the ALP members against Boxing Day trading were bordering on the bizarre.

Ms Washington said the answer was to “… not open on Boxing Day for retail trade across NSW”.

Ms Hornery nearly reached the Rudd scale of hyperbole with her quest to rename the bill “The Fred Nile Let’s Trade on Christmas Day without any Protection of Workers Bill”.

Possibly my favourite was Ms Aitchison’s foray into voodoo economics with the prediction of the demise of the tourism industry:“Will people spend even more money in shops and then have nothing to spend on tourism attractions during the holiday period …”.

Ms Catley also struggled with economics and one of the aims of the bill to give Hunter businesses and shoppers the opportunity to spend locally:“There is no evidence to suggest that opening stores on Boxing Day will have any economic benefit at all.”

Mr Crakanthorp and Ms Harrison didn’t speak to the Bill. The electorates andbusinesses in Newcastle and Charlestown were always likely to be the biggest beneficiaries.

Fortunately, the Retail Trading Amendment Bill passed Parliament in time for Boxing Day 2015.And the fallout? By all accounts shopping centres across the Hunter were busy. Keen shoppers didn’t have to travel.The social fabric of the community didn’t disintegrate.Staff who wanted to work and earn brought home a bit more income to save or spend. Tourism across the region somehow survived.

Scot MacDonald,Parliamentary Secretary for the HunterWell connectedTELSTRA comes in for a lot of flak over poor customer service anddelays in dealing with phoneline fault service requests. In most cases, the criticism is warranted.

But I would like to give Telstra a big pat on the back as a result of myrecent experience.

We were made aware theNBN was coming to our area by way ofnewspaper andTV advertising, so I rang the phone number advertised (1800 834 273)on the Wednesday and for a change, Iactually spoke to a person, inMelbourne, whocould not have been more helpful.

He told me that our premises were expected to beNBN-ready twodays later and he asked if he could ringback the next Monday between2pm-3pm to confirm the NBN status.

True to his word, he rang about 2.30pm andconfirmed that we were NBN-ready.

He then arranged a suitable appointment for thetechnician to come out to do what was necessary as well asanother appointment for another technician to come and install an NBN-compatible modem, all at no cost to us.

Greatwork Telstra for such helpful, friendly service – there should be more of it.Many thanks for such a pleasantexperience, it is really appreciated.

Ian King,Warners BayFace the musicREGARDINGthe (Reverend??) George Pell’s inability to travel to Australia to face the child abuse royal commission.

My solution to the problem is in today’s technology –why not take the appropriateproceedings to him.

My biggest query is why was he ever allowed to leave Australia in thefirst place?

N.C. Carroll,Hamilton

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