Repairing our region after the era of mining

GAPING HOLE: The Mount Thorley Warkworth mine complex will leave the largest final void, at 880 hectares. The Hunter will be home to the four largest voids in NSW.

THANK goodness for Joanne McCarthy and the Newcastle Herald (‘Black hole’, Herald, 8/6).I worked in the Upper Hunter mining industry in the booming early years and I was always told when I expressed my concern about the damage being done to the countryside that when mining ceased the landscape would be rehabilitated.

As there was evidence of that happening at that time, I accepted that was the norm in the mining industry. There was never a mention then of voids being left in the landscape when mining ceased.

Is this an example of waivingenvironmental agreements when things get a bit tough?

Maybe we need a royal commission.

It may be timely to place an export levy on each ton of coal exported, calculated over the life of the mine, sufficient to cover the costs of filling them when the mine closes.

I note that Rio Tinto stated that to fill the final void was prohibitively expensive. When BP polluted the Gulf Mexico the clean-up billwas$20 billion, to be paid over 16 years.

I see no reason why the same formula could not be used in this case as the only other alternative is to leave the bill with the NSW taxpayer.

By the way, once again, well done Joanne.

Philip Sergeant,Merewether HeightsPowering the futureWITH regard to the mining voids story (‘Black hole’, Herald,8/6)the picture you used to illustrate that article is not only not black but neither is it a final void either.

Can your readers tell me after 200 years of coalmining where there is a final void that looks anything like that portrayed?

Probably not because they look like normal undeveloped land – just lots of grass and trees.

Companies have to supply security deposits to the government which are calculated on worst case scenario, where a company goes broke at the worst possible time.

Is it not a terrible irony that if, as the anti-coal lobby want, all the mines go broke they would be left with all those voids?Best to keep going then and get them to fix it up as they go, maybe.

See you cannot have your cake and eat it much like you cannot have your electricity without coal round here. Of course the greatest irony of all – the answer is nuclear power, no greenhouse effects, but for our green friends that is unacceptable.

Want a prediction:nuclear will replace coal and the others in 100 years when we finally get wise to all the green rubbish.

Fancy that – driving a nuclear car around, but probably with 15km/h speed limits by then with our risk aversion mania.

Robin Hopps,SingletonInclusion welcomeAMEN to Father Rod Bower’smessage of inclusion regarding the proposed Buchanan mosque(‘Central Coast priest weighs into Buchanan mosque debate’Herald,3/6).

I support a Hunter region where we can live and work together peacefully and respectfully, inclusive of people of all ethnicities and all faiths, or none.

Our cultural diversity makes us stronger and richer.

May we all be able to sing from the same hymn sheet in regard to fostering an atmosphere of inclusion.

David Whitson,Warners BayQuestions for JulieA RESPONSE to Julie Bishop: Hi Julie,Thanks for your email.

I am impressed that Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party had the time to email me to request donations to support the current election campaign.

My response is no, I am not going to donate to your election fund, until you answer a few questions.

Do you get the living away allowance?Do you own or are a joint owner of a property in the ACT?Do you claim/get a tax deduction on this property?

Are you double dipping? You accuse the women who claimed the government’s parental leave entitlement when some were covered by employer schemes of double dipping.

You want the general public to accept reform, including superannuation limitations, yet many in Canberra milk the system for all it’s worth and the general population pays but cannot get the same entitlements.

How about a fair go for all?No benefits for non-serving politicians.When I leave an employer, I get no further support. I have to fund my own superannuation, no one else does.

So how do you pollies automatically get a lifetime superannuation/pension?

Until everyone is on the same playing field, only then, can you have the right to ask for assistance.

John Blayden,​West WallsendDetails behind ‘reform’I WRITE in response to the article ‘TAFEfunding sparks debate” (Herald, 9/6).TAFE NSW has lost 4600 teachers and support staff, and 80,000 students since the Baird government “reforms” of 2012, and everywhere I go people are talking about the cuts.

Yet, Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen maintains there is “record spending” by the government on TAFE.

In response to Labor’s call for TAFE to get 70 per cent of the state’s spend on VET (vocational education training), Mr Johnsen said the state already gave 82 per centto TAFE.

How can this be true? The government won’t share its figures. But a report by ABC radio in December 2015 said TAFE would have to compete with private operators for half the state’s VET funding from 2016, up from a quarter in 2014.

I’m sure the students, teachers, families and communities who have been hit by TAFE cuts would like to know the whole story.

Prue Car, NSW Labor shadow minister for skills, shadow assistant minister for educationLETTERS commenting on election issues must bear the writer’s name and full address (only the suburb will be published). Responsibility for election comment in this issue is accepted by the editor, Heath Harrison,28 Honeysuckle Drive, Newcastle. Writers should disclose any alliance with political or community organisations and include a phone number for verification. Election candidates should declare themselves as such when submitting letters.​

LETTER OF THE WEEKTHE Heraldpen goes to Barry Preston for his letter about men’s health.

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