Save Our Rail case could set risky precedent

TARGETED: Save Our Rail is being unfairly punished for taking action on behalf of the community, says reader Peter Sansom. Picture: Marina Neil
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WHEN the court upheld an appealby the state government andawarded costs against Save OurRail, it set a dangerous precedent. This has, in effect, placed allcommunity groups in the state atrisk, particularly thoselobbying the state or localgovernment.

Save Our Rail is asmall community group thatrepresents a large number of peoplein the Hunter region and this actionhas hit them hard. My concern nowis that it wouldn’t take much for thestate government or a localgovernment to drag any communitygroup into a court to hit them with asimilar treatment. This action hasthe potential for the stategovernment to crush any communitygroup and its members. I hope SaveOur Rail is successful in having thedecision to have costs awardedagainst them set aside. Otherwise,noone is safe.

Peter Sansom, KahibahAn attack on the poorALTHOUGH no decision has been made, there is still speculation theGST will beincreased or broadened.Minister Morrison always states that should this happen, therewould be other tax cuts to offset the effects.At a time whenthe gapbetween rich and poor is widening, this is disingenuous.A significant number ofAustralians do not pay income tax –the pensioners, unemployed, part-time workers.Areduction in income tax will be useless to these folk. Icannot think of sufficientmechanisms to counteract an increase in the GST for all these groups and I await withanticipation the proposals from this government which, in my opinion,has targeted the poor since its election.

Joan Lambert, AdamstownLearn from theGreatestTONY Abbott was a boxer in his former life. It explains a lot. However he should takenote of the recent posts from the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali, aka CassiusClay, a Sunni Muslim since 1975.

He wrote that in today’s world it is imperative that political leaders need to use theirposition to show true understanding of the Muslim religion and not put their ignoranceon show, and that jihadists are not true Muslims but misguided murderers.

Mr Abbott’srecent divisive talk and aggressive hectoring is nothing more than a final fling from a far-right has-been who is subjecting us all to his own version of a pity party. He really does need to go quietly into the good night.

Wendy Atkins, Cooks HillOpportunity knocksA RAILfreight bypass of Sydney –between the Port of Newcastle inthe northand Glenfield in the south – wouldprovide lowest-cost rail transport forcontainers, not only for the Sydneymarket, but for all of southern NSWand Victoria, while northernNSW would be served fromNewcastle. The extraordinary regional economicdevelopment opportunities thuscreatedwould allow land value capture tounderpin the cost of the railway, ifrailing containers alone was notsufficient. NSW Ports estimates PortBotanycontainer throughput of 8.4 million in2045 but only 3 million on rail,without demonstrating how a 10-foldincrease from the current railthroughput will be achieved, and funded. The demise of coal exportswillrelease valuable deep-water berths at the Port of Newcastle for replacing coal loaders with containerterminals thus allowing for virtuallyunlimited long-term expansion.

Greg Cameron, FloreyProtection for detaineesI BELIEVE an opinion article by Christine Cummins(Herald 10/12) containsfactual errors about the AustralianBorder Force Act 2015 (ABFA).In her piece,MsCummins opines that thesecrecy provisions contained inSection 42 of the ABFA prevent herfrom reporting on the health orwell-being of detainees held inoverseas detention centres – heropinion iswrong.

Section 48 of the BFA states, quote:Disclosure to reduce threat to life orhealth;An entrusted person may discloseprotected information if(a) the entrusted person reasonablybelieves that the disclosure isnecessary to prevent or lessenaserious threat to the life or health ofan individual, and(b) the disclosure is for the purposeof preventing or lessening thatthreat.

So Ms Cummins you willnot and were never intended to beprosecuted if your disclosure isabout the health and/or wellbeing ofa detainee.If the aforementioned isn’t proofenough,one could refer to thePublic Interest Disclosure Act 2013(PID).The Australian Ombudsmanstates that the PID encourages andenables public officials (disclosers)to raise suspected wrongdoing bythe Commonwealth withoutfearofretribution.I rest my case.

Mike Sargent, Raymond Terracelearning lessonsSCOTT Bell-Ellercamp (“Danger in those words” Herald 11/12) echoes Barack Obama, who said at Cairo in 2009 that Islam carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment.In truth, the Renaissance owed more to Greek-speaking Byzantine scholars fleeing to Western Europe from Turkish Moslems.What Islamic societies gave us was often not because of Islam but in spite of it.

Almost all of the translators from Greek to Arabic were Christians or Jews, and the Moslem view that revelation trumps reason made it difficult for science, which aimed to investigate a rational universe, to really flourish.With his 2006 Regensberg address, Pope Benedict created a furore by pointing to this disconnect between faith and reason in Islamic practice, with the implication that, if God is understood as sheer Will, utterly transcendent and operating above and beyond reason, it is easier for His followers to justify doing unreasonable things.In plainer language, perhaps Tony Abbott meant something similar with his revolution in Islam remarks.

Peter Dolan, Lambtonmake icac strongerIT’S great to see Luke Foley can see the dangers associated with the ICAC goings on regarding David Levine’s report. How the situation got to this point is beyond me.If you have not broken the law I don’t think you should worry too much aboutICAC. However as Luke says “I think there was an error of judgment here. But I also think there are some vested interests, who would want to carve ICAC up, who are using this single matter to push for the gutting of the ICAC and I don’t want to be part of that.”

Good on you, Luke.Support Mike Baird and if anything, make ICAC stronger.

Russell Schatz,Narrabri

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