Letters to the editor: Saturday, October 7

Bringing power back to the people

I read with interest the letter by Barnaby Joyce, Federal Member for New England, titled "Bringing Power Back to The People", The NDL, Saturday 30/09/17.

I find the Federal Liberal and Nationals MP's involvement in the energy debate quite disingenuous particularly given the electricity privatisation/fire sale agenda of Barnaby's State Liberal and National colleagues over the last three years and not a whiff of concern by Federal Coalition MP's; readers might recall just offers of Commonwealth payments to State governments if they sold their monopoly, revenue producing assets including electricity infrastructure, cynically calling it “asset recycling”.

I have been complaining for more than three years about the mistake of frittering away our electricity assets and other monopoly revenue producing State assets, it is the reason why after virtually 27 years as a member, I am no longer a member of The Nationals because evidently they have abandoned both their conservative roots and the people of rural NSW.

Given his foray into this issue, I am left wondering why Barnaby didn't also express concerns over the last three years and only now enters the fray. I am also disappointed and wonder why my Federal member didn't back me up and advise Kevin Anderson and Adam Marshall they were making a grave mistake voting for and supporting electricity privatisation given the impact on many families, pensioners, businesses and voters in rural NSW.  Polling obviously tells the major parties a different story.

To reflect on the history of this subject, back in June 2014 local State National MP's for Tamworth and Northern Tablelands triumphantly declared that they had "saved Essential Energy" from the privatisation agenda of Mike Baird and the Liberal and National Parties.

There was zero concern for the power stations, the distributor Transgrid or the other retailers that were to be disposed of. Three years later the people and businesses of NSW pay some of the most expensive electricity bills and hundreds of rural Essential Energy workers have lost their jobs.

I believe this has had a huge impact on the economies of small rural NSW towns.

To quote the second last sentence of Barnaby's letter "… as Tamworth grows we will need power for metal fabricators, power for welders, power for hairdressers, power for air conditioning, power for offices, power you can afford, power you can rely on. Power so your children can have a job in Tamworth." What is Barnaby’s solution? On ABC Radio early last week Barnaby claimed that if we don't have more natural gas supply to feed gas fired power stations we wouldn't have any base-load power and no manufacturing and we'd have to decide what jobs we didn't want.

A reference to calls by Federal Liberal and National MP's for the NSW government to fast-track the electorally unpopular and environmentally suspect Santos Narrabri Coal Seam Gas project as if further destruction of our farmland and the environment is the panacea to our energy woes.

Make no mistake, this is more about aiding and abetting the major party donor rent seekers who have provided tens of thousands in donations to The Nationals and Liberals, some might call it bribery or a soft-form of corruption? We now see the Commonwealth Government “Powering Forward” with an expensive taxpayer funded advertising campaign to make us think they are doing something about high energy prices.

The Commonwealth Liberals and Nationals now hang on the future of Liddell Power Station, its State Liberal/National party colleagues gifted to AGL.

Here is proof of the recklessness of the Liberal and National parties and indeed all major parties whose negligent behaviour toward the people’s energy assets has subverted this country and delivered the energy and gas issues we now see them pretending to fix.

Mark Rodda, Tamworth

CUSTOMERS FIRST

What exactly do bank tellers get paid to do if not look after the customers?  They want the customers to serve themselves when they are being paid a wage. I refuse to stand out in Bridge Street handling a lot of cash to pay my own bank card and if you don't have the correct money you don't get any change.  Wake up banks, some customers just don't want to serve themselves when your staff are being paid to look after us.

Dorothy Wilson, Tamworth

World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is held on 10 October and I encourage everyone - whether you have a lived experience of mental illness or not - to think about mental health and wellbeing of yourself and those around you.

The journey to positive mental health is not a journey we should walk alone.  I have been working with disadvantaged young people for over 40 years and each person I work with has their own unique story and journey to share.  I encourage them to connect with trusted family and friends to share their journey towards better mental health, and I am asking you to do the same.

Mental health issues affect everyone.  Whether or not you yourself are experiencing mental illness there is always someone around you who is. As a community we need to look out for each other and that begins with talking. From my experience on dealing with mental health I know that starting a conversation can be the biggest turning point for vulnerable young people.

This World Mental Health Day, I urge you to support each other and in particular support our young people in starting conversations.

Father Chris Riley, CEO and Founder of Youth Off The Streets