I AM pleased to see that State of Origin III has been moved out of Newcastle, but in my opinion to relocate all the other teams to Queensland for the normal NRL games is utterly ridiculous ('Origin, Knights relocated', Newcastle Herald 12/7). Why do we have to keep this game continuing during these COVID conditions? Shut it down like the Shute Shield Rugby Union competition until the conditions improve. If the players believe that they are being hard done by, tell them to think of the people and communities that they come from and the businesses that are losing money due the lockdowns. They are the ones that are very comfortable with the amount of money that they are being paid to play the game. Shut it all down. AS a 92-year-old who will more than likely be dependent on care workers for comfort in my last years I completely agree with the comment piece ('Why aged care needs more support', Opinion 6/7). The royal commission made it clear that the federal government, who have total responsibility for aged care, must reform the Aged Care Act and as a matter of urgency create improved training and career structures for staff in care as the number and complexities of the ageing population swamp our system with the flow of baby boomers. From stats I have seen, by the mid 2035 we will have some 1.5 million dementia cases to care for that require skill not available in most facilities today, as well as the palliative care that will come with the huge number of very old residents in care. The royal commission made clear recommendations on the problems of aged care, but it appears that the Morrison government and its useless minister are all treating this great social problem in the same manner as they have done in the vaccination and protection of the aged during this pandemic. BEING addicted to regularly watching the performances given by our politicians in the houses of the Australian parliament, I have found the Parliament's long winter break almost unbearable. Then by chance, I discovered the pay TV series, The Hollow Men. A parody on Australian politics which comes from the same people who gave us the iconic Aussie movie, The Castle, The Hollow Men writers rely for inspiration; on actual events occurring at the time within our parliament. The egotism and ineptness of an "unseen prime minister", the continual "stuff-ups " by him and his Cabinet are easily relatable to actual events. If there are any Australians still pondering the reasons for our great nation's current dilemmas, I suggest they watch a few episodes of The Hollow Men. For as the adage goes, art imitates life. INDIA pledges to plant millions of trees to absorb CO2 levels in their atmosphere; something we are already blessed with being a large country with a small population and plenty of trees. Could our blessing be under-estimated because there is no money to be made? However, if it was taken into account, could we already be close to a net zero from power station CO2. I reckon in our neck of the woods Eraring power station is surrounded by trees, Liddell and Bayswater not so, but have plenty of room for plantation, so why not plant? Surely this method is worth the exercise; surely academics can crunch the numbers before we keep spending money trying to do what Mother Nature provides for free, or is it more about the money than finding a solution? What is there to lose? We will have more trees, cleaner air, healthier soil, more stable weather and more money to spend on more important issues. This is a green issue; instead of pursuing fault they should be seeking answers. What better answer than growing more trees. ONE continues to read and hear through the various media outlets, of the continued bellicose attitude of the Chinese government. Diplomatic discourse has been stopped or reduced and sanctions continue. Has anyone given consideration to the machinery, vehicles, food products, clothing, toys etc, that we import from them. Has consideration been given to the imposition of sanctions on these or some of these products? They may not have a big impact on their economy, but it may impact individual businesses, and result in pressure being placed on the government to ease restrictions on us. We are a sovereign nation and should not be dictated to by others. I'M writing to express my deep gratitude to everyone across NSW who supported The Smith Family's 2021 Winter Appeal. Times of uncertainty can make giving difficult, but our supporters have demonstrated a level of generosity that we've found truly humbling. Our vision is to create a better future for young Australians in need, and we launched our appeal with a warning that the fallout from COVID-19 continues to impact the lives of vulnerable children and young people. Not only are we concerned the pandemic has exacerbated the education gap between the one in six Australian children living in poverty and their more advantaged peers, but we're also really worried that many families we support say they're struggling to cope with the ongoing repercussions of COVID-19. Key areas of concern - including a housing affordability crisis, a lack of suitable employment opportunities and the digital divide - are compounding, and affecting families' wellbeing. This often flows on to negatively impact on their children's educational journeys. During tough times, The Smith Family's out-of-school learning and mentoring programs help keep children engaged in their schooling and on-track to complete Year 12. And thanks to the tremendous generosity shown towards our Appeal, The Smith Family will be able to support more than 15,000 additional students with our evidence-based educational programs. These include student2student, which helps schoolchildren improve their reading by pairing them with older buddies, and our after-school Learning Clubs. Our programs equip students with essential skills. They open young people's eyes to future study and career opportunities and encourage them to pursue their dreams. So to everyone who contributed to our appeal to help the next generation of young Australians thrive, I say thank you. JUST heard that game three of State of Origin has been moved from the Hunter to the Gold Coast ('State of denial', Newcastle Herald 12/7). Great news for Newcastle. Well done, Gladys. WHAT do Novocastrians obtain for thinking we have predicted that the third State of Origin game be changed from Newcastle on Wednesday ('Covid blues'. Herald 12/7)? Surely some sort of insight tax exemption. Still, very sad it's not here. ELAINE Mascord, you complain about the potential health risks of the State of Origin yet all the shopping centres are open with more people per hour going through them than would have been at the open air ground. So, do we shut them as well? Just a thought. FOR Neville Aubrey, it may come as a surprise to you but "military commanders" do not get us involved in wars. Politicians make decisions to go to war; politicians who don't have to face the dangers. AS a model citizen I've followed instructions and had my first "jab" of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The only side effect I've felt so far seems to be an even lower opinion of ScoMo and his government. AT last the powers that be have changed "young" to "one' in our national anthem out of respect for the first Australians. It's "free" that concerns me. Free from what? We are certainly not free to choose our own head of state. That privilege belongs to a family on the other side of the planet. When will Australia be mature enough to break with the ghost of colonialism? The Republic debate has gone quiet. Would Australia look to the future not the past. We can do without the wealth and privilege of a distant monarch. HERE we are 18 months since the first COVID lockdown. Sydney is again in lockdown and we are all paying the price. Why someone from Newcastle, where there is no COVID, cannot go to another state is bewildering. I am astounded that an unvaccinated courier was permitted to transport international travellers and that unvaccinated nurses are going into nursing homes. Whilst we argue about which government is responsible and the merits of each vaccine, Rome burns. It is really simple, get vaccinated and get the quarantine right. We should be fighting off the crowds at the vaccination centres and isolating any high risk person in a quarantine environment with no interaction with the community. No government, not one, gets a High Distinction. APPARENTLY the Prime Minister forgot to mention in his press conference about obtaining more Pfizer vaccines, that it was ex-Labor PM Kevin Rudd who was instrumental in securing the extra Pfizer doses. Must have slipped his mind.