The asylum seeker confined to Nauru for the past five years is to be released to a third country.
The Australian Government says he is an undesirable immigrant unworthy of an Australian visa. No reason for this has been given.
Neither he nor we, the public, can be told what he may have done or said to be so assessed. What a morally bankrupt scenario all this has been!
What more motivation would one need to vote against this government the next time around?
It was pleasing to see Kevin Rudd offering moral leadership in his first conscience vote as leader of the opposition as he spoke against stem cell research arising from so called therapeutic cloning. His basic reasoning was that it is deeply disturbing to approve of the creation of human life specifically for the purpose of experimentation (and ultimate destruction).
Historians in the future will no doubt look back on this vote as a watershed in the devolution of Australian ethics. How in the name of humanity can we justify such an abuse of power/technology against the most vulnerable form of our own species? How can we sanction the creation of a new industry of foetus farms where human life is commoditised for personal gain? How dare we call it therapeutic when the first duty of any healer is to do no harm?
In the words of the healer who voluntarily gave up his life for others: Forgive them Father for they know not what they do!
Thumbs up for Tuntable kids
Last month I attended a fundraiser at Tuntable Creek Hall which was initiated by a group of youngsters from that area. These kids, their parents and an army of volunteers hosted a dinner, concert and raffles which raised over $2000 for the refurbishment of Tuntable Creek Hall. This letter is in praise of these kids.
The attendance at the event was huge with over 90 people tucking into a tasty meal served with smiles and courtesy. Later on, I wandered outside to see the kids and their parents washing, drying and tidying away piles of dishes, cutlery and huge saucepans.
The concert brought out the multi-talents of locals; choirs, songsters, bands, belly-dancers, Scottish pipers, Samoan and other ethnic dancers. All in all a terrific example of unity in diversity. As a senior citizen, I can truly say that this effort, initiated by a youth group, deserves high praise for commitment, enthusiasm and social and economic development. Very well done. Proud of you kids! Keep up the good work.
Give trees a chance
I was prompted to write this letter on my way home from a trip to Lismore the other day. Im not sure exactly why this time, but I just had to do something about it, as it is a sight I have seen many times in many places a group of cows in a fairly decent size paddock on a hot day all huddled together under the shade of the one or two trees present in the entire paddock.
You may well write this letter off as coming from someone who knows nothing about the realities of the cattle and the dairy farming industry, which is true, but what I do know is suffering when I see it. These creatures have feelings, as anyone who has spent any time in North Lismore on a Monday night near the saleyards will know.
How hard can it be to just plant a couple of extra trees in each paddock on your property? Not only will this go a little way in restoring the environmental damage caused by the clearing of the land in the first place (a very real problem that is finally being recognised as something more than just the rantings of the leftie greenies who dont know anything about the real world), but your livestock will be happier creatures and it is a scientific fact that a happy animal is a healthier, more productive animal (ourselves included).
So farmers, do yourself a favour, as well as showing a little compassion and appreciation to the magnificent creatures who provide you and your family with sustenance and a livelihood. Give them a little shade, please.
Equal in Gods eyes
Actually I didnt want to get caught up in the homosexuality debate either, but Joan Kuhls letter (Echo, December 7) did involve me. I am the mother of two sons, both brought up in a loving, Christian-based, married family, with identical nurturing, love and environments. One is blue-eyed, blonde and tall, the other grey-eyed, dark and shorter. One is heterosexual, the other homosexual. These individual attributes are innate, God-given, subject to genetic and in-utero hormonal influences. They are not the result of choice we were aware of differences in our boys from a very young age, well before lifestyle knowledge and choice. And who chooses to be a member of a minority group subject to bigotry by rednecks and religious zealots, without full legal rights and community acceptance? Homosexuality the result of 6000 years of rebellion against God? I dont think so. What next is a malady such as childhood cancer the railing of God against Adam and Eves original sin? This is not the all encompassing, all accepting God I know. I just pray that humans will accord both my gay and straight sons the dignity, respect and right to fulfilling love that I know He already does.
Reaching beyond religion
Joan Kuhls unsolicited but kindly advice (Echo, December 7) is noted; her sincerity and good intentions appreciated. She is however mistaken to think that my remarks dishonour her particular God. I said nothing about your God, Joan I referred to my own.
Your own imaginary friend notoriously disapproves with the way I live my life. But the world is full of religions; yours just one among many. Each thinks its the right one (theres a problem!). Apart from Buddhism, most imagine theres some big guy up there who likes some things but gets terribly upset about others.
So it worries me that anyone should presume that my God has to be the same imaginary friend as theirs. Cant I have my own please? You have yours; allow me the same privilege.
I dont seek to ridicule your faith. Im happy if salvation-minded folk study whatever their God wants and live accordingly. Just be fair and allow me to do the same.
Its unfortunate how pietistic religions (people saving souls and plotting how to get to heaven) tend towards dogmatism and monopolising. They divide rather than reconcile. Why should we allow a little thing like God to come between us?
Its mutual respect, Joan. A secular society the only kind that can guarantee religious freedom cannot be beholden to any religious doctrine, whether its yours or mine. Its values reside in what we hold in common, not what divides us.
The greatest cause of bloodshed and misery seems to be not religion per se. Its conflict over one groups imaginary friend against anothers. Divisive monotheism my imaginary friend is much bigger/better/truer than yours has demonstrably failed humankind.
Maybe we should abandon it? Or at least try to reach beyond it.
Keep it to yourself
P Gosper emerges again to justify the interference in the political system by religious groups. He talks of the distorted views of the secularists, which is quite amazing when we would probably be more accurately concerned about the distorted views of some religious groups.
We have seen a brief rise by the more Savonarola-like religious right wing both here and in America, but even now the tide is turning. The recent American elections show that the majority have come to their senses and realised an agenda for what it is. Huge set-backs for the religious backed candidates, and Mr Bush, (himself a religious zealot!) is now facing a lame-duck future.
And here in Australia, the retention of the womens right to abortion and the recent overturning of the stem-cell research prohibition is a significant event in the curbing of this groups megalomania. And dare I say it, you all know what will come next!
It seems to be a total blind spot with all devout evangelicals that they cannot grasp most of us just do not want or need to live under a set of proscriptions they have chosen as the only ones, not only for themselves, but for everyone else too.
No Mr Gosper, put me down as one of those people who think you should keep your religion firmly to yourself.
I have no qualms with what faith you chose to practice in your own life.
It is, and should remain, a personal thing.
Why? I look around the world and see the results of those regimes and political systems who have been, or are being run purely by religious groups, or religion-based majorities, and they are all far from heaven for many of the population!
And please Mr Gosper, if in future you wish to advertise your revival meetings, at least have the decency to pay for an advertisement in the proper place, and not sneak one in by stealth in the letters page.
A meeting of minds
On Monday, December 11, I had a meeting with John Hannaford in regards to religious education; the science behind homosexuality in humans and animals; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) parenting and youth issues.
I found Mr Hannaford to be open minded and keen to gain a better understanding of LGBTI issues and concerns. I found him very concerned about what exactly should be taught in regards to the bibles traditional teachings of homosexuality. I discovered that he was very interested in understanding bisexuality and what such people want in a relationship.
I would like to make it known to the readership that Mr Hannaford does not believe that homosexuality should be a criminal offence and that he is coming around to the idea of relationship recognition like that of de facto or a Tasmanian style recognition. I encourage people to take the opportunity to have a chat with Mr Hannaford and to debate the issues in a one on one setting; I also encourage people who oppose homosexuality to do the same as they may also enlighten their own understanding.
I am willing to meet and debate LGBTI issues with anyone willing and they are more than welcome to contact me and leave a message on 6622 1555 to arrange a time. I would also like to thank Mr Hannaford for bringing me a wooden spoon as I forgot to take B Parkers advice and bring my own.
I would also like to inform the Seventh Day Adventist minister Joan Kuhl that LGBTI people are not a lifestyle my dear, and I encourage you to find a verse in the bible that suggests otherwise. If you would like to discuss this further then please contact me as Im most happy to enlighten you on a subject that you seem to know very little about. I am also sorry if youre sick of this debate, but guess what? Im sick of living in a world with people like you who can sit in silence to a letter that highlights the abuse of LGBTI youth in scripture classes yet can get such a bee in your bonnet over someone highlighting that LGBTIs are born LGBTIs
Has your anti gay extremism really blinded you that much? Is this what Christianity is really all about Joan?
LGBTI youth activist
Give preschool kids a fair go
I have been working with Childrens Choice a grassroots organisation of community-based preschools throughout NSW lobbying the State Government to increase funding. We had a little bit of success when the State Government finally announced an increase in May the first in 15 years! Even so, preschools in NSW will remain the least funded preschools in the whole country.
I recently received a copy of the NSW Governments State Plan a 177 page book of propaganda that cost $1.9m to produce and a further $2.6m to promote. Thats a total of $4.5m! Despite the cover letter thanking me for my contribution it makes absolutely no mention of early childhood education. I got to thinking how that money would equate to 6,818 preschool places a year if you say a child comes two days a week at an average cost of $33 a day.
Community preschools are non-profit organisations run by the community for the community. They benefit children and their families enormously especially in regional areas. Yet NSW children are disadvantaged because families cannot afford to pay the fees that have steadily increased to make-up the funding shortfall.
The NSW Government has promised $80m over a period of four years but we estimate that we need $105m recurrent funding per year. Early childhood education is essential investment is the only way to remedy the inequalities that currently put NSW kids last when it comes to getting a fair share. Fair go Mr Iemma!
The Channon Childrens Centre
Open letter to Lismore City Council
I am writing to you in protest at your Councils decision to impose a voluntary water restriction on Lismore residents at a time when Rocky Creek Dam is reported as 94 per cent full.
I doubt if any of your ratepayers have ever heard of such an unwarranted imposition, ever.
I could continue along these lines for many pages, however, my purpose in writing is not so much to indulge in Council bashing as to urge you and your staff to direct your efforts towards awakening the reluctant Rous Water County Council and get on with the job of building a new dam at Dunoon.
As you are aware Rocky Creek Dam was built in 1953 to supply a population of 35,000. Today the population supplied by Rous Water is closer to 100,000 plus an ever increasing tourist industry with reportedly 2,000,000 visitors each year in our region, mainly the coastal areas of Evans Head, Ballina, Lennox Head and Byron Bay.
I shouldnt need to tell you of the rapid increase in population that is occurring in our region year by year.
I am proud of the fact that when Rocky Creek Dam level was down to 26 per cent in 2002 I was associated with a petition directed to the state government urging them to expedite the construction of a new dam at Dunoon. As soon as TV and newspaper coverage was obtained I was virtually swamped by people wanting to assist with the petition. Within a month over 3000 signatures were submitted to the state government and even today our local state member Thomas George is still receiving signatures in support of a new dam.
I realise that I am stating the obvious that the Northern Rivers has the highest average annual rainfall of any region in the state but to cater for this areas future needs a complementary dam is essential, and soon.
Water restrictions are not the answer and neither is pumping polluted water out of the Wilsons River at a huge cost.
Rous Water has from time to time restated their intention to build a new dam but the date of commencement is continually being deferred.
Even today Rous Water has only purchased 25 per cent of the land that will need to be resumed; if they were serious that figure would now be 100 per cent.
Lismore City Council and the other councils involved stir Rous Waters reluctance to act instead of blindly following some faceless bureaucrat in Sydney, whose only thoughts are to apply the screws to our local residents water usage and eventually bring about a genuine water shortage. Not because of a shortage of water but a denial of the need for an adequate water storage facility for this region.
I sincerely trust that Lismore City Council will give this matter the serious attention it deserves.
Councils climate of fear
I was not surprised to see Lismore City Councils general manager Paul OSullivans comment on page 3 of this weeks Echo concerning the seven staff vacancies at the Council including the manager, Lismore Water, position.
Lismore City Council, in May 2006 had a well-qualified engineer newly appointed to this position; someone who had bought a house in Lismore and had totally embraced his new position. He was in for the long term! He demonstrated enthusiasm and commitment to his role and could see that a major upgrade of infrastructure was needed in the city. He also was busy looking at ways to improve methods within his department to effect efficiencies and cost savings for ratepayers in other words exactly the sort of employee we, as ratepayers, expect to find looking after our best interests!
However, just four months later, he found he was virtually forced out of the job after daring to question a management policy that he sought to change to suit the needs of a key employee within his department. Council senior management appears to enjoy an unnatural and exclusive control over staff and to exercise this power as a result of nothing more than a personality clash! One would have expected that an independent arbitrator would have been called in to mediate between the two groups but this was never offered and senior management refused to look at any compromise or even to discuss the matter further.
At the time I was so concerned at his unfair dismissal that I wrote to the general manager, the mayor and several of the councillors but the issues I raised were virtually ignored; in fact I had only the briefest acknowledgments from the GM and a phoned acknowledgment only from one of the councillors. It appears no-one is game to take on the GM! At the very least I would have expected an outside consultant could have been brought in to look at the Councils staffing practices. Unhappy Lismore Water employees that I contacted were dismayed at losing their manager but, again, would not talk out of fear for their own jobs. I am saddened that employees have to work under such conditions; that there is such a climate of fear at the Council. It would be safe to assume that this fact may also be turning away other prospective employees for the current staff vacancies.
To cover their actions, a redundancy payment with a confidentiality clause was offered and subsequently reluctantly accepted by the most recent manager, Lismore Water. As an aside, and as a result of this payment, we (the ratepayers) are still virtually paying wages for this employee but are not getting the benefit of this expenditure or his expertise as he has been removed from the position. Can we afford for staffing issues to be handled in this manner?
Would the GM and/or mayor care to comment please?