A dear old friend

A dear old friend

Dear Eltham Railway Cottage,

The Eltham Community Foundation loves you very much and is doing everything it can to preserve you and restore you to your former glory and to your central place in our village and its life. We love hearing stories from your past and the NSW National Trust is very interested too. Memories, photos, memorabilia or just a good natter (oral history) are warmly welcomed. Phone the Heritage Committee on 6629 1654, e-mail railcottage@westnet.com.au or send letters c/- The Eltham Village Gallery, 445 Eltham Road, Eltham NSW 2480.

Look forward to being in touch!

Liz Gibbs


Bouquet to YOWI and Kirklands

Congratulations to Northern Rivers Community Transport through their YOWI program and Kirklands Buslines for their innovative scheme to allow young people in Lismore and Goonellabah to travel in the city over the holidays for as little as $1 with a voucher.

This is a great way for young people aged 12 to 20 to get to the cinema, Memorial Baths, lake pool, shops, bowling, mini-golf, sporting events, hip-hop classes being run by Creative Peoples Collective or any of the other highlights of the city.

With four vouchers in The Northern Rivers Echo each week, and the opportunity to pick up an extra Echo in many locations, young people can travel frequently, cheaply and safely in our city.

Wouldnt it be great if buslines in other North Coast towns introduced similar schemes?

Jenny Dowell


Simply Terra - ific

This letter to the editor is a bit different from the usual. It is about the editor of this very paper. A letter I have been going to write for all of last year but havent been able to come up with a way of expressing my admiration for this remarkable young woman, Terra Sword. Almost ten years ago at age sixteen she came to The Echo for one weeks work experience and, according to the former editor Simon Thomsen, produced an amazing story on Angela Wood, mother of Anna who had tragically died after taking ecstasy tablets at a party in Sydney. Terra liked doing the story so much she thought she would like to become a journalist. She applied for, and was accepted as a cadet at The Echo. Eight years later, she took over the editors chair from Simon Thomsen, her mentor. I count Terra as a very special friend. We first met when I wrote a letter, about two years after Anna died, of the death in similar circumstances, of Troy Jackson an Aboriginal cadet journalist with the local ABC radio station, who was in Sydney toward the end of his cadetship. Some time later Terra was in a little bit of strife as the editor wanted a story about a WWII veteran for next days paper, in time for Anzac Day. And Terra didnt have one. With only three hours to DEADLINE, she rang me and I said no. I am one of the younger WWII vets, so get someone who was in the war for much longer than I. But she persuaded me and got her story on time.

PS. As a whinging old bloke on TV used to say; I dont believe it. Now I have finally written the letter I learn that the lovely Terra is leaving us.

Doug Myler

Lismore Heights

Credentials questioned

Would it be possible for Mungo MacCallum to demonstrate in your paper, the skills he has achieved, for vilification of, say, the Islamic faith, to the extent he has done in his half-page article (Echo, Jan 11) vilifying Christianity, that is not based on verified fact? Or, is there some new man (person)-made apartheid-type law in Australian that gives the privilege of vilification as only applying to the very faith foundation of modern Australia?

John W. Ferguson


A pink triangle, perhaps?

First they came for the refugees, and cos I wasnt a refugee I didnt speak out.

Then the came for the unions and cos I wasnt a unionist...

Then they came for the Muslims...

then they came for the gays ...

Luckily the situation in Australia isnt quite as bad as it was for the person who made that statement.

Good one, D Alexander (Echo, January 11). I am not a Christian and I am not gay, but have nothing against either of those groups in our society. I do have a lot more respect for D. Alexander than some of the people that write into this paper. Its good that the freedom and diversity that our society has built is actually valued by articulate, intelligent people with a bit of compassion and respect.

Whats next after the gays W Vale?

Should Wiccans be banned from raising children cos thats not what God wants?

What about Buddhists, Muslims or atheists? Why is the Christian lifestyle so much more valid than others? What about unmarried parents? Perhaps their rights should be curtailed too. Its unreasonable to expect them to force their opinions and desires on us. While were at it, lets lock up everyone who has ever had an abortion.

Perhaps W Vale would be happier if Lee Andreson wore a pink triangle.

J Sharma


Musings on Aussie values

What were willing to tolerate speaks volumes about our moral values. This summer was an interesting one for tolerance-watchers.

The high point was a Muslim clerics comparison of women and meat. In no time, media and politicians staked out our tolerance boundary: (a) No public denigration of women (b) No justifying violence against women, even if allowed by a holy book.

We all applauded so we should.

But its curious. Because freedom to say whatever you like, that Great Aussie Value somewhere behind mateship, meat pies and a fair-go is being redefined.

The Mufti reckons were just anti-Muslim. Let Christian clerics say whatever their holy book teaches, but speak Arabic or teach the Koran and youd better watch your words.

Hold on. Arent we just staking out a moral high-ground in defense of minorities? Protecting the vulnerable from vilification, even if religiously based?

Thats wrong too. We comfortably tolerate Christian and Muslim leaders publicly vilifying homosexuals. We still see the gay panic defense in homosexual murder cases.

Is this a high ground of tolerance when Popes, priests and parsons can declaim homosexuals as evil, satanic, worthy of death, social abominations and intrinsically disordered? When hatred can be taught in the name of religious freedom?

Someone please explain: How come were defending women from tasteless epithets (no problem there), but not other minority groups? That the religions must avoid vilifying some, but get a permanent license to vilify others?

I can just see this migrant sitting for his Aussie Values Citizenship Test: Choose One: Us Aussies dont tolerate vilification a) unless homosexuals are copping it, b) unless were very religious, c) if its Muslims whore doing it, (d) whichever of the above suits the occasion.

Were a very practical people.

Lee Andresen

East Ballina


In response to the homophobia displayed in The Echo, (December 21) I would like to highlight the following. To members of our community, politicians, teachers and church ministers; this is the homophobia we face. This is what we, as young as seven, are up against and being raised by. This is what we need to recognise and change. This is what millions of children are fed to believe about LGBTIs (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, inter-sex). This is what many LGBTI children are fed to believe about themselves and this is what our schools need to combat. Mr Begbie, does the mother of an LGBTI child have a mental disturbance for being compassionate, wise and modern enough to support her LGBTI childs legal equality? Mr Lenon, like it or not, the American Psychiatric Association considers homosexuality to be a NORMAL VARIATION OF HUMAN SEXUALITY just like bisexuality or heterosexuality not a sick habit as you put it. And Mr Graeme Hagen of Manifold Ministries, heres some advice. Instead of screaming thou shall nots why dont you practise what you preach and take the time and some church funds and do something that would benefit an LGBTI childs safety instead of threatening it, and then scampering by the Bible to back up your xenophobic, extremist and totalitarian belief system. The last thing an LGBTI child with depression needs is you campaigning against them and their safety. Like it or not Mr Hagen, LGBTIs are born LGBTI, and until you can disprove the scientific evidence that is forever mounting against your argument, then I feel you need to update you 19th century understanding of homosexuality and bring it in line with modern day science and the 21st century.

B Cooper

LGBTI youth activist


Hard questions

For the sake of those who have nothing better to do with their time then write hate-filled, false, bigoted and uneducated comments, I know I have a sound and knowledgeable understanding of this topic. So here are a few questions.

Why would someone choose to be homosexual knowing the hatred shared and shown by so many in this community and society? Why would you choose a lifestyle knowing history over the last five centuries has seen you be used as kindling to burn witches at the stake (commonly know as faggots), gassed by the Nazis, dragged from your bed and shot by the KGB and condemned by churches and mosques? Why would you choose a lifestyle that could have you imprisoned, hung or stoned to death? Why would someone choose homosexuality when heterosexuals have deliberately lured, tricked and ambushed you, then dragged you behind a car and left you to die on a barbed wire fence as they did with Matthew Shepherd? Or pack bashed by heterosexual men leaving you permanently disabled and in constant pain? Why would someone choose lifestyles where heterosexual men can kill you and then claim a panic defence clause because they felt threatened by you? Why would someone choose a lifestyle where they are told to shut up and leave the country? Why would someone choose a lifestyle where young P-platers throw full bottles on your tent while youre asleep in it, or throw eggs at you while walking over a bridge or scream names at you? Why would someone choose a lifestyle where governments fail to ask the question of sexuality but rather gender, ultimately leaving you unrecognised, invisible and unaccounted for? Why would someone choose a lifestyle where you have to leave school because the education department fails to support or assist you against the peer hatred and daily ridicule? Why would someone choose a lifestyle where the government refuses to allow you to foster normal children but will allow you to foster disabled children? Why would someone choose a lifestyle of homosexuality knowing that a lifestyle of heterosexuality is far more beneficial, equitable and acceptable? Why do so many young homosexual lifestylists choose suicide over their chosen lifestyles? Why do homosexual acts have negative implications and serious health risks (letter to the editor Echo, January 11)? Is heterosexual promiscuity safer for your health? And when did diseases learn to discriminate? How many heterosexuals have HIV/AIDS and dont even know it? How does a young homosexual learn what is and isnt safe when society has forged a stigma of deviance? Would homosexuals shut up if they were given equal opportunity and freedom from hate and discrimination? Why does this lifestyle cause many to remain hidden or marry into a life of deception? Why do heterosexuals feel they have the right to show and express hatred towards homosexuals or comment and pass judgement? Why are some heterosexuals so concerned with homosexuality? You do know you cant catch homosexuality? You can fight it, but you wont win.



Over the last few months the debate on homosexuality has provoked a large number of letters from readers, with vastly differing viewpoints. All letters on the subject received by 5pm Monday have now been published. We are closing the debate (for now) to allow space for other issues. The Echo would like to thank all readers for their contributions Ed.

Secularism as a religion

Secularism is a threat only when it is misapprehended; it acts as a central forum allowing the different religions to co-exist and in countries where it is absent, conflict is evident. When in the West it is taken for a religion itself, then that does become a dangerous aberration because it can provide nothing more than utilitarianism you cant get blood out of a stone. For a deeper sense of values, religion is necessary.

When religionists attack secularism they confuse two realities; one conventional and secular, the other ultimate and religious; there must be acceptance of these as separate yet simultaneous.

Practising dispassion toward the secular is profitable, however carrying that into violent speech or action becomes misplaced religious sentiment dispassion turns into unprofitable anger. The principle is this: profitable mind states are susceptible to a decline into their near enemy. The other example is benevolence into desire and then to degenerate into addiction. The secularist risks such a development.

The work of negotiating and strengthening a middle way between the inherent tendencies to anger or desire is the substance of scientific religious practice, whose goal is the tranquil mind.

P Griffin


Digging deeper

With all the recent discussion about laws for P-plate drivers, some important issues are being overlooked. Our roads are dangerous for a number of other, no less significant reasons. Most importantly, a lack of access to public transport.

The Greens are committed to affordable, efficient and safe public transport. We need fewer cars on the road and a more extensive public transport system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, reduce congestion and provide fairer and more equitable access to mobility.

New motorways encourage the growth of private vehicle use, and freight on roads instead of rail. Traffic congestion and air quality problems can best be reduced by the provision of convenient and efficient public transport and rail freight options.

Most country towns are suffering from decades of planning that assumes universal car access. The problems of isolation and inequality generated by this flawed approach must be addressed.

The Greens are committed to new public transport projects to reduce private vehicle use, funded by public investment not Public Private Partnerships (PPPs); reopening the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line; maintaining and expanding the CountryLink Rail service; increasing funding for rail safety and maintenance; encouraging the shift of freight from road to rail by improvements to the rail system; reopening rail freight branch lines and requiring the road haulage industry to pay the true costs of its operations.

Andy Gough

Greens NSW candidate for Lismore

Time to say sorry

We dont receive The Northern Rivers Echo in Bonalbo or west of the Range as the local term has it.

Many locals may consider that it doesnt matter.

I had pretty much forgotten about The Echo until I saw one and picked it up whilst in Casino recently. This reminded me of a letter I wrote to The Echo Proprietors in 1995. It was not a letter to the editor and did not at all mention The Editor or Letter to the Editor (I was at Wyrallah).

However, I did notice the silly young skirt at the front desk (never met an intelligent one yet and I have been a tutor on a one-to-one basis) promptly opened it and obviously converted it to a letter to the editor (fool woman).

When I soon after publication denied it to be a letter to the editor, the short-thinking editor and without communicating with me, footnoted the letter questioning whether I was feeling myself. Well, I was okay, but obviously the two concerned and above-mentioned were certainly feeling themselves.

An unconditional published apology is overdue.

The above sentiments are my opinions!

Len Roser


While the people in question no longer work here, we are sorry that your letter was published in error, when it was not intended as a letter to the editor - Ed.

The Nimbin Military Tattoo

On the eve of New Years Eve I watched the Edinburgh Military Tattoo with John Winston Howard.

Lord Plumb-In-His-Gullet provided the commentary in a deep phlegmy monotone.

What a fine body of men! he purred referring to a contingent of walrus-bearded pipers in funny socks who all reminded me of Fat Bastard, the belching villain from Austin Powers.

Then there was the Chilean band accompanied by Island dancers. Lord Plum described this bizarre mix of Latino fascist chic and hula as both sensual and virile. Disturbing stuff. In a better world this is how wars could be fought. You would get to wear silly britches and blow pipes alongside fellow believers in an Idol-style elimination military dance-off.

In the real world events are unravelling in the US that will send powerful ripples across the Pacific. The neo-conservative wave that promised to lead the world into a New American Century crashed under a mid-term electoral thumping leaving a lame duck president to bob along until replaced by a Democrat in 2008. Who will it be? Will it be Hillary with the hair, the largesse and the willingness to be whatever the voters want her to be? (So long as they are middle class and white).

My money is with the dark horse Barak Obama who unlike Hillary, has been against the war from the start. His policies are progressive communitarian and he carries that rockstar/Christ appeal. It wasnt disgust with the war alone that has precipitated this shift. Nearly all the senate races were won by candidates pushing socially progressive platforms, including fairer working conditions and better pay. The political climate in America is changing and given that an ice shelf the size of Manhattan has just broken free of Alaska, it may be made to come sooner rather than later.

Across the Pacific, the Australian mind will go with a cool head sooner than a warm heart and pretty face. Thats why honest John has been around this long, and thats also why Kevin Rudd has a fighting chance in the next election.

WorkChoices is unpopular. People want security and time with their families, and the only families WorkChoices seems to be nurturing are dynasties like Packer and Murdoch. As the drought continues, Howards pledge of $60 million to combat global warming alongside $90 million to put reverends in schools is small beer. Predictably, he will play the scary Muslim card but may well decide to pass the baton over and allow his long-suffering deputy to lose the next race.

Francis ONeill

The Channon

Edited for length

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