Shop local, but make sure its local
As a Northern Rivers local holidaying at Evans Head this year I was happy to grab a little note pad left in an Evans Head shop by the member for Clarence. I believe the note pads put out by politicians are the only useful bits of paper we get from them all year. I was also very happy to read the message inside about shopping local as I run a business and community website (www.galah.com.au) that promotes locally owned businesses.
Unfortunately I looked at the picture on the pad and it was of a Farmer Charlies. I assumed this was from the Grafton store and rang them to confirm they were a local business. I spoke to Paul the owner and he told me about his family and how they run a great local business that people should support. I agree.
My concern is that people at Evans Head will assume that the Farmer Charlies there is local as well. The community should be aware that the Farmer Charlies stores in Evans Head, Lismore and Ballina are owned by an investment capital firm in Newcastle. While I support the many locals employed in these stores, they are not locally owned.
I believe the member for Clarence should be more careful in the images he chooses, or explain himself better, as his mass marketing could influence people in his community. If youre in Evans Head and you want to support a local business, you will find the Oak Street fruit and veg store just a few steps up the road from Farmer Charlies.
Please remember that local matters!
Community preschools are a recipe for success
Primary school principals notice the great advances shown by arriving students who attended a preschool. These children are supremely prepared for rapid advancement into the big school.
Community preschools in particular are most successful in offering to children precisely the kind of emotional, social and academic preparation that youngsters need for a smooth transition into formal education. Community preschools are a recipe for success.
Parents offer hundreds of hours in unpaid labour to support these schools and to raise funds in order to keep them functioning and when the volunteering is over, these same parents pay hard-earned money to keep their child enrolled.
The government understands that community based services are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain affordable services, that they require additional support to remain viable and that greater preschool access is needed.
The government understands that qualified teachers, quality equipment, professional training, high attendance rates and low fee structures are crucial for the continued viability of our local community pre-schools.
The Iemma Government has recognised the importance of investing in early childhood education and has invested an extra $85.2 million over the next four years to create places for an additional 10,500 children in our community based preschool system, with the intention of allowing every family in NSW the chance to send their four-year-old to preschool for two days a week.
This record investment comes on top of the $100 million the Government already spends on preschool services. The community has been very active in letting the Government know what it wants.
The Iemma government has achieved a lot for preschool education but there is more to do.
Peter LanyonALP candidate for Lismore
The tragic consequences of population growth
This letter is an appeal to everyone living on the Far North Coast and is about the environment our children will inherit. It concerns the native legacy we shall pass to future generations.
When I was a child my family regularly visited the Gold Coast hinterland. In those days places like Tamborine, Nerang and Mudgeerba were rural towns surrounded by open pasture, bushland and rainforests. Thirty to 40 years hence, these places have been completely transformed. Their natural beauties have given way to sprawling neighbourhoods, industrial estates and concrete highways. The beauty that attracted people to visit or live there in the first instance has given way to well, go and have a look for yourselves!
Having witnessed these changes first-hand I know how quickly and dramatically a native rural environment can turn into a choking urban landscape. These changes are not conscious. I do not believe the people of south east Queensland deliberately trashed their own environment. I do not imagine anyone truly foresaw the pollution and congestion that has resulted from so many people crowding into the one place. Rather, I believe these conditions are a natural consequence of population growth.
More people means more houses, and this means more roads, more infrastructure, more everything! Unlike the forests and open pastures they destroy, urban landscapes grow quickly and in ways that no one can foresee. State governments and local councils, in my experience, are pro-development and give permission for developers to proceed at a dizzying pace while doing nothing to safeguard the long-term wellbeing of ordinary citizens.
If we abide by the Regional Strategy announced by the NSW Planning Minister, Frank Sartor, the Far North Coast will become an extension of the Gold Coast. If we do not move consciously towards an alternate vision of the future, if we fail to value the natural beauties that surround us, the legacy we shall hand our children will be the same soulless, unnatural environment we see on the Gold Coast today.
If we sit on our hands and do nothing, the world our children shall inherit will reflect the apathy and lack of wisdom that is ours rather than the natural wonders we ourselves enjoy. It will contain little of the green, open freshness that we ourselves rejoice in.
I do not wish to live on the Gold Coast and I do not wish the Gold Coast to become my reality here. If you agree with these sentiments, please write or ring your local member, local council or newspaper and let them know. Let them know how much you value the place where you live as it is, and the gifts you wish to bequeath your children. And while youre at it, let Frank Sartor know that a thousand kilometres to his north there are still people who enjoy an environment where they can see the stars at night and who give thanks daily that they dont live in Sydney or the Gold Coast.
R J Poole
Real infrastructure needed, not platitudes
I note that the ALP candidate for Lismore is launching his campaign in Kyogle (Echo, January, 18). I presume he rejected Lismore and Murwillumbah as venues as these large towns have railway stations without rail services, courtesy of the ALP government. He says he supports people with disabilities, improving access for youth to training and work, and environmental issues. Returning rail services would satisfy all three issues in one swoop but the ALP is only interested in transporting Sydney people around in new air-conditioned rail carriages, while we get empty tracks. The role of government is to provide real infrastructure and direction, not just platitudes.
President, TOOT Trains on our Tracks
Where are the politicians with real vision?
Reading the letters page in your paper always evokes depression and nausea in me when I read about the nefarious attitudes of our elected representatives in the state, federal and local government spheres.
Particularly nauseating is the cosy relationship governments have with industries that seem to be doing all they can to maximise their profits by extending their existence through planetary destruction in a world crying out for change, and change for the better at that.
Look at last weeks Echo and there are two striking instances of this corrupt behaviour by governments of all levels. First we have a federal government insisting moral superiority regarding the need to mine and sell uranium to help abate greenhouse gases! At least they have recognised the need to tackle this planet threatening problem, but the usual schmoozing up to a corrupt and destructive industry, the nuclear one, indicates absolutely no morals, just the greed-filled desire to make a few more quick bucks from an opportunity identified by a lack-lustre Federal government as part of their superior economic credentials as Ian Do Nothing Troglodyte Causley never fails to mouth off as often as possible.
What will he say about that superior thinking when the same uranium comes flying back at us in the warheads of Chinese missiles? Or perhaps in the suitcase of some nut case hell bent on precipitating Armageddon? Where is the responsibility in government there Mr Causley?
Then we have a State government whose values seem to lie somewhere between that of Elvis and The Sopranos with their glitz-filled dreams of making NSW into one ever sprawling casino, entertainment centre and penal colony rolled into one under the guise of responsible and balanced planning.
Coupled with their logging agenda and land development plans we can all look forward to living in an urban sprawl that has no boundaries from Cairns to Melbourne, a scenario already experienced by many Europeans.
When will we get the politicians with real vision? Where are the politicians who are not in someones pockets, owing some sleazy business shyster a favour or two? Why do we put up with the corruption of politicians and their outmoded ways of doing things? When will we do better? Why do we accept such mediocrities in government?
Politicians make strange bedfellows
Andy Gough (Echo, Jan 25) vents his ideological spleen (or perhaps its the effects of tofu poisoning...) against the federal governments new Environment and Water Resources Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, for the crimes of being a millionaire merchant banker and having only two years of experience in parliament. Do the Greens prefer career pollies whove never cut it in the real world and are only in it for the money and perks?
The real joke is listening to the Greens squealing from the same hymn sheet as the irrigators whove squandered this precious resource. Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.
So much for the lofty Green ideals of debating ideas rather than rolling in the mud of personal attacks. The irony is that Turnbull is one of the few who refrains from such political ranting and has instead invested his parliamentary time wisely, debating the issues of sustainability and our growing water crisis.
If Andy stopped reading his own partys propaganda for long enough, he might see that others in the community also have some ideas, including Turnbull, and what everyone would like to see is a decent debate on the matter.
Is it the constant scratching from the hemp shirts that make the Greens so bilious? Are they stuck in a siege mentality that sees no good? Or is he just another wannabe politician whose only way of hijacking attention during the looming election campaign is to attack everything?
Maybe its time for a joint and a good lie down.
Simon Thomsen (former Echo editor)
Watch out for the religious right
We may not be ready for the American idea of so-called born-again Christians taking over the Government (Mungo MacCullum, Echo, Jan 11), but quite a few people are working towards that end.
Every second statement from the White House seems to refer to the Judeo-Christian ethic as if it were the sole foundation of Western civilisation, as if Greco-Roman civilisation and its after-glow, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, didnt exist.
Many evangelical Christians, both in America and Australia, wrongly believe that church and state are not separate. W. Vale (Echo, Jan 11) is one of them. Lets look at our Constitution. After a dutiful nod to the Deity in the preamble (humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God), our Constitution in Section 116 states: The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for office or public trust under the Commonwealth.
That is, contrary to W. Vales belief, Australia is a secular democracy, and church and state are separate.
The American constitution, much to the horror of fundamentalists, makes no mention of the Deity at all. The religious right there much prefer a foundation myth derived from the New England puritan theocracies of the Seventeenth Century (Thanksgiving, Salem, witch-burning and all that).
A by-product of this preference is that some people tend to see human affairs in the light of a cosmic struggle between good and evil. Look where that has got the White House today.
For the reader who would like an up-to date commentary on the matters, I can recommend Kingdom Coming, The Rise of the Christian Nationalism by Michelle Goldberg. This book, in the words of one reviewer, warns of the authoritarian ambitious that lie behind the moralistic posturings of the religious right.
Warning about workers rights
Everyone needs to be acutely aware that if the National/Liberal coalition wins the next State election, then the States Industrial Relations Awards system will be dismantled.Workers will lose the protection offered by these Awards which are preferable to the Australian Workplace Agreements we see being foisted on workers under Federal Awards.
Doof parties arent all bad news
In reply to John McPhersons letter (Echo, January 25) on environmental impact.
John, I understand your deep concern of the impact to many aspects of our environment and as a participant of the outdoor party scene for the past 12 years, I have only recently been taking seriously the nature of the creatures that we are inadvertently destroying.
I started a debate on the online forum Oztrance six weeks ago, and it has been met with a series of helpful suggestions to combat the ongoing problems associated with noise levels and personal impact upon the environment. A primary solution has been to create more space indoors in industrial areas, where the noise impact is minimised. It also suggests alternative forms of power and creates a resource for outdoor promoters to glean some valuable information from.
Now, some counterpoints.
1. Cultural significance: the outdoor party scene was largely established in the Northern Rivers area and represents an entire movement that will go down in history. Are we going to completely destroy this rich vein of cultural and musical diversity?
2. Aid for youth activity: many young people gain creative inspiration from the outdoor scene by promoting, DJing, producing music, playing live music, creating art, etc. All of this is inspired from the outdoor nature of these parties and relative freedom from what I see as the oppressive nature of our westernised society. It is a building block for our youth and their self-esteem to actually get out there and do something, rather then sit around on the couch smoking bongs and watching TV.
3. Lack of venues: well, what do you all expect when we dont have enough places to express ourselves in the way that we want to? There is an outdoor venue at the Rover Park near Tenterfield, and there is just as much noise from 4WDs and motorcross bandits to make a million possums miscarry and turn them off having a decent shag. More warehouse venues and council encouragement please?
So, you see that argument is not as one-sided as you think, John. I invite you to the Oztrance forum to participate in the ongoing debate, but you might be in over your head! I suggest a permanent resource for promoters to gain knowledge and awareness of such issues for environmental sustainability of outdoor parties, a website perhaps.
Anyone interested in creating this, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and well find a solution, instead of creating more problems and arguments.
Here is the oztrance thread, in case you are interested in finding out more:
Kristian Kayhat Hatton
Indigenous dancers at a wildlife sanctuary?
I was shocked to read that the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast had an Aboriginal dance attraction. Emphasis on wildlife. Indigenous people are not animals, nor are they wildlife. They are beautiful human beings who do not deserve to be pointed at as though they are wild animals in a zoo. This is outrageous.
Not only are Aboriginal people treated like crap from the Government, some of them have to put up with this?? Youd think if they were such a huge tourist attraction, that at least the Government would treat them with dignity!
Still, unlike animals, I would assume they have a choice to appear at such a venue.
Little excitement at new line-up
John Howard is mistaken if he thinks that jolly giant, Joe Hockey, will turn the industrial relations debate around. Certainly Hockey is a better bet than the poe-faced Kevin Andrews, and pity help the refugees now under Andrews domain. He is made in the same mould as the previous minister, Phillip Ruddock, with his rigid, self-righteous Christianity which benefits no one.
Unfortunately, Amanda Vanstone has been the victim of Ruddocks legacy of uncaring incompetence which is manifest in the bureaucracy which deals with refugees. Dont just toss out Amanda, get rid of the lot of them and try to replace them with persons of humanistic tendencies (of which Kevin Andrews is bereft).
Rallying cry for action on climate change
Readers of the Sydney Morning Herald would be aware that the hour between 7.30-8.30pm on March 31 has been designated Earth Hour, an initiative of the World Wildlife Fund to highlight the need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The Cities of Sydney, North Sydney and Parramatta have committed to supporting Earth Hour by encouraging businesses and householders to switch off lights and appliances except those necessary for security and safety.
While a few people continue to deny the reality of climate change and Australia and USA refuse to ratify and implement the Kyoto Protocol, it is my belief that the people on the North Coast are concerned and want to do something.
I am therefore suggesting that we demonstate our concern by turning off excess lighting, air-conditioning and other non-essential, electrical appliances, including those on stand-by for Earth Hour.
Many of our North Coast local governments are signatories to Cities for Climate Protection and have formulated their Local Action Plans to reduce GHG emissions. March 31 is an ideal day on which to publicise these plans andshow how we can all make a difference andreduceemissions.
I look forward tohearing theresponse of Echo readers to see if Earth Hour can be adopted in our region on Saturday March 31.
Councillor, Lismore City Council
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