The power to be progressive

The power to be progressive

Is the proposed Lismore cathedral steeple to be clad in lead and copper in emulation of the dark ages? Instead of cosmetic effects it would be more appropriate to cover the cathedral proper in solar panels which may power the entire Catholic precinct and then some, providing a shining example of self sufficiency. Such here and now environmental policy is a great expression of compassion because it does not contribute to the destruction of habitat, animals and the planet involved in sourcing power externally.

P Griffin


New bulbs not to be taken lightly

Increasingly, Australian households are switching to energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs and have taken advantage of promotions by energy companies and local governments to do so. Just last week, the federal government announced it intends to phase out the old incandescent globes but a caution has come from the USA that there may be a negative consequence of the new technology.

The compact fluoro bulbs, when discarded in landfill and crushed, release the mercury vapour they contain.

While this is no reason not to make the switch to a light source that saves considerable energy and therefore cuts greenhouse gas emissions, it is imperative that governments facilitate recycling of the discarded bulbs and work with the manufacturers to minimise the amount of mercury the bulbs contain.

Otherwise we are just replacing one serious problem with another.

Jenny Dowell JP


Doing the best I can

Re: M Wawns letter What are you doing? (Echo, February 22).

I apologise if I come across as being bossy, as I am only trying to make the world a better place. However, you asked me what I do, so here goes.

I do have many gay and lesbian friends, and yes, I did attend the Too Queer For School community forum at SCU on Monday. However, I was surprised at the lack of young people there.

I am proud to be in LEOS ( the younger version of Lions) at my school, and I shall be a volunteer for the Red Cross Calling doorknock in March. I also help present a youth radio show in Byron Bay on Thursdays after school, which is such an amazing experience!

I also play soccer and netball on the weekend and after school, but, unfortunately, I dont have an elderly neighbour to hang out with or help, but I wish I did. Elderly people are so wise and have so much life experience as well as stories to tell, and I reckon helping them out or just hanging out with them is really fun!

I was a bit confused though with your last comment about all my time being taken up writing letters to the editor, because I usually spend about 10 or 15 minutes a week engaging in that activity.

Once again, Im sorry for any harsh feelings or misinterpretation. Peace and love to you all!

Oh, and by the way, Im shaving off all my hair for Leukaemia, so any sponsor ship or donations wouldnt go astray!

Sarah Hort


Political correctness

Realpolitik is a term used to describe how the political system actually runs as opposed to how it should work in theory. Phil Toynton (Echo, February 22) suggests that Thomas George has been unable to achieve much for the seat of Lismore because political power resides in Sydney. This is only part of the explanation for Thomas Georges shortcoming.

Another crucial element of the realpolitik of the state seat of Lismore is that the Nationals incumbent cannot effectively represent us in a Labor government. Lismore needs to consider the worth of having a representative who is a member of the ruling party.

I would also like to correct Martyn Wigginss assumption (Echo, February 22) that all blank voting papers and donkey votes get counted for the party in power. These votes are counted as invalid by the Electoral Commission officials and do not effect the ballot whatsoever. They are a wasted vote.

Any written comments on ballot papers are ignored by the Electoral Commission even though the vote may otherwise be formal and counted in the usual fashion.

Eric Kaiser


Only TOOT after you vote

The Echos report (February 15) on the recent TOOT Your Vote! rally omitted an important detail about our campaign were asking people to write the word TOOT at the very bottom of their ballot papers after recording their vote. Martyn Wiggins (Echo, February 22) accurately points out that if people only write TOOT on their ballot papers and dont actually record a vote, they will have wasted their opportunity to influence the election result.

Your vote will be counted as formal provided that you mark the boxes in accordance with the directions on the ballot papers (Electoral Commission New South Wales Handbook for Parties and Candidates, Legislative Assembly, p 43). Our website ( contains examples from the NSW Electoral Commission that confirm this. If you are still unsure we encourage you to verify this advice with electoral officials.

The idea behind TOOT Your Vote! is its a way for people to express their support for trains regardless of which party or candidate they wish to vote for. So were definitely encouraging people to record a formal vote, as well as writing the word TOOT at the bottom of the papers.

Nick Casmirri

TOOT (Trains On Our Tracks) Campaign


Shed a tier

I would have to agree with Stephen Lewis (Echo, February 15) belief that the state parliaments serve no purpose but waste hundreds of millions of dollars and inevitably clash with the real parliament in Canberra.

Three tiers of governance for a 20 million strong population is one too many. If the (over) government of NSW was abolished then we could actually get rid of a lot of taxes which burden us either directly or indirectly payroll tax, state land tax, gambling tax, conveyancing tax, even the GST. Over a relatively short period of time, we could even put an end to road tolls.

We could see the end of bad management of law and order, hospitals, the environment, waterways, estuaries etc.

If we shed a tier then local government could become more appropriate, more modern and more accountable.

Regional governments and true decentralisation could sustainably take place so that growth centres and hub developments could flourish.

Perhaps most appealing to us all is that there would be approximately one third fewer fully-superannuated politicians and probably one third fewer fat-cat bureaucrats than there are today.

Gavin Begbie


Another ruddy subsidy for coal

Not content with flagging his devotion to the coal lobby our leader in waiting has declared his intention to throw half a billion dollars into a hole in the ground to promote the ultimate oxymoron; clean coal.

Why do a few thousand coal workers and their bosses have the right to destroy our childrens future? Polluters should pay and the sooner we move taxation away from individuals and onto the black hearted grim reaper, the sooner we will move to a sustainable, renewable society.

We are at a tipping point, but the smoke screens presented by the Liberals and Labor will only obscure our sight as we crest the hill of prosperity and begin the seemingly inevitable slide into the abyss of climate devastation. But we still have a chance to turn around all we have to do is act. Use renewable energy, ride a bike, grow your own food and vote Green; if the real opposition gain the balance of power there is a slim chance that they will be able to wedge the Liberal/Labor coal-alition and hold the future fryers to account.

Simon Cripps Clark


Johnny in trouble over Iraq

John Howard is getting flustered. Hes in trouble over Iraq and he knows it. He talks about a civil war. That only erupted as a result of the invasion. Any potential threat to our security is because were in Iraq; its as simple as that.

Howard is a little man with visions of grandeur. Hes become an embarrassment to Australians as he clutches at the shirt-tails of George W Bush. His intrusion into American politics was treated with contempt by the American people and rightly so. His strategy for resolving the conflict in Iraq is Bushs strategy and even the Americans dont know what that is. Nor do they know what the ANZUS Treaty is. Theres every likelihood the Americans will ultimately do a Vietnam-like withdrawal and have to wear the loss of face. I dont imagine many Australians will want to share that with them; we shouldnt have been there in the first place.

Howard wont debate Kevin Rudd in front of the cameras because he feels insecure outside the comfort zone of parliament where he has the protection of the speaker and the proximity of his front bench colleagues. Its obvious Rudd is making Howard decidedly jumpy.

The motive for his belated, election-driven concern regarding the fate of David Hicks should disgust every Australian. He isnt driven by compassion or even a demand for a fair trial. His only concern is for votes lost at the polling booth. If it wasnt an election year, Howard, Ruddock and Downer would leave David Hicks to rot in hell.

I hope they manage to bring him home after theyve let the Americans try him. Then if Hicks is imprisoned by the Howard Government there will be a groundswell of public anger we havent witnessed in this country for a long, long time.

How contemptible is this little man, John Howard!

Barry Walsh


A sinking feeling about priorities

Unless you are made of 100 per cent sheep, you mustve, every now and then, wondered if the whole world has indeed gone completely nuts; or that you had just woken up in the middle of a Monty Python sketch.

If you could believe the mainstream media last week, then apparently all of the worlds problems wars, famine, climate change etc mustve, by some miracle, been solved, judging by the constant torrent of heavy breathing, laced with cries of look at the size of it! and oh, how big it is! You couldve been forgiven for thinking that you had accidentally tuned into a porno channel on satellite TV.

But no, as it turned out, all the fuss was about nothing else than the arrival of a ship.

No, not a spaceship from theOrion Nebulato save us from our own madness, but only a ship, a vessel that was designed to float on water (what will they think of next?) to carry millionaires and billionaires, who dont know what to do with their money, around the world; and also, for the sake of people, who apparently dont know what to do with their lives, who now at least have a chance to wet their collective panties while marvelling about the size of it all.

By the way, while all this was happening, 24,000 people died in the world from hunger, 6000 children from diarrhoea, 2700 from measles, 1400 women from childbirth, and 550 children from war, every single day.

Tom Koo


Ballina Road re-naming a fiasco

A part of Lismores history is vanishing before our very eyes! Ever since Lismore came into existence the stretch of road between Ballina Street Bridge and the Rotary Drive roundabout has been called Ballina Street. For some unknown reason, Lismore City Council has changed the name, and the majority of people dont have a clue why this is being forced on them.

Council says 70 per cent of people surveyed wanted the name change. In reality, only 21 per cent of 700 people surveyed responded, leaving 560 who did not fill out the survey. Council says those people that didnt respond agree to the proposal but thats just gobble-dee-gook. I did my own survey downtown along Ballina Street of 71 residents. Of those asked face to face seven said yes they wanted the change, 15 said it didnt bother them, and the remaining 49 answered with an emphatic no!

Of the yes people, the only problem residents seemed to have with the original naming and numbering of Ballina Street and Ballina Road was that Australia Post got their mail mixed up. But when I went to Australia Post they told me all they needed people to do was make a simple call and it would be fixed. Its true, because Ive done it myself, and we get no wrong mail now.

Council says they have spent thousands of dollars on the proposal, but none of us asked them to do it. Is this all being done for people who are illiterate? Nowhere along Ballina Street is there a sign saying Ballina Road they ALL say Ballina Street, including the signage on roundabouts.

There are huge implications for people living on the three streets affected and we feel that its completely unnecessary. The majority of people are suffering for the few people who are not responsible and cant read road signs. Why should we have to pay for the stupidity of others?

Council says the new system is easier for emergency services and people looking for addresses, but if Council simply put up clearer signage it wouldnt be a problem (eg Ballina Road, Lismore Heights at the Rotary Drive roundabout). Its not rocket science and it wouldnt of cost ratepayers $5000.

Adele McMahon


IR exploitation

Well over a year ago I wrote a letter on industrial relations and I asked the question what would happen to disabled employees? At Christmas I was speaking to the house staff where my oldest brother Robert lives and they filled me in on what is happening at Roberts sheltered workshops since the new IR laws came into effect. They have told all employees that they cannot have a single day off without a medical certificate. The company has more or less stripped the disabled employees of the right to have Christmas holidays, thus forcing many of the employees to go without Christmas bar the main days. They work five and a half day weeks. They cant even have the holidays later. The workshop has no union and unless a disabled worker has a leisure worker representing them they dont have a hope in hell of getting a break! My brother Robert had saved for months to go with a disabled group for five days to Wagga. His employer was not going to let Robert have five days off for it. It was only when Roberts leisure worker confronted his boss that he got the precious five days off to go on holiday. The boss was shamefaced into it. My brother was forced to take a days sick leave because he couldnt get a day off his annual leave to see me when I visited Melbourne recently as they no longer have annual leave! Its not in their award! His house staff are frustrated and concerned because they have no power to protect Robert from the exploitation. One way they feel they can fight back is to start getting my brother to take days off to stay home so he can have a break. They are preparing for the wrath of his employer. They dont want to see my brother get ill through overwork. The disabled need people to speak out for them when they are in this situation. They are the hidden and forgotten victims of the IR laws. I sincerely hope this isnt happening locally.

Helen Coyle

South Lismore

Justice just for show

I find it almost unbelievable that the only discussion in the media of David Hicks situation is related to the timing of the military commission show trial which the US government wants to stage at its Guantanamo Bay prison camp. Like all show trials in the past its aim is to portray those who oppose the government to be some type of criminal.

If the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay really were criminals they could have been charged and brought to trial in a normal criminal court or even the international court in The Hague at any time in the last five years. The fact that the US, British and Australia governments have avoided these courts indicates that the case against them is weak or non-existent.

The aim of the military commission is not to establish guilt or innocence based on the evidence but to justify President Bushs military strategy by branding its opponents as criminals. In a real trial evidence must be presented by those who have direct personal knowledge of it, eg. an eye witness to the crime or the person who discovered and/or analysed fingerprints, blood stains, etc. These witnesses may be challenged by the defence and required to justify their claims.

At the proposed Guantanamo Bay show trials, hearsay (claims by a person who has no first-hand knowledge but is merely repeating what has been reported to him or her) may be presented as evidence by the prosecution and cannot be challenged by the defence. In addition, confessions beaten out of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay or some other rendition torture chamber may also be accepted by the military commission without qualification.

Of course it is a denial of a persons human rights to hold them prisoner without trial for five years.

Habaes corpus, which prevents arbitrary imprisonments without trial, has existed in English speaking countries for about 700 years. However, nobody with any concern for human rights can be satisfied that the military commission show trials constitute anything but further denial of the rights of the accused.

Why would it be any less a travesty of justice to imprison somebody at Guantanamo Bay after a military commission than before it?

Michael Trevaskis


Abhorrent ads

I want to protest about the nauseating advertising in your paper by the plastic surgery clinic in Lismore. There is clearly no lack of money for regular and prominent promotions by this outfit. And in a captialist society, why not? Shouldnt anyone be free to advertise their wares? Papers are dependent on advertisers after all for their survival.

While I realise that it may be hard for your paper to draw some kind of line, as a citizen there are situations where I do draw the line.

I think placing a clinic which is trying to sell incredibly expensive and unnecessary plastic surgery, under the banner of well being, is deceptive. By using the front of skin care as a kind of legitimiser, this place tries to draw women into something much more insidious. The plastic surgery industry depends on the manipulation of womens vulnerability about how good they are supposed to look. The marketers do their job, and the plastic surgeons profit from the effects. Appearance is primary, and women are duped into the idea that happiness, a better sex life, and more self esteem is just a procedure away.

The use of the word respect in the clinics motto would be laughable if it wasnt frightening. This word has also been used in your papers advertorials to quote the plastic surgeon, who described himself as well respected. By whom? Not by me. I think its unethical to use valuable medical resources for selling women the idea there is something wrong with how they look.

The expensively overpriced skin care that is used as a front in these advertorials is just the softer end of this. Its good for women to take care of their skin. But as with many real needs in our society, this becomes so commodified that women are convinced they need to spend their hard-earned money on over inflated products.

I am getting tired of seeing these high profile ads in your paper. Lots of money equals a larger amount of space. The most appalling things can be presented as legitimate, the ideas repeated enough until they seem somehow normal. I know I cant stop you accepting these ads or providing advertorial space for them, but at least I can raise a protest, and hope others will also question this medical rip-off centre.

Sue Lee


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