Seeing the Light?

Seeing the Light?

With all due respect to Cr Ros Irwin and her rose-coloured analysis of the Lantern Festival (Echo, Mar 20), I think her guess-timate of 25,000 attendees to be, shall we say, just atad on thegenerous side (alright, its a downright exaggeration).

I was there Ros and let me tell you, they werent exactly cramming the streets.

A few locals making the pilgrimage down from Goonellabah for a quick gape doesnt exactly equate with your international stampede!

By her own fudged figures I calculate Council put out at least $40,000 and there certainly wasnt anywhere near the crowd Cr Irwin asserted.

Lismore, as a community, has an utterlyhopeless record of maintaining any sort of an annual festival for more than a few years, despite the money thrown at it.

Cast your collective minds back over the years andreminisce over just howmany of thosevarious fruit, nut, herb, or music eventsburst onto the scene with such great flair, only to wither and die within a very short time.

Now consider a small village like Maclean, which just held its annual two-day Highland Gathering.

How many have they had? Oh, this was only their 104th.

Hows that for effort and sustainability?

Cr Irwin opines that because the Fruits New Year Party charges admission, it doesnt need any Council assistance.

Council charges a great deal in rates andthey go up every year and some people get no assistance every year.

Surely I need not remind Cr Irwinher Council is not too proud to accept rates from the gay community, just the same as the rest of the town?

Does this mean their events couldnt have a little Council help, even if it wasjust some reduction in the fees charged for the grounds or insurances?

It is Councils role to look after all the community and the ability to actuallyrun something competently, for more than a few years, without anyhandouts from Council should not be seen as a barrier to actually beingoffered any. Think of it as giving something back, councillor. Or you couldalways exempt gay peoplefrom payingrates.

B. Parker

Lismore

Not so friendly

As I drove beneath the banner on Uralba Street reading the words, Lismore the child friendly city, I couldnt help but reflect upon the unfortunate situation my children have been faced with recently.

Their father (my ex-husband) is about to serve several months behind bars for minor driving offences but such is life when you repeatedly choose to break the law, I guess.

What really bothers me is his so-called friend and neighbour, who took photos of our kids and sent them to his brother (a convicted child sex offender) to be digitally enhanced to have them appear naked, is still free. In fact, hes not only free, hes actually still permitted to live next door with a convenient window overlooking communal backyards where several children play.

Even more absurd is the friend was granted an AVO against my ex. Apparently, its unreasonable for a father to have strong reactions when his mate is found to be befriending his children for devious purposes. The police and DoCS know hes guilty but dont have enough evidence to put him away. Surely sending photos of children to a convicted paedophile is enough?

On the day my ex was found to be driving unlicensed, his neighbour had come within a few metres from where our kids were happily swimming. Their dad wisely held his temper until I picked them up, verbally confronted him, then got into his car frustrated and enraged and drove away.

He now sits in a jail cell for driving unlicensed while his neighbour enjoys a life of minimal consequences for his actions.

Name and address withheld

Breaching the gap

Dear Sachiko Kotaka (Echo, Mar 27),

I understand why you wrote the letter about the whaling story and my school. I guess its because you were not here when I presented my Personal Achivement Scholarship onsaving marine life and the newspaper could only write a little bit aboutit.

I think you think we dont respect Japanese people.Our school has some Japanese culture in it, our principal is Japanese, from Hiroshima. We learn about Japanese culture and we learn to speak in Japanese.

I wasntwriting about Japanese people. I was writing about a group of whalers in Japan. You also mentioned that we are giving all our respect to one animal. Our school is vegetarian and welearn to respect every animal.

I taught my mum most of the things about whaling and I told my school about the whaling. Most of the things I heard about whaling have come from TV news, newspapers, the internet and books. Even though I am 11 years old, I have my own voice, I dont speak through my mum or myteachers. I can speak up for myself.

Heres some of the letter I wrote to the Prime Minister of Japan.

Dear Honorable Prime Minister,

I would like to express my feelings on whaling.

I believe all animals have the same rights to live as we do. Whales cant talk, so we need to talk for them, before we hunt them to extinction.

The way they are being killed is also a problem. If this happened to a human, the person harming would go to jail. So why dont animals have the same rights?Whales have feelings just like us and they deserve respect and love just like us.

It upsets even children to know that whales are being killed. Please stop killing whales. Please save them. All life is precious.

Whaling needs to be stopped before its too late!

I understand why you wrote this letter because only a little bit about what I said was in the newspaper and you didnt know much about my school.

Peacefully, Tahlia Staines11-years-oldVistara Primary School student.

Whale tale

Regarding the letter by Sachiko (Echo, Mar 27).

Thank you for having the courage to share your concerns about people stereotyping a culture.

I share your concerns about stereotypical profiles of any culture, whether Japanese, Australians, Europeans,Indigenous, children, teachers, parents or schools. Colouring any culture with a broad paintbrush is never productive.

The story wasabout Japanese whalers and not about the Japanese people or culture. Staff and children have a deep respect for other cultures and theylove theirprincipal, who is also Japanese. A younggirl, passionate aboutsaving marine life, won a scholarship. She courageously chose to give up her scholarship voucher and donate it toGreenpeace to help save whales. We all felt very movedat her sacrifice and her determination. Tahlias voice is pure. She is aquietly-spoken young girl but has thecourage to stand up for what she believes is right. For her, it was about saving whales.As a school, a vegetarian school, we supported her. Thatsa brave young girl, in my eyes.

I believe children are pure and see the world without complication.

In the past, students wrote to the President of the US, Bill Clinton, requesting him to stop sending chimpanzees into space. The children received a letter from thePresident supporting their views and later thatyearthis practice was stopped. Students have adopted an Orang-utan from Borneo, helped to find homes for abandoned animals and raised funds for the Animal Rights and Rescue Group.Recently Tahlia brought in an article about kangaroo culling. Students discussed the ethics and issues surrounding this matter.

Our schools philosophy is based on neo-humanist education, which embraces the idea of the interconnectedness we have with all life. Children are taught, as caretakers of this planet, we have a responsibility to look after our environment andrespect for all beings.Learning to have compassion and not to harm animals is fundamentally as important to the childrens education as are all the key learning areas of mathematics, English, science, music, art, etc.

Let us all reflect on making this world a better and non-violent world.

Rukminii Athans

Vistara Primary School

Snake warning

Last week a snake broke into my home in North Lismore and ate my hand reared, eight-month-old, scaly breasted lorikeet while he was asleep in his cage.

We aredevastated by the loss of our much-loved pet.

We are writing to remind readers not to be complacent with their pet safety while livingamongst local native predators.

Yours in this dark hour,

Robert Hayes and Thomas Churchyard

North Lismore

Traffic flow

Re Train of Thought (Echo, March 27). M Mizzi says I have promised to get trains happening for the north coast.

As much as I would like to see commuter trains here, I did not, nor am I in a position to, promise those services.

As Luis Feliu accurately reported (Echo, March 20) when I spoke in support of the Infrastructure Australia Bill 2008 I told Parliament that the people of Page had no public transport to speak of.

I said the feasibility and costing of light commuter train services should be part of an integrated study for improving public transport on the Northern Rivers.

I have also told the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils that I will work closely with it on its regional transport plan for northern NSW and south-east Queensland.

Mr Mizzi can also be assured I told Parliament that the state of our roads and the traffic flow through our region need to be factored in when we are talking about infrastructure.

Janelle Saffin, Page MP

Daylight robbery

Those of you annoyed about waking up in the dark courtesy of the extension of daylight saving will no doubt be delighted to know that extending daylight saving may also be contributing to higher petrol prices.

Extra daylight in the evening, providing more time for activities after work, is said to encourage more driving, and consequently, more petrol consumption. Since crude oil is a finite resource, greater consumption depletes supply, and hence should be expected to drive up prices.

The early start of daylight saving in the northern hemisphere was touted as a major cause of the surge in petrol prices seen around the world in recent weeks. Now, the all-powerful oil companies no doubt play a much greater role, but there is evidence to support daylight saving as being a contributing factor. Figures from the US Department of Energy showed their countrys extension of daylight saving in 2007 caused a 3 per cent nationwide jump in petrol consumption over the period of the extension.

Combine that with research that found energy use rose by 1-4 per cent when daylight saving was introduced in parts of the US state of Indiana in recent years, and the main argument for daylight saving, or for extending it, that it saves energy (and consequently, greenhouse emissions), is beginning to look a little shaky.

Nick Casmirri

Alstonville

Games shame

How could the Olympic Games ever have been given to China, where human rights abuse is rampant against their own citizens and occupied territories? Tiananmen Square, prison labour under inhumane conditions, no rights for workers, and the latest: the sale of body partstaken from Falun Gong members and other dissidents.The International Olympic Committee seems to have lost all credibility as well as the true meaning of the Olympic Games, ideals and ethics. Is the IOC ruled and bribed by multinational companies who couldnt wait to get their foot into the biggest populated nation to make more profits? The National Hemp Olympix Committee is calling for a total boycott of the Chinese games and we invite all athletes to come to the Hemp Olympix at our MardiGrass on May 3 and 4 in Nimbin to participate. If you are over 20, dont be intimidated by the bully gangs of four or six members in blue overalls (they are not locals and they dont know what they are doing theyre just doing their job)who are targetting, mainly, the very young on Friday night.

Chibo Mertineit

Hemp Olympix president

Lillian Rock

Transfer disaster

NSW Education Minister John Della Bosca describes the proposed changes to public school staffing policy as improvements. The reality is quite different.

From the start of the next school term, teacher service transfers will be dismantled and replaced by the local selection of teachers in each school.

Two weeks before the March 2007 state election, former Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt, described the effect of such changes:

Schools in favourable locations, in cities and towns along the coast, will take their pick of applicants. Schools in less favoured locations will be forced to accept what they can and, in many cases, they will not have sufficient staff.

In Western Australia, this is a lesson hard learned. When local selection was expanded in the same way the NSW Minister is proposing, an extensive teacher shortage resulted. The WA government had to restore the transfer system to staff its schools.

Previous NSW education ministers understood that a statewide transfer system ensures stability, security and teacher supply to 2240 public schools. That is why they supported a staffing agreement with the current procedures.

Mr Della Bosca is the first minister since 1993 to cast aside a staffing agreement and attempt to dismantle the teacher transfer system.

To avoid a major industrial dispute and disruption in schools, the Teachers Federation sought the support of the state principal and parent groups for a co-operative approach on this issue. We proposed a 12-month extension of the current staffing agreement, so that working parties comprising parent, principal and teacher representatives could work together with the Department to develop new policy and procedures.

The Minister rejected this plan and is proceeding to impose changes from April 28.

Parents and students can be assured that the Teachers Federation will campaign to protect public schools from such damaging changes.

On Tuesday, April 8, stop work Sky Channel meetings will occur. Students education will be disrupted for up to two hours as teachers stop work to hear a report on developments and vote on future action.

While strike action is regrettable, teachers will not stand back and allow our students rights to a quality education to be undermined.

Strike action could be avoided, if the Minister were to decide that working with the public education community is preferable to working against us.

The plan for a resolution of this dispute remains on offer.

Gary Zadkovich

Senior vice president

NSW Teachers Federation


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