History lesson

History lesson

John Howard has now decided that we are not being taught the right kind of history. He claims that there has been a phoney and divisive debate over national identity. Hold on, this is the man who took us into Iraq and whos government berated and undermined the United Nations. Howard has learnt zilch about history and now wants to tell Australians what they should know of history. He questions the teaching of themes and issues in history and wants us to rote learn dates and presumably, that we are still beholden to a British monarch. Other preachers of the past, like Brendon Nelson, want us to learn about the British soldier at Gallipoli, Simpson and his donkey. The new NSW Premier reckons we will learn respect by getting our kids to sing Advance Australia Fair. I do wonder what world these people think they are living in. Isnt the more important reality about exploring the facts of history. Like how war has devastated nations or politicians often pervert the truth. The second world war and the atomic bomb dramatically changed the world. After that war, the United Nations was formed to bring countries together and set standards in human rights. Modern biology, another branch of history, tells us that all species including homo sapiens, have limits to growth. As our planet is being radically transformed by population growth and the industrial economies, the observations and themes of history are so critically important for human understanding. Nations can only possibly survive now by addressing the lessons of history in the most open and truthful way. Australia is one of the newer nations. In fact, composed of many nations. Surely history teaches us now not to be insular or nationalistic, but to reach out, to be bold, proud and creative, to listen and engage fairly with all nations of the world. In other words, to build civilisation, not destroy it.

John Jessup

Lismore

What about Skippy?

Lorraine Vass from Friends of the Koala makes the point that Council is not implementing a Comprehensive Plan of Management for urban koalas and thus that theyre a dying species in the urban area.

What about kangaroos? Does anyone realise there are wild wallabies in the scrap of bushland between the university and Invercauld Road? Is there anyone doing anything to save the wallabies?

Lydia Connelly

Lismore

Reality check

You can yearn and crave after it. And probably you will, for you have been conditioned by myriad ways to do so.

Because it is the backbone of consumer society, with its mortgages and election-deciding interest rates.

Yes, you could make it more inclusive. You have got all the right to do so.

On the other hand, you could just ignore it, or better still, abolish it altogether and do greater service to harmonious human relations than anyone else has done in the course of human history apart from Linda Lovelace and the guy who invented French Ticklers.

I am talking, of course, about the sacred institution of marriage.

Because the love that bonds sentient beings together and gives meaning to their existence, is the highest form of reality for those who share that feeling.

And that reality is not going to be any more real, or any more valid, just because the church, or the state, approves of it.

If anything, that highest reality is only going to be undermined and jeopardised by admitting it for approval to any other authority.

For there is no higher authority, than the sincerity and the strength of the feeling itself.

Tom Koo

Alstonville

Howards end

It seems that Howard is a true conservative of the first order, or is that odour? A revisionist of the worst kind, his single handed attempt at returning Australia to the miasmic years of his youth; have now set him on a mission to have history taught to a formula which once again reinstates his and his white supremacist mates version of the way this land was settled with the onus on the superior ideas of European civilisation and a token notion of indigenous history. Criticising the current history curriculum at a recent Press Club address as a patchwork; Howard envisages a return to the teaching of important dates and the formative events of the establishment of European, especially British, culture on this ancient and fragile land as taught in the 50s and 60s. It seems that these conservative troglodytes cannot simply accept the truth of history that has slowly made its way into mainstream Australian knowledge things like the stolen generations and migration from Europe by other ethnic groups other than the British and are intent on reverting to the old rote learning of the facts that they deem suitable for Australians to learn. Howard thinks that dates and events are more important than the truth. However, the rolling of time continues to show Howards way as being increasingly absurd revisionist nonsense, not dissimilar to the kind of stupidities that went on in the former eastern bloc countries and other places where fascists and reactionaries have taken control. Remember Pol Pots year zero? However, with the clear divisions now cleaving the Coalition after the defection of Julian McGauran from the Nationals to the Liberals, it seems that the hubris filled Howard may have set in motion events that could hopefully spell the demise of his seemingly unassailable dominance of the Australian political landscape. Tonight, for the first time in a long time, I can go to bed with a skerrick of hope in my heart that we are about to see the end of the Howard years.

M Mizzi

Tabulam

Left learnings

I too am left-handed (Heavy Handed, Echo, Jan 26) and from the early 40s through to 1945 I began my education, firstly being taught by nuns in a convent in South Melbourne, Victoria. From there to a Christian Brothers school in the general area. In both schools I was repeatedly rapped over the knuckles of my left hand with the sharp edge of a wooden ruler, being forced to write with my right hand. I was continually informed by my tutors that being left handed was a tool of Satan and would not be tolerated. My reprieve came in 1945 when my mother divorced and remarried. When the Catholic church where she fellow-shipped found out, she was accused of now living in a state of permanent adultery and was no longer welcome. This finished my mother with the church for the remainder of her life and we moved to outback Queensland and government, state-run, small country schools. During the rest of my education, Gods, Virgin Marys and Satan were a thing of the past. No more bruised knuckles. No more sermons. When I was in my mid 50s,silly me became a dedicated Christian, but only for a decade. However thats another story.

Jim Lee

Alstonville

Cheap Labor

Following on from Eve Sintons editorial, Clair Stevensons letter and the concern many travellers and citizens have with heavy transport, speed and tragic fatal accidents. The answer is sitting there quietly rusting away. I am referring to our huge rail network. Over a hundred years of government expenditure created a system of moving freight that was highly efficient in moving our produce from one place to another. Whether it was livestock, wool, grain or coal.

Ever since Henry Parkes called for Federation we have needed rail for the fast and efficient movement of people and goods.

It makes sense to get the huge amounts of freight off the roads and onto rail. One engine pulling the equivalent of 10 or more semi trailers equals less pollution, less impact of our roads and perhaps less road trauma. An additional benefit would be the lower cost of goods and produce to the consumer. As the price of oil increases so will the cost of food rise.

Yet the NSW Government closes down rail lines as uneconomical and pours huge money into more and faster highwaysand sadly theexpensive and underutilised Cross City Tunnel.

A NSW government with vision, beyond the next election, would upgrade our rail links and connect the short distance between NSW and Queensland. This would have the added benefit of creating jobs in regional areas.

But sadly, no, the NSW Labor Government will not spend money in this area and so our roads will continue to deteriorate and the cost to our social capital will increase.

Our local Northern Rivers Trains for the Future has a vision, but who amongst our politicians can say the same? Who will stand up and say no more waste, pollution or road deaths? Who has the vision to create jobs, and look to the future when oil will be at such a price as to make our trucks more expensive to run?

Certainly not NSW Labor.

Phil Toynton

Lismore

Fuel farce

During 2005 I wrote to your readers in respect to the misleading pricing of voucher discounted motor fuel at an outlet in Dawson Street, Lismore.

Visiting Port Macquarie last week I noticed that an identical voucher fuel outlet offering four cents per litre off the diesel bowser price of $1.40, was in contrast to nearby independent retailers selling for $1.37 (rounded 1/10 cent each).

This equates to the motorist in effect only buying for one cent less than available from the independent retailer.

The federal government goes along blithely ripping off the motorist with fuel excise but is reluctant to act on the blatant discrimination in fuel pricing across the spectrum of suppliers.

Even with my limited income by the graces of the social security system, I prefer to buy from the independents who, apart from providing employment crucial to local economies, are incidentally increasingly offering the good old-fashioned driveway service coupled with personal smiling appreciation of ones support.

Are you driving around looking to save a lousy one cent per litre? Why bother.

Gordon B Moody

Goonellabah

Highway taking its toll

Re: the six-lane toll-way for B2s and Sydney BMWs (Echo, Jan 19).

Of course, we on the north coast dont want the toll-way. We dont want this s-lane clearcut through our ecologically sensitive area, and the opposition to it is growing. As more people realise the folly of mixing B2s, tourists, Ballina shoppers, retirees, and P platers on the proposed toll-way, there is going to be another political uproar similar to that generated by the toll-ways in Sydney.

As a further insult, we are told we can avoid the tolls by using the present unsafe, poorly maintained highway and local roads. I thought the whole idea was to get us onto safer roads!

The RTA doesnt want to hear this, but what the community wants is a safe highway, bypassing towns, but otherwise following the existing route. In other words, a Pacific Highway upgrade; a less invasive highway that will support local and tourist traffic along the coast.

The B2s and through traffic should be inland with rail improved for the majority of freight.

Ken Rumsby

Meerschaum Vale

Write you are

Lydia Connelly is so right (Echo, Jan 26) a letters page is for free expression of diverse opinions. But every form of dialogue letters, conversations, internet chatrooms has its own protocols.

That means flexible rules about how to participate effectively in that dialogue. Without wise control dialogue collapses because everyones screaming but nobodys listening.

Sometimes protocols are explicit (eg Keep letters to 300 words or well edit them!). Mostly theyre implicit, but theyre in the editors mind when she judges whether to run, to can, or to first edit a letter.

Sensible protocols never stifle expression or standardise things. They encourage diversity and actually help people get their ideas across so that those ideas can influence others. Shorter letters mean more space available for more diverse contributions.

Very few read more than the first couple of paragraphs of any letter. If yours runs columns-long youre probably harming your own cause. Only readers already on your side anyhow will ever read it to the end. If you havent made your main point by para three youre whistling in the wind for the rest of the letter.

Civility and respect demand strict protocols controlling libel and defamation. But they also guard against malice, abusiveness and vilification directed towards any person or any group. Some extremist religious propaganda sails very close to the wind in this respect.

For me the quality of the letters page is one sign of a newspapers status. I wouldnt lower myself to write to a paper that published whatever trash anyone ever sent it.

There must be standards, and the editor is the goal-keeper.

Were lucky The Echo has a good reputation for a quality letters page. May that long remain, and may we all do our best to maintain it. Long live open and respectful dialogue!

Lee Andresen

East Ballina

Say no to RU486

The debate about RU486 is keeping me up at night. Im writing this when Im normally in a deep sleep dreaming peacefully. Not tonight. This has gnawed away at me until Ive been forced, by my own unceasing thoughts, to write this down and to get it out of my head.

Im wondering: of those who support RU486, how many have actually tried to envision the actual process of the at-home abortion? Have they sat down, closed their eyes and imagined how it would feel to take a pill, go home and wait for yourself to bleed, passing something like a large blood clot, but identifiable as a baby, and looking down to see what was your child? And no, there is no conditional tense to that sentence, no what could have been. That was a baby and drugs were taken to kill it.

Human beings are not like flowers, whereby the sepal the green protective cover of the flower opens and dies to reveal the petals that bloom; but rather the cells that pro-abortion people talk about dont die to reveal the real baby later on. Those cells are the baby. At six weeks of gestation, those cells have an audible heartbeat. An audible heartbeat! Can anyone tell me that those heartbeats heard at six weeks are not made by the same heart as the newborn baby?

This should not be an at-home course of drugs. What is to stop women, not knowing how much bleeding is acceptable, from haemorrhaging dangerously? After my first child I bled for nine weeks, not knowing that was an unacceptably long time. Young women lacking knowledge and life experience are particularly vulnerable. As girls we are not encouraged to ask questions or dispute a doctors opinion.

This brings me to the attitudes of the doctors themselves! With my own first two pregnancies, doctors have asked me straight up, first question, So youre terminating?

My babies are fortunate that I knew they were wanted. Others arent so lucky.

Please do not allow RU486 into Australia.

K Maina

Lismore

Swanning around

After six long weeks of sitting on a nest in the middle of Lismore Lake, black swans have hatched their eggs! Temperatures sometimes touched 40 degrees, but always one bird would be there, on the nest among the water weeds. I do not know whether the pair took turns, because I never witnessed a change of duty. The second bird was always seen in clear water elsewhere, swimming about and feeding on the submerged grasses.

Last Saturday, the fact that two swans were together at the nest site made me take special notice of what was going on. The bird on the nest was very restless, moving her position, seeming to look below the feathers, treading carefully. Then I saw a small, fluffy grey head appear briefly. Soon another, then another cygnet appeared, only disappear back into the warmth of those black feathers. In the meantime the second swan, presumably male, fussed about like an expectant father in attendance. Several times he dragged up wet weeds and deposited them around the nest. I was fascinated! Never before had I witnessed such a birth. Before I left I think I counted five or six little ones, and they were spending more time out from under. Since then I have been told the swans have been seen with a large family, so I will have to visit and see this for myself.

Since the islands were built, the following species have had young black duck, purple swamphen, dusky moorhen, Australian grebe, Eurasian coot all these with several families, and most pleasing of all, our vulnerable jacanas have been seen with young, and now our graceful black swans have a family.

Thanks again to all those people who battled to keep Lismore Lake for birds. It was all so worthwhile.

Molly Crawford

Lismore

Landmine lunacy

Animals more valuable than humans? Or priorities?

Recently the media has made much of Japans continuing whaling activities. One wonders of the actual motive of highlighting this countrys participation, when other countries such as Norway for one is apparently guilty of the same. I personally abhor the activity, and hate to see the suffering of any wildlife.

My point is this. Why dont we become just as upset about the current landmine atrocities being perpetrated against innocent citizens every day? In Afghanistan for example men, women and children are continually losing limbs and eyesight as a result. This effectively sentencing them to a life of poverty, barely able to find enough to eat, let alone support their families.

To say nothing of the suffering and agony they must go through.

Who could be so cruel? You may ask, along with China and Russia, the USA.

I for one do not count myself as one of the so-called Coalition of the Willing!

Gloria Lee

Alstonville

Flying high

What a great flying adventure! From December 30 2005 till January 2 2006 the Great Eastern Fly-In was held at the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome, Evans Head. This was a chance for people from everywhere to get together for flying, fun, a holiday on the coast and a great many hours of aircraft talk and enjoying the many activities on offer at the Great Eastern. Perfect weather and lots of aircraft contributed to it being a great success with about 160 aircraft flying-in over the four days, aviation families and friends joining them as ground crew and about 4,000 people from the region coming to experience the excitement and thrill of this local aviation event and the associated activities held with it. Four days of flying, fun, air displays, joy flights, a chance to see rare aircraft, the Sunday market, aviation art show, classic film night and much more. We were very pleased that so many people from, or staying in, the Northern Rivers region took the opportunity to join us (theres no admission charge) and enjoyed what there was to see and do. We hope that more than a few people went away wondering how they could get flying! For members of the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee Inc (EMAC, the organisers) it was a chance to have many people help us celebrate the heritage of this great aerodrome and to recreate and relive the sites and sounds of history, of the WWII No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School and No.1 Air Observers School of which the Aerodrome was a part. It was also an opportunity to promote aviation to the wider community as Evans Head is unique on the East Coast of Australia with its four runways and coastal location, perfect for aviation and fun. There are many pilots who would love to live on this aerodrome if they got the chance!

The Great Eastern is organised with the help and support of a great many volunteers, organisations and businesses from all over the region and beyond, including Evans Head, Woodburn, Broadwater, Casino, Lismore, Ballina and Byron Bay areas. Without this assistance the Great Eastern Fly-In just could not have happened. So on behalf of the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee Inc and the Fly-In Sub Committee I would like to thank all who helped us, in any way. To all a huge thank you.

The Great Eastern Fly-In will be back in 2006, from Friday, December 29 2006 to Monday, January 1 2007 and we hope you will join us again. See you there.

Gai Taylor

Coordinator

Edited for length

Animal adoption

The Animal Rights & Rescue Group (ARRG) would like to thank your paper for the time and enthusiasm your staff gave to support and cover our Kitten Adoption Day held on Saturday, January 28.

ARRG covers the whole area of the Northern Rivers and is a local animal rescue charity and at times we come under great pressure and feel we will not cope. Such a time is now due to the summer cat breeding season resulting with many calls from the public regarding unwanted and dumped kittens with everyone expecting ARRG to provide a solution.

During this time our foster care system comes under great pressure holding the maximum number of kittens and yet more are on a waiting list to be rescued.

That is why we held the Kitten Adoption Day to reach the caring public and hopefully find caring homes for some of our kittens. The day was a huge success and ARRG re-homed 16 kittens and two adult cats on the day.

All homes were screened for suitability prior to adoption on the day and ARRG was thrilled to meet so many caring people who came along to adopt a kitten.

Thankfully the day helped relieve the pressure on ARRGs foster carer network, which means we can now rescue more needy kittens next week.

ARRG again thanks the work of our local Northern Rivers Echo for readily supporting a local charity event. Without your willing help the day would not have been the great success it was.

Remember there is no RSPCA branch or shelter on the Far North Coast so if you want to help homeless animals in this region please support ARRG. For pet adoptions or for information about our discount desex program contact ARRG on 6622 1881 or view our website at www.animalrights.org.au. Donations for our pet rescue work can be sent to PO Box 16, Wollongbar, NSW, 2477.

Barbara Steffensen

ARRG president


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