With conditions in so many ministries critical, or nearing that state, should not NSW be renamed the Critical State? Think of trains, doctors, police, nurses, hospitals, roads, water, courts, finances, and more.
Weakening land rights
It is ironic that legislative changes to the Northern Territory Land Rights Act has occurred at a time when celebrations have taken place, 40 years on from the land rights gains of the Wik people.
This event 40 years ago was the catalyst for the subsequent NT land rights Bill, and it has been a shining moment in the history of race relations in this country. Walter Lingiari and his people did an astounding thing, and it will live in my memory forever. Walter Lingiaris vision, wisdom and statesmanship puts members of the current federal government to shame.
The legislation passed last week which weakens the control of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory over their lands which they were granted decades ago must be the bottom of the barrel in John Howards ideological bent to destroy the Australian way of life, fairness and decency. So thanks to these craven legislators, Australias image is further besmirched.
And what has the media said about it? Precious little.
Sending the wrong message
Why is it that some parents get carried away with their actions when it comes to junior sports? Recently, whilst watching an under 10s lower division soccer game (or should I say football), I witnessed some abhorrent behaviour from a person on the sideline. In fact, he was the coach of one of the teams, screaming directions from the sideline in a manner that pressured the children, who were left to feel uncomfortable and embarrassed if a mistake was made. I was mostly horrified to hear the so-called coach scream to his players to take him out, when an opposing player made a break.
As a concerned parent, if I had a child in that team, I would not expect him (or her) to be subjected to such behaviour, especially when children of that age are purely there to have fun with their mates in a division where winning at all costs is not a priority.
What sort of message does this provide to our children, being instructed to carry out dirty play to win the game, ultimately for the satisfaction of a coach who thinks theyre on the World Cup stage.
Lets remind ourselves, its only a game, the children participate for fun, whilst learning ball skills, keeping active, and finally, playing fair.
Education shouldnt cost the earth
When I grow up I hope to go to university and get a degree in science but that dream is becoming very unrealistic. At this rate I will have to choose between a good education and not being in debt for the rest of my life and beyond. Governments have jacked up the prices immensely for education. It could cost me hundreds of thousands to afford a degree in science. I should not have to pay any money education should be free. As a very wise person once said to me, evolve or perish, which in these terms means bring down the prices or have a country of... well... idiots!
Daisy Aczel Morris (aged 10)
Standing up for humanity
I am writing in response to John Lenons letter (Echo, August 24). Im disgusted by the amount of ugly bile that came out towards myself and my friends.
What makes you think that me and my friends are terrorists? It was a pretty gutless remark to make. We dont support terrorism. You dont know us personally so it doesnt give you the right to defame us through the newspaper.
What I objected to was the ship being built and that peoples human rights are in danger of being violated by being locked up on this ship for up to a month (so says the government) without access to legal representation or social workers.
It was a pretty gutless letter when you accuse people you dont even know of being terrorists or knowing people who are. Its those kind of vicious statements that goes towards creating fear and suspicion in our country.
Yes, illegal immigrants need to be processed, but they dont need to be caged up like animals. Inhumanity only breeds hatred. And you obviously dont have all the facts on Indonesia. They arent renowned for their human rights record!
I kindly suggest that your efforts would be better spent tackling the Howard Government over their lack of humanity and compassion to those in need, whether it be in our country or overseas, instead of wrongly accusing people of being terrorists. And yes, I have read all the news about the terrorists plots.
People not pests
Having read the letter by Helen Coyle (Echo, August 10), several times over, I fail to see any relevance between Helens concern for the human rights of people who would have been held on an offshore prison ship (if Howard had his way) and the threat of terrorism in our country, envisaged by John Lenon (Echo, August 24).
The way I read her letter she is expressing a desire for the same humanity towards asylum seekers and illegal fishers as I and many others, including, from memory, Malcolm Fraser, Ian Chappell, George Negus and many others, were calling for about four or five years ago.
Does John Lenon really believe that potential terrorists who wanted to check out possible targets in our country would arrive in leaky boats, and not in a big aeroplane from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia etc, therefore overflying Indonesia?
Of course these people should be checked out but let us treat them as people, not vermin. Good on you Helen, Im with you, as I am sure most dinkum Aussies are.
From one letter writer to another
Stop it, Sarah Hort! How dare you presume to exchange views in the columns of this newspaper with older, wiser and infinitely more erudite correspondents. I dont care how old you are. 13! And just turned. Humph!
I used to be 13 once and ... (pausing for the drum roll)... had a letter published in The Sydney Morning Herald. So there! What do you think of that?
I well remember the subject of that letter, too, though I doubt that anyone else did. And also I remember the thrill it gave me at the time to realise that the editor of a big newspaper would publish my letter, the letter of a 13-year-old kid.
Youve a long way to go yet, young lady, a long time to sift through lifes experiences, to refine your thinking, your ideas, your beliefs. When I think about it though, I guess 13 is an excellent age at which to start.
Youve already experienced criticism and you handled it well. Some critics arent worth worrying about. Youll learn to recognise who they are. But remember, too, that you wont always be right and sometimes thats hard to accept. Be prepared to occasionally test your own beliefs and convictions and to change them if they need changing. Some people grow old holding views theyve never dusted off to re-examine. And dont ever back away from challenging prejudice and discrimination wherever you find it.
Our views may cross in the months ahead, Sarah. If they do, Ill relish the joust. But irrespective of whether that happens, keep tapping away at the keyboard. I feel sure youll give a good account of yourself.
Barry Walsh (age withheld)
Perhaps Julie Nathan (Echo, August 17) is correct to say If Arabs put down their weapons today there would be no more violence. The Israelis could peacefully occupy all the territory they wanted, as they continue to do in the Golan Heights where their settlers live without violence. They are so insistent that the occupied Shaba Farms are part of Syria rather than Lebanon because the Syrians dont fight back.
Had Hezbollah not used their weapons to oppose the 1982-2000 Israeli occupation of Lebanon it would never have ended. Only the casualties inflicted on their army made Israel decide to withdraw in 2000.
Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 to attack the PLO in the Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut. These camps were set up to house some of the estimated 700,000 Palestinian refugees who had fled or been expelled from Palestine when the state of Israel was established there in 1948.
After the PLO fighters departed for Tunis, leaving an unarmed Palestinian population in the refugees camps, Sharon sent the Phalange into the Sabra and Shatila camps where they slaughtered thousands of unarmed people while the Israelis surrounded and sealed off the camps.
Almost half a million Israeli settlers have moved into occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israels consistent policy towards the Palestinians has been ethnic cleansing, first in 1948 with the capture of 78 per cent of Palestine and then following 1967 in the other 22 per cent.
Of course the Israelis would prefer that the Palestinians put down their weapons after the conquest of their land. Then there would be no more violence and no more Palestine. Who are the real rejectionists?
Cart before horse
Julie Nathan dismisses my solution to the Middle East problem (Echo, August 17) on the grounds that it is rejectionism not illegal occupation of Arab land that causes the problem. This is putting the cart before the horse. The establishment of the Israeli state caused rejectionism, not the other may around. Until Israel was established in 1948, Arabs and Jews had lived in relative harmony. At least they werent killing one another!
When Arab land was taken without consultation or compensation for displaced people it is understandable that the Arabs would resist. What an excellent breeding ground for Hamas and Hezbollah fighters the refugee camps must be! Julie Nathan points out that Egypt and Jordan made peace with Israel in return for receiving land that was rightfully theirs. My contention is this could possibly happen if Palestinians were given back all their land and Israel obeyed the UN resolution they have ignored for 40 years and withdrew to their 1967 borders. Of course this wont happen while the Jewish fundamentalists claim all of Palestine as theirs because it is their promised land. Not being of the Jewish faith, Arabs are hardly likely to accept this argument. Julie Nathan says if the Arabs were to lay down their arms there would be peace. This would be true but it would mean the Arabs agreeing to Israel keeping their land. Hardly a just solution. My solution would be much more achievable. The Arabs must accept Israels right to exist within its original borders and Israel must return the lands they have colonised.
Pay for what you get
What is a council meant to be doing about the equitable imposition of rates?
I quote below Local Government Act 1993 No 30; at Section 8. Ive italicised the words that seem of critical interest and Ive left out a great deal that seems to have little impact for equitable rating.
Lets be clear, the council has a vital job to do no argument. My beef is that ratepayers should only pay for what they get. Subsidising other ratepayers is out.
S. 8 (1) A council has the following charter:
to provide directly or on behalf of other levels of government, after due consultation, adequate, equitable and appropriate services and facilities for the community and to ensure that those services and facilities are managed efficiently and effectively.
to have regard to the long term and cumulative effects of its decisions.
to raise funds for local purposes by the fair imposition of rates, charges and fees, by income earned from investments and, when appropriate, by borrowings and grants.
Seems very clear to any ordinarily intelligent ratepayer that s/he should pay for what s/he gets. And should not be paying for services s/he doesnt get.
Enrich the future with history
The Richmond riverbank, behind Ballinas CBD, deserves a history walk.
That strip exudes heritage not just of Ballina, but the whole Richmond Valley... not just of European settlement, but for Aboriginal peoples there for many thousands of years.
Captain Rous noted the Aboriginal long huts and abundance of timber and birds in 1828 when he named the Richmond River.
Later, Ballinas northern riverbank became dockland... a genesis of European development.
When the Golden Eagle flats were demolished there, so was an enormous concrete slab. That slab was the base of a huge crane, serving the dry dock built to take corvettes early in World War II, an historian said. The government regarded the dry dock of such strategic importance that a perfect road was built to it from the Pacific Highway.
Ballina Shire Council advised The site of the Golden Eagle flats is not presently identified as a significant archeological site, therefore the development application process did not automatically trigger the requirement for the need to record the item but Ballina Shire Council is appreciative of the role the waterfront has played in the economic and social development of Ballina.
Did anyone with curiosity or commonsense photograph or record that slab or other early relics? The archeological potential of Ballinas waterfront will be assessed during the Shire-wide Heritage Study (nominations close August 31.)
The late Reg Waters, long-time manager of Ballina Slipway, told me the river held many interesting relics. For decades divers recovered submerged objects.
Former mayor Keith Barlow showed me the old bacon factory, with huge timber supports. There were river baths, coal wharves, a pilots cottage, pineapple cannery and John Hagans large painting Fenwicks Dry Dock, is displayed at Ballina Library. Older residents would know much more.
History walks create interest along Sydney, NSW South Coast, Tweed and Gold Coast beaches. Weather and vandal-proof photographic/text signs could add immeasurably to the emerging walk/cycleway.
Recording the past enriches the future.
Anyone who saw the movie The Godfather knows what Cosa Nostra stands for. It means this is our affair, namely business, in crime, of course. And the one who said that phrase was none other than the capo of the Mafiosi families at the meeting. The meeting room where the word Cosa Nostra was uttered was full of other mobsters, capos of other families in crime. All of them agreed to what was said by the former.
Now on the subject of War on Terrorism. At the time of this writing, the destruction of Lebanon and the Gaza strip, with the murder of its inhabitants, I use that scene as a metaphor in relation to Australia supporting the United States in favour of Israel.
The very day of 9/11, John Howard said to George Bush, We Australians will support you all the way. It sounds like he was saying This is our affair, George [remember Cosa Nostra].
And since then, Australian troops have been deployed with the Coalition of Willing [read USA, England and other European countries] in Afghanistan, in Iraq and now in Israel. All this mayhem is done in the name of democracy. What democracy? Bushs democracy, Howards, Blairs or Ehud Olmerts? And most people still believe that we are killing in the name of democracy.
As Voltaire said: Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities, has the power to make you commit atrocities.
What is going on today internationally is nothing short of what a criminal Mafiosi gang, on a small scale, will do in a town or city like New York, Chicago, Palermo or Rome. The only difference between the two is that the Coalition of Willing is legalised, the Mafia is not.
Historically, its known that the word Mafia was coined by Giuseppe Mazzini, the 19th century Italian hero who was the founder of the Carbonari in Italy, which was a terrorist band at the time. It was to this band of criminals that Mazzini gave the name MAFIA, an acronym for Mazzini, Autorizza, Furti, Incendi and Avvelenamenti meaning Mazzini authorises the commission of theft, arson and murder.
That is exactly what is going on now in the Middle East: murder, genocide, destruction, rape, misery and desolation. One may raise the question: what is this all for and for whom? The answer is: for Israel, of course.
Many Australian people have been brain washed by the media to think we are doing the right thing in supporting John Howard. Obviously these people as with many other people all over the world do not have access to other sources of information than what is given to them by the mass media.
So how long are we willing to support Cosa Nostra... pardon, John Howard and the Coalition of Willing?
Keep Lismore Park as community land
Last weeks Echo carried an advertisement from Lismore City Council notifying the public that Lismore Park and a number of other properties are being reclassified from community to operational land to enable the lease or disposal of the land. LEP Amendment No 33.
The area of Lismore Park up for grabs includes Oakes, Crozier, Heaps, Blair and Humbly ovals, Jolley Field, the Scout Hall, the Concert Band Hall, City Lights Tennis Club, the Continental Club etc. It is 13.23ha of prime sporting and recreational land, shown on town maps as far back as 1883 and proclaimed as Lismore Park in 1887.
If the reclassification goes through any part of this land can be leased or sold without further public consultation. For example, the $1.75m ratepayer investment in Crozier Oval could be leased to one private football club for 40 years for $1000 per annum. Alternatively, it could be sold off for a fraction of its value. Oakes Oval could be leased long term to a multinational corporation as a profit making venture, at the expense of local sporting groups.
This is privatisation of community assets built up over the years with ratepayers money, for private profit.
Currently the whole of Lismore Park is governed by a Plan of Management, put together by Council, community and sporting groups for the benefit of the community. Community land cannot be sold.
On 14th March 2006 eight elected councillors decided to pursue the reclassification from community to operational land. Why? To quote from the six sentences on which they based their decision: ...operators require leases of five years or more before they will adequately invest in the business. It is in the best interest of operators and council to encourage this investment. If these properties remain community land any leases that council may wish to enter into for five years or more can be subject to the concurrence of the Director General of Planning and the Minister. This creates uncertainty and serves no real purpose. Such restrictions do not apply to operational land. ...council should maximise its return....
However, what it doesnt say is that under the NSW Local Government Act Council can lease community land from five to 21 years provided public notice is given allowing for public submissions.
In other words Council sees private investment and profit from sporting and recreational land as more important than community participation and public accountability.
If sporting groups, community organisations and individuals do not oppose this reclassification in writing, sections of Lismore Park could be sold off and rezoned as commercial land at any time in the future. The LEP Amendment No 33 is on public display for 28 days at Councils Goonellabah office only.
Please help to protect this historic community asset for the future by writing your objection to the General Manager, Re Draft LEP Amendment No 33. Alternatively, contact me on 6621 4864 to assist or for more information.