Road to ruin
I see that Lismore City Council has taken the lead in NSW in establishing a road dedicated to 4WD vehicles, namely the new rocky Carrington Street.
Are we now to be sitting, sipping coffee at Caddies while watching 4WDs negotiate the rocky surface of the new Carrington Street?
This would be a new form of entertainment, brought to us by the roads department at Lismore Council.
W Brian Alexander
Internet a dangerous drug
Wow, it seems you can really access anything on the internet. But is that always a good thing? Well, when you find your six-year-old brother playing an internet game titled Happy Pill, its probably not.
Should a six-year-old beplaying a game that involves shooting pills at smiley faces, and when one of the faces gets too many pills shot at them, they overdose and die, leaving a message of Oops, too much of a good thing?
Well my answer is absolutely not! Sure, the internet can be really useful, but on the darker side of things (like Happy Pill), can be really quite harmful. Having pills associated with the games from a young age is definitely inappropriate, and may even help lead to becoming a drug addict later in life. Six-year-olds dont know much, or anything at all about drugs, and thats a good thing.
Its probably best that young children are supervised when playing games, so that they dont start playing drug-involved games.
Sarah Hort (aged 13)
Bye bye to Ian Causley
Today when I was out shopping I ran into my friend Doug who told me that he heard on the ABC that Ian Causley, our so called representative in Canberra, would not be standing at next years federal election. Well you can imagine my complete joy when I heard this! Particularly after my last letter (October 12) I screamed Yes! all down the Star Court Arcade. I dont care about the circumstances, I am only sorry that we have to wait two years until this happens.
Anyhow all I can say is bye bye Ian Causley! We can only hope a ray of light will replace you!
Counselling to remedy depression
It was great to read your story on counselling as an alternative to anti-depressants for people experiencing depression (Drugs just a quick fox for depression?, Echo, October 19).
Research demonstrates that most people simply dont want to rely on medications to help with this. One of the problems has been the scarcity of other options available to GPs when people visit them for issues like depression or anxiety conditions.
Counselling provided by appropriately trained professionals is well demonstrated to be effective in helping people to overcome these problems, but it has only been available to the financially better off or certain target groups. The good news is that the federal government is introducing substantial Medicare rebates for people to consult with private practicing psychologists and social workers who are registered providers. The charges vary, but with a referral from a GP and some shopping around for someone who can provide the service at a reasonable price, most people will now be able to gain access to this form of help for the first time ever.
From November 1, help will be widely available people will need to see their GP for a referral, and then look for a psychologist or social worker in the Yellow Pages. Negotiate the cost of the service according to your income level, and then obtain the Medicare rebate to subsidise the cost.
Has history taught us nothing?
It became quite clear to the American military and political hierarchy, as early as 1967, that the war in Vietnam was unwinnable.
And yet the war dragged out for another eight years, with millions of deaths, the destruction of several countries with napalm and Agent Orange, simply because the Americans didnt know how to get out of there without losing face.
Of course, the longer they were staying the greater the sense of defeat had become for them, and the greater the sense of victory had become for the communists.
But as George B. Shaw once said: We learn history, but we dont learn from history.
As it seems, John Howard hasnt learned much from history either, for he claims that we can not withdraw from Iraq because it would deliver victory to the terrorists and it would be used for propaganda purposes, by extremists against Australia, in places like Indonesia.
Now wait a minute.
If Howard is genuinely concerned about the attitude of extremists towards Australia, then why did he join the war in Iraq so eagerly in the first place?
And he did all that in defiance of the will of the majority of Australians.
He even had the audacity to accuse the millions who marched against the war as aiding the enemy.
One could of course talk at length about the effect of this war on the millions of innocent inhabitants of Iraq.
But even if you are one who only becomes a bleeding heart when your own pants are on fire, you should still ask these questions:
What are, and what could be, the consequences of our involvement in this war, and of our unquestioning, subservient following of the US, wherever she goes and whatever she does?
And last but not least: Who is responsible?
How can youth have their say?
What has happened to the anti-war movement? I have noticed that of late there has been less media attention paid to the war in Iraq, and there also seems to be less general concern among the public. I do not mean to be tedious, digging up the same old news about wars and injustice, but I was recently told that the latest comprehensive report in Iraq put the death toll at 650,000! This may be a skewed number, and the exact figures are debatable, but some simple facts remain. Our government continues to spend billions of tax payers dollars on risking (and sacrificing) the lives of young Australians in an illegal war that has caused the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Yet as the circumstances in Iraq intensify, the anti-war movement seems to have diminished. No longer are there peace marches around the CBD or meetings at Spinks Park. As an Australian citizen who is still several months away from being able to vote these marches and meetings were the only anti-war sentiment I and many others were able to express, the only political influences we could have. I do not expect socialists or political activists to come and organise away my problems, but is there not another way for the youth of Australia to have serious political representation? We are a significant percentage of Australias population that would have many interesting and original ideas to contribute. Why is there not a way for younger Australians who are interested in politics to apply to vote, or to gain some other form of voice.
I have seen another young activist-in-the-making writing into these pages, Sarah Hort, who shares many of my concerns, and Im sure frustrations with the Australian Government. Yet writing to newspapers and, if were lucky, marching in the occasional peace protest is our only form of representation. In a country that claims so passionately to be democratic, should not the youth of Australia be heard as well?
Books credibility questioned
The recently published history of Lismore, Lismore: From Lois Mor to Tuckurimba by Maurie Ryan and Robert Smith, contains some glaring omissions and errors which I feel damage its credibility.
The chapter Sport and Recreation purports to give an accurate outline of the topic, but after reading it I was astounded, nay gob-smacked, to see not even a cursory mention of one of the oldest and currently the most widely played sport in Lismore soccer.
The authors manage to list 37 different sports with even dressage and quoits rating a mention, but not once does the word soccer appear.
The world game was played sporadically in Lismore and surrounds prior to World War II, before organised competitions began in 1949, which have been played continuously ever since.
Lismore was even the birth-place of organised soccer on the Far North Coast with the governing body known as Lismore District Soccer for many years until being re-named Soccer Far North Coast in 1998.
The authors glibly quote netball as the most widely played sport at time of publication on the basis of A drive down Ballina Road on Saturday past the netball courts, no figures are quoted.
After taking 10 minutes to make four phone calls I quickly established the relevant figures as follows; registered netball players in Lismore 1,100, registered soccer players in Lismore 1,954.
The achievements of individual sports men and women from Lismore are also noted, but former Socceroo captain Craig Foster, long-term Socceroo keeper Terry Greedy and national womens representative Lisa Cassagrande seemed to slip through the net and dont even rate a mention.
In contrast, rugby union received its own dedicated section within the chapter, despite the fact it has spent many years in recess without even being played in Lismore.
Is it just me being cynical or is Mr Ryans position as president of FNC Rugby Union clouding his historical glasses, allowing him to define the past in his own blinkered terms?
It seems to me that if such obvious errors and omissions have been allowed to appear in this section of the book, how much veracity can be attributed to the remainder?
Ballina care centre back to square one
I read with interest a short media report about the shortlisting of sites in Ballina for an Aged and Community Care Centre, where the Mayor said site options were a new building at Treelands or Wigmore Park, or a commercial building in the CBD; however, Council deferred a decision on the site.
Doug Stinson, president of Ballina District Community Services Association, spoke at the Council Committee meeting of October 11, and reminded councillors of the history of this project for a one-stop centre to support aged and disabled people and their carers.
The minutes of this meeting indicate the matter may have been discussed in the confidential part of the meeting, but that there was no discussion in the open part of the meeting; the matter was simply deferred (again), although other important decisions were made at that meeting.
My interest was sparked because, in September 2003, with design and costings completed, Council approved: a total funding package of $1.6939 million for the construction of the HACC building in Swift Street (Wigmore Park) Minutes Ordinary Council Meeting, 25/9/2003, page 4.
What happened? The newly elected councillors arrived, abandoned all previous plans, proposed a new site, and began the process all over again!
So much for a Council resolution to commence building.
It is interesting to read that the original site is now back on the agenda. I wonder how much the centre will cost in 2007?
Open letter to the Minister for Roads
Dr Mr Roozendaal,
For several years now there has lain upon your desk an RTA recommendation that, for each hour that a P plate licence applicant invests with a driving instructor, two hours will be accredited in their log book.
Whilst acknowledging my own commercial interest, I note that, now, we can all see that its non-approval is a culpable omission. (Its approval never had to depend upon tragedy.) When, as I trust you will (some few months before the state election), approve it, please do so conditionally.
First, censor driving instructors. Include only those who have had (or are committed to having) an ethically-based and behaviourally evident vocational commitment to their profession. Exclude commercial pirates.
Second, extend the option only to those applicants who commence their driving experience with a professional driving instructor; do not extend it to applications whose attitude and behaviour is two lessons before the test and shell be right.
For almost 20 years of professional commitment it has been my considered judgement that this rounded initiative will do more than any other practicable single measure to further reduce the still horrific levels of carnage amongst 15-25 year-old males (more than 150pa in NSW).
I note and admire your remarks concerning the impracticability of increasing the licensing age to 18, restricting night driving and/or the carriage of passengers. Indeed I welcome your initiative in requiring 15 hours of loggable night driving (although, as you may understand, I have considerable reservations about increasing the loggable hours from 50 to 120).
Mr Roozendaal, you have a unique opportunity for a NSW Minister: to establish and legitimise a new profession whose ranks, paradoxically, already comprise police, teachers, nurses, child carers, receptionists, bar staff and even some taxi drivers amongst many others: that of psychosocial therapist, bridging the gap between psychological reality and social reality.
You will, thereby, at one stroke, have massively further advanced that most undeclared of wars: the war on dysfunction.
For that we and our children will forever thank you.
Professional Driving Consultancy
Gateway exempt from Council constraints
Readers may be interested in further information regarding regulations relevant to the Gateway Project.
The two primary building control documents are the Ballina Local Environmental Plan 1987 (LEP) and the Development Control Plan No 1 Urban Land (DCP).
The LEP is a gazetted document, signed off by the Minister for Planning and presumably mandatory at law. It deals mostly with zoning issues and height limitation is the only major building control. Thus any building over the discretionary 16 metres height limit is presumably illegal (the proposed Gateway Project would be approximately 22 metres high).
The DCP is not gazetted and covers many building controls including building line setbacks, population density, parking, landscaping, etc. It must be considered (EP&A Act, Section 79C) but, although enforceable, some latitude is possible. In previous times the DCP was rigidly applied but in more recent times its regulations have been progressively eroded away to such an extent as to make it almost worthless. For example, the minimum front building line setback for 16 metre high residential and tourist buildings in the CBD is 7.75 metres yet zero setbacks were approved at existing 16 metre high waterfront buildings between Martin and Cherry streets. Also the minimum setback to the river boundary is 4.6 metres 2.4 and 2.7 metres were approved. The reason given was to enable reasonable utilisation of the (constrained) site (quote from Council report). Other major concessions were also given.
No such constraints apply to the Gateway Project site. Negotiations for public waterfront access should start at the mandatory 6.4 metre/two storey height limit of the LEP, the full intent of regulations of the DCP and overshadowing rules of the EP&A Act.
The project is on display at Ballina Council Chambers. Submissions to the NSW Department of Planning are due by October 30.
Desperate for some spiritual healing
S Sense was pretty hard on David Suzuki in last weeks Echo. David Suzuki has written so many books full of his wisdom. Sadly, we all grow old and our lifes work is over but hopefully not forgotten.
Behind the greenhouse effect and every war are human beings. A study in the alienation of human beings, how it comes about and its consequences may be the biggest issue facing humanity.
David Suzuki had his own important anecdote of sudden alienation in the country of his birth due to war, the subsequent racial prejudice and how it seriously affected him. Right now, in Australia, there are many people in exactly the same dilemma due to their belonging either to the Muslim religion or being of Arab descent. They also are innocent victims of a war they have nothing to do with but suddenly they are alienated and severely prejudiced against in the country of their birth.
As we wage war around the planet in the name of freedom and democracy we dont take seriously the horrendous costs to innocent victims or the environment. It is damage that continues through generations of human beings causing both mental and physical illness.
Many of David Suzukis books refer to the wisdom of the elders in indigenous cultures.Western civilisation, in its past blindness, has gone out of its way to eradicate or alienate sacred earth sites and indigenous cultures, banning the use of their language, music, dance and knowledge many times.
A monocultural homogenised ideology has been being forced on us and we are now so far down that track that depression and mental health issues are considered a major problem and the prevailing remedy is drugs.
We are now so lacking in awareness that we cant even see the major problem facing the earth is lack of connection to our spirit. We are participants in a culture that seems to be actively driving away our spirit. For the sake of an ideology we wage war and for the sake of a mining corporation we move a glorious river or a glacier so that they can get at the ore.
That is pure alienation from our natural role in the earths ecosystem. How does that alienation affect us? We pretend were alright but are we really? Why are we so paranoid about natural health therapies including the spiritual healing modalities? Indigenous people have always had their spiritual healers.
In Central Australia they are called ngangkari. Ngangkari work with the spirit. Their work is to touch and heal people, to bring their spirits back and make people so much happier than they were before.
Why are the medical authorities always in dispute about spiritual healing modalities when such things were the foundation of the Christian church? The truth reveals itself in time. So many peoples lives have been changed from their encounter with spiritual healing modalities such as reiki and pranic healing. It is one of the answers for a severely damaged planet with generations of war victims who need some very serious help.
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