Letters to the Editor - Dec 24

Base problem
Are we serious about saving our hospital?
If so we have to make small sacrifices. Here are a couple of suggestions.
1) We, as well as the local, state and federal governments, do not put up any lights over this holiday season but use the money saved in extra power and man hours towards the hospital.
2) Do away with fireworks on New Year’s Eve. $3,000,000 just for Sydney plus the hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up the harbour foreshores next day. Think of the amount spent by every city and town in NSW. For just a few minutes of delight we could help prolong the life of our hospitals... the amounts are a drop in the ocean to what we actually need, but please remember the ocean is made up of millions of drops.
There are many other things that we as well as the local, state and federal governments waste funds on. I’ve mentioned two, you no doubt could come up with more. The people put the various governments in position so let them know where they are wasting your money and where you want it spent.
G O Mann

Olley jolly

I write in continuing support of the Margaret Olley Arts Centre.
I hope to counter some misconceptions voiced recently by some correspondents:
1. Some people are saying it is Jenny Dowell’s art gallery. It isn’t and I’m sure Jenny would be the first to agree with me on this. A purpose-built arts centre is something many members of the community have worked for and supported for well over a decade. The previous Council, with Merv King as Mayor, made commitments to it.
2. Putting some artists and artworks in some empty shops is a nice idea, but it doesn’t replace a proper art gallery, which fulfils a range of professional functions and provides many and varied public services.
3. Using a currently empty building to house the MOAC sounds like a reasonable idea, but it isn’t. This is exactly what happened to the current gallery back in 1953. It’s a second-rate solution. Surely Lismore and the region deserve something better – a well-designed and purpose-built gallery with adequate storage space, proper climate control, attractive exhibition spaces; something to be proud of.
4. Some people advocate putting the MOAC off for the future. But all the planning has been done, there is a commitment from SCU and Margaret Olley herself, and the Commonwealth Govt is making money available now. In 20 years time we may be a sluggish backwater still waiting for a decent gallery, and the roads will still need work – they always do. And meanwhile we will have lost more of our cultural heritage and missed out on the boost to our economy that a first-rate gallery can bring.
5. Finally, some correspondents seem to be virulently anti-art, which is their prerogative, but they seek to impose their values on the rest of the community. They don’t seem to appreciate the links between the MOAC and increased tourist dollars, a revitalised CBD, greater knowledge of our local heritage, an increased range of public and educational activities, and a vital facility for practising and aspiring artists. They really don’t know their arts from their elbows.
Robbie Braithwaite

Proper gander

I just discovered the Margaret Olley Fact Sheet on the LCC website homepage.
Does anyone for a millisecond believe if the phoney poll figures were reversed at 71% against it would have been mentioned?
Paul Recher

Thinking time
I’ve always believed Christians had “baptised” the Roman festival celebrating the victory of the Sun by choosing the 25th of December as the date to celebrate Christ’s birthday. But apparently there is new evidence that Christians claimed it first and it was the sun worshippers who later hijacked the date.
Whoever got in first, we may never know for sure, but it is evident that there have been competing interests over the celebration of Christmas right from its earliest beginnings.
With the advent of a more secular worldview, the battle lines would appear to be no longer between competing deities, but more between trade and trivia vs. giving and caring.
Whatever wins out this Christmas, you can be sure that ultimately it is up to each of us to decide whether we will choose this festive season to celebrate people or things.
In all the business of the season, it’s worth a thought.
John Hannaford

Christmas cheer

I am writing for two reasons.
One is to say that the balance of news and interesting articles in the December 17 edition of The Echo was, for me, as good or better than any other paper of the day.
Page 2:
I enjoyed Rudi’s passionate approach to climate change, and I ask, how many more species will become extinct, including the Great Barrier Reef at risk, before people recognise that our planet needs to be actively nurtured.
Page 3:
I will not be able to attend the No Room at the Inn charity concert, but what a great idea to raise awareness as well as give joy to many. Does Rev Bob actually play the saxophone? Love the smile.
Page 4:
It was interesting indeed to read of Council’s reaction to a sizeable loss from hosting the Festival of Cricket this year.
I know that this has been said previously, but it needs to be kept in mind – looking at the big picture, sometimes a loss can be a gain.
Page 8:
Now here comes my passion!
“Giving voice to all creatures great and small”.
Being involved for many years with Animal Rights and Rescue, I have experienced many sad stories and many glad stories.
The sad stories come from those we cannot help, and the glad stories come when we can make a difference to the life of any small creature.
Can you imagine the fear of the sheep and cattle that went down at sea last week, only surpassed by the fear of being rounded up and squashed onto trucks and finally the hold of their last resting place.
Yes, animal rights is not about legal rights, but about moral rights, particularly, the right not to suffer.
Now, if I go on to cover all this interesting paper, we would run out of space, so, on to my second reason for writing.
My very best wishes to all the Echo team for a peaceful, joyous and safe Christmas, and all the days that follow.
Thank you for your work over 2009, whilst looking forward to 2010’s reading.
June Crawford


Mungo Mac Labor’s always biased political comments get very boring to say the least. However, he really took the cake when he stated “The Liberal Party is a purely pragmatic body formed with just one purpose in mind: to oppose the Labor Party” (Echo, Dec 3).
Gee whiz! How on earth did they ever manage to build up the huge surplus that they left for Kevin & Co to squander and manage to keep people smuggling in check at the same time? If so, thank God for that.
Another writer in the same issue did get my support. Ken Macdonald’s (letters) interest in the global warming issue encouraged me to suggest your readers to study a small book titled The Year 1000. This factual history tells us that between 950 and 1300 “The Little Optimum” era; the world’s climate was so warm that receding ice caps enabled Viking exploration of Iceland and Newfoundland (where vineyards flourished). At that time London had weather we now have in the Loire Valley in France – England had 38 vineyards also. Greenland was named because it was. What human   intervention/interference   could cause this? Our industrial/mechanical age was years into the future. I do not believe human activity controls our weather. I do believe our activity controls our weather. I do believe of a possible conspiracy to destroy the world’s major economies. Not one creditable global warming THEORY has surfaced to convince me otherwise.
J Henry

Plan needed

Despite the progress being made with the building of a radiotherapy unit at Lismore Base Hospital, there are still more issues that need to be addressed if our community is to have an adequate radiotherapy program.
Recently the Cancer Council of NSW published the results of a survey entitled Roadblocks to Radiotherapy which highlights the need for improvements to accessing radiotherapy services. In the study 69% of patients experienced difficulty accessing radiotherapy services.
One of the biggest hurdles for cancer patients and carers is the tyranny of distance with transport being a major obstacle. Though the IPTASS (Isolated Patient Travel and Accommodation Scheme) is one initiative it frequently proves to be inadequate in providing services for patients in rural areas.
More needs to be done to provide accommodation close to the radiotherapy facility so as to alleviate the stress of being away from home and to reduce the costs to patients. Waiting times for radiotherapy also need to be reduced. It has been suggested that a centralised booking database be established to identify state-wide needs by region but to date nothing has been done in this area. Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania have plans for improving radiotherapy services as far out as 2018 but not NSW. It is about time Chris Crawford of the NCAHS pushed the state government to publish a plan that looks forward instead of tabling a plan so late in the period that it really only records commitments already made rather than statements of future intent. The last published plan only went through 2006 and we haven’t seen anything new since.
Art Beavis
Regional Advocacy Network, Far North Coast

Happy 70th
Tuckurimba branch of the Red Cross had a very successful summer appeal day in conjunction with their 70th birthday celebration on November 12. The lovely birthday cake was made by Coraki Bakery.
An original member, Mrs Barbara Schaefer, together with Mrs Jean Webster (a member for over 50 years), had the pleasure of cutting the cake amid great excitement and applause. We were very pleased to welcome many visitors, some who had been previous members. Many thanks to everyone for their support, we made $1,072 which was a great result, our best ever.
Ruth Manning, Tuckurimba Red Cross

Filter feeders
I refer to the recent announcement that the proposed ISP-level Mandatory Internet Filter will go ahead, and the accompanying Enex report on the recent ISP Filter trial.
Senator Conroy was quoted as saying, “The report into the pilot trial of ISP-level filtering demonstrates that blocking RC-rated material can be done with 100% accuracy and negligible impact on internet speed.” He is wrong. The report did NOT say that at all.
The report said, “All participants in the pilot were successful in blocking 100% of the ACMA blacklist.” If Senator Conroy thinks the ACMA blacklist is a 100% total listing of all Refused Classification (RC) content on the internet, he is very, very mistaken indeed.
The report further stated: “Testing was also undertaken against a list of content, prepared by Enex, considered to be innocuous and which should not be blocked by a filter. All participants experienced some level of over-blocking in this test (ie blocking of some legitimate URLs). All filters blocked less than 3.4% of such content.” An error count in excess of 3% does not constitute “100% accuracy”.
Senator Conroy’s media release also stated “The Government is also introducing new transparency measures to ensure the public can have absolute confidence in the process for material being placed on the RC Content list.” The ONLY transparency measure that will give absolute confidence is the publication of the blacklist itself, which is clearly out of the question.
The report acknowledged that “A technically competent user could, if they wished, circumvent the filtering technology”. I would suggest that the only technical competency required is the ability to use a search engine and follow the instructions that are easily found.
The media release further states “ISP filtering reduces the risk of Australians being inadvertently exposed to RC-rated material when they are online”. The most likely way that an internet user would inadvertently come across RC material is through peer-to-peer downloads, with other likely possibilities being chat rooms and instant messaging. None of these are blocked by the proposed filter. I am not aware of anyone who has ever inadvertently browsed to any RC material. It is, simply speaking, not that easy to come across. I would therefore contend that the proposed filter will make absolutely no difference to a person’s risk of being exposed to RC material. This does nothing, for example, to reduce the risk to our children from internet predators.
The Mandatory Internet Filter only addresses the risk of inadvertently browsing to RC material. It is therefore an expensive and easily circumvented solution to a problem that barely exists, and totally avoids the real risks! Given the government’s tenacity in implementing this hugely controversial and unpopular measure, one must ask what the hidden agenda is.
Trevor Farrell

Road to ruin

Having lived on Mountain Top Rd, Georgica since 1983, I have seen the rates increased tenfold (from $120 to $1200 pa) while work on this dangerous road has been nil, apart from a biannual caterpillar grade and a five-yearly one-metre roadside slashing. While there are many more roads like this throughout the Northern Rivers, none would be more dangerous than Mountain Top Rd, where this year alone I have seen four accidents.
Over the years there have been numerous accidents with some cars going over the embankment and down the hill into the bush, some resulting in injury, but as far as I know no deaths have yet occurred. Blue metal packed dirt roads become even more dangerous in both droughts as well as the wet, when a car at even as little as 20km/h will skid out of control on any sudden brake attempt. Also, the number of animals killed on this road from wallabies to birds and reptiles is staggering. Between Stoney Chute and Jiggi roads a dead animal on the road is a common daily sight, and another increasing sight is that of cans and beer bottles thrown out of cars by ill-behaved people, often using this road as a cross country race track, and not educated enough to know that such items are a catalyst for bush fires.  Requests over a number of years to have the road sealed at critical sections or to have speed warnings and wildlife signs erected have fallen on deaf ears. LCC does not seem to consider the courtesy of a reply as an essential part of the integrity by which their “service” to the community should be conducted. LCC appears to have become like any other political/corporate business, revenue raising as the number one, and only priority. It is a sad but common practice for Australian institutions like councils and road authorities to ignore warnings by local people who live with the hazards every day, that it is imminent for someone to get killed before long. Having said this, it must also be said that those people, mostly under 25, using country roads as race tracks and rubbish dumps, are irresponsible, uneducated vandals who should grow up and learn to think; life is for living, not for stupidity, thrill seeking and sensationalism, all of which are at the roots of human, wildlife and environmental destruction.
Bob Oort

Think global

Now we’ve had the politicians making promises for the next decade, the scientists making predictions, and the “carbon traders” rubbing their hands in glee. Presumably we have to produce less, consume less, travel less, heat less and cool less, transport less and drive less.
But where are the engineers that make these measurements, redesign the way we do things and verify that reductions are made and not just displaced? We got into this mess because the “he-said-she-said” politics of Westminster are inherently weak.
Market forces, that is greed and corruption, now rule every country under the guise of capitalism – already cars, power and banks get the bailouts. While the share market sucks the superannuates dry, we are not making real progress on this issue of global warming while the population and hence economy keeps growing. It is a time to teach engineering as a discipline of global ecology, as leaders rather than politicians.
William Goode

Copenhagen greenwash

In retrospect, the Copenhagen talkfest with its disappointing outcomes was all fairly predictable and should have surprised nobody. The sticking points were always going to be the adequacy of emissions reduction targets and financing arrangements to assist developing countries.
Sadly, the event turned out to be a missed opportunity for the world to get serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. While Kevin Rudd may appear to be showing leadership on the world scene, a closer look shows that his chest-puffing displays were just the usual greenwashing from a government that is taking a “business as usual” approach to climate change and peak oil. The Australian government’s emissions reduction target of 5% is an embarrassment to individuals, organisations and the other levels of government that are taking steps to dramatically reduce their individual or collective emissions.
The few billion that Rudd is throwing at renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives should be applauded but this is far from being enough to transform our economy and demonstrate to the world that Australia is taking the necessary steps towards reducing our emissions. If Kevin Rudd wants any credibility at the next round of talks in Bonn and Mexico he should start negotiating now with the Greens to get a vastly improved CPRS passed through the Senate. The targets will need to be a minimum of 25% and the multi-billion dollar compensation package will have to be redirected away from the polluters towards individuals. That alone will offset the inevitable rise in prices to occur whilst transforming our economy. The government’s own modelling suggests that our economy would still be able to grow, while at the same time making significant cuts to our emissions.
It’s simple: 1) Stop large scale land clearing. 2) Get serious with energy efficiency. 3) stop building new coal fired power stations (gas is a much cleaner alternative in the short term), and 4) invest more money in large scale renewable energy projects and the emerging green economy.
Cr Jeff Johnson
Lennox Head

Action now
To be taken seriously on the climate change and global warming issues PM Rudd needs to: Start reducing our greenhouse gas emissions now; help protect and restore the world’s natural forests as part of the climate solution; ensure comprehensive accounting for land use emissions (including forestry); prohibit conversion of forests to biofuel or plantations and protect Australia’s own carbon-dense native forests, not just point the finger at developing countries.
Anything less will see Mr Rudd’s rhetoric appear empty, shallow and hypocritical in the eyes of those nations in our region looking to Australia for leadership and action. This is particularly so because many of them will bear the brunt of rising seas and inundation. But then perhaps Mr Rudd’s avowed crusading is just another political feint designed to fool the gullible and those who hope that leaders are actually interested in truly leading in a world very short of decent governance and control of rapacious resource destruction.
M Mizzi

Hot topics
I recently read some information on the climate changes we experienced in this land of ours over the years and found them interesting enough to pass on for others to read. The highest temperature was recorded at Cloncurry, Qld on the January 16, 1889, of 53.1C. But in Marble Bar, WA the record holds for the most consecutive days (161) when temperatures went over 37.8°C. This was from October 30 1923 to April 7 1924. Sydney recorded its highest temperature of 45.3°C on 14/1/1939. The longest heatwave for Sydney ran for four scorching days 25-28/1/1960. The temperature fluctuated between 39.4°C and 42.4°C. A number of deaths were recorded and thousands of people slept on the beaches each night.
Adelaide is Australia’s hottest capital city with a recorded temperature of 47.6°C. These are a few examples of the vagaries of the climate of this continent we live in and reading books by some of our writers, like Idriss and Beadell who spent years living in the places where the extremes were experienced in their daily lives, that we can only wonder how they and the people living in those areas survived in those early days. None of the amenities we have today are available to them and life must have been very difficult.
At this moment we are experiencing extreme weather locally and yet we have most of our state in severe drought again. Are we in a cycle or is it entirely of our own making? The phasing out of coal-fired generation of power is being clamoured for to be replaced with I don’t know. How big do the wind farms need to be to supply our growing needs when we are increasing our migrant intake to further add to consume our dwindling water resources and extra power. Solar works off the sun; no sun for a drizzling week of rain and what happens? If coal generated power is phased out will we see a reduction in the CO  ² generated by the traffic in our cities that pollutes the air to the extent we are asked to keep indoors on some days. Do we penalise the air traffic for their addition of pollution of the atmosphere?
L Newton
- Edited for length


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