Letters - Nov 19

Too high a price
I heartily agree with Jenny Dowell that the removal of the chaplain at the Base Hospital is not worth the human cost.
I feel strongly regarding this matter. There is so much suffering in this life and it can be relieved by the care and comfort of a trained chaplain.
Mrs Robin Bogert

Paid chaplains

For nearly 2000 years the victor in western civilisation’s war for alleged souls has been Christianity. They have rewritten history to suit the needs of those in power and in control of the clergy and chaplains.
“Non denominational chaplains”, which gets bandied around, is “provocative and divisive.” Chaplains are “Christian”. And in the interest of all humanity, in this day and age of multi-cultures and multi-religions, institutionalised chaplaincy should be phased out and replaced by secular counsellors more able to deal with society in an unbiased and non-religious way.
Chaplains in hospitals deal with people who are traumatised, accident victims or in shock from the death of a loved one. In these instances they are incapable of thinking in a rational and logical fashion.
Some patients may be Hindu, Buddhists, Orthodox Jews, Muslims or other religions. Other breakaway groups within the Christian ranks that mainstream brand as cults would not even approach a chaplain for alleged spiritual guidance. No chaplain has the right to cohere patients to be involved in his own religious persuasion.
Christianity has no monopoly on ethics and values. Australia has no state religion and Australians are free to hold an ethical life philosophy, like self-realisation through reason. They are free to reject religions and the supernatural, or have a religion, Christian or otherwise. When tackling problems rationally, most people use reason, common sense, self-awareness and personal independence. They look to family and friends for support, and try to do what is best by reference to need and experience. The attempt to compel another to be involved in religion is a germ that develops into spiritual despotism. No chaplain has the right to persuade any person to be involved in religion, not even his own! Or to abide to religious rules and commandments.
It is this practical, enlightened approach that has liberated people in modern societies from religious and state authoritarianism. Religious indoctrination of any persuasion belongs in the home or church, and not by funded chaplains in public hospitals.
Jim Lee

Low rating

I write to express disgust at the unprofessional and irresponsible actions of Lismore councillors as evidenced by two articles in last week’s Echo (Nov 12).
Under the heading; “Rate rise on the cards for Lismore?” (and yet another photo of Jenny Dowell) Andy Parks quotes our Mayor as saying “every survey by Council indicated that people wanted more money spent on roads” and that a strong business case must be put to the Minister of Local Government for such a rise to be approved.
Under the heading “New Lismore gallery going nowhere fast” Andy Parks reports that Council has appointed a Sydney-based architect for a project that will involve Council borrowing a further $3 million for a luxury Council cannot afford at this time.
Simply put, our councillors ask us to believe that although we cannot presently live within our means and provide essential services, it’s okay to take on another $3 million in debt for non-essential services. No responsible parent would encourage a teenager who borrows to live from day to day to take on a loan that will get them deeper in debt.
Our councillors are just as irresponsible as such a teenager but expecting to do so with our money.
Wake up elected representatives and show us some responsibility and financial acumen.
H & H Christie

Rising problem
Mayor Dowell’s council is considering a special rate rise as monies are seemingly unavailable for the people’s stated preference: roads.
Dowell’s rationale: “Cutting other services is not favoured and there is also strong support for targetted environmental programs, improved arts, and cultural facilities, as well as business and employment promotion.”
From her statement it’s obvious Dowell’s council is stating all the aforementioned take precedence over increased road funding.
The reason Council is short of funds is the toll of the Great Recession combined with years of channelling funds into expensive money losers.
Council’s surveying is biased and too simplistic to be valid.
Give the people real choice: a preference survey with data at the next election.
Survey Prototype:
Council has a number of options. Please fill out numbering in preference from 1 to 3.
a) Do not increase road funding
b) Pay an extra special rate rise of 7% for two years on top of yearly rate increase.
c) Close the downtown swimming pool, saving???
d) Close the airport, saving???
e) Close the Art Gallery, saving???
f) Stop business and employment promotion, saving???
g) Etcetera?
LCC has known for decades roads needed increased funding. Circa 1993, an LCC engineer estimated $30 million was required.
Roads are the excuse. Dowell’s council just wants more money. A special rate variance for road care worked to scam the public once (1996), so why not again?
Paul Recher

Not enough
Many correspondents have tackled the climate change issue. Here is my contribution.
First I ask the question – how are emissions produced? Answer – by the burning of coal oil and gas, belching and farting of bovines and clearance of forest and woodland, amongst other lesser methods. Now I think, if some intelligent and rational alien were to arrive here, unaffected by hard-wired or culturally derived ritualistic thinking and behaviour, it would suppose that if a process leads to a bad outcome better to stop the process at the beginning.
So I would argue, if emissions are a problem, it is absurd to apply restrictions to them while ignoring restrictions on fossil fuel and bovine production and forest and woodland clearance. We should identify and acknowledge the starting points of these processes and apply our remedies there. To put it another way: it is senseless to focus entirely on emissions rather than on the materials from which they derive.
Concerning how and why caps should be applied to the use of these materials I leave for another occasion.
Tim Wilkin-Smith

Burn-off blunder
I would like to extend thanks to the volunteers of the Jiggi Bush Fire Brigade who spent many hours trying to contain a fire that resulted from a burn-off that became out of control on Mt Billen last week and ended up on our property.
There are questions over how this fire started. Why was a permit for a burn-off approved during an extreme and extended dry period when all forecasts were for temperatures in the mid -30s with low humidity for as far as the bureau could see? Why were neighbours not informed? Why was there no environmental assessment of the area surrounding the burn taken into consideration?
The surrounding habitat is of high conservation value. As the burn got away many areas were affected by one of the most destructive forces possible. No containment lines were put in place or assessed if the burn were to get   out of control and there would appear to be little enforcement of permit conditions at the time of the burn.
The area burnt contains many threatened species of both flora and fauna. It poses no danger to houses or properties if it were to burn from natural causes. There is no justification for a controlled burn for property protection in this type of country. What price such destruction of habitat?
It is six weeks since I nursed a beautiful, breeding, female koala back to health after suffering from burns from a ‘controlled burn-off’. This situation is not the fault of the tireless workers on the ground but it is time the powers that be take a look at the conditions that surround approving permits for controlled burns and consider the impact on both flora and fauna alongside property protection.
Sooty the koala is now well on the mend and almost ready for release back to the wild.
Barb Dobner
Care co-ordinator
Friends of the Koala

Burning off
The great con job being perpetrated on the Australian public regarding bush management continues.
Roll up to see “The Burning Season,” a long film about the ongoing destruction of the Australian bush now showing in the atmosphere around you.
Watch as millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide and other more noxious gases are released into the air. Watch as firebugs get away with arson every year. Watch as Rural Fire Services battle with the idiocy of those who think setting the bush alight year in and year out is “good for the country” and “reduces fire hazards”. The only real fire hazard I know of are the idiots who regularly set fires on their land and allow these fires to burn uncontrolled for days on end, placing the lives and property of others in danger while decimating wildlife populations and introducing weed infestation and creating erosion. This is the idiocy of land management in the Australian bush under the supervision of government whose only response is to put more pressure on the RFS personnel. These people, unpaid and usually overworked, are used and abused by landholders as they try and undo the mad damage done by the fires lit every year.  The media calls summer “the fire season” in their way of getting us all used to the depredations of the fools of fire who love to light up. Prosecutions are rare and conviction even more so, which begs the question, just exactly what is meant by “responsible government” these days? When is the NSW Government going to start prosecuting these arsonists?
M Mizzi

Trick no treat
I sympathise with you Rita (Echo, letters, Nov 12), as I too was terrorised by trick or treaters on Halloween night.
It was 9pm and I was home alone with two small children, who were both in bed asleep when the trick or treaters came calling. I couldn’t come to the door when they knocked as I was in the bathroom, so they proceeded to bash harder and harder on my door and ring the bell (a real bell) with all their might.
Because I was unable to come to the door they turned off my power. I was in the shower and this was really scary and dangerous. I didn’t know what they were going to do next.
Luckily they left, but I thought of all the elderly people who lived in my street and how they could have fallen and slipped if their power was cut. It was also very creepy to then have to venture outside to the meter box to turn my power back on. To whoever this group of kids were, it was not funny at all.
I don’t believe Halloween is something we need in Australia.
Name and address withheld by request
Sorry not enough
Re Koa Windsong’s DVD, I read his publicity story in February’s Nimbin GoodTimes. The June issue featured Mr Hardwick’s very informative ‘alert’ (naming no culprits) warning of several DVDs circulating containing erroneous plant ‘facts’.
He stated the two plants in question are virtually impossible to fully research.
It seems to have taken 5½ months for the guilt to sink in: is Mr Windsong after our sympathy with his sob story? The last three sentences of his letter in last week’s Echo are contradictory and NO defence for a poorly-researched Bush Tucker Man wanna-be DVD: “food options” – by suggesting poisonous plants which have “a very unpleasant taste” (?) does NOT compare with “processed” foods from ANY supermarket (a rather spurious comparison)!
Eat your words, Koa.
Tony Baron

Screening process
I sleep next to large open windows, unimpeded by flyscreens; letting the cool, fresh, slightly fragrant night air waft in. If people didn’t have flower pot saucers and other miscellaneous stagnant water holders around the garden to discourage flying insects and disinfected the old BBQ area occasionally they might find the need for fly screens goes and homes stay cooler.
I used to enjoy a dip in the round pool, our gateway pool, for any visitors flying into Lismore.
 To see all the people frolicking on the grass, toddlers around the shallows, teenagers jumping off the centre, mums and dads under the trees used to warm my heart, like so the town pool – when I could actually swim a length, and it was always just a little too full, and we thought we might get some sun protection and it only cost a gold coin.
  The old restaurant in Wyrallah Rd with Sunday feed for under $15, the old restaurant in Ballina Rd with an authentic Thai front verandah, the old restaurant in Wollongbar.
If progress means more people, there will come a time when “spaceship” Earth will become less pleasant, with too much stress on the animals and plants because too many of us, so I call on all women of the earth to refrain from babies for a while – that would be progress of a good sort.
William Goode

Master of puppets

Remember Kevvie from Brissie? Well this week he now claims to come from ‘The Peoples Republic of Queensland’. This is serious stuff for an Australian Prime Minister to say as it conjures up connotations with communism. Well Comrade Rudd, master of media manipulation, will you now proclaim yourself Chairman Rudd?
Have you ever wondered why all media interviews with the Rudd Labor Government have to be so scripted, manipulated and false? I’m sure you’ve all seen the TV clips of our PM and Mrs Rudd shown exiting their Church on a Sunday – this is staged purely to make you form a positive image in your mind of a holier than thou, Honest Kev. He must be a good bloke; he goes to church on Sundays!
Ever noticed the press interviews with his Ministers – they all talk the same talk, spin the same spin and never answer the questions. Their only rhetoric is always a common abuse of the Opposition – with never-ending speculation on their leadership, their lack of policy and their party disarray. Why they even blame them for all of their woes! But thankfully they have finally given up on that bogeyman Costello they claimed was lurking for leadership. Pete’s now Kevvie’s mate, much to the disdain of the Labor Party.
This consistent spin is regurgitated, parrot fashion, by all Ministers as Honest Kev knows we’re all dumb and it will all stick in our minds. But do these Ministers realise that in the eyes of us voters it demeans and belittles them greatly to be consistently told what to say? Just like a carnival puppet they all have a limited vocabulary but do know of the ‘silver bullet’ and the high wire act in the big top which they claim is ‘tough but humane’. Ringmaster Big Kev is quick to add that although the ‘working families’ troupe have been dropped from the performance, ‘We’ve got the balance right’.
How do you rate the Rudd Labor Government – The Greatest Show on Earth or Individually Clowns, collectively a Circus?
Ken Wallbridge
Richmond Hill

Need to investigate

I refer to horrifying story of injustice published at www.echonews.com.au /story/2009/11/13/man -seeks-payout-after-sex -case-quashed-afp-dpp/. The police and prosecution officers responsible for such an injustice must be investigated, arrested, charged with relevant criminal offences and convicted.
For the sake of healthy society and individual lives, any allegation of the police and prosecution corruption must be vigorously investigated.
Andreas Berg
Burleigh Heads

• To clarify, our website carries stories from the wider APN group. These stories do not appear in the hard copy of The Echo. – Ed

Sink or swim time

I find it sad and ironic that letters are still appearing in our local newspapers that deny any evidence of sea level rise, global warming or climate change.
Last week Ballina hosted the 18th NSW Coastal Conference with more than 250 delegates from around the state, including university professors, local government representatives, engineers, government department employees, etc. Every single presenter at last week’s top-level scientific conference was of a different opinion. That is, that sea level has unquestionably been rising, that it is currently rising faster than previously, and that it is projected to rise even faster by mid-century.
All three of the keynote speakers were university professors and each of them mentioned both Byron and Ballina as being at “significant risk”. It wasn’t a matter of “if”, but simply of “when”.
At a councillor briefing from our own flood-plain mapping consultant, a short video was presented that showed what things would be like in the future with sea level rises and the projected increase in weather intensity. Ballina Island was completely submerged.
The focus of public debate is understandably around valuable residential developments at Lennox and Belongil, but we must never overlook that the impacts on Ballina Island will be massive.
Yet the amazing thing is that both Ballina Council and the NSW Government are continuing to approve new developments that will experience either tidal inundation or regular flood events.
At the conference a member of the NSW Department of Planning told the delegates that, “Councils should base all new planning decisions on a 90 centimetre rise in sea level”. The NSW Government has just declared that sea levels will rise by 40cm by 2050 and 90cm by 2100, the same as have been predicted since 2005.
The social and economic implications for our community are going to be massive. This is not the time for denials or even complacency. It’s the time for bold, decisive, strategic action and true leadership on the part of those responsible for Ballina’s future.
Cr Jeff Johnson
Lennox Head

Tuffing it out
Any follower of the local media will be aware of problems in the region’s health system. What they might not realise is the extent to which elements of the state government have now degenerated: it seems as though the rot is now terminal.
Over the past few weeks, the North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) has holed up in its Lismore bunker, trying to avoid speaking to the media. It is, however, still prepared to accumulate debt, slowly dismantle the health system, issue spin media releases, and arrange photo ops for visiting NSW Health Ministers five days before they become embroiled in sex scandals.
Many centuries ago, the ancient Greeks coined the word ‘hubris’ to describe the behaviour of people who have become consumed by arrogance. The Greeks recognised that hubris is commonly followed by a more serious condition that they called ‘nemesis’.
While the NCAHS will be cutting 400 jobs from the health system (an essential service), it is curious that no similar financial savings are planned for the state’s non-essential fluoridation program (the addition to the water supply of toxic waste sourced from the scrubbers of fertiliser factories).
Over many years, the people of northern NSW have suffered cutbacks and insults that are too numerous to mention. To placate us, we are fed spin. Is anyone lazy enough to swallow this? It is obviously cheaper now to mislead people through the media than to properly fund vital services.
With its election-time ‘tuffon crime’ policies coupled with scant rehabilitation services, the state government boasts with pride about the steadily increasing size of its prison population. Each prisoner now costs taxpayers $196 a day.
So what else is Rees doing for the state? A few days ago, he was photographed in front of a graffiti-ed wall in Sydney. Apparently he wants to ‘get tuffon’ graffiti. Over the last few years, NSW has also got tuffon bikers, former paedophiles, parents whose children play truant, naturopaths, live blood analysts, and people who sell fuel-saving devices for vehicles. Are these tactics against easy-target minorities a substitute for leadership? And are we really so stupid as to be impressed by media-managed chest-beating?
Although it is already a foregone conclusion that Labor will lose the next election, sadly we have to wait until March 2011 to boot them out. I suspect that after a long list of disgraced, sacked or ‘resigned’ ministers, the remaining unsteady edifice will collapse spectacularly within the next 16 months. Maybe the Greeks were right, after all.
Martin C Oliver

Let there be light

Moves are underway for Ballina’s new Lighthouse Beach surf clubhouse to be formally recognised as a war memorial, the president of the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Lifesaving Club, Kris Beavis, advised in a Remembrance Day statement.
The former clubhouse was opened in 1961 after a widespread district fundraising campaign from 1946, and demolished in 2005.
A development application for the new clubhouse has been lodged with Ballina Shire Council. Kris Beavis said a memorial garden also was proposed in those plans.
The surf club has an extraordinary record of all active club members believed to have enlisted for World War II service. Of 139 lifesavers who volunteered, 18 did not return… 17 from the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Club, and one from the former South Ballina Club.
The club is in the process of tracking the service records of the 18 individuals whose names are on its World War II honour board. Meanwhile Ballina RSL Club is acting as custodian for the honour board, which is displayed in the RSL Club’s museum.
Then records will be sent to the NSW State Library, so that the proposed new clubhouse can be listed on a register as a war memorial.
Long-time former club secretary, Jack Trevan, is seeking the war records of four men on the honour roll. They are Tuss Ellis and Phil Phillips, both possibly from Lismore; Norm Kobelke from Lismore; and Eric Johnson from Ballina.
Anyone with information about those men is asked to contact Mr Trevan on 6686 8686.
As a teenager Jack Trevan joined the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore club, and well remembers the anguish of families of the enlisted lifesavers. Veterans, juniors and women kept the club going during World War II.
At the surf club’s September 25 1946 meeting the president, Mr A G ‘Pop” Denison, announced that the club would build a larger clubhouse as a memorial to those members who had lost their lives on active service.
Tremendous fundraising around the district included support from many business houses, the surf club auxiliary, service clubs and Sun Girl contests. The new clubhouse was officially opened by then Mayor of Ballina, Ald Ray O’Neill, on November 19 1961, before a huge crowd.
Originally the cost was expected to be about five thousand pounds. It rose to about 20,000 pounds. Ballina Municipal Council provided a loan to enable the building to proceed.
The original clubhouse on Lighthouse Beach, also a gigantic community effort, was officially opened by Mr W Frith MLA on December 17, 1933.
Marelle Lee
Lennox Head

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