Letters - Nov 26

Bad language
With the immense array of words in the English language at the ready disposal of a “highly educated” and “professional” journalist, it astounds me that Andy Parks was unable to use a less crass and more professional wording than “bullshit detector” in his article about hydrogen power (In depth, Echo, Nov 19).
Not to mention how the editor of The Echo let such a word slip through the editing process when professional standards and the acceptable readability of articles should be set at a high standard at all times.
I don’t think the editor of a school newspaper would let this type of wording slip through their detection net, as common sense and an awareness of reader sensibilities would alert otherwise.   
Carolyn Prior

Man vs God
Joe Hockey and his mates are sceptical about climate change, which is supported by a vast body of scientific data, but they are not sceptical about God. Please explain.
Gareth Smith
Byron Bay

Lake ache

To Lismore City Council: Will you have some compassion for the under privileged families of Lismore who do not have a backyard swimming pool and who cannot afford the price of a family ticket to the town swimming pool? Please fill the lake pool and let them have some relief from this heat. It’s quite likely you could find a bit of money hidden away in your coffers somewhere for such a need as this.
People would think a lot more of you if you will do it! It’s a very small ask in the whole scheme of things.
V Brown


Regarding the “Unforgettable Australians” story regarding Tina’s and my trip to the national apology (Echo, Nov 19).
I would like to elaborate on the “living with Sydney’s infamous Bra Boys”. A lot was left out regarding my relationship with them.
I grew up, went to school with, surfed with, played football for Clovelly with, cricket for Randwick with, partied with, connected with and lived with them when I ‘absconded’ from the homes. These people are my TRIBE, SOULMATES, and RESCUERS and family more than my natural family. I just want to set the record straight.
Graham Wilson

Love is...
I so much admired your editorial “Love knows no boundaries” (Echo, Nov 19). I have two “gay” granddaughters.
When this was revealed, my daughter freaked, and my darling departed soulmate said, if that person is the one who our granddaughter wants to share their joys and sorrows with, find happiness in being with their partner, and also wants to spend the rest of their life with at that time, or forever, what matter the gender.
Yes, love has no boundaries.
Thank you Rudi for standing up and being counted. Let’s all make a stand for something we believe in, even if the issue is not acceptable in some circles.
June Crawford

Lend a green hand
I want to be part of the Lismore community garden movement because I take enormous hope in the potential to benefit our community and myself. The social connectivity I foresee in satisfying basic human needs locally is a win for anyone involved. This initiative is also a positive action for the environment as a whole; our society is under increasing pressure to reduce our collective carbon footprint and our reliance on big industry.
I hope this means the direction of development will be to reduce perceived reliance on petrochemical, agrichemical products or infrastructure. For multinational corporations the environment’s greatest value is as a saleable resource. Putting a dollar value on life is not feeding the poor or needy around the world, nor is it saving our threatened species. It simply polarises in debate while the rich grow richer, the poor grow poorer and Earth’s rich biodiversity dies. The drive for profit will not change dramatically from the top of industry. It needs to happen through change at grass roots, with education, understanding, and most importantly, conscientious action.
Mani Alexander

Better solution

My heart goes out to Tom Edgar, whose son died from or at least got contribution from the methadone he was legally addicted to (Echo, Nov 12).
If his son was on a heroin maintenance program he’d be alive.
Methadone is more physically addictive and harmful than heroin.
With heroin, no matter how much your daily dose, if you want to quit, you stop taking heroin and start the withdrawal process.
With methadone, once your dose is above 25mg, say 100mg, one has to step down week by week by 5mg to avoid seizure and death. Once dosing is 25mg one can quit.
A person can take heroin and morphine every day of their life and an autopsy will show NO deleterious effect on any internal organ. The same is not true for methadone.
Junkies should be put on heroin maintenance not methadone. It’s better for everyone.
Paul Recher

Cash crash

H & H Christie (Echo, Nov 19) I totally agree with you and your comments about Lismore City Council and its economic mismanagement of ratepayers’ money. Paul Recher (Nov 19) you are on the right track concerning the Council. However, among the topics on your list of hypothetical survey questions was the possible closure of the Lismore Memorial Baths. Why on earth would anyone want to close this excellent facility? The Council spent a lot of money   upgrading the Baths in recent years (even though they failed to spend enough money to provide adequate heaters, hence winter closures and limited access). The white elephant sports facility at Goonellabah doesn’t have an Olympic-sized pool, has inadequate shower facilities and the chlorine is asphyxiating because it is indoor. Your list of hypothetical survey questions failed to include the Council’s proposal to fluoridate our water supply (to add a neurotoxin to our water supply) at enormous cost in both economic terms and in terms of the detrimental impact it will have on the community’s health. The safety and efficacy of fluoridation remains unproven, due to a lack of validating research.
Freya Mosler

Indo not a solution
Now that the poor little Tamil kids are in jail thousands of miles from any sort of safety we can all sleep at night.
But perhaps, just maybe, possibly some lazy damn journalist might point out there is no such place as the Indonesian search and rescue zone and that under Article 33 of the refugee convention Rudd had not a skerrick of right to send anyone to Indonesia if they could not be safe.
Shame on him and shame on our useless media.
Marilyn Shepherd
Kensington, SA

Water flow

Regarding the dire state of the Richmond River’s health, the Fishermen’s Cooperative Secretary recently went on public record about the need for “one agency...responsible for the health of the entire river system, with restoring water quality its main goal”. The division of river management across state government departments is not the only obstacle. The bigger problem is the vested competitive interests those departments have in hanging onto their own bit of control. They’ll never give that up without a fight. So how can we undermine and subvert these state (as well as several regional) bureaucracies hell-bent on retaining their sometimes lucrative presumption of ownership over OUR river? Perhaps the people themselves – the community of Ballina and surrounding catchment shires – need to rise up and say “We’ve had enough. We’re taking control of this thing now and the rest of you can either join us or just butt out!”
I see in the Rivafest program that Ballina Environment Society will be hosting a “Riverhealth Q&A” tent at Sunday’s events in Fawcett Park. People with passionate views about restoring the river’s health might make themselves known there. Maybe even start some grassroots action.
Lee Andresen
East Ballina

Labor of love

Isn’t it great to see Jenny Dowell’s face plastered every week in every newspaper in the Northern Rivers? I know for a fact that she is the hardest working Labor Party stooge on the North Coast, just ask her. Her main priority in politics seems to be to get the ratepayers of Lismore to pay the highest rates in NSW, eclipsing Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. You don’t get remembered for coming second or third. She seems as though she will stop at nothing to get an arts centre, a homeless shelter, a train for TOOT so we can get rid of every truck from the North Coast at a cost of a few thousand jobs, a bike track for bikers, new roads for cars (so the bikers feel safe), a new modern workshop for the lantern parade(to enlighten us all), dog walking tracks with automated pooper scoopers, footpaths, CBD upgrades, skateparks, a mini beach by the Wilson, and lollipops for the kids. Once this is completed and Council is broke and being run by administrators she will have all the necessary qualifications to enter state parliament. Then all you fools can vote for her to be our Labor Party premier.
George Nikkos

Go gallery
I ask all art lovers, business people and progressive thinkers to write to Lismore City councillors urging them to go ahead with the proposed development of the Lismore Regional Gallery.
The gallery will not be just for those into art. It will be great for the local economy and contribute to a healthy community. The Northern Rivers has the highest population of practising artists outside any major city. Think of the revenue generated by thousands of visitors to both local and high profile travelling exhibitions, as already enjoyed by Grafton and Murwillumbah.
It appears there may be a faltering at the post by some councillors. (Shame on you). The majority of funding is in place, but Council will miss out on once-in-a-lifetime federal funding which would assist with the budget should they decide to postpone or abandon the project. History remembers the arts and its benefactors.
There are too many vocal detractors and not enough vocal supporters. Pick up pen, tap away at the keyboard, act now and show your support.
Narelle Jarvis

Economic activity

The argument about the economics of developing the Margaret Olley Art Centre has failed to discuss the business activity it will generate.
Lismore Regional Gallery is one of three regional galleries in the Northern Rivers region – Tweed, Lismore, and Grafton. Tweed Shire Council recently built the Tweed River Art Gallery, a new and high quality facility. Grafton’s gallery has also been upgraded and expanded.
The limited size and capacity of the current Lismore Regional Gallery building to hold multiple exhibitions is evident in comparing 08/09 visitor numbers to the three galleries:
Tweed River Art Gallery: 58,248.
Lismore Regional Gallery: 21,800.
Grafton Regional Gallery: 44,000.
However recent Lismore Gallery visitor numbers show the high level of interest from the community in quality exhibition programs. The recent exhibition by Geoffrey Hannah, master cabinet maker from Lismore, drew a total of 5,340 visitors. The 2008 Archibald Prize (shown in Lismore between January 23 and March 7 2009) brought 7,638 total visitors.
With an iconic building named after Australia’s much-loved grande dame of painting Margaret Olley, visitor forecasts suggest Lismore will attract 40,000 extra visitors. This would inject $9,113,112 per annum into the Lismore economy (Research: Tweed Economic Development Corporation Pty Ltd).
Lismore needs the economic growth that a new gallery will bring and it needs councillors with enough vision and courage to support it.
Jan Davis

Cost approach
We can’t afford it? Maybe… but may I suggest that culturally we can’t afford not to?
I volunteer and work at Lismore Regional Gallery, and I am pleased and proud to be a part of a team that informs and inspires thought within the community.
A gallery is more than a financial outlay, a cost to the community. It is a meeting place, a keeping place for our culturally significant and sacred objects. It reflects and maintains our cultural wealth and identity; it can define who we are. It is a place which inspires ideas and fosters thought through reflection. It can expand an individual’s visual landscape and create new economies.
I see family groups using our gallery as a meeting place where they can wander freely and critically discuss exhibitions. It is not only about art, a gallery is an egalitarian environment in which the viewer is also viewed.
It’s not all about painting. Recently we exhibited the Hannah cabinet, which had some viewers in tears and it attracted crowds of first-time visitors. The Olley will enable a wider   exhibition program, which will only add to and grow an already vibrant arts schedule.
Culturally the Olley project will inspire revitalisation of and inject much needed funds into our beautiful river city.
Shane Duniam
Nth Lismore

Opportunity knocks

Opportunities to achieve something of exceptional and lasting value to the community don’t come often. With the Margaret Olley Arts Centre, now is such a time.
The current gallery was scheduled for demolition 55 years ago and, after years of community pressure, we have a one-off chance for $4 million from the Commonwealth and $1 million from SCU towards a purpose-built one. A regional gallery is an important social and cultural focus for any region and deserves a building and facilities of the highest quality to display its collection, serve its community and reflect its civic pride. It needs a collection of all types of artworks, across time periods, by artists from the region and others influenced or inspired by the region. The collection needs to be developed, catalogued, stored, conserved, exhibited, interpreted and made available for education, study, stimulation and enjoyment.
Roads are important and will always need funding, but we need to act now for the MOAC. Otherwise I can foresee a time when visitors to Lismore are told: “Well, there’s not much to see or do in the city but the roads are darn good!”
Robbie Braithwaite

Debate continues
For some time I have been watching with interest the ongoing debate regarding the value of art and galleries in our community solely on the basis of economic impact (money generators) and the defence of them as Social Service Agencies.
We have a vibrant sports and recreation community in our town, they all have a venue and a host of clubs you can attend to support them. The workers of the town have a club to call their own. No less should the arts have an outlet. Small galleries can support our local and emerging artists, but only the Regional Gallery can attract the higher profile touring exhibitions. This year, the Regional Gallery has bought many people to visit, with the Archibald and Country Energy art prizes and the exhibitions by some of our leading artists. The people who attend these events don’t just visit the gallery, but stay in town and spend their money here and hopefully have a great experience and want to return.
The Northern Rivers has a thriving arts community. A good majority of these people have studied at our TAFE and university and gone on to be ambassadors to our region both locally and internationally, whether in a practising or teaching capacity.
Artists and galleries once again are challenged to defend the value and significance of their endeavours, backed against the wall, they struggle with self funding and recognition with ever dwindling resources and the effects of the economic downturn. Why do we even need to justify the value of art in society, when the arts define what is meant by civilisation? Art is a universal symbol that transcends language, race, religion and reaffirms humanity, causes us to think in ways we would not have considered; it is the basic and central medium of human communication and understanding.
If you go home and switch on the television, listen to the radio or some music, go to the theatre or read a book or magazine, even the brand logo on your beer etc are all created by artists and the world would be a very dull place without them.
The arts is a huge portion of our demographic here in the Northern Rivers and should at least be embraced and celebrated as a viable industry with a regional gallery we can all be proud of for our community or we shall be the lesser for it.
Rhonda Baker
East Lismore

Alive and kicking

I’ve looked at Lismore City Council’s Lismore Alive web page. It promotes revitalising Lismore to the benefit of everyone who lives, works and visits the city. It’s a project led by Lismore City Council, in partnership with the business and wider community, to create a more vibrant Lismore city centre, seven days a week. The Margaret Olley Arts Centre would deliver on this in obvious and not so obvious ways.  I also read Council’s Economic Development web page, which invites investments in Lismore. It asks, “Why invest in Lismore? Because it’s got what you want.”
If the Council believes that other people would benefit from investing in Lismore, then we, the community, should also be willing, through our Council, to invest in Lismore. The MOAC is unquestionably a huge investment that will return inestimable social, cultural and economic benefit to the whole community, even those who are ambivalent about art and culture! Then I read Council’s Why Live in Lismore web page which actively promotes the benefit of a strong cultural community. The Council clearly understands the connection between arts, culture, and the creativity and community building processes, and that regular cultural participation helps members of the community to forge stronger relationships with not only their personal heritage, but also the broader community in which they live. The Lismore City Council’s vision of a cultural hub that actually generates all those things we say we value as a community is well worth everyone’s unerring support.
Shelagh Morgan.

Time is now

I would like to respond to all the negativity we are getting about building our longed-for art gallery. I find it hard to believe there are people (including councillors) who are questioning if the time is right.  We have not had ‘the right time’ in all the years the previous councillors were in power. And we will not have the time right anytime if those opposing councillors have their way. Let’s face it, we are always going to need road upgrades. Always!  We have an explosion of artists and craftspeople in this area, and we have had them for some time, and yet, we have one of the poorest art galleries in the state! For goodness sake, we even have a strong visual arts faculty in our Southern Cross University. And yet we have short-sighted councillors who feel the aesthetics and cultural identity of Lismore, which includes the whole of the Northern Rivers area, the rural and the city, are not important enough, it is so low on their priority list. Cr Yarnall is interested in roads, but has he empathy enough to vote for the needs of our artistic cultural community? He feels the rural population is being treated as second-class citizens. This gallery is going to benefit all our artists and crafts persons; most live in the rural environment. People who love a vibrant art community will see this as a focal point, whether they live in Lismore or in the countryside.  
Wendy Lageman

No Olley? Folly

As a parent and member of the Blakebrook P&C I can only see great cultural and educational benefits in the MOAC project; so that school students can experience local artists work in an appropriate venue, so they can envisage a local pathway for their own creative interests, and so that they might have the opportunity to see some of the best travelling exhibitions that currently are forced to bypass Lismore.  I hope the Council will see reason and realise that the economic benefits of the cultural tourism that will inevitably occur in the wake of the MOAC mean that even before considering the educational and cultural benefits for local residents, this decision should be quite straightforward.
Andrew Jones

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