Letters to the editor - Apr 22

Fabulous initiative
Last week I had the absolute privilege and pleasure of attending the Down Under Institute (Echo, Apr 15) hosted by Lismore’s own Multitask. An Institute, as opposed to a conference, is made up of a series of workshops with a number of plenary talks and discussions and a wonderful opportunity for networking and sharing of ideas, hopes, dreams and visions. Although I have attended many conferences and meetings in my 40-odd years of working in the disability field this had to be the most enjoyable, interesting, inclusive, stimulating, well-organised and “out there” event I have experienced.
Under the watchful eye of Liz Gehring, her team of around 30 people from Multitask brought something very special to Lismore and showcased the Northern Rivers at its best. They demonstrated to everyone present and to the local community what inclusion of difference in a community is about. Around 160 delegates from every state in Australia, quite a contingent from New Zealand and key speakers and experienced facilitators from America and Canada including the “disability guru” John O’Brien (look him up) and his wife Connie Lyle O’Brien and Jack Pearpoint and Lynda Kahn (look up www.inclusion.com) were overwhelmed with our fantastic Lismore and Northern Rivers community.
Over the five days Liz and her team brought in many diverse groups, catering from our local shops and cafes, entertaining the guests with local groups and generally inspiring everyone by putting on an awesome event. The whole event was MC’d by the inspirational Tim Childs, whom we heard donated his services for the entire week.
The Rainbow Region Dinner sent everyone scurrying into the local shops for colourful regalia, and the Multitask ballroom was resplendently decorated in glitz and colour with a fabulous collection of lanterns from the Lismore Lantern Festival, a bar hosted by Tropical Fruits, amazing performances from the Samba Blisstas drummers and much later a song and dance from Sugarcane! It was wonderful to see people with a disability, their parents, service providers and representatives from government funded organisations dancing and laughing and having the best time.
Everyone enjoyed themselves, learned from each other, felt listened to and respected. I felt proud to be a member of the local community. Well done Multitask – if you are thinking of holding a conference or a meeting may I suggest you speak to Multitask.
Jenny London
Manager, RED Inc.

 I am in a wheelchair and used to use the bus at least three times a week from Alstonville to Lismore to attend TAFE or ACE. I am not able to use the bus at all anymore because they have taken the wheelchair straps off the bus because they said it is illegal to use the bus with them on. The bus company now has an ironing board in place of them but no tie down straps on the floor. This means I am unable to travel to Lismore for TAFE and ACE at all. There could be other people out there with wheelchairs who are unable to travel on the bus. I would love to see the straps put back on the bus so I can travel on the bus again. Taxis have tie down straps. Why can’t buses?
Name and address withheld by request

Hitting a wall

LCC’s Garry Hemsworth regarding the Woodlark Street upgrade problem is reported as stating:
“...while the beds had been designed in such a way with high walls to calm the traffic and had seemed good in theory they hadn’t been so good in practice”.
 The design seemed “good in theory” only because whoever is paid to know it wasn’t good in theory was absent. If we paid a firm for the design, are we getting a refund? If it was in-staff, are those responsible going to be bonus denied or demerited in any way? This is so basic an engineering flaw it borders on the incompetent.
Errrr... if you want to calm traffic whatever happened to speed bumps?
Dr Paul Recher

Big division

Currently before Council is a DA for a 62-lot subdivision on Cameron Road. This land was rezoned in 2008 under extremely controversial circumstances.
The so-called “six pack” on our previous Council were determined that this land should be rezoned.
Weekly extraordinary meetings were held in an effort to ram the rezoning through in that Council’s dying days and they succeeded.
Despite overwhelming opposition to the rezoning (98% of submissions).
Despite not complying with Council’s own guidelines.
Despite contravening many directives of the LRHS including driveway access to Camerons Road, ridgeline development and compliance with existing amenity.
Despite not complying with Council’s environment or sustainability objectives.
Despite knowingly including a Sociability Impact Assessment based on flawed and inaccurate data.
This development is clearly not in the best interest of the McLeans Ridges community, nor the wider community.
It will be a short-term gain for a few, but a permanent loss for our region.
It is Lismore ratepayers who will be liable for the vast majority of ongoing costs for this development.
They will be paying for our roads which are already deemed inadequate and unsafe for current traffic volumes.
Ratepayers will also be paying for a large portion of an inadequate community lot, despite policies clearly stating that developers must meet the full cost of infrastructure.
This development will come at a huge environmental and economic cost to our entire community.
It will put lives at risk.
There is still hope that this DA will be rejected by our councillors.
Submissions to Council close Friday, April 23, and can be emailed to council@ lismore.nsw.gov.au. Plans can be viewed at the Council Chambers.
Heather Dunn
McLeans Ridges

That time again

With election time coming again this year, it may be time to reflect on our current situation and how we will cast our votes to best serve the interests of not only ourselves and our immediate community but the whole of Australia within a global context. Tradition can be a wonderful thing, especially within families. Yet in other ways rigidly following tradition can be stifling, unproductive, retrospective and sometimes downright   harmful. This is reflected often when we vote for our government; my parents voted for a certain party, so did my grandparents. Hey, we’ve always voted for them, it’s tradition!
 But is the world the same as it’s always been? Hasn’t it changed and isn’t it changing in front of our eyes? Aren’t there things now that need protecting, things that we took for granted just a couple of years ago? We rely on our government to stand up for us, for our animals, for our environment. But if our traditional parties aren’t doing this, aren’t approaching the issues that are now part of our survival, then it is up to us as voters to look beyond tradition. Look to the policies that all the parties offer, open our minds to the possibility that the major two can’t fix what’s wrong and what will be becoming worse over time. We do need to protect our world for our children; it’s not cliché, it’s fact. And remember, politics isn’t just black and white, there are shades of green.
Shae Miller
Sth Gundurimba

Pollution trouble

Kevin Rudd’s change of tack from his much-lauded but designed to fail, polluter-rewarding emissions trading scheme to health has been a very efficient sleight of hand with co-operation from the mainstream media in Australia. However Mr Rudd should realise that the Australian electorate still wants action on reducing CO2 pollution and bringing in new technologies which will make this planet a greener and safer place for our kids and their kids.
Perhaps it is time someone mentioned the links between coal and cancer.
The remarkable thing is that somehow the ALP has managed to lay the blame on the Greens for not accepting Rudd’s ersatz ETS. This is onerous and ignores the fact that Rudd’s ETS resembled HoWARd’s republican convention. Both were of the Claytons variety. They were the ETS and the republic you have when you are having neither. This is essentially the underlying principle in what Rudd calls his economic conservatism. In other words he will do absolutely nothing in an effort to create an economic model designed to wean us off fossil fuels and develop alternatives. As his Minster for Cars Kim Carr commented recently, the ALP want to actually expand our reliance on existing technology and tinker with it to make it cleaner, a goal which is unattainable and pie in the sky politicking by a bunch of underachievers whose only claim to fame so far has been to continue Australia’s involvement in the geopolitical games of the US in Afghanistan and mismanage every project that has come under their watch, such as the insulation batts fiasco and the ongoing rorting of the stimulus packages for infrastructure and schools.
How is it in Australia, despite all the talk of change and the rhetoric of revolution, the only thing that changes is the hand of the latest incompetent residing in some government office in Canberra? If this is change then it is change we can do without and indicates that in reality those running the show are those who barrack for their man or woman who is willing to continue doing their economic bidding. One newspaper magnate’s name comes to mind and it starts with M and in the US he is known as the dirty digger. He is the self-styled master of the universe and his influence on the electorate and the pollies which we are forced to choose from through his media empire is corrupting and destroying the fundamentals of the democracy that all those other diggers fought for in years past.
M Mizzi

Coastal reserves

It’s great to see local MP Don Page and Lennox surfer Ed Stanfield going public last week, deeply concerned about the lack of environmental protection for our coastal reserves.
The current LEP (Local Environmental Plan, the draft is on exhibition) will determine what is either permissible or prohibited development in the Ballina Shire for the next 20 years.
Under present plans, an alarming range of developments would be legalised in areas that should be protected due to their high conservation value. The 30-odd objectionable items allowed under Zone “E2” (which was designed to protect our reserves) include: dwelling houses, forestry, bed and breakfast accommodation, caravan parks, extensive agriculture, dairying, extractive industry, earthworks, etc.
While I’m not suggesting that Ballina Council is currently looking at approving these developments in our reserves, one has to question why they would be deemed ‘permissible’ in our community’s most valuable land. Shouldn’t they be prohibited? It’s not enough for Council to say that they “won’t necessarily happen” because under some future Council they just might happen. Why not say “No!” from the start?
Our coastal reserves should be protected from all developments (except environmental protection works) and the LEP is the place to spell this out. For those concerned about our environment and coastal reserves log onto Council’s website www.ballina.nsw.gov.au and check out your draft LEP (especially pages 20-21). Submissions close June 4.
Ideally the coastal strip should be a Nature Reserve, part of the National Estate, and zoned E1. For years dune carers have fruitlessly petitioned National Parks to manage it. The Department of Conservation even appealed to have sections in East Ballina become a Nature Reserve. But Council rejected the idea.
From 6pm on Wednesday, May 5, there’ll be a free community forum in the Richmond Room to discuss the new LEP. Put it in your diaries, come along, and have your say about how you want the coastal zone to be protected.
Cr Jeff Johnson
Lennox Head

Language, please

It seems that language finds it increasingly difficult to keep up and adapt to accurately reflect the reality of an ever-changing world around it.
For example, terminologies such as ‘public’ and ‘private’ schools originate from a past when schools were either funded publicly or privately.
But ever since the prime ministership of John Howard, whose compassionate heart never failed to reach out to the downtrodden, huge amounts of public funds have been channelled to private schools in an attempt to overcome the inequity and consequent hardship these schools had to suffer for such a long time while their public counterparts were basking in privilege and untold luxury.
Fair enough. This is the lucky country, after all, with enormous riches coming mostly from resources that were kindly left in the ground for 40,000 years by the original inhabitants, so now there is enough gravy to go around for everyone, including those underprivileged private schools.
Nevertheless, if much of their funds are now coming from the public purse, should not they be then called ‘hybrid schools’ in order to accurately describe and reflect the prevalent reality?
Tom Koo

Numbers game

Yes John Hannaford (Echo letters, April 15), I’m sure that as anyone was enduring unspeakable agony undergoing horrendous tortures, followed by being tied to the top of a burning pyre as their flesh began to blister and crack, it was of immense comfort to realise that the church was only doing this to thousands and not millions.
Even those poor, totally innocent victims of the religion-inspired Salem witch trials being hanged would have been able to take such great personal relief as they slowly choked to death in knowing that only 19 of them were to die for nothing!
Don’t know why we’re all so concerned about such minor matters myself. Positively negligible numbers really!
B Parker

Men of letters

I honour both John Hannaford (Echo, April 15) and his combatant Michael Mizzi (April 8) for their contributions to letters columns. May they both prosper.
Mike is probably the region’s most prodigious and intelligent correspondent. John courageously defends his faith when his religious mates run scared and witless. But I respectfully take both to task for missing the point behind numbers (How many committed atrocities? How many were unjust?). Nothing is ever proved, for right or wrong, truth or falsehood, by how many did it. Why they did it is what matters. Which is where religions lose the argument.
Consider someone who’s doing evil, then justifies their actions by obedience to their religion (like suicide bombers). What follows? Either they are true believers (they believe rightly), in which case their religion is evil. Or they believe wrongly (misconstruing their religion), in which case their religion (properly understood) might still be true. Hence religion’s big dilemma. Who decides which “version” of any faith is the true, good or right one?
John claims that the historical “wreckage” of religion shows that the wreckers obviously disobeyed (or didn’t understand?) Jesus’ teaching. But surely, John, they believed they understood it? And were obeying it? So whom do we trust – them or John? Every “person of faith” necessarily insists that his or her interpretation of what that faith demands is the “right” one. THEY interpret the scriptures rightly. THEY hear God’s words accurately.
Non-believers are mercifully spared that trap. Whether the unbeliever does good or evil (and they probably do both at about the same rate as believers) they find their dignity in having nobody and nothing to blame but their own self. I’d choose unbelief any day. It displays more intellectual honesty, ethical courage and open integrity than religious belief. That’s rather more than one sees in pitiable souls who defend their evil or injustice by appealing to instructions they secretly receive from some supernatural world.
Lee Andresen
East Ballina

Good edition

I thought your April 1 edition delightful. I was quite with the correspondent from Kyogle who talked about Australian workers led as lambs to the slaughter. Appropriate on the eve of Good Friday, which commemorates the murder of Jesus of Nazareth as sacrificial lamb. And Mungo MacCallum was funny as a fit, with his “render unto Caesar... being so clear”. Just as the Ten Commandments, and the version with the eleventh, are clear. Thou shalt NOT kill, thou shalt NOT worship graven images, thou shalt NOT covet, thou shalt NOT bear false witness. But even on Good Friday KRudd was hard at it, working for Satan.
Even better was his assertion that there are not too many jobs for “ignorant loud mouths”. I suppose, only President and VP of the USA, PM, Deputy PM, Leader of the Opposition, Minister for Defence, Minister for Health, Minister for IR, Minister for Arts, Minister for Education (or rather brainwashing) and as Orwell called it, Minister for the Truth (War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Truth is Deceit – or perhaps insanity, etc). As I keep telling our enemies, the servants of Satan (Mammon as the enlightenment poets, etc called foul Lucifer), the use of WMD, their main weapon (Words of Mass Distraction) is insane. Why are people so stupid that they exult in hurting people? Anyway, Jesus lives, in us, despite the relentless persecution, violence, and greed.
Dr Maarten de Vries


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