Letters to the editor - Feb 18

Please explain
Pauline Hanson is leaving Australia because Australia isn’t Australian enough for her? Strewth Pauline, are you fair dinkum? Stone the bloody crows! If it’s simply a case of Australia not being white enough for you then by all means, cheerio, and give my regards to the Kumars.
Oh and don’t let the door hit you on the arse on the way out.
John Taylor

Speed elsewhere

Dear Laurie Axtens,
Just be patient! The yobbo never sees the writing on the wall (and couldn’t read it if he did!).
Now that the path for redevelopment of North Lismore Plateau has been cleared, the speedway is dead in the water at its current location. If Mr Landers has any faith in the ability of his venture to stand alone, he will already have investigated a new location, say, between Lismore and Casino, where a purpose-built stadium could attract yobbos of every ilk, including harness racing, greyhounds, dirt bikes, etc.
Councillors such as Meineke, Marks, Graham and Chant and their minions in Council administration will drop their support for speedway at the showground like the proverbial hot spud, when greener pastures beckon. Surely a yobbo haven like Casino would be interested in a joint venture? Can’t wait!! BRRRMMM!! BRRRMMM!!
Don Gaddes

Quick response

Well we’ve managed to fill the letters page.
So much for a slow news week. I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank Jeremy, Ros and all for writing. However, Jeremy knows it is a rare speedway night I don’t run for the hills or the coast. Still, I admire his blatant promotion of Norpa. See you in the theatre, cobber. I would also like to commend Ros for her letter, accurate as ever, and for those interested in following the inevitable relocation of said noise, I encourage you to peruse her missive. Anyway ROOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. ROAR. ROOOOAR. To the rest of you.
Laurie Axtens
North Lismore

Lynch hitter

Mr Axtens has not formed any lynch mob. I would suggest his numerous detractors resemble a lynch mob more than a private blog of concerned residents.
The point is to show how Council has neglected the rights of residents in allowing this assault on their quality of life. In fact, the residents of North Lismore should have more right than anyone else with reference to the speedway as they are the people who are regularly affected.
As for R Nutt (Echo letters Feb 11) he should be reminded that Voltaire wrote about free speech as well as enjoyment. The French thinker is credited with saying, “I disagree with what you have to say but will fight to the death to protect your right to say it”. I wonder if R Nutt is as keen to protect Mr Axtens’ rights as his inspiration?
The speedway events would not be much of a problem for most residents if they were out of earshot. As can be seen in Newcastle when the speedway moved out of town. A move that did not affect attendances.
As the Council has just announced a land release in North Lismore, I hope they review the speedway events at the showground. I would like to think the Council values people more than driving around in circles.
As far as the rich cultural blanket goes, it may be seen that the Council puts more time, energy and resources into speedway than any other cultural association. Sixteen events, some three-day events, take up virtually every long weekend, often start as early as 10am and going through to 11pm. All in a residential area. The speedway brands Lismore Council as reckless with civil liberty and a promoter of speeding and the road deaths it creates.
Finally, Mr Jeremy Sheaffe is the marketing manager of Norpa. Does he believe more in the rights of promoters to sell tickets above that of residents or just the promoters that annoy Mr Axtens? How far would Norpa get trying to stage an event as noisy and regular as speedway? How many local venues have been closed due to noise complaints?
How good is that for local performing arts?
Derick Grimditch

Crying shame

What is Lismore City Council doing for the poor people of this shire?
Nothing. First they close the bus terminal and now the free swimming pool over in South Lismore.
We all knew that Council spent far too much on GSAC and for what reason? We already had two swimming pools and several gyms, so Council, don’t pass on your incompetent mistakes to the poor people of Lismore with yet another rate rise.
Lismore is dying and the population is decreasing, so Council it’s about time you got your act together and start to look where Lismore is going in the future. All the fancy and expensive advertising on television won’t do it.
 Here are a few suggestions to help boost Lismore CBD.
1. Night markets in Carrington S.
2. Clean up Heritage Park, it’s a disgrace.
3. Heritage Park for Sunday afternoon concerts, art exhibitions also evening movies. Music from the Rotunda would be really great.
4. Yes we desperately need a new art gallery and I believe some money has been allocated from the government and Margaret Olley has also generously donated a large sum.
None of the above will cost Council too much and it would really benefit the poor people of Lismore.
The reason I keep referring to The Poor People of Lismore is that our Mayor Jenny Dowell implied that the people of Lismore were poor when being interviewed on television regarding the impending rate rise.
It worries me when I see Council selling off assets in order to save cash. Perhaps they need to look at where they invest instead of moving cash offshore, eg Lehman Bros in USA. We have a very good monetary system in this country and even some of our local firms. If the money is invested here it stays in the community.
I realise that our roads are also in need of repair, but I believe the CBD should come first, no point having good roads and nobody coming to town.
I feel very sorry for the Poor Business People in Woodlark St. Why didn’t Council wait until a quieter time? January is one for the busiest months of the year. I would hope that Council consulted with the business owners before going ahead with the demolition of Woodlark St.
Not happy.
G Harvey

Meating point

The continual misrepresentation of meat as being “energy intensive, fuelling greenhouse gas emissions and causing massive environmental degradation” (“Food for thought”, Echo, Feb 4) needs some enlightenment.
Is the writer aware that the grains and grain legumes (eg, soya bean) of a vegetarian diet are highly energy intensive to grow and cook? That these grains also account for most of the erosion of soils in agricultural regions (p29, Bill Mollison’s Permaculture, A Designer’s manual). Also rice paddies produce more methane than cattle and large scale clearing of Central American rainforests was originally for cattle but now is used for growing soy beans.
Claims that animals raised for meat are consuming a billion tonnes of human edible food each year refer to grain fed animals in large feedlot situations.
Pasture fed meat is a highly energy efficient process. Grazing animals are most energy conservative in converting rough herbage (usually a fire hazard) into a well balanced protein easily assimilated by our digestive systems. An added bonus is that when animals eat grass, an equal amount of roots (carbon) below the ground drop off and carbon is stored in the soil.
In fact consumption of meat should be encouraged not only for our planet’s future climate (by storing carbon) but also because animals are the only traditional recycling strategy for a sustainable export market.
Wild fires became a huge problem after the mega fauna (grass eaters) were killed off (Tim Flannery, Future Eaters).
Society needs to support farmers to manage grazing animals to maintain the large areas of grassland, and hence habitat and biodiversity, to ensure a habitable planet for our children’s children.
Let’s stop picking on certain sections to solve the crisis humans find themselves in. Rather admit to the   environmental disasters surrounding us and use all the tools available to attempt to maintain our planet as the only habitable home we have.
A diverse mix of animals will play a large part in the solution.
Trish Holt


“At least Barnaby Joyce has not been responsible for any government program that killed four people,” yelled Tony Abbott in Parliament House during question time.
Funny you should say that Tony, because in only a few weeks it will be the seventh anniversary of another government program, which you were an integral part of, that killed considerably more than just four people.
Yes Tony, I am talking about the Iraq war.
You must remember, it was in all the papers.
Around this time seven years ago millions of Australians took to the streets in a desperate attempt of averting that rapacious, criminal war.
Some of us even posed in our baby-suits for a group photo to emphasise the defenceless, innocent victims of war.
All in vain, because you and your colleagues took what your charming ex-boss John Howard described as an “executive decision”, which is just euphemism for ignoring the will of the people.
Ignoring the will of the people here in order to “establish democracy” over there.
Can you see the irony, Tony? Can you smell the bullshit?
And tell me, how many more places are we going to “establish democracy” in if you ever become prime minister?
Your mate Senator Julian McGauran already said he wants to bomb Iran.
It’s all written, isn’t it Tony? Armageddon, and all that stuff.
Do you know how many innocent Iraqis died in the war?
Was anybody even counting? Who knows? Who cares?
After all, they are just a bunch of rag-heads expendable in a chess-game of biblical proportions, aren’t they?
Now you are demanding that Peter Garrett “must pay for the four deaths with his job”.
So tell me Tony, just how exactly you and your colleagues of that shameful “executive decision” will pay for the countless deaths, horrific injuries, unbelievable destruction, and unimaginable misery brought upon millions by the Iraq war?
Tom Koo

Lobby group

In 2001 the United Nations committee on Climate change commissioned a report on climate change. Over 2000 scientists and other independent people contributed to the report. From this evidence the UN committee declared it likely that much of the carbon pollution was man-made. Unfortunately, the powerful theology lobby in the USA stymied anything being done about it at the time. As one USA evangelical preacher declared, “We don’t believe in evolution so we don’t believe in any scientists.” A similar attitude to Tony Abbott’s statement that “Climate change is crap”.
As for Abbott’s plan to plant 20 million trees, scientific calculations cite that over a 60-year period 20 million trees would only offset the carbon produced by 10,000 households. A fraction of the households in Australia. Abbot vastly overrates this small, if useful, contribution to CO  2   reduction. Abbot’s statements are both simplistic and politically motivated. Every plan is going to cost money. Rudd is trying to make the heavier polluters pay towards it so that the average household can be subsidised via the money collected from these big polluters. An egalitarian plan, surely. Most of us have contributed towards the problem, even if unwittingly. At least the Rudd government is prepared to compensate over 90% of households for the increased costs incurred in the very necessary measures taken.
And to all those sceptics who declare that the climate has always changed, please do not mix up climate change with weather. Read the appropriate and independent websites to truly inform yourself of the facts. And, get real. There are now over six billion people on the planet, not the few, relatively speaking, that were here when other problematic climatic conditions existed. Don’t be fooled by individuals with their own agenda. The evidence, collected by many scientists over many decades, is substantial, as are the best ways to deal with it, in both economical and environmental terms. This is not about politics or religion, it is about saving the earth for our descendants and about the costs being shared in as equitable a fashion as possible.
B Guy

Law not war
During the first Gulf War in 1991, I painted a building site hoarding near the Swansea (South Wales) police station with “Law not War” as a protest. I was fined 600 pounds for “damaging property” even though I had used Dulux external quality paint. The billboards around the site advertised the film Kickboxer and Johnny Walker whiskey; alcohol and aggression are legal! On January 29 Tony Blair appeared before the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war.
Unlike the Dutch judicial inquiry which found that the war was illegal, no member of Chilcot is legally qualified. Clearly the UK government did not want a Dutch outcome.
While there was standing room only within the inquiry, the police banned a day-long protest outside which was to have included celebrities like Alexei Sayle and military families like that of Colin Redpath, whose son Kirk was killed in Iraq in 2007. Colin asks: “If you are found to be lying and have misled the British public, and we were taken into an illegal war, what I want to know is, will he (Blair) be tried for this crime? If not, why have this inquiry?”
Blair has not even been fined 600 pounds for mass murder! Attorney-General Philip Ruddock who, as the highest law officer in Australia, should have had a very potent crap detector, expressed no doubts about the legality of the Iraq war, unlike his British counterpart Lord Goldsmith, who, however, changed his mind after a visit to Washington. The war had no mandate from the UN Security Council and therefore was a unilateral act of aggression by the Anglo/Australian/US regime; it was state terrorism levelled against the innocent civilians of Iraq. Attorney-General Robert McClelland must institute a judicial inquiry and be prepared to indict John Howard, Philip Ruddock and the rest of the criminal cabal who suckered Australia into this illegal war.
Gareth W R Smith
Byron Bay

Creative answer

Of all oxymorons creation science has to be up there with military intelligence and clean coal. Let’s add ‘Taliban tolerance’ just for fun. Or Noah’s Flood as an example of God’s mercy, as posited by Don Halliday in an earlier letter.
The alert reader could well ask Keith Bailey (Echo, Feb 4) if the Max Planck geneticist he quotes published his conclusions recently in a peer-reviewed international journal of genetics or in a local Bible studies newsletter in the 1920s. In the smoke-and-mirrors   world of creation science, it’s usually something like the latter.
If anyone is looking for evidence of one species changing into another, he has only to make a day-trip to Gympie to look at the Mary Valley lungfish. This is not only found in the fossil record but is also very much alive, still breathing air with its one lung, still walking overland on its big, sturdy fins. The less intrepid could stay at home and read up on   Ardipethecus ramidus   (‘Ardi’) – a near complete four-and-a-half million year old female hominid skeleton and our oldest ancestor (so far).
Apparently, though, for Mr Bailey, there can be no doubting the truth of Bible cosmology. Strange, then, that he quotes Galileo’s unfortunate experience. Galileo was condemned by the protestant reformer Martin Luther as well as by Rome for publishing scientific truth. His observations contradicted the Bible in no less than six places.
And if science was right on that occasion (the Earth does revolve around the Sun, doesn’t it?) why is it wrong, when after immense research over the last 200 years from fossil hunting to radio-astronomy and DNA analysis, science emphatically contradicts the scriptural account of creation?
Of course the Bible devotee is free to believe whatever he likes but readers should be aware that no such freedom of thought is tolerated in Bible cults nor is it contemplated in the post-Armageddon theocracy yearned for by the religious Right.
Peter Mullins

Fact not fiction

Neville Leeson informs us that evolution is a belief that is not verifiable by science (Echo, Feb 11). I’m sure this is news to the millions of practising biologists, medical researchers, biochemists, palaeontologists, zoologists and geologists who use the science of evolutionary biology in their everyday work.
For example, petroleum geologists understand that fossil fuels were mainly laid down during the Carboniferous period of Earth’s history, and this understanding forms the basis of their ability to locate new deposits. The carboniferous strata is characterised by the presence of fossils of particular flora and fauna which were existent at this stage of the evolution of life. Finding these signs in strata is one of the most important ways of selecting new exploration sites.
The science of evolution is not only a verifiable theory, but a practical one with many real world consequences, if it is true. And our ability to use it to make effective predictions, allows a great deal of certainty that it is, in fact, true.
Perhaps Neville has an alternative theory with equal predictive power?
In spite of what Neville’s pastor may have told him, there really is no scientific question about the validity of evolution. It is merely the best description we have of the long term process of life as informed by observation and experiment over many millions of tests.
Sadly, Neville’s religious leaders wish to tear down 300 years of human endeavour because they believe it contradicts the bronze age mythology they subscribe to.
Neville, your contention that science is only concerned with what is observable is not true. The aim of science is to reach beyond what is observable to construct overarching theories with predictive power which are incrementally improved as new information comes to light.
Science is thus not a belief system in the same way Christianity is. Attempting to attack science from a position of gross misunderstanding only makes you look silly. Evolution does not prescribe human morality. It does not tell us where life came from, or answer any of Neville’s big questions.
It is simply this: our ability to say, make plastic, means the Earth is necessarily billions of years old. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either a charlatan or an ignoramus.
Alex Clarke

Christian charity

Mr Parker’s letter of Feb 4 gets my name wrong (Forster, not Foster), then gets my address wrong (I’ve never lived in South Lismore) and unfortunately for him, his accuracy never gets any better.
He claims that “my” church has a history of torture and mass-murder. “My” church has only been in operation for 25 years, so I assume you mean the “Christian church” and “the Crusades” or “the Inquisition” in particular. Yes, many people died, supposedly in the name of God, but my understanding of the history of the Crusades shows that many of the soldiers were either mercenaries or illiterate peasants who were promised salvation (contrary to scripture) for fighting, convinced to do so by a corrupt clergy more interested in power and wealth than in the things of God.
The Inquisition, as it exists in popular culture, is a myth. According to Edward Peters, author of the book Inquisition, there was “never, except in polemic and fiction, The Inquisition, a single all-powerful, horrific tribunal, whose agents worked everywhere to thwart religious truth, intellectual freedom, and political liberty… The Inquisition of modern folklore.”
The Inquisition was born out of 1st century Roman law where justice was characterised by increased powers and responsibilities of the magistrate’s interrogation, the increased use of torture to secure confessions, the increased use of informers, and finally the accusation by the state itself, rather than by a private accuser. The severity of criminal law throughout Europe was increasing at this time. During the 13th century, a major reform in legal thought and procedures in most of Western Europe made inquisitorial procedure the standard form of criminal procedure throughout most of Europe but as Peters states, “A good deal of inquisition history has been written as if the papal inquisitors were the only ardent pursuers of alleged wrongdoers in thirteenth century Europe. In fact, they were always less numerous, and often less ardent than the judicial servants of secular powers.”
Mr Parker has conveniently forgotten that far worse atrocities were committed by Nazi, Fascist and Communist regimes, but why let truth spoil a good lie? It is estimated that at least 26.3 million Chinese were killed during the regime of Mao Zedong between 1949 and 1965. Some estimates are much higher, reaching to 61.7 million. It is estimated that the secular government of the USSR under Lenin, Stalin, and Khrushchev killed over 66 million people. In Cambodia, in less than four years, more than one third of the eight million Khmers were killed. The few thousand killed during the Inquisition pales in comparison. This, again, does not excuse any wrongdoing by Christians, but does help put their actions into a larger perspective with the crimes against humanity committed by atheist governments and institutions.
Space and word limits don’t permit me to discuss your rebuttal of the continental drift theory or ape-like creatures in detail. But you state that creationists believe that geology is “wrong, wrong, wrong”? All scientific theory begins with preconceived assumptions. Secular science begins with the belief that the earth must be billions of years old so their data must represent this. Creationist science does believe in a young earth and interprets data accordingly.
Evolutionists have been exposed for inventing fake ape-like creatures in the past, namely Piltdown-Man and Nebraska-Man, “Lucy”, “The Hobbit” and “Ardi”. As regards to continental drift, might I suggest some study into Dr John Baumgardner, formerly of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, who formulated the model of “Catastrophic Plate Tectonics” to demonstrate that rapid continental drift was possibility.
Scott Forster



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