Letters to the editor - Feb 4

One plus one...
I had a message drawing my attention to the fact that Dunoon Public School was rated 8th in the top 50 schools for reading. Unfortunately I failed at first to see that in the extract from SMH. All I could see was the extraordinary number of schools in the top 50 in that category.
What does this tell us about the poor levels of education of people involved in the media, and in politics? (And maybe in education administration?) Just how many schools are there in the top 50 whatever the category?
Denis Matthews

Oi, oi, oi

Is this really Australia Day?
If Australia Day is meant to celebrate a country that is proud of its identity, and if it’s a day meant to celebrate opportunity, growth into the future, inclusion, understanding and respect between people of different cultural backgrounds, then it has to be held on a day other than January 26th. That day marks nothing but the foundation of a brutal penal colony by the British Empire and the beginning of suffering and dispossession for its indigenous communities.
Any positives that can, and should, be read into the celebration of our national day are being robbed away by the occasion that it commemorates. Come on Australia! For a bunch of your citizens to be driving around waving a flag that is dominated by that of another country, not to mention made for about two cents in China, is not a good look.
Joe Dabron

Social exclusion
I couldn’t agree more with Derick Grimditch’s comments (Echo, Jan 28) about the lack of inclusion demonstrated by Council in the way Benny Zable was hauled off from the Australia Day celebrations at the GSAC.
The surprising thing is that Council prides itself on its commitment to social inclusion.
Indeed, there are some wonderful staff in the community services section who work hard to promote social inclusion in our community. Unfortunately, their good work counts for nothing if Council’s public actions indicate the opposite. Whoever made the decision to call the police to remove and charge Benny would benefit from having some training in social inclusion from the Council’s community services staff.
Furthermore, a commitment to the famous saying, ‘I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it’ would not only support social inclusion but also strengthen local democracy.
That’s something one would hope our Council would always seek to do. I hope that when Benny’s case goes to court the judge recognises his right to protest peacefully and acts accordingly.
Ros Irwin

Foam opinion

Bravo Lismore Council!
At last the Council have organised a more responsible disposal of styrofoam packaging waste. We have been soiling our nest and throwing this problem into our children’s backyard for too long .
However , it might be worth thinking about the fact that it is our taxpayer money that is being used to deal with this kind of challenge.
Cleaning up styrofoam waste is just one of many other massive hidden costs we inflict upon ourselves with our consumer habits. As we continue to support the world of cheap imported food, we continue to pay in other ways such as waste disposal, oil consumption, CO2 pollution from ‘food miles’, unsustainable farming, labour exploitation and local unemployment.
We may feel good when we stand at the till and hand money over for cheap goods but are we really being true to our selves and to our beautiful existence? Did the customers in the UK know that their English apples had taken a plane to Africa and back to be washed and waxed? What about those Australian macadamia nuts we ate; cracked by busy hands in China?
There is a long list of what we really do every time we spend a dollar but the system keeps us disconnected from responsible behaviour. It is a powerful well-designed machine that has no limit except the one that we can all impose and that is consumer power. When are we going to learn to think about what we are doing when we buy something? We can make unstoppable changes for a better world.
In the Northern Rivers we have access to local food through the markets such as the Tuesday organic market, the Saturday local farmers’ market and at many of the general weekend markets we can buy fresh local produce as well as other   local products that help to keep precious small businesses going.
And again bravo to Lismore Council for the downtown street improvement. With more trees and shade, pavement cafes, markets and the help of the city centre manager Stephen Nelson, it is going to be a great place to reconnect with real local life and community spirit.
Russell Scott

Whale war
The ramming of the Ady Gil anti-whaling boat in Commonwealth Bay illustrates the arrogance and aggression Japanese whalers will use to destroy their opponents.
 With their government’s tacit approval, the whalers now feel emboldened to sink a ship by ramming, a high crime on the high seas if ever there was one. And what does our government do?
Nothing! Not a squeal of indignation, not an opinion from any of the shock jocks and terrorism tabloids. Oh of course, it is just a pack of feral greenies being murdered on the south seas, so no matter, eh Kevin?
Good to see we have a PM with the backbone of a squid in charge when it comes to environmental matters. And where is Peter “short memory” Garrett? Probably in the tub with his rubber ducky singing old sea shanty tunes.
If Rudd and his lackeys were serious about stopping the Japanese killing whales he would send in the navy, but then there is all that filthy lucre to be had, called trade with Japan I suppose.
In either case the crew of the Sea Shepherd ship the Steve Irwin are going to try to have attempted murder charges brought against the Japanese whale killers. Once again we see civilians doing the job the federal government should be doing with gunboats. A few shots over the bows of the whaling ships would soon see them depart from the southern ocean.
M Mizzi

Roo message
After reading the letter, ‘Wrong message’ (Echo, Jan 21) by Louise Kahj, I feel the need to respond to what I see as some misinformation contained therein. Louise says to “Do your research! Before kangaroos are wiped from the earth”, and that if you believe they are in plague proportion you must be a farmer, hunter or in the meat industry. I’m none of these things but I did spend three-and-a-half years working as a padre with the Presbyterian Inland Mission and travelling an area of 565,000 square kilometres all over South West Queensland while being based at Charleville.
There are a few cowboys out there, people who shoot for recreation and the scenes of cruelty are real. Man’s inhumanity to his fellow man knows no limits so I guess we can’t expect anything different from some people when it comes to animals. But the vast majority of kangaroos shot are taken by the professional shooters, dozens of whom worked in Charleville and surrounding areas.
The industry is very tightly controlled by the government and to get a licence a shooter has to pass the test of hitting a three-inch target at a range of 100 metres five times in a row without a miss. This is because they are required by law to shoot all kangaroos through the head to make the kill as quick and painless as possible. They are also required to keep record of the sex and breed of animals taken and they even have to account for every cartridge used. Any and every mistake in the paperwork incurs a $300 fine. To compare the professional shooting of kangaroos to the prolonged agony of dying whales really is a distortion of the facts.
When the seasons are good the kangaroos do breed up into what some would call plague proportions. It’s estimated that graziers in that area lose 40% of their pasture to wild animals such as kangaroos. The area bordered by the towns of Morven in the east, Charleville to the west, and Augathella to the north, is known by the locals as the Bermuda Triangle because on occasions there can be thousands of kangaroos on the roads at night making travel after dark rather treacherous.
Anyone who suggests kangaroos are endangered has obviously never spent any time in the outback, something they should do if they wish to find out what’s really going on. I was there when the drought was at its worst in 2002-03. I saw thousands of kangaroos die of starvation, many coming to the side of the road for what little shade there was, to lie down till their suffering ended, many emus suffering the same fate. On one stretch of road where you would normally never see a kangaroo I counted over 50 carcasses on the road in two minutes, not killed by cars but starved to death. This doesn’t take into account the countless numbers not on the road. When you haven’t seen this before you can’t help but be moved by the huge numbers of kangaroos dying slow miserable deaths. I too love our kangaroos, but I would rather see them killed quickly by a professional shooter than go through what I witnessed in that terrible drought.
Owen Oakes

League of her own
“Thank God for Julia Gillard! At last teachers will be accountable! Welcome to the real world!”
 Yeah? Do you think so? Can I present you with a scenario and a mission?
The scenario is this: you are the teacher and it’s Friday, period 6 in the week before the Xmas hols. You have Year 9 English and it’s 34 degrees outside and you have no air conditioning.
There are 30 kids in your class and they finished Semester 2 exams last week – they are in holiday mode! They are hot, they are smelly, they are tired, they are over school and they are certainly over you! And remember that child psychologists now know that their brains won’t fully develop for another five years at least! Don’t expect rational discussion in this heat!
You know that whatever you have planned, they will see as irrelevant as the exams ended last week and, anyway, you need to provide written notification of any assessment tasks at least a week in advance. And you know that they know this! What to do!?
Admittedly, that precise scenario is infrequent, but how would you go? Teaching is enormously rewarding but equally demanding. Kids are, in the main, delightful, much like your own. However, they can be, every once in a while, uncompromising, rude and irrational, much like your own. If only they could be uncompromising, rude and irrational together, on the same day!
And teachers are judged every day, in every class, by these same kids. Show me the teacher who is poorly prepared and has shoddy class management and I’ll show you a rabble and a teacher with a very short shelf life.
So, you’re still not convinced, eh? Then you need to practise what educator in discrimination, Jane Elliot bases her seminars on; “Oh, Great Spirit, teach me not to judge another man until I’ve walked in his moccasins.” Well, have you got your moccasins? This is your mission, should you choose to accept.
This winter sports season, nominate   yourself to coach your child’s footy/netball/ soccer/basketball team. It’s only an hour a week and they will all be willing participants and there will only be 15 or so, well under a normal class size. Remember to plan well and collect all your required training aids. That might require another hour of your time but it will be time well spent. The rest is easy! Match day motivation and victory drinks!
Now, after you finish your first training session of the season, think to yourself; Teachers have four of these a day, five days a week, 40 weeks a year! That’s 800 ‘training sessions’ a year!
Welcome to the real world!
Bob Delaney

How’s the weather?
The Bureau of Metrology tells us that Australia’s last 10 years were the hottest decade on record, yet the IPCC reluctantly concedes that the global temperature trend in the last decade has been downwards (since 2002).
 Europe and North America are currently enduring more snow than ever, and temperatures that are colder than the average for snow and cold. Do we live on a different planet to the northern hemisphere?
The case for ‘human-induced’ global warming was always dodgy. How could CO2 gas, which is essential for all life on this planet, be considered a pollutant? The weather bureau with its sophisticated computer modelling can make accurate predictions for a relatively small region, little more than a week ahead. Why do the IPCC modellers think they can ignore major systems, like ocean currents, cloud cover or solar radiation, yet still accurately predict something as dynamic as climate, over the whole globe, into the next century? Neither ‘consensus’, nor deliberate misinterpretation of facts is science.
Nowadays there is plenty of information available in bookshops and internet for those who wish to acquaint themselves with all the science (and the politics), rather than just the bits that fit the doomsayer’s agendas. It’s time our legislators educated themselves better. Only Senator Fielding and Tony Abbot appear to have done this. If Ministers Wong and Garrett would also, they’d realise they were kicking a flat football and would abandon the Emissions Trading Scam, which is more likely to pick the punter’s pockets in favour of the big end of town than actually seriously address the real environmental problems that are staring us in the face i.e. polluted streams, depleted agricultural soils, diminishing aquifers, deforestation, ravaged fisheries, ever increasing population and resource consumption.
Will they do it? One lives in hope!
Roy Fulloon

Main game
First of all, I would like to apologise to the readers for the morally reprehensible way I am presenting this letter, with my name on it so anyone could reply, as opposed to sending it anonymously to people I might disagree with, which is apparently the chosen method of an upright citizen committed to “mainstream society and everything it values”.
The closet-critics of S present themselves as the defenders of mainstream society and it’s values, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they are actually from one of those loony cults which John Howard was rather fond of. (The “bed of thorns” is a bit of a give away.)
Then again, it might be that good old Basil Fawlty is back in town. I mean, who else but the comic genius of John Cleese could come up with a plot where someone claiming to represent mainstream society would accuse someone outside it of “uncritical promotion” of anything.
Nevertheless, the question arises, just why exactly these closet-critics of S, and so many others, are so keen to associate themselves and their agendas with the mainstream, while scolding everyone of independent mind and free spirit?
The answer, I believe, lies in the distant past.
Mankind, just like our closest relatives the chimpanzees, is a social animal, and as such, for many, following the alpha male, in other words: always drifting towards power is still the overriding emotional impulse, and the mainstream, due to it’s sheer numbers, is the possessor of great power.
As social animals we also deeply fear rejection and ostracism, and it is this aspect of human consciousness that is behind so much psychological pain for so many who begin to doubt themselves, their self-worth, because they allow themselves to be convinced by the self-proclaimed inquisitors of mainstream society.
For anyone out there who might be having such doubts, that they might just be a lesser of a human being just because for this or that reason they don’t satisfy the requirements of hypocritical middle-class conservatism, for them I would offer the wisdom of the great Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti:
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
Tom Koo

And another thing
I refer to Echo, Jan 7, page 11, letters section, by M Mizzi.
For a while he was getting a bit soft, even humane (God forbid), however his latest offering proved he’s right back on track. The same old nasty bit of goods he always was. Spot the “Labor” supporter! They’re all the same – abusive.
If you don’t agree with man-made global warming, out comes the abuse (thank God the ETS went down), if you think we should turn the boasts around (as we should) Mizzi calls you (me) and Tony Abbott and B. Joyce, and quote, Mr Mizzi’s letter: “Zombies, crazy, cobwebs, extremists, fools, bigots, lackeys, loonies, humbugs” and oh yes were all fascists, of course! It’s all there. There must be something he left out. No wonder we’re turning to the Coalition for some sanity and God help us, decency!
Typical of Labor people, they try to embarrass those with an opposite opinion or stifle debate to attempt to shut you up. Well Mr M, Aussies don’t like being told what to say and when and never will so up yours! We still have democracy and Tony Abbott proved that by defeating Mr Dud Rudd’s ETS tax grab to pay off his awful debt after “Howard” and “Costello” left him billions in the green he’s still beggared us except for a couple of ‘sorries’ when you or I have done nothing wrong anyhow. What’s he actually done? Poor hospitals are still a mess, education the same, roads: record accidents, groceries through the roof, petrol disgusting and don’t even mention our power bills, with a 60% increase still to come, so how are we supposed to survive?
Please tell me what we have to be grateful for? Bloody nothing. Broadband, what a shocking waste.
Isn’t it marvellous folks, the Mizzis of this place still chuck off at “Tony Abbott” and love Rudd. How sick is that? Answer is definitely never so we have to fight these abusive rotters, like it or not or our side will end up with nothing. This mob will see to that.
Rudd is just ignoring the illegal boats almost like he wants them to come. He and his mates think more of them than they do of us. With around 40 million displaced in this world and Rudd too gutless to send them back what hope have we got? We can’t afford them! Rudd has broke us, I’m not hardly game to turn on a light switch. Gee, aren’t we lucky to have Mr “Rudd.” We got rid of the best for the worst.
G Wallace
South Lismore

Evolving door

Is evolution really a fact?
Richard Dawkins, whom you seem to think is the voice of the scientific community, said, “Evolution is as much a fact as the heat of the sun”. A fact is something beyond dispute. The sun is hot: this can be proven. No one has ever witnessed macroevolution. Some scientists point to small changes in living things as examples of microevolution: that small mutations over millions of years produced the life we see today.
Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, a scientist from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Germany, who has spent some 28 years studying mutation genetics in plants, and researcher Peter von Sengbusch, both concluded that the data from 100 years of mutation research in general and 70 years of mutation breeding in particular; that, “the law of recurrent variation implies that genetically properly defined species have real boundaries that cannot be abolished or transgressed by accidental mutations.”
In other words all the data to date proves that little mutations over any length of time do not produce macroevolution by changes in living organisms. The above mentioned scientists don’t agree with you.
The Bible agrees with the fact that the earth is billions of years old, Gen 1:1. The use of the word “day” in the Genesis account is not a 24-hour period but rather one of possibly many thousands of years. “Fundamentalist Christians” do misrepresent the Bible, but then again “fundamentalist scientists” misrepresent science and state that an unsubstantiated theory is a fact. And as the Catholic church persecuted Galileo so believers of the faith of evolution persecute scientists who disagree.
By the way the creation account mentions some 10 steps that are necessary for life and has them in the right order. How did Moses know that? If you actually read the Bible you might see that proven science and the Bible agree. Incorrect theories don’t.
Keith Bailey

Get the drift?

South Lismore’s Scott Foster claims to perceive Christian intolerance here, and then goes on to state that as a Christian, were he to denigrate the Indigenous, or the homosexual community, the outcry would be deafening. Well Mr Foster, consider the fact that your own church has about a three thousand year history of doing just that very thing!
Horrendous tortures, burnings, persecutions and extermination were used not only against those very groups you mention, but even for other denominations of your very own religion. Maybe what goes around comes around?
Be that as it may, I do think it’s pushing it a bit to try to claim victim status for your religion now considering its own terrible history.
Still, it’s always nice to be mentioned in another letter. I take it to mean that someone bothered to read my jottings. Understanding them, however, seems to be a totally different matter.
I stated we evolved with all our inherent human bodily mistakes. No one ever claimed evolution to be “perfect”, indeed it’s not. That is the preserve of the “Intelligent Design” adherents. Surely the imperfection of man’s body is in itself proof against any intelligent blueprint having been used?
Oh and please, as a point of order, can we all at least recognise that evolution does not claim we descended from apes, but that simians and humans share a common ancestor? There’s a great deal of difference, but so often we hear this old chestnut repeated as though fact and then used to discredit.
Mr Foster then goes on to cite a Bishop Usser as a reliable resource for dating the apocryphal world-covering Noah’s flood. Considering his obvious church association, I truly doubt that he could be entirely unbiased and impartial, but were we even to blindly accept his dodgy figures (we are not informed how they were calculated): it still means the Epic of Gilgamesh was written before the Old Testament’s story of Noah.
May I safely allow readers’ innate intelligence to draw their own conclusions here without having to spell it out?
However my greatest amusement came when reading Mr Foster’s confident claim that “continental drift” brought the koalas to Australia. My comment about Noah’s home delivery service was of course tongue-in-cheek, but even taking Mr Foster’s very own source mentioned above to date “The Flood”, ie around 2349 BC, that means Australia has drifted from the area now occupied by the Middle East to our current position of some 1500 thousand kilometres away in only a little over 4500 years!
Drifted? It must have had super-charged outboard motors to travel that distance so quickly! Continental drift takes hundreds of millions of years, measured at rates of millimetres per year, give or take. Whole continents do not just bob around like a lot of loose corks on the ocean!
Oh but that’s right, I was forgetting. The world is only 6000 years old according to biblical fundies, isn’t it! Geology is wrong, wrong, wrong too, along with evolution of course! How confusing it all is! Makes you wonder just how Adam and Eve kept all those pesky dinosaurs out of the house!
B Parker


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