Letters to the editor - Jan 28

Aus Day shame
I was embarrassed to be an Australian at the Council event at GSAC.
 The vista of a fellow resident being hauled off for expressing himself peacefully outside the event was very un-Australian. This example should help the various racists in power keep those pesky new Australians in line.
Let’s hope the new immigrants were not expecting to have freedom of speech here. It is very hard to have an event to celebrate inclusion when you are victimising a citizen for not interfering with your event. It is probably just the Council doing its bit to maintain Australian identity and symbols as endemic with racism.
It still sounds like invasion day to me.
Mr Zable, who was not allowed to express himself outside the GSAC back slapping festival, has no history of interfering in the events of others. Indeed when doing a similar consciousness-raising exhibition outside the World Council of Churches conference, he was invited in to share his ideas. That is how you be inclusive.
Australia Day is not holy, it is just another day in Australia. In Lismore are we celebrating nationalism or stupidity? I am having trouble seeing the difference.
Derick Grimditch

Green thumb

Liz Lawrence was quite right to point out in her letter (Echo, Jan 14) that people in Lismore need to seek approval from Lismore City Council before they remove trees.
I should have mentioned that in my article, though of course the Echo readership is spread over several different municipalities, all with different tree policies.
I agree with all Liz’s comments about the beauty and utility of trees. In fact, I regularly encourage gardeners to plant suitable trees – there was a mention in a recent column, and last week’s feature tree was a cracker!
Unfortunately, there are still times when the wrong tree is planted in the wrong place, which was one of the points I made in the article that offended Liz. I urge all readers to consider the species and the site very carefully, consulting not just the plant label (notoriously inaccurate) but also reference books and experienced local growers, before you buy and plant a new tree.
Don’t be put off by this, just plan properly before you plant.
Keep on hugging those trees, Liz, the world needs more people like you.
Anita Morton

Right here and now
After reading The Echo I always enjoy turning the paper over and reading S’s stories, it’s just a joy.
Life is simple but we make it complicated and your yarns show that. Anyway keep writing and I will keep reading.
James Wright

Well S-pressed

Three cheers for S!
He makes me laugh. And I like laughing.
His column is always the first thing I read in The Echo – even before the headlines.
So, some anonymous folk have a low opinion of him? So what? Sounds like they’ve never laughed in their life!
At least they appreciate his “obvious talent” and have kept on reading him for years.
As for me, I’ll keep on enjoying reading about his “primitive, irresponsible lifestyle” and especially his “uncritical promotion of alternative attitudes and Green policies”. But, of course, I’m just a Nimbin hippie, aren’t I?
Tamaso Lonsdale

Open pool

Anyone who drives past the Lismore Lake Pool knows just how popular it is.
Apart from the people who live at the two caravan parks in this area, residents who live to the south of Lismore find it particularly appealing, and there are always many cars and people sitting around in the shade of the trees watching their children swimming. For those who live in the basin and not on the ridges of Lismore Heights and Goonellabah, where most of the councillors   live, it’s one of the few ways of coping with the heat on long summer days. The Lismore Lake Pool is arguably the only swimming pool in Lismore that’s really family friendly if you don’t enjoy lap swimming or swimming in an enclosed building, which creates a very different environment.
A very diverse group uses the pool, with many of them being local Indigenous families. This pool should not be closed. Council staff have wanted to close it ever since they decided to reconstruct the Memorial Baths and the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre, but in the past they couldn’t get the councillors to agree to do it. It’s an asset to Lismore which should be maintained, and the cost of $2.5 million over eight years (if it really does require all the things the staff say it does – and that requires careful analysis) is insignificant in the long-term. Once it’s gone it can never be replaced and a significant group of residents in our community will have lost the only recreational facility they access. I urge our councillors to reverse this decision.
Yes, finances may be tight at present but on the other hand funds can always be found for something the Council chooses to prioritise. They should keep the pool going as has been happening for the past eight years until the Council can afford to carry out the major upgrade. And as for closing the pool on February 7, don’t any of the staff know how hot February can be, or don’t they care?
Ros Irwin

Pay or you’ll pay

In response to the letter printed in The Northern Rivers Echo about the McLarens being contacted by a debt collection company, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT would like to clarify several facts. The McLarens had not made a donation, but entered into a commercial transaction; they had agreed to purchase an item from our telemarketing staff in September 2009.
After being sent the agreed item and receiving a 21 day invoice for payment, the McLarens did not pay the account until three months later, after two reminder letters had been mailed to them.
We are sorry that the payment was missed and the McLarens were sent a third letter from Dun and Bradstreet requesting payment.
I want to assure our donors that we only take such action when a person fails to pay for merchandise they’ve agreed to receive in a commercial transaction.
Guide Dogs loses some money each year through merchandise that people order and receive – but fail to pay for. That’s why we some times need to have such matters followed up.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is an independent, not-for-profit organisation and receives no government funding. Our organisation provides free services to people who are blind or have impaired vision.
Ann Roberts
Telemarketing Manager, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT


I want to give public thanks to all the people of the Northern Rivers who have worked without rest for the beatification of Mother Mary McKillop. The news that a woman in Bendigo had regrown her left arm, lost in a tragic accident with farm machinery, confounds the nay sayers, who refuse to admit the power of a dead woman to work miracles.
Paul Cruickshank
Rous Mill


Australia has a jagged history. The very foundation of this country is built upon the domination and segregation of its native inhabitants.
Throughout the world many nations have utilised this same course of action, in the name of progress and often in the name of God. The very concept of displacement of beings from their homes by way of force is barbaric and outdated, yet a similar approach has been taken in the Northern Territory.
All too often, the easy targets are gone after and picked off, usually by way of force and control. This method has seen European people spread to all corners of the globe, resulting in drastic changes for those who already call those places home.
Australia Day provides the opportunity for widespread reflection on the truth of Australia’s foundations, and to really accept our tainted past. To acknowledge the takeover that took place only 222 years ago may go a long way towards dissolving any separation that still exists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Australia today.
Because all-in-all, the deepest desire of every living being is to live in harmony within itself and its environment, and by accepting this we can allay our differences, heal the past and move forward as one.
Oliver Hort

Public gallery

Through attending local government conferences with my wife, Ros Irwin, I was fortunate to meet councillors and business people from other local government areas and discuss many issues, particularly about local economic development. One was Greg Matthews, a Dubbo councillor and local business person.
 Dubbo has spent $9 million funding a regional arts centre, and when I asked Greg how he felt about that, his response was that he supported it totally. His reasons for doing so were that, if Dubbo is to continue to grow and wants to attract the tree-changers seeking to relocate from capital cities such as Sydney, along with the economic development they bring, then the Council needed to invest in cultural development because all the research shows that this is what they want to be able to access in their new communities.
Dubbo now regards it as important as the Western Plains Zoo and is reaping the benefits of the Council making what was a tough and controversial decision at the time, but one that showed strong leadership.
Much has been written about the benefits of a new regional arts centre for the existing residents of the region and Lismore in particular, and they will certainly be achieved. Lismore is already most fortunate to have Norpa, one of a handful of performing arts companies that produce original works in Australia, outside the capital cities, and this will be enhanced further by the new regional gallery. But what shouldn’t be forgotten is that such a project is essentially an investment in the economic development of Lismore, and one that will reap benefits into the future. Council has an obligation to provide services to all of its ratepayers that benefit each and every one of them in a variety of ways. Council is not a business that must show a profit and it’s time for this discussion to mature and move on.
There may well have been better ways to do the two swimming pools we now have, but they are there, so rather than bicker, using our 20/20 hindsight, Lismore must unite, get it right this time and continue to grow as a true regional centre.
As a member of the board of the Lismore Chamber of Commerce I strongly support the Margaret Olley Arts Centre and urge other businesses to also throw their support behind it.
Bill Sheaffe

Re-leaf needed

After over 20 years of raising awareness and trying to educate the public, our politicians and the police about the real value of cannabis as a medicine, health food, fibre, fuel, building material and recreational drug and very slowly achieving some law changes, the medicinal beneficial effect, especially for chronic pain suffers has not been dealt with by our politicians. WHY? In September 2002 the Nimbin Hemp Embassy and the Compassion Club invited all members of parliament through email to come and inform themselves by meeting patients in a “Picknick on Grass” in the back of the NSW Parliament.
There was the pleading call from one of the patients in the press room in parliament to “do something”. These people suffer enough with their illness, they deserve better than having to go to the unsafe drug dealing areas to get their medicine and then having to fear the police on their way home.
In May 2004 Premier Bob Carr announced that he believes there is some benefit for some people using cannabis, the oldest medicine known to mankind.
Nothing happened. The politicians couldn’t even make a card to identify the patients. What kind of society are we living in, where the NSW Government is pumping millions of dollars to support car racing events while at the same time our youth is killing themselves speeding, where alcohol advertising is all over the media, while there is drunken violence ruling and ruining our communities, killing people and now assaulting even ambulance officers.
In California medicinal cannabis is now a big money-maker for the government, because they are so in debt and not of a compassionate understanding. The Nimbin MardiGrass 2010 will be opened for the 15th time with the flame for the victims of prohibition.
Chibo Mertineit
Hemp Olympix

Madness takes its toll
Insanity, it has been said, is repeating the same behaviour and expecting a different result. There’s a lot of it around.
Example: motorsport appeals predominantly to young males. It glorifies speed and risk-taking.
Hardly a week goes by without yet another gruesome picture of a wreck in which young blokes died. It is madness to suggest that driver education will ‘fix’ the problem. It can never compete with the heady mix of testosterone and a car full of mates egging the driver on.
So why would you want motorsport here? We didn’t even get the promised economic boost from the Repco Rally. Some bureaucrat in Sydney has taken us for a bunch of country hicks.
We’d be crazy to keep proving them right! Only 2000 of the supposed 72,000 rally spectators turned up on Kyogle’s ‘big day in town’ (Rally Sunday). Only 10% of shire residents turned up. Many locals stayed away from the Saturday growers’ market.
Communities are built and maintained through mutual trust and support but the welfare of residents along the rally routes seems to have meant little to a Chamber of Commerce wide-eyed over the prospect of profit. Feeling well and truly unheard, some families who used to make a big effort to ‘buy locally’ now spend most of their weekly budget (minimum of $8000 a year) elsewhere.
Kyogle’s Chamber and Council knew that the rally was an economic flop in WA but still they pressed on. They made their bed, now they must lie in it. Putting on a brave face doesn’t change the facts. It takes a certain amount of maturity to admit making a mistake; so far Kyogle Council will only admit to spending $112,000 on the rally. And the rest, boys, and the rest!
If we ever learn the real cost of the event to   the shire and the state I predict it will be truly   scandalous. So who on earth is daft enough to support an event that has so little going for it?
Well you can’t overlook the fact that a rally car is a penis substitute and our Council is largely made up of men well into the Viagra zone. I can’t be the only ratepayer who wants to know why Kyogle Council persists in behaving like the yokel who goes to the Big Smoke and, over a beer or two, buys the Sydney Harbour Bridge from a bloke in a pub. Nor why we have a Mayor who seems to have demonstrated a certain amount of contempt for the legitimate concerns of ratepayers and other councillors. It was recently reported that, having turned up late for a Council meeting, he stood in the entrance to the Chamber laughing and making facial gestures, mocking a ratepayer who was voicing his concerns about the proposal to cut opportunities for public access at meetings. Brings to mind something about the inmates running the asylum.

Love Labor’s lost
Amazingly I find myself agreeing with Tony Abbott and finding Mungo MacCallum’s pro ALP partisanship a bit wearing, especially considering that he seems to think Kevin Rudd can do no wrong.
In his last column MacCallum argues that Tony Abbott may have suddenly discovered whales and Aborigines after spending most of the column sarcastically praising Abbott for doing something he calls a political stunt.
Mungo ignores all of Rudd’s political stunts but shows his partisanship by digging at Abbott, despite his seemingly good credentials when dealing with Indigenous Australians.
But when it comes to stopping Japan’s whaling in Australian territorial waters in the Antarctic Mungo has it all wrong and his column before the last shows that he is somewhat befuddled about what constitutes trespass and what constitutes diplomacy.
Allowing the Japanese to steal Australia’s natural resources is trespass and theft and no amount of lily-livered and duplicitous diplomacy will change that fact, which brings me to agreeing with Abbott, who said that we should send the Oceanic Viking to observe the Japanese whalers.
Actually we should be sending in the Navy to protect Australia’s territorial integrity and the integrity of the whale sanctuary which most nations want to see developed in Antarctica.
Mungo should stop being so blindly pro-Rudd and develop a more balanced and objective view because his anti Liberal rants really do no good in presenting the electorate with well thought out commentary.
He should leave that to those who are truly partisan.
M Mizzi

Military question

Are US troops in Haiti saviours or invaders?
I’d say this much, follow the money and see if in a few years beach hugging slums aren’t cleared for foreign developers.
Follow the power and let me know if the democratically elected Haitian president is allowed to return to his homeland after being most likely ousted in a US-backed coup in 2004.
And follow the troops by all means, and see if a major US military base is not built on Haitian soil, forever like all the others in every country previously so taken over (perhaps a terrorist “holding facility” built to replace Guantanamo Bay when it closes down). And show me the balance sheet in the end to substantiate claims of generosity and altruism – fully costing financial, human and environmental control factors – and showing clearly who gains.
It sure looks like Naomi Klein’s Disaster Capitalism to me, whereby government and corporate interests take advantage of others’ suffering to further their agendas of more government, privatisation of the remaining public enterprises, and general conquering and looting.
What lucrative opportunities must await them with the ravages of global warming that might occur? You don’t necessarily have to cause a problem in order to profit from it, though in the case of 911 and now this earthquake??? Hmmmmm! And in the case of global warming everyone and everything could lose, and it might be too much of a disaster and therefore unprofitable even.
Peter Godden

Unfair to God

Two recent letters to The Northern Rivers Echo have once again raised the spectre of anti-Christian intolerance in our supposedly all-inclusive and tolerant community.
Were I, as a Christian, to denigrate the Indigenous, homosexual or any other community, the outcry from all sectors would be deafening. Attack a Christian for their beliefs and you obviously get a free shot. Tolerant? I don’t think so.
Mr Parker’s letter of Jan 7 says that the biblical flood account was plagiarised from the Sumerian “Epic of Gilgamesh”. While the book of Genesis is dated from 1450-1410 BC and the “Epic of Gilgamesh” is dated at 2150-2000 BC, a difference of 700 years (not 1600 as Mr Parker claims). This discrepancy is easily answered if we use Bishop Ussher’s timeline which suggests the flood occurred in 2349 BC, easily 200-350 years before your Sumerians wrote their poem Mr Parker. As to your jibes about disease and poor design, wait, aren’t we evolved? You claim we evolved from apes and yet these problems of cancer and spinal injury exist. Your Mr Darwin popularised this theory. Not a very good one is it? As to your ridiculous koala story, the short answer to that is continental drift, not the ark, brought koalas to Australia.
Jim Lee’s letter of Jan 14 uses the hoary old chestnut “The bible is full of contradictions and I can prove it, but not right now”. Well Mr Lee, I challenge you to provide this alleged list in your next letter. The example you do provide is the birth of Jesus having different dates in Matthew and Luke. You also wrote of Dionysius Exiguous. To calculate Jesus’ birth he worked from two vague dates in Luke (Luke 3:1 and Luke 3:23). He was using the flawed Roman calendar, which has no concept for zero, so he couldn’t assign a Year 0 from which to start his calculations. His errors were later perpetuated and compounded by others. His dating system soon became too entrenched to be changed.
Many bible scholars agree that Jesus was born between 7 and 2 BC. The confusion arises I believe from the assumption that Matthew’s gospel details a newborn Jesus and not a young child when the wisemen visit. Luke’s gospel does include the newborn Jesus visited by shepherds.
As to the census, records exist of three censuses in the area of Judea – one in 8BC, one starting around 2BC and one in 6AD. Since Quirinius wasn’t governor of the Syrian province until after Archelaus was deposed, critics claim Luke misidentified the census as the smaller one, which happened some 8-10 years after Herod died. In stating that Quirinius controlled the Syrian area, Luke doesn’t use the official political title of “Governor” (“legatus”), but the broader term “hegemon” which is a ruling officer or procurator. This means that Quirinius may not have been the official governor of Judea, but he was in charge of the census because of his competent handling of the 7BC census that Augustus later put him in charge of the 7AD. census. Roman history records Quirinius leading the effort to quell rebels in that area at exactly that time, so such a political arrangement is not a stretch.
Scott Forster

Big Bang
That the Universe was created by a Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago is a scientific fact (not a belief), verifiable by science. That man and all living things evolved from the slime of the Earth over 3.6 billion years is also scientific fact, not ‘belief’. That Jesus Christ, a Jewish prophet was known as a wonder-worker among non-Christians is an historical fact, attested by the Romano-Jewish historian Josephus. The role of a Supreme Being in all this is a matter of faith, not verifiable by science.
As mankind is self evidently hard-wired for belief in the divine, rationalists like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins have their work cut out for them convincing the apathetic majority of Westerners that any of this is important. Well, is it important? It is. Because scientific and historical truth is being attacked, not only abroad by oil-financed militant Islam, but also at home by militant Christian fundamentalists who (being tax-exempt) are unwittingly subsidised by you and me to peddle their Creation Science/Intelligent Design nonsense in ‘Bible-based’ schools and even to demand of politicians that creationism, long abandoned by mainstream religion, be given equal time in science classes generally.
In the US, even though the last American state to mandate the teaching of creationism rescinded such laws in 1967, there flourish bizarre enterprises like the lavishly-funded Creation Museum in Kentucky. This is run by Answers in Genesis, a tax-exempt organisation, and shows homo sapiens (us) walking with dinosaurs – scientific falsehood and miseducation on a grand scale.
One characteristic of these history-deniers is that they resort to conspiracy theories, as evidenced by Mario Elba’s recent letter (Echo, Dec 17).
They like to imply, as David Aaronovitch points out in Voodoo Histories, that the theorist and his co-believers are part of a brave insurgency against a corrupt elite or a stifling orthodoxy. Belief in the conspiracy makes you part of a genuinely heroic anti-elite elite group (in this case Bible cultists) that can see past an official version propagated for the benefit of the lazy or inert mass of people by the powers that be. Seductive, no?
Thus, aliens built the pyramids (von Daniken), the Vatican suppresses evidence of Christ’s lineal descendants (Dan Brown) and a vast Marxist-atheist cabal of university types perverts biblical truth (Mario Elba, et al). Simplistic black-and-white answers to important questions may be attractive to many, but they are still, in the main, lies.
Finally a word from someone whose ideas must surely qualify him for membership of that phantasmagoric coven that keeps Bible cultists awake at night – the satanically inspired Marxist-atheist cabal: “Evolution is a fact and from a Christian perspective, one of the greatest of God’s works” – Lord Harries, former Bishop of Oxford, 2004.
Peter Mullins

New decade
As an elected B-Ward councillor I hope everyone had an enjoyable festive season and that you’re energetically settling into the new decade. 2010 promises to be an exciting year with many community and environmental initiatives in the pipeline.
Two projects of special interest are establishing community gardens and a Native Street Tree Planting Program. Community gardens are a great educational tool for individuals, community groups and schools. They enable people to grow organic vegetables on Council owned land.
Individuals or groups who want to be involved should contact Ballina Council and register their interest. A native street tree planting program will add to the aesthetic beauty of our town. It will provide habitat for native animals and birds, deliver much-needed shade for pedestrians and cyclists, and reduce the use of air conditioning in our cars. Once a street tree plan is in place, community and school groups can help with the actual planting.
Different streets can have different themes. The idea can raise awareness about local tree species. Information can be circulated about local plants with bush-tucker potential and medicinal qualities.
What better way to connect with our local environment and Indigenous culture?
As development pressures grow in Ballina and along the coast we must carefully balance the needs of our local environment with those of an expanding population. That means good planning.
The new Draft LEP (Local Environmental Plan) will soon be on public exhibition. This is the top planning instrument for the Shire. It provides the blueprint for environmental protection and guides all planning decisions through its zonings. If you’re interested in the future of our Shire I suggest you take a very close look at this important planning document when it is on exhibition.
I look forward to continuing to work towards a vibrant and sustainable Shire – one that we can all feel proud of.
Cr Jeff Johnson
Lennox Head


$5, $10 tasting plates at delicious Lismore CBD event

$5, $10 tasting plates at delicious Lismore CBD event

Thousands expect to flock to delicious festival

Commission into aged care raises questions of mortality

Commission into aged care raises questions of mortality

"At what stage does society render your life unworthy of respect?”

When it gets a bit grim, cheer

When it gets a bit grim, cheer

What we need is a squad of 'Great Mates'