Letters to the editor - Mar 25

Thanks LBH
I wish to thank the staff at Lismore Base Hospital for the professional and compassionate assistance provided to our seven-year-old son, John, during his recent stay in the Children’s Ward. Last week John was admitted suffering serious complications following a bout of chicken pox.
At all times we found the doctors, nurses and support staff to be very accommodating and supportive. The standard of care and expertise provided over the week was second to none. Fortunately John has been discharged and appears to be well on the way to a full recovery. We wish to publicly acknowledge the tremendous efforts of the staff at Lismore Hospital.
Many thanks.
Maggie, Greg & John Moore
Richmond Hill

Poor odds

So! Such is the final fate of our State Lotteries. Sold for a quick billion dollars – an opportunistic, greedy bid for private profit!
The State Lotteries were initially established and have always functioned as an attempt to turn some of the enormous revenues of gambling into a long term community benefit. Rationalising that if people were going to gamble, the profits from this ethically dubious business should be fed back into the greater community good. They are not for private profit.
Now for a one-off payment of a billion dollars, Tatts-lotto have yet another license to print money at the expense of the general public.
There’s also the threat to sell off another family jewel: Country Energy! What other community assets are on the agenda for sale? Shame on any government that sells off public assets.
Arthur Pike

Not horsing around

On Jan 7 you ran a letter voicing the concerns of a Corndale resident about the construction of a fluoride dosing plant in her neighbourhood. I do not know whether this resident is concerned for her livestock as well as her own family health but if this is the case I would like to refer her to the case of Cathy Justus at Pagosa Springs USA. Cathy raised quarter horses and after fluoridation her horses developed many illnesses including cancers, chronic colic, joint problems, skeletal deformities, thyroid and reproductive problems. Foals were born with deformities or stillborn.
After years of investigation they proved beyond doubt that fluoride was the culprit and that the horses all suffered from fluoride poisoning. As a result of these findings, in March 2005, the artificial fluoridation of Pagosa Springs stopped and Cathy’s horses developed no more problems although a great deal of irreversible damage was done.
This could easily happen here. The negative effects on humans are slower to develop because we do not drink the enormous quantities of water that horses or other livestock do. However the negative effects of fluoride are well documented but apparently ignored by our local and state authorities.
If anyone would like a copy of this article on Cathy’s horses email thefluoridecon@ gmail.com. There is another more scientific and detailed report also available.
Susan Steel

Beyond belief
It is Victorian Senator Julian McGauran who is beyond belief, not the CSIRO of his criticism.
Because the ignorant Senator can’t face the fact that climate change is a fact, he now has launched an attack on the messenger, the CSIRO. Besides smearing the credibility of scientists who have reached their conclusions by actually proving them, this loose liberal cannon then proceeds to have a go at the government with a second incredible assertion.
He thinks the CSIRO have got the greenhouse effect wrong due to political pressuring from the government. I think the weight of political pressure is cooking McGauran’s judgement, more likely.
If Abbott doesn’t repudiate McGauran’s absurdities, his silence will reinforce them. Personally I’m sceptical that we’ll hear any rebuke from this ‘act-now-ask-later’ Opposition leader. And what about his candidates for Richmond and Page? Let’s hear where they stand on McGauran’s ignorance – we deserve to know.
I think Turnbull and Costello were right about Abbott.
Alan Rich
Lennox Head

Too complex
It is unfair to describe Peter Spencer’s activities as “sowing seeds of discontent” (Echo, Mar 18).
Many land owners are rattled as a consequence of government legislation and regulation at all levels. Many have lost their farms and their livelihoods. To say Peter is blaming government is correct, as governments have implemented unfair legislation that has caused enormous suffering. Although you describe Peter as incoherent many understood every word he said. It may be a simple case of being unable to recognise what you do not know.
Peter exposed the wrongs but he also spelt out two main solutions: 1. Compensate the farmers. 2. Join agmates.ning.com (All Good Mates), a forum created for individuals of any persuasion to communicate about making Australia a better place. Peter is hoping the people will one day run this country rather than a few who seem so adept at making decisions that are not truly in the best interests of the people, the nation, or the natural environment. Hope itself is within us, to be realised through caring enough about other human beings, species and nature. Part of caring is respecting property rights – your right to own what is rightfully yours and to benefit from the fruits of your toil.
Part of caring about other species and nature is balancing rights with responsibilities and the rights of others, including other species to life and a home. However a form of native vegetation legislation can only be fully justified by the protection of those that lose upon its implementation, otherwise it becomes a licence to steal. And when environmental legislation is used extensively to force people off their land for vested interests it betrays land owners and conservationists alike. Multinationals take over and productive farmland is left to grow weeds and ferals, awaiting international money from carbon trading, more food is imported, prices rise, food security reduces, national independence slides.
In farmers and conservationists I see both genuine concern, and at times blind bigotry. As a conservationist I want balance restored but I know that can only occur when humanity creates balance within its own species by respecting and upholding human dignity and worth. If we want to conserve natural habitat where landowners’ livelihoods are destroyed they simply must be compensated. I believe, dear editor, that you misrepresented Peter by saying he was comparing himself to Ghandi and Mandela, and ‘work(ing) the room’. Also you assume he would not discuss native title.
I myself brought up this topic with him and found him to be very knowledgeable.
If you can not understand something it is better to remain open to learning rather than to start punching above your weight. And since when has one needed a licence to philosophise?
Julia O’flaherty
Lismore Heights

Rate problem

In The Echo, Mar 18, two well-known local letter-writers were prominent. Lorraine Vass of Tucki was again effective in maintaining a high profile for her ‘Donna Quixote’ crusade to maintain koala populations, even in hostile urban interface areas. She was also the only person to vote yes at the Wyrallah Meeting in favour of the extra LCC rates increase proposal. Former Lismore councillor Ros Irwin’s lengthy self-serving treatise also gives limited support for the new rates increase proposal. In contrast to those letters I am dead against this extra levy application. It is well in excess of wage and most pension increases, even over the discredited CPI. Personally I have a current Lismore combined rates bill of over $1600pa, with all the “benefits” of our quaint 1930s worn-out services, neglected and disjointed footpaths and rarely maintained drains. I have friends who are paying well over $2,200pa rates up in Goonellabah. For them that’s over $40 per week going out on LCC rates alone, levied on their much reduced self-funded pension. Please get realistic Lismore City Council and stop this headlong push for above-CPI increases! At the moment the silent majority are well behind the field as regards the highly-polished sophistry that is churned out on this important local issue. Times are very hard for many in our community. If we do not speak up, our councillors will think these high volume, persistent, non-mainstream utterances are the people’s voice and will then have no compunction but to act on them. If they do, the tiny but vocal minority of inner-circle, non-representative activists will have won yet again.
Rob Andrews
Girards Hill

It’s the system
I am sure that Lismore City Council genuinely needs more money to run its services and whilst I may disagree with some of their funding priorities, there’s a democratic process to address those concerns. My preference is that Council raise rates rather than cut services, but the key issue for me is the core inequity in how local government raises revenue. Whether I earn $25,000 or $125,000 my rates are the same. Imagine if we paid a flat income tax, how much more would low income earners be struggling? I think the time has come (especially given the appalling state of NSW Govt) to seriously consider abolishing state governments and hand over health, education, transport etc to the federal government. Abolish local councils (look at Kyogle and Tweed as historic examples of councils sacked for incompetence and mismanagement), then create and fund Regional Governments with decently paid positions to attract people with skills; unlike the well-meaning amateurs that often run our local councils. Let Canberra set the budget, policy and the strategy, let regional governments deliver the services. That way you get the best of both worlds: centralised resources applying local skills and knowledge. It also allows for better accountability as we will have a much closer relationship to the agencies that actually deliver the services rather than some bureaucrat in Sydney who has only a vague idea that intelligent life exists beyond the metropolis. And best of all, paid for by one tax assessed on the basis of income rather than location. What’s not to like?
Angela Pollard

Square peg

Most of us know we’re lucky to live in the best region in Australia. For that privilege my wife and I currently pay Lismore Council about $21 a week in general rates, which will increase by a further $4 a week if the increase goes ahead. The decision to apply to increase rates above the rate-pegging set by the state government is a complex one, and needs to be made with a cool head and clear thinking. Lismore Council isn’t a business. It provides services to residents, and the notion of ‘tightening its belt’ will simply lead to a cut in services. Continued reference to Council’s ‘incompetence’ with the Memorial Baths and Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre does nothing to assist in the debate. A large number of residents and some councillors (not enough) warned of the folly of those decisions. But they’re here now, and we need to work with Council to make them a success instead of carping from the sidelines. Councils, like all of us, are facing many tough economic decisions with many costs increasing far in excess of CPI, and these costs must be paid by someone. To criticise Council staff as being overpaid bureaucrats is also not helpful. Private enterprise doesn’t have a better track record when dealing with large projects or with paying themselves salaries. If this rate increase goes ahead, which I believe must happen, over the coming years millions will go towards roads,   hundreds of thousands will assist Council with necessary environmental projects, and the paltry budget for promoting Lismore’s 3000+ businesses will be doubled. To those commentators who have conveniently jumped on the ‘no increase’ bandwagon, please identify to Lismore residents and local councillors exactly which services (not projects) you would like to see cut – a decision that’s likely to be made by Council if there is no rate increase. How about we start with sports field maintenance, reducing the opening hours of the library and art gallery (favourite of the bean counters in difficult times) and maintenance of the city’s public spaces just to name a few. Perhaps on the other hand you’d like to see Council increase its fees and charges (e.g. parking fees) – again a decision it’s likely to make without the increase.
Bill Sheaffe

Council business

By now many of you would have received your land valuation notices and Council’s proposed Special Rate Variation (SRV) increase, the first since 1997. Some rates have risen while others have decreased depending on the land valuation changes as outlined by the state govt.
Forums on the SRV (3.5%>) above the normal rate pegging amount (2.6%>) have been conducted throughout the rural area and deliberative forums will commence in the urban area soon.
The money raised will fund $500,000 on road reconstruction, $200,000 on environmental programs and $100,000 on business promotion (only paid for by businesses in the urban area).
Many issues have been raised during the forums including poor road construction practices, project budget overruns, poor financial management, the high cost of Lismore’s rates and the difficulty faced by ratepayers in finding the extra money.
Many of these issues are the legacy of the past two councils going back to 1999.
What was called the ‘six-pack’, the conservative men’s club, dominated those councils and gave us such wonderful edifices as the Memorial Baths (budget blowout), the Goonellabah Aquatic Centre (cost increases due to councillor add-ons), the Skyline Road fiasco, the faulty (or should that be Fawlty) levee wall, and the Lehman’s financial disaster. This was during a time of financial growth not seen since the post WWII boom.
What the previous councils failed to do was to upgrade our sewerage system, especially the Southern Ttrunk Main, seriously hampering Lismore’s ability to develop as the regional centre. They failed to increase rates at a time of greater affordability. Yet they pushed ahead with controversial developments while ignoring the realities of the future cost to council and ratepayers.
What this council has done in just 18 months is to make a start to put Lismore back on a sustainable footing. There is no quick fix, but with time and prudent decision making we aim to get council back on track.
First, Council instituted a full budget review which realised $500,000 in savings.
Second, Council has instituted a full review of work practices in the construction areas, not done since 1999, to ensure council is putting the ratepayers’ money to the best use.
Third, Council has approved the building of the Southern Trunk Main to alleviate pressure on Council’s overloaded Northern Trunk Main and release more land for development.
Four, we have also included the North Lismore Plateau for development in the new draft Local Environment Plan ensuring that Lismore has plenty of land options for development into the future.
We have had a review of planning conducted by an independent planning assessor to iron out the perceived problems associated with development applications in Lismore. And we are keeping a strict watching brief on the Quarry, the GSAC and our investments. But there is much more to do.
Council is currently conducting a community consultation process for the Special Rate Variation which will be used as a bench mark for such processes in the future.
Aided by the SRV, the first such increase in 12 years, we plan to make a start to improve our road network, quantify and qualify our environmental assets and boost business in Lismore.
Lismore LGA has waited a long time for responsible management that will take us into the modern era. Let’s not hold ourselves back by giving in to the negativity of party politics and yesterday’s message.
Cr David Yarnall
The Channon

New Ridges DA

I would like to advise the community that a Development Application for a 62-lot subdivision at Camerons Road, McLeans Ridges, is currently on public exhibition. I urge the community to lodge submissions with Lismore Council about this proposal. Despite the land being rezoned under extremely controversial circumstances there is still hope that the DA will be rejected by councillors.
 This development is clearly not in the best interests of the MR community or the wider community. And in fact, it will be the entire Lismore community that will be liable for the vast majority of ongoing costs of development at MR. They will be the ones paying for the upgrade and maintenance of the local road network which is already deemed inadequate and unsafe for current traffic volumes. Ratepayers will also be paying for a large portion of the inadequate community lot although polices clearly state that developers must meet the full cost of infrastructure.
This development will irreversibly destroy the character and beauty of a scenic, rural area – the very qualities that the people of Lismore are so proud of. It will come at a huge economic and environmental cost to the entire community. It will put lives at risk. It will be a short-term gain for few but a permanent loss for our region. Come on residents: have your say. Submissions close on April 23 and can be emailed to council@ lismore.nsw.gov.au. Subdivision plans can be viewed at the Council Chambers.
Janet Allen
McLeans Ridges

Weather or not

So, on this somewhat cool March 15 morning, we are informed by the Bureau Of Meteorology that indeed we can look forward to more hot days, and less cold days, according to the wonderfully kept records of the last five decades. We can also expect a hotter, wetter Northern Australia, with a rise in sea level of 10 millimetres – and a hotter, dryer Southern Australia.
What happened to the Deep Ice Core and Tree Ring evidence of the last umpteen thousand years, that completely refute these stupid parroted assertions?! Why is the current ‘wet’ period affecting all of Australia – and why wasn’t it predicted by these geniuses? If the KKKKKK can do it, why can’t they?!!
 Those poor substitutes for television weather reporters that regale us daily with feeds of drivel from these so called scientists, should be replaced by real journalists, capable of investigation and informed opinion – rather than moronic car racing commentators, or advertisements for surfing and sick kiddies.
 On a more positive note, seismologists now acknowledge a possible link between earthquake/seismic events – Haiti, Chile, New Zealand, Australia... Gee, the Earth turns!
Don Gaddes

Sharp volt
Many people are concerned by news that electricity price rises will be 62% over the next three years. The major contributing factor to   this huge increase is the provision of infrastructure by TransGrid, which is wholly owned by the NSW Government. We don’t have to look far to see part of the cause of the problem. Locally TransGrid is planning a transmission line costing up to $283.75m from Bonshaw, 90 kilometres west of Tenterfield, to Lismore. This expenditure is based on the extraordinary projection that demand will grow by 46% over the next 10 years! Population in this area is growing at approximately 1% per annum.
Considering for a moment that TransGrid’s demand projections may be correct there are some other significant issues to consider:
1. Demand management; just as there have been huge reductions in water usage because consumers have been made aware of how to reduce consumption so can consumers be educated to reduce electricity consumption. Smart metering and more energy efficient appliances with no standbys being just two possibilities. This is by far the cheapest way to reduce electricity consumption and it is highly effective.
2. Alternative sources of power; TransGrid’s proposed transmission line was planned long before the NSW Government introduced the 60cents per kwh gross feed-in tariff which has hugely increased the installation of photovoltaic systems in this area. Another strategy is encouraging a greater uptake of solar hot water systems (SHWS). To date we have only around 5% of houses with SHWS, if an additional 25% of NR households could be encouraged to replace electric with solar hot water by 2017, this could reduce the regional electricity demand by approximately 33MW.
3. Gas; Metgasco in Casino has the potential to build a 200MW power station within the next four years. Such a power station would meet the future demands of this region from a power source that has a much lower greenhouse gas emissions than TransGrid’s coal-fired power and would be considerably cheaper. The new transmission line was planned long before Metgasco made its very significant conventional gas discoveries.
I don’t believe that TransGrid has sufficiently taken into account any of these factors and urgently needs to review its plans to reduce costs to electricity consumers and to reduce the carbon dioxide impacts of coal-fired electricity.
Cr Simon Clough

Insidious Marxism

Robert Speirs (Echo, Mar 4) says, “It’s scary when you realise these folks are supposed to be academics and the future leaders of our country”.
It is indeed, if the ignorance of Robert and his fellow ‘secular left’ continues, and becomes even more ingrained though the error-brainwashing they will receive over their university course.
Robert, the first white settlers in Australia came from the UK, Ireland and other ‘Christian’ European countries. For the next 200 years, Christianity was the foundation, lifestyle and faith orientation of both our government and citizens.
However, in the 20th century, Marxism, under the guise of Socialism, began infiltrating Western nations through propaganda and disciples. It became fashionable amongst the elite and the (UK) Labor Party, etc. Following the WWII, European immigrants brought this radical political ideology to Australia and exercised it through the Unions, Labor Party and the CPA. In time they also infiltrated and took over publicly-funded organisations like the ABC radio (eg JJJ), newspapers, various committees, universities (incl. SRC), etc. All opportunities are used to promote their ideology, especially amongst the young, at taxpayers’ expense. Its success is seen in Robert’s bigoted attitude of hatred and ignorance of our history and heritage.
From 1972, when the Whitlam Government came to power, Marxism formed the base for all their policies. Their Attorney General, Lionel Murphy, made it his life mission to “rid Australia of Christianity”. Even Labor’s immigration policy reflects this enduring goal.
Robert reflects it in his vilification language.
Robert seems unaware that it was Christians who founded our first schools, universities and hospitals, etc. It’s also the foundation of our world-best Constitution, and raised Australia to the pinnacle of freedom, democracy and lifestyle. 67% of current Australians identify with Christianity, and their taxes fund our universities, etc.
Christianity then is our heritage. Marxist ‘left-wing secularism’ is the usurper. Using our taxes for funds, it is dedicated to turning our free, democratic nation into the failed Marxist dictatorships of past and present regimes. All Western democracies are similarly under attack, and each is experiencing it in their society’s breakdown.
So Robert, it is you and your ‘left, secular’ friends who are the intruders. Christians are/were on campus to restore to you your rightful heritage, and the opportunity to hear the truth. And they do it at their own expense and in their own time. Investigate further – you may find it really worth your while.
Mario Elba


I must say I agree with Robert Speirs regarding the Jesus myth and the questioning of heaven and hell, Echo, March 4.
I decided to hang off and see what the following week would bring to light. Much as I suspected happened. Christians just hate to read anyone questioning their beliefs. They have this uppity ‘I’m right and everyone else is wrong’ attitude. John Hannaford (“Preacher man”, Echo, Mar 11) has to choose his words as he is part of the flock. But John knows as well as I do that there is no reliable documented secular evidence that the alleged Jesus, Trinity scenario, (Jesus as God) ever existed in secular history. A couple of others responded as well with the same closed mind.
Let’s look briefly at the New Testament. Any evidence that the New Testament reveals is hearsay, and therefore always open to question. The alleged Jesus (who never left a written word anywhere, as proof of his existence) was referred to as a “Rabbi”. He was baptised by John the Baptist into some unmentioned Jewish sect, and Jesus himself was never a Christian, nor were any of his followers, as Christianity did not exist while the alleged Jesus walked the Earth. The new religion of Christianity never developed until some time after his death.
There really is no point in debating the Jesus myth, heaven/hell, scenario, as most Christians are not prepared to delve very closely into secular historical records, but prefer to read the thousands of books prepared by Christian authors to validate the propaganda machine. So what we should really be questioning is: Is there a God?
Those who choose to believe in a God do so by faith, regardless of the religion followed. If there is no God, then the Old Testament, New Testament, The Hebrew Tanach, The Torah, The Sanskrit, and the Quaran, and all of the books ever written to justify a person’s beliefs, become mere books written by mere men.
Jim Lee

Questions of reason

You know good people of Lismore the reason for my first letter to The Echo (Mar 4) wasn’t to vilify the Christ story, far from it. My intention was simply to bring attention to others a matter of concern to my good self. Namely, that fundamentalist evangelicals are invading SCU (Southern Cross Uni), probably at the bequest of Sydney’s Anglican ArchbishopPeter Jensen. I suspect this, given the fact that the leader of the group on campus I’m concerned with is a graduate of Moore Theological College, a well-known Jensen factory for knocking out extreme right-wing Bible bashers.
So what’s wrong with that, you might ask. Well, on the face of it nothing, but in your replies to my previous letter, writers spoke of reasoned debate and good questioning of the Gospel messages. This is where my concerns lie, folks, for reasoned debate and good questioning of Christ’s life, ministry and death are certainly not what’s occurring on SCU’s Lismore campus today.
In fact, what they do is just lecture and refuse any questioning of their views entirely. Further, they totally lack any transparency at all nor do they acknowledge any hidden agendas that may be present. For example, their theologies better reflect those of conservative Anglicans/Catholics, independent Presbyterians, and the Family First Party.
Already I can see the damage they are inflicting on the young minds of students at SCU, with their bigoted, myopic views. I came across one-of-the-group the other day who insisted on telling me that members of the Uniting Church aren’t Christians. Even blind Freddie can see where this will end up – a faith built on a hate/fear dogma of mistrust of others and concern not of the matters of this world.
I was brought up to believe in an inclusive Christ who shared a theology of liberation for the poor and marginalised, who sought to gather around him a diverse mob that would seek to form a community of love!
Robert Speirs



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