Letters to the editor - Mar 4

Crying shame
Recently I have read nothing but negative articles about the Lismore Private Hospital and the Base Hospital. On April 7 last year I was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident. I was rushed to Lismore Base, if not for the speed and efficiency of the staff I would not have survived.
I was a patient in Lismore Private Hospital, as I required much more assistance with recovery than could be given elsewhere. I was desperately in need of rehabilitation in every aspect of life as I had received quite severe mental and physical injuries.
After being there for three weeks my “rehab” objectives far exceeded my expectations. This was the “Complete Package” of care and support – from doctors, nursing staff, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, hydrotherapy, a great gym, nutritional care – food preparation – catering to all dietary needs and service, cleaning and more… including patient interaction – all good for mind, body and soul.
I can assure you I am not exaggerating. It is very important for me to strongly express all of this.
Honestly, if we lose this hospital, staff and all that goes with it, we will be losing one of the greatest assets to our community.
Maxine Fleming

Vital service

I am writing to express my concern and to inform the community of the recent government decision to axe the funding of a vital mental health support service in the Northern Rivers. The MISA (Mental Illness and Substance Abuse) Lifestyle Support Program is a community-based outreach service for people who experience mental illness and struggle with drug and alcohol issues.
Tragically, MISA’s funding will come to an end in June 2010 and there is currently no future funding available to ensure the continuation of this vital service in our community.
MISA operates out of The Buttery, the widely acclaimed drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre located in Binna Burra. This vital service has been funded by the Australian Government Attorney General’s Department for the past five years. During this time MISA has offered support programs all over the North Coast covering the areas bordered by Tweed Heads, Ballina and Lismore.
MISA supports individuals and their carers living in the community and offers a number of group programs promoting mental and physical health. The MISA team also provides educational programs to local high schools which focus on early intervention and prevention and have been demonstrated to reduce the chance of developing mental illness. The MISA service is an outreach service which is a crucial component of support provision in a rural area such as the Northern Rivers.
The urgent need for this service is reflected in the increasing incidence of mental health problems in our community. Recent research further suggests that the majority of people who experience mental illness also struggle with substance use issues. There is no other service on the North Coast which provides this essential and unique support to people struggling with both mental health and drug and alcohol issues. It is crucial that this funding be reinstated and that the MISA Lifestyle Support Program be enabled to continue to provide such an indispensable service to this rural and under serviced region.
If you are going to be affected by this negligent government decision or would like to show your support for MISA please attend a peaceful demonstration outside our local member, Justine Elliot’s office on Thursday, March 4, at 10.30am.
Gabrielle Le Bon
New Horizons

Not on the cards

The roots of Tarot cards are not exactly unknown. Historians know that the earliest Tarot cards actually appeared in 15th century Italy.
There is also no record of fortune telling or any occult uses of Tarot cards prior to the 18th century.
It is evident that Tarot cards were intended for playing a type of trick taking card game still played in many European countries.
It is sad that in the 21st century, the English language media still continue to print the distortions of history too often espoused by many Tarot readers as if they were fact.
Instead of always presenting the same one-sided depiction of Tarot cards as a divinatory tool, the English language media should also give some information on the Tarot family of card games for a truly balanced picture of this artefact.
Jim Wickson
Las Vegas, USA

Variable loans

The Green Loans program could have been one of the most successful programs any federal government has ever invented.
It benefits the environment by educating householders how they can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, it benefits the householders because they start saving on their energy and water bills, and it benefits local businesses (and their staff) when alternative energy solutions are implemented.
Unfortunately, it has been poorly administered from the start. Extremely poorly. It was conceived in a rush to avert some effects of the GFC – I admit that from the 2008/9 perspective, quick and urgent action was deemed necessary. However, Peter Garrett and his staffers failed to properly supervise the program and take corrective action until it was too late.
I have been conducting assessments since October 2009. It was a real eye-opener for me. Almost all householders were impressed by discovering, through the assessment process, how a number of small changes to their (energy using) behaviours can result in big savings. Most householders were prepared to spend money on replacing inefficient devices with new ones, on improving shading of critical windows and walls, and exploring alternative options to expensive air conditioning. Many householders opted for spending big on solar power, solar hot water and rainwater tanks to reduce their carbon footprint and to safeguard themselves against future price rises for energy and water.
The option of getting an interest free Green Loan was, for some, the icing on the cake, for others it was essential to get things going. Sadly, the minister decided to remove the interest free loans. A comparatively cheap subsidy was removed because the government did nothing to stop big and ruthless players from rorting an otherwise great program.
However, there is some good news for fans of solar power: even without a Green Loan, investing in solar power is still highly attractive. With a 60 cent per KWh gross feed-in tariff, any solar power system earns a guaranteed return on investment of 15-18%, which is far higher than any other secure investment. Even if a personal loan is taken out at, say, 10% p.a., the householder will still have a fully paid for system within the seven-year guaranteed income period, as well as a return on investment of more than 10%.
The cherry-on-top has been removed, but installing solar power now is still a highly attractive investment!
One thing is for sure: Energy prices will only go up, a price of 31 cents per KWh in two years has been legislated, and it won’t stop there. But the 60 cent feed-in tariff, while guaranteed for seven years for existing or new solar power installations, could be closed to new entrants much earlier!
Michael Qualmann

Protest too much?

What was it about Benny Zable protesting on Australia Day that so inflamed Lismore Council and the police that he was arrested and told to stay out of Goonellabah for twelve   hours? Was it their self-righteous dignity and pomposity that is now the norm for all Australia Day celebrations? An Americanism we didn’t have to have complete with the occasional air force display.
 The Australia Day long weekend once heralded a smorgasbord of music festivals as workers, students and families had their last taste of a relaxed summer atmosphere and weather on a long weekend before the coming year of hard work. Since the idea of a unified public holiday on the actual day for all states began in 1994 we have seen an increase in destructive flag bearing patriotism and sombre atmosphere. We have failed to take into account the feelings of the original inhabitants of Australia and their awareness it was the beginning of the end of a long happy association with their culture and the Australian landscape.
 As that time of the year is a traditional harvest festival that goes back centuries in the name of Lughnasadh, it is a shame that the harvest of fruits, berries and grains has been narrowed down to three typecast android looking figures holding supermarket meat. It is supermarket meat, no doubt, because buying from your local butcher still involves fresh slabs placed in a plastic bag wrapped in paper.
 The corporatisation of agriculture involves a growing reliance on animal feedlots which are most often associated with supermarkets. While we have the RSPCA supposedly in charge of animal welfare the crowded struggle of immense quantities of animals hemmed into yards totally contrary to their natural existence seems to have slipped past their guideposts. Such intensive farming requires a massive amount of grain, water and usually pharmaceuticals. In the light of global warming, eco system destruction involving rainforests, water and food shortages Benny Zable really did have a point to his protest.
 That mere slip of a man has devoted himself around the world to alerting humans to our environmental catastrophe. He has always been non-violent but oh, so theatrical.
It’s a shame that new laws brought in to cope with increased violence in our society are now used against peaceful protest.
 Kevin Rudd on the ABC show Q & A said Australians have the right to protest peacefully and referred to the decades spent building and preserving liberty. Is he aware of how little liberty we have left?
 Australia Day along with that poster is oh so boring. Where is the celebration of current Australia? If it is meant to encourage patriotism to our original diet, you must be kidding. Most Australians realise, along with England, we took the prize for one of the most boring diets on Earth until the arrival of people from many cultures and their rich smorgasbord of food and different dishes. Along with a music scene now inclusive of our international immigrants we have a lot to be thankful for but in no way does that poster reflect that.
 Why was the android looking female so bare shouldered that no clothes could be seen? Was it sexist as well?
Lynne Oldfield

Water, water

Trish Holt (Echo, letters, Feb 18) I wish to further enlighten you with these startling statistics from credible resources.
CSIRO Land and Water scientists have used precision weighing systems to measure water use by various crops and the yield from the crops. The following figures were revealed:
To produce 1kg of oven dry wheat grain, it takes 715-750 litres of water. For 1kg maize, 540-630 litres. For 1kg soybeans, 1650-2200 litres: For 1kg paddy rice, 1550 litres: For 1kg beef, 50,000-100,000 litres. (Climate Chief Lord Stern: Give Up Meat to Save the Planet, page 41, Vegan Voice, #40).
People will need to turn vegetarian if the world is to conquer climate change, according to a leading authority on global warming.
It takes 12 pounds of grain to produce one pound of hamburger. This could make eight loaves of bread, or 24 plates of spaghetti. Grain consumption by livestock is increasing twice as fast as grain consumption by people. Cattle consume 70% of all US grain.
While not all hamburgers come from the rainforest, for every pound of rainforest beef, approximately 660 pounds of precious living matter is destroyed, including 20-30 different plant species, over 100 insect species, and dozens of birds, mammals, and reptiles.
It takes 2500 gallons of water to produce one pound of hamburger. This could be used to grow more than 50 pounds of fruits and vegetables. Half of all water consumed in the US is used to grow feed and provide drinking water for cattle and other livestock.
Furthermore the protest I staged and was arrested for opposing that obscene poster for Australia Day is for yours and others to take note that it is not common and all believing that meat is good for human consumption. More and more people are turning to a primary plant based diet, eating less to no meat. Now we had a debate taking place in Copenhagen about the cattle/livestock culture being a prime cause of climate change.
I have written an article Australia Day, Food for Thought, for the free Nimbin News quarterly, coming out shortly in March.
During Beef Week, May 22-June 1 in Casino, the Nimbin Environment Centre has agreed to help host a Beyond Beef Week at the Nimbin Bush Theatre. I hope you and friends take advantage of coming along and participating in our program of films and discussions over some well prepared vegan/vegetarian cuisine.
Benny Zable

String ‘em up

There’s a good exhibition on in the Roxy Gallery in Kyogle called Highly Strung.
Tony Baron has paintings of violins and other stringed instruments as well as sculpted violins and guitars. The sensual hourglass body shapes of the violins and violas extend themselves to physical “titties” (“breasts” for elderly and those of political correctness) and the little belly bumps on the instruments are caressed as two waltz together in a delight for the senses! One painting of a violin with many arms reaching out to the viewer tries to draw you in to be hugged with the added advantage of enticing music. But then all women have this magic of drawing you in with their melodic charms! Congratulations Tony! Accompanying and equally part of the exhibition is the magic display by Janet Wilson of music played in lines along the wall and dancing stick figures garbed in romantic outfits – one hula girl topped with island flowers. Janet has used parts of an old piano as stands for her static displays but her dancing figures are a delight and would enhance the corner of any home and bring a smile to any daily lives and counteract all the reality dramas we face. They twirl our skirts and our minds! Congratulations Janet! Go and have a look – it’s a good one!
Bett Taylor

Browned off
I find the latest television advertisement by the NSW Government Health Department offensive and demeaning. “There’s nothing healthy about a tan.”
There is quite a large portion of our population who are well tanned because it’s in their genes and have no say in the matter, but given access to a reasonable lifestyle are every bit as healthy as the lighter-skinned portion of the population.
To make the sweeping statement that they are not healthy because of the colour of their skin is an insult. Surely the sun-safe message could be presented more graciously?
Even the addition of one word, “There’s nothing healthy about an acquired tan,” would make the statement much more acceptable.
Gordon Bibby

Comments for cash

It has now become clear that the state government has contributed (given, donated, gifted, lost) over six million dollars (probably eight million) to the Repco World Rally last year. Kyogle Council probably threw in a lazy $120,000.
What a wonderful impact those millions of dollars would have had in addressing the myriad of under funding problems faced at the Tweed or Lismore Base hospital. With seemingly little ability to fix some of the worst roads and bridges   in NSW apparently due to lack of funds Kyogle Council has no problem finding $120,000 of ratepayers’ money to throw at a multi-national corporation. With the notable exception of one councillor, no local member or councillor put forward a view that this money could be better spent in other ways. This indicates that these elected people after due process and consideration really thought that this was the BEST way that this money could be spent in benefiting the people of the area.
With this in mind and in the interest of democracy I am now encouraging any taxpayer or ratepayer who (heaven forbid) feels that their taxes could be spent with greater prudence and wisdom to write to their local representative (local or state) or this paper and suggest alternative ways that money could be better spent. Our elected representatives appear to need as much help as they can get.
To start the ball rolling I offer eight suggestions to the Kyogle councillors. I know there are hundreds more out there. A guided bus tour of the local area for all councillors and local members to areas of concern lead by local ratepayers.
An upgrade of the council-tip it is the most user unfriendly on the Northern Rivers (facilities, not staff).
Fix the bridge on Old Tweed Road and reopen it to traffic. (We’ve waited five years to have it fixed).
 Provide waste transfer stations for outlying communities.
Compensate businesses that lost money because of the rally.
Replace gateway to the rainforest signs and signage directing tourists to national parks and rainforests.
Have a referendum to subsidise the rally. (Rate increase could then be applied to people supporting the rally).
Just fix the bridges and roads. (Have a look and take your pick).
Come on all you ratepayers and taxpayers – this is your money that has been thrown round and our leaders are clearly bereft of ideas on how to spend it. They need your help now.
Lee Scarlett

Fluoride debate

I see that the issue of water fluoridation is still in the news. I had thought that councils had caved in to State Government bluff and bullying, and had inflicted fluoridation on the public regardless of much genuine concern.
I remember a leaflet distributed by Richmond Valley Council which asked questions such as; do European countries fluoridate their water supplies? This was followed by a lengthy non answer wherein we were informed that some countries made fluoride available in salt or bread.
 I’m reminded that in 2005 the European Court of Justice ruled that fluoridated water was a medicine and could not be used to manufacture or prepare food that was to be exported between European Community countries. I expect this ban would apply also to food products imported from countries outside the EC, such as Australia. Do the Europeans know something that we are ignoring?
 Whilst the above information isn’t likely to be useful in a challenge based on legalities, I say all power to the local anti-fluoride campaigners.
It is no simple task to defeat those big brother types who know how to bend the ears of politicians, and who would compel us to drink, bath the baby and ourselves, water our chooks, pets, goldfish and gardens with their noxious brew.
Roy Fulloon

Fluoride furphies

I have just read the article “Rous seeking clearer picture” (Echo, Feb 25) and here is my reaction. Dentists have admitted that it was a huge mistake to inject mercury inside the body. How many decades will it take to realise their mistake about fluoride? Don’t count on them to wake up quickly, the dentists are profiting the most from water fluoridation as dental fluorosis is irreversible, very costly for the patients, very profitable for the dentists. Fluoride is a known poison and one of the deadliest pollutants known. It is NOT recommended to drink a poison every day when the damaging effects are cumulative. When a certain quantity is reached, symptoms appear (eg bone cancer, dental and skeleton fluorosis, arthritis, etc.). Absorption of Fluoride happens by having a simple shower with fluoridated water, through the skin. Your water filters won’t help! Fluoride is a neuro toxin, it damages the brain. Fluoride supplements should be banned like in Belgium. The quantity of fluoride needed by the body is nul. If some people decide to absorb any poison (eg smoke), it is their freedom. To force medicate a community with extremely polluting and dangerous toxins is a crime which the community should not accept. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. Take the time to study. Get educated from scientists who are not on the payroll of the industries polluting dangerously the environment with fluoride. We have far too much fluoride in our fresh and processed food as fluoride is one of the main ingredients of pesticides. The decision to fluoridate the water supply has to be one of the most stupid decisions ever taken by our councillors. The word “stupid” is nice when we think about the suffering of all the people who will be affected by it. Appalling.
Alcy Infinity, SWAN (Safe Water Action Network), Lismore

Bright spark

I have just paid my February 2010 Country Energy electricity account. This account is the first which will enable comparisons to be made with previous bios since installing a 1kw solar power generating system on our roof in 2009. Some readers may be interested in the savings that have been achieved in our electricity so far.
Our February 2010 account was $98.56. Compared with the bill for the same period in 2009 of $194.55, this represented a savings of $95.99 or about 50%, compared with the previous bill, November 2009, of $183.62, a saving of $85.06 or about 46%. These monetary savings are matched by corresponding reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from 1.53 tonnes in November to .86 tonnes February 2010 account.
From January 1, 2010 all power generated through this system will be brought by Country Energy at 60 cents per unit. That amount of energy consumed will incur a charge of 19.62 cents, the current rate. The 40 cents difference will be credited to the account which will also result in further savings. The unit produced an average of 4.77 kjwhs per day during January. Needless to say, we are delighted with our investment and the savings to date beyond our expectations.
Late in 2009, we installed a solar hot water system. This was done because of the rebates currently available, the additional electricity cost savings expected and also for environmental reasons.
My understanding of the current government’s proposed Carbon Emission Scheme is to put a price on atmospheric carbon production rather than it being a “massive new tax.” As an end user of coal-fired power station electricity, we believe we are doing our bit to minimise the impact of any future price increases that the implementations of this scheme might incur as well as reducing, albeit a little, our contribution to the global warming phenomena occurring at the present time.
John Moye

Last week, while I was away, my husband received a call from Telstra, who provide our phone services – or so he thought. As he answered the caller’s questions, it became apparent that the caller had misrepresented himself, and was from GoTalk telecommunications company. He was told we could save money if we transferred our services to GoTalk. My husband asked them to send him some information in the mail, so we could both have a look at it when I returned. GoTalk asked my husband to record information, which he thought was for the purpose of them drafting a contract to send; for us to have a look through, before we made up our minds. My husband said he only wanted to see the information, not change the service. Nevertheless they must have recorded some of the right words for their purposes, and they transferred our services to GoTalk.
I came home to find our telephone service had changed and we had no internet connection. Enquiries with my husband, and then the arrival of a modem from GoTalk in the mail that morning, revealed that GoTalk had illegally captured our service provision. A terse call to GoTalk reversed the issue with the phone, but it took us 4 days to get our Internet connection restored, because our provider required us to put our “churn reversal” request in writing, and then there was ‘proper procedure’ to be carried out. Yet GoTalk could do what they liked on the strength of one phone call – no need for them to go to the bother of putting anything in writing!
So beware GoTalk. In fact, beware any ‘cold caller’ trying to sell you anything. Never agree to have your voice recorded, unless you are 100% sure you want to buy the product they are selling. The recording is the contract. And if you do have problems with a telecommunications provider, call the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman on 1800 062 058 and lodge a complaint. You should also follow through with a written complaint to: Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, PO Box 276, Collins Street West, Victoria, 8007. Or register your complaint online at http://www.tio.com.au/ make_a_complaint.htm.
There is no way we would go with GoTalk, no matter how much money we save – good ethics is more important than money.
Name and address withheld by request

Good Echo
Thank you Rudi for your forthright, ever enlivening commentaries. Thank you Mungo for explaining so humorously the weird world of politics to me. Thank you S (Sylvester? Simon? Stuart) for describing so explicitly and feelingly the inside of a man’s head while playing tennis with a woman. And I wish I’d read Geoff’s ethics re ‘open relationship’ back in the wild confusion of the 1960s! Thank you Echo, too, for a lovely big crossword and for altogether giving me a great afternoon.
I get myself up the Kyogle main street every week to gather your beautiful bulk into my arms and carry you off to my cottage under Fairymount but I have not before acknowledged how well you enhance my life. Bless you!
Melita luck

Bible blues

How the hell did a left wing uni get infested with redneck homophobic bible bashers? As a new student starting out in law, I was appalled to see all the resources and funding afforded to bible bashers at a secular university.
I mean in 2010 do people still believe in the Jesus myth and the heaven and hell crap? It’s scary when you realise that these folk are supposed to be academics and the future leaders of our country.
What does the rest of Lismore think?
Robert Speirs



Lismore Gallery exhibits capture our reach

Lismore Gallery exhibits capture our reach

As a public facility the gallery's remit is ensure reach is broad

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Escape the screens and let's get cycling

cycling gives your mind a break and your body an influx of oxygen

Gallery exhibits a 'portrait' of Lismore

Gallery exhibits a 'portrait' of Lismore

Two of our best photographers give Heart & Soul to new exhibition

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