Letters to the editor - Apr 1

Community service
I’d like to correct Mr Parks in regard to the ‘Re-New Newcastle’ seminar held at Star Court Theatre (Echo, Mar 25). I was standing at the back and had a good opportunity to count; 225 people were in attendance, not 130 as stated.
I have learnt one thing after 35 years in the visual arts industry and that is success as an artist is dependent on one thing, the level of support that individuals or groups receive from the community, and in particular the leaders of that community.
In 1984 I was a struggling artist (some said dreamer) living in Coffs Harbour and I did have a dream. At that time there existed only one gallery in Coffs and it was exclusive – my dream was to open my own.
On my walks around the jetty area of Coffs I’d noted the large amount of vacant run down buildings. It was not only visually depressing but a waste of resources so I decided to spend a few days walking around noting the address of suitable vacant buildings with the view of contacting the owner for use as a gallery. In exchange for low manageable rent I would make whatever repairs I could to the premises, renovate it (if need be) and give it a ‘lived in’ look.
The second run down building I looked at was called the ‘Piano Factory’ it was being used as a piano repair shop and had previously been the Coffs Cordial factory (unfortunately it was burnt down in 1998). It was perfect so I spoke to the proprietors of the building next door and tracked down the owner.
He was Mr Brian Brebner, a successful business identity and future president of the Coffs Harbour Rotary Club and a very generous man. It was timely, the current lease had just reached its expiry date and the tenants had no interest in undertaking another, so after negotiations Mr Brebner and I agreed on a minimum rental and he drew up a lease.
As part of the agreement my partner and I spent the next few days helping the former tenants remove the few pianos that were still stored there and also contributed our labour in clearing the gutters and removing the rubbish that had accumulated. Then we cleaned the windows, swept and mopped the floors, and painted the entire interior. Outside we mowed the small lawn frontage, planted marigolds in pots, and hung a stylish sign.
Within a week I had my gallery and I opened for business. It had cost less than $100!
Although the enterprise, my first, didn’t become a huge financial success it got me started and gave me a living, and it got my art out into the community.
Our occupancy of the premises also deterred squatting, revitalised the street, and stopped late night vagrant activity (broken windows, etc) and we became firm friends with the business owners that surrounded us.
I went on to become an artist. I have produced work for the Coffs City Council, and other corporate bodies. I’ve had many successful exhibitions and won numerous awards for my painting, and not long after I leased the old piano factory I was invited to hold an exhibition in Coffs Harbour’s one ‘exclusive’ gallery.
When I think of the success I’ve had I believe it’s only been due to the vision and generosity of businessmen like Mr Brebner. I am encouraging Lismore business owners to get behind this proposed project – the rewards are manifold not only for business but the community.
Ken Paul Swan

Art market

Australian artists on average are amongst the most disadvantaged members of society. This is not because the arts industry consciously discriminates against its own, nor the result of some conspiracy by the rich. Rather it is a result of how many artists choose to market themselves.
In many cases artists hand control of their work to others, or submit their work to be judged by others. We approach the marketing and exhibition of our work in much the same way as a leaf is buffeted by the wind – blown here and there by forces beyond our control.
In a nutshell, I believe many artists simply give it away.
I believe many artists would be better served by becoming more independent and dealing directly with their own client base. Rather than submitting their work to be judged by others, or applying for taxpayer funded handouts, I believe artists are best served by retaining control of their creative process and keeping a larger share of the profit their work generates.
I believe artists are best served by establishing their own platform where they can be seen and heard on terms of their own choosing (as opposed to terms imposed upon them by outside forces). By taking ownership of their creative passion, artist stand to benefit in all sorts of ways – websites, self-publishing, independent exhibitions, self-run courses – the list goes on!
Of course this sort of talk makes some people nervous – particularly those for whom the status quo is working. Contest organisers, regional gallery directors and arts council members are amongst those who form the ‘industrial’ approach to the arts. They are part of a regulatory framework that seeks to manage and administrate the arts.
Artists who accept this power structure (or do not see it) can be part of the ‘system’ provided they stay between the lines and are content to jump through the right hoops. And so my letter ends where it began, with artists giving it away.
Perhaps with time, more artists will find the courage to question themselves and their approach to art. Maybe one day more artists will start giving themselves the break they deserve and seize the day.
Carpe diem!
R J Poole

Unfair search

Today I assisted several police in wasting more tax dollars in Nimbin. I was stopped by a policeman with a dog and was told that the dog was interested in me and did I have drugs on my person. I politely told the policeman that his dog was mistaken and another policeman took me to the side and asked me to take off my hat and empty my pockets. I did as the policeman asked and proved my innocence. It was my understanding that citizens of this great country are innocent until proven guilty. Now I realise the truth and have very little respect left for the police of our little village.
I am 59 years old without any record of crime, yet I can be searched in the main street, in front of all of my peers. I’m disgusted. By the way, there were about 20 police scouring the village – they were very busy doing not much!!!!!!
 Michael Wright
 Mt Nardi

Climate choice
Perhaps some of the climate change sceptics who write in should have a look at the latest “State of the Climate” report from the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology who have a combined history of studying the weather in Australia of 160 years. The report is sourced from peer reviewed data on temperature, rainfall, sea level, ocean acidification and carbon dioxide and methane levels in the atmosphere.
Some of the key features of the report are that the number of days with record hot temperatures has increased each decade for the last 50 years. There have also been fewer cold days each decade during that period. Most significantly 2000 to 2009 was Australia’s warmest recorded decade.
The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 2009 was 386 parts per million (ppm). That is much higher than the natural range of 170 to 300 ppm which has been present for at least the last 800,000 years and possibly the last 20 million years. The authors say that “there is greater than 90% certainty that increases in greenhouse gas emissions have caused most of the global warming since the mid 20th century”.
If we are to look at the consequences of assuming that climate change is real then we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; which probably means living more simply and perhaps experiencing a degree of economic restraint. If we look at the consequences of ignoring the more than 90% possibility that climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions is real, humanity and many other species could face a very bleak future. It seems to me that we don’t have much of a choice. We have to go with the science and reduce our emissions now.
Cr Simon Clough

Economic lesson
Regarding the valid idea that green lefties come on like fundamental theologians. Okay neo-cons, Piers, Janet, what about free market theology? It’s a better fit…
Climate change deniers need to bother to read, say, J & M Gribbins’ bio of James Lovelock. Earth systems science is far more accessible than market theory. Consider peer reviewed science, then take a look at sub-prime mortgage broking, credit default swaps, or market maths for gosh sakes…
Secondly re the notion that applying risk management principles to the likelihood of man made climate change might stuff up the economy. Have these guys any concept at all of the bill for the GFC bailout? And how staggeringly cheaper tackling climate change could be?
For us average Richards, climate change is a scary possibility. The end of the world as we know it is okay while ever it’s just a pop song. I tried googling ‘psychology and climate change’ recently, looking for a discussion about how it is we’re not emotionally dealing with it very well. The American association is one step ahead of me. Scientists that they are, they accept CC okay. What interests them is the psychology of how we let things get this far.
Is love of money really at the route of all evil, as quoted? Are we confused by a metaphor; the means of exchange we call money? Separating allegory from reality can be a struggle, but it was an ordinary enough concept back in Mr Murphy’s 4E Economics class in 1961. (I sat next to Jim Sharman, he of the Rocky Horror show etc.)
You know it makes sense.
Stu Wales

Living in the past
Ben Cooper of Sydney asks, “When is the Coalition going to get the message and stop living in the 1950s? (“Congrats Norrie!” Echo, Mar 18, 2010).
Without entering into any theological arguments, suffice it to say that, in the beginning (of the creation of this planet) God created us male and female. He also constituted the first marriage – between a man and a women – and no other parties! But these “its” are basically saying, god, You got it all wrong! You should have made us this way or that way! And then they have the gall to demand equal rights, in rebellion against our loving, beneficent creator.
Now I, being Puritan, hold the evils which are invading our society (some of which he espouses and promotes in that letter) in absolute abomination. I would sooner be “lost in the 50s” than to countenance the gross spiritual darkness and moral degeneration of these last days. On second thought, the 1950s were too corrupt for me; per adventure thou shouldest make that to be the 1850s!!!
May the Coalition never get the message that he espouses!
G Hagen
Chapel Hill, Qld

Reverse parking

Since LCC has been beautifying our streets we have lost 101 car parking spaces around the main block, about 20% to 25% of the main block parking. When you reduce the amount of parking close to where people shop a vast number of shoppers go elsewhere. Now LCC, in their wisdom, want to charge CBD ratepayers an extra levy, even though there would be less people on the streets which relates to less people shopping.
An interesting comparison would be an exercise comparing Lismore to Ballina CBD rate charges.
And then the coast overruns on recent LCC activities, Memorial Baths, Goonellabah sport complex and new sewer mains. Nearly $27 million not counting $4M lost in sub-prime investments. What is the interest charged on this kind of money? Would LCC rate revenue cover interest charges? Please LCC let us have some answers and then let us know why people who make decisions that cost ratepayers millions of dollars don’t appear to be answerable to anyone. I can’t imagine they would last long in private enterprise.
Des Fairfull

Our heritage

Heritage Week is approaching. Where is the lasting, visual, public memorial to all the efforts of Louise Tiffany Daley BEM MA, the New Yorker who wrote the ground-breaking regional history, Men and a River, and was a major force behind establishing the Regional Museum in Lismore? High tributes continue to flow in, but visitors and many residents have not been informed about this charismatic local legend.  The last meeting of the prestigious, Sydney-based, The Women’s Pioneer Society of Australasia Inc. supported efforts by people trying to have a memorial erected to honour Louise Daley. The society quoted The Australian’s review of Men and a River when it was published in 1966: “invaluable, a notable achievement and a model of what a regional history should be.” Joseph (Lew) Lewis-Hughes OBE, of Sydney, when the Lismore-based District Valuer, supported Louise Daley’s marathon efforts to record local history more than 50 years ago. He doubts that today’s extensive and accurate records would exist without her personal efforts. Having been a leading New York decorator, her achievements included designing the layout of the Regional Museum, when it was established in the Trench Building in Molesworth Street, Lismore. She also set up a cataloguing system to access information readily. Louise Daley officially opened the Pioneer Park, near Missingham Bridge, East Ballina, in recognition of her considerable research into the lives of those buried there. Way ahead of attitudes of her era, she welcomed Aborigines to the Lismore museum in the 1950s, and recorded their histories, when they were treated as second class elsewhere. She recognised the importance of the New Italy settlement. Her promotions ranged from a pioneer descendants’ ball to displays of early machinery and women’s crafts. When almost blind in her eighties, at Armidale, she continued research for a biography, William Yabsley, Master of Coraki, completed by Claire Scofield, and published posthumously. A descendant of the famous US Tiffany and Vanderbilt families, Louise Daley was born into a life of privilege, but laboured to benefit future generations. Her achievements and legacy are so exceptional that they deserve wide acknowledgement.
Marelle Lee
Lennox Head

Same act

The act of deliberately awakening and nurturing the dark angels in individuals and in society as a whole to me speaks of a diabolically psychotic mind, devoid of any moral standard.
I was hoping that we, at least here in Australia, were through with that kind of dark chapter when John Howard was defeated in 2007. I don’t know if it was really my own naivety all along, or perhaps Kevin Rudd was just experiencing a momentary lapse of sanity, induced by the latest polls, but there he was suddenly with his terrorism White Paper, doing an Oscar winning impression of Dick Cheney in front of Parliament House.
It seems we have been paying too much attention to the real things in our lives, so Kevin felt the need to remind us that “there is a bit of a danger that we all get numbed to the terrorist threat”, and that it might “no longer bite home”.
That’s right, Kevin. It’s been ages since I have last dobbed my neighbour in for wearing a turban.
Smack on hands.
Perhaps the fact that these terrorists you speak of had not even set off as much as a firecracker in Australia, might have something to do with it.
On the other hand, what about health safety? Thousands die every year because of insufficient health care.
What about job security? Once it was guaranteed. Now hundreds of thousands are out of work.
What about school safety? Thousands of kids are being bullied and scarred for life in our schools.
What about public safety at night? Thousands are being injured by drunken mobs because of insufficient policing.
And not the least, what about safety from the elements? Thousands are homeless, sleeping on park benches and eating out of garbage bins.
Governments, both Labor and Liberal, keep telling us that our safety and security are their primary responsibility and concern.
Judging by their priorities and scaremongering propaganda however, it appears that in their minds the only safety and security we really need in our lives is the safety and security from those elusive terrorists who are apparently lurking under every bed now.
Tom Koo

Good for the land

Today marks a significant win for farmers and for the environment against the ravages of the greedy mining company BHP Billiton in the Liverpool Plains area of NSW. For 615 days local farmers blockaded BHP Billiton’s access to their farms while the Supreme Court decided on the legality of the mining giant entering private property to explore for coal. The Supreme Court decided in the farmers’ favour, saying that miners do not have the right to enter private property without the owner’s consent. This wonderful precedent, supported by the NSW Greens, shows that more than ever the interests of farmers and conservationists are converging as they battle the corrupt greed of large corporations. It also shows that when grassroots organisations join together they can make a real difference in making this a better world for us and future generations. We should be supporting these activities more and more to make sure that valuable agricultural land and areas of conservation value are not destroyed so that greedy corporations can continue their destructive and polluting ways just to satisfy shareholders. And remember shareholders are those who have extra cash that underwrites this activity while they do nothing to actually increase the wealth of the nation but funnel that wealth into fewer and fewer hands.
M Mizzi

Sorry business

After years of the Rudd/Gillard government, I was hoping people may start to realise they simply will not deliver for the workers. Big business wanted them in power and they’re delivering for them. Alas, I see more trust than suspicion.
 Would all the pro-worker Labor faithful out there please consider two recent aspects of Labor’s industrial relations policies.
 Firstly, last week, Julia Gillard and her employer mates were incensed by a decision by Commissioner Ryan of Fair Work Australia to approve an enterprise agreement which included a clause of right of entry of the National Union of Workers (NUW) to the workplace. It only related to that agreement and workplace. Extremely tough restrictions on right of entry to the workplace by unions, imposed by Labor’s own Fair Work Act, still exist. But Gillard wasted no time in committing her government to intervening on behalf of the Australian Industry Group, representing employers.
 Secondly, these restrictions of union entry are of particular concern in workplaces with non-unionised, foreign labour workers on 457 visas. Talking to the union could not only mean the sack, but could lead to deportation. These workers could be earning $30,000 p.a. less than the award, but the restrictions make it very difficult to expose. Now Labor has freed up restrictions on 457 visas, further than Howard dared to, allowing in workers even when Australian workers may be found for the same jobs.
 I see all this as part of a regime deliberately contrived for the soul purpose of undermining Australian workers, done by wolves in sheep’s clothing. Trust Labor, and workers go like lambs to the slaughter.
Doug Burt

Unhealthy attitude

It was so pleasing to see that Obama had the first part of his Health Care Bill passed. It was less pleasing to see that not one Republican voted for it. (There is not one Republican who believes in social equity?) This proves two things. First, how powerful the business lobby groups who work hand in hand with the Republicans are and second, that the only thing the Republicans are interested in doing is to bring Obama to his knees. They will play dirty tricks, tell half truths and arouse blind nationalistic passions to stop any bill they do not want, regardless of whether it is good for the country or for the majority of the people.
 Worse, they will try to obstruct absolutely any important legislation that Obama tries to pass. It matters nothing to them that it is his policies the people voted for and not theirs. Sound familiar? In Australia the same pattern has emerged. The Coalition is just as dishonest, nasty and arrogant as the Republicans. The Coalition seems intent on doing exactly the same thing for the same nasty, self-interested reasons. They cannot bear to see a clever Labor Prime Minister do more for the betterment of the whole country than they ever did. Their constant obstruction to the passing of important legislation shows them to be unworthy of office.
An opposition is there to debate not destroy. We can only hope that this fanatic, Abbott, is soon deposed, or God help Australia.
B Guy

More debate

Contrary to Jim Lee’s claims (Echo, Mar 25), I really love people questioning my beliefs and I actively encourage it. I think it’s healthy. All believers need to constantly look at the evidence for what they believe and to modify their beliefs accordingly. No “closed mind” here Jim.
As to his claim that “there is no reliable documented secular evidence that the alleged Jesus, Trinity scenario (Jesus as God) ever existed in secular history”? If he means by this that no ancient recorders of history apart from believers wrote about Jesus, he is clearly wrong. Whereas the claims about Jesus being divine are grounded in his own words and actions and need to be judged accordingly. Jesus actively sought this himself: “Who do you say that I am?”
But Jim claims that there is only “hearsay” evidence in the New Testament. This is not so. John twice claims eye-witness status. Luke sets out specifically to write an accurate historical account from his eye-witness sources. It is in the Gnostic Gospels of later centuries that you get the myths and legends occurring. Miracles become magic. Read them and you will see how different they are from the Gospel accounts. The early Church was right to reject them.
Christianity, like Judaism, is bolted to history in a way that many popular religions today are not. You don’t need to believe that the Buddha existed to be Buddhist or just appreciate the truth he imparts. But if the bones of Jesus are found in Palestine tomorrow, then Jesus’ truth claims are soundly refuted.
John Hannaford



Airport gets 4.5 million investment

Airport gets 4.5 million investment

Funds allocated for airport, Hannah Cabinet and tennis courts

Lantern Parade Update #3

Lantern Parade Update #3

Lantern Parade extends the festivities to bring in the river

Winch yield's audience with BBWF

Winch yield's audience with BBWF

The Yield is a story of a people and a culture dispossessed