Letters to the Editor - Oct 22

In the firing line
The Echo’s Editorial of Oct 8 was just another example of the demonisation of firearms.
Literally so: The Shooters Party is “the devil”.
Whatever its connection with the ALP, The Shooters’ Party does not encourage children to play with handguns. That is emotive journalese.
In fact it is so difficult to obtain a permit for a handgun that the only place outside a military museum they are likely to see one is on television on any given night.
Hunting of noxious feral animals in National Parks by approved, ethical shooters is the obvious way to protect the parks. As for Apprehended Violence Orders, they are too often conveniently applied by vindictive former partners.
I have owned firearms for more than 50 years without ever killing anyone or even being involved in a shooting accident. Though I no longer use my guns for hunting or target shooting, I consider the right to keep them, safely stored, a sign of a democratic society, so does The Shooters’ Party, yet this right is constantly being eroded.
B Tate
The Channon

 “Large Calibre Permits for minors: Amend the Regulations (Clause 70) to allow minors who have held a Minors Target Pistol Permit for more than 12 months to apply for and be issued with a permit to use large calibre pistols.” –
Shooters Party proposed amendment to NSW firearms legislation
– Editor

Sick act
I was profoundly disappointed to see racist graffiti on the freshly painted front wall of the “Three Rivers – Aboriginal Art Space” in Magellan St.
Needless to say the graffiti was misspelt and unoriginal, reflecting the ideas of some very sick people in the USA.
How sad that we have people in our community who need to respond in such a negative and destructive way to the positive initiatives of our Indigenous artists.
Cr Simon Clough
Pine whine
Opposition front-bencher Christopher Pine, who for some reasons always reminds me of the Frank Burns character from MASH, remarked on Q&A (Oct15) that he is “not regarded as a hardline right-winger in the Liberal Party”.
Later, in a masterful display of classic irony, he declared emphatically that he is “not embarrassed about the Bush Administration under any circumstances”, and that whether we like it or not, “the United States is still the bulwark of freedom and liberty in the world today.”
These are views which you might only expect to hear these days from incurable, hard-core neo-cons and gun-swinging rednecks from remote Texas and Alabama.
As if that was not enough, Pine then went on to defend Israel’s 42-year occupation of Palestine, and the brutal treatment of the Palestinian people, with a zeal and threadbare propaganda that would’ve put to shame even those Israeli spokesmen and women who are all over our screens after their military’s every atrocity.
Now, if these are the views that distinguish the “non-right” wing of the Liberal Party from its right wing, then we can only assume that some of Christopher Pine’s colleagues are fervently polishing their heavy boots already, and soon we will be seeing them goose-stepping down main street, to the stirring beats of the Horst Wessels march.
The more likely scenario is, of course, that the many hypocrites, such as Christopher Pine, will keep on claiming the prestigious ground of moderation for themselves, while remaining undaunted extremists in their hearts and minds.
Tom Koo

Please explain
If the PM and Greens cannot explain to the people the mechanical and scientific means by which minute increases in parts per million of CO  ² increases global warming then they are deliberately misleading Parliament and the people on the need for ETS.
Before this stupidly draconian and disastrous legislation is passed there needs to be a full inquiry to prove it first — currently it is being based on theory from a small group of mediocre scientists — and opposed by 31,072 senior US scientists and many more worldwide. Only fools would pass legislation based on unfounded theories. When the ETS is passed on its fictitious base, all power generators across Australia should shut down until it is repealed and evidentiary material established. The ETS will not make any difference to worldwide, naturally occurring temperature variations — wake up Australia.
G J May

Trade imbalance
Penny Wong’s ETS plan for the next ten years looks like this. China will expand its emissions by 30 times Australia’s production, while we are being legislated to reduce ours by 20 per cent.
In other words, China will increase its emissions 150 times what we reduce ours by and we get to export a bunch of jobs, have unreliable power supplies and send our farmers broke for the privilege. (China increases its emissions by Australia’s total amount approximately every four months.)
Leon Ashby
President The Climate Sceptics
Mt Gambier SA

Ignoring history
The IPCC theory that man-made CO  ² is the cause of global warming ignores the accepted recorded history of the Roman Warming (500BC-535AD) and the Medieval Warming, (900AD-1300AD), both of which were warmer than the present, about 1000 and 2000 years before industrialisation and the present CO  ² emissions.
Is the computer-generated theory incorrect or is long-accepted written history incorrect? One must be wrong.
Records of what crops grew where, harvests, snowfalls, etc., prove the climate was warmer at those times in Europe, England, Greenland and elsewhere, whereas the following Dark Ages and Little Ice Age were much colder, with famines and disease wide spread.
Climate change occurs for many reasons, not just from CO  ² emissions.
Ken Macdonald
Lennox Head

Changing priorities
A Lowy Institute survey of Australians last week showed climate change dropping from first to seventh on the list of foreign policy goals.
However, 76 per cent in that study still considered climate change a major problem. No wonder, with all the jargon, political speak we hear each day, people become disillusioned with politicians and their utter nonsense.
 Now, it is obvious great environmental changes are happening. The ten hottest years on record have occurred in the last 12 years and NASA scientists are predicting this record will be broken this year or next.
 Australia has had a 0.9°C rise in average temperatures since 1950.
 The global mean sea levels have risen 7.1cm between 1993 and 2003 and in the Antarctic, scientists report ice sheets receding at the rate of 17 metres per year.
Many more statistics of this sort are available, but what concerns me is that the story lines and truth for the ordinary citizen have become totally confusing or not understood at all.
Personally, I prefer the term “global ecology crisis” (GEC) to either climate change or global warming, because it is a more accurate term.
Our world comprises a complex of many ecosystems that are shared with every single organism on the planet. But it is the failure in our ecological thinking and behaviour that has created the problems.
Our disconnection with nature has compromised the balance of life processes occurring in the earth’s biosphere, which is that portion of the earth supporting all the life forms, from bacteria to man, within the atmosphere, oceans, lakes, rivers, soils, etc.
It is not only carbon dioxide that is the problem, but the massive impacts of mankind on the earth changed by agriculture and building cities, pollution of oceans with plastics and oil spills and so on – all of which, dramatically alter the natural living surface character and functions of energy exchanges, as well as movements of water, nutriments, gases, heat, etc.
Vast areas of the earth are becoming desert and countries like China, Iraq, East Africa and Australia are experiencing more and more lowering of water tables and dust storms.
Resistance to the idea that we could actually change the world’s climate is for the sceptics, like accepting Darwin’s theory that man evolved from apes. It is plain for all to see the dreadful destruction and ravaging of our forests and rivers, oceans and the land.
The arguments for dealing with climate change are abundantly clear, but more critical is the whole functioning of the planet that is under threat.
The doubters and sceptics have no relevance to our society’s future. It is new visions of ourselves and our world that are required.
A new order of thinking and values is needed through changing the whole economic, scientific, political, and social narrative.
Forget the politics and emissions trading and start talking to each other about what is really going on. If we really love our children, then we have to change ourselves and what we are doing.
John Jessup

Flood tales

Sorry to let the facts stand in the way of a good story, but the account of Noah and the Flood referred to by both Don Halliday and Steve Partridge (Echo, Oct 1) appears in human history much earlier than the Bible. It is all there – right down to the dove released from the ark to find dry land – in the world’s first literary masterpiece, The Epic of Gilgamesh.
This was first written down in the eighteenth century BC but reflects a much older oral tradition. It tells the story of Gilgamesh, a legendary (possibly real) king of Uruk around 2750BC who farewells his wives and children and goes off with his best friend and (male) lover Enkidu to do glorious deeds and find the secret of immortality.
Written in Sumerian, the baked clay cuneiform (inscribed tablet) of the epic are found all over the Middle East and would have been known to Jewish scribes at least by the Babylonian captivity of 587BC.
The biblical flood was not a geological event. Such happenings are best interpreted allegorically. This is so in the Jewish rabbinical tradition of the Oral Torah or Mishnah, developed because “undue reliance on a written text could encourage inflexibility and backward looking timidity” (Karen Armstrong, The Case for God, p95).
The early Christian philosopher Origen (185-254AD) argued that the glaring anomalies and inconsistencies in scripture force us to look beyond the literal sense. When the literal reading of scripture conflicts with science, Augustine (354-430AD) in the   Literal Sense of Genesis   says the interpreter must respect the integrity of science, or he would bring scripture into disrepute.
As for mocking Darwin’s theory because it was admired by Stalin and Mao (and you can add Hitler), does one then, Mr Halliday, mock the teachings of Jesus Christ because of those African fundamentalists who condone the execution of naughty children because they are “demonically possessed”?
Should we decide all Christian faith because, closer to home, some Bible literalists prey on the frightened and the gullible, claiming we live in the last days?
Peter Mullins

Survival of the fittest

In response to Don Halliday’s (Not Following the Script, Echo, Oct 15) request for evidence of evolution: Don, it’s 2009.
If you have gone through life thus far and have not taken the trouble to find evidence, then the examples that I could list (of thousands) are not going to sway you. Since I strongly doubt that Halliday will take the time, interested readers of these pages are invited to peruse, for free on the internet, excellent publications including Nature, Scientific American or even The Lancelet, to name a (very) small few.
All of these publications and indeed scientific inquiry in general are based on evolutionary principles.
Halliday has again mischievously derided evolution as a theory. This is akin to challenging the legitimacy of the theory of gravity, the theory of quantum mechanics or the germ theory of disease, simply on the basis of their being “theories”.
This is senseless semantics and has no basis in rational discourse. It is not up to me to provide evidence for evolution; rather it is for Don Halliday to justify his position WITHOUT recourse to facile, religious metaphysics.
Winston Guymer
Rous Mill

No refuge

Once again we see the Coalition parties using refugees as political pawns as they try to reinvigorate their fear-laden campaign against the most vulnerable people in the world in their attempt to make out that the current Australian government has “gone soft on asylum seekers.”
Under Howard, people were locked up in detention centres for the ungodly crime of having the audacity to hope for a better life away from the wars, famines, suicide bombings and poverty that their nations suffer.
Now, the Coalition in opposition wants Mr Rudd to do the same thing. The single and most long-lasting cause of all these problems has been western colonialism and the constant meddling by western powers in the affairs of developing nations.
Remembering that the now escalating war between western powers and many citizens of these nations is a result of the actions of others in the past, we in this generation cannot afford to keep making the same mistakes.
Yet every day we hear of escalating attacks in many countries which western powers have cynically played off against each other for decades, mostly in the hope of containing Russian expansion and hegemony. Subsequently, sick of this duplicity and cynical manipulation, many people in these nations have turned against state powers in the hope of avenging their battered nations and reclaiming a culture and society which has been decimated by our successive governments’ ad-hoc foreign policies and pro-war decisions. They are collectively called terrorists and what they do, terrorism. Anyone with a sense of universal justice and notions of consequence would more likely call these actions by our enemies ‘karma’. Jesus said “what you sow so shall you reap” as explanation of how the law of karma works, yet we remain locked into a series of actions that can only continue to create more bad consequence and thus more karmic retribution by those who western nations continue to kill, maim and dispossess indiscriminately and without pity, mercy or compassion.
They do this whilst supporting governments which actively repress any dissent in their countries through trade and arms supplies. And so it goes as the cycle of retribution, reprisal and revenge spins into escalating war. These facts make the politicisation of refugees in Australia the more despicable.
Rather than containing the consequences of our actions in these far off lands and attempting to give succour to those who are adversely affected by such, Australians are being encouraged to once again become afraid of poor, helpless and desperate people so as to give a battered parliamentary opposition something to hang their last glimmer of hope on.
Kevin Rudd should not buy into this game but rather continue to represent those who do not think that a few hundred refugees washing up on our western shores are going to swamp our society and bring evil to bear on us all. He should not buy into the fear mongering of Turnbull, Bishop, Ruddock, Andrews and others as they grasp for a straw while their ship sinks into oblivion.
By doing that he will show himself to be a true leader rather than a slavish follower of the dictates of a bunch of fear and war mongers.
M Mizzi

Different situation
I was disgusted by Howard’s refugee policies. I felt abhorred when he sent that Afghani family (Baktari?) back.
BUT I do not believe for an instant that the situation in Sri Lanka is comparable to Iraq or Afghaniland.
The spokesperson Alex says each Sri Lankan paid US$15,000 for the journey just for the Java to Oz voyage. Do you have any idea what $15,000 can do for your lifestyle living standards if you stay in Sri Lanka?
I don’t believe they are true refugees and I do believe a few are Tamil Tigers who would face jail or the firing squad in Sri Lanka. Nations like USA, Britain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Japan have declared Tamil Tigers a terrorist group EXCEPT Australia. The fact Australia has not is   one good reason for them to get their collective asses over here.
And why did Australia, stalwart ally in the war against terror, refuse to list the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist organisation when the rest of the world did? Because there are too many Sri Lankan Tamils with voting power living in Howard’s/Maxine’s electoral district!
Note I am not commenting on whether or not the Tamil Tigers are a terrorist organisation.
Paul Recher

Highway blues
Why hasn’t Minister Keneally approved the preferred route option for the Pacific Highway Tintenbar to Ewingsdale?
Is it because Minister Keneally is now aware that the RTA has broken the law?
It did not comply with the legislation protecting Ballina Shire’s drinking water, i.e. LEP Zone 7(c). Her department’s director general stated that legislation protecting water quality for critical infrastructure projects MUST be complied with.
It did not comply with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines for the provision of SAFE drinking water. Rous Water has stated that the water quality control measures proposed by the RTA are unacceptable.
While the so- called preferred route is deemed ‘critical infrastructure’ and therefore beyond legal challenge, such status does not protect Minister Keneally from her duty of care to 30,000 Ballina Shire residents. Her approval would raise an unnecessary public health risk (given the RTA developed a viable route option outside Zone 7(c)’s environment protected water catchment).
Her approval would also set a precedent providing the RTA with untrammelled powers to build roads without regard to legislation, guidelines and standards which the government has put in place to protect the rights of citizens.
All Ballina Shire residents and Ballina Council, which is fully aware of the public health risk, should be interested in Minister Keneally’s decision.
Fay Bogg
Secretary Watercatchers & Waterdrinkers of Ballina Shire Inc.

Learning curves

I’m the father of a L-Plater. My daughter has just done about 50 hours of driving in 12 months time. Given that she will be moving away to study soon, the next 70 hours will take at least two years to complete.
Apart from the hill-start, she is about ready for her Ps now. The NSW State Government, in her infinite wisdom, is forcing her to keep on learning the things she already does well.
Let’s face it: safe driving cannot be learned in 60 hours, not in 120, not in 500 hours. It’s a life-long learning curve. The general agreement is to let learner drivers loose once they have mastered certain skills that allow them to drive safely in the majority of situations.
Going 50 or 52km/h in a 50 zone doesn’t really make a difference to safety. Yet, the RTA is penalising drivers now for being just 1km/h over the limit. I’d prefer any time a driver who keeps his or her eyes on the road rather than slavishly nailed to the speedo, even if it means going slightly over the posted speed limit. I prefer commonsense over trained monkey behaviour.
Punishing responsible mature young adults with excessive L-Plater hours just because of those few out there who will never learn, is silly and puts an undue burden on our kids and their parents alike. For some parents, it is actually quite cumbersome and expensive to take their children for driving lessons, especially if the ways to school and work are not the same.
Wherever we look, the ultima ratio of the NSW State Government seems to be to impose harsher and harsher penalties and populistically motivated bureaucratic obstacles on people in response to problems – rather than constructively address the problems with well thought-out solutions.
A better way to teach young adults to drive, could be this: 30 hours of basic driver training – first compulsory lesson with a qualified driving instructor to assess further training needs and to emphasise particular shortfalls; another 15 hours of driver training – second assessment with constructive feedback to parents and to address potential shortfalls of the parent trainer; another 15 hours of driver training – third assessment: if positive, the L-Plater can proceed to the driving test; if, not, either more driving hours with the parent or more lessons with an instructor, depending on need.
This scheme will allow to tailor the number of hours the P-Plater has to do to their own capabilities, their degree of maturity as a driver, and last but not least, to the skills of the parent acting as a driver trainer.
It’s probably fair to say that a learner driver cannot be better than the parent teaching him or her. Objective assessments by specifically trained instructors will allow the learner driver to rise above those limitations.
It’s like everything in life: some learn a skill quickly, others take longer. The proposed scheme of above will pay respect to that fact and deliver safer roads and less tragic loss of life for a small cost premium.
Michael Qualmann

Not for sale
Well the dirt has really hit the fan now regarding the latest decision to try to legislate to sell off our rail branch line by this disgusting State Government.
How low can they go? To add salt to our wounds a bike trail has been put forward. What a fantastic replacement for trains. (I don’t think!)
This stuff is an insult and spits in the face of all the efforts to save our line and we may as well be on another planet as far as state Labor is concerned. Our pleas are completely ignored here and it is truly unbelievable that Labor, who set themselves up for the little guy, could treat ordinary folk in such an appalling manner.
The only happy people will of course be developers – at the disastrous expense of our trains! This rotten move, fortunately, has to go before the Parliament’s Upper House before it is law.
I am pleased to discover that this shocking Labor proposal will not be passed by the Coalition, Greens, Independents or Fred Nile.
The Shooters Party will not commit at this stage but are being heavily lobbied by lots of good people to also say no! We can only pray decency will prevail.
  To kill stone dead our trains that are so desperately needed for a growing area like ours is irresponsible stupidity. Our much hoped for Queensland connection by rail will be gone then, forever! NSW must be the only place on the planet getting rid of trains.  
 Most other countries are investing in trains big time. Maybe this state’s government knows something the rest of the world doesn’t know. Of course, this is a sick joke on us up here and our anger must be used at the ballot box. They have to go.
We have suffered enough and if we lose this magnificent rail line, god forbid, to a pathetic bike trail, then that has to be the final straw, folks. Just unbelievable. Who in blazes is going to use a bike trail on a train track anyhow! What the hell for? One can only imagine, can only just see, bike and wheelchairs getting tangled up in horse manure while trying to puff and pant up St Helena and slide down the other side, the whole three of ’em.
What price our train now folks! This bike, etc., track proposal beggars belief and we must fight – please people, relentlessly and for all our worth! This is a typical state cop-out full of lame excuses beat up over inflated costings and ‘tell em anything’ behaviour which we are sick of copping and I’m sure the vast majority would agree.
I sincerely congratulate all of those good and gutsy persons who have fought this attempt to get back our train which really is our property anyway! We can only pray decency and the right thing for our trains return will prevail
Al Andrews
Girards Hill

Help sought
I am currently doing some research on the aftermath of the Irish Famine for a college project. The Poor Law continued beyond the Famine, and many people were still in need of its provisions, including the Poor Law Union Workhouses. Dunmanway, in County Cork, and the importance of the workhouse between 1851 and 1856 form the basis of my research. To get an idea of how the workhouse shaped people’s lives I’m hoping to trace descendants of any of the Dunmanway workhouse inmates or staff from this period. I would dearly love to hear from anyone who knows of relatives that may have travelled from Dunmanway, either as part of an emigration scheme from the workhouse or who may have left Ireland after they left the workhouse.   
Any information on what they did, what they worked at and how they settled into their new life, would be greatly appreciated. Perhaps there may be information in museums, genealogical societies, etc., which may be relevant. Any documentation such as photos, letters, etc., will be used only to flesh out the story of the emigrants, during this period. All suggestions would be welcomed, and I would be happy to acknowledge any help in the final work. Thanks in advance for your help on what could be a fascinating story.
Smle Murphy
silemurphy77@ eircom.net

Beyond Blue

October is Anxiety and Depression Awareness (ADA) month – a time when we ask people to put ADA on their RADAR and to help raise awareness of these illnesses and reduce stigma.
National Carers Week also falls in October (18-23) and for seven days the focus is on the valuable role of carers in our community.
However, for the carers supporting a family member or friend with depression or an anxiety disorder, it’s an ongoing, sometimes exhausting, around-the-clock commitment.
And for beyondblue, caring for carers is an all-year-round commitment as well.
To help these hidden heroes of the Australian health system, we have recently produced a free booklet and DVD to help people navigate their way through some of the challenging issues they’re likely to face in their caring role.
The booklet – The beyondblue Guide for Carers – and the DVD – Carers’ Stories of Hope and Recovery – can be ordered free of charge via the website   www.beyondblue.org.au   or by calling the info line 1300 22 4636.
Both resources have been developed with considerable input from people who have been, or are carers.
Research shows that carers themselves are at increased risk of depression due to the constant and sometimes overwhelming nature of the role.
I urge all carers to make a point of not only caring for their loved ones, but to think about how they can take care of themselves. Getting hold of these free resources is a good place to start.
Leonie Young
CEO beyondblue: the national depression initiative

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