Letters to the editor - Oct 4
Acts of vandalism
It seems that influential people in the anti CSG movement are advocating against acts of vandalism against CSG companies.
However, interestingly, the dictionary definition for 'vandalism' is wanton destruction of property; that is destroying property for no clear reason or motivation. Given the obvious threat that CSG is to our health, wellbeing and survival, community action against CSG mining cannot be regarded as vandalism. Community members are simply protecting themselves and such acts are acts of self defence. This is even more so given that governments and the law are failing to provide the protection that people have a right to expect.
The CSG movement is wide and varied and it does not belong to anyone or any group.
One may disagree with hands on disruption, but that does not give them the right to impose it on others. The strategies will be just as wide and varied as the movement but the final goal is the same; an end to CSG and coal extraction in this region and beyond.
So let us not fall into the trap of thinking that hierarchical and bureaucratic paradigms will be successful. Our movement needs to be flexible and all encompassing. So let us stick together and support each other in our efforts to stop coal seam gas, whatever these actions may be.
I wish to thank all voters that have trusted and appreciated the work I have done in the last four years and decided to support me again by electing me for Lismore Council's next term.
To the team and all the volunteers that helped before and during election day, a big and heartfelt thank you. You should all be very happy as your efforts have resulted in an incredible 28% increase in voters' support which also encourages me to continue to advocate for the community in decision-making in Council.
I will continue to represent the whole community irrespective of whether they voted for me or not and will base my voting on the three basic principles of respect, responsibility and reliability as I have done for the past four years.
I believe the next four years will be challenging in particular for council's finances and I will make sure that responsible use of ratepayers' money is applied to every facet of Lismore City Council expenditures, or at least voice publicly my concerns on the issue.
If anyone wishes to keep in contact with me or anyone in the group you can do so by calling me on 0412 579 571 or by visiting our Facebook site "for the love of Lismore".
Again thank you all for your support.
Cr Gianpiero Battista
What a mess the Lismore Medicare office is at the present moment. On Tuesday, September 25, I entered Medicare at 1.09pm where all the seats were taken up and several people were standing and one operator was left to service all these people's needs. Throughout the time I waited, several people seemed to be called out of sequence, much to the annoyance of those people who had arrived earlier than the previously called people. After waiting 35 minutes, a lady, who was a new arrival, indicated by her ticket number, sat next to me for 20 minutes when her number was called. Further to this intrusion, several other people had jumped the queue by having their number called ahead of many other people waiting longer than them.
This action made me very unhappy since by this time I had waited 55 minutes just to present a paid doctors account, which only had to receive my signature to verify its authenticity. I do not mind waiting my turn in logical sequence, but what I do mind is people jumping the queue, not of their own choosing, but of the choosing of the one staff member behind the counter.
Consequently I stormed out of Medicare after indicating my disapproval of the situation which had evolved, with one other person agreeing verbally with my actions.
I intend sending this letter to those people warming seats in Canberra where the only decisions made are those which reduce the staff to give less ideal customer service to people who are ill and frail and cannot afford the time to sit waiting for any lengthy period of time. Hopefully my actions may improve the situation.
Too little, too late
I heard fragments of speeches indicating that on Thursday, September 20, the State Government made an apology for 30 years of organised child kidnapping. Most victims were working at the time of the parliamentary session and unable to see or hear this apology in full.
The premier of NSW can't just shout out an apology with only a few of the tens of thousands of disenfranchised fathers there to hear it. As one of these absent fathers whose daughter was taken away in 1962, I expect to receive this full apology. Couldn't it be heralded to be played in its entirety on the TV in primetime just like the Queen's speech? Or better still, spend 60 cents on a stamp and envelope with the apology in it?
I think we deserve better than just a token apology recorded in Hansard which I will never see. Nothing will actually heal the irreparable damage caused by the government anyway, as it is far too late. They are only trying to legitimise their mistakes, past, present and future.
Maybe, hopefully, they will now turn around another policy blunder like allowing coal seam gas mining before it is again irreparably too late.
Don Page, Minister for local Government and the North Coast is quoted as saying in a recent media release that, "The NSW government will act to ensure the rights of existing landowners are protected".
I'm flabbergasted by the double standards clearly displayed by Mr Page and Lismore MP Thomas George.
Our local representatives have proudly declared that they both approached the Planning Minister to have environmental protection zones removed from Local Environment Plans (LEPs) in their electorates.
Could Mr Page and Mr George please explain how property rights have been protected from the coal seam gas (CSG) industry! Currently the whole of the Northern Rivers is covered by Petroleum Exploration Licences given away for a song by the previous Labor government. These licences have recently been confirmed and expanded by their government. These licences make it virtually impossible for any land owner to prevent exploration drilling on their land.
I can only draw the conclusion that our two National Party representatives will uphold landowner property rights when it suits them. The environmental zones can be removed because they are believed to interfere with property rights. But, when largely foreign owned multinational oil companies are seeking to turn our wonderful environment into an industrial gasfield, our property rights count for nothing.
Cr Simon Clough
I wish to respond to the letter from the former NSW Labor candidate, Toby Warnes, which appeared in The Echo on Thursday 27 September.
With a $5.2 billion reduction in GST revenue over the next four years, and reductions in other forms of revenue, the State Government has had to make tough decisions to ensure NSW is living within its means.
The measures announced by the Health and Education Ministers do not include any reduction of nurses in our public hospitals (2,900 extra nurses have actually been employed since the Coalition came to office) or teachers in our public schools. Both are quarantined from the cost saving measures which, in the case of education, is 3% across both government and non-government sectors. It's all about trimming backroom administration and re-allocating funding to frontline services.
With regard to WorkCover, the scheme was $4.1billion in deficit due to the mismanagement of the former NSW Labor government. Without the changes the scheme would have become unviable and not able to help injured workers get back to work. Workers compensation premiums would also have had to increase by a further 28% in the next financial year.
Unfortunately, the concept of not being able to spend what you do not have is one that is completely foreign to Labor governments at all levels. The cost savings that we have put in place to bring the budget back into the black will not last forever. As soon as the state's balance sheet is returned to a healthy position, we will be able to increase spending on the vital services and infrastructure the people of New South Wales need. Rest assured you will not see the appalling culture of waste, mismanagement and dubious dealings that we endured under NSW Labor for 16 years.
Don Page MP
Member for Ballina
Good to see the realist art of cavorting zebras featured on the front page (Echo, September 27), with a description of the medium used (scratchboard). Great realist art can also be seen down Eggins Lane in the form of the monumental girl by leading graffiti artist Guido van Helfen and also the wren by the same artist in Carrington St. Incidentally the Back Street Alley is a readymade backdrop for fashion shots at the right time of day. The exhibition at the pop up gallery in Magellan St. by Marie- Lise Laviolette, used modern materials to great effect to create classic tonal arrangements depicting streetscapes around Lismore CBD. Laviolette worked on exposed brown masonite contrasted with areas of white gesso and black charcoal (used in layered glazing, each layer sealed with fixative) to capture the pattern of light and shade of Lismore's buildings, streets and people. This approach is a simplified version of that used by Leonardo da Vinci in creating the Mona Lisa. A welcome change to see some artwork actually focussed on quality visual representation and skilful use of media, rather than a preoccupation with emotional issues outside the picture, which has been the pattern with the oddball winners of the Northern Rivers Portrait Prize.
To Paul Recher, regarding your letter 'Rate rises and rights': You may or may not be wrong in regards to the legal right of non-citizens to vote in council elections here. In Victoria, for example, it's made explicit by state authorities that there are conditions in which they may do so.
New South Wales state authorities have no such guidelines, and refer correspondents to their local councils. My enquiries have gone unanswered by the local council for weeks now, and my attempt to get on to the electoral role during the actual council elections was met with a refusal and a Kafkaesque request to refer to the NSW state authorities.
So the right to vote in council elections for non-citizens may exist here in the abstract, but it certainly does not in practice. If you have some information that the local council lacks, please do share it with them.