Letters to the editor - July 25
Advice line axed
As a current HSC student, I know the immense stress and pressure of performing well and achieving high grades, which is why when I heard that the NSW state government axed the HSC advice line, my heart sank.
According to an article published in The Age, about 100 Australian kids commit suicide each year, and for each successful attempt, there are 10-20 more unsuccessful attempts. Just as bad was a 2008 study at James Cook University that found that 85% teachers could not identify a suicidal student. With this, plus the extreme stress of the HSC year, in mind, it strikes me as ridiculous that the government would axe such a vital service as the HSC advice line, claiming it costs too much. I didn't know there was a price on students surviving the HSC.
Just days before the announcement was made by Treasurer Mike Baird, I attended an HSC Study Day, where a senior English marker from Hornsby Girls High School in Sydney urged an entire lecture theatre of students to take full advantage of the advice line in the lead up to exams, as it reduces stress and increases confidence in students, and allows them to clarify points with curriculum experts.
Naturally, I am disgusted with this decision to axe the advice line, and I urge local member Thomas George to lobby the government to reinstate this service, as it is clearly beneficial to the Year 12 students who access it.
The past 10 months have without a doubt been the most stressful of my, and many of my peers' lives. If the government really cared about our future and our mental wellbeing, they wouldn't put a price on it.
Depths of oblivion
To me, of late, your publication is becoming dreary due to the fact that a number of your contributors have similar narrow-minded views. This simple farm labourer is finding that this fact is amounting to an insular periodical that I fear is at the beginning of a downward spiral into the depths of oblivion.
Both S Sorrensen and Jennie Dell put forth that the Christian God does not exist and point to the Roman Catholic Pope, his church and its paedophile priests as evidence. This reasoning to me is the same as if I were to claim that trees don't exist because I went to the dessert and didn't encounter any; hardly astute. God promises in his Word that if you seek Him you will find Him. I can certainly testify that for close to 10 years a loving God through Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit has saved me from a living death (drug addiction and depression). Blame has always been an effective way to stifle /deaden situations. That is, the power for results or force for things to happen lies solely with someone else - often someone who doesn't care in the least. When blame like this is evaluated from an objective viewpoint it is revealed as quite a poor excuse, ie God (love, truth) doesn't exist and if He did I don't want Him in my life because people do evil. In this diverse region your selection of regular contributors is starting to bore me. (Mungo, science hasn't disproved God's being - more wacky reasoning). Not only is it starting to bore the simple (me), it will depress your readers as it is proclaiming that we have no meaningful origin, existence or destiny. How about trying to put some 'colour' in peoples' lives through varied quality fuel for musing?
Ed's note - We try to reflect the diversity in the community, but don't always hit the mark. I'm always open to suggestions on how we can improve the paper for our readers.
In the clouds
It was great to see sanity prevail in Jennie Dell's editorial (Echo, July 12). Those 'invisible sky-person' loony tunes who despite not one shred of evidence of their faith (for any God) ever being produced, continue to believe in the existence of life after life. And they continue to peddle the myth that in order to be a moral and ethical person requires a belief in the tooth fairy hypothesis, especially when recent studies have found the opposite. My God is Nature and my vocabulary I hope testifies to this with such phrases as 'nature forbid', 'nature help us', 'nature knows' - try it, it works in every instance. Keep it up and as for that old bugger on the balcony who continues to ignore the crimes of his flock - he should be jailed for tax evasion.
Revolution on evolution
Is Jennie Dell (Echo, July 12) really unaware of the mass of scientific evidence seriously challenging the whole evolutionary hypothesis?
Thank your thought-provoking 'evolution editorial' (July 12). Whilst you raise some important question, you also imply something about evolution which is fundamentally incorrect. Evolution is not like a road heading towards perfection. It is a chaotic process; it has many twists, wrong turns and dead ends. It can remain stalled in prehistory, like cockroaches, or like virus adapting in a relative flash to become, arguably, the most successful species on the planet.
Natural selection, if left to itself tends to create specialisation.
It does not, by necessity, create more advanced, compassionate, intelligent or less selfish species. Modern human beings, I fear, have over-specialised themselves into an almost intractable dead end. Our fragile existence is dependent on a poisonous industrial machine that is shockingly inefficient and cruel.
Of course, I understand the editorial was referring more to human social evolution rather than natural selection as such. However the general trend has been for human societies to 'evolve' more efficient ways of killing each other (and everything else) rather than becoming smarter.
In the space of possible futures, maybe there is a place for a utopia that involves humans. However I doubt if evolution is going to get us there. Revolution might though.
Thank you greatly to the organisers and delivery staff for managing to get your wonderfully, informative and interesting Echo to our street, after a month's gap. I'm sure residents in our area will agree that it was marvellous to find a copy of The Echo safely wrapped in a plastic bag at our gates. I realise delivery can be awkward without enough staff. Keep it up please!
Questions on waste water
The Environmental Protection Authority's licence for the Richmond Valley Council to allow Metgasco to use the council's sewage treatment plant (STP) as a way to dispose of five million litres of coal seam gas industrial waste water raises many questions. Questions that at the moment do not have answers.
What chemicals are in the water? Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson says it is salt. Does he mean sodium chloride, ie table salt? Are other salts involved, like arsenic, lead strontium, barium, copper, aluminium, nickel or chromium? Many other harmful chemicals like benzine have been implicated with CSG mining. What chemicals have been tested for? Who did the water testing, an independent water testing authority or Metgasco? Have the water testing results been made public?
Does the RVC STP have the ability to effectively remove or neutralise the chemicals involved? Or is it a licence to pollute?
Metgasco has among its employees people with powerful political connections. Has undue political influence been brought to bear on the EPA? It is only a month ago the EPA said it was inappropriate for the RVC to allow its STP to be used for CSG waste water disposal and applied a $5000 fine on Metgasco.
Do other industries use the RVC STP to dispose of their industrial waste or is Metgasco being given special treatment? Will the EPA continue to allow Metgasco to use the public infrastructure to dispose of its waste water?
The five million litres of CSG industrial waste water is the overflow product of around 10 wells. Metgasco has announced plans for 1000 + wells. That equals five billion litres of contaminated waste water. What are Metgasco's plans for future disposal?
Another question is the effect of such massive water use on the water table. Coal seam gas wells require millions of litres each in their development. Where is this water coming from and where is it going?
Farmers, enterprises and communities living downstream from the RVC STP need to be aware and informed of the situation that is developing around the CSG industry.
Where does the water go?
Metgasco's Peter Henderson should connect his home in Sydney to CSG waste water from the Northern Rivers and live on it like he expects us to. Having been one of the people who maintained an observation vigil in recent times at Shannon Brook, we observed that with 80mm of rain in the district over three days the waste water was lapping over the holding pond. 80mm of rain fell on the holding pond and the surrounding catchment produced approximately 600 cubic metres of rainwater in the holding pond; this was photographed to be lapping over one edge.
In response to this Metgasco produced a pump and two holding tanks with the intent of reducing the water level by pumping into the tanks. We observed three Metgasco people, led by Stuart George, attempting to start the pump and fill the tanks. Over two days they had very little success in running the pump due to being unable to start the engine; when eventually they got the engine going they were unable to make the pump run efficiently. In between times the waste water was spilt in areas where it did not run back into the pond. Their efforts to do this were less than successful, however the water level fell approx 400mm. Where did this water go? If this is happening at ponds under observation what is happening at other ponds that cannot be seen by the public? Stuart George's efforts to intimidate us at this site were typically thug like.
Metgasco's inability to calculate its produced waste water (approx 6.5 million litres) indicates they cannot be responsible gas mining people.
Who will pay for 6.5 million litres of water treated by Richmond Valley Council? The ratepayers?
Stop this now and lock the gate.
Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Brad Hazzard recently released his Aquifer Interference Policy to farmers, irrigators, mining and environment groups. Minister Hazzard at his Casino meeting assured us that his developing Aquifer Interference Policy would prevent harm to our water and agricultural areas from CSG mining.
Under the new policy the Minister for Water can make recommendations about drilling in areas designated 'strategic lands' due to their high agricultural or environmental value. However the Water minister's advice will not be binding on the decisions of the Independent Planning and Assessment Commission which makes decisions on state significant mining development. The NSW Farmers Association president stated the bulk of CSG projects were deemed state significant. The awful consequences of this are that the Commission can approve CSG mining on land regardless of the impacts on our pure water or the agricultural or environmental significance of the land.
It's clear that Minister Hazzard and the State Government are determined to see money from largely overseas interests triumph over the needs of local farmers, and the critical need for pure water and the environmental protection.
Is our local member Thomas George prepared to stand up for our local community or is he going to be complicit in the destruction of our area's farming land and environment directed by his government?
Cr Simon Clough
Leaving the wrong message
Recently I have noticed that The Echo in our area of Goonellabah has been delivered in a plastic sleeve and left on the footpath or near the roadside. I have seen this even down Ballina Rd. It seems interesting that The Echo is providing such strong coverage of the environmental effects of the CSG (which I am not against, it is good to hear the whole story), while its delivery method is breaking the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997? In the brief description of littering offences one is listed as "depositing, or causing someone to deposit, advertising material in a public place or open private place other than in a mail box or under a door". It is clear that this is occurring and apart from the amount of damage the litter could do to the environment, it may be worth considering the risks of leaving a slippery plastic bag on the footpath for some unsuspecting person to slip and fall on then sue the rear end of The Echo. It may be worth reviewing the delivery method being used, to allow for a safe and un-hypocritical stand to be shown.
Ed's note - This has been an issue for many readers and we are reviewing what we can do about it.
Peter Henderson's front page tour de force (Echo, July 19) proves only one thing - that he is still in the schoolboy numbskull phase and wants to impress. The fact that he made it a media event is evidence that it is a once-only cheap stunt. All Henderson has achieved in the eyes of those concerned over ever-increasing pollution is that he is untrustworthy and duplicitous. He demonstrates a clear ignorance of good quality unadulterated food production with his claims that brine is safe for irrigation and for farm animals to drink.
This is what you can expect from a loser who drinks fouled water. Farmers and environmentalists have been in a panic about salinity, here comes Peter the piper to tell them that salty water, with lots of bits of heavy metal in it, is perfectly okay to drink and water your plants with, another Orwellian truth! The low standard that he is trying to set is anathema to the Northern Rivers. So what's next, do we fill our rainwater tank with produced water? Of what use is all the wealth he is promising (another schoolboy crow) if our food standard is lower than the Third World? This clown is risking public health to prop up Metgasco's shares and keep his job.
Fruit loop trees
In response to Simon Cough's "vision for the future" in last week's Echo. He has a vision of streets lined with fruit trees so visitors to Lismore can stop and enjoy some of our local fruit and hospitality. Simon has not said how he intends fruit fly to be controlled, who will pick up the rotting fruit from the footpaths or how council could afford the litigation claims from people who suffer injuries created by slipping on the fruit. We would also have an influx of flying foxes destroying the fruit shortly before it ripened. The flying foxes would leave the scene and drop their body waste on nearby roofs where people are catching drinking water. Not to mention destroying the paint on parked cars. Not a nice thought!
If council does proceed with his wishes, I hope they don't plant any "fruit loop" trees - one of them in the shire is enough.