Letters to the Editor
Care for koalas
The Koala Plan of Management developed by Lismore City Council asks that landowners replace the trees they want to cut down if those trees are food and homes for koalas. Landowners just have to plant some trees of the same kind even though they'll take years to grow. It doesn't seem such a big ask. I'd like to protect our native animals like koalas for the sake of our children and because they are unique and amazing little beings. Tourists come here for our beautiful, clean countryside and our native animals. I'd like to support the tourism operators in our community as well.
I don't buy Home Brand milk from Coles or Woolies because I care about our local dairy farmers. They are an important part of our community so I spend more money on milk because I want to look after our local area and people. I enjoy the feeling of caring for others. It makes me feel happy, like I was put on this Earth to do good. I believe that being rich doesn't make you happy but caring for your family and community does. I'd like to suggest that people consider what makes them happy and learn to care about our koalas.
On the back burner
I don't like to waffle on, so I'll get right to the point. A year ago there was a landslip on Mt Nardi and Council put up a 40kph speed limit sign with the writing "Road work ahead" as well as two signs that told us there was a landslip and two signs that told us to reduce speed. As I said, that was a year ago and nothing has happened.
Actually some things have happened. Trees have fallen across the road in several places and only the local residents have done anything to cut the trees to get up this long, narrow road that leads many visiting tourists to the national park at the top. I find it interesting that Lismore Council likes to make advertisements on television that make reference to Lismore, Nimbin and villages, yet doesn't do much for Nimbin or its environs, except put it on the back burner. Kudos to the Council. NOT!!!
When we had the financial meltdown in 2008 it was the point when we should have had our attention directed to both the social and environmental meltdown of our long-suffering planet. Our financial system is no longer working due to the fact it depends on growth and all protection measures for the welfare of humans, their society and the environment are being forcefully removed under the influences of corporate capitalism, the IMF and World Bank.
The economy, banks, corporations, governments and the military etc are all imaginary creatures that exist because of our willingness to let them do so. What are real are humans, animals, insects, the planet, the oceans, water and air and their subsequent quality.
If we are going to survive very long into the future many creatures of capitalism will need to be dismantled.
Socialism, which is so unpopular under our current governments and financial gurus, is the only answer for a protective safety net while changes are enacted.
Already due to technology and globalisation there is massive unemployment that will never be resolved because it is impossible. Just as one and one make two, so does the introduction of increasingly superior technology do away with countless jobs. Replacing humans with technology has driven up profits and enabled a fairly small proportion of the humans on this planet to pocket most of this wealth.
Our accompanying reaction has been to penalise the unemployed, depriving them of adequate means to live on. This further impacts into the retail and services market as those people are no longer customers for anything and most often get locked into a reality of never having enough to survive on and depending on charitable organisations.
These unwanted, uncounted people in our nation's prosperity are apt to fall into a spiral of descending self-confidence and personality breakdown, forced in no small part by the penalising behaviour of the social security system.
With the fear of an ageing population coming our way, governments are forcing older people to stay longer in the workforce and with the reduction of older workers' superannuation due to the financial crash many are happy to do so if they can. The problem is that there are only so many jobs to go around and now there is rapidly rising youth unemployment alongside the impossible situation of older people trying to break into the workforce after job losses or returning after raising a family.
The alternative given is to be a volunteer or "Work for the Dole". Come on, if there are jobs to be done, pay people. You can't expect people to volunteer on such a pitiful allowance. They would be financially better off to lie in bed to conserve energy in order to save on power and food bills.
To politicians and governments we are all just numbers and statistics to boast about on their international rounds. Old daggers of prejudice are thrown out at the jobless to feed the propaganda that keeps the current system going. The problem is that it is only going to get worse, so which political party or politician has a successful vision for the future?
The case for plastic bags
I see that Jeff Johnson is on a crusade via the local newspapers to get us all to give up our need for plastic bags (Echo, January 26).
He's frustrated because most people still want and need plastic bags. Simple as that! We need them for a whole range of purposes - kids' togs, wet shoes, oily rags, nappy disposal, recycling bags in the kitchen bin, food scraps, sandwiches, garden plants... the list is endless. I'd suggest that the humble plastic bag has been the greatest boon to settled civilisation, and if someone is unhappy about a few blowing around the streets, then it's a problem with self-management, NOT a banning issue.
Have you ever smelled a domestic council bin left out in the Australian sun where food and other rubbish has been chucked in unwrapped? Revolting! Those towns that have banned them, usually due to some over-zealous Greenie minority on council, record more sales of plastic bags from hardware sections in stores than ever before. The South Australian experiment has been a failure, as more and more people want to return to free plastic bags, having experienced the inconveniences of being without them. The ACT recently returned a majority vote against banning but had it imposed anyway by the aforementioned suspects who dominate in the ACT Government. A friend who manages a shop in Sydney received a phone call from her daughter living in South Australia asking that she bring any spare plastic shopping bags when she next drives down on her annual visit. Since the banning of plastic bags in South Australia, ordinary people are feeling the pinch, and 'smuggling' them from elsewhere. I'm reminded of WWII rationing in the UK and the illicit trading in scarce, rationed goods. Isn't it ridiculous? How soon before it becomes an offence to smuggle plastic bags into South Australia? Let's hope we don't see the zealots win in Alstonville and the Northern Rivers!
Jim Hawkins (Echo, January 26) is "amused" by my defence of socialism. But, I feel rather unfairly, he deprives me of reciprocal mirth by not pointing out to me what's so good about capitalism. You haven't even ever denied, Jim, any of the many evils of capitalism that I've pointed out.
Socialism's wrong because of so-called human rights abuses in Cuba? Aside from the obvious (that such issues have nothing to do with the argument), since the abuse of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay isn't necessarily part of capitalistic imperialism, I feel your claims need some scrutiny and putting into perspective.
The American capitalist's government inflicted a cruel trade embargo on Cuba, and, through the CIA, tried to assassinate Castro. First by CIA agents themselves, then by Cuban exiled capitalists trained by the CIA. Some 600 attempts were allegedly made. There was also a campaign of propaganda.
The US trade embargo against Cuba was being seen more and more by the UN General Assembly as pointlessly inhumane. In 2006, for the 15th consecutive year of an increasing vote against the US embargo, the US again ignored the vote, this time a majority of 183 to four.
The propaganda mainly took the form of journalists denouncing the Cuban government. The US government had openly proposed such an idea. The Cuban government claimed to have proof of bribes. Journalists were jailed. But, seven years later, all those still serving sentences were released, due to international pressure.
More political prisoners have been jailed since, and the "Women in White" supporting them you refer to are seen by many pro-government socialists as a threat to their country. I've heard they were angry, abusive and "heckled", and that police arrested the protestors, and let them go. Haven't heard about the kicking, bashing and dragging through the streets you mention, Jim, but with the Occupy Wall Street protests, I've seen some hideous violence; like an 84-year-old woman capsicum sprayed for protesting against capitalism.
I don't know how you know that Castro went out of Cuba for medical treatment, Jim, because his whereabouts during his illness was never disclosed. If he wasn't in Cuba, Jim, where was he?
"Thousands of Cubans risk their lives every day" escaping Cuba, Jim? The latest figures I could find were around 170 between 1995 and 2003. Most of the pro-capitalists had fled decades earlier.
But at last, we get to your argument against socialism. "Nobody wants to work hard if someone else gets the benefits".
And you were a wharfie, Jim? You worked hard, did you? Nobody else benefited? Not a profiteering stevedoring company, like Patricks, who were going to sack an entire workforce in Sydney of 1600 plus 400 casuals, replace them with workers trained in Dubai, in a military-style operation under the command of an ex-Vietnam General? The replacements work for less, and don't have a union. All profit enhancement. It partially worked. The Howard government was generally seen as responsible. But both the Hawke and Keating Labor governments were promising the capitalists much the same, and the politically-aspiring union bosses didn't preach staunch defiance.
Do alright, did you Jim? Did well in the capitalist boom, eh? Ask a wharfie these days how he's doing. The boom's over. Capitalists won't make enough profit if workers get enough to live well. House ownership is often an unattainable dream and the cost of living is taking many working families, including wharfies, below the poverty line.
All of which is why socialism was invented.
Getting back to my first paragraph, what's good about capitalism, Jim?
Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard were getting a bit of their own medicine when confronted by the demonstrators in the Canberra restaurant on Australia Day. It strikes me that the violent reaction to Tony Abbott's reasonable words about the Tent Embassy were similar to the reaction to Pauline Hanson's reasonable words about Aboriginal affairs, and other matters, when she made her maiden speech on September 10, 1996.
I don't remember Julia Gillard condemning the violent protests that occurred at Pauline Hanson's public meetings in the late 90s - no doubt many of her own party members were among the protesters - and I seem to remember Tony Abbott was in the forefront of a movement to get Pauline Hanson's party de-registered in Queensland.
Free speech works both ways Julia and Tony.
I attended the meeting on the LCC Environment Plan and the KPoM,walking out at its conclusion wondering why it was necessary, as we have a government in this state (according to the flier for the meeting) interested in regional NSW.
Why have the laws over the environment not changed since the 2011 March election? Or is the Liberal Party not able to be persuaded to agree to put changes in place?
Where is the support for renewable energy? There are no royalties for solar or wind but support for CSG.
Thanks to all the staff at Lismore Base Hospital where I received excellent care recently. As I had not experienced hospital care for many decades, I was unsure what to expect but I was totally impressed.
I was surprised to read a recent article in the SMH about Professor Dwyer setting up a lobby group, made up of 400 medical people apparently, to rid Australian universities of all their natural therapy degree courses. The majority of these modalities have been around and helping people for hundreds of years. Wouldn't the money, time and effort spent by this group be better spent on looking into something more sensible? One suggestion could be to look into why there are so many side effects and needless deaths in this country every year from 'modern medicine' as compared with those caused by natural therapies?
Surely our community is better off being looked after by university-trained health care professionals where possible? I would really like to know what Professor Dwyer and his mates think we could possibly gain, if some of our health care professionals had a few letters taken away from their names?
How unnecessary to use the term "Invasion Day" in your editorial of January 26. To refer to colonial practices of 200+ years ago in this (modern) way is less than helpful, as our nation continues to seek reconciliation with the traditional owners of this land.
Using such inflammatory words only feeds the fires of discontent and discord amongst a select few. It does nothing positive to address the consequences of the actions of long dead colonists and discarded government policies.
The Australia Day riot in Canberra is testimony to the danger of misplaced words. Your editor knows the power of words. His puerile language begs the question of whether he has the maturity needed to perform this role.
Right to protest
The freedom to speak out and be heard is a cornerstone of democracy. It is an individual right that distinguishes democracy from just about every other political system in history. Without the liberty to speak out or protest, democracy ceases to exist. Recent events surrounding Julia Gillard's stumble at a demonstration and Martin Ferguson's call for surveillance on coal seam gas (CSG) protestors raises serious questions. These questions cut to the heart of Australia's democratic process and highlight how democracy, like any system, can be manipulated or changed. Slowly, one new law at a time, democracy can gradually morph into something that looks familiar, yet is essential very different. A creeping change can go unnoticed by many people until finally the realisation kicks in at a point when the chance to protest has already passed.
Many examples of such changes can be seen in history.
Many leaders have acted in the public interest by ceasing total control. In the case of Imperial Roman the term 'ceasing' is obvious. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison. Adolf Hitler was elected. There are many republics that failed to safeguard the rights of their citizens in the name of peace and security. In each case the voice of the people was removed. The right to protest was abolished or strictly monitored so ring leaders could be identified and given a nice room with a view of the exercise yard! A single incident was exploited to manipulate public opinion and introduce 'changes' that would protect the common good.
The hysteria surrounding our Prime Minister's stumble could easily trigger a range of regulatory changes that gag free speech. Media images could exploit public sympathy and drive demand for something to be done. Yet the freedom of speech is not an option or luxury. It is not something anyone has the right to deny. If the people cannot even raise their voices or disrupt a luncheon, then what influence 'can' we have? What use is the occasional appearance of a ballot box, if the years in between are marked by a strict silence?
Democracy is about freedom. Sometimes people stumble or are confronted by freedom. Sometimes people get a little carried away - but it beats the heck out of people actually 'being' carried away.
Australia is a very safe and comfortable place, yet we should not allow ourselves to become too comfortable. We should not be complacent about our rights, for like the Prime Minister's shoe, they may be lost!
R J Poole
In response to Lydia Kindred's letter (Echo, January 26) I would like to reiterate what I said at the Lismore Workers Club meeting.
However, before I do so I will say that in my private life I am a town planning consultant, and that I have had experience with preparing a Koala Plan of Management in Lismore Shire, and that I spent the better part of a day reading Council's draft Koala Plan of Management. Thus I have a good understanding of the draft KPoM.
At the Workers Club meeting I said:
(1) Under the KPoM you will have to do exactly the same amount of work as required by the State Environmental Planning Policy (that will be replaced in Lismore by the draft KPoM). The only thing the draft KPoM does is to decide for you how many replacement trees you have to plant and/or how much replacement land you have to donate to Council.
(2) If, for example, you want to do a large development in a small area in a corner of a 20-hectare block of land, then the whole 20 hectares of the land will have to be assessed for koalas.
(3) You will have to identify the precise location and identity of all preferred koala food trees on the 20 hectares. This is to be carried out by a registered surveyor and an appropriately qualified ecologist.
(4) If you do a large development and you destroy koala trees you will have to provide land as compensation elsewhere. You must secure the compensatory land by either:
a) Transferring land ownership to the Crown and/or Council for dedication as a conservation reserve;
b) Dedicating land under a voluntary conservation agreement; and
c) Positive covenants imposing a restriction on the use of the dedicated land that bind the current and future owners of the land to manage the land for conservation of its habitat values.
(5) What is more, the developer has to pay for the Vegetation Management Plan (VMP) for any compensatory land; pay for any legal agreement to be prepared and pay for all the assessment, inspection and monitoring fees for the five-year life of the VMP.
The KPoM contains many other measures that go further than the SEPP. Therefore I strongly urge all interested persons to make a submission against this onerous draft KPoM.
Cr Graham Meineke
Lismore City Council
With the northern section of the Ballina bypass now opened and the old Pacific Highway returned to 'normal', why then not reinstate the Ballina school bus service to its original route via the Tintenbar village and old Bangalow Road?
Could it be that induced flooding from inappropriate bypass and development landfill has dammed up the Tintenbar valley and rendered it far too dangerous to do so?
Again this is the indication with increased flooding after the recent heavy rains and the abnormal sight of floodwaters flowing east to west against their natural course to sea.
Unperturbed by these flood events, developers continue with plans for their proposed Tintenbar and Sandy Flat housing estate, south east of the Ross Lane Highway interchange, a vast area that will project accelerated flooding into the valley.
With nowhere to go but skywards, floodwaters will inflict further devastation on landholders and their livelihoods.
Just another scar on the Tintenbar valley and its environment by our country's so-called 'nation builders', who were forewarned by farmers at flood study meetings of the dangers foreseen for the valley, yet chose to destroy it instead.
The obesity epidemic in Australian school children is a hot topic and a complex problem with the treatment options multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary.
Recent research has demonstrated the effectiveness and importance of empathetic parental involvement in family-based treatment for childhood obesity. Parents and caregivers can lead by example, praise children's progress towards goals and use missteps as learning opportunities.
"In many cases, the adults in a family may be the most effective change agents to help obese children attain and maintain a healthier weight," said Myles S Faith, chair of the American Heart Association. "To do so, the adults may need to modify their own behaviour and try some research-based strategies."
Some strategies identified are; the problem is a family problem and not the child's fault.
What do we as a family need to change?
Set family goals and monitor progress, eg reducing or limiting television screen time or after dinner the family goes for a walk.
Provide a home environment that encourages healthier choices in food.
Praising and rewarding progress and, instead of criticising, use "slips" as an opportunity to help children and the family identify ways to make different choices if the same situation arises again.
Families have a great capacity to create change even within this complex problem and by doing so provide the platform for the development of important life skills, egproblem solving, understanding mistakes happen, healthy communication, goal setting etc.
Interrelate area manager
On television last Friday I saw an Aboriginal person stand in a small gathering outside Parliament House and say 'respect Aboriginal people or piss off'. There is nothing more important for a migrant people than to consider the original people.
An Australian flag was burned. We could remove the Union Jack (the flag of another country) from the upper left corner of our flag, and display in its place the Aboriginal flag, together with the stars of the Southern Cross. Britain is our friend but not governing us. Let the Australian flag show real symbols of our continent's past and present.
Changing of the guard
A significant event in the evolution of the Ratepayers Association of Lismore Incorporated occurred last week. After 25 years service to the people of Lismore, the Lismore and District United Ratepayers Association (LDURA), which had ceased to operate as an entity in 2008, closed their account and donated the proceeds to us. This symbolic 'changing of the guard' and 'handing over of the baton' to the Ratepayers Association of Lismore Incorporated fills us with pride.
We thank the committee and previous membership of the LDURA for having the faith in us to continue the fight for a better deal for all Lismore City Council (LCC) Local Government Area ratepayers. We shall do our best not to disappoint you. We will continue our struggle against those who seek to take away our rights and we will push for a change in priorities at LCC. The core services of roads, water, garbage and sewerage must come first and our roads, which can only be described as a total disgrace, must be fixed.
Breeders and bananas
Three of Australia's big problems:
(1) overpopulation - too many breeders and too much immigration. We need an immediate one-child policy enforced by a tax system that severely penalises people for having a third, fourth child. No more immaculate conception - if you cannot have a child, tough. Think of it as doing good for the planet.
(2) No political leadership, statesmanship, or grace. Thursday being a case in point. As if any of those protesters would have physically assaulted PM Gill Lard or Rabbott the big-eared one. Neither had the leadership skills or nous to go and talk to the protestors. Better even, invite them inside.
(3) A gross consumption ethic - this is part of the breeder scene, but includes too much food, too many gadgets, cars, dogs, motor boats. The list is endless.
Nothing says jungle, quite like a banana.
Paul A Recher