Please, Greg "Campaign Trail" Bennett, keep the 'policies' coming. I haven't had such a good laugh in years. It's a rare thing these days to see such a magpie's nest of cross-jurisdiction confusion, silliness and contradiction and at this you excel! I'm disappointed I didn't attend your campaign launch but it's pretty obvious your policies are pretty spaced out.
Take last week's "core values" episode: we now know the environment is a non-core value for the Ratepayers Association which has over the previous six months made a very concerted effort to undermine the Lismore Koala Plan of Management, specifically designed to protect the koala's environment. It's hilarious that the "no more green tape" Ratepayers Association thinks it's financially responsible to fund a dreamy plan to "remove E-zones", whatever that means, and compensate land owners and also use rates to fund management plans for these areas!
Disregard for gay needs
The recent release of census data shows more than 1338 same-sex couples - nearly 2700 Australians - have travelled overseas to marry. There are 65,000 Australians in de-facto relationships who are prevented from marrying. Such are the bald figures.
It seems that along with the governments and the church we have, in this region, Bruce Kemp.
What gives him the right to attack Peter Mullins' beliefs, plus come to the erroronous conclusion that his belief is the only right one?
I find it shocking that he disregards homosexual people's needs. Have these human beings no right at all to the civil rights he has? Is Bruce Kemp actually stating that they should be victimised their entire lives, as there is no way they should live a so-called normal married life?
How possibly could the impact of homosexual marriage destroy society? That idea stands alone in farce value.
I find Bruce Kemp's beliefs despicable.
Homosexuality has touched my family. My brother died when I was 12. Suicide, after three broken engagements. He was a gay man who couldn't come to terms with it then. Thanks to people like Bruce Kemp.
I went to school with two gay friends. I know very well their anguish when they reached puberty. They never chose to be homosexual. Their anguish hurt.
Gay people, Bruce Kemp, are normal people who deserve the same rights as everyone, to live their lives as they choose to, without the discrimination you seem unable to recognise.
Controlling the wily hard-core
It would help considerably in the general public's understanding of the issues if Dailan Pugh from the rather secretive organisation known as NEFA could be a bit more rational in his future utterings, (Echo, July 5).
Dailan, your letter purporting to be an "open letter" to MP Thomas George is simply grandstanding and scare mongering, to an extremist but very effective minority. I saw 55 of your supporters at the recent protest outside this very MP's office and I formed my general opinion of you and them from this observation.
Most local people already know many NSW government departments regularly use trained volunteers: the Rural Fire Service, NPWS, State Emergency Service, Landcare - plus many more. If this controlling agency does not require volunteer services in a particular area, they simply do not give them permission to operate there.
It's very similar to your friends in Lismore City Council regarding their recent decision over a park under their control. The fact that many nature reserves, SRAs and national parks are holus-bolus listed in the legislation does NOT mean conservation-hunting will be contemplated there, nor will ever happen.
Other well-read Echo readers might be aware that all government bodies in NSW are stony-broke at present. So they can probably quite clearly see that the use of trained volunteer conservation-hunters under the able management of the Game Council of NSW could assist the overall budget in the very necessary control of the wily hard-core and residual feral animals in State Forests and private land.
Often we find these clever key re-infectors are missed by normal feral control and culling methods, but hunters can get them.
Our club has been operating on this strategy since 2002, with good safety and courtesy to all other forest users.
Many animals over the next 10 years have been humanely removed by our members from this feral underground breeding-pool, enhancing our Aussie natives' existence and overall biodiversity for everyone's benefit.
Secretary, Northern Zone Hunting Club (Inc).
Going the extra mile
I visited Casino for a wedding on the last weekend in June and was overwhelmed with the service provided to me by a hire car owner in the town.
As a Sydneysider it confirmed my long-held belief that people who live in the regions are always prepared to go the extra mile to assist others. The businessman came to my motel on Saturday morning to collect me and take me down to do the paperwork and pick up my hire car. He then arranged with me to come into town on the Sunday evening for me to return the vehicle despite him living on a farm 20 minutes out of Casino.
My daughter and I were then dropped off at the Casino Railway Station by this kind gentleman. Ten minutes after arriving at the station my daughter realised she had left her laptop in the hire car vehicle. She rang the business owner who then came back to retrieve the laptop and dropped it back to us at the station.
All in all this was a wonderful experience for which I am extremely grateful and I will continue to sing the praises of our fellow Aussies who live in the regions and contribute so much to this wonderful country of ours.
What will you cut, Ratepayers?
Recently the Lismore Ratepayers Association accused me of being fanciful for amongst other things suggesting, that just like the vast majority of homeowners, Lismore City Council needs to have a sensible level of loans. The Ratepayers maintained that Council needs to 'live within its means' and not have any loans.
I note in a recent Echo the Ratepayers are promising all things to all people. 'Fixing the roads', 'not increasing rates and fees or charges above pegging' and 'creating a ratepayer - friendly council that helps people achieve their goals' to mention a few.
While the cost of road repair and maintenance rises at around 7% rates are pegged generally at less than 3%. There is a constant shortfall of funds. Ratepayers are also promising a 30% reduction in the rates for CBD ratepayers. That is a reduction of more than $560,000 a year.
So how are the Ratepayers going to do it? At the very least they should explain the impact of their policies to the Lismore community. What are the services that this group is going to cut to subsidise the CBD property owners (not necessarily business owners)? Perhaps if they gain power they will slash our recycling services?
Perhaps they will sack staff at Council? If so - in which areas? How will the Ratepayers help those sacked local workers 'achieve their goals'?
Let's see some facts from this team that has no experience on Council.
Seems to me it's the Lismore Ratepayers who are living in a fantasy land.
Cr Simon Clough
Our Sustainable Future Party
Lismore City Council
CSG knows no boundaries
I was one of the hundred or so people who attended the recent vigil at the holding pond in Shannonbrook, just outside Casino.
This vigil went for a week and it was an amazing and uplifting vigil to be part of.
We, the locals and the visitors from far and wide were completely overwhelmed by the support, generosity and well wishes of the Richmond Valley people and of the landowners living nearby this pond, especially a huge thank you to the kind farmer who opened his property up to us and allowed people to camp so a 24/7 watch could be maintained.
Apart from this, the supply of fresh and cooked local produce kindly donated by local businesses and local people was truly wonderful and greatly appreciated and enjoyed.
The atmosphere at this vigil was one of a caring and committed community. People cooked soups to share, knitting nanna's worked their needles, while kids played, adults drank tea and coffee and shared stories and their dreams for a gas-free Northern Rivers. We even had an international band from the US, come to see the damage and play for us.
Some people, especially those in government positions, don't understand or accept why people from outside Casino would come and support us. Well, this is why: gas mining has no council boundaries, the damage caused will be widespread and will spread to all neighboring council regions and slowly poison our underground aquifers. Aquifers that have taken millions of years to develop will be destroyed, all for sake of making a few people extremely rich while they exploit our resources to sell to China at our expense. People have to come together as we all are part of this fight to save our lands.
Thank you to everyone who visited this vigil and helped to make it such a huge success in so many ways.
The right to say no to CSG
The Ratepayers Association team is focused on local government issues. Whilst coal seam gas (CSG) is a State Government issue we have taken a stand, not only because of property rights but also because of our, and widespread community concern over its impacts.
The Ratepayers Association has a formal policy on CSG. This policy states that landowners' must have the right to say NO to CSG on their properties and that aquifers must be protected.
In relation to CSG the association has made a formal submission on the draft CSG policy. We have also met with and lobbied a number of politicians including the Minister for Planning Brad Hazzard, Senator Barnaby Joyce shadow minister for regional development, local government and water, Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner and State chairman of the Nationals Christine Ferguson .
The Lock the Gate Alliance has done a great job of raising community awareness about CSG. We feel their CSG-free areas campaign has good synergies with our right to say NO policy. If landowners can achieve the right to say no then many areas will become effectively CSG free as CSG companies will simply not be able to gain the critical mass required in these places to make CSG viable.
To give you an idea what we as a community are up against here are some numbers from a report released by the CSG industry regarding revenues for the next 20 years in Queensland. Total value $513 billion, that's over half a trillion dollars. Queensland government royalties of $32 billion dollars and an additional $243 billion in federal taxes. These are massive numbers (if true), so can CSG be stopped? All I know is that I do not want it on my property so I will give it a darn good try.
'Let's fix Lismore'.
Ratepayers Association President
Further to Rudi Maxwell's June 21 Modern Woman, about newspaper staff sackings, it's now emerged that Fairfax Media was in breach of their legal obligations by not first consulting with staff before announcing the sackings.
I see their behaviour as typical of capitalists confronted with profit reductions: cut costs, sack people and worry about the consequences later. But just as they appear oblivious to legal cosequences, as Rudi points out, they also seem to believe depriving the industry of skilled staff will immediately save money. "It won't," says Rudi.
Pushing my Marxist barrow, the ugly truth is that what Rudi described is the capitalist's response to profit falls in industry worldwide now, and it will fail as well, for another reason. The workers they sack make up the market they supply. There's less money from wages to buy goods, sales drop and overproduction causes losses instead of gains. Capitalists repeat that madness. And the cuts in government spending they're insisting upon will do similar.
A banner I saw on the CSG. march, Capitalism Out of Control, I feel has more meaning than they realise. We have no control over capitalists, but they are fully in control and, if left to it, will destroy our living standards, our planet and possibly the human race.
As is usually the case, information in this letter comes from the socialist papers, The Green Left Weekly or The Guardian - info which would almost never be found in the popular press.
My sincere thanks to Rudi and Terra for publishing my letters over the years. I was trying to, as Rudi says, "let people know what's going on", I hope to some avail, anyway.
But that's it from me, I no longer have the freedom of expression I once enjoyed in The Echo. Bye all, happy capitalism!
Editor's note: Feel free to write to The Echo whenever the spirit moves you, Doug!
New eatery recommended
I would like to inform your readers that yet another fine eatery has opened in the Lismore CBD.
Cafe Cappelo has taken over the premises that were, for a very long time, Caddies in Carrington Street. Tamaya and Anthony, proprietors, have refurbished the place and offer excellent cuisine and service. It is very well-appointed and the staff are friendly and attentive.
As an independent diner (I spread my custom widely) I highly recommend it.
Good at cost cutting
Experience comes in many forms. It could be occupying a chair as a councillor or in the real world of business and finance.
The Ratepayers Association election team is made up of people with business experience, some full time self employed, others part time. Most have formal qualifications in either finance or business.
I am currently employed as an international sales executive and I have previously managed large corporate businesses. Lismore City Council (LCC) is one of the largest businesses in the region and is currently run by a group of councillors who have little business experience.
The Ratepayers Team has a plan to materially cut the operating costs at LCC. I have previously been involved in the management of this level of cost cutting at the corporate level.
On September 8, the people of the Lismore City Council Local Government Area get to make a choice. I would suggest if you are happy with the way our council is being run then vote for the incumbents. If you are not then the Ratepayers team offers a real alternative for change.
'Let's fix Lismore'.
If the Government intends fining people for putting up prices unreasonably due to the carbon tax, and therefore putting them in jail if they refuse to pay the fine, I say "bring it on" because that'll be the last nail in the coffin of this Labor Government. One thing that brought Bob Askin to power was that the then State Labor Government was putting small shopkeepers in jail for contravening trading hours. Nothing so alienates people as bully-boy tactics by governments.
Groupthink at aerodrome site
There's little doubt most councillors from Richmond Valley Council suffer from "Groupthink", a condition which impairs capacity to look at problems realistically.
Groupthink is aided by 'mindguards' who filter information and control dissent to direct the decision-making process toward a specific outcome.
They use time pressure to push decision-making, reframe information to suit, generate social pressure (unwarranted codes of conduct!) forcing dissenters into line, and create a bandwagon effect so group members feel they'll miss out if not part of the deal.
The retirement village development for the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome is a good example of groupthink.
Councillors are psychologically superglued to the goal of a retirement village complex on the airfield despite the fact ratepayer coffers are emptied to pay for it and local businesses punished through unfair subsidies to the retirement complex. Better alternatives for a nursing home are ignored.
The RSL brand is used to clinch the deal. Apple pie and motherhood can't be wrong! No questions about an executive member of the RSL making decisions about the development from the safety of the incompetent Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel even though RSL's Reveille said recently this kind of stuff is a 'no-no'. Fits well with the 'mates helping mates' motto though.
Councillors stick to their groupthink even though 500 seniors will be put at risk of aircraft accident and exposed to aircraft noise because the forecast for the site has been manipulated by the mindguards to suit the developer.
Did anyone check? Certainly not Anthony Albanese, the minister for giving away aerodromes to developers.
Councillors are also pushed by the time pressure of "you will lose nursing home beds", a 'cry wolf' tactic approaching Guinness Book of Records status.
Fortunately there's a cure for Groupthink: the ballot box, available this September.
Time to elect councillors able to think for themselves and not at our expense.
Dr Richard Gates
Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee
To Rudi Maxwell: Your decision (Modern Woman, July 5) not to attend the recent Byron Bay Slutwalk, and the reasons you gave, are indeed valid. Before writing a wide reaching column, however, you should take the time to understand the issue you are opining on. Nicqui Yazdi and the other organisers went to a great effort to educate the community about the reasons to support this movement. It is not about girls dressing "sexy or nasty" to "compete or gain attention", it's about drawing attention to the culture that blames victims of sexual abuse for provoking their attackers.
March participants were asked to dress in white, red and black, the colours of the maiden, mother and crone, to present a unified visual and verbal statement that "whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no!" While a few people dressed up or down, most came in clothes not out of place for any type of walk through a busy street.
As a woman and a teacher, I was proud to march beside people of all ages and genders who believe the word 'slut' can be reappropriated. To the organisers and the talented girls and women who performed at the YAC, my heartfelt thanks. And Rudi, as a woman of influence, please do your research before vilifying the next local event aimed at promoting the rights of sexual abuse victims.
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