Letters to the editor - Jan 19

Credit for students

This year more regional students should qualify for independent youth allowance.

This could only have happened through the persistent lobbying and determination by students, their parents, education stakeholders and the Coalition for the abolition of the unfair 30-hour work rule that the Labor government introduced in 2010. Consequently, thousands of students from inner regional areas struggled to qualify for the allowance.

Students had their day of victory last September when the government did a backflip and changed the criteria back to what it was originally.

Interestingly the government is now enthusiastically spruiking the latest changes that came into effect on January 1 this year.

Its enthusiasm for such change would have been welcome months ago when students and their families were at their wits' end as to how they were going to afford a tertiary education.

If anyone deserves credit for the fairer deal on independent youth allowance, it is the students who never gave up, not the government.

Senator Fiona Nash

Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Education


Breast implant hotline

I'd like to draw attention to a new hotline for women who may be concerned about breast implants given recent media coverage.

The new hotline service has been set up following concerns from Europe over breast implants supplied by the company Poly Implant Prosthése (PIP). Women who have had breast implants and are concerned can ring the Breast Implant Information Line on 1800 217 257 or contact their surgeon directly for clinical advice.

While there is no evidence of increased rupture rates here in Australia, support is available for women who want more information. For women who require further follow up, clinical and radiological investigations will be covered under the usual Medicare arrangements. Just contact your GP for advice and referrals.

The Breast Implant Information Line will operate 24 hours a day to provide advice and support. This government service will also register women's contact details so follow up information can be provided if necessary.

I reiterate that on the basis of current data available there is no evidence of increased rupture rates for PIP implants in Australia.

The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has only received 37 reports of ruptured PIP implants since 2000. This represents only 0.4% of PIP implants and was well within the international evidence of implant rupture rates. While this rate of incidence remains within the expected risk of rupture, given concerns in Europe regarding this product the government recommends that women see their surgeons if they are concerned or require further advice.

The TGA will continue to keep a close watch on this situation and further information will be provided if more information becomes available and they are contacting all Australian surgeons who have used the PIP implants to ask that they provide a clinical evaluation to their patients.

Again, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Breast Implant Information Line is 1800 217 257.

Janelle Saffin

Page MP


Look, up in the sky

Has anyone besides myself and a few others I have spoken to seen plane/s flying around all day and night over Lismore leaving trails that expand into enormous clouds over several hours until they completely fill the sky?

Ben Hewitt

North Lismore


Real alternatives

Thank you Jim Hawkins for bringing to light the capitalist's myth that totalitarian communism is the only alternative to capitalism (Echo, January 12).

A bit of history, Jim, old son. When the Socialist Alliance formed in Australia, it brought together nine socialist groups. The major group having far more members than all others combined was the Democratic Socialist Party. The Communist Party of Australia chose to remain separate, mainly because of differing stances on China. The Socialist Alliance found China's totalitarianism totally unacceptable, while the Communist Party did not.

As members of the Socialist Alliance, my wife and I learned of its aspirations to attain Cuban or Venezuelan-style socialism in Australia. Venezuela has a fairly standard democratic system, and Cuba, while having an unelected president, has excellent democracy, from its local assemblies upward.

Both countries embraced socialism after the capitalistic deprivation of the masses that we in Australia are heading for now. Extraction for obscene profit will do nothing else, and the solution is as simple as stopping that profit. Re-nationalise Qantas, their competitors have done it. Instead of privatising for profit, keep or re-nationalise what were once national assets. Aim to have all large industry owned by the people and not-for-profit. Small businesses thrive unhampered in Cuba and Venezuela because their profits are just reasonable wages, not obscene wealth. It can and does work, democratically, and I am certain we'll need it here and everywhere else that's endured the ravages of capitalism.

You tell me to "get real"? Are you aware of housing affordability? Household debt? Proportion of wages spent on rent? Job or career prospects for our youth? The casualisation and de-unionisation of our workforce that's forever losing wages and conditions? Increasing unpaid overtime? The hidden unemployed? The migrants exploited on work visas? The shocking state of our once fine public services? Their employees losing wages? Union leaders with right-wing political aspirations? Privatising utilities?....

And it will all continue to get worse. That's not "real", Jim, old son?

Doug Burt



Grow your own energy

Great to see the article by Terra Sword on the front page of the January 12 Echo "Solar array of hope for renewables". The effects of excess carbon in the atmosphere produced from fossil fuels combined with man-made greenhouse gases is creating an acceleration of climate chaos. Coupled to a global meltdown of the world financial system which is based on continual growth and you have all the ingredients for another global war, or a radical change in the way we produce most of our goods and services. Let's hope we go for the latter. Everything we use or eat is based on energy from fossil fuels which are hydrocarbons - ancient stored sun energy. However anything made from fossil fuels can be made from plants, which is also stored sun energy. The difference being is that if we use biomass such as bamboo and hemp we can pyrolyse the biomass for green energy and bring down excess carbon from the atmosphere.

So instead of mining and drilling the Earth for resources we can grow them. Farmers will once again be considered as the backbone of the economy and many rural towns will be bought back to life. Of course the eco-fascists will scream blue murder and claim that mass starvation will happen if farmers grow biomass instead of food. The opposite is the truth; the answer is not in transporting food around the globe to feed the world. Rather it is for food to be grown in or near our cities, thereby freeing up rural food producing farms to rural biomass farms which produce our clothing and consumer goods while at the same time bringing down excess carbon out of the atmosphere and using it to improve their soils. A win for the farmer, the consumer and Mother Nature. It's not rocket science and if you want to see the evidence visit www.onestopgreenshop. com.au. Viva Chris van den Bergh.

Wayne Wadsworth



Solar sceptic

With regards to the proposed solar farm at Dunoon (Echo, January 12) the proponent states that it will produce enough power for 89 homes. Will they install storage for the electricity or do these homes go without power between sunset and sunrise and on cloudy days? If it is like most of the owners of solar systems, other than stand alone, they expect to be supplied from the baseload generators at their convenience. Therefore the power generators cannot reduce their capacity. Solar power does very little in the quest to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide emissions unless it is paired with a storage system. Proponents do not take into account the amount of pollution caused by the manufacture, installation, transport and eventual disposal of the system. Also in the specific case of the Dunoon proposal the number of trees that are removed to make way for it will eventually break down to carbon dioxide. The owners of solar panels that feed into the grid are not charged for the service even though they make use of a power distribution asset. Feed-in tariffs in excess of the normal power price increase the power bill for all other users.

Peter Toedter



Dear Julia...

In the Art of War Sun Tsu writes about all war being based on deception. He tells of making the enemy think you are far away, when if fact you are close and ready to strike. Metgasco's pretence of negotiating with the residents of the Far North Coast to extract coal seam gas (CSG) while having already secured the freedom to do so would make Sun Tsu proud.

Doing the opposite of what your adversary expects is certainly an effective tactic, so why not apply the same in reverse? If deception has worked for the proponents of CSG mining, then might not honesty work for those of us who oppose it?

What if the residents of the Far North Coast expressed their heartfelt opposition to CSG mining in a sustained letter-writing campaign to someone influential - like Julia Gillard? (www.pm.gov.au/contact- your-pm

www.facebook.com/ juliagillard, 6277 7111 or

6277 7700, PO Locked Bag 14 Werribee, Vic, 3030.

A protracted letter-writing campaign might not only gain the attention of our PM, but also attract the attention of the national media. I can imagine the headlines - 'Julia juggles jaded junk mail'. With many Australians already critical of resource giants making obscene profits while the rest of us do it hard, it is not unlikely that such a campaign could attract nation-wide sympathy.

Sun Tsu also wrote "opportunities multiply as they are seized." Being forthright and vocal in ways that are targeted towards the right people might expose the leadership of Metgasco to the very thing they fear most - public opinion.

Maybe deception is a double-edged sword that returns to bite its owner!

R J Poole



Two sides

Why was Dr Sue Page and others so disturbed about Meryl Dorey planning to talk about vaccination that they were willing to donate both time and money in opposing her?

I support Meryl Dorey. I respect her integrity, her knowledge about vaccination, and her incredible persistence in informing the public of an alternative view, in spite of strong media opposition. (Would you please consider a comparable article from a different perspective?)

Just like Dr Sue Page, I am also willing to donate my time and money to support what I consider a just cause. Maybe my nurse's wage can't afford an airplane to post signage, but the point is the same; there are two sides to this debate and it's not only one that deserves to be heard!

Rosie Tongmar



Inappropriate development

The Rural Ratepayers Association of Lismore Incorporated (RRALI) has received a request by local area landowners to look into a Development Application (DA) by Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc for a place of worship and recreation establishment at 78 Bentley Road Tullera.

This DA is for a 20-plus building development in the middle of the 1(a) rural zone and will actually be situated on 'Regionally Significant' farmland. This is land that has been identified by the Department of Agriculture as land that has some of the best soils and potential for agriculture on the Far North Coast. Land that we should be preserving for our future, so should we really be using it for what can only be described as a 'small village' in the middle of the agricultural zone.

If we use history as a judge then societies which have failed to protect there agricultural lands have inevitably collapsed. The world population has grown from around three billion mid-last century to over seven billion today and is expected to top 10 billion by mid this century. Experts are already concerned that there will simply not be enough agricultural land to feed all these people.

So the choice is stark, we either wake up and start protecting our prime agricultural land from these sorts of developments, or we continue down the current path where agricultural land is mined, drilled, locked up in environment zones, or lost through inappropriate development.

Greg Bennett

RRALI president


Animal shelter

If anyone else is distressed at the sight of animals without adequate shelter from heat or storms I urge you to report the matter to the RSPCA. It is a criminal offence under the Cruelty to Animals Act, so the police are also empowered to act under extreme or urgent circumstances where an RSPCA officer cannot attend.

All mammals operate comfortably in the same temperature range so you can be sure these animals are suffering the same degree of discomfort that we would be under the same conditions. It is just they have no means to complain. It is not until they fall down that someone may notice. So hopefully a lot of people will become aware and act to force these animal owners to provide the basics.

I urge all people who care to take action now. Don't wait until the next heat wave or hail storm. The RSPCA is understaffed and often very slow in responding, so let's all join together and make a difference. Remember, you may not change the world, but the world will change for that one animal.

Jenny Hutchison



Seen the light

Congratulations Chris van den Bergh (Echo, January 12).What a smart idea to farm the sun for money - brilliant!! And timely too. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just put out their collaborative report with the University of Melbourne Beyond Zero Emissions - A Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Stationary Energy Plan' (ZCA2020 Plan) on the effectiveness of using alternative energy to power Australia. The report shows that it is technically feasible and economically attractive to use currently available alternative technology like solar and wind power.

The energy would be available for $8 per household per week! This timely report comes at a time when the price of fossil fuel electricity has skyrocketed by 18% in the last year and is set to go up significantly again this year. Opponents to alternative technology can no longer advocate that it is not feasible to run Australia on fossil free energy. It is great to see the universities and public agencies come up with the evidence so that we can move forward as a clean, green nation of healthy Australians who aren't struggling to pay energy bills.

Dr David and Deborah Sharpe

Rock Valley


Commonplace chemtrails

I don't often read mainstream news, but was heartened to see, while flicking through the local Echo, a piece on Chemtrails by Mel Manar of Lismore, referencing his 'nutty' mate about chemtrails (January 12, on the letters page).

Nothing nutty about your mate, mate... she's right.

I wish more people would look up every day. Chemtrails are becoming commonplace around here. I see them all the time because I make the time to look up.

Check out this link, 'What in the world are they spraying' to find out more about chemtrails.

Mmm.... weather control and/or population reduction? Controlling our food supply perhaps? Monsanto anyone?

See also http://www.youtube.com /watch?v=jf0khstYDLA

Research is everything. I could provide many links, but this one will do for a start.

Thank you Mel Manar and your nutty mate for bringing this important subject to our attention.

Lily de Cuir (aka Suzan Dawson)




P Roberts (Echo, January 12) from Wardell may have watched Gasland but should add the doco Windfall before signing up for his/her wind turbine.

Robyn Hill



A political gamble

Andrew Wilkie, who is a person of integrity, is about to find out that Julia Gillard, to his surprise, is not. Just as she promised no carbon tax and gave Australia one, Labor is about to do an about face on pre-commitment for poker machines because Labor no longer so desperately needs Andrew Wilkie's support. Come the next election Labor will need all the votes and financial donations it can get. And as Andrew Wilkie's plan to help the addicted gamblers was costing Labor votes and as many of the clubs who profit out of the addicted gamblers put money into the ALP coffers, Labor will take the opportunity, after the brilliant move of putting Peter Slipper into the Speaker's chair, of reneging on its promise to Andrew Wilkie out of pure political expediency.

It is to be hoped the Australian electorate see through this cynical exercise and vote accordingly.

Bob Vinnicombe



Breakaway chemtrails

For far too long have we been subject to those dastardly chemtrails. Bring them to justice, I say. The evidence is there. I urge everyone to take a look at Tom Roberts' painting The Breakaway of 1891. A pair of chemtrails, bisecting! Clouds don't behave like that, surely not?

Greg Auert



Safe as houses

Recent press reports have lauded the bush skills of fugitive Andrew Naden and his ability to live off the land. He might be getting help from people in a growing number of safe houses, result of the deafening silence from the NSW Government over the death in Narrabri in October of an Aboriginal man after an altercation with Chinese workers.

Over a century ago, Jimmy Governor, believed to have been the son of an Aboriginal mother and a red-headed Irish trooper, killed a number of people in what began over a dispute over non-payment of wages owed to him.

Contrary to what some "historians" tell us, Jimmy had help from some white rural workers, who saw him as striking a blow for the workers. Some people see Naden as holding the line against Chinese gas drilling operations at Narrabri, which according toThe Australian (January 9) is beginning to divide the community.

Eddie Burns



Helpful helpline

I knew I was unwell for a couple of days, and knew that I had to see the doctor tomorrow and do something about it. Then, blood in the urine! DON'T PANIC!!! Options: contact doctor immediately, except it is after 8pm and my doctor would be tucked up nice and cosy in his bed by now. Second option, go to the Accident and Emergency Department (A&E) at the local hospital. But hang on, there is a third option I heard about the other day on Radio National. A free medical helpline recently established by the government. Got onto the computer, typed in 'medical helpline' and found www.health direct.org.au and phoned 1800 022 222.

I spoke immediately to a nurse who took my personal details and investigated my symptoms. She then put me through to a real live (awake) doctor who, after taking more details and asking specific questions regarding my symptoms, was able to put me at rest and let me know that I did need to see my doctor as soon as possible, but that it was safe to wait until morning unless I experienced other symptoms which she clearly outlined. No need to go to A&E. No need to wake my overworked GP.

I felt relieved that I was not in any immediate danger and I now had a clear understanding what other warning symptoms to look out for until I could see my doctor, and that blood in the urine was not uncommon with this complaint.

And there's more: the doctor advised me of some over-the-counter medication I could take to relieve the symptoms. When I explained to her that I did not know which chemist was on duty, she gave me the name and address of the pharmacy in Lismore from which I could obtain this medication. How's that for service!

I phoned the pharmacy and the chemist told me he had closed but would wait for me to drive down to get the medication! Thanks, Terry White Chemist at Centro. So I have taken my medicine and am now off to bed with a paracetamol. Tomorrow off to my doc, and all should be well from here on in.

The moral to this story: if you feel you might have to go to A&E with something that is not really urgent or life threatening, please call Health Direct on 1800 022 222, talk person to person to a doctor and find out the facts before overloading our already over-stretched hospital system with something that could wait until tomorrow. And if it's urgent, Health Direct will assist you with what you need to do. At last, a practical incentive from the government that works!

I have just heard on the radio that there is a push to scrap this scheme because in the six months it has been operating it has cost $30m with only 20,000 results in people not going to A&E. The report stated that it cost $1000 per call (doubt if that includes the one off set up costs etc). This is seemingly expensive yes, but surely when more people know about and subsequently use the service the cost per call will reduce and the lifting of the present burden on the hospitals will surely benefit all, especially the dangerously ill who will be able to see a doctor all that sooner when they arrive in the Accident & Emergency Ward!

Jennifer Joy


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