Letters to the editor - Sept 13


How many people question what they are eating when shopping at retail outlets? Can you trust those labels are telling you all you need to know? The battle to stop the march of genetically controlled food across the world has been given a severe blow with the multinational food engineers (as they are not producers any more) winning the legal battle to have their frankenfoods enter the world food chain and dominate food production. They who control the food control the people and it seems there is a very starkly obvious program for this to happen emanating from nowhere other than the good old USA, bastion of corporate greed.

At the beginning of 2012, a number of consumer advocate groups challenged the world's largest retailer to reject genetically altered sweet corn. Groups like Food & Water Watch and Greenpeace gave Wal-Mart a deadline of April 1 to make a final decision. As the groups pointed out at the time, Wal-Mart is so large, its decision would affect whether or not thousands of American farms would be planting safe, natural sweet corn, or laboratory-engineered Monsanto GMO corn. Four months past that deadline, Wal-Mart has reportedly agreed to begin selling genetically modified corn to its customers in the US. It's a devastating blow to opponents of GMO food-like products.

It is only a matter of time before this precedent is used by the major food retailers and suppliers in Australia to justify their corporate greed and profit driven manias and forever alter the nature of the food we consume.

Considering how hard our governments try to please the Americans and their multinational corporations you can be assured that genetically modified food will soon be coming to a supermarket near you.

M Mizzi



Roundabouts v traffic lights

One of the many things Lismore has to offer is its roundabouts. They help keep our traffic smoothly flowing and once they're built they require little maintenance, apart from the occasional sprucing up of the centre garden area. Some of them have quaint artefacts in the middle, an old windmill or interesting stone carvings. Beautiful trees or bushes adorn some of them, entertaining the weary driver and generally making our streets more attractive.

Roundabouts are functional too. Traffic is obliged to safely slow down on approach, and if the road is clear there's no unnecessary waiting, saving time and petrol. Traffic lights on the other hand, use a constant source of electricity to keep running, 24 hours a day and can break down. The act of running a red light has been a source of many significant crashes. For example in 2005 in NSW, 35 fatal and 4,390 serious crashes occurred at traffic lights. They can cause unnecessary delays and certainly don't help to beautify our streets.

Pedestrians are also complaining about the minimal time the green walk sign is shown for them to cross; this is especially dangerous for the elderly or encumbered. Lismore needs to keep its roundabouts; it's best for the traffic and best for the town.

Shae Salmon

Sth Gundurimba


Crushing blow for CSG supporters

Local elections have conclusively proven what has been known for a long time - the overwhelming majority of people are deeply opposed to coal seam gas (CSG) mining. The democratic process has been observed and a crushing blow delivered to the supporters of CSG.

So what now?

If the NSW government and industry leaders want society to recognise their authority, they have no choice but to honour the democratic process and act upon the decision handed to them. To do otherwise, would send an equally clear signal back to the wider community of their conceit.

Ignoring the will of the people will create a serious flow-on effect with dangerous ramifications. A generation of children will be raised in an atmosphere of disgruntled adults, railing against the authorities and expressing mistrust of the system. The rapid deterioration of our native environment at the hands of CSG mining, will lend weight and substance to this atmosphere.

R J Poole



Developer's wet dream

If you weren't afraid about planning in NSW before, you should be now.

The State Government's released a Green Paper for public comment. The paper sets out the way it wants to run planning in NSW: planningreview.nsw.gov.au.

Public consultation is up front in the early stages for future plans, but after that the public hardly gets a look in.

Plans will be set in concrete and local government or private certifiers will do the rest. Sit back, relax, and let the biostitutes, incompetents, and those with an agenda do the rest.

Down the track if you're pissed off about unforeseen consequences of some nasty development or the system is rorted by some rent-seeking carpet-bagger who couldn't give a stuff about your sense of place or the environment, you'll have precious little right of appeal.

The government will claim you've had your day in the sun. Stop whingeing.

The proposed new planning process is a developer's wet dream.

The very fact that the plan uses failed concepts such as 'best practice' and 'sustainable growth', relies heavily on advice from folk who are part of the current appalling system, fails to take account of human behaviour and sound moral and environmental principles, is deeply worrying.

But more terrifying than all of this is that the people in charge of the new system believe it will overcome public cynicism about planning in NSW.

When a society cannot distinguish between illusion and reality its decline is not far away (JR Saul, Voltaire's Bastards).

Opportunity for comment closes September 14. After that wave goodbye to the processes of democracy and intergenerational equity.

Dr Richard Gates

Evans Head


Bus blues

Getting from Point A to Point B around here is not getting any easier. Recently I tried to catch a bus to Bangalow. The Countrylink timetable reassuringly offered two services per day, every day, so I turned up at the bus stop expectantly, cash at the ready. But I was refused entry, despite being clothed, shod, and sober. It's illegal to catch that bus from Lismore to Bangalow, the driver told me. Trying to salvage something, I enquired as to whether I could travel to Casino on his return journey. But no, that's also illegal, he told me. Apparently Countrylink is forbidden from transporting passengers less than 40km. Thus the only way to travel to Bangalow or Casino is to don a school uniform and catch the school bus - if it's a school day.

Most of our council candidates support this archaic system. There are very few who are prepared to promote public transport. The rest plan to continue spending our hard-earned rates subsidising private transport, by manicuring a network of suburban roads with surfaces as smooth as billiard tables.

Michael Hunt



Australia needs you

As Sharyn Munro forewarns in her book, Rich Land, Waste Land we have a David and Goliath struggle on our hands - us against the strong wealthy mining corporations, in keeping our Australia a beautiful country in which to live; the land of the fair go.

I hope you are up to the challenge because Australia needs you. It's going to take all of us to stand up and unite and fight this insidious huge invasion, which will destroy the very fabric of our lives.

Yes, I'm talking about making the Northern Rivers totally coal seam gas free. We need to become political citizens because governments on both sides have done deals with Goliath. Vested interests and greed are rife. Governments only do the right thing when voters demand it. So demand it!

If you think living in the town is safe, think again. I'm an ordinary citizen living in Goonellabah. I was disappointed with the turnout at the Goonellabah meetings about coal seam gas. We can't afford to be apathetic. Do you know that Bexhill already has an exploratory well? These wells have underground horizontal pipes that can extend up to 2 kms in any direction. So Goonellabah residents, this could be going right under your homes. Property values will plummet as a result. CSG rigs and wells can be all around you, they are allowed to drill as close as 200 metres from your house. Think of the constant noise and air pollution as well as the effects on your drinking water. Yes, they are not even averse to drilling near our drinking water, e.g. Rocky Creek Dam.

People can make a difference and win. We won against the rare earth plant destined for Tuncester several years ago. We can win again, if we are united and in it for the long haul. We do have a fight on our hands. Australia and overseas is looking at the Northern Rivers result. If we fall, so does the rest of Australia.

Wendy Saini



Who do you believe?

I refer to Chris Degenhardt's letter (Echo, August 30) over the 'Mad Max Massacre' reported to him (apparently by Far South Coast ABC radio), over an alleged 'hunter' multiple kangaroo killing and maiming in front of a horrified family of innocent campers. This reported (but as yet unsubstantiated) outrage has of course significant criminal penalties attached - if it's true. But as he grudgingly acknowledges, in this area no national parks for feral animal control-plans under the Game Council/NPWS auspices have yet to be planned.

However, such smears and potential dirty-tricks campaigns on all ethical Game Council of NSW 'R' licensed hunters currently appear to be increasing exponentially. There are local attempts to smear hunting with the more recent 7-Mile Beach multiple wallaby deaths story. One (un-named) NPWS ranger apparently offered the view that 'one wallaby, possibly could have been shot'. This was (as usual) colourfully amplified by the taxpayer-funded ABC to "one was shot"!

This quick type of veterinary/ballistic diagnosis is almost impossible from a week-old corpse, especially when several others were apparently dead from natural causes or dogs. We feel it would far better for any fair debate if avid extreme-green supporters could have some local credibility before chucking mud at ethical hunting via these one-off purported examples.

The Northern Zone Hunting Club are always willing to discuss and assist any members of the public in understanding the heavy toll feral animals are making on our unique fauna and flora and can show what we are actively doing about it. In the final analysis the public has to make a choice between extreme-green, politically motivated propaganda and us. Our un-paid volunteers have been, for many years, implicitly trusted in many other public service tasks. So I rest my case, use your own common-sense in deciding this issue. Who do you really believe?

Rob Andrews

East Lismore

Secretary, Northern Zone Hunting Club (Inc)


Candidates and clowns

What a wonderful turnout of people from a large cross-section of the community at the recent meet the candidates' forum at Lismore Workers Club. CAN (Community Action Network) and Mr Bill Goldie, MC, did a very good job of organising most of our Lismore City Council candidates to be under the one roof. Not an easy task I am sure.

I was very disappointed by the letter to The Echo from Mr John Remynse of Goonellabah (August 30). Considering the contemptuous tone of the entire letter I am surprised Mr Remynse thought it worthy of his time to attend the meeting at all. How very counter-productive to cast disparaging remarks upon interested members of the public who took the time to ask questions of our candidates.

In such a forum time limitations do not allow expansive speeches and on the whole I think the candidates did a good job of informing the audience about their ideas of what their own role would be if they were elected to Lismore City Council.

Mr Gordon Fraser-Quick's questions to the candidates, and a host of other questions from the entire audience, raised many valid concerns running throughout the Lismore community. I was disgusted at Mr Remynse's aspersions against Mr Fraser-Quick being a "Jack-in-the-Box" or a "circus without a clown." I wonder why Mr Remynse has not put his own hand up to be a councillor this term as he obviously believes he has all the answers?

Louise Somerville

East Lismore


Koala plan craziness

In 2002 I surveyed (on foot) a 10 square kilometre area of the KPOM zone. I discovered from the 1960's to 2000 there was an increase of koala food trees from 2,446 to 12,331 and since then the canopy of those trees has more than doubled, meaning the truth is that in the KPOM zone koala habitat is flourishing.

I personally sent a copy of my submission to all councillors and the general manager.

Department of Lands aerial photographs taken in 1958 and 2000 conclusively supporting my submission, were shown to council officers. Apparently councillors Dowell, Ekins, Smith, Clough, Houston and Yarnall chose to ignore the inconvenient truth which I had presented to them. In so doing, they chose to foist upon the unfortunate farming community of the KPOM area another level of unnecessary bureaucracy and restriction.

About 40 years ago my wife and I purchased a 20 HA adjoining property with the view that it would increase the viability and sustainability of our farming enterprise. It had about a dozen koala food trees on it, so we thought in the future, we could possibly develop an eco-tourist facility as there was, on occasion, a koala observed in the trees.

Now we have over 150 koala food trees and have had as many as 10 koalas at one time there.

Thanks to the KPOM it is now physically and financially impossible to realise that dream.

Cr Clough once claimed to be farmer friendly. So much for his sustainability platform. He also was vocal in his support of landholders' rights in respect to CSG mining, but his voting for the LEP smacks of hypocrisy.

All of which brings me to conclude that Murphy's Law is still relevant, i.e. "No-one's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session."

Fred Hoskins



A few ground-truths

I write to clarify some points of misinformation in John Barnes' letter Farmers and koalas, (Echo, September 6).

State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) 44 seeks to protect koala habitat on privately held land. Councils are encouraged to develop Comprehensive Koala Plans of Management (CKPoMs) to achieve that protection. CKPoMs are prepared under the SEPP - the same rules apply. Protective measures are triggered only when a DA is lodged.

Biolink's survey, Aspects of the ecology, distribution and abundance of koalas in the Lismore LGA (2011), analysed recent and historical individual koala records (3,619 of them). The geographic distribution of koalas was found to have increased across the LGA. Two major areas, urban Lismore and the immediate south and east, and the northeast were identified. The study has not been ground-truthed.

The Tucki Tucki Nature Reserve has been managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) since 1967.

Council's upgrading and re-aligning of Durheim and Skyline Roads was a development subject to NPWS concurrence and the fencing is part of the approved koala protection measures. We agree that council has been remiss in not repairing the damaged section and that the priority given to on-going maintenance is not always up to scratch.

Over the past decade Lismore City Council has successfully applied for several state grants to restore koala habitat on private land.

Finally, farmers' values and views are as diverse as the rest of the community. Most of us are working together to find solutions to the issues in which we share interest.

Lorraine Vass

President Friends of the Koala, Inc.


Stick to the facts

As is usual, John Barnes (Echo, September 6) demonstrates either his own misunderstanding or an attempt to mislead when he says SEPP44 does the same to protect koalas as Lismore's Koala Plan of Management - it doesn't. For example, there is no evidence that koalas are deserting national parks. Furthermore, as I recall, the state government introduced SEPP44 before I was on council and in any case it had nothing to do with Lismore Council or me - it's a State Government plan. In regard to the Labor-Greenish majority on council, John is again as usual showing his own bias, which is to those candidates who don't have the decency to claim their membership of, or close alliance with, conservative parties, with some even claiming they're independents. The only truly independent councillors on the current Council are David Yarnall and Simon Clough who, as council watchers know, are also the two most active councillors. The fact that they often support decisions by the progressive side of council clearly gets up John's nose. It'd be great, John, if anyone who has a different point of view to you just stopped commenting - mind you I'm sure you wouldn't think John Howard should just shut up. As I've said to you before, personal abuse washes off my back like the proverbial water off a duck's back as it says more about the abuser than it does about the abused person. I'm sure it doesn't work these days with most women, who seem to be your major target, particularly when they have the audacity to hold political power.

John, best if you just stuck with the facts.

Ros Irwin



Education revolution

Education is so simple. E=T+L (Education is teaching plus learning).

Over the last 20 years, every education initiative has exclusively focused on the 'teaching' side of the equation. The students' willingness, desire and propensity to learn has been completely ignored.

So many kids hate school but are forced by legislation to go. These kids then misbehave and ruin it for everyone else.

In society, those that break the rules are removed, put in jail. In the classroom, they cannot be removed, they have to be accommodated. Our youth have learned that they do not need to respect authority. Role models like Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, Kim Kardashian, Ben Cousins, models, reality stars, shock jocks etc invariably have little education and yet are rewarded, for questionable behaviour, with obscene success.

50 years ago we wanted to be doctors, nurses, firemen, teachers, astronauts - now they write in their school diaries they want to be rich and famous and a model, surfer, rock star, or league player, etc... no education necessary. High School is a joke!

Kids get into high school with pathetic literacy and numeracy, cannot communicate, switch off, get bored and muck up. They walk in the school gate with attitude. The teacher has six 50 minute periods each fortnight, with 25 other kids in the class to change this attitude. Impossible - no teacher is good enough.

Teachers are asked to make the horse, brought to water,'drink' or to make 'silk purses out of pigs' ears'.

All the focus (see Gonski) is on "T", for teaching. We need to get stuck into the parents, to get stuck into the kids to want to "L" learn. No learning, no education

My question is this... When will our politicians and education administrators wake up and focus on the real problem? When will they 'Learn'?

Name with held on request



Golden age of roundabouts

Last week's Echo reported a proposal to rip out some of Lismore's roundabouts and replace them with traffic lights had been seized by Greens candidates as an election issue.

More positive proof LCC and The Greens are idiots.

What I want to know from LCC staff is what facts have changed since engineer Moorhouse commenced the 'Golden Age of Lismore Roundabouts'? By providing me with one set of facts I instantly changed my mind from pro-traffic lights into a cheerleader for roundabouts.

Was Moorhouse incorrect when he told me roundabouts that cost hundreds of thousands more than a set of traffic lights in infrastructure costs, more than pay for themselves by reduced costs due to death and maiming by car accidents?

You get a lot more serious accidents with cars running lights than you do at roundabouts where people are forced to slow down.

Where is your data Lismore staff? Moorhouse had all these nifty graphs and accident data sheets. What information do you have that proves damage to people (pedestrians etc) at roundabouts is worse than what is suffered at traffic lights? My bet is you don't have such information and are acting on some flavour of the month fancy.

As for the Greens, it is not as if the safety advantage of roundabouts over traffic lights had not been explained to them ad nauseum. Did it register? Not according to the expressed concerns of Green's Cr Ekins who all too often fails to grasp the finer detail.

Paul Recher


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