Letters to the editor

Refreshing story

THANK you Echo for such an interesting story on the importance of fatherhood (Echo, March 7).

In an age where gender is considered by some to be an irrelevance to institutions like marriage and the family, how refreshing it was to see an article pointing out something that many sociologists have observed for quite some time: that when fathers leave the (family) building, families are put under enormous strain, and the effects can be devastating.

Akos Balogh

East Lismore

 

Biased reporting

WHEN referring to Metgasco and bubbles in puddles at Doubtful Creek on page 2 of the Northern Rivers Echo (March 7) you wrote:

"Yes we definitely have a responsibility to report truthfully and accurately".

How regrettable it therefore is that in the penultimate paragraph of the first article on page 3 you wrote:

"Metgasco will be listed until the end of trading on March 15", which is completely untrue.

You were correct in writing that Metgasco is to be removed from the All Ordinaries Index on March 15 and you would have been equally correct had you written that APN News & Media is to be removed from the S&P/ASX all Australian 200 Index on that day.

If papers in the APN stable are to deserve the community's respect for honest unambiguous reporting both David Kirkpatrick at The Northern Star and you at the Northern Rivers Echo will need to overcome your tendencies towards what appears to be biased reporting.

Jeff Baldwin

Pottsville Beach

Irresponsible elements

AFTER Lismore City Council passed a motion condemning the government's plans to open 79 national parks to amateur shooters, numerous supporters of this proposal wrote to me and other councillors assuring us that hunters were highly responsible and would never take drugs or alcohol while shooting. Well now the truth is out.

Licensed shooters have been caught with prohibited firearms, using drugs and alcohol and trespassing on restricted land. These facts are revealed in official reports as the NSW government prepares to expand amateur hunting of feral animals into national parks.

Documents released under freedom of information laws describe almost a dozen examples of serious transgressions last year that were considered by the Game Council NSW.

In one case a licensed hunter was caught drunk behind the wheel of his vehicle in a state forest last July, while his passenger shot a semi-automatic rifle out of the window at night (prohibited), using a laser sight and a prohibited silencer.

Even an employee of the Game Council is under police investigation for illegal shooting.

No doubt supporters of this scheme, which incidentally could see 12-year-olds hunting in national parks, will respond with the argument that it is just a few irresponsible elements causing this bad behaviour. Well this argument fails when one considers the possible consequences of just one drug or alcohol affected shooter shooting wildly in a national park.

It's time that this scheme is recognised for what it is in reality. A base political ploy by the O'Farrell government to get its privatisation of electricity supported by the Shooters and Fishers party. It has nothing to do with the environment and the effective eradication of feral animals.

Cr Simon Clough

Lismore

Professional protestors

IN REPLY to Jill Garsden and Peter Thompson (Echo letters, March 7). Thank you for both your replies. At least you two have the ability to string two words together, unlike most of the professional protestors, dole bludgers, dope smokers and other poor souls who yearn for something to do with their empty lives. I have no objection to protesting against a worthwhile cause such as the Coalition's lies and half-truths designed to hit the poor and vulnerable should the electorate choose Abbott at the election, but draw the line against mindless protesting for its own sake just because they're bored.

Darcy Mckee

Alstonville

Community service

I APPLAUD you people producing this splendid regional newspaper.

You're doing a great job week after week, keeping it interesting and informative.

Such a good service to the community.

A big thank you goes to S Sorrensen and Andy Parks for their well-written contributions.

Both gentlemen have a fine, observant mind and a good hand with the pen.

Margarita Luka

Nimbin

Highway funding

I AM most concerned about Julia Gillard's comments this week on the Pacific Hwy. Both sides of federal politics are committed to the $3.5 billion on the table for Pacific Hwy funding. The Nationals have promised another $2.1 billion on top of this by taking the money from a proposed Sydney rail project.

Julia Gillard this week has said that under her government the extra $2.1 billion is staying in western Sydney.

This is a stark difference in policy. The Nationals are committing an extra $2.1 billion in funding to finish the Pacific Hwy. Federal Labor want to fight with the State Government over who should fund what.

This project is important on many fronts, not least the safety of us all in driving on it. If Labor wins the Federal Election the arguments will continue over funding. If the Coalition wins the highway will be completed.

Kevin Hogan

Nationals candidate for Page

No to CSG ads

I HAD to let you know I am just flabbergasted.

Page six of the latest Echo (March 7) has an ad for csg (I refuse to give it capitals). I could not believe my eyes. In an area where the majority of residents have voiced their disgust with csg. Even the North Coast National stood by their convictions and refused csg sponsorship.

I live in the Kyogle shire and happily pay for my Echo each week and will continue to do so. I will also continue to write and complain each time this type of advertising appears in my favourite newspaper.

Joy Wagner

Homeleigh

Ed's note - As the editor, I have no say in the advertising content. Several people have made this complaint and I have passed it on to the advertising manager for the region. However, whether a particular company (or in this case industry) advertises or not, should never interfere with the news content of a newspaper.

Take care of lizards

I WONDER how many Lismore motorists (or residents for that matter) are aware that the strip of shrubby bush between Magellan St and Richards Oval is an eco channel: a habitat where animals can shelter, live and thrive in Urbania. Often ducks, baby rabbits and water dragons are seen by the channel. But, it's the safety of water dragon, and other lizards, in the area that is of particular interest to me.

These beautiful creatures are shy and venture out when they feel least threatened. This is apt to be in the early morning to catch the first warmth of the sun. Basking is what the lizards do to raise body temperature, and they bask on warm surfaces therefore are often lying on the shoulder of Magellan St nearest the channel. Because of this activity, motorists are a major threat to the lizards, and the lizards are often run over.

I'm asking motorists to please be aware of these vulnerable creatures. Slow down. Even stop and see that the lizards are out of harm's way. All too often I see their battered, bloodied and squashed bodies on the road when a smidge of empathic caution and humane care would have saved them.

Residents of Lismore might also care to stop and read the information plaque tucked amid abundant vegetation at the Diadem St end of the channel. It outlines the purpose of the channel and what plants make up this ecological habitat. It also tells what living creatures can thrive in the channel - with our care.

Delma Rigby

Lismore

Is Julia "ruted"?

AT WHAT is now Rooty Hill, there was, in colonial times, a small flour mill that ground wheat from India. "Rute" is said to be derived from an Indian word for bread. At the entrance, on a small low shelf, was a shrine seeking guidance and protection from a ruthless female deity.

Has Julia blundered into a tryst with the goddess of destruction? In an area where traditional Moslems see the unbeliever as a messenger from Hell?

Eddie Burns

Nimbin

School reunion

AFTER 30 years of living in Dunoon I have decided to step into the past and organise a school reunion, for Bass High, Bass Hill, class of 1964.

The decision to organise a reunion after leaving nearly 50 years ago has unleashed some memories. Bass was a special time in my life.

In the early 1960s society was in a state of flux. Women's roles were changing, gays were coming out, adolescents were challenging their parents, the pill was on the horizon. Families were seeking stability after the war. People moved from country Australia to the city, people moved from war-torn Europe to Australia.

On my first day at Bass I noticed there were a lot of boys. Bass was one of the first co-educational high schools in NSW. I also noticed the teachers were very young. Three-quarters of them were first year out. There were also many children of immigrants in the playground. Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians, Russians, Germans and Ukrainians. They were leaving the butchery of Stalin and Hitler. We had no idea.

The young teachers and more experienced ones took it in their stride. Sport was fantastic; tennis, swimming, football, rugby league,

netball and cricket. PE teacher Jimmy Lyell, who played for the South Sydney rugby league team was a great role model. Betty Cuthbert's sister taught there.

Then there was the dance club. Every Tuesday lunch hour Miss Bennett and Mr Carrol would demonstrate mambo, samba, cha cha, or the pride of Erin. Then away we would go, legitimately able to touch the opposite sex, avoiding each other's toes, trying to master the dance steps.

Kevin Trainor recounted in later years how he loved teaching science. He was especially excited about the boys who would come in their own lunch hour to finish experiments. These boys with unusual surnames did well in the leaving certificate and studied science at university.

Thank you to those teachers. My own special thank you to Mr Fremanis from Latvia who encouraged my love of literature.

If you were there, or know someone who was please contact me at eurythmics64@hotmail.com for reunion details.

Christine Russell (nee Young)

Dunoon

Unite in protecting

BY THE time this letter is published, the coal seam gas test-drilling rig at Doubtful Creek will probably be gone.

The "protectors", who've spent the last few weeks maintaining their vigil at the entrance gate to the site, will be glad to pack up and go home to a dry bed and no mud.

I'm a local, an old age pensioner, who has seen the damage CSG does to property values and people. I visited the camp at the entrance to the drilling site several times. The people there were an eclectic mix including Aboriginal elders, business owners, farmers and residents all passionate about protecting our land, health and wealth.

I was on site, too, when Kyogle's mayor Ross Brown and council's general manager Arthur Piggott came to chat with the "protectors"; it was all very positive and I believe all council's requirements were met following the meeting.

Recent surveys show an overwhelming majority of locals don't want any coal seam gas mining in this area.

What a pity those few farmers who whinged to council about the camp weren't mature enough to meet with the "protectors" to voice their concerns directly. And what a pity they weren't community-minded enough to join us in trying to protect their own family, their farm and their neighbours' farms, their homes, air, water and food security by turning up at the vigil and asking, "What can I do to help?" Shame on them.

Heather Payne

Horse Station Creek

Cultural hunters

WHO could possibly object to a hunter-gatherer keeping in touch with his or her long-term genetic memories? Who could deny his or her right to partake in such sacred traditional activities, gaining health, spiritual and physical sustenance in the process?

If Rob Andrews (Echo, February 28) wishes to get in touch with his stone age inner self by digging up roots, gathering berries and spearing (non-protected) fish from a bark canoe, he is welcome to do so. These activities take an inordinate time and a great deal of knowledge and skill.

But what he is actually advocating is his right as a weekend warrior to blast away at feral animals with the biggest gun he can legally employ, regardless of the dangers to bushwalkers, campers, park rangers, native fauna and even his own kind, as the greatest cause of death while hunting is other hunters.

This "I'm culturally a hunter" line is shared with the Shooters and Fishers' Upper House MP Robert Brown. Apparently it's because he has Scottish and Eastern European ancestors. His fellow Shooters' MP Robert Borsak (Polish ancestry) whose biggest thrill in life was to shoot an elephant at six paces, told the Weekend Australian Magazine of November 24 of last year: "I'm culturally a hunter … That's what I do. It's in my genetics."

Well, whatever is in his genetics, it's not elephant shooting.

Culling of feral animal pests is sad but necessary and something to be done by experts. The Shooters Association's dressing themselves up in ethical conservation camouflage should not distract readers of The Echo from their real aims: the importation of an alien gun-culture and the watering-down of our present gun laws.

Peter Mullins

Nimbin

You have the power

HERE is something practical we can do if we feel strongly anti-CSG.

I found out that Red Energy is a totally owned electricity company that doesn't support CSG. So change over and be prepared for interesting reactions from former electricity companies. (This is an interim measure for those that aren't on solar grids yet and still paying a lot for their electricity).

The other positive is that RED Energy offers a discount on bills paid on time.

Origin, AGL etc all support CSG, so by allowing them to be your electricity provider you are unwittingly supporting their CSG interests.

It is important to let them know why you want to leave them as well.

When I left Origin, I had two calls from them, enticing me to return with a 20% discount on my electricity bill for a year.

I declined their offer and told them the reasons why. When I spoke about the CSG issue, the young man on the end of the phone aggressively informed me that the majority of Australians support CSG anyway.

I then retorted that 87% of people in my area don't support it which is the majority and he was no longer interested! I was a lost cause that wasn't going to be railroaded.

I then received a letter from Origin, requesting me to fill out a form telling Red Energy that I had declined their services! The audacity of Origin Energy!

Needless to say, I tore it up and am now a happy account holder with Red Energy who seem very friendly and respectful.

So, if you feel strongly about the CSG issue, change over to Red Energy, and I guarantee you will get some interesting phone calls from your former electricity company.

Wendy Saini

Goonellabah

It's a worry

I WAS lying awake, listening to incessant rain and worrying about "holding ponds" not being able to hold it all and the fact that in the last two days I have heard three more worrying things!

Firstly, friends of mine are in the process of buying a farm in the Richmond Valley Council area!

Secondly, another friend said that at his daughter's school in that council area, the students are being taught agriculture and coal seam gas mining can go hand in hand!

Thirdly, that someone who lives in Casino is so sick of the subject and all the protesters that he refused to sign a petition against it!

Barry O'Farrell has brought in the new 2km regulation zone near vineyards and horse stables, indicating they would be at risk. What about beef? What about milk? What about soy beans grown around Casino? What about the water and air we need to survive? So much for the Beef Capital?

Brian Monk lives alone on his 5000 acre property near Tara on the Darling Downs because his wife, son and family have left due to health problems and their children crying at bath time because of stinging water. They had rashes, nose bleeds, headaches and even seizures. They rely on bore water and Brian has been filmed igniting it!

Our ground breaking researchers from Southern Cross University proved that the atmosphere in the Tara area contains high levels of fugitive gas emissions; many of which show up as bubbles in floods.

'Frack Off the Rig Gig' at the Workers Club, March 23, 7.30pm will raise money for specialised health tests for Tara families. Eight musical performers will give their time freely so people can let their hair down, enjoy the music and the company of many friends we have made in the fastest growing movement since the Vietnam War.

Anne Thompson

Knitting Nanna Against Gas

Eltham

Arts economy

ROBERT Bou-Hamden (Echo, March 7) is right and wrong. Right that it is time for serious change, wrong to question why council should tout programs to encourage people to spend more time in the CBD, to linger longer and to hopefully transform that time into money spent at local businesses.

Liz Gibbs (Echo, March 7) sums it up neatly that "the arts drive innovation, excellence and wealth (not just in the dollar sense)" and that if Lismore plays it right we are very likely to become the first regional capital of culture in Australia.

The impact of this recognition is vast and encompasses not only more people visiting the region, more people staying for longer, consuming more and buying more, it also means people will be able to "experience" more and take that experience back to where they came from, keep it forever and share it amongst others so that they too come to see what we are all about.

There is so much to uncover in Lismore - we are not flashy like the coast, wearing ourselves thin on our sleeves.

Lismore takes a little more time to uncover the real magic and integrity. We need to promote this side of ourselves.

If you wish to support the move of the Regional Gallery to the rear of the Library/Conservatorium of Music in order to create a corner block of combined institutions, a meeting place for all ages and all abilities, and the opportunity for Lismore to host even more exhibitions, workshops, seminars, collaborative arts projects with, for example, primary and high schools, we need your support now.

We want to create a space we are proud of and then to invite Australia and beyond to visit us.

Email your support pledge to The Director, artgallery@lismore.nsw.gov.au and let's see if we can make this happen.

Samantha Hall

Friend of Lismore Regional Art Gallery

No evidence

IN RESPONSE to concerns raised in a recent article 'Tower fears', (Echo, March 7) there is no convincing scientific evidence of health risks from living or working near a mobile phone base station. In fact, the World Health Organization's current fact sheet on base stations and wireless networks states:

"Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects."

The WHO fact sheet also noted:

"Recent surveys have indicated that RF exposures from base stations and wireless technologies in publicly accessible areas (including schools and hospitals) are normally thousands of times below international standards."

Ongoing independent audits by the Australian Radiation Protection & Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) have also found the exposure levels from base stations are well below Australia's safety standard limit.

However, the mobile phone industry acknowledges that some people are genuinely concerned and we are committed to addressing these concerns responsibly through active community and local government consultation.

Chris Althaus

Chief Executive Officer

Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association

Cannabis cafes

FOR the last 25+ years I have supported sustaining the CBD by calling for the rejection of rezoning for Lismore Square, McDonald's, Woolworths at the Square, moving council chambers, etc. From about 1995 to 2002, I advocated revitalising the CBD by utilising empty shops for art/sculpture display, subsidising building repaints with vibrant multiple colours, murals wherever possible, shutting off street lighting after 11pm Sun-Thurs and 1am Fri / Sat, using the hundreds of thousands of dollars saved on bi-weekly concerts in Spinks Park or indoor venue.

At best, these art initiatives would have had a modest beneficial effect on the CBD.

The current raft of markets and events have not even justified their cost; eg. salaries.

The stand-alone way to revitalise the CBD beyond anyone's wildest imagination (albeit impossible, because of political and cultural will) is Lismore becoming the Amsterdam of Australia.

Steal Sinbin from Nimbin and allow cannabis cafes. BTW I support the right of tobacco addicts to smoke in public.

So long as non-smokers have to breathe miasma exhaust from petrol and diesel engines, nicotine and nor-nicotine aficionados should have proscribed outdoor places where they can smoke. The legal distance from places like eateries must be determined by women. Why? Because the greatest physiological difference between male and female is women's acute sense of smell.

Paul Recher

Dorroughby


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