Letters to the editor - Jan 26


To all the racists out there: judging by the most recent news reports about the Costa Concordia disaster, it seems that when it is a matter of life and death it is better to be standing next to a Catholic Filipino cleaner or kitchen hand. They were the only ones to be of any help.

Nicole Marinacce

Byron Bay


Vaccinate, don't hesitate

To Myles Davidson (Echo, January 5). I was unlucky to grow up before a vaccine was available to prevent polio and saw the effect on people who got it, including an Anglican minister, a cousin's wife's relative (both of whom wore callipers on their legs) and a friend who had deformed feet.

How are you going to feel if a member of your family got the disease for which a vaccine is available especially as you are making a decision affecting another person?

How are you going to explain your decision not to vaccinate to that family member?

Stan Heywood



Koala plan

A public meeting organised by the Rural Ratepayers Association of Lismore, the NSW Farmers' Association and the Cooee Property Rights Group on the draft Local Environment Plan (LEP) and draft Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management for south-east Lismore (CKPoM) chaired by The Hon Thomas George MP, was very well attended by rural landowners.

In regard to the Draft CKPOM much was made of there being no need for a management plan because of the increase in koala distribution and abundance reported in Council's commissioned scientific report Aspects of the Ecology, Distribution and Abundance of Koalas in the Lismore LGA (Biolink, Oct, .2011).

The area occupied by koalas has reportedly expanded from approximately 25% of the local government area (LGA) in the period 1949 -1992, to 30% in 1993-2010.

While that's good news, the report also points out that 30% is still well below the benchmark of 50%, thus the chances of Lismore's koalas withstanding ongoing habitat loss and high mortality rates are questionable. Indeed, the report clearly states that a 2-3% increase above the naturally-occurring mortality rate could still tip local populations into decline.

The report also points out that the analysis is entirely based on koala records sourced from the NSW Wildlife Atlas, Friends of the Koala, and Council's databases. Baseline information, including population size and relationships between occupied and unoccupied habitat, which is critical for effective management and monitoring, is not known.

The scientific literature unanimously declares that loss and fragmentation of habitat is the primary factor in all koala mortalities. The immediate cause for most (ie disease, vehicle impact and dog attacks) are secondary to habitat disturbance.

During 2011, 154 koalas were received by Friends of the Koala from across the Lismore LGA. Despite excellent veterinary assistance the 77% loss rate of 119 koalas is very high. Disease was the biggest killer; 71 koalas (60%), followed by car hit; 18 koalas (15%) and dog attacks; ninekoalas (7%).

We don't know what percentage of Lismore's koala population is admitted into care, but clearly a framework for proactive, responsible management is long overdue.

Your submission supporting the Draft CKPoM is vital for the long-term survival of Lismore's koalas.

Lorraine Vass


Friends of the Koala


Swastika symbol

Not well known is that the swastika was an Indian religious symbol for thousands of years before its appropriation by the Nazis last century. Also not recognised is that the Hindu and Buddhist swastikas are set in a square rather than diamond-shaped format and the arms turn clockwise, opposite to the Nazi version. In Asia, swastikas can be found on huge statues of the Buddha, on buildings, clothes, packaging and jewellery. The Hindu swastika signifies shakti, the female principle of divine energy. The word 'swastika' stems from the Sanskrit 'svastika', from svasti, wellbeing. Despite the history and design difference of the Indian swastika, a store in New York was requested by local authorities to stop selling swastika-shaped earrings from India because they deemed them offensive. Before the product was removed from the shelves they had almost sold out. Parochial Manhattan Borough president Scott Stringer said, "Let me be clear- a swastika is not a fashion statement. It is the most hateful symbol in our culture and an insult to any civilised person," adding that the sale of the earrings was a "hate crime" and "shocking to the sensibilities of all New Yorkers."

This case illustrates how implacably opposed to wellbeing some are and they no doubt also cling to the belief in a GDP-obsessed society with all its negative impacts, including greed, high rates of mental illness and the destruction of the environment. Those who support wellbeing as a primary goal should be allowed to wear its symbol.

P Griffin



Extinction is not an option

My name is Rosalie and I'm 10 years old. I think that koalas are very special and that we should do everything we can to save them, or else they'll be extinct before I'm 30!

I have seen injured koalas and koalas a long way from any gum trees on a coal black road and I wish and hope with all my heart that they get better or find a nice place with gum trees for them to live and reproduce in.

That is why I think Lismore City Council should have a plan to help koalas so they have a better future than what they do have now. You should make it better for them.

Rosalie Bain

McLeans Ridges


What's in the box?

With the Australia Day fiasco approaching, I am amazed at the ignorance of people in our Commonwealth of Australia when it comes to the knowledge of money and how it is privately owned and controlled through the illusion of democratically involved processes; the Federal Reserve System.

At present we the people do not elect people to do our will, we elect representatives for political parties; socialism (fabian-ism), communism or globalisation or some other evil name construct. Yes we have been usurped.

The people must once again take back the true meaning of our Commonwealth Constitution and our elected peoples (not party representatives), elected to serve the will of the nation (not corporations) and we must be sovereign and totally responsible for our money and eliminate private ownership of the banks and the Keynes System of Usury.

Most importantly we must bring back the principles of the Magna Carta which includes the jury system's judgement of fact and law. True justice and mercy.

Someone said there are four boxes; the soap box, the ballot box, the jury box and the ammo box. And I would add another; the biggest box, the money box.

If people realise what's in the money box and vote differently, we won't have to open the ammo box.

Aussies are not hurting enough for change and just go back to sleep. But I have noticed a slight twinge recently, which warms this old man's heart.

Brian McDougall



What land shortage?

I write in support of "Buddhist retreat's growth plans" (Echo, January 19) and in opposition to the NIMBY views expressed by Greg Bennett and the Rural Ratepayers Association of Lismore Incorporated (RRALI).

I have no religious beliefs apart from our great and wonderful Mother Nature who will have her wicked way with all of us via the carbon and water cycle. Upon our death we will be recycled from a carbon solid to a carbon

gas, transported to the atmosphere as the bugs devour and fart out our leftovers. The carbon gas will return to the earth to grow trees and plants and make oxygen. With a bit of luck we'll wind up as a Buddhist retreat rather than wood chip for toilet paper or, worse still, as newsprint for the Murdoch media. I personally hope to wind up at the retreat!

On a more serious note Greg, there is absolutely no food, energy or land shortage for humanity! We have a crisis of imagination and action! If you and your members are worried about food security you start growing your own food and form a co-operative to share the wealth and abundance of Mother Nature.

I drive around the streets of Lismore and see thousands of acres of unused road verges growing lawns that need mowing constantly and burn up millions of litres of fuel in the process - where's the land shortage Greg? I see the "tree change" baby boomers burning around their lifestyle blocks with ride on mowers all weekend burning up fossil fuels - where is the land shortage Greg? I see the Lismore Community Garden with the potential for growing lots of food, but without enough enthusiastic people to do it - where's the land shortage Greg?

If you and RRALI are really so worried about food security we would love you to come down to the Community Garden and help us grow food and train the residents of Lismore to grow their own food in their own backyard, thereby reducing food miles and the cost of food. I do agree with you Greg that we need to protect and nurture our farm lands but not for food growth. We can and should grow most of our food in or near our cities, which is not rocket science. Finally, Greg, just to prove I'm not a NIMBY you can visit www.onestopgreen to see how we can be sustainable on Mother Earth. You can also contact me at wadzywell@gmail. and organise a tour of the transition home I live in where I do all the above. I hope your group sees the light and supports this marvellous and diverse group achieve their aims.

Wayne 'Wadzy' Wadsworth



A warm thank you

Thank you to The Echo, and Terra Sword in particular, for the fantastic story on Quilts 4 Kids in "A gift of warmth and love" (Echo, January 12). Quilts 4 Kids have already received phone calls with donations, which we can use to make further quilts for the hospital - so thank you again for the story.

Carolyn Piercy


Quilts 4 Kids


War on plastic

The Year of the Dragon is now officially underway. 2012 promises to be a year of change (just like every other year). It frustrates me that we are still able to go to a local shop and purchase a couple of items and have them placed in a single-use non-biodegradable bag. It also frustrates me that once we drink our can of drink or bottle of water it generally goes straight into a rubbish bin bound for landfill. I was taught at school over 20 years ago (as was everyone else) that we live in a world of finite resources. Well, change can be painfully slow, especially while the corporates have their hand on the go-slow button (unless the 'global financial system' is at risk, then suddenly there's trillions of dollars to throw at the 'problem').

Now that the 'War on Terror' seems to be loosening its grip on our consciousness we can turn our attention to that other 'war' that has been raging across the globe. I'm talking about the 'War on Plastic'. Each year over 500 billion single-use plastic bags are produced and generally end up either in landfill or the ocean. To produce them it takes over 4.5 billion litres of oil each year.

The single-use plastic bag has been banned in many countries and states throughout the world. Recently the ACT legislated a ban on them. Many small towns and cities around the world have also initiated a voluntary ban. It would be such a wonderful achievement if the North Coast could achieve a voluntary ban (Lennox Head was almost there in 2010 - only three shops provided them).

The other front on the War on Plastic is the low level of packaging recycling. NSW currently recycles about 35% of drink bottles, whereas SA, which has a Container Deposit Scheme (CDS), recycles up to 85%. The NT recently introduced a CDS, despite threats of legal action from Coca-Cola Amatil. A CDS scheme would also provide a much-needed cash flow for local councils (who collect recycling) as well as reduce the amount of plastic going into our landfill (not to mention saving the black gold for other uses).

I have submitted motions to the January meeting calling on Ballina Council to write to the various ministers seeking a single-use bag ban (like the ACT recently legislated) and for NSW to introduce a CDS (a national scheme would be the preferred option). I have also asked Council to engage with the major retailers and supermarkets to work together to reduce plastic bag use in the meantime.

Let's make 2012 the year we finally started to get on top in this long-running War on Plastic.

Cr Jeff Johnson

Lennox Head


Cuban heels

I was amused to read Doug Burt's defence of socialism versus our capitalistic way of life here in Australia (Echo, January 19).

He cites his membership of the Socialist Alliance and its aspirations to attain Cuban (or Venezuelan) style socialism in Australia. All I can say is thank goodness they failed in their aspirations if Cuba is an example of his ideal way of life.

I recall reading not long ago of a group of women symbolically dressed in white putting their lives at risk by taking to the streets of Cuba demonstrating against the Castro brothers and the political prisoners incarcerated in the 2003 crackdown, and those same females being kicked, bashed and dragged through the streets and arrested by mobs of government thugs, yet still returning to the streets after this treatment.

If the healthcare in Cuba is so great, how come Fidel Castro himself chose to go to another country for treatment Doug?

How is it that thousands of Cubans risk their lives every day trying to get out of Cuba, yet I don't remember reports of people risking their lives to get there as they do trying to reach Australia?

The fallacy behind the concept of socialism is that nobody wants to work hard if someone else gets the benefits. An old Soviet joke went something like...

"The State pretends to pay us, and we pretend to work."

Then again Doug, an old wharfie would know all about hard work wouldn't he?

I hope you had a lovely capitalistic Australia Day.

Jim Hawkins



Caring for koalas

It was pouring rain outside. The events room at the Lismore Workers Club was setup and ready to go, as the time approached 7pm the hall began to fill, all the chairs filled yet still they came, scores more chairs were added. They filled and still they came. The room divider was opened and scores more chairs obtained. They filled and still they came! Hundreds upon hundreds of concerned, fed up and alienated rural landowners.

Five councillors were at this meeting, that's just five out of 11. These councillors have my thanks, but as for the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, they were not to be seen. The media was also absent - hmmm.

The speakers were all well received, that is by the overwhelming vast majority of the crowd. I counted eight opposers, an Environment Defender's Office (EDO) solicitor, a few environmentalists and one past mayor.

After the meeting a member of the crowd put this telling statement to me, "never again will landowners trust a single statement from our council". This is what it has come to folks. Do we really want live in a community divided?

Anyone who cares about koalas, and most landowners do, needs to know this. An alienated and increasingly hostile rural landowner community will result in this 'ending in tears'.

Everyone needs to take a breath and remember this fact. Yes, fact; the koala population in the Local Government Area (LGA) is 'recovering and expanding' both its range and numbers, and this is thanks almost solely to rural landowners.

The Koala Plan of Management (KPoM) is unnecessary, unwarranted and will be counterproductive. I urge every LGA resident to make a submission rejecting it.

Greg Bennett

RALI president


Fairies in the garden

I am sorry Ben Hewitt (Echo, January 19) but I do not have time to look up at the sky, I am far to busy keeping an eye on those pesky fairies at the bottom of my yard to worry about strange cloud formations.

Chris Walker

Rock Valley


Fracking hell

Congratulations to Rock Valley GAS Rangers for their inspirational and well attended 'symbolic' coal seam gas blockade at Rock Valley village hall last Saturday.

I note that the powerful CSG lobby is making out that the Australia-wide protests against CSG are orchestrated by "professional activists". What a load of rubbish. The protests originate from communities threatened by CSG mining - indeed our slogan might well be 'Communities Against CSG', a good companion for the 'Methane Madness' sign I saw at Rock Valley. Another that came to mind after the blockade is 'The Crazy Cargo Cult of Coal'.

I note that Martin Ferguson, federal Minister Against the Environment, is going to set the federal police etc on to environmental activists who interfere with infrastructure - so we may all yet be classed as security risks by ASIO - and yes, we'll fight to the bloody end!

I note that on page 10 of the January 21-22 weekend SMH the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) were again rubbishing Howarth et al's scientific work (which indicates that methane produced by fracking has a larger global warming footprint than coal) as "discredited and disregarded by his (sic) peers and experts in the field... a piece of activist science... [with] little relevance to the Australian CSG... sector due to the operational, geological and regulatory differences which exist".

I note that APPEA make no mention of the peer-reviewed paper Methane Contamination of Drinking Water Accompanying Gas-Well Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing by Osborn et al published last May in the prestigious US Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, which clearly demonstrated massive methane contamination of ground water within one kilometre of active wells.

This paper supports Howarth et al's conclusions regarding methane leakage from fracking wells, demonstrates scientifically what the film Gasland dramatically showed visually, and is entirely consistent with what has been observed at fracking sites in Queensland.

I note that the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency "did not respond to the Herald's questions about its methodology for measuring emissions from coal seam gas projects". The federal government has previously stated that "parameters for measuring greenhouse gas emissions from gas drilling operations were updated every year, in consultation with the industry (my italics)".

If methane can leak into aquifers and ground water from active wells, what other materials and toxins can leach out from fractured coal residues remaining after methane extraction? What methodologies do the industry and government have to monitor this? How would they prevent it and who would pay?

Dr Len Martin



Hobin Roods

The pragmatic clout has to pack its punch in a deception called politics. Body counts for us, none for others. That's some of us, not all of us. It does not make logical sense.

Once we had social clubs that assisted the community. Now, I have observed how three or more very wealthy institutions, call them Hobin Roods rob the mentally ill and give it to the rich. By actual unaccountable, unaffordable systems called government, law and commercial systems.

Once again, none of your readers will dispute this truth. Most imagined they could argue from any doubtful point, as I work only with sentient facts. There is no argument available. I observe institutional abuses, by painful experience and how they fobbed us off.

I don't gamble. I do the equations, permutations, combinations. The present data, the statistics I have gathered, tell me this; you have all been conned, especially those who psychotically imagined it's done for more dollars in its self aggrandisement, stacking their deck.

Keith A Stone



Coraki Common

Very curious to know about the Coraki Village Common which is beside my residence. A history of it would be good to hear for sure, and to know its intended future as at the moment it is just left to rot.

It appears to be a decent stretch of land running from Queen Elizabeth Drive just before the village exit to Woodburn going west along the south-side of Thomas Crescent and further on for how far I do not know.

From my check it is owned by the Crown. About four meters outside a barbed wire fence exactly next to my place is still Crown Land, which I mow, and the rest is overgrown and weed infested.

It is too close to my property and a mowed buffer zone is required, particularly when it is seasonally dried out and it is windy. I have written to Crown Lands in Grafton and I'm waiting for a reply.

I understand the Bundjalung Aboriginal people have a Native Title Application pending on the land. It would be wonderful for these people to obtain this land to rediscover, regenerate, promote and use.

Otherwise, it is too great a pity to see this land not being used, left unattended and wild, when we have a group of people, probably the largest tribe ever in Australia, who could most benefit using it.

Jennifer Sherwin



Conflict of interest

I am so angry with what is happening to our land around the country with CSG. I think Peter Graham (Lismore City Councillor) and Stuart George (Richmond Valley Councillor) have huge conflicts of interest because of their involvement business-wise with Metgasco. I am wondering why both councils have not censored these councillors over their involvement, particularly Lismore City Council, which has said no to coal seam gas mining in our area.

Fellow councillors should be putting pressure on Peter Graham and Stuart George to withdraw from their association with Metgasco.

Richmond Valley Dairy is letting down farmers who are battling against the mining companies to stop fracking on their land by their business association with Metgasco! They have betrayed their milk suppliers. It seems that

Messrs Graham and George plus Richmond Valley Dairy only care about dollar signs. People need to wake up to the fact that the land around the Northern Rivers outside of the Lismore region is being environmentally raped and that is also going on in other parts of Australia.

Most of the politicians in Australia are drawn by greed to these gas mining companies, but luckily some are on our side. They couldn't care less that our land is being environmentally raped by this process! Raped is the only word I can use to describe what these companies are doing. Late last year I caught a report on the coal seam gas mining project in Gladstone, Queensland, on the ABC's 4 Corners program. It was horrific to watch, especially seeing the horrific effects it's having on the fish in Gladstone harbour. I urge people to watch this program online to gain a better understanding of what CSG mining is doing to our environment.

Helen Colye

South Lismore

Ed's note - Lismore City Council's ban only applies to Council land, not private land in the LGA.


Call to farms

Thanks to The Echo editorial team and readers for your articles and letters about the horrors of coal seam gas mining and the tactics of the companies who are exploring and about to mine in the midst of our farms and communities.

Type the following link into your web browser to see Arrow Energy trucks - largely owned by the Chinese Government - driving over the Akubras and panamas of local farmers in the Kerry Valley (www.echo aspx?iid=58604&sr =0#folio=002).

Don't let coal seam gas mining go any further in this area. These are the kinds of bullying tactics you can expect if it does.

Please bombard your local members with phone calls, emails and letters. And stand with our farmers when they call you.

Bobbi Allan

The Channon


Read the plan

It was of benefit having some experts on koalas attend the recent meeting at the Lismore Workers Club, called to challenge the draft Koala Plan of Management (KPoM) and the updated draft Local Environment Plan (LEP).

They were able to point out a few 'home truths' about koalas and the vulnerable position they are in, in our region. (Tweed is down to very few individual koalas.)

There seemed to be a strong preconceived idea that the draft KPoM was too involved to even bother trying to read and that it was going to make it harder for all farmers in our local LCC government area.

I felt I had to stand up and point out that it had only taken me about two hours to read it, so as to assure those present not to be deterred from reading it themselves. This seemed to be what was being suggested by at least one of the speakers, Kel Graham from Coo-eeEE Property Rights Group. It is important that people see or read information themselves rather than take the word of others, as this leads to the building up of a 'lynch' mentality based on fear and loathing being drummed up by those who may wish to muddy the waters, for their own ends.

It turned out there was a very small portion of those, say 300, people present who had actually read the draft KPoM. So how can anyone make decisions on something when they haven't read it for themselves?

Two of the main protagonists at the meeting were well-known developers, Jeff Champion and LCC councillor Graham Meineke, who tried to drum up anger, the latter expressing his concern that if a farmer wanted to develop 40 acres of their land, and accordingly knock down the koala trees thereon, that this KPoM would not be good for them. Thank goodness! And I question how many of those present would even conceive of doing such a thing.

It seemed that a study that was released about koalas growing in numbers in the relevant area over the years was brought up to say that 'all is well' and we don't have to do anything about improving koala numbers. However, these numbers have not been 'ground-truthed', which means the statistics say something but it's not been proven 'on the ground'. In fact there are many examples of local koala numbers being cut by developments, chlamydia, dog attacks and being killed by cars. Local koala carers are most concerned and it was great a few spoke up on the night to bring a bit of balance to the debate. They should not be dismissed by those who have their own vested interests in arguing against protecting our core koala habitats.

The first requirement of the new draft KPoM is that any koala trees knocked down be made up for by a number of other similar species being planted to compensate and that this process be transparent and documented (not unreasonable). Positives are that this new KPoM would also reduce the time to put through a DA and remove the need to prepare an individual site KPoM.

I urge anyone interested or concerned about our local koalas to look at it on LCC's website and write a submission by February 3.

Lydia Kindred


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