Letters to the editor - Sep 27

No coincidence

How ironic: on the anniversary an act of terrorism sparked the US War on Terror (September 11), the NSW government started a war against its own people by opening the flood gates to CSG mining. Coincidence? On the same day huge cuts to education were announced? Cuts to remind us of how much we need CSG mining revenue to maintain basic services?

I don't believe in coincidences. Big money buys opinion, politicians, and even non-suspecting citizens. It appears that mining magnates are running the state, with the government nothing but puppets nodding their heads.

We are told, CSG is safe - as safe as asbestos? Asbestos continued to be used for more than 10 years after scientists had rung the alarm bells - there were great profits to be made. Today, we are facing billion dollar renovation bills, not to mention the thousands of lives lost.

CSG, while bringing in some royalties, has the potential to make asbestos look like a minor irritation.

Simultaneously, we had the super trawler story which was potentially a disaster to local fish stocks. But do we know? Even scientists are divided. But politicians scrambled to save us from this threat. Why is no-one scrambling to save us from a much bigger threat? Maybe because the Magiris owners have no lobby group and don't provide cosy jobs for retiring politicians...

I feel angry. Angry but not powerless. Remember David and Goliath? I'm not one to throw the stone, because I believe in non-violence. David won his fight. We don't throw stones, but we are many thousands ready to give it all. Metgasco, Arrow, AGL - watch out! If you are destroying our health, amenity and property values, we are not sitting back to let it happen. This fight will enter the book of Australian history as a seismic win of people power over the greed of big business and the incompetence of governments.

Michael Qualmann



Cultural divide

The most appalling, disturbing and concerning aspect of the recent riots by Muslim demonstrators in Sydney is seeing placards, held by adults and children, demanding the beheading of anyone who insulted Mohammad. This demand - to decapitate, at will, anyone who insults their religious leader - demonstrates the insurmountable cultural divide between Muslims and other Australians.

Australians' religious beliefs and practices are part of our life, and many can know us for years without being aware of our religious leaning - or, indeed, if we have any religious leaning at all.

For Muslim people, their life is governed by their religion: their religion dictates their actions throughout the day, dictates their daily practices from their first waking moment, dictates who they will associate with, and how they will associate with those people.

What do we, as Australians, expect of Muslim people living in Australia? To become one of us? That will not happen. What do Muslim people who come to live in our country expect of Australian society?

We know that Muslim people expect all the rights Australians take for granted: freedom of speech, democratic freedom, sexual equality, no discrimination on the basis of religion, race or gender: yet, these very principles do not apply in their countries of origin.

How, then, do we expect these people, who 'live' their religion and hold attitudes and beliefs outside our scope of comprehension, how do we expect them to become Australians? Do they want to be Australian, or do Muslim people here believe that Australia should become Muslim?

Since our experience of living in Saudi Arabia, I have been concerned about, the naivety of our policy makers in Australia. The placards waved by people living in our suburbs, calling for the beheading of people, reinforces my concern about the future of Australian society.

Marilyn Perkins



CSG green light

The recent decision by the NSW state government to give the green light to the CSG industry just days after an 87% vote against the industry by the Lismore electorate is a clear message of dictatorship and an open declaration of war against our community. It was timed and designed to demoralise opponents.

Now, as well as our water, property rights and general environment being under threat, so is democracy itself. It is confirmation that the state tier of government exists only to use the revenue it collects from us to serve its own needs and to do the bidding of multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporations.

Should we not react to this in the strongest way possible, not only will we and our children have to exist in a society where the dollar comes before human and animal life, but also a future where freedom of speech is simply a token offered by the authorities in order to give the illusion of democracy. A future where our personal rights and opinions count for nothing at all. This must not be allowed to happen.

It is essential that the Northern Rivers community does not take this bending over. The rest of the nation looks to us with hope that this filthy, greedy industry can be stopped. A message must be sent to the NSW state government that we, the people of their electorate, will not tolerate being dictated to by our elected leaders.

Peaceful protest or not, it will now be impossible to oppose this industry legally so maybe the five year royalty-free period for the gas miners was stopped in order to gain revenue for the state for investment into legal defence, bigger jails and more police, because that is now what's going to be needed.

Scott Walters

South Lismore


Helpful helpers

I wish to share my experience of voting at the recent council elections. I voted early at the Bexhill Hall. I am a senior citizen and use a walking stick. The access is steep and uneven. As I struggled down the slope from my car, one woman, wearing a smile and a hat with flowers embroidered on it, left the throng of the 'how to vote' group clustered at the entry. She took my arm and helped me along. I am not aware of political issues and she could see I was confused when she handed me her 'how to vote' guide. She explained to me that I would be given three papers to vote - one for the councillors, one for the mayor and one for the CSG issue.

Whilst she was explaining this process a woman from another team interrupted, saying "you can't lead voters". My lady, whose name was Julie or Judy, very politely replied that it was her job to help people to use their vote wisely and to explain this process of the voting. The woman who interrupted stood very close and continued to listen in to our conversation. Julie/Judy helped me down the stairs and the 'opposing' woman called out "You have to stay at least 6 metres from the door!"

Julie/Judy was so gracious, friendly and helpful and treated both myself and the rude lady with respect. I set out to vote for another team, but I gave my vote to "C group". If this woman represents the character of this group, they will do us proud. All strength to Our Sustainable Futures.

Dot Carmody



Clean rivers?

In the local rag have been comments from SCU regarding water testing samples from CSG holding dams, and if not done correctly the results can vary. Even our local river could show unwanted elements on the bottom. Some years ago there was at Drake a very toxic holding pond left by Carrington mines, full of sulphides and other nasties, and much was made of the toxicity and danger to stock and humans if it overflowed from heavy rain and discharged into the nearby creek and flowed through to the Clarence River. However some clever lads from SCU devised a treatment plant and experimented on that pool with such great success that the treated water was discharged into the creek with no problems. I have wandered over much of these areas fossicking and you may be unaware of what occurs naturally in our streams and rivers. For instance, on the Clarence there is a steep hill bordered on one side by the river and the other side by a creek. This hill contains Cinnabar, from which is derived Mercury that would have been leaching into the river for eons. In the Rocky River, where I have fossicked, there was plenty of copper sulphides on the sandy bottom, and on the Cataract River, I have seen old antimony mines right down to the rivers edge. These all flow into the Clarence.

In the Oban River district they once mined arsenic. The old ovens still there where the ore was cooked to extract the arsenic. The river contains arsenic naturally, which is tolerated by stock and wildlife, but we were warned not to drink from the river. So you see that there is so much of some of these toxic elements that have been around long before man was ever thought of and they have been part of our lives here for a mere 200-odd years. Enjoy your next cuppa and bottoms up

L Newton



Exceptional humans

To Patsy Walsh and Ian Wilson, ('Sad end for magpie', Echo letter September 20).

You two are exceptional humans. Rest comfortably in the knowledge you both did everything that could be expected of humans of conscience. So deeply honoured to share this once beautiful planet with you, kids. Keep smiling, regardless!

Ray Menzies



What is it good for?

R J Poole's letter ('Real reasons for war', Echo, September 20) made my day. In a world of opinions - to see the truth written in the newspaper - why the war exists was fantastic. End war! Yes - it takes one person to stand up and say no. No to the war in their heads, in their house, neighbourhood, country or world.

Well done R J Poole.

Shiralee Boehler



Don's party

Don Page, the state member for Ballina, spent a long time on the opposition benches of Macquarie Street. Fast forward to March 2011, when he was flung with overwhelming force into the power of government. In my living memory, people have always seen Mr Page as a community man, a man that people can trust. The past few months have demonstrated that this facade is an illusion. His government has openly attacked the people of this state and our local community. It has slashed spending on health and education and it has taken the axe to workers' rights by making the biggest changes to workers compensation laws in a century.

The State Government has targeted the foundations of our community in such a vicious manner; surely a response from Mr Page is warranted. But what have we heard from him? Nothing - not a peep! It's about time for Mr Page to stand up for the people of the electorate of Ballina and oppose the vicious attacks of his government - to tell Macquarie Street that the people of the Northern Rivers won't stand for his government's blatant disregard for the interests of his constituents. Otherwise it may just be time for old Don to finally hang up his boots and hand the reins to somebody who will.

Toby Warnes

Suffolk Park


Fracking across the ocean

Very interesting, but not really surprising I guess, that in the very same week it was announced that fracking would go ahead here, it was also announced that the South African government would lift a moratorium on fracking in South Africa's Karoo.

The Karoo is a part of the country that is semi desert. It is where South Africa will co- host 80% of the newly sanctioned SKA telescope. The other co-hosts are New Zealand and Australia. It'll be one of the biggest, if not the biggest scientific projects of all time.

The Karoo is massive so I'm sure will be able to accommodate both.

Here in Australia, the CSG mining, I think, is mostly about profit and greed.

It is in South Africa too, but a more pressing matter that side is the current unemployment which is at 25% or 12.5 million people. People are becoming very disillusioned with governments' inability to create jobs there. So if jobs can be created that'll last 40-50 years, masses will be appeased, plus as they say, "The country cannot continue running on coal", which theoretically is correct. Yes I know there's greener options, but not ones that can be implemented sooner and maintain a workforce providing lasting jobs.

This too is what millions of people want - let's not forget.

So as many of us may think our voices have not been heard, millions of voices across the Indian Ocean have been heard loud and clear. Jobs they cry!

However here in Australia, there were not too many loud voices from anywhere supporting CSG - except the mining sector really.

We humans keep making the same environmental mistakes. Will we ever learn?

Warren Hirst



Wildlife rescuers

Recently I saw a family frantically trying to stop six ducklings from running onto the road near the turnoff to the Burns Ferry at Ballina. I immediately pulled over to help. Both parents and one duckling were run over, it was very sad. Another woman called WIRES and a lovely man came to our aid while we waited and helped catch them into a box.

Thank you for your support. Then another lovely man came to bury the deceased ducks. I am horrified that people could be so blind to not see a family of ducks walking onto the highway right before a roundabout. I notice it is usually the P-platers and young men that do most of the speeding. Well you make me want to puke! Slow down on our roads, there is wildlife crossing everywhere, so stop being so self-involved in your own thoughts while you're driving and be aware of what is going on around you.

Today a family of little people will never be the same, the tiny ducklings have to adjust with no parents. Slow down everyone; what is the bloody rush? Thank goodness for wildlife rescue groups. It is just so unfortunate we have only a few who actually care about other beings who share this planet with us.

Louise Kahj



Bouquets for all

On September 19, I attended the North Coast Radiology Nuclear Medicine clinic at St Vincent's Hospital, Lismore.

It turned out to be a six hour, long, tiring day - for not only myself, but other patients and staff.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the wonderful team who worked to minimise the stress, with special thanks to Doctor John Mulholland, whose compassion, and caring attitude to all renewed my faith in the system. How good can our hospital system be? Better than good

June Crawford



Muslims and gay marriage

Two issues have been prominent in the news recently - homosexual marriage and multiculturalism, especially in regard to Islam. The actions of the Greens and Labor Party MPs who voted for homosexual marriage betray their gross hypocrisy on these two matters.

Multiculturalism requires that members of parliament should take into account aspirations of minorities they are supposed to represent. I just wonder how closely the Labor and Greens MPs who have large Muslim populations in their electorates, up to 20% in some cases, consulted with those Muslim minorities over how they felt about homosexual marriage? I don't know too many Muslims who tolerate homosexuality.

Bob Vinnicombe



Rate rises and rights

To Jessica Zimbalatti - In reply to your letter of last week ('Non-citizens voting', Echo, September 20), unless I am wrong, which is always a distinct possibility, you do not have to be a citizen to vote in local council elections.

Rises or falls in property prices are not directly related to council rates. Regardless of property prices council costs rise every year and councils are allowed to increase rates up to but no more generally than CPI or some equivalent formula. Your property valuation, rising or falling, relative to other properties affects your rates.

Paul Recher



What's in a name?

For goodness sake, let the heterosexuals have the word, 'marriage'.

'Civil union', 'defacto', 'partners' are all legal and mean the same thing. If it's ceremony you want, then do it! A lot of teenagers dabble in sexuality trying to see where they fit and if their inclination is towards the same sex, they are faced with a social problem. Society is judgemental and conformity is the safe option. But if you are biologically attracted to the same sex, then that is who you are. That is, you accept it and expect society to respect it, and if they don't, it is not your problem. Prejudice has never been the problem of the victim. Minority groups have always been feared as they present a freedom that is hard to understand by those who conform.

In all other aspects of humanity, gays and lesbians are exactly the same as the rest of society. They enjoy and respect love, laughter and life. Do you?

Society seems to have a problem in their imagination with regard to the physical union of same sex couples, but if you look at the physical union of heterosexual couples, it all looks rather absurd. We cover it all by the word love - but remember "In my house there are many rooms" and if we believe that, then there is a room for all.

So let the heterosexuals have their word, after all, one in three don't see it much past the threshold and their vows follow them out the door to divorce. Think of another word! The English language is so, so beautiful.

Bett Taylor



Going once…

Next up for auction is lot 2480, generously put up for bid by Mr Thomas George MP. This a real treasure for any serious anti-community, environmental vandal. The Northern Rivers of New South Wales boasts some of the world's best and richest prime agricultural land, sitting on vast untapped coal seam gas deposits. A must have in any mining corporation executives' portfolio.

In this era of so called 'climate change' and pseudo-hippie legislation like our carbon tax, you need to ask yourselves, as energy industry businessmen, is that trip to San Tropez affordable this financial year? Executive class BMW's don't pay for themselves... well not without a decent accountant (chuckle chuckle).

It's the new gold rush, gentlemen! But wait, there's more! Included in this package are all the water resources you will need for your drilling operations supplied at no extra cost by Mr George and The Great Artesian Basin. Still not convinced it's the sale of the century? Well wait, because there's still more! Thanks to Lismore's honourable member, also up for sale are the dairy and cattle farmers, the land owners, the primary producers, the mums, the dads, the kids, including the Bundjalung community and more importantly, the integrity that holds these non-affluent areas together. Everything must go! Now it is true that 87% percent of the population voted against CSG mining but just think of that number as a profit percentage when you sell up to Petro- China.

Going once! Going twice! Lot 2480 sold to Metgasco Pty Ltd. and Arrow Energy Pty Ltd. for an undisclosed sum. Happy mining!

John Taylor


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