Letters to the Editor - Feb 7

Overnight conversion

SO IAN and Darrelyn Sharman (Echo, January 24) of Teven you were once concerned enough about CSG to write letters opposing this industry, but you are now quite obviously passionate supporters. From CSG cynic to sold, hey? Pray tell, was it overnight, over time, or over lunch with Mr Hazzard?

I can only assume Brad was able to answer all your silly little concerns which would account for your new-found support for all things CSG. So tell us, are these answers a ''classified information'' thing, compartmentalised maybe? You know it is possible that if you disclosed the reasons for your change of heart then maybe we could all be sold as well.

Alternatively you could ''stick to the script'', denigrate anyone who isn't sold and continue with your support of the government and industry line of ''trust us we have it covered''. It does seem however that in the absence of honest, straightforward answers to simple valid questions two out of three in your community (your calculation) just don't buy it.

Wayne Bromwich



Highway to broken promises

WARREN Truss's latest visit to the North Coast simply confirmed that he ascribes to that old adage that if you repeat something often enough people will eventually believe it no matter how untrue the statement.

It is time for the charade to end.

When it comes to the Pacific Hwy, all Mr Truss and Tony Abbott are offering are vague, unfunded promises on the never-never. And to anyone who still believes the Liberal and National parties are genuinely committed to fixing this road, I would say, have a look at the recent performance of the NSW Government.

The leaders of that Coalition government said one thing before the election and have done the complete opposite since.

So here's the bottom line: political parties should be judged on what they deliver in government and not on what they promise from opposition - and on any objective assessment, this Labor government has a record second to none when it comes to the Pacific Hwy.

On the North Coast alone, we've completed the Ballina Bypass, the Glenugie Upgrade, and the Banora Point Upgrade. In addition, we've commenced work on the Devils Pulpit Upgrade and the duplication of the section between Tintenbar and Ewingsdale. In total, federal Labor has committed more than $7.9 billion to completing the full duplication of the Pacific Hwy.

By contrast, the former Howard Government in which Mr Truss served as Transport Minister spent just $1.3 billion over its 12 long years on the highway.

As history has shown, the Coalition - at both a state and federal level - has consistently failed to deliver, and their latest "promises" are simply a recipe for even more delays, even more blowouts and even more excuses.

Only Janelle Saffin, Justine Elliot and Federal Labor are committed to finishing the job.

Anthony Albanese

Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister


Shadowy regime

ACCORDING to US government statistics, about 600 people are killed each week by guns through all causes; about 85 per day. Gun deaths in 2010 were 31,672 in total and the number killed that year through car accident was 33687. Gun death is therefore approaching the road toll, making it a public health issue.

Right wing Liberal Senator Cory Bernadi was recently outed as the Australian representative for ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) which has close ties with the NRA (National Rifle Association of America), which in turn has connections with the SSAA (Sporting Shooters Association of Australia), its Northern Rivers branch being one of its most active.

They all share the conservative ideals of free markets, limited government, federalism and individual liberty (read egoism). ALEC is a corporate funded organisation which produces fully drafted ''model'' bills for corporations which are handed directly to politicians. ALEC introduces about 1000 bills per year of which about 200 become law. These affect all aspects of citizens' lives.

ALEC has eight task forces covering all the main departments of government, making it in effect a shadow regime. Its energy, environment and agriculture task force is currently chaired by the American Gas Association. One of its many projects is to prevent public disclosure of which chemicals are pumped underground to help extract gas. ALEC has crafted legislation that provides loopholes for companies wishing to protect ''trade secrets''. ALEC prefers to operate at a state level because of its grass roots aims and constituency and in the US is attempting to transfer national parks to state ownership, possibly so that hunting and mining can take place.

Through ALEC, global corporations are scheming to rewrite your rights and boost their revenue. ALEC operated under the radar in the US until 2011, when its activities were exposed by the Centre for Media and Democracy, a non-profit investigative reporting group. CMD now continuously monitors ALEC and publishes detailed information on its every movement. If the democratic value of the people's vote is to be maintained in Australia there needs to be a similar independent watchdog operating.

P. Griffin,



Death to hunting

THE recent furore over whether Game Council officials were in breach of the council's own guidelines on ''humane'' killing practices raises again the question of whether the Game Council can be trusted to regulate hunting and prevent even the most egregious cruelty to animals. This statutory authority has a budget of $2.5 million in taxpayers' money, from which, according to its own report, it manages to employ just nine Authorised Officers, only 40% of whose time involves enforcing compliance. Even if they could ensure the compliance of the 15,000 registered hunters in the 20,000 square kilometres of NSW state forests and 50,000 square kilometres of national parks - which is clearly impossible - the number of animals killed or left to bleed to death has no effect on feral animal numbers.

Hunting has no redeeming features - it is simply a blood sport. It is unethical and should be banned - not just in national parks but in all NSW territories.

Bloodthirsty hunters have maimed and killed feral animals as well as native ducks, wallabies and other animals. Many are shot, wounded and left to languish. There are more humane and effective ways to reduce feral animal populations. Killing won't work, because more animals will simply move in to the areas and breed.

Allowing recreational shooting in public areas also puts people at risk. The National Parks Association has even warned people to steer clear of national parks and reserves where hunting is allowed.

The vast majority of Australians, from park rangers to politicians, oppose hunting. For the animals' and the public's sake, the Premier should repeal the law that allows hunting in national parks and ban hunting in all other areas too.

Ashley Fruno

Campaigns Manager, PETA Australia


Man made error

JUST a short email of the semantic nit-picky kind...

In your editorial (Echo, January 31) you refer to ''anthropomorphic climate change''. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe you may mean ''anthropogenic climate change''.

The former is a little misleading as it speaks of the personification of traits of non-human objects or animals whereas the latter speaks of human origin or ''genesis''.

No reason to give climate change deniers any more (non-renewable) fuel for their fire, best we iron out the ambiguities.

Daniela Silva


Ed's note - You are, of course, correct. And I do appreciate your nit-picking.


Why the need to kill?

WHEN I was a child we had the Marlboro Man to demonstrate the association between fresh air, beautiful wide screen scenery, a rugged outdoor lifestyle - and smoking. Now we have the Sporting Shooters' Association (The Echo, January 31) to assure us that the "safe, fun" sport of shooting is run by wholesome outdoorsy conservationists who are really, really, down on illegal guns.

That much may possibly be true, but Diana Melham, the SSAA executive director in her letter nowhere addresses the concerns raised by P. Griffin in his letter of January 24. Just as the Marlboro ads avoided associating smoking with cancer wards or the millions worldwide dying slowly from emphysema, Ms Melham, who proclaims her mission to raise gun ownership levels, makes no mention of the elephant in the room. This is the indisputable fact that the country with the highest gun ownership levels in the world (the US) is the country with the highest gun-caused death rate.

She does not address Mr. Griffin's claim that the SSAA wants to have gun ownership for self defence, an American-style paranoia that we can do without. Neither does she defend her association's affiliations with the repulsive National Rifle Association of America and with gun manufacturers through the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities.

If shooting is so innocuous, Ms Melham might explain why there is a need for a political party dedicated to its needs. Other sports, from cross country skiing to wheelchair rugby, also offer "safe, fun and unique" thrills but get along, somehow, without their own members of parliament. Neither do they do deals with governments to allow their enthusiastic amateurs privileged access to national parks to endanger wildlife and fellow citizens.

And why do recreational shooters claim they need semi-automatic rifles and pump-action shotguns? If shooting is a harmless, safe game of skill like, say, darts or paintball, why the need for more and more rapid-fire guns? Why the need, after all, to kill?

Peter Mullins



Better than a bought one

Re: The front cover photo by James Harris (Echo, January 31). That was the best front page ever (well, maybe I exaggerate - there have been quite a few gold star ones). In fact I found the whole of January 31 edition inspiring and uplifting. Ra Ra for the whole team!

And dear S; You dear man - how to turn a bit of writer's licence into a full blown, well reasoned and articulate diatribe about this here place.

You go like a bought one. Sitting in the shack must be good for your vision.

Liz Gibbs



Number crunch

THE important Strategic Road Review currently under consideration by council and prepared by traffic specialists TTM Consulting Pty Ltd. is complete bunkum. The recommendations are based on future population projections and vehicle usage (number of trips and people per car). Both of these critical factors as assessed by the consulting firm are so wrong that the entire review needs to be done again.The authors write: "The above tabulated estimates represent average annual growth rates of 0.25% to 0.65% for the urban and rural areas of Lismore respectively in the period between 2006 and 2036. (This is true!) However, in the period between 2006 and 2011 population growth for the Lismore urban area (as defined in figure 2.1) was approximately 2.5% per annum.

Wrong! It contradicts the previous sentence (fig.2.1 Dept. of Planning says 0.25%). The review even prints the Department of Planning's own words: "Between 2006 and 2011 ....the Lismore urban area experienced a positive net migration of 965 people." Dept. of Planning putting the 2011 population at 31,900, and the ABS for 2006 at 30,086.

The report then goes on to show a graph of their own creation ''Assumed Future Populations'' that Lismore's population in 2033 will be 64,448 with an urban population of 39,464. These population figures are based on "...estimated annual growth rates 1% for urban and 2% for rural Lismore per annum." The 1% and 2% being considered a reasonable assumption. This assumption contradicts the source data cited and used in the report. (There are no sources provided for these assumptions.) They are in total disagreement with all other authorities. For example in 2011, the ABS projected Lismore's annual growth at 0.77% with a population of 54,500 by 2033. Due to my concern, LCC contacted the consultants who replied "The figure of 2.5% for the period between 2006 and 2011 is based on the difference between the 2006 census figure of 27,845 for the urban area shown in Table 3.1 and the 31,900 figure shown for 2011 under "urban" in the table at the start of Section 3. This was a period of higher growth in Lismore, hence the 2.5% figure." The big problem here is the ABS states Lismore's population in 2006 was 30,086 and not the completely undocumented unknown source for the figure of 27,845. (Fig.3.1 being the consultant's own graph 'Assumed Future Populations' that provides no sources for their assumptions.) There is no way Lismore urban gained circa 3500 new residents from 2006 - 2011 that included the GFC! This expensive study projects population figures way above everyone else without any supporting documentation. It assumes the same driving habits today will exist in 2033 as if climate change and so forth will have no impact. This is a document deliberately designed to cater to ratepayers spending multiple millions of dollars before said dollars might be required. In one word, the review is a sham.

Paul Recher



Raise the levee

LEVEE saves Lismore in record flood - a headline we in Lismore are not likely to see.

With last week's record rain in the Clarence catchment, Grafton's council engineers are to be congratulated for their expertise and foresight in getting their levee's height right and saving their CBD and hundreds of houses from inundation.

It would be a comfort and much appreciated if Lismore's council engineers were to ''rise to the occasion'' and construct Lismore's levee, to a one-in-one-hundred year flood height, whatever that may be!

The present levee has worked well, but as a shop owner and landlord in the CBD, I have still had to move stock and equipment to higher ground each time a flood has threatened just in case.

With record rainfalls in recent years to the north, to the west and to the south of us, our time is coming. Unfortunately flood insurance from insurance companies is unattainable (or at a premium I cannot afford). The only assurance left is for council engineers to raise the levee. Unfortunately with Lismore Council intent on spending millions developing two water treatment ponds and a weir (Brown's Creek) on parkland between Brewster and Dawson streets, their focus is elsewhere and we have a problem!

May I suggest a solution? Lismore Council to be swapped with Grafton Council!

Flush from last week's success, Grafton Council engineers (now based in Lismore) tackle the levee height problem and ''save Lismore CBD''. (There's a headline we'd like to see).

Seriously though, this present Lismore Council is intent on spending millions on water treatment of Brown's Creek that with no rain for a month, will have no water!

They're also planning the; removal of the Brewster St recycling centre to a totally inappropriate location in Zadoc St; the removal of all sporting fields between Brewster and Dawson St along Uralba St. (This includes the hockey/soccer field, the cricket oval, the rugby/touch field and the tennis club courts.) Not to mention the less parking available to the Lismore Carboot Markets.

All for a glorified boulevard that's going to be trashed, come the next ''big one''.

My plea to council and councillors alike - raise the levee. To hell with the rest or high water with the rest.

Bruce Saltmarsh



CSG poll

I WELCOME the decision by NOROC to fund a baseline study on CSG emission in our Northern Rivers region. The decision is a good one and it is also in line with the SCU study which outlines the Lismore's community concerns for a safe CSG extraction and production practice.

The study's findings are significant as they finally shed a light on what people in the Lismore community think about CSG. On the question "If credible evidence arose that the impacts of CSG were lesser or greater than you now think, would you be prepared to change your mind?" 53% of those opposed to CSG say they would change their mind and support production. Of interest is also the fact that the majority of people get their info on this issue by word of mouth, local papers and TV news with a very small minority reading scientific papers.

My stand on the issue is similar to that provided by Richmond Valley Council and it is basically a "no to CSG until proven safe", a view shared by the majority of those interviewed by researchers from SCU during the recent council election.

The funding of the baseline study is a good step in the direction of researching and assessing the impact, or lack of it, of CSG on our resources. My disappointment comes from the fact that the Lismore Council governing majority has once again irresponsibly wasted ratepayers' money over a poll whereby more relevant information has been obtained with the free efforts from a couple of PhD SCU students.

Cr Gianpiero Battista

Lismore City Council


Export is good

In response to Heather McDiarmid (Echo, January 31) I say 'sorry', we cannot 'get out'. We have no Metgasco shares. In fact we have no shares. We do have honesty and integrity. We are big supporters of our local producers and despite being 70 we work for every dollar we spend and we spend as much as we can on Aussie products. Export is a good word however most Australians live on imports and cannot understand the need to balance our budget with exports. To export gas would at least offset the imports so many Northern Rivers residents buy in copious quantities. Export is a good word.

I am a third generation Northern Rivers resident whose family supplied Norco (established 1895) with cream hard earned from this wonderful soil and climate, even when I was born at Sunnyside Hospital in Murwillumbah in 1943. I want our local industries to be both competitive and productive. That is why we have travelled and researched what we communicate. Hearsay is not part of our life.

Gas is an excellent reliable source of local energy. Gas pumps are small and quiet compared to wind turbines. Try screening out noisy wind turbines with trees! And when the wind stops...nothing.

And if you are concerned about underground water - why do you not condemn water bores. They really do drill through a level of the water table that we access, but to condemn that would upset too many people. A good geology lesson would inform a lot of people about the levels of the water table and where Northern Rivers' gas lies in the sandstone - way below where we access our stock and domestic water.

Ian Sharman


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