Letters to the editor - July 5
People of peace, not war
Since the landing of Anzac troops at Gallipoli in 1915, a cultural story of daring, bravery and adventure has been taught in our schools. Generations of children have grown up hearing about the Anzac's fighting ability and their spirit of rugged determination.
Governments have invested heavily in establishing a national identity that is closely linked to the Anzac tradition, yet many Australians question if our desire for a positive self-image need be a military one. Is it positive or healthy for a nation to identify with a military defeat? Might not our experience of war encourage us to celebrate peace instead?
Australians have fought in South Africa, Turkey, Palestine, France, Greece, Crete, North Africa, Korea, Borneo, Vietnam, Iraq and now Afghanistan (amongst others). Most Anzacs have served in places far from home when there was no direct military threat to our country.
On each occasion the Anzac tradition has been used to encourage us to follow in the footsteps of our forebears, yet many Australians have not agreed with us fighting on distant shores. A hundred years on from Gallipoli, many Australians are not Anglo-Saxon in ethnicity, or have no cultural connection to Anzac. There are also many veterans and former military personnel who have physical or psychological scars resulting from their service and who silently oppose sending more troops abroad.
Regardless of their background, many Australians believe our military forces should be used only when we are directly threatened.
Many believe our national identity should emphasise a love of peace rather than foreign military service. It should be inclusive of all Australians regardless of gender, ethnicity or culture and should be based upon a balanced, unromanticised view of our history - as opposed to one that eulogises our willingness to travel for a fight.
R J Poole
Anything better than nothing
I have watched the debate on ABC24 in Canberra on asylum seekers and cannot believe that nothing has been achieved. Anything would have been better than nothing. No solution can ever be perfect, but something has to be tried, even for 12 months as Dr Oakshott suggested. Our politicians are not representing the people. They still put their agendas and wish for power before the wishes of the people.
Anything would have been better than nothing! Do you realise that as we snuggle down in our beds, safe and well fed, there is a world only a few hours by plane away where humanity is being blown up, starved, killed and maimed? We can't solve the world's problems, but we try to lock the gate on the destruction of our lands, but surely we can open the gate and stop people having to choose a watery grave as an alternative to their living hell. Something is better than nothing!
We are not "extremists"
Mr Stoner's recent comments labelling those opposed to CSG mining as extremists show that he is not a fit and proper person to occupy the position of deputy premier of NSW. The mums, dads, brothers and sisters opposed to CSG represent a large cross-section of the community, are of all ages and denominations, and in the Northern Rivers are well above 80%. Mr Stoner is toying with very dangerous politics here. To label people as extremists simply because he can't refute the logic of their objections is blatant authoritarianism. This is scary politics! So when do extremists become terrorists Mr Stoner? Are you going to label the CWA, the Farmers Federation, the ordinary mums and dads as extremists/terrorists in your next fit of rage because they won't shut up? Should we bow to your new Animal Farm principles of "pro CSG good, anti CSG bad" to protect your little mates' big profits?
The fact is that you and your team of bureaucrats have been unable to provide credible answers to legitimate, important and significant questions. So now in a hysterical outburst not unlike the Fuhrer, Mussolini, Pinochet, Franco, Stalin etc... you accuse, stigmatise and demonise your opponents because they don't agree with you. You have been elected to represent everyone and you are here to fairly assess the validity of our objections not your next career in the mining industry! We are concerned about the pollution of our water, soil and air and you've said and done nothing to allay these fears. Mr Stoner, we are not extremists for not wanting to live in a gasfield.
The democracy of social media
Stewart Hase's column (Echo 21/06) raised some interesting points, and got me thinking about the positives of online communication. I'd like to respectfully put forward that the digital distance between people is as big as you make it, and that for many, the internet facilitates more open communication. The internet is much more democratic than, say, TV - anyone can have a say. Of course it's rude to text while you're talking to someone. Used appropriately, though, text allows me to stay in close touch with friends, especially when they are in other states and overseas; one of my closest friends lives overseas, and we finally met in person this year after almost a decade of keeping in touch via instant messaging, email and social networks.
More importantly, blogs, Facebook and Twitter, news websites and texting all allow people with extra barriers to social interactions the opportunity to participate - people with limited mobility and physical disabilities, people in remote areas, people who aren't comfortable in social situations. Incredible forum conversations are happening all over the net every day, on any topic you can conceive. It's not about talking to everyone at once, it's about finding your interest and joining the discussion. Perhaps a webpage is the newer version of a newspaper?
Proud of Lismore
In reply to David Yarnall's letter (Echo 28/06) I clarify that John Barnes was not the manager of my 2008 election campaign, nor will he be my campaign manager for the upcoming election - supporter 'yes', campaign manager 'no'.
I also wish to make it clear I am currently NOT a member of any political party nor have I ever been a member of any political party.
I do not continually "put Lismore down" as David claims. On the contrary, I am proud of Lismore, proud of being a councillor and proud of what I have achieved for Lismore during my eight years on Council.
I was the councillor who moved in council that two of the city's most vital and far-reaching projects (ie the southern trunk main and the North Lismore Plateau) be put on the agenda. (See Council Minutes of 14/7/09 and 9/2/10 respectively.)
I do again thank David for supporting me on the North Lismore Plateau, as only a slim majority of councillors supported this important development for Lismore. For the record, those councillors who voted against the North Lismore Plateau were Crs Clough, Houston, Smith and Dowell.
Lismore City Councillor
There have been a lot of negative opinions expressed concerning the $16,000 cost of the CSG Opinion Poll to be held in conjunction with the council elections in September.
If CSG mining goes ahead in our region with a 1000-plus wells planned, the damage to our roads will be enormous. Huge drilling rigs, heavy trucks loaded with pipes and infrastructure materials as well as gas tankers will ruin our already fragile roads and we will all pay the cost for years to come.
The poll will conclusively prove the level of opposition to CSG mining in our area. It will help the Council to effectively oppose the intrusion of this destructive industry.
Apart from all the other negative effects of CSG mining, the $16,000 will be well spent to save our roads.
Made my day
On the same day Gina Rinehart announced she was prepared to spit the dummy and dump her SMH shares; when our political leaders stubbornly refused to stop playing politics to negotiate even a cynical solution to the non-threat of the boats, daily life in Lismore rose to the surface to salvage my day.
As I drove to work that day, the radio news had me thinking the world had never been uglier. So I immersed myself in work until lunchtime and took a break. On the way to the local deli, I noticed three Knitting Nannas against CSG being photographed by a friend against Thomas' cardboard cutout. Still smiling, I ordered a roast gravy roll and waited. A young chap walked into the premises, a little too close in front of me. I thought, "You're a bit rude, Sunshine," and watched him approach the cake counter waving his credit card. It became immediately clear he was disabled. He asked for a slice of cake which was priced at $3.50. He offered his credit card and was told a minimum purchase of $10 applied. He realised he was unable to transact and was obviously disappointed - he really wanted that chocolate caramel slice. The lady at the eating place underneath the Post Office asked how much cash he had. He only had $1.30. "That'll do, love," she said. And then I remembered John Lennon's words: "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."
Volunteer and get materials free
I'd like to encourage local not-for-profit groups to consider applying for a federal Volunteer Grant of between $1000 and $5000.
The Volunteer Grants, formerly known as the Volunteer Small Equipment Grants, were an initiative of the Liberal-Nationals Howard Government in 2003 and have helped many, many local groups achieve more for their local community over the years.
Local volunteers do great local work and so it is good to see an opportunity for them to receive grants which can be used for things like purchasing a computer or helping with fuel costs.
The easiest way to apply is online. Go to www.fahcsia.gov.au and click on "Volunteer Grants 2012".
If you need any assistance please contact my electorate office on 1300 734 681.
Applications close on July 25 and successful applicants should receive their funding in November.
Deputy Leader of the Nationals in the Senate
The Ratepayers Association team agrees that we must look after the environment in which we all live. Indeed one of the four core values of our association is 'behaving in an environmentally responsible manner'. The question is how you go about this.
Our team believes that Lismore City Council's (LCC) Local Environment Plan 2012 with its big-stick approach is precisely the wrong way to save, let alone improve our environment. This plan alienates and penalises landowners who have acted to protect the environment on their properties.
If elected we will move immediately to remove the forced E Zones and replace them with a voluntary system where landowners are compensated. We believe that landowners should be encouraged and rewarded for their efforts to preserve and improve environmental outcomes on their land, not penalised.
So how will it work? We will engage with the Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and use their Conservation Property Vegetation Plans (CPVP). These plans are currently used as a tool by the CMA to protect areas of environmental significance on private land. These are voluntary agreements and landowners are compensated. The CMA will administer the plans and we will fund them.
I will elaborate on funding and how we will fix LCC finances closer to the election. Rest assured this does not involve increasing your rates, fees or charges, and it will certainly not include borrowings.
'Let's fix Lismore.'
Ratepayers Association President
The absolute truth
Peter Mullins of Nimbin (Echo June 28) begins his last letter by declaring that he does "actually believe in the importance of marriage" and "like most people believes that a child is best brought up by their own natural father and mother". Yet within a few sentences, he then contradicts this by claiming that children suffer no ill-effect from growing up in same sex relationships. Both cannot stand! If Mr Mullin truly believes in marriage and the vital roles of a mother and a father then he cannot advocate or support same sex marriage without compromising his own position.
Let's be clear about the truth of the situation! Homosexuals have decided to go down a very different pathway where they choose to form relationships that do not suit marriage and children. Then having preferred to be different, they decide they'd like to be married all the same.
This gives rise to some crucial questions: Would changing marriage disadvantage children who find themselves in same sex relationships? - Yes it will;. Also: Will redefining marriage disadvantage the existing character and nature of marriage? - Without a doubt!
The only way that Mr Mullin finds it possible to acknowledge the enormous importance of marriage and the vital roles of a Mum and Dad while still calling for same sex marriage is to refuse to allow the absolute truth to inform his views. Rather he defines truth as he prefers it - on a sliding scale where he can change the setting to suit his argument.
The most revealing aspect of the homosexual march on marriage is that it is entirely self-serving. They speak of their rights, their needs, their sexuality but never ever do they consider the impact that changing marriage will bring on our society as a whole. In fact, they make the completely false claim that it won't change anything for the rest of us... Now if you believe that you have been well and truly deceived!
Slow train, not coming
When the Carr Government came to power in NSW, the Murwillumbah XPT took four hours, one minute to travel 300km from Casino to Kempsey. So did the Sydney to Brisbane XPT. Today, the Casino to Sydney XPT takes four hours 17 minutes in the same direction! The Brisbane XPT now takes four hrs 40 minutes on the daylight trip.
During the Carr Government's time, Lismore XPT service was not only unacceptably truncated to Casino but was ridiculously slowed down. Similar trains travelled for over 20 years at speeds up to 200kph between London and Edinburgh!
It might also be of interest to know that Professor David MacKay's book - Sustainable Energy - claims that an XPT train carrying 400 passengers and travelling at 200kph will consume less diesel fuel than a fleet of buses travelling at 10kph also carrying 400 passengers.
Obscene wealth of parasites
We hear from welfare groups about more and more people seeking help because of difficulties in paying their bills, while we see almost daily further massive job losses as companies go to the wall or shed staff to enhance profits, while we hear from retailers of dramatic drops in consumer spending, and while our youth unemployment is 25%, our government tells us how envied we are by the rest of the world.
One economic commentator in the Herald's Business Day, June 29, said, on our ever worsening economic situation, "I do not think there is any relief in sight. Companies will be talking a lot about cutting costs and reconstructions (mass sackings), including the one News Corp is announcing today, will be in vogue. The June year-profit season will be a shocker, but it really shouldn't be a surprise."
Certainly no surprise to me. Gina Rinehart's wealth, through the past year, rose at the rate of about $600 a second or $2million an hour. That money is profit provided simply by getting back more than is paid out. From the people. It is extraction of the populace's assets that provides for the obscene wealth of these parasites. But they can only bleed us so much; profits are plummeting.
Mass sackings will further reduce spending power, cause more job losses and deplete government coffers. Capitalists will further resort to extraction from essentials. Supermarket monopolies, privatising power, water, transport, health and education for profit, and owning rental housing, will all bleed us further.
That is our capitalist system, and we'll follow the rest of the capitalist world into deprivation, poverty and dispair, while the rich get richer.
But, anyway, go the Blues, eh?
Open letter to Thomas George
I am writing to you publicly in the hope that you may respond to my questions in this paper, as you wouldn't respond to those in my letter to you.
As Premier Barry O'Farrell only identified three reserves in the Lismore electorate that would be made available for recreational hunting, could you please explain why you voted to allow the Environment Minister to approve hunting in 32 of the 36 national parks, nature reserves and state conservation areas in your electorate?
Firstly I wish to apologise for stating in this paper last week that you voted to allow recreational hunting in Wilson's and Rotary Parks in Lismore. My mistake, as you only approved hunting in Wilson's Park. Rotary Park is managed by Lismore Council and they would not allow hunting in it.
Given that Wilson's Park is a small reserve adjacent to an urban area, I do ask you to please reconsider your decision to allow amateur hunting in it.
I also implore you to reconsider your approval to allow recreational hunting in the other Big Scrub remnants of Andrew Johnston and Boatharbour Nature Reserves (NRs). These too are small rainforest remnants of immense conservation value and totally inappropriate for recreational hunting.
Despite the 1998 addition to Nightcap National Park (NP), including Minyon Falls, being one of those identified for immediate approval for shooting, you should reconsider as this is in a relatively densely settled rural area, has large numbers of threatened plants and animals, and is a major tourist attraction with 250,000 visitors each year.
This area, along with another 15 reserves you approved for recreational hunting, have been identified by State and Commonwealth Governments as additions to the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.
I appreciate that recreational hunting is prohibited in Border Ranges NP, Numinbah NR, Limpinwood NR, and Mt Warning NP, and parts of 10 other reserves, because they are already world heritage listed. Surely areas identified as qualifying for listing should similarly be excluded.
I ask you to now publicly state in this paper which, if any, other conservation reserves in your electorate you are prepared to guarantee that the Environment Minister will not approve for recreational hunting.
North East Forest Alliance