Letters to the editor - Sept 20

Real reasons for war

Australia's involvement in Afghanistan is not about combating terrorism. Try Googling the words 'TAPI pipeline'. This multi-billion dollar pipeline has been planned since the 1990s. It will provide Western-friendly nations access to the natural gas fields of Central Asia. The pipeline is due for completion by 2014 - the same year America and Australia plan to pull out of Afghanistan.

Providing a safe route for this pipeline is crucial to this project.

Afghanistan also has huge deposits of lithium. Lithium has a wide range of applications, including the batteries we use in phones, cameras, computers, everything. Establishing an Afghan government and military that will do business with the West and provide access to these resources is the real purpose of the ongoing war.

Exploiting the loyalty of Australian troops for economic purposes is not an honourable cause. While supporting those individuals who serve this country, we can also protest the government who sent them there. Distinguishing between the people of Australia and its government is vital to our democracy.

Governments do not exist for their own sake, but are there to implement the will of the people. They are there to serve the wider community - not the other way around! The government is not the country, it is not the people, but is a body that we elect to manage our affairs. If we do not monitor them, if we do not question the decisions they make, then we abdicate our democratic rights and freedoms.

The best way to support our troops in Afghanistan is to bring them home. The best, most effective way to build a peaceful world is to stop fighting wars!

R J Poole



Questions for council

What's wrong with local council members? Seems they are living in fairyland. Balloon parties, confetti, art galleries, supposed art splashed along our streets. Depends on your taste I suppose.

Even an overseas investment of ten million bucks that we know of, yours and my dough straight down the gurgler. Dead loss.

I suggest this council led by Labor mayor Jenny 'photo opportunity' Dowell gets real and puts their efforts into the proper exercise such as roads, rubbish and sewerage, instead of chasing rates and monies owed by elderly pensioners. Also threats to chuck them off their property and sell up, which has already happened and was found by Supreme Court judgement to be unlawful. Remember? And what's going on about six million bucks supposed to be spent on a local sport complex adjacent to Lismore Square?

J. Harvie



All the reasons in the world

The politicians from all parties talk about deterring asylum seekers from coming to Australia by the policies of the Federal Government. Policies do not deter them. We live in a global community and anyone at the end of a mobile phone has access to information regarding the ideal place to live.

My wife and I left South Africa in 1976 for political reasons and lived in England for a few years before emigrating to Australia. The political freedoms we found in the UK also existed in Australia, which had the bonus of great weather, coastline and wide open spaces. Medicare and the DSS (now Centrelink) gave everyone access to excellent medical services and enough money to feed and house yourself in times of unemployment. Multiculturalism was rampant. Employment opportunities and good wages were the norm. People were friendly and helpful. There was peace. Thirty four years later these same qualities still exist for emigrants, including asylum seekers. Who would not want to live here?

Asylum seekers are prepared to pay their last cent and risk their lives to get here to start a safe new life for their families. The most humane solution would be to house these people in rural towns that would love to have a billion dollars put into their economy rather than off-shore. The infrastructure is mostly in place and they could live a normal life; kids at school, medical care, some chance of employment and the ability to grow their own food while being processed. Those coming from refugee camps are quite self-reliant and would live happily in conditions we softies might think a bit tough.

William Brener



Party or people?

Local council is supposed to be community based where party power politics should have no place. Above the line group voting is all about party power first and nothing to do with community.

In 2003, the major parties including the Greens who falsely claim as one of their pillars 'grassroots democracy' approved the anti-democratic above the line group voting for council elections.

The recent LCC election proves how toxic to community representation group voting is. Due to her popularity as an individual, Mayor Dowell nearly pulled in four of her group, meaning almost five Labor councillors got in.

Do these councillors represent the community or their party? If the mayor puts community first, why does she insist her group must be filled with Labor Party members? Is she suggesting these are the best candidates for the job? Is she suggesting they represent the wider community?

Typically most of a group ticket is comprised of people to simply fill the ticket and who have no desire to be a dedicated councillor.

If we want the best councillors for the job and a council truly representative of the community, there should be no group voting.

People should have to stand for elections as individuals and there should be no preference deals between candidates. Further, voting at council elections should be made voluntary to avoid the ass winning a seat due to the high donkey vote.

For a valid vote, people would have to vote for six candidates of their choice, in preferential order.

Force the dumbstruck electorate into doing their homework. It's called civic responsibility and duty.

Paul Recher



Sad end for magpie

On September 1, our local nesting magpie in Bright Street was shot dead by law enforcement, who were responding to numerous complaints. Magpies are notorious for swooping which is done to protect the birds' territory when it feels the nest is threatened during breeding season. Unfortunately this habit can cause injury and distress to people. It is a 4-6 week period every spring and there are precautions to take and the need to teach children to understand and respect.

Wiki provides a 10 step plan on the internet in managing our own behaviour rather than that of the birds. What is left now is a fretting female magpie and a nest of young who are vulnerable to currawong and butcher bird attacks. What a sad ending for our protected native wildlife.

Patsy Walsh and Ian Wilson



No social licence

Great news for those of us against the proliferation of CSG in our area. Last week the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) gave a report (titled Australia's Unconventional Energy Options) to the State and Federal governments telling them that the CSG industry will be seriously hampered in areas where it faces massive opposition and has no social licence. The report exposes very great concerns from gas mining companies that without acceptance from the communities in which they hope to operate, they are not going to be able to do their dirty business, at least, not on the scale they had hoped for. This is because although your personal opposition, or a Lock the Gate sign does not ultimately prevent a mining company coming on to your property and doing their dirty work, it does force them to seek a court injunction to gain that access. And if the vast majority of the community is united in their cause and everyone has their Lock the Gate sign on display, and entire communities are declared CSG free, it will simply not be worth the mining companies' time and money to seek an injunction for each and every property they wish to gain access to.

In other words folks, provided we remain resolute and united in firm opposition to this destructive industry, and are not swayed by their jobs and money BS, this is a battle we can & will win. We will create our own prosperity and opportunities through being appreciative of what we do have now, rather than the materialistic, shallow and toxic future these corporations and the pollies that back them envision for us. It is people power at work and it is beautiful to behold. Just say 'no'!

Scott Walters

South Lismore


Non-citizens voting

For almost two years, Lismore has been my home. I brought my business here with me, so I've brought money into the community without taking anyone else's job. My Australian spouse and I have bought a house here, we're starting a family here, and I pay council rates here. And when I accompanied my spouse to the voting stalls recently, I was just as annoyed as anyone by aggressive spruikers trying to push pamphlets onto me, as though anybody would be stupid enough to choose a candidate on the basis of which had the most importunate campaign staff.

Lismore is my home as far as it's anyone's. The decisions that the new council make over the next few years may impact my life and my family's life as much as they'll impact anyone else's. And yet, because I'm not an Australian citizen, I had no voice in terms of choosing that council.

Not having a vote in a federal election is one thing. I'm the citizen of another country and benefit from that country's protections. But not having a vote in terms of who runs my city is a serious and unfair disenfranchisement. Because Lismore is my city; I don't have another.

Non-citizen residents voting in local elections isn't a new or strange idea. (In fact, in the last city where I was a non-citizen resident, it was mandatory.) Nor is the idea that taxation without representation is wrong. I'm entitled to live, work and own property here; I should be entitled to vote.

Anybody who disagrees on the basis of my non-Australianness should feel free to come forward and pay my rates. A council I didn't and couldn't elect hiked them in a year property prices went down, so you'd be most welcome.

Jessica Zimbalatti



Wonderful public schools

I have been very conscious over the last few weeks on the radio and television news about the reaction of funding cuts to Catholic Schools. In particular, locally, I have seen spokespersons of Lismore Catholic Diocese, coming out saying how they do not know how parents will be able to afford a hike in fees, and how the cuts are going to affect programmes they are implementing. Parents are lamenting how, as ordinary families, they are already struggling to pay fees and they do not know how they will manage financially.

Well, I know how they can manage. Their children can go to a public school where fees are realistic and affordable.

There is a myth that public schools are not as good as private/Catholic schools. Well, in our area alone we have three wonderful high schools, Kadina, Lismore and Richmond River. If you research their performances, you will find dedicated, caring teams of teachers who work very hard to produce the best outcomes for the students. Their success rates are high. They also produce leaders in our community. Did you know that Brett Addlington, Director of Lismore Art Gallery, Susie Muddiman, Director of Tweed Art Gallery, Craig Foster, SBS sports commentator and Adam Gilchrist the cricketer were all educated at Kadina? I am sure there are similar stories at the other two schools. Not all students are leaders, but many are doing well in their chosen careers.

If you want to send your children to Trinity School where they have chosen to spend their money on new buildings, or to any other Catholic or private school where there is a religious or philosophical culture, then it is an extra and you have to be prepared to pay for it, not the taxpayer.

However, check out the local Kadina, Lismore and Richmond River schools. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Wendy Lageman




An open letter to Thomas George:

As the state member for the seat of Lismore in the Legislative Assembly I feel you have betrayed us, your constituents, by supporting your government's CSG policies.

How can you support an Aquifer Interference Policy which is just that, a policy with no legislative 'teeth' to back it up? How can you support a Strategic Land Use policy that fails to set aside prime agricultural land from the ravages of CSG? How can you support a land and water commissioner who, we are told, will have "an unfettered oversight and community advisory role with respect to exploration across the state" - but with powers only to advise the government and keep an eye on agreements between farmers and miners or drillers? How can you support a 'gateway' process for CSG that only allows for approval, or approval with conditions, but not refusal?

All of this amounts to a betrayal of our local industries especially farming, a huge threat to our water and the creation of a cruel hoax that somehow these newly created bodies can protect us when they are completely powerless.

You have acted to show greater concern for the powerful coal and gas industry than your own constituents. The views of your constituents were clearly shown in a poll conducted by Lismore City Council in conjunction with the recent local government election. Voters were asked to respond to the question: "Do you support coal seam gas (CSG) exploration and production in the Lismore City Council area?" The response was 20,590 voted against the proposition and 3,112 for it. In percentage terms 86.87% against, 13.13% for and there were only 684 informal votes. The resounding 'no' vote clearly demonstrates that people from all sections of the community, rural and urban, are opposed to the coal seam gas industry.

You have failed us as a local member by not representing our interests, or the interests of our environment.

Cr Simon Clough



You can't eat methane

I recently advertised some equipment for sale. A farmer responded from Cecil Plains in Queensland. While on the phone, I asked him if he was affected by CSG on his farm, as I knew a protester blockade was being organised at Cecil Plains. He replied that he was one of the affected farmers and had lost two of his stock watering bores which had dried up as a result of CSG activities nearby.

This man and his father came to see me. They told me that Arrow Energy had paid the Queensland government $35,000 for the exploration licence in the Cecil Plains area, and Arrow had to lodge a $30 million environmental bond with the government.

This father and son partnership told me they owned 1500 ha of food producing land on the Darling Downs. They said Arrow Energy recently entered their property and did some exploration work. Methane gas was found only 30 metres below the surface and the value Arrow placed on the gas was $200,000 per ha. This meant that Arrow would extract $300 million worth of gas ($200,000 x 1500ha).

In return Arrow had offered to pay $750,000 in total compensation over a 20 year period. They said Arrow wanted to drill gas wells every 65ha and connect them with roads, pipelines and powerlines. This act alone of drilling 24 gas wells would render their family farm unworkable. They said the $750,000 over 20 years was less than a third of the value of the farm. They are now fighting to keep the gas company out and for the right to farm their land - and they still have to pay off the mortgage.

They told me that a neighbouring farm had been purchased by a non-farming family who owned a construction company. They said the neighbour was happy to let Arrow Energy extract gas in return for the construction work building dongas for the CSG fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers.

If you think CSG is a good idea, ask yourself what the impact will be on the future food supply to your dinner table, as you can't eat methane gas. It is not just about clean water.

Margaret Howes

Empire Vale


Aboriginal error

I write to you as an Aboriginal educator - a Koori not from here but working here - I found your article about Aboriginal Languages (Bundjalung language needs a Lighthouse, Echo September 13) both positive and negative. Positive in that you at least ran a story about Aboriginal peoples that is current and real using some appropriate terminology and about a crucial issue - but where I found it negative - and this is really poor journalism - is the non-capitalisation of Aboriginal. This is offensive and cannot simply be written off as a typographical error. This is one of the first things I go through when teaching - whether it be young or old.

Terry Wright

Wandandian (South Coast)

Ed's Note - Terry, you are of course, correct. Our house style is to capitalise Aboriginal and I'm sorry this was not picked up.

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