Letters to the editor - May 13

Political comment
I offer comments on two current political situations:
First, the outcome of the British and other recent elections surely indicates that the time of the adversarial party political system is past. This system has generated the control of parties in power by vested interests, and the futile expenditure of energy in political misrepresentation and power struggles rather than the channelling of that energy into cooperative efforts to legislate wisely for the good of the whole. Is it too much to ask that political representatives actually work to form governments based on cooperative alliances and care for all constituents, rather than on political victories?
Secondly, here in Australia, I suggest that it’s a wonderful thing that the ‘great big new tax’ on the mining industry could have the effect of limiting the expansion of this industry and impacting on employment. Anything that inhibits our tendency to rape the Earth, contribute towards global greenhouse emissions and promote unsustainable economic growth surely could be seen as an inspired move. Perhaps the revenue generated from the tax could stimulate the development of eco-friendly industries instead, and create fresh employment opportunities in that sector.
I believe it is crucial to the well-being of humanity that we let go of the old political and economic targets and frameworks by which we judge national well-being, and have the courage to set about creating a brave new world which serves the interests of all life on this precious planet.
Jill Garsden

Too much debt

Kevin has borrowed so much already, and will almost certainly need a lot more to complete what he has promised so far, yet now he cripples the incentive for miners to continue developing in Australia. So the mining industry may not be here to pay the taxes that could have repaid these borrowings. Similarly to the PRRT tax on oil companies, the Super Tax should allow a reasonable rate of return on investment (12% or more??) before any super tax is calculated. Did I read that Kev thinks about 6 or 7% is enough return for mining investments? (What if inflation goes up to 10%?) A super tax may be desirable, but at a bearable rate, allowing industries to continue.
Then, if re-elected, Kevin may try to again bring in his ETS which will finish off many miners still struggling on with existing mines.
Most of the hi-tech big long term contracts for defence and infrastructure like broadband overrun their original budgets, sometimes up to double cost. So how many hundreds of billions will some future govt have to find? From where?
If we keep reducing our capacity to repay loans, but keep borrowing more, we may indeed end up like Greece. Still, that may cure the obesity health problem, as many will no longer be able to afford food.
Ken Macdonald
Lennox Head

Carbon dating

Kevin Hogan levels the charge at Kevin Rudd that the Prime Minister only believes in the latest opinion poll on an issue (Echo, May 6). Amongst other things, Mr Hogan links this claim to the deferral of the emissions trading scheme. Maybe Kevin Hogan doesn’t study opinion polls because they have consistently shown over the last few years that the vast majority of Australians do want to see government action to decrease carbon pollution. Recent polling has the figure running at 65% in favour and it has been higher than that. The federal Labor government has attempted to get a price on carbon pollution and did strike a deal with Malcolm Turnbull to get the carbon pollution reduction scheme through the Senate. The Liberal/National coalition then moved to change its leadership to prevent the scheme from being enacted. Global warming may still be the greatest moral issue of our time but the Liberals and the Nationals do not believe that it is, and are doing all they can to make sure this Labor government does not get an emissions trading scheme underway. The electorate will have the opportunity to break the deadlock in the Senate at the next election. Maybe then we won’t be in a position where the coalition blocks everything socially and environmentally progressive. A delay is not a backflip when the people creating the delay are the opposition parties. The cowardice on the issue of carbon pollution and global warming is being displayed by the Liberal/National coalition.
Eric Kaiser

Renewable energy
Recently Ballina Climate Action Group (BCAN) joined over 70 groups around Australia when they supported the launch of a campaign calling for the transition to 100% renewable energy. See www100percent.org.au .
100% renewable would create clean energy jobs and create a safe climate future, said Anne Shay.
In Australia we continue to fuel climate change by our reliance on fossil fuels and these industries still benefit from more government subsidies than renewable energy,
However, Australia has excellent potential for the development of a range of renewable energy industries. 100% renewable energy is 100% possible, said Steve Posselt from BCAN.
Climate change will not be deferred whatever the state of the economy or by burying our heads in the sand.
We can join the countries already addressing this challenge, for example Norway and Brazil.
Sue Fielder

Dream for sale

An ad in the back of the paper made my blood run cold; innocently asking for investors in very cheap American real estate. These bargains probably spring from mortgage foreclosures in the ongoing mortgagee crisis over there. I wondered what is the karma of buying the home of a homeless family? Well, that’s how they run the stock exchange... crash the market and then buy back your shares at half the price. Instead of stocks, it’s the American Dream for sale. So what happened to the Aquarian dream? It doesn’t take 20/20 vision to see this is exactly what is happening here and now.
I hear the cowboys in the Council are shooting straight at those hippy houses where all the low-income lay-abouts rent. Similar to the States, real estate is being transferred to an owner class, who get rich on passive income and raise the rents, squeezing out the peaceful people. Those who made the Northern Rivers the lush and fun, funky green paradise it is today.
The way around yuppification is to stand one’s ground. As (I found out whilst ignoring eviction notices from the local public servants) it is illegal to make anyone homeless. Strangely, it is okay to make them leave voluntarily by telling them that they are illegal. This sort of fraudulent misrepresentation can be challenged constitutionally, with recourse to international law.
Making money, the inspiration behind selling dreams, is the prerogative of the rich-get-richer set. Funny that usury (charging interest on loans) was outlawed in 1835, someone changed its name to the fractional reserve banking system, and that is what we have today. Making people homeless today, destroying environments, and overloading communities with development.
Our glorious in-tuition of freedom and right to land is vindicated in our Constitution. More than that, it is a necessary part of our evolution into a sustainable, ethical future.
Lillian Rock

Just say no

Re: Rous says yes to fluoride (Echo, Apr 29).
As far as I have been able to establish in my research it appears that we all have the lawful right to refuse any medication or operation if we don’t want it even though it may be a matter of life or death according to your doctor or medical health advisor and you cannot be coerced into having it.
How is it that the health department can force Rous Water to dose our water with a known poison when it is our lawful right to refuse it?
It appears to me they hold the belief that they can do what no other person or government office can.
I have not found any reference to a law being passed that gives them the right to do so.
I don’t believe they are willing to put up any monetary assistance for this project.
I guess they have trouble stretching their funds for the top heavy management.
Perhaps they could legislate to curtail all the foods and drinks the young people ingest to better protect the teeth   of the population? It appears possible to manage this in the same way the government is going about with the tobacco industry. The resistance they have here is only because of the massive amount of money the tobacco companies have at their disposal.
Around the world it appears quite a few areas have dropped fluoridation, so when was the last evaluation of the benefit done here?
By the current laws it appears the health department does not have the right to fine Rous Water for not complying to their directives, but they do have the right to instigate a process to fine anyone who pollutes our drinking water – this they appear to be hell bent on forcing Rous Water to do.
I certainly hope someone can come up with the answers.

Not rated

As the green shoots of recovery wither and die in the economic wastelands of the global village, Ballina Shire Council wants to slug struggling small business owners, working families and self funded retirees with a 43% general rate rise over the next five years.
The Council claims their research shows that the community can afford to pay.
I do not agree, people are struggling financially. With economists now talking about the possible onset of a Global Financial Crisis Number Two, things may well get a lot worse before they get better.
The rate rise does not just affect property owners, it affects the whole community. During the week I listened to the moving story of a young mother who is concerned that she will lose her part time job.
Her small business employer has told her that this rate rise may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and he may have to let her go. She does not know how she will cope. Her husband is substantially under-employed in his field.
There is just not enough work to go around. The family may have to temporarily split up as the husband looks further afield for work. The Council claims they need the money to fund essential capital works and services. This is not correct.
There are a range of alternative options. These need to be fully exhausted first and the rate rise considered only as a very last resort.
In order to gain approval for the rate rise from the Minister for Local Government the Council must demonstrate that there is community support for it. Council is conducting an online survey so log on and register your no vote. Alternatively send Council an email or a snail mail.
Vince Kelly
East Ballina

Another smokescreen

Yet another smokescreen hypothetical from apparent smoker Martyn Wiggins in what must be an attempt to justify his habit. Twenty people all lighting up in a closed room and no one gets sick? Yeah, right!
Sounds exactly like the conditions we all had to endure a while back at every club, pub, restaurant or even plane flight, and believe me Martyn, I got sick. Very sick!
Sick of coming home smelling like a foul ashtray, sick of having to share someone else’s filthy habit; (why couldn’t you all take up something you could keep to yourself, like oh say heroin for example?), sick of being unable to enjoy the food I was paying for; and sick of having no choice but to breathe all your noxious exhalations of carcinogens and worry about what it was doing to my body.
We non-smokers have had to put up with your habit for years in enclosed spaces and smokers smugly didn’t give a damn. Did any of you ever give a passing thought to the rest of us before? Nah, it was light up and puff away, selfishly indulging your personal habit anywhere you bloody-well felt like it, with absolutely no concern for anyone else’s health or sensibilities. Society has come to its senses at long last and now the boot’s on the other foot and suddenly you and your fellow addictees are all whingeing, whining and bleating? The sympathy’s just not there mate!
Suffer! We all had to ... and for years!
Your own analogy of passive smoking being somehow better than inhaling car exhaust is more than a little simplistic, not many people are willing to suck on a car exhaust! They know they would die, just as smokers all know deep down that their habit is killing them, (not to mention what it’s doing to those around them). Oh it may be a little slower than exhaust fumes of course, still it’s just as highly effective in the end.
But don’t get me wrong Martyn, you’re an adult, your life is your own, and I truly believe you have every right to commit suicide if that’s your choice; but NOT to take any of the rest of us with you!
Sure it’s hypocritical of the government to carry on reaping gazillions in excise by selling the death-sticks, while paying lip-service to Quit programmes, but go on mate, why not just give up the gaspers? Deep down you know they’re killing you. Otherwise you’ll be one of the many who, as a matter of course when they’re finally just clutching at life, expect the rest of us to cough up the tax dollars to treat your inevitable cancer, you know, that one that’s never going to happen to you!
B. Parker


When Australia’s most famous playwright, David Williamson, chooses a subject to write about he certainly knows how to do it. In his play Influence he picks on the far right homophobic attitudes of a shock jock radio commentator to explore contemporary Australian issues. There are strong opinions expressed yet, wisely, Williamson allows for many points of view on the subjects of migrants, race, money, gender and class.
Influence is the current production of Lismore Theatre Company. It is an extremely well performed production and each cast member contributes to its excellence. Jack Claff is great as the smart ‘I-don’t-give-a damn’ shock jock, while Natalie Havilah, as his wife, projects the kind of Williamson female we have grown used to; wealthy, self absorbed and therefore totally unaware of how the rest of the world survives. Havilah’s vocalisation of the text perfectly encapsulates the character. Cindy Wescombe, as a genuine psychologist, is totally credible, playing the character against a backdrop of prejudice against mental health. Charles Derek and Vilma Giacomini both do very well creating the right tone for their characters via interpretative accents, representing, as they do, worlds we often neglect to think about. Ishkoodah Schofield Jones, as the somewhat stereotypical teenager, certainly adds to the play’s atmosphere. David Robinson, as the odd job man, continues to improve as an actor. Much praise has to go to the director, Chrissie Claff, and her assistant, Salarian. Set and costumes are exactly right, while lighting and taped music are delivered perfectly by the nimble fingered Graham Whittington.
Influence is a play with the mixture of serious social comment and laid back wit that Williamson is famous for. This is a play that should definitely be seen. It may well bite a little but it will also make you laugh, or at least smile. See it!
There are just three performances left: May 13, 14 and 15 at 8pm at Rochedale Theatre. Some tickets available at the door.
B. Guy



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