With Katie Noonan’s trio of 14 years, Elixir, about to release their long-awaited second album First Seed Ripening, and in the wake of their recent national tour supporting the American jazz legend Ron Carter, the group have now announced that they will be heading out around the country to launch said exquisite new album.

Since their eponymous first album became a top-20 bestseller upon its 2003 release, Melbourne-based guitarist Stephen Magnusson, a major solo recording artist in his own right, joined the band in 2005. Rounding out the trio, Katie’s husband Zac Hurren provides his mellifluous, lyrical saxophone lines, as distinctive a feature of the Elixir sound as Katie’s sublime vocals themselves.

One of the greatest singers Australia has ever produced, though the six-times platinum-selling and three-times ARIA Award-winning Noonan is the obvious public focal point, Elixir is a trio of musical equals.

Regarded by many as Australia’s finest jazz guitarist, Magnusson has shared the limelight with the likes of Paul Grabowsky, Scott Tinkler, Michelle Nicole, Paul Kelly and Vince Jones. He was awarded the Swiss Diagonal Arts Grant and the Pop Kredit award in 1999, was co-winner of National Jazz Award the following year, and has been nominated for the Freedman Fellowship (twice) and the Melbourne Prize.

Zac Hurren won the National Jazz Award (in 2009), and is truly a unique and distinctly Australian saxophonist, composer and improviser. Steeped in the jazz heritage of Coltrane, Shorter, Coleman and Shepp, Zac’s debut album Exordium was released in Australia in 2007 on the Jazzhead label, receiving critical acclaim and heralding a triumphant new arrival on the contemporary jazz scene.

The trio’s new album First Seed Ripening is largely inspired by the words of legendary Australian poet (and winner of the 2000 Patrick White Award) Thomas Shapcott. In penetrating deep into the heart of Shapcott’s words, the trio enlisted the help of string players from the Australian Chamber Orchestra (with whom Katie has worked regularly), and leading jazz players Jonathan Zwartz on bass and Simon Barker on drums.

‘Our aim was to make gentle, intimate music, and it was all about freedom and spontaneity,’ Katie says of the new album, Recording at an unhurried pace, the trio allowed themselves the time to explore every nuance of Shapcott’s subtle, deeply humane poetry.

But while the majority of songs on First Seed Ripening feature lyrics by Shapcott, there are also the kinds of inspired covers at which Elixir have always excelled. Joni Mitchell’s My Old Man comes in for particularly impressive treatment, while Split Enz’s I Hope I Never, composed by Katie’s songwriting collaborator Tim Finn, makes for a particularly moving conclusion to the album.

Live, the album launches will see Elixir joined on stage by some of Australia’s finest string quartets, who will present their own opening-slot performances before joining the band in their set. A sublime night of musical elixir, details of all shows and accompanying quartets are here.

See Katie and Elixir at the Currumbin SoundLounge Friday.

Local band Collins Class who made it into the Australasian Final for the 2011 Global Battle of the Bands

Local bands who are looking for a head start in their music career, and a chance to play on the world stage, will get their opportunity when the Global Battle of the Bands heads to the Gold Coast and Tweed.

Global Battle of the Bands (GBOB) is a huge international event with over 30 countries involved. The first prize is worth US$100,000 and gives the winners the title of ‘Best New Band in the World’!

GBOB is looking for the next Devolved, Operator Please or Sunk Lotto to continue the area’s history of producing top international acts. Great original bands that have not yet received the recognition they deserve now have the chance to make it big.

The Gold Coast/Tweed Heat will be held at the South Tweed Sports Club on Friday June 15 from 8pm. It will be a wicked event that should not be missed! Bands wanting to take part need to contact organisers now by emailing redletter@bigpond.com or calling 02 9519 3978.

For more information about GBOB visit: www.gbob.com.

Firing on the establishment from a Hightower

When veteran Aussie publisher and part-time local Phillip Frazer was planning to launch a newsletter about American politics 14 years ago, he vowed to cut through the smoke and mirrors that always clouds the view of how Washington works – or doesn’t.

‘I wasn’t going to identify politicians by where they supposedly come from – you know, “Joe Biden, senator from Delaware” – because Joe Biden didn’t represent Delaware, he represented the credit card industry,’ he says. ‘And Senator John McCain might get elected in Arizona but he works for the telecommunications companies.’

Frazer was going to call this newsletter The Digger, after the political newspaper he had founded in Australia in 1972, but he needed a partner to make it work – someone who knew even more about American politics than he did, and Frazer had spent 23 years in New York and Washington working on magazines and organisations that pushed radical political causes, so he knew plenty.

‘Kicking ass’

Meanwhile, a Texas politician named Jim Hightower was looking for someone to help him start a newsletter that would ‘kick ass’, and a friend of his named Ben Franklin (no kidding) recommended he and Frazer should work together.

‘First phone chat we had I explained my thing about calling McCain the senator for telecommunications,’ Frazer recalls, ‘and Hightower says, “OK, I just did a radio commentary calling for all politicians to wear their sponsors’ logos on their suits like racecar drivers do!” We’ve sent out our joint newsletter every month since then to 100,000 paying subscribers across the USA.’

The newsletter is The Hightower Lowdown, primarily written by the former Texas commissioner for agriculture, and under Frazer’s management it has turned a modest profit all these years and is still growing. It’s original cartoonist, Matt Wuerker, just won a Pulitzer Prize for the cartoons he does for Politico, a Washington-based website.

‘He deserves all kinds of prizes,’ says Frazer, ‘but the reality is that Jim Hightower will never get that recognition from the American establishment because he’s… well, anti-establishment. We identify the corporations that have bought the American political system – lock, stock and barrel, and corporate America doesn’t like that.’

Being on the outside sniping at those on the inside was nothing new to Phillip Frazer. As a second year medical student at Monash Uni in Melbourne in the mid-1960s, he launched Australia’s first pop music newspaper, calling it GoSet, ‘because we were aiming to sell it to the teenage market that had just invented itself’.

GoSet came out every week for eight years and outsold Time magazine across Australia. ‘It succeeded because we, the staff and management, were all teenagers ourselves,’ he recalls. ‘We were outside the editorial box – we hired Molly Meldrum not because he wrote like a scribe but because his energy and enthusiasm – that insane stream of consciousness babble made sense to his tens of thousands of fellow groupies. The fact that he was gay was just a fact to us, nothing to get excited about. And more than half our writers, artists, editors and photographers were women, or girls, since I was still a boy really.’


After GoSet was bought out by its creditors, Frazer launched the Australian edition of Rolling Stone and the counter-cultural broadsheet The Digger, both in 1972.

‘By 1976 Malcolm Fraser had deposed the Whitlam government and The Digger was facing too many bad lawsuits, so I decided to go to America and see what that beast looks like, from inside its belly. I worked with hundreds of great people there who were fighting the system, and then came Hightower and the Lowdown. Along the way I built apartments in the rubble of Manhattan and two years ago, decided it was time to come back here to paradise, which is a few acres of rainforest in Coorabell with my partner Kate Veitch – but I still spend half the year in the States. You can’t tell America what’s wrong unless you walk its streets, eat the food, gossip with the neighbours…

‘And now we’ve convinced Hightower to come across the Pacific and see for himself that there is a country perhaps just a tiny bit more beautiful than America, and maybe the waters here are a tad less muddy? He likes to quote his Aunt Beulah who had a hardscrabble farm in Texas – “Jim, the water’ll never clear up till you get the hogs out of the creek”.’


Jim Hightower will be at Byron Bay Community Centre at 7pm on Wednesday 16 May for 90 minutes of conversation onstage with Kerry O’Brien. Book your seats now and hang on to them – it is bound to be a fun ride.

The Byron Shire Access Committee recently held its second meeting after been reformed as an advisory committee to the council. The committee provides advice to the council on pedestrian access and mobility issues, particularly as they relate to community infrastructure and planning applications.

In addition to fellow councillors Woods and Staples, membership is drawn from the community and includes wheeled members, representatives from the local health network, spinal cord injury and disabled surfer groups. Acting on recommendations from the committee, Council has agreed to use PAMP (Pedestrian and Mobility Plan) funding to begin rectifying a number of deficiencies affecting wheeled and other users in Byron Bay. Council will also be progressively completing audits of community infrastructure across the Shire. In the interim, we welcome advice from the community regarding urgent issues. A recent example considered by the committee has resulted in the relocation of poorly placed Telstra infrastructure in the Mullumbimby town centre.

Information about the committee and meeting documents are available at www.byron.nsw.gov.au/committees/access-advisory-committee. Follow the links under the ‘Community’ tab on Council’s website for information on ‘Aged and Disability’ services or contact Karen Ingleman on 6626 7224.

Cr Basil Cameron
Chairperson, Byron Shire Access Advisory Committee

State Forests NSW are a drain on the taxpayers of NSW. Figures secured by the Greens reveal that Forests NSW made a loss of more than $750,000 last year from operations in NSW’s Southern Region native forests. Previous years have shown similar and even greater losses, losses ultimately taken by you, the taxpayer. Last year NSW taxpayers paid more than $750,000 to destroy the biodiversity and natural beauty of our native forests in south-east NSW.

As Greens MLC David Shoebridge has indicated, ‘This comes on top of the $500,000 the government paid to Boral in 2006 for Forests NSW’s failure to meet contracted amounts of wood supply.

‘Boral and the government are currently in closed-doors negotiations to come to another financial settlement following continued inability of Forests NSW to supply contracted amounts of timber.

‘It is just astounding that we see NSW taxpayers having to put their hands in their pockets to clear-fell our state forests.

‘These figures prove that native forestry operations in south-east NSW are driven by a damaging ideological commitment of this government to log at any cost.

‘If the state government is looking for ways to balance a tight budget in 2012, it should first look to stopping native forest logging in the south-east.’

Equally north-east forests are a drain on the public purse, especially as the government looks for ways to compensate loggers and mills for non-existent trees given out during the quota negotiations all those years ago. More and more we are seeing the rapacious greed of the forestry industry in NSW destroying our habitats, biodiversity, water quality, road infrastructure and the state budget. But then I suppose State Forests NSW does have a healthy positive ledger when it comes to the money it makes from issuing infringement notices against those willing to challenge and expose their rapacious practices. It is probably the only profit they make.

M Mizzi Tabulam

In response to your article in Friday’s Echonetdaily the changes to the Local Government Act give greater transparency to the disclosure of pecuniary interests, not less. This government provides greater transparency and accountability. The issue arises because most councillors will have a pecuniary interest when the council’s LEP is being considered under the new template LEP.

The Greens are misleading the community with inaccurate information.

The fact is that councillors who have a pecuniary interest now need to document those interests, declare them and must fully minute those interests at the meeting . This provision applies to Local Environment Plans for a whole or a significant part of the local government area (not small rezonings) that determine the future land use of the council area.

Previously it was the case that councillors would seek an exemption from the minister for local government, which allowed councillors to vote when they had a pecuniary interest and merely advising that they had an exemption. This amendment will now require there to be a more transparent and accountable mechanism.

So, councillors must disclose their interests. Other safeguards are in place. The process is oversighted by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure, and planning instruments are approved by the minister for planning, not the Council.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

Don Page MP, minister for local government 

Luis Feliu

A long-awaited plan for a ‘mini’ bypass of Byron Bay’s busy CBD, using a second rail crossing, has been pushed along by Byron Shire Council to allow access to state funding for it.

For years, increasing traffic and gridlocks, especially at the popular tourist town entry, have angered and frustrated locals and visitors alike but the urgency of the problem appears to have stirred both levels of government into action.

Recently, Ballina MP Don Page, who is the minister both for the north coast and for local government, asked Byron council to finalise a plan to solve the longtime issue in order for him to be able to push for funding for it.

Council seized the chance and last week gave the green light to the bypass, which will connect Butler Street with the busy intersection at Jonson and Marvell Streets, creating a second rail crossing south of the railway platform.

Mayor Jan Barham said the key to the solution was the second rail crossing, which straddled state government railway land, but state government funding is also vital for the project.

As a kickstart, Council has allocated $50,000 to draw plans up for the second rail crossing, which Cr Barham said would ensure the project was ‘shovel ready’ once state money was available. Council has also decided to trial the new traffic arrangement to ensure its effectiveness.

The mayor said a project reference group (PRG), made up of community members, councillors and staff, had also been formed to consider and recommend other options to make the town centre user friendly, such as park and ride, cycleways, parking and township ‘connectivity’.

The second rail crossing, or mini-bypass option, was endorsed in a major traffic study in 2008 as the best way to smooth traffic circulation and ease congestion in the town centre.

Byron United president Paul Waters, while welcoming the move, said a few other related options to ease congestion had to be part of the project to make it work.

Mr Waters said the suggestions, aired at a recent traffic and parking forum he was part of, included realigning the roundabout opposite the police station using two lanes in and out and building a southern access into the Lawson Street north carpark.

He told Echonetdaily he had faith that Mr Page would deliver on funding and his suggested extra works would not add very much to the overall cost of the project of around several millions dollars.


Friday night’s fire at Belongil’s Tree House cafe has put the business out of action. The cafe’s Facebook page said, ‘Firstly thanks to everyone for the concern and support, it means a lot to the Tree House family. Most importantly nobody is hurt and we will be back! But how, why and when are still left to answer.’  Photo Hans Lovejoy

The Australian music industry is mourning the death of well-known musician, producer, journalist and pioneering AIDS activist Vince Lovegrove who was killed when the Kombi van he was driving rolled and burst into flames on Binna Burra Road near Federal early on Saturday morning.

The accident is believed to haver happened between 1am and 3am, but it was not till six hours later that a passer-by spotted the burnt-out wreckage of the van in a small gully and alerted police, who found the body of Lovegrove, 64, inside the vehicle.

Police have yet to formally identify Lovegrove or release his name but tributes to Lovegrove started flowing across media since Sunday afternoon. The accident is being investigated by police.

The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) paid tribute to him on Twitter, saying:

‘Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Aus music legend Vince Lovegrove; a true pioneer of our industry, he will be missed by all’.

In the 1960s, Lovegrove founded The Valentines with the late AC/DC frontman Bon Scott, sharing vocals with him, before later introducing his friend to the other members of AC/DC.

As manager of 80s rockers The Divinyls, he was instrumental in the band’s international success. He later worked as Jimmy Barnes’s tour manager.

According to Wikipedia, Lovegrove was also widely recognised for his AIDS awareness campaigning. The disease claimed both his second wife Suzi Sidewinder and son Troy and Lovegrove told their story in two award-winning documentaries, Suzi’s Story and A Kid Called Troy.

He also worked as a music journalist writing for Australia’s music newspaper Go-Set and most recently via his web blog, MusicBackTrack. The website’s most recent entry was posted last Friday. He also wrote an unauthorised biography of INXS frontman Michael Hutchence.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/music-pioneer-lovegrove-killed-in-kombi-van-crash-20120325-1vs0a.html#ixzz1q6dVqJKw


NSW and Queensland police continued yesterday to scour the Banora Point area for a 21-year-old man who evaded them last Thursday after a raid on a house that led to the arrest of another man.

The search of dense bushland for the men, who had been wanted in relation to alleged serious crimes in Sydney and Queensland, involved a helicopter, ground patrols and the dog squad.

A 26-year-old man arrested soon after he fled the house when police swooped appeared in Tweed Heads Court on Saturday and was remanded in custody to face Burwood Local Court in Sydney tomorrow on charges of armed robbery and aggravated kidnapping.

The charges against him relate to an incident at Bankstown in March last year during which police allege he stole three laptops, a wallet, personal papers and $90 from another man while armed with a black pistol and accompanied by an unidentified man.

A News Ltd report says he had been on the run for several months after avoiding arrest in July last year.

The 21-year-old still on the run is described as 180cm tall, caucasian, of stocky build and with a shaved head and was last seen running into scrubland off The Hermitage near the Terranora Inlet.

Tweed-Byron police have urged anyone seeing him or anyone acting suspicious in the area to contact them or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.




The brave shavers of Byron Bay High School pledged to shave their lovely heads, liberating locks and raising fantastic funds for the Leukaemia Foundation. Sharon Shostak captured the fun on camera as heads were balded, watched on by the whole school. You can support the Bald Eggs via this link:

Luis Feliu

The work of eight Australian artists, who break from the mould of traditional ideas, methods and materials of glass making, is currently on show at the Tweed River Art Gallery in Murwillumbah.

Tour De Force: In Case of Emergency Break Glass is a project developed by Wagga Wagga Art Gallery and Brisbane organisation artisan and on display till 6 May.

A gallery spokesperson said the exhibition brings new focus to the medium of glass ‘particularly the conceptual branch of the practice’.

‘Masterfully crafted and exquisitely realised, the provocative exhibition is a celebration of genuine artistic integrity, challenging and inspiring a new generation of studio glass artists,’ the spokesperson said.

Curated by renowned glass ‘rebel’ Megan Bottari, the exhibition features pieces by Timothy Horn, an expatriate Australian living in New Mexico renowned for his ghoulish glass creations; Tom Moore with his ‘signature Autoganic vegetable soap opera’; and Ian Mowbray with his series of ‘family body bits in specimen jars’.

Gallery director Susi Muddiman said that during her time as director of the National Art Glass Gallery in Wagga Wagga, she became familiar with the work of ‘these exciting artists’.

‘Each of these practitioners are world renowned in their practice and produce stunning, challenging works,’ she said.

Also on display till 6 May is The Dragon’s Back, ceramic works influenced by the cultures of Asia and the Middle-East by Sue Fraser, Louise Fulton and Ruth Park.

The exhibition, the spokesperson said, celebrates the Year of the Dragon by bringing to life connections between dragons and Mt Warning’s caldera rim.

Image: Tim Horn’s White Death 2009, made from crystallised rock sugar, foam core, hot glue and varnish, is one of the eye-catching works in the latest touring exhibition at Tweed River Art Gallery called Tour De Force: In Case of Emergency Break Glass. Photo Jeff Dawson.

The mayor of Lismore chats to Echonetdaily.

Video by Sharon Shostak

Luis Feliu

A state government allocation of $100,000 to Tweed Shire Council to plan for the next stage of protection along the Kingscliff beachfront has been slammed in parliament as a ‘paltry’ amount.

Council says $75,000 of the grant would be spent on a number of studies looking at conditions along the beach, and the remaining $25,000 on updating the Tweed Coast Hazard Study.

While Tweed mayor Barry Longland said the funding showed the government was taking the erosion issue ‘seriously’, state Labor MLC Walt Secord told parliament this month that the government’s response to the problem was ‘disappointing’.

‘Estimates place the cost of protecting the coastline at about $8 million, but the O’Farrell government has promised to provide a paltry $100,000,’ Mr Secord said.

‘The O’Farrell government must start taking the issue of Kingscliff beach erosion seriously. I have visited the site with federal Richmond MP Justine Elliot and seen first hand the devastation. The Cudgen surf lifesaving club is in jeopardy.

‘Recent comments by the environment minister Robyn Parker also give rise to concerns that the state government is actually backing away from its support; I hope that is not the case.

‘I would like to see the state government provide a cheque to Tweed Shire Council to fix the problem; the community deserves that.’

But Cr Longland said once the studies were complete, the information would form the basis of a proposal to the state to provide more significant funding to address the erosion issues.

‘Hopefully the results of these studies will form part of the dialogue between Council and the state towards finding a permanent solution,’ he said.

Council’s natural resources management coordinator Jane Lofthouse said it was vital to

get an accurate picture of what is happening along the beach before planning could begin on the next stage of protection measures.

‘There are a number of studies that need to be done looking at things like the tides, sand movement and how the waves are being affected by the measures that have already been put in place,’ Ms Lofthouse said.

‘The next stage in the protection of the beach will require significant resources and we must ensure that before any money is spent it is going to be effective.’

Image: Work on a 260-metre long rock wall to further protect Kingscliff’s erosion-battered foreshore continued this week. The revetment wall, between the Cudgen Headland Surf Life Saving Club and Kingscliff Bowls Club, is costing almost half a million dollars and expected to be finished early next month before the Easter holiday break when king tides are due. Photo Jeff Dawson

Luis Feliu

A new study has revealed that around 240 koalas live in the coastal part of the shire from west Byron to Brunswick Heads in an ever-increasingly fragmented habitat that can affect the iconic marsupial’s survival.

The study shows koala numbers were ‘extremely’ low north of the Brunswick River, where more people live in Ocean Shores and the surrounding urban area.

The Byron Shire Council study found out how many koalas there are and where they live and its data will be presented to the community next Wednesday 4 April.

The Byron Coast Koala Habitat Study surveys koalas across the coastal strip of the shire in an area of around 13,800 hectares and is the first stage of developing a comprehensive Koala Plan of Management.

The study, which includes analysis of 1,471 koala sightings plus a comprehensive field survey, estimated that 240 koalas lived in areas from west Byron to Brunswick Heads.

Council’s natural environment team leader Angus Underwood said that although the study showed koalas were currently more widespread across the shire than in the past, their habitat was now highly fragmented, which affected their survival rate.

‘This has resulted in isolation of populations which can negatively impact on their long-term survival,’ Mr Underwood said.

He said koala numbers north of the Brunswick River were ‘extremely low’.

Mr Underwood said knowing how koalas use the landscape as well as the condition of their habitat was vital for biodiversity planning and land management to support koala colonies.

Ecologists from Biolink consultants will discuss the results of the study and koala conservation at the upcoming free seminar from 6pm to 8pm at council’s Mullumbimby chambers.

For more info call Mr Underwood on 6626 7324.

Meanwhile, the managers of Mullumbimby’s new Tallowood housing estate are preparing a plan to protect and enhance koala habitat there after it was found koalas used a path in a small patch of forest on the estate’s edge.

Spokesman for the estate’s management collective, Christopher Dean, said the finding of koala skats there prompted them to plan the staged estate to be more koala friendly.

The new plans involve covenants to make sure households keep their dogs in a fenced area and planting  koala food trees.




David Lovejoy

Itinerant Bay resident Pagan Morgan says Byron Shire Council is claiming ‘illegal powers’ and she is very angry about it.

Ms Morgan is one of the people who sleep in their cars because of the expense and scarcity of rental accommodation. She says she does not break any law, infringe parking regulations or cause any mess or inconvenience.

At Thursday’s council meeting it was resolved to erect more signage to warn motorists, ‘Sleeping in vehicles at any time prohibited – fines apply’.

Ms Morgan told Echonetdaily, ‘While people who have been adversely affected by the minority of “vanpackers” who abuse the hospitality of Byron Shire may be pleased that Council intends to erect unlawful signage that prohibits everyone from exercising their human right to sleep in a vehicle, ratepayers will not be thrilled when the financial resources of Byron Shire Council are depleted by massive legal bills as a consequence of this illegal policy.’

According to Ms Morgan, Council has redefined ‘camping’ to include sleeping in vehicles. As Council does not have the authority to prohibit sleeping in vehicles (nor does anyone – including the police), the signage is effectively an indictable offence because it attempts to intimidate a person into abstaining from doing that which the person has a legal right to do.

‘Fortunately for citizens (and visitors),’ said Ms Morgan, ‘Australian law is not Byron Shire-centric; and justice only accepts the dictionary definition of “camping” – not an inaccurate definition created by a council public servant in an attempt to justify committing offences against persons who are merely exercising their human right to sleep in a parked vehicle. Unfortunately, for Byron Shire ratepayers, the practice of banning everyone from sleeping in vehicles as a “solution” to a minority of people behaving badly could cost the Shire a fortune in law suits. Punishing everyone for the “sins of the few” is also immoral.’

Ms Morgan says she has been repeatedly harassed by police and Council rangers telling her that sleeping in a vehicle is illegal, even before the stricter policy was announced last week.

Morgan says that as a result of Council’s ‘illegal’ actions, she feels obliged to travel to Sydney in order to file legal proceedings in the Supreme Court. ‘I mean really, folks, do you expect one to permit public servants to deprive every citizen within the borders of Byron Shire of their common-law and human right to SLEEP (be it in a vehicle or anywhere else).

‘I represent and do all the legal paperwork myself – so there will be no cost to the ratepayers from my side when the Council loses,’ Ms Morgan concluded.

‘I will be applying for permission to list Graeme Faulkner, Ralph James, Jan Barham and councillors who voted in favour of the illegal policy/practice as individual respondents (not Byron Shire Council) in order to prevent the ratepayers being billed for the legal costs of the offenders. However, don’t blame the victim (me and all affected citizens) if the offenders attempt to rip off the ratepayers by charging them for their legal costs.’




Luis Feliu

Four Tweed artists hope their new creative venture will stimulate Murwillumbah’s economy.

Belinda Smith, Ellie Beck, Jo Olive and Kathy Egan recently formed an artists’ collective called Hey Maker! in response to the growing number of vacant shops in Murwillumbah’s town centre.

The collaboration of CBD landlords and local artists in Byron Bay and Lismore in ‘pop-up’ ventures to make use of the stores till they are leased prompted the four to make good use of empty shopfronts to attract attention and benefit the community.

On Saturday 31 March and Sunday 1 April, the collective will conduct a free workshop called ‘Potatoprintpopup’ at Verge/Upside, 13 Queen Street, Murwillumbah, from 10am till 3pm.

Using potatoes supplied by local farmers, participants will cut and carve designs to create stamps and print on recycled materials; the results will be used for an installation of work on the shop wall.

The collective’s aim is to highlight that art is fun and can be made from simple everyday materials including vegetables and recycled boxes and cardboard. Take-home kits will be available, so participants can continue their crafty fun at home.

Collective member Ellie Beck said the group aimed to raise awareness of ‘needing to support local creatives, as well as keeping our town alive by shopping locally’.

‘Similarly to other towns across Australia that have had to face the situation of renew, revive or die, Murwillumbah needs some fun, hands-on acts of creative artiness,’ Ms beck said.

The Verge office is occupied by a landscape architect (Verge) and a graphic designer (Upside) who are sympathetic to their cause and are willing to let the pop-up be staged in their space.

The group hopes the Potatoprintpopup event will encourage Murwillumbah’s commercial landlords to participate in future pop-up events.

For more info visit heymakercreative@blogspot.com.au.

Pic: Artists Kathy Egan and ???? from the new creative collective called Hey Maker! want to teach Murwillumbah locals to use potato-print ‘pop-up’ art installations on empty shopfronts to attract attention and benefit the community. Photo Jeff Dawson


A study assessing the impact of boat wake on Tweed River bank erosion has been put on display by Tweed Shire Council.

Council will use the study’s findings, in conjunction with feedback received during the exhibition period, to prepare a Tweed River bank erosion management plan, resulting in the formulation of bank erosion rehabilitation recommendations to be implemented by council.

One of the reasons for the study was to allow TSC to make informed recommendations when Roads and Maritime Services undertake a review of the Tweed River Boating Plan of Management, council’s waterways and coast coordinator Tom Alletson said.

‘These recommendations would seek to balance the demand for recreational boating in the upper estuary against the environmental and economic impacts of vessel wake-generated riverbank erosion,’ Mr Alletson said.

‘The study’s findings show the entire stretch of river between Chinderah and Bray Park is susceptible to bank erosion as a result of vessel wake, and that wake waves have become the dominant erosion mechanism in the upper Tweed River estuary.’

The study will be on display until 17 April, with submissions accepted until 1 May. It can be viewed on council’s website http://www.tweed.nsw.gov.au, at council’s offices in Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah and the three Tweed Shire libraries.


Low vaccination rates have been blamed for a spike in whooping cough cases between Coffs Harbour and Tweed Heads.

Health authorities say 150 cases have been reported just this year.

North coast’s public health director Paul Corben told ABC radio that the number of cases was twice the state average over a five-year period.

Mr Corben said there were half the number of cases of whooping cough in Ballina Shire where vaccination rates were higher than neighbouring Byron Shire, where they were lower.

He said that people vaccinated against the disease as children should get a booster shot.



Melbourne [AAP]

The Anzac Day centenary celebrations in 2015 could cause divisions in multicultural Australia, a government-funded review has found.

News Ltd newspapers said focus-group testing found that multiculturalism represented a risk for the celebrations and one that should be considered to avoid unexpected negative complications.

The report said commemorating our military history in a multicultural society is something of a double-edged sword.

‘While the 100th anniversaries are thought to provide some opportunity for creating a greater sense of unity, it is also recognised as a potential area of divisiveness.’

The RSL has rubbished the review and says Australia’s enthusiasm for the day remains as strong as ever.

RSL national president Ken Doolan told News Ltd that Anzac Day held a central place in Australia.

‘The Australian people have said overwhelmingly that they want the centenary celebrated,’ he said.

Seoul [AFP]

US President Barack Obama said it is unclear who is ‘calling the shots’ in North Korea under its new young leader and stepped up demands for Pyongyang to abort its planned rocket launch.

Obama stood with South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak to present a united front against the communist North, hours after staring into what he termed a ‘time warp’ as he visited the last land border left over from the Cold War.

The US leader also had some unusually public criticism of China for its failure to induce its North Korean ally to open its nuclear program to inspections and end years of ‘provocations’ and ‘bad behaviour’.

‘It is hard to have an impression of Kim Jong-Un, in part because the situation in North Korea still appears unsettled,’ Obama said of the man proclaimed ‘great successor’ after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in December last year.

His comments deepened speculation about the elevation of Jong-Un, aged in his late 20s, and raised the alarming prospect of a power struggle in a volatile and erratic nation armed with nuclear weapons.

What was clear, Obama said, was that the North’s leaders ‘have not yet made that strategic pivot where they say to themselves, “What we are doing isn’t working. It is leading our country and our people down a dead end”.’

The president earlier got an up-close look into the isolated Stalinist state when he climbed a clifftop observation post 25 metres from the demarcation line that has divided the Koreas for six decades.

Obama, in South Korea for a 53-nation nuclear security summit, joined Lee to stiffen a call for North Korea to halt a satellite launch next month to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of founding leader Kim Il-Sung.

‘North Korea will achieve nothing by threats or by provocations,’ Obama said, adding that Pyongyang would deepen its isolation by firing off a rocket.

Lee was equally blunt.

‘President Obama and I have agreed to respond sternly to any provocations and threats by the North and to continually enhance the firm South Korea-US defence readiness,’ he said.


Image: US President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks while South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak listens during a joint press conference following their meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Sunday. World leaders today will launch the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit on the threat from nuclear-armed terrorists, but the atomic ambitions of North Korea and Iran are set to feature heavily. AFP PHOTO/POOL/KIM JAE-HWAN

Brisbane [AAP]

Campbell Newman is to be sworn in as Queensland premier after the Liberal National Party swept into power in Queensland at the weekend.

Mr Newman will be sworn in today as part of an interim cabinet.

On Sunday he announced Jeff Seeney would be his deputy and minister for state development, and Tim Nicholls would be his treasurer.

The remaining cabinet positions will be announced as soon as possible.

The LNP won government in dramatic fashion on Saturday, with at least 74 seats; ABC pundit Antony Green predicts a final 78-7 drubbing for Queensland Labor.

Meanwhile a Queensland federal Labor backbencher has rejected any parallels between former premier Anna Bligh’s surprise asset sales program and Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s carbon tax u-turn.

Shayne Neumann, whose seat of Blair could be under threat at the next election, has rejected any parallels between state Labor’s crushing defeat on Saturday and the 2013 federal poll.

The federal opposition have been enthusiastically drawing comparisons, but Gillard government MPs are playing down the speculation.

‘People understood we tried to get an emissions trading scheme through parliament and that we wanted to take action on climate change,’ Mr Neumann told ABC Radio today.

‘People understand the rigours and difficulties of minority government.’

Mr Neumann said ‘there’s no real parallel’ between Ms Bligh and Ms Gillard’s policy decisions.

He said the Bligh government lost because it was “time for a change.”

‘She didn’t explain, why she wanted to do it [sell the assets].

‘She didn’t level with the Queensland people.’

Mr Neumann said there was a lesson to learn from the Queensland whitewash –communicate better.

Image: Exiting Queensland Premier Anna Bligh pauses during a press conference last Sunday in Parliament House in Brisbane , Ms Bligh announced she is resigning from her position as a the member for South Brisbane following the Liberal National Party (LNP) landslide election win. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Moscow [AFP]

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned that Kofi Annan represents the last chance for avoiding a civil war in Syria and offered the UN-Arab League envoy Moscow’s full support.

Medvedev’s stark message to Moscow’s traditional ally came only hours after US President Barack Obama announced plans to send ‘non-lethal’ aid to the Syrian rebels and as new waves of violence swept the battle-scarred country.

Dozens were killed in fighting on Sunday as the Syrian army pressed its assault on protest hubs, with at least 18 civilians among the dead, according to activists and monitors.

Russia has been facing mounting Western and Arab calls to step up pressure and stop delivering arms to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime after a year of violence that the opposition says has claimed more than 9100 lives.

Moscow on Wednesday backed a non-binding Security Council statement after vetoing two previous resolutions. But it did so only after making sure the text contained no implicit threat of further action should Assad fail to comply.

Medvedev on Sunday appeared to be aiming his words at Assad directly by warning of dire consequences if Damascus ignored Annan’s peace plan.

‘This may be the last chance for Syria to avoid a protracted and bloody civil war,’ Medvedev told Annan at a meeting held in Moscow’s Vnukovo 2 airport before his departure for a summit in Seoul.

‘We will be offering you our full support at any level at which we have a say,’ said Medvedev.

‘We very much hope that your efforts have a positive outcome.’

Annan replied that he expected Russia to play an ‘active’ role in making sure that both sides follow the points of the UN Security Council-backed initiative.

The UN-Arab League envoy was expected in China on Tuesday to shore up backing for his efforts from the two UN Security Council members that had blocked previous efforts to condemn Assad’s regime.

China has also expressed support for Annan’s mission amid signs of quickly waning support for Assad from his traditional friends.

The Security Council-backed peace plan requires Assad to pull back his forces from protest cities and provide immediate humanitarian access to the thousands of civilians trapped inside.

It also makes no explicit demands on the opposition and calls for a gradual transition to a more representative government in which Assad’s role remains undefined.

Pressure on Assad mounted considerably when Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan emerged from extended talks in Seoul to announce their decision to back the delivery of non-combat supplies to the opposition.

Russia’s foreign ministry countered immediately that such ‘support for one side of the conflict was unacceptable’.

The move was nevertheless expected to be backed formally at a Friends of Syria meeting scheduled for April 1 in Istanbul.

Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood said a meeting of Syrian opposition factions in Istanbul this week, ahead of next Sunday’s gathering, would unify the majority of dissident groups that until now have been unable to present a common front.

‘Ninety per cent of the opposition parties will be united by April 1, under the umbrella of Syrian National Council,’ the Islamist group’s leader Mohammad Riad Al Shaqfa told a news conference.

Obama also said the United States and Turkey had agreed ‘there should be a process’ of transition to a ‘legitimate government’ in Syria.

There was no let-up in the fighting on Sunday, which left some 30 people dead, including at least 18 civilians, with monitors and activists reporting violence stretching from the outskirts of Damascus to Syria’s northern border with Turkey.

The Local Coordination Committees (LCC) reported ‘heavy shelling of Khaldiyeh, Hamidiyeh and Old Homs neighbourhoods by the regime’s army’, with explosions shaking the whole of Syria’s flashpoint central city.

And in the northwest province of Idlib, regime troops reportedly killed seven civilians, including three children, in the town of Saraqeb and in Kaframim village, where they torched the houses of dozens of fleeing rebels.

Another five civilian were killed in the northern city of Hama on Sunday, while the LCC reported three troops and six mutinous soldiers killed in the southern town of Nawa.

Fresh from his sold-out Hide and Seek album launch at Lizotte’s Newcastle, and his massive four-week USA tour from New York to Los Angeles, including the ASCAP Conference in Hollywood. A dynamic soloist and singer/songwriter/producer from Newcastle, Nick returns to Australia on the wings of this exciting, fresh new album.

Not only an inspiring acoustic artist, Nick wrote, produced and performed all instruments on the album himself, gaining him the Creative Artist award of 2010 in Cross Media’s album reviews. Nick’s new album Hide and Seek has received curiosity and airplay from national radio such Triple J, ABC and FBI Radio, and several abroad such as Bay Radio and Beach FM In the UK.

See Nick at the Currumbin Soundlounge on Friday supporting Juzzie Smith.

Mandy Nolan has an announcement to make…

Video Sharon Shostak







Barack Obama’s push for diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear program has failed to quell talk of a pending military confrontation. As Russia Today’s Anastasia Churkina reports, it looks as if history may be repeating itself.

Thomas L Knapp

One major problem with writing political commentary is that it’s often difficult look at something that seems… well, crazy… and find a rational explanation for it. It’s easier to just write off what looks like craziness as craziness and move on. But in the real world, there is in fact method to most people’s madness. This applies even to politicians who have apparently gone off their badly-needed psychiatric meds.

So when a global empire that has come to grief in Asian land wars twice in one decade appears to be going all-out to get itself into a third such war – this time with a country more militarily advanced than, and with three times the population of, either of the locations of the previous two debacles, and at least tentatively allied with three world powers (Russia, China and India) – one must resist the temptation to jump to a conclusion along the lines of ‘okay, so US president Barack Obama has gone completely off the deep end. Fruit loop. Nutter. To the booby hatch with him.’

The difficulty in avoiding such a conclusion should be obvious: open war between the US and Iran is a crazy idea, and not just mildly so.

It goes well beyond ‘dumb as a box of rocks’ and easily pings the ‘murderously insane’ range. Not only is it crazy at the level of military strategy, it’s completely disconnected from reality in terms of putative casus belli: every even semi-objective assessment of Iran’s nuclear program refutes the claim that Iran’s government is either close to producing a nuclear weapon or especially interested in doing so.

In order to explain Obama’s indisputably insane actions without

concluding personal insanity on his part – that is to say, in order

explain a sane man’s insane position – we have to place him in the iron grip of an institutional insanity reaching back more than half a century.

And hey… that’s something we can do.

Since World War Two, that segment of America’s political class which we’ve since come to know (thanks to Eisenhower) as ‘the

military-industrial complex’ has been in the driver’s seat. The

military exigencies of that war put it there; the postwar national

security state was created to keep it there.

The primary activity of the US government since 1941 – first because of those military exigencies, and later as a matter of policy – has been to ongoingly transfer as much wealth as possible from the pockets of America’s productive class to the ‘defence’ establishment.

And it’s a big business. The direct transfers, not counting the stuff hidden in line items other than ‘defence,’ are the US government’s single biggest budget item, coming to about 25 per cent of federal spending.

Big business indeed, and keeping that big business in business

requires a constant diet of ‘wars and rumours of wars’.

As long as the Soviet Union held out, that was a fairly easy order to serve up: Korea, Vietnam, Grenada and so forth, with ‘Cold War’ filling the gaps. But since 1990, the ‘defence’ establishment and its political shills have had to drum up new bogeymen on an ad hoc basis to keep the government contracts coming in for new guns, new bombs, new aircraft, new bases to build and newly destroyed cities to re-build.

Their approach comes down to a prescription attributed to

neoconservative ‘foreign policy specialist’ Michael Ledeen: ‘Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business’.

Unfortunately, those crappy little countries tend to be more trouble than they’re worth. Sure, they reliably turn into long-term quagmires, but the profit margins quickly become petty cash. Who wants to run mess halls and PXes for occupation troops, when the big money is in replacing expensive consumables like large bombs (and if the enemy is helpful, the very expensive aircraft which carry them)?

With the Iraq and Afghanistan debacles winding down, America’s military-industrial complex is tired of ‘crappy little countries’ and on the lookout for a big score. And their friends in government, who have staked their careers on 70 years of constant ‘pro-defence’ propaganda, are happy to help them find one.

Enter Iran: plenty big and sophisticated enough to knock down some US aircraft – hell, maybe even a carrier or two! – but probably not powerful enough to land a few divisions on the Maryland shore and burn Washington. It has all the makings of a long, expensive conflict, with 30-odd years of mutual belligerence to help the pill slide easily down the American electorate’s throat. Exactly what the doctor (Doctor Strangelove, that is) ordered.

What could possibly go wrong?


• Thomas L Knapp is the media coordinator of the US Center for a Stateless Society.



Byron Bay

Beach Hotel 7.30pm NRL Live on the Big Screen Tigers v Warriors

Byron Brewery Buddha Bar Buddhas Chill Lounge ft DJ iPod

Cocomangas DJ Taya

Hotel Great Northern 9pm Matt Buggy

La La Land Stretch

OPC 9pm Garret Kato

The Rails 7pm Leigh James

Woody’s Surf Shack 8pm DJ Getkane


Kingscliff Beach Bowls Club 12 Noon Robbie Rosenlund

Tweed Heads

Tweed Heads Bowls Club 11am Paul Hayman 6.30pm Robbie Rosenlund




Bangalow Hotel 8pm Brackets Open Mic Nite

Byron Bay

Beach Hotel 7.30pm Pool Comp 8pm Open Mic Night

Byron Brewery Buddha Bar Guido Unplugged – Muso’s Jam Night

Cocomangas Cheaper Tuesday

Hotel Great Northern 9pm Harry Healy

La La Land Rhys Bynon

OPC 9pm Kit Bray

The Rails 7pm Shaun Kirk

Woody’s Surf Shack 8pm DJ Getkane w Surfboard Giveaway


Marty’s At Caba 7.30pm Dave Murray’s Open Mic Night


Lismore City Bowlo 8.30pm Laura Nobel CD Launch

Lismore Train Station, Union St, Lismore 8pm Railway Wonderland by NORPA

Tweed Heads

Tweed Heads Bowls Club 6.30pm Michael King

Twin Towns Showroom 10.30am Liam Burrows & his quartet




Henry Rous, Ballina Scott Day Duo

Banora Point

Club Banora 6pm Glenn Brace

Byron Bay

Beach Hotel 9pm Russ Walker Duo

Byron Brewery Buddha Bar Open Mic Night

Byron Community Centre 7.30pm The Necks

Cheeky Monkeys Babe Nation Stage Show

Cocomangas Pole Dancing

Hotel Great Northern 9pm Wayne Evans

La La Land Spacie

Owl & Pussy Cat 9pm Kyle Lionhart

The Rails 7pm Richie Williams Band

Woody’s Surf Shack Surfboard Giveaway w DJ Getkane


Coolangatta Hotel 7pm Jam Night

Lennox Head

Lennox Hotel Get Quizzed


LIsmore Railway 8pm NORPA presents Railway Wonderland

Tweed Heads

Tweed Heads Bowls Club 11am Aliec Anderson 6.30pm Fabian




Ballina RSL Big Gig 8pm Chris Radburn, Mandy Nolan, Ellen Briggs

Brunswick Heads

Hotel Brunswick 7.30pm Richie Williams Duo

Byron Bay

Beach Hotel 9pm The Lucky Wonders

Byron Brewery Buddha Bar Cockatoo Paul

Byron Entertainment Centre 8pm Circus Arts Showcase

Byron Youth Centre 6.30pm Film screening of Disney Nature’s Oceans, narrated by Pierce Brosnan

Cheeky Monkeys The Wettest Stage Show On Earth

Cocomangas Thursday Temptations

Hotel Great Northern 9pm Closure in Moscow

La La Land Brett Sellwood

La Playa 6.30pm Juan Martinez

Owl & Pussy Cat 9pm David Lazarus

The Rails Pacha Mamma

Woody’s Surf Shack 8pm One Night Stand Up w MC Nick Penn

Lennox Head

Lennox Hotel Jam Night w Benny


Lismore Railway 8pm NORPA presents Railway Wonderland


Mullumbimby Civic Hall 8pm Mosh Ben Ari

Courthouse 6.30pm Uke Mullum w Stukulele & Mullum Uke Troupe & Ashley Bell

Tweed Heads

Twin Towns 10.30am The Frogs do Vegas Feat Frogs on Toast




Ballina RSL 8.30pm The Feremones

Henry Rous DJ Buzz & Guest DJ

Banora Point

Club Banora 7pm Deep Creek


Bangalow Hotel 8pm Mark Heazlett Band


Bilambil Sports Club 7.30pm Dr Scrubby & The Blues Healers


Billinudgel Hotel Shed 5.30pm Alternative Country Music Club (family friendly)


Commercial Hotel, Broadwater 8pm Nitestar

Brunswick Heads

Hotel Brunswick 7.30pm Acoustic Route

Byron Bay

Beach Hotel 5pm Beachy Fridays cheap drinks and nibblies 9.30pm Ganga Giri

Byron Bay Bowling Club 8pm Byron Bay Piano Bar with Mick Buckley

Byron Brewery Buddha Bar New Dub City Sound

Cheeky Monkeys Slave Auction

Cocomangas DJ Jimmy D & DJ QC

Hotel Great Northern 9pm Bell & Bone

La La Land Minx & Spacie & And Oh!

La Playa 6.30pm Juan Martinez, Roulf Commandeur

Owl & Pussy Cat 9pm Beachhouse Beats

Retrospect Gallery 6pm Capturing Light: New Mediums in Photography Exhibition Opening

The Rails 7pm Mr Speaker

Woody’s Surf Shack 8pm DJ Sanchez & Happy Hour


Cabarita Beach Sports Club Mason Rack

Marty’s @ Caba 7.30pm Scott Dave-y


Chinderah Tavern 7pm Phil Guest


Condong Bowling Club 8pm Tweed Valley Jazz Club Present The Well Swung Daddies


Coolangatta Hotel 9pm DJ Tarmz 9.30pm Ramjet

Coolangatta Sands Hotel 7.30pm Lounge Lo-Fi 8pm Front Bar Rick Barron


Cudgen Leagues 7pm Karaoke

Gold Coast

Currumbin Soundlounge 7.30pm Juzzie Smith + Nick Saxon

Currumbin RSL 7pm Tracey Vaughan


Kingscliff Beach Bowls Club 7.30pm Tommy Memphis

Kingscliff Beach Hotel 9pm Moon Zoo

Saltbar 8.30pm Andy & Jake


Kirra Sports Club 8pm Kennedy Mansion

Lennox Head

Lennox Hotel Sounds of Summer – Grand Final


LIsmore Railway 8pm NORPA presents Railway Wonderland


Middle Pub 7.30pm Broadfoot


Murwillumbah Services Club 6.30pm David Barry


Pottsville Beach Sports Club 7pm Captain Wow

Tweed Heads

Seagulls Lakeview Lounge 8pm Fire & Ice

Tweed Heads Bowls Club 11am Michael 7.30pm Smooth & Groove

Twin Towns 8pm Q Hollywood goes Swing: Liam Burrows and 6 piece Band

Twin Towns 8pm Liam Burrows


Yamba Golf Club 7pm Richie Williams




Ballina RSL 8pm Mambises

Ballina RSL Bowling Club 6pm Al Alderman

Henry Rous Dan Clarke Band


Bangalow A&I Hall 6.30pm Travelling Flicks: A Separation

Bangalow Hotel 7.30pm Roo

Banora Point

Club Banora 7pm Highway 409


Billinudgel Hotel 8.30pm Mick Buckley

Brunswick Heads

Hotel Brunswick 7pm Nitestar

Burleigh Heads

Burleigh Bears Leagues Club 7.30pm Just The Ticket

Marty’s @ Caba 7.30pm Angie

Byron Bay

Beach Hotel The Leisure Bandits

Byron Brewery Buddha Bar 8pm Pacha Mamma Album Launch & Sticka Bush

Byron Community Centre Sonic Temple

Cheeky Monkeys Male Amateur Strip Show

Cocomangas DJ Jimmy D & DJ QC

Hotel Great Northern 9pm Yacht Club DJs

La La Land Rhys Bynon

La Playa 6.30pm Juan Martinez, Roulf Commandeur

Owl & Pussy Cat 9pm Beachhouse Beats

The Rails 7pm Jessie Morris and the 3 beans

Tree House, Belongil 8pm Steve Angoorly

Woody’s Surf Shack 8pm Beats Cartel & Transvaal Diamond Syndicate


Cabarita Beach Sports Club 7pm Dynamite Karaoke


Casino RSM 8pm Casino Cacks w Chris Radburn, Mandy Nolan & Nick Penn


Chinderah Tavern 2pm Bill Jacobi


Coolangatta Hotel 9pm DJ Stu 9.30pm Alter Egos

Coolangatta Tweed Heads Golf Club 7pm Nightshift


Currumbin RSL 7pm Mick McHugh Duo


Eltham Hall 7pm Kerrianne Cox w Julia Rose

Fingal Head

Sheoak Shack 7pm Electrik Lemonade

Gold Coast

Currumbin RSL 7pm Mick McHugh


Kingscliff Beach Bowls Club 7.30pm Happy Daze Karaoke

Kingscliff Beach Hotel AKA

Saltbar 8.30pm The Febs

Lennox Head

Lennox Hotel The Feramones


Lismore Railway 8pm NORPA presents Railway Wonderland


Durrumbul Hall 4pm Mullum Reggae Club Vol 3

Lulu’s Cafe 11am Dinkum Bohos

Mullum Civic Hall The Red Tent Festival

Spaghetti Circus, Mullumbimby Showgrounds 7.30pm Performance Troupe Cabaret

St Martin’s Anglican Church Hall 7pm Kathryn Jones presents: Sisters in Song


Murwillumbah Services Club 6.30pm Glenn Brace


Pottsville Beach Sports Club 6pm Mark Brownsdon

Tweed Heads

Seagulls Lakeview Lounge 8pm Outrage Us

Tweed Heads Bowls Club 7.30pm Davo & The Twisters

Twin Towns 8pm Q Cosentino


Uki Holy Trinity Church 7pm Ukitopia Arts Collective presents Songwriters on the Songline w Boy From Mars




Ballina RSL 2.30pm Dean Doyle & Sophistication Presents: SOS Songs of the Sixties

St Mary’s Anglican Church 2pm St Andrews Choir & Spiritsong for Palm Sunday

Banora Point

Club Banora 11.30am Terry Scott 1.45pm Peter Lawson


Billinudgel Hotel 3pm Sunday Jam

Brunswick Heads

Hotel Brunswick 4pm Sunday Session with Mason Rack

Sandbar, Brunswick Heads 10am Waldo & Goodfellow

Burleigh Heads

Burleigh Bears Leagues Club 2.30pm Tommy Memphis

Byron Bay

Beach Hotel 1pm Super Dry Sundays 8pm Oka

Byron Brewery Buddha Bar Transvaal Diamond Syndicate / Guthrie

Hotel Great Northern Josh Boots Duo

La La Land Discrow & Daniel Webber

La Playa 6.30pm Juan Martinez & Jivan

Owl & Pussy Cat 2pm Beachhouse Beats 4pm DJ Supernova Jade Sunday Session

The Rails 6.30pm Kellie Knight and the Daze

Wild Studio 7pm Salsa Social Dancing


Coolangatta Hotel 2pm Cold Chisel Tribute, 5pm Lisa Hunt, 8pm Yacht Club DJs

Neverland Easy Sundays

Fingal Head

Sheoak Shack 4pm Acoustic Route

Gold Coast

Currumbin RSL 7pm Bo Jenkins


Kirra Sports Club 4pm Have-a-go-karaoke


LIsmore Railway 8pm NORPA presents Railway Wonderland


Mooball International Casino 11am The Rolling Stones

Mt Burrell

Sphinx Rock Cafe 2pm Noam Blat


Tweed River Art Gallery 6.30pm Violin & Piano Treasures

New Brighton

Yum Yum Tree, New Brighton 11.30am Andy Holm


Pottsville Beach Sports Club 5pm Bill Jacobi

Stoker’s Siding

Totally Stoked Strip Joint – Dolly Parton


Mt Warning Hotel 3pm The Chris Cook Band


The laughingly called Labor Party’s loss of power in Queensland is yet another example where one party persists in throwing away its advantages and another that persists in ignoring critical issues. Not much of a choice. Australia is lost for the moment. We are a selfish, materialistic, conservative suburban wasteland spawning a generation of conservative young people with an inward-looking parochial political approach but as long as the gold medals keep coming we will be happy.

Alan Hainsworth 

Byron Bay

A few neurons in me want to make a list of all the electorates voting against climate action and have them blacklisted for no flood or drought assistance. But those neurons got shouted down by my love and forgiveness neurons.

We need the repentant carbon-climate deniers. We need all the help we can get because we have a big job to do putting climate change into reverse, shutting down the carbon industry, building renewable generators, electric vehicles, low-meat lifestyles, organic farms, and planting great forests.

Sapoty Brook



Last Thursday’s front page story in The Australian is yet another example of that paper’s bias. Under a heading  of ‘More stimulus questions as cycle of waste rolls on’, the coloured pic shows a bike-rider with hapless expression on the  new cycleway along Ewingsdale Road. The theme was that money was wasted and benefits questionable and exaggerated.

Yet if you read the caption and finer print the user and many others are actually very pleased with the new path as it means riding into town is far less dangerous. No doubt the journalist would claim that this is balanced reporting. But this is hardly the case given the prominence of the negative headline and photograph. The take-home message is obvious. No mention of the larger-issue positive advantages of cycling such as health, reduction of car traffic and associated CO2 and other pollution. Doubtless proprietor Rupert Murdoch would consider this journalistic craftsmanship at its best.

I hope Byron Shire Council won’t be swayed by this kind of newspaper nonsense and continue to fund much-needed cycleway infrastructure throughout the shire.

Nick Schaefer

Mullumbimby Creek

If our government is going to prop up the car industry with our money, creating a false economy that we all know will only go down the same path again, they should stipulate on our behalf to start going green energy or fold.

Our government was so concerned about carbon emissions that they had to create a tax for it and in doing so confirming to the nation that a major carbon emission pollution does exist. I have not seen or heard one word on how the number-one carbon polluter, the billions of combustion engine vehicles that are surely responsible for most of the pollution in the world, should be seriously looked at.

The atmosphere can only hold so much carbon emissions before it becomes unsustainable for normal life. The concentration of carbon in the atmosphere is causing the oceans to absorb more heat, warming the oceans and causing extreme weather conditions that we are now seeing worldwide. If our governments are serious about the carbon problem, stop ripping off the taxpayers by a carbon tax and giving money to the car companies that are the source of the carbon problem and put a bit more thought and effort into solving the real problem.

We have invented, created and solved just about anything and everything thrown at us so I don’t believe that we can’t replace the combustion engine invented more than a hundred years ago with clean and renewable energy source. Instead of giving millions to the car company, get the best heads in the world together and create an efficient and better power source to replace the combustion engine.

Some will say we already have with the electric engine, but it still requires electricity which, in many countries, is produced by coal-burning power stations; this is only replacing one carbon polluter with another. Only when we have solved this problem will we be able to stop the control of the oil companies over us and be able to live in a healthier and sustainable world.

Nick Cropp


Giving a bouquet of flowers – however beautiful they are – on Mother’s Day isn’t very sustainable. This year, instead of the bouquet why not give your darling mum a whole tree… in a rainforest! Not only is it thoughtful and kind to Mother Nature, it’s a gift that will last for decades. If that’s not going to show your mum she means the world to you, well we don’t know what will.

You can protect a real rainforest tree in the Amazon in your mother’s name via Cool Earth, the rainforest charity, which counts the likes of Sir David Attenborough (our hero!), Dame Vivienne Westwoood and Kate Moss among its supporters. They will also have the tree geo-located for her so she’ll be able to see exactly where it is in the rainforest on Google Maps.

“The idea behind Cool Earth is that if we can help pay to conserve an acre then we can make a real difference. Perhaps the biggest difference we will make in our whole lives.”
- Sir David Attenborough

Now if you’d like protect more than just the one tree, there are acres of vulnerable rainforest that work hard to protect our climate, water, oxygen and biodiversity to cast your protective arms around. All rainforest protected with Cool Earth would be cleared for logging within the next 18 month, so any contribution is valuable.


Eton Raptor Solar/wind Powered outdoor radio/Torch/USB charger/Clock/Altimeter/Compass/Clock

Etón Corporation makes some of the most highly regarded emergency radios in the industry. Their radios can operate without batteries. Turn the crank to power them up, or in the case of the Etón Scorpion, harness the power of the sun. Listen to AM or FM radio for important updates and use the built-in flashlight to find your way around in the dark. You can also charge up your mobile phone so that you can get in touch with loved ones.

Eton Raptor – Solar Emergency Radio, USB Mobile Charger, Torch and so much more is great for the all weather adventurer giving you peace of mind in emergencies. If any disaster strikes, this is the space saving emergency gadget is the one you want to have close by, packed with so many other useful outdoor adventure tools.

The emergency essential features include:

  • Monocrystal solar panel w/ solar charge indicator
Solar powered USB mobile phone charger (5V, 500mA) (compatible with iPhone® 4)
Digital display
Altimeter (altitude information)
Barometer (pressure and temperature)
AM/FM/SW digital radio tuner
10 AM / 10 FM station presets
Digital clock w/ alarm
IPX-4 splash proof
Audio line input
DC input with mini-USB plug (5V, 500mA)
1800mAh, rechargeable lithium ion battery
Battery charge indicator
Bottle opener
Thin form factor

Dimensions: 73 x 203 x 32 mm (W x H x D)
Weight: 320 g

Most of us enjoy drinking coffee, sometimes to satisfy the craving and mainly because we just want to. However, while making coffee we don’t usually think about products like coffee filters, which are discarded after a few uses, and coffee stirrers, which are mostly discarded after every use. We have seen innovative minds come up with creations made using coffee stirrers, but this might be the first time we have seen a beautiful lamp made using nothing more than simple coffee filters.

Vilma Farrell, who is originally from Brazil, uses the love of her country for coffee as an inspiration behind creating these stunning lamps using recycled coffee filters. Each lamp is remarkable in its own significant way. Vilma crafts these lamps by hand in the evening when her children go to bed. Initially she leaves coffee filters to dry out, either on a newspaper or else a towel. Some of the filters are used as they are and the rest are stained using the juice of the vegetables like beets and spinach.

Once dyed, Vilma cuts the filters, entwines them into a frame and lastly applies polish to give it a final touch. Thus the colours that are reflected from the glowing lamp are a blend of natural coffee filters and those which are dyed. These eco friendly lamps are very easy to make and above all are inexpensive. The coffee filters required to make them are also readily available in almost every home and if not you can get them in abundance at a local coffee shop.

This recycled coffee filter dexterity is fit for all ages, as this flexible paper is easy to use and moreover it is great fun to see the exclusivity of each filter that is tainted by coffee. A variety of new things can be made using these coffee filters, with creativity and imagination being the only prerequisites.

Source: www.ecofriend.com


Luis Feliu

Murwillumbah Hospital’s emergency department is to be upgraded under new funding announced by the state government.

Its medical ward will also be remodelled to accommodate palliative care beds under infrastructure funding as part of an $11 million package over three years for regional health around the state.

But the exact amount for Murwillumbah has not been disclosed.

Deputy premier Andrew Stoner and health minister Jillian Skinner said in a joint statement this week that the additional funding would help improve rural and regional health services.

‘This government has made it clear that boosting investment and services in regional NSW, particularly in health, is a top priority,’ Mr Stoner said.


Ms Skinner said that patients, doctors, nurses and communities in Murwillumbah ‘will certainly benefit from the better facilities and better services that will come with this new funding’.


Member for Lismore Thomas George welcomed the funding as a great boost for local health infrastructure.

‘The upgrade of Murwillumbah is something that I have long advocated and I wholeheartedly welcome the NSW government’s decision.’


But a spokesperson for Mr George told Echonetdaily that an exact figure for what Murwillumbah hospital would get was unavailable from the minister’s office and she didn’t know why.



Luis Feliu

Ballina mayor Phil Silver used his casting vote yesterday to push through a controversial plan to sell two beachfront blocks of community land at Lennox Head to an adjoining caravan park.

Cr Silver used his casting vote after the vote was tied at 5–5 on a rescission motion to overturn the move to sell the vacant blocks, opposite the Lennox Head-Alstonville Surf Life Saving Club, to the adjoining Lake Ainsworth Holiday Park for $1.3 million.

In a surprise move, general manager Paul Hickey left the room before the debate after earlier declaring a conflict of interest because of his friendship with the manager of the North Coast Holiday Parks (NCHP), Jim Bolger.

Mr Hickey said the conflict of interest was non-significant, non-pecuniary but perceived. He and Mr Bolger had worked at Byron Shire Council nine years ago and they had also been involved in a joint venture investment of a unit which was sold two years ago.

Cr Jeff Johnson, who moved the rescission motion, said Mr Hickey had brokered the deal and had earlier told media he had  no conflict of interest.

Cr Johnson urged councillors to defer the sale of the ‘strategic community land’ till after the Lake Ainsworth precinct management plan, which was 10 years old, was reviewed.

Cr Johnson said his motion did not rule out a future sale of the land, but the land would be needed in future as the area was very congested and it could be used for parking or open recreational space.

He said Lennox Head had a population of around 6,000 which could grow to 22,000 with the new housing developments planned for nearby Cumbalum, putting more pressure on an already congested area.

Cr Silver said retaining the land would not give the shire an economic ‘yield’ as it would be sitting on an ‘idle asset’ while community infrastructure ‘dries up’ and council was ‘very fortunate’ that the state government, through the NCHP, wanted to buy it to expand the Lake Ainsworth caravan park adjacent to the land.

Cr Robyn Hordern said the state government would use the land ‘anyway exactly as we envisaged it’ some years ago when council considered using it for holiday cabins.

Cr Sue Meehan said the land was not just for the exclusive use of Lennox Head residents but the whole shire and ‘now is not the right time to sell it’ as it could be needed in future for parking, open space or the surf club expansion.

‘Let’s keep the status quo till we have plans for it as once it’s sold it’s gone,’ she said.

Cr Sharon Cadwallader said if council ‘wanted money desperately’ it should ‘look elsewhere’ such as industrial land and council should ‘look at the big picture’.

Cr Keith Johnson said the land would be subject in future to inundation from sea rise and he predicted the surf club ‘won’t be in that location in future because the state government may not allow it’.

‘This is not serving us well; it’s an asset the people next door want and the price is higher than the valuation of a year ago.’

Cr David Wright said he would prefer to wait till the Lake Ainsworth management plan was completed before selling.

Cr Jeff Johnson said the land also had ‘social yields’ and community land should not be looked at just for its economic value.

Cr Peter Moore said he opposed the sale but if the rescission motion was lost he would move that the money be directed to the surf club.

But Cr Silver, after using his casting vote to reject the rescission motion, ruled Cr Moore’s motion out of order saying it was a different motion altogether, which Cr Moore could raise at another time.

Crs Jeff Johnson, Moore, Meehan, Cadwallader and Wright had backed the rescission.

After the meeting, Cr Jeff Johnson said that while other councils, such as Byron Shire, were fighting against the takeover of public land by the state government owned caravan parks, ‘Ballina Council is handing it to them on a plate with a discounted price tag, council is treating the community with contempt’.

Lennox Head Chamber of Commerce president Louise Owen was set to again appeal to councillors not to sell the blocks before the meeting, but was unable to attend due to a serious head-on car accident near Casino on Tuesday which left her in hospital.

Well-known Casino-area woman Heather Flack, 62, of Fairy Hill, who was driving the other car, was killed as a result.

Image: Pot of gold at the end of the Lennox Head rainbow. The council-owned beachfront blocks of land set to be sold offered this magnificent view of a stunning rainbow across the ocean there this week, captured by our photographer Jeff Dawson.

Ric Richardson won an undisclosed but probably enormous sum of money from Microsoft and sparked the fascination of millions of people. What’s he up to now? Sharon Shostak caught up with ABC’s Australian Story in the act of finding out.

Chris Dobney

TV star and shark protection advocate Ron Taylor is among the many patients with chronic or terminal diseases who may miss out on their medication following last week’s raid on the Far North Coast property of medical marijuana provider Tony Bower.

Mr Taylor had been using medical cannabis oil provided by Mr Bower’s Mullaway Medical Cannabis mobile dispensary at the suggestion of his friend, French oncologist Dr Patrice Richard of St Louis Hospital in Paris.

Dr Richard has written a letter of support to Mr Bower, stating the importance of medical marijuana when other medications fail.

‘I am shocked and disappointed that the police of your country do not care about the people Mr Bower is helping; people he is assisting with the approval of their own doctors,’ he wrote.

‘[Oncologists] are seeking scientific evidence to verify which cancer cells have receptors to cannabis oil. We know already that some brain cancers can be cured with it, and we were hoping that it could be effective on Ron Taylor’s leukaemia cancer cells,’ he added.

‘The police have destroyed Tony Bower’s crops, at the same time seriously cutting the chances of many desperately ill people for whom this molecule (cannabis) could have been effective. It has taken away their hopes, their last chance for life.’

Mr Bower told Echonetdaily yesterday that, despite the police raiding his Crescent Head property by helicopter last week, he is endeavouring to keep up supplies of his marijuana tincture to his many patients.

Police have declined to comment on the raid apart from admitting that Mr Bower was issued a court attendance notice for the offences of cultivating ‘an indictable quantity of a prohibited plant’ and supplying a prohibited drug.

Mr Bower will face Kempsey Local Court on 16 April and plans to contest the charges. He said the hearing would turn into a test case on the use of medical marijuana in NSW by default.

Mr Bower says he has been battling to have his tincture approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). But before the TGA can act, approval to produce and research his cannabis must be granted by the NSW health department, which has so far declined to do so.

Mr Bower was quick to defend local police, who he said ‘didn’t want anything to do with the raid’. He added that his mobile dispensary has regularly provided tincture to patients from various north coast locations, including outside the Kempsey office of deputy premier Andrew Stoner, without interference from local police.

Twelve years ago he was taken to court on similar charges and ‘emerged with what amounted to an exemption to grow cannabis for medical use’, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The stunning portrait by Robert Hannaford, commissioned by the Tweed River Art Gallery Foundation with assistance from the Friends of the Gallery and the Gallery’s donation fund, was completed as part of the artist’s exhibition Robert Hannaford: Open Studio, shown at the Gallery in late 2011 where visitors were offered the rare opportunity to see the artist and his sitter at work.

Gallery Director Susi Muddiman said the portrait was already a key work in the Gallery’s collection.

‘Margot is the longstanding patron of the Friends of the Gallery and wife of former deputy prime minister of Australia, the Right Honourable Doug Anthony, AC CH,’ Miss Muddiman said.

‘As most people know, Margot and Doug donated the land for the construction of the Gallery and reside on an adjacent farm.

‘The commissioned portrait of Margot is a suitable acknowledgement of one of the Gallery’s strongest supporters.

‘So many of our visitors enjoyed seeing this portrait in progress, I am sure they will be eager to return to see the finished product.’

Margot Anthony was born at Murwillumbah in 1931 and attended Murwillumbah Public School and Murwillumbah High School before completing her studies at SCEGGS, Darlinghurst, the University of Sydney and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music studying piano with Frank Hutchens.

In 2003, after many years of involvement in the world of art, music, politics and family life, Margot was awarded an Order of Australia for ‘service to the community for a range of arts organisations, particularly the Tweed River Regional Art Gallery and the Canberra Symphony Orchestra’.

After her husband’s retirement from politics the Anthony family became permanent residents of the Tweed. Continuing her support for music, Margot has been the foundation patron of the Tyalgum Festival of Classical Music since 1991.

In 1988 Margot was elected as the foundation president of the Friends of the Tweed River Regional Art Gallery and served as president until 1992. From 1992 to 1996 she held the position of vice-president, and has been the hard-working patron of that organisation since 1996.

Margot has also been a valuable member of the Tweed River Art Gallery Foundation Board of Directors since 1988. Her wisdom and support in these roles has been an invaluable asset to the Tweed River Art Gallery.


Image: A portrait of Margot Anthony AM, one of the Tweed River Art Gallery’s strongest patrons, is a highlight of New Acquisitions to the Collection, the latest exhibition at the Gallery featuring over 70 new works. 

Melbourne [AAP]

Thirteen Australians have been arrested in a police bust on an international child pornography ring.

Australian Federal Police raided 19 properties in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and the ACT, arresting the 13 men, with one of those allegedly in possession of images and videos that would have required 24 standard laptops to store, the AFP told Fairfax.

The original discovery of the child porn ring came in Germany, with a tip-off from Interpol alerting the AFP to the alleged involvement of Australians.

The men have been charged with accessing and making available child exploitation material.

Police told Fairfax some infants were depicted in the material, with some of the images and videos rated a four out of five on a level of severity.

Head of the AFP cyber crime unit, Commander Glen McEwen, said making or possessing the material amounted to exploiting a child.

‘I don’t want anyone to think that just because they’re in possession of a video, they’re not as complicit in a crime as a contact offender … Child predators might think they’re immune, but they’re not. It’s an international effort.’

Most of the men arrested will be bailed under strict conditions, according to Fairfax.

Brisbane [AAP]

Premier Anna Bligh and the man who wants to depose her, Campbell Newman, are expected to spend their final day of campaigning in Brisbane.

Ms Bligh says she’s on track to honour a commitment to visit 50 seats in five days, having already raced through 43 electorates since Monday.

Her final sortie is expected to be seven Brisbane seats that she has not yet visited.

Ms Bligh will spend Friday afternoon helping her team with election preparations in her own seat of South Brisbane.

She is refusing to admit defeat despite indications the Liberal National Party (LNP) will cruise to victory and she is running ads asking Queenslanders no to give her opponents too much power at Saturday’s election.

‘I know there’s a lot of Queenslanders who are still thinking very seriously about their vote and I’m very, very keen to be talking to every one of them,’ she told reporters.

Meanwhile, LNP leader Mr Newman is expected to hit the hustings hard on Friday and spend much of the day in the west Brisbane seat of Ashgrove.

Mr Newman must win the seat if he is to become the first person to be elected premier without having been a member of parliament first.

Image:Queensland premier Anna Bligh chats to former prime minister Bob Hawke at the Lutwyche bus station construction site in Brisbane on Thursday while on her 50 seats tour of Queensland ahead of Saturday’s state election. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Washington [AFP]

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned of the risk of terrorism, political instability and conflict over competition for scarce water supplies worldwide over the next few decades.

Clinton highlighted such risks that were outlined in the unclassified version of a report on global water security – which she had requested – that was released on Thursday by the National Intelligence Council.

‘I think it’s fair to say the intelligence community’s findings are sobering,’ Clinton said about the report that focuses on the potential water problems between now and 2040.

A summary of the report said North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia ‘will face major challenges coping with water problems’, particularly as a result of population growth and increased economic demand.

Climate change is a third factor likely to be more strongly pronounced in the later decades.

‘As the world’s population continues to grow, demand for water will go up but our fresh water supplies will not keep pace,’ Clinton said in a speech at the State Department.

Clinton underscored concerns in the report that terrorists could attack dams and other infrastructure ensuring supplies of water to people, agriculture or industry. Or water could be used as a ‘political tool’, she said.

‘These difficulties will all increase the risk of instability within and between states,’ she said.

‘Within states they could cause some states to fail outright. And between and among states, you could see regional conflicts among states that share water basins be exacerbated and even lead to violence,’ she said.

A senior US intelligence official told reporters on the condition of anonymity in a telephone conference call that ‘beyond ten years we did see the risk increasing’ of a war over water.

‘It’s very difficult to be specific about where, because it depends upon what individual states do and what actions are taken right now to work water management issues between states,’ the official said.


Video: The Onion News

A Colorado-based Christian charity is providing aid for any and all heterosexual Africans in need. Video TheOnion

Russell Eldridge

They don’t know how many days she lay in the forest, her right leg stretched above her, snarled in a steel snare set by poachers. But the agony was extreme enough for the young tigress to start chewing off her own foot.

The story does get better. A bit. And there’s a Byron connection.

Dara, as the three-year-old tigress has been named, was discovered in late February by conservation guards on regular patrol in the western forests of Sumatra, inland from Bengkulu city.

These patrols have been set up by Indonesia’s Nature Conservation Agency, BKSDA, with the assistance of international NGOs.

Their job is to stem the trade in wildlife and body parts of endangered animals – and tigers are at the top of the illegal shopping list.

The global market for exotic pets and body parts now includes the internet, and the booming trade is estimated anywhere between $US10 billion and $US20 billion a year. Illegal animal parts are being sold on leading online auction sites, against the policies of those sites.

But offline, China is the biggest market for tiger parts. A healthy young Sumatran tigress like Dara is worth up to $US50,000 once her skin, bones and organs are sold. Not that the desperate poachers would see much of that.

Despite Chinese legislation banning the trade of tiger parts, the market thrives in that country.

It may not be widely known, but there are more tigers being farmed in China than exist in the wild. It is estimated that up to 5,000 tigers are bred on these tiger farms and it is believed they are slaughtered primarily for use in a tonic known as tiger wine (New York Times 12/2/10).

Numbers dwindle

Nor does the illegal trade take into account the ‘critically endangered’ status of these creatures. A century ago, there were still an estimated 100,000 tigers roaming Asia. That number is down to about 3,000. And the Sumatran tiger, a genetically separate subspecies, numbers only 400.

If Dara had been killed, it would be the equivalent of two million humans dying in one incident.

But she didn’t die; and she now desperately needs help to ensure her future.

It took six days for the rescue team to get Dara out of the forest. A local wildlife vet, Dr Yanti, had to trek in and anaesthetise her and amputate part of her foot to remove the snare. She then had part of her other foot amputated where she had chewed in her agony. Dara was then carried out in a specially constructed box on poles.

Enter the Byron connection. Dr Claire Oelrichs is a Newrybar-based vet and also chair of the respected SIES fund (Save Indonesian Endangered Species). Dr Oelrichs and SIES have for several years been at the forefront of wildlife conservation projects in Borneo, Bali and Sumatra.

‘I was contacted by Pak Mugi, a BKSDA conservation officer who helped bring Dara out of the forest,’ says Dr Oelrichs.

‘They have little money and nowhere to keep Dara other than a small bamboo cage at the back of the office at Bengkulu. She’s eating seven chickens a day and needs constant medication and care.’

SIES has sent over enough money to care for Dara for about six weeks. There is international support, but funds are scarce and it will require public donations to ensure her long-term survival. SIES is running a Dara Rescue appeal, with a target of $50,000 (for donation details, see end of story).

If fundraising by SIES and other organisations is successful, the momentum could help establish Indonesia’s first tiger sanctuary proposed by the recently formed Sumatra Tiger Forum (Forum Harimau Kita).

‘At the moment, all captured tigers in Indonesia are sent to Taman Safari Zoo in Java. It’s like a huge cattery,’ says Dr Oelrichs.

‘So the plan is to establish a sanctuary in Bengkulu province, where the tigers can live in semi-natural conditions and retain their hunting skills. Hopefully, they can one day be released back into the wild.’

The main problem is diminishing habitat, and conflict with humans.

Dara was snared in what is called a production forest, an area of natural forest where people can farm, hunt for meat and fell timber.

‘The local people live off these forests,’ says Dr Oelrichs. ‘They have little in the way of modern amenities.

‘And contrary to what many outsiders may think, the villagers by and large really care for the local wildlife.

‘They show tremendous compassion, and will report if an animal like a rhino, elephant or tiger is trapped. There are very stiff penalties, too, for trafficking. Dara wasn’t caught in a local hunting snare – it was a heavy-duty poacher’s trap targeting big animals like rhino, whose horns are prized as an oriental aphrodisiac.’

New wave

Dr Oelrichs conducts conservation tours to Indonesia up to four times a year. She says there is a new wave of thinking in Indonesia, with a strong vision and commitment to wildlife conservation. The head of conservation in Bengkulu Province, Pak Amon, and his conservation officers strongly support a tiger sanctuary.

If that sanctuary dream becomes a reality, its first resident could be a young tigress named Dara.

And it could well be a family affair, because Dara may be pregnant.

To make a donation to the Dara Rescue Appeal: Account: Save Indonesia Endangered Species fund. Bank: Summerland Credit Union, Bangalow. Account number 22273 8931. BSB 728 728.

Dr Oelrichs can be contacted on claireoelrichs@siesfund.org.

SIES website: www.siesfund.org

Supporting organisations:







NORPA’s inaugural 2012 production Railway Wonderland has been such a success that the show has been booked out for its entire run more than a week out from opening night.

In response to public demand, NORPA has scheduled an extra show on Sunday 1 April from 8pm at Lismore Train Station, Union St, Lismore.

NORPA artistic director Julian Louis said, ‘It’s wonderful that the region is so excited about this work and has embraced it wholeheartedly. It’s a real testament to the adventurous spirit of our audiences and good to know there’s a demand for unique and surprising productions.’

On Sunday night there will be live music, bar and wood-fired pizza from 6.30pm.

Tickets are $37/$30 concession/under 18 $16.50. Book online at www.norpa.org.au or call NORPA box office Mon–Fri 1300 066 772.

Improvising has become the creative trademark of the Necks, an Australian seminal outfit who pack houses both in Australia and on an international front. They return to the Byron Community Centre for a very special concert.

Why do you think reaching a state of emptiness helps you be more responsive when improvising? Actually, I’m not sure I’d say a state of emptiness is best, rather a state simply where one is not over-finessing the decisions that arise. Contrary to some people’s understanding, improvising music can often require a lot of attention to the nuts and bolts. Sometimes I’ve taken the stage with The Necks in an incredibly distracted state, and the resulting music has been some of the best I think I’ve come up with.

Sometimes the state of emptiness is reached not before the performance but during it, when things start to get really orgiastic and hallucinatory.

It sounds a bit like spiritual practice… do you think there’s something intrinsically Zen about what you do… does it stay with you off stage; I mean does the way you create music filter into how you live your life… are you more responsive to situations rather than reactive? I don’t know a whole lot about Zen, but I do think playing in The Necks has subtly affected my outlook over the decades. I’m definitely more fatalistic these days. Maybe that’s merely a natural consequence of growing older, but in many ways I think The Necks are very fatalistic about the creative process. We try to write ourselves out of the creative equation and just let that something, whatever is it, take over.

I don’t know which feeds which though. Probably a bit of both.

I have listened to The Necks and, when it’s really happening, it always reminded me of being in the slipstream. Is it as effortless as it looks? That’s the state we try to get into, and it’s wonderful when it happens to be effortless, but if it doesn’t, we have to focus on creating a situation where it can start to happen.

Your media release says you have returned home… where have you been exactly? Our drummer Tony Buck lives in Berlin, and he likes to escape the winter there, so we try to schedule our Australian tour each year to coincide. Last September we did a North American tour, and in November we did a really big tour of Europe. We meet up wherever in the world we need to be. It’s funny when all three of us show up for the start of a tour from different locations.

How are you received overseas? It’s just as positive as it is here. Tony moved o/s in 1991 and it wasn’t till 1998 that he told us from Europe that he thought the audiences there would really like what we do. Up until then we weren’t sure it would ‘translate’. So he set up a great run of 17 or 18 shows and the response was really strong. People ‘got’ where we were coming from musically, yet in the same breath told us they hadn’t heard anything else like it. Same with North America when we later started touring there. So we’ve just been building on that. Next month we do our first show in Japan, which will be interesting. It’s at All Tomorrow’s Parties, curated by Jim O’Rourke, formerly of Sonic Youth. We’ve always known we have a following there, but the offers just haven’t come along at the right time till now.

What should we expect for your Byron show? Three guys on stage with acoustic instruments summoning the spirits.

Byron Bay Community Centre, Wed 28 March, 7.30pm $25/$28. Bookings: http://byroncentre.com.au/whats-on/details/179?xref=285. Phone 6685 6807.

The Dirty Three have just released their remarkable new album, Toward the Low Sun, their first since Cinder in 2005. Originating in Melbourne back in 1993, first playing as a pub act with Warren Ellis strapping on a guitar pickup to his violin for a distorted feedback-drenched tone. From that point on they grew in stature within the Melbourne music scene until the release of their demo Sad and Dangerous. The album, along with subsequent tours with Sonic Youth, John Cale, and again Pavement, led to a record deal with Chicago’s Touch and Go. The Dirty Three then toured the US and throughout Europe and the UK, releasing their seventh major album Cinder back in 2005. This was the first album to feature vocals. Dirty Three’s last tour of Australia was in 2009 when they performed their album Ocean Songs in its entirety as part of the Don’t Look Back classic albums series – a run of shows that sold out across the country. Dirty Three play Lismore’s Star Court Theatre on Friday.

The Sunshine Coast might be home to the Big Pineapple, but the latest noise looking to make a mark on the map is much louder than a giant bright yellow-and-green piece of fruit.

A heady brew of production smarts and live energy, The Mank’s five-piece crew is creating a flavour that is a soul-soaked mixed bag of beats from the vinyl jungle and real songcraft… A soulful mix of electronica, hip hop, funk, reggae and downbeat. Friday at the Beach Hotel.

You can almost smell the coconuts and pineapples in the air when Bobby takes the stage with his groove-heavy six-piece band. With ukulele in hand, Bobby delivers a catchy, joyful concoction of songs blending sounds of island flavour, soul-reggae and a soothing splash of pop. Combining a blueprint of his roots – a Polynesian heritage and years of international touring – Bobby’s music satisfies both chilled and dance-happy followers.


With six years of touring and performing as a drummer and percussionist around Australia, New Zealand and Canada with OKA, Kooii, Saritah, Nicky Bomba and Mista Savona, to name a few, he brings a wealth of experience to the solo project he has always nurtured.


Within just over a year of inception, Bobby Alu and his charismatic band have been busy with performances at Byron Bay Blues & Roots Festival, Woodford Folk Festival, Island Vibe Festival and Australian World Music Expo, as well as support slots for Aussie heavyweights The Beautiful Girls and Blue King Brown. Since then, they recorded a live video for One to Wait and the recent follow-up single Take It or Leave It has been sweeping the airwaves in conjunction with a solid east-coast tour, and more recording is underway…


This weekend you can see Bobby live and you can expect a mix-tape offering a therapeutic dose of reggae rhythms and roots with a distinctive Pacific influence, world beats, ukulele, log drumming, and tantalising percussion solos. The fresh tunes and smooth vocals serve up a sweet summer vibe enhanced by the tight rhythm section delivering deep grooves and a contagious blissful ambience. Strongly fused by world flavours, the sound is influenced by the likes of Bob Marley, Ben Harper, Bill Withers, Fat Freddy’s Drop and Finley Quay. Simply put, Bobby Alu’s playful ‘feel-good’ approach creates an environment to feel joy and see the beauty of life.


Check him out at the Currumbin SoundLounge on Friday.

Rick Price has walked the journey many musicians’ dreams are made of. From the very beginning, as a nine-year-old and the youngest member of his family’s band, music was Rick’s passion. Since those humble yet defining days, set amongst the backdrop of country Queensland, the self-taught artist has forged an internationally praised and respected career spanning more than three decades, earning him double platinum status for his greatest hits and numerous industry awards.

Rick relocated to Nashville USA in 2009, primarily to tour with his buddy and great friend, Tommy Emmanuel. After being back on stage playing to big live audiences, Rick, feeling inspired and re-energised, jumped straight into co-writing with other artists in Nashville. The result will certainly be a surprise to some of his diehard fans. Love, a recurring theme in his new work, where it once spoke of heartbreak and loss, now speaks of hope and transformation.

The Water’s Edge indicates new influences and a broader style. While there are still echoes of a great pop artist, country and blues meld beautifully with folk sounds to create an album that transcends genre. Audiences can expect to hear all these brilliant new songs and sounds from Rick, but as well he will never disappoint and the greatest hits will be performed as well.

Get into Rick Price’s dream at Twin Towns on Friday.

Governments are sin – the media is redemption – oppositions are atonement. This is the holy-trinity business model for the media barons. Ever since they discovered that they are the pea in Westminster’s royal shell game.

The generic voter’s choice in elections is a choice between the persistence of media pundits, whose compromised employment means they must channel the boss until they almost believe their own verbals, and what is left of the voter’s browbeaten intuition after all the contagious media verballing and all their confirmational and coercive polling.

That political vuvuzelas like Alan Jones, Ray Hadley and Bob Katter can even gain an audience in a so-called adult society is proof to me that the voters’ venality is being expressed as insanity. And the fourth estate is a cynical and exploitative urger.

Good luck with your atonements.

S Briskey, Burrum Heads, Qld

It was great to hear the number of informed citizens at the Northern Rivers Have Your Say forum in Ballina on Tuesday 21 March express their opposition to coal-seam gas mining in our region. It was also heartening to witness the near-unanimous support for renewable energies like wind and solar to be part of the government’s Regional Action Plan.

Despite some speakers at the forum ignorantly linking coal-seam gas to the fuel used in people’s cars, the overall transport vision was to improve public transport services, especially by restoring the Casino–Murwillumbah rail link for commuter use.

Furthermore, dismay was expressed at the government’s lack of vision to turn NSW into a mining pit, based on short-term profit aimed at overseas export. Instead, government has a real opportunity to invest in a renewable energies future by promoting the rapid rollout of solar and wind technologies, which provide long-term sustainable jobs for the region and positions us as number one in taking action on climate change.

If the government holds true to its promise of accountability, it must act upon the attendees’ recommendations and take real action to end CSG mining in our region, remove subsidies to the mining industry and begin the rapid transition to renewable-energy technologies in order to avert catastrophic climate change.

Adam Guise, Lismore

As one of the original architects of the proposed Byron Shire events policy, but speaking this time as an individual and not representing any group, I have to voice some sympathy for Peter Noble and his fears about the policy.

In the end it should really come down to a negotiated agreement between the Bluesfest promoters and the local Tyagarah residents as to the size and quantity of festivals and events that could be held at the Tyagarah site. Peter has effectively sat down in their living room and started blowing his trumpet so he should respect their tolerance levels.

The council on the other hand has the unenviable task of trying to formulate a policy that has legal teeth. Somewhere in the middle there has to be found a solution that respects the tolerance limits of local residents while ensuring that Peter and his Bluesfest are paid due respect for not running cap-in-hand to the state government to override council and enabling him to run a profitable venture.

A clause that would give power to a residential group negotiating additions above the two-policy event that includes one-day mega-events would be a sensible solution.


Mac Nicolson, North Ocean Shores

Chris Dobney

It will be the end of the year before the community finds out whether the Casino to Murwillumbah railway line gets a new lease of life.

At a community transport forum in Lismore last night, minister for the north coast Don Page announced the investigation will be undertaken by Tim Poole, previously the Gold Coast Rapid Transit Project director.

Mr Page told local media, ‘we’ve deliberately extended the terms of reference in the feasibility study to specifically identify the benefits of rail services on the 130km rail corridor, as well as the types of transport that could be offered and the potential to extend the line into South-East Queensland’.

The study had previously been criticised for looking only at the costs and not the benefits of reopening the line.

Karin Kolbe, President of Trains On Our Tracks, said, ‘we’re eagerly awaiting the details of the new terms of reference. We’re glad the Minister has listened to the community’s concerns and we want to see more detail.’

‘We also want the government to properly assess what the costs to our road infrastructure will be if we don’t have the rail. For example, how much will be needed to upgrade the Lismore-Bangalow Road ?

‘The next step is to get a firm date for the study’s completion,’ she said.

The minister first announced an investigation into the feasibility of the service on 18 November last year and tenders for the study were advertised the following week.

Last week Byron Shire councillor Basil Cameron said that the government was employing delaying tactics to go back on its 2004 promise to reopen the line.

‘Planners from Transport New South Wales have made it clear in recent discussions that the inadequate feasibility study, which only examines costs and not benefits, will be shelved until a state transport masterplan and a new regional transport plan are completed,’ he said.

Mr Page denied that this was the case.

Washington [AP]

In an indication the Republican establishment may be starting to coalesce behind him, major contributors to a key political group founded by strategist Karl Rove have boosted their financial support for the party’s front-runner, Mitt Romney.

Wealthy donors like Bob Perry, Philip H Geier Jr and Jerry Perenchio collectively provided much of the $US6.4 million ($A6.1 million) in contributions last month to the pro-Romney ‘super’ political action committee (PAC) Restore Our Future, according to campaign records submitted on Tuesday to the Federal Election Commission.

The donors also are among the most generous contributors to American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Rove, who was a top adviser to President George W Bush. Crossroads is likely to become the pre-eminent Republican group airing negative advertisements against President Barack Obama this year before the November election.

Meanwhile, Romney’s super PAC rivals have struggled to keep pace financially, their cash flows at times dependent upon longtime friends or insular donors. The Rick Santorum-leaning Red, White and Blue Fund brought in $2.9 million last month, but at least $600,000 came from close supporter Foster Friess. For the Newt Gingrich-supportive Winning Our Future PAC, nearly 88 per cent of its $5.7 million February haul came from Sheldon and Miriam Adelson.

The new campaign reports illustrate the financial advantage that Romney – the winner in Tuesday’s Illinois primary – harnessed heading into Super Tuesday primary elections in 10 states early this month. Romney is ahead in the count of Republican delegates and was aided by more than $29 million worth of ads paid for by Restore Our Future.

That $29 million figure is higher than spending by any other Republican super PAC or campaign, including Romney’s own campaign, which raised nearly $12 million last month but burned through that by month’s end.

All told, the money flowing to Republican super PACs is expected to counterbalance cash flowing to Obama’s campaign, which has raised more than $120 million in total contributions as of February 29. (The PAC supporting Obama, Priorities USA Action, collected only $2 million last month.)

Super PACs are not permitted under federal law to coordinate directly with campaigns, but the PACs often pay for media campaigns that allow candidates to concentrate on state organisations and get-out-the vote efforts. Such an effort for Restore Our Future requires big cash from wealthy financiers, who last month were newcomers, repeat donors or more generous with their chequebooks.


Two people are lucky to have survived a two-car motor vehicle accident on Tintenbar Road, Tintenbar at around 7.30am this morning, near the T-intersection with Fernleigh Road.

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service reports that a male was trapped by the legs in one of the vehicles. The patient has been airlifted to Lismore Base Hospital with serious leg injuries.

Another person involved in the accident was taken by road ambulance to Ballina Hospital with less serious injuries.

No further information was available at press time.


Luis Feliu

Local Aboriginal groups fear a proposed controversial wakeboarding clinic could have major impacts on registered cultural sites along the Tweed River.

The Tweed Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council (TBLALC) has written to Tweed Shire Council strongly objecting to the plan by a Gold Coast company to run the coaching clinic on a stretch of river between Chinderah and Fingal Head.

The land council says it has serious environmental and cultural concerns over the plan as a number of registered Aboriginal cultural heritage sites, including two middens, could be impacted on.

They have called for further investigations before any approval is given.

On Tuesday, councillors voted to rescind a decision last month banning the operation by Pro-Wake Academy, which had been running the clinic for the high-speed watersport on the river illegally for five years.

But the plan is still in limbo after a motion was passed to defer approval till further consultation was held with the wakeboarding clinic over designated areas that could be less affected, as well as a trial period of operation.

Council staff, which had recommended against the plan because of riverbank erosion and impacts on wildlife habitat, will also meet with Aboriginal leaders over their concerns before meeting with the clinic operator.

Cr Dot Holdom, a member of council’s Aboriginal advisory committee, said she had learnt recently that the remains of a local Aborigine were buried in the area, which it could adversely affect.

Cr Holdom said the area where the clinic would be run was also vital habitat for endangered migratory shore birds such as the Hooded Plover, which is protected under international treaties.

‘We have agreements with other countries that we’re going to protect the habitat (of critically endangered bird species) and not give it up’.

She said that 10 years ago Gold Coast City Council had banned wakeboarding to protect its local waterways and preserve areas for different forms of water recreation and that, as a result, more Queensland power-boat operators used the Tweed River for their activities.

Cr Katie Milne said there were many places in Australia which excluded or limited wakeboarding, which she described as an ‘extreme sport’.

Cr Milne said it had been suggested a more isolated section of the river with revetment walls would be more appropriate, but the current plan was to operate the clinic in a section of river used by row-boats, waterskiers and other ‘low-speed’ users, making it a ‘big safety issue’.

She also said federal intervention under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act could be triggered to protect the migratory shore birds covered under international treaties.

Cr Joan van Lieshout, who had moved for the further consultation and trial period, said council had not had enough time to assess all the impacts and the extra negotiations could result in a better outcome for all.

Cr Kevin Skinner said he had observed the wake from the clinic boat and felt it had ‘not created any more problems, and less than other boats’ using the river.

But he said approval of the operation shouldn’t be seen as ‘open slather’ for others to apply to run similar activities on the river and it ‘should be for a limited time’.


Story & photo Eve Jeffery

Maybe the word needs to change. When we think of ‘seniors’ we think of wizened, white-haired old ladies who sit in the corner with crocheted rugs over their knees, but most seniors are much more vibrant than the image the word evokes. Many seniors don’t see themselves as being old and it is clear that most of today’s older generation are certainly a lot younger than their twentieth-century counterparts.

‘I don’t think of myself as being old yet’, says Ingrid Johnston. ‘I am having trouble adjusting to being a “senior”. I spent my 59th year worrying about being 60 because my grandparents at 60 were at the end of their lives. I was very happy after that birthday when I found I could still do things.’

Seniors Week is a statewide celebration of the elder generation and most communities have activities, classes and extra services available – yesterday saw free hearing tests with Australian Hearing at the Brunswick Heads library.

Ingrid, who lives in Ocean Shores, says she decided to take the hearing test on offer for seniors mainly for curiosity’s sake. ‘I think my hearing might be going and I am here to find out how bad it actually is.’

Australian Hearing’s Peter Bodycote, who is performing the tests on seniors, says he has a fairly full schedule of tests during the week and the program has received a good response.

Ingrid says she has attended U3A events as well during the week-long statewide celebration and she believes that exercise is helping to keep her young; she goes walking and takes Qi Goong classes with the U3A. ‘I think these days we are more aware that we need to move our brains and our bodies. We have to use it or lose it.’

[Image]Peter Bodycote from Australian Hearing puts Ingrid Johnston through her otic paces at the Brunswick Heads library for Seniors Week.

Luis Feliu

Tweed Shire Council will stick with seven councillors and will not let voters choose their mayor after a bid to hold a referendum on the two issues was rescinded this week.

Last October council decided to hold a referendum to coincide with the local government elections on 8 September asking voters whether they wanted to increase the number of councillors from seven to nine and whether they’d support a popularly elected mayor, both for the term beginning in 2016.

But councillors this week rejected the plan when they backed rescission motions on both issues by Cr Dot Holdom.

Cr Holdom said she didn’t want to commit ratepayer money for ‘a referendum in 2012 when there’ll be no change till 2016’ and that the current system of councillors choosing one of their own for mayor had not been detrimental to the current council.

But Cr van Lieshout said allowing voters to choose their mayor was a far more transparent process for shire residents than the current method as it would ‘exclude all the deals done beforehand’.

Cr van Lieshout said councillors who backed the rescission motion were ‘not trusting the public’.

Cr Phil Youngblutt said that ‘in all probability the person with the biggest budget becomes the mayor’.

Cr Kevin Skinner said Gold Coast City Council had been ‘dysfunctional’ for some time because of a popularly elected mayor.

Cr Skinner also took aim at Byron shire’s popularly elected mayor Jan Barham, saying that since she took a seat in state parliament she had been unavailable for numerous meetings and had to hand over the role to her deputy, thereby ‘not fulfilling that position’.

But Cr Katie Milne said such comments were ‘offensive’ and that Cr Barham had been popularly elected then re-elected because she had done ‘such a good job’. Cr Milne said councillors not backing the referendum were taking away the right of people to choose.

Cr van Lieshout also defended Cr Barham, saying she was one of many ‘respected’ popularly elected mayors around the state.

Mayor Barry Longland said labelling a move for voters to choose their mayor as democratic was ‘populism’.

Cr Longland said only 33 of the state’s 152 councils had decided to have popularly elected mayors and that was ‘out of step’ with how leaders were chosen in state and federal spheres.

‘We don’t elect the premier or the prime minister,’ he said.

Cr Milne said more councillors equalled ‘more democracy’ as there were ‘more of us to consult’ and to ‘spread the workload’.


Photo Amelia Hicks

Around 200 people turned out at a community forum in Ballina on Tuesday night to let the government know what Northern Rivers residents want as part of their Regional Action Plan. Everywhere you looked there was a ‘No Gas’ badge or a ‘Don’t FRACK with us’ t-shirt.

A new brand of superhero, Girls Against Gas, were there as well fighting the evil that is coal-seam gas with their sunny yellow capes.

One of the environmental-crime fighters, Amelia Hicks, commented on the proceedings for Echonetdaily.

‘There was a clear and near unanimous view from those present: implement CSG moratorium (not just on fracking); reopen the Casino to Murwillumbah rail link; protect agricultural farmland and water; and support for the mass rollout of renewables for job creation and to avert catastrophic climate change.

‘Despite this overwhelming support, the government representatives still managed to sideline our top priorities in their summary, put up at the end of the night. Their language could only be described as Orwellian when they said “more information on CSG” and “extend the moratorium” [the ineffective and token fracking moratorium]. And there was no mention of rolling out renewables for our region to bring jobs. So in my opinion, a token consultation.

‘The coalition government are not listening to the people. They voted against the moratorium and now they think that a token consultation process will placate this social movement. It won’t. We are the youth of this area and this is our future. We want clean, sustainable jobs and the protection of our tourism industry and agricultural land. They can expect to see the Girls Against Gas everywhere!’

Lismore and Tweed are two of 24 locations the state has nominated for he rollout of ‘One-Stop Shops’ for the delivery of government services across the state.

‘Known as One Gov, a range of government services from seniors card applications and fishing licences through to the purchase of national park passes and birth, deaths and marriage applications, can now be accessed through Fair Trading offices,’ NSW premier Barry O’Farrell announced yesterday.

The services now available include:

·         Births, Deaths and Marriages – lodgment of applications

·         Seniors Cards – lodgment of applications

·         National Parks – purchase of passes

·         NSW Housing – lodgment of applications

·         Fishing Licences – application and renewal

·         Office of State Revenue – payment of fines

·         Retail Tenancy Bonds – lodgment, and

·         Fair Trading offices will now offer a JP service.

The offices are at Suite 5, Upper Ground Floor, Conway Court, 17 Conway Street, Lismore and Suite 26, Level 2, Wharf Central, 75 Wharf St, Tweed Heads.

Luis Feliu

Tweed Shire Council will seek an urgent meeting with the NSW Aboriginal Land Council to discuss their plans to explore land near Murwillumbah for mining.

The land council recently sparked an outcry from local environmental and Aboriginal groups when it was revealed that it had applied for a petroleum special prospecting authority over three tranches of land in northern NSW, including one six kilometres southeast of Murwillumbah.

On Tuesday, Tweed councillors unanimously decided to ask the land council what its intentions were and to ask officers from the primary industries department to brief councillors on any current mining proposals for the shire and the regulatory framework involved.

The department had previously advised that they don’t have to publicly advertise or consult on the application; neither is it posted online on its website.

Mayor Barry Longland said it was of concern that the Tweed Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council was unaware of the prospecting applications.

Greens Cr Katie Milne said mining was ‘very inappropriate’ for a ‘very beautiful shire’ regarded as a ‘garden of Eden’ and no mining should be allowed on its farmland or other areas.

But her bid for council to ban mining altogether in the shire and to explore ways by which council could prevent mining was shot down.

Tweed Council’s chief planner Vince Connell said the primary industries department had advised that the prospecting application was ‘primarily a desktop evaluation of existing data, and involves no works, drilling, or site intervention’.

Mr Connell said council had not received any notification of the application from either the department or NSWALC.

NSWALC chief executive Geoff Scott told the Sydney Morning Herald that the land council was talking to a number of mining companies with a view to a venture partnership and that ‘our initial geology studies are showing their potential is enormous’.



French Police are currently involved in a siege in Toulouse in connection with the recent killings in that city/area. CNN video


The Bahraini government is still proceeding with a high-profile case against medics who treated wounded protesters during an uprising last year, despite a prosecutor’s statement suggesting most of the charges would be dropped, the justice minister has said.

Read the story by Al Jazeera


Kevin Carson

A high-level maestro of political repression from the American domestic police apparatus has found lucrative employment in Bahrain.
John Timoney had already established himself as a notable carpetbagger of repression within the United States. As Philadelphia’s Police Commissioner, he supervised the police riot at the August 2000 GOP Convention. His Gestapo tactics there, and later as police chief of Miami during the anti-FTAA protests, were dress rehearsals for the police repression of Occupy protests in hundreds of cities across America: gassing and breaking the bones of unarmed people, pre-emptively arresting organisers, planting evidence – you name it,
Timoney’s been there and done that.
From the outset of the Seattle movement, Timoney was its J Edgar Hoover – warning shrilly of the ‘International Anarchist Conspiracy’ to disrupt meetings of neoliberal institutions. He agitated relentlessly to apply the RICO statute to the anti-globalisation movement. Timoney is a close associate of Tom Ridge, going back to the latter’s provision of political cover to Timoney’s police riot, and after the post-9/11 establishment of the US Department of Homeland Security was rumoured to have close informal ties to much of the Department’s leadership. Although his prospects for high office in
Fatherland Security never materialised, he went on to an extremely lucrative career as lobbyist for the security-industrial complex. And as police chief of Miami, he got a chance to further refine his jackbooted thuggery from the Philly days.
Now Timoney – along with fellow carpetbagger John Yates, assistant commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police – serves the Bahraini
royal government. You know, the despotic Bahraini state that’s been engaged in brutal and murderous repression of the Arab Spring uprising there for the past year. Timoney, it seems, is for sale to any petty tyrant with petrodollars burning a hole in his pocket and wants to do a really high-class job (ahem) ‘using chemical weapons against his own people.’
It’s been said that to a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Give people a bunch of big hammers, and they’ll start looking for new ways to use them. Likewise, if your Empire has a need for torturers, thugs and detention camp guards, you’ll find all the volunteers you need to keep Abu Ghraib, Gitmo or Philly running. But once you have those guys (and gals, pace Lynndie England), they become an established constituency.
Somebody once quipped that the French Empire was built by retired army officers. Marijuana criminalisation began, in part, as patronage for G-men unemployed by the repeal of Prohibition. Sometimes, likewise, MPs who get a taste for inflicting pain and domination on the powerless in squalid holes like Abu Ghraib or Baghram AFB come home and decide to become cops or prison guards (remember Dim in ‘A
Clockwork Orange’?). And sometimes American cops become advisers to foreign despots’ secret police.
All uniformed thugs are brothers under the skin. And repression is becoming an industry without borders.

• Kevin Carson writes for the US-based Centre for a Stateless Society

Margot O’Neill

The chair of a federal parliamentary inquiry says a climate of fear is stopping suppliers from publicly detailing alleged abuses of power by supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths.

Read the story by the ABC


Sydney [AAP]

The father of Malcolm Naden’s missing cousin says he hopes the fugitive’s capture will shed light on what happened to his daughter.

Naden, 38, was arrested just after midnight (AEDT) on Thursday on a private property near Gloucester in NSW’s mid north.

The former abattoir worker has been on the run since disappearing from his grandparents’ home in west Dubbo in 2005.

Days before he left, his 24-year-old cousin and mother of two Kristy Scholes was found strangled in a bedroom of the house.

Naden is also a suspect in the disappearance of another of his cousins, Lateesha Nolan, who hasn’t been seen since January 2005.

Ms Nolan’s father, Mick Peet, said he felt excited when police contacted him with the news about 1.45am (AEDT) on Thursday.

‘I sort of felt like falling to the ground on my knees, I didn’t know what to say,’ he told ABC Radio.

‘I had so many questions I wanted to ask (but) I didn’t know where to start.’

Mr Peet said he was worried the search would drag on ‘forever’ but understood the police’s frustration in trying to catch Naden.

‘I’m just glad we’re on the road to some kind of recovery to find out what happened to my daughter and some closure,’ he said.

‘There’s a lot of family that’s been affected.’

Mr Peet said Naden’s capture was a ‘giant step’ but there was still a long road ahead.

‘I don’t know what it’s going to lead to now, we just have to take one day at a time,’ he said.

‘But I’m just glad the whole seven years of trying to catch the person that’s wanted for questioning over the disappearance of my daughter has happened.

‘From this day on, we’re just so glad we’ve got this major step in retrieving some information about my daughter.’


Toulouse [AFP]

In a tense, daylong standoff, French riot police have demanded the surrender of a gunman they say has boasted of shooting seven victims in an al-Qaeda-linked terror spree.

Hundreds of police cordoned off streets around an apartment building in the southwestern city of Toulouse after a pre-dawn raid to arrest the suspect, Mohamed Merah, erupted into a firefight.

Three police were wounded and negotiations with the 24-year-old Frenchman of Algerian descent dragged on for hours.

Prosecutor Francois Molins said Merah was a self-taught radical Salafi who expressed glee at killing three Jewish children, a rabbi and three French paratroopers.

Merah had been to Afghanistan twice and had trained in the Pakistani militant stronghold of Waziristan, he said.

In the negotiations, Merah ‘expresses no regret, only that he didn’t have time to have more victims. And he even bragged, he said, of bringing France to its knees’, the prosecutor said.

Merah was planning to kill another soldier imminently, so police had to launch the raid, Molins said.

Late on Wednesday, Interior Minister Claude Gueant told France-2 TV that Merah planned to turn himself in at night ‘to be more discreet’. Police turned off nearby street lights.

The gunman’s brother and mother were detained early in the day. Molins said the brother, Abdelkader, had been implicated in a 2007 network that sent militant fighters to Iraq.

French authorities – like others in Europe – have long been concerned about ‘lone-wolf’ attacks by young, internet-savvy militants who self-radicalise online, since they are harder to find and track.

Merah told police he belonged to al-Qaeda and wanted to take revenge for Palestinian children killed in the Middle East, Gueant said, adding the gunman was also angry about French military intervention abroad.

‘He wants to avenge the deaths of Palestinians,’ Gueant told reporters. ‘He’s (also) after the army.’

The police raid was part of France’s biggest manhunt since a wave of terrorist attacks in the 1990s by Algerian extremists. The chase began after France’s worst-ever school shooting on Monday and two previous attacks on paratroopers beginning on March 11.

The suspect repeatedly promised to turn himself in Wednesday, then halted negotiations. Cedric Delage, regional secretary for a police union, said police were prepared to storm the building if he did not surrender.

Molins said Merah’s first trip to Afghanistan ended with him being picked up by Afghan police ‘who turned him over to the American army who put him on the first plane to France.’

An Interior Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Merah had been under surveillance for years for having ‘fundamentalist’ Islamic views.

During the standoff, police evacuated the five-story building, escorting residents out using the roof and fire truck ladders. The suspect’s apartment was on the ground floor of the postwar building, locals said.

French authorities said Merah threw a Colt .45 handgun used in each of the three attacks out a window in exchange for a device to talk to authorities, but had more weapons like an AK-47 assault rifle. Gueant said other weapons had been found in his car.

‘The main concern is to arrest him … take him alive … it is imperative for us,’ Delage said.

Those slain at the Jewish school, all of French-Israeli nationality, were buried in Israel on Wednesday as relatives sobbed inconsolably. The bodies of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his sons Arieh, 5, and Gabriel, 3, and 8-year-old Myriam Monsenego had been flown there earlier in the day.


Story & photo Eve Jeffery

Graeme Williams has been Byron Shire Council’s sustainability officer for almost five years and he feels like a pig in the proverbial. With a degree in environmental management from Macquarie University, Graeme has navigated his way from the forests of Tasmania and the wilds of Sydney’s Ku-ring-gai Council to what some of his peers may consider the sustainability mecca.

It’s Graeme’s job to try to build a culture of sustainability both within and outside the council organisation. Graeme has been a visionary for many of the council’s sustainability projects such as sustainable streets, community gardens and the car-pooling project, just to name a few.

But is it also in his job description to help council walk the sustainable walk. He works internally on writing policy and overseeing corporate sustainability right down to things like making sure councillors use recycled paper in their envelopes and business cards; he also looks over council’s shoulder ensuring that their carbon emissions and energy use don’t squander the planet’s resources.

Graeme says that when he arrived in the shire there was a lot of goodwill as far as the concept of sustainability went but without someone with an eye for the workings of the idea, it sometimes fell short of the mark.

‘I have to say that having someone in a designated position of sustainability officer does make a world of difference. You can knit all the ideas together. Byron Council does have the intention to be sustainable but people have different interpretations of what that word means. The concept of sustainability is increasingly being analysed and pulled apart’.

Meeting our needs

Graeme says he does stand by the classic interpretation of sustainability as the ability to meet our needs today without compromising the needs of future generations but he also has a more personal view of the concept.

‘I think on a pragmatic, grass-roots level for me the vision is really about building a culture of sustainability. Building opportunities for people to engage and integrate into the sustainability program – incorporating local skills and local knowledge to get that information out.’

Graeme feels that his work in the area has been made easier because of the general motivation toward sustainability which communities outside the area may yet have to warm to. ‘In terms of environmental sustainability within the council, in my experience I have certainly been able to achieve things here where I know my colleagues in neighbouring councils haven’t even got the tar on the road, so to speak.’

Things that we now take for granted, such as community gardens, are ideas that Graeme says some other councils are struggling to even contemplate, whereas he is currently working with the Suffolk Park community and there will soon be a third garden in the shire, a new cousin for the established Mullumbimby and Shara gardens.

He says it is the small things that make a difference in our shire. ‘We are doing really innovative things that are simple but for a bureaucracy to be able to do is still unique. In 2010 we were profiled throughout the state for our corporate office recycling program. We use 100 per cent recycled, non-bleached envelopes, business cards and a range of other items.

‘The “wholemeal” look is something that a lot of councils don’t like the appearance of, as they don’t think it suits their image, yet the councillors and staff here really embrace that. In some places the brown envelope is considered too radical and is not even on the agenda.

‘Working in the Byron Shire has given me a huge scope to be creative. Sometimes I wonder where do I go from here.

‘In so many cases when I speak to colleagues in Sydney or Melbourne or further afield, the classic comment I get is “Oh wow Byron Bay”. They have that immediate envy. It’s wonderful. It reminds me of how lucky I am to be here and I am entirely grateful to have such a responsive and proactive community who are always keeping me on my toes. Just yesterday I had the Byron Bay Youth Climate Action Group on my doorstep agitating for something – you know it’s fantastic that there is that drive and dynamism.

Really special

‘When I worked in Sydney people didn’t even know who the mayor was, let alone the councillors or staff members – it sounds funny but it is not a joke. This is actually a really special, unique place in that people do know who they are dealing with and are much closer to the powers that be.

‘That means the microscope is much more focused than it is in other places. The scrutiny is there but the potential for the community to collaborate is unique. I can get a lot of things done here not because we have masses of money to chuck at it but because of the relationships and goodwill in the community. It’s precious.’

This article first appeared in Your Sustainable Community, your guide to sustainable living on the north coast, published this week by The Echo. The full publication can be viewed here. 

Coal-Seam Gas The Musical will be an entertaining and informative satirical revue that looks at the effects of coal-seam gas exploration and mining. Music theatre director Ollie Heathwood and a large cast and crew will be developing this community theatre work over the next few months.

The first gathering of folks interested in participating will be next Sunday 25 March from 2 to 4.30pm at the Italo Club, Barrow Lane, North Lismore.

If you can operate sound and lights, paint backdrops, manage front-of-house, publicity, ticketing, accounting etc or have background as a stage manager, costume maker, actor, singer, or musician your talents are eagerly sought.

US singer-songwriter and son-in-law to Mel Gibson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, is one of the international acts fronting Bluesfest this year. Mandy Nolan caught up with Kenny on the eve of his Australian visit.

What influence did your father’s job as a music promoter have on your musical development? I was exposed to many different genres of music and live shows. As a result it all played a role in influencing my musical identity.

Can you tell me a little about the effect meeting Stevie Ray Vaughan had on you as a kid? Meeting Stevie was profoundly inspirational. From that moment I was driven to learn how to play guitar with fire, intensity, passion and feeling.

You were self taught – how did you do this? You were very young to create a strategy for learning an instrument. I play by ear, so I would listen to songs and sound them out one note at a time. It was a very tedious process, but it worked.

How does playing the greats help you become a better player? Every time I have the honour to share the stage with great musicians it inspires me to play better and push my limits. I always try to learn something from the greats so that I can continue to progress.

When did you make the jump from other people’s compositions to your own? Somewhere between the ages of 11 and 13 I began writing original songs. I knew that in order to have my own identity as an artist I would have to make the transition from playing other people’s music to creating my own.

What is it about blues music that ignited the passion in your playing? The passion and feeling that is necessary to play the blues is what drew me to it. When I listen to the blues I feel something deep inside and it feels good.

I’ve never seen ‘Blues from the Backroads’, but can you tell me a little about what inspired that project? Were you trying to archive great players that could be lost once they pass on? How successful was it a project for you? Were there still people you wanted to hunt down? ‘10 Days Out: Blues From the Backroads’ was a project born out of my love for blues music, its artists that have inspired me, and the blues fans that continue to support the genre. The idea was to play with some of my musical heroes and also play with some other artists for the first time… To give a unique project to the blues community as a thankyou for the inspiration and support it has provide me for so many years. It was extremely successful and I believe it will continue to be a relevant piece for generations to enjoy. There are always more artists out there to seek out and play with, and we have considered doing a follow-up to it maybe one day.

What for you are your three most memorable live performances?
1. The first time I played with BB King at age 15.

2. Playing to 80,000 people every night while on tour opening for the Eagles’ ‘Hell Freezes Over’ tour in Europe.

3. The ‘Howlin’ for Hubert’ show we just did in New York at the Apollo Theatre. I was paying tribute to a mentor and a dear friend, and also got to share the stage with Eric Clapton for the first time.

How I Go was released last year – as a seventh album. What are the places that you go now that you wouldn’t have dared 10 years back? I don’t know really. I feel that I have always been willing to experiment with my music and take chances while always maintaining the integrity of the music. I feel like the biggest difference is maturity that has come with playing live concerts and recording albums for 20 years.

And can you tell me what we can expect for your 2012 Bluesfest performance? There will be a mix of songs from most of the records we have put out over the years, along with some cover tunes that we love to play.

Easter long weekend in Byron Bay. For more program details and ticketing info go to www.bluesfest.com.au.

I am away from my Northern Rivers home for six months, travelling as far away as North America and Europe. Your daily email is very welcome in my life. Thank you for such a convenient way to keep up with the news at home.

Muriel Kinson, publicity officer, WIRES NR

The general manager of the Tweed Shire Council has called for submissions on the naming of the proposed park redevelopment at Hastings Point. The initial proposed name is going to create GPS chaos, as the name is the same as a shire locality nearly eight kilometres away. The park is in Hastings Point, not Cudgera Creek.


I can see people coming down from Queensland with their GPS on with ‘Cudgera Creek’ punched into the location, and with one mistake, going over the rough mountain road to Burringbar… funnier things happen with GPS!

Simple rule is, don’t cause confusion with new names. In a submission to council, I suggested simply using the name Hastings Point Park.


A positive suggestion is to recognise the Aboriginal Australians of the Tweed region through the naming of the park. This is one of the few opportunities to name a prime waterfront location with an appropriate Indigenous name, such as ‘Nguthungulli’, as stated on the Arakwal.com.au website.

This name recognises the Dreaming creator of the wonderful Tweed landscape. He came from the east and the naming of the park will help all visitors to the park recognise and respect the traditional owners of the land and their cultural heritage.

Requests for alternative suggestions have been forwarded to relevant Indigenous groups for comment and submission to council.

Please refer to the Tweed Byron Land Council site http://arakwal.com.au/nguthungulli/ and http://tweed.nsw.gov.au/LinkWeb/pdfs/Tweed_Link_750_web.pdf.

Submissions or comments regarding the proposed naming should be sent to the General Manager Tweed Shire Council, PO Box 816, Murwillumbah 2484 are must be lodged no later than 4.30pm on Tuesday 3 April.

Anthony Pike, Cudgera Creek

The actions of Tweed Shire management in presenting council with a last-minute report and resolutions on the Regional Library, thereby avoiding public scrutiny, was in my view a disgraceful abuse of process.

Tweed Shire has now, by a sneaky backdoor method, introduced a dramatic change to the potential future of library services in the Tweed, making sure no ratepayers could have any say.

I am informed that Lismore councillors knew about the report before some Tweed councillors!

It is incumbent on local government to be open and transparent, but apparently not in Tweed Shire.

The matter of the future of the Regional Library has been under consideration for nearly two years. Lismore Council recently resolved to restore the Regional Library committee and allow it two years to recommend a new management model. Clearly there was no rush, so why did Tweed management rush these resolutions to council without giving them, or the community, any time to consider?

The report on this matter was hopelessly inadequate and totally misleading. In 40 years in local government I have never seen a more inadequate and biased report. Councillors were asked to resolve to investigate linking with the Gold Coast libraries, but not one iota of information was provided on this. The fact that the Gold Coast runs a fine but very expensive library service was ignored. Tweed Shire would face an enormous increase in costs for such a link. It would be like a pensioner with an old but serviceable ute saying ‘I want to join the Bentley Owners Club’.

Until 1995–96 Tweed Shire was content to provide a hopelessly inadequate library service, and rely on Tweed ratepayers making full use of the well-funded Gold Coast libraries. In the end, the Gold Coast grew tired of this bludging and introduced a $120.00 per person charge for Tweed residents using their library service. Tweed management was careful to keep this excessive fee concealed from councillors.

While no information on this was provided, totally misleading information was provided on county councils; by quoting two tiny county councils, this biased report inferred that all county councils were equally inefficient. Shamefully the report tried to link the name of the RTRL with this but it did not show, as it should have, that the RTRL was in fact one of the most cost-effective and efficient library services in the state.

The report also misled by saying no other regional library was set up as a council – of course they aren’t, until now they have not been legally able to! Five of the seven yes-men councillors voted without bothering to think for themselves, and thus Tweed Shire has foolishly moved to tie the hands of all four councils by preventing any consideration of one very logical management model. So much for trust and goodwill.

If Tweed councillors, or ratepayers, wish to see a professional, objective report on the library service I suggest they look at the report prepared by Byron Shire Council – no misleading statements there, but accurate, factual unbiased information.

I have written to the Department of Local Government to complain about what I see as Tweed Shire management’s disgraceful abuse of due process, and about its absurdly biased report, which has prevented Tweed ratepayers from making any objections to what is a major issue – the future of the Tweed’s public library service.


Martin Field, Kingscliff

Photo and story Luis Feliu

It’s a radical new theory but Brisbane author Dr John Jiggens is convinced NSW was originally intended to be a hemp colony for the British Empire and not the convict settlement we’ve all been taught about in history books.

In his new book, Dr Jiggens argues that Australia’s settlement was for the purpose of growing and exporting hemp, and the convicts were just a cover story to mislead Britain’s rivals.

And he says the much-maligned fibre today is often confused with the drug variety of cannabis commonly known as marijuana (cannabis indica), yet 200 years ago hemp, or cannabis sativa, was the most important plant on the planet.

Its use as the basis for sail and rope in the ‘Age of Sail’, as well as banknotes and textiles, was as strategic as oil is today.

Dr Jiggens, who visited Byron Shire this week to promote his latest book, Sir Joseph Banks and the Question of Hemp, is passionate about the subject, saying Banks was not just Australia’s most famous botanist, but one of Britain’s most eminent and influential figures of his time who was obsessed with hemp, becoming an authority not just on hemp but alternatives to the much-used fibre.

Banks deemed it vital to secure and dominate supplies of fibre hemp for the British navy and economy and conducted trials on the plant in the colonies.

Subtitled Hemp, Sea Power and Empire, 1776–1815, it’s the third book Dr Jiggens has written in a series dealing with both types of cannabis. The other works are titled Marijuana Australiana and The killer cop and the murder of Donald Mackay, which also provides a fresh new theory on the killing of the anti-drugs crusading MP.

Dr Jiggens will give a talk at the Nimbin Mardi Grass in May on his new theory.

The author said he knew Australia had ‘a fabulous history on cannabis’ before 1938, when the plant was prohibited, but couldn’t write a book on it until he had finished his PhD.

Hemp’s US history

It was while going through a book by US amateur historian on cannabis, Jack Herer, called The Emperor Wore No Clothes that he learnt America’s founding fathers and presidents had written essays on hemp ‘which was extremely important early in the history of the US’.

While researching the subject, he discovered Banks was most keen on hemp and how he wanted to secure supplies of the fibre and boost trade for Britain at the time when it ruled much of the world through its sea power.

Dr Jiggens said Banks was not just a botanist who financed the scientific side of Captain James Cook’s Endeavour expeditions around the world, but also the head of the Royal Society, a member of the Privy Council, a close friend of King George III and ‘adviser to just about everything to the British King and his government’.

He came across Banks’s file on hemp in a book by one of Banks’s first biographers, Joseph Maiden, so he ordered a copy from the library at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, once also run by Banks.

He said research on the subject was tricky also as Banks’s collection of letters were scattered all around the world.

‘The three main points I wanted to make in this book are that Australia was founded as a hemp colony, that hemp was as strategic as oil is today (the Russians dominated the hemp trade at the time) and that hemp is not marijuana, because it’s banned as a pretext that it is the drug marijuana, and I want to create debate on the many species of the genus cannabis, of which I think there are many,’ he said.

‘What comes out of this story is that Banks attempts to solve the question of hemp and he does this by growing hundreds of acres of marijuana in India, because he doesn’t recognise the difference, and he’s very puzzled by it as the drug cannabis was just unknown in Europe.

‘In India of course it was a sacred plant and known as an intoxicant but not used as a fibre crop because it wasn’t that, just as hemp is not a drug crop.

‘Hemp never had the chemical or psychological properties of marijuana. Banks was a great hemp expert but had no idea there’s a drug use in it.’

Dr Jiggens said Banks only learnt of the drug cannabis when the British consul of Tangier, Morocco, James Matra, who was a former friend and midshipman on the Endeavour expedition to Botany Bay, sent him a sample of cannabis indica in hashish form.

‘We’re very backward in our knowledge of the genus cannabis because governments have been destroying cannabis in the wild for a long time, claiming it to be a drug plant. Cannabis plants have been grown for thousands of years in Africa, the Middle East and Asia for food, fibre and medicine. Over this enormous time and distance, the genus has evolved to become several different species,’ he said.

Dr Jiggens said hemp was a vital strategic material in the 18th century which, as such, was ‘kept secret just as oil supplies to this day are.

‘For the past 10 years or more, wars have been fought in the Middle-East and presented to the public as a series of humanitarian interventions, but it’s really a long war to do with the strategic control of oil, so when it’s strategic it’s covered in secrecy.’

Dr Jiggens’s books are available online at www.drjiggens.com.



IMAGE: Brisbane author Dr John Jiggens visited Byron Shire last week to promote his new book on the history of hemp in Australia with its controversial new theory that Australia’s founding fathers planned New South Wales as a hemp-growing colony for the British Empire.



Almost 50 people have been killed in a wave of bombings across Iraq, just a week before an Arab League meeting to be held in the country. Video by Al Jazeera

Nick Allen in Los Angeles

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, the US soldier accused of shooting dead 16 Afghan civilians, owes $1.5 million ($1.4 million) after he defrauded an elderly couple shortly before he joined the army.

Read story by the Sydney Morning Herald


Miami [AFP]

US officials are investigating the fatal shooting of an unarmed black Florida teenager by a white neighbourhood watch volunteer that has sparked national outrage.

Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot on February 26 in a gated community in central Florida by a neighbourhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, who later was released by police after claiming he acted in self-defence.

Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for Martin’s family, said on Tuesday Martin had put on a hoodie after getting caught in the rain and was not aware he was being followed by Zimmerman.

‘He’s just a kid trying to get home from the store and get out of the rain. That’s it, nothing else,’ Crump told a news conference.

He said Martin’s 16-year-old girlfriend was on the phone with him at the time and heard most of the altercation.

‘What Zimmerman said is completely contradicted by the phone log,’ Crump added, urging authorities to arrest the neighbourhood watchman for killing Martin ‘in cold blood’.

Speaking to ABC News, the girlfriend recalled that Martin ‘said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man’.

‘I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run, but he said he was not going to run,’ added the girlfriend, who was not identified.

The Justice Department said its Civil Rights Division plans to ‘conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence’. The division examines cases in which discrimination on the basis of race, sex, disability, religion, and national origin are suspected.

The FBI is also investigating the racially charged killing.

Martin’s case is heading to a grand jury, where a diverse group of citizens will decide whether to bring charges against Zimmerman, according to the local state attorney’s office.

‘I share in the desire of the family and the community to accurately collect and evaluate all the facts surrounding the tragic death of Trayvon Martin,’ Norman Wolfinger, state attorney for Brevard and Seminole counties, said in a statement.


Kandahar [AP]

Residents of an Afghan village near where an American soldier is alleged to have killed 16 civilians are convinced that the slayings were in retaliation for a roadside bomb attack on US forces in the same area a few days earlier.

In accounts to The Associated Press and to Afghan government officials, the residents allege that US troops lined up men from the village of Mokhoyan against a wall after the bombing on either March 7 or 8, and told them they would pay a price for the attack.

The lawyer for Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, who is accused in the March 11 killings of the 16 civilians, has said that his client was upset because a buddy had lost a leg in an explosion on March 9.

It’s unclear if the bombing cited by lawyer John Henry Browne was the same as the one described by the villagers that prompted the alleged threats. After a meeting at a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Browne said Bales told him a roadside bomb blew off the leg of one of his friends two days before the shootings occurred.

A spokesman for the US military declined to give any information on the bombing or even confirm that it occurred, citing the investigation of the shootings. He also declined to comment on the allegation that US troops threatened retaliation.

‘The shooting incident as well as any possibilities that led up to it or might be associated with it will be investigated,’ Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, said Tuesday.

Bales, 38, is suspected of leaving a US base in Panjwai district of Kandahar province, entering homes and gunning down nine children, four men and three women before dawn on March 11 in the villages of Balandi and Alkozai. Mokhoyan is about 500 metres east of the base.

The shootings have further strained ties between the US government and President Hamid Karzai who has accused the US military of not cooperating with a delegation he appointed to investigate the killings.

Karzai’s investigative team is not convinced that one soldier could have single-handedly left his base, walked to the two villages, and carried out the killings and set fire to some of the victims’ bodies. The US military has said that even though its investigation is continuing, everything currently points to one shooter.

The US military does not release information on incidents such as roadside bombings if no coalition troops are killed so it has been impossible to independently confirm the eyewitness accounts.

Ghulam Rasool, a tribal elder from Panjwai district, gave an account of the bombing at a March 16 meeting in Kabul with Karzai in the wake of the shootings.

‘After the incident, they took the wreckage of their destroyed tank and their wounded people from the area,’ Rasool said. ‘After that, they came back to the village nearby the explosion site.

‘The soldiers called all the people to come out of their houses and from the mosque,’ he said.

‘The Americans told the villagers ‘A bomb exploded on our vehicle. … We will get revenge for this incident by killing at least 20 of your people,’’ Rasool said. ‘These are the reasons why we say they took their revenge by killing women and children in the villages.’

Naek Mohammad, who lives in Mokhoyan, told the AP that he was inside his home when he heard an explosion on March 8.

‘At first I thought it was an airstrike,’ Mohammad said. ‘After some time I came out and talked with my neighbour. He told me that there was an explosion on NATO forces.’

Mohammad said that as the two discussed the incident, two Afghan soldiers approached them and ordered them to join other men from the village who had been told to stand against a wall.

‘One of the villagers asked what was happening,’ he said. ‘The Afghan army soldier told him ‘Shut up and stand there’.’

Mohammad said a US soldier, speaking through a translator, then said: ‘I know you are all involved and you support the insurgents. So now, you will pay for it – you and your children will pay for this’.’

Mohammad’s neighbour, Bakht Mohammad, and Ahmad Shah Khan, also of Mokhoyan, gave similar accounts.

The US soldiers arrived in the village with their Afghan army counterparts and made many of the male villagers stand against a wall, Khan said.

‘It looked like they were going to shoot us, and I was very afraid,’ said Khan. ‘Then a NATO soldier said through his translator that even our children will pay for this. Now they have done it and taken their revenge.’

Several Afghan officials, including Kandahar lawmaker Abdul Rahim Ayubi, said people in the two villages that were attacked told them the same story.


Paris [AFP]

All seven victims of a shooter spreading terror in southwest France were killed with bullets to the head, shot at such close range that the gunfire burned the skin, a prosecutor says.

French police spread out across the region by the hundreds, hunting for an expert gunman who may have neo-Nazi ties or grudges against minorities.

The gunman is suspected of carrying out three deadly attacks: killing four people on Monday at a Jewish school in Toulouse, three of them young children; shooting dead two French paratroopers and seriously wounding another last Thursday in nearby Montauban; and shooting dead another paratrooper in Toulouse on March 11.

All three attacks were carried out by a man on a powerful motorcycle who was wearing a helmet and carrying a Colt 45, Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters in Paris. But he said other clues to the killer’s identify were scarce.

‘We are confronted with an individual extremely determined in his actions, an armed individual who acts always with the same modus operandi,’ Molins said, ‘in cold blood… with premeditated actions.’

He added the crimes appear to be premeditated due to the killer’s ‘choices of victims and the choices of his targets’ – the army, the foreign origin of the victims or their religion.

All the victims at the school were dual French-Israeli citizens and the paratroopers were of North African or French Caribbean origin.

Molins noted that the attacks had occurred every four days, but said he could not address security arrangements that might be in place on Friday – the fourth day after the attack on the Jewish school.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has raised the terror alert for the region to scarlet, the highest level on the four-colour scale.

Hundreds of extra police will be on duty on Wednesday for the funeral of three paratroopers and Sarkozy will speak at that ceremony.

More than 200 specialised investigators, including psychologists and profilers, are on the case and ‘no clue will be abandoned or neglected,’ Molins said.

But he said an earlier report by interior minister Claude Gueant that the shooter had a camera around his neck and could have been filming the attack was still only a hypothesis.

Earlier in the day, wails and weeping filled the air as the Jewish school honoured the victims, including the rabbi who taught there. Several young men pressed their heads against the rear window of a hearse in grief as it drove away.


police reporter Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop, staff

The Brazilian government says it wants a rigorous investigation into the death of a 21-year-old student who was tasered by police in Sydney.

Read the story by the ABC


Luis Feliu

Claims that the sale of the two blocks could cut off access to Lake Ainsworth have been refuted by Ballina shire general manager Paul Hickey.

Brunswick Heads residents who have battled to protect public foreshore land after the takeover of their local caravan parks by the state government says the Lennox Head sale would cut off public access to Lake Ainsworth.

Spokesman Sean O’Meara told Echonetdaily ‘that’s what happens when North Coast Holiday Parks (NCHP) gets their hands on public crown land, a total monopolisation of public space’.

Mr O’Meara said NCHP has restricted Brunswick Heads residents’ access to their parklands and waterways by ‘giving tourists exclusive use of all Crown land right up to the waterline and allowing them to use public beaches as their own private boat harbours’.

‘They now plan to erect fences denying residents any access to rivers and parks they have used for generations. The state government and North Coast Holiday Parks will do the same to Lake Ainsworth unless residents and council take action now,’ he said.

Mr O’Meara said the Terrace Reserve, a riverside stretch of parkland used by Brunswick families for over 100 years, was currently being fought over by the state government and the local community.

‘In a similar situation to the Lennox Head plan, the state government did a backroom deal with council to buy land at a tenth of its value to then use it for supposed “public purpose recreation”. What the plans really intended was the commercial development of this parkland into a year-round upmarket tourist resort that would fence off and exclude residents from parkland and swimming areas they had used all their lives.’

But shire GM Paul Hickey said there was ‘no risk’ the lake would be cut off from general public access as there was an existing road to the lake, Pacific Parade.

Mr Hickey said the public also has to have access to the popular sport and recreation camp at Lake Ainsworth.

Mr Hickey also refuted a claim by an Echonetdaily reader that he had a conflict of interest in the matter because he was a longtime friend of NCHP manager Jim Bolger.

‘We once rented a unit together, as we both worked for Byron Shire Council for many years; he is now with the state government and I’m with local government,’ he said.

‘In the end our property guys have been dealing with this, so there’s no conflict of interest.’


A woman has died and another is severely injured after a two-car accident on the Bruxner Highway on the outskirts of Casino yesterday afternoon.

At around 3.10pm, a Ford Falcon and a black Subaru Liberty collided about 1km out of town towards Lismore.

Both cars were flung from the road by the impact of the crash and occupants had to be cut from the wreckage by NSW Fire & Rescue and local VRA members.

The 57-year-old female driver of the Subaru died at the scene and the 50-year-old driver of the Falcon was rushed to Lismore Base Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

The four-year-old grandson of the Subaru driver escaped with only minor injuries and was placed in the care of relatives.

Police are still investigating the cause of the crash and anyone who witnessed the accident is requested to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

The man accused of murdering Mullumbimby motorised bicycle entrepreneur John Foss has appeared in court.

James Andrew Mitchell, of Nashua, was refused bail in Lismore Local Court yesterday and is due to face court again by video link on 17 April.

Foss was cycling on Coolamon Scenic Drive when police allege he was deliberately hit from behind by a van on 3 January.

Mitchell has yet to enter a plea.


Local residents, businesses and other organisations are being encouraged to have their say on the future of transport in NSW, as part of development of the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan.Transport for NSW has published a discussion paper and is calling for submissions and will also seek public feedback at a public forum to be held tonight from 6pm to 8pm at Lismore City Hall.

Roads minister Duncan Gay, and Transport for NSW representatives will attend the forum to listen to the community’s views.

Lismore MP Thomas George said, ‘the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan will identify a clear direction for transport over the next 20 years, building on current commitments which are underpinned by a record $13.1 billion investment in roads and transport in the 2011–12 budget.’

But Northern Rivers Social Development Council spokesperson Linda Wirf said there was insufficient focus on transport other than highway upgrades in the plan.

Ms Wirf told local media this morning, ‘we think it’s particularly important that there’s some outline around what’s being planned about public transport, community transport and active transport such as walking and cycling. That doesn’t get a mention in the discussion paper.’

And Trains On Our Tracks president Karin Kolbe says recent research done by Southern Cross University suggests 90 per cent of Northern Rivers residents they surveyed would use a revived Casino to Murwillumbah rail line at least once a month if it were linked to the Gold Coast.


Chris Dobney

Byron Shire Council has announced it will place a new, draft major event clause for its LEP on exhibition tomorrow (22 March), despite the fact that it could be over-ruled by the state government within the 36-day exhibition period.

The policy largely mirrors the one that attracted 3,500 submissions last year, and allows for only two major events (with crowds of more than 6,000 people) per year in the shire. The main change being that single-day events, which were previously excluded, are now also included.

Council’s executive manager of environment and planning, Ray Darney, told Echonetdaily ‘council’s position varies from the staff recommendation on that point’.

He added ‘the intent and thrust is that the community and council believe that only two major events are sustainable both economically and socially in Byron Shire and we should be encouraging smaller events in between that are well supported by the community and cause less impact.

But Splendour and the management of its proposed new home, North Byron Parklands, have already taken their application for up to three events per year to the state government and the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) is due to release its decision shortly.

NBP manager Mat Morris dismissed the council’s move in a few brief sentences.

‘This does not relate to North Byron Parklands. We have our own application, which is being processed at present. We hope it will be finalised soon,’ he told Echonetdaily.

Mr Darney admitted it would be difficult to get up the amendment if the PAC ruling came down on the side of NBP’s proposal.

‘A decision favourable to the full extent of the Splendour site would make our position of trying to put it in place in the LEP legally quite difficult. We’re hopeful that the Splendour approval will limit that site to only one major event [per year],’ he said yesterday.

If NBP’s reaction was low key, Bluesfest’s Peter Noble was not. He described the policy as ‘draconian and probably illegal’.

‘There is nowhere else in Australia, and probably the world, where a policy of this type exists,’ he told Echonetdaily.

‘Why we would have an events policy which would only affect music events? Councils all over Australia and most normal people actually like music. They don’t try to stop it.’

‘Byron Shire Council knows the policy is illegal. That’s why they’re trying to ally it to an outdated LEP.’ He questioned why the council, which is close to the end of its term, would be putting up the draft clause again now.

Mr Noble said the policy would not pass the Trade Practices Act and would probably be rejected by the state government in any case.

He said he had spoken privately to a number of councillors who don’t support there being a restriction on one-day music events, and that one had even encouraged him to put in an application for a trial event.

Asked if he would go over the head of council if necessary to gain permission for a single-day event at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm he told Echonetdaily, ‘what choice am I left with if I have nothing left to deal with but the most draconian events policy ever enacted in this country?’

He said he had offered many times to speak privately to the mayor about the issue.

‘I have asked Jan Barham to discuss this with me for more than six months. I’ve haven’t heard back. My phone number hasn’t changed.

‘Why are the greens anti-arts? It makes no sense. If their revolution doesn’t include dancing in the future I’m going to another party.’

Luis Feliu

Tweed Shire Council could soon start talks with Gold Coast City Council to discuss providing joint library services if it withdraws from the shared Richmond Tweed Regional Library (RTRL).

The move came after councillors accepted general manager Mike Rayner’s report recommending that Tweed advise Lismore, Byron and Ballina councils it will not be part of the shared service if it’s managed under a county council model.

The four member councils of the RTRL are currently reviewing a number of options for the management of the shared library service which has been run by Lismore for almost two years after it was found the old model was not legally sound.

But last year the state government amended legislation to enable a shared delivery of library services and councils have been re-examining their options.

Last week, Lismore council decided to return to a shared model of management, ending a campaign against its running the service. Ballina and Byron also will consider a shared model, with a meeting of all four councils last month deciding to consider all options.

But on Tuesday, Tweed councillors approved the report by Mr Rayner 5–2 (Crs Joan van Lieshout and Katie Milne against) which threatened to leave the shared service if a county council model was adopted.

Mr Rayner said the issue had been discussed for years and the county council model was ‘potentially a costly alternative that provided very limited opportunity for Tweed to influence the management, operation and long-term planning of its library service’.

He said agreement could not be reached with the four councils on which joint model should be adopted and therefore the Tweed could look at sharing a service instead with the Gold Coast City Council, but continue to be involved in the review of options.

He said Coolangatta was ‘adjacent and immediately accessible to the Tweed community’, there was a ‘good relationship’ between Gold Coast and Tweed council executives and a ‘genuine desire’ from Gold Coast council to ‘work more cooperatively on these issues’ with the Tweed.

‘This report just says we should commence initial discussions,’ he said.

But Cr van Lieshout said that by joining the Gold Coast ‘we’d be losing our identity’ and the Tweed ‘should be careful not to sell out’.

‘We’re northern NSW and should retain our identity and we should think very seriously about doing things with the Gold Coast, except for transport,’ Cr van Lieshout said.

Cr Katie Milne unsuccessfully moved to defer the report until Byron council had reported back on the various options.

But Cr Longland took a swipe at Byron council, which had led the push to put all options on the table.

‘When it comes to Byron shire’s input, they said they would go away and look at all the options yet at their meeting this Thursday they’re putting forward a county council model, so how is that looking at all options?’ he said.

Cr Kevin Skinner said the Tweed’s biggest partner in the service should be the Gold Coast which had ‘hundreds of times’ more facilities and library stocks ‘for all to tap into’.



William Bowe of Crikey politics blog The Poll Bludger writes:

Australian electoral affairs made a rare entree into the international news on Saturday when Julian Assange announced he would run for a seat in the Senate at the next federal election.

You can read about this at Al-Jazeera, The Washington Post and The Daily Telegraph (to name but the first three that I picked out from a Google news search), or by entering ‘Assange’ into the Twitter search engine, where you will be informed that ‘Julian Assange Incar Kursi Senat Australia’, that ‘se postulara Julian Assange a un escano para el senado de Australia’, and that ‘Julian Assange will in die Politik gehen’. Best of all was The Huffington Post, which carried a loudly capitalised headline atop its front page reading, ‘SENATOR ASSANGE?’

Assange had an electoral learning process of his own, which played out live on Twitter on Saturday morning, with a first message from WikiLeaks announcing only that the organisation would be ‘fielding a candidate to run against Julia Gillard in her home seat of Laylor [sic]’. The prime minister has many things to be concerned about so far as the next election is concerned, but the threat to her from a WikiLeaks-backed candidate in Lalor is not among them.

The matter only became of substantial interest when a second tweet followed shortly afterwards proclaiming: ‘We have discovered that it is possible for Julian Assange to run for the Australian Senate while detained. Julian has decided to run.’

The first issue that confronts him is whether he is eligible to nominate. Evidently he has been advised he does not face a problem, but this appears to have been based on a determination that being under house arrest in the UK need not of itself disqualify him. Another difficulty I might have anticipated is the requirement that he be qualified to be a voter. The key word here is ‘qualified’ – a prospective candidate need not actually be enrolled, thanks to an amendment that parliamentarians made for their own benefit so they would not be disqualified if they failed to keep track of their paperwork and dropped off the roll (which happened to Victorian shadow treasurer Robert Dean at the 2002 state election in Victoria, where no such escape clause existed).

However, a voter who no longer resides in the country will be removed from the roll if he or she does not make an active effort to remain there, and I would have thought Assange would have perceived himself as having bigger fish to fry over the past few years. If so, Assange would only be allowed three years after his departure to get back on the roll, which raises the question of when he ceased to be legally resident – and as far as I can tell, he has not unequivocally resided here since 2007.

A legal incapacity to enrol could be equated to a lack of qualification to be a voter under a literal reading of the relevant section of the Electoral Act, although the wording offers enough ambiguity that an alternative argument might be advanced.

Assuming Assange’s confidence in his capacity to run is well founded, he will then of course have the more conventional electoral hurdles to clear. The major parties are likely to do their part to make them as high as they can.

In view of what the prime minister has had to say about Assange’s exploits in the past, Labor would have a hard time defending any decision to preference him ahead of the coalition. Similarly, a coalition which discovered the virtues of placing Labor ahead of the Greens at the last Victorian election would presumably feel inclined to give Assange the same treatment. This would present Assange and his party (it may be presumed he would form one) with a similar challenge to that faced over a decade ago by One Nation, which had to find the requisite 14.3 per cent quota for election largely off its own bat and succeeded in doing so only once, in Queensland in 1998.

That would leave the Greens as the only substantial source of preferences for Assange’s party, and the two would find themselves competing over much the same electoral turf. The most likely scenario for Assange winning a seat in whichever state he chose to run would thus involve him poaching slightly over half the Greens’ vote, so as to finish ahead of their candidate and then ride home to a quota when their preferences were distributed. For that to happen, he would be shooting for roughly 10 per cent of the vote.

If he were to succeed, a new can of worms would open. Assange’s capacity to take his seat in parliament in mid-2014, when the result of the half-senate election would take effect (I believe it safe to assume there will be no double dissolution), is what Donald Rumsfeld might have called a known unknown.

Electoral law expert Graeme Orr offers the British precedent of Bobby Sands, the Provisional Irish Republican Army member who was elected to the House of Commons while on hunger strike in prison in 1981, and died a month later. Should Assange find himself similarly placed (presumably minus the hunger strike), he would find his seat declared vacant after a few months of absence by virtue of section 20 of the Constitution. If Assange were elected under the auspices of his own party, it would then get to choose his successor. If not, it would be left to the relevant state parliament – of whatever partisan complexion – to determine the matter as it saw fit.

But a fair bit of water remains to pass under the bridge before then.

The Haight Ashbury is a street intersection in San Francisco. During the conservative America of the 1950s it was a rundown but quaint area. Its cheap rents attracted the artists of the Beat generation such as Jack Kerouac and a small artistic community began. Using every art form this bohemian generation expressed a new way of being American. As the 50s rolled into the 60s the area began attracting the disaffected youth of America, who identified with this liberating way of thinking and living. Artists, poets, rebels, spiritualists, revolutionaries and musicians flocked to the area. The Haight Ashbury became a vibrant centre of free expression; it has been likened to a renaissance whose effects are still resonating today.

The debut of The Songs of the Haight Ashbury Stage Show in July 2011 drew the largest crowds Stokers Siding Hall has ever seen. Those unable to fit into the hall created a mini-festival outside as the hymns of a generation were celebrated by the best musicians in the Rainbow Region. Performances in Nimbin and Byron in December 2011 filled the venues with capacity crowds who experienced a psychedelically huge night of fun with this exciting production that is going places.

The Songs of the Haight Ashbury Stage Show is a celebration of the timeless music of Canned Heat, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe and the Fish, Arlo Guthrie, Jefferson Airplane, Joni Mitchell and more

S Sorrensen, renowned author, comedian and poet is the Ringmaster, interspersing the songs with hilarious anecdotes and stories from the era. James T, who spent 10 years in Canned Heat, will play the songs he knows so well, an American expat whose career highlights include sharing the stage with John Lee Hooker. Multi-award-winning blues diva Lil’Fi will sing Janis Joplin with a unique authority that can only come from paying her dues and living the blues. Connor Cleary, hailed as one of the region’s most impressive young guitarists, breathes Jimi Hendrix from every cell and is electrifying. Bill Jacobi’s tramp-roots style will conjure Country Joe, Arlo Guthrie and Dylan. Worldfolk songbird Andrea Soler will channel the sweet purity of Joni Mitchell and mystical punk Diva Diana Anaid will sing Grace Slick as only one who has been down the rabbit hole can.

From the period of the ancient Greeks and throughout history there have always been educators in the background who have implored the society not to load the child with the knowledge of the society, but allow the child to just be. Rudolf Steiner, for example, said that teachers were to act as midwives to what the child brings to the world.

Most children in formal education throughout history for most of the time have been forced to learn what they did not want to know at that particular time of their lives. The force prematurely removed their innocence by taking them too early out of the now; the present moment; the state of being lived in by human infants and all other animals. The result was to contribute to the creation of human adults who suffer a permanent emotional hollow that is futilely attempted to be filled with the stuff of the world.

Mind (Echo, February 21, page 7) is living in the now. Mindfulness does not need to be taught to children. It is their natural, perfect (holy) state.

If adults want children to remain mindful for as long as possible, they need to allow them to just be. This is the education revolution, rather than the virtual education revolution proposed by David Tow (Echo, January 17) which can be seen merely as the continuation of the race for knowledge devoid of wisdom.

Geoff Dawe, Uki


Life is all about vibration at the moment. Will this choice raise my vibration or bring me down? Every day we make choices like what I’m going to watch on TV, what I’m going to shove in my mouth, who am I going to talk to today, will I squeeze a swim in and lie in our glorious sun – and the list goes on.

Now our Earth is raising her vibration very rapidly and if we wish to ascend with her in our physical form we need to keep up. So what you feed your body, mind and spirit is going to make a difference. I had a very clear dream that showed me we have to stop drinking alcohol of all kinds at this time because it is connected to a history of pain and suffering.

What we focus on at this time connects our energy to it and feeds that creation; we are very powerful beings. So, for example if you watch the horrors on the news and start getting emotionally affected by this not only are your vibrations going down you are connecting yourself to the creation of the old Earth and keeping it here. Now is the time to practise detachment, deal with what’s in your face with as much love as you can, because we are all part of each other. If you have to walk away, do so, at least you haven’t fed someone’s drama play. If you still feel you have emotions building up inside you deal with them. It’s good to have a cry for it will release you. Go and have a yell out to the universe.

Let’s enjoy this ride of ascension, I know it’s challenging but we all chose to come down here at this magic time on our beautiful Earth. Have faith in yourself and make kindness be your way.

Yahndi Dee-Nay, Wilsons Creek


We are ratepayers in the Byron Shire with a property in Paterson Street. My partner and I recently received a water bill from the council stating that an amount of $1,925.76 is owing because there here had been incorrect meter readings done in the previous four quarters. Council had subcontracted someone to do the readings and I heard on the grapevine that this contractor subcontracted someone else who, apparently, if he couldn’t see the meters did not bother looking for them.

Now with an amount of more that $317.16 already paid, they also want the above amount on top of that. Usually the yearly average for the property is around $1,070.

We have complained to the NSW Ombudsman but we have not had a response so far. We rent the property to wonderful people so we will be doing all we can to have this unfair amount changed.

As we live in Sydney and only keep up with Byron news sporadically, we don’t know if any noise has been made of this by others.

Kyria & Paul Frame, Randwick


Hans Lovejoy

It has emerged that Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham has been accused of code of conduct breaches by Council staff.

In response, Cr Barham has slapped general manager Graeme Faulkner with a complaint to the local government authority.

And the cost of legal fees to ratepayers? $18,279.10 to date.

A report on the matter has been prepared by Sydney lawyer Kath Roach after another Sydney lawyer stood aside.

The report’s conclusion is described by two sentences, saying the allegations are ‘not sustained’ and it has ‘no recommendations’ in regards to further action. No mention of the report’s outcome is included within Council staff notes in the upcoming agenda, and it was not marked confidential.

The staff notes also say that the initial complaint ‘is one of three complaints made by female staff members… with two of those complaints having been subsequently withdrawn’.

GM and mayor embroiled

The complaint against the general manager was lodged with the Department of Local Government by solicitors acting on behalf of Cr Barham.

Additionally, Cr Barham has requested reimbursement of $4,471 spent on solicitors to defend code of conduct complaints made against her.

Fellow Greens councillor Tom Tabart has weighed in to the fray, telling Echonetdaily that a complaint was originally ‘made by a senior manager on behalf of an administrative officer upset by the mayor’s reaction to the selection of Ed Ahern as Citizen of the Year in 2011’.

Additionally he claims Council’s agenda notes on the current code of conduct review read more like comment than background notes. ‘It includes largely irrelevant material and editorial comment generally pejorative to the councillor complained against,’ Cr Tabart says.

Lawyer stood aside

What is irrelevant [relevant?], however, is the general manager’s concern – tabled within the agenda – that he ‘has not been advised as to the detail of the complaint or the outcome of the investigation and is concerned that such action could be perceived as intimidation relating to his decision to refer this matter for independent investigation’.

But perhaps the most damning claim is that the lawyer’s report was delayed by a complaint to the ombudsman by the mayor.

Cr Tabart says evidence before the reviewer was withheld from Cr Barham and that ‘correspondence on this was not included in the staff report’.

‘The GM continues to get away with this behaviour – some councillors are cheering him on and others are too ill-informed or gutless to stand up.’

However, Mr Faulkner told Echonetdaily, however, ‘Council has no knowledge of any claim about how evidence that was before the reviewer was handled, or of the substance of any complaint to the ombudsman’.

Code under review

Byron Shire Council is not alone with claims that the code of conduct is being misused.

It is currently being reviewed by the state government for the second time in six years. Minister for local government, Don Page, said the review of the code was because of several incidents of ‘inappropriate’ use recently. The government is expected to draft legislation changing the code soon.

Last year, Liberals MLC Marie Ficarra in parliament accused Tweed Shire Council general manager Mike Rayner and Tweed Cr Dot Holdom of using the code in a campaign of vilification and politically motivated complaints against former mayor Joan van Lieshout. Tweed Greens Cr Katie Milne also was subject to what she said was politically motivated code of conduct complaints against her which were not sustained.

Council will meet on Thursday 22 March. It could well be an entertaining public meeting with lots of complaining.


Tweed Shire Council is considering a report that could see it withdraw from the shared library service if the proposed county council model is proceeded with.

If the model is adopted, the council would consider running a joint library service with Gold Coast City Council instead.

Tweed mayor Barry Longland told ABC radio this morning, ‘I just want to reiterate to the other councils that the county council model is not the path that we want to go down’.

He added that the planned Cobaki development for 5,000 homes on the Tweed side of the border is closer to Gold Coast libraries.

The library service, which is shared by four LGAs, has been a source of concern since the Library Committee authorised Lismore City Council to run the service in 2009 following reports that the county council model may be legally invalid.

But since then, the state government has legislated to allow the model to be used specifically for library services and all three other participating councils (Lismore, Byron and Ballina) have voted to re-examine the possibility of operating under that model.

From 27 March NORPA will transform Lismore train station with a spectacular original theatre work Railway Wonderland. Two years in the making, this is one of the largest and most dynamic theatre works ever created in the region. What’s it all about?


Video Sharon Shostak

Havana [AFP]

Cuba has released dissidents from the Ladies in White activist group, after detaining 50 of them for several hours ahead of a visit next week by Pope Benedict XVI, a member of the group says.

Magaly Norvis Otero Suarez, a member of the outlawed human rights group, said its leader Berta Soler, and ‘almost’ all of the other detained activists jailed on Sunday had been set free overnight.

Soler ‘already has been freed, and almost all of the others, too’, said Otero, who said they had been returned to their homes in various parts of the island.

Police on Sunday rounded up activists with the the group in operations carried out across Havana.

In one operation, police broke up a protest march by wives and mothers of political prisoners and arrested about 20 dissidents after they strayed off their usual march route.

That came just hours after an activist with the Ladies in White said another 33 women, including Soler, were detained as they were leaving the group’s headquarters to attend Sunday mass at a Catholic church.

‘They were going to leave the headquarters to take part in the mass held every Sunday but when they went out they were all detained,’ said Odalys Sanabria.

About 20 members of the group of 33 were surrounded by female police officers in plain clothes outside a restaurant in east Havana, some 10 blocks away from their usual weekly march route.

Only hours earlier, Soler and a group of about 20 women on Saturday went out to march but were intercepted by authorities, and packed off to a police station in the Cerro neighbourhood, where they were booked and held for hours before they were released.

The Ladies in White, which won the 2005 Sakharov Prize, has long pressed for the release of political prisoners – including their loved ones. The dissident group has stepped up its activities ahead of the March 26-28 visit by the pontiff .

The church has been deeply involved in mediating the release of political prisoners, but some opposition members Catholic have been critical of it for cooperating with the regime.

Cuba frees Ladies in White after arrests


Video: Euronews.com

Canberra [AAP]

Finance Minister Penny Wong says she is confident the government’s newly passed mining tax will survive any High Court challenge the opposition might launch against it.

Legislation that imposes a 30 per cent tax on the extraordinary profits of coal and iron ore miners passed the Senate on Monday night 38 votes to 32, with support of the Greens.

The government says the tax will help spread the benefits of the mining boom to less well-off sectors of the economy.

It plans to use the $11 billion it will generate over three years to boost compulsory superannuation contributions, pay for infrastructure and provide a one per cent tax cut for business.

Coalition senators argued fiercely against the tax during the final hours of debate in the Senate on Monday, maintaining it will hurt the mining industry.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has vowed to repeal the tax if he wins government.

Liberal Senator Mathias Cormann says it is likely to be scuttled by the High Court.

‘I am confident that will happen soon,’ he told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

Senator Wong said she had sought legal advice, and was confident the tax would hold up against any High Court challenge mounted against it.

The mining tax will be in force from July 1, 2012.

Canberra [AAP]

The federal opposition has granted Labor MP Craig Thomson a ‘pair’ after the former Health Services Union (HSU) official submitted a letter from his gastroenterologist confirming he is unfit to attend parliament this week.

The result comes after a day of toing and froing during which the coalition granted Mr Thomson a pair for being absent on Monday but questioned the seriousness of his recent illness and whether he should be extended the same courtesy for the rest of the week.

Chief opposition whip Warren Entsch had said Mr Thomson’s initial doctor’s certificate was too vague and more information was being sought.

‘It says abdominal pain. It has no further information,’ he told ABC Radio.

Mr Thomson continues to await the results of medical tests after he admitted himself to a Canberra hospital last week and a Gosford hospital at the weekend for abdominal pain.

Late on Monday, Labor government whip Joel Fitzgibbon tweeted Mr Thomson had delivered a letter from his specialist confirming his is unfit.

‘The opposition has granted Craig a pair but they never should have challenged the integrity of the original doctor’s certificate,’ he said.

Pairing involves two MPs from opposing parties agreeing to abstain from voting when one of the paired members is on official business outside Canberra, honouring personal commitments or taking sick leave.

Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Steve Hambleton says certificates should be taken at face value because they are legal documents and they did not have to include specific diagnostic information.

A spokesman for Mr Thomson told AAP: ‘Craig believes he should be given some time and space to sort out his health issues and would ask that his privacy is respected.

‘It is not really anyone else’s business but the patient’s as to why they’re unfit for work.’

Meanwhile, federal workplace relations minister Bill Shorten has drawn the attention of the tax office to a report outlining incidents of alleged financial mismanagement in a branch of the Health Services Union (HSU).

Fair Work Australia (FWA) last week completed its investigation into the HSU’s Victoria No 1 branch, finding 25 alleged breaches of workplace laws by three union officials.

The Australian Government Solicitor is now working on a case to be brought before the Federal Court.

Mr Thomson is the subject of a separate FWA investigation into whether he misused an HSU national office credit card for prostitutes and cash withdrawals when he was an official. He has denied the allegations.

Mr Shorten said while the second investigation needed to be left to take its course, his office would draw the attention of the ATO to the FWA report on HSU Victoria No 1 branch.

‘In terms of the government and referring matters, the people with the discretion to refer matters to prosecuting authorities is the general manager of Fair Work Australia,’ Mr Shorten said.

‘I’ll draw it to the attention of the ATO.’

Later on Monday, the ATO apparently told Mr Shorten’s office it was already aware of the report.

The opposition attempted to suspend parliament on Monday to force Prime Minister Julia Gillard to answer questions about the HSU saga, but the motion failed.

Opposition business manager Christopher Pyne said the prime minister – who depends on Mr Thomson’s vote to keep her minority government in power – was putting her own interests ahead of HSU members concerned about their money being wasted by officials.

Ms Gillard said the opposition’s interest in the matter was a ‘cheap distraction’.

‘What we are seeing from the opposition is distraction day,’ she said.

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