The Australian Lawyers Alliance is calling for a national judicial inquiry into the use of Tasers, capsicum spray and other potentially lethal police weapons, following the death of a man in Sydney on Sunday.

ALA national president Greg Barns said tasers continued to be rolled out in Australian jurisdictions since their 2001 introduction despite deaths being directly linked to their use.

Mr Barns said also of concern was the link between their use and the mentally ill.

‘A mentally ill NSW man died of a heart attack in the first death in 2002 after threatening police with a frying pan. A scathing report from NSW ombudsman, Bruce Barbour, came six years after the event,’ he said.

‘Another mentally ill man, Adam Salter, was shot and killed in 2009 by a police woman yelling, “Taser, taser, taser”. Mounting evidence shows confusion may have come from carrying too many weapons, including a firearm and a similarly shaped Taser on her waist.

‘Then there was the Alice Springs man in 2009, who died after both a taser and capsicum spray were used to subdue him following a domestic dispute. The third victim was a Queensland man who died, last year, after being tasered up to 28 times.

‘A Crime and Misconduct Commission Report on Queensland police taser use, last year, found taser-related injuries were increasing despite safety concerns yet more Tasers were being issued to general duties police.

‘Tasers continue to be promoted by police and politicians as a safe alternative to handguns, but clearly they are not. This may be furthering their unnecessary use as a quick fix to an otherwise drawn-out standoff with a suspect.’

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.’


Luis Feliu

Tweed residents are being urged to raise cross-border issues that affect them, such as daylight saving or small business taxes, at the first visit to the Tweed on Wednesday by the NSW government’s newly appointed cross-border commissioner.

Commissioner Steve Toms will be accompanied by deputy premier Andrew Stoner and Tweed MP Geoff Provest for the community meeting at Tweed Ultima, Tweed Heads from 1pm to 2pm (DST).

Mr Provest said the commissioner would look at removing impediments or disadvantages of living close to the border and urged locals, business owners and community organisations to share their concerns directly with Mr Toms and Mr Stoner at the meeting.

People wishing to speak with the commissioner can register by emailing or register at the door from 12.30pm.

New figures released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission this week show 52 per cent of people who reported scams in 2011 said they were contacted via telephone.

Telstra Country Wide area general manager for north coast NSW, Sue Passmore, said the report demonstrated a shift in the preferred scam method, from online in 2010 to telephone in 2011.

‘Scammers are using phones for “high-volume scams” that are delivered to a large group of people with the aim of causing a small loss to each person.

‘Telstra is warning customers to be alert to attempts to defraud them of money or to trick them into disclosing personal information,’ she said.

Common phone scams include:

·            callers impersonating representatives of well-known government departments and private companies

·            callers advising that the person’s computer is infected with a virus and requesting credit card details to fix the problem

·            calls seeking bank details in order to process a bank fee refund or tax refund

·            calls conducting fake surveys or scam surveys.

Tips to avoid phone scams:

·            If you receive such a phone call, always ask for the name of the person you are speaking to and who they represent.

  • If you’re not sure that the person on the other end of the phone is legitimate, then hang up and call the organisation by using their official contact details.

·            Do not share your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.

·            Don’t respond to text messages or missed calls that come from numbers you don’t recognise.

·            Be careful of phone numbers beginning with 190. These are charged at a premium rate and can be expensive.

·            If your alarm bells are ringing or you think something’s not quite right, just hang up / press delete.

Scam text messages are another growing trend consumers should be aware of.

‘SMS is a great way to communicate or get things done quickly, without having to be face-to-face. Unfortunately, scammers also love the faceless nature of SMS, using it to hide their identity,’ Ms Passmore said.

‘Some common SMS tricks include texts promising unexpected prizes that require you to send money in order to claim them and mysterious text messages that can cost you a lot of money if you reply to them.’

Tips to avoid SMS scams:

·            Never call a telephone number contained in a spam SMS.

·            Look out for SMS and MMS numbers that start with 19. These are charged at a premium rate and can be expensive.

·            Never reply to an SMS from a number or person you can’t identify (even to unsubscribe).

·            Report SMS scams to the ACCC by calling 1300 795 995 or visiting the SCAMwatch website



The Murwillumbah Men’s Shed has been given a significant boost with the donation of an entire workshop full of tools and equipment.

The family of late Banora Point resident Charlie Gray last week made the generous donation on his behalf after hearing the Men’s Shed was looking for equipment.

Charlie, who died a couple of years ago, was a merchant seaman who took part in a raid and evacuation of the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen and the repatriation of Russian nationals in 1941. He was also involved in the Normandy landings in June 1944.

His daughter Ann Gray said the family was pleased her father’s tools would be appreciated and looked after.

‘My father did his apprenticeship in the Belfast Shipyard in Northern Ireland and was a master splicer, a dying art nowadays,’ said Ms Gray.

‘We as a family were happy to donate his tools to a not-for-profit organisation and what better way to keep his legacy alive than giving them to the Men’s Shed.’

Tweed Shire Council has donated the old pump house at the water treatment facility at Bray Park as the venue and is assisting in converting the space.

In early March Richmond MP Justine Elliot announced $5,000 in funding for the facility under the federal government’s Men’s Shed Development Program.

Tweed mayor Barry Longland said the Men’s Shed would be a valuable asset to the community.

‘The Men’s Shed movement is spreading quickly in communities across the country and the main reason is there is such a strong need for it,’ said Cr Longland.

‘Isolation can be a real issue for men, especially as they age, and a facility like this where they can meet others and work on projects together is a great thing not only for them but also for their families and the community as a whole.’

John Pitt, secretary of the Murwillumbah Men’s Shed, said their members were blown away by the generosity of the Grays’ donation.

‘It is simply a staggering amount of tools and equipment, but the best thing is they will continue to be used for years and years to come,’ said Mr Pitt.

People moving from metropolitan areas to the Byron Shire will no longer be able to claim a $7000 state relocation allowance, following a request from Byron Shire Council.

Byron mayor Jan Barham says Byron doesn’t need financial incentives to entice people to move to the region and in fact the Shire is struggling to hold onto its population, many of whom are leaving because of lack of affordable housing options.

‘I think the idea was very good for people who are trying to get invigorated populations. But it’s not one that is really needed for the Byron Shire.’

Byron Bay’s popular Bohemia Café on Jonson St is cordoned off this morning after a shop fire late last night.

Police said the shop was closed at 5.30 yesterday evening as usual and emergency services were notified of the fire at 11.20pm. They say the fire brigade attended soon after 11.30pm and the fire was put out a short time later. No one was injured.

A crime scene has been established and the property will be inspected this morning to determine the cause of the fire.

Melissa Hargraves

Lismore is internationally known for the acceptance and inclusion of its gay population. It’s perhaps something anti-same-sex marriage advocate Peter Madden should have been aware of before parking his heavily bannered truck in Cathcart Street, Lismore on Saturday night, in a suburb that is popular with gays and lesbians.

The president of Sydney-based Heal Our Land Ministries Inc was on the campaign trail heading up to Queensland and has been holding prayer groups along the way as part of the campaign.

A contingent of straight and gay protesters gathered around the truck overnight, stopping traffic in both directions. ‘Love’ graffiti was added to what onlookers saw as hate propaganda. On the banners, headed ‘the dark side of gay marriage’, were images and wording insinuating that paedophilia is connected with same-sex marriages.

Two of the protesters were so incensed by the presence of the inflammatory banners they chained themselves to the truck. One, Fairy Princess Amber, donned a wedding dress for the occasion before placing a bicycle lock around her neck and attaching it to the truck. She was visibly distressed by the discriminatory banners of the truck and pleaded with the police to have them removed.

When he returned to the truck after a night spent in a nearby motel, Mr Madden attempted to engage with the protestors. It was interesting to witness the dialogue that took place when he began voicing his beliefs.

‘If we start messing with marriages, we will affect future families for many generations. Our ministry is to protect the age-old construct of marriage between a man and a woman for the nurture of the children,’ he said.

Having many friends in same-sex relationships rearing beautiful children, I tried to stay objective and question Mr Madden over the failures of this arrangement.

‘I’m not saying that I am against same-sex partners being with children. That is what I have been accused of. I am against the marriage component, the legal construct,’ he stated. Once you change the laws surrounding the marriage of a man and woman, it will change a raft of legislations associated with that.’

Punita, a proponent of same-sex marriage, responded positively to this comment. ‘Well about time. We would like to see the laws changed to represent people equitably across the board,’ she said.

Another area that Mr Madden’s group is targeting is education. Currently, the Department of Education is attempting to educate local children about homophobia, partly in an effort to reduce bullying in this area.

Mr Madden started the discussion on this topic by saying ‘homosexual men can have a penchant for young boys. So you are creating an environment where men in their 20s (gay men who educate children about homophobia) are with 12-year-old boys. This is creating a meat market where homosexual men are coming in contact with sexually conflicted teenage boys.’

Abuse of power is seen in all areas of community: it has played out in religion, hobby groups and education to name a few. As one example, I asked Mr Madden about heterosexual male teachers giving 12-year-old sexually conflicted girls sex education. ‘Of course there are many places where this can happen, but I want to stop another one from happening.’

Troy, the other protester who chained himself to the truck, commented, ‘I have been part of homophobia training in high schools. We know that 97 per cent of convicted child sex offenders identify as heterosexual, so Peter’s figures are complete myths and are not based in fact. So statistically, your children are safer with same-sex-attracted people!’

Mr Madden said that his wife, a public school teacher, disagreed with ‘celebrating’ homosexuality in teenagers. Troy offered her some advice: ‘How dare they say that same-sex-attracted youth don’t deserve the same support as opposite-sex-attracted youth. The Department of Education is answerable to anti-discrimination laws, so maybe she should work for a Christian school where they are exempt from these laws.’

In response to sex education for 12-year-olds, Punita made the point that ‘12-year-olds are questioning and exploring their sexuality, and some do end up taking their own lives because they haven’t had any support or are bullied because of their sexual orientation. These children come across this kind of hate mentality that we see on this truck and they get the message that it is wrong to be gay. We are here to say that it is not wrong and don’t fight against it or you will have a miserable life.’

Freedom of speech is part of the fertility of this region, yet the vilification used in this campaign is clearly not acceptable. The messages on the truck and from its driver more than just oppose same-sex marriage; they demonise it.

Consider this: a huge truck rolls into town with massive banners showing a father protecting his son and bearing the slogan ‘The Dark Side of Religion’. Then the truck driver gets out and preaches that all religious gatherings are just meat markets for paedophiles, and that there should be no religious teachings in public schools. I am not sure whether that truck would get very far up the highway. Opposition is acceptable, demonisation isn’t.

Melissa Hargraves is not anti-same-sex marriage and not anti-religious.

After recording their new EP in a Swiss studio, Dali and the Paper Band prepare for their local launch. Mandy Nolan had a few choice words.

How would you describe the kind of music that you play? Dali: It’s funk, folk, dance and groove with a thin layer of pop and reggae icing on top!

How did the band come into being? I started writing songs when I had nothing left to play. After performing solo, I realised how much fun writing and playing your own songs is. So I gathered some musicians together and the Paper Band was born! The band has had a few different members come and go over the passing years, but the present group we have is the best so far.

Is it true: are good drummers who don’t spontaneously combust (as in Spinal Tap) hard to find? I don’t know if I could sleep at night if it was! But Alf (the Paper Band drummer) does look like he is going to combust at times!

If you could create your own super-band casting from dead and living musicians, who would be in the lineup? Flea on bass, Jeff Buckley on guitar and vocals, and Carter Beauford on drums. I think that would be an awesome band. That is if they got along!

What is it about your sound that makes you unique? It’s hard to say what’s unique. Because every band is unique, none is the same as another. But we perform standing on our heads, and sip cups of tea between songs. Haha!

Where did you record your EP? Who produced it etc? The EP was recorded in Zollikofen, Switzerland. It was produced by Robert Aeberhard and me, mixed by Rob and mastered by Don Bartley, Sydney.

What did you set out to achieve with the recording? We really wanted to have a professional CD that we can use to get our music out there as much as possible and know that when people listen to the CD they won’t be disappointed!

How did you feel about the results? Everything can always be better, but I am very happy with how it all turned out!

Tell me what to expect for your forthcoming launch? Eargasm, urges to dance, strong urges to buy our EP, and then a good night’s sleep after the show, ’cause you are so tired from having such a productive evening.

Dali and the Paper Band play LuLu’s Café in Mullum on Saturday at 11am and then launch their EP at the Rails that same day at 8pm. CDs will be on sale for $10.

On Saturday morning I was called to the phone to answer a question from Origin Energy: Do I have natural gas connected?

Apart from the rudeness of conducting surveys on the weekend, no-one with a 66 phone number can be connected to natural gas.

Gas companies? If they can’t get something as simple as dialling right, how can we trust them with drilling?

Derek Harper, Billinudgel

The NSW government is consulting with local communities to develop regional action plans that will include a Sustainable Regional Energy Infrastructure Plan. Note: nowhere have they mentioned the adverse impacts of CSG mining to the community.

This Tuesday 20 March, come and have your say at the community consultation forum held at Ballina RSL from 6:30pm to 8pm. (You may just spot a group of ‘super women’ with questions aimed and ready. )

Is it a coincidence they are not holding this forum in Lismore? Because of course CSG mining won’t effect people on the coast will it?


Amelia Hicks, Tintenbar

Crop dusting in the Tweed Valley (or anywhere else for that matter) seems so old-fashioned. In the year of 2012, with more families moving into rural and semi-rural areas, and allergies and organics becoming bigger issues daily, isn’t it time we did away with crop dusting and its indiscriminate spraying of dangerous chemicals?

Our health is too important to leave it to the will of the wind direction. The intrusive invasion of noise and the upset it creates for all the wildlife around can no longer be tolerated. There are so many things wrong with this archaic practice.

Are conventional banana growers and others so behind the times or just plain lazy that other more efficient and less obtrusive ways can’t be found? These chemicals dropped from on high end up in forests on the edge of banana plantations and, of course, wash into watercourses and ultimately into our creeks and rivers.

Local and state authorities must work toward protecting their constituents and the environment better than allowing this outdated practice to continue. Farmers need to get smarter with their money. It must be a very costly practice. I would advise them to cease aerial spraying before someone takes out a court case against them for loss of health.

Binnah Pownall, Eungella 

A new luxury north facing beach side residence offering quality features and a unique lifestyle available for your enjoyment.

These spacious, comfortable, casual and contemporary homes are built with the finest materials to suit the climate and lifestyle of Byron Bay.

Spacious open plan living with polished spotted gum floorboard throughout.

Stylish kitchen with stone bench tops, quality Miele appliances and New Guinea rosewood veneer cupboard doors.

2 luxury bathrooms (some houses with 3) with Villeroy and Bosch bathroom fittings.

2 huge bedrooms plus large study/media room (commonly converted to be a third bedroom).

Extra high ceilings.

Large full height windows with views to the beautifully landscaped rainforest garden.

Private alfresco/outdoor living with timber decks.

Fully reverse cycle ducted air conditioning.

Video surveillance and back to base alarm system.

Secure double undercover parking.

Ample storage/ceiling fans/Antarres, Lumascape and Regiani recessed light fittings/water tank.

20 metres sparkling lap pool.


Approx. 7 minutes walk to the Byron Bay Town Centre, 25 Minutes to Ballina/Byron domestic airport, 45 minutes to Gold coast International Airport and 1.5 hours to Brisbane international Airport.

The Tibetan Pilgrimage to Mount Kailas participates in the Buddhist Full-moon Festival celebrated by Monks and Tibetans. It includes walking around Kailas crossing high passes, amazing scenery and visiting lakes and temples. Enroute it visits the Guge Kingdom and seldom seen sites of 15th century temples.  A very rare chance to experience Tibetans, their culture and incredible landscapes.

contact Sue Duff  0406370794  


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We have a new ‘LAZI’ range of cushions,
bean bags, sling chairs with foot stools,
and hammocks
launching very soon!!!! 

0416 212 302

Car design guru Peter Schreyer has been instrumental in raising the profile of Korean automaker Kia from cheap andcheerful to assertive and stylish, presiding over vehicles such as the Optima, Rio, Sportage and European-only c’eed.

The ex-Audi designer is expected to reveal the next generation Sorento SUV and Cerato small car late 2012 and early 2013 respectively, which would leave just one model untouched by the Schreyer effect – the Carnival.

Talking to Australian journalists at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show in March, Schreyer wouldn’t reveal how far along the next generation Carnival is, but revealed that it could take a few design cues from the KV7 concept (pictured) seen at the 2011 Detroit Motor Show.

“How near in the future that [Carnival] is I don’t know, but the KV7 we saw at Detroit that was an objective example for a car like that … [but] a real production car needs some refinement. We need to look at a style that would fit that larger type of car,” said Schreyer.

Asked how he could make the Carnival more appealing to family buyers, the German designer stated: “I want to get away from that atmosphere that you only get an MPV if you have to. It was cool to have a VW Combi, but I think it [people movers] can be cool.

“But maybe an upgraded version of the Combi would be nice!”

Kia’s design maestro said he was spending time involved with the development of smaller, highly efficient people movers, which are becoming more and more popular in Europe – cars such as the Kia Rondo and Carens.

“I think there is a market and need for both these cars [Carens and Carnival],” added Schreyer, who confirmed that we’ll see the new Rondo in October: “Next Rondo at Paris – this segment is quite important.”

When Schreyer finally completes his work on Kia’s people movers in the next couple of years he will have worked on the entire range, but don’t expect him to jump ship just yet.

“At Kia design we have reached now a point where the product range is there, and we get so much positive resonance everywhere. It’s a big success, and it makes one proud and it’s very rewarding to get all these comments. At this moment I’m not ready to say ‘okay done, goodbye’. I want to keep going.”

“It’s not like a music piece that is over at a point of time, because the way we are working there is a constant flow of models that are developed in parallel. So by the time these cars come out we are already working on other stuff.

“This is our job, this is the way we do it. So for me it’s never done.”

Article source: 


“The new iPad redefines the category Apple created less than two years ago, delivering the most amazing experience people have ever had with technology,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The new iPad now has the highest resolution display ever seen on a mobile device with 3.1 million pixels, delivering razor sharp text and unbelievable detail in photos and videos.”


The new iPad’s Retina display delivers four times the number of pixels of iPad 2, so dense that the human eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels when held at a normal distance, making web pages, text, images and video look incredibly sharp and realistic. The 3.1 million pixels in the Retina display are more than one million more pixels than an HD TV, and with 44 percent increased color saturation the new iPad displays colors that are unbelievably richer, deeper and more vivid. Movies are now capable of playing at full 1080p HD-resolution, delivering an incomparable viewing experience on a mobile device.


The powerful new A5X chip with quad-core graphics was specifically designed by Apple to deliver a fast, responsive user experience while supporting the incredible Retina display. With double the graphics performance of the A5 chip, the A5X provides a superb balance between performance and power efficiency so users can enjoy all the benefits of the stunning new display while experiencing a smooth Multi-Touch™ interface, immersive gameplay, incredible visual depth and all-day battery life that iPad is known for delivering.


The 5 megapixel iSight camera features advanced optics for taking stunning pictures and recording full HD video. Backside illumination allows you to take great photos in low-light conditions and a new video image stabilization feature removes the bumps and shakes typically seen when filming with a hand-held device. Images can be enjoyed on the large Retina display, then edited, enhanced and easily shared with friends and family using the built-in Photos app on iPad.


iPad Wi-Fi + 4G with built-in next generation 4G LTE has the most comprehensive support for fast networks worldwide including HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA, and now both CDMA and GSM iPad users have the ability to easily roam internationally. The world-ready iPad delivers blazing download and upload speeds so web pages load incredibly quickly and email with large attachments can be sent and received easily. Personal Hotspot can be used to share the fast network connection on your iPad with up to 5 other devices using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or USB**.


With iOS 5.1, the latest update to the world’s most advanced mobile operating system, the new iPad has a number of new features and enhancements including: a redesigned Camera app with video stabilization technology; the ability to delete photos from Photo Stream; support for dictation in English, French, German and Japanese; and Personal Hotspot. iOS 5.1 also works seamlessly with iCloud®, a breakthrough set of free cloud services including iTunes® in the Cloud, Photo Stream and Documents in the Cloud, that works seamlessly with your iPhone®, iPad, iPod touch®, Mac® or PC to automatically and wirelessly store your content and push it to your devices. When content changes on one of your devices, your other devices are updated automatically.


The new iPad also supports dictation, another amazing way to get things done just using your voice. Instead of typing, tap the microphone icon on the keyboard, then say what you want to say and the new iPad listens. Tap done, and iPad converts your words into text. You can use dictation to write messages, take notes, search the web and more. Dictation also works with third-party apps, so you can update your Facebook status, tweet, or write Instagram captions.


Apple also introduced the iPhoto® app, along with major updates to iMovie® and GarageBand®, completing its suite of iLife® apps for iOS. iLife and the iWork® apps, Pages®, Keynote® and Numbers®, have all been updated to take advantage of the new iPad Retina display. iPhoto includes breakthrough Multi-Touch features so you can use simple gestures to sort through hundreds of photos and find your best shots, enhance and retouch your images using fingertip brushes and share stunning photo journals with iCloud. iMovie now gives you the ability to create amazing Hollywood-style trailers as you record HD video, and GarageBand introduces Jam Session, an innovative and fun new feature that allows a group of friends to wirelessly connect to play instruments and record music together live on their iOS devices.


iPad runs almost all of the over 585,000 apps available on the App Store™, including more than 200,000 native iPad apps, from a wide range of categories, including books, games, business, news, sports, health, reference and travel. The iTunes Store® puts the world’s most popular online music, TV and movie store at your fingertips with a catalog of over 20 million songs, over 90,000 TV episodes and over 15,000 movies. The new iBooks® 2 app for iPad lets users experience an entirely new kind of ebook that’s dynamic, engaging and truly interactive. iBooks created with Apple’s new iBooks Author offer gorgeous, fullscreen ebooks with interactive animations, diagrams, photos, videos, unrivaled navigation and much more.

Pricing & Availability

The new iPad Wi-Fi models will be available in black or white and start from A$539



Luis Feliu

Tweed shire councillors will debate tomorrow (Tuesday) whether to conduct a poll of voters in September to gauge the level of support for the controversial Byrrill Creek dam project.

But while Cr Joan van Lieshout wants the next council election to double up as a poll for the dam issue, anti-dams campaigner Joanna Gardner says it’s premature while an independent review of water management for the shire is taking place.

Ms Gardner has also called on councillors not to back the move, saying it’s a ‘blinkered’ approach to the water-supply issue as it does not include boosting capacity of the existing Clarrie Hall Dam or other water-saving measures such as dual reticulation.

The move by Cr van Lieshout comes several months after mayor Barry Longland used his casting vote to stop a previous narrow decision to dam the Byrrill Creek valley. Cr Longland’s predecessor as mayor, Cr Kevin Skinner, had used his casting vote to push ahead with the dam plan in 2010.

On both those votes, Cr van Lieshout abstained after declaring a conflict of interest as she and her husband owned land at Kunghur they planned to develop which would be affected by the dam.

But she failed to support an alternative plan to boost water supply by increasing the height of the walls of the Clarrie Hall dam, leaving the council in limbo on which way to boost water supply for future population growth.

Cr van Lieshout’s notice of motion also suggests the shire may want to sell water in future to ‘neighbouring regions’ such as the Gold Coast.

At last Thursday’s community access meeting, Ms Gardner slammed the proposed poll as a ‘blinkered’ approach to water issues and one-sided, saying the council election ‘should not be a forum of just one issue, but of the multitude of issues we are facing in this shire’.

Cr Longland agreed, saying residents should be given all options for water supply, not just one, and the question would be too general.

Ms Gardner said council should wait for completion of the independent review of the Integrated Water Cycle Management Strategy which includes looking at the various water-supply options.

But she says that review will be flawed and not ‘integrated’ because water supply should not be split from water demand.

‘Water-sensitive urban design, stormwater detention/capture, reducing nutrient discharge into rivers and estuaries, encouraging environmentally sensitive development, reuse of water and dual reticulation in new developments have not actually been implemented by council at all,’ she told councillors.

She says the need for a new dam also could be negated using these measures and the fact water consumption and projected population figures had decreased.

‘This blinkered approach by the majority of councillors that Byrrill Creek dam is the only solution indicates to me that despite my various community accesses, education, copies of submissions, statements and facts from National Parks and ecologists, despite state policies, despite the water-sharing plan prohibition, despite the 45 threatened species, despite your own staff’s recommendation, that to choose to go ahead with the Byrrill Creek dam is irresponsible from a scientific, fiscal and democratic point of view from the ratepayers of this shire,’ she said.

‘To lay this responsibility of choice on residents, who are not acquainted with the facts, to hopefully back what you want, is shirking your own responsibility for decision making.

‘This was also accentuated by councillors’ last decision to not endorse Clarrie Hall Dam, if you couldn’t have your own choice of Byrrill Creek dam, and by not supporting greater water saving in new greenfield developments either.’

She says at the very least, the poll should be multiple choice to include sustainable water savings in new developments, the Clarrie Hall Dam upgrade or Byrrill Creek dam.






Finance Minister Penny Wong has released a costings document that finds the Opposition’s policies would put the budget $9 billion in deficit next financial year.

Read the story by the ABC


The WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, will run for a seat in Australia’s senate despite being under house arrest in the UK and facing criminal allegations in Sweden.

Read the story by the UK Independent


Sydney [AAP]

NSW police are defending the use of Tasers following the death of a man in central Sydney.

The man, who is believed to be South American, was stopped by officers investigating an incident at a convenience store in King Street about 5.30am (AEDT) on Sunday.

They allege he resisted arrest when confronted in nearby Pitt Street.

Police used capsicum spray and a Taser on the man, who stopped breathing and could not be revived.

Police on Monday said they could not comment on media reports the man had gone into the King Street store seeking protection and had stolen a packet of biscuits on his way out.

Acting Commissioner Alan Clarke also could not say how many times Tasers were fired or how many officers deployed their weapons during the incident.

‘All those details will be dealt with in due course,’ he told ABC radio on Monday.

‘It’s a complex investigation. There are number of avenues we need to look at.’

The man’s death has sparked renewed criticism about the use of the electroshock weapon, with the NSW Council for Civil Liberties calling for an immediate moratorium.

But Mr Clarke said people should not jump to conclusions.

‘I think it is very presumptuous for anyone to determine the cause of death is a Taser simply because it’s occurred in an incident where a Taser has been utilised,’ he said.

He said there were ‘very strict’ guidelines surrounding the use of Tasers and that they were not used often.

‘Amongst 16,000 police officers we are using the Taser less than once a day,’ he said.

‘We couldn’t say that every time we use a Taser it has saved us from using a firearm.

‘(But) there’s no doubt that police prefer to have an option less lethal than a firearm.’

Police are yet to identify the dead man, who is described as being in his mid-20s to mid-30s, of medium build, 178cm tall, with brown eyes and brown shoulder-length curly hair.

He was wearing Diesel Industrie blue denim jeans and a white Gap brand short sleeved shirt.

Tasers were introduced into the NSW police force in 2009.

In October 2010, a man died after being tasered by police during a domestic dispute in western Sydney and there have been deaths from the use of Tasers in other states.


Denpasar [AAP]

Indonesian counter-terrorism forces have shot dead five suspected militants believed to have been planning a series of attacks in Bali.

Heavily armed officers from Indonesia’s crack anti-terror unit Detachment 88 stormed two separate addresses, in Denpasar and in Sanur, on Sunday night where they shot and killed five men.

Witnesses have told AAP that gunshots could be heard for several minutes as officers raided the Lhaksmi Hotel on Jalan Danau Poso in the Sanur area about 9pm local time (midnight AEDT).

‘I heard more than 10 shots. We are not allowed to enter our homes,’ one witness, who only wanted to be identified as Egi, told AAP.

Three suspected terrorists were shot and killed at the address in Sanur, an area popular with foreign tourists.

Witnesses reported seeing police removing bodies from a bungalow at the hotel, which remained surrounded by heavily armed officers late on Sunday night.

Another two suspected terrorists were shot and killed during a raid at an address on Jalan Gunung Soputan in Denpasar.

Police confirmed the raids were linked, adding that those killed had either resisted arrest or tried to escape.

‘On Danau Poso three people were killed from police fire and on Gunung Soputan two were shot dead,’ Bali Police spokesman Hariadi said.

‘They are linked to terrorism.’

A number of firearms and ammunition were recovered from both addresses but Hariadi refused to confirm if any explosives were discovered at either of the locations.

Hariadi added that it was believed the group had been planning robberies, to be used to fund terror attacks, but did not provide further details.

However, another senior police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was possible the group was planning to carry out attacks on Thursday, on the eve of Nyepi, or the annual Day of Silence, which marks the Balinese Hindu New Year.

Balinese traditionally hold large parades on the eve of Nyepi, which also draw large numbers of tourists.

The latest development is a stark reminder of the lingering threat of terrorism in Indonesia and comes ahead of the 10th anniversary later this year of the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

The Jakarta Globe newspaper reported that a police source said that a high-profile terrorism suspect was among the groups raided on Sunday night but would not confirm whether he was one of the five people killed.

It’s understood police were also investigating whether members of the groups raided on Sunday were linked to a terrorist network discovered training at a paramilitary camp in Aceh in 2010.

The Aceh camp was set up by Abu Bakar Bashir, the former spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah and the group blamed for the 2002 bombings in Bali.

While Bashir is serving 15 years in relation to his involvement in the Aceh network, a number of members are known to be still at large.

New York [AP]

Dozens of police officers have cleared the New York park where the Occupy movement was born six months ago and made several arrests after hundreds of protesters returned in an anniversary observance and defiantly resisted calls to clear out.

Some demonstrators locked arms and sat down in the middle of Zuccotti Park near Wall Street after police announced on a bullhorn at around 11.30pm Saturday that the park was closed. Officers then poured into the park, forcing most of the crowd out and surrounding a small group that stayed behind. Police formed a human ring around the park to keep protesters out.

Several people were arrested, police said. An unused public transit bus was brought in to cart away about a dozen demonstrators in plastic handcuffs. One female under arrest had difficulty breathing and was taken away in an ambulance to be treated.

For hours, the demonstrators had been chanting and holding impromptu meetings in the park to celebrate the anniversary of the movement that has brought attention to economic inequality, as police mainly kept their distance.

But New York Police Detective Brian Sessa said the tipping point came when the protesters started breaking the park rules.

‘They set up tents. They had sleeping bags,’ he said. Electrical boxes also were tampered with and there was evidence of graffiti.

Sessa said Brookfield Properties, the park owner, sent in security to advise the protesters to stop pitching tents and to leave the park. The protesters, in turn, became agitated with them. The company then asked the police to help them clear out the park, the detective said.

‘Most of the people, they left the park,’ Sessa said. ‘People who refused to leave and were staying were arrested.’

Many protesters shouted and officers took out their batons after a demonstrator threw a glass bottle at the bus that police were using to detain protesters.

Sandra Nurse, a member of Occupy’s direct action working group, said police treated demonstrators roughly and made arbitrary arrests. She disputed the police assertion that demonstrators had broken park rules by putting up tents or getting out sleeping bags.

‘I didn’t see any sleeping bags,’ she said. ‘There was a banner hung between two trees and a tarp thrown over it … It wasn’t a tent. It was an erect thing, if that’s what you want to call it.’

She said they had reports of about 25 demonstrators arrested in the police sweep.

Earlier in the day, with the city’s attention focused on the huge St Patrick’s Day parade many blocks uptown, the Occupy rally at Zuccotti drew hundreds of people.

Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, who had given a speech at a nearby university, also made an appearance at the park, milling around with protesters.

With the barricades that once blocked them from Wall Street now removed, the protesters streamed down the footpath and covered the steps of the Federal Hall National Memorial. There, steps from the New York Stock Exchange and standing at the feet of a statue of George Washington, they danced and chanted, ‘We are unstoppable.’

Police say arrests were made, but they didn’t have a full count yet.

As always, the protesters focused on a variety of concerns, but for Tom Hagan, his sights were on the giants of finance.

‘Wall Street did some terrible things, especially Goldman Sachs, but all of them. Everyone from the banks to the rating agencies, they all knew they were doing wrong … but they did it anyway. Because the money was too big,’ he said.

Dressed in an outfit that might have been more appropriate for the St Patrick’s Day parade, the 61-year-old salesman wore a green shamrock cap and carried a sign asking for saintly intervention: ‘St Patrick: Drive the snakes out of Wall Street.’


In the first of a series of interviews with our local mayors, retiring Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham has her say on the state of local politics.

Video Sharon Shostak (Mungo MacCallum is on leave.)

LOCAL banking team David Thomson and Matthew Irwin have taken a brave step and have purchased their own bank branch.
The pair have worked together locally in banking for four years and have now bought the Bank of Queensland (BOQ) Byron Bay branch. David and Matthew are now operating the branch as owner-managers.
Matthew, a Byron Bay local, said it was the service and community focus which attracted him to the Bank’s Owner Managed Branch model.
‘Having grown up in the local area, I have seen first hand how Byron and the surrounding townships have grown and developed in to a really unique community,’ he said. ‘I think we offer the best of both worlds, because we have a laid-back approach to life that is very attractive to tourists, but we’ve also retained our community values. It’s a fine line and I think most local tourism operators are to be commended for their balanced approach.
Matthew said it was not just tourism that kept Byron Bay alive. He said it was the small business operators, across a wide range of industries, that give Byron the character and spirit that made the town so popular.
‘David and I can offer local business operators a really unique service, because not only can we offer them finance, but as business owners ourselves we really appreciate the challenges and opportunities specific to running a small business,’ he said.
‘It gives us a really unique perspective in terms of working with small business operators to help them grow their business.’
David agreed, saying the Byron Bay business community had come a long way since he first moved to the area six years ago.
‘I’ve seen real changes in the local area and believe that Matt and I can offer Byron business operators a combination of personal service, support and business finance that our competitors can’t match,’ he said. And of course it’s not just businesses we can help. We will offer personal customers BOQ’s competitive product range, but with the personal service that comes from owning our own branch and running our own business.
‘At the end of the day, if our customers aren’t happy, they’ll take their business elsewhere and, as every small business operator knows, no business can survive without customers.
‘So we will go above and beyond to make sure our customers are not just happy, but are actually referral sources for our branch.’’
Matthew and David are both active in the local community, with rugby and cricket being two of their passions. ‘We both believe that the Byron community offers something unique in terms of community spirit and a sense of working together,’ David said.’
‘We have something great to offer the local community and we know the community gets behind locals to get in and give it their best shot, so we’re confident that our BOQ branch will continue to grow and succeed. So drop in and see us at the branch.
We’d be more than happy to sit down and have a chat, and talk about how we can best meet your banking needs.’




Luis Feliu 

Three Fingal Rovers Surf Life Saving Club members who rescued several people thrown off their boat in rough seas at the Tweed River Bar eight years ago have been honoured in the latest Australian Bravery Decorations.

Peter James Baird, of Pottsville, Byron Willard Douglas, of Kirra, and Douglas John Forsyth, of Murwillumbah, were awarded with a Group Bravery Citation for their actions on 3 January 2004, when they tackled treacherous conditions to help 12 people thrown off a charter dive vessel swamped by a big wave.

The life savers were on patrol when the charter vessel tried to negotiate the bar at Point Danger in treacherous conditions and driving rain.

The motor cut out and the boat was swamped, throwing those on board into the water where they were swept out to sea.

‘At the time, visibility was poor and the swell was two to three metres breaking the full width of the bar,’ briefing notes from the governor-general’s office said.

‘One lifeguard paddled a rescue board to reach the vessel, getting several victims to hang onto the board and others to hold a rope. Two other lifeguards launched an inflatable boat to rescue others.

‘Another pair of lifeguards launched a second boat; however, they were hindered from reaching the victims by the debris from the swamped vessel, but they managed to provide rescue tubes to those in the water.

‘Both rescue boats operated in very dangerous sea conditions.’

The citation, one of seven awarded around Australia on the 37th anniversary of the Australian honours system, recognises a collective act of bravery in ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

Tweed Heads resident James Danforth Small was among 41 people to receive a commendation for brave conduct.

On 1 November 2006, Mr Small, who was living on the NSW south coast and was a member of Mollymook Surf Lifesaving Club, rescued two people – one heavily pregnant – caught in a rip.

The highest category in the decorations, the Star of Courage, was awarded posthumously to a former nurse at Orange who died after stopping a knife attack on his colleague by an intruder wielding two steak knives at the local hospital in January last year.

Robert McKenzie Fenwick died from his wounds after the attack on his female colleague.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce also awarded 19 Bravery Medals.

Since their inception, the decorations have recognised Australian citizens and others for acts of bravery in other than warlike situations. Anyone may nominate any other person for the award. For more information about the awards see or



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


A massive truck covered with a controversial anti-same-sex marriage billboard appeared in Lismore overnight on Saturday.

The driver, Peter Madden, got more reaction than bargained for when he parked it in Cathcart Street overnight.

Madden, who is part of a group called Heal Our Land Ministries Inc, was heading up to Queensland to participate in the state election campaign, opposing Labor’s same-sex relationship legislation. Text and images on the truck insinuated that approval of same-sex relationships would lead to paedophilia.

Madden parked the truck near a motel where he planned to spend the night but he reckoned without Lismore’s large and vocal gay community.

The propaganda drew the attention and ire of at least 60 gay activists and local residents, who held an overnight vigil by the truck and painted it with ‘love graffiti’ to counteract what they described as messages of hate.

Two people attached themselves to the vehicle. One of them, ‘Fairy Princess Amber’, donned a wedding dress before chaining herself to the truck.

Shouting ‘take the banners down’, the activists implored police to remove them. But it was the activists themselves who were finally removed, with Amber having to be treated by paramedics for raised blood pressure over the incident.

Madden was eventually taken to the police station to wait it out before he continued on to a prayer group meeting in the town. Police also drove and escorted the truck to another undisclosed location.

Police, ambulance and rescue squad showed great respect for all those present.

Extracted from Melissa Hargraves’s detailed personal account of the incident, which will be published in Echonetdaily on Wednesday.

Tweed residents had their first look at the much talked-about new section of the Pacific Highway on Saturday when the Sexton Hill bypass opened to traffic – foot traffic, that is. Pictured on the new stretch of road are Richmond MP Justine Elliot and local Tweed resident Peter Winters.

The final jigsaw in the puzzle between Ewingsdale and the border, the road will finally open to vehicles in June.

The $359 million project was jointly funded by the Australian government ($349 million under the Nation Building Program) and the NSW government ($10 million).

Story & photos Melissa Hargraves

A delayed plane didn’t deter a few hundred anti-CSG protesters waiting for Thomas George MP to return to Lismore yesterday. Mr George did eventually have to address the crowd after word hit the street he had arrived through the back door.

Whilst waiting for his arrival, the crowd milled out the front of his Carrington Street, Lismore office and heard a few speakers shed some truths about the industry. This rally was on the back end of hearing the moratorium on CSG mining had been defeated in parliament by a close count, which added more urgency to the cause.

The ‘Toot if you oppose CSG’ signs that were so successful in Casino on Wednesday came out again, which allowed many drive-by protesters the opportunity to voice their disapproval. Most present hand wrote letters to Mr George whilst at the rally, articulating their concerns. The crowd then filed non-violently into the MPs counter and hand-delivered their letters.

Mr George began his address by saying that ‘he makes no apology for the plane delay’, as many thought this was an evasive act. He continued to insinuate that his ‘staff received abuse over this’. The majority of the action was filmed and overseen by non-violent activists as many know that this can derail any cause. Frustrations were definitely shown to the staff and they could have possibly been overwhelmed by so many letters. However, the majority of those at the rally have tried writing letters to Mr George before and they all received the same generic reply which didn’t address their concerns.

When pressed to indicate his position on CSG mining in the Northern Rivers, Mr George responded, ‘I am 100 per cent behind what our government has put out there as a discussion paper. That gives you the opportunity that if you don’t agree with it, you can put submissions into it. That is out until the very beginning of May, 2012.’

The crowd kept pushing for him to speak directly about their concerns about CSG mining. He informed us that ‘our government has not issued one CSG licence’. This set the crowd off, as many there have seen footage and photos of polluted holding ponds in the Casino area. The technicality that is obviously evident here does not deny the fact that there is already toxic activity happening.

Mr George then invited a few at the rally inside the doorway to his offices to talk as the crowd were very restless. One of those was Jan Buckman, a local senior who is also a long-term Nationals voter. She told Thomas that her ‘Vote for Thomas George’ placard had been handed over at the counter earlier on. Jan informed Echonetdaily Mr George asked her, ‘this issue had been going on for three years, why weren’t you protesting then?’ She commented that she ‘only found out about CSG mining one year ago and has been working to stop it ever since!’

Ms Buckman continued, ‘Thomas thought I was just blaming him, but it is the whole government I am blaming for allowing this industry to happen in our country’.

Luis Feliu

The operator of a houseboat business on the Tweed River has appealed to councillors not to overturn a ban on wakeboarding which he says is a danger to other river users.

Joseph Hoctor, of Tumbulgum, told councillors that high-speed wakeboarders currently illegally using the river played havoc with other users.

‘People cannot enjoy fishing without being tossed out of their boats’ , Mr Hoctor told last Thursday’s community access meeting.

He said waterskiers were not a problem for his houseboat users but that wakeboarding was not only dangerous to other users but created erosion problems on the river edge.

He said wakeboarders were mostly from Queensland where the sport was ‘effectively banned’ in waterways such as Currumbin Creek because of their danger.

‘I’d hate to see this go ahead as we’ll get more and more wakeboards on the river,’ he said.

Tweed Shire Council on Tuesday will debate a rescission motion aimed at overturning a decision to knock back the operator of a wakeboard coaching school who wants to run clinics on a section of the river between Chinderah and Fingal Head

Queensland company Pro-Wake Academy had applied to operate the school after running clinics there for almost five years without official consent.

The bid was defeated in a narrow vote, with mayor Barry Longland using his casting vote to reject it after votes were tied at 3–3.

According to a recent council report debated the same day, wakeboarding was seen as a major cause of riverbank erosion and staff therefore recommended against it.

But pro-development councillors backing the company’s bid for authorisation are set to overturn the ban, as Cr Kevin Skinner, a supporter of the bid, was absent last vote and is expected to join his colleagues supporting the bid, Crs Joan van Lieshout, Warren Polglase and Phil Youngblutt, who say it will boost local tourism.

Fingal Head Community Association opposes the sport saying it will endanger the fragile nesting habitat of internationally protected migratory birds using the area.

They say it would also increase safety risks for other river users with more followers of the sport set to access the river if the bid succeeds.



Giles Parkinson

It’s been fascinating to watch the reaction of the mining industry and others to revelations that Greenpeace is seeking funds to stop the uncontrolled expansion of the thermal-coal industry in Queensland and NSW.

The hyperbole and the hypocrisy have been breathtaking. Greenpeace wants to shut down the entire mining industry, say the lobbyists, who spent $28 million on a campaign they thought was important to protect their economic interests, but who wish to decry environmentalists for wanting to spend a smaller amount to protect theirs.

It turns out that Greenpeace is not seeking to close every coal mine and put every coal miner out of work after all. As Bob Brown noted on ABC TV the other day, even greenies need cars, and houses, and other things made from metals and other stuff you dig up from the ground. The campaign, according to John Hepburn, the Greenpeace activist who is being vilified by the treasurer, business groups and some media, is to focus on the ‘uncontrolled’ expansion of thermal-coal mines, which Greenpeace sees as the biggest threat to its economic interest, which is best described as a stable climate.

Let’s be clear: There is absolutely nothing wrong with the sort of expansion planned for the Australian thermal-coal mines, and the multi-billion investments in coal ports and associated infrastructure along the Queensland coast and in NSW – just so long as you believe that climate change is not caused by humans, and/or the world won’t bother doing anything about it, and that fossil fuels can never be superseded by clean energy technologies.

Risky business

However, if you believe that the real answers to those three issues are that it is, we will, and they can, then investing in this infrastructure is a risky business. This is the underlying theme of the Greenpeace campaign. In the absence of political and investor engagement, they propose to raise $6 million to help local communities wade through the tonnes of pages contained in environmental and economic impact statements, and to fund legal challenges.

The goal of the campaign is quite clear. To protect environmentally sensitive areas, to harry and delay projects and infrastructure that will result in the trebling of thermal-coal exports from this country, and through this bring publicity and focus on the enormous risks in such investment, which are more than just environmental. But is it, as the treasurer claims, ‘irrational’, or is it a reasonable summation of the risks for investors, the government, and the general population.

Let’s forget about the environmentalists for the moment and see what some serious economists say about this. Again, the International Energy Agency’s 2011 World Energy Outlook is not a bad place to start. It said that if the world wants an even chance of having a stable climate, by limiting global warming to around 2°C, and total emissions to 450 parts per million, then it had better act fast, because its carbon budget is running out quickly.

Phasing out coal

In the ‘450 scenario’ painted by the IEA economists, the construction of new coal-fired power stations is effectively brought to a halt by 2017, and the global share of coal-fired power generation plunges from 41 per cent to 15 per cent by 2035, with more than 600GW of coal-fired plants shut down. China, once the biggest customer of Australian thermal coal, ceases to become an importer of any coal. India becomes its biggest customer.

But then there is the technology factor. In the last three months, the governments of India, China and the US have all predicted that the cost of utility-scale solar will fall below that of either coal-fired or gas-fired generation by the end of the decade. In India, because of its reliance on costly imports and poor infrastructure, it could come as early as 2016.

That will not signal an instant cessation of their coal plant expansion, but it will give them fuel for thought, so to speak, and will certainly slow the rate of growth. As the executive director of Tata Power told Bloomberg in an interview just yesterday, coal projects are becoming impossible to build, and the company will favour wind and solar over coal. ‘Why would anyone want to invest at this stage in a coal project?’ he asked. This from the largest private power producer in what is supposed to be Australia’s biggest market.

Australian investors, and the government that is supporting the infrastructure, on the basis that Indian and Chinese coal demand will not slow down, might want to ask themselves the same question. In the US, according to this Reuters article, developers of 250MW of utility-scale solar contracted to deliver it for less than 10.9c/KWh from 2013 – the same price as the estimated cost of new coal-fired power. In China last week, bids for a 30MW utility-scale solar plant were pitched at 77c a watt – nearly enough to make it as cheap as new-build coal in that country.

Carbon budget

Even if coal miners are not asking themselves these questions, it is true that global investors are also becoming increasingly focused on the ‘carbon budget’ and what this might mean for long-term risks and returns. In the UK, for instance, the Carbon Tracker Initiative wrote to the Bank of England, expressing its concern about the level of risk faced by UK investors on the London Stock Exchange to companies with high carbon exposure, mostly from coal investments in the UK.

The response from BoE governor Mervyn King was equivocal, but analysts have been doing some exploratory work as to what a carbon-constrained market might look like from the point of view of company valuations. In late 2010, two analysts from Citi, Elaine Prior and Craig Sainsbury, painted two ‘what if’ scenarios based on a stringent 2°C scenario.

Real value of coal

In one of their examples, they divided the ‘time’ components of Coal and Allied and its ‘base case’ valuation of $113 a share. More than a quarter of that valuation was based on post-2025 production. In its ‘extreme’ case, where the world is taking dramatic action on climate change, its valuation of Coal and Allied fell 44 per cent to $50.35 a share. (Coal and Allied has since been bought out by its major shareholder, Rio Tinto.)

In the case of Woodside, which had a base case valuation at the time of $44.64 a share, the net present value falls by one third to $29.46. ‘Those who believe that stringent carbon constraints are probable, in line with the ‘two degree’ scenario, may wish to underweight fossil fuels in their portfolios (or to issue mandates to their fund managers to take this stance),’ the analysts wrote at the time.

But it’s hardly top of mind for most investors. As Nathan Fabian, the CEO of the Investor Group on Climate Change notes, there is an awareness that market dynamics will shift at some point, but most expect that to be well after 2020. The outcomes from Durban reinforced the view that it will be the back half of 2020–30 before any regulation begins to bite the coal industry. ‘At this stage, there is an assumption that most coal exposures can be traded out of well in advance of crunch events,’ he says. The question of how to diversify away from carbon risks may be on the minds of some super funds, but this is yet to flow through to the investments of fund managers who are investing on one- to three-year horizons.

The Greenpeace campaign aims to accelerate that awakening. And there is plenty to suggest that its campaign could be effective. Look, for instance, at the grass-roots campaign against coal-seam gas; or even that against wind farms, in Australia and in other Anglo-Saxon countries. Look, also, at the success of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in the US, which last week celebrated the announced closure of the 100th coal-fired power plant since early 2010. That’s one a week for the last two years. Over the last decade, the campaign claims to have prevented 166 proposed new coal-fired power plants from being built.

Galilee exploitation

Greenpeace is particularly appalled by the prospects for the Galilee Basin, a region hitherto unexploited by the coal industry. There are plans to export 385 million tonnes from this region alone – more than Australia’s current coal exports. Massive infrastructure needs to be built, including a 500km railway and new port facilities, and the size of the mines will treble from 20 million tonnes a year to 60 million. ‘We think this is completely out of control, given everything we know about climate change, and we need a plan to gradually phase out the thermal-coal industry, rather than ramping it up,’ Hepburn says. ‘None of this is being scrutinised. No-one is doing due diligence.’

It also has other impacts. A study by the Australia Institute has highlighted how the $8 billion First China coal mine, which plans to extract 40 million tonnes of thermal coal from the Galilee Basin, has admitted that the broader economic consequences of its activities could include driving more than $1.2 billion worth of manufacturing offshore, cause 3,000 job losses and result in higher housing costs and a less equal distribution of income.


One thing that the reaction to the Greenpeace campaign has highlighted is that Australian politicians, and the mainstream media, are ill-prepared for such a debate – the level of political rhetoric is such that these things cannot be discussed intelligently; the depth of financial analysis, non-existent. When policy is constructed, it is done in such a way that it inspires AGL Energy, the nation’s biggest investor in renewable energy over the last five years, to buy the country’s biggest carbon emitter, the Loy Yang A brown-coal power stations. Even if it has no long-term future, it will likely make so much cash in the short term, it doesn’t matter.

Some brown-coal generators and their adjacent mines will close, but they will be paid up to $2 billion by the taxpayer for the privilege under the government’s buyout scheme. This appears to be a uniquely Australian invention – none of the 100-plus coal-fired plants closed in the US, or the 90GW of coal-fired energy closed in China, received a dollar. Presumably, the mining barons are counting on the government bailing them out when their infrastructure and mining investment becomes redundant too, after they’ve made off with their short-term profits. It would be a fair bet they would have their hands out for a lot more than $6 million. Who, exactly, Mr Swan, is being irrational?


Reprinted with permission from Renew Economy []. Giles Parkinson is a journalist of 30 years’ experience, a former business editor and deputy editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the former editor of Climate Spectator.


[image] A coal ore loader at the new CSIRO Chile International Centre of Excellence in Mining and Mineral Processing in Santiago, Chile. Photo Chad Hargrave

Off the back of not one, but two entries into Triple J’s Hottest 100, Ball Park Music announce their most ambitious national tour yet – The 180º Degree Tour.

After being officially Unearthed by Triple J just over a year ago, Ball Park Music have become one of Australia’s must-see musical outfits. With widespread airplay the catalyst for a touring regime that doesn’t seem to let up, Ball Park Music are the band that the masses are talking about.

Catch the Ball on Thursday at the Coolangatta Hotel.

Mandy has a wee problem: in all of Byron Bay, she can’t find a decent public facility in which to do her business.

Video Sharon Shostak



Ballina RSL7.30pm Social Dance w Jim Fairful

Byron Bay

Beach Hotel 7.30pm NRL Live on the Big Screen Sharks v Sea Eagles

Byron Brewery Buddha Bar Soul by the Pound – Soul DJ Session w Scooby Drew

Cheeky Monkeys Mad Mexican Monday

Cocomangas Industry Night w DJ Taya

Hotel Great Northern 9pm Phil & Gaz

La La Land Stretch

OPC 9pm Garrett Kato Live

The Rails 7pm Josh Boots

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


Kingscliff Beach Bowls Club 12 Noon Smooth & Groove

Tweed Heads

Tweed Heads Bowls Club 11am Jared 6.30pm Russell Hinton




Ballina RSL 6pm Sassy Salsa w Layla & Tim


Bangalow Hotel 8pm Brackets Open Mic Nite

Byron Bay

Beach Hotel 7.30pm Pool Comp 9pm Open Mic Night

Byron Brewery Buddha Bar 6pm Dr Sketchys Burlesque

Cheeky Monkeys Coyote Ugly Dancing Girls

Cocomangas Cheaper Tuesday

Hotel Great Northern 9pm Harry Healy

La La Land Rhys Bynon

OPC 9pm Kit Bray Live

The Rails 7pm Chris Aronsten

Woody’s Surf Shack Skydive Giveaway w DJ Dallas


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


Lismore City Bowlo 8.30pm Soul Reference

Tatts Hotel 8pm Comedy Night w Jeff Green & Mandy Nolan

New Brighton

New Brighton Farmers Market 8.30am Peter Davidian &Tony Rose

Tweed Heads

Tweed Heads Bowls Club 6.30pm Tracey Vaughan




Bangalow A&I Hall Lionel The K Hubert – UKE Improvisation & Creativity workshop & Bosko & Honey

Banora Point

Club Banora 6pm Glenn Brace

Byron Bay

Beach Hotel 9pm Greg Kew

Byron Brewery Buddha Bar Open Mic

Cocomangas Pole Dancing Comp

Hotel Great Northern 9pm Scott Davy

La La Land Spacie

OPC 9pm Kyle Leniart

The Rails 7pm Marshall


Coolangatta Hotel 7pm Jam Night


Star Court Theatre Kate Miller-Heidke

Tweed Heads

Tweed Heads Bowls Club 11am & 6.30pm Craig Shaw

Twin Towns Showroom 10.30am Merry Hill




Australian Hotel 7pm Mick Buckley Piano Man

Banora Point

Club Banora 6pm Patti

Brunswick Heads

Hotel Brunswick 7.30pm Scott Davy

Burleigh Heads

Burleigh Bears Leagues Club 6pm Tracey Vaughan

Byron Bay

Beach Hotel 9pm Stevie Lane & The Autocrats

Byron Brewery Buddha Bar Cockatoo Paul

Cocomangas DJ Taya

Hotel Great Northern 9pm 10cc with Harry Healy

La La Land Brett Sellwood

OPC 9pm The Translators

The Rails Tom Richardson

Treehouse, Belongil 8pm Mr Cassidy

Woody’s Surf Shack 8pm One Night Stand Up Comedy W Mandy Nolan & new comics


Coolangatta Hotel 8pm Ball Park Music and James Johnson


Cudgen Leagues Club 6pm Dennis Dean

Gold Coast

Currumbin RSL 10.30am Morning Melodies with Suzie J & The Ace


Kirra Sports Club 8pm Phil Eizenberg’s Open Mike Nite

Lennox Head

Lennox Hotel 9pm Jam Night


Nimbin Hotel 6pm Adam Brown

Tweed Heads

Tweed Heads Bowls Club 6pm Swizzle




Bangalow Hotel 7.30pm Mescalito Blues

Banora Point

Club Banora 7pm Toucan Twang


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

Brunswick Heads

Hotel Brunswick 7.30pm Phil & Gaz


Burleigh Bears Leagues Club 7.30 Michael

Byron Bay

Beach Hotel 5pm Beachy Fridays cheap drinks and nibblies w/ 2 In The Groove 9.30pm The Mank

Byron Brewery Buddha Bar Red Bantoo & In Cyde

Cocomangas Pole Dancing Comp

Hotel Great Northern 9pm Ball Park Music with Nantes and Cub Scouts

La La Land And Oh!

OPC 9pm Beachhouse Beats

The Rails 7pm The Hombres

Treehouse, Belongil 8pm Loren

Woody’s Surf Shack 8pm DJ Sanchez


Cabarita Beach Sports Club 8pm Matt Barker

Marty’s @ Caba 7.30pm Eilish Ellen


Chinderah Tavern 7pm Mr Troy


Coolangatta Hotel 8pm Che Fu 9pm DJ Tarmz 9.30pm Remedy

Coolangatta Sands Hotel 7.30pm Lounge Captain Wow 8pm Front Bar Amos


Cudgen Leagues 7pm Paul Reno

Gold Coast

Currumbin Soundlounge 7.30pm Bobby Alu + Cheap Fakes

Currumbin RSL 7pm Chi Chi


Cudgen SLSC Kingscliff 6.30pm Paul Atkins

Kingscliff Beach Bowls Club 7.30pm Richard Brent

Kingscliff Beach Hotel 9pm Dave Murray Duo

Saltbar 8.30pm The FebsLismore

Starcourt Theatre 8pm Dirty Three


Mullumbimby Farmers Market 8.30am Andy Bourke

Drill Hall 7pm Mullum Flicks: Black & White & Sex

Civic Hall 8pm The Songs of Haight Ashbury Stage Show


Murwillumbah RSL 11am Chris Cook: Slim Dusty Tribute Dustier than Ever

Tweed River Art Gallery 6pm The Dragon’s Back Opening

Ocean Shores

Ocean Shores Tavern Scott Davy


Pottsville Beach Sports Club 7pm Take On 2

Tweed Heads

Seagulls Lakeview Lounge 8pm Brett Hitchcock

Tweed Heads Bowls Club 11am David Lee 7.30pm Fiddle Me Please

Twin Towns 8pm (Q) Rick Price




Bangalow Hotel 7.30pm Garret Kato

Banora Point

Club Banora 7pm Wally & The Gators


Billinudgel Hotel 8.30 Mick Buckley

Brunswick Heads

Hotel Brunswick 7pm Shy Baby

Burleigh Heads

Burleigh Bears Leagues Club 7.30pm ABBA

Byron Bay

Beach Hotel 9.30pm Regrooved

Byron Brewery Buddha Bar 7.30pm Kellie Knight & the Daze

Hotel Great Northern 9pm Mad Professor meets Fyah Walk in Dub

La La Land Rhys Bynon

OPC 9pm Beachhouse Beats

The Rails 7pm Dali Bob & Paper Band

Treehouse, Belongil 8pm Tori Lee

Woody’s Surf Shack 8pm DJ Dallas


Cabarita Beach Sports Club 7pm Undercover Project

Marty’s @ Caba 7.30pm Cabeleros


Casuarina Sandbar 7.30pm Round Mountain Girls CD Launch


Chinderah Tavern 2pm Bo Jenkins


Coolangatta Hotel 9pm DJ Stu 9.30pm Clint Boge

Coolangatta Sands Hotel 9.30pm Dan Hannaford

Coolangatta-Tweed Heads Golf Club 7pm Abbigayle Anderson

Fingal Head

Sheoak Shack 7pm The Dillon James Band

Gold Coast

Currumbin RSL 7pm Smooth Criminals


Kingscliff Beach Bowls Club 7.30pm Jim McAllister

Kingscliff Beach Hotel 9pm Tyney Charles

Saltbar 8.30pm Black Pearl


Kirra Sports Club 8pm Mason RackLismore

Platinum Lounge Workers Club 8pm Kiki & The Bromance


Mullumbimby Showgrounds 10am–2pm Spaghetti Circus presents Circus Olympics & Family Fun Day

Lulu’s 11am Dali & the Paper Band

Kohinur Hall, Upper Main Arm Techquinox cyber tribal gathering feat DJ Magu & DJ Pob


Pottsville Beach Sports Club 6pm Brett Patman

Tweed Heads

Seagulls Lakeview Lounge 8pm Suzi J & The Ace




By the River Lounge Bar 3pm Soul Reference


Bangalow Hotel 1.30pm Jimi Beavis

Banora Point

Club Banora 11.30am Terry Scott 12.30pm Peter Lawson


Billinudgel Hotel 3pm Sunday Jam

Brunswick Heads

Hotel Brunswick 4pm Sunday Session with Wear The Fox Hat

Sandbar 10am Waldo & Goodfellow

Burleigh Heads

Burleigh Bears Leagues Club 2.30pm Greg & Laura Doolan

Byron Bay

Beach Hotel 1pm Super Dry Sundays 4.30pm Lisa Hunt 8pm DJ Jay Walker

Byron Brewery Buddha Bar CBD Dub Project

Cocomangas DJ Jimmy D & DJ QC

Hotel Great Northern Clay Blyth

La La Land Daniel Webber & Discrow

OPC 2pm Beachhouse Beats 6pm DJ Supernova Jade

The Rails 6.30pm Bon Scott

Treehouse, Belongil 5pm Rodrigo Kblo 7pm Andy Jans Brown


ChinderahTavern 3pm Marshall


Coolangatta Hotel 2pm Dan Englund

Coolangatta Sands Hotel 5pm Paul Atkins

Neverland Easy Sundays

Fingal Head

Sheoak Shack 4pm Loren

Gold Coast

Currumbin RSL 7pm Miss Mandy Swings


Cudgen SLSC 3pm Roo

Kingscliff Beach Hotel 2pm Briggs & Co


Kirra Sports Club 12pm Jam Session with Justin Jones 5pm Karaoke with Keith Hudson

Lennox Head

Lennox Hotel Shaun Kirk


Lismore City Bowling Club 2pm Lismore Jazz Club: Casino Street

Mt Burrell

Sphinx Rock Cafe 2pm Osmosis


Pottsville Beach Sports Club 5pm Mr Troy

The Channon

The Channon Tavern 2pm The Channon Folk Club

Tweed Heads

Tweed Heads Bowls Club 5pm Marco


Tyalgum Hotel 2pm Attitude Adjustment + open mic



Entertained as always Mungo’s column, but loath as I am to defend a super-rich mining magnate, I would not personally lump Andrew Forrest with Rinehart and Palmer.


His so-called ‘Australian Employment Covenant’ to provide 50,000 jobs to Indigenous Australians has genuine legs and he has done a fair bit of work off his own bat to prove it, not just throw money at it. It’s arguably better than an apology with no backbone.


Yes, the guy’s a salesman; yes, he is getting rich extracting resources which add to global warming; yes, he opposed the mining tax; but does that put him the same category as extreme right-wingers and Sydney talkback favourites Rinehart and Palmer? I think upon closer analysis he deserves a fairer shake than that.


Hamish Broome

South Golden Beach

What’’s all the fuss about Byron Bay anyway? In a hundred years it will be under a metre or three of water. Atlantis Pacificus. Imagine the myths about naked bike riding in the lost city. Anyone for scuba diving down Jonson Street?

Sapoty Brook


It’s a no-brainer really. When we employ, contract or even elect someone to do a job we expect them to do the whole job – not half a job. Right? Try saying to your employer ‘Yeah, well I know that you hired me to work a full week and that you are paying me for a full week, but I can only be here half the time because I’m working for that other mob for the other half’. Seems we have about twenty-nine politicians who have pulled that one off…

Hugh Ermacora

Byron Bay

In the world of ukulele, Bosko and Honey are legends – and they’re heading our way. Mandy Nolan caught up with them about their lives as uke players.

There are two types of people: those who love uke and those who don’t. Those who don’t are rather vocal about it. What do you say to those who see your little four-stringed friend as a public menace? Bosko: Come and see the show! Actually, one of the good things about playing uke has always been that it’s relatively easy to exceed people’s expectations, especially if they have preconceptions about it. While we love playing for ukulele enthusiasts, we also like playing for people who have never really heard the uke treated seriously before. So the lower the expectations the better as far as we’re concerned – it just makes it easier to surprise!

I heard the international ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro say something along these lines in an interview once, and he’s a guy who changed the way a lot of people view the instrument big time… all around the world people who would never have gone near a ukulele before they heard him play While My Guitar Gently Weeps started getting into it as a serious solo instrument. It’s a bit ironic though: now some people expect you to play like Jake!

Honey: We don’t, by the way!

Why do you think such a little instrument like the uke has such big heart? Bosko: Perhaps because it’s little. It’s very easy to develop an intimacy with it because it’s so cute and accessible… easy to pick up, easy to put down and easy to carry around. You tend to have it with you more often than a larger instrument like a guitar so you end up playing it more. You can get pretty obsessed actually! But for us music is really just an excuse to connect with people, and the uke seems to be particularly good at doing that.

Honey: It’s the people and not the uke who can have big hearts.

What’s your approach? Are you a traditionalist when it comes to technique, or do you like to make up your own moves? Bosko: When we first started playing we weren’t even online and didn’t know any other uke players so we had to teach ourselves through trial and error. Then we looked to local guitarists for guidance. I was playing violin at the time with a flamenco guitarist and when I picked up a uke the first thing I tried was to imitate his chops.

Later we formed a band with a very experienced jazz guitarist who basically taught us all the theory and performance skills we needed. It’s only fairly recently that we’ve begun to employ some traditional ukulele techniques like the ‘fan stroke’ triplet and a lighter, less guitarist-like touch. But we basically strive to develop our own way of playing and also look to other stringed instruments and their styles of playing like the Khazakh dombra and the Venezuelan cuatro, for example.

How do you inspire people when you teach them? Bosko: With humour and enthusiasm.

Honey: I also tell them the story that the ukulele is my first instrument. At school in Japan my teacher said I didn’t have any talent so I never tried to learn an instrument since… until Bosko gave me a uke seven years ago!

Are the songs you write on uke, as opposed to guitar, significantly different – meaning do the instruments themselves, rather than the actual melody or lyric, give voice to tone and style of songs? Some songs are definitely born because of the ‘voice’ of the uke, but if we played guitar we’d probably be dealing with similar material and musical influences… we basically treat the uke as a regular instrument.

Another interesting thing is that ukuleles vary hugely in the character of their sound. Different setups – size, number of strings, tunings, woods – there are even dobro ukes and banjo ukes. All these variations can bring out a different approach to your playing. Just playing a different uke can inspire a whole new world of sonic possibilities.

What should we be expecting for your Bangalow appearance? Bosko: Bosko & Honey and UKE are both acts that take a progressive approach to the ukulele. You can expect beautiful music regardless of the fact it’s played on a uke. You will definitely be entertained and have some belly laughs too. There’ll be some experimental stuff and references to just about any genre you can imagine! We’re also working on a song or two together – a regular ukulele rock’n’roll band!

Honey: We’re really looking forward to it!

They are presenting a workshop and a show at the A & I Hall on Wednesday March 21.

Chris Dobney

A yacht ran aground at Brunswick Heads on Wednesday evening with no-one aboard. It had floated empty half-way across the Tasman.

At about 6.15pm the New Zealand vessel Scotch Bonnet was found stranded in the surf zone a kilometre south of the Brunswick bar on main beach.

It turns out the vessel was abandoned on the Tasman Sea, mid-way between Australia and New Zealand, in November last year.

The vessel was de-masted and had other hull damage when local police found it, according to Tweed-Byron LAC spokesperson Sgt Alan McKittrick.

‘Surf rescue did a search around the area but didn’t find anyone,’ he told Echonetdaily.

Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter spokesperson Therese Shier said the chopper was tasked with assisting in the search on Wednesday night but failed to find anything.

The yacht had been sailing from the Bay of Islands in New Zealand’s North Island to Sydney in November last year when the occupants got into trouble and were rescued in the Tasman Sea.

But the vessel was considered not recoverable and abandoned.

It was sighted again on 11 December by cruise ship Sun Princess, which stopped and searched it but found no-one aboard. The ship requested permission to abandon the boat and continue on its cruise to Brisbane, which was approved by the Rescue Co-Ordination Centre.

‘Water police will try to float the vessel and tow it to safety,’ Sgt McKittrick said. ‘It will then be a matter for International Marine Courts, because the vessel was abandoned on the high seas, unless the owner or insurance company takes responsibility for it.

Chris Dobney

The Joint Regional Planning Panel has approved a controversial $78 million nursing home development on the site of the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome against strong opposition from aviation representatives and other affected community members.

The decision has been described as ‘a done deal’ by Dr Richard Gates, president of the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee

The plan, previously approved by Richmond Valley Council, includes building the retirement village and nursing home at the end of the runway, on land adversely affected by years of aviation fuels and ongoing aircraft noise. The lack of an appropriate safety zone between the runway and potentially 500 retirement home residents was also raised.

The plan also allows for the development of 24 blocks of land for sale to the public.

Echonetdaily reader and former Ballina councillor Margaret Howes described the meeting as a ‘farce’.

‘Twelve people made deputations to the panel against the development, but their submissions fell on deaf ears. Only one spoke for the development, telling the panel that the objectors didn’t count as they were not locals,’ she said.

Ms Howes said the panel took a mere 10 minutes of deliberation before they handed down their decision

‘The JRPP chair wanted to remove all reference to noise from the restrictive covenant, but was persuaded to retain it by his panel members,’ she added.

Dr Gates said he regarded the development as ‘a trojan horse for a future residential development of the site. Next would be council reducing the size of the runway to cut back noise effects. That would reduce the size of aircraft that can use the field. Then traffic falls away. Then council says “few people are using it so we’ll just shut the runway down”. It’s death by a thousand cuts – classic textbook case material.’

He added that evidence was given by a former RAAF and Qantas pilot who had been a chief flying instructor with 13,000 hours of flying experience, who had once crashed a Mustang on takeoff through no fault of his own, and the plane skidded 200 metres.

‘If such an accident were to occur at Evans Head, with a retirement village 90 metres from the runway, there are no prizes for guessing what the result may be. If you have a village with 500 people in it you could end up with a real catastrophe.’

He called on federal transport minister Anthony Albanese to step in over the inappropriate development.

The federal government transferred the aerodrome and 200 others around the country to local councils in 1992 with stringent conditions.

‘The federal government has indicated that safety zones must be left around the ends of runways at aerodromes and this advice has clearly been ignored. Minister Albanese fails to enforce deeds over these types of airport developments. The minister needs to stop sitting on his hands and act,’ Dr Gates said.

Chris Dobney and Luis Feliu

The NSW opposition yesterday called for the National Party’s Tweed MP and parliamentary secretary for police Geoff Provest to be sacked after it was revealed that he had breached the law on political donations by accepting a $2,500 donation from a property developer.

Political candidates in NSW elections are banned from accepting donations from property developers.

Mr Provest was promoted to the parliamentary secretary position when his predecessor, then Clarence MP Steve Cansdell, resigned after admitting to having filled in a false affidavit.

Opposition Leader John Robertson said yesterday that ‘according to his own electoral return, Geoff Provest broke the law by pocketing $2,500 from The Power Property Trust in March last year’.

‘In addition, Mr Provest also breached the cap on donations from companies, which at the time he received his donation was $2,000.’

Mr Robertson further accused Mr Provest of attempting to cover up the donation by lodging three different disclosure documents, each listing the property developer as donating different amounts.

‘Unfortunately for Mr Provest, the donor clearly stated on their electoral donation disclosure form that the donation was $2,500,’ Mr Robertson said.

But Mr Provest said he did not know the donor was a developer.

‘I did not realise that Power Industries and/or (managing director) James Power may have been prohibited donors,’ he told parliament.

Mr Power, a Brisbane-based businessman and longtime friend of Mr Provest, is a former general manager of the now-defunct daily newspaper, the Tweed Daily News.

Late yesterday, Mr Provest issued a statement denying the company was a property developer in NSW, but admitted the amount breached the cap and that as a result he had sacked his volunteer ‘agent’ handling the campaign returns.

‘Having now investigated the issue it appears that there are some irregularities in the returns submitted on my behalf. I am disappointed that this has happened and have today revoked the appointment of my agent,’ he said.

Mr Robertson said it was the second time a parliamentary secretary for police had broken the law under the O’Farrell government.


Luis Feliu

Ballina shire residents have been urged to lodge submissions in the next two weeks on the controversial massive housing development planned for north of Ballina.

In one of the largest public meetings seen in Ballina for years, up to 300 people packed the Lennox Head Community Centre last Saturday to hear Ballina shire planners explain what’s proposed in the subdivisions known as Cumbalum A and B precincts.

The proposed subdivisions in the hinterland behind Lennox Head is Ballina shire’s largest residential expansion to date, with the two village-style developments planned to house up to 10,000 people.

Plans are currently on exhibition and if approved by the state government would see hundreds of hectares of rural and agricultural land rezoned for around 3,300 low and medium density dwellings over the next 30 years.

The Department of Planning and Infrastructure has told Ballina Shire Council that it wants the proposals for both precincts, owned by over 50 different landowners, finalised soon.

Ballina Council is welcoming submissions from the public in relation to these proposals until the end of March.

Steve Barnier, one of Ballina Council’s strategic planners gave the meeting an outline on the process involved in the rezoning and on the size and scope of the proposals.

Cr Jeff Johnson, who had spearheaded the move for the public meeting, told Echonetdaily that people at the meeting expressed clear concerns over funding and delivery of infrastructure for the subdivisions and the impacts of the development on nearby Lennox Head.

‘Many people raised concerns about the social impacts on Lennox Head. Obviously if you create a new development of over 8000 people, it is going to have an impact on the amenity of Lennox and put additional pressure on the infrastructure. These questions need to be addressed before a rezoning can take place,’ Cr Johnson said.

‘The council report has identified the need to upgrade Ross Lane to four lanes and build a roundabout at the Coast Road junction. Who is going to fund this and what is the time frame? These questions need to be answered.’

Submissions on the proposals will be accepted by Ballina Shire Council until 4.30pm on Friday, March 30. For inquiries call Simon Scott, from the council’s strategic and community services group, on 6686 1284.


Central Coast environmentalist Tim Silverwood is visiting Mullumbimby and Lismore as part of a nationwide tour after sailing his boat through the North Pacific Gyre, aka Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Tim will be giving presentations next week in Lismore and Mullumbimby about what he saw.

He’ll also be showing the award-winning documentary Bag It to raise awareness about the shocking consequences of plastic pollution and encourage people to make their lives ‘a little less plastic’.

Tim is a co-founder of ‘Take 3 – A Clean Beach Initiative’ an organisation that asks each visitor to our beaches and waterways to simply take three pieces of rubbish with them when they leave. Take 3 was awarded the Inaugural Taronga Zoo Green Grant in April 2011.

In July 2011, Tim spent three weeks sailing over 5000km from Honolulu to Vancouver with scientists, environmentalists, artists and filmmakers as part of the expedition coordinated by Algalita Marine Research Foundation.

What he discovered horrified him.

‘If it were a floating island of trash it might be feasible for us to go and clean it up but unfortunately it is more like a plastic soup. Larger plastic items like bottles, bags, buckets and crates don’t retain their structure for long as the sun’s rays beat down and the waves toss them around; they break apart into millions and billions of plastic fragments that then remain in the ocean. They don’t biodegrade though, that’s the scary part.

‘There is this notion that when we throw “away” the growing amount of silly single-use plastic items we use in our lives that they just go “away”. Unfortunately, “away” isn’t always landfill or a recycling centre; a huge amount of our waste ends up in the environment and a growing amount ends up in the ocean.’

Tim says the Bag It film explains this major environmental issue in a light-hearted way.

‘The main character first examines his own “dependence” on plastic bags but also uncovers the frightening world of plastics, the impact plastic is having on the environment, our doceans and even our own bodies,’ Tim said.

‘Take 3 are developing educational resources and ongoing initiatives to raise awareness of plastic pollution in our oceans but we need lots of help. We need funding, volunteers and pro bono help to develop our organisation. We want to make sure that every Australian knows what is happening out there and what they can do to help,’ Tim said.

The event in Mullumbimby is being supported by the Say No To Plastic Bags group and Transition Byron Shire and will be held on Tuesday March 20 at Byron Region Community College from 6.30pm.

The event in Lismore is being supported by Lismore City Council and Lismore Community Sustainability Forum and will be held at Lismore Workers Club Thursday March 22 from 7.30pm.

An eight-year legal battle between Byron Bay inventor Ric Richardson and software giant Microsoft has been settled out of court, most likely for more than $100 million.

The dispute arose over a patented anti-piracy technology invented by Richardson and his company Uniloc.

Microsoft spokesman David Cuddy told Bloomberg News last week that the two parties had reached a ‘final and mutually agreeable resolution’.

Richardson’s technology, designed to deter software piracy, was developed in the early 90s.

In April 2009, a US court found Microsoft had used Richardson’s technology without his knowledge or permission, and ordered Microsoft to pay compensation of $US388 million (then worth more than $530 million).

The award was one of the highest in US patent history.

Microsoft had the verdict overturned on appeal five months later but last year a higher court upheld the original decision.

Last week the case was withdrawn by both parties after Microsoft announced it had settled out of court.

Mr Richardson has not disclosed the amount of the settlement but an intellectual property law expert told the Sydney Morning Herald it would likely be ‘in the low nine figures’

Hacked emails published in The Guardian provide a rare glimpse into the Syrian leader’s mindset. Video by Al Jazeera

Sydney [AAP]

Angry opponents of coal seam gas (CSG) mining have been thrown out of NSW parliament for shouting at government MPs after a proposed moratorium on CSG projects in the state was voted down in the upper house.

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham put forward the moratorium bill, calling for a ‘pause’ in CSG extraction and saying it would be a ‘dereliction of duty’ to oppose it.

‘The coal seam gas industry is at war with the NSW community… people are absolutely fed up with what they see as an assault on their way of life, on their businesses, and on the future prosperity of their communities,’ Mr Buckingham told MPs in the upper house.

‘It is dividing communities, contaminating land and destroying biodiversity right now in this state.

The bill was torpedoed when crossbenchers sided with the government.

Some hours later, anti-CSG activists were ejected from the lower house after shouting abuse at government MPs following a brief debate triggered by their 30,000-signature petition calling for a moratorium.

About 60 protesters congregated outside in Macquarie Street, around a mock gas drill, during the debate.

Father Greg Burke from the Scenic Hills Association in southwest Sydney told the protest rally that small communities were being ignored by the state government as it tried to balance the interests of farmers and miners.

‘The balancing the government is trying to do, it seems to me, is to balance as much money as possible for the big firms, the big farmers, and not to be concerned about the health risks to the ordinary battlers in Sydney’s southwest,’ he said.

Among opponents of the bill, Christian Democrat MP Paul Green said his party would not support a CSG moratorium because it would undermine an upper house inquiry into the coal seam gas industry, due to report back in May.

Last week Shooters MP Robert Brown said ‘there is no way’ his party would second-guess the upper house inquiry by backing the moratorium. Mr Brown is chair of that inquiry.

Senior coalition MP Duncan Gay said the government was already acting to regulate the coal seam gas industry, and the moratorium bill was lazy and politicised the issue.

Earlier this month the NSW government released its draft regional land use policy, which classified almost one million hectares of the New England northwest and 400,000 hectares of the Upper Hunter as high-value agricultural land.

In a move that angered farmers and environmentalists, however, major mining and exploration – including coal seam gas projects – will not be banned in areas set aside as prime agricultural land.

‘It is just too easy to just say we are going to shut the gate and turn off the lights, we’re going to shut down the state of NSW,’ Mr Gay told MPs in the upper house.

Canberra [AAP]

The federal coalition’s controversial plan to turn asylum seeker boats back to Indonesia has suffered another blow, with the country’s top diplomat labelling it ‘impossible’.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa says origin, transit and destination countries need to work collaboratively to prevent and disrupt people smuggling.

‘It would be impossible, and not advisable even, to simply shift the nature of the challenge from any of the continuum to the other,’ Dr Natalegawa told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

‘So that’s where we are coming from in terms of approach and I think that provides a hint… of how we feel about policies that simply pass the nature of the problem to different faces of that chain.’

Dr Natalegawa is the latest in a long line of Indonesian and Australian officials to raise objections to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s turnback policy.

But Mr Abbott is persisting with the policy of turning boats around ‘where it is safe to do so’, arguing that it was done under the Howard government so it can be done again.

He also wants to reopen the immigration detention centre on Nauru and resurrect Temporary Protection Visas.

Dr Natalegawa was in Canberra for the first so-called two-plus-two meeting of Indonesian and Australian foreign and defence ministers.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr said the meeting was the highlight of his first week in the portfolio.

‘What happens in Indonesia and how Indonesia sees the world is hugely important for Australia,’ he said.

‘If we fail to get this relationship right and nurture and develop it, the whole web of our foreign relations is incomplete.’

Dr Natalegawa, Senator Carr and defence ministers Purnomo Yusgiantoro and Stephen Smith discussed a range of foreign policy and security issues.

Asked if Indonesia had any concerns about US plans to rotate marines through the Northern Territory, Mr Yusgiantoro said the Americans had satisfactorily explained the reasons for the decision.

‘We don’t have a problem at all with the placement of the United States Marines in Darwin,’ he said.

Dr Natalegawa revealed Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono plans to meet with Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Darwin in May for their annual talks.

Senator Carr concluded the press conference with a ‘modest symbol’ of bilateral cooperation.

‘Marty and I have exchanged mobile numbers,’ he said.

‘His mobile number’s now lodged in my telephone as is mine in his.’

Sydney  [AAP]

Another Riverina community is nervously watching the Murrumbidgee River rise with residents in Hay the latest to be threatened by floodwaters in NSW.

Major flooding is expected in the town on Tuesday when the river peaks near 9.0 metres after reaching 8.9 metres on Sunday night, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

Emergency services issued an evacuation warning for Hay on Wednesday night to give residents a heads up about the possibility they would need to leave their homes.

A public meeting will be held at the local high school on Thursday evening to update the community on the latest developments, the State Emergency Service announced.

‘The SES will be there to answer any questions from people who have fears about what’s going to happen if there is an evacuation,’ SES spokesperson Stephanie Heard told AAP.

Ms Heard said the SES had been able to do a lot of forward planning as they knew the water was travelling in Hay’s direction.

‘SES volunteers are in the town… there’s a lot of sandbagging and it’s really just preparing and communicating with the community at this stage,’ she said.

The SES says it expects to sound the all clear for Darlington Point, also on the Murrumbidgee River, within the next 24 hours.

‘Engineers are out checking the integrity of the levee to make sure it’s safe before an all clear can be issued.’

Towns on the Lachlan River are still threatened by floodwaters, with an evacuation order still current for Condobolin.

The river is expected to peak on Friday at 6.8m – lower than the original forecast of 7m.

Elsewhere in the state the cleanup continues apace, with residents in north Wagga Wagga finally allowed to return to their homes.

Safety fears had previously meant they were only able to access their homes during daylight under escort by emergency services.

Despite the continuing flood threat, the SES has not had to carry out a flood rescue for several days.

‘We had a fair few before – the majority being people who got caught driving through floodwater – but for a few days now we haven’t had any,’ Ms Heard said.

‘I think everyone is really aware of this water coming downstream.’

Federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon announced disaster recovery and relief funding had been extended to three more communities in NSW.

The money will be available to people in Lithgow, Shellharbour and Wentworth local government areas, all of which have been affected by flooding in recent weeks.

There are now 56 local government areas that can access the funding.

Kabul [AFP]
The Taliban broke off contacts over peace talks with Washington and the Afghan president demanded US troops leave village outposts, just days after an American soldier massacred 16 villagers.

Hamid Karzai also called for a transition of the nation’s security from NATO control to the Afghan government next year rather than the previous deadline of 2014, after meeting visiting US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.

That plan had been floated by Panetta ahead of a NATO meeting in Brussels last month, but the US-led coalition insists it will only withdraw its combat troops by the end of 2014.

The announcements from the Islamist militia fighting US troops for 10 years and by Karzai, Washington’s key ally in Kabul, came hard on the heels of the shooting spree by a US soldier, who has been detained and flown out of the country.

The fallout overshadowed Panetta’s two-day visit to Afghanistan, which was planned ahead of the shooting and was aimed at calming relations already hurt by last month’s burning of copies of the Koran at a US base.

The Taliban made no mention of the killings as it announced the suspension of contacts with US officials in Qatar over a prisoner swap – talks that had built up hopes of a political solution before US troops leave.

‘It was due to their alternating and ever-changing position that the Islamic Emirate was compelled to suspend all dialogue with the Americans,’ the Taliban said on their website.

US officials declined to comment on why the Taliban had suspended contacts.

The rapid developments came after what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called ‘a difficult and complex few weeks in Afghanistan’.

‘We’re ready to take over all security responsibilities now,’ Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi quoted the president as telling Panetta. ‘We’d prefer that the process be completed in 2013, not 2014.’

Karzai then told Panetta US-led international forces should ‘be withdrawn from villages and relocated in their bases’, his office said in a statement, without specifying a timeline.

It was not immediately clear how many American bases may be affected by Karzai’s demand, as the United States previously disbanded a number of outposts in a bid to concentrate on securing major towns from Taliban influence.

US defence officials sought to play down Karzai’s calls on the outposts and said Kabul had not requested any change in an agreed timetable for a gradual troop drawdown.

A US official accompanying Panetta, who arrived in Abu Dhabi after his visit to Afghanistan, told reporters Kabul had agreed with NATO on a schedule for security transition through 2014 and that had not changed.

Panetta’s spokesman George Little said the Pentagon chief and Karzai had a ‘very positive’ meeting and that the ‘issue of villages’ came up but in accordance with previously agreed plans.

NATO meanwhile vowed to stick to its plan to finish handing Afghans control of security nationwide by the end of 2014.

Panetta earlier told reporters after his Karzai talks that he was ‘confident’ both sides could work out a treaty allowing a US military presence in the country beyond 2014.

The defence chief said he was optimistic that both sides would reach an agreement on controversial night raids – a major issue blocking the treaty – ahead of a NATO summit in Chicago in May.

Karzai objects to the raids on the grounds that they violate the sanctity of Afghan families in their own homes and that they are responsible for many civilian deaths – a claim the US disputes.


John F Burns

In what could prove to be one of the most damaging chapters yet in the scandal enveloping Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid newspapers in Britain, Scotland Yard arrested a former chief reporter for The News of the World on Wednesday on suspicion of intimidating a witness, the first time the police have raised the spectre of witness tampering in the course of their investigations.

Read the story by the New York Times

American comedian Bill Maher goes to town on Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

More than ten per cent of participants in a recent study of weightlifters in gymnasiums in northern NSW exhibited the symptoms of a psychological disorder that makes them believe that their body is too small or insufficiently muscular, according to research from Southern Cross University.

Johanna Nieuwoudt, a PhD candidate with the School of Health and Human Sciences, pictured, completed an honours thesis based on research in the sweaty world of gyms around the psychological condition known as muscle dysmorphia, which has been nicknamed ‘reverse anorexia’ or ‘manorexia’. Basically put, sufferers have a relentless drive to become more muscular, even if they may be already more muscular than the average person.

The condition, which was first proposed in 1993, has yet to be fully accepted by health authorities but Ms Nieuwoudt is hoping that her research could assist in the correct classification of muscle dysmorphia in the next edition of the American Psychiatric Association-published Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

‘The condition can be harmful especially when combined with steroid abuse,’ Ms Nieuwoudt said.

‘There can be musculo-skeletal injuries and people with the condition are more likely to continue to train when they are injured or ill. Their social life suffers and the quest to get bigger can become obsessive, with their relationship with their body overcoming all else.’

The survey of 116 weightlifters in northern New South Wales showed that young men were more likely to exhibit signs of muscle dysmorphia, as were those with larger biceps and those that used supplements.

Ms Nieuwoudt agreed there was a fine line between being a driven bodybuilder or weightlifter and someone who had become obsessive to the extent of muscle dysmorphia. Researching for proper diagnostic tools and where the disorder sits in the area of psychological disorders will form the basis of her PhD.

‘There is a lot of discussion and many researchers cannot agree whether muscle dysmorphia should be categorised as a body dysmorphic disorder or an eating disorder.

‘Limitations in the assessment of muscle dysmorphia do exist and the strength of conclusions drawn in its research may therefore be reduced. But clearly further research is needed into this disorder and a better understanding of the course, outcome, and treatment of muscle dysmorphia would benefit individuals who suffer from this disorder.’

Beach Hotel Sunday arvo

Bobby Alu… Pacific grooves, afro rhythms, smooth harmony and good vibes. A recognised drummer and percussionist for artists all over Australia, Bobby now also fronts his own groove-heavy solo project, bringing island soul, sweet songs, percussion and good times.

With six years of touring and performing as a drummer all over Australia, New Zealand and Canada, he brings a wealth of experience to the solo project he has always nurtured.

A celebration of his love for music and his Samoan heritage, Bobby’s debut self-titled release brings a fresh name and sound to the roots music scene.

Sunday at the Beach Hotel from 4.30pm, free.

Kingscliff Beach Hotel tonight

Australian blues legend Mick Hadley has joined the Midnight Blues Band as lead singer. Mick and the boys have a long history together and his move to the Gold Coast now gives Mick the opportunity to play and sing with his old backing band.

The Midnight Blues Band can best be described as a melting pot of Mississippi Delta blues and Chicago blues, reminiscent of the days of Freddie King, Buddy Guy and Tony Joe White with the more contemporary music of Gary Moore and Eric Clapton.

The Midnight Blues Band is made up of some of the Gold Coast’s most experienced musicians, who came through the ranks of some of the leading Gold Coast and Brisbane blues bands.

Starting out as the backing band for some of Brisbane’s leading blues singers, including legendary recording artist and blues legend Will Scarlett, the Midnight Blues Band has forged its own sound featuring the vocals of guitarist Dean Fuller.

Recently the band recorded eight tracks that will be included on their debut album to be released soon.

Get yourself some blues at the Kingscliff Beach Hotel on Friday.

Star Court Theatre, Saturday

Straight out of Iowa and the alt-country underground, Pieta Brown is being hailed in her homeland as a modern American troubadour.

Daughter of celebrated folkster Greg Brown, Pieta describes her unique sound as ‘prairie stomp’, and has collaborated with artists as diverse as Calexico, Amos Lee, John Prine and Ani Difranco.

She will be supported by Aussie songstress Lucie Thorne.

Saturday at the Star Court Theatre.

Currumbin SoundLounge tonight


The Lamplights’ profile has risen steadily since their formation at the end of 2009. The trio believe that great music is great music, no matter what the genre, and this is reflected in their energetic performances.

Ryan Gittoes (vocals), Jason McGregor (guitar) and Ashley Perrow (acoustic lap slide guitar) demonstrate an honest belief that quality songs form foundations for quality performances. The Lamplights generate an eclectic mix of music with a unique sound. They’re laid-back but full of energy, familiar but innovative, folky but funky.

The Lamplights deliver a wide range of genres, sometimes sounding similar to Matchbox Twenty in one song and then delivering a folk-pop number that would have Django Reinhardt tapping his patent leather shoes in the next.

Providing lead vocals is Ryan Gittoes, one of Queensland’s great frontmen and emerging male vocalists, whilst Jason McGregor, well-known guitarist and current Australian Fingerstyle Guitar Champion, and innovative slide-guitarist Ashley Perrow provide the foundation of The Lamplights’ sound.

The trio often invite special guests and may appear with up to a seven-piece including horns, keys, bass and percussion in tow. Without a doubt, entertainment and providing memorable musical moments is what this band does best.

Get lit up at the Currumbin SoundLounge on Friday.

The climate-change deniers should be proud of themselves as we pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at ever-increasing rates, raising air and sea-surface temperatures by around one degree, and sea levels by 21cm since Europeans colonised Australia.

With temperatures projected to rise by up to five degrees by 2070, the extreme weather events we have experienced in recent times will dramatically intensify. We can expect more humans to die because of heat stress and many others to be traumatised by the intensifying droughts and floods. Thousands of other species will be wiped off the planet this century by climate changes and ocean acidification.

While we may now have a carbon tax, we have counteracted its possible benefits with our dramatically escalating coal and gas exports and proposals to burn native forests for power. So the best we can hope for is to cope with the escalating impacts.

A classic example of poor adaptation is being played out at Kingscliff where more than $1 million has so far been spent replacing the eroding beach with sandbags and rock walls. These have just made the problem worse by accelerating erosion in front of them and at their ends.

Now Tweed Council wants NSW taxpayers to fork out $7 million to establish an artificial beach in front of their wall. This may last until the next major storm.

Rising sea levels will necessitate more and more sand and money to replace the beach with increasing frequency until it is no longer tenable. Sea levels are expected to rise by more than a metre this century, so it won’t take long.

My concern is that the Kingscliff scenario is being played out all along the coast. We need to be cleverer than throwing good money after bad. We need to adapt wherever possible, as we will need every cent we have to cope with intensifying natural disasters.

Dailan Pugh, Byron Bay

There was standing room only at the Imperial Hotel last night when the Tweed Renewables Alliance launched the Big Solar campaign in Murwillumbah. Around 100 people attended.

Local GP Dr Fiona McCormick gave an update on the latest climate science, and the urgency with which climate action needs to be taken. Dr Paul Taylor showed how Australia could be entirely powered by renewable energy within 10 years.

The Big Solar campaign is a national grassroots initiative. Around Australia local community groups are aiming to poll 10,000 Australians to gauge and build support for Big Solar, in order to ensure that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation funds 2000MW of renewable-energy projects such solar-thermal power plants.

The audience got a chance at conducting the Big Solar Poll, which the Tweed Renewables Alliance is planning to conduct throughout the Tweed Shire until the end of April, taking the results to local federal MP Justine Elliot in early May.

Dr Fiona McCormick said that investing in renewable energy is the solution to the climate crisis but what has been lacking is the political will to encourage and support this investment. We should remind our politicians that political will is also a renewable resource!

Dr Paul Taylor said that everywhere we turn we use electricity, mostly made from coal. To preserve our future we need to build renewable electricity into the national grid now.

And Big Solar spokesperson Eddie Roberts called on our local community to take part in the Big Solar Poll, so that we can send a strong message to Justine Elliot that our community wants Big Solar, not gas.

Yasir Assam, Midginbil

With the ALP leadership debacle over and the appointment of Bob Carr as foreign minister one has to wonder where the ALP is heading these days. Although Carr brings a new focus on things in our region what that actually means for Australia is anyone’s guess; however, some signature ALP policies seem to continue the trend of a swing to the right.

The latest of course is the ALP’s dropping of the two-uranium-mine policy to one that virtually unlimits the amount of uranium mines on the Australian mainland. What this means has been succinctly explained in documentary maker David Bradbury’s latest production Wake Up, which details the terrifying prospect of radioactive slag heaps from the soon-to-be-expanded Roxby Downs mine. It is planned to go from an underground mine to a massive four-kilometre-wide gaping hole in the earth. The slag heap from this mine will be a staggering 150 metres high and open to the elements, including the winds, which a few years ago carried enormous amounts of soil from the continent’s centre and deposited them onto each and every eastern seaboard resident.

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that this dust storm had contained within it radioactive dust straight out of Roxby Downs, which is only a couple of hundred kilometres from the city of Adelaide. According to experts such as Dr Helen Caldicott, a living organism need only be exposed to minute amounts of this dust to lay the foundations for future cancers and other nuclear-associated diseases such as leukemia.

Mike Mizzi, Tabulam

I had been told beforehand that the Joint Regional Planning Panel was a farce, and a rubber-stamp job for councils. Witnessing the four panel members in action at Evans Head, backed up by seven Council planning staff, certainly confirmed this.


Twelve people made deputations to the panel against the development, but their submissions fell on deaf ears. Only one spoke for the development, telling the panel that the objectors didn’t count as they were not locals.


I heard that there is no community transport in Evans Head, few buses and no medical facilities other than the local GP. I heard another tell how even the ambulance is a non-event and, if you can find one, it’s a 45km drive to Lismore Hospital, and you’re lucky if you’re still alive when you get there.


The aviation community may as well have saved its breath in an attempt to save the aerodrome from inappropriate and conflicting development. The various aviation representative bodies came great distances to make a deputation against building a nursing home on an aerodrome – delegates from the Warbirds Association of Australia drove in from Toowoomba, the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association flew in from Sydney, and Recreational Aviation Australia flew in from Canberra. Concerns by the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee and the NSW Heritage Office were wafted aside.


The Deed of Transfer from the federal government to the Richmond Valley Council dating back to 1992 was ignored. This was when Australia’s local aerodromes were handed over to the councils under the Airport Local Ownership Plan and money was provided for their upkeep so they could be retained as aerodromes.


A real estate agent was sitting there waiting to pick up the listings once the 24 residential blocks had been approved. He told me business was quiet, but people were now starting to drop their expectations of price so the sales were dribbling through.


The JRPP chair wanted to remove all reference to noise from the restrictive covenant, but was persuaded to retain it by his panel members.

I made a deputation based on the great fire of October 2007 and how six fixed-wing water-bombers and four helicopters, backed up by support crews, spent eight days saving Evans Head township from being razed by fire. At that time the airport was like a war zone with the commissioner spending $20,000 an hour for eight days under a Section 44 directive to save the houses and keep the Pacific Highway open. Like the rest, I could have saved my breath.


Proposed Council consent conditions were in each of the panel members’ hands. It took the panel about 10 minutes to deliberate after hearing the deputations and hand down their decision. The JRPP made an absolute mockery of planning rules for conflicting development, and the sooner the JRPP is disbanded, the better. Yes, the nursing home was approved right beside and at the end of the active airport runway!

Margaret Howes, Empire Vale

Story Melissa Hargraves Video production Paul Joseph

A decent crowd gathered on the side of the Lismore road leading into Casino yesterday morning. A Toot for No CSG campaign was held out the front of the Casino office of coal-seam gas miner Metgasco.

The non-violent procession moved to the front door of the office where hats were taken off and placed. A big media contingent at the protest proved the interest that is being taken in this issue by people from all parts of the community.

A rally will be held this Friday at 10am out the front of Thomas George’s office in Carrington Street Lismore. Many former National voters who have proudly displayed ‘Vote Thomas George’ posters in the past will be handing them back, as sign of disapproval of CSG.

On Tuesday 20 March a community consultation for a Regional Action Plan to take us to 2021 will be held in Ballina from 6.30 to 8pm at the RSL Club. Readers can go to and compare these comments with those at This is an opportunity for those that oppose coal-seam gas mining in the Northern Rivers to voice their concerns in a meaningful environment.

Luis Feliu 

Ballina Shire councillors will decide next week whether to go ahead with its controversial plan to sell prime beachfront blocks of community land at Lennox Head to an adjoining caravan park.

A rescission motion to try to overturn the move to sell the blocks opposite the Lennox Surf Club carpark to the adjoining Lake Ainsworth Holiday Park has been lodged and will be debated on Thursday 22 March.

Council resolved at last month’s meeting to sell the blocks of vacant land at 2–4 Ross Street, with Crs Jeff Johnson and Sue Meehan opposed.

A move by Cr Sharon Cadwallader to sell the land and allocate the money instead for the redevelopment of the surf club was defeated.

Lennox Head Chamber of Commerce president Louise Owen appealed to councillors at the meeting not to sell the blocks, saying they were the only council-owned blocks in the area and should be retained for future development of the community’s amenity needs.

Ms Owen said the $1.3 million price for the blocks was ‘a joke’ and well under what the land was worth.

She also questioned where the idea to sell it came from, for whose benefit and why there had been no consultation.

Cr Johnson said it was vital Council kept the ‘strategic’ blocks of land as the area was one of the most congested in the shire and would only get busier as Lennox grew.

He said Council had plans to close the Eastern Road beside Lake Ainsworth, resulting in the loss of car parking spaces.

‘These blocks of land could provide much-needed additional car parking in the future, or other community facilities such as a children’s play area or open space.

‘Projected plans show that Lennox’s population will double over the next 20 years. This growth doesn’t even include the controversial Cumbalum A and B planning proposals that may add an extra 10,000 people.

‘We need to stop the continuing push to commercialise public land in areas that can provide much-needed amenity to local residents and visitors.’



Staff reporters

The Northern Region Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) will today consider a development application for the construction of a $78 million retirement village and nursing home adjacent to Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome.

The controversial plan is opposed by the Greens, local residents and the president of the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee (EHMAC).

Opponents say the land for the project contains toxic residues from its previous use. They also claim the development process has suffered from planning irregularities and will lead to excessive noise for future residents. They also believe it will cost council money to clean up, which will eventually be passed on to residents.

On Tuesday, the Greens took the extraordinary step of introducing a motion into the NSW Upper House calling on the JRPP to reject the application.

EHMAC president Richard Gates has demanded that the committee refuse to conduct its hearings today.

‘I’d like to see it postponed until all the information is available and until proper integrated planning is considered by the Heritage Council, which includes the Air Park. It looks very much to us as if it’s not appropriate right now to consider this matter,’ he told local media this morning.

He has commented elsewhere that there has been no risk assessment in the event of an aircraft accident in the vicinity of the aerodrome.

Greens NSW MP and planning spokesperson David Shoebridge said, ‘The sheer weight of issues surrounding this development should see the JRPP rejecting it out of hand.

‘The land in question is contaminated by tar compounds, asbestos, herbicides and pesticides, some dating back to World War II, others apparently from practices of the council’s work depot.

‘An environmental report commissioned by the council in early 2005 concluded that the area poses significant risk. This information was not provided to the local community in the 2006 rezoning application.

‘The cost to local ratepayers of cleaning up this contamination is estimated to be over $4 million. This amounts to a multimillion-dollar gift to the developer.’

Mr Gates says the development would cost ratepayers a further $5 million by way of subsidy to the developer through allowing the sale of 24 blocks of land.

‘The proponent has stated that the proposal will not proceed unless it can sell off the 24 blocks of land for separate development, a major aspect of the proposal which has never been to council or the public for consideration,’ he said.

The proximity of the land to the heritage-listed Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome means future residents will be subjected to noise levels above the maximum traditionally allowed for residential areas. Richmond Valley Council got around this by increasing the maximum allowable noise levels in the area.

But the move still represents a clash with state and Commonwealth policy, which expressly forbids building nursing homes near airports, according to Mr Gates, and pre-empts a multi-level government review of regional aviation.

Mr Shoebridge said, ‘if this development is approved, it is almost certain that pressure from future residents will see the council moving to restrict flights at the aerodrome, or even see it closed’.

In this 2003 photo, the leader of the rebel Union of Congolese Patriots, Thomas Lubanga, is shown with a bodyguard during a rally by the rebel group in Bunia, Congo. Judges at a war crimes tribunal yesterday (March 14) convicted Congolese warlord Lubanga of snatching children from the street and turning them into killers, in a landmark first judgment 10 years after the International Criminal Court was established. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo, File)

Exclusive Al Jazeera footage shows northern city in open revolt just days before Syrian forces regained control.

Washington [AFP]

The most recent fossils ever found of a human-like species in southeast China have presented scientists with a mystery about what may be an unknown Stone Age culture, researchers says.

Sometimes called the ‘red deer people,’ the remains are about 11,500 to 14,500 years old and appear to show a mix of modern and archaic peoples, said an Australian and Chinese team of researchers in the journal PLoS One.

The remains, including skulls and teeth, of at least three individuals were found in 1989 at Maludong, or Red Deer Cave, in Yunnan Province, but the fossils went unstudied until 2008.

A fourth partial skeleton was found in 1979 in a cave in the village of Longlin, in the neighbouring Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, but it remained encased in rock until it was eventually extracted in 2009.

‘These new fossils might be of a previously unknown species, one that survived until the very end of the Ice Age around 11,000 years ago,’ said lead author Darren Curnoe, a professor at the University of New South Wales.

‘Alternatively, they might represent a very early and previously unknown migration of modern humans out of Africa, a population who may not have contributed genetically to living people.’

Most relics and remains of ancient people – like the Neanderthals who died out some 30,000 years ago – have been found in Europe and Africa, but fossil finds in Asia have been more rare.

Before the red deer people, no fossils younger than 100,000 years old were found in mainland East Asia, but the latest discoveries suggest the land may not have been vacant of our human-like cousins after all, the researchers said.

‘The discovery of the red-deer people opens the next chapter in the human evolutionary story – the Asian chapter – and it’s a story that’s just beginning to be told,’ said Curnoe.



New York [AP]

An executive resigning from Goldman Sachs, the powerful investment bank, said in a blistering essay that the company had lost its ‘moral fibre’ and said managing directors there referred to clients as ‘muppets.’

Greg Smith, an executive director at Goldman, said the company needs to ‘weed out the morally bankrupt people’ and suggested the erosion of Goldman’s culture threatened its survival after 143 years.

Smith wrote that he attended sales meetings in which helping clients make money was not part of the discussion.

‘If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client’s success or progress was not part of the thought process at all,’ he wrote.

The essay was published on Wednesday on the op-ed page of The New York Times. It quickly became popular online and was among the topics ‘trending’ on Twitter, the social network.

In a statement, Goldman Sachs said it disagreed with Smith’s assessment.

‘In our view, we will only be successful if our clients are successful,’ the statement said. ‘This fundamental truth lies at the heart of how we conduct ourselves.’

Goldman declined to say whether it knew about the essay before it was published.

Goldman is one of the most influential companies on Wall Street and has been called the New York Yankees of finance. Its alumni have advised presidents and run other major companies.

Among its former CEOs are Henry Paulson, who left the company to join the administration of George W Bush and pushed for the $US700 billion ($A666 billion) bank bailout during the 2008 financial crisis, and Jon Corzine, the former governor of New Jersey.

Smith wrote that there are easy paths to becoming a leader at Goldman, including persuading clients to invest in products the company wants to get rid or will bring the most profit to Goldman.

Another way, he said, is to ‘find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym’.

Smith was identified by the Times as head of the company’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.


Birmingham, USA [AP]

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum scored a startling double win on Tuesday in the deep South, boosting his claim to be the true conservative alternative to frontrunner Mitt Romney.

Santorum’s dramatic come-from-behind victories in Alabama and Mississippi gave his bid for the nomination to take on President Barack Obama in November elections a huge shot in the arm and were a stinging rebuke for Romney.

The results were also bad defeats for former House speaker and southern native Newt Gingrich, as the two states were seen as must-wins for his flagging campaign.

Santorum’s sweep of Alabama and Mississippi highlighted how Romney, months into the race and despite more money and better organisation, has failed to convince US voters he is the strongest candidate to face Democrat Obama.

Santorum trumpeted his conservative credentials after the victories, in a pointed jibe at Romney, who critics in the Republican Party have labelled a moderate, liberal former governor of Massachusetts.

‘We did it again!’ Santorum told ecstatic supporters in Lafayette, Louisiana, where he had travelled after campaigning heavily in Alabama and Mississippi.

‘The time is now to make sure, to make sure that we have the best chance to win this election and the best chance to win this election is to nominate a conservative to go up against Barack Obama.’

‘We will compete everywhere,’ he said, as he ridiculed Romney’s inability to win over voters in several states despite massively out spending his rivals on campaign advertising, much of it spent in negative attack-ads on his opponents.

With 99 per cent of precincts reporting, Santorum was ahead in Alabama with 35 per cent of the vote, with Gingrich and Romney tied for second place on 29 per cent, according to CNN figures.

In neighbouring Mississippi the race came down to the wire, with Santorum on 33 per cent, Gingrich at 31 and Romney at 30, with 99 per cent of votes counted.

Libertarian congressman Ron Paul of Texas finished a distant fourth in both states.

Hours after the double defeat Romney however, secured consolation wins in the island state of Hawaii – Obama’s birthplace – and in American Samoa, according to media reports.

With 82 per cent of precincts reporting on Hawaii, Romney had 45 per cent of the votes ahead of Santorum on 25 per cent, according to results posted on the Republican Party of Hawaii website.

Romney had earlier issued a statement congratulating Santorum on his double victory, but insisted he remained best placed to win the nomination.

‘I am pleased that we will be increasing our delegate count in a very substantial way after tonight,’ said Romney, who has about 40 per cent of the 1,144 needed to become the party’s presidential nominee.

‘With the delegates won tonight, we are even closer to the nomination,’ he added.

But experts said Santorum’s win showed that he might yet prevail in the race to be the White House nominee.

‘Rick Santorum’s twin wins in Alabama and Mississippi make him the clear alternative to Mitt Romney,’ Charles Franklin, co-founder of and a professor at Marquette University Law School, told AFP.

‘The weak showing continues to highlight the vulnerability of the Romney campaign, especially among the socially conservative Republican base,’ he added.

Tuesday’s results also leave Gingrich with big problems. He has only two wins out of the dozens of contests held so far.

‘Gingrich’s failure to win either Southern state weakens his rationale for remaining in the race,’ Franklin said.

Gingrich, who faces calls to quit and allow conservatives to coalesce around Santorum, congratulated his rival on a ‘great’ double win but said he would fight all the way to the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida in August.

He also insisted that the narrative of Romney as the inevitable nominee ‘just collapsed’.

‘If you’re the front-runner and you keep coming in third, you’re not much of a frontrunner,’ Gingrich said.

But Santorum’s camp suggested Gingrich losses in his southern backyard would mean he’d be forced to drop out of the race.

‘After tonight, it will be a two-man race, Rick and Mitt, and we will clear the field and Rick has a good shot down the road,’ Santorum spokeswoman Allison Stewart told CNN earlier.

Canberra [AAP]

Queensland mining magnate Clive Palmer still intends to mount a High Court challenge against the federal government’s carbon tax.

Mr Palmer first threatened the move last year and says he now has legal advice that the carbon tax laws passed by parliament in November are unconstitutional.

‘Our advice is that the carbon tax in its current form is unconstitutional,’ he told ABC Television on Wednesday.

‘I think the constitution of Australia is much more important than having a number of lawyers or parliament trying to slip around it.’

Asked on what grounds the laws were unconstitutional, Mr Palmer said: ‘The grounds are set out in legal advice that I’ll be [taking] to the High Court.

‘I can’t answer that questions because I’m not a lawyer, I can only go on the advice that I’ve been given.’

Mr Palmer denied that launching such a challenge proved Treasurer Wayne Swan’s accusation that he and other rich mining bosses were using their wealth to distort public debate.

‘We’ve all got the right to go to High Court,’ he said.


A Bangalow family is struggling to cope – both emotionally and financially – after their husband and father, Scott Basso, unexpectedly passed away from a suspected cerebral haemorrhage on 12 December last year. He had planned to meet his wife Krysten for lunch in Bangalow that day but did not make it.


The 39-year-old husband of Krysten and father of Tonaya, 11, and nine-year-old twins Kasey and Ella, had been diagnosed with a substantial brain tumour after a massive seizure mid last year. The tumour was successfully removed with emergency surgery. Scott returned home and seemed to be recovering well.


Scott had always been part of the far north coast community. Scott and Krysten met in Lismore, were married at the Riverview Guest House in Bangalow and moved to the village 12 years ago when they started their family.


Two years ago, Krysten and her friend Lisa Sharpe trained very hard for a bike ride in Vietnam, raising $10,000 for a Vietnamese children’s charity, as they felt they were the lucky ones and wanted to give something back.


Now, though, Krysten’s luck has changed and this time she needs the community’s help, as understandably Scott’s passing has left his family in a difficult financial situation.


With the help of the Bangalow Lions Club, Scott’s family and friends aim to raise funds to relieve the financial pressure and to assist them to remain in their home in Bangalow.


A fundraising auction night will be held at the A&I Hall, Station St, Bangalow, on June 23. Leading up to this there will be raffles run in the Bangalow, Byron and Lismore areas.


The Lions Club is requesting donations of products, services, vouchers, etc, to use as raffle prizes and/or new items for the auction. Financial donations will also be greatly appreciated. The club is offering to include company logos and/or names in promotional material for the event.


The group is aiming to finalise donations by April 1. Please call Stephanie Hannah 0402 727 427, Warwick McPherson 0429 667 570, Justin Wells 0414 458 073 or Lisa Sharpe 0439 011 366 for more information or to offer a donation.


If you would like to make a financial donation, please call into any Summerland Credit Union branch using the reference ‘BASSO’ payable to Bangalow Lions Activities Account BSB: 728 728 Account: 222 122 40.

Police last night escorted passengers from a Premier Motor Services bus at the Ballina bus interchange after they were threatened by two men on the bus, with one of them allegedly holding a gun.

It is believed one of the passengers alerted police to the incident via a mobile phone.

Police arrived at about 6.15pm after reports that two men had been acting in a threatening manner towards the 20 to 30 passengers on the bus. Police boarded the bus, handcuffing the two men and taking them into custody.

Police also removed what they believe to be a replica pistol from the bus.

Luis Feliu

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) says it has stopped laying poison baits to control foxes in the Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve south of New Brighton.

An NPWS spokesman said the service did not lay any 1080 bait outside the boundaries of the nature reserve nor had it done so in the reserve since December last year.

The NPWS statement was in response to fears the use of 1080 poison baits along the beach near New Brighton beach had killed wildlife recently.

A reader told Echonetdaily they saw a dead possum in the area recently and suspected it may have taken one of the baits. The reader said warning signs along the beach south of New Brighton indicated the use of baits.

NPWS spokesman Lawrence Orel said the use of 1080 baits underground at designated ‘bait stations’ enabled individual baits to be monitored and ‘reduces the likelihood of non-target animals taking baits’.

‘This also ensures unused baits can be collected and disposed of properly. Once laid, baits are only in place for a week. Unused baits are collected and disposed of. If the program is continuing new baits are laid. If the program is concluding unused baits are disposed of.

‘Baiting is in accordance with the Livestock Health and Pest Authority requirements and NPWS pest management strategies,’ he said.

Feral animal trapping

Meanwhile, Byron Shire Council will recommence feral animal trapping this week in a bid to protect the region’s unique natural environment.

Council will begin the program this Friday (16 March), and is likely to run until spring, coinciding with the breeding season for wild dogs and baiting programs being undertaken in a number of national parks.

Council trapping will take place on private properties with the consent of landholders at Main Arm, The Pocket, Upper Coopers Creek, Goonengerry, Federal and Tyagarah.

Council’s natural environment team leader, Angus Underwood, said the latest trapping program will target wild dogs, foxes and cats in an effort to reduce impacts on livestock and wildlife.

‘Favourable conditions over the last couple of years have seen wild dog numbers increase, most likely as a result of increases in the wildlife which wild dogs prey on. So we need to be vigilant in keeping feral animal numbers as low as possible,’ Mr Underwood said.

Council has engaged an experienced trapper to work on properties that expressed an interest in being involved in the program. Council will pay a retainer to the trapper, with landholders paying a fee per carcass for each animal caught.

Mr Underwood reminded Byron Shire pet owners to be responsible by ensuring they don’t let their pets roam unchecked.

‘Roaming domestic dogs and cats have a significant impact on both livestock and native wildlife and domestic dogs can mate with wild dogs adding to the problem,’ he said.

Readers can now go online to map where wild dogs, feral goats and starlings occur anywhere across Australia, to record sightings, damage and control activities to help manage these pests.

WildDogScan, FeralGoatScan and StarlingScan are the latest additions to the FeralScan project by the Invasive Animals CRC and the NSW Department of Primary Industries that has received overwhelming community participation with more than 9,000 records of feral pests entered by 5,000 participants Australiawide since it was launched in January 2011.






Chris Dobney

Byron Bay accommodation is the most expensive in the state, according to a Hotels Price Index (HPI) developed by accommodation aggregator website

The HPI is based on bookings made on the site and tracks the real prices paid per hotel room, rather than advertised rates.

Despite outstripping even Sydney hotel prices, Byron rates did not record any increase in 2011, while the national average increase was nine per cent.

Prices in Sydney were up eight per cent at $181 per night. The Hunter Valley recorded an eight per cent increase to $185 per night while the Blue Mountains took an eight per cent hit to $174 per night.

The Gold Coast was the Australian destination with the biggest increase, up 19 per cent to $161.

While it is not a scientific survey, as it doesn’t include all properties in any destination, a spokesperson said had a wide range of inventory both in Byron Bay and across the board, ranging from two-star to five-star.

The news comes hot on the heels of figures released by Destination NSW last week, showing Byron visitor nights increased 40 per cent in the year to September 2011, with a remarkable 2,021,000 visitor nights recorded.

Chris Dobney

To think last week I almost contemplated getting into bed with Bob Katter (Jnr). I mean that metaphorically of course, given that we’re not allowed to marry. And let’s face it, it isn’t that long ago I was contemplating the consequences of potentially sharing a bed with Alan Jones.

CSG has proven the old proverb ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’. But alas, not for long, especially in the case of Katter. By Monday our bromance was all over.

That was after a TV ad for Katter’s Australian Party attacking LNP leader Campbell Newman’s position of supporting gay marriage was aired.

In perhaps the most unsavoury piece of electioneering since the days of Pauline Hanson, the ad showed an image of a once-typical (read blond, blue-eyed) Aussie family, followed by pictures of Bob Brown, a shirtless gay couple and a loop of Newman in a safety vest reiterating his support for gay marriage.

This ad was wrong on so many levels it is hard to know where to begin.

First, and perhaps most ludicrously, gay marriage is not the province of the state but of federal government – and we all know how they’re going to vote on the issue.

Secondly, Newman has said that despite his personal opinion he will vote to rescind Queensland’s recently passed gay relationship laws, which at least allow gay relationships to be registered, if not on a par with marriage.

Indeed, if Katter’s ad makes any positive contribution to the Australian body politic, it is to point out that Newman is a hypocrite. And there, as they say, is the rub.

Anyone to the left of Attila the Hun has been queuing up to condemn the ad and sink the boot into Katter, although it is a moot point whether his openly redneck campaign will be damaged by the trashy commercial.

His own half-brother Carl, a gay activist, said the ad was so bad that when he first saw it he thought it was a joke.

‘Let’s be honest here, this isn’t the first time Bob has done something dangerous and divisive,’ he told the ABC.

‘It’s also a great indication that this fledgling party are trying desperately to steal the conservative vote, but I think it’s going to backfire,’ he said.

‘I’m more concerned about the damage that they can facilitate in regional areas for predominantly gay and lesbian youth.’

Carl Katter has since made a TV commercial of his own, produced by GetUp! imploring people ‘don’t vote for hate’.

Next on the attack was Franck Camhi, the photographer who produced the images of the two men hugging. He told the images, which were shot to illustrate the issue of gay adoption, had been taken out of context and used without his personal approval.

As reported on the James Newburrie blog Equal Love, the images were downloaded from the stock photo website 123RF, which specifically forbids the use of its images in political campaigns. Camhi told the paper he intended to contact the agency over the matter.

And then there is the ABC presenter who provided the voiceover for the ad without seeking permission from the broadcaster to undertake outside work. Newburrie again led the charge, naming WA-based ABC weekend presenter Suzanne McGill.

It is no secret the national broadcaster is extremely sensitive about any of its presenters undertaking commercial work, let alone political advertising of such a shabby and controversial nature.

The ABC reports that McGill has been stood down pending a full investigation, although Newburrie claims she is still working for the ABC off air.

So far the only obvious winner is Anna Bligh, who was struggling to get traction with her attack on Newman over the issue of dubious developer donations when he was lord mayor.

Meanwhile Newman, in defending his position (against the state relationship bill but supporting the federal marriage one), is exposed as a complete opportunist. His argument is as self-serving as it is cynical.

There should now be no doubt in anyone’s mind that a vote for Campbell Newman will do as much to undermine the human rights of gay Queenslanders as a vote for Bob Katter.

Bob Katter:


Years ago the film Shine starring Geoffrey Rush did the Australian public a great favour: it acquainted them with the irrepressible talent of the film’s subject, David Helfgott.

The story was so life affirming and so deeply life changing that many who had never bothered to listen to classical music soon found themselves at a Helfgott concert, just to be in the presence of this unconventional and gifted man. Last year he teamed up with Yantra de Vilder, a one-time Byron Shire local, for a series of concerts that the two are planning to tour through Europe.

On the eve of David and Yantra’s performance at the Byron Community Centre, Mandy Nolan caught up with Gillian Helfgott about just what is in store.

It’s great to see David and Yantra playing together on the same bill. How did they meet, or come to be touring a show together? They met in Byron Bay at a function for The Buttery and they played together informally on that occasion. They enjoyed it so much when they had the opportunity to work together again in Avoca Beach in April 2011 that they were delighted to collaborate again.

How do their styles complement each other? Do they play together at all, or is it strictly one pianist per performance? They play separately in the main recital part of the program, but they end the evening with a piece together. They improvise and it is so beautiful to experience the music flowing spontaneously from them both. This is quite a new field for David and it is opening his musical horizons to the joy of improvisation.

Why does David have such a passion for Rachmaninov? It is such romantic music and the melodies are so beautiful. It touches him deeply and he responds so much to the Russian passion and colour that is in the music.

How does David prepare for a tour like this? A lot of practice and then more. He also relaxes with swimming and reading, but the music is his main focus.

One of the most delightful aspects of David’s performance is how much he is enjoying himself. Classical music is usually frightfully stuffy. Do you think this helps less classically inclined people access music they may never have found? Absolutely. He has broken down so many barriers with his delightful personality and complete lack of formality and remoteness. The audiences also love sharing David’s joy and they leave the auditorium with smiles on their faces.

How would you describe the effect David’s music has on people? Is it possible to separate that from the energy of the man himself? Or are the man and the music one thing? The great violinist Ivry Gitless said of David, ‘He is the music’. Other musicians have also made this comment. The music flows through him and it is his great passion in life, and the audiences feel his passion and he touches people’s hearts. Frequently people have tears in their eyes from the moving experience of his performances. It is more than just a musical event: it is the man opening his heart to all.

Tell me a little about the upcoming European tour? What are the responses to David’s playing over there? Last year when David performed in the famous Vienna Concert Hall the stage manager told me he had worked at the theatre for 22 years and had never seen an audience respond to an artist as the Viennese did with David. This is a highly sophisticated audience and they love him, singing and all!

He will be returning to Vienna in April for a performance of the Rachmaninov Third Piano Concerto and then touring Germany. He will also return to Vienna on his birthday in May to play at the Life Ball, a huge outdoor fundraising event for AIDS, to an audience of 40,000 people. He will also perform in Denmark and Sweden.

Are the touring schedules exhausting? How do you and David stay ‘grounded’ when you are on the road? We are fortunate to stay in very beautiful spacious hotels and we also have many friends around Europe so our life while touring is very well planned. Also we have a tour manager with us all the time and this is a great support. However, we do love returning home.

What is it about David’s playing that moves you most deeply? It is his complete love of and identification with the music and not allowing his intellect to interfere with the spontaneous flowing of the music.

Can you tell me a little about what we can expect for the Byron show? A unique experience. Here are two amazing musicians, in different fields, sharing their individual talents in such a beautiful way and then joining to bring an unfolding of their musical beings to the music.

David Helfgott and Yantra de Vilder in concert at Byron Bay Community and Cultural Centre this Saturday 7.30pm and Sunday at 2pm. Tix $49 / $43.

To book or ph 6685 6807.

[image] David and Gillian Helfgott

CSG worst thing since sliced cedar

For those in the region wishing to extend their oppositional activities to this greatest potential scourge to natural systems in our region since the cedar cutters attacked the Big Scrub, weekly meetings are taking place in Lismore every Wednesday at 6.30pm at the Workers Club with direct action high on the agenda. Training is offered in non-violent direct action.


Jill Keogh, Federal

People accessing one of Byron Shire’s beautiful beaches at Belongil were greeted last week with a revolting sight: a fetid overflowing bin full of stinking dog-turd bags, filthy food waste and valuable recyclables.

Well done Byron Shire, we’ve certainly outdone ourselves this time. If waste like this is unable to be properly removed in a timely manner before overflowing, then what hope do we ever have of keeping our beaches clean and wildlife safe?

The next storm, and we will see some of this garbage inevitably washed into the sea. Come on Council and waste collectors. Get your act together! This is pathetic.

Simon Clarke, Brooklet.

I’m 17, currently studying at school to complete my HSC. I recently came across a video called Earthlings, and with all the commotion about the Kony issue, I thought it important to start getting involved in a cause that I hold close to my heart.

After watching the video I realised that it is not only the food industry that is involved in cruel and torturous activities performed against animals, but also sporting and even pet production. I want this letter to raise awareness for these living beings that cannot speak for themselves and are being inhumanely mistreated.

So please, I urge you to keep up coverage of the inhumanity that is so constant in animal-based industries, and show our nation the inconvenient truth that so many, like I was, are aware of but still ignore.

The issue of animal cruelty is pressing because it causes so much heartache to know what these innocent creatures are being subject to. I hope you take my plea into consideration and continue to keep up awareness of the wrongdoings that are taking place in Australia and nations across the globe.

Madeleine Northey, Terrigal

Canberra [AAP]

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie says talks with the federal government on changing its pokie reform plans are going well.

Mr Wilkie had an hour-long discussion with Families and Community Services minister Jenny Macklin on Tuesday about his concerns with government plans to run a trial of mandatory pre-commitment technology in the ACT.

The MP said he believed Ms Macklin genuinely wanted to address his concerns.

‘She wants to make this work and she’s had her heart in this the whole way through,’ he told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

Mr Wilkie told the minister that voluntary pre-commitment would not work because it allowed gamblers choice.

He said he would support a government bill if changes were made.

‘I think the government’s bill is virtually worthless unless it becomes a stepping stone to meaningful reform,’ he said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard reneged on a deal she negotiated with Mr Wilkie to roll out the technology by 2014.

Instead she opted for a trial limited to the ACT where clubs have been offered $37.1 million to cover their costs.

Meanwhile, Clubs Australia says Mr Wilkie ignored an offer six months ago to trial the $1 maximum bet technology on 149 poker machines at the Grafton District Services Club.

Mr Wilkie told ABC Radio he would need to check his records to see if he received the letter.

Damascus [AFP]

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has called parliamentary elections for May 7, even as monitors said fresh violence cost nearly 50 lives and a pro-regime daily reported the capture of a rebel city.

Assad’s announcement of elections came as UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan said he was still expecting a response from the Syrian leader to ‘concrete proposals’ to halt one year of bloodshed.

State news agency SANA said Assad, who has proposed a program of reforms in the face of an unprecedented revolt, called for elections under a new constitution passed in February.

They would be the third such polls since Assad came to power in 2000, but the first under a multi-party system as authorised under the new charter.

Washington immediately rubbished the proposed vote.

‘Parliamentary elections for a rubber-stamp parliament in the middle of the kind of violence that we’re seeing across the country – it’s ridiculous,’ US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in Washington.

Annan, speaking to reporters in Ankara after meeting with Syrian opposition figures, said he was ‘expecting to hear from Syrian authorities today since I left some concrete proposals for them to consider’.

But there was no response announced in Damascus by well into the evening.

Annan was referring to weekend meetings in Damascus with Assad, after which he had expressed optimism the crisis could be resolved peacefully but warned the situation in Syria was at a ‘dangerous’ level.

The former UN chief also said he had a ‘useful meeting’ with six representatives of the opposition Syrian National Council headed by Burhan Ghalioun, whom he said had ‘promised their full cooperation.’

In the latest clashes, 22 members of the security forces were killed in two separate ambushes in the southern region of Daraa and in Idlib province of northwest Syria, another hotspot of rebel operations, monitors said.

But as the regime battles to mop up resistance, Al-Watan said government forces had recaptured the rebel stronghold of Idlib city, following what activists said were three days of heavy shelling.

‘A major operation launched three days ago in Idlib … ended in record time with army units wrapping up search operations during which dozens of armed men and fugitives were killed,’ the daily said.

Activists acknowledged the army had deployed in the city but were facing pockets of resistance by rebel fighters.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that elsewhere in Idlib province, located near the Turkish border, security forces killed at least seven civilians.

The group, whose reports can not be verified due to government curbs on foreign media, also said eight civilians were killed in and around the central city of Homs, including a woman in Tal Kalakh, near the Lebanese border.

Another four civilians were killed in the Damascus region, said the Britain-based monitoring group, while a civilian, three members of the security forces and three deserters were killed in the northern province of Aleppo.

Against that backdrop, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said around 30,000 Syrians had fled to neighbouring countries and another 200,000 had been displaced inside the country, quoting Syrian Red Crescent data.

Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday that Syria has planted landmines near its borders with both countries, along routes used by refugees fleeing the country.

Russia, accused of having shielded its ally Syria, said it will press Damascus to accept international monitors who could observe the implementation of a ‘simultaneous’ ceasefire.

‘The objective is for both sides to understand that there is an independent observer watching how they meet demands,’ Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Moscow.

‘We must not have a situation in which the government is required to leave the cities and villages while the armed groups are not made to do the same,’ he said.

Russia and China vetoed two past UN Security Council draft resolutions condemning Assad for the violence and have expressed reservations about a new US-backed version.


Luis Feliu

Lismore City councillors have unanimously supported returning to a shared managament of the Richmond Tweed Regional Library (RTRL), ending a growing campaign by opponents of Lismore running the service.

The decision at last night’s meeting (Tuesday) follows doubts raised recently by both Byron and Ballina shire councils on which model to consider for running the service, sparking fears the library service would be split.

The other library member council, Tweed, last year resolved to stick with Lismore’s administration of the service under a draft five-year agreement struck almost two years ago by the library committee (made up of the four councils).

Doubts as to the legality of the regional library’s county-council or co-operative style of management led to the decision to hand over administration to Lismore, but recent changes to the Library Act paved the way for a return to the former arrangement.

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell welcomed the full support of her council for the staff report recommending the move.

‘The reason we’re doing this is because our community wants all four councils to stay together in the library, it’s what gives it strength,’ she told Echonetdaily.

‘We want to put the past behind us, work co-operatively and will reconvene the (library) committee to work with the mayors and general managers to find a way forward.’

The seven-part staff recommendation calls for Lismore City to support the library committee’s investigation of alternative business models in providing a regional library service, which resulted from a joint meeting in Mullumbimby in February of the committee, mayors and general managers of member councils.

It also asks the library committee to investigate, within two years, any ‘unresolved governance shortfalls with the existing library agreements’.

In the name of all things safe and natural, a group of naked people paint each other and ride through Byron Bay as part of the World Naked Bike Ride. If genitalia offend, do not watch this video.


Video Documentary Sharon Shostak

London [AP]

Five suspects arrested over allegations of cover-ups in Britain’s phone-hacking inquiry – understood to include former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and her racehorse trainer husband – have been released on bail.

Rebekah Brooks and Charlie Brooks – who has been a friend of British Prime Minister David Cameron since school – were arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Mark Hanna, News International’s head of security, was also confirmed by the company as one of the six people arrested in raids in Oxfordshire, London, Hampshire and Hertfordshire.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said they were bailed to dates next month while the sixth suspect remains in custody.

The dawn raid on the Brooks’ home is potentially embarrassing for Cameron, who was forced to make further admissions earlier this month about the extent of his relationship with the couple.

After it emerged that Scotland Yard lent an ex-police horse, Raisa, to Rebekah Brooks, the Prime Minister conceded it had been among his mounts on rides with Charlie Brooks – a friend from their Eton school days.

Officers from Operation Weeting – the inquiry into voicemail interceptions – said they consulted the Crown Prosecution Service before carrying out their busiest morning of arrests since the operation was launched last year.

Rebekah Brooks was previously arrested and questioned last July, days after resigning as chief executive.

A total of 22 people have now been arrested under Weeting, which has been running since January last year, Scotland Yard said.

A Scotland Yard statement said earlier: ‘The co-ordinated arrests were made between approximately 5am and 7am this morning by officers from Operation Weeting, the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) inquiry into the phone hacking of voicemail boxes.

‘All six – five men and one woman – were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, contrary to the Criminal Law Act 1977.

‘A number of addresses connected to the arrests are being searched. Today’s operation follows consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service.’


Paul Bibby, Michelle Grattan and Dan Harrison

Gina Rinehart effectively put a ‘gun’ to her own children’s heads by telling them they would go bankrupt if they didn’t agree to hand over control of the family’s multibillion-dollar trust, the three eldest children claim.

Read the story by The Age


Ben Cubby

Greenhouse gases have risen to their highest level since modern humans evolved, and Australian temperatures are now about a degree warmer than they were a century ago, a major review by the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology has found.

Read the story by the Sydney Morning Herald


Luis Feliu

An onsite court hearing over the controversial proposed redevelopment of the Brunswick Heads squash-centre complex into a boarding house of 34 units will take place late next month.

Byron Shire Council is defending its refusal last year of the development in Teven Street in the Land and Environment Court (LEC). The owners of the property, Murray and Julia Stebbing, later lodged an appeal against the councillors’ 8–1 decision last June.

The plan involves alterations to the existing gymnasium, squash courts and indoor swimming pool and change of use into a boarding house.

The appeal, to be heard on April 19–20, is regarded as a test case for a contentious state policy on affordable rental housing.

The refusal by Council supported a campaign by residents who saw it as a major overdevelopment of the site that would have ruined the character of the village and amenity.

But staff had recommended approval for the redevelopment under a policy introduced two years ago by the former Labor government to boost affordable rental housing.

Mayor Jan Barham said the policy, which gives developers concessions such as fewer parking spaces and smaller room sizes to encourage affordable rental housing, was designed more for high-density metropolitan areas rather than regional centres.

Cr Barham said approval would have set a precedent for an unacceptable level of density that could destroy the village’s character.

The court hearing starts on April 19 at 9.30am onsite at 14–16 Teven Street with an inspection by the LEC commissioner and continues afterwards at the Ballina Court House in River Street, Ballina.

Residents who made submissions against the proposal and wishing to give evidence are being asked by Council lawyers to attend at 9am on the first day.



Tweed artists Caz McDougall, Liz Threlfo and Annie Higgins take a break while hanging their paintings for The Sacred Me group exhibition at the Sheoak Shack, which opened on International Women’s Day and runs until 2 April. Ms Higgins said her motivation for the exhibition was to ‘step out of that women’s lib idea, which suggests being nude is exploitative, because it’s not – it’s a celebration’. Photo: Jeff ‘Art Lover’ Dawson



Chris Dobney & Luis Feliu

A recent grant of $100,000 by the state government to help Tweed Shire prepare protection plans for its foreshore is welcome, but the council will need much more money to secure its beaches from erosion, the council’s natural resource spokeswoman Jane Lofthouse told local media this morning.

Yesterday environment minister Robyn Parker announced that Tweed would receive $25,000 to update information on coastal hazards in line with predicted sea-level rise and $75,000 to review coastal zone management strategies and action in light of the coastal erosion at Kingscliff over the last two years.

The grant was the most generous of the almost $900,000 handed to coastal shires to help them with planning to cope with erosion and sea level rise. By comparison, Byron Shire received just $25,000 and Ballina received nothing.

But Ms Lofthouse said much more will be required if council is to be able to hold back erosion at Kingscliff.

‘If we go down the track of protection of the foreshore, council doesn’t have enough money to do that on its own and we would be asking for state and probably federal assistance,’ she said.

Last Tuesday at an extraordinary meeting, councillors voted to spend $238,392 for 6,300 tonnes of rocks to build an extension of the existing wall in front of the surf club.

The wall is to protect the Kingscliff Beach Holiday Park – where a big slice of dunal land was lost to recent erosion and several cabins had to be relocated – and join up with the wall in front of the Kingscliff Bowls Club.

The money will come from Tweed Coast Holiday Parks Reserves Trust income. The project is expected to cost $469,734 in total.

Local coal-seam gas exploration company Metgasco has failed to respond to allegations that it has been illegally transporting wastewater from the company’s holding ponds at a disused quarry near Casino.

Lock the Gate Northern Rivers (LTGNR) claimed yesterday Metgasco might be carting water away from ponds at the council-owned quarry to avoid overflows from the site.

This revelation comes on the back of public confirmation from Richmond Valley Council that these ponds are being operated illegally by the company.

LTGNR is organising a protest on the public footpath outside the company’s headquarters at 139–141 Johnson St, Casino today from 10am.

Ian Gaillard, LTGNR co-ordinator, claims Metgasco’s chief financial officer told a local resident in an email that ‘If our ponds approach their capacity we cart water away to be treated’.

‘As far as we can tell, Metgasco has no authority to be removing this toxic water from the ponds, as the consent conditions clearly state “only clean and unpolluted waters are to leave the site”,’ he said yesterday.

‘This raises a whole lot of questions about how much potentially hazardous wastewater is being carted away, where it is being disposed of, why the ponds are unable to contain the water volumes being dumped there and whether they may have overflowed in the past.

‘It also casts serious doubt on Metgasco’s ability to safely operate a gas field if they can’t even adequately manage a couple of ponds.’

Echonetdaily contacted Metgasco’s CEO Peter Henderson yesterday for comment; he put us in touch with the company’s external affairs spokesperson Simon Richardson, who in turn promised to forward us ‘some words’ by email in response to the claims. No information had been received by this morning.

The company told other local media it had operated the ponds on the Bruxner Highway at Woodview, west of Casino, safely for four years, but declined to be drawn on the allegations.

LTGNR is calling on Richmond Valley Council to investigate the claims and undertake a contaminated-land investigation at the site, including the commissioning of comprehensive independent sampling of soils adjacent to the ponds where overflow may have occurred.

‘Recent results from coal-seam gas operations in northwest NSW and Queensland show that this wastewater can contain unsafe levels of harmful substances such as heavy metals, petrochemicals, hydrocarbons and ammonia,’ said Mr Gaillard.

‘We believe that council has a duty of care to adjacent landholders and the wider community to ensure that no pollution of surrounding lands and waterways has occurred as a result of these operations.’

Last week Justine Elliot MP met with Shona Robertson and her mother Penny, who is chair of Down Syndrome International, to show her support for the Every Australian Counts (I Count) campaign for a National Disability Insurance Scheme. Shona is headed to New York to address the United Nations about independent living for those with a disability. She will be one of eight ‘self advocates’ from all over the world who will participate in the first-ever conference on Down Syndrome, titled Building Our Future, to be held at the UN.

Story: Eve Jeffery

Phil Preston had two good reasons to found STEER, a youth safe-driving project.

One was his experiences as a fire and rescue worker; the other was when his son received his P plates.

‘My son Josh turning 17 was a big thing. That and my work doing community education with the firies is initially what brought all this about’.

STEER is an acronym and it aims to provide: Support, Teamwork, Education, Experience and Rewards by encouraging youth to make safe transport and reducing their risk of having a car crash by 50 per cent.

He says there are four steps for parents and kids to be aware of to ensure safer driving.

Local high schools offer year 10 students a FRNSW/Project U Turn road safety workshop, while year 11 students can attend the RRISK road safety presentation.

Also parents and their learner-driver offspring should take the free driving lesson in the government-funded Keys2drive, a driving and support program for young drivers, their parents and instructors.

Finally all young drivers should get a free NRMA membership for 16–20-year-olds through its Free2Go program.

Something Phil also hopes to have up and running in the next few weeks is a local Avego Shout system.

Ride-sharing app

Avego Shout is a real-time ride-sharing iPhone application where drivers can send out a message to all users of their intention to travel from point A to point B and passengers can send back a message to be picked up en route.

Phil is hoping the community can get behind him to make youth driving safer.

His wish list includes project supporters and sponsors to contribute funds and goods and services; web developers, logo and branding, and rewards for youth with things like cinema passes, mobile phone credit, event tickets – BluesFest/Splendour/Woodford – as well as safe vehicle inspections and discount insurance.

‘The success of any project like this begins with the people.

‘We need to make some good connections and we need businesses to get on board with the program by offering support and rewards as incentives for young drivers to attend education programs.’

Anyone wanting to contact Phil about STEER can visit the website [http:// or the STEER Facebook page.

With a career spanning 35 years, Glenn Shorrock is one of the elder statesmen of Australian contemporary show business.

Born in Kent, England, Glenn migrated with his family at the age of 10 to Adelaide in the mid-1950s. A self-confessed child of rock ’n’ roll, he began singing in 1962 with a vocal group called the Twilights. By 1965, the Twilights became a six-piece ‘beat’ group based in Melbourne scoring hits with Needle in a Haystack, What’s Wrong with the Way I Live?, Cathy Come Home and Young Girl, before disbanding in 1969.

Axiom with Brian Cadd followed shortly thereafter, with hits including Arkansas Grass and Little Ray of Sunshine. Axiom disbanded soon after moving to London in 1970. Glenn chose to remain in London as a session singer and songwriter working with other ex-pats and Europeans in a twelve-piece rock orchestra named Esperanto.

At the conclusion of 1974, Glenn returned to Melbourne to help form Little River Band as lead singer. Managed by long-time friend, Glenn Wheatley, Little River Band cracked the lucrative United States market in 1976, and began a string of eight top-ten hits in the USA and around the world.

The band has sold in excess of 25 million albums, often being credited for opening the door for many Australian acts on the international circuit. In 1995, Glenn fronted Little River Band during their 20th anniversary, three-and-a-half-month tour of the United States. His songwriting credits include the international hits Help is on its Way, Emma, Home on Monday (co-writer Beeb Birtles), Long Jumping Jeweller, Shut Down Turn Off, My Own Way Home (co-writer Brain Cadd) and Cool Change. Glenn’s latest CD was released in 2000: Spin Me ’Round, co-produced with Brian Cadd.

Glenn’s credentials extend to all fields of show business, notably in theatre and cabaret. He starred in Evita and The Rocky Horror Show, in addition to his own productions: One for the Money, Go Cat Go and Two Up. A career highlight was producing and performing alongside Sir George Martin in the highly acclaimed production All You Need Is Beatles (1998). He performed the role of Johnny Casino in the smash hit Grease: The Arena Spectacular!, which played to full houses across Australia and in Auckland, and co-starred in British Rock Symphony with Eric Burdon and Thelma Houston, performing the hits of the Beatles, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones and The Who. In 2001 he joined the cast in the inaugural production of Australian Night At The Proms at the Sydney Super Dome and later toured Australia with the successful Long Way to the Top concert series with Axium and Twilights (2002).

You can see Glenn at Twin Towns on Saturday.


A high pressure system over the Tasman Sea extends a ridge across most of the state. A slow moving trough to the southwest of New South Wales will gradually deepen during Wednesday and Thursday, generating unstable conditions over the southern districts. The trough and associated cloud band are likely to move across the southwestern half of the state on Thursday, then affect central and northeastern districts on Friday and Saturday.

Wednesday March 14

Cloudy. Isolated showers. Light winds. Daytime maximum temperatures in the mid to high 20s.

Fire Danger – Far North Coast: Low-Moderate. UV Alert from 9:30 am to 4:20 pm, UV Index predicted to reach 10 [Very High].

Tweed Heads 27ºC

Byron Bay 26ºC

Lismore 27ºC

Ballina 26ºC


Thursday March 15

Cloudy. Isolated showers until evening. Light winds. Overnight temperatures falling to around 17 with daytime temperatures reaching the mid to high 20s.

Friday March 16

Partly cloudy. The chance of showers until late afternoon. Light winds. Overnight temperatures falling to around 17 with daytime temperatures reaching the mid to high 20s.

Saturday March 17

Partly cloudy. Isolated showers in the afternoon and evening. Light winds. Overnight temperatures falling to around 17 with daytime temperatures reaching the high 20s.


Information from Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

In the wake of reports from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that Australia now ranks as the world’s fifth-fattest nation, I have something for people to chew on: vegans are nine times less likely to be obese than meat-eaters are. Eating vegan meals has been scientifically proved to take weight off and keep it off for more than a year, so I suggest that those worried about their weight consider tipping any meat that they have in their refrigerators directly into the rubbish.

The 60 per cent of adult Australians defined as overweight or obese can not only lose weight but also dramatically improve their health by replacing sausage rolls and meat pies with cereals and veggie kebabs. Because meat, eggs and dairy products are devoid of fibre but loaded with artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol, eating plant-based meals slashes people’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and cancer.

The meat industry isn’t just toxic for human health – it’s also responsible for animal suffering on a massive scale. On today’s factory farms, animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy windowless sheds.

Let’s turn the race for the fattest nation into the race for the fittest one by switching to healthy and humane vegan meals.

Ashley Fruno, PETA, Sydney


Tweed Community Country Halls Association has been running a dance circuit around the halls of the Tweed Valley for decades. It is one of those rare country treats that people will talk about.

It has come to my attention that a number of people think it is restricted to the local members of the Ball, which is far from the truth. These occasions are an opportunity to meet locals in the area and others who come for the social dance and supper. All members of the community are welcome to join the evening (no alcohol).

They do a Pride of Erin dance for the title of Tiny Tot, Junior, Matron, Senior, and the title Miss. There is a category for everyone in the family to participate in. If you enter on the night and win, the only expectation is that you appear at the final Ball in August/September for the final judging of the circuit. I have enjoyed the evenings for years and consider it an opportunity to dress up, but that is not necessary.

The last practice dance will be at the Tumbulgum Hall, with a St Patrick’s day theme, starting at 8pm on March 17.

Robyn Lemaire, Matron of the Tweed, Murwillumbah.

I refer to the article in Echonetdaily about the Cumbalum rezoning and the article ‘Cumbalum Plan Scrutiny’, Northern Star March 12.

In Australia, there is no such thing as mandatory birth control to slow the reproductive rate of the human race. Little girls are not required to be placed in orphanages, as they are in China. In Australia, little girls live at home with mum and dad in a family environment. They don’t end up as a slave workforce producing computer parts, clothing or whitegoods for people in foreign lands. In Australia the government gives out subsidies for new babies, regardless of what sex they are. Those little babies eventually grow into adults and need a place to call home.

The Cumbalum rezoning is about housing the future population of Australia and it could be somewhere for your kids to live, whether they are your sons or daughters when they too become parents. These houses will appear over the next 20 or 30 years, not overnight as some of the alarmists would have you believe.

The coastal area between Coffs Harbour and Hervey Bay has been identified by government planners as the place to put the future population. The Cumbalum Plan is a natural progression of development, separated from Lennox Head by agricultural land and the Ballina Nature Reserve.

About 10 years ago an English Regional Planning Panel approved 500,000 residential blocks in East Anglia in one decision-making process. Yes, half a million new houses on East Anglia’s farmland! This statistic makes the Cumbalum rezoning look like a tiny hamlet by comparison. That rezoning decision was made to enable a planned development for the future population.

The Cumbalum Plan is something that has been on the horizon for 20 years. The developers have been given the council go-ahead over many years and asked to complete extensive rezoning studies at enormous expense. They have had to ‘do it right’ to get this far and are now at final exhibition stage prior to rezoning for the future population. There will be affordable housing in the Cumbalum Plan. It may be your kids who are looking for somewhere to live in a few years’ time. Think of the positives – why this new housing estate is needed – not about the negatives being put out by the alarmists.

Margaret Howes, Empire Vale


Crikey’s Stephen Mayne has a crafty plan to keep Australia’s richest person out of the Fairfax boardroom… for 56 years.

As the Fairfax Media board ponders how to respond to Gina Rinehart’s request for a board seat, maybe it should consider suggesting she wait another 56 years.

After all, the situation at Fairfax and Hancock Prospecting both come down to the same question: how much power and influence should go to minority shareholders?

However, if Fairfax chairman Roger Corbett wanted to apply the ‘do unto others’ principle to Australia’s richest person, he would tell her that the board had unilaterally resolved to lock her out until 2068, when she would be 113 years old.

There are many reasons Rinehart should not be appointed to the Fairfax board and top of the list is the question of her integrity.

If Lang Hancock created a trust with specific instructions that a minority portion vest to his four grandchildren in September 2011, then how on Earth could his daughter secretly extend this by 56 years without even telling the beneficiaries she is meant to represent?

There is every chance a judge will savage Rinehart to the point where Fairfax would be highly embarrassed to have such a person on its board.

Paul Keating quietly told Frank Lowy he needed to sort out a dispute with the tax office before he could join the Reserve Bank board and the same applies with Rinehart and Fairfax. Besides, how does the Fairfax board know that it will be Rinehart who ends up controlling the 14 per cent stake in Fairfax after the dust has settled?

As Rinehart continues to absorb massive reputational damage and inches ever closer to legal embarrassment in court, the most likely scenario is a commercial settlement with her four adult children. A reasonable outcome would be each getting $500 million in cash or assets. Seeing as Rinehart’s adventures into the media business have achieved nothing except truckloads of bad publicity for an obsessively private and security-conscious family, the kids should insist she either sells up or hands over the Ten and Fairfax stakes as part of the settlement.

It seems pretty bizarre that Rinehart has ploughed $460 million of her family estate into Fairfax and Network Ten over the past 18 months, yet she believes her four adult children will be bankrupted if a 23 per cent stake in Hancock Prospecting is allowed to vest as originally envisaged by her late father. The basis of this claim is some work allegedly done for Rinehart by PwC suggesting that each of the adult children would cop a $100 million capital gains tax bill on vesting.

However, if Rinehart really is worth $US18 billion, as Forbes magazine claimed last week, each child would get shares worth about $1 billion and a $100 million tax bill would be comfortably absorbed. And wouldn’t Treasurer Wayne Swan, on behalf of all ordinary workers and taxpayers, be pleased to receive a $400 million revenue boost for his troubled budget?

Faced with losing control over $4 billion worth of assets, it would be far easier for Rinehart to buy her children out than have all the private details of Hancock Prospecting revealed to the public. Given that she has reportedly refused to show the accounts to some of her own children, whose interests she is meant to be protecting, Rinehart would clearly not enjoy seeing an information memorandum on Hancock Prospecting hawked around to potential investors by her adult children.

However, before the children agree to settle, you would expect they would want to see Hancock Prospecting independently valued.

The other reason that Fairfax should reject Rinehart’s request for a board seat comes back to her position on the Network Ten board. Ten and Fairfax compete for scarce advertising dollars and journalistic talent. It’s no different from the high-roller casino wars, in which Echo Entertainment told suitor James Packer to go away because he controls a competitor organisation.

If Rinehart is prepared to quit the Ten board, then Fairfax should consider her request seriously, but she can’t double dip with board representation on two competing companies.

Even if she did this, the Fairfax board would be wise to tell Rinehart that she won’t be considered for a directorship until after her bitter family dispute has been resolved.

Brisbane [AAP]

Campbell Newman has aborted another media conference in frustration over his policies being robbed of their thunder by other issues, this time by gay marriage.

The Liberal National Party (LNP) leader has been subjected to persistent Labor campaigning on his financial affairs, but now it’s Katter’s Australian Party that has confounded him.

The party for ‘shootin’, huntin’ and fishin’‘ – as it declared at Sunday’s campaign launch – has sparked a row over homophobia with an ad intended to hurt Mr Newman.

The party of eccentric federal MP Bob Katter is this week running a TV ad that asks how Mr Newman’s personal support for gay marriage fits with a conservative party when it puts him on the same page as Australian Greens leader Bob Brown.

But instead of playing up Mr Newman’s position on gay issues, the result is that Katter’s party has been condemned as tawdry, bizarre and homophobic.

Mr Newman on Monday announced a $16 million plan to cut public surgery waiting lists.

But his announcement was drowned out by the gay ad storm, which ramped up pressure on him to clarify his plans for same-sex civil unions if the LNP wins government.

‘It’s a democracy and that’s the view of my team,’ he told reporters who asked how he reconciled his personal views with those of his party.

For the second time in the campaign, Mr Newman shut down his media conference in frustration.

An earlier check at a medical clinic had revealed his blood pressure was a little high – 149/95.

The LNP has a new ad out attacking Labor for being a ‘tired’ government, using an unflattering picture of Premier Anna Bligh with half-closed eyes.

Labor has refreshed its ‘web’ of finances ads after last week targeting Mr Newman’s wife Lisa.

Mrs Newman joined her husband on Network Ten morning program The Circle on Monday.

She admitted feeling under pressure, in an answer tailor-made for the infomercial world.

‘I suppose it’s the passion behind the move that keeps you going, the adrenaline, and it’s a very effective weight-loss program,’ she joked.

Meanwhile, Labor continues to campaign on integrity issues.

At Labor’s campaign launch Ms Bligh announced her government would require the declaration within 48 hours of all political donations over $1000.

On Monday the premier said councils needed more scrutiny, because voters were worried about Mr Newman’s track record as Brisbane’s lord mayor after it was revealed he had received large donations from developers who got questionable approvals.

Mr Newman maintains there was no wrongdoing.

With just two weeks until polling day, interest groups are worried they’ve received little attention.

Up to 1000 farmers and greenies marched through Brisbane on Monday demanding controls be put on the coal seam gas industry.

The Queensland Council of Social Services is crying out for more than $100 million for voters on the poverty line.

And AMA Queensland president Dr Richard Kidd is tired of the political ‘soap opera’ overrunning health announcements.


Luis Feliu

The organisation running a day-to-day living program at Mullumbimby’s Tincogan Cottage for up to 45 people with mental illnesses from around Byron shire says it will meet with carers and clients soon to address fears the cottage could soon close its doors.

On Track Community Programs, which runs the federally-funded rehabilitation program at the cottage, told Echonetdaily it is currently in talks with the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) in a bid to continue running the program at the cottage.

On Track’s chairperson Ken Lee said that until those talks had concluded, the services at the cottage would ‘continue to remain fully operational’.

The health district, which owns the building, recently tried to hose down rumours that it would close the cottage, telling Echonetdaily that ‘no decision’ had been made to sell it.

But clients and their families are concerned moves are afoot to close down the cottage as they said other similar centres, including one at Coffs Harbour, had recently been closed down.

For around 15 years Tincogan Street Cottage has provided day-to-day support for many people with mental health problems as well as vital social contact. Clients say the landmark community service has kept them out of hospital and even prevented suicide, but they fear they will drift away from an organised way of life that sustains them in their recovery.

The centre provides activities such as art, music, cooking, yoga, meditation, gardening and a weekly luncheon. Clients, many who suffer from bipolar disorder and referred there by specialists, say it gives them a ‘structure’ to their lives.

Mr Lee said many of the Byron consumers using the service ‘have other complex issues to deal with such as drugs and alcohol, homelessness, poverty and unemployment’.

Mr Lee said On Track was ‘fully supportive’ of the continued operation of the programs but was ‘currently negotiating’ with the NNSWLHD’s mental health services to keep running them at the cottage ‘on a fair and equitable basis’.

He said the organisation would contact consumers and carers within the next three weeks to set dates for consultation and its community services manager Tracey Lawson would receive their feedback.

A user of the service said the cottage was unique in Byron shire in that clients could access vital crisis support from mental-health staff and social workers five days a week from the centre, which also provided them with daily living and social skills in a social atmosphere.

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