The latest national gambling statistics make sobering reading. In spite of horse racing ads on the Opera House, poker machines are by far the biggest contributor, with $12 billion lost across Australia in 2016–17 and almost half of that in NSW.
Over $200 million of that comes from the northern rivers, making it one of the worst-affected areas in the state…READ MORE
This article first appeared in The Echo in August 2019
No matter which way you look at it, the statistics around poker machines are devastating. Every day, money is wasted, homes are gambled away, families are broken and lives are lost.
The suicide of a mate in 2001 prompted local filmmaker David Lowe to write about the subject and when the opportunity came up to put an anti-pokies message on the big and small screen, Welcome To The Machine was made…READ MORE
Thinking about going off grid? ‘Do it!’, says local filmmaker David Lowe.
‘Being responsible for your own power (and water, waste, food etc) is a beautiful and life-affirming thing,’ says Lowe. ‘In terms of solar power, I’ve been living this way for over ten years.’
Lowe is just one of a growing number of people who are using the sun to power their lives by living off the grid or using grid-connected solar power…READ MORE
As part of the current exhibition, Protest Songs: Artful Actions at Lismore Regional Gallery and its sister exhibition, Artful Actions at Lismore City Hall, the gallery has commissioned two films by local filmmaker David Lowe which provide two very different portraits of Benny Zable and Greedozer/Fossil Fool, the iconic characters Benny plays in his protest performances.…READ MORE
The great Australian actor, director, teacher and writer, George Whaley, died last week in the Northern Rivers of NSW. I knew George as the Head of Directing at the Australian Film Television and Radio School in Sydney in the 1990s, but this was just one of many hats he wore in a long and distinguished career.…READ MORE
Lovers of fine music had a wonderful treat on the weekend with some of the best players in the world in town for the 18th Bangalow Music Festival, presented by Southern Cross Soloists.
The program included favourites and less well-known pieces by the masters, including Bach, Mozart, Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninoff, as well as exciting new works from Australian and international composers, including Joe Chindamo and John Psathas.
After opening with young piano prodigy Alex Raineri alone at the Steinway playing Chopin, the festival presented a kaleidoscope of different musical configurations including duos, trios, quartets and even a guitar quintet. Players filled the Bangalow A&I Hall stage to overflowing for the most ambitious works…READ MORE
The Northern Rivers community is sad to say goodbye to Ron Way, the much-loved TV and film director, who retired to Kyogle in 2006.
Ron, who was a staunch anti-gasfields activist and a proud member of the Bentley Gatekeepers, passed away peacefully on the weekend after a period of illness. He was 85…READ MORE
Determined to share the pain of their recent humiliation with the rest of the country, the Morrison government finished the 2019 parliament with a spate of behaviour that was Grinch-worthy in its awfulness.
With the support of Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie, they demolished the Medevac legislation pushed through by Dr Kerryn Phelps during her brief stint as the member for Wentworth.
This means decisions about urgent medical care for refugees in offshore detention will no longer be made by medical professionals, but by functionaries of the ever-growing, Kafka-esque empire of Peter Dutton.…READ MORE
The federal government’s attempt at a big finish to 2019 ended in shambles last week with their union-busting bill defeated by an unlikely coalition of Jacqui Lambie, Greens, ALP and One Nation senators.
In a very rare vote against the government, Pauline Hanson said she was motivated by the fallout from the Westpac debacle, in which the bank was found to have broken the law more than 27 million times; facilitating money laundering, terrorism financing and paedophilia amongst other conduct unbecoming a banking behemoth…READ MORE
Is it all too late? Is the end nigh? Has the fat lady sung? Is the human race run? If so, how should we live?
More than a few of us have jumped directly from saying ‘she’ll be right, there’s no need to do anything’, to ‘we’re all going to die, it’s too late to act.’
Both of these approaches to the climate crisis are passive, and play into the hands of those who have put life on earth into this precarious situation…READ MORE
By way of an apology to my children.
There are no words to express my sorrow toward all earthlings.
I wasn’t always a vegan.
I am happy to admit I was wrong.
Not many vegans have been a vegan all their life. Mind you, I have been speaking to some families who have happy healthy teenage children who have never consumed animal products – but, for the majority of us, being a vegan is something we have come to later in life.
Like ex-smokers or ex-alcoholics, ex-carnivores can be a little bit ‘militant’ when it comes to their food choices because we’ve seen the light, or maybe, we’ve seen too much of the dark…
Barnaby Joyce blamed the stress of worrying about his parents' place burning down for his erratic behaviour last week, but as the emergency worsened, it became clear that his burning pants and those of his leader needed more urgent attention.
The attempt to re-frame the bushfire catastrophe as something caused by dastardly tree-huggers and latte-sippers was spearheaded by Nationals leader Michael McCormack, who said in response to Adam Bandt that people 'don't need the ravings of some pure enlightened and woke capital city greenies at this time when they are trying to save their homes'…READ MORE
Federal parliament isn't sitting at the moment, but lobbyists and spin doctors never sleep, which is why we've all been facing fresh assaults from our 'leaders' and would-be leaders this week.
In what at first appeared to be a scrap of good news, the Morrison government announced $1 billion for new clean energy projects, including extra money for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. They also appointed an expert panel to do something about greenhouse emissions.
But faster than you could say George Orwell, it was revealed clean energy – in the topsy-turvy world of the amusingly named Minister for Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor – actually meant gas, and the head of the expert panel was to be none other than Grant King, the former CEO of Origin Energy (aka the people who fracked Queensland and created a fiery spa bath in the Condamine River)…
When I headed down the Summerland Way last week, days after the Rappville bushfire, there was still a pall of smoke and strange light south of Casino.
The corner of Braemar State Forest remains miraculously unscathed, but then... miles of destruction. You can see where the fire leapt the highway. It’s hard to imagine how the firefighters stopped it. Saved houses are dotted here and there, surrounded by burned trees.
In what was to be the site of a major blockade to protect one of the North Coast’s last viable koala populations, the forest has turned orange, black, and silent…READ MORE
Last week a group of NSW ALP figures including the Labor leader Jodi McKay and Federal MP for Richmond, Justine Elliot, launched a petition calling for more police on the Far North Coast, citing rapid population growth and a ‘policing and crime crisis’ along with drugs issues.
The online petition reads: ‘The police numbers in our region have been slashed so severely that staffing levels are now in crisis...READ MORE
The buzz on bees
As I said in last month’s Being Vegan, one of the questions I get asked a lot is: why don’t vegans use eggs and honey?
Again, my personal reason for being a vegan is because I believe all the creatures on this planet are earthlings and as such we all deserve equal rights.
When it comes to consuming anything that belongs to another earthling, I ask myself: what was this ‘food’ item intended for? What was it created for?…READ MORE
Back in 2013, at the height of the coal seam gas (CSG) fight in NSW, the state government led by Barry O’Farrell commissioned the Chief Scientist, professor Mary O’Kane, to conduct a comprehensive review of CSG-related activities, focusing on the human health and environmental impacts of unconventional gas.
Late in 2014 she delivered her report, which included 16 recommendations to government.
Although gas companies and their allies immediately claimed the report gave a green light to their industry, O’Kane herself said that there was still much for government to do, and that ‘implementing the recommendations of the Review involves non-trivial tasks'…READ MORE
At Destination Byron’s recent Sustainability in Tourism event, held at the Byron Community Centre, a large audience listened to representatives from Council and the founder and CEO of EarthCheck, Stewart Moore, explore the possibilities of a sustainable future for tourism in our region, which now has over two million visitors annually.
Moore said there were 25 million travellers around the globe in 1950. Today there are 1.6 billion, and in 2030 there are expected to be 2 billion.Managing so many people without destroying the environments and communities that travellers are visiting is a major challenge.
EarthCheck assists this process by providing certification and advice to destinations as diverse as Iceland, Mexico, the Caribbean and New Zealand…READ MORE
Chickens are birds too!
One of the questions I get asked a lot is: Why don’t vegans use eggs and honey?
The answer is not complicated, but it does take a bit of explaining, and usually the short answer draws ‘yes, but what about?’ questions…READ MORE
The recent release of region by region statistics from Tourism Research Australia has sparked a flurry of responses from local stakeholders in the industry.
David Jones, President of Destination Byron, welcomes more data and science being added to the discussion. He says there are two very different tourism stories in the Shire, with 1.1 million day visitors and 1.1 million overnight visitors. ‘One thing that most folk in the town don’t comprehend is that 50 per cent of all visitors to our region are not staying overnight. That’s a phenomenal statistic,’ he said.
‘The science shows that people who visit for a day will stay overnight in the future, but realistically Byron has a strong over-reliance on what we call the short stay leisure market, and that’s one of the biggest Achilles heels of this town,’ said Jones…READ MORE
Koala advocates say they may end up blockading the Braemar State Forest if the NSW Forestry Corporation tries to start logging there soon.
Logging was due to start Friday 13 September but has been delayed after more than a hundred protestors gathered in the forest south of Casino.
Tim Watson came from Lawrence for the event, attending because of concerns both for the global extinction crisis and threats to his local koala population. 'They're going extinct at a massive rate because of land-clearing and forestry commission, loss of habitat, fires, roadkill,' he said. 'We're destroying all their homes'…READ MORE
The first thing that people usually say when the subject of my veganism comes up is ‘Where do you get your protein from?’.
Actually that’s not totally true – usually, the first thing people say is ‘but what about bacon?’, and to be totally honest, when I was an omnivore that was a question I asked.
The protein comment usually comes second and I could pretty much almost guarantee that just about every vegan has been asked this question.
I’m not going to acknowledge the first question which is more about hurting someone’s feelings than about the taste of charred pig flesh, but I can address the second.…READ MORE
Though the days are warm, the nights are still very cold and will be for a couple of months to come.
For people sleeping rough, this is a really hard time of year and services for the homeless and needy are stretched to their limits.
The problem of homelessness is not getting any closer to being solved; in fact the opposite is the case and it’s difficult to accurately gather statistics because of the nature of homelessness…
Veteran environmental campaigner Murray Muzz Drechsler has joined the Extinction Rebellion holacracy, in an effort to make governments at every level sit up and take notice as the climate crisis becomes the climate emergency.
Drechsler says that Extinction Rebellion (XR) will be holding the Byron Shire Council accountable for their actions.
‘They have declared a climate emergency but they haven’t acted upon it. Not only have they not acted on it, they are going to clear critically endangered wetland rainforest for a bypass. That’s not going to happen'…READ MORE
If you had to walk a kilometre to pump your water from a well, do you think you would be careful how many drops you used?
If you lived in Beijing would you value clean air, or in Brazil would you hug trees? What if your turnips grew in Chernobyl soil?
Across the globe people are suffering because of greed. It’s as simple as that. You can argue about progress all you want (if I hear one more person ask me if I type my stories on a computer)…