Ping but mostly pong
We should have a TV game show that guesses which other essential services workers the NSW Liberal/National party can alienate.
Though to be honest there’s not a lot left.
It’s been a big week for the erosion of what makes a society tick: NSW premier Barry O’Farrell and his Sydney mates managed to have the parliament house in Sydney hosed by fire fighters unhappy at changes to their work health insurance. That was gold!
Then there is the planned teachers’ strike for Wednesday June 27. Maybe the teachers can make the politicians write ‘I must maintain the current levels of staffing and resources’ a hundred times.
At a local level, MP Don Page has expressed through the letters pages his displeasure at The Echo’s reporting on the planned reduction of personnel at the Mullumbimby Hospital, yet refuses to provide a clear commitment to support the community’s call for retaining its night doctor.
But the worst part? Having the NSW Labor Party ring this office wanting to respond to that story in an almost gloating tone. Who can forget the 16 years of poor management from NSW Labor that left the mess. Two party political oligarchies still rule with almost complete corporate influence on state and federal levels – is this really the best we can do?
One piece of good news this week however is the NSW Nationals passing a unanimous motion calling for tighter controls on coal-seam gas exploration (despite still committing to it). Odd it took a party that claims to represent farmers that long to come to that conclusion, but at least it’s a start.
Death by a thousand cuts
If there’s one essential service that communities can’t do without, it’s hospitals and their staff.
Generally we are born there, it’s there for us in life-threatening situations and it’s also a drop-off point when we expire.
The long-term erosion of our local services is well known and Mullumbimby is now experiencing a premature wind-down at the hands of a bureaucrat who won’t even answer basic cost analysis questions.
The Byron Central Hospital is still years off, yet cutting the Mullum night doctor is being considered in October in favour of video-conferencing.
This insane decision comes as our region experiences population growth, along with the state government’s recent approval of Splendour In The Grass, which will add more visitors.
Both of these issues were raised with our local minister Don Page and minister for health and medical research Jillian Skinner, but they didn’t elicit a response.
While health boss Chris Crawford – who lives in the region – defends his vision for the region in the letters pages, it is clear he has a PR problem. Who would regard his 12 years of service in local health bureaucracy as inspiring?
Imagine what a six-figure salary could provide to the residents of Mullumbimby instead of ambiguously worded press releases.
It’s also interesting what being in government does to one’s integrity too. Thankfully Byron Council supports the community’s efforts to retain our essential services, but Minister Page’s response to this matter is a major concern. Mr Page spent many years in
the political wilderness but now he’s in government he sees it appropriate to support bureaucratic decisions without question.
It’s not only a cop-out but a slap in the face to our health professionals. This region needs better representation as these people are clearly not succeeding in their efforts towards our interests or wellbeing.
Slavery and imperialism still rule
Genocide is on our doorstep and it looks like we are complicit. One of our closest neighbours, the West Papuans, are being systematically murdered and enslaved by the Indonesians, says indigenous activist and musician Ronnie Kareni.
It’s a topic we don’t hear much about in the mainstream press, he says, because both Australia and Indonesia benefit from strip- mining the region’s resources and subjugating its inhabitants.
To most Australians, it sits to the left of Papua New Guinea. It’s not something I am proud of, but until I met Kareni and Blue King Brown’s Natalie Pa’apa’a, I had little idea about the place. And that appears to be how the Australian and Indonesian governments like it. The ‘free press’ like it as well, because advertisers who pay their wages are also profiting from the mining and rainforest logging, says Kareni. In light of that, it’s always worth thinking about where your next outdoor ensemble originates from.
Since the Indonesian military occupation in the 1960s, it’s estimated over 100,000 West Papuans have been killed, according to www.freewestpapua.com.au. But Ronnie says studies from Sydney University in 2009/10 claim it to be around half a million.
Its population of 3.5 million has been reduced to around 48 per cent indigenous, with the other half mostly Indonesian. It’s a stark difference to the time before the occupation, he says.
Perhaps invading underdeveloped countries is not personal; after all, the indigenous are just getting in the way of expected returns on investments (ROI). Case in point is that the Freeport gold mine in West Papua is one of the largest on the planet.
It harks back to the days of King Leopold II of Belgium, possibly the most evil imperialist to ever live. This fucker is responsible for the death of an estimated five to 15 million Congolese around the late 1800s. Eventually he was forced to hand over his private enterprise to the Belgian government, but that wasn’t before he extracted a fortune from the Congo. Initially it was ivory, but after a rise in the price of rubber, he enslaved natives to collect sap from rubber plants.
It’s an uncomfortable truth that almost all wealth in human history has been created from slavery and the consumption of finite and polluting resources. Even more uncomfortable is a news cycle generally wasted on petty crime and celebrity gossip. At least we can be thankful that there are other options. To learn more visit www.freewestpapua.com.au.
Byron fightclub rules
Here are some solutions to the yabber yabber and humbug surrounding drunk dickheads in Byron’s main drag after dark.
Why not establish a Byron Fightclub? Set up a boxing ring, or better yet an octagonal fight cage, on the Jonson Street roundabout. Low-IQ buffed-up yobs would finally feel welcome – along with some locals – to belt each other up as they are cheered on. Why not close the street on weekends? Let’s have another festival.
Since the state government appears happy to fund business tourism campaigns, perhaps they could fund this.
Sell tickets – hell, why not sell the highlights to reality TV? Be the new Block: Byron Blockhead. And being the sharing caring community we are, each night could be themed for a humanitarian or environmental cause. Fight obesity, fight global warming, Japanese whaling, palm oil...
When the mayor was outraged by tree felling in a wildlife corridor near her house the other week, she was able to stop it immediately. So what’s the sound of a few Queenslanders falling in the night? Does anybody hear? Or care?
Since Council, police, the Liquor Accord and the Byron business chamber appear incapable of doing anything about it collectively – we could at least change the media language. Soften it up a little.
Instead of headlines like ‘Byron Blood Bath’, it could be ‘Byron Nightlife Simply Tickles’, or ‘Street Massages Get Frolicky.’
And finally, if some of our treasured tourists and a handful of locals want more blood, they could go to where Council spent all its money – the Ewingsdale Sports Centre. It’s like a Roman coliseum anyway but needs a little more use.
Mud wrestling under flood lights would be the obvious conclusion.