Saturday, November 13, 2010

Round the New England media 13 Nov 10

It's actually been five months since my last snap shot of some of the stories across New England.

In Lismore, the Northern Star reports that about one-fifth of Lismore’s water is being lost because of cracks in the council’s ageing pipes, with almost 60 per cent of water in Nimbin leaking before it reaches homes. The water lost, about 18% of the total, is worth an estimated $1.5 million per annum. In a comment on the story, Cletus huffed:

Why worry about infrastructure in a crumbling city when we could have a shiny new art gallery so the hobnobs and city officials can eat cheese and drink wine while getting their pictures taken for the local papers.

The Northern Star also reports that the police had a weighty problem when their scales proved inadequate to weigh a crop of seized cannabis. Fortunately  a local green grocer came to the rescue!

In nearby Bryon Bay, environmental issues continue to be important. Here the Echo quotes State Green's member David Shoebridge on planning issues:

‘It is simply outrageous that the developers can choose to bypass Byron Council and have their development assessed by the Minister for Planning. Why should a Minister in Sydney decide West Byron development?’ said Mr Shoebridge.

In an opinion piece, Echo editor Michael McDonald calls for the legalisation or at least decriminalisation of marijuana. "It’s probably flogging a dead horse", he says, " but we ageing Bohemians tend to swim against the tide of conformity as a matter of habit."

I find that Michael has an Echo blog. I have added it to the list. I do like like the idea of an aging bohemian!

North in Tweed Heads on the border, the Tweed heads Daily reports that three decades after Simon Anderson revolutionised surfing with his thruster surfboard, surfers are returning to the board designs it almost wiped out. It is, apparently, good news for shapers like Full Force owner Scott Barber because it makes working life a lot more interesting: "thrusters didn't suit everyone", Scott said. Now "many surfers had turned back the clock and wanted to ride single fin and twin fin boards again."

Staying in the Tweed, Tweed Tourism is hoping a Federal Government-funded project will put Tweed on the map for driving holidays. Richmond MP Justine Elliot and Senator Nick Sherry have joined forces to create the $670,000 project named the Legendary Pacific Coast Touring Route.The aim is to encourage people to jump in their cars and drive the corridor between Sydney and Brisbane.

I was a bit surprised at this one. As expressed, it didn't seem to make a great deal of sense given existing congestion on the Highway. Maybe I'm missing something.

Staying in the Northern Rivers but moving south to the Clarence, the Grafton Daily Examiner reports that Doctors are keen on the new GP super clinic due to begin construction shortly. According to the project manager, one "remote doctor is looking forward to moving closer to the coast and Grafton is very appealing in itself ... it has good schools and is a nice town.”

This seems a bit like robbing Peter to pay Paul.  Grafton is indeed a nice city. However, the attraction of doctors from one area of need to another is a zero sum game. We need more doctors in New England full stop, something that I have commented on before.

Moving west to Moree, the Moree Champion reports on the death Maynie Mavis Jean Saunders, nee Cutmore, who played a significant role in improving local race relations over the last 60 years. Moree has a very large Aboriginal population, over 22% of the total Shire population. It was the centre of the famous Sydney University student rides of the 1960s. It would be nice to see a fuller obituary on Mrs Saunders' death.

Staying in Moree, a steering committee has been nominated to help oversee an operational future for the Dhiiyaan Indigenous Centre. I have written a little on this one before. I don't understand the local issues surrounding the Centre. I do understand that the Centre has played an important role in family reunion, family history and the promotion of Kamilaroi identity. Hopefully, the new steering committee will make some progress.

At a time when so many small country communities have been in decline, it is good to see from theGolden Grain Hotel Pallamallawa Champion that Pallamallawa has been growing. Located some 30km east of Moree on the banks of the Gwydir River, 2km off the Gwydir Highway between Moree and Inverell, the village seems quite dynamic. 

The photo shows English backpacker Matt Simpson with Golden Grain Hotel owner Adrian Johns, open and ready for business. Good to see a backpacker get that far west.

Staying in the inland, I don't think that the weekly Coonabarabran Times is online, something that is unusual in this day and age. However, ABC New England Northwest certainly is

In a sign of the times, Glen Innes based Eastmon Photos will close its six retail stores in Armidale, Bathurst, Dubbo, Glen Innes, Inverell and Tamworth with the loss of 30 jobs. Eastmon can no longer compete with the on-line photo developing market.

ABC also reports that Armidale born chemist and microbiologist Professor Jillian Banfield has received two of the world's most prestigious scientific awards.They are the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth and Environmental Science, plus one of five L'Oreal-UNESCO awards recognising exceptional women in science. Congratulations.

It has been a long time since the Murray-Darling system experienced a really big flood. For this to happen, you need saturated ground followed by more rain. A report in the Northern Daily Leader suggests that Tamworth now risks a perfect flood. The entire Peel River catchment, from the head of the Peel at Nundle, and all tributary rivers all the way to the Tamworth levee bank, is at saturation point. Every on-farm storage, dam, creek and Chaffey Dam are at full capacity. And the Bureau of Meteorology forecasts Tamworth is likely to receive up to 300mm by the end of January.

The rain also threatens the grain crop. After the best winter season in living memory, continued wet conditions are now damaging the crop.

It's not just in the Hunter Valley that coal gas seam projects are causing trouble. The proposal by Eastern Star Gas to build a pipeline to carry gas from ESG’s Narrabri coal seam gas project to a proposed gas-fired power station at Wellington has been met by protests from local farmers. However, the Eastern Star approach seems a little different from that adopted in the Hunter. Eastern Star's John Anderson stated: "As a home-grown Narrabri company which plans to have a long-term presence in the region, we are determined to work closely with the local community on a permanent basis.”

Turning now to the Mid North Coast, the Bellingen Courier-Sun reports on the planned opening of the final 400m stage of the Urunga Boardwalk which now extends for almost 1km from Urunga township to the Pacific Ocean, terminating on a viewing platform resting on top of the training wall.

In Bellingen, around 100 residents gathered in Church Street Friday 5 November to oppose a proposal by Council to progressively remove camphor laurel trees from the café precinct.

This one pits different environmental views against each other. Greens Councillor Sean Tuohy (the only councilors present) said he voted for the removal of the camphor laurels because “I regard them as a weed that destroys the environment”. This view was not shared by those protesting. “If you’re a Green, stand up for the trees.”

Staying with environmental issues, the Macleay Argus reports on the spread of the noxious tropical soda apple weed in the upper Macleay.

Farmers first noticed the weed growing in the area about three years ago, but it is the past 12 months that have been of most concern. A five-fold increase in the number of plants led the Mid North Coast Weeds Committee to develop an emergency control plan to try to halt the spread which threatens prime agricultural land.  Crews from all over New England have joined the effort, but more help is needed.


Miss Eagle said...

I just l-o-v-e-d this post. As a small town girl trapped in a big city (Melbourne) I loved this round up. My favourites were the Tweed Heads tourist road idea and the need for the scales at Byron. Please keep up this excellent work.

Now, I wonder if there could be imitators for a communal blog with round-ups (rounds-up?!) like this. But then perhaps the northern NSW coastal strip is a world of its own!

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Miss E. Glad you liked the post!

I don't know of anybody else who does quite what I do. On the Northern Rivers, North Coast Voices is a group political blog that comments on local issues from a left of centre perspective. Peter Firminger maintains two overlapping community sites covering Wollombi and Broke in the Hunter. He does include some Hunter news round-ups.

I know that there are others, including Facebook pages.

There are a number of twitter feeds. I think that each of the ABC regions within the broader New England has its own twitter feed, although I'm only following one at present. There are also some news aggregation feeds covering the Central Coast, Hunter and Upper Hunter. I'm not aware of any further north.

Each region of New England is a world of its own, not just the NR. That's one of the reasons why I try to provide a broader perspective.

I have long been an exponent of more communal sites, including blogs. It has been happening, but its a slow process.

Facebook doesn't actually help much. It does tend to add to the fragmentation. It's good for things like protests, but less good for things requiring constant input. It's quite difficult and time consuming to dig back htrough past material.

Once again, my thanks. I will try to do these round-ups more frequently.