Letters to the editor December 4

Brownlee, McNally and Clough descendants sought

Mary Boulton Pioneer Cottage and Museum together with Nambucca Shire Council wish to contact descendents of the Brownlee, McNally and Clough families.

William Henry Brownlee married 1869 Mary (nee McNally), brother of Hugh McNally.

Hugh McNally married 1880 Mary Ann (nee Hall), who died 10 days after childbirth in 1893. The daughter who survived was Rose Jane McNally.

Rose was taken by William and Mary Brownlee (aunt and uncle), who raised her until she was 19 years, when she married Thomas Francis Clough and lived at Nambucca Heads.

Mary Ann McNally (nee Hall) is buried in Blackbutt cemetery in an unknown grave. Mary's mother Annie Matilda Hall died in childbirth in 1883, and her grave has been located at Blackbutt cemetery.

Incidentally Hugh McNally built the Star Hotel in Macksville where his wife Mary Ann died.

Nambucca Shire Council, MBPC and Museum and Blackbutt Cemetery Committee (Defunct) have donated plaques for Mary Ann and Annie Matilda and Laverty's Funerals a headstone for Annie Matilda's grave and they will be dedicated and unveiled on 11th January 2020 at 10am.

We have had contact with some people connected with the family of Clough and seek descendants of McNally and Brownlee to contact us to participate in the dedication.

Enquiries to Geoff Minett, email gminett6@bigpond.comm or phone (02) 6568 1265.

Bushfire

The forests are burning, but most gadgets keep churning.

The smoke runs thick, and the lungs they feel like bricks.

The heat is intense, and most critters have little defense.

The farmers are bust, and battle for a crust.

The city folk too, they choke on the smoke.

The birds can fly, but to where and why?

The forests are burning, can the economy keep turning?

The mind is stressed, and many depressed.

But, an old frog croaks, and brings hope to most

Robert Miethke, Bellingen

Gun lobby tactics

Whenever there is a gun atrocity in the United States, the first response of the US National Rifle Association is to say words to the effect of "now is not the time to talk about it". By fraudulently declaring concern for the victims and by implying insensitivity on the part of those who wish to debate the fundamental causes of the tragedy, they aim to avoid scrutiny of their responsibility. The hope is that, in a little time, the people and media cycle will move on.

Our prime minister repeatedly expressed the same sentiments when someone asked him about the role of climate change in eastern Australia's unprecedented bushfires.

Geoff Cousins, the former adviser to John Howard has seen this tactic used before in Australia when John Howard was forced to respond to Australia's worst act of domestic terrorism, in which 35 people were killed at Port Arthur. Howard confronted MPs in his own party, and particularly those in the National Party who claimed it was the wrong time to talk about tighter gun laws, so soon after the event. According to Geoff Cousins, "Howard said 'Wrong, this is precisely the time to do something about it'. And he did."

But now we have a prime minister who is doing precisely the opposite.

Long-term climate change in Australia is an undeniable reality. The State of the Climate 2018 report for Australia notes strong land surface temperature increases and a 10-20 per cent decline in cool season rainfall across southern Australia since the 1970s. These changes are closely associated with increasing human greenhouse gas emissions.

Furthermore, wildfires are increasing around the world. This past northern summer saw hundreds of wildfires burning across millions of hectares of the Arctic, from Alaska to Russia to Scandinavia and Greenland. Across the countries of the European Union, 1600 fires were recorded in mid-August, more than three times the long-term yearly average.

As Prime Minister Scott Morrison offers "thoughts and prayers" to those ravaged by severe bushfires across NSW, his Liberal Party colleagues in the state government slashed tens of millions of dollars from state fire services this year. In the latest state budget, $12.9 million in expenses was cut from Fire & Rescue NSW, while the Office of NSW Rural Fire Services, which is run by volunteers, lost $26.7 million in expenses.

According to a recent Climate of the Nation survey, 76 per cent of Australians believe climate change is causing more severe bushfires. Yet the fossil fuel lobby, like the American gun lobby, keeps its hold on politics with its manipulative tactics. It is time for the Australian people to wake up and realise they are being utterly conned.

Adrian P. Wolfin, Bellingen

Climate changed

I've been dealing with bushfires since the first week of August, as predicted by scientists for the last 40 years. We now face a major crossroads. As the first wave of refugees migrate from inland Australia to the coast we will need infrastructure to accommodate tens if not hundreds of thousands. The pressure on our water infrastructure will become immense, not to mention housing and hospitals. Immense sums of money need to be spent now to upgrade and drought proof our coastal communities. We can no longer rely on rivers and groundwater to service our community needs. The time to act is now. More dams and water storage are imperative. This is not the time for our elected officials to procrastinate and play silly denialist politics.

Brian Ormond, Bellingen

Bushfire devastation

On October 21 2009 the SMH reported that the Federal Government and all east coast state governments rejected an offer from the Russian government - to provide Ilyushin 76 Water Bombers to help fight catastrophic forest and bushfires throughout Australia.

The Ilyushin 76 is a Modified Military Heavy Lift Transport Jet which is highly manoeuvrable and can operate out of short-length country and regional airports. They can dump 42,000 litres of water, drenching a path 100m wide and 500m long in a single pass. Once back on the ground at a country airport they can reload with another 42,000 litres of water in 12 minutes, ready for take off to address the next priority firefront target with another drenching.

The Russian offer of help was repeated by their ambassador in a letter submitted to the Royal Commission Inquiry into the February 2009 fires that killed 173 people.

The ambassador said that their Emergency Ministry had concluded that just two IL 76 Water Bombers would have been enough to cope with the firefighting near Melbourne in February 2009.

The Russian offer has been on the table for a full ten years, with successive state and commonwealth governments still rejecting the offer. If these governments had genuine concern for the safety and well-being of country communities, volunteer bushfire fighting crews, native wildlife, our forests and water catchments then we would (by now), have eight to ten of these planes operated and maintained by the Royal Australian Air Force.

At the outbreak of the recent and ongoing NSW North Coast fires we could have stationed one at Lismore Airport and one at Coffs Harbour Airport. The town of Rappville could have been saved. Wytalibah community could have been saved.

North Coast fires could have been PUT OUT. Scores of farms and houses could have been saved. Billions of dollars worth property could have been saved. Forests, koalas and other wildlife could have been protected from agonising death and water catchments protected from the total dehydration that unchecked wildfires cause.

Trevor J. Pike, Bellingen

Disproving the myth

At the community garden meeting, Councillor King said that the shire's $15m STP would be at risk if the site for the residential development or the affordable housing village was to be approved. I feel this statement is implausible on three grounds:

1. Practicality. In the last ten years there have been no registered complaints meaning that there was no odour or it was so insignificant that a complaint was not warranted. Council has already approved a de-rated buffer zone to allow the land north of North Bank Road to be rezoned to residential. This land is closer to the STP than my proposed site which is outside the already approved buffer.

2. The EPA continually audit to ensure that the STP operates in a manner to anticipate breakdowns. I refer to the Small Sewage Treatment Plant Strategic Environmental Compliance and Performance Review: "2.3.2 Management of activities to minimise odour - Licensees need to put measures in place to control or abate odour emissions from the plant. Measures to mitigate odour should be proactive, with necessary equipment maintained and operational. Any odour issues should be thoroughly investigated and sources identified to ensure those issues can be resolved."

3. The third reason is in my proposal. I offered to pay for a Nano bubble injector unit to be placed in line with the STP. This technology is already in use in Qld and Sydney Water. It is also backed up by science and would reduce odour and biomass sludge by 54%. Using the Nano bubble technology will reduce the need to expand the STP. In using this technology any breakdown at the STP would have a lead time of one week compared with one day at present for repairs and EPA compliance.

On these grounds it makes the argument that the Council uses "the $15m STP is at risk if they receive complaints" unjustified.

Dom Bertucci, Bellingen

Devastating Fires

Hopefully, there will be a wide reaching Royal Commission into the ongoing fires, with decisions made by the commission implemented to their full degree by our government bodies and shires.

Philip Edwards, Bellingen