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Byron Shire
March 8, 2021

High Expectations

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Seapeace: the late Tony Maxwell’s wetland legacy

Many curious minds have pondered the purpose of the rice paddy-like waterbodies that scallop the contour lines out into the Ewingsdale coastal plain that can be viewed from St Helena Road.

Other News

Editorial – #ChooseToChallenge the patriarchy

It is easy to think we have almost achieved equality for men and women in a country like Australia – just as long as you don’t think too hard about it.

Seapeace: the late Tony Maxwell’s wetland legacy

Many curious minds have pondered the purpose of the rice paddy-like waterbodies that scallop the contour lines out into the Ewingsdale coastal plain that can be viewed from St Helena Road.

Bangalow blackspot puts school children at risk

Will action ever be taken to protect school kids getting on and off the bus on Lismore Road, Bangalow as trucks fly by at 80km/h?

Be proud of Ballina, help clean up our beaches

This Sunday, 7 March, Ballina Coastcare is inviting everyone who cares about Ballina's environment to Step Up To Clean Up, and join a special event for Clean Up Australia Day.

Children approached by stranger in Murwillumbah

Police say a Queensland man has been charged following two alleged child approaches in Murwillumbah today.

Fossil investments

Brian Mollet, Mullumbimby It is with considerable incredulity that I read in last week’s Echo that Byron Shire has a lazy...

Melissa Hargraves

Rain cleared in Lismore yesterday for the ‘May Day Rally for Cannabis Law Reform’ to highlight the refusal by our politicians to engage in the drug law reform debate. Michael Balderstone, HEMP (Help End Marijuana Prohibition) Party President, hand delivered copies of the Australia21 Report to the Courthouse, Police Station, Janelle Saffin MP and Thomas George MP.

The recent Australia21 Report has called for a re-examination of our attitudes and laws regarding drug use. The panel of esteemed professionals have asked for ‘widespread consultation towards fashioning a rational response to drug taking in our community.’

Michael believes the report is a ‘game changer’ and questions the war on drugs. ‘It is really about who makes the profit from which medicine. We are here today to say that it is time to have the conversation that the Australia21 Report is begging us to have.’

Accompanying the hand-delivered Australia21 report was a letter requesting a public forum in our Town Hall to consider the report’s recommendations.

Steve Bolt also addressed the crowd. ‘This latest report is about the 500th report saying that the laws are wrong, that prohibition is not working, it’s a waste of time and resources.’

Steve has been involved in the Drug Reform issue for 20 years. I asked if he could share with Echonetdaily any observations in his time observing reform dialogue. ‘I think a lot of people in authority have closed their minds. The same issues are still there, there is nothing new about the criticism about prohibition. It has been around for a long time. Look at the spectacular failure of trying to ban alcohol in the USA. Disaster!’

One of the arguments supporting continued cannabis prohibition is the notion that easy access would infer increased use. I ran this past Steve and invited his comment.

‘We have evidence-based answers to that. Citizens of Portugal and Amsterdam (where there is liberal access to cannabis) actually decreased their usage after ending prohibition.’ I joked that the visitors from countries with prohibition would make up for that decrease!

Mental health is another area of concern. Steve admitted that marijuana can affect some people’s mental health but questions the sophistication of thinking that this should apply to everyone.

’Evidence shows that a small proportion of people have mental health problems associated with cannabis usage which can be quite significant, they need to be looked at and understood. But for the very large majority of people that use cannabis, this is not the case. ‘

Drug reform is not just referring to recreational use. Current Australian laws allow very limited use and production of industrial hemp and as Steve pointed out, ‘It is still illegal in Australia to eat a hemp seed, which is nutritionally valuable. Yet it’s not illegal in any other country.”

Gail, a local retiree, marched in the rally and told Echonetdaily, ‘I simply can’t drink alcohol, it makes me physically sick. I use marijuana recreationally and have found that it has cured my symptoms of menopause, something that 10 years of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) couldn’t do! And that makes me a criminal!’

Michael was appreciative of those who attended. ‘I am well aware that a lot of people won’t put their hands up for drug law reform as it is like saying I’m a criminal, come and get me.’ Police were also thanked and Michael joked that they were ‘…not in a position to agree with him but they were still part of the march and I may even be speaking on their behalf.’

The 20th MardiGrass cannabis law reform annual gathering is on this weekend at Nimbin. For details go to http://www.nimbinmardigrass.com . The Australia21 Report has given a new optimism to the annual protest weekend.

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  1. Janelle Saffin and Thomas George- the people put you in your respective jobs to represent them…..so do your job. Dont ignore the issue because it may make you politically unpopular, or reduce the term of your stay in your electorate. The people have spoken…….for decades incidentally on this issue; time for a change. Someone who listens to the people, and takes action on their behalf in relation to whats important in THEIR lives.
    Alcohol, and all its disgusting side effects are allowed and tolerated in society, why not hooch? Its like saying you can own a bazooka, but not a slingshot.
    To those fighting the good fight; keep going hard. To all those opposed; wake up.


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Caravan park to pay $2.3mil plus to consumers

The NSW Court of Appeal has upheld the Supreme Court’s decision arising from the sale of the movable dwellings located on waterfront sites along the Tweed River.

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Ballina cleans up!

Clean Up Australia Day was a great success in Ballina, with the beach clean up event organised by Ballina Coastcare yesterday attracting twenty volunteers.

Lismore future councillor information sessions

With the delayed Local Government elections being held in September, several councils, including Lismore City Council, are holding information sessions for community members who are thinking about running for Council.