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Byron Shire
January 26, 2022

Here & Now #69

Latest News

One death and 1,219 new COVID-19 cases in Northern Rivers

In the 24 hours to 8pm 25 January there was one death and 1,219 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWHD).

Other News

Kindness to animals recognised in Tweed Shire Australia Day awards

The care Amanda Philp has provided to numerous animals on land and from the sea has seen her recognised as Tweed Shire Citizen of the Year.

SES issues Minor Flood warning for Lismore

Moderate rainfall across the Wilsons River catchment since Wednesday has caused significant river level rises along the Wilsons River and its tributaries, which has the potential to cause minor flooding along the Wilsons River at Lismore late Friday morning.

NRAS about to kick off 2022 adoption days

Local animal charity Northern Rivers Animal Services has kicked off 2022 with a bang, with more cats, kittens and puppies needing homes in Ballina than you can shake a rescuer at.

Tweed Shire celebrates Australia Day online

Tweed Shire Council says that in the interests of public health Council has rearranged its Australia Day celebrations on Wednesday, January 26.

More government support needed for nurses

What would it take to keep our nurses and paramedics from resigning en masse as the current crisis in the NSW health care system worsens?

Storylines – Aboriginal Tent Embassy 1972–2022 – the power of patience

As the 50th anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy draws near, the attention of the nation is again being drawn to the lawns of Old Parliament House. However, this time the actions of the few do not encompass the views and needs of First Nations people.

Here & Now 69 pic

S Sorrensen
Ballina. Sunday, 2.20pm.

There’s a crowd of about 400 people in the park reluctantly forming a circle and holding hands, following directions from a woman near the amphitheatre stage.

An older bloke, with an Akubra and a spherical belly putting a lot of strain on the buttons of his blue shirt, refuses to comply, despite her commands. He shakes his head and says something to the woman beside him, whom I assume is his partner – or, given the pedigree suggested by his attire, more probably his wife.

He walks off leaving his wife to hold hands with a man who believes (judging by the sign he places on the ground so he can extend his hand to her) in not cutting funding for education.

Not everyone likes forming circles and holding hands. I don’t. And I’m pretty spirtual. I reckon the Earth is like a mother to us and nurtures us. That’s spiritual.

I reckon people in trouble should get the help they need. That’s spiritual – almost old-school Christian.

I believe that it’s wrong to destroy habitat and the next generation’s future so that a few fat blokes can make a easy buck. That’s… okay, that’s just sensible. But I think holding hands shouldn’t be mandatory, unless you’re an ice skater or blocking a bulldozer from accessing a forest.

Anyway, that’s just me…

Everyone here is concerned about a government that squawks on about the inhumanity of a group of religious types spawned from our two Iraqi wars, but treats people fleeing such inhumanity with good ol’ Aussie brutality.

These northern rivers folk are concerned about a government that will bravely rescue foreign Christians and domestic coal companies, but condems the coming world to greenhouse poisoning.

You gotta laugh. Ha.

It isn’t a joyous laugh, and it freaks me out to hear it escape my lips. I used to laugh because I was happy.

I watch the people make a circle while the Akubra bloke and a few other handholdaphobes meet by the potato van for a Coke, potato and grumble.

Behind them, a man and a boy stand on the banks of the Richmond, fishing rods in hand, immobile against a lumpy, very mobile river. A salty tang reaches my nose; a magpie’s update reaches my ears.

I slip away to behind the amphitheatre.

There, a skate park is buzzing with young people. Parents and grandparents, obviously not worried about looming war, widening wealth gap or environmental collapse, sit on the neatly-mown grass and watch the young children. These kids are clad head-to-toe in riding armour. They ride their bikes up and down the easy bits, laughing because they’re happy.

The young kids watch the older kids. The older kids in their loose t-shirts and low-slung pants ride their bikes and scooters with teenage nonchalance (no laughing here) going high against the clouds after getting air from the more radical jumps. They high-five each in a casual, cool way after landing a good move.

I don’t like high-fives either.

Yes, as someone said not so long ago, I am a cynical bastard.

I hate that. I don’t want to be cynical. I want to like the circle ceremony. I want to hold hands – actually, no, I don’t, but I wish I did want to…

I want to believe in a life where the children play, the fisherpeople fish, the teenagers pout, the magpie does the news, and where everyone goes home to a meal, The Voice and a warm bed. It’s beautiful, so damn beautiful, all this.

But it’s a bubble. We’re living in a bubble. I just know it.

That makes me cynical, I reckon.

‘Ha.’


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Kindness to animals recognised in Tweed Shire Australia Day awards

The care Amanda Philp has provided to numerous animals on land and from the sea has seen her recognised as Tweed Shire Citizen of the Year.

What does Australia Day mean?

Another Australia Day. Another divisive polemic about the date, the day, and its meaning. Those who seek to change the date argue that 26 January signifies the beginning of Britain’s invasion of Australia and the violent expropriation of Aboriginal lands.

Man charged following pursuit – Far North Coast

A man has been charged with driving offences following a police pursuit in the state’s far north.

More government support needed for nurses

What would it take to keep our nurses and paramedics from resigning en masse as the current crisis in the NSW health care system worsens?