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Byron Shire
October 20, 2021

Political comment: Welcome to summer

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Entertainment in the Byron Shire for the week beginning 19 October, 2021

Check out what's on at the cinema this week in Ballina and Byron

Other News

A concrete solution to carbon capture

A newly developed concrete – made from recycled construction waste and industrial exhaust gases – could reduce construction emissions.

Cultural heritage report goes public

A redacted copy of the 2013 Ainsworth Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment document has been made publicly available on the Rous County Council website, clarifying the extensive Widjabul-Wiabul connections with the land which would have been inundated by the Dunoon Dam.

Koalas and dogs

I want to thank Byron Council for including the flyer in The Echo about koalas and dogs. There is...

Gladys’ resignation

The entrenched corruption that tied senior politicians and police to notorious underworld figures in NSW for decades from the...

The Great Reopening

S Haslam What a time to go out in Byron – easy to park and, for the shy retiring types...

Comment: Court rejects challenges to vax laws

More than a million people tuned into the live stream of  Kassam v Hazzard; Henry v Hazzard via the NSW Supreme Court’s YouTube channel over the past couple of weeks, many hoping for a judgment which invalidates public health orders which mandate vaccines for certain industries, such as healthcare, aged care and construction.

Mungo MaCallum has told us here at Echo Publications, that owing to ill health, last week wast his final Thus Spake Mungo column. Photo Tree Faerie.

David Lowe

In the week when Australia’s greatest political observer Mungo MacCallum put down his pen, it would have been nice if the nation’s politicians had given up their shenanigans momentarily, out of respect. Alas, it was not to be.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian discovered the rumours were true and there was more to NSW than Sydney and Wagga Wagga when she went to Nyngan for a photo opportunity at the Big Bogan, followed by having her face painted at Cobar and ‘handing back’ 15,000 hectares to Aboriginal owners to form the new Mt Grenfell National Park. Welcome news, apart from the fact that her government is right behind PM Scott Morrison’s ludicrous ‘gas-fired recovery’, no matter how many sacred sites and aquifers have to be destroyed along the way, starting with the Pilliga Forest near Narrabri.

Gomeroi traditional owners took their fight directly to Parliament House in Canberra, loudly saying ‘Gamil Means No’

Gomeroi traditional owners took their fight directly to Parliament House in Canberra, loudly saying ‘Gamil Means No’, but the Prime Minister was busy with his ongoing personal marketing campaign, constructing a series of stage-managed photographs from quarantine, including everyone’s favourite, top half by Armani, bottom half by Big W. He emerged just in time to see 1,000 new police officers being sworn in at the SCG, then made it home to be photographed with an inflatable Santa riding an inflatable shark. How good is Christmas?

Also good was the investiture with the Victoria Cross, 78 years after his death on HMAS Armidale of the heroic Teddy Sheean. Of course it was only a coincidence that the timing was perfect to take the focus off war crimes in Afghanistan by Australian soldiers.

As the war of words with China worsened, lobsters died, wine stopped moving and coal ships continued to bank up outside Chinese ports. The absence of anyone with serious diplomatic credentials in the Morrison government is becoming dangerously clear, with our Spinner-in-Chief being out-manoeuvred by people who have been doing this sort of thing much longer than he has.

Mathias goes green

For the last month, the former Australian finance minister Mathias Cormann has been on a personal campaign to become the next boss of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development). In spite of the Terminator-like powers of persuasion he would undoubtedly bring to the job, it seems he needs a personal jet costing $4,300 an hour, plus eight full-time staff, to make the right impression; all of them flying round the world to help talk up his case. No Zoom meetings for Mathias, despite the claim in his job application that ‘undertaking global action on climate change is a must, and we must get to zero net emissions as soon as possible’.

The ALP is right behind Cormann’s candidacy, apparently convinced that this man with a record of deep climate skepticism is a perfect fit for the OECD.

Speaking of the environmentally unsustainable, Adani, or whatever they’re called this week, received a $26,000 slap on the wrist for forgetting to do any surveys before destroying more of the fast-dwindling bushland of central Queensland

Speaking of the environmentally unsustainable, Adani, or whatever they’re called this week, received a $26,000 slap on the wrist for forgetting to do any surveys before destroying more of the fast-dwindling bushland of central Queensland. Photographer Dean Sewell captured the moment two gutsy activists interrupted the cricket test between India and Australia to urge the State Bank of India not to approve a $1 billion loan to Adani for their Australian mine. This action was viewed by millions of people around the world, including on the sub-continent.

In other environmental news, the Great Forest Case was heard this week in the Federal Court, brought on by the Bob Brown Foundation to challenge the ‘rush to extinction’ caused by destruction of Australia’s forests and woodlands. If this case is successful, it will have major repercussions in Tasmania and nationally.

Victoria’s first Indigenous representative to the Senate, Lydia Thorpe, used her maiden speech in the national parliament to discuss the destruction of sacred trees in Djab Wurrung country and Rio Tinto’s demolition of 46,000 year old heritage in Western Australia. ‘We have watched in real time the full horror of the climate crisis and what happens when you stop caring for country,’ she said. ‘We can’t separate climate justice from First Nations justice.’

Unfortunately the chamber was mostly empty, apart from her supporters.

Having a go and getting a go

In a week when Rupert Murdoch’s editors got nastier in response to former Prime Ministers Rudd and Turnbull’s attempts to hold their overlord to account, it was revealed that taxpayers shelled out $5,000 for the current PM and his treasurer to attend Lachlan Murdoch’s Christmas Party last year, in the midst of the bushfire crisis.

Sadly, this pales in comparison to the many millions spent incarcerating the Murugappan family on Christmas Island, who this week notched up 1,000 days of being incarcerated after being taken, in a dawn raid, from their home in Biloela.

The way is now open for fifty people seeking asylum to take legal action against the federal government

Justice fans did have one reason to celebrate this week, with victory for the National Justice Project at the High Court. This comes after twelve months of expensive obstruction from the Minister for Home Affairs and Giving Potatoes a Bad Name, Peter Dutton. The way is now open for fifty people seeking asylum to take legal action against the federal government.

Finally, after the New Zealand government officially declared a climate emergency a few days ago, an attempt by the Australian Greens to do something similar in our federal parliament failed, with the ALP, Nationals and Liberals finding themselves unable to acknowledge scientific reality in the Senate, even though Labor supported the idea initially in the House of Reps. Perhaps they thought it might hurt the prospects of Joel Fitzgibbon’s new gig at the Daily Telegraph.

Meanwhile fires have engulfed half of Fraser Island, and they’re still burning.

Welcome to summer.

David Lowe
David Lowe – photo Tree Faerie

Originally from Canberra, David Lowe is an award-winning film-maker, writer and photographer with particular interests in the environment and technology. He’s known for his work with Cloudcatcher Media as a campaigner against unconventional gas and coal.

David has also written about Australian history. Many years ago, he did work experience in Parliament House with Mungo MacCallum. David has lived off-grid in the Northern Rivers since 2008.

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  1. Thank you for your life’s work Mungo. You have enlightened many, enraged some and entertained us all. A hard act to follow…

  2. Welcome David. If today’s article is anything to go by, your articles will also be mandatory Monday reading. It helps that you are, like Mungo, a wake-up to the failings and neurotic predilections of the Fool in the Lodge (quiz – how many song titles can you think of containing the word “fool”?). He isn’t going to say anything about Mungo because Mungo has worked Morrison out and that, in Morrison’s world, is one of the deadly sins and, for all of his avowed christianity, Morrison is many things, but notably vengeful. On the quest of Cormann of Gormless to be appointed to the OECD, I do wonder if Morrison’s apparent backtracking on some climate change issues is about trying to make Cormann’s absurd change of direction on climate change look more credible. It has to be that , or that with Covid and less people being on the toads etc, it is likely that Australia’s emissions have actually reduced for 2020, so Mr Smug McSmirkyface can, in due course claim that his climate policies are really working and we will now achieve our emissions targets at a gallop (up from a canter)

  3. Fare thee well, ‘Our Mungo’, you are a living National Treasure and you will be missed in these very fine pages of The Echo. Welcome to you David, a stirring first piece and bang on topic. On Climate and Environment there is always one constant, ya just can’t trust The Liarberals. That Conman Cormann is suddenly a ‘true believer’ is taking the piss and it will take a marketing campaign like we never seen before from The Spinner-in-Chief to convince anyone that the Conmann has changed his colours to…. Dark Green?

  4. OMG Soooooo sorry to see you go Mungo. You have been a comfort /an enlightened soul for all and a brilliant political deep analyst . Your vision & insights have been much appreciated in todays world, where little in-depth investigative journalism takes place or is valued? I despair that few people see through “Scotty from Marketing” or Gladys the Koala Killer, while we’re at it. Holding politicians accountable these days is akin to finding hens teeth. Wishing you a peaceful retirement from the Echo Mungo, we will miss your humour & extensive (journalistic) political experience. We do hope your health will improve ASAP.

  5. Thanks Mungo.
    I first read your articles in Nation Review when I was in my teens.
    Love your stuff and you will be sorely missed.

    • Surely miss is an understatement. Just read the article in just how there are no high points, no low points.
      Come back Mungo.

  6. I first found you, Mungo, in 1972 when I bought my first copy of Nation Review. Since then I’ve watched for your articles wherever I’ve been, and was never disappointed. You were still as sparky as ever in Echonet. I regret your need to retire, but you need the rest and I wish you and your Lady well, Old Warrior!

  7. Oh mungo, I shall also miss you terribly. You are the first article I always read in the Echo. Are you going to keep up the cryptic crosswords also a favourite of mine in the Echo and also The Saturday Paper? Keep enjoying life with Jennie and I wish you very well.
    Mary Cameron
    South Golden Beach

  8. Well done, David. I do hope you continue your articles each week. As for you, Mungo…
    take it easy. I too recall your stuff in Nation Review since I was the ‘loud mouthed’
    political poet. Stay well.


    it’s raining

  9. Best of luck for your future Mungo. Although I never met you I feel like I’m losing a good friend.
    My 93 year old farther has been following your writing since year dot and I first heard you talk on double j radio in the seventies while I worked then it went on to 34 years of living here in Byron and reading the echo each week.
    As another comment says your a national treasure.
    I have seen you many times at the Byron paper shop and occasionally when passing through the Bruns pub. Always wanted to say hello and say thanks but I don’t like to bother others so didn’t so nows my chance, hi Mungo my name is Dave Saunders and am very great full for all your good work.
    Good on ya mate, well done.


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