The following presentation was made at community access on 16th July, 2010:-
Greetings. My talk today is about the treasures of the Tweed. I come as a representative of the animals who can’t speak and need people like me and others to speak for them.
I apologise for my last presentation when I spoke strongly against councillors’ decisions (calling them environmentally negligent and environmentally incompetent). The truth is every one of you has done something green and sustainable at least once – so please do more!
I would like to start by reaching out to you. It feels like there is an enormous gap between you and us. It feels like we are aliens from another planet in our way of thinking. Councillors have called us ‘morons’, ‘ratbags’, ‘two-headed’ and ‘dope smokers’ but we are just humans and, like the Na’vis in the movie Avatar, we care deeply about our environment and are increasingly distressed at the amount of development this council allows, much of it on land where threatened species live.
What happens to the animals is something I ask you to consider. For example, a bird raised from birth knows intimately every branch, every leaf, rock, hill, waterway. It has its territory that is its property. That bird knows every safe spot to hide, where to get food and water and where to sleep. When machines operated by humans come along and bulldoze the area, what happens to that bird? It is devastated. It has nowhere to live. Forced to invade another bird’s territory it will die a certain death. And it is so with every single animal. To me this is unfathomably tragic. I so wish you could feel it …
It is estimated that between 1972 and 2006 a total of 4 billion birds, mammals and reptiles died from land clearing. At the rate we are developing and overpopulating the land, in time we will have no wild species of animals left. Already 2/3rds of our species in the shire are at risk of extinction. Each death is a personal tragedy to that animal and its family.
You all have loved ones children and maybe even animal companions. It’s clear to see that animals have feelings. They mourn when their friends die, they are happy when they are having fun, they have fear when danger comes. They protect their offspring with their lives just like we do. Why wouldn’t their needs be as important as ours?
The majority of people in this shire do care about the environment and want it protected because Cr Milne who most represents environmental issues at every opportunity, received the highest number of votes in the history of this council. That proves we are not in the minority.
Councillors are the guardians of our unique ecological treasures and we would be so thrilled if you would protect this shire for a change and not develop it, especially where threatened koalas and other species live such as:-
• Kings Forest and Cobaki Lakes
• Not support car rallies through national forests and World Heritage areas
• Not try to dam Byrrill Creek which has 43 threatened species or
• Fill in natural creeks at Ozone St, Chinderah and
• Fully prosecute every developer who illegally cuts down protected trees
• Buy up land for wildlife habitat and corridors
It’s time we changed our direction away from growth and expanding populations. It’s time to put ENVIRONMENT before ECONOMY and SOCIETY as without biodiversity of fauna we cannot survive.
Next time you see the Treasures of the Tweed murals around town I hope you will hear the collective voice of the animals’ psyche calling out to you for help. They really need it.
QUESTION FROM COUNCILLOR JOAN VAN LIESHOUT
"I would like to know if you personally feel that animals are more important than people".
Reply: Without biodiversity humans cannot survive so therefore humans and animals are equally important.
COMMENT FROM MAYOR WARREN POLGLASE
The Tweed Sun, July 22, 2010
"Community access is about allowing people the opportunity to talk about some issues, like the people who spoke about the IGA store and the iBar, but when you get inundated about a lot of other issues - and this is orchestrated by some people - I think it sometimes abuses the process" said Cr Polglase.
"We have the same people coming in talking about the same issues but I don't think that's what community access is all about."
"Some of the wildlife people seemed to expand on what the numbers are and what they aren't. There is a difference in opinion between various wildlife groups on numbers. When you get this sort of thing happening, as a council you start to think who is right and who is wrong and maybe both numbers are wrong. The whole system in that area is being abused."
Asked if the council would consider changing its access system, Cr Polglase said council should be looking at alternative ways of conducting community access if it meant getting meaningful outcomes.
COMMENT FROM THE TWEED SUN, July 29, 2010
A Tweed woman may have seen Avatar just a few too many times - which could explain its incredible box office takings. At a recent Tweed council community access meeting at Murwillumbah, Menkit Prince, a regular speaker on wildlife issues, compared the people of the Tweed to the Na'Vi - the tribe indigenous to Pandora in James Cameron's mega-hit. She spoke of developments destroying the shire's wildlife and fauna and called council to 'stop the destruction.' Later she was asked by councillor Joan van Lieshout whether she valued the needs of animals above humans, she replied 'They are both equal.'
RESPONSE FROM MENKIT
To Cr van Lieshout:
Asking personal questions of residents presenting to council versus questions related to the topic of discussion, seems unfair considering we are not allowed to ask any kind of question to councillors at community access!
To Mayor Polglase:
1. It's been 4 months since my last presentation. Is this abuse?
2. If I gave inaccurate information, why did you not inform me of this at the time? I would certainly like to know if anything I say is inaccurate.
3. If different wildlife groups have different figures does not mean they are all wrong.
4. The reason why I make presentations is not because I am trying to abuse the process but because something is not being addressed. Why is council not listening to us? Is this what you call a meaningful outcome, getting rid of community access?
To Tweed Sun
I am amused that you think I have seen the movie Avatar millions of times and have caused this movie to have raked in $2 billion (as if I had that much money and that much time to have watched it so many times!).
It may surprise you to know that I have seen Avatar only once. Do you think it's impossible for someone to 'get it' in one sitting just because you can't? If you were listening to my presentation you would have understood the analogy instead of writing this exaggerated piece of journalism.
Well, I certainly got some mileage out of this one!