Sunday, 24 March 2019

NSW 2019 State Election Results in Northern Rivers electorates

At close of ballot counting on Saturday, 23 March 2019:

o   The Green’s Tamara Smith retains the seat of Ballina
o   The Nationals Chris Gulaptis retains the seat of Clarence
o   Labor’s Janelle Saffin gains the seat of Lismore
o   The National’s Geoff Provest retains the seat of Tweed.

Overall the Liberal-Nationals Coalition retains government in NSW for the next four years, with 46 seats at close of counting on Saturday.

At close of ballot counting on Saturday:

o   In the Ballina electorate 888 people (or 3.55% of all ballots) voted for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation candidates standing for the Legislative Council
o   In the Clarence electorate 2,653 people (or 9.08% of all ballots) voted for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation candidates standing for the Legislative Council
o   In the Lismore electorate 1,498 people (or 5.54% of all ballots) voted for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation candidates standing for the Legislative Council
o   In the Tweed electorate 1,559 people (or 6.80% of all ballots) voted for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation candidates standing for the Legislative Council.

Across the state far-right, openly racist One Nation had attracted est. 36,630 votes or 1.1% of all ballots in the Legislative Assembly (Lower House) and est. 6.1% of all ballots in the Legislative Council (Upper House) by close of counting on Saturday.

Counting recommences today and ballot count updates can be found at or

Big Bat & Wildlife Festival, Noon to Sunset, 30 March 2019 Showground, Maclean NSW

Cyclone Oma might have postponed the festival but the events organisers are ready to go again. 

The new date is Saturday 30th March at the Maclean Showground. 

It is the same day as the Yamba Gourmet Food festival - so the Clarence Valley can offer culture and conservation. 

 It is also Earth Hour on the 30th March. 

At the Big Bat & Wildlife Festival Uncle Ron Heron will be giving a Welcome to Country; while Bill Walker will tell some yarns about Yaegl experiences with wildlife and explaining totems. 

As for the singers in the community they are planning an 'all-together-now' performance of 'Sing for the Climate' lead by the Macleles Ukulele Band. 

Friday, 22 March 2019

Police hunt for information in Lawrence and Sandy Beach about alleged perpetrator of NZ terrorist attack

The New Daily, 18 March 2019:

Family members of the Australian man charged with murdering Muslim worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand are devastated one of their own could be involved in a massacre.

Brenton Tarrant’s grandmother, Marie Fitzgerald, said the family was gobsmacked he’d been charged over Friday’s shooting attacks on mosques in Christchurch.

“It’s just so much of everything to take in that somebody in our family would do anything like this,” the 81-year-old woman told Nine News in the NSW city of Grafton on Sunday.

“The media is saying he has planned it for a long time so he is obviously not of sound mind.”

Tarrant went to Europe after his father died of cancer in 2010 and came back a different man, Mrs Fitzgerald said.

“It’s only since he travelled overseas I think, that that boy has changed completely to the boy we knew,” she said.

His uncle Terry Fitzgerald apologised on behalf of the family for his nephew’s alleged murderous act.

“We are so sorry for the families over there, for the dead and the injured,” Terry Fitzgerald said.

“What he has done is just not right.”

Tarrant spent most of his time on computer games during his high school days, rather than chasing girls, his grandmother added.

The family had dinner with Tarrant in Grafton a year ago for his sister’s birthday.

His sister and mother have been put under police protection after Friday’s attack, which has left 50 dead and others in a critical condition on hospital.

Meanwhile, counter-terrorism police raided two homes on the NSW mid-north coast on Monday as part of investigations into the shootings.

Officers from the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team searched a property in Sandy Beach, near Coffs Harbour, about 8.30am on Monday, before storming a second house at Lawrence, near Maclean.

“The primary aim of the activity is to formally obtain material that may assist New Zealand Police in their ongoing investigation,” the Australian Federal Police and NSW Police said in a joint statement.

“The community can be assured that there is no information to suggest a current or impending threat related to this search warrants.”

Tarrant was not on any watchlist in Australia or New Zealand, despite online profiles linked to him containing white supremacist material.

The 28-year-old posted a 74-page document online before the attack. A 17-minute video of the shootings was also live-streamed.

The JCTT is made up of officers from the AFP, NSW Police, as well as ASIO and the NSW Crime Commission.

"Please don’t run away from this so fast we fail to learn anything by it. Call out racism. Call out bigotry. Then call it out again, and again."

The Daily Examiner, 20 March 2019, p.28:

The Grafton community is in shock, left heartbroken after news that Friday’s terrorist attack in New Zealand was perpetrated by a man who grew up here.

So it’s understandable we want to try to distance ourselves from what is now one of the worst mass killings in modern history.

We feel for our city, we feel for the local family caught up in this, and we feel for the people of New Zealand.

What is apparent though is a lack of acknowledgement of the people who were specifically targeted in this murderous rampage. Muslims. People, including children as young as two, who were killed because of their faith and their race.

And don’t for one minute think it’s not about race, it’s a package deal for white supremacists, and the 28-year-old who grew up here is one of those.

So why do Clarence Valley spokespeople gloss over such details like they are trivial facts in this horrendous story?

If a Middle Eastern gunman of Muslim faith walked into a Catholic church in Australia and open fired on white Christian families there would be no such leniencies extended to the perpetrator or his ilk in the conversations that follow.

But here we are in protection mode. This isn’t our Grafton. This isn’t our Australia. 

This isn’t us. Which is correct if we judge the perpetrator only on his actions on Friday.

But we have to come to terms with the fact these things don’t happen overnight. There is an innate beginning to a journey that takes you to a place where you are capable of planning an attack of this level of calculation and carnage, write an extensive manifesto to showcase the act, film it and broadcast it live, and, after being captured, smirk to the media as you face the first of the many legal consequences of your actions.

So if it’s not us, who is it? Pakistan, Finland, any other country? Is it the internet or social media? Computer games? Is it the moment he left Grafton? The moment he was ‘radicalised’?

Ultimate responsibility lies with our society and the attitudes we foster. The conversations we have and behaviours we encourage and allow.

Everything contributes to this. What we hear from governments, what we hear from the media, what we hear from our family and friends. What we are exposed to growing up, what we talk about when we are old, the messages we share in pubs and on social media.

So in the Clarence, our Muslim-free narrative is very telling. So, too, the idealistic version we create of ourselves.

Please stop telling me how wonderful this place is. I already know it is; as long as you look like me, you go OK.

But describing the Clarence Valley and Grafton as a diverse and multicultural region that prides itself on being inclusive, while it makes a great sound bite or quote in a news story there is plenty to fault in these broad overviews with little evidence to back them up.

About 80 per cent of Grafton is made up of white people and more than 70 per cent identify as Christian (national averages are 65 per cent and 52 per cent respectively). 

Our demographic is made up of Australians, English, Irish, Scottish and Germans predominantly. Our indigenous population falls under the Australian component and makes up 7.4per cent of that, representing the major group as far as our cultural diversity goes. It is more than double the state average at 2.9per cent. Our representation of other people of colour is negligible by comparison.*

So to call us a culturally diverse place is a stretch. Inclusiveness is easy when we all look the same and have the same beliefs.

Our indigenous locals may have a different take on what that looks like.

When it comes to sport and the arts, sure we champion inclusiveness with First Nations people, but when we are really tested, like we were with the Coutts Crossing name debate, we demonstrate a low tolerance. Same with national issues like changing the date of Australia Day.

When our Citizen of the Year expressed her support of that in her acceptance speech she received random boos from an audience that also included members of our indigenous community.

Every October when we are – to quote someone well known for her lack of regard for other races – “swamped with Asians”, our lack of tolerance for the influx of visitors eager to photograph our beautiful trees is demonstrated with the barrage of abuse they receive from passing motorists.

But it’s not about race, they’re just idiots standing in the way, right? Like the booing of Adam Goodes wasn’t because he was an Aborigine, he was just a bad sport.

What if the Muslim community came en masse to Grafton to mourn their slain? What if they came to a town where they don’t exist?

It’s impossible to have all those other conversations about our wonderful town without having this one.

As difficult as it is, not mentioning the war as we wait for things to blow over isn’t an option. It’s no longer Grafton’s story to tell, or its agenda to set. The city will forever wear a horrific international act of terrorism as part of its story and in its history books.

Interest will follow us for a long time as the world learns who the perpetrator was, what kind of place he grew up in and how he ended up committing an act of hatred so obscene it stopped the world.

Like all the official spokespeople out there, I too love the Clarence Valley, but I’m not blindsided by that affection so much I believe we are incapable of being a breeding ground for racism. We aren’t the only Australian town to have this potential, but we are the town caught up in this mess.

Please don’t run away from this so fast we fail to learn anything by it. Call out racism. Call out bigotry. Then call it out again, and again.

*2016 ABS Census