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Local News

Soup kitchen needs blankets Rail link fallout

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not rail services for the region. The government must do a uturn or risk further alienating voters. ‘One submission to the task force was from long-time public transport campaigner in the Northern Rivers, Associate Professor Robert Weatherby. Mr Weatherby conducted research in 2007 into possible patronage of a commuter rail service for the region, but his submission received very little attention in the task force’s analysis of submissions. ‘The Greens wonder if this is because Professor Weatherby’s findings were too difficult to refute.’

‘Fools Day joke’ It is coming up to that time of the year when many of the shire’s homeless begin to feel the cold and without our help, will spend a miserable winter with no barrier against the elements. The Mullumbimby Soup Kitchen does more than provide warm meals for many homeless folk and is asking for help in the form of donations of clean blankets, towels, pillows, bedding and clothes, especially children’s clothing, in their effort to help those not always able to help themselves.

Brunswick Heads Health Foods owner David Shaw was first to jump on the soup wagon last week when he gave Mullum Soup Kitchen founder Kris Campbell several blankets and towels to kick off the donations. The soup kitchen operates on Wednesdays from 5pm at the Neighbourhood Centre in Dalley Street. For more information phone the centre on 6684 1816. Photo Eve Jeffery

An opportunity in microfinance Victoria Cosford

Opportunity International is a global organisation which provides developing countries with microfinance and enterprise development services. Part of the network is Opportunity International Australia, whose efforts are focused on India, The Philippines and Indonesia – it is this which has become the concern of Gerry Rihs. A recent arrival to the far north coast, Swiss-born Gerry had been president of the Sydney Rotary Club before re-

locating, and in that capacity involved in projects designed to raise funds for the organisation. Having joined the Byron Bay Rotary Club, he is keen to carry on the work. Based on a system of microfinance, Opportunity International works through local institutions in the developing world by providing funding, an operating platform and technical assistance which enable these institutions to offer products and services to significantly improve the lives of poor people. Small amounts of money are loaned to individu-

als selected from the community who are then encouraged to start and build their own businesses. Gerry would like to see Byron Bay as the town whose rotary club can set an example to others. He is organising an event to be held on Thursday June 11 at the Byron Services Club, at which he will introduce Brian Barclay from Opportunity International and present a short DVD to explain the system of microfinance and its application in The Philippines. Gerry can be contacted at gerry@rihs.com.au.

Lobby group TOOT president Karin Kolbe described the leaked report as ‘a complete disaster. No wonder the NSW government does not want to publicly release it. We can only hope that NOROC’s Integrated Regional Transport Plan will come up with more substantial recommendations. ‘It completely ignores tourism opportunities, yet this is one of the important economic drivers for this area, as well as creating a much needed public transport service. ‘There are are about 1.7 million vistors to Byron every year – and they arrive by road. A rail service would allow tourists to explore the hinterland area. Instead of talking about moving tourists – which are our version of freight – this report talks about bananas. It ignores the fact this area is rapidly growing – the only region with higher growth is over the border in SE Queensland. It puts all its faith in buses, yet most people struggle with buses for anything but short trips.’

  

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The Byron Shire Echo April 7, 2009 5

Byron Shire Echo – Issue 23.43 – 07/04/2009  

Free, independent weekly newspaper from the Byron Shire in northern NSW, Australia.

Byron Shire Echo – Issue 23.43 – 07/04/2009  

Free, independent weekly newspaper from the Byron Shire in northern NSW, Australia.