Home' Greymouth Star : July 8th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Saturday, July 8, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1776 - Colonel John Nixon gives the first
public reading of the US Declaration of
Independence to a crowd in Philadelphia.
1853 - US Commodore Matthew
Perry arrives in Tokyo Bay with
two armed frigates to force Japan to
open up to the west.
1889 - America’s newspaper The
Wall Street Journal is first published.
1907 - Florenz Ziegfeld stages his
first Follies on the roof of the New
1911 - Nan Jane Aspinwall enters New York
City after becoming the first woman to cross
the US on horseback, taking 301 days to cover
the 7500 km journey from San Francisco.
1965 - Horse racing starting stalls are
introduced in the Chesterfield Stakes at
1967 - British stage and screen actress Vivien
Leigh, best known for her award-winning role
in Gone with the Wind, dies.
1994 - O J Simpson is ordered to stand trial
on charges of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole,
and Ronald Goldman.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Count Ferdinand Zeppelin, German inventor
of the dirigible (1838-1917);
John D Rockefeller, US financier
(1839-1937); Jerry Vale, US singer
(1932-2014); Steve Lawrence, US
singer (1935-); Anjelica Huston,
US actress (1951-); Kevin Bacon,
US actor (1958-); Mal Meninga,
Australian rugby league footballer
(1960-); Beck, US musician, (1970-); Jaden
Smith, American actor (1998-).
“ History must stay open, it is all humanity.”
— William Carlos Williams, American author
and poet (1883-1963).
“Therefore we will not fear, though the Earth
should change, though the mountains shake in
the heart of the sea.” — (Psalms 46:2).
of the Returned
Association (RSA) celebrated its 50th
jubilee last year, the branch was not actually
formed until 50 years ago yesterday. The
Greymouth Evening Star on July 9, 1917,
stated: “On Saturday night a gathering at the
Soldiers’ Clubrooms in Greymouth formed
the Greymouth branch of the Returned
Ser vicemen’s Association.”
The Greymouth RSA published a history
book and new premises were built to
commemorate the 50th jubilee.
A former senior sergeant of police at
Greymouth has been made a Justice of the
Peace. Appointed a JP by the Governor-
General Sir Bernard Fergusson is Mr T L
(Tom) Doole, now living in retirement at
Mrs I M Mountford of Blackball, has also
been made a JP.
The manager of the Greymouth tourist hotel
Revingtons, collapsed and died suddenly last
evening. He was Mr James Thomas Thornton.
Born at Notown, Mr Thornton spent most
of his life on the West Coast. He worked
in sawmills at Nelson Creek and Ngahere
before taking over as manager of Revingtons
Hotel for four years prior to his departure 14
years ago when he moved to Ashburton and
Christchurch, managing hotels.
Mr Thornton, a brother of the owner of
the hotel Mrs A Marshall, of Christchurch,
returned only 10 weeks ago to take charge of
He is sur vived by his wife Mary Ann, and
one daughter Jocelyn (Mrs Fahey, Nelson), four
grandchildren, Michael, Shaun, Alison and
Susan; and his sister Margaret (Mrs Marshall).
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
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3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (office)
769 7913 (editorial)
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03 755 8422
“American b—s would
be not very happy with
this gift sent on the
July 4 anniversary,”
North Korean leader
Kim Jong-un said
about his country’s first
successful test of an
missile (ICBM) on
Indeed Americans are not happy about
it, although it would be overstating the
case to say that panic is sweeping the
United States at the news that North
Korea’s ICBMs can now reach America.
One reason for the lack of public panic
is that Alaska is not a central concern
for most Americans, and Alaska is the
only part of the US that North Korea’s
Hwasong-14 missile can actually reach.
Another reason is that US authorities
insist North Korea’s nuclear weapons are
too big and heavy to fit on its ICBMs.
(It is not clear whether they have actual
intelligence that confirms this or are just
whistling in the dark).
A third reason might be that Americans
are secretly embarrassed by the sheer
hypocrisy of their own government ’s
position in this affair.
Well, no, not really. The vast majority of
Americans are blissfully unaware there is
any hypocrisy involved in demanding that
North Korea refrain from getting what
the US has had for the past 72 years. So is
the US government.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was
being entirely sincere when he said that
North Korea’s ICBM test “represents a
new escalation of the threat to the United
States, our allies and partners, the region,
and the world.” Wrong, but entirely
He is obviously aware that the US has
had nuclear weapons since 1945, and has
even dropped them on Asian cities. He
knows that his country has had ICBMs
since the 1950s, and still has hundreds
ready to launch on short notice. How is
the American posture different from the
one that North Korea aspires to?
Two differences, really. One is that
the US has at least 100 times as many
nuclear weapons as North Korea, and
delivery vehicles at least two technological
generations further down the road.
Another is the US has a clearly stated
policy which says it might use nuclear
weapons first in a conflict. Weirdly, this
just makes American ICBMs sound more
dangerous than North Korea’s.
That is not really true. The US used its
first nuclear weapons as soon as it got
them in 1945, but despite all the wars it
has waged in the 72 years since then it has
not used them again. Nuclear weapons are
so terrifying they actually force the people
who possess them to think seriously about
the consequences of using them.
Pyongyang has obviously been thinking
hard about the grave implications of
nuclear weapons too, because it never
actually threatens to use North Korea’s
nukes in a first strike. It is always about
deterring a nuclear attack on North
Korea. Although the North Korean
regime lies and blusters a lot, you can
believe it about this.
North Korea will probably have ICBMs
that can reach big American cities in
three to five years if it keeps up the
current pace of development and testing.
That would buy North Korea a limited
degree of safety from an American
nuclear attack, because one or more of its
missiles might survive a US first strike
and be able to carry out a “revenge from
the grave”. That is how nuclear deterrence
works, at least in theory.
But even full-range nuclear-tipped
ICBMs would not give the North Korean
regime the ability to launch a nuclear
attack on America (or Japan, or South
Korea) without being exterminated in
an immediate, massive nuclear counter-
strike. So you can probably trust the
North Korean regime not to do anything
so terminally stupid — unless people like
Kim Jung-un are literally crazy.
That is why American diplomats work
so hard to convince everybody else that
the North Koreans really are frothing
mad, impervious to logic, and not even
interested in self-preser vation. Only then
can they argue the North Koreans should
be denied nuclear weapons, although
Americans, Russians, Chinese, British,
French, Israelis, Indians and Pakistanis
can be trusted with them.
There is no evidence that the North
Koreans really are crazy. In the 64
years since the end of the Korean War
they have not risked a war, and they
are extremely unlikely to do so now.
While there is a rather erratic leader in
Washington at the moment, there are
probably enough grown-ups around
him to avoid any fatal mistakes on the
American side either.
So North Korea will probably get its
nuclear deterrent in the end, and we will
all learn to live with it — like we learned
to live with mutual US-Russian nuclear
deterrence, mutual US-Chinese nuclear
deterrence, and mutual Indian-Pakistani
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
The intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 is seen during its test.
Nuclear weapons — anywhere but Nth Korea
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
red Quod was walking out of
his bathroom when a piece of
his neighbour’s tin roof tore
open the back of his house,
almost severing his arm and
sending him crashing through
the shower door.
Wife Peta Smail heard the bang and
daughter Tegan’s screams, prised open the
hallway door that was glued shut by the
raging wind, and found Fred lying curled
up, covered in debris and shattered glass.
“I didn’t know if he was alive,” she
told news.com .au. “ There was blood
everywhere ... his head and shoulders
through the shower recess, he was curled
up on the floor with debris on him.”
But Peta, 52, says the family were
prepared for the hell that was Cyclone
Debbie. “ What we were not prepared for
is post-Cyclone Debbie.”
On March 28, the day the category 4
cyclone made landfall in nearby Airlie
Beach, she had no time to think about the
future, or even the storm raging outside.
She lifted the roof off Fred with the help
of Tegan, 29, who had cuts and bruises
from where her bed had flown across
her room and pinned her to the wall.
“The back of the house had gone and the
cyclone was inside,” said Peta.
The women grabbed 58-year-old Fred
under his arms and legs and carried him to
the kitchen, before dragging the fridge-
freezer against the door and putting a
mattress against the windows. “He felt like
a sponge,” said Peta. “ Everything moved.
He started shaking.” For three hours, they
stayed on the phone to emergency ser vices,
packing white pillows and towels around
him that were soon soaked crimson with
It was when her son rang from
Gladstone that Peta cracked. “ He said,
‘How are you going?’ And I said, ‘ Well,
I’m sorry to say Chris, it’s not good,’ and
I heard my voice break. He said, ‘Mum,
you’re the strongest woman I know, you
can do this.’”
When her son told her the cyclone could
go on for another six hours, Peta knew
they wouldn’t make it. “I was starting to
feel panicky,” she said. “I said, I’m going
to get the truck, we’ll drag him in and I’ll
drive there myself. My voice was starting
to get loud ... I got outside and saw the
blue and red lights coming around the
corner. I was so relieved.”
Their saviour was Proserpine Ambulance
Station’s officer-in-charge Gavin Cousens,
who had been waiting helplessly for his
moment to go to the family, wondering
whether he would be going around town
“picking up dead bodies, babies’ bodies”
when the cyclone had finished wreaking
havoc. “ When I took the phone call, I
was looking out of the glass door and
the roof was blowing off and the walls
disintegrating on the house opposite,”
Mr Cousens said.
When he reached Fred, who has a
pacemaker, he was in a critical condition
— with a punctured lung, severe
lacerations and 10 broken ribs — and
would have to be airlifted to a bigger
hospital in Townsville the next morning.
He remembers virtually nothing.
Peta and Tegan trailed home from the
local hospital at around 8.30pm, soaked
with blood. “ The place was in darkness,
every window smashed except three,” said
Peta. “ There was floodwater through the
house. In hospital we were calm, the next
thing, were back in a cyclone.”
In the days and weeks after the
cyclone inflicted its wrath on the idyllic
Whitsundays region, rubbish rotted
outside abandoned houses with gaping
holes in their roofs, power lines were
strewn on every street, boats had sunk
or washed up as wrecks on the shore,
and dead and blackened trees covered
the ground. There was looting of alcohol,
generators and people’s possessions. It
looked as though a bushfire had ripped
through the verdant landscape.
“My head was in my hands,” said portrait
photographer Deb Savy, whose business
ground to a halt as weddings were
cancelled, commercial work dried up, and
cash-strapped families stopped booking
photography sessions at the now sewage-
That was when Dave McInnerney
decided to leave his flattened Shute
Harbour Motel behind and get the hell
away from it all. Driving out of town, he
said it looked like there had been “a B52
“I had to get out of there,” he said. “One
guy said he was only comfortable once he
got past Mackay. I can’t handle looking at
the evidence, it does whack you.
“I ’m 63, and probably over running a
business in Australia. It ’s extremely heavy
duty, seven-day work. When you’re young
you can handle stress, when you’re three-
quarters of the way through life, you’ ll put
yourself in an early grave. ”
McInnerney is now living in temporary
accommodation in Townsville, waiting for
the insurance companies and says he “hasn’t
felt well enough” to go back. He lost most
of his possessions as his home and motel —
his mother’s piano, photographs, a treasured
violin — filled with a metre of water. “My
family are pretty much all dead,” he said. “I
haven’t got any firm direction. In another
way, it probably saves me having to make a
decision on my own, the world made it for
It has now been 100 days since Cyclone
Debbie, and the tourism mecca is in an
even worse state.
The popular mainland resort of Airlie
Beach is deathly quiet, with cafes and
bars boarded up on the main street of the
small town, the lagoon drained and signs
bent double. In the residential streets of
surrounding towns, crumbling houses with
piles of rubbish outside are wrapped in tape
and painted with the word “Contaminated”
in huge red letters, while neighbours peer
out from vans and tents they are living in
on their front lawns.
The picture perfect islands of Hayman,
Daydream and South Molle are closed
for refurbishment, while Hamilton is
open and working feverishly to fast-track
major construction work. It is the kind of
situation where hairdressers are pitching
in with the landscaping, says Deb. The
building industry is one of the few that is
booming, with visiting tradies filling hotels
and caravan parks. But many locals are still
It is not just the houses that are broken,
says one business owner. “ The people
behind them are broken too.”
One of those people is Jess Houston, 32,
who spent the cyclone cowering at her
mother’s house as the family listened to
“everything breaking” in howling winds of
up to 263kph. They heard the roof lifting
off and watched frozen steaks fly across the
room as the freezer door was torn open.
“I was petrified,” she said. “I don’t think
any of us spoke for six hours.”
But it was when she returned home that
she discovered the worst. “ We had to cut
our way in, our house was under water,
walls pushed in, everything gone,” she said
through tears. “For the first couple of weeks,
I cried myself to sleep every night. I still
can’t sleep ... They ’re your belongings, they
make you feel who you are.”
Jess and her partner Cal had been about
to leave in their new camper van to travel
around Australia. Instead, they stayed to
help her mother Julie rebuild her business,
Cape Gloucester resort. It has been a long
and painful process. “It was just a mess:
walls ripped out, the bar flooded the ceiling
collapsed in the kitchen,” said Julie. “ We
had to start taking food to dump, it took
Those two days alone cost the business
$17,000. Julie has not even begun counting
the cost of the lost custom, after cancelling
10 weddings and only reopening last Friday
for a wedding, and to the general public this
Sunday. “I spent the week crying thinking it
wasn’t going to happen,” she admitted.
Mirella DeBoni from Whitsunday
Professional Counselling Ser vices told
news.com.au she has been inundated with
clients suffering emotionally in brutal
Debbie’s bitter aftermath.
“Most people are seeking counselling in
the past month ... the trauma has kicked
in, the devastation around them,” she said.
“Q uite a few children can’t sleep, don’t
want to leave their mums, it ’s sad. These
are people who haven’t gone to counselling
before, they can’t remember things or focus,
it ’s taking a toll on their relationships.”
DeBoni, who has been using
hypnotherapy to help people deal with their
traumatic memories, said many were having
visions, or had developed a fear of death.
“I think what the cyclone did is bring
out a lot of problems people were already
experiencing in life, it exacerbated them,”
she said. “It ’s the ones who are scared to
ask for help, they ’re the ones that are really
For many, it is now a waiting game. While
families received some initial disaster
relief payments ($1000 per adult and $400
per child), that has gone. The insurance
companies are overstretched and painfully
slow-moving, bringing in assessors from
not just interstate but overseas.
“People think we’re okay and we’re not,”
said a Proserpine shop owner who had just
been open a week, gesturing to the empty
streets and boarded-up buildings. “L ook
out there. My heart breaks for these guys.
It’s the lack of normality.
“There’s a lot of strength, but a lot of
heartache as well. A lot of people are
displaced. There was a woman who has
three kids and two adults squashed into one
room, she broke down this morning in here.
There’s so much despair.”
It was the rainstorm after the slow-
moving cyclone that really cemented the
nightmare for locals, dumping up to a
metre of water in their homes.
“ It was so humid after the cyclone,” said
the manager at Best Western Mango
House Hotel. “ The mould came back
like a tropical rainforest. It comes so fast.
You’ve just got to rip it out and throw it
out. Once it’s in plaster, there’s nothing
you can do.”
Fred and Peta are still waiting for the
word to move out of their home so it can
be gutted, the walls and sagging ceiling
replaced. Fred may never fully recover the
use of his arm and his short-term memory
has been affected. He feels lucky, however.
At first, he could not remember his
grandchildren’s names and feared he might
be brain damaged.
Tourism and Events Q ueensland is
keen to stress that the region is “open
for business” and encourage visitors to
come back to the town. Group executive
corporate affairs Megan Saunders said
in a statement: “ The way the tourism
community banded together to get
the Whitsundays region back up and
running post Tropical Cyclone Debbie
showed exceptional resilience. We know
how important the Whitsundays is to
Queensland tourism — that is why we
undertook jointly with Tourism Australia
a $2m recovery campaign as soon as the
region was back up and running.
The cyclone caused severe damage to the
Great Barrier Reef, with hard, older coral
pulverised in the storm and much of the
inner reef popular with day tours smashed
to smithereens. “ The water’s quite murky,”
said Deb. “Snorkelling, diving, spending
time on the reef is important to people.
It ’s difficult to want to attract people here
when you know it ’s not business as usual.”
All locals can do right now is hope that
things will start to improve.
In Proserpine, one shop owner says hope
is faltering in the town, which lacks the
spectacular coastline of Airlie Beach and
is suffering even more without the usual
tourist traffic. “Now ’s the time for the
government to stand up and get it fast-
tracked, give people hope,” she said. “Small
business is the lifeblood of a town like
Proserpine, it could do with kick-along. It
could slide further, we can’t afford that.
“There’s a real chance we’re going to lose
more businesses. What does it leave? A
little highway town you just drive past.”
— New Zealand Herald
Fred and Peta are still living in a house with no back that is due to be gutted.
100 days of disaster
PICTURES: New Zealand Herald
The area is full of abandoned, rotting houses with holes in their roofs and rubbish piled outside.
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