Topic: aust govt
[editor's introductory comments]
Some notable things on a scan read of these leaked minutes in this "biggest community centre in Australia" which appears to be jealousy controlled by the local ALP Left. Of course not least the fact it's been leaked to the SAM micro news site by a source. Also that the website for the centre is down about 8 months now (though still up indirectly here), and on the front page still reads
"Come back soon. We are just getting it better. This Website is still under construction"
On the specific detail in the minutes:
1. MB is Max Burgess, principal of Law Consumers. Seems to have a strategic grievance lodged against him after protected disclosure to ICAC re Marrickville Council alleged stacking of the Board with ALP Left allies.
2. Incredibly Marrickville Council cancelled their rubbish service, could paralyse a place like ARC.
3. Legal advice sought on this writer who has gone on strike over our allegation of a failure to honestly apply the grievance procedure, gone nowhere
4. major cost has arisen with Great Hall roof repair of some kind.
5. ongoing saw of asbestos on the site
6. Presence of Laurel Draffen who it seems has been appointed as another honourary board member (?) but according to google key word search is "Laurel Draffen, Manager, Good Practice Unit, NSW Federation of Housing Associations (NSWFHA) – Centre for Training in Social Housing" We don't know what this means either.
7. Absence for two meetings in a row of Cr Peter Olive - admittedly during the School holidays period but not very encouraging for those hoping for some transparency via his generally respected presence.
8. Major change over in staff, Yvette Andrews previously President, now General Manager on $65K p.a. supposed to advertise for new GM by open advertisement by April. Has it happened yet? Office Manager similar changed position. ALP stack?
9. The meeting minutes of 17th December 2007 have a serious omission - an issue underpinning the the tone and tension of the whole AGM was the rent free lease (for 4 years) and then reissued discount lease for the Art Gallery. A question was put by this writer to Cr Peter Olive, which was attempted to be censored by Assad Abdi (a tenant), question pressed and Olive advised the meeting it was 'unfortunate the lease was not treated like other leases in a standard fashion' (or words to that effect). Indeed this issue underpins the whole political representation on the Board.
In addition this writer has learned via a source that the Gallery curator/director Terry Cutcliffe has decided to move out after his (ex?) wife and mother of his kids landed a big writing commission with "huge" advances. We don't know if this is true but if it is, it's big news not least regarding the revenue opportunity in his till now mostly rent free 500 sq metres of public buildings for a private income art gallery with at times $30K art works for sale (possibly never sold?).
10. Notice the meeting date for 28th Jan 2008 happened a week earlier, in the controversial Gallery itself in a change of schedule. Did this affect Cr Olive attendance?
11. Notice the minutes for both Dec and Jan are distributed only now 2 and 3 months after the event.
Sent: Wednesday, April 02, 2008 3:34 PMSubject: Important informationDear ARC,NewsletterWe are preparing a newsletter for the ARC community and the local neighbours that will be distributed on a regular basis.It will be used among other things to inform people about what is happening at ARC. This is not only a good way to promote your event but will also allow members to prepare for when big events are on.Please email me information (what, when, where and a contact) for any events in April/May. This information will also be used to update the website.Front Gates (Opening Times)A reminder that for the safety and security of the Centre the front gates will be locked at 10:30pm Sunday - Thursday and 12midnight on Friday and Saturday. They are open from 6:30am in the morning. Please make sure your events finish on time to avoid being locked in.CarparkPlease respect speed limits and remind people who use your hut to do so also. Lots of kids use the Centre and it would be terrible to see someone hurt. No hooning in the carpark, please.We recognised that on Sunday parking can become a big problem. We are working on ways to fix this, but please in the meantime, respect your ARC neighbours and the grounds - don't park people in no matter how frustrating it is.Staff and the BoardNarelle Mantle was elected at the February meeting as the new ARC PresidentI started in the office on 11 February and Leanne Anderson on 18 February. Leanne works Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Please give us a call on 9569 7633 or pop in if you need something done.MinutesPlease find attached the minutes of the December and January meetings.CheersYvette AndrewsActing ARC Manager
Board of Directors’ meeting – Monday– Dec 17 2007
Venue –Greening Australia Building 13 - 6:00pm
Meeting commenced 6.10pm
Attendance Yvette Andrews (YA) Pres, Natalie McCarthy (NMc) Sec, John Reynolds (JR) Treas, Laurel Draffen (LD), Narelle Mantle (NM), Geoff Hague (GH)
Apologies Peter Olive (PO)
New Members Welcome – LD and NM were welcomed to Board
Minutes of previous meeting – 31 October 2007 *
Minutes were adopted with amendment NM to elaborate on discussion relating to appropriate procedure for conveying Grievances to the Board Moved JR, Seconded NM, Adopted.
BUSINESS ARISING FROM THE MINUTES
Fencing- Barbed Wire removal still to be implemented
No further progress with grievance against MB as he has been away. Board has directed PT to write to RO to update her with confirmation that the Board are continuing to investigate but MB being unavailable
A: PT to continue investigation on MB’s return & report to Board.
Rescue Service-Yet to get back to PT
Asbestos around building 21, 22, and 23 was removed by All Kleen Contracting as directed. JR questioned the short time it took for them to do clean up to take a few hours rather than day. The area has been tested and given an Asbestos Clearance Certificate by the Contractor. The fuse Box and other priority 2 areas are being looked at by Contractor for quotes.
Turkish Hut- Electricity meter has been installed and in operation
Short Term lease- Three applicants have been received to be reviewed later in the meeting
OFFICE BEARERS NOMINATIONS
With all standing orders suspended, the Board preceded to elect Office Bearers for New Board.
YA was elected by JR for Chair, Seconded LD. No other nominations were taken.
JR was elected by YA for Treasurer, Seconded NM. No other nominations were taken.
NMc was elected by GH for Secretary, Seconded LD. No other nominations were taken.
A motion was moved to adopt elected Office Bearers
Moved GH, seconded LD, Adopted
Letters from the following organisations were tabled by the Board
-Markets- in response to Safety Committee Meeting-to be discussed later with Safety Committee Report
-Aerialize- Regarding leaking Roof damage to Great Hall- to be discussed at later point
-Jobs Australia regarding membership joining fee. The Board discussed possible benefits but did not have enough background knowledge
A: LD will look into obtaining more info from own org’s experience with them and report back with a recommendation.
The MMC Nursery has requested a phone line. The Board agreed the centre is not in a financial position to assist in its installation but were happy for them to look into it themselves, and directed PT to write to Helen in response.
PT to email Helen
Moved JR Seconded GH, Adopted.
Great Hall- Substantial damage to floor and electrical wiring reported after heavy rains. A discussion followed to inform new members of Great Hall situation
Pt has instructed KL to plug obvious holes as a temporary measure to reduce leaking and with reasonable success.
Investigation into repair of roof PT has passed onto the Board two quotes and options
Quote one- to remove and replace roof- $19,000
Quote 2- $10,000 to recover roof with a layer of roofing sealant
The Board has instructed PT to get in electrician to fix Exit signs not working and some light switches as result of leaks ASAP. Continue plugging any obtainable gaps. Considering the state of other rooves that are in need of repair throughout the Centre the Board have directed PT to provide the Board with entire costing quote for all urgent repairs for Feb Board meeting in order to devise to a plan to fix all in one hit. The Board will also consider approaching MMC to obtain matched funding of $50,000 once a costing plan is established.
A: PT to get costing for all urgent roof repairs throughout centre and get in electrician ASAP
Moved JR, Seconded NM, Adopted.
Leases- Short Term Hire
Nicole Barakat (NB)
Alison Cornish (AC)
Kay- ARC Neighbour (K
With due consideration with recommendations from Board members, The Board agreed to offer the space to NB
A: PT to notify NB and organise lease ASAP
Moved NM, Seconded NMc
Safety Committee Report – Markets
Main problematic issues raised in discussion amongst Safety Committee were- Rubbish, Electricity use, Traffic management particularly in co-junction with Great Hall Hirers.
The uneven road surface that leads from side entrance was determined to pose a possible risk to pedestrians and the Safety committee have since implemented its closure for the Sundays.
The Board would like to see an audit of stalls and the Centre’s financial revenue from the markets and are looking into issues raised to follow up next meeting.
A: PT to prepare report and circulate to Board for next meeting
Sunday Activity and Parking
Complaints from membership have raised problems of people blocking access to huts by parking inappropriately when parking is full and using the huts up the backs gardens’ as toilets. The Board have directed PT to improve signage around the Centre and to include toilet directions and more No Parking signs. NM offered Reverse Garbage (RG) services for supply of materials and assistance.
A: PT to consult RG for assistance
As the Budget was not apparent in Financial Report the Board directed PT to locate Budget with Accountant (MG). and work together to bring over spreadsheet necessary info cash-flow projection etc in time for review before next meeting.
In retrospect the Board would like to work towards simplifying format of Financial Report for more obvious transparency and clarity at meetings and for Membership viewing and will consider using alternative reporting formats such as used by RG
A: PT to persist in bringing accounts up to date and work on for next meeting
RG to provide samples of accounting reports for possible reference
Moved YA, Seconded NM, Adopted
The Board recognised main issues raised and discussed at AGM to be
-Continuation of Open Meetings throughout Year- Dates to be confirmed once staffing is addressed
-Markets- Look at problems arising and managerial resolutions with increasing use of Centre’s resources with growing market
-Environmental Responsibility for ARC- continue to improve on current practice and implement for new Project Developments
-Financial reports –More transparency and clarity
A motion was moved to review Constitution and Clarify process for Associate Membership for 2008 AGM
An Induction Kit for new Board members to be developed to include ARC Constitution and all policy procedures prior to first Board meeting
Moved JR, Seconded YA, Adopted.
A/Leave –PT to take two weeks A/Leave. Office will be closed from 21 Jan and reopen Jan 6.
Kerry and Kerry Lindberg- Pt to check with for leave option
The Board agreed for Centre to close on Christmas Day and allow Caretakers to take Public Holiday.
A: PT to advise membership ASAP of office closure dates
Moved YA, Seconded JR, Adopted.
JR left the room at 7.33 for grievance discussion to continue.
Situation with staff member has not improved with them now abstaining to follow given duties. Despite verbal and written warning they are continuing to publish public comments damaging to the Centre and Board members reputations. The Board agreed to seek legal advice for situation to be resolved
A: PT to contact recommended Lawyer and Report to Board ASAP
Moved NM, Seconded GH, Adopted.
JR returned to meeting
PT left meeting 7.50pm
The Board discussed the necessity of an Operations Report and relevant info for Agenda items to be sent out for reading a week or so prior for more informed discussion and time efficiency of Board meeting. Clearer direction for tasks to be given to PT to assist in process.
The Board agreed to conduct a separate meeting in the New Year before the next regular Board meeting to come up with a staff restructuring timeline and work towards GM replacement. Working with PT for recommendations with Budget in mind. January 21 was set as date to be confirmed.
A: PT to organise report with relevant info for Board as follows Current employees, job descriptions in place, rate of pay, 2008 staffing budget projection.
Moved NM, Seconded JR, Adopted.
PR/ Website –On NM’s recommendation the Board agreed to employ Greg Shapely one day a week on casual basis to update website for three months. The Board would also like for him to look at developing a system for updating info and member’s input, upcoming events and a monthly newsletter and ARC Brochure. To be reviewed March
Moved NM, Seconded NMc, Adopted
The Board are considering seeking legal advice to negotiate non-standard long term leasing requests from some Tenants.
Meeting closed 8.30pm
Next Board Meeting (last Wednesday of the month): 28 January 2008
Board and Staffing Meeting – Wednesday– Jan 23 2008
Venue –Gallery Building 13 - 6:00pm
Meeting commenced 6.10pm
Attendance Yvette Andrews (YA) Pres, Natalie McCarthy (NMc) Sec, John Reynolds (JR) Treas, Laurel Draffen (LD), Narelle Mantle (NM), Geoff Hague (GH)
Apologies Peter Olive (PO)
Letters from the following organisations were tabled by the Board
-Greening Australia regarding emergency telephone cabling installed due to telephone cabling breakdown with response from PT
Management are happy to meet with GA to discuss issue and are continuing to find the best solutions for telecommunications overall in the Centre
-Marrickville Council- cancellation of rubbish collection service
The Board agree that in consideration to the lack of notice from Council (three weeks) with no prior warning by Council Board Rep and the multiple community groups within ARC including Marrickville Council organizations that that are dependant on the service. Management will need more time to consider a new rubbish removal system that meets the needs of centre and is responsible environmentally. The Board would like meet with Council to discuss matter
A: PT to write to Council requesting more time then stated and Board to meet with Council to come up with working solution
Update with legal advice
Following Consultation with Lawyer PT sent letter to staff member calling for a meeting for 25 January to resolve matter between staff member and management. NM will attend with PT
PT to update Board following meeting
Staffing - GM Position
PT officially tendered his resignation as of Feb 1. The Board thanked PT for his time of 18 months at ARC and acknowledged his efforts and contribution particularly for his cooperation in taking on acting managerial role. They wished him well for the future. NM is organising a farewell BBQ at RG for the Friday with Members, staff and Board invited to attend.
A: PT to work towards handover process with Board Membership to be notified
Bookkeeper is finishing up end of January
PT proceeded to leave meeting for Board to discuss situation
A temporary solution of YA stepping into the position as acting manager for six months while the position was reviewed and a recruitment process put in place was proposed. YA stepped down from chair and left meeting 6:37 for Board to consider the matter.
The Board were then in agreement to first discuss their thoughts on the urgent matter of staffing situation and then establish an appropriate process to resolve matter in an open and transparent way with the centre’s best interest in mind.
After a discussion, the Board agreed bringing in an acting Manager who was already active in the Centre for six months to be the best possible solution. It would allow for consistency in Centre operations and keep up the momentum of the Board to establish staff structure and review criteria for Centre Manager. The acting person in the role would be required to begin the process of recruitment for position in this time. A motion was moved to offer the position of acting role to YA. A part-time (3 days a week) bookkeeper/admin assistant would be sort immediately to assist the Acting Manager.
Moved NM, Seconded GH, Adopted
YA returned to meeting 7p.m and accepted the Boards offer. She then proceeded to resign from the Board and would be able to step into acting managerial role from Feb 10. Office to be tended where possible (suggested Kerry) during week of transition between acting managers.
The Board were reluctant to lose their President and thanked YA for her all time and efforts. They are confident in her ability to take on role and be the best person for the position.
A: YA will email Admin Position description Feb 11 and advertise to fill position ASAP. RG accountant Adam will be able to assist YA and Board with bookkeeping for interim.
-LD/NM to come up with letter to notify membership ASAP
The next Board meeting will be after YA has begun role as acting manager Feb 27. The new Chair to be voted in next meeting Board members to email possible candidate to replace community Rep prior to meeting for consideration and Honorary member endorsement
Moved JR Seconded NM, adopted.
Meeting closed 7.19 pm
The grog industry seem to think they will get a better bang for their buck advertising with full pagers in the Sydney Daily Telegraph today. But they also have a full pager in the broadsheet Sydney Morning Herald today too.
Ironically the perils of binge drinking have never been more obvious as per this classic disjunction of news and advertising, and yet we feel the grog pushers will buy their way out of trouble regardless, probably as Olympic sponsors?
They do say alcohol is the drug known as the great deceiver.
In Conversation: Who Can You Trust?
After a very successful talk’s seminar last year, newmatilda.com is holding its second In Conversation discussion panel.
We are inviting you attend this free event; we also encourage you to contribute your ideas and thoughts on this topic, during the discussion:
Who Can You Trust?
Who is a credible source online? With the proliferation of blogging, amateur experts and user generated content- has the investigative journalist become redundant?
Chaired by Wendy Bacon, investigative journalist & UTS academic
Jackie Dent: ABC Opinion Online & UN Afghanistan spokesperson
Antony Loewenstein: Author of My Israel Question, journalist, blogger
Tom McLoughlin: Sydney Alternative Media- Editor of micro news site & solicitor
Edmund Tadros: SMH.com & investigative journalist
Venue: Building 4, Level 2. Lecture Theatre 34 (4.2.34) University Of Technology Sydney, 15 Broadway, Ultimo.
Time: 6pm for a 6.30pm start
Date: Wednesday, April 2
RSVP: email: info(at)newmatilda.com or phone: 02 9211 1635.
This event is supported by the ACIJ.
We look forward to seeing you there and hearing your views.
The newmatilda.com team
- Prof Stuart White - UTS - Institute of Sustainable Futures (!)- Prof Peter Newman - Director of the Institute for Sustainability and Technology, Murdoch Uni- Dr Mark Diesendorf - UNSW - Institute of Environmental Studies UNSWOh and you might notice absence of Jeff Angel which may be to do with the passover clash, or my determinedpublished analysis of collaboration with ALP Govt, not least on energy assets sale.
- Oh, and on sustainability, the inestimable Prof Jamie Kirkpatrick in Tas, who is so very very smart and so greatly independent of thought.
Also I think in that particular group there ought to have been a world class mountaineer like Tim McCartney Snape or Brigitte Muir or one of several actually because we are very strong as a country in this respect. Sports I hear you cry, but actually they are become cross cultural experts from all the travel and experience of montane environments which are melting first meaning dangerous climate change.
Lateral but still true, as per my report of great Blue Mountains Climbing festival report 2007 here:
Of similar comment would be some of our awesome Antarctic scientist types - can’t think of the name but we have some beauties.
Very lastly I read worthy Sam(antha?) Mostyn’s background on Trust of Australian Museum - 2003 - ex staffer of Paul Keating, and BA/Llb - say no more eh? (The ALP stodge factor? We shall see.)
----- Original Message -----Sent: Saturday, March 29, 2008 12:53 PMSubject: [chipstop] 2020 visionaries
Delegates to the 2020 Summit have been announced. It looks pretty grim. Of the approx 100 names in the 'environment' group, there are very few known greenies. Does anyone know anybody on this list who might speak up for the forests? Hugh Possingham and Ian Lowe are possibly the most prospective.
It is also possible to make a submission directly to them.
Contributing a submission to the Australia 2020 Summit is a way for all Australians to be involved in bringing the best ideas forward to address Australia’s long term challenges.
All submissions will be made publicly available on this website and will be presented to the Australia 2020 Summit participants to stimulate discussion and ideas about addressing our future challenges.
Individuals, schools, groups, and organisations are invited to make submissions.
You can contribute a submission online, by downloading a form and mailing it, or by contacting the toll free number to have a form mailed out to you.
Submissions must be received no later than 5:00pm Wednesday 9 April 2008.
Written submissions are limited to 500 words per topic and should focus on one of the ten identified areas. You may contribute a submission in one or more policy areas.
Submissions will be collected by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, which is acting as a secretariat for the Australia 2020 Summit.
List of delegates:
Population, sustainability, climate change and water
Mr Carl Eric Binning Male WA
Ms Irina Cattalini Female WA
Mr Joe Ross Male WA
Ms Cheryl Batagol Female VIC
Mr Damien Troy Bell Male VIC
Dr Grant Blashki Male VIC
Ms Larissa Brown Female VIC
Mr Russell Ronald Caplan Male VIC
Professor Ross Garnaut Male VIC
Mr Gerry Hueston Male VIC
Mr Andrew Jaspan Male VIC
Honourable Dr Barry Owen Jones Male VIC
Professor David John Karoly Male VIC
Professor Amanda Lynch Female VIC
Ms Robyn Leigh McLeod Female VIC
Dr Pam McRae-Williams Female VIC
Mr Stephen Mills Male VIC
Ms Natasha Palich Female VIC
Mr George Pappas Male VIC
Dr Graeme Ivan Pearman Male VIC
Mr Marcus Randolph Male VIC
Mr Bernard Joseph Salt Male VIC
Mr David Shelmerdine Male VIC
The Honourable John Thwaites Male VIC
Ms Georgina Elise Boon Female TAS
Ms Anne Howe Female SA
Ms Susan Barbara Jeanes Female SA
Adjunct Professor Monica Viviene Oliphant Female SA
Mrs Joanne Louise Pfeiffer Female SA
Ms Ann Kathryn Shaw Rungie Female SA
Mr Michael Peter Berwick Male QLD
Mrs Leith Boully Female QLD
Ms Erin Mara Cini Female QLD
Professor Chris (Christopher Reid) Cocklin Male QLD
Ms Cheryl Desha Female QLD
Ms Melissa-Leigh Jane George Female QLD
Professor Ross Stewart Guest Male QLD
Dr Andrew Kenneth Leonard Johnson Male QLD
Professor Ian Lowe Male QLD
Ms Elizabeth Ann Nosworthy Female QLD
Professor Hugh Possingham Male QLD
Professor John Quiggin Male QLD
Dr Russell Evan Reichelt Male QLD
Dr Lorraine Stephenson Female QLD
Dr Stuart Blanch Male NT
Professor Stephen Thomas Garnett Male NT
Mr Joe Morrison Male NT
Ms Maria Atkinson Female NSW
Professor Marcela Bilek Female NSW
Mr Greg Bourne Male NSW
Ms Petrea Bradford Female NSW
Ms Jillian Broadbent Female NSW
Mr Peter Coates Male NSW
Professor Mary Elizabeth Crock Female NSW
Mr Stewart Ellis Male NSW
Ms Penelope Figgis (AO) Female NSW
Professor Timothy Flannery Male NSW
Ms Tanya Ha Female NSW
Mr Michael Hawker Male NSW
Professor Lesley Margaret Head Female NSW
Dr Judy Isabel Henderson Female NSW
The Hon Roslyn Joan Kelly Female NSW
Professor Shahbaz Khan Male NSW
Mr Ian Bruce Kiernan Male NSW
Mr Eric Ronald Wing-Fai Knight Male NSW
Dr Gabrielle Sarah Kuiper Female NSW
The Hon Susan Mary Lenehan Female NSW
Ms Romilly Madew Female NSW
Ms Sam Mostyn Female NSW
Ms Elaine Prior Female NSW
Ms Tania Ritchie Female NSW
Ms Anna Rose Female NSW
Dr Paul Simshauser Male NSW
Professor Will Steffen Male NSW
Dr Tony Paul Wilkins Male NSW
Emeritus Professor Valerie Anne Brown Female ACT
Dr Peter J Cook Male ACT
Dr Wendy Craik Female ACT
DR Brian Fisher Male ACT
Dr Geoff Garrett Male ACT
Dr Steve Hatfield Dodds Male ACT
Professor Warwick james McKibbin Male ACT
Professor Patrick Nicol Troy, AO Male ACT
Dr Karen Elizabeth Hussey Female
Dr Chloe Munro Female
Dr Bev Ronalds Female WA
Postscript #1 1st April 2008
Sent: Monday, March 31, 2008 9:26 PMSubject: Re: [chipstop] 2020 visionariesDoes anyone know any of the other names besides our few 'good guys'?Unbelievable, 100 (Give or take a few) people interested in this area and I have heard of about 10 of them. And I've been around these issues for over 3 decades. I wonder how many are ALP hacks?It would be useful if someone could google a bunch and dig a bit of dirt to show how inappropriate they are to be on the country's 'sustainability climate and water' group. There's dirt on at least two so far.-----------------
These are my comments on those I know for what its worth (See list below)
Most lack an environmental perspective - indicative of the deired outcomes.
I expect each will read a prepared statement and at the end of the process we will have a report that someone is already writing...
Not really worth the greenhouse gases spent getting there.
Anyone here going?Population, sustainability, climate change and waterHe was head of atmospheric science in CSIRO in 2000 - he may be one who lost his job or left during the final grim years of climate change denial.Professor Ross Garnaut Male VIC
Dr Graeme Ivan Pearman Male VICEcological scientistProfessor Ian Lowe Male QLD
Professor Hugh Possingham Male QLDWWFProfessor John Quiggin Male QLD
Mr Greg Bourne Male NSWWorked at ACF when I was there - a lobbyist with a glancing but not detailed understanding of forest issuesMs Penelope Figgis (AO) Female NSWFount of knowledgeProfessor Timothy Flannery Male NSWWonderful Judy who has campaigned on Tassie's forests, Lake Pedder, stood for the Greens, has been Chair of orgs such as Aust Ethical. Probably the best advocate we could haveDr Judy Isabel Henderson Female NSWNow which bit of the topic is she addressing?The Hon Roslyn Joan Kelly Female NSWWas Property Council in ACT, actively involved in Green Building Council of Aus - don't think she knows much about forestsMs Romilly Madew Female NSWWell, he is ACT actually - Director of what was Centre for Resource Development ANU (Fenner School now?) I have hear d him speak effectively about climate change science and issues.Professor Will Steffen Male NSWVal writes about sustainability issues with a focus on the social side of things. She would be sympathetic of forest issues in the broad sense without knowing the detail.
Emeritus Professor Valerie Anne Brown Female ACTthe Chief Executive of the Co-operative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC)Dr Peter J Cook Male ACTChief Executive of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission (MDBC) in August 2004 - not a great advocate for the environment (and Great Barrier Reef before that)Dr Wendy Craik Female ACTABARE (whose stats have led us down so many wrong forest paths)DR Brian Fisher Male ACTHead of CSIRO manager of its de skilling and commercialisationDr Geoff Garrett Male ACTEconomist with an environmental perspective. Husband of Lyn HAtfied Dodds, the President of ACOSS and Executive Director (so equivalent) of Uniting Care. Steve works for CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems’ as Integration Science and Public Policy researcher.Dr Steve Hatfield Dodds Male ACTProfessorial Fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy. He is also Director of the Centre of Applied Macroeconomic Analysis (CAMA) at the Australian National University. He is also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, and President of McKibbin Software Group. He is a member of the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia and a member of the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council. He also recently served on the Prime Minister's Uranium Mining and Nuclear Energy Review.Professor Warwick james McKibbin Male ACTPatrick is an academic with an interest in planning - was a key person during the Whitlam era and used to argue repeatedly with PEter Newman about urban form. He is currently writing about Canberra issues such as water, and proably doesn't give a lot of thought to forests.Professor Patrick Nicol Troy, AO Male ACT
Picture: Images from the 2002 movie The Quiet American directed by Australian Phillip Noyce where US colonial meddling also comes a cropper in a very very big way with mayhem and misery served up to an enormous degree for most everyone else, and at enormous cost in terms of finances and lives.
Author’s general introductory note (skip this bit if you know this regular weekly column):
This is not a well packaged story. It’s a contemporaneous traverse of the Sunday television free to air political talkies indicating the agenda of Establishment interests: Better to know ones rivals and allies in Big Politics and Big Media.
Indeed it’s the tv version monitoring task similar to what Nelson Mandela refers to here in his book Long Walk to Freedom (1994, Abacus) written in Robben Island prison (where he was meant to die like other African resister chiefs of history in the 19C), at page 208
“..newspapers are only a shadow of reality; their information is important to a freedom fighter not because it reveals the truth, but because it discloses the biases and perceptions of both those who produce the paper and those who read it.”
Just substitute ‘Sunday tv political talkie shows’ for "newspapers" in the quote above.
For actual transcripts go to web sites quoted below except with Riley Diary on 7. And note transcripts don’t really give you the image content value.
Media backgrounder – this section under construction till later Sunday/Monday
- pile of clips overwhelming the desk, table, floor - have to process sooner or later, not least News Ltd sledge of Fairfax re finding of Sydney navy ship, when in fact they have the record for “worst headline ever” stay tuned, hint January 2005, 2nd hint, another deadly watery topic. Oh allright here is the expose by moi at the time:
- climate change file grown like topsy, may swallow me like DeNiro in Brazil before get a chance to sort into sub categories, grain from chaff
- Beijing Olympics: A Quiet American starring Michael Caine, Brendan Fraser, Tzi Ma of 2002 was ambushed by Sept 11 2001 given it’s grim theme of US meddling and killing of a OSS/CIA operative (Fraser) based on Graeme Greene novel. Well worth a watch because it underscores the Chinese CP backing of the North Vietnamese who did over the Colonial French regime, then survived the US airforce and millions dead to annexe the whole country. But France has never forgotten – hence “Don’t go to Olympic shames” by Bernard-Henry Levy “acclaimed French philosopher and journalist. In other words French cultural warrior echoing his conservative president’s tough talk about boycotting same opening ceremony. This is standard hard reportage now for every Big Olympics – certainly in Sydney, not just China this time. This is the democratic dose of salts as price for getting the gig, understand?
- lots of footage of Rudd with W Bush, who incredibly faces up to former’s election victory, as if its democratic excuse for himself to get out too. Rudd’s sociopathic ambition revealed on the stage with W Bush, asserting an equal status in the banter. $165M offer of assistance to Iraq on agriculture (half the $300M bribe by AWB? as penance?) helped smooth the way. Shows how serious is the challenge of managing the relationship with China that Bush needs his Mandarin etc. It really is a hint of greatness ahead for Rudd in mediating that global challenge.
- funny to see Tim Blair column with green typeface “Tim”, sledging earth hour, but you sense the fight or malice has gone out of him some. Memo Tim, G W didn’t mention anything about wax.
- lots of Easter Show fluff – with one sharp story about consumer ‘always been a rip off’. Funny Joe Dirt movie last night redneck working class theme during Earth Hour.
- Daily Telegraph runs balancer appeasement to grog advertisers attacking “wowsers” against binge drinking. It’s all about the money as per SAM image last week. Full page adverts for grog in most papers as usual.
- lots of coverage of Zimbabwe election not least Doogue pre 8 am, abc tv shows freedom fighter Mugabe gone very very bad.
- moral panic over laser pointers is next ‘cause celeb’ long running nuisance.
Swannie pressure as Treasurer eases with friendly headlines tax cut for lower socio economic sectors including abc tv prime news.
Earth hour goes off fine, spreading a message with depth (that cutting energy means cutting costs and helping reduce greenhouse gases.) Mostly symbolic but it’s also a very visible vote of concern.
Laurie Oakes column Telegraph worthy but a little dry, needs a better graphic perhaps. Doesn’t quite fit the cartoon book milieu of SDT.
Tuned out a bit on economics imperative. LO raises Japan missed. Got to be as tough on human rights in Tibet as he is on whale rights in Japan. Should pick up a phone to Prime Minister Fukuda.
[Get the feeling that Rudd has the power to deliver a big balancer here with a specific trip to Japan, tell them that to wrong foot Opposition.]
Sundy Telegaph colour mag is getting more content substance amongst the fluff? Cancel that, its back to fluff.
Interesing read about Justin Hemmes ‘the playboy entrepeneur’ only when you look at ‘The Family’ portrait you get the spooky feeling of cut throat money assasins, endlessly charming and essentially ruthless and unreliable. We had a friend like that who ended up working for Macquarie Bank.
We wrote about the NSW power wrestle between DPP and Iemma Govt. We guessed Hugh Macken as boss of (my) lawyer's union Law Society and from a big family was from an ALP family tradition. Sure enough turns out his old man is a 50 year veteran of the party. Hence NSW ALP AG Hatsistergos on the front cover of the Law Society journal? Hard to say as might have been fore Hugh Macken got the gig.
Sunday 9, 7.30am- 9.30am
Features cottonwool kids (most rebellious ever blow back? Per Hugh Mckay), India miner bird pest, Shadow Foreign minister
Kick off story about ethical source of stem cell therapy example via pet pooch. Happy story.
- Martu mob photographic exhibition, as per mainstream press. Looks very good, expanding perceptions of the humanity of these folks
Ross Greenwood strong story on super changes with Rudd Nov 07 “absolutely not” change. Shadow Minister on super, Keenan. Nick Sherry in the story. Have to leave for Riley diary.
Laurie Oakes – with Shadow Robb Man of Steel sledge on Coalition handed on to Rudd from Howard? All about the strong alliance. True enough.
Robb looking a bit subdued, not quite crestfallen but like a beaten dog. Ausmin references as per usual.. Robb makes it clear about “conservative packing their bags”. Robb takes some points about smokes and mirrors about many staying in support roles.
LO presses re ALP keeping the alliance fine despite pre election attacks by coalition. LO presses hard re “whole a lot of alarmist nonsense” fair point.
17 days is an indulgence says Robb – but comes across a bit lame this early on. Maybe in a week?
10 Meet the Press: 8- 8-30 am
Top coverage of W Bush/Rudd joint presser packed out with capital meeja, including Oz sector like Paul Bongiorno. Dennis Richardson, wife Therese there like berry red battleship (time to hit the early morning walkies Therese. W Bush reference to ‘fine lad’ and ‘heck yeah, Man of Steel’ to Rudd, as PB says “patronizing”. At risk of being Bush’s poodle, or maybe of biting the hand that feeds.
Rudd buckles under with President on warnings to China about democracy for Tibet.
Significant references to UN meeting with Rudd post Bali – get a move on.
Panel is Steve Lewis, serious tabloids journo. Jennifer Hewitt
- Jenny Macklin after visit to Aurukun [big bauxite mining town from memory, in fact stolen from the original indigenous, now melting pot of diverse groups from wide geographical area (?)The 'Wik' Peoples of Western Cape York -  ILB 12; (1997) 4(1 ... ]. JM looking quite good with constructive agendas in a sea of misery. Must keep going, must ….
Out take is very funny Keating on W Bush fuck up of US economy [with 3 trillion Iraq war]
2nd ad break, nsw teachers advert attack on Iemma Govt re staffing system, very funny Rove – can you do that in green?
Riley Diary 7
Salute, missed. Funny track ‘on and on’ - when it comes to, challenges to the future, working families, core business, better zip. Cliché machine.
Q&A Riley notes Latham policy 3 years too early. Notes Japan tactical error.
Insiders 2: 9- 10am
Leader of Opposition Brendan Nelson, tedious.
Parceur sports not quite everyperson segment, great images, great
Panel (the superb) Fran Kelly (getting a bit chubby there) (abc RN), Misha Schubert (Age?), Piers Akerman (SDT).
Big Piers subdued too.
Took a comfort break – good discussion on 2020 summit and hilarious coverage of John Singleton and Gerry Harvey – “it’s good bullshit” earthy reaction.
Home page is http://www.abc.net.au/insiders/
Opened in July 2006 the Fairtrade cafe in Glebe Point Rd is finally starting to hit its stride. Check it out some time, Saturday being a prime opportunity to also visit the groovy markets:
Yesterday we said hello to a customer Neil McIndoe sitting with friend formerly a Leichhardt councillor and made famous for a minor role in [pdf, 5 pages worth] Rats in the Ranks. Left ALP loyalist Neil came out of it pretty much with his integrity intact as far as his own principles, and also losing the chance as ALP mayor, which is pretty much standard politics at all levels. Then mayor Larry Hand famously quoted in the movie refers to "treachery" as the hallmark of the mayoral vote negotiations. Here's a Workers Online review.
Well well well.
The more one digs via innocent googles into the postures of retired president of the Legislative Council Ms Burgman, now aspiring to City of Sydney Mayoralty, the more one is just a little shocked and repelled into the arms of such as The Green party or genuine independents like Clover Moore. Don't get me wrong. We are all for sister feminist pioneers in leadership roles, and respect for campaigners at the coal face in the halcyon also dangerous 1970ies on aparthied, and over development.
Only we feel a certain rhetorical "When did you sell out?" question bubbling up in light of recent ICAC expose of senior ALP operative Joe Scimone deep in the soul of the ALP state govt, when you read this new next exemplar of Polly Anna Burgmann-itis seemingly running PR interference for brand ALP:
News Media appetite for sleazy scandal damages democracy
5 December 2006
A skewed media focus on grubby political scandals and politicians' dirty secrets threatens the very foundation of our democracy says Michael Hogan, co-editor of a new book celebrating 150 years of successful government in NSW.
"New South Wales' record as one of the most peaceful and most prosperous societies over the past 150 years is virtually unmatched in the world," says Hogan, an associate professor in the University of Sydney's Department of Government and International Relations.
"Our politicians solve problems by making deals and by compromising - the alternative is conflict, civil war and terrorist violence," says Hogan, who co-edited the book, The Worldly Art of Politics,with Ken Turner, also an honorary associate in Government and International Relations.
"But our fragile democracy threatens to be undermined by the media spotlight on the self-seeking, grubby side of politics, the handful of worst performers. Combined with a reluctance to offer praise when it is due, it's no wonder there is widespread cynicism in the electorate."
Hogan and Turner admit some politicians perform poorly, abuse parliamentary perks and play to the media's preference for conflict. "Like any profession there are liars, cheats and people who don't do a very good job. They therefore must share the blame for their ill-repute."
"But the majority of parliamentarians go into the business because they are passionate about a particular issue and want to achieve something. It's perfectly OK to present politicians warts and all - but most of the time the media only presents the warts.
"That politics is an insecure and stressful career is demonstrated by recurrent examples of MPs falling into excessive drinking, sexual misconduct and depression. Practitioners do not only have to combat rival parties … Once elected, they still have to watch their backs.
"Unfortunately all the worthwhile things people do - the RSL meetings, the opening school fetes - all of which put a strain on family lives, aren't as newsworthy as the scandals."
Hogan and Turner's book, The Worldly Art of Politics, celebrates the lives and skills of the hardworking committee members, locals MPs, constructive party officers, skillful administrators and negotiators as well as path breaking Independents.
"It is a difficult job and people who try to suggest it is a bludge simply do not understand what it entails."
The book includes chapters by Peta Seaton, Graham Freudenberg and Henry Mayer, among others, with an introduction by Rodney Cavalier.
It will be launched this week by the Hon Dr. Geoff Gallop, former Premier of Western Australia and Director of the University of Sydney's Graduate School of Government.
Note to editors
New South Wales' parliament and first university share a common father and were born within six years of eachother: William Charles Wentworth led movements that directly led to the establishment of both the University of Sydney (founded in 1850) and the NSW Parliament (founded in 1856).
The Hon Dr Meredith Burgmann, President of the NSW Upper House, will be cutting a cake, presented by the University of Sydney to the NSW Parliament to mark the occasion of Parliament's 150th birthday.
What: A celebration of 150 years of successful parliamentary government in NSW with the launch of The Worldly Art of Politics
When: 6pm, Wednesday 6 December 2006
Where: The Nicholson Museum, Main Quadrangle, The University of Sydney
Contact: Kath Kenny
Phone: 02 9351 2261 or 0434 606 100
What price detente? Dishonest self censorship and airbrushing of history in the 1984 sense?
We recently observed this strange reality in the Inner Sydney politics of NSW as per this correspondence below:
To: [Editor New Matilda]Sent: Friday, March 28, 2008 3:43 PMSubject: agree good story for NM to run, no doubt....Ah, not a problem that Ms Burgmann helped satirist/journalist nephew Charles brother of Verity etc. Or that NM ran the story. The problem is the sanitised deletion by the author (while transparently profile building for her City Hall bid 13 Sept 08 re-announced this week in the press after backing off it week previous) of the true history of North Korea, and not so long ago either.Agree it's not for the editor to change the content. Agree its for readers to take a swing, or even contribute article in contra distinction.It's actually an excellent record to be cherished via NM, of Meredith displaying archetypal career Left blinkers. As such it's pretty newsworthy too that she could be so polly anna about NK realities compared to say giant of journalism abc's Mark Colvin.From a more cynical point of view I feel she was very calculating to avoid a blow back from NK via google check of her story (inevitable) by airbrushing reality, whilesoever nephew Charlie might still be over there or wanting something out of the regime (like food?). Her language is remarkable for its determined neutrality. It comes over as terribly dishonest to me.We are talking 1/3 of a real holocaust here in modern times. I can't imagine what game she thinks she is playing. I'm a lefty really yet this surely is very calculating or incredible self denial. But I'm pretty sure she will pay for it in the local council contest if she pursues the election. Actually I've already flicked it on (being a bit of a meddler).She also endorsed the very infamous Part 3A repeals of heritage and swathe of other green planning legislation in harness for ALP in 2005. Lead in the saddle bags. She's a goner on that alone. Pity one or other boomer dinosaur has to win.Yours truly, Tom
To: [PR flak Clover Moore, Cr Chris Harris - Greens, SMH, Daily Telegraph reporters]Sent: Friday, March 28, 2008 1:29 PMSubject: Burgmann's amazing blinkers on North Korea, 25 March 08Well Jeff Lewis (spinner for Clover), Cr Chris Harris (Greens)Meredith climbed back in the ring earlier this week. Have a look at this outrageous profile build in her article on New Matilda, which it seems they have taken off their front webpage since my email last night - and no wonder - airbrushing a 1/3 real holocaust of modern times takes quite an ideological blinker. [SAM editor: On reflection actually not 'removed', just pushed off by newer content] The Jewish related voters won't cop this candidate after this piece about North Korea, you mark my words. Nor should they. See my feedback at bottom to the worthy folk there at New Matilda. This is more devastating real politik ammunition regarding the blinkered Meredith Burgmann, brand ALP Left, as shallow as they come it seems:
North Korea might remain isolated on the international stage but the streets of Pyongyang are slowly coming to life, finds Meredith Burgmann.[Full extract to record for posterity, and in case it gets removed]
25 Mar 2008
North Korea might remain isolated on the international stage but the streets of Pyongyang are slowly coming to life, finds Meredith Burgmann
If Richard Nixon's overture to China in the 1970s was "ping pong diplomacy", then the recent tour of North Korea by the New York Philharmonic is surely "piccolo diplomacy". At the same time, North Korea has closed its Canberra Embassy. These contradictory symbols of North Korean policy are symptomatic of the present regime in Pyongyang.
The Embassy in Culgoa Circuit, O'Malley - aligned neatly in a row with the rest of the "Axis of Evil" - was an extraordinary place. The huge reception area contained no furniture at all except the national flag, two sofas and a coffee table. Neatly set out on the coffee table was a tin of instant coffee, a packet of Coffee-Mate and a can of orangeade.
While no fan of North Korea's domestic policies, I had achieved an understanding of their international relations outlook after spending time there in 1997. A recent visit to the Canberra Embassy was part of a concerted year-long campaign to obtain a journalism visa for my nephew, The Chaser's Charles Firth. This proved a much harder task than I had imagined. As we sat drinking orangeade and instant coffee in the empty Embassy we tried to explain to Mr Pak, the Senior Minister, that Charles was a serious journalist as well as a satirist.
The concept of satire to the North Koreans is difficult. We eventually resolved it by explaining that satire was when you make fun of George Bush.
That explanation was evidently reassuring enough for us to be issued with visas and a motley trio - Charles, Head of Sydney's College of Fine Arts Professor Ian Howard, and I - set out for Pyongyang in October last year.
The difference between North Korea ten years ago and now is extraordinary. At the official level it is still isolated and paranoid, but it is now very different at the street level. Ten years ago it was a totally closed society, there were few people on the streets, no shops or cafes and only stiff and formal interaction during the limited social occasions that were allowed. There was in fact an eerie similarity to the physical geography of Canberra (several travellers have remarked upon this).
Pyongyang and the people are now very different. The government officials are much more open and communicative, especially about their financial difficulties. However, their legendary paranoia is still evident, especially in regard to the United States and Japan.
It is on the social and cultural level that I saw the greatest difference. On one evening for instance, as we walked along the river bank, our delightful guide Mr Pak (another Mr Pak, everyone is Mr Pak or Mr Kim) pointed out to us that the giggling and rustlings in the greenery around us were actually lovers meeting each other illicitly on the banks of the river. The lights along the river bank Mr Pak opined were "not as good as Darling Harbour" and when we came across a large bunch of brightly clothed men and women dancing underneath the giant Juche Tower, he let us know that this was where young single people come to meet each other. Charles of course plunged into the array of colourful dancers all ginger hair and sangfroid. Ten years ago he might have been shot, but this time we eventually all joined in the dancing.
Similarly, Ian wanted to do some of his art practice - brass rubbings of famous military installations around the world - as he is interested in the interaction of civilian and military cultures. He decided that the appropriate military installation would be the captured American spy ship, USS Pueblo, which had been taken over by the North Koreans in a blaze of headlines in 1968.
Eventually the 82 American crew members were released, but the USS Pueblo remained an important prize in Pyongyang. Ian talked his way in, taped some of his art paper across the pock marked and riveted funnel of the USS Pueblo and began his crayon rubbing under the suspicious eye of a tall Navy official dressed something akin to an admiral, with a very large gun. As Ian was getting up steam and I was taking his photograph, the admiral moved forward and grabbed Ian by the shoulder. I became quite nervous at this stage but the admiral simply took the piece of crayon from Ian's hand, did a few dramatic flourishes of rubbing and then proceeded to sign and date the artwork. He understood the nature of the project probably better than Ian's students back in Australia. It was a wonderful moment.
Mr Kim, the Pueblo guide, when complimented on his English accent, told us that he had learnt to speak English by watching the "classics" which turned out to be Kramer vs Kramer, Love Story and Torn Curtain.
Even at the Tomb of Kim Il Sung which is probably where the difference in our cultures is most clearly defined, our perceptive companion Mr Pak remarked that Australians don't have the same cultural values about the dead as Koreans do. We were quite clearly ill at ease with the amount of drama that went with the visit to the embalmed body. "Australians do not revere the dead", he said, as we wondered where Sir Robert Menzies was even buried.
The guards were in fact the most interesting part of this visit. I noticed that on the South Korean side of the room the military personnel were in North Korean uniform, and upon asking why this was so was told that when the South Koreans had important visitors they wanted to impress, then the North Koreans left the room, and when the North had VIPs then the South would hand over the room to them. A very co-operative way to conduct what the rest of the world is led to believe is a frosty relationship.
Fashion is now huge in the streets of Pyongyang. Unfortunately it happens to be the fashion of the 1970s. Women wear six inch wedges and even the boys wear wedge-soled sneakers. Spangles and lycra and luminous colours are particularly favoured by the young. The currency of preference is the Euro and the conversations with us are about investment in the animation film industry. At their spectacular Arirang Festival - famous the world over for the perfection of its open air extravaganza displays - just the week before we arrived they had achieved the ultimate in any capitalist society: a Guinness Book of Records achievement for 120,000 school children being involved in a flip card demonstration.
At the official level, they talked to us about their enemies, who they see as the United States and Japan. (They never talk about South Korea as anything other than themselves. They are all Koreans.) They see themselves as threatened with invasion: "When we are threatened with rifles we cannot defend ourselves with clubs." They believe they should have their own capacity for national defence: "America has always invaded weak countries, not powerful countries." They speak endlessly about how Pyongyang was razed to the ground at the end of the Korean War. They give you the figures that there were 370,000 people in Pyongyang and 420,000 bombs fell on the city. These refrains are identical to 10 years ago.
They are now short of electricity and believe that when they try to build nuclear power plants they are stopped. Minister Jon,Vice Chairman of the powerful Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, told us "We were promised petroleum but it did not happen" and "We are determined to raise the standard of living through science and technology". Technology they declared included nuclear power.
They regarded the recent North-South Summit between South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun and Kim Jong Il as an "epoch-making" event to further develop relations between North and South, "It is our firm belief as long as it takes place under the North South Declaration that reunification will come."
Vice Chairman Jon also reiterated their fear of Japan, pointing out, "We apologised for the kidnappings but have had no apology from Japan for 40 years of occupation and cruelty". As we leave they inform us that "Unfortunately we have no cultural agreement with Australia", and add enigmatically "Seeing is believing".
Relations with Australia have always been hit and miss. The redoubtable Mr Pak informed us that he had met Kevin Rudd in 2000, when he was Secretary General of the Korean Anti Nuclear Peace Committee. They are very excited about Rudd's election because they believe that he will understand the Korean situation better than previous leaders.
When Minister Pak rang me last month to inform me that the North Korean Embassy was closing, he sounded sad. He said that it was a lack of finances that caused the closure. It is a problem because they certainly need as much connection with the real world as they can get.
The last 10 years of gradually defrosting relations has had a beneficial effect on their society. How can a society that boasts of a Guinness Book of Records achievement and learns English from Kramer vs Kramer not benefit from detente and cultural exchange? Thank goodness for piccolo diplomacy.[comments follow.....]
Tom McLoughlin 27/03/08 8:02PM
This article reinforces my concern about the author’s career left penchant for what feels to me like "disaster tourism". I’m sure its very pleasant travelling and being treated graciously as retired president of the Legislative Council in NSW (and sure I might well be envious) but this twee report resplendent with self censorship about:
1. the death camps (2 million deaths 1997-2000) that undoubtedly exist in North Korea for anyone on the blacklist, and
2. the role of big brother dictator Chinese CP propping up in turn the North Korean dictatorship
is frankly a joke. I suppose the subtle amongst us will say it’s all understated in order to achieve nephew Charles Firth’s mission of access and future reportage. Well maybe, but I think it’s pretty much a wank. Detente? I don’t buy it.
Tom McLoughlin 27/03/08 8:07PM
Here’s a few more reliable reports:
Famine may have killed 2 million in North Korea
August 19, 1998
PM - Searching for freedom: one woman’s journey out of North Korea
Friday, 24 November , 2006
"MARK COLVIN: The regime of Kim Jong Il in North Korea is the closest thing on earth to the nightmarish world created by George Orwell in 1984."
So what the hell is this twee report? Who is kidding who for God sake?
The Herald front pager is dramatic for the evidence of bump and grind between institutions of power in NSW, DPP chief versus NSW Attorney General. But also Fairfax Herald taking sides in their editorial below, and front page here:
Funding strings on prosecutorsMarch 27, 2008
THE bean counters of the Auditor-General's department have run their measures over the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and, unsurprisingly, have found it difficult to answer a question that is not easily quantified: what price justice? Nevertheless, like bean counters everywhere, their answer is to recommend installing a new super-bean counter inside the prosecutor's office and have everyone filling out more internal reports about their workload and how they process it.
No one should object to a publicly funded office being held to standards of accountability and efficiency. The prosecutor's staff and budget have gone up while the number of cases it handles has declined. But are the prosecutors being held to account for falling efficiency - if that's what it is - in the entire judicial system? The auditors acknowledge the growing complexity of cases and longer trials, and that the state prosecutors are hostage to the competence of police in preparing committals for trial, and then the scheduling of the courts.
The increased scrutiny is shrouded with a miasma of suspicion because of the background of friction between the incumbent Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery, and the Labor Government. Mr Cowdery has declined to join the periodic lynch mobs whipped up by the politicians and shock jocks, and he speaks out fearlessly against attempts to overawe judicial officers, as he is now doing about what he sees as the motives behind the audit. His frank comments yesterday about the toxic political environment surrounding his office show why we need him. The DPP's office remains an island of independence in a state where attempts to subvert the separation of powers are constant. No wonder then, that the recent abolition of life tenure for the DPP is seen more against this background, and not the objective proclaimed by the Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, of "greater transparency and diversity in appointments".
Many now will see the Auditor-General's office lending itself to or being used in an effort to nobble the prosecutors. It was a spat over funding between Mr Cowdery and the state Treasurer, Michael Costa, that led to the Auditor-General's inquiry being commissioned. It now recommends inserting a new executive director in the prosecutor's office to manage its spending and "liaise" with the Treasury and other government agencies. Although this official would report to the director, he or she would be senior to the present deputy-directors. This could create a new power centre responsible to outside signals, and blur lines of authority when the director is absent. It is a proposal the public must view with disquiet, especially given the government that proposes it.
The Green Party are urging their Coalition Opposition colleagues to take a similar principled line of keeping a political appointment (like Joe Scimone?) out of the DPP:
Greens MP Lee Rhiannon - Media Release - 26 March 2008
Government minder for the DPP
Greens MP and justice spokesperson Lee Rhiannon says the government is using the cover of efficiency and accountability to exercise greater control over the DPP's office, risking the erosion of a fair and impartial justice system in NSW.
"The new position of Executive Director allows the government to insert a minder in the Office of the DPP and opens the door to politically motivated decisions about what criminal matters to pursue, or not pursue," Ms Rhiannon said.
"The Executive Director will be in a position to control the purse strings and the direction of the DPP's casework.
"The Attorney General says this new position will report directly to him, not the DPP as recommended by the Auditor-General.
"This is a unique arrangement in the public service. The government's real agenda is to give a mate the job of looking over Mr Cowdery's shoulder.
"It threatens justice to have a government appointee able to exercise control over what criminal matters receive attention, or whether a Minister or ex-Minister is prosecuted.
"The government is cracking a walnut with a sledgehammer by drowning the DPP in additional measuring and reporting requirements.
"There are better ways of achieving efficiencies than demanding that the DPP develop, monitor and report upon a plethora of performance indicators.
"Inefficiencies in the courts system and NSW Police Force have not received similar attention, because they are beyond the capacity of this government to analyse or solve.
"The Auditor-General is endeavouring to impose a private law firm model on the DPP, which would appeal to this government's unhealthy affection for privatisation.
"This neglects to appreciate that the role and functions of the DPP are very different to a commercial law firm whose main aim is to maximise profits, not promote justice.
"The Greens call on the Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell to resist the government's proposed changes to the DPP's office.
"The Opposition's track record on the DPP, including its attempt to put the DPP on a fixed term contract, would suggest it will not reject this attack on the Office's independence," Ms Rhiannon said.
For more information: Lee Rhiannon - 9230 3551, 0427 861 568
SAM has one question into both Opposition's Shadow Attorney General and former deputy director of the DPP, Greg Smith, and media officer for the DPP:
On ABC 702 yesterday the AG Hatzistergos argued [presumably based on the govt inspired Auditor General's report] a 40% increase in funding for the DPP over the period of a 30% decrease in referral of committals. Do you accept this claim?
We don't accept such a claim on face value with this govt. Rather it may reflect increase in work load despite lower number of committals for other reasons. An assault and battery is different to a bank robbery or murder trial. Maybe they have other new duties too, say managing victims of crime liaison?
In particular we notice that Cowdery is like a grand old Lion in NSW politics. People do "listen" to him. But as with a similar legal lion character in All the Kings Men political thriller of modern American literature (and 2006 film), the old lion better look out for the ALP dirt unit dredging up anything in his past back to nappies. Because to quote Mr Cowdery these guys are indeed ruthless and grubby.