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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
Victoria Bushfires: Royal Commission, big media to report redneck loggers steering forests into megafire?
Topic: big media

Picture: 1995 info sheet in the Telegraph in a time when Big Media were in denial over the role of arson in bushfire criminality. Hence the juxtaposition of Red Head advert. In January 1994 Rod Knight of The Wilderness Society Sydney Office named arson as the main cause of the blazes across the state but was howled down by loggers and Big Media. This writer took up the reins at TWS from then for 2 years. Knight has been vindicated over the role of arson ever since, with no apology to date.

Yesterday avowed climate change denier Piers Akerman condescended to provide advice from his tabloid bullypit to Royal Commissioner Teague.

Perhaps he assumes the retired respected judge moonlights from the broadsheets in his media consumption down there in Victoria. Our old man may he rest in peace - a good mate of Justice Bernard Bonjiorno - used to scan all the press, trash or otherwise and maybe that's where we got our habit too, so maybe Akerman is right. Our dear old dad helped take instructions on the case against a power company back in 1983 Ash Wednesday fires near Warrnambool as a then partner of Madden & Co solicitors.

This is what Judge Bonjiorno decided back in 2000 regarding Akerman soulmate and climate skeptic Andrew Bolt at sister paper Herald Sun also very prominent offering advice on bushfire causation:


Victoria's Deputy Chief Magistrate Jelena Popovic has won libel damages of $246,500 and costs. Ms Popovic sued the Herald Sun, Melbourne, over an article written by Andrew Bolt and published on 13 December 2000. Bolt claimed she had hugged two drug traffickers and bullied a police prosecutor. A jury had found the article was untrue, unfair and inaccurate and had defamed the magistrate. In making the damages award in the Victorian Supreme Court, Judge Bernard Bongiorno criticised Bolt and the Herald Sun for attempting to put a favourable "spin" on the damages claim before it was decided and for comments Bolt made outside the court following the jury's verdict. The Herald Sun will appeal the Supreme Court's decision (Australian, 7 June 2002, p.3)

in Australian Newspaper History Group Newsletter July 2002 [pdf]

And so we think we might offer some lines of inquiry too. First we would refer to our previous articles here outlining the 50 year history of the loggers rationalising and covering up their key role in destroying fire resistant forest types: The programme to log rainforests, which then gave way to destruction of wet old growth forests. Now most of these landscapes in their tenure are miserable skinny dry sclerophyll forests that are immensely flammable.

Turbo charge that with a succession of 45 degree days and hot north wind, and climate driven drought, and you have not only bushfire and wildfire, but also megafire. 4 Corners last night was very eloquent in describing that megafire scenario if not all the ingredients. We know in 1994 weather was blamed by the inquiries as the main causation too. There were some other clues on 4 Corners- a reference to remnant "wet forest" types in Victoria by one observer so appealing to local residents. We can be sure Royal Commissoner Teague did watch that. And almost certainly Media Watch afterwards. That's the A1 ABC audience demographic unlike the ranting of Piers Akerman at the Daily Telegraph (with honourable exceptions like Laurie Oakes, Clair Harvey too).

If only that wet forest type was 90% of the forest estate and not now less than 10% thanks to the logging industry. Thanks to the dominance of financially conflicted foresters in our public forests.

Media Watch picked up the generally very good but also at times flawed media industry effort this last week: And refugee from the Sydney Daily Telegraph - now with the broadsheet Sydney Morning Herald - Miranda Devine was singled out for "hatemongering" based on ignorance. A theme we mentioned yesterday via Lord of the Flies allusion.

How long before the legal representatives of victims and their families, Big Media, Royal Commission and ALP governments, and greenies themselves, in South East Australia consider the land tenure history of forest conversion to dry sclerophyll. A history since mechanisation over the last 50 years in nearby state forests as the source of the firestorm? Of the systematic liquidation of rainforest and wet old growth forest intrinsically fire resistant? Of a firestorm, aka red steer, or more accurately red "tsunami", out of landscape wide dry sclerophyll. Converted by logging from wet Old Growth and rainforest contrary to all the protests of greens everywhere. Who constantly bang on about destruction of mature forests as bringing on dangerous climate change and extreme weather events.

No wonder the National Association of Forest Industries are calling for a bushfire summit. Their whole method of operation is under severe scrutiny now. As it must be. The path of the fires and the land tenures do not lie.

How long before the 'timber' industry - actually mainly mining forests for woodchips - is revealed as the main culprits of firestorms in modern day forests, as per the statistics out of the NSW 1994 bushfires? When 200-300 people are killed as now in Victoria one can be sure that all policy stones will be upturned and considered and that's why we make our submissions here with 15 years of policy experience on forests including zoology degree from ANU, and law degree from there too.

Posted by editor at 7:24 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 17 February 2009 8:39 AM EADT

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