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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Wednesday, 31 January 2007
crikey.com.au expose Howard's Cammora style Italian fix for Vanstone
Mood:  down
Topic: election Oz 2007

SAM's editor is 1/8 Italian apparently on my mother's side, from Calabria area. It's confusing because I am quite attracted to dark skinned black haired types but am Germanic Irish fair looking fellow.

I was advised by an Italian traveller that this is the home of the Cammora organised crime mobsters, whereas the Mafia are from Sicily:


Crikey.com.au have written about another form of Italian organised 'crime' in their editorial today which is entirely homegrown courtesy the Australian federal government:

Italian jokes aside, the wink-wink-nudge-nudge-who-me-yet-to-be-confirmed appointment of Senator Amanda Vanstone as the new Australian ambassador to Italy is merely the latest example of why politicians deserve to be held in such low esteem.

This is what the sacked Vanstone
told Sky News about her non-appointment to Rome yesterday:

My departure from cabinet is completely unconditional, absolute and final. It's not conditional on anything … The prime minister, when he made his statement, said that I was keen to continue in public service ... That's right, but there's a whole range of opportunities there … I don't know that I'm heading anywhere … Anything is an option. I'm here and I've got four years left on my Senate term. I may be made an offer … I may stay in parliament, who knows. ... I'm still thinking about that.”

Really? Try telling that to the current Australian ambassador in Rome, Peter Woolcott, the fall guy who has been instructed by the Department of Foreign Affairs to pack his bags, pull his kids out of school and return to Canberra almost a year earlier than his tour of duty was scheduled to finish.

Of course, when the non-appointment is announced the Senator will be surprised, honoured, humble -- and shameless. So will the Prime Minister. And the well-earned reputation of senior politicians as conniving, self-serving, hypocritical liars will be preserved, yet again.

If Amanda Vanstone gets her dolce vita quid pro quo it won't be a case of arrivederci, but good riddance.

Posted by editor at 3:32 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007 3:42 PM EADT
Angelic greenwashing of water guzzling cyanide gold mine at Lake Cowal
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: water

An influential figure on environment in this state has a dirty secret (and likely many more) which dilutes the moral authority of his role, say on climate change on abc radio this morning.


Jeff Angel was once described to this writer by the national director of the The Wilderness Society Karenne Jurd in 1992 as “such a bastard”, and it took quite a few years to see where she was coming from. At the time it just seemed professional jealously. But that was a naïve view.


At the time I decided to defy Jurd and work on Angel's draft South East Forest Protection Bill by taking a temporary job in NSW Parlaiment with Clover Moore MP on the cross benches to the Fahey minority government. The job was to shepherd the SEFPB through the Parliamentary Committee Inquiry involving inter alia Kim Yeadon (later forest minister), Pam Allan (later environment minister) and Craig Knowles (later planning and health minister and heir apparent to Bob Carr before crashing out). Clover was the MP sponsor of the private members bill which played well with innner city voters given 1500 arrests on the issue in 1989-91 period.


Those were heady days with John Hatton MP down the corridor saying 'Everyday I feel like we are getting stronger', and his indefatigable staffer Arthur King famous for organised crime locking him in a car boot for 3 days who told me 'brevity is golden'.


Maybe if I had taken that meeting with Jurd I would have made some quite different decisions. The SEFPB did its job of promoting a new ALP government in 1995 and I went back to The Wilderness Society in 1993. It was Angel's project but it was his senior Milo Dunphy that I met first at TEC and respected for his kindness of spirit and great experience.


This morning on ABC radio news Angel was heard positioning as the honest broker on need for ‘politicians to behave properly’ on another alarming report this time from ‘credible, conservative, portentious’ CSIRO. More detail here:




This climate change story precedes the next big scary report of the International Panel on Climate Change due any day now


UN report turns up heat on PM


which this observer understands will likely still underplay the urgency for failure to properly factor in sea rise due to rapid glacier warming discussed more here:




Here is an image and caption from that scientific article of 12th January 2007 of the decline of ice cover in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s all downhill for ice, and up for sea rise over the next century, decade by ominous decade (also canvassed by Phillip Adams Latenight Live radio show with 3 climate scientists recently).

Figure 2: Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent in September for all seven integration of the CCSM3 with observations from satellite era shown in black.


In Australia its not ice melt, or even sea rise (including here) which is alarming people so much as change in rainfall resulting in drought.


Angel is busy exploiting that widespread concern over water sustainability too in the TEC franchise on environmentalism: He is in the lead front page story today Sydney Morning Herald about failure of the Iemma Govt to do it's own housekeeping on water conservation plans, as here: 

Water crisis plan sinks in red tape

Water gushing from a tap. A STRATEGY to save billions of litres of water has become so mired in bureaucracy that the State Government has approved only 15 per cent of the plans to slash usage.

All well and good. This is the core work of any public interest non government organisation.


The story by Anne Davies, a top political reporter, builds on this TEC statement involving TEC riding the publicity wave of concern on water recycling here: Government inaction cripples key program to save Sydney's water 


But the question is whether TEC have an honourable history and honourable intent to deserve any profile on this issue in the first place? Sure its useful and embarrassing to expose the Iemma Govt on it's own performance and feeds into Fairfax owners' determination to oust the ALP, but rewarding TEC's director with greater influence, and typically, government funded participation in the policy responses only maintains a shallow protection racket with no real duopoly party political reform for ecological protection.


In fact the ALP get more cocky with every environmental problem that they just have to buy off Jeff Angel.


Like an alcoholic the institution of democracy gets a short term fix via aggrandisement of the TEC with its 700 odd members, but is left more tatty and unreliable than before once the hangover sets in as the money runs out and no systemic change in political power is achieved.


Protection racket? Yes, as illustrated by the following irreconcilable opportunism by Angel's TEC:


In the Lake Cowal area of central western NSW the water table has reportedly fallen 30 metres from 20 metres below ground to 50 metres, and farmers can’t reach it with their bores. It is also the place where a controversial gold mine churns through water for it’s cyanide leaching process having commenced in 2004 after political approval some 5 years earlier:


3rd Nov 06 - Lake Cowal cyanide gold mine chewing up farmers drought water, 20m water table drops to 50 m depth!


There are rumours local farmers are being paid off to keep quiet. Most independent green groups hate this mine in NSW:


Nov 06 - Alarm of independent greens over miner 'Environment Foundation' pay off to badly compromised 'peak' greens


But three ‘peak’ groups led by Jeff Angel at the Total Environment Centre found a way to participate in an ‘environmental foundation’ that suggests the mine is environmentally responsible while being paid $100,000 a year to run their green projects out of cyanide dependent gold mining profits. To quote their website:


“During the operational life of the mine, payments exceeding $2 million are expected to be made to the Lake Cowal Foundation. Although largely funded by Barrick, the Foundation also attracts external funding and works with a range of other groups and organisations.”




"The current members of the Foundation include the Total Environment Centre, National Parks Association, Nature Conservation Council and Barrick Australia Limited. The Lake Cowal Foundation is managed by a Board of Directors represented by five Directors including two environmental NGO representatives, a local landholder representing the Bland Shire Community, one independent scientist and a representative from Barrick."






It is well worth noting that this deal for mining company funds to select tame green groups was made and commenced well before the mine actually commenced around 2004. That is the pay off was in place well before the time of the mine as a fait accompli.


Indeed this author has tracked the real politik of the cyanide gold mine from the furore of bird kills at a similar mine at North Parkes on 60 Minutes, then Timbarra mine which was beaten off by green groups, and now Lake Cowal gold mine approved with green sinecures by the ALP Government under ex Premier Bob Carr:


15/3/04...The dirty Lake Cowal cyanide gold mine trust terms discussed here in 'Lake Cowal and real politik of mining decisions under Carr govt'


This dirty scandal of pay offs to greenie groups, or “duchessing” being the term used by Milo Dunphy founder of TEC in 1972 (and mentor of this writer), as hush money on a water guzzling mine to help their political mates (or conversely blackmail them for a green kiss off), is a game breaker for Jeff Angel’s compromised credibility in the lead up to the state and federal elections.


Rainforest Information Centre, The Green Party, Friends of the Earth Australia, local Traditional Owners like Chappy Williams and many others condemn the cyanide water guzzling mine but Angel’s affinity group are being financed by it indirectly. And he still presents to Big Media as “independent” and often gets away with it.


Demonstrably false.


But it is a sophisticated operation this protection racket. At the same time deals are being cut to go quiet on Lake Cowal cyanide monster we have the story above,  or this other issue on the Total Environment Centre website:


"New Report: longwall mining destroying NSW rivers, Thursday, 25 January 2007, Underground coal mining is resulting in major damage to the state's water resources and the Iemma Government can no longer afford to ignore the problem says a report released today by the Total Environment Centre.



A good strong conservationist line, but totally inconsistent and hypocritical compared to the Lake Cowal scandal. The two approaches are in fact irreconcilable. It is grand opportunism to keep TEC in business. Karenne Jurd was right.


This writer has followed Angel’s career at close quarters and from a distance since 1992. Milo Dunphy, it is also fair to say rejected Angel’s professional ethics. The green movement is littered with burnt and broken middle ranking green campaign experts on forests, Snowy River, Zero Waste, Olympic Games, transport and more that have been gazumped or sidelined by Angel via an inside running and back room deal making with the corrupt NSW government. I know most of them over the years. This writer is one of the burned.


Another example is the creation of the Green Games Watch with government money to buy off green groups' complaints of govt fraud in submitting in the 1993 bid documents to the International Olympic Committee that these green groups endorsed the government's 'green bid'.


Another example is juicey negotiating grant money for forest discussions with the Carr government which junked the promise to end woodchipping of natural forest by the year 2000, back to 1 million tonnes a year out of Eden chipper, in fact more than at the height of forest protests mainly organised by The Wilderness Society in 1990 with 1500 protester arrests


The model of sell out has eroded somewhat over the last year or two as the strength of the Green Party has progressed, who have no need for ALP sinecures, and factual and objective postings like this one work there way into the consciousness of fair minded observers and environmentalists alike, but the legacy of corruption of how the ALP does business is still there for all to see, evidenced by the Lake Cowal cyanide mine deal condemned by such as Ian Cohen MLC (The Greens) this writer and others.


All of this should be transparent to the environmental, political and media community.


As if to underline the point of the demise of independence of certain so called 'peak' green groups taking industry money brokered by compromised government at Lake Cowal, here is the Green Party's real and searching water reform policy going into the 2007 election:

Media Release - 30 January 2007

Greens 2007 election urban water policy (detailed policy included)

Greens MP and Upper House candidate Lee Rhiannon - launching the Greens
urban water strategy today - said the major parties have underestimated
the community's willingness to treat water as a precious commodity
and be part of the solution to drought.

"The major parties have failed to read the community mood. There has
been a welcome shift in support for water recycling, but we must not
lose sight of the enormous capacity of the public to save water and
use it more efficiently," Ms Rhiannon said.

"The major parties are scared that Sydney residents will punish them at
the ballot box if they don't promise big ticket engineering solutions,
like desalination.

"The Greens plan for Sydney centres on rainwater tanks, local grey
water treatment, stormwater harvesting, wastewater recycling, improved
efficiency and stronger restrictions.

"By abandoning plans to pre-emptively construct a desalination plant,
the Greens' strategy potentially saves $1.2 billion, at least half
of which can be invested in these measures.

At a glance, the Greens policy (attached) involves:

 + Doubling the current rebates on rainwater tanks and allowing
   consumers to pay off the cost of tanks as part of their quarterly
   water bill. This would encourage a six fold increase on uptake rate,
   reduce water demand by 10 million kilolitres (10 GL) each year and
   cost just $66 million.  We aim for Sydney to have 250,000 water
   tanks by 2011, up from the current 20,000.

 + Improving household water efficiency, including accelerated
   retrofitting of households and banning water inefficient appliances.

 + Local recycling and reuse projects for industrial and commercial
   premises, including on-site grey water pilot projects with the
   goal of re-using most water at least three times.

 + Enhancing BASIX to ensure all new and renovated dwellings and
   commercial premises are water efficient and maximise the capture
   of rainwater, stormwater and wastewater.

 + Immediately introducing Level IV water restrictions, backed up by
   enhanced enforcement and community education. By banning outdoor
   hosing and placing stronger requirements on some businesses and
   government agencies, storage levels could be safely held above
   the 30% trigger for a desalination plan.

 + Financial assistance to low income households to reduce their
   water demand and increase efficiency. This includes rebates on high
   efficiency appliances for pension card holders.

 + Making Sydney Water a partner with households in reducing water
   consumption, not just a government cash cow.

 + Abandoning plans for the desalination plant and aquifer pumping.

 + Commencing the process of closing ocean outfalls and phasing out
   the environmentally disastrous pumping of water from the Shoalhaven.

"Times have changed, and the government needs to work on a permanent shift
in how we manage water.

"Our policy will see Sydney through this and subsequent water crises and
avoid the need to spend money on expensive white elephants like desalination
and aquifer pumping," Ms Rhiannon said.

For more information:          Lee Rhiannon 0427 861 568


The Greens Community Water Solutions Package for Sydney

January 2007

1. Emergency drought measures

The Iemma government scrapped plans to introduce level IV restrictions
when the storage levels fell to 35% in February 2006 in favour of
building the desalination plant and aquifer pumping.

With no time left to introduce other water savings measures, the Greens

 - immediately introduce level IV restrictions. These would ban outdoor
   hosing, further restrict the filling of swimming pools and place
   tougher limits on some businesses and government agencies. They
   are designed to reduce water consumption by 30%.

 - back the restrictions up with enhanced compliance enforcement and
   community education. Working with the community to develop
   widespread confidence in compliance is important to the success
   of the restrictions.

 - abandon the pre-emptive plans for the desalination plant and aquifer
   pumping. These are expensive and environmentally damaging. The
   desalination plant could add up to 1.4% to NSW's stationary source
   greenhouse gas emissions.  If a 500 ML/day plant were operated
   for 50% of the time, it would provide only 15% of Sydney's annual
   water consumption. Sale of this water would earn about $30 million
   in net revenue which is an extremely poor return on a $1.2 billion

Level IV restrictions and compliance measures are only needed because of
past failures to treat water as precious commodity. If Sydney had reduced
amount it had taken from its dams by 20% over the past five years, then
water storage would currently be at 58.5%. There would be no water crisis.

2. Preparing for the next drought

Climate change is likely to deliver Sydney a more hostile climate
with increasingly frequent and severe droughts. The lessons of the
current crisis should not be wasted.

While protecting the reliability of the water supply requires careful
planning, building expensive supply side options like desalination in
an ill-considered attempt to drought proof Sydney is likely to be an
expensive failure. Demand side options like water tanks and improved
efficiency are cheaper and more reliable. They also continue to make
economic and environmental sense even in the absence of drought.

The Greens would implement cost effective and environmentally sensitive
options to reduce Sydney's vulnerability to adverse rainfall patterns,

 - banning water inefficient appliances. We would work with other state
   and territory governments to develop a nation-wide ban on the sale
   of appliances that unnecessarily waste water.

 - the widespread use of rainwater tanks in homes, businesses and
   public buildings, by increasing subsidies, removing barriers and
   developing financial arrangements that allow consumers to pay off
   the cost of rainwater tanks as part of their quarterly bill.

 - financial assistance to low income households to reduce their water
   demand and increase efficiency. This includes rebates on high
   efficiency appliances for all pension card holders.

 - strengthening the water component of BASIX to ensure that all new
   and renovated dwellings and commercial premises are water efficient
   and maximise the capture and use of rainwater, stormwater and
   reuse of wastewater.

 3. Making Sydney a world leader in water wisdom

In the longer term, Sydney's environment and economy can benefit
from a change in the way we think about water.  The experience of
the drought and the development of new technologies mean that the
community is now is a position to break away from outmoded thinking
that treats our storages as inexhaustible and the oceans as a dump.

The Greens will work with the community to implement modern notions
of water supply and sewerage services that include:

 - The grey water revolution. The Greens would urgently implement
   on-site grey water pilot projects with the goal of re-using most
   water at least three times. The best focus for these projects
   would be on domestic uses such as clothes washing and shower
   water. Separating easily re-used grey water before it is mixed
   with more contaminated products, especially human and industrial
   waste, will reduce the energy required to process it to potable or
   near potable levels. Doing this locally will significantly reduce
   transport costs and pumping energy.

 - Sydney Water a water services provider, not just a water supplier.
   Sydney Water is publicly owned. Last year it provided $193 million
   to the state government. Sydney Water's business model means the
   more water Sydney uses, the greater the short term profit that is
   delivered to the NSW government. Instead of just providing water
   at the meter and taking sewage at the street, Sydney Water can
   become a partner with households in reducing water consumption and
   overall costs. This involves changing the structure and culture
   of the organisation and removing the incentives to sell more water
   and make bigger dividends.

 - No public private partnerships that lock Sydney into a waste-driven
   future. Public Private Partnerships deliver short term capital
   at the expense of long term flexibility and environmental
   sustainability. Most private sector projects, such as sewer mining
   and desalination proposals, have contractual requirements that
   work against water efficiency and water self-sufficiency measures.

4. Expenditure and water savings

The following table describes some of the Greens' water initiatives.
The cost for each year over 2007 to 2010 and the total water savings
potential per year by 2015 have been estimated using data from the
Review of the Metropolitan Water Plan by ACIL and the Institute for
Sustainable Futures.  The total cost over the four years is less then
one half of the cost of the desalination plant.

Option                                  Additional Cost  Water Savings
                                          ($million/yr) (GL/yr by 2015)
--------------------------------------------     ------        ------
Water Tanks: double the current rebate               66            10
and encouraging a six fold increase
in the uptake

Residential indoor water efficiency:                 20            12
accelerated retrofitting and increased
rebates, including low income households

Residential outdoor water efficiency:                10            12
community education on water efficient
gardens and on-site landscape assessments

Local recycling and reuse programs:                  20           100
developing, implementing and monitoring
household and neighbourhood grey water
reuse projects. Initially as pilot projects
leading to widespread implementation

Enhanced BASIX: increasing the requirements          20            23
on water savings in residential housing design

--------------------------------------------     ------        ------
TOTAL:                                              136           167

For comparison, total water consumption for Sydney between
1 July 2005 - 30 June 2006 was 528 GL.

Posted by editor at 12:54 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007 8:11 AM EADT
No joke, Tony Abbott got religion after punching into Peter Woof 1976?
Mood:  accident prone
Topic: election Oz 2007


 Picture: Image from Fairfax press early 2005 of Minister Tony Abbott in the middle and older ex girlfriend left and her son, both as it happens unrelated to self promoting punching machine Tony Abbott.

We read about Tony Abbott's colourful history every so often.

 His official profile is here as federal Minister for Health


and a more breezy one here:


We used to see pictures of muscular Abbott in boxer shorts and gloves (if we can find an image it will be posted) who won a University "blue" for the sport, but he seems to have moved on to cycling in middle age:


For lack of picture of pugilist Abbott we note these quotes:

"MICHAEL BOWERS: You seem to be a man who's shaped in your political career by some of your experiences in earlier life, you're very big on sports and health. You were a boxer and you played rugby in your earlier career. Is it unfair, because the cartoonists will latch onto something like the boxing and they just don't let it go?

TONY ABBOTT: The boxing and the cauliflower ears. I could have my ears surgically removed and they'd say, "Just like Chopper", I suppose. But, look, it's life, and if it's done with style and a bit of humour, great. I could go into a Buddhist monastery, renounce red meat, assume celibacy once again and they'd still go on about that kind of stuff. "

3rd Dec 2006 Talking Pictures segment http://www.abc.net.au/insiders/content/2006/s1802883.htm

and again here dated around 2002 in a story called The Rise and Rise of Tony Abbott, presented by heavy hitter John Lyons on Sunday Ch9 programme:


TONY ABBOTT: I was very, very nervous, as you can imagine. It was my first formal bout. The Blues boxing match was locked 4-4 with the heavyweight to decide it. The Oxford Town Hall was absolutely packed to the rafters with very excited people who, I'm afraid, had been in many cases drinking rather heavily for quite some time. So I got into the ring, determined to hit my opponent harder and more often than he could possibly hit me. I went out like a whirling dervish, kept hitting him again and again and again with just a left, right, succession. And then I got him this magnificent left upper cut and he seemed to go up in the air, across the ring and almost through the ropes. As I said, I could hardly believe it then and I can still hardly believe it. But it certainly made for a spectacular end to the Blue's boxing match that year. http://sunday.ninemsn.com.au/sunday/cover_stories/transcript_882.asp

Real echoes of the 1978 National Lampoon's Animal House


Abbott was also in a fairly bizarre and frankly embarrassing media frenzy March 2005 about a child out of wedlock which he felt he had to fess up to, but DNA tests proved wasn't his progeny anyway:


Too much information! Plain embarrassing intrusin into personal irrelevancy for this observer. Sometimes I do believe there is such a thing as too much publicity even for a politician. So undignified.

But very important to the more conservative religous amongst our community who vote on moral questions.

More recently Abbott, aka "The Mad Monk" to his rivals, has been preaching to the Opposition Leader about of all things political opportunism in religious communities, as per this report in Rudd’s home state of Queensland with a busy evangelical voter cohort

Abbott raps Rudd on God

January 27th 2007



Abbott's words jarr with impertinence and hypocricy about oppportunism because some would say he indulged his own hunger for political PR at the expense of other private citizens unlucky enough to have been involved with him in a younger life. Here he is talking up his life story June 2005 on on ABC




Opportunism? Gratuitous? Of course it is, because a politician needs publicity like a junkie needs drugs.


And here is the ALP political payback for attacking Rudd via John Cain, ALP 'Premier Past' of the State of Victoria in the press today:




For reasons below, this writer tends to agree with Cain.


Also of original significance in this post when SAM kicked off our website for 2007 coincidentally we had a friendly interview with a public school teacher colleague Peter Woof who he says, and we believe him, was punched by Tony Abbott in either 1976 or 1978 in the thick of student power politics at Sydney University. Abbott is known as a sporting pugilist in publicity shots and Woof has some disturbing things to say about legal/financial duress forcing him to withdraw a case he took to the Glebe Magistrates Court against Abbott.


This perhaps was around the same time Abbott's colleague Peter Costello the current Federal Treasurer was famously pictured bruised and battered in student politics in Melbourne. Seems Abbott was dispensing the blow up here in Sydney with some one paying the big legal protection as he went about his business of enforcement of right wing values, according to Woof.


The full report is here, just click on the date at top right or go to the relevant topic at right:


Monday, 8 January 2007

Why did student activist now minister Tony Abbott punch Peter Woof?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: election Oz 2007


Peter Woof is in regular contact by email.


Declaration: This writer is a 'lapsed' Catholic but still quite sympathetic to the New Testament view of things, whose family is from regional Victoria in part and was depressingly dedicated to the Santamaria/The Movement view of conservative politics. No wonder SAM's editor became a zealous greenie instead. The author is not a member of any political party.

Posted by editor at 10:50 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007 12:00 PM EADT
Tuesday, 30 January 2007
Election rivals must transcend their neurosis over the artificial 1998 Sydney water contamination 'crisis'
Mood:  cool
Topic: election nsw 2007

We have a shared problem in Sydney of insufficient accessible water and yet 450 billion litres of water resource lost to ocean outfalls per year.


By my tally ABC 702 radio listeners reckon it’s a no brainer to recycle Sydney’s extravagant dumping of water. Certainly the public have clued in that all water is in fact recycled and a hell of a lot better than dying of thirst.




Similarly crikey.com.au ezine ran this opening editorial which goes to at a guess 30 thousand subscriber email boxes yesterday 29th Jan, a pretty diverse mob in government, industry and community:




The Queensland government’s decision to abandon its referendum on recycling drinking water from treated sewage – because the water shortage is too acute and there’s no time to waste – will probably be cited as an example of government autocracy or even dumb politics.

It is neither. Rather, it’s an example of what governments are supposed to do – govern. Be decisive in the interests of the electorate. Accept the mandate and exercise it.

The same applies to Peter Beattie’s blunt and aggressive sales job -- "These are ugly decisions ... but you either drink water or you die ... There's no choice ... It's liquid gold ... it's a matter of life and death". Beattie is doing what he’s paid to do: communicate.

Queenslanders should be relieved they have a government prepared to shortcut the “system” to ensure they get water that is treated just like Orange County’s "toilet-to-tap" project which will purify enough sewage water to serve for 140,000 families.

The real referendum question in Queensland should be: do you want to drink recycled water or no water at all. It's a question Peter Beattie answered, with alacrity, on behalf of everyone.




Stirring stuff. But that’s Qld. Even when ostensibly rival PM John Howard fully endorses the Beattie approach in Victoria Premier Bracks, despite broad concern as per this group







says its not necessary to go down that path yet:







What about NSW? The Iemma government are hanging tough too despite a front page last Saturday in the high circulation News Ltd Sydney Daily Telegraph, PM Howard’s favourite newspaper, last Saturday 27th January 2007 “Australia drink this” with a picture of a purified beaker of water on high.




The subtext was pretty clear. It’s okay to go in the recycled water, because big tough News Ltd are cool with it, complete with quotes from Howard fixer Senator Bill Heffernan, a farmer by trade in …NSW. On the front page. Their flagship edition for the week.




But Iemma is stubbornly resistant as here




Don't rule out recycled water, Turnbull urges http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200701/s1834969.htm




and more of that below.




That’s a whip hand you might think: PM Howard with an integrated $10 billion policy platform, Premier Beattie in Qld, 70% of Australian press backup (maybe) in News Ltd. Matter of time for the dominoes to fall. Indeed the story running last night on tv and today was whether the dominoes are telling the truth about falling or not under pressure from the cashed up federal government:  


Debnam 'PM's puppet over water' January 30, 2007 http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21140715-1702,00.html




As if to to underline the curious political waters we are in its not all one way traffic either:




Acclaimed Aussie scientist won't drink recycled water 1/29/2007 4:02:57 PM



This same expert was effectively buried in the Sydney News Ltd press by running front page of the MX (metro express) free daily of the same afternoon “I won’t drink to that/Water expert cans recycling”. This from the same News Ltd boosting recycled water in the much bigger and powerful Daily Telegraph 2 days earlier front page too. The expert, Professor Don Bursill may well be Premier in NSW Morris Iemma’s scientific figleaf. But it looks more fear than science.






 Plenty of other experts at say UNSW say its fine technically, while the good professor Bursill refers to human error in 75% of cases of contamination in Europe over 80 case studies.




But this writer strongly suspects the real political obstacle is not science, or even human error which can be managed. It is corporate memory from a nasty political experience 8 years ago of a local water contamination crisis, where recycled water had no role to play, proving if anything that contamination can occur regardless.




Minister Craig Knowles was in charge of resolving the crisis around cryptosporidium, giardia etc which apparently are naturally occurring at low levels anyway, but are no good for the immune suppressed, or for food preparation etc. For weeks there was no ice for business from tap water. Bottled water and boiling became a back up strategy. The Big Media including Sydney Daily Telegraph were pumping out the political alarm bells full bore.




But this was 1998 when Warragamba Dam supplies were full. When climate change scepticism was still plausible, and respectable even. It was even before google existed as a tool on the internet, and thus you may not find very much history on the web. We at SAM probably have a few choice articles tucked away in our extensive files but this Hansard from 1998 gives a taste (!) of the intensity of the times:







This looks to be pretty balanced analysis too (though not fully checked out) about reality versus pereception in 1998, in the lead up to the 1999 March election in NSW:







and here is likely to be a carefully researched and balanced reference document only partly extracted here:








The point is that 1998 is a very different time to now. Not least the bipartisan desire for sustainable water solutions and the political imperative to avoid being seen as counter productive in a quite urgent debate: Notice still ‘political’ debate as all big issues are, but evidence based and constructive, or be condemned for wasting everyone’s time as well as scarce water.




Could the NSW ALP government and Opposition be stuck in that 1998 time warp of emotional impact still over a superficial contamination ‘crisis’? It feels like it.




Some corroboration comes too from the environement writer for a major daily who suggests to this writer by phone today that Murray Hogarth environment writer at the time for Sydney Morning Herald ran a big feature in the Good Weekend colour magazine showing that essentially the 1998 water scare was a beat up and phoney.


Mmm. There is that perception versus reality thing again: In 1998 unrecycled pretty clean water said to be risky for scandal mongering reasons, and in 2007 recycled water even cleaner than drinking standard yet again somehow risky?



That's no way to make good public policy. Leadership is the question not water quality. The same journo asked this writer what do you think the Premier will do - water recycling or desalination plant, or both? The cynic in me said expensive desal plant from ocean water to make the construction unions happy, the idealist said water recycling as more sustainable, but quite possibly both.

I also suggested the best outcome for NSW was a minority ALP government like the Greiner/Fahey Coalition 1991-95 subject to the discipline of impressive cross bench independents.

Posted by editor at 12:22 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007 10:49 AM EADT
NSW legal capers. Big media-pollies 3, lead judges 2, but red card for abuse of constitution and still 7 weeks to play
Mood:  energetic
Topic: legal

The legal administration seems to be suffering some post holiday hangover headaches here in NSW. Made more painful by the election sound chamber drilling into the brain.


First a declaration: The writer is a junior solicitor in NSW and for a good six months now also a tea totaller who no longer worries about hangovers. There is a $140 invite to the “2007 Annual Opening of the Law Term Dinner” for two on my desk which was held last night but my budget doesn’t allow. The relevance of the dinner is revealed below and how.


The chronology seems to be this:


Magistrate O’Shane got mugged in the media recently for a pretty decent and rational decision to let an Aboriginal defendant have another chance in life as reported here at SAM:


Monday, 22 January 2007

Magistrate O'Shane transcript shows a professional judge, not so Iemma or ABC TV news Mood:  a-ok Topic: legal


[Just click the date at top right hand corner or go to the topics at right.]


But she got attacked in the election to and fro as an easy mark given past controversies:




Media/pollies 1, judges 0


This writer took up the cudgels versus Big Media and cynical selective politicians on the Melbourne Indy Media site as an example for failing to address the provocations of racism argued by the defendant in the case. A glaring omission bespeaking systemic bias.


In the washup O’Shane has come out smelling pretty good as here in Fairfax to quote a postscript to another story on SAM of 25th January


“A moving article about Magistrate OShane ran with a picture in The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, which indeed was a good balancer to all the baiting she has been getting: O'Shane makes peace with her demons


Integral to the recent O’Shane winning PR was gutsy backup of the independence of the judiciary by Chief Magistrate Henson early in the flurry this January 07. He had the reassurance of a decision of the Judicial Commission Conduct Division, 3 senior judge panel, in O’Shane’s favour in another legal conflict.


media-pollies 1 , judges 1


with honourable mentions to Tim Dick of Fairfax for some outstanding redemption coverage of the OShane career, and Green MP Lee Rhiannon who stuck by the judge when it counted (with some prodding by this writer).


Premier Iemma then goes technical in this political bunfight with “2 community members to be appointed onto the Judicial Commissin Conduct Division”. Get it? Not so many as to change the majority 3 judges, but enough to signal displeasure at the judges ratification of OShane which Iemma implies is a closed shop. We are getting disturbingly close to interference with the independence of the judiciary here. Even so with this significant election PR we can call this technical move by Iemma:


media-pollies 2, judges 1


Then Richard Ackland the well respected editor of legal magazine http://www.justinian.com.au/


as well as a long time Fairfax correspondent takes a cruel and likely fair prod at the Chief Judge of NSW JJ Spigelman AC for giving boring Law Dinner speeches in past years here:


Friday January 26, 2007

Uniformity and lying down on the job

The politicians are back from holidays with an amended line-up of prefects and house monitors, writes Richard Ackland.


Talk about cutting and amusing copy. The CJ would have been fuming about that public mocking, albeit gentle manner of presentation by charming Ackland. Try this cracking sledge here that would have had every serious lawyer in Sydney choking on their weeties with hilarity (one hopes anyway being notoriously grey folks):


“In 2003 his law term dinner speech was about previous speeches he'd made. A speech about speeches, which included references to a speech about the importance of plans for a uniform scheme for the regulation of a national legal profession. The Chief Justice said he trusted that the national approach would not be delayed for too long "by the processes of discussion required in a federation such as ours".


Sadly, four years on, this noble, if hardly radical, enterprise remains a work in progress, as some states have not yet passed the newfangled "model laws".


Riveting stuff … not, is the accusation. And the subtext is ‘Jim get relevant and get real.’ Ackland may well be exaggerating and it was mildly flippant. Here is Big Jim’s 2006 speech so judge (!) for yourself:




Nevertheless we can certainly call this certainly:


media-pollies 3, judges 1


But Big Jim Spigelman CJ is one tough cookie and this writer for one is scared of him or perhaps respectful of his capacity and power is more appropriate language. He is not Chief Judge in tough town Sydney “for nuthin” to borrow a phrase.


Today we have the Beak's riposte. Not only has Jim met the Ackland challenge with a speech with serious interest, he has made the news on the issue de jour (of the day) as we march to the election drum beat: ABC radio report that the Law Dinner last night saw the Chief Judge condemn the intrusion of ‘any group with an agenda’ such as victims rights groups having any role in the panel of the Conduct Division.


Here is a press edited version of the high impact speech already placed with the Sydney Morning Herald obviously from the night before to make the deadline. (Not read by this author on first version of this post including the part below about importance of separation of powers):


A judge's lot to protect independence


and full text likely will appear on legal websites in due course. A quote of this profound speech is worthwhile, because it is so stirring and profound:


"We tinker with this institutional arrangement at our peril. Today, this tinkering is often expressed in terms of judges being "out of touch". However, as the Chief Justice of the High Court, Murray Gleeson, has observed, the real complaint is not that judges are "out of touch" but that they are "out of reach". Judges are meant to be hard to get at.

It is essential to understand that the most frequent litigant in the courts of this state is the executive branch of government.

People who are used to getting their way do not usually take kindly to their wishes being frustrated. In the past that has included the aristocracy, when it was the centre of social and economic power. These days such centres of power include major corporations and the mass media. Throughout history the executive branch of government has been such a centre of power.

It is vital that the independence of the judiciary does not depend solely on the personal integrity and resilience of individual judges. Independence has been institutionalised.

The exercise of judicial power must be insulated, indeed isolated, from pressure or interference by the executive branch of government.

[bold added]

On sound public policy grounds our top judge must be right. How can non judicial officers have a judicial role over the staffing of the judiciary in a constitutional system of separation of powers. The sector via Law Council, Bar Association and Law Society almost certainly concur. Ex practicising lawyer Iemma is being too cute by far.


Here is press reaction from News Ltd this morning:


Iemma defends judicial interference

NSW Premier Morris Iemma is standing firm in the face of a withering attack by the state's top judge over political interference in the judicial process.  


and then later "Public cannot judge us: law boss" p11 30th  Jan 2007; 


and in Fairfax also:




I am willing to call this


media-pollies 3* - judges 2


* the raw scoreline is misleading, and doesn't quite reveal Judge Spigelman's genius. With the added impact of a red card for likely breach of the constitution this leaves the media and pollies seriously down in team resources with 7 weeks left still to play. As all the converts to the World Cup know, you can’t win in the top division without a full team.


The smart money would be on the Judges this far out.


In the other main match in the legal admin election tournament we have the media-pollies B team led by Debnam versus police-pollies A team led by Minister Watkins: The first half of that match has been about the Police Academy churning out “F-Troops” who can’t pass their ethics exams for a start:


NSW Police Commissioner defends recruitment practices Sunday, 28 January 2007 http://www.abc.net.au/news/items/200701/1834871.htm?nsw




That's a big 1 to zero against the government-police team.



This writer rang yesterday to encourage the ABC Law Report show on radio national to take an interest not only in police failing ethics classes in a diverse and demanding job, but also young lawyers: When this writer studied theory of law called Jurisprudence in 1989 at ANU and revelled in it, I was bemused at the widespread rebellion of ambitious law students against the subject, who hated being taught the purpose and social context of the law. "What's the point?" was the disturbing refrain. My guess it's not just police who have a problem with social awareness and moral concerns.


Seven more weeks of this. Like viewing the World Cup soccer these debates of law and order are going to be entertaining, ugly, painful, and frustrating, with only one guarantee - everyone will be exhausted at the end, win lose or draw.

Postscript #1

The Australian is running this feature story today by their highly intelligent resident ratbag Imre Salusinszky NSW correspondent

Fighting for justice The turbulent life of controversial NSW magistrate Pat O'Shane, voted a national treasure, is heading for a showdown.

Why ratbag? Well for instance he omits the element of racial provocation accepted on the evidence in the OShane decision to acquit one Mr Rose, and secondly that 3 senior judges in the NSW Judicial Commission comprehensively exonerated her in another complaint while Salusinszky merely notes "the case was dismissed". That's stingy sloppy reportage of unconscious or deliberate bias against OShane, and perhaps sour grapes for an exclusive story with the Sydney Morning Herald recently over his paper The Australian.

Posted by editor at 9:56 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007 4:28 PM EADT
Sunday, 28 January 2007
Long expensive nuke reactor decommissioning process at Lucas Heights
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: nuke threats

Journalist Heath Gilmour took on the environment rounds in about 1994 for Fairfax if memory serves then faded in and out of view. He seemed way too innocent for the cut throat business of land politics back then.

This writer was working in the meat grinder (external and internal issues) of The Wilderness Society world where there was no time for illusions, with plenty of bruises along the way. I recall one commentator telling me privately that the then Liberal's Evironment Minister Hartcher was "a boy" compared to the other thugs in the power game like Peter Cochrane MP (Cooma Monaro), Albie Schultz MP (Tumut area) Deputy Premier Armstrong (Nationals) etc.

HG carries this lead story today:

Green war has begun

Malcolm Turnbull PETER Garrett injected power and passion yesterday into the heavyweight title fight to become the next federal government of Australia.

Which is really just reinforcement of news of the past week. But not this other cracking story also by HG here at p27 of the SunHerald

"Shutdown of reactor will take decade" (possibly offline)

A small teaser which glosses over so much more potential for news and scandal.

Nuclear power is a big topic of this next federal election. The real cost and inconvenience of decommissioning of old reactors is very relevant. This is the story that say ex Nuclear Disarmament Party Peter Garrett would be very excited about, and Malcolm Turnbull would be very queasy.

Seems the old monster reactor at Lucas Heights "had its first chain reaction on Australia Day in 1958": George Collins, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. All sigh patriotically or vomit would be more likely.

The self aggrandising nuke industry rent seekers will need how much to sort out the waste and deconstruction let alone security for the next 10 years? $1 billion, $2 billion. Will we ever find out the real cost?

In the UK it is reported by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority the astronomical cost for an admittedly much bigger sector there of UK 70 billion pounds (at a guess Aust$120 billion?) . Full statement and government referencing below.

And the sector is plagued by problems: Bloomberg reports the latest departure 17th Nov 06:

British Energy Ousts Its Nuclear Chief; Output Cut (Update3) By Lars Paulsson and Paul Dobson http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aoqdlnRtEaQI&refer=home

No wonder Friends of the Earth Scotland are running this 'its a White Elephant' campaign: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/elephant from where the image above is lifted.

Earlier in 2006 FoE Scotland states at: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/press/pr20060314.html

 30 March 2006

Scottish ministers urged to resist new nuclear power programme

The cost of cleaning up Britain's nuclear sites (including those in Scotland) could soar to £70 billion, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority revealed today [1]. Virtually all of this will have to be paid for by the taxpayer. Friends of the Earth Scotland said that the latest figures ­ a £14 billion jump on previous estimates ­ highlighted the economic insanity of nuclear power, and called on the Scottish Executive to reject any attempts to foist a new building programme of nuclear reactors on Scotland.

The environmental group also warned that the final bill to the taxpayer will be even higher that the NDA estimates released today, because they do not include the following areas:

  • The cost of managing the waste created by British Energy (e.g. Torness and Hunterston B).
  • Any further waste arising as a result of extending the operating lives of the existing reactors or facilities, or as a result of building new facilities.
  • The final disposal costs of nuclear waste.
  • Military activities (e.g. Rosyth or Faslane).

Friends of the Earth Scotland's Chief Executive, Duncan McLaren, said:

"Today's announcement demonstrates the economic and environmental insanity of nuclear power. The Scottish Executive must strongly resist calls to build new nuclear reactors and invest in a comprehensive programme of energy efficiency and renewables that will tackle climate change while securing our energy needs.

"Nuclear power is dirty, dangerous and massively expensive to clean up after. A further jump in cost to the public is not surprising but should be a warning to all those who foolishly think a new nuclear power programme should be approved. These figures will almost certainly rise again in time.

"Taxpayers should not be fooled into thinking that this figure is anywhere near the final costs they will ultimately be expected to shoulder. These NDA figures cover none of the wastes created by British Energy, wastes generated by the military or any future waste arising from a new nuclear power programme.

"Had we been able to invest this scale of resources into clean and sustainable renewable power, energy efficiency and the cleaner use of fossil energy, we could have met our climate change targets easily. Scotland must embrace the diverse cutting edge technologies of the future, not resurrect failed technologies from the past".



[1] http://www.nda.gov.uk

Postscript #1 [media release follows]


Lucas Heights switch off welcome, but problem of decommissioning just beginning.

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle today welcomed news that the HIFAR reactor at Lucas Heights has been turned off but warned that Australians should be aware that making the site safe (decommissioning) could be a very long process and may never be achieved.

"Today Lucas Heights' old reactor is turned off but the public needs to be aware that the site may never be made safe," Senator Nettle said.

"Humanity has not solved the nuclear waste and decommissioning problem. None of the 100 or so commercial nuclear plants that have been switched off around the world have been successfully decommissioned.

"The British Government in their report 'Managing the Nuclear Legacy' admit that decommissioning their plants will require advances in basic science and technology and the development of innovative solutions to complex engineering, organisational and logistical problems.

"The lesson for Australia is not to pursue this never ending cycle of pollution when safe renewal options are available.

"Today the Australia Institute has released its report Who Wants a Nuclear Power Plant? which lists 17 locations suitable for nuclear power plants in Australia. Their polling shows, unsurprisingly, that populations close to these sites do not want nuclear power plants.
"Instead of talking about 25 possible nuclear power plants the Prime Minister should be looking for another 25 sites for major wind power stations and another 25 solar power stations.

"The Greens invite Australians to vote for a renewable future and reject the polluting, dangerous and massively expensive nuclear power option."

Contact - Jon Edwards 0428 xxxx xxxx


Posted by editor at 10:00 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007 7:00 AM EADT
Saturday, 27 January 2007
Republicanism is taking off on National BBQ day?
Mood:  happy
Topic: peace

As explained on radio abc talkback this morning Australia Day January 26th was quite alot of fun yesterday.

We heard from our ethnic Bolivian amigo about Victoria Park festival in Chippendale for and by the Indigenous community and took off there at lunch time. Sure enough it was breezy and upbeat, Black comedian letting it rip, and lots of stalls and original Australians. There were few flags, mainly the Aboriginal flag as you would expect, as well as my rainbow peace flag over my shoulder.

The comic ("the good looking skinny bloke making your man jealous") said: "The story of the Aussie flag - blue for the ocean we came across, white for the colour of our skin, and red for the colour of our neck." Boom boom. I laughed too.

It was a happy spot, and good turnout,



made better by the knowledge that one brave Liberal Party Mayor David Redmond

Debnam speech a breach too far 

stood up to his state party leader, electioneering Peter Debnam, to block divisive anti multiculturalism speech making at a citizenship ceremony in Sutherland which takes in the Cronulla beach area that suffered lots of strife a year back. Redmond said it would breach guidelines for the non partisan day. And he was right and defending the social fabric of his Local Government area to say it. There is hope I thought with a conservative politician taking a stand, like say ex PM Malcolm Fraser for harmony and tolerance. Bravo.

Then onto Bondi Beach for an hour long surf. Not too many flags there of whatever kind there.

Then to Enmore Park within Marrickville Council area on the evening return. Great humour with families and their healthy cheeky brats everywhere. Incredible diversity across the whole coffee coloured range. And to top it off the lead singer of a reconstituted Spy v Spy


was playing hard rock, and really hitting the spot. I saw the Fairfax photographer (looks like he belongs in Apocalypse Now, met him on a council throwout day at his new place) capturing the moment in the mosh area.

The Spy's lead man who was revelling in the community vibe got down in the mosh too, and played one too many encores perhaps. God bless him. 26 years for his band in stops and starts and he felt good and we with him.

The neighbours at home were hosting a barbeque which looked nice and offered a snag but I was stuffed by this stage.

The radio says we are getting more nationalistic, and happy with it, but my feeling is we are getting more Republican as well. We need a a new flag that is unifying, ditch the divisive Union Jack on the southern cross, which is being used by white supremacists, and keep a beady eye on the Ministry of Truth about such things from on high.

By coincidence I took a picture of a car labelled "Ministry of Transport" on the way home I had not seen on the roads before, all official with roof lights etc if needed. Here it is:

Postscript #1

The Sunday media eg Ch7 Weekend Sunrise are reporting a Newspoll

(i.e. News Ltd polling which exclusively feeds Sydney's Sunday Telegraph, Melbourne's Herald Sun, Adelaide's Advertiser, Hobart's The Mercury, Darwin's NT something, or perhaps the weekday equivalents tomorrow, all in all about 70% of press coverage in Australia)

- that 45% of us are for a republic,

- 36% against, and

- 19% uncommited.

7 is owned by Kerry Stokes from memory a self made republican, along with federal treasurer Peter Costello and one imagines Kevin Rudd the Opposition Leader.

Lisa Wilkinson the Sunrise show presenter covered the breadth of the audience by noting this was "a slump" in support from some years back, but not too dogmatic about it. In the absence of serious campaigning 45% versus 36% looks pretty good to me, with the comment from a lobby group (Qld based, a critical federal election frontline state) that once Prince Charles is factored in the pro republican vote shoots up 6% again. Even so the Queen looks very robust. Would she step down?

Speaking of Sunrise show, turns out Andrew OKeefe, the other weekend presenter, is an intellectual property lawyer refugee from Allen's law firm usually regarded as top 1 or 2 in Sydney and Australia: p65 SunHerald 28 Jan 07. This writer recalls one of their recruits from ANU (a flaky 1st year student in Torts 1983 but strong performer by late 80ies): "Jim" told me an anecdote about an Allens partner who angrily challenged him "How dare you?" for not twitching (as you do in mild panic to achieve something or other) with adrenalin in resting mode. This was about 1992 when this writer was at Baker & McKenzie in Bridge St in the CBD, also a totally neurotic place. What a mad mad firm Allens must have been/be. 

Lastly, the image of the Ministery of Transport car above has an echo in the Naked Eye column of veteran Alex Mitchell in the Fairfax Sydney Sun Herald too:

"Watkins minister for Labor's re-election" notes 844 media mentions of the Deputy Premier for NSW manifisted as Police Minister compared to a mere 145 as Transport Minister, says Mitchell quoting Media Monitors (calling up the question was it leaked govt client confidential info?). The source is interesting and very credible as this hack worked 2 years at MM and knows the government pays a fortune to MM to know how they are travelling and nip any emerging issue in the bud.

(It's also how I got a huge clipping file for the 2000 Olympics, and the S11 protestest of the World Economic Forum in 2000 in Melbourne).

Was that the point of the profile friendly "Ministry of Transport" white sedan pictured above with official looking flasher light assembly on top, driving from Bondi to the City along Oxford st on Australia Day? Tell me it wasn't doing laps for the Minister in anticipation of the article 2 days later by Mitchell. Surely not?

Posted by editor at 8:25 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 29 January 2007 8:02 AM EADT
Are Vodafone creaming double payments of prepaid mobile service?
Mood:  surprised
Topic: corporates

What's in an automated audio 'payment received' confirmation, complete with reference number which was standard until 2 months ago, but now is omitted when you recharge direct on #1511 on your mobile? A double payment in the confusion for thousands of customers?

This could be trivial or quite serious shonky corporate behaviour affecting thousands of consumers:

I don't get the 'payment received' confirmation audio (via say a payment reference no.) which we have grown to expect after requesting a recharge using the automated prompts. That is until about 2 months ago.

Lack of payment confirmation by the automated system leaves open the anxiety the mobile service is not effectively renewed for an extra month. I might miss that crucial phone call. So I repeat the process on the audio prompts.

The only confirmation of payment becoms the phone enlivened again, and the bank statement with double payment notified some weeks later.

The confusion arises from the change of automated system such that no payment confirmation is provided. How many hundreds or thousands of customers felt the same and double paid?

I am willing to guess say 1,000 out of a big client base, which is a nice little $49,000 extra profit. Or was it 10,000 customers which makes it $490,000?

We await the response of Vodafone to this correspondence:

----- Original Message -----
From: Vodafone
To: ecologya@xxxxxx
Sent: Friday, January 26, 2007 11:04 AM
Subject: My number is 0410 55xxxx. I got no receipt number back on the audio, on my pr... [Incident:070126-000050]

Your question has been received. You should expect a response from us within three business days. Our operating hours are Monday to Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.

If you do reply, you MUST enter your response in the space below as this is an automated system. Text entered into any other part of this message will be discarded. Alternatively you can click on the link below.

Question Reference No070126-000050
Summary: My number is 0410 55xxxx. I got no receipt number back on the audio, on my pr...
Product Level 1: My Account (online billing)
Date Created: 26/01/2007 11:04 AM
Last Updated: 26/01/2007 11:04 AM
Status: Unresolved

Discussion Thread
Customer (Tom McLoughlin) 26/01/2007 11:04 AM
My number is 0410 55xxxx.

I got no receipt number back on the audio, on my pre pay for January (paid by phone instruction Dec 29), so I did the process again thinking it was cancelled.

My bank statement shows two deductions on Dec 29 of $49 x 2.

I only got the benefit of one month roughly. It's run out on Jan 24th and I think its fair you reimburse me the $49 value for this coming month. What do you reckon?

Will you do the right thing? It only happened because previously you used to issue an audio invoice number, but now it seems not, and that fooled me the transaction was back to the start, hence the repetition.

I am a lawyer actually and though it's a trivial amount I am thinking vodafone may have a PR problem with this if it has happened a great deal after changing with no invoice number issued like before. Confirmation of payment only came with the phone staying live, and the bank statement.

I think I will copy this email for say a little crikey.com.au rainy day.

Yours truly, Tom McLoughlin Marrickville Sydney

Postscript #1 Vodofane do the right thing

After much clunky to and fro, especially identifying my 4 digit code number, which must have been chosen years ago when I took the account, Vodafone have sent this today:

"30/01/2007 02:38 PM

Hi Tom,

Thank you for your reply.

I have now applied the $230.00 credit to your account and have extended the credit expiry date for a further 30 days (from 26/02/07 to the 26/03/2007).

Once again we regret that the receipt details were not provided to you upon your recharge and the inconvenience that has been caused to you as a result of this.

Now that your enquiry password has been updated to your profile you will not be required to provide this information when submitting future enquiries via this medium (providing they are sent from the same email address).

Thank you again for your email and for allowing us to be of assistance to you.

[The message from Vodafone above was in response to this]

Customer (Tom McLoughlin) 30/01/2007 02:11 PM

Mmm, the mystery of why the technology did not confirm the payment is interesting. One hopes its not some eavesdropper to my phone interfering with the signal in my line of work. In any case my code is XXXX and I've updated it to XXXX which is easier to remember for me. Thanks.

Posted by editor at 8:18 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 1 February 2007 5:15 AM EADT
Friday, 26 January 2007
Big politics of Howard's Big Water Restructure
Mood:  cheeky
Topic: election Oz 2007

Being a graduate from ANU in evolutionary ecology (and law), and a green activist for 15 years, the editor feels no surprise at the general realisation of the necessity of federal government synthesis of state management of water in the huge Murray Darling River.


John Howard’s speech here:




initially reported like this

Howard to control Murray in $2.5bn water grab | News | The Australian


Which soon became a $10 billion package as here:


‘Rudd backs Howard's $10bn water plan’ Matthew Franklin, Steve Lewis and Selina MitchellJanuary 25, 2007




The Australian story announced Thursday 25th Jan 07 p1 “Howard’s $2.5 billion water grab” refers to federal domination over state constitutional role on water resources of the Murray Darling in which most Australians live in Qld, NSW and Victoria.


So just like local Addison Rd Community Centre with some 44 odd tenants where we do 1 day a week landscape work, everything is indeed connected: Change something here and a 5 voices squeak about some ripple effect. Land is like that. Nature is like that. Politics is like that.


Which is why politics can be an honourable profession of mediating all those diverse ripple effects of an interconnected water/land/ecology/society, if one takes ‘the high road’ as per West Wing tv series. Just as ecology is a very honourable profession too seeking to understand all the connections.


This reality of the ecological limits to material growth is why the constitutional focus of The Green Party on ecological health is slowly turning the two major parties on their head: Both are vying for “environmental credibility” over sustainable water and land management now.


What some may have missed was the revelations in two other stories in The Australian – which is increasingly the policy mouthpiece of federal govt hand in glove with Big Capital – of the Greens polling strongly in The Senate p2 (Greens to test Senate hold with 12-15 pc of the vote on track for a quota in the big eastern states:




Similarly they may have missed “Sect’s attack ads billed to Libs” low page 1 highly suggested that an evil slavish Christian cult the Exclusive Brethren was doing the Howard Liberal Party’s dirty work to oppress the Green Party vote:




But as you can see that is an agenda of denial. Time is on the Green’s side just as the ecology is increasingly exhausted: The Government have an ex-banker and lawyer with hardly an ecological qualification behind him as the ‘new champion and protector of our environment’ in Malcolm Turnbull. The official ALP Opposition have an ex rock singer and lawyer in Peter Garrett again with hardly an ecological qualification to rub together himself as opposed to PR skills but the real advantage of a long involvement in green quasi ngo PR projects which must have rubbed off on him over the last 20 years.


The smart money is on Garrett winning over Turnbull in a good political stoush, but it’s still in reality the battle of the moral pygmies on true environmental sustainability in a hopelessly compromised money driven real politik for the Coalition and ALP, of which non ecologists Garrett and Turnbull are both manifestations.


Take Howard’s big announcement some have inflated to ‘a $10B package’ by including the unforgivable failure to spend some existing $2B in budgeted water project money: $500 million is


“to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of river flows. This will be done by putting in underground pipes to bypass natural blockages in the system.”


Now if that’s not a warning to every riverine ecologist then nothing will be. Devil in the detail absolutely.


Then there was PM Howard in his speech to the effect ‘this historic package is to sort out water because the States have failed’.


Well how true is that? Or more sensibly how dishonest?


Significantly The Australian helps provide the answer via the well respected Mike Steketee (MS) feature report “False economy” p19, 20-21Jan 2007 (a ‘$10 billion’ article in some ways) combined with some objective appraisal:




The story is a lengthy deconstruction of where we have been in Australia this last 20 years on expenditure on water and power infrastructure but leaves out some crucial real politik muck of which Howard’s cronies are up to their armpits in. Eh, muck? How so?


Here goes an explanation: MS identifies some home truths:


1. Australia’s population has increased by 4 million or 25% in the last 20 years but just one new water source, desal in Perth, has been developed;


2. The state governments have been stripping dividend payments that otherwise would have funded capital work for supply of water and energy with strong examples in Qld and NSW of the revenue grabbing;


3. The mad economic policy of lumping all debt financing into ‘bad debt’: “This made about as much sense as a family living in a tent until they saved enough  money to buy a house. The first target for savings to support this policy was capital spending.”


On this last point MS rams the point home (without fully attributing moral responsibility) with “The irony is that, by opting for what they thought was sound economic management, governments have been caught mismanaging the nation’s assets


This and the quoting of Minister Malcolm Turnbull are the give away to Howard’s line of blame back to “the states”.


But you have to ask yourself who promoted this mad policy of treating all debt financing as bad, when it really is intergenerational justice spreading the value of a service or capital equipment over real time to all the social beneficiaries.


A big clue is Jeff Kennett’s ill tempered interview on Premiers Past series yesterday on ABC Radio as here:




[go to Jan 24th 07 box]


He balanced the books, but in such a crude and ham fisted way treating good debt the same as bad debt with broad brush Big Business friendly privatisations that he lost the “unlosable election" in 1999.


That’s the Howard/Costello Coalition government side of politics manifested by Kennett which all the other ALP state governments copied ‘monkey see monkey do’ which revealingly Kennett claimed as his greatest achievement on public radio yesterday. No wonder he was defensive. Because he got it so wrong and Howard has got a lot of moral responsibility for that economic mess now from his side of politics.


Unlike first half of the 20C when NSW state budget was effectively national government in comparison to the ostensible federal government (a line from Keating actually), in 2007 all the budget clout is with the flushed federal government. A government that refused to spend $2B of water grant funds to starve the State government’s politically.


So Howard has as much of the responsibility for the overall mess of sustainable water management direct or indirect as the state ALP governments. That’s what an unhealthy, indeed corrupt duopoly gerrymander by the Coalition/ALP versus The Greens has delivered for Australia. Real Democracy this last 10 years instead of corrupt electoral oppression of The Greens via such wicked cults as the Exclusive Brethren would likely have delivered much better, much earlier, in allocation of resources as Steketee argues for.


How ironic that the most fierce critics of the Green Party, the Business Council calls the water shortage “one of Australia’s greatest myths”. Indeed it does ring hollow as rain plummets down away from Warragamba Dam, and 450 billion litres goes into the oceans unrecycled (per year).


In a complimentary article with State roundups on infrastructure


“States struggle to catch up” http://theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21087266-28737,00.html


their somewhat smart alec nsw roundsman Imre Salusinszky reports:


“In a trumpeted infrastructure statement last May, NSW Treasurer Michael Costa announced $41.3 billion in extra capital spending over the next four years, $19.6 billion of which would be debt-financed”.


But he doesn’t report The Greens were lambasting the economic rationalist allergy to debt financing up until that time. Nor Kennett’s role in that economic madness until recently. Nor Big Business role in attacking deficit budgets using debt financing for real value. In fact the reporter commends ‘former treasurer Egan for slashing $10 billion of debt over nine budgets.’


Talk about inconsistent. Was it good debt or bad debt that Egan slashed like Kennett? And Egan's work of $10B debt cancelletion is still only half roughly the debt finance component of Costa's $19.6B policy package. Only half as much. And Costa's package to pump economic activity is debt finance over only 4 years in the future versus the 9 years it took to slash debt by Egan in the past.


That's a huge huge vote in 2006 by the NSW Government for debt finance back in favour after the Kennett "unloseable election loss" in 1999 for crudely treating good debt finance like the plague.


And then there was the huge indulgence of draw down on the social services budget and consequent pain in NSW to carry the Olympic Games for the country.


Our view here at SAM of the limits of Big Party/Media analysis from their own words is reinforced by Elizabeth Gosch in the same article who notes the Kennett legacy in Victoria with this:


"There are problems, too, in transport, where the level of neglect under this Government and the previous Coalition one was  thrown into sharp relief when a transport plan released last year detailed $10.5 billion in spending  but contained no new tram or rail lines, no new tunnel or bridge to ease congestion on the West Gate Bridge, and no reduction in fares”.


The reporter fails to realise that improving ‘the look’ and viability of public transport does ease congestion indirectly, but she clearly puts Kennett and the Coalition inflexible 'balance the books no matter what' attitude into the frame for failed infrastructure investment. Howard today ambiguously says “this is the state governments failure”  including presumably the Coalition, but Howard in truth is part of that inflexible intolerance to debt finance on behalf of Big Business as much as Kennett on debt financing.


Big politics and big media are not really the reliable voice on these big economic matters they would like to think they are. And that from a lawyer/biologist with no formal economic training who at least can think a bit.


Postscript #1 Feb 5th 2007


Some corroboration of the general thesis of NSW very foolish 'monkey see, monkey do' slashing of all debt finance under Treasurer Michael Egan with services and infrastructure going south, just as Kennett did in crude fashion, is provided by editor of the Saturday Sydney Morning Herald Paola Totaro who popped up on 7.30 Report Feb 2nd 2007 here: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2007/s1839405.htm in due course.

Posted by editor at 8:54 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007 9:21 AM EADT
President W Bush's weedy thin voice shows lost political authority
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: peace

The State of the Union 23rd Jan 2007 by President W Bush is here




with online video from there.


Greg Sheridan writes up this speech in a glowing way here at The Australian “The ghost of a chance/George W Bush’s State of the Union address yesterday could help revive his presidency” p12 25th Jan 07:




As if.


A viewing of the video suggests a more humble lame duck President who has just learned China can shoot military satellites out of the sky to protect their Iran oil supplies, yet Sheridan still sums up banging the drum with

“And a final, vital note: once again Bush put Iran on notice in very explicit remarks. Whatever the state of his presidency, it would be foolish for anyone to think that Bush is kidding on Iran.”


SAM's impressions: Southern charm leveraging Nancy Pelosi first woman Speaker of the House and 3rd in line to the Presidency (?),  his political enemy who has talked down Iraq war all the way. Uproarious applause for her with 2 standing ovations. Again charm acknowledging Democrats win in Congress. More applause. Then attempt to deny relevance of his huge loss by appeal to bipartisanship and national interest.


Then he discusses allegedly sound domestic economic policy and so called small government, which surely is code for Big Business dictatorship. Says he will balance the budget, no raise in taxes, some strange claim to cutting budget deficit of 2009 which is all notional. Applause is very moderate likely from the Republican ‘side of the aisle’.


He waffles on with “we need to” regarding the disgraceful situation of health services in the USA for broad society but a huge credibility gap on doing anything. He kicks plaintiff lawyers over medical negligence “junk” law suits.


Moves onto secure borders with temporary work visas to help screen terrorist incursion, and acknowledges the melting pot. His voice is actually thin and weedy, not presidential. The Republicans applaud loyally. It’s pap from a West Wing speech writer.


Politics is so busy here I have to listen to the last 24 minutes of the 49 min speech later today but it's enough to say as expected Sheridan is spinning W Bush’s failed leadership. All that’s missing is mum and apple pie clichés: ‘Clean and safe nuclear power’ yeah yeah yeah. As crikey.com.au noted a 20% decrease in foreign oil reliance but a big fillip to Big Oil by doubling the US national emergency stockpile (which jacks up the price for the corporate mates).


W Bush is looking pretty weak and sleazy now contrary to Sheridan boosting, and the cut away shots to new Secretary of Defense http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Gates is not particularly reassuring given the disaster in Iraq he is expected to clean up. An impossible task by all accounts. Made worse by revelations that Colin Powell tried to cut a diplomatic deal with Iran back in 2003 as here:

 Washington 'snubbed Iran offer' 18th Jan 2007 at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6274147.stm

Posted by editor at 7:40 AM EADT

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