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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Wednesday, 4 April 2007
Online activist media: decentralising or co opting political power, or both?
Mood:  not sure
Topic: independent media

The ‘Big Media’ as this blogger in the ‘5th estate’ likes to refer to, being the old established print tv and radio establishment, is a “cartel” say the new online media experts. Of course they are right.

The corporations with their big wages have fixed power in Big Politics and Big Media in a well worn revolving door. Naysayers, contrarians and downshifters pointing out the economic growth model has whiskers, that the emperor has no clothes, need not apply. The gate keepers will spot you a hundred miles away …. protect their big fat wage… their family well being … indeed the spoils of ecological warfare at the peak of the industrial/ technological/ information revolutions, right now in 2007.


One hopes the online activist media will not travel the same path as it's power grows.


Online activism at least will ameliorate this fix on democracy surely? The new breed of inheritors of 60ies radicalism free of the madness of legal and illegal drug cultures will seek to not only tune in, but also take over our media to implement progressive idealism, surely? Well maybe. Or maybe that in fact is a naive view of human nature.




Brett Solomon founder of Get Up (pictured inset at right above) says the goal of his “movement” of some 175,000 (?) email/web subscribers is a “progressive Australia … economic fairness, environmentally sustainable”. Just call Brett a Green or ALP Left I guess and amen to that.


"But what will he and Get Up do about the ALP support for expansion of uranium mining?", asked one older cynical questioner at this forum held today


 The Impacts and History of Internet Activism


Free lunchtime talk in Sydney CBD, On Wednesday 4th April from 12.30pm join Dr Matthew Arnison (www.active.org.au & www.indymedia.org co-founder) in conversation with Brett Solomon (Executive Director, www.GetUp.org.au ) & Tom Dawkins (Founder of www.vibewire.net) as they discuss the internet and its use as a tool to create a more democratic society.


From online activist planning, e-petitions and emails to MPs to citizen journalism this discussion will look at the effects of the internet on the Australian political landscape.


Brett Solomon states “New technology has given Australians a whole new way to influence the political and social landscape they operate in. Now it’s up to us all to use it to best effect.”

Dr Matthew Arnison sees online collaborations “like Wikipedia, YouTube and MySpace bubbling over with stories from the trivial to the profound. Yet Australian politics and government is still a top-down broadcast.” He asks “How do online activists affect mainstream politics?”

Tom Dawkins sees the internet as a space “with enormous democratic potential. By its very nature it’s a conversational rather than broadcast medium, and this opens up the opportunity for citizens to participate in this public space, express themselves on the issues that matter to them, tell stories and uncover issues ignored by the mainstream media, collaborate on campaigns, share information and better scrutinize political decision-makers.'


Media contact: Brett Solomon 9264 4037 or 0407 419 320 brett@getup.org.au

Tom Dawkins 0416 099 534 tom@vibewire.net Colleen Woods 9262 7300 or 0410 325 913 outreach@sydneymsa.com.au


So getting back to the question what will Brett do about the Labor Party embrace of uranium mining at their April Conference despite the clear problems with proliferation, waste, historical accidents and no doubt others? Well Brett answered by turning the question around JFK like – what are you going to do mate? I didn’t quite see his jaw jutting out but it might have been. And the clue to the real answer is here anyway:





To give Solomon his due he is a great speaker, diplomatic and strong. No doubt idealistic. But he appears captured too – he concedes he relies on rich folks specifically  people like Evan Thornley – rich entrepreneur and Upper House MP Victorian Parliament for the ALP. Also refer Evan Thornley - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


So Get Up literally today are promoting this worthy campaign and staying quite clear of nuke expansion issues so far:


----- Original Message -----

From: GetUp

To: xxxxxxx

Sent: Wednesday, April 04, 2007 10:37 AM

Subject: Don't let them stop you from voting


Dear friends,

It beggars belief, but this federal election tens of thousands of eligible Australians will be stopped from voting. Will you be one of them?

The Federal Government has passed extraordinary legislation that will close the rolls for new voters at 8pm, on the very night the election is officially called. In the last election, 83,000 first-time voters enrolled in the first week after the election was called. Hundreds of thousands more registered at their new address. But this time they won't get that chance - unless we act urgently.

That's why whether you're enroled to vote or not, there's a crucial role for you to play right now.
Click on the link below to demand this law be revoked, and help friends and family enrol correctly in the next two weeks - before new changes and extra red tape come into effect on April 16 making it even harder!


In Australia we never know what date to expect the federal election; it's up to the party in power to decide. Typically, the big announcement prompts tens of thousands of people, especially young, newly-eligible voters, to enrol that week. Hundreds of thousands more remember to register at their new address. It's been that way since Federation with no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

But this time if you're too busy or don't hear about the election in time, and you're not already correctly enrolled, you can't vote. Even if you're organised enough to get in early, new forms and ID requirements are about to come into effect on April 16 - making it that much harder for many Australians overseas or in rural areas to register. And if you've been overseas for more than 3 years and you're not on the roll, you're still not allowed to enrol from abroad.

The effect of this law - the Orwellian-inspired "Electoral Integrity Act" - is to stop people from voting. Our purpose is to fight back. We've made it easy to spread the word to ensure your friends and family are correctly enrolled before the polls slam shut: just use the note below to share this essential campaign with everyone you know, including Australians overseas!


Thanks for taking urgent action to spread the word,

The GetUp team

PS: GetUp has taken your calls for climate action directly to decision makers, at the weekend's National Climate Summit. We told leaders from politics, industry, science and the business community they have a mandate for bold action to fight global warming, and presented Kevin Rudd and Peter Garrett with our Action Agenda and 75,000-strong Climate Action Map petition. For details and photos,
click here.



So if Get Up arguably is packaging of existing blocks of political capital roughly of the centre left ALP/Green kind more or less but in a new form, what about the other online activist organisers?


Are they decentralising power with this thing called the net? Or are they equally politically constrained gatekeepers too?


The thesis we found most impressive was from the Vibe Wire speaker Tom Dawkins that the internet grew out of democratic pressure to side step the Big Media/Politics cartel, allowing for suppressed stories, suppressed voices, keeping stories alive that Big Media then pick up. He said it with conviction and for his youthful constituency who are always given the leftovers from older generations.

Our understanding of the internet bares this thesis out: The US military industrial complex may have invented it but the Chinese had something going 17 years ago in the non western masses to sidestep the dictatorship there. My housemate in the suburb of chilly Downer, in Canberra in 1990 the year I lived on $4,500 dollars while doing my Legal Workshop solicitor's accreditation prior to moving to Sydney later that year, surprised me with printouts of data from off the phone via his computer.

Picture: Ironically, cartoon in The Australian same day of the forum alluding to Kevin Rudd (as pictured above receiving climate change petition), planning to visit China and negotiate the way forward for that 1 billion plus population on global warming, given he is a gifted Mandarin speaker. Good politics on climate change but silence on nuclear expansion under ALP policy, including uranium exports to ...China - where its citizens were using the internet in 1990 to avoid their own govt dictatorship. It's a worry ...

WTF, I thought to myself. How can he do that? It’s not a fax. That was in the 12 months following the Tianamen Square massacre. My guess he was a democracy activist or sympathetic academic.

But when I went to the online activism forum above, 17 years later, and then went on my way I spent the next hour thinking about why everyone in the room got to ask their question except me, sitting in the back row notwithstanding. Here was a mini cartel of another kind. 

The explanations are deep and not that comfortable for the organisers or for me, which is of course why they didn't take my signal, the first hand up and the last one down, the clock run down on me. These net experts like their own comfort zone, just as Big Media do, not realising dissent is the essence of the democracy they are sworn to save.

[Not vexatious dissent, but considered rational concerns, as per the question in the postscript below which was censored from the forum.]

Online activism decentralising power? I wonder. It comes down to human nature, whatever the medium. In my old fashioned book learning English Literature course in year 12 high school I studied The Leopard by Giuseppe de Lampedusa and what a revelatory story it was. In one hallowed section it refers to the introduction of the new system of Parliamentary Democracy in Italy supposedly replacing the Royal system of nobless oblige but in reality opening the door to a nouveau rich who cared even less for the humble classes. There is a deeply disturbing section where 3 votes in the village to keep the Monarchy, out of 300 for change, are fraudulently altered. The essence of democracy namely dissent is murdered, in a seemingly trivial housekeeping way for the clean unanimity desired by the agents of change. The new powermongers.

So I was intrigued why I could not get to ask my question. The facilitator looked at me again and again but no banana. You see I have history with the online activist ‘establishment’: From Mike Carlton or Pred (RIP) who invented Sydney Indy Media (SIM) and fraudulently sought to co opt my share of a commercial lease at Turrella activist centre in 2003 after I gave them free rental space, forcing me into the NSW Supreme Court to get justice. And then the expose of one Stacy Scheff on the Sydney indymedia collective who tried in that same year to kill rival old community media Sydney City Hub that employed me, and spent the next 3 years or so it seemed doing her best to censor and smear me off the Sydney web news site. The whole grim power game is discussed here: Turrella centre

The irony was that my content was keeping that website alive until I finally generated my own www.sydneyalternativemedia.com/blog outlet here in January 2007 in frustration at their latest crash. Now I notice my post of 23rd March on the old SIM is still the 5th most recent local news story after 10 days.

4 new local stories in 10 days. No wonder I felt like I was keeping the thing alive with content. By comparison the Melbourne equivalent site www.melbourne.indymedia.org is much more vigorous. Seems others got the mesage too and have been skipping SIM. At least with my own blog I know my work is appreciated: Not in 10 years roughly of contributing to  Sydney IMC as a writer or otherwise can I recall any encouragement or support. Must have been a slow learner or unrealistically idealistic, but I've learned good and proper now.

So the point is even in so called decentralised open publishing there is on the one hand mindless unedited blatherings and on the other hand edgy genuinely independent yet confronting voices that get oppressed. Incompetence is far more acceptable than weighty critique of a defensive IMC reviewer.

We recall the episode of the West Wing tv series where the CJ character recalls the Heisenberg Principle whereby the act of observing changes that being observed. This is true for example the presence of a tv camera eggs on people to be melodramatic. Similarly there should be a word for powermongering inherent in the creation of a new facility for decentralised democracy. There is always a gate keeper clique effect for who is and isn’t allowed through the door at the margins: Voltaire may have said he would give his life to defend his rival's right to free speech, but it’s a very rare creator of an online facility that eschews new found status and influence not to even a few scores or seek the odd perk.

There is always a clique and always a powermongering gate keeper in any medium. It’s human nature. Even in the non profit community sector. Indeed the currency there is not money but influence and emotional violence are usually the tools of trade not profit or meritocracy. All of this came to me as I travelled home from the online activist forum like some latter day brooding Cassandra. I was grateful that one insightful chap from www.projectaustralia.org.au also noticed the apparent snub and offered me his brochure. But it would have taken way too long to explain all of this above.

These are tricks of access and patronage the old media are most expert at, and which I spend a lot of time exposing like the story about Tony Koch earlier today from The Australian smearing The Wilderness Society.

Another recent example was James Woodford in the Sydney Magazine http://thesydneymagazine.smh.com.au/ published by Fairfax 29th March 2007 and oddly related to the Koch atrocity in Big Media.


The cover itself of Peter Garrett was free big media PR for his sellout to the ALP of the environment movement opposition to uranium mining and forest destruction. The road to hell paved with good intentions. But the Woodford article is more subtle. Woodford has been blacklisted by this writer and perhaps a majority of the really independent green campaigners in NSW for a vicious piece he did against the Wilderness Society some years ago, because they upset his then government employed wife at NSW State Forests. A clear case of undeclared conflict of interest. As a result he may only be able to access those on the NSW ALP govt drip in some way.

His story at p56 about “unsung heroes” of the green movement presents people who are already in the sphere of ALP govt or so wishy washy it doesn’t matter. Take John Connor now employed by the Climate Institute with Bob Carr ex ALP Premier with a big history of woodchipping behind him as their patron and aligned to the Australia Institute on the ALP patronage drip. There is a Taronga Zoo employee, an ACF loyalist (group that produced Peter Garret as ALP Shadow minister), a govt catchment body, govt funded environment education person, a fishing industry person in favour of refuges which government supports but recreationalists don’t, and national parks advocate trained up by a govt agency. The so called ‘guardians’ are all worthies to some degree but also lap puppies.

My colleague Lynda Newnam of Botany Bay & Catchment Association, covering south/western half of Sydney, umbrella to 33 community groups opposing Port Botany expansion, and I laughed scornfully at the Woodford piece at the Fair Trade café in Glebe recently. Gary Blashke OAM and Bob Walsh come to mind as unsung heroes that Woodford should have looked at but they are ‘dangerous critics’ of the NSW ALP. We were there at the cafe to admire this grand wooden table in the form of a dangerous salty.

Yep, there sure are a lot of political crocodiles out there if you want to rock and roll online. Only today our former employer Lawrence Gibbons has threatened to contact our web server (copied fyi via Sydney Indymedia organiser Cameron Gregg) presumably to shut us down. Our server is based in the USA, ironically Gibbons also hails from,  where they tend to believe in free speech. I hope they continue to do so.


Postscript #1: Oh, and what was the question I wanted to ask? I dreamt of flying last night (echo of the auto belay at the climbing gym last Sunday, and very groovy) then remembered this omission from the report:

Question: Gore Vidal and Bob Carr were asked by Phillip Adams if online activism was electorally relevant. This was about 12 months ago on one of his shows. Carr was categorical that it was not, Vidal a little surprised by his friend said in the USA it definitely was. Do you think the difference in answers is merely due to time lag here, and what about the 75% of the population who may use the net but don't have tertiary education and don't even care to, and would never attend a forum like this? Was Bob Carr referring to these Daily Telegraph readers when dismissing 'the online activist classes'?

My answer: It is time lag only. Get Up etc proves Carr is wrong and why he was losing it by 2005, but equally the anti intellectual ill educated classes most likely don't use the net for politiking just as they don't listen to the abc, don't read the SMH, don't go to uni, and often hate stuck up elites even as they still rely on doctors, lawyers, computer technicians and all the other professionals as little as possible.

And experts like PM John Howard know it. Indeed the forum confirmed my answer and this blind spot of self awareness in the audience, by sharing an open joke about Miranda Devine, right wing reporter. They didn't  realise as they sledged Devine that she has successfully jumped from the Daily Terror to colonise a chunk of their preferred newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald just as Howard has partially colonised the working classes. So Evan Thornley MP (ALP), if ever you read this, have a good think about that electoral/technolgoical dynamic, (and thanks for the presentation by your 'gopher' Brett).

Posted by editor at 8:08 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 5 April 2007 3:10 PM NZT
Tony Koch of the The Australian sells out his acclaimed journalistic integrity with racist baiting of TWS?
Mood:  sharp
Topic: big media

Tony Koch is no “Journalist of the Year” if his latest feature is any guide.


But first some credit where it’s due: On p2 24th March 2007 of The Australian, which is known for its 4 page paid propaganda Special Advertising Reports for the resources industry, their paper lauds Koch like this


“Our man wins Journalist of the Year award”


“…Koch, a three-times Walkley award winner and legendary figure in Queensland journalism, won the $20,000 award sponsored by The Age newspaper for his exceptional coverage of the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee on Palm Island.”


That’s a big rap for Koch. But then consider this latest feature yesterday 3rd April 2007:


Rough passage | Features | The Australian


It’s about “Queensland's white environmental establishment has sidelined traditional owners in the quest to protect the wild rivers of Cape York, writes Tony Koch”


Trouble is it looks like a big fat resource industry lie by their mouthpiece The Australian using their most credible star reporter in a hard fought federal election year where Queensland is a big battle ground state.


Examples of the resource industry financial pumping of the viability of The Australian’s big fat pay packages can be found here:


Engineering & Resources/A Special Advertising Report 24-25 March 2007 – all 8 pages of it.


And then this is this one: Paydirt uranium conference A Special Advertising Report pages 38-39 March 19th 2007.


Get the picture: The Wilderness Society (TWS) in the story being baited as racist, is the arch enemy of the big dam, big land clearing, big uranium mining sector that pay for The Australian to keep the presses and the gravy train rolling. It’s all so blatant crude and pathetic. And essentially why democracy is broken in this country when it comes to ethical land use decisions for the little guys, not the corporation bonuses.

So what is the evidence? Well when you read the story at the link above you are impressed by the three courageous Aboriginal protesters against the might of the Qld Govt and white greenie establishment. Small but brave they win support from other local Aboriginal dignatories.


Trouble is the feature airbrushes these easily obtained statements on the web from leading Aboriginal voices who you might consider to be even more representative:


The Carpentaria Land Council and The Wilderness Society call for protection of Gulf of Carpentaria Wild Rivers in Queensland

The Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation
The Wilderness Society Queensland Inc

Media Release
23 June 2006


The Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation (CLCAC) and The Wilderness Society today called on the Queensland Government to honour its 2004 election commitment to protect the rivers of the Gulf region under its Wild Rivers initiative.


The CLCAC and The Wilderness Society have been lobbying the Government this week in the lead up to an important cabinet discussion next Monday, 26 June 2006, which will determine the future direction of the Wild Rivers initiative.


In recent weeks, mining interests and the National Party have called for the scrapping of proposals to protect several Gulf region rivers including the Gregory River and Settlement Creek.


CLCAC have consulted closely with all of the traditional owner groups - the majority of people affected by the proposed declarations. They have expressed their overwhelming support for the protection of their rivers.


Murrandoo Yanner, a Gangalidda traditional owner said, “Healthy rivers are the lifeblood of our people – everything depends on that. Water for drinking, fish for eating – we have to protect this for our children’s children. We’ve talked with the Government and we thought we were on the same page – we want the Settlement and Gregory Rivers declared – the Government shouldn’t cave in to the scare-mongering of those mining and agriculture mobs”.


The Wilderness Society has also called for immediate declaration of the four Gulf rivers. Larissa Cordner, wild rivers spokesperson, said, “The only thing that is required now is a Cabinet decision that accurately reflects the Government's election commitment – we expect these rivers to be protected”.


Anthony Esposito, The Wilderness Society Indigenous program manager, said, “The support of the traditional owners is essential to the success of the Wild Rivers initiative on the ground, and the Government has it. The Beattie Government should honour its election promise to protect the Gulf rivers and not bow to the outrageous demands of the Queensland Resources Council and the National Party”.

For more information, please contact:

Larissa Cordner
Wild Rivers Campaigner
Email Larissa Cordner
Workphone: 07 3846 1420
Fax: 07 3846 1620

[bold added]


What happened to Tony Koch’s reportage of other Black voices apart from the pro big industry ones?


As they say in South America, not every Indian is a good Indian, not every tree is a good tree. There are developer Blacks and conservationist Blacks just like white society, and you know what Tony Koch? It’s racist to suggest otherwise.


The clue to the deceit is in the reference to Noel Pearson of the Cape York Land Council calling for postponement of the protection decisions, and then the map with the story: The 4 wild rivers protected are not really part of Cape York. How unsurprising.


Declaration: This writer was employed as an advocate for The Wilderness Society in 1993-4 including their pioneering Land Rights Policy which strongly recognised the traditional owners of heritage land.


This included meeting with traditional owners here in NSW as well as land council representatives including the NSW Aboriginal Land Council in Parramatta, and at conferences convened by the Environmental Defenders Office.


Our law honours thesis in 1989 was entitled A Legal Foundation for Aboriginal Land Rights, and predicted the native title decision in 1992 of the High Court Mabo Case from precedents in South Africa, India, PNG, and Canada, as well as the writings of Henry Reynolds.

Posted by editor at 1:38 PM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 4 April 2007 2:05 PM NZT
Tuesday, 3 April 2007
Selective big media spin the Iranian hostage tit for tat?
Mood:  irritated
Topic: human rights

Item #1 via google: Date: 6th February 2007 BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Iran envoy 'abducted in Baghdad' 

Item # 2 via google Date: 6th Feb 2006 Iranian diplomat may have been arrested in Iraq - CNN.com

Item # 3 via google Date: March report of Jan 2007 kidnapping : Fate of Five Detained Iranians Unknown by Khody Akhavi, WASHINGTON - As the Western media turns its attention to the fate of 15 Britons detained for allegedly trespassing into Iranian waters over the weekend, the status of five Iranian officials captured in a U.S. military raid on a liaison office in northern Iraq on Jan. 11 remains a mystery. ......

Item #4 via google 1st April 2007 Bush calls for Iran to release British sailors - World - smh.com.au


SAM comment: No it's not an April Fools joke on consumers here. Like Orwell's 1984 we are meant to believe via western including Australian big media that the British sailors were taken hostage in a vacuum by those wicked Iranians, that in fact there is no history, only today's spin, and indeed the truth still to be written tomorrow!

Postscript #1 4th April 2007: The right wing Sydney Daily Telegraph page 28, offline at this time, carries a report from the UK The Spectator with headline "Sailors taken in revenge for raid" as implied by the above chronology of articles. How unsurprising.

Posted by editor at 12:14 PM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 4 April 2007 1:10 PM NZT
Monday, 2 April 2007
It's official 6,684 hits for the month of March 2007, first legal threat received
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: independent media

We are gradually growing as a  www.sydneyalternativemedia.com/blog

 The figures for 2007 are now


January 2800

February 5,372

March 6,684


For this we are pleased.


And if the axiom of good reporting is that it's a story that someone somewhere doesn't want published then this received today should fit the bill:


2 April 2007 

Tom McLoughlin



Dear Tom,


Re: Public Comments about the Addison Road Centre 


The Board has directed me to write to you about your comments on your blogsite. I am asked to officially warn you about making public comments which undermine the reputation of the Addison Road Centre.  


The Board instructs you to desist from making public derogatory comments about the Centre and its members. 


The Board further understands that you have concerns you wish to express. The Centre has adopted a Grievance Procedure, which is available to you, or any other staff member, or member of the Centre, which you should follow to air your concerns. The Grievance Procedure has been circulated to you. The appropriate step in that process is a formal complaint which can then be investigated.


This is an official warning. If you engage in further public comment in this vein, then the Board may consider disciplinary action.  


Yours sincerely,  

Ian Laird, General Manager



We have responded to refute the assertions in this letter with various legal argument and feel pretty good about our position in this situation.


The two stories complained of are here:


Saturday, 31 March 2007

Building Addison Rd Community Centre healthy democracy* beyond influence peddling, self interest


under topic local news and


Sunday, 18 March 2007

Our work ban on errant community centre tenant


again under topic local news



We stand by both these stories for being soundly in the public interest as well as our personal interest, and well sourced based on our lawyerly instincts for evidence based assertions. We are happy to apply a corrections policy where it can be shown we have strayed from any fact or reasonable comment.



We reject outright in the strongest possible terms that this damages the reputation of the ARC - which has a certain reputation all of its own and it would be dishonest to suggest otherwise. Also we include many positive aspects about the ARC which is we are not only happy to report but also have helped actively to achieve.


Further we note the precedent of the Local Government Act (NSW) which positively encourages outreach, information and education of the public about the situation regarding public bodies (in that case local councils) which we think the Addison Road Centre is quite comparable in terms of community service function.


Lastly we were always employed as an independent contractor until recently at the ARC when the centre urged this writer recently to become an employed staff member, with a pay rise. But that can't be at the cost of my democratic right to  free speech.

Postscript #1 3rd April 2007:  We don't compare ourselves with the gag order on David Hicks, or Mr Peek of Tristar allegedly sacked for speaking to the meeja, but we think the community is heartily sick of authoritarian bully boy censorship tactics.

Lawyer Greg Barnes wrote this in ezine crikey.com.au today of the implied constitutional right to political communication as here in the context of the abused Hicks:

"Since 1992, in a case involving the former Labor MP Andrew Theophanous, the High Court has determined that there are implied rights to free speech and communication when it comes to discussion of issues about government and politics, particularly in the context of elections. This is known as the implied freedom of political communication.

Surely the circumstance of the detention of Mr Hicks is a matter concerning politics or government. His arrest and detention has been the subject of heated political discourse. If the media publishes an interview with Mr Hicks about these matters are they simply not utilising that implied freedom? "

Amen to that as regards this humble blog reporting background to an ARC general meetings under their constitution. The attempted gag letter from the ARC board should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

Posted by editor at 10:00 PM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 3 April 2007 3:52 PM NZT
The Iemma self described 'good government' staggers .....again
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: nsw govt

Picture: Phil Koperberg MP, Senator John Faulkner, ex MP Sandra Nori, Paul Gibson MP

Just as


- the Burnely road Tunnel tragedy in Melbourne the day before the recent election here in Sydney underlined the high risk road tunnels built or planned by the NSW govt ,


- then a couple of days later 3 die in a government ferry collission literally under the Harbour Bridge,


now we have more so called "good government" self described by Premier Morris Iemma on election night, as per the article in the The Australian today below regarding police probe of Paul Gibson MP.


Only trouble is, it's not very good and this is likely to be only the start of a long and grim 4 years on Planet ALP aka NSW. We also seem to recall MP Paul Gibson in the story below, known to be a favourite of the legal drugs industry (hotels, gambling), is apparently an ex football jock and has also been linked to ex wife of Senator John Faulkner (aka the Governor General of the ALP) the recently retired Sandra Nori MP ex member for Port Jackson now Balmain.


This looks like an intrinsically unstable dynamic to this writer:


 Police probe delays Iemma minister appointment

April 02, 2007


NSW Premier Morris Iemma says Blacktown MP Paul Gibson will not be sworn in as a minister today because he is being investigated by police.


It was announced on Friday that Mr Gibson would be promoted from the backbench to become minister for sport and recreation, Western Sydney and road safety


Mr Iemma today said Mr Gibson would not be sworn in today along with the rest of the cabinet because of an allegation that had been made against him.


“On Friday evening, a member of my staff was informed of a serious allegation involving Mr Gibson,” Mr Iemma said in a statement.


“This allegation has now been forwarded by me via the director general of the Premier's Department to the NSW police for full investigation.


“It is not appropriate for there to be any further commentary on the nature of the allegation.”


Mr Iemma said incoming Gaming and Racing Minister Graham West would temporarily take on Mr Gibson's allocated portfolios while the claims were investigated.


In 1998, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) dismissed allegations by convicted criminal Louis Bayeh that he had corruptly provided money and other benefits to Mr Gibson.


Mr Gibson's planned inclusion in Mr Iemma's new-look cabinet alongside former NSW Rural Fire chief-turned-MP Phil Koperberg attracted attention because of bad blood between them.


Mr Koperberg, who will become the minister for climate change, environment and water, last year publicly revealed his former wife Katherine had once applied for an apprehended violence order against him and accused Mr Gibson of being involved in a plot to smear his name.


Mr Gibson and Ms Koperberg were romantically involved for several years after the Koperberg marriage ended.


Mr Koperberg and Mr Gibson last week insisted they could work together.


Posted by editor at 3:33 PM NZT
Updated: Monday, 2 April 2007 4:01 PM NZT
Logger union effectively working for Howard's work choices agenda?
Mood:  down
Topic: election Oz 2007

This is the newsagent banner for The Australian newspaper October 7th 2005. It refers to a $4M sweetheart deal with the logger union in Tasmania and the Howard federal government, as a pay off for their support in the 2004 federal election.

This is the union that Michael O'Connor in the news today says deserves the right to log where ever and whatever they want despite the urgency of climate change, the urgency of threat to biological diversity in an increasingly exhausted natural world, as per this report:

Rudd facing union backlash on forests

KEVIN Rudd is facing a backlash from the union that helped sink Mark Latham's 2004 election campaign, amid fears Labor's new forestry policy will cost Tasmanian jobs.

This is the same logger unionist who is implicated as an apologist for political terrorism at Wandella near Cobargo on the NSW South Coast, and in Victoria before that:

6th Dec 2006 - Logger terrorism under the Howard federal government

Posted by editor at 2:15 PM NZT
Updated: Monday, 2 April 2007 2:37 PM NZT
Fran Kelly on RN in the 7.45 am news shadow exposes Hicks gag perverting legal administration, as Visy goes for broke per 702
Mood:  special
Topic: big media


Picture: The super bright Fran Kelly matches wits with big thinker Mal Turnbull MHR this morning.

The serious political analysis from Michelle Grattan (AO, Adjunct Professor ) every morning on radio national abc radio (576 AM on your dial in Sydney) is usually just before the 7.45 am news on the higher rating 702 abc radio.

It usually clashes with the classy simper of Virginnia Trioli, the thinking man's crumpet prefacing her morning show. Suffice to say I turn to Michelle's probing reminiscent of a George Smiley guru, because she has the real JUICE on federal election prep.

But even Big Michelle gets it 'wrong' sometimes - Hicks gag is in the context of a criminal style legal process whereas confidentiality provision is far more appropriate to a CIVIL matter. So to quote a legal saying res ipsa loquitur - the matter speaks for itself the gag is a civil mechanism for political protection, not administration of criminal justice. The Howard/Bush regime are guilty as charged of perverting the administration of justice because it should be seen and heard to be done, not gagged.

So sorry Michelle your ad lib misfired there. Indeed Fran Kelly tackles Mal Turnbull MP on this very gag - Turnbull who in an earlier life was involved in the  famous in the Spy Catcher free speech fight: SPY CATCHER by Peter Wright which we once found dumped outside the old Surry Hills library and devoured



Mal sidesteps the free speech issue and as Kelly points out he will be free before 1 year sentence here in Australia.

Robert Richter QC a defence and human rights advocate says its unique that USA Bush regime agent Susan Crawford of their Defence Dept cut the Hicks deal rather than chief prosecutor Mo Davis. In our view that's in effect perverting the administration of justice like the whole rotten operation.

Another broader concern for the long suffering ABC consumers is that Fran Kelly does her cutting edge media work in the shadow of the 7.45am news on the sister station because it seems it's not safe to be heard at a higher rating time on these critical issues.

Indeed as I write Richter confirms my view commercial contests often have confidentiality, but not the Hicks type of case: An illegal gag in the USA legal system. So are the Australian and USA government's saying his witness will actually damage their intellectual justification for the War on Terror. It sure looks like it.

It is true you can go to the the Radio National morning show website to download the story,


as wonk Christian Kerr of ezine crikey.com.au is also known to do but its not quite the same and damn annoying switching the dial between two stations.

This morning I missed most of the story about (dodgy process for?) a  Visy plantation fed pulp mill stage 2 at Tumut (a $450 million expansion, state significance wave through by Minister Sartor) set to expand pine plantations by 30,000 ha or so, with very serious landscape and water catchment implications, we having attended the first Commission of Inquiry for stage 1 in the late 90ies:

27/3/98...Visy pulpmill Commission of Inquiry for the NSW Planning Minister based on exotic plantations in the local region.

 A quick few phone calls and I found that it was advertised locally for a month in February in the shadow of the state election prep, and got a very few submissions according to Moira Shields of ABC Wagga. I referred her to the Environmental Defenders Office and quickly gave a brief to principal solicitor Jeff Smith too - good to see him at work at 8.15 am on Monday.

 This is what recently retired and highly respected Commissioner Kevin Cleland said in his prescient final report in 1998 on the stage 1 Commission of Inquiry process regarding stage 2 in the news today 9 years later:

"The pine plantation resource in the Tumut region will require supplementing to ensure timber is available to the mill over the next 60 years. This is not part of the development application for the mill. Nevertheless, an additional area of 30,000 hectares is required  for the Stage 1 and a further 40,000 hectares for stage 2. These areas  are substantial and compliance with the relevant Codes of Practice will be essential to ensure adverse environmental impacts do not occur. To accord with the National Forest Policy Statement these additional plantations need to be established on largely cleared land with only incidental clearing. Some parties [eg local property owners, green groups] are concerned for the social implications of changing land use from agriculture to forestry monoculture  over such large area. I recommend preparation of a strategic plan."  [bold added]

: Kevin Cleland, extact of executive summary of report to NSW Planning Minister June 1998.

Here's betting London to a brick, there is no "strategic plan" for massive regional landscape change in the political shadowlands of the Southern Slopes of Tumut, Cootamundra, Wagga area during the incompetent and corrupt Carr-Iemma government.

Here's betting the critics like local property owners are being bought off (according to advice) as the defacto method of good land use governance here on planet ALP aka NSW, and other civil society voices like this one are being studiously ignored.

Who indeed will even take the bet?

Posted by editor at 9:44 AM NZT
Updated: Monday, 2 April 2007 2:32 PM NZT
Sunday, 1 April 2007
Sunday political talkies, earnest federal election policy prep
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: election Oz 2007
Author’s general introductory note (skip this 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.

NSW post mortems (one off round up from last week):


Re Carmel Tebbutt standing down from NSW Cabinet, under pressure from the Greens and Port Botany expansion/Truck tunnel plan


-         Enter, the minister for Nathan SMH p7 27/3/07

-         Tebbutt shock, Cooks River Valley Times p1 29/3/07 “I will continue to play an active role in the government and do all I can to secure a fifth consecutive term in office …I will also be working hard over the next four to repay the trust of the people of Marrickville have again placed in me” (carries big advert for Earth Hour symbolic lights off public demo involving some 65,000 households, sponsored by Canterbury Council).

-         ‘mum and member for Marrckville’ Four Years Hard Labor

-         Son’s love brings Tebbutt back home Sydney Telegraph Telegraph 27/3/07


Re Prue Goward narrow winner of seat of Goulbourn


- Heavies are going for Pru - Kate Askew CBD business column Sydney Morning Herald Fairfax


- Goward covering her flabby neck with her dainty left hand Stateline footage Family Unfriendly


- Goward sledging the independents as dangeorus to society and our economy on Glover 702 abc radio, said with ideological fervour, as the votes are literally being counted in her seat (Monday? 26th March 2007). 


Re Michael Duffy, arch critic of the green movement, votes Green Party:


"One of the pleasures of going on the electoral roll has been to discover how this money is used by candidates to lie to voters. Just this week I received a letter from my local Labor member assuring me "the Liberals would bankrupt our state".

Our taxes at work.

Actually, I'm looking forward to voting today. Often there was no one I would have wanted to vote for anyway, but now there is. Developer donations to political parties are corrupting and distorting our democracy, and I intend to vote for the Greens because they oppose this and have put so much effort into exposing it, not least through their excellent website democracy4sale.org.

It's true the Greens also have some deplorable policies on the environment, but none of us is perfect.

For the same reason I'll be voting for Save Our Suburbs in the upper house. The group's president, Tony Recsei, has done more than anyone to alert us to the horrors and intellectual shoddiness of urban consolidation.

On a different note, this election sees the resignation from state politics of Peta Seaton, the Opposition spokeswoman on finance. She is leaving to spend more time with her daughter, who was born in the year Seaton came into Parliament, 1996. Seaton has been the major source of good policy for the Opposition in recent years, and will be sorely missed"  Saturday March 24, 2007 No compelling argument for compulsory voting


10 Meet the Press 8-8.30 am

Transcript in due course www.ten.com.au/meetthepress

Ch 10 Paul Bongiorno is back Turnbull reacting to ALP Rudd climate change forum in Canberra with heavy science hitters and ‘serious’ business people.


Panel is Michelle Grattan Sun Herald/Age of Fairfax, Brian Toohey Financial Review (Fairfax).


MG – bouncer re equity richer countries do the main action. Blah blah blah answer.


MT calls ALP religious picking up this cartoon attack theme (itself a balancer to big Fairfax PR Sydney Magazine glossy on Thursday PR for Garrett):


Picture: Moir in yesterday's Herald echoes the religious dimension to Garrett's public  presentation, compared to his policy rival Turnbull actually pressing the heavy intellectual buttons, of a global climate problem about actual mechanisms of cause and solution. Turnbull is wrong but Garrett is not meeting him with ALP rednecks tying one hand. This cartoon critique can resonate because Garrett is known as a 'convert' to 'non denominational Christian, anti communism'  and convert to ALP Big Party politics, so he better get his policy skates on, and take on the ALP red neck thugs too, or he will be just another flaky brand.


2nd guest Human rights law Julian Burnside QC admit involved in researching prosecution for rendition for torture (possibly Mamdouh Habib in Egypt)


7 Weekend Sunrise, 8.35-40 am Riley Diary

Humourous, quite edgy as usual. Web page here but no transcript usually: http://www.seven.com.au/sunrise/weekend

Focus on federal election related personalities, Carmen Lawrence retires, Costello waiting for PM to shove off, Kevin Rudd persona with the hair flick mannerism, and drinking black beer (a good PR). Great soundtrack as usual. True it is a jewel.


[Intriguing reference to punch ups with the ALP Left given this writer’s experience on election day avoiding same.


Also intriguing reference by Ramsey in Herald yesterday Stop the presses: the story Rudd tried to kill (last line) to Rudd’s glass jaw - a term I use to describe a power broker at the Addison Rd Community Centre, associated with … the ALP Left). The Ramsey story could have been headlined “Let Rudd be Rudd” to borrow a phrase from "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet" the 19th episode of The West Wing:


Meaning the PR spin merchants that concocted Bob Carr’s political career also destroyed his currency until he simply fell over as a laughing stock and ran to daddies arms (Macquarie Bank). It would be a tragedy for Australia/Rudd professionally and personally to let such as over weight spinner Walt Secord etc do that to our country. The lesson is contained in Leunig's rather beaut cartoon also yesterday in Fairfax press - the pies of life - can't obtain a copy, but it reads "


The pie of life

Is hurled into your face

Every day,

But that is no disgrace. 

A life worth living

Gets splattered on your shirt -

And though you're shocked

And rather hurt;

These pies of life

Which fly out of the blue

You're made for them

And they were made for you.]


Very odd legal gag on David Hicks discussed [especially from the land of free speech, govt politicisation of legal process is an attempt to pervert the administration of justice?]


Insiders 2



Cassidy leads in with ‘does Rudd have a glass jaw?’ as per Ramsey story, Cassidy being in that story text.



Costello treasurer is guest of honour. Sounds pretty flat and tired. Lacks ‘virility’ to borrow Ruth Ritchie description of Vinnick character in tv review yesterday again from West Wing series. Shows a bit more vigour on hypothecation of tax repeal with GST payments.



Creepy Costello quietly laying the foundations for raised GST risk of ALP hegemonic governments state to federal. “kicking a goal from fullback”? asks Cassidy with wit.  No within 10 metre square says Costello. [Time will tell.]



Costello right about Rudd packaging being unsustainable, [let Rudd be Rudd is the longer term sound strategy, minders trying to over engineer his media coverage is fundamentally undemocratic].



Every person focus group in little tinny ie boat re climate credibility gap for govt, for science, for the future.



Bolt lies about destruction of old growth helps greenhouse by planting a tiny seedling.



Senator Bob Brown on live, sounds earnest, shut out of ALP forum yesterday. Setting the agenda says BB. Handles the googlies from Milne very deftly too on energy/climate change. Saint Bob again.



Strong debate by panel, and good tv actually honourable mention to Karen Middleton. Milne says Hicks subject to perjury in USA if returns with different story.




9 Sunday



9 Sunday – cover story on Islamic radicalism Multiculturalism: success or failure?, Oaks interview of Garret as per glossy Sydney magazine last Thursday PR gift by Big Media co option of green movement.


Laurie Oaks is losing weight and looking a bit (only a bit Laurie) healthier (and good luck to yer, keep going, give up the booze too). Intro refers to Morning Mr Garrett, in chilly formal tones. It’s going to be a mugging….


LO mentions Rudd going to China to discuss climate change etc. [a great political move like Whitlam and the Vietnam war]


Garrett faces the curly how reduce 60% emissions by 2050 (notice Oaks accepts the necessity implicitly, which is very significant in itself). Notes business community onside to develop solutions, Pacific Hydro etc. [convenient article my Hogarth ‘the business of greening Australia” in Sydney Morning Herald review p28-29]


Garrett rhetoric wears thin under pressure from Oaks about job losses from emission targets.


Forests question: Tas govt bypass of planning laws. PG says he is disappointed, look at the new process of the Tas govt. LO: ‘You can’t have conscience in the ALP’ re Tas MP who crossed the floor there.


LO quotes PG: ‘ALP policy RFA’s flawed and discredited process in 2005’ Today? Garrett endorses the ALP policy support for RFA’s, that is his direct sellout of his principles. PG claims caucus policy allows for ethical principles going to the national conference of the ALP.


LO actually uses the “sold out” accusation, on US bases, on uranium mining. Very “elastic conscience isn’t Peter” A devastating question in those terms. PG blah blah blah road to hell paved with good intentions kind of answer to get a change of government (and promote his lead singer persona, the clear implication).


“Can’t pretend to be a conviction politician, can you?” Fast pace blather by PG doth protest too much. [PG  the lead singer for someone else's songs then and now.]



Q & A with Laurie Oaks: Notes Hicks resolution removes from the federal election.


On climate change, Howard making ground? Ans: Rudd ahead in synchrony with Al Gore, Howard running hard to catch up. Key agenda item. Never look as green as the ALP but working hard to neutralise it.



Feature on wikipedia or wackypedia: Pretty good tv too, 1 billion net users. Projection of another 1 billion in 5 or 6 years especially from non western countries.




10 Meet The Press extract transcript 25th March 2007 lifting CBS America morning after NSW election day – secretary of defence of USA Robert Gates:


25/03/07 - Joe Hockey and Robert Gates


CBS EVENING NEWS PRESENTER BOB SCHIFFER: Is there any indication so far that this latest addition of troops is making a difference or having an effect?


US SECETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT GATES:  I think that the way I would characterise it is so far so good. It's very early. General Petraeus, the commander out there, has said that it will probably be summer before we know whether we're being successful or not. But I would say that the Iraqis are meeting the commitments that they have made to us, they have made the appointments, the troops that they have promised are showing up, they're allowing operations in all neighbourhoods. There is very little political interference with military operations. So, here at the very beginning, the commitments that have been made seem to be being kept.


BOB SCHIFFER: But the violence seems to go on. While there has been something of a downturn in the violent events in Baghdad, where we're putting these additional troops, we're seeing more violence in the outskirts. Obviously we've changed our strategy but it appears the enemy is changing its strategy as well?


ROBERT GATES:  Actually, General Odierno, the ground forces commander out there and General Petraeus, the overall commander, both warned that as the surge took place into Baghdad and as we cleared people from Baghdad that there would be kind of a squirting effect, that some of these people, particularly the al-Qa'ida and the insurgents, would begin to operate in other places and try and still bring off spectacular attacks in Baghdad and so that's why we have to wait and see what kind of trendline appears over the next weeks and few months.


BOB SCHIFFER: This week in the House of Representatives there'll be another vote on a bill that will seek to put constraints and set up some sort of a timeline for bringing the troops home. You have been against that. Give me your best argument about why we shouldn't do that.


ROBERT GATES:  Well, first of all I think it's very important for people to know that I believe everybody involved in this debate is patriotic and looking for the best thing for America. I think most people agree that across the political spectrum, that leaving Iraq in chaos would be a mistake, a disaster for the United States, and so we're all wrestling with what's the best way to bring about a result that serves the long-term interests, not only of the Iraqi people, but of the United States, and I think everybody is wrestling with that problem on all sides of the issue. With respect to the specific bill in the House, the concern I have is that if you have specific deadlines and very strict conditions, it makes it difficult, if not impossible, for our commanders to achieve their objectives and, frankly, as I read it, the House bill is more about withdrawal regardless of the circumstances on the ground than it is about trying to produce a positive outcome by incentivising the Iraqis. The issue that we're all trying to figure out is how best do you get the Iraqis to reconcile their differences because after all this is not going to be solved by the military, it has to involve political reconciliation in Iraq among Iraqis. We're basically buying them time, that's the whole purpose of this strategy, and they're going to have to step up to the plate and we can help them by giving them the time to do that and to make their military forces able to carry the burden by themselves.


BOB SCHIFFER: Let me just challenge the conventional wisdom here. The President said that if we leave they're going to follow us here. This appears to me to be a civil war. Why would they stop fighting each other, which is what they seem to be doing now, why would they take a break in that and decide to try to challenge America somewhere down the line if we leave?


ROBERT GATES:  This Washington game of "Is it a civil war or isn't it?" I think is a problem - this characterisation is a problem, because it oversimplifies. The reality is that stoking sectarian violence is a very specific strategy on the part of al-Qa'ida and the insurgents. That was behind the bombing of the Samara mosque, it's behind their efforts today, and they make no bones about the fact that it's their strategy, so you don't have thousands of Shia and Sunni falling in on each other or attacking each other. You have hit squads going around the city. So this is a purposeful strategy. It seems to me that there is the opportunity to create a political environment in which these issues can be sorted out among the Iraqis themselves and that's basically what we're trying to do.


BOB SCHIFFER: I want to shift just a bit. I read that you are now writing personal letters to every family who has lost someone in Iraq. Why did you decide to do that? It must be a very difficult thing.


ROBERT GATES:  This is what I do, unfortunately, virtually every evening, and I guess it's because I feel a personal responsibility for each one of these men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and it's just - it's a small gesture to the families that I personally am involved and that I personally very much care and have great sorrow over the sacrifice that their son or daughter or husband or wife has made.

Posted by editor at 10:49 AM NZT
Updated: Monday, 2 April 2007 12:27 PM NZT
Saturday, 31 March 2007
Building Addison Rd Community Centre healthy democracy* beyond influence peddling, self interest
Mood:  energetic
Topic: local news

* dedicated to a humble gardener and my hero Eddie Mabo.


The ARC is 3.4 hectares of prime inner city land the majority of which is open space, dedicated to the community with 35 tenancies of theatre, arts, non profit recycling, markets and cultures. It’s a genuine jewel of social capital in this city:




Like most people who work there I loathe the ARC and love it as well. It’s like one’s own family really. You can’t stand being in the same room at times but you know they are your own blood and tissue as well and there is no escaping the emotional ties not in this life, and probably not the next. A real quandary cie la vie. From the whimsical feministas at Reverse Garbage to the old dog at The Bower with Hansonite tendencies. Certainly honest effective communication is a big part of the challenge at such a place, with emphasis on honesty.


Stephen Mayne has written of this default fraught nature of community politics in his People Power party in the Victorian elections via ezine crikey.com.au, and in that case it ended in tears


Crikey - Politics Etc - Stephen Mayne’s farewell campaign diary


, and it’s no different in many social capital organisations we presume, whether it’s the Greens, Democrats, Greenpeace, The Wilderness Society or ARC. The key to avoid the tears is a healthy dose of humour, real moral courage, moderate expectations or less, in short healthy civil society, open debate and norms of behaviour, or as Gandhi says – to aim for integrity not simply to win (note Gandhi did aim to win too).


The ARC as most people will admit has suffered some intractable management problems in its 30 year History  Indeed the fact there was no 30 year anniversary celebrations in 2006 tells a story in itself. But in our view the dawn is rising and some of the nightmares are well behind us. There are 47 years to run on the community lease from the NSW Government (originally the Commonwealth Govt) and everything to play for to strengthen social fabric. We see a recent moral contest with the Sidetrack Rogue as a late breaking bad dream but it likely will pass too and generally the place is gathering a more honest vigorous and effective democracy and management.


This has not always been the case at the ARC. Dark mutterings of


-         “a tarantula in every draw” (attributed to the gallery curator),

-         “can of worms” (experienced Greens councillor)  

-         “grooming Meredith Burgman’s replacement” (elderly tenant),

-         “referring the bastards to ICAC” (not this author!),

-         “forces of darkness” (staff member)

-      "nothing ever happens" (veteran local council outdoor worker)


are giving way to

Picture: Kerry Lindberg, long time resident caretaker with his wife also named Kerrie.


-         new safe pedestrian access path,

-         open tender for community spaces,

-         objective rental formula (!)

-         transparent grievance procedure,

-         outdoor chess set,

-         nursery demonstration garden,

-         viable Sunday Market, and

-         functioning website portal.


Like lines in the car park achieved by retired manager Neil 2 years ago

after literally 10 years of cheap talk at board level, and who sadly had a heart attack soon after, and cute pocket garden of native plants (deliberately mowed over 3 years ago), the chaos is being sorted into healthy form and structure. There is hope where there was little in this depressed part of Marrickville. But there is also oh so much more hard work to do and still plenty of fluid creativity. Like a bastard political child born out of Whitlam’s anti Vietnam war policy the ARC has become a rather appealing adult with some adolescent rough edges still.


Recently we at SAM ran up against the old boy/girl network at ARC. Our job this last 4 years (at least until recently) involves part time gardening, but also website builder lately, and according to our sense of public duty we pinged a driver parking on the median strip out of area.

Picture: some of the 25 advanced aloe vera plantings by this writer last Thursday at the ARC frontage.

This is a humdrum if delicate matter usually. Please don’t park there, sets a bad example, etc. It’s usually met with responsiveness and cooperation.

But like the Marcus Einfeld saga/tragedy


Einfeld faces jail over $77 ticket - National - smh.com.au

a simple matter of a polite request to move blew up into disturbing old style issue of abuse of power, fraud, defamation, hierarchy and smear by a long time tenant and their political backers, potentially up to the Board level, and there is plenty of water to go under the bridge yet, as our correspondence attached below shows.


In Einfeld’s case a mere $77 parking fine may well see him end up in jail for a quite a time. (I personally find this very sad given my first big (winning) case was before the ex beak in 1991 in the Federal Court as a corporate litigation lawyer.) In the Sidetrack case a trivial parking ‘offence’ (not illegal, but certainly unauthorised, and damn disrespectful)  may yet turn into a case study of (ALP) cronyism and fraught community centre politics which might have a much bigger impact on society and democracy than the Einfeld Case will.


On the other hand it is just as likely to be an opportunity at educating the long suffering tenancies in how to assert honest vigorous democracy and equal accountability for high and low, from humble gardener to long time power brokers Don Mamouney or his alleged cipher Stavros Economidis on the Board.


The ARC as most people will admit has suffered some intractable management problems in its 30 year life. Indeed the fact there was no 30 year anniversary celebrations in 2006 is revealing. But in our view the dawn is rising and most of the nightmares are receding to ancient history.

 Picture: Terry Cutcliffe curator of Addison Road Gallery in January 2005 and his provocative signage in the style of Image Gallery - Collections - United Colors of Benetton - S/S 2007 ...

But that low scale furore as described in the letter attached below, narrowly avoiding criminal proceedings of the Local Court, is only part of the latest growing pains:

There is this from Max Burgess of the Law Consumers tenancy


, in combo with one of the several anchor tenants Greening Australia (NSW) Ltd (this latter it might be noted is a significant federally funded body but also one of say 4 or 5 anchor tenants):




I note that in the absence of any challenge to the validity of the Notice served on the Secretary on 26 February, 2007 and the expiration of the time (21 days) in which the Directors must call a meeting in accordance with clause 9.2.4 of the Constitution, Greening Australia Ltd and Law Consumers Association Ltd reserve the right to call a meeting of members in accordance with clause 9.3.1 of the Constitution.”


But what is the point of this agitation for what otherwise might be thought of as an 'EGM' or extraordinary general meeting, but technically is a simple general meeting aimed at gazumping a narrow Board meeting as has been the case in the last several years?


[Significantly the centre did have a Board of all tenants but this was changed around 1998  because it was found to be way too big and cumbersome:


"In 1998 it reformed its governance structure, replacing a management committee comprising a representative of each member organisation with a smaller Board that includes 4 Directors elected from members, 2 Directors elected by members who are honorary members (community representatives) and Marrickville Council [This structure itself has also been amended and refined in 2005]." ARC website quoting open source backgrounder by the centre management at History ]


There probably is a case for a hybrid process of formal general meetings of all members, and narrow workable Board committee. That is, not just an “open forum” one of which was held in the hyper busy 3 days before the 24th March state election, perhaps to out flank the above (?), and not attended by this writer for lack of notice, prone to accusations of cynical timing (?) .


The notice handed to this writer yesterday by accomplished democracy activist and dedicated Law Consumer stirrer Max Burgess reads as follows:


“The general nature of the meeting’s business is (clause 9.8.2):

  1. GALLERY / To adopt a policy for the long term management of the Gallery having regard to its development and the income which can be generated for the Centre.
  2. ADDISON ROAD SIGNS/ That the Board affirms it’s ownership of the signs at the entrance to the Centre and adopts a policy in which these signs can be made available to members of the Centre.
  3. ASSOCIATE MEMBERS/ That the Constitution of the Centre be amended to accommodate the needs of the Associate members. [we don’t know what this status involves: SAM editor]
  4. RENT REVIEWS/ That the Board adopts a policy where all members pay the same rent having regard to, but not limited to, quality of premises, location, services available, the circumstances of the member and utilisation.


Further notice is given that other business may arise”

Picture: Sunday markets are doing okay Addison Rd Centre lately, day of the Sydney Bridge Walk March 2007


Who knows, my own part time job at the ARC possibly on the skids might come up?


A potential can of worms indeed, but also an opportunity to take the high road. To reach for integrity not simply to win, to do good for the ARC generally and not for individual interests, for fairness and objectivity in all dealings with no fear or favour, to transcend influence peddling and dishonest postures.


Yep, plenty of water to go under the bridge building a health democracy at the Addison Road Centre. Cie la vie. The key is effective and honest communication like this blog article (we hope and trust).



Declaration: We have an fiduciary solicitor client relationship with one of the Board members on unrelated media matters (John Reynolds, Art Resistance) who has not been consulted on or  authorised any of this article (indeed he may be critical of this writer). As stated we are in the paid employ up until this week at least of the ARC for part time gardening and website building. We have never campaigned for/nominated for the ARC Board or applied for a tenancy at the ARC. The ARC accept our snail mail (ecology action sydney) for us via the front office (no letters to date in the age email) for personal security reasons.




From: ecology action australia

To: Yvette Andrews ; Stavros Economidis ;Robert Morrison; Rae Owen ; John Reynolds ; Geoff Hague ; Natalie McCarthy

Cc: gm addison rd centre; office admin arc

Sent: Friday, March 30, 2007 7:41 AM

Subject: building more honest democracy at the ARC



Dear ARC Board members



I will meet with Ian Laird today see how you are progressing with my complaint about abuse of power and emotional violence by the Sidetrack manager(s). I will also be progressing the ARC website build which is about 80% done and worth visiting here






Ian Laird  foreshadowed this discussion yesterday while I was planting about 25 advanced aloe vera plants into the street frontage pocket gardens which I obtained for free from some building renovators earlier in the week. This was my initiative like many other things at the ARC and elsewhere in the community sector.


At first I was feeling a little nervous anticipating your views, and then I came to a realisation about our relative roles in the community sector and I feel alot better about where to from here.



Here are some ground rules (good pun that) from my perspective before I hear from Ian Laird today:



1. There is no way whilesoever I am employed, or indeed otherwise,  I will be giving special treatment to any rogue tenant or pandering to their loud aggressive histrionics or indeed concocted or fraudulent theatrical smears. That's the bottom line the ARC Board have no real say in.



2. The Board can choose as it likes whether to support one of its staff simply doing their public duty, or not. That's a matter for your conscience. Your job is really not that important in the scheme of things. I simply remind you I have legal rights of A. natural justice (to be heard in a fair process) B. to confront Abdi directly within the framework of an ARC grievance procedure I have been promised in lieu of an AVO type legal process. I understand Abdi is posturing and demanding I be gagged etc in my gardening work or interaction with tenants or visitors. In this regard refer to point 5 below.



3. I don't have anything to prove to the Board. On the contrary as a community leader of some 16 years experience and ample qualifications, the Board has to prove itself to people like me, not the other way round. I won't be judged on my moral integrity or professionalism in the community sector by a Board that are only now getting to grasp with their actual responsibilities at the ARC. I've seen what plays for good management there over the last 4 years and learnt enough about the previous 10 years to know what's what. When I first came to work at the centre as a humble gardener the grounds were a disgrace - it was a symptom of the management culture and dysfunctional tenancies itself. I decided to tackle that MANAGEMENT dysfunction in a subtle and indirect way, not by powermongering through board elections or tenure or whatever but by cleaning the place up. One of the first threats I faced was the deeply cynical Gerry playing power games while handling a machete. Do you really think I would be so worried about a Board and its words after that?


Now that this external physical cleanup process is gaining momentum of it's own (only took 4 years) and reaching a natural conclusion regarding my pump priming,  it's time to address the root cause of that physical ugliness of 4 years ago, which is the ugliness of influential figures at the centre itself at the management level. This is indeed why this symbolic matter with Abdi goes beyond the trivial car on median strip. It goes to the heart of a balkanised history of emotional violence at the centre.

4. I know what happened with Abdi and that car owner on Friday 16th March. I know I was professional and polite and the request was scorned arrogantly.  I know that when this was addressed Abdi launched a disgusting tirade of abuse at myself but also Laird. I know that when I complained a fiction was concocted by Mamouney to cover up for Abdi and the car owner. And I have a useful witness in Jeff Wood proving pretty much my version of events. I'm not for turning, and I'm not for pandering to a politically constrained or influenced Board either. That's not how this works for me. You may be the power at the ARC, but I have my share of influence in the Sydney, NSW, Australia and even a small international degree also with my sister group in Columbia and a few other contacts.. So you have a real balancing act to deal with.



5. Depending on how this plays out I reserve the right to pamphleteer under each and every door at the centre, with or without a paid job, along the lines of my views above.  I will have my justice in this situation and the centre's tenants will be educated in honest democracy and they will learn and be responsive to that and take their issues forward. This is all to the good. And then my work at the ARC may well be completed after 5 years and I can move on to more important projects like John Howard's agenda for nuclear weapons in Australia.


Lastly, I have nearly finished updating the centre web site with one reservation, and I have notified about 5 different tenancies of their updates (ACV, Bower, CSC, CCCC, Bush Club, and others are vaguely aware like GA, RG, even updates of Sidetrack including latest event though they are particularly undeserving managers (as distinct from the acting crew). There is the latest clipping on the Food Forest volunteer drive also.



The reservation about the website follows: The website is an overly ambitious interactive tool and no wonder it's rollout stalled. On the other hand it is now a very powerful asset and the portal effect will now be synergistic creating much more profile and publicity for each of the individual groups via internet based society, further enhancing traffic to their own main websites as well. I have yet to work out the method of individual log in/sign on for each tenant  (I have been given Ian Laird's password). But it's all in the user manual and I will have worked through that by the end of today all being well (Friday 30th March).



I look forward to hearing Ian's advice (meaning your advice) today. Be assured whatever it is I won't be boxed in by such as Abdi via the politics of the ARC Board. I hope you get it right for the sake of the ARC.



Yours truly



Tom McLoughlin, principal ecology action sydney






Posted by editor at 11:18 AM NZT
Updated: Monday, 2 April 2007 11:50 AM NZT
Thursday, 29 March 2007
More suffering at Villawood detention centre
Mood:  sharp
Topic: human rights
Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2007 11:47 AM
Subject: Hunger strike ot support the detainees, today from 12 30 pm - Villawood detention centre, Bermengham Ave, Chester Hill

As the situation deteriorated at Villawood detention centre, with 2 detainees were taken to hospital in the last 2 days and more than 50 detainees are on hunger strike for the second day, we will be on hunger strike outside the detention centre from 12 30 pm today in solidarity with them. The detianees are demanding in writing from DIMA that they stop these violent actions and better treatment. We are demanding that the detention centre be closed and asylum seekers be released to the community until their applications processed.
To support the action or to join it, you can contact me on
0413 467 367
Jamal Daoud

Posted by editor at 6:28 PM NZT

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