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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Monday, 7 May 2007
Qantas foreign owned in breach of corporate law for 2 months?
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: corporates

This cracking story by Stephen Mayne at Crikey.com.au today in subscriber material should be repeated in the public interest and to give him and the ezine their due. Shambolic, and farce are words that seem too kind, indeed:

8. For two months, Qantas has been foreign-owned

Stephen Mayne writes:

It’s all very well for the Qantas board, Peter Costello and various other pundits to now be sticklers for probity, process and the law, but where the hell were they for the past two months when Qantas was clearly majority foreign-owned and in breach of the Qantas Sale Act?

The $11 billion privatisation has been destroyed by a group of foreign hedge funds who were not legally entitled to own such a large chunk of the airline, let alone directly determine its destiny.

Hedge funds have long been regarded as a law unto themselves and on Friday night, before retreating to the Senate Bar, the Macquarie Bank-assembled bidding team decided to vindictively expose the 68-year-old New York billionaire Samuel Heyman as being the man responsible for APA’s failure.

The Saturday papers widely reported that Heyman controlled 10% of Qantas after being briefed by the Macquarie Bank boys who first came up against him when he bought into the London Stock Exchange last year.

But how on earth could Heyman own 10% of Qantas when he never lodged a substantial shareholder notice which is required for all investors with more than 5%? These are the publicly known positions of the largest Qantas shareholders before the 36% held by APA last Thursday night is put back to the original shareholders:

4 May : Credit Suisse 11.73%
30 March : Deutsche Bank 10.66%
22 March : UBS 10.40%

Was Heyman’s stake hidden by some of these foreign investment banks or just flagrantly not declared in breach of Australian law?

Heyman wasn’t legally allowed to buy a 10% stake in Qantas -- let alone largely foreign-controlled hedge funds a collective 40-45% stake -- because the law states that the airline must be majority-Australian-owned.

The Qantas board allowed the law to be flagrantly broken and never said boo about it. The last update on foreign ownership was provided six months ago.

Peter Costello directly controls the Foreign Investment Review Board which should conduct an immediately inquiry into this shambolic situation.

Send your tips to boss@crikey.com.au or submit them anonymously here .

Posted by editor at 4:03 PM NZT
NSW loggers move today to destroy chunk of sacred Gulaga Mountain forest on south coast
Mood:  irritated
Topic: ecology

Pictures: successful protest against logging of the foothills of Gulaga Mountain on the NSW South Coast in 2005, about to be trashed from today Monday May 7th 2007. Aboriginal folks pictured are from Sydney Morning Herald in partial hand back ceremony 27 April 2006. All the other pictures by SAM reporter Tom McLoughlin.

Guboo Ted Thomas RIP stopped the loggers and their bulldozer in the 1970ies on sacred Gulaga Mountain on behalf of his people. I met him a few years ago and he told me "you're on the right track" trying to stop the woodchippers logging our native forest cultural and natural heritage.

This was against the wishes of some pro logging Eden based Aboriginal interests.

Now the loggers are back over the memory of this great warrior for the environment. Maybe the local Blacks have been beaten down to accept it. Maybe the laws under Morris Iemma are so draconian it can't be stopped. But it's still wrong. Very wrong. Shameful.

Guboo would say it if he were alive today, Black or White. Harriet Swift from ChipStop in Bega writes on the weekend as follows:

Sent: Sunday, May 06, 2007 4:22 PM
Subject: [chipstop] gulaga logging

Logging of compartment 3046 of Bodalla Forest (Gulaga Mountain)  is scheduled to start tomorrow, 7 May. If you are interested in joining the campaign against this logging, see the campaign website at:  http://www.tilbalogging.com

People may recall that this area,  important to the local Aboriginal people, was scheduled for logging a year or so ago, but was deferred until after the election.

CHIPSTOP campaign against woodchipping the SE forests, PO Box 797 Bega NSW 2550 Australia, http://www.chipstop.forests.org.au

Posted by editor at 10:38 AM NZT
Updated: Monday, 7 May 2007 11:21 AM NZT
Peter Costello PR adopts our spidey 3 metaphor on page 1, Sydney Morning Herald
Mood:  lucky
Topic: election Oz 2007


We feel a certain deja vu looking at the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald today.

Big Pete, the Treasurer in black and red trackie daks, on his exercise regime.

Very similar to the colour scheme of you know who - that other Peter, fictional Peter Parker in the Spiderman series of movies. It's a clever and hip mass appeal PR metaphor if we humbly say so ourselves, which we leveraged in our Sunday Talkies image yesterday.

Or it could simply be an echo of Victorian based Essendon AFL football team too. But we like the spidey theory being more broad appeal.

Not surprisingly the talented Andrew Taylor got the image which cracked the front page, with all those subliminal colour code affects to the literally millions of voters who will consume Spiderman 3 over the next weeks and months. The subliminals of modern, strong, good heart, kind, intelligent etc all with our own budget money of course tomorrow night.

This compares with the happy indeed but perhaps more subdued visual imagery of Big Kevin walking with his lovely daughter in bridal white on the weekend. It's the  'sherman tank' of Big Media Big Political clash of the positive visuals and more uplifting than we are used to in political reportage.

Picture: Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd with his 21 year old daughter looking the Australian rose on her big day as pictured in various Sunday press yesterday, this one lifted from the Brisbane Times which from memory is another Fairfax venture, online paper.

Postscript #1: We might be misdirecting ourselves with hyberbolic vanity as to the SMH and treasurer borrowing from our humble micro news site for PR subliminals (though one of our siblings does work there in the PMC (last we heard) not that it has ever done us any good), but still we couldn't help noticing this spidey echo top left corner of the prime cartoon in the Herald next day


Posted by editor at 9:57 AM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 9 May 2007 8:00 AM NZT
Sunday, 6 May 2007
Sunday political talkies - Will Peter break free of evil web with heroic budget, or will sandman destroy him?
Mood:  not sure
Topic: election Oz 2007

Picture: Images from Spiderman 3 trailer: “How long can any man fight the darkeness … before he finds it in himself?” Is our Treasurer “Peter” caught in his own political web and desire for revenge? Will he break free with a heroic budget? Will he get to say “Everyone loves me”. Will he triumph and get the girl … err top job? Or will an evil sand man (John Howard/Kevin Rudd) still destroy all electoral hope? Come see the longest running most expensive Hollywood movie ever made, roughly 5 months duration and $240 billion expenditure. It’s a blockbuster! It could reverse the polls by 10 points or more!

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.



Media Backgrounder: - Matt Price, The Australian



What happens to talented journalists who work for News Ltd? Does the money and the capitalist greed finally get them in the end? Or do they just get an infected foot and start blathering and missing the obvious?


With dancing bear Greg Sheridan one assumes he sold out a long long time ago, revealed by his own admissions of dedicated hatred of the Lefties on his university campus. Was it the ultra Right Bulletin or Quadrant that gave him a start? Same thing really.



But what about Matt Price? He has wandered around pretty badly this last week. Late on Friday he blathered on to Jennifer Byrne on ABC 702 radio about Howard stock standard election year “listening” backflips and terrible comments by Bill Heffernan as to Julia Gillard’s childless fate. But not once did he say what everyone else in the political community knows – it was a Heffernan dog whistle to the ultra right, not least the Assembly of God/Family First fruitcakes.



The cartoon in the Herald covered it so well here:

Was it just a cavalier late Friday arvo blather from Price, you would expect in workplaces nationwide? Well no because he wrote a column along the same lines in The Australian the same day May 5th: Budget for more bile as desperation rises | Matt Price | The ... The article was a study in fence sitting: “For all her talents, Gillard is an extraordinarily defensive politician” followed by a determined sledge of Medicare Gold, while the Coalition Govt sits on $15.5 BILLION surplus. So unrealistic eh, Matt?

Indeed The Australian played along with the bury the lead re Heffernan's obscenity here: p4 2/5/07 postage stamp bottom left far corner by Samantha Maiden “Libs stick to barren gibe”. Everyone else went big including Ch10 Meet the Press tv talky today 6/5/07.


No mention of Big Heff dog whistling by their gun commentator Price. That’s quite an omission there Matt.


- Greg Sheridan, The Australian (and see postscript)



Which brings us to the tone of intellectual corruption set by the dancing bear Greg Sheridan About Greg Sheridan | Greg Sheridan biography | The Australian also at News Ltd'sThe Australian.


We specifically identified on our news blog here Sheridan's willing compromise of journalistic objectivity by accepting a pro Israel rah rah prize recently: A clear case of bias to one of many geopolitical stakeholders, relevant to subjects he writes about all the time as a foreign affairs and defence specialist. And Sheridan responds in a recent article:


“It goes without saying that in accepting this award I do not compromise my independence as a commentator. I have often been critical of Israeli policies. Last year I opposed its military operation in Lebanon.”



Wrong test. Wrong in theory and practice. The spin in the headline 3/5/07 shows the determined line: Rare support for democracy in a sea of misunderstanding with sub header “Despite its mistakes, Israel is a legitimate nation should not be treated as a pariah” [sic]



Trouble is



1. Israel as we understand it doesn’t actually have a written constitution (!). Bizarre but true. So how can there be a real accountable democracy in such an ethno religious enclave? We hear this complaint about theocratic Iran often enough. Then there is the odd nuclear whistleblower locked up for decades: Mordechai Vanunu - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



2. Uri Davis' book Israel: An Apartheid State written by the child of holocaust survivers documents the way land law in Israel is skewed to the ethno religious control of the Jewish People with rampant discrimination against Arabic Israelis. That’s what you might expect but its not democracy in the sense we understand in Australia because its theocratic or at least ethnic in tone. Similarly President Jimmy Carter has tilted at the sacred cow of aparthied in Israel with his book:  Jimmy Carter and Apartheid - The New York Review of Books



So these disturbing airbrushes should be kept in mind when we read so called unbiased Sheridan, same article:



“Anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and anti Israel sentiment are all different, yet they are all intimately related [we don’t think he means the military industrial complex with Nixon stating Israel is cheaper than a USA Mediteranean Fleet]. They draw from diverse sources, yet they are all, in their virulent forms, fundamentally irrational and evidence of psychological and ideological dysfunction rather than genuine analysis. [so easy to condescend on those fat News Ltd wages perhaps].



And he goes on with the allegedly ‘unbiased’ commentary, and note again the complete airbrush of USA barracking and funding of Saddam Hussein’s war on Iran in a laughable “analysis”:



“Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the deaths of near enough to 1.5 million Iraqi Arabs and Iranians. …a million or more died in a wholly unjustified war he launched against Iran. Anyone who was seriously concerned about Muslim suffering in the Middle East would have concentrated on Saddam all the yeas he was in power.”



Well there you have it. Saddam apparently was never an ally of Donald Rumself, never shook his hand, and never did the USA’s murderous dirty work for middle east oil? It’s all so clear, not. Everyone else has concluded Saddam was Made in the USA.:



"The Bush administration [has] sent U.S. technology to the Iraqi military and to many Iraqi military factories, despite over-whelming evidence showing that Iraq intended to use the technology in its clandestine nuclear, chemical, biological, and long-range missile programs."



No this quotation is not pulled from a conspiracy-minded website, but from the Congressional Record from July 27, 1992. They are the words of the late Congressman Henry Gonzalez of Texas.



For months in the early 1990s Gonzalez released hundreds of documents that outlined how the highest levels of the U.S. government - including Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and current Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - had secretly and illegally helped arm Saddam Hussein. The scandal was known as Iraqgate.



In 1991, Charles Schumer, then a New York Congressman, now the New York Senator, said Hussein was Bush's Frankenstein: "He had been created in the White House laboratory with a collection of government programs, banks, and private companies." At the time, future Vice President Al Gore said, "Bush is presiding over a cover up significantly worse than Watergate."


From http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Iraq/Saddam_MadeInUSA.html



Don’t go down the Sheridan track Matt Price, baffled by your own bullshit. They can’t pay you enough.



And the nasty politicking by Sheridan goes on and on. We have started deconstructing his essay noted by, and attacking same Prof Hugh White of the Lowy Institute here:



2 May 2007  -  Media
"Shadow boxing"
Greg Sheridan reviews a Lowy Institute Paper by Visiting Fellow Hugh White, entiled 'Beyond the defence of Australia'. The Paper can be viewed and ordered at: http://www.lowyinstitute.org/Publication.asp?pid=521

Australian Literary Review, 2 May 2007, p. 16



Interesting that the Sheridan article itself attacking White, the ABC and Fairfax is offline, perhaps for copyright reasons with web referencing here ALR | The Australian



The conceited Sheridan article is replete with trite, at time gratuitous put downs with some real howlers only exceeded by the poisonous posturing: He whines about Prof White’s qualified written style of support of the Australia USA Alliance when his own article is littered with “may be”, “from his point of view”, “could also be seen” which are hardly categorical stances. What Prof White is, is realistic mature sophisticated and I suspect much more honest. He doesn’t want to see Australia blunder into another Iraq such as say a nuke powered Taiwan vis a vis China. Nor nuke defence shields on Australian soil making us a nuke target.



There’s plenty more that’s blatantly wrong with the Sheridan piece like airbrush of security dimensions of climate change, but you get the idea. Sheridan is a flake. He even projects his own sorry state onto White with “the only strategic analyst in captivity”. Sheridan of all people would know what that's like at News Ltd. Like lionesque intellectual Paul Kelly this Sheridan is another animal in the News Ltd Zoo.



What this is all about is revenge by dancing bear Sheridan pure and simple for Prof Hugh White giving substance to the damning belief of many greens that PM  Howard has a sleazy Strangelove embrace of a nuke weapons future for Australia, under cover of dodgy climate policy, as here: Don't mention the bomb - Hugh White - Opinion - theage.com.au


It's the defence analysts version of whistleblowing which has really damaged Howard's credibility with the political community Left and Right, Green and Brown, Media and politician. They can well imagine a hawk like Howard destroying out natural advantage as a lucky country distant from all those geopolitical conflicts with an array of nuke weapons dumped on us by Uncle Sam.



This indeed is why the opening paragraph seeks to maliciously position White as dodgy on the USA alliance, a holy grail of modern politics, under cover no less of hypocritical style comments. Give up Greg your fur is showing, as much as your pursuit of the so called “war on terror” which phrase itself is a travesty of English literature let alone analytical thinking.





10 Meet the Press 8-8.30 am



Paul Bongiorno directs traffic. Interesting polling data about PM Howard best days behind him strong trend in perception. Another poll later in show what money should go on in the budget – mostly services, not tax cuts (only 20%).



Brutal ALP revenge story on Kelly Hoare for speaking against Greg Combet choreography pre selection in Charlton. Front pager Sydney Daily Telegraph. Cruel cruel business.




Panel is Fleur Anderson AFR , Steve Lewis The Australian (Murdoch controlled, ultra Right)



Lindsay Tanner, sticks with the sledge of Howard’s wind up phone. Pretty smooth, mostly about budget, leans on broadband policy.


Cheeky Nicholson rubbery figures is Howard in bed with picture of Ricky Ponting cricketer reprising a photo in the Big Media this last week (Australian from memory).



Chris Richardson, Access Economics re budget: cares about “democracy” of this boom reaching the suburbs.




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



7 Weekend Sunrise, 8.35-40 am Riley Diary



Riley Diary – edgy and amusing segment.


Riley – “dishes the dirt” (our headline recently on Tas forests piece).


Very funny based on puppet agro theme, complete with single long eye brow.


Goes big on Heffernan slur. Howard gets testy and smart alec at a presser at the end.


Riley notes the dog whistle aspect “unreconstructed misogynistic vote” is pretty small, (unlike Matt Price above?) Correctly notes Howard rodent like back up about family traditional values before demanding an apology from his attack dog. All pretty sleazy really.




Sunday 9



Feature on child custody dispute father with 3 kids in Tasmania.


Feature about drug rehabilitation, a campaign pioneered by The Greens for a long time the major parties are finally adopting with no acknowledgement, of course. Given Ben Cousins AFL drug addict, Couts Trotter drug rehab story. Big media finally starting get a mature approach?



Oaks interview with Treasurer Costello - this is the main game. Re-elect the government?



Budget will be in surplus. Asked about tax cuts. Says last 4 did, but long list of spending priorities, health, childcare, defence, environment. No direct answer.



Whose turn is it this time? Declines.



What about pressure on interest rates? Govt will not borrow – [quite ideological ignores role of good debt which won NSW ALP the last election]



Defence – increase re personnel but also equipment. Biggest build up since WW2. Very expensive. State of the art in 4, 5, 6 years time.


Climate change? Long term issue, sound responses, not knee jerk responses. Thought about it a lot … blah blah … decades lie ahead. Low interest loans.



Says Rudd policy is a real puzzle, people in too much debt, then offers them more loans. [highlights good versus bad debt, ideology of Costello.] Costello says they would be doing it anyway if they could use water/energy savings to pay for loan.



Costello goes into blather and bluster self aggrandising mode about 240 billion dollar budget process affecting decades ahead. Making cover for his own exposure on ideological hatred valid govt valid interventions.


Shameful ideology really. I suppose the market would have solved WW2 as well?



Onto politics of IR and (weak) consultation of Rod Edington.








Insiders 2



Revealing survey of 10 point change in polls 3 weeks after 2004 election budget.



Talent is Wayne Swan, Opposition Treasurer. Looking pretty sharp and focused. Quite deft.



Everyperson is a flock of sisters wondering about what to spend money on. Mention of climate change, water.



Paul Kelly “the professor” of politics at News Ltd, not nearly as wicked as Sheridan. More a dancing elephant than bear. Notes big change in IR to avoid mugging by Unions. Rudd is in charge and moving to rectify the problems of “detail” runs into big discussion by the panel. Matt Price looks unfocussed and blathering (but why? Sick with foot infection he said on radio, probably the antibiotics. Starts to warm up and focus with some real grist, thankfully.)



Footage on Today show of Tony Abbott looks emaciated, stressed. Gillard on her game too there.



Bolt lies about Prof Garnaut view of Stern. Not that “deeply flawed” but that underestimates some factors and over estimates some other.


Bolt frolic against the whole IPCC science process, with Barry Cassidy furrowed brow. Panel and compere humour Bolt they know is way off to the margins, giving cover to eco dunce Howard etc.





Replayed at 11.10 am on radio PNN 630 AM band.


Home page is http://www.abc.net.au/insiders/




Postscript #1: More media backgrounders:

The Essay Patience and curiosity versus paranoia and fear  by Paul Monk who we still remember from Ursula College (Catholic) residential college at ANU two doors up from exclusive (Protestant) Burgman College that Ruddy was domiciled at in the late 70ies. The two page feature is massively relevant to Greg Sheridan for his "paranoia" although its actually about James Jesus Angleton head of CIA counter intelligence until 1973 when he was "removed". My recollection of Angleton in Peter Wrights' Spycatcher is that he was a drunk, which explains oh so much. We read this essay at p28 Sydney Morning Herald Spectrum supplement 5-6 May 07. The piece apparently is found in full in Griffith Review 16: Unintended Consequences  (ABC Books), http://www3.griffith.edu.au/01/griffithreview/current_edition.php

This very amusing piece by Mark Coultan in New York in staying healthy while touching too many people in politics: Germ warfare fought on new front in clean land - Opinion - Home

Minister Joe Tripodi implicated by Trevor Davies in ALP Young Labor conference corruption [which recent law cases have shown is probably actionable for misuse of public funds]. Davies is a local ALP branch secretary and veteran worker at the South Sydney Herald free suburban press: April 2007 edition page 5 reads "I was asked by various people if I would have the person, who signed the nomination form in my name charged." If it looks like, reads like, smells like fraud, then it probably is.

Janet Albrechtsen, aka ABC Board's Madam Lash who gives every impression of a condescending pompous ayrian has the story of an ex union organiser Ayn Rand type Grace Collier in silky blouse, excessive lippy and a very big chip on her shoulder. This traitor to unionism says her old comrades are just fee gougers while Collier herself lives in a culture of social justice built by those same unions with a proud 100+ year history, warts and all. Sad stuff. Story here 5th May p23 where else but Murdoch The Australian Unions plan to get rich (and powerful) with bargaining fees ... (Albrechtsen is funny for her hyper praise of all things individual above all else while tugging the forelock as a Howard stooge on the ABC Board. In other words hierarchy is good as long as she is high on the hog, and too bad any of the individuals downstairs copping her lash. It's all about privilege really. 

Malcolm Turnbull busily protesting too much in all the Murdoch press at what a good job he and his government are doing on greenhouse emissions, as here Malcolm Turnbull: Bring Third World in on climate pact | Opinion ... While Mal has a point the critics at the Climate Institute are ALP aligned wolves, he still deserves a slam dunk for sleazy accounting tricks as per the editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald here Wrong message on greenhouse

Then there was this curious 12cm by 12 cm advert green washing of the cotton industry massive over use of water here placed smack bang in the middle of the share market price lists on 2nd May SMH for "Ecoliving Collection"  (no relation to ecology action sydney related to SAM blog here):

But it's not just cotton marketers getting away with environmental murder. This one is going to our environmental contacts at Ecosistemas in Chile:

Last but not least this quote from Timothy Balding, CEO of Paris based World Association of Newspapers on World Press Freedom Day in "ALP's source protection delayed", by Chris Merritt Legal Affairs editor at The Australian May 4, 2007 p22:

"...there was legitimate concern that security and surveillance measures were being used to stifle debate and the free flow of information. Mr Balding said counter terrorism measures were laudable but there were growing concerns that they were being introduced with insufficient regard for the overriding need to protect individual liberties and press freedom."

Which echoes the question: Why exactly was this SAM news blog reporter evicted from Sydney University campus recently (see indepenent media topic at right) while reporting an anti government student rally? Could it be censorship under the cover of security. Surely not? Because that would bring security measures into disrepute and erode the integrity of that "laudable" objective for indulgence in abuse of power.

Posted by editor at 12:56 PM NZT
Updated: Sunday, 6 May 2007 10:44 PM NZT
Saturday, 5 May 2007
April 07 figures for SAM website, nearly double March hit rate
Mood:  amorous
Topic: independent media

We were chuffed to be called a "journalist" by the receptionist at the MEAA union in an email yesterday, though the editor is actually an ethusiastic amateur, lawyer, zoology graduate, ngo hack of 15 years.

Here are the figures for April 2007 (up to and including May 3rd, as we started on Jan 3rd) for hits to this password protected edited news blog:

April 2007 - 12,087

March 6,684

February 5,372

January 2800

Thankyou to our readers and especially anyone taking the time to comment or offer a story. This particular blog template is a bit clunky and daggy like it's editor but never mind. Thanks especially for the encouragement from various ngo and other professionals who are also stakeholders (aren't we all) in a vibrant democratic media sector here in Sydney.

SAM news blog site is starting from the proverbial "low base" but the trend at least is in the right direction and for that we feel a morale boost.

Posted by editor at 8:20 AM NZT
Updated: Saturday, 5 May 2007 9:00 AM NZT
Friday, 4 May 2007
Howard takes Combet invite on 7.30, Combet takes ALP invite, but democracy here still shaky?
Mood:  accident prone
Topic: election Oz 2007

Picture: Greg Combet image on the ACTU website here still, and alot more flattering than the rather nasty image chose by Fairfax today here

Can the Howard government be trusted with our democracy anymore? This practitioner of community media has reason to ponder the question having been menaced and given an almost certainly illegal ban from Sydney University Campus on May 2nd 2007. But more of that below.

This morning minister Joe Hockey was on ABC radio arguing the federal govt backflip on the strict Work Choices policy was after “listening” to the stakeholders and a sign of a “good government” (and see Greg Combet quote in bold below of 2nd May on the 7.30 Report):


PM retreats: safety net for battlers

John Howard JOHN HOWARD will today acknowledge public concern over his industrial relations laws by introducing a "battlers' clause" designed to prevent people on low to middle incomes from being stripped of work conditions for nothing in return.

Others might not be so generous as to the democratic instincts of Hockey’s boss John Howard and his regime, and don't you love the monkey face choice of PM's photo above.


Here is a catalogue from open sources of fairly broad concern in the last week or so which taken together suggest shaky democracy here, and at the least evidencing hunger for change from an oppressive 11 year old government:


1. Malcolm Frazer ex PM as reported in Crikey.com.au May 1st 2007

Fraser: Howard's "evil purpose" 
Malcolm Fraser writes:

This is an extract from a speech former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser gave yesterday at the Australian National University -- read the full text here.

So David Hicks will be home by the end of the year, partially gagged. The gag order which was undermined by information provided to the British Government and subsequently published in his application to become a British citizen and subject to the same treatment as other British citizens formerly held in Guantanamo Bay.

And so this story comes to an end but at what a price. The main story is not David Hicks. The main story is a willingness of two allegedly democratic governments prepared to throw every legal principle out the window and establish a process that we would expect of tyrannical regimes. That our own democracies should be prepared to so abandon the Rule of Law for an expedient and as I believe, evil purpose should greatly disturb all of us. But how many are concerned? Too many are not concerned because they believe that such a derogation of justice can only apply to people who are different, in some indefinable way.

Only the other day I was speaking with somebody who quite plainly believed that Hicks deserved anything that was metered out to him because he was what he was, the Rule of Law did not need to apply. For somebody who has done terrible things, why does he deserve justice? That denies the whole basis of our system, the necessity of a civilised society which cannot exist unless there is an open, predictable justice system that applies equally to every person.

David Hicks at the best was clearly a very foolish young man. He was terribly misguided and may well have done some terrible things. I do not know. But if our Government says he has had his day in court, he made a plea bargain, therefore he deserved what he got, it only emphasises its lack of commitment to the Rule of Law for all people.

If the Government believes it to be expedient, we now know that it is prepared to push the Rule of Law aside. That is a larger issue than the tragedy of David Hicks.

A number of Liberals have spoken out about these and similar issues in relation to asylum seekers or refugees, or people improperly treated in Department of Immigration detention centres. Too many have remained silent. Does silence connote acquiescence, acceptance or fear, being fearful of standing and saying what they know to be right? A Liberal who fails to recognise the central importance of these issues for the maintenance of a fair and just democracy, bears no resemblance to the Liberals of Menzies’ day and to the Party that Menzies founded.


2. Paul Keating ex PM refers to News Ltd journalist attacks on collective bargaining as "fascists" on World Today radio show recently: The World Today - Rudd's IR policy doesn't wind-back my reforms ...

“Now this is what… all of those middle of the road fascists in the News Corporation papers all going on this morning on the front page of The Telegraph and The Australian and the hand-wringing, the conservative columnists in The Sydney Morning Herald… these people would not have the wit to compose an industrial relations policy and for most of Australia's history, for a century of it, of course, we had this industrial relations system, which I abolished.”


3. Crikey.com.au 2nd May 2007 in their opening editorial reports News Ltd admission to Latham they have huge proportion of their staff on AWAs so going the biff on Julia Gillard for strongly defending the democratic principle of collective bargaining:

Dear Sole Subscriber,

The Australian ran another lengthy editorial deriding the ALP's IR policy today. And on its front page it revealed the anonymous mutterings of a single Labor frontbencher about disquiet at Julia Gillard's performance. ''Labor team turns on Gillard'' headlined the Oz, while the Daily Telegraph screamed ''Julia falls flat''.

But is there more to this than mere ideological outrage in what is becoming a blatant campaign by News Limited's papers to wake their readership from any lingering honeymoon dalliance with Kevin Rudd? Why is it that News Ltd takes so strong a line in favour of WorkChoices and Australian Workplace Agreements? Ideology or simple self-interest?

Mark Latham said it first in his diaries:

Thursday 11 March 2004: “... trekked out Cavan to meet with Lachlan Murdoch and John Hartigan. They wanted a get-to-know you opportunity, so the Evil Empire must think I’m a chance. No harm in turning up to see what they are up to. Paul Kelly was right about this duo: lacklustre and over-rated ... Two main political issues: AWAs and Foxtel. Murdoch’s company has the highest number of AWAs in the country; all their journalists are on individual contracts. Hartigan pressed hard for me to drop our policy dedicated to their abolition, but I told him there was no chance of that.”

According to a News spokesman this morning, half of its journalists are on AWAs, a small portion of the 2500 Australian News employees on individual agreements. To give that some context, there are, according to government figures, just 17,276 AWAs across the entire information, media and telecommunications sector.

News looks set to wage this campaign until the election, and if it does, Kevin Rudd has every reason to fear what The Australian, the Courier-Mail, the Daily Telegraph, the Herald Sun, the Adelaide Advertiser, the Hobart Mercury, etc might yet achieve.

The thing Kevin Rudd has to avoid if he is to win the election is the doubt factor. So, when it comes to sowing small seeds of doubt in the minds of millions of reading voters as to Labor's capacity to manage the economy, the Murdoch headlines could be bullets. “

4.  Greg Combet still until today secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (but see Combet to stand for Labor ) on 2nd May 2007, on 7.30 Report trenchantly defended the "human right" in “democratic societies” to collectively organise in the workplace


GREG COMBET: Well, can I make the obvious point first in answering that. That is within John Howard's power now. If he is concerned about people losing take-home pay and their penalty rates and their public holiday pay and the like, he controls both houses of Parliament. He could fix that now. And in fact if the business community was genuinely concerned about lower-paid employees in the Australian community in particular being disadvantaged, they could lobby for that change now. But they do not.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Yeah but - but my question is about Labor policy and a Labor Government.

GREG COMBET: Flexibility for them means the capacity to cut pay.

KERRY O'BRIEN: My question is why would you have a problem with that proposition I've put to you under a Labor government? Doesn't that resolve the problems?

GREG COMBET: Because, well, it resolves one of them and you remember I made two points. The other point is that it's been a feature of democratic societies, certainly throughout the post-war period, it was seen as a very important democratic principle. It's actually an internationally respected human right that where a majority of employees wish to collectively bargain, they should have that entitlement. That should be a right because individual employees do not have the same bargaining power as an international mining company.”





5. Our corporate big media are getting scared of their overlords, witness  the SMH spiking the Wendy Deng profile for Good Weekend as reported here by crikey.com.au


Fairfax kills vast profile of Murdoch's wife , Date: Friday, 20 April 2007 By Jane Nethercote

Here’s one crackerjack cover story you won’t be reading in Good Weekend magazine any time soon – the revealing inside account of the life and times of Wendi Deng [wife of Rupert Murdoch owner of News Ltd on the Fairfax share register]  

That’s because the story, a vast 10,000-word profile that took its writer three months of research across the world, was killed by Good Weekend's editor (or someone above her) two days ago.

Crikey has learned that Good Weekend editor Judith Whelan commissioned Eric Ellis, a highly regarded Australian freelance journalist based in Singapore (who works as Fortune magazine’s South East Asia correspondent) several months ago to write the definitive story of Wendi Deng, the Chinese-born wife of Rupert Murdoch.

Ellis spent three months on the assignment, travelling to London, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and to Xuzhou in Jiang Su province where the young Wendi Deng started her eventful life. Crikey understands he talked to dozens of people, including the ex-wife of Deng’s older first husband, Murdoch watchers, current and former executives and Wendi’s school friends and teachers." ......


This echoes the spiking by the govt controlled ABC of a highly profitable Alan Jones profile by their in house highly effective, oft sainted, reptile Chris Master after a good year of hard work: ABC confirms Jones book dumped by board. 05/07/2006. ABC News Online



6. The Greens excellent, scary, depressing website Democracy4sale website regarding developer bribes as effective gerrymander of the whole parliamentary basis of our constitution against other minor parties or independent MPs: http://www.democracy4sale.org/


7. The sale of yet another competing newspaper organisation to News Ltd, this time Hannan newspapers (eg Wentworth Courier) as reported in a feature in the latest City Hub newspaper by owner/editor Lawrence Gibbons April 2007, offline: "Two's company: Australia's newspaper duopoly carves up the spoils".



8. The Free Speech policy of the Opposition underlining the need for such, reported by the media union here:

Alliance Welcomes ALP Free Speech Policy


Monday, 30 April 2007

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance commends Labor for policy put forth at its National Conference to bolster and protect freedom of the press. The policy annoucement includes legislation for proper Freedom of Information laws, protection for confidential sources and whistleblowers, and revised sedition laws. “We congratulate the opposition for taking a strong stance on press freedom, and putting the public interest rightfully ahead of unchecked political power,” said Alliance federal secretary Chris Warren. Read the full press release here...


9. The descent of Australia down the league tables in the 2007 Press Freedom Report , again via the MEAA website


Thursday, 26 April 2007

A creeping authoritarianism has been the hallmark of the past 12 months in the Australian press. Government and the courts continue to restrict what journalists can report and where they can go, criminalising the media’s professional obligations and wielding ever-greater unchecked power. A host of prominent Australian journalists and the Alliance reflect on the slow erosion of press freedom in 2006 in Official Spin: Censorship and Control of the Australian Press. Download the full report in pdf format here.



Picture: File room of the East German Stasi, made famous again recently in an acclaimed movie of that miserable organisation called Lives of others reported here BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Seven awards to German Stasi film


10. Ban of a freelance news blogger from Sydney University Campus for simply trying to report a student rally yesterday.


Related background here:

From: SAM editor To: Senator Coonan (Lib, Govt), Senator Allison (Democrat), Senator Nettle (Green), Senator Conroy (ALP), NSW Council for Civil Liberties

CC: Sydney Uni Student Representative Council, Senator Faulkner (ALP, President), Tanya Plibersek (MP Sydney), Media Arts Entertainment Alliance, Australian Services Union

Sent: Thursday, May 03, 2007 9:17 AM

Subject: indefinite ban on news blog service from Sydney Uni campus for reporting student rally May 2nd 07


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

From: SAM editor

To: Sydney University senate admin and Vice Chancellor’s office

Sent: Wednesday, May 02, 2007 6:52 PM

Subject: abuse of power by 23 year old security officer Davis issuing a vexatious 'termination of licence' to attend USYD campus




Please copy to all members of the Senate


2nd May 2007



Dear Mr Brown/Vice Chancellor,


Re vexatious abuse of power by your security officer Peter Davis


I am a 42 year old public interest lawyer here in Sydney who works in the community media sector and this is a complaint about abuse of power by one of your university security staff in a most undemocratic way today.


This web based news service attached below is doubling in readers ever month, currently at around 12,000 readers after 4 months. My impression is most of the local political community and media keep an eye on it's content as well as the Big Media including the ABC. I'm noticing that this alternative media site often informs the content of their high circulation media.


My feeling is your security officer the big strong 23 year old Peter Davis mentioned in the story below has abused his authority very badly on a personal ego trip.


I can only imagine what he thought he was doing deliberately intimidating and harrassing me and lecturing me on land law about how the campus is "private land" and then driving me off the campus indefinitely on a tissue thin pretext.


There is no doubt in my mind this was deliberate politically motivated harrassment and indeed stalking.


I absolutely reject any grounds for the issuing of 'a termination of licence' to attend the campus to do community reportage of what was essentially a public event. I hardly have any reason to attend the Sydney University campus but even so the legal notice is an affront and an outrageous slur on my professional reputation.


I will have to seriously consider my legal options, and I have in mind to sue the university for this slur. I request you arrange to have the notice cancelled forthwith, otherwise I would have to conclude there is an attempt to improperly ban me from the campus on the odd occasion I may want to visit the climbing gym or attend a function or indeed do paid work or as in this case do community media reportage.


Frankly I find this curb on community media quite obscene and I will be copying this letter to the President of the SRC Angus McFarland with whom I briefly discussed this situation today. I have pointed out to him if he wants to have future rallies or events reported upon I would need the legal right enter the campus. This is an issue of basic norms of free speech and freedom of the media.


It remains quite a puzzle to me why as evidenced in pictures below Mr Davis deliberately focused on me to take my picture. It is true I took a picture of these two staff in uniform because at first I thought they were NSW police in such a similar uniform. And second it was news, although only incidental,  that they were attending the student rally. Yet somehow it brought on this extraordinarily officious and heavy handed treatment.


Where do you stand exactly on democratic reporting of the news? Do you support at the leadership level of the university this apparent vendetta and revenge for doing my community media work? I sincerely hope not for the sake of the university if not the country.


I look forward to your response in due course by return email. I am contactable on tel. 0410 558838. My mailing address is C/- Addison Rd Community Centre, 142 Addison Rd, Marrickville 2204.


I reserve the right to publish this letter in due course.


Yours truly


Tom McLoughlin, solicitor in NSW



full report with gallery of photos of the rally and march at this link




Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Student public education rally: SAM reporter banned 'indefinitely' from Sydney University campus for reporting event
Topic: independent media


We say as a solicitor here in NSW the notice banning us from Sydney University is some kind of Stasi power game and almost certainly illegal, notwithstanding the campus have a land tenure like Darling Harbour and the Opera House known as “inclosed lands” under a 1901 Act because the notice handed to me was


-         manifestly unreasonable as evidenced by its “indefinite” term  and intent to oppress reportage of a student rally,

-         for an improper purpose of secrecy and censorship of democratic communication implied under our Commonwealth Constitution,

-         issued on the basis of irrelevant factors - revenge for taking a picture of security enforcing a poster ban and intimidating a student seeking their name and address (but stay tuned for invented smears by officious security low on the food chain to protect their backside?),

-         and failure to consider relevant facts (community media work responding to a public invitation is in fact a valid reason to be on the university campus).


I can imagine evidence of other grounds coming to light, like political bias,  especially if I am ever arrested by these goons for doing my community media work on that campus, plead not guilty, and issue a notice for discovery of documents in a court contest: A notice seeking discovery of

- tender documents for security services apparently under consideration at the moment;

- a culture of vexatious legal tactics for secrecy at the university, a tone it seems set from the top judging by this article yesterday in the Big Media:

Academe rewards kept mum  May 3rd 2007 p20, How much does a vice-chancellor earn? In the case of some universities we may never know, writes Matthew Moore.

To quote: "compared with Sydney University, Wollongong is a fresh breath of openness and transparency. At Sydney, the decision refusing access to everything, made by the registrar, William Adams (who certainly put his legal qualifications to use), is a detailed determination drawing heavily on the Fomiatti decision.

The contract appointing Gavin Brown as vice-chancellor in 1996 did not have a confidentiality clause, but Dr Adams says a letter from the then chancellor, Dame Leonie Kramer, was marked "personal and in confidence". This was as good as a confidentiality clause for the purposes of denying access.

After all, Dr Adams said, the information in the contract "has the necessary quality of confidence" and was "imparted in circumstances importing an obligation of confidence". Got that?

What he doesn't say, of course, is why Brown's deal needs to be kept secret when everyone is allowed to know that Macquarie's Steven Schwartz is paid $600,000 with an annual bonus of $100,000 paid if performance indicators (public) are met. All the details are there - Schwartz's relocation costs ($25,000), shipping costs ($25,000), temporary accommodation costs ($15,000) and legal costs ($10,000)."

We notice an echo of the youthful demonstrators rally led by the National Union of Students in this story via the ALP's Tanya Plibersek MP here 3rd May Opposition wants 'independent' youth body. 03/05/2007. ABC News Online

A kindly, very respected, very senior journalist that should remain nameless writes:

Dear Tom, Have you taken this up with the MEAA [Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance]? You should. I reckon they ought to take an interest -- whether or not you're a member -- because this is essentially a freedom-of-the-press issue. Best wishes,

We agree with this common sense suggestion.

Posted by editor at 12:48 PM NZT
Updated: Friday, 4 May 2007 1:38 PM NZT
Wednesday, 2 May 2007
Student public education rally: SAM reporter banned 'indefinitely' from Sydney University campus for reporting event
Mood:  down
Topic: independent media

At 11 am May 2nd 2007 we heard on local ABC radio there was a student rally at Sydney University which might disrupt traffic. Being a strong supporter of public education and beneficiary of Whitlam’s free education policy with 2 university degrees from ANU in Canberra, I thought maybe I should repay the moral debt owed and do a decent report for these idealistic young adults..


On previous occasions I had noticed weak reportage of similar events such as one with thousands marching through Railway Square into the CBD virtually ignored by Big Media. That's not right I thought at the time.

Picture: Happy rally marshalls relaxing at the Front Lawn Sydney Uni before the march into the CBD.

So having banked my pay cheque, paid my rent, I cycled down to the campus. There was a poster on City Road bus stop inviting me to the National Day of Action, at least I read it that way.

Similarly posters advertising the rally were at the front counter of the Student Representative Council SRC. No where did it say “students only”, and anyway I’ve been doing community media reportage for 10 years now.

But not only that. This writer has done street press delivery at the campus (at three locations) every month for the last 5 years. Information stalls at the Manning Building. Use of the climbing wall at the sports complex. And probably a host of other interactions with Sydney University life.


There is also an open invitation to the public to access the campus to view this current exhibition.


Up until today I thought Sydney University was a place that fostered a culture of open and free discussion and debate and welcomed the public onto its grounds within reason. 

Picture: Corinne Grant formerly of the Glasshouse on ABC TV and well known supporter of the Your Rights at Work campaign.

So what follows may read like a long grouch but it will become clear the relevance below, and look out any other community media worker who gets menaced by security goons there. 

As I cycled along past the roadworks I saw chalked messages on the campus footpath to attend the rally at the front lawns at 12. Sure enough people were gathering. Then I noticed what looked like 2 NSW cycle police arriving, as pictured here:


One got their note book out and started instructing a lefty student to take down a poster they were putting on pole. I took a picture of this enforcement but he got the note book out of sight before I could click.


As I wandered around taking pictures I got to talking with some local media students who then asked me for an interview about the value and purpose of such rallies. I said "it's crucial to keep the spark of democracy alive", and "a pity education is not as available as when I went through in the 1980ies. Even under Hawke they were unravelling the policies of Gough Whitlam".


Then while I was watching I noticed one of these goons (advisedly) grinning and taking pictures of me, as I covered the rally. It was the tall guy previously on the bicycle pictured above without a helmet at right, I now know as 23 year old Peter Davis.  Several times he seemed to focus on me. Not pointing at the rally itself but at me specifically.


Picture: stalked by a goon #1: Davis stalks me with camera. This was his second try, seeming to have trouble with the camera and showing it to a colleague.

Picture, stalked by a goon #2: Davis stalks me with camera again. Notice all the eyes are looking at the rally to the far left off screen, his camera is at me specifically.

As the crowd moved off I walked 50 metres to get my bike and join the march. The same goon who I now know as the officious 23 year old Peter Davis in a Sydney University security uniform quite similar to a NSW Police Uniform had followed me a good hundred metres and started leaning over me. “What’s your name? …Do you have any reason to he here on the campus? ….Show me your identification? ….You can show me or I can arrest you right now.” By this time he had 3 or 4 older guys in uniform standing behind him including an older security goon by the name of “Colin Bowman”.


I made it very clear I was reporting the student rally for a community news blog, that I was a solicitor and I didn’t appreciate harassment and intimidation on a Sydney University campus.  

These guys couldn’t have cared less. Security goon Peter Davis in particular gave every impression of being an officious egotist repeatedly stating the campus is “private land”. So there you have it. Democracy just died on Sydney University campus courtesy of a 23 year old wannabe policeman giving a good impression of an SS officer.


Later on the march, and rally at the park near Central, I had a brief interview with the President of the SRC, the youthful Angus McFarland and we arranged to talk by phone after the rally.


I also attended the SRC office and was told by the staff member there may actually be a tendering battle going on at Sydney University for the on campus security work. There was an unconfirmed suggestion in what she said about new security staff hassling visitors to create an impression of greater efficiency. Or from what I saw officious menacing oppression of democratic process in a sensitive election year on an open university campus.


Certainly the real police and their convoy of vehicles following the students was huge. Much longer than the 300 or so students from Sydney Uni. There were big white vans, police on horseback, and tactical response in blue overalls.


It was a totally peaceful rally, then march with MC at the Sydney Uni end being Corinne Grant formerly of the Glasshouse ABC tv show: “Democracy is a beautiful thing” she had said encouraging students to enrol to vote. In fact as these pseudo fascists on the security staff at the campus issued me with an “indefinite” termination of licence ban from attending the Sydney University campus ever again, for simply reporting the community news, she walked past taking in the whole scene. Students were aghast and amused as I told the security I would likely see pompous Mr Davis in court.


I asked Davis “Why did you take photographs of me? Why are you harassing me now?” He said “You insulted me”. This came across as an invented grievance. He'd crossed a huge lawn to stalk me before I could leave with the march. WTF? The guy was on an egotistical power trip. Maybe he moonlights as a bouncer? Maybe he's been told to case me? There simply was no insult just democracy unfolding and he didn't seem to like it. Pathetic. It was a totally unsuitable attitude for a university campus in this writer's opinion.

 Picture: Materials given to this SAM reporter at Sydney Uni campus.


There was no insult until that point but I did call him a fascist and I mean it for writing me a “termination of licence” notice. I simply refuse to pander to such bullying. Seems self respect and doing community media is now deemed “insulting”. Who knows what perjury this Peter Davis and his mates will cook up? They got nervous when I started calling out 'stop harrassing me' and 'don't try and bully a solicitor in NSW for reporting a public rally'.


Picture: UTS student column joins the Sydney Uni column of marchers in Broadway, with solar powered music machine at bottom right.


As I returned from the rally I rang the Vice Chancellor’s office of Gavin Brown here and promised I would be submitting a written complaint, by email. And I will take it up with new Chancellor Marie Bashir when she takes on her job in June 2007. I rang the number for the General Manager of the University of Sydney Security Services by the name of Eric Wessels (!) but was told to put it in writing. You bet.


The whole episode was a disgrace to our democracy on the grounds of Sydney University and it just shows what an authoritarian oppressive culture we have in Howard’s Australia today. But the rally was great fun with a really good energy:

Green MP Senator Kerry Nettle has issued this press release on the National Union of Students day of protest:



Government's contempt for students threatens Australia's future

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle today urged the Treasurer not to continue
the government's contempt for university students and instead ensure
that the budget next week delivers key funding for student financial
support, funding to reduce class sizes and retain a broad range of
course offerings.

"Today the National Union of Students are protesting for better quality
and more accessible higher education. The Greens echo this call and urge
Peter Costello to loosen the purse strings to help our struggling
university system.

"The contempt that the Howard government has shown to students over the
past 11 years has strangled educational productivity.

"The Greens call on Peter Costello to use his last budget to deliver the
money needed to reduce class sizes and end fees, an adequate living
allowance to support students' when they are studying and real
indexation of government funding of universities.

"University life is changing for the worse in Australia with students
struggling with work pressure, crowded lectures and high fees. The
Australian community and economy is the loser.

"The Treasurer needs to end his addiction to false economies in
education funding and recognise as the business community has that every
dollar spent on improving our universities brings two more back into the
Australian economy."

Contact - Jon Edwards 0428 213 146


Postscript #1 3rd May 2007: It seems the tone of legally enforced secrecy starts at the top at Sydney University starting with the "basic test of openness" when the Sydney Morning Herald asked Sydney University amongst other universities the salary package of their Vice Chancellors, reported today by Matthew Moore their FoI editor:

Academe rewards kept mum  May 3rd 2007 p20, How much does a vice-chancellor earn? In the case of some universities we may never know, writes Matthew Moore.

To quote: "compared with Sydney University, Wollongong is a fresh breath of openness and transparency. At Sydney, the decision refusing access to everything, made by the registrar, William Adams (who certainly put his legal qualifications to use), is a detailed determination drawing heavily on the Fomiatti decision.

The contract appointing Gavin Brown as vice-chancellor in 1996 did not have a confidentiality clause, but Dr Adams says a letter from the then chancellor, Dame Leonie Kramer, was marked "personal and in confidence". This was as good as a confidentiality clause for the purposes of denying access.

After all, Dr Adams said, the information in the contract "has the necessary quality of confidence" and was "imparted in circumstances importing an obligation of confidence". Got that?

What he doesn't say, of course, is why Brown's deal needs to be kept secret when everyone is allowed to know that Macquarie's Steven Schwartz is paid $600,000 with an annual bonus of $100,000 paid if performance indicators (public) are met. All the details are there - Schwartz's relocation costs ($25,000), shipping costs ($25,000), temporary accommodation costs ($15,000) and legal costs ($10,000)."

Postscript #2 : Another echo of the youthful demonstrators led by the NUS was this story via the ALP's Tanya Plibersek here 3rd May Opposition wants 'independent' youth body. 03/05/2007. ABC News Online

Postscript #3: A kindly, very respected, very senior journalist that should remain nameless writes:

Dear Tom, Have you taken this up with the MEAA [Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance]? You should. I reckon they ought to take an interest -- whether or not you're a member -- because this is essentially a freedom-of-the-press issue. Best wishes,

We agree with this common sense suggestion.

Posted by editor at 5:34 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 3 May 2007 8:21 PM NZT
New 'Corporate Conservation Council' a minor reversal of global lemmings off warming cliff top
Mood:  sad
Topic: globalWarming

Picture lifted from Sydney Daily Telegraph today, Arctic summer ice is expected to be fully melted by 2020. This accelerates global warming for loss of white reflective surface there.

As the Big Media news cycle grinds through the industrial relations agenda of their Big Business mates in their own version of hypocritical pandering as here:


Fury at Gillard's business 'jihad'

Julia Gillard Labor will devise a plan to allow big companies to keep flexible deals struck with individual workers under Howard Government laws.

....a far more serious reality is bearing down on both major political parties here: You know things are crook when the sceptics at the Murdoch owned News Ltd publish a picture as above today with the following:

Arctic ice cap melting faster

THE ocean at the top of the world could be free of summer ice by 2020, three decades sooner than a global climate change panel's gloo

There are some bizarre disjunctions around this in the Big Media recently.


We hear just now of a full page advert [extracted below] for a compulsory carbon trading scheme from top level economists in today’s Australian Financial Review 2nd May 2007, at page 13. Presumably they detect the end of the world as we know it too. Bring it on, but it still feels like the inevitability of the Titanic, such as this four page “special report Coal” last weekend looking every bit like an industry paid brochure with leading article:


Demand drives rivalry for assets | Coal | The Australian


No wonder Prof Flannery looked subdued and philosophical on Difference of Opinion - ABC last Monday night with this episode: Cool Heads In A Warm World 30/04/2007


Our advice to the good Professor with 15 years in the non profit ngo sector, is take the following approach at this historic juncture of great ecological unravel:


- it’s all about maintaining your own personal honour as we go to hell in a handbasket;

- just do your duty of communicating what you know;

- preserve your own sanity by declining to internalise the huge industrial, technological, and economic momentum for impending climate and ecological destruction. It’s not about you. It’s the anthropological reality of our species; and

- pray like hell that humanity takes another track for the first time ever.


Regretably it all has the feel of a book we read about Singapore falling to the Japanese in WW2: The parties, the hilarity of overfed expatriates, the collective denial, the sublimated undertone of very real anxiety.


In the other direction a rare report of corporate responsibility here bottom left page 24, 28th March 2007 here


Fast-track carbon trading, says Goldman | Business | The Australian


Based on this news release here [PDF] World's Largest Conservation Organisation Launches Australian ...





26th  March, 2007


Sue Davies, The PR Exchange – 0419 434 398



Worlds largest conservation organization launches  Australian Corporate Conservation Council, - Goldman Sachs JBWere founding member Sydney,



: The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the world’s leading not-for-profit conservation organization today launched TNC Australia’s Corporate Conservation Council. Leading Australasian financial institution, Goldman Sachs JBWere, is the founding member. Chairman of Goldman Sachs JBWere, Mr Terry Campbell AO, is inaugural Chair of the new Council.



The announcement was made during TNC’s Asia-Pacific Council meeting on climate change. This forum was attended by some of the world’s most influential private and public sector leaders from Asia, the United States and Australia, including James Morgan, Chairman of Applied Materials, Douglas Tong Hsu, CEO, Far Eastern Group, Victor Fung, Group Chairman, Li & Fung Group of Companies, and John Morgridge, Chairman Emeritus of Cisco Systems, as well as others.



Dr Michael Looker, Director of TNC’s Australia Program, said the Corporate Conservation Council aims to engage the business community in Australia’s most promising conservation projects and vital environmental issues.



“Members will pay an annual membership, providing them with connections to cutting-edge conservation initiatives in Australia and around the world.



“Australia’s natural assets are increasingly at risk. Threats such as unsustainable water use, invasive species and climate change are affecting our quality of life and impacting our communities. The Corporate Conservation Council gives businesses a unique opportunity to join forces with a global conservation organization which delivers lasting, local results. Corporate Council Members will support TNC’s protection and restoration work throughout Australia, including projects such as Gondwana Link, a partnership effort with Bush Heritage and Greening Australia to restore a massive 1,000-kilometre stretch of bushland in the biodiversity hotspot of the South West.


"Conservation scientists at Gondwana Link are also exploring carbon sequestration programs to help offset the impacts of climate change. Chairman of Goldman Sachs JBWere, Mr Terry Campbell AO, said:


“We are delighted to be

involved in this initiative. As civic leaders, we can play a significant role within the

community to help safeguard Australia's unique environment and quality of life in a

sustainable way over the long term."



Attending the Asia-Pacific Council meeting in Sydney was TNC’s President and CEO, Mr Steve McCormick. Mr McCormick said he was pleased with the positive feedback from the Australian business community to the call-for-action to lessen the impact of climate change and to take the lead in tackling conservation issues in general.



“Australia as a nation is one of the world leaders in conservation science. TNC, by partnering with the business community in Australia, can share resources and knowledge which will provide the pathway to a better future for our lands, waters and way of life.”



Further information and media interviews contact:


Sue Davies, The PR Exchange – 0419 434 398



The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, nonprofit organisation that preserves plants, animals and natural communities representing the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 47 million hectares of land worldwide. Visit us on the Web

at nature.org.



Posted by editor at 10:44 AM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 2 May 2007 4:51 PM NZT
Tuesday, 1 May 2007
What the cream of Australian science really think about logging in Tasmania
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: ecology


Last Saturday the Sydney Morning Herald reported this, quoting:


Mr Rudd and his environment spokesman, Peter Garrett, have been under pressure from Mr Lennon, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the logging industry to water down the party's draft forestry policy.

They want them to remove a clause giving a future Labor government the option of protecting more of Tasmania's old-growth forests.

But as Mr Garrett is likely to lose his bid to stop the party abolishing its policy not to allow new uranium mines, Mr Rudd was not going to allow him to be defeated on forests as well.

Mr Lennon told Mr Rudd that reducing logging would affect thousands of jobs and families and he did not want a repeat of events in the 2004 election campaign, when the former leader Mark Latham gave him 20 minutes' notice of the logging policy.

The uranium mining issue will be resolved today, and Mr Rudd, who wants the no-new-mines policy abolished, is expected to win.

There were concerns yesterday that if delegates broke ranks with their factions, Mr Rudd could be defeated by a Left-led push. "We need to back off," joked one Left source, wary of the consequences of rolling the leader so close to an election.

It is expected that between 180 and 190 of the 397 delegates will vote to retain the policy.

Mr Howard called the debate part of "the ritualistic phoney war of a Labor Party national conference".

In Challenger casts fight as generational battle - National - smh.com.au p5, 28-29 April 2007


Then next working day Monday we heard a strong reliance by ascendant Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd, being the awesome intellect that he is, on the science underpinning the forest protection question in Tasmania, which is the only ethical approach to take at this critical time in history, quoting here with bold added in places:




CHRIS UHLMANN: Alright, to another issue your platform calls for the further protection of old growth forests in Tasmania. When will you and Peter Garrett start campaigning on that and will a single new tree be protected under what you did on the weekend?

KEVIN RUDD: Well, we're confident that we've got the balance right in this policy. I don't think we got the balance right in the last election and I think the people of Tasmania know that. I've already admitted that we made a mistake there.

When it comes to when we'll campaign in Tassie, look I haven't sat down with Peter yet and worked that out. But we'll be down there over the coming months I'm sure.

On the question of conservation, our policy is absolutely clear-cut. We support the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement, we support the so-called RFA (Regional Forest Agreement) process, and we support conservation measures, which are contained within those processes, and we're confident that we can find...

CHRIS UHLMANN: So, contained within those processes, so you're not looking at any new trees in Tasmania, you're talking about those trees which have yet to be protected by existing agreements, there's nothing new in this.

KEVIN RUDD: What we believe we can do, through a proper scientific process articulated through those agreements, and through the methods, which are explained within those processes, identify appropriate areas for conservation over time.

But there is a proper scientific process to be gone through there. You can't simply stand outside the process, point at it and say, "Well, independently, unilaterally we're going to decide to either knock that over or protect this".

It's got to be done scientifically, there is a scientific method alive within the RFAs, and that is a process that I'm happy to support.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Kevin Rudd thank you.



Purely by chance we have been lucky to re access this priceless and historic policy statement of Australia’s cream of forest scientists just before the October 2004 election. It was part of the Earthbeat programme on Radio National axed by the ABC soon after re election of the Howard Govt in early 2005, and this particular document was lost from its sparse record of that program. A copy was contained on this writer's post on the Sydney Indy Media website which has recently become accessible again, when I thought it had been lost to the political community. The IMC post extracting the Earthbeat summary is extracted here in full with the scientists statement quoted in full, again bold added:




ABC Earthbeat ventillates real scientitic consensus for Tas forest protection

by via ecology action

A group of 100 environmental scientists is calling for
high conservation forests in Tasmania to be protected, in comparison for instance to the alleged scientific approach of WWF subject of a post yesterday. Transcript still on the way but if you go to this link you can listen again ..


Saturdays at 8.30am, repeated Mondays at 2.30pm
Presented by Alexandra de Blas

More Scientists for Forests
Saturday 18 September 2004

A group of 100 environmental scientists is calling for
high conservation forests in Tasmania to be protected.

Guests on this program:

Professor Tony Norton
Head of
Geospatial Science
RMIT University

Further information:

Statement of support for change on Tasmania's forests

Presenter: Alexandra de Blas
Producer: Jackie May


Statement of support for change on Tasmania's forests

9 September 2004

The Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) is widely perceived in the scientific community to have failed to deliver the intended protection for environmental, wilderness and heritage values that state and federal governments committed to when they signed the National Forest Policy in 1992.

The scientific processes in the Tasmanian RFA were overwhelmed by political compromises. Established criteria for forest conservation were not fully applied. There are large areas of high conservation value forest that would have been reserved if the RFA criteria for forest conservation had been fully applied.

Logging practices and the conversion of native forests to plantations have intensified in the seven years since the signing of the RFA, resulting in record volumes of export wood chip production. This intensification, combined with the well-documented inadequacies of the conservation reserve system (exemplified by the large areas of unlogged Eucalyptus regnans tall open-forest that remain unprotected) has produced highly modified forested landscapes with diminished landscape values.

There is an urgent need for Commonwealth government intervention to significantly improve the forest reserve system and to adequately protect landscape values. We believe that the conversion of native forests to plantations is highly undesirable, and is contrary to the spirit of the RFA, the National Plantations Policy, the Forest Stewardship Council and the Australian Forestry Standard.

In light of the extensive changes that have occurred in many of the most productive forest ecosystems in Tasmania, we believe that the reserve system should be significantly extended to include all high conservation value forests.


Professor Tim Bonyhady FAAH FSSA, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT

Professor Ralf Buckley, Griffith University, Gold Coast, QLD

Professor Mark Burgman, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC

Professor David Gillieson, James Cook University, Cairns, QLD

Professor Richard Hobbs FAAS, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA

Professor Peter Kershaw, Monash University, Clayton, VIC

Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick AM, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS

Professor Charles J Krebs, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Canberra, ACT

Professor Tony Norton, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC

Professor Harry Recher AM, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA

Professor Jann Williams, LaTrobe University, Bendigo, VIC

Associate Professor Jeremy Bruhl, The University of New England, Armidale, NSW

Associate Professor Brendan Mackey, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT

Associate Professor Nick Reid, University of New England, Armidale, NSW

Dr Deborah Rose FASSA (Senior Fellow), The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT

Dr Matthew Appleby, Tea Tree, TAS

Dr Colin Arrowsmith, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC

Dr Geoff Bedford, Cremorne, NSW

Dr Sarah Bekessy, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC

Dr Kirsten Benkendorff, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA

Dr Joe Benshemesh, Alice Springs, NT

Dr Sandra Berry, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT

Dr Mark Breitfuss, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Herston, QLD

Dr Karl E C Brennan, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, WA

Dr Don Driscoll, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA

Dr Alaric Fisher, Jingili, NT

Dr David Fraser, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC

Dr David Green, Rosny Park, TAS

Dr Ron Grenfell, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC

Dr Graeme Hastwell, CRC for Australian Weed Management, Brisbane, QLD

Dr Robert Henzell, Uraidla, SA

Dr Andrew B Hingston, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS

Dr Amy Jansen, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW

Dr Simon Jones, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC

Dr David Keith, Wildlife Research Institute, Sydney, NSW

Dr Dylan Korczynskyj, University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, WA

Dr Michelle Leishman, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW

Dr Gary Luck, Charles Sturt University, Albury, NSW

Dr Gang-Jun Liu, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC

Dr Michael McCarthy, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC0

Dr Tein McDonald, Woodburn, NSW

Dr Peter McQuillan, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS

Dr Silke Nebel, University of New South Wales, Kensington, NSW

Dr Kirsten Parris, Deakin University, Burwood, VIC

Dr S. "Topa" Petit, University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes, SA

Dr Emma Pharo, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS

Dr Pieter Poot, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA

Dr Lynda Prior, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT

Dr Libby Robin, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT

Dr Jonathan Stark, Fern Tree, TAS

Dr Alan Stewart, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW

Dr Barbara Stewart, Mullumbimby, NSW

Dr Elizabeth Tasker, NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, Hurstville, NSW

Dr Fleur Tiver, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA

Dr Arn Tolsma, Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Heidelberg, VIC

Dr Rodney van der Ree, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC

Dr Steven Ward, Mortdale, NSW

Dr Brendan Wintle, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC

Mr Keith Breheny, Midway Point, TAS

Mr Christopher M Carr, Armidale, NSW

Mr Oberon Carter, Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Heidelberg, VIC

Mr Yung En Chee, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC

Mr Paul Finn, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD

Mr Garry Germon, Gloucester, NSW

Mr Tim Heard, CSIRO Entomology, Indooroopilly, QLD

Mr John Hibberd, Kestel Reserch Pty Ltd, Wapengo via Bega, NSW

Mr Daniel Hunter, Dhurringile, VIC

Mr Boris Lomov, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW

Mr Michael McBain, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC

Mr Wieslawa Misiak, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS

Mr Julian Reid, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Canberra, ACT

Mr Paul Rymer, Woolloomooloo, NSW

Mr Matthew Sheehan, University of Tasmania, Launceston, TAS

Mr Phil Spark, Tamworth, NSW

Mr Garon Staines, Terrigal, NSW

Mr Paul Thomas, Lawson, NSW

Mr Christopher van Buggenum, Thirroul, NSW

Ms Rose Andrew, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT

Ms Janet Cohn, NSW Department of Environment & Conservation, Hurstville, NSW

Ms Nicole Cranston, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT

Ms Naomi Davis, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC

Ms Kate Hammill, NSW Department of Environment & Conservation, Hurstville, NSW

Ms Jane Jelbart, University of Western Sydney, Avoca Beach, NSW

Ms Melinda Laidlaw, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD

Ms Deborah Landenberger, University of Newcastle, Elermore Vale, NSW

Ms Samantha Lloyd, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW

Ms Nicky Meeson, Midway Point, TAS

Ms Maggie Nightingale, Alice Springs, NT

Ms Shirley Pipitone, Flynn, ACT

Ms Catherine Pohlman, James Cook University, Cairns, QLD

Ms Frances Quinn, The University of New England, Armidale, NSW

Ms Sally Radford, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW

Ms Elizabeth Rickwood, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT

Ms Karen Ross, NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, Hurstville, NSW

Ms Monica Ruibal, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT

Ms Libby Rumpff, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC

Ms Justine Shaw, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS

Ms Andrea White, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC

Ms Joanna Willmott, Kurrajong, NSW

Ms Jesse McCoullough, Albion Park, NSW

Miss Amanda Nascimento, Port Kembla, NSW

Contact: Professor Tony Norton ph.(03) 9925-3279; fax.(03) 9663-2517

Email: tony.norton@rmit.edu.au



Postscript#1: A prediction: Ruthless Rudd has been very pragmatic over the disgrace of old growth logging, but depending on how the vote goes in the federal election later this year the hammer blow on brutish logger unionist Michael O'Connor is simply delayed from this writer's point of view: More here 3/4 of the way through this 1 hour abc radio link: 2nd May 2007, Radio National, Breakfast.


"Tasmanian forestry

One of the casualties of the ALP Conference was any policy born under the leadership of Mark Latham – and that included his Tasmanian forestry policy.

Labor concedes that Latham's approach probably cost the party two Tasmanian seats at the last election.

Now Labor is backing the Howard government's regional forest agreement in Tasmania. This is an agreement that preserves a large amount of old growth forest but allows logging and a viable timber industry.

The policy shift by Labor has pleased the forestry union, the CFMEU, which famously backed John Howard at the last election.

With the two major parties in lockstep on forests, it has been left to the Greens to argue for more preservation of old-growth forests.

Gordon Taylor reports."

Posted by editor at 9:49 PM NZT
Updated: Friday, 4 May 2007 8:25 AM NZT
Famous author Flanagan dishes the dirt in the UK on Lib-Lab logging atrocity in Tasmania
Mood:  irritated
Topic: corporates


Paradise lost - with napalm

To Australia's shame, loggers are being allowed to destroy Tasmania's extraordinary primeval forest

Richard Flanagan
Wednesday April 21, 2004
The Guardian

I am writing this in our autumn, once Tasmania's most beautiful season. But the china-blue skies are now nicotine scummed, as smoke from the burning of old-growth forest floats over Hobart, an inescapable reminder that the destruction of ancient woodland - like no other in the world - is accelerating.

In Tasmania, an island the size of Ireland whose primeval forests astonished 19th-century Europeans, an incomprehensible ecological tragedy is being played out.

Recent calls from Britain to boycott Tasmanian goods and tourism are not going to end logging. But in an Australian election year, with the forests emerging as a major issue, they form part of a chorus of international condemnation that shows Australians that the forests are not just a natural resource, but are globally significant wild lands.

Rainforest is being clearfelled and then burnt with napalm. The world's tallest hardwood trees, eucalyptus regnans, are being reduced to mud and ash. And the monocultural plantations that replace the old growths soak up so much groundwater that rivers are drying up.

Compound 1080, a lethal poison, is laid to kill off native animals that might graze plantation seedlings. In the resulting slaughter, wallabies, kangaroos, possums, and protected species such as wombats, bettongs and potoroos, die in slow agony.

The survival of extraordinary creatures such as the giant Tasmanian freshwater crayfish - the largest in the world - is in doubt because of logging. Scientists warn that numerous insect species still unrecorded are disappearing in the conflagration. Local people are finding their water contaminated with atrazine, a potent weedkiller.

Logging is an industry driven solely by greed. It prospers with government support and subsidies, and it is accelerating its rate of destruction, so that Tasmania is now the largest hardwood chip exporter in the world. And Gunns, the largest logging company in Australia with a monopoly in Tasmania, is making record profits selling these forests as woodchips, which are in turn made into paper and cardboard.

But the woodchippers are destroying not only Tasmania's natural heritage, but also its parliament, its polity, its media and its society. The close relationship which leading Tasmanian politicians enjoy with Gunns, goes beyond sizeable donations to both major parties; it has given rise to a political culture of bullying, cronyism and threats, a culture that allowed the state's electoral system, under a 1997 Liberal-Labour deal, to be altered to minimise Green representation.

Because of the forest battle, a subtle fear has entered Tasmanian public life; it stifles dissent and is conducive to the abuse of power. To question or to comment is to invite the possibility of ostracism and unemployment.

The reality, relentlessly denied with lies, is that logging old growth brings neither wealth nor jobs to impoverished rural communities. Most wealth made out of woodchips flows out of the state; less than 15% of Gunns' profits stay in Tasmania, which remains the poorest Australian state. Contrary to the government's claim that 10,000 jobs depend on old-growth logging, John Gay, Gunns' managing director, recently admitted that only 480 jobs were at stake.

However, the giving away of such an extraordinary resource does threaten Tasmania's broader economic prospects. Key industries in which job growth is concentrated, such as tourism and fine foods and wines, trade as much on the island's pristine image as they do on the products they sell, and there is growing concern at the damage being done to Tasmania's name by images of smouldering forest.

Since woodchipping began 32 years ago, Tasmanians have watched as one extraordinary place after another has been sacrificed. Beautiful places, holy places, lost not only to them, but for ever. They overwhelmingly want the practice of old-growth logging ended - Wilderness Society polls show that 69% of Tasmanians are opposed to the practice.

But with both major political parties in Tasmania as one in their rigid support of Gunns and old-growth logging, Tasmanians cannot stop this coalition of greed and power from within their island. Change can only be brought about by the Australian government, and it will only act when the issue becomes one of inescapable national shame.

Of course it can be argued that the destruction of one more unique piece of our natural world, while regrettable, is small change next to the horror of Madrid, or the tragedy of Iraq. But in the lineaments of the struggle in a distant island, it is possible to see a larger battle, the same battle the world over - that between truth and power.

Günter Grass, writing of Tasmania's forests, has described their destruction as an aspect of the same attitude that led to Nazi book-burnings. Could it be that, when all our skies appear to be darkening, the great forests of Tasmania are a symbol of hope for us all?

· Richard Flanagan's most recent novel is Gould's Book of Fish



Posted by editor at 6:54 PM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 1 May 2007 7:43 PM NZT

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