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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Saturday, 12 May 2007
Tim Blair you're surrounded, might as well join us?
Mood:  happy
Topic: big media

Above at left, last Thursday's front pager declaration from the Murdoch press Daily Telegraph the empire is going carbon neutral.

We mentioned this to David Marr at a Fairfax rally (shameless name dropping) the same day who was moved to mock compassion for such determined sceptics as Andrew Bolt at the Herald Sun in Melbourne also in the News Ltd stable.

The resident critic of climate change at the Daily Telegraph above at right is Tim Blair. And he has written a creative very amusing article in reaction today above at right - yes all that blacking out and crossed headline is all his own work as published today.

As for the left hand story above by one of his Big Media colleagues there, it's written by one Saffron Howden, quite the sophisticate, we met once as a journalism student (her, not this writer) to brief on sand mining impacts at Maroota north west of Sydney.

Her mother Jocelyn ... and read this slowly Tim Boy.... works for a Green MP here in NSW state parliament.

So there you go, Tim. Times change. We're all greenies now, more or less. Really.

Don't worry about Mike Carlton sledging today in the Sydney Morning Herald Hot air becomes cool breeze

It's 3 degrees of separation: My own brother works for the Dept of Prime Minister and Cabinet somewhere - he has several kids to support and so wisely keeps a long distance from this black sheep.

I was a corporate lawyer 17 years ago myself.

So where to from here? I have no idea but it's going to be different. You know it is too.

And don't say it's going to be hard to adjust. You know most journalists don't actually believe in anything, except the next gotcha, spiffy headline or angle.

Have a green one.

Postscript #1: Full page advert p95, May 13 2007 Sunday Telegraph sister newspaper of Tim Blair press on Saturday.


Posted by editor at 7:07 PM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2007 11:52 AM NZT
Friday, 11 May 2007
Shadow Minister Goward PR opportunism?: Claims of sexism can be a political sword as well as a shield
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: nsw govt

Picture: When is a claim of sexism a genuine shield for protection of innocents and when is it a ruthless sword to harm political rivals? This graphic comes in part from the Sydney Morning Herald 12th May 07 a day after our 'sword and shield'  headline above (quite a coincidence). We have added at left the face of  Kelly Hoare MP (ALP), who copped a front pager revealing an embarrassing sexual harrassment claim against her, probably friendly fire revenge for public dissension from Party election tactics (her job given to Greg Combet). At right is Prue Goward MP (Lib), who has accused NSW Parliament in general of sexism, and incidentally is on record as a determined critic of Green and Independent MPs. (We wrote our piece before seeing the Big Media incredulous, broad press reaction to Goward eg indicative The Australian Lidia Chan: If you can't stand the heat, get out | Opinion | The .... Ouch.)





Ms Goward is smart, tough, middle aged, waddles a bit like a goose, or Julia Gillard, depending on your point of view, and this writer may be a condescending ratbag, again depending on your point of view.


But here’s the thing about Shadow Minister Goward’s foray into gender politics leveraging her undoubted, demonstrated expertise as a former Sex Discrimination Commissioner:Bearpit sexist, says new MP Goward.  

She is shadow minister for women with conspicuously missing image on her parliamentary web page AND opposition spokes on the Environment. But in this latter responsibility she is snookered. The Nats won’t give her space to move on land clearing, coal mining and a thousand other resource based dig it up, cut it down, shoot it, policy areas.


So being ambitious she is moving on the other portfolio responsibility, tactically wise. But where is the demonstrated proof of sexist behaviour in this new parliament for her to rail against, as opposed to gain handy profile front of the Herald?


There are examples of men behaving badly in the previous parliament who suffered accountability – Peter Black drunk and maybe getting grabby. Lost his reputation, then lost his seat. Could have been more greatly criticised by Premier Iemma rather than campaign for the grub as “a colourful” character in his seat pre election. But the evidence of systemic sexism seems arguable – he got what he deserved in the end – the door.


What about Andrew Fraser going the throttle on Tripodi – is this sexism? Or simply violence between males? I don’t see the sexism in it, blokey for sure. Nasty for sure. Wrong definitely.


There is the sensitive allegations of criminal domestic violence against Gibson. But its some 17 years ago now. And he lost any chance of promotion to Cabinet and effectively has suffered very serious damage to his reputation. The ‘victim’ did get into Cabinet and has gone ahead in her life it seems.


What about the allegations of Tripodi sexually harassing a democrat staffer some years back? She got a lot of sympathy, he got a broad condemnation, and a taint that he has never shaken really, and she decided not to pursue it for better or worse. If she had likely he would be a dead cat by now.


So Kerry ‘give a chick a chance’ Chikarovski with her electioneering slogan no less goes on public radio yesterday morning saying its improved a lot over the years and ironically that women shouldn’t play boys games. Alex Mitchell on 702 radio says similar of ALP women this morning over Tripodi defence. But maybe Liberal Women should not use sexism for opportunistic profile building either?


SAM’s editor has suffered sexual harassment in our career even as a male (but very rarely), and can sympathise with a com car driver being propositioned and then potentially victimised for not reciprocating in the sad Kelly Hoare MP matter. Because saying “no” has professional consequences. Just as saying “yes” does too becoming someone’s toy.


What is being lost here is that accusations of sexism can function as an important shield for real victims, and a sword for political careerism: An accusation is explosive ammunition and very damaging to the target, and this is well understood by the sisterhood and the brothers in the political community. The question becomes is it fair, is it credible, and are there honest motives. We are talking about politicians with their hands in the public’s tax revenue here, and grasping for power and profile so it's worth looking and asking again.


Take for instance former minister Carmel Tebbutt who stood down from the NSW cabinet on election night. Morris Iemma as Premier, the big media and all her colleagues might have reacted in a sexist way saying she was letting down the team, or failing her public duty, or not up to the job of a minister. (We took the view she was pre emptively buckling on a policy issue of the mooted Marrickville Truck Tunnel.) But none of that. Iemma said he was sorry to see her go and respected her decision to take her family responsibilities seriously. That surely is the improvement Kerry Chikarovski was referring to, a tone set from the top.


This positive culture needs to be encouraged, so we say beware corrosive gender friction for it's own sake. It leads to terrible social and policy paralysis and is not good for government or anyone else. Bring on accountability and equal opportunity and indeed affirmative action within reason, and remember gender politics can be another battle front in the bear pit.


The question in this writer’s mind is, was Shadow Minister Goward fair dinkum when she said she didn’t want her speech reported? That doesn’t ring true. She is shadow minister giving a speech. And an expert in modern media and how to play the game. That sounds too cute to me.


What it sounds like is building political capital. We had to wonder when her own daughter described her as a bit of a “battle axe” on ABC TV news last night. One thing is for sure Ms Goward should attend to her profile on the parliamentary website – that’s one thing she can control surely.

Posted by editor at 3:18 PM NZT
Updated: Sunday, 13 May 2007 10:10 AM NZT
Rudd budget reply: First they laugh at you, then they listen, then they hate you, then you win
Mood:  chatty
Topic: election Oz 2007

Picture 1 of 4: First they laugh at you 4min 46 sec ABC video on demand. Govt Ministers evidence an assured perhaps scornful hilarity as the Rudd speech ploughs on presumably fortfied by their huge $70 billion budget spend on voters providing the real politik context the challenger must overcome direct or indirect.


Picture 2 of 4: Then they listen to you 14min 52 sec ABC video on demand. Government front and back bench are all ears, showing Rudd is cutting through even to his worst critics.


Picture 3 of 4: Then they hate you 16min 40 sec ABC video on demand. A real ouch moment for Ministers Vaile, Costello,  McGauran and PM Howard at this point with Rudd omparing their 3 technical schools with his rollout for some 2,500 trade facilities in all high schools.


Picture 4 of 4: Then you win, 27 min 04 sec ABC video on demand: Wayne Swan conspicuously what ... happy, satisfied, confident at the performance of his leader Rudd? Well maybe but it's finally come to us, he's actually proud of his Queensland colleague's gutsy effort. Fair enough.

Comment: The camera doesn't lie. The intellectual dynamic is shown in the images above. Costello pledged very many billions coming from a very low polling base. Rudd has pledged only a few billions coming from a very high polling base and a good 6 months until an election in October after the APEC meeting in Sydney in September 07.

Rudd has the measure of the Howard government, and thus the PM is sounding like an Opposition in the news cycle today.

Greenpeace are unhappy with lack of solid climate change policy but this ignores the timetable reality over this election period 

- set by Costello's weak performance on climate change on Budget Night while flagging it's coming, and

- Rudd's symbolic words of assurance also holding it back for the voters closer to the election.

And on the speaking style of Rudd: Fast, strong with an emotional undertone of conviction (I recognise from my own local councilor battles):

This is a guy who can focus when the pressure is on (undoubtedly as per interview/policy glitches over the two preceding days) and can capably ignore the noise of the political rivals. That's the emotional message that Rudd demonstrated subliminally to Australia with his budget speech in reply. It is why Wayne Swan was smiling at the substance of the performance.

It's a quality political reply speech in an overtly political dynamic. Malcolm Farr of the Murdoch press seems to agree in his comment piece on abc radio earlier today (and maybe his press we haven't yet seen): Indeed the speech was surprising and gutsy for presenting on its own terms, rather than be spooked or driven by the big dollars at Costello's whim last Tuesday night.

This is a solid foundation for a 6 month winning Rudd election campaign, and that's not just from an ALP loyalist like Kim Beazley on abc The World Today programme today.

The camera doesn't lie, as some astute senior politicians are beginning to realise as per this image also from the Budget Reply web video below: Julia Gillard MHR (ALP) for most of the 30 minute speech is a picture of composure, head nodding or brief nattters to colleague to one side. Only once does she block her face with hand yet in a split second re composes for the camera (including web video via abc etc) surely aware right the lens is right at them all on the front bench.

(Compare our collection of images of grumpy PM from budget night in an earlier post, with John Howard pulling faces all the way through surely not realising the power of web video play, replay, and freeze frame.)

Postscript #1: The PM made an extraodinary admission at the tail end of the PM show tonight - he didn't expect a bounce in the polls. Well, after spending $70 billion on voter concerns to not get a bounce would suggest a real malaise in the appeal of this PM and or this government. Nor would the government be comforted by the front page of the Daily Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian or Australian Financial Review which look more or less positive to Rudd who in a big trying week for the ALP is potentially still getting the last word.

Laura Tingle in the AFR has a column suggesting the huge budget spend of the govt has a short politicial shelf life. How she as a veteran reporter can be sidelining such a huge spend so early is pretty devastating talk for this govt and we think she is probably right. Not least because Howard is a well known hawk and articles by such as Prof Hugh White yesterday 10th may 2007 seeking a diplomatic role for Australia in liaison between China and the USA on arms control makes the current PM all the more unsuitable: Another nuclear arms race is in the offing

Christian Kerr a former coalition adviser with crikey.com.au argues in their ezine today that Rudd may well be cutting through to the voters over the head of the commentators. If this is true, and Howard is already playing down expectations of a poll bounce at all, he must be hoping to win a slow grinding battle over many months to come. A feint hope from our vantage point.

Posted by editor at 2:27 PM NZT
Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007 8:26 PM NZT
Thursday, 10 May 2007
Unfair Fairfax argue staff as 300 walk off in Sydney, 100 march to the Industrial Commission
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: big media

The staff at Fairfax are "revolting" as the ambiguous old saw goes: Striking Fairfax workers risk fines says the rival Murdoch press The Australian.

We heard Gerard Noonan of Fairfax talking on ABC Trioli local radio show before 9 am, and Matthew Moore of Fairfax on the 9am news bulletin: Some talk about layoffs of 35 "production people" up to sub editors.

And David Kirk as one of the bosses is getting in front of the protest action with his own pro free speech presser middle of today, according to ABC World Today reporter Ashley Hall, transcript in due course here 10th May 2007, and reported here Media giants fight for free speech | | The Australian, and here Press unites in free speech fight | The Daily Telegraph

Curious times for micro news SAM blog reporting on Big Media protesters.

We had some fascinating converstions with some seriously senior media folks, including one from The Australian supporting the Herald staff.

Will the loss of these production people really change the political content of the paper ...sub editors do headlines, prominence, space I suppose? Answer: Absolutely - one person in senior management asked whether the journalists even write the headlines. Didn't even know the business of running newspapers.

What affect is the bleed of staff to The Australian from the Fin Review like? A tragedy came the answer.


What's the purpose of the lay offs? Various answers to this one:

- Greed. The company is very profitable but not phenomenally profitable like 10 years ago. The senior management are not moving with the times and think newspapers can profit as much they did before in a changing media world.

- accountancy madness. Don't understand the business, think people with similar job titles can do other peoples work.

We hear at the 1 pm news on abc radio that the staff have been ordered back to work and to talks later this afternoon. Mmm.

Postscript #1 at Mon 14th May 07

[bold added]

"Many old-school journalists see him as the devil incarnate, as this comment from a former employee attests: "Brian McCarthy's view of a newspaper is to fill the editorial with social pics and bland, non-threatening yarns and bland, non-threatening letters to the editor; The Sound of Music on newsprint.

"Newsrooms are staffed accordingly, mainly with kiddies from Bathurst who can't write, can't report and who think context is a coloured pencil. They roam around the country like itinerant shed hands, never engaging with communities, simply passing through them, the object a job on city television. I grew up in a community where the editor of the local paper was our collective memory. His taste and judgment reflected the sensibilities of the district. This did not mean we were shielded from life's unpleasantness; it was more how we were told, including the context. There were no screaming headlines sitting over nothingness.

"Rural Press has destroyed local journalism and, with it, the right of communities to know. Its newspapers no longer provide a trusted independent source of local stories of importance and interest. When there's a hole to fill and nothing to fill it with, editors can dive into Rural Press's feature bin and pluck out a yarn. Many of those yarns are fed straight into this bin by PR outfits.

"The name of the real game is aggregated advertising areas, a one-stop-fits-all shop for national, state and regional ad agencies. The advertising dollar drives Rural Press, nothing else, and nothing stands in its way in pursuing this goal, including journalistic integrity."

Kirk may have set the direction for Fairfax, but McCarthy is the one to watch. "

McCarthy shares narrow view as Fairfax goes frugal | Mark Day ... rival Murdoch press, Thursday 3/5/07 p18 The Australian, media section.

Posted by editor at 3:31 PM NZT
Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007 10:09 AM NZT
Budget wrap: It's the money or the planet, planet loses as predicted
Mood:  down
Topic: election Oz 2007

Al Gore in the celebrated, Oscar winning An Inconvenient Truth has a priceless section where he considers a scales with bars of gold on one side and planetary survival on the other. He teases the audience by adopting the pose of Joe Punter in confusion, and who really does want the gold, but he somehow knows it’s a trick question.


And Joe would be right. As the old saying goes the root of all evil: is the love of money.


Yesterday’s budget coverage had cartoons everywhere showing Costello literally swimming in dollar bills as a metaphor for the huge sums of money in the surplus churning taxes off the People, ripped out of services. That money represents skyrocketing homelessness, premature deaths, huge air pollution impacts, a dead river system, students who never got in the door, and any number of other objective measures.


That’s not to say profitability and greeniology, as in sustainability are not compatible. They are to some degree via natural capitalism – the notion there is no “waste” in nature, and thus in business there ought be a profitable use for every by product, which in turn can become the tail that wags the dog.


But it's time lines that count. It’s longer to be sustainable, its sooner to draw down natural resource for quick cash. And that’s what this latest federal election budget is mostly about. Quick cash. It’s the money, not the planet. Money for stupid twin speed hedge trimmers and sponge sharpeners. It’s not about the future really.


Take broadband internet. A $5B education endowment looks great but broadband is the best educator you are likely to find especially combined with an easy on the eyes flat top screen. In the last 12 months I’ve learned 

- SAM's editor can stay in touch with my affinity groups and project networks without driving all over the city, or even flying over the country or to other parts of the world, . The age of regular big meetings may hopefully thankfully be drawing to a close. Not to be replaced entirely but travel times greatly reduced. This is a very important evolution to address greenhouse emissions in the mobile energy sector, if not IT sector.

- why my Toyota Liteace is prone to over heating via innumerable south east Asian delivery drivers on user web sites;


-         how to swin the Australian Crawl with near correct stroke via expert local web site;


-         how to generate a micro news blog with some original reporting and satisfying writing exercise via a host USA site (those pesky Democrats), including freeze frame screen prints of tv images,

-         similiary I can quit my grovel job and still be seriously involved in community media work


-         that I can be paid to do web updates for the local community centre,


-     the meaning of “apocraphyl” and “sans” and a hundred other obscure words via www.dictionary.com, not to mention www.wikipedia.org


On a more trivial level I also learned


-         where all my favourite pop songs are and listened to them (You Tube, with the exception of Finding You by the Go Betweens), and that http://www.engagemedia.org/ is better for non profit groups

-         that I’m not interested in dating sites



Okay sure I’m a dedicated self learner, and motivated having already received courtesy of Whitlam and the Catholic system a decent tertiary education. But I don’t think a $5B endowment from Peter Costello is relevant to that. It was free 'HECS' from Gough Whitlam et al, and my savings from 12 months working in a boozer bottle shop at 18 years of age that did that.


The ALP are building on that history of education policy in Australia with a fast broadband plan for access to the say 70% of Australians who really need to learn their whole lives. Who really missed the boat on formal tertiary education, and many of who are befuddled and misdirected by the hogwash in the Murdoch press and the Howard Coalition. No wonder the ALP are for it, and the Coalition are against.


It’s mostly politics. The most revealing things I’ve read so far about the budget are as follows:


- people with serious dental problems who aren’t actually dying from them but still living in misery have probably got nothing, like the woman from Uralla who pulled her own tooth out indesperation.


-         in terms of expenditure, this budget is 1. defence 2. health/social services and then 3. education. Not the other way round


-     profound Crikey.com.au opening editorial yesterday on how an Opposition Leader can avoid sounding carping, instead present as gracious, and transcend his opponent with a higher message in reply. A laugh out loud moment here at SAM micro news blog.


-         Chanticleer back page of the Australian Financial Review with profound statistics in his article (subscribers) "Classic Costello: politics first" with these salutary observations:


"simply handing back windfall tax revenue .....$31.5 billion ..... As pre election budgets go some $71 billion was 78 per cent more than the $40 billion in the last pre election budget and 3.7 times the $19 billion before the prior election."



-    Imre Salusinszky in the Murdoch press (The Australian) with the line, to paraphrase 'in truth tax cuts are due to the success of Kevin Rudd as a competitive opposition leader.' How surprisingly honest of Imre.

Posted by editor at 8:05 AM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2007 10:18 AM NZT
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
Alan Jones leans heavily on false premise of Janet Albrechtsen and her foetid imaginings on IR?
Mood:  accident prone
Topic: human rights

The other day on the 7.30 Report Greg Combet said it was internationally recognised as a human right for labour to collectively organise:

02/05/2007 - Greg Combet discusses industrial relations with Kerry O'Brien

Janet Albrechtsen as a corporate lawyer in thrawl to Big Business there at The Australian has cooked up an incredible cauldron of smear about this human right.

As an ex corporate lawyer I know its all about framing of a debate, and Albrechtsen on whom Alan Jones went to town yesterday morning on 2GB in reliance, has invented a framework right out of ...fairy land. Or perhaps a Lord of the Rings like vision of Mordor run by trolls and goblins from the union.

But like the JRR Tolkien writing method it's all about creating a fantasy and then loading it up with realistic trimmings after that, enticing the reader to forget the original premise is, and has always been, fantasy.

Thus Albrechtsen has written  twice now

 "in a workplace of 1000 workers, if 100 workers turn up to vote and 51 workers vote yes to a collective agreement, that agreement prevails. The vote of 51 workers will bind all 1000 workers". Refer Labor scheme to sell out workers to unions May 8th 2007 cross referencing an earlier story last weekend.

This is such an incredulous scenario one wonders if Albrechtsen has spent time at Mardi Grass in Nimbin: Over 100 arrested at Nimbin Mardi Grass festival. 07/05/2007. ABC ...

Let's just tease out her scenario. The union, the boss, or the workers call a general meeting to discuss their potential level of wage. Is it $25K, $40K, $70K? Will you get redundancy, holiday, sick and other pay loadings or will it all be folded into an AWA and decided that way individual by individual?

How many turn up to such a meeting? Let me guess. Not 50. Not 100. 900 would be more like it.  Money talks and bullsh*t walks. As the old saying goes self interest is always trying and workers WILL attend a meeting in droves based on their hip pocket nerve.

Alan Jones and Janet Albrechtsen have no idea, and what's more a revealingly jaundiced lack of confidence in the culture of democracy in Australia. But even if you think workers lack interest in meeting process per se, you can count on their self interest to motivate that democracy for the sake of their own pay packet. Which is why 50/1000 at a meeting to discuss their pay is a hopelessly vexatious premise.

The fact this laughable scenario has been published twice by The Australia is sad. It is also probably why a now desperate PM Howard, big budget notwithstanding, is going to lose the next federal election, bargaining fee for unions or not. In fact it seems not based on Julie Gillard's reported position front page story in the same paper The Australian a day earlier:

Gillard move likely to enrage unions - The Australian - 7 May 2007

Is it too much to hope that the squawking Parrot and the quacking duck do a bit more home work and real thinking?

Declaration: As a community media practitioner this writer is a member of the Australian Services Union on a greatly discounted rate of $5.80 a month.

Posted by editor at 11:53 AM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2007 10:13 AM NZT
Budget: Peter Costello's electoral sunrise or fading vapour trail?
Mood:  cheeky
Topic: election Oz 2007

 Picture: a new day dawns after federal budget night signifying something, but what exactly?

 As Prof Ian Lowe of the (Melbourne!?) Conservation Foundation on abc 702 this morning points out there is a big climate change attention deficit in this year's electoral budget. We do like Prof Lowe too.


Picture: Call us the perjorative 'Howard hater' if you have to, but it seemed to our eye the 'Prime Miniature' John Howard was looking quite grumpy on TV last night sitting left of his Treasurer Peter Costello. This image only a minute or two in via ABC here . It didn't seem to improve through the 1/2 hour broadcast.


This climate change concern echoes Senator Brown (Greens) outrage on the World Today yesterday. But how did Senator Brown get the advance copy of the green segment of the federal budget?  See our theory below.

We woke early today and by chance got the picture(s) above and below with the suitable weather dimension re climate worries, raising the question, electoral sunrise for the Coalition or fading streak?

Pictue: Not Happy John #2, about 15 minutes into the broadcast half way through, which we would caption as not quite the proverbial 1000 yard stare but still quite grim.


And we emailed as below to the allegedly early working Crikey.com.au team banned from the budget lockup yesterday in a grotesque restraint of trade on that increasingly mainstream meeja outlet. (We still haven't seen it in our email inbox either said to arrive at 6am today (?), at time of writing 7.37 am. Maybe they cancelled the schedule in exasperation, or maybe they are going to go the government legally for that restraint of trade? )

[Our internet server had an email delay according to their tech support advised 17/5/07, so no fault of crikey.com.au at all ]

 Picture: Startling vapour trail over Sydney about 6.45 am of the morning after the Budget Night.


Our email to a Green Party staffer copied to Crikey reads:

Sent: Wednesday, May 09, 2007 5:22 AM Subject: scurrilous theory Costello leaked to Greens to hurt PM? Re: [Greens-Media] Costello wilfully negligent on climate change

and note probing on abc coverage last night, missed Laurie Oaks on 9 which 
might be important on this also.

Costello answer being taskforce due to report in a month, and kerry obrien
attacking that Ken Henry in Treasury had a trading scheme in 2003 /4 which
was declined. Ouch.
So its being fed into the election timetable, if at all.
 But what I am wondering is Who leaked the green segment of the budget to the 
Greens with Senator Brown on World Today yesterday with Chris Uhlmann abc?
Here is a scrurillous theory - Howard looked fairly grumpy on the tv last
night. Did Costello's people leak the lack of climate change allocations to
Greens knowing it would cause alot of anger, exposing Howard PM as the one
who held up the show in 2003/4 as per red haired Kerry questioning? To
damage Howard within the Coalition?
  A bit of prime ministerial treasurer
tension leveraging Bob Brown?

I wonder. Poor grumpy John Howard. Poor planet.
Tom McLoughlin.

Picture: Not Happy John #3, at 22min 57 sec of  the Video On Demand ABC website.


We were responding to this press release on the broadcast list:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Hollo, Tim (Sen C. Milne)" To: Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2007 8:45 PM
Subject: [Greens-Media] Costello wilfully negligent on climate change

Costello wilfully negligent on climate change

Canberra, Tuesday May 8, 2007  Australian Greens climate change
spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne, said Treasurer Costello's 12th
budget demonstrated that he is negligent and reckless when it comes to
climate change.

Senator Milne said "Peter Costello talked tonight of 'the emergence of
climate change' over the next decade. Clearly he has no understanding
that climate change is already biting Australia and the world, and has
been well understood for many years.

"Tonight Mr Costello allocated not one new cent to the development of
clean energy technologies. Not even the Government's favoured solutions
- so-called 'clean coal' and nuclear power - scored a Guernsey.

"Has the Government finally seen the light that these are not 21st
century responses to this massive challenge?

"Surely the absence of any such program makes it clear that the
government's nuclear plans are no more than a wedge against the ALP. If
they were serious about setting up a nuclear power industry in
Australia, the Government would be moving to fund that shift.

"There is no change to the absurd situation that massive subsidies to
the fossil fuel industry swamp the few token efforts that seek to create
the impression of action on climate change.

"$22.3 billion to Auslink, the vast bulk of which is set for roads,
makes a mockery of the $60 million for alternative fuels which Mr
Turnbull reckons will reduce Australia's dependence on oil imports.
Until we see structural change, with support of public transport and
removal of perverse GST and FBT incentives for private car travel,
Australia's greenhouse emissions from transport will continue to
balloon, and our vulnerability to oil depletion will be further

"With no targets, nothing serious for energy efficiency and crumbs for
renewable energy, the fundamentals of a climate change strategy are
still not in place. The patience of Australians must now surely be at an

Contact Tim Hollo on 0437 587 562

Picture: Grumpy PM at 23 min 2 sec


And notice this about Big Business collecting and nourishing their investment in captured Big Parties literally [also covered in critical terms in the Aust Financial Review as well]:

Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2007 12:44 PM
Subject: [Greens-Media] Senate to reveal budget night largesse: Greens

Senate to reveal budget night largesse: Greens

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle has described the Liberal Party's annual
budget night fundraising sessions that occur in Parliament House as a
warp on Australia's democracy, that require a rigorous Senate

"The lines are inappropriately blurred when a minister can charge to
have drinks with wealthy corporations in one hand and spend Government
money with the other all under the same Parliamentary roof." Senator
Nettle said.

"The NSW Leader of the Opposition has called for an inquiry into
political donations in Macquarie Street, so it's also appropriate for
the Federal Parliament to investigate donations occurring on Capitol

 "The Senate needs to address the types of fundraising that can occur in
Parliament House to make sure that the Parliament does not become a
Liberal Party donations festival, given that these parliamentary budget
night dinners now rake over a million dollars for the Liberal Party.

"Recent reports that Ministers charge guests to attend lavish diners at
Parliament house tonight should cause significant concern to those who
care about the transparency of Government.

"Like other people I do not want to see the nation's seat of Government
become little more than a cash register for the Liberal party.

"If the Government hasn't got the guts to ban political donations from
corporations, then they should at least be banned from taking money
within the grounds of Parliament House on the day the Government spends
it - on budget night.

"Australia should catch up to best practice by closing the tills of
Parliament on budget night " Senator Nettle said.

NB Senator Nettle will give notice of a motion this week in the Senate
to establish an inquiry into these matters.

Contact - Kristian Bolwell: 0411638320

Picture: looking forward, eyes swivel at 26 min 17 sec re drought assistance exceptional circumstances (National Party boondoggle?), and again at 28 min 22 sec at mention of the joint strike fighter and retiring in an 'orderly way' the F 1-11, which is widely criticised as a poor budget process in defence circles.

Picture: At 29 min 28 sec


Posted by editor at 9:29 AM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 17 May 2007 12:57 PM NZT
Tuesday, 8 May 2007
Qantas and the law of offer and acceptance in contracts
Mood:  chatty
Topic: legal

We studied contract law in 1983 and corporate law a year or two later and worked for Baker & McKenzie top 10 law sharks in 1990-1.

[Actually we failed our first contract law exam but passed the course, in part because we were in shock at the death of our inventor grandfather Joseph Ford. Being a bit of an emotional cripple at the time we didn't really know how to process the loss of that genuinely kind old guy and got 42 out of 100 in the first semester. Ouch. The only exam we have ever failed in our lives and proving yes perhaps lawyers are people too.]

We haven't done any fresh research but having listened carefully to Prof Ian Ramsey of Melbourned University Staff Profile on ABC 702 before 7 am this morning we can feel some preliminary legal advice coming on.

It all revolves around the law of offer and acceptance: So the private equity barbarians at Airline Partners Australia (APA) have a clause in their offer to buy that asserts a 100% purchase of a shareholding in any partial acceptance to sell a fraction of a shareholding.

But that's just a bald assertion, and indeed sleazy try on, unless it's actually agreed to by the share owner/seller. Who is to say such an offer to buy with such a clause is the one accepted? It actually might be the shareholder has rejected the conditioned offer of APA, and simply made a counter offer to sell to APA to only sell a fraction, which is then accepted by APA to buy the fractional shareholding and only the fraction of shares.

Offer with conditions, rejection and counter offer is just as plausible a scenario and as old as business itself.

It would all turn on the evidence and the reality of the intentions of the multitude of diverse shareholder parties by document, word and conduct etc.

That would be quite a messy litigation of the evidence across many stakeholder parties union, to govt to companies Qantas and APA to investors and likely public insterest folks like Australian Shareholder Association etc with wildly varying interpretations one imagines of individual contracting parties offer and acceptance.

To restate: Anyone can baldly assert conditions in an offer like APA seems to have done. But that's no contract. Anyone can reject such a conditioned offer. It depends what is actually accepted especially if they have in fact declined the conditional offer and made a counter offer to sell only a fraction of shares which is then accepted by APA.

Then consider such a messy litigation with some real legal evidentiary questions to resolve over offer and acceptance taking say 3 years in the NSW Supreme Court, with very willing combatants. Consider the wider political and business context of barely 50% of total shares purchased by APA as pointed out by Treasurer Costello (that there just was not much seller interest), and now very serious allegations of illegal foreign ownership holdings contrary to the sale of Qantas legislation.

No wonder we hear 9 am abc news just now that Aircraft Partners Australia, so called, have raised the legal white flag. Sure enough some smarty in Allens, Bakers or somewhere has reached roughly the same conclusion as here.

Tom McLoughlin, solicitor in NSW

(feedback welcome)

Postscript #1 early 10 May 07: We have since had the benefit of some public commentary from Stephen Mayne founder of crikey.com.au on abc 702 radio with Virginnia Trioli, and secondly an article by crusty Bryan Frith a veteran in the back business pages of Murdoch press (The Australian) earlier this week. Both say the 'partial acceptance full purchase' conditional offer to buy from APA are pretty standard in takeovers.

BUT also especially via Frith, that hedge fund shareholders usually have a swathe of legal entities that they spread their shares, in this case Qantas shares, over. Thus the hedges choreograph which of their legal shells accept and which don't to circumvent an APA conditional full purchase conditional offer to buy. Then add the reality that Foreign Ownership of Qantas legislation has almost certainly been breached during the takeover process, it seems the legals and the politics of any court action by APA fell over before it even started - as much for embarrassment and risk of legal blow back as evidentiary legal problems (if any) over offer and acceptance in contract law as suggested above.

Posted by editor at 11:00 AM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2007 9:50 AM NZT
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

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