Topic: election Oz 2007
We first appeared in a Commission of Inquiry for the Total Environment Centre in 1992 under the 1979 Planning legislation before Kevin Cleland.
The same Commissioner Cleland in the Visy Pulp Mill Inquiry in March 1998 as an ngo green party for Friends of the Earth.
In this century we supported the 30 groups of Botany Bay Catchment Alliance such as NOPE and Gary Blashke on ABC radio just now including BBACA participation in the Planning Inquiry by Commissioner Kevin Cleland in 2005.
Trouble is the Cleland report didn't give the pro ALP developers a blank cheque which is what they wanted at Port Botany centralising container freight to the Eastern side of Sydney, ignoring economics of Port Kembla and Newcastle with even more access to greater Sydney.
So the Iemma Govt set up a parallel corrupt planning process with selective pro industry submissions headed up by retired federal MP Laurie Brereton called the Freight Infrastructure Advisory Board. This has been nothing more than a bald attempt to destroy the Planning Commission process. And so far it has been working. It was an industry apologist for this Big Govt/Big Business FIAB we heard on the Trioli Show abc radio show after 10.30 am yesterday, as per the front page Financial Review story May 31 2007 (offline).
It's a corrupt decision to dump transport congestion including noisy sooty diesel locomotives on the inner city 24 hours a day from a corrupt process by a corrupt government effectively repealing the checks and balances in the 1979 Environmental Planning & Assessment Act.
Some strong background on this disgraceful compounding of Sydney congestion is here:
Index of items
19/3/05...Sydney's biggest export - empty shipping containers at 1000 per day is just one consequence of redundant consumerism at $10 billion per year as per Australia Institute study/SMH, says green lobbyist Lynda Newnham
16/3/05...So called 'draft' (but really approval) conditions for Port Botany expansion, with introduction on the NSW framework of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Commission of Inquiry (CoI) process.
If ever one needed proof the NSW Parliament is descending into farce it's this picture above. It has a heading which is a take off of our satirical culture jam here of May 28th:
Oh dear, blogster Tim Blair implies climate change worrier Rupert Murdoch is in terrorism denial
Which in turn was about a satire of the green movement by News Ltd. And on the ripples go. Thus the Telegraph's editor got a bit personal with this yesterday asking what goes on the wall of the Greens?:
And the answer of course is not a stuffed capsicum but beautiful landscapes reflecting the true spirit of this country as with our wall at the SAM office:
Prue Goward MP shadow minister for environment and women has been ticked off apparently for criticising her workplace too much, as if we should all be careful what we wish for now she is actually elected:
Outspoken Goward ticked off Daily Telegraph p2 31 May 2007.Nor does she seem to be out of the woods by a long chalk in the press just today
Goward walks out after Gibson wink SHE had been carpeted by her party and told to curb her attacks. But yesterday, a wink and five words from NSW Labor MP Paul Gibson fuelled Pru Goward's anti-Parliament tirade even further
The spin doctors on Trioli show 702 this morning recommend she get focused on the issue de jour namely climate change and it's hard to argue with that even if a speech on women’s concerns is squarely in here job description. It’s just that she jumped the gun and it seemed to many miscued with her characterisation of the parliamnet workplace as sexist.
But we have reasons to add moral support to an otherwise ideological opponent in Ms Goward. For one it's damn good for democracy to have a well functioning Opposition let alone Shadow Environment Minister.
Second if Goward can hit her stride yet she has undoubted depth of intellect, experience and guts. Let’s hope she can get there. In fact we strongly suspect the attacks on Goward, via favoured cipher Simon Benson here
and similarly Greg Smith MP for Epping here
are motivated by that understanding, and in fact a back handed compliment. The ALP wouldn’t be taking the trouble with their psychological violence stock in trade if either Goward or Smith were lightweights. They undoubtedly are not.
We saw Smith in particular on Tuesday at question time in the House and he did well under duress. Not quite as focussed as he might be on the strongest political ammunition but showing a real capacity to speak and think on his feet under sustained pressure.
All the while the real dead cat in the house was the memory of Milton Orkopoulos alleged pedophile and former loyal torch bearer for the ALP, and everyone knows it, which is why the Big press ran the attacks on Smith much lighter than you would expect.
Thirdly Goward is onto something profound about the poorly functioning culture of the NSW parliament. We carefully observed the scene in the Upper and Lower House question time 2.15 and 4 pm respectively last Tuesday first day back in session. In Paul Simon’s words it just isn’t “amusing anymore”. In columnist Matt Price’s words it’s “sad” for democracy in NSW.
In the lower house Iemma was the chief zoo keeper of a fairly mediocre bunch, flourishing as Carr would answering questions with cutting political analysis that Nats State leader Stoner was after Vaile’s federal seat. That Debnam was already counting his leader O Farrel’s numbers. Etc. There is no doubt this is where money and power grinds away but also no doubt most members are vain, adolescent, shallow, ignorant, and sleazy. We were treated to time wasting mundane speeches on otherwise worthy social services and disability topics running the clock down on questions, like a feature film that missed the cutting room.
There was Shoquette Moselmane (ex ALP mayor of Rockdale) too in the public gallery shepherding the visiting dignatories through an otherwise faction ridden closed shop of nepotism. No wonder Premier Morris Iemma sought Independent Torbay MP as speaker to try if he might to improve the process of question time at least. We didn’t notice much improvement.
Iemma provided an example of the sleaze culture himself during the election campaign. Leveraging the photogenic female "yuppie" MPs on his side Kristine Keneally, candidate Jody McKay, Angela D’Amore, Virginnia Judge a tactic care of ex ABC tv reporter Ben Wilson of parading these camera fodder for Premier press conferences. But it was easy for this blogger to tag them as policy bimbos who were not allowed to make a verbal squeak, just stare or smile inanely. That was demonstrated patriarchy. And as soon as we made the point on our blog site the wheels started falling off with Jody Mackay in particular fluffing her lines, as a political yuppie.:
Simon Benson running the female proportionate numbers should be read down for this reason until we see serious policy performance by the ALP sisters.
The cover ups of ALP culture continued too with recently demoted (?) Cherie Burton MP noticeably chatty with Paul Gibson MP as if to prove see he is not a woman beater after all. Then the censure motion of Greg Smith MP former deputy crown prosecutor came up and it was a grim skirmish over who hated pedophilia the most, Smith or the ALP.
When we went over to the Upper House at 4 pm we noticed Marrickville based MLC for the ALP Penny Sharpe enjoying the high dudgeon with the best of the brothers. And they were quite self aware. When an immaculately dressed delegation from the Vietnamese legislature took their seat the decibels dropped 90% and it was all decorum. Up until then increasingly fat hobbling Treasurer Michael Costa was disdainfully and haughtily speaking out loud as speeches proceeded at the microphone.
Much hilarity and play acting over traffic fines through a city motorway tunnel. It was all superannuated charades much worse than the Lower House. If I wasn’t mistaken the only focused individual was Attorney General John Hatzistergos busy with paper work who looked as if he wanted to be anywhere else. The Greens were subdued in the face of all this duopoly gerrymander hidden behind the gallery wall.
And the meaning of all this WW2 Singapore style hilarity just before the Japanese invasion, convincing only to themselves? It’s clearly the lack of real moral purpose of the NSW legislature under the duopoly major party scrapping over an increasingly ecologically unsustainable economy. If it’s not land clearing at Gwydir enraging all thinking people:
Bulldozed: a vital wetland - National - smh.com.au. on 21st May 2007,
it’s the tragedy of intensified logging on the NSW South Coast running in all the press there:
Or the destruction of Botany Bay for more useless consumer goods to compound the ballooning national debt and trade deficit, making our notorious congestion and smog even worse. Threefold increase in containers says the infrastructure industry on abc radio this morning with their big political donations. And Morris Iemma sounds almost convincing accusing the Coalition of “base political purposes ……..in the wilderness”. Well he would know about that.
Truth is Morris Iemma was not quite focused on the welfare of NSW quite as much as on the federal election and not just Stoner taking Vaile’s seat – an intriguing gibe. Sitting near us on the couch at reception watching the screen of proceedings was none other than one David Epstein new chief of staff of Kevin Rudd:
On cue the next day in a state and federal choreography Iemma did the work of the federal ALP leader:
The only person who seemed to exude dignity was the Leo McGarry type figure on the paliarmentary staff at reception of similar age to the West Wing character sorting everyone with that face like a map of the world. We cursed the lack of battery charge in our camera.
And no one asked the question we were interested in regarding affidavit of Treasurer Costa seemingly in breach of his duty to protect the public revenue in the Tim Priest affair:
Ms Goward the Shadow Minister is copping it bad now but NSW is copping it alot worse as regards good governance so we hope she has more success as soon as possible.
In the longer term the unhealthy two party gerrymander will have to be reformed to get more talented alternative competition into the place.
Postscript #1 June 5th 2007
This story ran on June 3rd 07, 2007 in the Sydney Daily Telegraph causing suitably appalled and incredulous reactions, not realising perhaps that the Iemma ALP Govt have been working to appease and pander to the sporting lobby for most of 2006 and 2007. This is a belated slap down by Big Media with the ALP govt guiltily sitting on their hands. Pathetic really:
Picture: Australian PM John Howard peers into the reactor at Lucas Heights. Will Australia like the USA be promoting unsafe nuke energy in South East Asia?
Here is a story that senior writer Marian Wilkinson of Sydney Morning Herald reported from Darwin APEC energy minister's conference yesterday 30th May 2007 but it only appeared on the web (!?) not our press version (reproduced in full below).
We telephoned her about this and apparently there was lack of space. But first her pithy story builds on another by the competition here a week earlier from Nigel Wilson, 15 years in that role:
The Herald ran another story to the Darwin fracas 30 May 07 instead about Morris Iemma repudiating John Howard's nuclear plans
[which is funny because it runs in the press but is missing from the web based text index for 30 May. But a bit of googling throws it up here for a different date. Advice found on axing state bans on nuclear - Sydney Morning Herald - 29 May 2007. The googling is guess work because the article is actually printed under the headline "Bid to overturn nuclear ban" bottom right page 6. ]
Whatever the confused (deliberate or otherwise) Herald indexing, the issue of nuclear energy expansion in Australia was the question time strategy it seems in both NSW and State Parliament. Seems its not just Premier Iemma and Opposition leader Rudd who will fight the nuke expansion plans on the beaches: Singapore are obviously very alarmed at the lack of safety implicit in the sleep walk to nuclear proliferation by Vietnam and Indonesian governments. But what about Australia's role in our neighbours' planning? We would be selling the raw materials and probably much technical support out of Lucas Heights reactor, do yer think? Is the Pope a Catholic? Does the bore hole ooze hot mud (ie a disaster in Indonesia recently)?
As explained to journo Wilkinson we see one alternative future like this on a 5 or 10 year horizon:
- USA promotes missile defense system vis a vis Nth Korea, Iran, China leveraging support of Japan, South Korea, Australia, Taiwan and likely others.
- An arms race to prevent USA first strike capacity (via foolproof shield) ensues.
- Tensions rise. Allies of the USA feel the need for a nuke weapon deterrent of their own, as Japan is flirting with right now.
- Australia's PM seeks nuclear energy dual use capacity in order to prepare for this strategic security possibility.
- Somewhere along the line someone makes a human error or comparatively minor clashes are exagerated like the precursor to the Vietnam War, and a nuclear weapon is launched by someone.
- Apocalypse. Do not collect, do not pass go. Game over.
No wonder Singapore are scared about this kind of future, even likelihood under a Howard Bush style regime of the future.
We tipped off some others like MP Peter Garrett and Senator Bob Brown's office about this report of diplomatic rage up in Darwin, and here is the rather scary story in full:
Asia-Pacific nuclear authority plan scuttled after safety debate
Date: May 30 2007
Marian Wilkinson in Darwin
A plan to set up a regional nuclear safeguards authority for the Asia Pacific has been ditched after an intense debate at the APEC energy ministers conference in Darwin which centered on the importance of nuclear safety.
The proposal was dropped from the final declaration of the conference, despite being included in earlier drafts. But the Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, denied there had been a "bitter debate" over the issue after Singapore raised questions over nuclear safety.
The discussion on the role of nuclear power as an option to lower greenhouse gas emissions in the APEC region was strongly supported by the US Deputy Secretary of Energy, Clay Sell. Mr Macfarlane said Singapore had requested that any decision by an APEC country to pursue the nuclear mix should be made in consultation with their neighbours.
Officials from both Vietnam and Indonesia told the APEC conference their countries were studying the option of nuclear power stations that could come on line in the next decade.
The final declaration contained a watered down clause encouraging APEC members to join the organisation's nuclear technologies group to ensure the "safety, security, seismic health and waste handling aspects" of nuclear power were "adequately addressed".
The final declaration by the 21 APEC countries also supported sharing technologies on energy efficiency, biofuels, clean coal and renewable energy as well as measures to increase energy security in the growing APEC region. But there was little support for a regional carbon trading emissions scheme that would put a price on greenhouse gas pollution from fossil fuels across APEC.
A report on emissions trading is set to be delivered to the Prime Minister, John Howard, tomorrow. But it is now believed it will be unlikely to set hard targets for Australia to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Mr Macfarlane strongly signalled in Darwin that the targets will be left to another economic committee to assess how they can be achieved without cutting into economic growth.
Mr Macfarlane told reporters any target will depend on the technology capable of achieving it. "The challenge at the moment is not to set targets, the challenge is to actually have the technology to achieve targets."
Labor has set a long-term target of reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2050, based on emissions in the year 2000 which the Government has dismissed as irresponsible.
Tomorrow's report will, however, pave the way for Australia to finally establish an emissions trading scheme that will put a price on Australia's greenhouse gas pollution.
The importance of clean coal technology in achieving a target for greenhouse gas cuts was highlighted yesterday when a slanging match broke out between Mr Macfarlane and the Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, over his state's high profile "zero gen" clean coal project.
Mr Macfarlane told reporters in Darwin the project has "collapsed" but Mr Beattie said he had "no idea" what Mr Macfarlane was talking about. "Why would the coal industry invest $600million in clean coal if they weren't serious?" Mr Beattie said. "Ian Macfarlane is repeatedly trying to undermine clean coal technologies?"
Postscript #1 1st June 2007
By coincidence (or not ?) a prominent reflection on widespread public fears of nuclear apocalypse was published today in the high circulation Sydney Daily Telegraph:
Shute's sands of timeBy Gideon Haigh: THEY don't make novelists like Nevil Shute any more: a self-made millionaire who served in both
Crikey.com.au runs this story today, as per similar advert in The Land this week threatening possibly illegal land clearing from 1st July 2007:
Steve Truman, renegade farmer [actually not a farmer as admitted to Dan Lewis journo at the Sydney Morning Herald pers comm 30/5/07] and member of the Commonwealth Property Protection Association writes:
Australian farmers have had enough of federal and state governments' reclamation of their land by stealth. So, on Sunday 1 July as a form of civil disobedience, thousands of farmers across Queensland, NSW and Victoria will cut down a tree. On 2 July they will cut down two trees and so on.
How has it come to this? The Federal Government sent Senator Ian Campbell to the Kyoto Conference in 1997 with a simple instruction. Only sign the agreement if the Australian government could insert a clause that allowed them to count the carbon credits accrued from stopping landing clearing in Australia. The clause 3.7 is known internationally as "The Australian Clause"................
The end result of Governments acting unfairly and unjustly towards its citizens is civil disobedience. History has shown that in a strong democracy, if its citizens can’t rely on their judicial system to uphold their democratically won rights, civil disobedience is the only course of action. The result of Governments behaving badly towards its citizens is, in turn, a protest in the form of its citizens behaving badly.
Nor is this the only anti environmental ratbag in the last few days rushing into the media: Don Burke the determined anti recycler and green baiter was at it for the rippoff of the Australian Conservation Foundation with a real democratic basis. Burke calls his bogus group the Australian Environment Foundation in a clear attempt at misleading and deceptive conduct on the opinion page of the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday. A good legal case under the Trade Practices Act by the ACF would be our view:
It's mostly hogwash trying to cover up the outrageous criminal clearing of the Gwydir Wetlands here page 1 21st May 2007
And we notice this story running of Rio Tinto paying farmers $1M for not clearing to get the carbon credits, which is just no good for someone like Steve Truman in the farm machinery land clearing business May 26th
with this heartening image captioned "Tree change ... Queensland farmer Peter Allen and his wife were ready to chop down their trees until Rio Tinto stepped in / Annette Dew"
The following is a tip sent to Crikey.com.au this afternoon:
We call you now in 5 seconds.
Website: http://www.agmates.com Address: 106 River Road
QLD, 4570 GREATER SUNSHINE COAST AREA Contact: Steve Truman Opening Hours: Not available ABN: 32 556 307 251 Established: 2005 Payment
Newspapers - Rural
Real Estate Listing Services
..................................... #2 of 2
Labels: Carbon Credits
What hope have FARMERS got when the people that represent them have given up. I was appalled by this email I got from an AgForce person. I can't even imagine why they'd be purporting to represent QLD farmers.
Below is a copy of the email I got and below that my reply. As you will see I've kept this AgForce person's identity confidential. I see this persons name in the Queensland Country Life regularly.
From: (Name suppressed by Agmates) [mailto: @bigpond.com]
Sent: 08/03/2007 10:05 AM
To: Truman Livestock
Subject: Re: Agmates Alert - Breaking News
Please remove me from your Email list. This is unsolicited Email Perhaps you should read some of Agforce's press releases on Land clearing.
We know we have been sacrificed but only 4% of the population are farmers and that voting % means nothing.
Below is my reply, which the AgForce person has not answered.
From: Truman Livestock [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 08/03/2007 11:51 AM
To: 'Name suppressed by Agmates'
Subject: (Name) - Australian Farmers Need YOU
Thanks for your email. At your request I’ve removed you from the Email list. I’d just like to clarify 3 points you raised in your email:
1. “This is unsolicited Email”:
Your email address is listed on the AgForce web site. I can only guess it is there because you want people to contact you about issues that are related to your role as an AgForce office holder.
In my 2 emails that is exactly what I’ve done. The only thing I’m peddling is a FAIR GO for the 1,000’s of QLD farmers your organization represents. I apologizes if this has offended you.
2. “Read AgForce’s press releases on Land Clearing”:
I would like to read the press releases on Land Clearing that you refer to. If you could tell me where to get hold of them, I’d be grateful.
I have a completely open mind on the subject and can only present the facts as I find them.
My suspicion is that AgForce and the other farmer representative bodies have been badly let down by the NFF on this issue and I’d like to bring that to every AUSTRALIAN FARMERS attention.
3. “We know we have been sacrificed, but only 4% of the population are farmers and that voting means nothing”:
(Name), unfortunately this is not the 1st time I’ve heard this sentiment / opinion from a representative of a State Agripolitical organization. I detect a lot of frustration in what you and others are saying. From what I’ve discovered I can understand your feelings.
However I’d urge you not to give up. I know you and your fellow AgForce representative know that Farmers HAVE BEEN SACRIFICEDand the real story of why FARMERS ARE NOT BEING REPRESENTED AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL.
But the problem is getting that information, and THE STORY OF THIS SCANDALOUS SITUATION to the 120,000 farmers across Australia.
THAT"S WHAT WE CAN ACHIEVE WITH AGMATES. Let me clarify firstly that Agmates has absolutely no political agenda, it is 100% PRO-FARMER.
Agmates uses the latest technology, email and – Blogging to give informed opinion backed up by links to the source documents, e.g. any farmer in Australia is able to Click the Link in my article Australian Farmers – Are they Second Rate Citizens?
FARMERS can read the 263 page NETS discussion paper or the related communiques and submissions for themselves. This is an incredibly powerful medium.
I don’t believe for a minute that my vote, your vote, plus the other 119,999 FARMER votes across Australia means nothing.
That number does represent 4% of the voters but it does not take into account all ex farmers, people who come from the land (and still have a strong affiliation with rural Australia), extended families and friends.
With the above numbers and the number of people who are sympathetic and empathetic to farmers would be 5 times that number or 20% of voters. Look what the GREEN’S have achieved with just 6-8% of voters.
We just need to get active and get the message out there. At present Agmates is being regularly read by people from Port Douglas to Perth.
We have a big percentage of our readers are people in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra (interesting), Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. We also have readers in the UK, USA, China, India, Europe and Asia. What an opportunity to get REAL AUSTRALIAN FARMER ISSUES out one the table.
(Name), from your email I think you are ONE OF THE GOOD GUY’S.
I’d ask that you join me and my friends in helping spread the message, rather than just give up.
Mate I’d really like to publish your email to me and this reply but respect your privacy and will only do so with your permission (otherwise I’ll publish it anonymously).
You can help and contribute by firstly contributing your views and information to be published on Agmates for every one else to read (You can do this by email).
Secondly by emailing an Agmates link to everybody you know so they have the opportunity to see the issues that you / we raise and pursue.
So there you have it. I have taken you off the AGMATES email distribution list and will leave it like that unless I hear from you. All the best!
Cheers – Your Agmate, Steve Truman
P.S. I never heard back from this AgForce person. Really, I mean What Hope have QLD farmers got with an attitude like this AgForce person has.
Cheers - You Agmate Steve
Steve Truman makes a gracious respone in the comments section below, and interestingly hails from the Gwydir wetlands area. He denies directly (but obviously still indirectly) benefits from agri machinery trade but he also makes no apology for the clearing of wetlands which has really angered the broad community.
There may well be some degree of truth in his notion the miners and other industry are getting away with greenhouse murder at the expense of farmers. On the other hand my experience of agri industry (in particular the National Party)is that they are usually very gracious and personable folks - and just keep on killing the environment ...however nicely. We agree carbon pricing to keep bush upright would be a good way forward. We also note Prof Peter Cullen comment that much farming on marginal land should have been shut down decades ago. Harsh but true.
Picture: Top left inset Lee Rhiannon, founder of Aidwatch, and later Green MP in NSW from March 1999. "1993 Lee co-founded AID/WATCH, an international monitoring body of Australia’s overseas aid program. Lee was Director of this group for six years and instrumental in establishing this independent organisation. It is now widely respected for its vigorous scrutiny of projects undertaken by the World Bank and AusAID." Top right, Environment Minister in 1996 Senator Faulkner. Headline in the Herald today, and below that the Friends of the Earth '$20K edition' of Chain Reaction newsletter of Friends of the Earth of July 1996 prefacing repeal of their federal govt admin grant for that ngo.
We rang the ABC radio this morning and gave some background on the politics of tax deductibility (TD) for non govt groups in relation to their story on Aidwatch (AW) non profit: Canberra's gagging us, say charities - National - brisbanetimes.com.au and locally here
Canberra's gagging us, say charities THE freedom of welfare, aid and environment groups to speak out about government policies has been called into question by a decision of the Australian Taxation Office to strip a voluntary watchdog of its charity status.
The guy carrying the can today is card carrying bleeding heart idealistic public intellectual Dr James Goodman.
First the notion of charity and non profit should be clarified. Charity is usually understood as social services like food, clothing, shelter, medical including mental health services. Non profits are a much more intangible public good like art, theatre, environment, civil society, democracy, human rights awareness. They both deserve and get TD for a better society and a better democracy, if you believe in those kind of things.
AW falls into the second class of TD but the conservative Howard Govt only believe it seems in the first class. Sad really. In this way the arts and theatre people should be very worried.
TD as we understand it is administered by the Australian Taxation Office but the gate keeper for TD are the relevant govt departments of the relevant ministerial portfolio - arts for those ngo groups, health for those ngo groups, environment same and on it goes. This is logical because those specific dept bureaucrats have expertise on which non profit ngos are fair dinkum community based and which ones might be bogus or fraudulent.
In 1996 Senator John Faulkner was Environment Minister (we on behalf of The Wilderness Society had months earlier been bushwalking with the guy and his two kids in the Blue Mountains with press man James Woodford in a pre election Pic Fac). I was working with Friends of the Earth Sydney in Bathurst St Sydney in 1996. Aidwatch was above The Wilderness Society shop in Liverpool St a block away fora a year or two (just back from Hungry Jacks today and opposite World Square, then a dead hole in the ground). AW was run by Lee Rhiannon, then a fairly unknown activist, and we had moved on from The Wilderness Society. Lee and I were both members of the Eastern Suburbs Greens (I'm non aligned since 2000.)
AW a recent startup were desperate for TD and requested a letter of support from FoE who were categorically a TD green group accredited by the Federal Dept of the Environment probably for decades like a constellation of groups including the Australian Conservation Foundation promoted by such as conservative Sir Garfield Barwick back to the 1960ies.
Being of a legal litigation experience and knowing how sharp Faulkner was, I knew blather wouldn't cut and AW would have to meet the obvious concern with AW getting TD under an environmental category: That they were busy on human rights and social justice concerns.
But FoE had a perspective on that with their slogan "environmental protection in a human rights context". This was the extra step from say ACF on environment, or The Wilderness Society again on environment per se. So I wrote a reference with a view to Faulkner in terms similar to:
'We are a well recognised green group who understand how the environment inter relates with human rights concerns such as tropical deforestation leaving villages ripped off and poverty stricken. Often as a result of corruption of govt process. Civil society rule of law and democracy are valid issues for a green group to fight for. So we are comfortable with such as AidWatch being characterised as an environmental group from human rights perspective"
Of course since then the concept of "environmental justice" cross over between environment and human rights/social justice has become mainstream like .....
- climate change refugees,
- Javanese villagers land being flooded by hot spewing mud from a bore hole,
- compensation concerns for nuclear test victims including army veterans, Indigenous etc
- racialised and socio economic siting of polluting industry generally including here in Sydney eg containers, dredging, poisons in Botany not Pittwater
AW contacted us way back then and were wrapped with our "great" letter. Well thankyou, all in a days work in fact. AW was indeed given TD. And so Lee Rhiannon's political career took another big step. Not the other way round as some might think today with Big Lee rampaging across the political landscape from Gulaga forest protest to coal mines in the Hunter.
The rest is electoral history with Howard's govt marching to power later in 1996.
We don't know whether the basis of AW TD has changed since 1996 but in the nature of these things we imagine its remained the same all the way back to 1996. Now it's all in the news today on AM show this morning 30th May 2007 with assistant treasurer Peter Dutton etc. No doubt the government figure such as academic Dr James Goodman of that group are "undesirables" given this image of the great and good James alternatively bearded and clean shaven at different times in his career
Indeed we wonder what possible expertise the ATO actually has in regard to portfolio related decisions as to valid community based ngo groups involved in art, health, environment, human rights etc. It's not an expertise that naturally fits with the bean counters in the ATO at first instance. It should be a portfolio ministerial discretionary advice based on the research of their officers in the relevant field.
Also the idea that such ngo's should not be part of political discourse or engage in political posture as somehow the ethical basis for cancelling TD is a joke at the expense of real democracy and civil society and to protect the govt from scrutiny. Everything is political from the choice you make at the supermarket to handing out at a polling booth.The idea public interest groups should not express a view in any forum is fundamentally fascist. The point is whether you want people with expertise to advocate on these public virtues whether charity, narrowly defined, or non profit social benefits more broadly.
The real question is whether the ngo is working for an appropriate topic known as a public good and worth supporting financially in a democracy, not where they do so. The real question is whether it is medical, human right, environment, art, social service, whatever not whether it is 'political'.
In the current context for AW to be promoting more direct hypothecation of govt aid expenditure to poverty alleviation for our neighbours, and the govt to argue sufficient nexus via indirect benefit to global budget of the beneficiary country is fair game, and fair play. Penalising AW for exposing that allegedly sly accounting of Treasurer Peter Costello is highly suggestive, with rumours now in crikey.com.au yesterday of corrupt developers in Africa via Indonesia tsunami.
If AW watchdog didn't exist today it would be necessary to invent it. The hypocrisy regarding the Coalition commitment to the Building and Industrial Commission quite fascist watchdog issuing $20K individual fines, but not mild mannered herbal ngos says alot. Here is that crikey item in the public interest from their subscriber material yesterday 29th May 07:
7. Tips and rumours
Our ever-alert DFAT mole has come up with some very interesting news emanating from, of all places, Lome, the capital of Togo. As Crikey was reaching for an atlas, the mole explained: Togo is nestled between Ghana and Benin and is under the control of a strict dictatorship and, like most African countries,is rife with corruption. We gather the mole has seen reports emanating from Lome -- he wouldn't identify the author, but as Australia is represented in Ghana it's not hard to guess. The message is that the building boom in Lome, which is of huge proportions, is being financed by some high-ranking Indonesian officials allegedly using tsunami relief funds. The mole says there's more to come -- and it's not nice. Crikey was reminded the Australian Government was a huge relief donor and this information might just explain why the rebuilding of the worst-affected tsunami areas is going at snail's pace.
All this underlines why in late 2002 we requested from the Environment Dept the tedious lengthy forms for TD for our ecology action australia network busy on green projects as such here and then decided no, it wasn't safe to deliver all that confidential personal information into the hands of this government. They couldn't be trusted. Better to proceed as a private non profit foundation. Such distrust, based on demonstrated experience of the ngo movement not least the FoE national organisation (whose admin subsidy had been cut already some years earlier for the newsletter pictured above). And so it has come to pass with AidWatch last October 2006 and in the news today, and other groups feeling the heat as reported in the Fairfax press today.
Make no mistake there is a creeping culture of fascism in this government just as this writer was blacklisted from blog reporting on the campus of Sydney University recently (a student anti govt rally), and Big Media have "drawn a line in the sand" on protection of journalists and their sources.
Bring on a change of government, democracy depends on it.
Postscript #1 Crikey.com.au writes today 30th May 2007
Former ATO auditor Chris Seage writes:
Allegations of politicising of the Australian Taxation Office have surfaced this morning in The SMH. It is alleged the charitable status of Aidwatch was revoked by the ATO because it has been "trying to procure changes in Australia's aid and development programs" and for being involved in political activities.
“This is a direct attack on free speech and on democracy” said Aidwatch Chair James Goodman. “Aidwatch is the only independent watchdog of Australian aid. We have to raise these issues publicly or else no one will. Charities exist for public benefit. How can we benefit the public if we keep silent?"
Aidwatch Co-director Flint Duxfield said “It’s clear that the government is using the ATO to target charities such as Aidwatch who speak out in the public interest against misguided policy.”
“The ATO Ruling threatens our very existence and sends an ominous message to all charities– question Government policy and you will lose your charitable status,” said Mr. Goodman. Aidwatch has lodged an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
In its decision the ATO recognised that Aidwatch objectives, as stated in its constitution, were entirely charitable. They observed that these objectives were fulfilled by Aidwatch through a range of different research and education activities, including through the provision of advice to governments in Australia and overseas.
However, the ATO cited three activities of the organisation that it believed were not consistent with charitable status:
(i) urging the public to write to the Government to put pressure on the Burmese regime;
(ii) delivering an (ironic) 60th anniversary birthday cake to the World Bank;
(iii) raising concerns about the developmental impacts of the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
The ATO alleged the three activities sat outside the ATO definition of 'incidental' political activities for a charity, and removed its charitable status.
In my view this decision is a crook one and needs to be examined by the external authorities. My advice to Aidwatch, along with their appeal to the AAT, is to lodge complaints with the Commonwealth Taxation Ombudsman and the tax office watchdog David Vos, the Inspector-General of Taxation. Vos is a rottweiler and is not frightened to stand up for taxpayers against the might of the tax office or government. In fact I think he would love to get his big paws on this.
It is not the first time the ATO have been accused of being politicised. Crikey readers will recall the infamous Robert Gerard tax fiasco where the ATO sliced $75 million dollars off the big liberal party donor’s tax bill. He was also provided a comfort letter personally signed by the former tax commissioner Michael Carmody effectively clearing him of any tax foibles which facilitated his promotion to the Reserve Bank Board.
I think this government may have been in power too long.
If John Howard thinks he is free of the troublesome priest of greenhouse science, Prof Tim Flannery, think again PM.
There was Prof Flannery introducing Noel Pearson's rage against systemic white government on Australian Story last night - Pearson and Flannery both a product of quite a deal of white society (including big business) sponsorship from Keating back to 1993, and the fallout of the Mabo decision, and big law firm jobs. To be fair Pearson is back where it counts for years now. And Flannery has his green vocation which is also admirable.
[To digress from Flannery a moment re Australian Story, Noel was keen to work with the The Wilderness Society in the early 1990's coining the phrase "indigenous wilderness", just as I worked with Steve Lalor the NSW Aboriginal Liaison Officer in the NSW branch of TWS. What was more revealing in the show last night was the marked shift of traditional owner Marandoo Yanner proving that Black politics has as many fraught twists and turns as Canberra, given Yanner was all for the Wild Rivers legislation till recently. Yanner was playing us greenies shamelessly there on the screen.
And chubby poetic Alec Marr of TWS is no slouch with a clever yarn .... just like Flannery as per The Australian colour mag).
There is plenty more to run in the morality of the North Qld situation and Noel Pearson is kidding himself if he thinks he can use a Big Media bullypit alone via non journalistic Australian Story, leveraging black skin on a visual medium to win this argument over future land use and big developers. Recall Jabiluka owner Yvonne Margarula's brother murdered in a knife fight in a mining town. That's what big white vice in the name of development does to Traditional culture too. Witness Marcia Langton part funded by uranium miner ERA in her academic career. That's quite a grey moral world of land use politics.]
The point is Flannery is building an alliance with Margaret Fulton, a cultural icon if ever there was, and thus bouncing back from the Coalition Govt chill with a vengeance. Indeed consorting with 2 other living treasures in 2 days of Big Media - Margaret Fulton described as "Australia's best-known and most-loved cookery writer", and Noel Pearson perhaps the most articulate English speaking Black Australian that has ever lived. That's alot of kitchens there PM, and Black and White barrackers let alone ABC watchers. In cahoots with nemesis Prof Tim Flannery.
And grand dame Fulton getting the royal treatment on Trioli 702 radio mid morning today and previous weeks from memory just reinforces the point.
It's the attack of the cultural icons: PM - to be frank - you are cactus, individual ALP hypocrisy on IR regardless.
And notice this evolving issue of food sourcing by distance in Tim's Flannery's quote
" There's an old Italian bloke and I just buy whatever he's got because it's grown about a kilometre away from where we buy it ..."
Which is exactly what this grist article is about there in the USA:
The SAM blogger has had the dreaded onset winter lergie for some 4 weeks now - it's rotten. The colder than average home base here in the old building doesn't help either.
Some like oranges, garlic etc but what really works for us beside rest and fluids is careful use of eucalyptus drops about $4.50 for 100ml at the supermarket depending on the brand.
Boil the kettle, pour into a pot. Put in 10 or 15 drops (a short pour) and slowly breathe in the heady mix gradually and out again. It's strong stuff so be sure to read the directions and don't ever drink the stuff. Do this as long as you like or the vapour cloud lasts (a minute or two). No need to boil on a cooker either as adequate volalitility just off the boil, and quite comfortable temperature.
2 or 3 times a day is really working to clear our lungs, and it somehow feels patriotic too.
Picture: Truck accident in Rockdale about 5 years ago. Images taken by this writer as a local resident/witness. If one looks closely at the top image you can see a truck has flipped onto its side and is being lifted about a metre aloft with wheels at right angle to the ground. It looks strange because the heat of the fuel fire has literallly vaporised half the metal tank on the trailer. No one was killed in this accident which in itself must have been a minor miracle. There were some people sleeping in the burnt buildings nearby at the time of the one vehicle accident at a sharp corner just before the rail bridge.
Note this pre publicity by the police and their captured political representatives in State Government in the press today:
This writer spent 2 years on Bondi Safety Committee 1996-97 as an elected local councillor and we learned to never let the police set the tone of pre event publicity. The principle looks the same today even as big as the APEC conference will be in Sydney in September 2007.
Police inevitably predict aggressive clashes with the public and suggest criminal behaviour by protesters which is the police paradigm and in fact what they plan for. This has the effect of promoting their own importance and budget in a highly convenient fashion for the bureaucracy. It is also self fulfilling prophesy because the minute number actually looking for sport at the police expense take it as an invitation to come on down and box on.
In a sense they all get what they want at the expense of the broader public. But there is a much more serious aspect of distraction from real risk profile for such an event.
What worries this writer most is not loud ferals, even pushy ones, or mindless street violence. And certainly not organised recognised non govt groups who never want the reputation for violence. What worries me, and should worry everyone not least Big Media and Govt:
1. is those 7 or so missing rocket launchers reported in the Murdoch press and media release of the federal/NSW police. Still missing?
2. Canberra is set up for gatherings away from the largest centre of population, not just for one offs like APEC, but to avoid opportunistic coups via a big rally taking over the parliament house (theoretically possible in Sydney of 4M but not Canberra).
3. Is Howard secretly hoping there will be an attack to get votes in a patriotic fervour?
4. The petrol tanker scenario. See these pics above of a truck accident in Rockdale 5 years back we locals of the time witnessed - large volumes of fuel and a spark can destroy anything, including melt the tanker in half, like a hot knife through butter. That's scary.
None of these are protester related, marbles or stuff like that. Those are so marginal and in truth this writer has never ever witnessed that in 15 years of ngo activity as God is my witness, 6 or so arrests for peaceful protest without conviction, and solicitor now. That said, we don't like seeing anyone get hurt, democracy activists police or anyone. For moral reasons but also quite practical - draconian blow back by the system. Gandhi is my way even if we can't be a saint like him.
We were quite surprised indeed to read the quite calm and brutal article in the Herald recently on the history of lethal attacks on political leaders. This was suggestive of activity way beyond the aims or objectives of the local ngo movement I've known this last 15 years in Sydney. Here is the reference, and we had to wonder how responsible the article was but here it is anyway relying on the Herald as precedent:
Postscript #1 May 29th 2007
As we hear of alleged sadism of police filming capsicum spray victims on their mobile phone, and police 'on patrol' at the local McDonalds (read feeding their face), we notice the Peerless Hack on APEC in the press today below: Coincidence really given we put a version of the above comment piece on that Daily Telegrpah story which they did publish. Here is the Akerman headline and notice the yellow sunshine and bogus image of Deputy Premier John Watkins in their graphic:
Stay tuned for our analysis of the "natural gas" and "other working groups looking at other aspects of the energy industry".
These are great euphemisms by Hackerman refering to the Bush-Howard Global Nuclear Energy Partnership spread of radioactive stain across the world. Indeed this is confirmed by Nigel Wilson recently in the business pages of the Australian so no point in denials. It's salad days for the nuke pimps with a missile defence shield boosting an arms race and thus nuke weapon deterrent here too on Australian soil. If only Howard can win the next election. And if there were any doubt about Mr Yellow take a look at this image:
Here is the web link to the story at:
APEC more than insular views with my comment, but will it go up?
"Piers, you are being euphemistic about the
"working groups looking at other aspects of the energy industry"
Not so much "natural gas" as in fact the Bush-Howard Global Nuclear Energy Partnership spreading radioactive risk to the world.
Nigel Wilson, an excellent News Ltd journo says APEC will do as much in The Australian business section p20 24 May 07.
Trouble is, nuke industry boosting of missile defence shield promotes an arms race and nuke weapon deterent here on our soil. Are you ready for the apocalypse, what about your daughters?
Come on Piers, publish this. I've copied it."
Last Saturday Tim Blair made a bizarre implication in the high circulation Sydney Daily Telegraph Saturday edition satire. We have pictured the article above with a few additions in our mischevious way. The implication in the text found here May 26th
is quite clear - that his own boss Rupert Murdoch owner of News Corporation, British PM Tony Blair, Australian Opposition leader Kevin Rudd all on record as very concerned about climate change are actually indulging terrorism denial. They are not actually named but the smear is there in a very clumsy mud feast:
"Tough language is borrowed from the war on terror and applied to the war on weather," Gorin wrote - presciently, since at that point the trend was nowhere near as obvious as it is now. "Freud called it displacement. People fixate on the environment when they can't deal with real threats."
Tim Blair quotes someone called Gorin in approving terms.
Never mind these three world leaders all support various kinds of military action on what we term errorist violence, not least in Afghanistan, and Big Rupert and Tony Blair the whole hog in Iraq also. And support bucket loads of action on climate change too. Rupert suffering 'Freudian displacement'? Big call Tim.
No doubt columnist Blair meant to limit his smear of terrorism denial to named targets like Green senator Bob Brown, and Al Gore to scare off cultural icons like super fish Ian Thorpe at Foxtel environmental tv show now, rocker now MP Peter Garrett, and think tank academic Clive Hamilton and Professor Tim Flannery who indeed are global warming activists. But the mud is spread liberally to all. In a grand non sequitur Tim Blair figures anyone worrried about climate change is indulging 'Freudian displacement'. This must be so by their alleged lack of advocacy on terrorism issues. And there we were thinking it's a walk and chew gum kind of reality.
Tim Blair has scattered merde under the cover of satire so wide he managed to smear the most influential media mogul in the world who just happens to pay his wage. Go figure. Truly the clown proves to be the fool. Hope Rupe can take a joke at his expense in his own press. Here is the uber Murdoch only 2 weeks ago worrying about climate change in his more upmarket The Australian, and notice it's a story by ex coal industry lobbyist Matthew Warren who surely understands from where the bread and butter is supplied: May 12th 2007
"THE business response to the risk of climate change is quickly gaining momentum. This week News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch made headlines when he announced his plan to make the world's biggest media company carbon neutral by 2010. He is the latest and biggest corporate mover on an issue increasingly being driven by business rather than governments."
Is blogster Blair actually bipolar? We only ask because a symptom of such often high functioning folks is the propensity to high risk behaviour, and you don't get much more high risk within a local News Ltd newspaper by implicitly smearing Big Rupert
The only question in our mind now is: "Does Big Rupert google his own name very often as per the title to our micro news blog here?" Perhaps we will know by next Saturday.