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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Thursday, 17 January 2008
Is Janet Albrechtsen losing the plot? [Postscript: Paddy surely is!]
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: big media
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2008 11:38 AM
Subject: are you losing the plot there, or serious?

By coincidence I saw your celebrated column of 7/9/07 in my clips which has surely been vindicated regarding your influential call for Howard to hand over the baton nearly 3 months before the vote. On your game there:
Then I read your column yesterday presumably from Canada given the many references where you effectively call for:
- the removal of anti villification legislation by attacking a govt investigation of a complaint by a minority group, which body hasn't even ruled yet. And you a lawyer who upholds due process? Strange.
- promote free speech to such extremes I almost expected you to openly authorise burning of the USA flag from the safe distance of the neighbouring country. I don't think so.
 Are you suffering psychic shock at the fast paced unravel of the Howard halcyon days? The systematic dismantling that Rudd as PM is undoubtedly qualified to do according to his own lights, as Bureaucrat Man? Is that why you are licking your wounds over in the land of the melting swamp post climate change? 
Do you ever get the feeling in moments of introspection that given your political views above and your physical presentation you missed your time in an Australian Freedom and Fatherland Party ie fascism of the 1920-30ies? 
In short are you losing the plot? 
Tom McLoughlin, editor www.sydneyalternativemedia.com
Postscript#1 18 January 2007
P.P. McGuiness apparently relieved of command of the right wing Quadrant, kick started so rumour has it by CIA anti communist funds decades ago, has a patronising condescending piece of impertinence in The Australian today: 
It may well have been written from PP's perch there at the window seat of the Unity Hall Hotal in Balmain where he is often ensconced. And his opinion piece has about as much appeal as wet old carpet at closing time. 
Apparently an academy award and a shared Nobel Peace Prize for Al Gore regarding dangerous climate change "makes no sense". PP knows better, or is that noes better (!) than any other career contrarian? Give it up PP - the age of ecological denial was your time in the 20C, now it's our time so shove off by which I really do mean sincerely SHOVE OFF permanently.
God's time will do. It can't be long now.

Posted by editor at 6:43 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 18 January 2008 4:16 PM EADT
Is Peter Cochrane increasing the risk of equine flu outbreak?
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: nsw govt

Picture: A letter to the editor some 12 years old now and still a cracker everytime we read about Peter Cochrane ex MP and his brumbies.


We notice "the vaccuum" as Sue Cato of 702 abc radio spin doctors puts it, a media season generating quite a few stunts and fillers, some of them Big Media generated but also sneaky pollies.

We've had the water tanks on Parliament House by Nathan Rees MP Minister for bottled electricity ... err delivery of the hugely expensive, vandalistic desalination plant.

We've had Peter Garrett MP on the ice runway in Antarctica, and before that reviving the junk the plastic bag agenda. And again with the Chinese fossils homeward bound.


But Peter Cochrane, ex Nationals NSW MP is possibly our favourite so far, ever since we helped expose him misleading a NSW Coalition party room while a national party MP in the early 1990ies: By producing maps of so called "inaccessible by terrain" of the Kosciuszko area.

This was his way of claiming govt bureaucrats were destroying freedom and the Australian way of life by declaring even more wilderness areas when viewed in aggregate that excluded horse trails. Seems the "inaccessible by terrain" areas via a picture off the local regional tv (when he flashed the diagrams), had the odd township, airport and other sundry trafficable areas that the city slickers wouldn't second guess. But they di via deft work of concerned local conservationsists who took that picture off the tube.

From about that time on Premier John Fahey seemed to go very cold on the crusading Cochrane MP on his backbench and his anti green clique, and the lot of them were turfed out in March 1995, in no small part to such as Peter Cochrane's vehement anti environmentalism. At the time we named this the Cochrane 'horse rorts scandal, after the more famous Ros Kelly 'sports rorts' whiteboard scandal at federal level.

Now we have this story below beating for all its worth in quiet radio time too, which either omits or glosses some salient facts:

1. Cochrane as a commercial horse trekker has a clear financial conflict of interest with the public interest;

2. Given his record above he really does lack credibility;

2. After the huge and costly inconvenience of the equine flu outbreak perhaps the Big Media might question whether the brumbies are carriers of the flu, and whether Cochrane's threat to mingle is putting the livestock and hobby industry in peril ... all over again? But they don't have the equine flu, we predict he will say. But how does he know for sure?

Here is the Herald reportage: Anger at Brumbies cull 16 Jan 2008, but it's also run on ABC radio too:

Date: January 16 2008


RENEWED calls for a cull of wild brumbies in Kosciuszko National Park have prompted a former National Party MP to act as a human shield by riding among the herds.

But the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service yesterday said no cull was being considered, and that horses in the park could be effectively managed by trapping and moving some of them.

The former federal National Party member for Monaro Peter Cochran, who owns a commercial horseriding operation in the area, said he would do whatever it took to stop horses being taken away.

"If it means that we get in amongst the brumbies to make sure they don't go in to the traps, then we'll do that. If it means we have to get in the way of aerial shooting, we'll do that," Mr Cochran told ABC radio.

The brumbies are blamed for trampling native vegetation and destroying waterways in the park, and the National Parks Association of NSW yesterday called for a resumption of aerial shooting, which was banned six years ago after a public outcry.

The Parks and Wildlife Service has prepared a draft plan for trapping and managing the horses. It will be considered by the Government. If approved, it will be adopted in March, and trapping would then resume.

Ben Cubby


Posted by editor at 5:10 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2008 6:36 PM EADT
Minister Rees water tank 'stunt' a neat diversion from $5-10M Kangaloon waste?
Mood:  not sure
Topic: water

Water is not the only thing being diverted (!) it seems in this otherwise worthy initiative and coverage in the press yesterday with picture stories:

But then the cynical gene kicks in when your ex ALP ministerial staffer informant with some kind of property interest in the local catchment tells you same day of the big press and tv coverage that $5-10M in pipe infrastructure tapping into the Kangaloon aquifer has been dismantled. And thus the cost of the experiment too.

Kangaloon ..... what the f***? Kangaloon was hyped a couple of years back as one solution to avoid a second dam for Sydney by then state minister Bob Debus, that is in combination with a raft of other water strategies like the one above. The Opposition, being pro dam, hated the idea naturally as indicated by Hansard here Nov-Dec 2006: 

 Ms Peta Seaton to the Attorney General, Minister for the Environment, and Minister for the Arts—

What is the Government's response to community reference group calls for a five-year moratorium on any proposed taking of water from the Kangaloon aquifer to augment Sydney's supply?

  1. When will the Government accept the recommended moratorium?
  2. When will the Government address the specific issues underlying the moratorium call?
  3. Will the Government agree to subject its assessments to independent scientific evaluation?


The Kangaloon Aquifer has been subjected to extensive scientific investigation over the past two years, and these scientific investigations have been independently peer reviewed. The investigation program and any permanent utilisation of this resource is also subject to the independent regulatory oversight of the water regulator, the NSW Department of Natural Resources. None of these expert peer reviews or the regulator have recommended a moratorium.

I am advised that the technical reports have already been peer reviewed by Don Woolley, an eminent hydrogeologist with more than 40 years experience. The NSW Government also provided funding to the Upper Nepean Community Reference Group so that they could have access to an independent hydrogeologist (Dan McKibbin) for their submission. I understand that neither Mr Woolley nor Mr McKibbin recommended a five-year moratorium. 

More Big Media news reports on the issue here:

These site specific reports are in the context of this much earlier global plan when Carr was still in harness as Premier:

All that's left ... Bob Carr yesterday at Warragamba Dam, which received very little of Sydney's rainfall. He is seeking future sources of water for Sydney.

SMH: All that's left ... Bob Carr yesterday at Warragamba Dam, which received very little of Sydney's rainfall. He is seeking future sources of water for Sydney.
Photo: Dean Sewell

 ...as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald back in October 2004 Water lifeline meets resistance - Environment - www.smh.com.au

The Kangaloon/experimental aquifers aspect caused alot of controversy too but it wasn't a seat the ALP were worried about:

Assuming our informant is right and the cost of the Kangaloon trial is good money after bad it becomes clear by way of contrast why the water tanks/St James Lake story is so pollie friendly. Minister Rees would much prefer talking about that than the Kangaloon fizzer. Or indeed the incredibly costly, extravagant desalination supply strategy.

But you can't kid all the people or even all the Big Media all the time.

Posted by editor at 12:21 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2008 5:04 PM EADT
Syriana man Bob Baer's prescient comments on W Bush v Iran
Mood:  special
Topic: peace

Two big stories (below) running in the international press this last 6 weeks call up an old article about the original Syriana man we came across trawling a dusty pile of press (copy extracted below, with cute letter in The Australian). It appears W Bush can't rationally convince of a case to attack Iran over WMD after the December intel report and he now is moving to a more business minded model of selling weaponry into a proxy army:

U.S. Says Iran Ended Atomic Arms Work - New York Times 3 Dec 2007

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Bush says committed to [US$20B] Saudi arms deal | Reuters 14 Jan 2008



Posted by editor at 9:26 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2008 11:58 AM EADT
Wednesday, 16 January 2008
NSW Scientific Committee to help forests with final determination to list hollow bearing trees
Mood:  energetic
Topic: ecology

 More here at the National Parks website in this sequence:

www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au then Nature & conservation, then Native plants & animals, then Threatened species, then Scientific Committee determinations, (including more about the Scientific Committee)  including this definitional reader Final determination to list loss of hollow-bearing trees as a Key Threatening Process, then Final determinations by date, then Loss of Hollow-bearing Trees - key threatening process determination Gazetted Friday, 5 October 2007,

The fact sheet definitional reader on the significance of hollow bearing trees is particularly important: Final determination to list loss of hollow-bearing trees as a Key Threatening Process

Got that?

And if you want to know more about the legal and political enforcement of this conservation decision you can apparently contact the Department of Environment & Climate Change. Relevant government officers include:

Alison Schumacher tel. 02-9995 5486

Lind Bell tel. 02-9995 5449

Better late than never:


10 JANUARY 2008




Yesterday conservationists stopped Forests NSW and logging machinery from entering Buckenbowra State Forest compartments 516/517 adjacent to The Corn Trail.

This area is less than one hour west of Mogo, which adjoins Monga National Park and is an iconic wilderness area.

The Corn Trail is an iconic tourist destination for many bushwalkers and horseriders.

Eurobodalla Shire Council has been publicising this area as a “must see”.

The Australian Tourism Board has selected the South Coast as an area they will highlight and actively promote this year because of its significant wilderness and tourism potential.

FNSW informed residents early last year that they would be logging the area.  When residents registered their disapproval FNSW stated they wouldn’t be logging the area. FNSW failed to inform the residents that they were beginning logging yesterday.

These are yet more examples of FNSW misinforming the public.

 “Given that deforestation is one of the biggest contributors to Climate Change, it is our duty to protect these native forests, particularly as the Southern RFA has not had it’s five yearly review and is now two years overdue,” said Tony Whan, a South Coast resident.  “FNSW are operating in the dark in a criminal and corrupt manner.”

Despite reassurances in May last year from Minister McDonald that the RFA review will begin “fairly shortly”, to date there has been no announcement of this review.

Conservationists are calling on both the State and Federal Governments to terminate the Regional Forest Agreements and rezone these compartments as FMZ1 (ie. No logging) or to transfer them to Monga National Park- Buckenbowra Wilderness.

For any further information please do not hesitate to ring 0437471763. 

And see this picture taken in 2006 at Peak Alone inland of Cobargo, and note the hollows at stump level let alone crown and boughs critical for endangered fauna habitat:

and this one from the same area in 2000 taken by this author, campaigner is Millie Wee, of Friends of the Earth Sydney at the time:


and this one from another part of the South Coast of NSW:



Other indicative logging historical photographic record from the NSW south coast during the life of this NSW ALP Govt:

Deua Forest photo gallery logging Jan 2005, 2001 

Monga Forest post logging photo gallery Dec 2004 

Gulaga/Dromadery Forest photo gallery protests 2005-2007 

Wandella/Peak Alone Forest photo gallery vandalism proof 3/06


and further afield over the border in Victoria to be sure but still being fed through the 100% foreign owned Eden chipmill in NSW:


East.Gippsland 'Forest Forever' photo gallery 3/2005

Posted by editor at 8:57 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 16 January 2008 12:15 PM EADT
Tuesday, 15 January 2008
Memo Pat Farmer MHR: You can run but you can't hide from the Islamic School racism issue
Mood:  sharp
Topic: big media

We spotted distance runner Pat Farmer MP on the tv news 2 weeks out from the Federal election November 24th 2007. He was in support of his local constituents against an 'overdevelopment' religious school in his area of Camden. There is similar coverage here on ABC quality AM news show 6th November 08.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Listening to this was Pat Farmer, the federal Liberal member for the seat of Macarthur.

Pat Farmer told the ABC he can understand local frustration with the planning process.

PAT FARMER: Well, I think there is suspicion right across the board towards local council decisions and also state government decisions as far as any building applications are concerned, and those fears are often founded because people want to play a role in what goes on in their backyard, and I've said this on numerous occasions. They want to know exactly what's happened.

Back then in early November 2007 Pat was right there with the locals at their rallies showing his solidarity.

Then the racist leaflet scandal in the last week before the vote happened in nearby Penrith in the seat of Lindsay 

ABOVE: A fake election flyer purporting to be from an Islamic group calling on people to vote Labor. (AAP)


The leaflet caused a meltdown in the Liberal Party election campaign in the last several days and surely damaged their vote in a bruising loss.

Love lost after Lindsay affair | The Daily Telegraph

Indeed by Jan 13th 2008 the Lindsay candidate was said to be well and truly washed up:

'Racist leaflet' candidate folds up her career | Herald Sun

Suddenly it wasn't too cool or wise to be seen to be potentially dog whistling or pandering to bigots in a populist protest against a problematic school proposal with ethnic tensions getting to boiling point. The accusation of racist hijacks and consequent anger of respectable institutions at such intolerance was coming through

RSL slams Australia Day hijack | The Daily Telegraph

About the same time mid Jan 2008 we now read a bevy of stories about Pat Farmer effectively quarrantining himself away from his electorate of Macarthur, away from the random interactions that every MP has with local constituents including presumably intolerant local bigots who are supporters of their Liberal Party federal MP direct or indirect:

Farmer's 'silvertail move' irks Libs | The Australian 15th Jan 2008

Yet all the big media are covering the relocation of Pat Farmer's domicile to far off "silvertail" suburb of Mosman as if it's merely about snobbery and lack of loyalty to his electorate of MacCarthur. Only trouble is Pat Farmer doesn't present that way. There's nothing too snobbish about long distance running either. Pretty humbling would be my guess. 

Far more likely the reason for Pat Farmer's new domicile is he knows there's a dead cat of virulent racism over the Islamic School planned in the area and he has form trawling that agenda for votes, and now he needs to run a million miles from the issue and scrutiny, and his own supporters too as needs be. Because there is one thing worse than being labelled a toff and a silvertail and that is a redneck racist in a losing general election bid.

And Mosman is close proximity to a famous hard right man who got in trouble with One Nation 10 years ago and who might provide some comfort to Pat:

Tony Abbott MHR - Federal Member for Warringah

So where does doughty Pat Farmer stand on the Islamic School in Camden today, and does he regret attending and supporting the rabid populist protest meeting prior to the Federal Election. Especially given the kind of ultra right wing and even dangerous company he finds himself with on the issue:

Pauline weighs in on Islamic school debate - Local - General ...

Nile party behind anti-Muslim school rally - National - smh.com.au

No apology for white Australia policy

Regrets? Pat's got a few, we imagine. But maybe he should take heart. He's not the only one who seems to have been indulging some populist redefining of the meaning of "planning issues" that side of the federal election:

Rudd opposed to Islamic school - Local - General - Camden Advertiser 23 rd Nov 2007.

Posted by editor at 1:53 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 6 March 2008 7:45 AM EADT
Sandminer in bid to avoid rehabilitation legal rules at Maroota, 45km from Sydney?
Mood:  irritated
Topic: ecology

[under construction]









These images are taken from a big sand mining operation 45km north of Sydney at Maroota corner of Wiseman's Ferry Rd and Old Northern Rd on a tourist drive there, 12th Jan 2008. There is no attribution of the photographs.

It's next to a private residence, 1 km from the local school, across the road from an orchard and about to destroy a lookout on a Trigonometrical Reserve on public land, and officially endangered

"Maroota Sands Swamp Forest ... at risk from hydrological changes from nearby extractive industries": NSW Scientific Committee Final Determination gazettal 17/10/97.

The saga of broken legal obligations under consent conditions agreed (no costs order) adopted by the Land & Environment Court in 1998 are very disturbing, not least the blatant failure to rehabilitate according to a timetable and schedule over the last 7 years.

Now the company PF Formations effectively wants to further avoid these land rehabilitation legal obligations (in the "schedule marked A" as referred to below) with a huge water hungry "State significant" expansion of their sand mine at Maroota which will effectively make the rehab of the public's Trig Reserve redundant. Because the lookout will no longer exist except as a hole in the ground!






Posted by editor at 10:01 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 15 January 2008 12:02 PM EADT
Monday, 14 January 2008
Local ALP shuts down website of 'biggest community centre in Australia'?
Mood:  chatty
Topic: nsw govt

The Addison Road (Community) Centre is self described as the biggest community centre in Australia, and we did gardening work there 2003-2007.

As a variation we were instructed to build up their website so dutifully we put another 100 pages on with photographs etc reflecting the community aspect. It was quite uptodate with local news and profiling many if not  most of the 42 tenants. It got many compliments including from Board members. It had a community flavour and was never meant to be a slick corporate face.

The web address is: http://www.addisonrdcentre.com.au but if you try that for the last 3 weeks you will get this:

Come back soon. We are just getting it better. This Website is still under construction

How soon is soon?

When most decent organisations want to change their website presence they build up the alternative and only then when ready do they publish and make the changeover. Otherwise it's a bit like selling your old car and walking around for 3 weeks looking for another one, assuming you haven't gone to a low tech bicycle option (not that there's anything wrong with that!).

Ironically the old front page of the website for ARC is still present in cyberspace though possibly against the wishes of the centre (?) here:


What we wonder is going on? We sort of gave up on transparent and honest governance there at the ARC and have decided to just keep on trucking but we do feel sorry for all those community sector groups and individuals who lost their additional website profile.

Maybe some one has been sabotaging the thing? Certainly not this writer.

One quite likely explanation is that the ALP/Hard Left - decidedly in control of the management of the ARCC, even to the extent of controversial rent free for a mate in a one case for some years (rather than going to public tender for 500 square metres of handy real estate) - were a little embarrassed by this writer cross referencing their webpage and complaining about nepotism rather than following their legal obligations under the companies code regarding director's duties.

Not least this image below of Yvette Andrews (top left) who used to be the spear carrier/employee for Meredith Burgman MP (until MB retired) and is now (dis?) honourary President of the ARC:


Yvette's hubby is an Aboriginal bloke, and her mate Terry who got the free rent for so long and on substantial discount into the future, promotes alot of Aboriginal art work so maybe there's a connection there. Also Gnat, that is Natalie McCarthy, is Terry's art studio tenant and from memory his domestic share tenant in Earlwood still (?), but most importantly she is on the Board of the ARC.

It was Gnat who was most upset at our reference in print to the Meredith Burgman Allstars at the ARC. This and a few other internecine power games seem to have resulted in rent free for 4 years and another 3 in the future for the art gallery under Cutcliffe (who it has to be said has suffered some hard knocks including a heart attack and seriously ill child in the last few years too).

It's these compassionate grounds that make this blatant case of favouritism so damn challenging morally speaking.

But what's that got to do with taking down the website? Well we started sniffing around when some of the Board members started acting like the power had gone to their head, one in particular like a regular martinet. Was this a symptom of other abuse of power, we wondered? Sure enough the gallery lease came to light. Now the demise of the website seems to be punishment for doing my research and challenging the Board to clean up their act not least the last AGM Nov 28 2007: There are actually legal rules about directors of a $500K pa non profit company acting in good faith, without personal bias, and without financial or other conflicts of interest.

Spiteful or vindictive trashing of the cyber gateway might be seen to be just another abuse of power?

These directors' obligations don't always sit comfortably, or even legally in our opinion as a solicitor, with the inhouse mates culture of the ALP with the public's community resources. In this case local Left ALP. And the top dog locally is ... Federal MP Anthony Albanese in local seat of Grayndler. Or even Senator John Faulkner also of the Left. If they know about this state of affairs and sit on their hands it will haunt them too.

Not ever being one very keen on closed shops or favouritism, especially with community resources we finally bit the bullet and gave a verbal briefing this afternoon to the loyal federal Opposition, namely local Senator Marise Payne's office. Can we expect some tennis match with Special Minister of State Senator Faulkner at Estimates? Time will tell.

Postscript #1 15 Jan 2008

Being an equal opportunity stirrer we have this morning called and offered to brief Senator Kerry Nettle of the Greens about this state of affairs via her staffer Max Phillips. Our position is that services for private revenue (studio rental, sales) on public land should be the subject of public tender, just like for instance the Beach Kiosk at Bondi leased from Waverley Council in an open public tender process, which duly allows for non financial factors like years experience, know how, public benefit etc. This way public land is not effectively privatised to the benefit of one political party, in this case the local ALP Left to run their favourite projects. They should have their access too, but not exclusivity.

Posted by editor at 2:43 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 15 January 2008 10:01 AM EADT
Spanish Harlem Orchestra salsa in the Domain Sat 12 Jan
Mood:  lyrical
Topic: culture

This was a cracker of a Sydney Festival event.

We didn't take pictures but these images and sound off YouTube of the same band at another outdoor event give a good flavour of the ambience:


Glebe was looking quiet at 9pm when we got our cheap Thai, the Indian cooks out front next door said there was something on 'at Hyde Park'.

'Might take a look'. But it wasn't at Hyde Park. It was as if the energy was so bright with the salsa band cranking that it sucked all the social oxygen into the Domain leaving a desert all around. The space at the heart of the action was jammed, literally from freeway fence to the stage at the far south of the grassy space. I guessed 200,000 people, I read 100K later on.

We witnessed 5 elevated stages for maybe 100 x 2 dancers all up and 3 big video screens reflecting the main stage. What impressed most was the obvious enjoyment of the beefy lead singer and veteran trumpet players, and yes drum solo of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra. They had their choreographed moves down pat. They shared the solo time. They reached a harmonious crescendo often which seemed to merge into the space time continuum itself. All drug free, which you couldn't say for the crowd with its share of alcohol after a long hot day.

The moving view of an old well dressed wiry couple dancing next to a crowded path embraced by the velvet night as if no one else was there; The swaying grandma with beaming hip daughter and son in law with wooden feet. The lascivious gleam of a drunken siren at her bemused man. It was all there. It was MAD.

The band had a BIG enthusiastic audience that did them justice and they reciprocated thrashing it out on their brass instruments. And that was just the last half hour of the show.

Walking back through the city it was a balmy summer night's dream. Quite surreal.

Posted by editor at 12:44 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 14 January 2008 2:29 PM EADT
Super container ships to supercharge GHG embedded consumption via expanded Port Phillip, Botany
Mood:  blue
Topic: globalWarming


A conjunction of vaudeville news items here and here involving posturing by Environment Minister Peter Garrett underline the sleep walk to dangerous climate change, with only the odd worrying bad dream to disturb the way. These bad dreams involve lots of talking faces in a room in the tropics (UN Bali conference), a few glossy tv shows on abc (worthy nature documentaries), and petrol price billboards (US $100 a barrel) but otherwise it's pretty much giant flatscreens and navman's all round and business as usual.

In this spirit we reproduce this email exchange initiated by long time Botany Bay defender Lynda Newnam, and they all involve the Minister formerly known as environmentalist:

Sent: Saturday, January 12, 2008 1:49 PM
Subject: Who needs climate change when you can dredge the bay?
To:  Members of BBACA and residents of South Ward/ state electorate of MAROUBRA and federal electorate of Kingsford Smith
Copied:  Ms Jenny Warfe, convenor of Blue Wedges (www.bluewedges.org)
                Mr Michael Daley, Member for Maroubra
                Mr Peter Garrett, Member for Kingsford Smith and Federal Minister for Environment, Heritage and The Arts
                Mr Anthony Albanese, Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development


Please find below the text of Tracee Hutchison's article  published in THE AGE today.  Tracee asks "WHO NEEDS CLIMATE CHANGE WHEN YOU CAN DREDGE THE BAY".  The Bay she is referring to is Port Phillip Bay where the Victorian govenment, with agreement from the Federal government,  proposes to dredge over 23 million cubic meters.  Remember that Port Phillip Bay is 3 times the size of Botany Bay and the proposal here is to dredge over 7.5million cubic meters for the Port Expansion, a million or so more for the Desalination pipe and  the Botany Bay Cable.  Before much longer Botany Bay will also face further dredging for a deepening of the shipping channel and this has already been signalled in the Botany Bay Cable Environmental Assessment. 


For your information I sent a letter concerning the dredging of the 2 bays to THE AGE and The Sydney Morning Herald.  There were a couple of cuts related to costs and impacts but THE AGE did publish it yesterday. 
Call in the feds

STATE governments cannot be trusted to manage Australia's major waterways. We can point to the abysmal mismanagement of the Murray-Darling and now to the reckless proposals to dredge Port Phillip Bay and Botany Bay for massive container trade expansions. Neither Melbourne nor Sydney has the capacity to cope with the infrastructure demands the expansion of their ports will bring. The NSW and Victorian governments are in competition for freight and distribution growth in their capital cities without any consideration for long-term national sustainability.

The Federal Government should stop bowing to parochial state governments and bring a national vision to our freight task. It could start by building the inland rail freight line from Gladstone through Parkes to Melbourne. This line has the potential not only to revitalise regional centres but to reduce congestion and pollution in Melbourne and Sydney.

In this time of global climate crisis we cannot continue "business as usual" with competition and growth at any cost. The Federal Government has to take the lead because only it can do what is best for Australia as a nation.

Lynda Newnam, La Perouse




The dredging Lynda is so worried about is for such as these super container ships, as reported by The China Daily here:

First China-made 8,530-TEU container ship delivered

Updated: 2007-09-10 11:50

BEIJING - The first 8,530-TEU container ship, of which China owns the full intellectual property rights, had been delivered to China Shipping Container Lines Co Ltd (Shanghai) and left for its maiden voyage to the United States on Sunday.

Super gigantic container vessel "Xin Ya Zhou," meaning "New Asia," China's first with complete proprietary intellectual property rights, is delivered to the owner in Shanghai, East China, Sept. 8, 2007. [Xinhua]

It has made China the fourth country in the world, after the Republic of Korea, Japan and Denmark that is able to design and build such giant container ships, said experts.

The ship, named "New Asia", is the first of five container ships of the same type to be designed and built by Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co Ltd for the China Shipping Container Lines Co Ltd.

The 101,000-dwt container ship, 335 meters long and 42.8 meters wide, can sail at a speed of 25 knots an hour."


In other words Melbourne and Sydney are being prostituted to ever bigger growth economics via dredging and super container ships, leading to dangerous climate change. One can hardly forget Premier Morris Iemma here in Sydney saying

"There is no point in saving the planet if we ruin the economy doing it" in Unchecked consumption will waste the planet, Val Yule 01-Nov-2007 Eureka Street

Really? In Iemma and no doubt brand ALP's world view (and many institutions of society) the economy is far more important than the environment, when in reality it's a wholly owned subsidiary, and even a subsistence economy is better than no planet. In other words Iemma is an unreconstructed believer in materlialistic growth economics which logically leads to civilisation suicide via dangerous climate change.


Tracee Hutchison, THE AGE, January 12, 2008
IT'S A bizarre set of circumstances when the federal Environment Minister appears in the Federal Court arguing for a project that even those closest to it admit will be an environmental disaster. Even stranger when the minister enlists the services of Alice in Wonderland to help argue his case.

Not that the Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, was actually in the Federal Court this week to spin the Port of Melbourne's fairytale on its planned dredging of Port Phillip Bay. Oh, no. This Environment Minister left it to his lawyer to tell the people who care about protecting the bay's environment that gouging a whopping crevice into the sea floor will cause a permanent rise in the tide level.

Apparently this Environment Minister isn't bothered by permanent tide rises. That must be why part of his portfolio was given to his younger colleague, Penny Wong. But Wong was nowhere to be seen either this week — just lawyers and a bunch of committed environmentalists who must have felt as if they'd fallen down a rabbit hole.

But it was a tremendous performance by the Commonwealth, which did its best Lewis Carroll impersonation by backing up the Port of Melbourne's premise that it was perfectly OK for the feds to approve the project based on the port's 2002 proposal — that says nothing of rising sea levels or underwater toxic waste dumps — even though the project has morphed into something much bigger.

(That 2002 proposal, by the way, doesn't even use the word dredging. Amazing, isn't it? Apparently there's a legal loophole that means the port doesn't have to get its new plans — the real plans that will see millions of cubic metres of sand, silt and rock ripped from Port Phillip Bay and dumped in two spoil grounds in the bay — approved by the federal minister. That's what the court challenge was all about. It's a bit convoluted, I know, but that's when the lawyer for the feds starting referring to Alice in Wonderland.)

As you can imagine, it was all getting pretty fanciful in court by this stage. Especially when the presiding judge indicated that an elephant had wandered into the room. It was an elephant called dredging but no one dared speak its name for fear the courtroom would descend into a Mad Hatter's tea party.

It all but did, anyway, descend into a Mad Hatter's tea party. The federal Environment Minister's lawyer got on a roll and went on to describe a worst-case scenario, outlining what would happen if the Heads disintegrate.

At least it was an "if", although I can't be completely sure that it wasn't a "when" as the worm wasn't on hand to give advice. But apparently, in that happy event, tides would extend from three to 25 metres deeper inland in some sections. Well, knock me over with a looking glass. Who needs climate change when you can dredge the bay? That must be the other reason the federal Environment Minister doesn't have it in his portfolio.

But it was a terrific in-absentia performance from Garrett, who, in a spectacular demonstration of the adage that timing is everything, announced a ban on plastic bags the same day the fate of the bay was being decided. Now, this really was tremendous stuff. And it was terrific to learn that the minister really is concerned about the bay's colony of fur seals getting those hideous things wrapped around their necks. The small problem of replacing the errant plastic bags with a couple of toxic waste dumps in the bay was just a minor detail.

But this Environment Minister isn't big on detail. What else can explain the three weeks it took him to realise he'd referred to Western Port Bay in his approval statement about dredging in Port Phillip Bay? It would have made a Cheshire Cat proud.

And where did our esteemed Environment Minister disappear to this week? Oh, he jumped on a joy flight to Antarctica. Apparently to check on the rising sea levels.

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.

"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."

"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.

"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

Just like Alice when she gets greedy and eats that nasty bit of cake, the port's plans have got bigger and bigger. And just like Alice, the port will leave behind a salty pool of tears for the rest of us to swim in.

Tracee Hutchison is a Melbourne writer and broadcaster.



To which we responded:

Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:36 AM
Subject: embedded GHG in the super container ships to reinforce GW... Re: Who needs climate change when you can dredge the bay?

It's the embedded greenhouse gases of manufacture of all those extra imports on the newer jumbo container ships that further reinforce the convergence of natural heritage protection with climate change worries e.g. the immovable object of economic structural reform to clean energy (versus the irresistible force of human instinct for survival).


There probably should be a restraint on imports, not just Melb/Sydney, until these can be guarranteed energy friendly sources. Indeed just like the Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances, a time will come when such a blanket ban or financial penalty will be threatened/imposed on China and India as the factory of the world, by markets in the west including Australia, say post Democrat win Nov 08. That is if we want a livable world at all. On the other hand my feeling the western, and burgeoning Indian and Chinese addiction to materialist comfort will promote fatal denial and ignorance. A sleep walk to climate destruction. I'd say about 5 or 10 years as exponential momentum kicks in?


It's the resolution of that market tension, Eastern seller to Western buyer that will potentially turn geopolitics on its head. Not least for us closing down our capacity to sell coal into that factory production. Because truth be told Australians are part of the Chinese/Indian/Japanese GHG industrial complex. We are China.


I've been reading quality press about the nature of 'Chinese capitalism' in particular which reads like one giant sociopathic corporation as per critics of multinationals/globalisation: A 'Faustian pact for materialism  at the price of abdicating any democratic participation'. Organising is taboo under the Communist Party of China. An Australian journo with Reuters was recently bashed up by thugs doing an embarrassing background story in the lead up to the Olympics. Doing media in China must be such fun. It's just one big fascist corporation like our ultra hierarchical multinationals chasing the holy dollar. How incredibly ironic. Santamaria's paradox - the head meets the tail of the same anti democratic beast. For the religious amongst us - Good v Evil. So there is not much prospect of slowing down that materialistic trajectory to keep power in a one party state.
My view is Peter Garrett should just stay there in Casey/Willkins runway. Keep the penguins company. Sometimes the hardest thing is letting go. Greenwashing brand ALP just slows down the reform of politics to an ecologically sustainable basis via the Green Party now that sociopathic Howard is gone. Even the Unions in NSW are suffering existential angst at being in the ALP over sell down of the public's essential power services. What indeed is the ALP apart from a maleable brand and old boys/girls club. He must know it himself. The guy is no fool, in fact he is too clever by half also known as a smart arse. Plastic bags, and ice runways for God sake. Vaudeville. Speaking of which:


Snowing in Baghdad, snowflakes in the desert,

First time in 100 years. If that's not unusual climate shift I'll eat my eco hat (Made in China, $2 shop, Marrickville Rd).

Tom McLoughlin, editor www.sydneyalternativemedia.com


But who cares when its such a lovely sleepy time? A few greenies over the latest coal fired power station in Western Australia, that will reverse every domestic initiative that anyone cares to take (standby tv, turning lights off, recycling):

Greenies see red over Coolimba | The Australian 14th January 2008


Posted by editor at 11:02 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 14 January 2008 12:34 PM EADT

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