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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Thursday, 31 January 2008
Saving Maroota environment from open slather sand mining?
Mood:  sad
Topic: ecology


It's been a hell of a week. 2 weeks really. A fusion of Cliff Hardy crime novella, Bob Brown charming enthusiasm and world weary Raymond Chandler cynicism. There's not much that keeps us from our SAM blog/slog running at a surprising 20,000 page views a month now (end of Jan 08) or even the 3 daily papers or even ABC current affairs. But by yesterday we were going cold turkey. It was all because we were turning this suitcase below, which belongs to one Neville Diamond, a pro bono client and sandmining activist, into something else:

Something of beauty. Being so tired at the end we even forgot to take a picture of the 2 inch thick submission being handed over at the DOP - jargon for Department of Planning, 33 Bridge St Sydney in the old Lands Dept sandstone. The pretty yellow tags lablled A to N; the largest bull clip restraining the rampant document from breaking out and swallowing the whole place like a scene from Brazil. And even now it's probably shuddering with malevolent vigour in the bowels of the place late at night like a cackling Triffid 'my s.52 Trade Practices Act is going to kill cook and eat your Part 3A Planning Act' [imagine eerie evil triffid noises about here].

We particularly liked this bit:

For a brief overview of the recent planning reforms, the EDO has assessed the current state of play. [PDF 92 KB]

Note the EDO July 2007 states:

“The new Part 3A reforms in 2005 introduced a new way of doing planning and development in NSW. The reforms were based on laws introduced by Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen in Queensland in the early 1970s: the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971. These rode roughshod over community consultation rights.” Jeff Smith Principal Solicitor, EDO July 2007

How fitting for my metaphorically ticking bundle of joy to end up in the government block where all the dirty land destruction deals are formalised under this NSW Govt: It was recently revealed this very spot at Bridge was meant to be public amenity until the Rum Rebellion (or is that mutiny?). Here was the imposing sandstone edifice where the same spirit of corruption was still being sanitised by the ornate corner statues silently holding forth, beseeching one to 'have faith' in government. As if. Art is nothing if not fiction even sculpture.

Coup costumes ... soldiers rehearse for the Rum Rebellion re-enactment at the Museum of Sydney.

The thing of beauty of which we write now at 2.45 am - knowing there is no sleep until then - was similar to the document at top left above. The web version is here 

Jan 08 - Objection to Maroota sandming unlicensed water use, failure to rehabilitate etc for 20 years 

but it's not the same in physical space, all 38 pages of closely argued politics, law, expensive expert evidence (even if its shouting down a corridor from 1998 over an earlier DA), pictures, some hints of rhetoric and some sincere malice to the vandals in the local and state govt as well as industry. Appendix M is a real cracker too, believe me:

M. 1997-2008 - litigation history of Neville Diamond 'for Dixon Sands (Penrith) Pty Ltd'

Having done Kinkos at Broadway nervously watching the clock we got the bicycle out of the van and treddled to Bridge St, making it with 1 1/2 hours to spare. For some reason we found ourselves whistling this catchy florid tune by a right wing Cuban, watching the cute women in their summer gear rolling down Pitt St (bike that is), not a care in the world. Maybe it was the surreal sub topical weather in the age of dangerous climate? Maybe my 1/8 Italian sense of operatic melodrama? Time even for some sushi and a natter with the council guy on clean up duty.

It was a special feeling that God allows in this vocation and so it was 12 hours ago. Of duty fulfilled, of a promise kept. If not I then who? No one else could do just this thing on Maroota. God plays Her games like that. Our submission, a 3590 kB brute, was emailed in already but nothing is as simple in the shark pool. Yes the email got there at 12.36pm says the guy at 'Major Developments' (told you it was like Brazil) but not the even bigger list of appendices here:

Legally materials have to arrive by the deadline in the DOP office. But some things are just much better on screen than in print like the lovely picture of the flowering bush as below. So what about referring to bulky and colour format items all in cyberspace via links sent in to the DOP? Well it's accessible to DOP but not really in the DOP. It's in cyberspace. We couldn't take the chance of an exclusion on this threshhold question well into the age of web 2.0. The law can be such an ass. So much for the paper less office.

But none of this mattered exiting the CBD, effortlessly swinging wide amongst the careening buses, and speeding taxis, past the cinema strip. We were in the zone, immune.

We remember a day like this, Friday Sept 13 1994, a black one indeed. Premier John Fahey betrayed the NSW Wilderness Act, the electorate, the state. And we eyeballed the chancy bastard in his lair as he ran his presser floating through security high in the State Office block protected by an invisible hand .... immune, not a lie spoken, nor barrier cheated. A storm brewed late that day too and pissed all over the city in torrents. Very Shakespearean. Some things are just wrong and the Earth was crying. And so it was 6 months later. Fahey could win an Olympics but not an election.

We tried to call the client to share the good news. For a week he'd been holed up in my poky joint rifling through volumes dictating his evidence, copping equal measures praise, scorn, prodding, cross examination, and judicious avoidance of the whirlpool of therapy style angst always a risk in these projects crushing people live. We could feel the tension then creeping excitement. He didn't feel nearly as pressured because the paperwork was my problem. In fact both of us were surprised at the quality but we believe this must be suppressed - near enough is not good enough. Our beady eye was ruthlessly fixed on the deadline and making it in good shape. Not one of those bullshit symbolic flag waving exercises.

But today he wasn't taking the call which is fair enough to. As Lowell Bergman might say from the movie The Insider we broke some egg shells there amongst the talk of 6 months in hospital in 1972, Led Zeppelin concert just after he got out, roadie work for ACDC in the Bon Scott days, family friend Barry Unsworth and more. He left me a Led Zeppelin DVD to borrow and that would have to do, and his watch both of which I have to return. We needed time out. I wanted to apologise for being so demanding now the brutish document was in, nearly as fat as the developer's own 'Environmental Assessment'. The kettle broke after years of perfect functionality so maybe there's my penance. What a day.

Sure enough a storm brewed Thursday night January 31st 2008. We know because some of it raced through Marrickville and it's reported here:

Storm lashes people still living under tarpaulins Thousands of western Sydney households again inundated when heavy storms hit the city last night. 

Life is mostly about water really and Maroota is no different as per this diagram from an expert civil engineer of some 30 years at the time Mr Howard Sullivan:

C4. 14 June 1998 Sullivan Environmental Consulting expert evidence on water consumption by FP Formation





Some things are just wrong as you can see from this picture above of an approved so called 4.5m deep haulage road that evolved into a 30m by 100m plus wide excavation. Did  the huge volumes go over the weigh bridge to pay the S.94 contributions? Good question that.


Indeed this story actually stretches way back to 1994 at a small place called Tinda Creek. We didn't know Diamond back then. He contacted me at The Wilderness Society about industrial mushroom composting to affect the eastern edge of the Wollemi National Park and his land too. We won that one in 1995. Then he dragged me out to his next flare up - Lot 198 Maroota. The pictures of that trip with a bloke called Shane are at:

F. 1996 - Maroota Lot 198 PF Formation/Etra Pty Ltd impacts Maroota Sands Swamp Forest

We did some publicity to agitate the increased threats to the bush valley. Diamond chanced his hand in a 1997 court case and went down in flames. So he looked me up for help early 1998 for another go and I brought in practitioner Bruce Woolf. That case was a draw, a legal Mexican standoff each pay their own costs with settlement terms here:

  • C. A full copy of the negotiated legal settlement conditions as agreed “without prejudice” (including handwritten notations in the court precinct in 1998) in Diamond v BHSC and John Graham (PF Formation/Etra Pty Ltd No. 10061/1998), no costs ordered against plaintiff Neville Diamond.
  • Suddenly Diamond was not such a loser anymore as regards Baulkham Hills Shire Council or PF Formation. Some remarkable things about the 1998 case: Going a whiter shade of pale seeing the BHSC counsel - Brian Preston who literally wrote the book Environmental Litigation 1989. Not so bad coming equal with that guy. Secondly the funding for the expert and solicitor Woolf was via undisclosed principal of Diamond, a man called Ken Dixon in fact rival sandminer to PF Formation, the developer in the case.

    We say undisclosed but everyone in the local industry basically knew. BHSC took their revenge at Diamond/Ken Dixon legal daring enlisting th help of this greenie by closing down Dixon Sands in 1999. This was the peak of 'The Sand Wars' - not a bad working title for a movie either, with all those industrial wasteland film set locations: Slurry pits where villians like Max Cady/ Robert De Niro in Cape Fear might gurgle to a sticky end.

    The rest is outlined in appendix M:

    M. 1997-2008 - litigation history of Neville Diamond 'for Dixon Sands (Penrith) Pty Ltd'

    Neville Diamond has never publicly confirmed this before and here it is on the internet for the world to read. He wants Dixon Sands to keep their side of 'the bargain' which is a hotly contested issue again. He also says he wants good environmental regulation.

    This writer absolutely does want to see good environmental regulation.

    Thus Diamond has sued former ally Dixon Sands and the Minister for Planning in 2003, and lost badly, though neither seem too keen to collect some $300K plus in legal costs for some curious reason, or have just given up trying to get it. Still one might ask how in 2003 an impecunious litigant Diamond could generate such legal costs without competent legal advisers for the Minister and PF Formation asking for a security for costs bond. One might ask indeed.

    Now in 2008 Diamond has come back for more pro bono help. We got a win in 1995, 1998 (qualified), 2008? The funny thing is it has to be pro bono otherwise no one will believe it's in the public interest. We had enough insight to realise this 10 years ago. That's just the way things go. It's God's work trying to protect God's creation.

    Posted by editor at 1:46 PM EADT
    Updated: Sunday, 3 February 2008 10:24 AM EADT
    Tuesday, 29 January 2008
    Acting General Manager Addison Rd Centre resigns effective this Friday
    Mood:  smelly
    Topic: local news

    We understand from a source that the Acting GM Peter Talmacs has resigned effective this Friday 1st February.

    Apparently Yvette Andrews, ex ALP staffer to Meredith Burgman, co author of The Ernies book, the current honorary President will not be going to work for Senator Faulkner after all but be taking the job at $65K p.a. of General Manager, for 6 months.

    The previous GM resigned in Sept 07 from memory. So that's two big changes in 4 months.

    We have also been on strike from our humble job there for 2 months and currently in discussion with the Australian Services Union about the place.

    To lose one GM is unfortunate. To lose two looks like carelessness.

    The role of Andrews is intriguing too, because how can you take a well paid job with a non profit organisation that you are on the governing board of to do the policy setting, without serious conflict of interest of the policy level to the staff level?

    The place is nothing if not riddled with power games and jockeying for position and control. Our reportage of the gerrymandered AGM of Nov 28 07 below makes that quite clear.

    We quite liked acting GM Talmacs and found him honest and quite efficient. Our feeling is he is too honest and we think his decision does him alot of credit and we wish him well.

    Which is also why we think our time has run out there too after 4 years.

    We have written alot about the history of the ARC this last year or so because it is the biggest community centre in Australia, it does have 3.4 ha of land in high value inner city with 45 years to go, and it is very much under potential:


    Local ALP shuts down website of 'biggest community centre'?


    Unauthorised newsletter Addison Rd Community Centre #3


    Why is Addison Rd Centre failing to reach its potential?


    'Ordinary Members' don't like successful Sunday Market at Addison Rd

    As a result at least of some of this community reportage one wonders if Andrews was a risky proposition for Faulkner not least Senate Estimates Committee hearings against such as loyal Opposition Senator Marise Payne, or Senator Kerry Nettle or similar.

    More recently it's become clear that the ALP Left aristocracy
    and fellow travellers have moved into annexe the ARC sans C in community, and shut down real democracy, at which time I realised I couldn't be working for these cronies much longer and avoid ongoing bullying or mistreatment even as a humble gardener and website builder. See:


    which currently reads for 6 weeks now:

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


    Apparently this writer is now being targeted with "misinformation" currently, the normal politics AO1 apocrophia symptomatic of ugly politics and the ALP Left, for daring to speak up about the place as is our democratic right. It is my community centre too and it belongs to the public interest. But it's taboo to talk about management and staffing and equitable leasing arrangements in case something 'bad' happens to you. So the place runs on Chinese whispers, snaky stares, emotional violence, and innuendo instead of transparent debate leading to honest and
    transparent governance. Like all rental spaces on equal terms, not who
    you know, or whether you've got the gerrymander at the AGM.

    Anyway that's our professional advice, as a solicitor, and community activist 16 years. There is no doubt the ALP Left have alot to be worried about too as the $7 BILLION truck tunnel and smog stacks are likely approved in the next few weeks and the sleep walking people of Sydney realise that their health and amenity is about to be destroyed big time in an intensification of Port Botany all the way to Parramatta Rd, not least the seat of Grayndler covering Marrickville.

    As we wrote on a crikey.com.au comment page recently - Gary Punch MP resigned for less (over the 3rd runway KSA impact on Sydney) from the federal ALP Govt in the 1980ies: More on this as extracted below from our SAM website


    8. The NSW Govt machine is running a story that the $7 billion public private M4 East tunnel tollway with interchange "under Anandale in Sydney's Inner
    West will go ahead in a short number of weeks. It' said to be a joint announcement between the Federal and State ALP Govt's, and dependent on $3B in funds from electricity privatisation as well as predicted toll revenues:

    $7bn missing link to be announced soon | The Australian

    'Missing link' road will cost over $7bn | The Australian

    Super ideal to provide funds for infrastructure | The Australian

    If it is true, which we assume it is, it puts the lie to Kevin Rudd's main priority to tackle climate change because endless growth in container imports and export of empty ones which is driving the transport linkage to Port Botany, can only massively increase greenhouse gas embedded
    production. As well making health and amenity hell for at least 1 million citizens in dormitory suburbs. In other words Kevin Rudd is effectively shown to be liar on climate change action he claims to be the priority this Australia Day weekend:

    We must prevail in year of challenges | The Australian

    This looks very much like:

    Strong-arm tacticians THE meeting was in a room in the NSW Premier's Department. [The Australian 26th Jan 2008]

    In particular

    "The minister [Sartor] can declare a site to be "state-significant", giving developers the go-ahead on big projects. Under Part 3A of the
    Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, projects that are objectively of state significance can go to the minister. Brad Hazard, the Opposition's planning spokesman, says of the Government's planning actions: "The reality is that anything Frank wants to get his hands on
    to, he takes."

    In other words planning is under control of a modern Mussolini, making the development approvals 'train run on time' with no democracy and precious little justice. More detail on the Port Botany intensification impacts across Sydney here:

    Friday, 18 January 2008
    It's a wholesale repudiation of the ALP's 1979 Planning Act checks and balances approach involving a political economic strategy of furious activity at any cost in any direction enriching a few and making the many miserable, in the blind hope that powerful vested interests in the Big Media and Business will like this NSW ALP Govt.
    It's as if the Govt has given up on the very concept of good
    governance, and that is quite tragic for us and them.


    Posted by editor at 12:14 PM EADT
    Updated: Friday, 1 February 2008 2:53 AM EADT
    Sunday, 27 January 2008
    Media briefs in lieu of Sunday Talkies - 27 Jan 08
    Mood:  caffeinated
    Topic: big media

    1. Paddy McGuinness has died. We chatted with him a few times actually in our street press delivery days, him sitted at the Unity Hall Hotel watching the street life, and given our domicile a year in Balmain in 2005-6. PP was a contrarian curmudgeon rascally taciturn figure, likeable for being so fierce. Never giving an inch, regardless of my deference and olive branch bonhomie to a veteran stager in the game of real politik. It's no wonder such an uncompromising character has died relatively young. It's not a sustainable philosophy and not wise, albeit entertaining.

    Recently we wrote:

    Thursday, 17 January 2008
    ..... 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. [bold added]
    Prescient, and a bit spooky. We don't much like sledging the dead, and we swear we didn't know of his long illness.
    Recently we took to counting the 'bodies of enemies floating down the river' as one of the few consolation of grovel endurance in a 16 year career so far as an exponent of activist media/environmental politics goes. Some were metaphorical bodies I suppose retired hurt so to speak still dog paddling with the current, others stone cold face down, no second wind there. Some sincere philosophical rivals as above, some superficial or accidental/random frictions of no real consequence.
    Some of them heart attack, some cancer, some young, some old. Some famous, some of no account at all but with a cunning for disruption. It's a little worrying to get that feeling, a feeling of unexpected responsibility for one's psychological insights and advocacy. Hopefully it's just a Walter Mitty style egotistical fantasy or coincidence, certainly some of our allies have come a cropper too.


    2. Speaking of death - Glenn Milne does his profession proud with sensitive coverage of Heath Ledger's death in the Sunday Telegraph today in two articles, covering the G'Day USA event there and a thinly veiled swipe at 'hard' New York's celebrity culture as the Sunscreen song goes: see YouTube for the catchy song
     'live once in New York but leave before it makes you hard, live once in Northern California but leave before it makes you soft'
    Glenn who himself was quoted on Insiders once 'against the Iraq war' in highly qualified way about leaving it to the vote which Latham in 2004 lost, sails close to criticising his own News Corp use of the paparazzi grifters. In that he would be right. As if this second article is self criticism it may not actually be on their website and well worth extracting here because Milne is going beyond the brief, and you just know he means it. Good stuff: Moving and worrying:

    Just noticed significant insights here if a little clinical by Sophie Gee last Friday SMH too how Ledger went "independent", manifested an "expatriate generation". We would add strived for class over safety.


    3. The same Sunday Telegraph gives a tickle up to new compere Deborah Cameron there at 'tough gig' 702 mid morn show:
     It's flattering in a bitchy back handed sort of way: A quite friendly photo showing a calm mildly amused Cameron stalked (see above) getting into a car with a bit longer hair than her PR photo buzzcut. The story angle is so called lack of savvy with the radio technology and clunky reading vibe for lack of familiarity with the geeky panel, which apparently is a bit like controls of a Boeing 777 and fairly hard to do unassisted, at least until one learns .... how to drive a 777. 


    The sledge is leavened by the recognition of deep journalistic credentials, the demonstrated loyalty and understated vote of confidence of the 'Kremlin' colleagues as Stephen Mayne amusingly refers to the head office of the ABC public broadcaster, and the embedded running dog capitalist bias of the organ (Sunday Tele) running the article. 


    We predicted such a sledge soon enough in feedback corro expecting it from another source - actually Gerard Henderson in Fairfax - perhaps naive given the SMH is Cameron's "alma mater" and would be seen as quite bad form even for hard man Gerard, potentially weakening his hold on the space there. Best left alone in his case. It was Henderson who focused previously on the preceding presenter Trigger Trioli because it is real politik. 


    A tickle up on Cameron adding some gratituitous pressure but she will be and has been fine, assuming as Trigger Trioli would say she concentrates on what's in her lane i.e. the task at hand including nuts and bolts, hold fast, steady as it goes. And we like her work which won't be any help of course  in the contested neutrality stakes.


    4. Perhaps the balancer was the cover story the previous day of colourful ABC programme production managers Courtney Gisbon and Amanda Duthie  in colour The Australian Magazine where in the ABC since 2003 (ie the new regime under ex PM Howard Board members) are postured as the ratings meritocracy for various comedy shows. Gibson "It's always nice to give the commercials a smack now and then." Meow!


    5. Racism is on the run. The Australia Day January 26th wrap around coverage in the Saturday Daily Telegraph yesterday corroborates that editor David Penberthy may (or may not!) be a smart arse, a running dog capitalist sellout, a bully and irresponsible flippant bastard, but one thing he is not is a racist. And thank heaven for that in terms of social fabric. The Ch7 Sunrise footage carries biffo scenes of alcohol affected pride games in Perth and somewhere else but Sydney is quiet and that's really where it counts. ABC news room advise there is no biffo to report here so far anyway.

    Come on David, we know about your saving grace: Ever since you mentioned your 2nd family experience there in Mexico which implies you are no stranger to the Castellano either. A man for his times unlike some others.  The relevant front page is shown above. It's about the reverse of what The Bulletin became famous then infamous for before dying an arguably natural death this week.


    6. The cute choice of Lee Kernoghan as Australian of the Year, as per Ch7 Sunrise coverage with poise and modest charm, not to mention communication skills, will reflect well on a federal ALP PR machine, with PM Rudd and Premier Iemma in attendance at Tamworth. The choice actually is a subtle blow at the heart of National Party and ultra right Liberal Party redneckery in Rural and Regional Australia (RARA) to annexe such a popular country figure to high profile PR role.
    Lee looks to be quite a commercial friendly product too with his Toyota T-shirt on, and charity work for struggling farmers, and nationalistic loyalty. You can be pretty sure there won't be any ethnic intolerance in this cupboard. And you can be pretty sure the federal ALP will be working up a rural industry political-economic agenda too behind this symbolic choice of Kernoghan. Just like Bob Carr's country labor in NSW sought to appease Big Agri with wanton negligence over landclearing with tragic legacies and momentum reflected in reportage today:
    Land-clearing cases stuck in log jam THE State Government is at loggerheads with a major union and the green movement over illegal land clearing, with claims that offenders have almost no chance of getting caught.
    One hopes Rudd ALP don't go down that path for all our ecological sakes.


    7. Ripping yarns of seafaring courage in the Herald yesterday regarding Paul Watson (and crew) who doesn't quite cut the figure of a young Horatio Hornblower but then Watson and the Sea Shepherd are for real and the CS Forester created fiction is an amalgam of Nelson, Cook etc then made into cracking tv series.

    8. The NSW Govt machine is running a story that the $7 billion public private M4 East tunnel tollway with interchange "under Anandale in Sydney's Inner West will go ahead in a short number of weeks. It' said to be a joint announcement between the Federal and State ALP Govt's, and dependent on $3B in funds from electricity privatisation as well as predicted toll revenues:

    $7bn missing link to be announced soon | The Australian

    'Missing link' road will cost over $7bn | The Australian

    Super ideal to provide funds for infrastructure | The Australian

    If it is true, which we assume it is, it puts the lie to Kevin Rudd's main priority to tackle climate change because endless growth in container imports and export of empty ones which is driving the transport linkage to Port Botany, can only massively increase greenhouse gas embedded production. As well making health and amenity hell for at least 1 million citizens in dormitory suburbs. In other words Kevin Rudd is effectively shown to be liar on climate change action he claims to be the priority this Australia Day weekend:

    We must prevail in year of challenges | The Australian

    This looks very much like:

    Strong-arm tacticians  THE meeting was in a room in the NSW Premier's Department. [The Australian 26th Jan 2008]

    In particular

    "The minister [Sartor] can declare a site to be "state-significant", giving developers the go-ahead on big projects. Under Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, projects that are objectively of state significance can go to the minister. Brad Hazard, the Opposition's planning spokesman, says of the Government's planning actions: "The reality is that anything Frank wants to get his hands on to, he takes."

    In other words planning is under control of a modern Mussolini, making the development approvals 'train run on time' with no democracy and precious little justice. More detail on the Port Botany intensification impacts across Sydney here:

    Friday, 18 January 2008
    It's a wholesale repudiation of the ALP's 1979 Planning Act checks and balances approach involving a political economic strategy of furious activity at any cost in any direction enriching a few and making the many miserable, in the blind hope that powerful vested interests in the Big Media and Business will like this NSW ALP Govt. It's as if the Govt has given up on the very concept of good governance, and that is quite tragic for us and them.



    Posted by editor at 7:17 AM EADT
    Updated: Monday, 28 January 2008 6:21 PM EADT
    Saturday, 26 January 2008
    Peter Garrett PR for Australia Day mixes substance and expedience at Bondi
    Mood:  lucky
    Topic: aust govt

    We got the tip off of a media event at 10 am Friday 25th and sure enough it ran on ABC tv news last night in a set piece PR exercise by the theatrical Minister Peter Garrett.

    Bondi Beach was to be listed on the National Heritage list of some kind, some 65 hectares from Ben Buckler cliffs to McKenzies point including surf clubs 'and parkland'. And herein is where the listing moves into the area of policy substance (as below) and not simply expedient PR to avoid the high level threats to national heritage in Tasmanian forests, Botany Bay where the British navy first made land fall or indeed Port Phillip Bay subject to highly controversial dredging at the narrow entrance.

    In this sense our cynicism hat was in place. But you have to admit the event was done well. Profound welcome to country by La Perouse elder Uncle Les Davison (somewhat beaten down by life but a real survivor) shown in this picture with local Cr Dominik Wykanak centre, and bus driver Steve Raguckas waste campaigner. These three are promoting these recycling bags:


    We have written before of the quite bogus attempts to justify a private heavy rail in public parkland at Bondi Beach privatising the revenue of the highly profitable public 380 bus service, itself a preface for Gold Coast style high rise over the sold off airspace rights (plenty of precedent too e.g. Bondi Junction):

    We thank a local beach beauty with brains for this angle as we chatted over what the politicians were up to: A local who still remembers the train plan from 10 years back. Quite a parry on our cynical fairly justified analysis we passed on to such as Peter Harvey the veteran attack dog from Ch9 60 Minutes in the audience.

    So with any luck this listing will finally knock off that agenda from 1996 - when Cr Paul Pearce joined this writer in opposing that ALP state govt plan when it counted, later became Mayor, then local MP for Coogee and his partner Ingrid Strewe as current mayor of Waverley for the ALP with Garrett as MP for Kingsford Smith. So much for the substance which may or may not have been the real motives of these pollies here:

    Because its level of threat that really clarifies the relevance of extra protection designations. The cliche of the Opera House, Blue Mountains or other 'protection' decisions in the total absence of any real threat from the industry or developer lobby (way too smart to stalk politically impossible targets) does get quite grating for vocational conservationists: Never forget the forest giants getting done over right now:


         Logging coupe bordering Snowy River National Park      Old growth logging in domestic water catchment      Logging protester halts clearfelling      Clearfelled old growth forest near Snowy River National Park      Public banned from National Park      micro cop on big log

    Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 12:54 PM
    Subject: geco needs you!

    logging has commenced in high conservation forest bordering the snowy river national park on yalmy road close to goongerah in far east gippsland. it is adjacent to the corrridor between the snowy & errinundra national parks promised to be reserved last state election. with a small crew geco braved difficult wet conditions to lock the coupe down until mid afternoon on monday (see geco.org.au for details).

    numbers are desperately needed out here now to defend the last of the largest stands of unprotected old growth forest on the mainland which vicforests have scheduled to log this year.

    a base camp is established at the goongerah campground on the brodribb river, bonang road, 70km's north of orbost. come self sufficient & fuel up in orbost.

    if you haven't been out b4, visiting the majestic forests of the far east is a life changing experience. the coastal beaches are not too crowded & very beautiful. the orbost exhibition centre is also worth a visit on the way thru...

    please come & join geco including bidawell traditional owners in our 14th summer of non-violent direct action & inspiring bush walks.

    if not you, who? if not now, when?


    We met some of our old sparring partners down at the event. Mayor Stewe waved me into the media tent with my customised name tag (solictor/SAM tag) with a trusting comment, and wary looks of the flak (fair enough too). Guess which one she is here (clue: looking straight back at the dude with the camera wrong side of the plastic taking experiemental pics):


    Peter Brennan 4 years as director of planning in cool dark blue suit, and quite amicable out in the sunshine and big fat wage. Such events are always a bit of a mind bender:

    For instance another story was running in the press earlier in that day was a mind bender. Water quality in Warragamba Dam affected by an algae growth. A real worry and fair story, but somehow related in timing sense to the return of Minister Koperberg into harness responsible for water, who can hardly be blamed for the weather and rainfall patterns.

    Already a senior left wing MP who one presumes will speak against the premier on the big ticket power privatisation when the time comes. We suggested as much to MP Pearce who is also on record against the sell off. At which time he decided to move out of camera frame!

    Meanwhile just back from the beach the wheels of commerce continue to turn with renovation of the old ugly singular high rise motel on the strip with no doubt 'existing use' rights in terms of bulk, such are the legacies of life ( more detail  here in a pdf file Nov 05 and also here before the councillors in the weary meeting process:



    Posted by editor at 7:33 AM EADT
    Updated: Sunday, 27 January 2008 9:51 AM EADT
    More Banksy found and lost in Enmore?
    Mood:  lyrical
    Topic: culture


    Picture: echoes of a 2nd Banksy in Enmore now lost to a giant tagger and replacement door panel?  

    We dropped in to the Auscrap folks in Enmore which is one of the last light industrial activities in that part of town. The macho cashier knows me from years of metal recycling now. $50 on the ABN thankyou very much. So I tell him about my previous article here featuring Banksy at Alfalfa House organic food co-op. How it could be worth alot of money too, 'not that I care about that' feigning disinterest.

    Now this guy is no art critic and was quite apathetic, didn't really know of Banksy from a bar of soap. But he thinks he remembers him ...(!)

    "He did one here too, about a year ago, came in and asked permission. But I think someone went over it. Out the gate and not the first roller door but the second one ... tall guy with long hair." Quite neutral attitude as my excitement and sense of melodrama begins to rise.

    Okay, I say let's check it out. There is a suspicious trace of a lower half of "Banksy!!" signature obscured by a giant local tagger. "Yeah that's it" says the cashier.  Would Banksy write "Keep it fresh" or was it the later tagger? 

    Who knows. It might or might not have been the dude. It might have been a pretend Banksy sign off?

    But then you get to wonder from another stencil location that he's been around - look at this image on his official website,


     and then this smiley face photographed in Enmore two days ago right down to the side creases on the mouth and vertical ovoid eyes, and the cynical "who watches the watchmen". Who knows. Imitation is sincere flattery. Even the power plug is suggestive he's been lurking amongst us. Then again it could be the local fans from the School of Performing Arts in Newtown:

    Here is the full panel of the roller door back of Auscrap which looks a real mess now:

    "From the dark continent"? "One love" "peace out". Even the overflow up to the top left onto the brick work is a little suggestive.

    Counting against this interpretation may well be the signatures of Banksey on the official website are block stencil style, not cursive but they do have the exclamation (one not two).

    What makes us more convinced is he seems to like alternative business like the organic shop, and the metal recyclers, that is, a modern environmental theme. It's a cute mystery anyway.

    Posted by editor at 6:49 AM EADT
    Updated: Saturday, 26 January 2008 7:31 AM EADT
    Friday, 25 January 2008
    Banksy pearl diver before swine? Sydney council anti graffiti squad obviously not Banksy fans!
    Mood:  mischievious
    Topic: culture

    The Sydney Morning Herald ran this story recently, which was quite amusing and fitting for the Sydney Festival season:

    Details emerge of Banksy's Sydney visit - Arts - Entertainment ...

    Famous pair … the painting in Melbourne, left, and Enmore Road.

    SMH caption: Famous pair … the painting in Melbourne, left, and Enmore Road.

    Naturally we went to check it out in person: And the story gets more interesting again since that went to print on January 17th 08.

    Yesterday we saw what Stevie Bee, the information officer of Alfalfa House Food Co-op, notes was an unfortunate example of Marrickville Council workers dilligence in removing tag graffiti also scrubbing the now famous Banksy 'child-pearl diver helmet' figure. As you can see it's starting to fade, and the tag artists are still going at it too:


    But we ought not be too harsh on the less than avante guard loving street cleaners. As will be seen there is other proud Australian stencilling that is preserved nearby, but further back from the main street. Are the council workers making a nationalistic point? Everyone's a critic?

    Organiser at the great and good Alfalfa had more: The owner they rent from has agreed tentatively to a mural on that side of the building. The wall opposite has been painted over and avoided tag vandalism for a while now. He also amusingly suggested it raises the question whether Banksy is better than the local stuff and who gets to decide?

    We took that with a grain of salt until we happened onto nearby stencils of variable merit with the apparent blessing of another wall owner, and see below too the intriguing concrete (!) remote control, making another obscure point about modern existence. Art with kicka*se social comment is far from washed up in Enmore:




    Posted by editor at 6:58 AM EADT
    Updated: Friday, 25 January 2008 7:58 AM EADT
    Thursday, 24 January 2008
    Adam Spencer plays the comic on abc website
    Mood:  happy
    Topic: big media

    This direct quote below is very funny, and not what you expect on the website for Aunty's main station in Australia's biggest city:

    About Adam Spencer

    Adam Spencer

    702 Breakfast Presenter Adam Spencer's early years are shrouded in mystery.

    He was discovered by the famed British explorer and spice trader Spencer Barrington living with Ethiopian wolves (also known as simien foxes or by their scientific name Canis simensis) in the lower reaches of the Afro Alpine Mountains in the early 1870's.

    Barrington took the wolf-child, who at this stage walked on all fours, spoke only in deep howls and hunted at night, and returned him to England where he toured with various circuses and public science fairs - all the while Barrington submitted his specimen for analysis by the finest minds of the day.

    One journal entry at the time, by a certain Lord Palmerston of Cheshire reads "This crazy wolf-child, hands taut like claws, his back arched and ready to spring, baying and devil-eyed, still, in a bizarre way, emanated a certain humanity - as if speaking to us all as to how thin the line between noble man and savage beast could be".

    After several years of constant immersion in the human world, and with absolutely no contact with his wolf brothers and sisters, "Adam" as he had become known (from the Hebrew name meaning "Man of red earth" to indicate his African origins) began to display increasingly human characteristics - by what was estimated to be his tenth birthday he was walking upright.

    Adam continues to amaze anthropologists and primatologists alike with his increasing adaptation to western society - with the exception of his limited command of the English language and a fear of modern hygiene regimes he can virtually pass as a regular citizen.

    We hope you enjoy breakfast with Adam Barrington Spencer on 702

     Or, you can also read Adam's fantasy bio.

    Now if only we could get a podcast of his broadcasts to see the interviews we missed this last 2 days that would be even better. The levity sort of suggests Spencer is not too concerned about the serious news or indeed influencing same with high level journalism, and that's not to say he can't deliver on that either. Is this best service by Aunty's loyal servant? It probably cranks the ratings, while others might prefer it simply sets the standards, which can be a tension.

    Posted by editor at 8:31 PM EADT
    Updated: Thursday, 24 January 2008 8:55 PM EADT
    The sad, sad death of Heath Ledger, Australian actor
    Mood:  sad
    Topic: culture

    When we saw all the front pages similarly reflected on the web here and here about the death of Heath Ledger our initial reaction was 'What's wrong with society?' that such a talent could die at 28. My neighbour a South American guy and parent was chatting and also was shaking his head with 'People who can't handle life, so many poor people have got it much harder'. No doubt common reactions on the street everywhere and many more besides.

    We got to pondering about that age bracket:

    20ies are such a vulnerable time

    This is quite an upsetting fate for this young artist. Sure it's small in the scheme of things but somehow emblematic too of how dysfunctional our world can be. Which is why the Big Media are on the money covering this to address their audience interest. It underlines too why all that lost money on the markets is not really the main game in life.

    A big tragedy for a few, a small tragedy for millions, and totally irrelevant to most people in this world beyond Australia or the entertainment industry.

    But I do think there is a strong message here. In our twenties we are very vulnerable to misadventure if my own experience is anything to go by. 

    By that stage our minds are pretty much fully grown in terms of ability, our body is a blade and seemingly indestructible, with great powers of recovery, but our memory banks are a long way from fully uploaded with hard won experiences of danger and risk. We're like a sports car revving that doesn't know what the tyres are capable of at speed. My own misadventure was an abortive approach to Mt Cook, then malaria for a week in Lae a town on the north coast of PNG after a solo trek up the Kokoda Track. Alone and nearly broke with no plane ticket and help of precious uni friends the only way out when they wired me some dough. No fun at all. It could have turned out quite badly and it was a big teacher. On return and recovery we had a crayfish dinner in Black Mountain resturaunt (towers over the city like a giant hyperdermic) Canberra to celebrate and say thankyou over and above repaying the debt - my shout.

    Most of us get to survive and some don't, like that Into the Wild guy Christopher McCandless, and maybe Heath Ledger here. Like the terrible demise of the 2 spray can artists last Sunday in the storm water drain

    Some of the press are suggestive he was suffering bad sleep deprivation having gone deep into his role as The Joker, homicidal maniac character, and that his work had been inspired. That's high level acting - a frightening business of psychological maleability losing your id to the work. If I'm right it's a very dangerous business getting lost in an emotional whirlpool of your own mind to feed the entertainment and art monster ... and of course pay the bills, no doubt.

    All being well in your thirties you get alot of perspective, learn alot about how to find help without losing your pride or dignity, some real wisdom and skills on sustainability, and in your forties if you avoid the drugs you can build up a profound rythym which can withstand quite a few hard knocks or disruptions a bit like a good cyclist at moderate speed whacked by the odd branch or pothole. 

    I find it upsetting because my guess anyone in the 20ies will recognise a bit of themselves in Heath Ledger's death, and anyone who survived probably will too. Damn and blast. It makes it worse when the victim, like some artists, already has such sensitive instrumentation they are at greater risk of being derailed. He might have become more robust with time and contributed so much in a longer life. As Pomeranz on Sydney 702 radio has said what a waste.

    Condolences to his family, mother of his child, and especially his child who will hardly know him direct. 

    Then we contemplated the immediate specifics of his situation and herein is a strong line of inquiry (?). Indeed it reminds of last New Years Eve when I bunked off a neighbours happy soiree, people I wanted to know and impress but just didn't have the gumption for whatever reason, and the self awareness too. I went for a long walk instead (20km!).  I left them a friendly card next day which worked:

    Not so much G'day as goodbye, and so it is

    The Herald paper version today carries a headline suggesting he was contemplating his mortality in an interview for the Bob Dylan biopic, but that's what new parents do when they see their genetic function achieved. I think the headline on page 4 of the Herald is probably a bit misleading in this respect. [Also given the Dylan biography is very philosophical.]

    I wonder what the social pressure of the G'day set piece tourism, high society function might have meant for him? The reports are that a pall of gloom descended on the event at the news of his sudden death. Clearly there was an emotional link of Heath Ledger to the crowd there - in both directions?

    It's well known he reacted adversely to social conflict with the entertainment press, still growing that thick skin I would say, as you tend to do in politics as well.

    Could the quandary of not attending the G'day event, and all the history of conflict here in Sydney with the paparazzi have raised big problems for him? Not their fault so much as the private hell of a compatriot?

    Should he go, where ostensibly he belongs in the mileau of successful Aussies, yet knowing it would be hell to be in the crowd with the paparazzi insecure at how they might treat him? Or how he might behave?

    There's nothing quite like a party that you can't face going to, with all those 'happy folks' already reported in the media, of his kind of people Aussie Americans, to cause emotional strife, worry, sleeping pills? The confusion of wanting/not wanting to go. Ashamed or fearful of his own unhappiness in the Brideshead Revisited sense?

    Death by emotional anguish? An Australian Abroad who was taking water, who'd lost the ability to swim in a brewing sea, no one close by with the life belt and he wasn't even waving the arm for help? Damn and blast.


    Postscript #1 25th January 2008

    And so Heath Ledger 'got the chills' and goes 'ramblin on' as this great old song of folk bard Pete Seeger made famous, a song recalling the very tough 1930ies depression times of such as Woody Guthrie:


    And by the same artist Pete Seeger captures the current situation with great acuity back in 1963 re the death of Marilyn Monroe, so very strong in the singing too, unfortunately not on YouTube:


    Who killed Norma Jean?
    I, said the City, as a civic duty,
    I killed Norma Jean.

    Who saw her die?
    I, said the Night, and a bedroom light,
    We saw her die.

    Who'll catch her blood?
    I, said the Fan, with my little pan,
    I'll catch her blood.

    Who'll make her shroud?
    I, said the Lover, my guilt to cover,
    I'll make her shroud.

    Who'll dig her grave?
    The tourist will come and join in the fun,
    He'll dig her grave.

    Who'll be chief mourners?
    We who represent, and lose our ten percent.
    We'll be the chief mourners.

    Who'll bear the pall?
    We, said the Press, in pain and distress,
    We'll bear the pall.

    Who'll toll the bell?
    I, screamed the mother, locked in her tower,
    I'll pull the bell.

    Who'll soon forget?
    I, said the Page, beginning to fade,
    I'll be the first to forget.

    Words by Norman Rosten
    Music by Pete Seeger
    TRO (c) 1963 (renewed) and 1964 (renewed) Ludlow Music, NY


    Ledger was on Enough Rope in late March 2003, speaking out against the Iraq War soon after 250-500,000 marched against the war in Feb 2003 in downtown Sydney, perhaps emboldened to take the peace position into the public domain 'contra mundum' ie 'against the world', at least the big business world of 2003 who controlled his professional life out of the USA or News Ltd here.

    The paparazzi are generally sub-contracted out like organised crime from the Big Media, doing stuff to get content the corporations would never openly authorise their retained staff to do, so they can sneakily buy in the often ill gotten images. The sneaking around windows, the photos over fences, the constant stalking. Pathetic stuff.

    Nicole Kidman has been 'fair game' in much the same way with movies like The Interpreter boosting the stature of the United Nations at a sensitive time in geo politik in 2005 also against the Iraq War and effectively W Bush presidency.

    The Interpreter film poster

    This is why Ledger ended up using a similar tactic to what we like, carrying a camera and clicking the grubs doing the dirty stalking work indirectly for the Big Media, to meet their arrogant harrassment. We strongly suspect the sub text in Ledger's case was News Ltd green lighting harrassment for a political position in favour of the Iraq war. 

    Certainly it's a whole new experience for the self aggrandising paparazzi wankers getting their picture taken. Money can't save them then. It's publicity discipline on PR thugs. Just as the journos don't really like their work being reported on sharply, without fear or favour. There's power in being behind the camera, and I know they don't like their picture taken, the same way I prefer to not be in the frame for my own privacy.

    And so the battle of perception moves on. RIP Heath Ledger. 

    Posted by editor at 12:05 PM EADT
    Updated: Sunday, 27 January 2008 7:01 AM EADT
    Wednesday, 23 January 2008
    Mike Carlton aka Predator at work at Turrella IMC base 2001-2003
    Mood:  special
    Topic: independent media


    This and similar coverage yesterday relates to 'urban caving' and  prompted our memories of Mike Carlton aka Predator, so named due to his front teech being somewhat curved. In fact he was very laid back and mild mannered, more the intellectual albeit adventurous in so many directions. As will be seen below he came a cropper in a legal disagreement with this writer but there is no gainsaying his profound contribution to global community media self publishing via Sydney Indy Media from the mid 1990ies which became a phenomenon and still is to some degree. He was an information technology champion of the community sector and revered by many to this day as a secular saint for his intrepid work in the IT field.

    We knew him vaguely at a Lord St wharehouse in St Peters, now gentrified, at a neighbouring office but much more at Turrella as pictured below. My favourite memory of him was being confronted by no electricity feed and no help from the energy company while negotiating the lease. We went to look at the factory (legally via real estate agent license)  in about August 2001 and he immediately vaulted up to the gap at the top of the door, no easy feat, to look into the substation inside. This was a privately owned facility feeding the factory, a high user. We ended up hiring a qualified electrician but you couldn't doubt Mike's enthusiasm for the task and experience in tight places. Something I was to learn alot about doing temporary plumbing after the factory employees (according to rumour) ripped off all the copper piping in 1999 or so.

    Our experiences of Mike were brief and might have been alot more positive but for the influence of  what we think of as 'dark arts' during that time. Our practical antitode was to get into gardening and murals:




    Though grim and ugly from outside, the recycled factory spaces inside were very comfortable. It's a real tragedy images of the inside working spaces have been lost. This image is indicative only.


    This gate [pictured below 2008] is a sensible addition to the safety of the site as the neighbourhood children used to come exploring when the place was empty for 2 years 99-01. We would warn them off from the occupancy starting late 2001.

    This (below) is the location of the vaulting Mike Carlton up to that narrow space at the top. He was a whippet like character. Lithe and strong.


    With all the attention on public safety, and criticism of extreme risk taking, it's worth noting this was a decommissioned factory site, and these files/diagrams pictured below were a legacy of the operational factory space of 1995, closed in 1999. Even so the 2001 lease terms were careful to exclude any liability for the 'abandoned' state. This was indeed an industrial adventure 'playground' and we were the colonisers of a dormant space making it more palatable for a furniture business and other tenants thereafter: As often happens with property redevelopment phases from disaster to gentrification. 

    Above is the rural inspired polypropylene temporary plumbing, not as easy as it looks, strung through a hole in the external wall and then 50 metres of the (usually) non trafficable services level not visible here (imagine a dirty liftwell turned on its side, with room to crawl) to toilets and kitchen.

    Old machines were still in place and quite ugly but they were softened at the time by local attempts at the Gaudi treatment. 

    If we'd had out time over we would have been alot more discerning about who was brought into the project and on what conditions. We took a totally open minded view initially, so much so we were left very unprotected when the time for enjoying the result and accounting for (labour/financial) equity. Now we are very careful to invest in our own equity up front when it comes to community work because it's very easy to be exploited by the carefree (careless) commons or those with nothing to lose. Live and learn.


    Gaudi influences straight from Barcelona in 2002 are shown here below, channeling all that legal and political frustration in a constructive way into the outdoor spaces that no one cared to contest.



    Not so long after this notice we had our stuff dumped on the street briefly which also happened to one of the Sussex St ALP hard cases at one point (Albanese, Faulkner?) too and look at both of them now. Fortunately there was plenty of initiative left in the tank and supporters over the years after an inspiring world trip and soon it was us refusing to sign a confidentiality clause in a settlement deal before the Supreme Court in 2003 a few months later hence the detail here.

    Sometimes we suspect Mike's supreme self confidence hit a reef with this outright reversal regarding the position of influence he took on the lease dispute. He couldn't have known the money I put up personally to secure the bond, float the substantial initial rent or long hours cleaning buckets (about 10) of rust off high metal girders to make spaces rentable, crawling through grease to connect the water, or research and negotiations to sub let so many spaces. I think such a logical character was misled by a critical mass of grifters most of whom were foreigners with little or no loyalty to the existing ngo landscape or genuine credentials. To them it was all about privatising control over rental space earmarked for public bodies.


    ...............#1 of 2 

    [Imc-sydney] Re: [Catkore] situation I Henry St Hub/IMC


    [Imc-sydney] Re: [Catkore] situation I Henry St Hub/IMC



    Mon, 12 Aug 2002 15:47:55 +1000


    Hi Tom,

    sorry about what must be a difficult homecoming for you.

    Let us know if we can help resolve it somehow.


    Hope you don't mind me forwarding this to the IMC list. Thanks for

    filling cat in, but we really aren't the IMC itself, and we need

    to keep IMCers who aren't in cat informed too. Best to write to

    both of us.





    Tom McLoughlin wrote:


    > Please note: this list is archived and searchable via the web.


    > Hello, after 3 months travelling distant lands.


    > Yesterday 8th August I had a good chat with the real estate agent for 1

    > Henry St which includes IMC and he confirmed that until I complete legal

    > formalities I remain a joint leaseholder of 1 Henry St with Friends of the

    > Earth and Donald Urquhart and jointly/severally liable for finances

    > including payment of rent.


    > I said I would get off the lease AFTER considering the situation and when I

    > am ready. Now I have asked in writing for a financial report from Donald -

    > who is now my ex business partner (and who is also on the lease with FoE) -

    > as the rental account I maintained in a healthy state is now at zero (but

    > with August rent paid).


    > IMC doesn't pay rent but over 9 other non profit tenants do (including

    > artists) and I negotiated lease agreements fully or partly with most of

    > them. So my concern is that future rent, provision for bond, provision for

    > power bill, provision for maintenance, advance rent, which were all

    > consolidated in that rental account all still exist as legally required.

    > Otherwise there could be a rental default on the head lease affecting

    > everyone or misappropriation of funds. I want to keep my good relations with

    > these community groups.


    > I've asked for this financial report within 3 days as it has not been

    > forthcoming yet. It may be all is well but before I get off the lease I need

    > that reassurance.


    > Secondly, in the two weeks before I left on my trip a proposal was made by a

    > live in tenant to keep the room next to IMC promised to the City Hub as a

    > dining room and put the Hub inside the IMC space. I actively blocked the

    > scheme because:


    > 1. the original incentive for IMC to move out to Turrella was exclusive

    > space for IMC's uses. I saw dumping the Hub and its substantial office needs

    > into IMC as a breach of faith and unethical business, possibly illegal given

    > the original implied contract between the head leasees and IMC. I was

    > incredulous at the suggestion.


    > 2. My then business partner Donald had also agreed to the Hub moving into

    > the empty room on certain rental terms, and the commune of live in tenants

    > had also specifically agreed to the room being available to the Hub also at

    > a formal meeting a week previous.


    > 3. The Hub takes a significant amount of radical politics to a city audience

    > that would normally never use the IMC or similar information providers.

    > Given the threats to our democratic political system this is incredibly

    > valuable. There was obvious synergies with other activities at 1 Henry St.


    > The installation of the Hub was difficult with some hiccups because no one

    > else helped me. I made some mistakes in the set up and had to fix them. I

    > was forced to confront a late attempt to  establish a dining room despite

    > polite forewarning of the Hub move being operational. Still the office and

    > phone lines were installed and the owner of the Hub was completely satisfied

    > with the set up.


    > But it seems some or all of the live in commune as distinct from majority

    > other tenants, despite earlier approval of the Hub deal by the leaseholders,

    > were determined to retake the room for dining and/or reject the Hub or its

    > owner. A phoney rent dispute seems to have been created at a time when the

    > owner had 15 days of rent still paid up and 30 days rental bond in place.

    > How this could happen is a mystery to me. Another live in tenant at Turrella

    > lost her sales job with the Hub at this time mainly from lack of sales which

    > didn't help. The owner gave up and moved everything out but according to him

    > still has rent paid/bond paid up until Sept. 15th! It does look like a rough

    > deal on the Hub.


    > I have an interest in all this because I am doing paid delivery work for the

    > Hub again, because I jointly made the original deal and believe in business

    > ethics, and because Sydney needs the Hub or similar. I have being surveying

    > the situation, the empty Hub office, the phoenix like dining room, the

    > excessive corridor space, the extra fit out work here which does look

    > impressive, the Hub phone lines which have mysteriously gone (it took me

    > alot of time and work to connect those lines physically myself).


    > Overall its my strong view Turrella Centre has lost an important political

    > voice and opportuntiy in the Hub and it may be that Sydney could still lose

    > the Hub too as it is not particularly financial. A democratic political

    > system is a privilege and it has to be nurtured and defended especially at

    > the moment - its not God given - and the Hub is part of that struggle for

    > democracy. If you can help in some way to support the Sydney City Hub I

    > think it would be energy well spent.


    > Yours truly,


    > Tom McLoughlin, Ecology Action

    > joint leaseholder 1 Henry St Turrella

    > Hub distribution manager


    > 9th August 2002






    ................#2 of 2

    [Imc-sydney] that's 2pm 5th Dec: free speech - its hot, its great, lets keep it

    Tom McLoughlin Tue, 19 Nov 2002 06:40:29 +0000

    I welcome Predator's feedback which is his right. Please also note:


    - catkore is a specialised mail server for cat members mainly and cat has

    free rental/electricity space at turrella, hence polite notification of a

    meeting relating to the future of their space.I imagine potential demolition

    is of interest at least to some of them. The free rental/energy subsidy

    results from all the hard establishment work I helped with in sept01-May02.


    - Pred didn't mention he represents the wonderful FoE Sydney who seem to be



    - I'll be careful to bcc in future.


    - The dates of the meeting were raised simply as a proposal weeks ago in an

    open memo to everyone around, allowing for a couple of weeks lead up. There

    were no complaints about those times being a Thursday at 2pm. Jill of AR did

    email from overseas about returning on Dec 3rd, so it is with respect to her

    (they pay 1/4 the total rent) I have rescheduled. There was no feedback from

    Pred. Maybe his prediction will be correct that


    " it will not be attended by most of the people/groups with an interest in

    the premises,and any decisions made there will be unrepresentative."


    I don't have his crystal ball. Why pre-empt? There is no perfect time. I

    just wrote a proposal, copied it around, waited for feedback, and followed

    up. I think a discussion on the upcoming election and demolition plans are



    We should be clear the real estate agent "represents" the owner and no one

    else, especially in relation to future development. He takes my rent, gives

    me my own copy of the electricity bill on 11th Oct (for $3,100). He

    obviously has some legal relationship to me.


    It is true my name was crossed off the lease while I was overseas, in July I

    think, without permission. Imagine my surprise. The agent somehow (?)

    thought I had moved out (when in fact I had paid rent till end August and

    was still owed alot of money with bond.) On 3/10/02 the agent wrote all the

    joint leaseholders including me on my fax machine to say:


    "the lessor's support for the proposed arrangements [the change in the names

    on the lease] has been withdrawn [underlined]" and "support[s] the original

    intent of the lease"


    He said to me the owners quite rightly don't agree with "people taking

    matters into their own hands". Probably something to do with the law of the

    land ?


    I gave Energy Australia a briefing on the redundant half of the transformer

    yard - which is quite big - a fortnight ago. They wrote me on 8th November

    saying "thankyou for your assistance" and to the agent same day saying:


    "a recent site meeting with Tomas McLoughlin ...proved most helpful

    ....access has been gained by several people at various times [including

    Predator I expect]...Energy Australia has no ohjection in principal to the

    southern [redundant] area ... being segregated ... in order for the area to

    be used by others ... Energy Australia will be pleased to assist in this



    They also note the factory substation unlike normal substations belongs to

    the factory not them, but they need to be consulted re safety. Basically

    there was absolutely no proximity of my signage work and the dangerous area

    30 metres away. An extra internal fence is a good idea - my idea actually to

    Energy Australia. The next entry into the space will probably be to build

    such a fence!


    I mean really what's a little meeting amongst all the assembled friends of

    the dirt?




    Tom, ecology action sydney



    From: <predator@cat.org.au>

    To: <Undisclosed recipients:>

    Sent: Monday, November 18, 2002 5:44 PM

    Subject: meta-spam email



    >Another day, another load of spam from the indefatigable Mr McLoughlin!

    >My apologies for perhaps emulating this behaviour in attempting to keep

    >you informed.


    >Tom has persisted in posting multiple unsolicited emails to catkore (a

    >publically archived and searchable list), and since he has included _your_

    >email address in cleartext (sometimes several of your email addresses) in

    >these messages, you can expect an increased load of unsolicted advertising

    >in your email intray. This is due to the fact that spam-robot email

    >address harvesters trawl the Catkore archives (and every other archive,



    website, newsgroup, etc), so your email addresses will be added to the

    >lists of valid emails to which junk email will then be sent, and within

    >short order you'll be made aware of fabulous savings to be had on human

    >growth hormones, Nigerian banking scams, obscure surgical procedures, etc.


    >The rescheduled date for Tom's proposed meeting is not one which has been

    >arrived at by any sort of negotiation process with most of the groups Tom

    >would like to attend the (proposed) meeting, and it appears to be changed

    >mainly to suit his own schedule. This maximises the number of people who

    >are disadvantaged by Tom's inability to _negotiate_ (rather than simply

    >impose) a date and time to attend; if it goes ahead at all it will not be

    >attended by most of the people/groups with an interest in the premises,

    >and any decisions made there will be unrepresentative.

    >Until such time as Tom actually asks all parties concerned to suggest

    >convenient dates that they can all attend, any dates/times he proposes,

    >and any draft agendas he offers, should probably be ignored.


    >The agent remains silent because the agent is not in a position to

    >represent Tom since (despite his repeated claims) Tom is not a leaseholder

    >and it is therefore not the agent's onus to represent him.


    >Tom should not be encouraged to do any additional signage work since, in

    >order to do it, he trespasses into a fenced-off, energised 11,000 volt

    >transformer yard and in so doing risks severe injury and death by

    >electrocution. He has now been told not to enter into the enclosed

    >transformer yard by Sydney Electricity.

    >Please feel free at this point to return to your other, infinitely more

    >exciting, electronic correspondance. Sorry to bore you with this stuff.

    >Kind Regards -





    Ever since the Rum Rebelliion Sydney seems to have been defined by land use politics. Who would have thought it was no different amongst the good guys? The above materials do indicate ngo, Green Party, local council/developer and community media machinations of diverse characters all over this cheap rental space: 1000 sqm p.a. at $30 sqm, or $2860 per month.  Very cheap 30 minutes from the CBD yet still a big ask for poor activists in a large raw unserviced space. Mike Carlton played a strong role in helping the set up before the conflicts set in.

    This period of our career was equal parts vaudeville, fear and loathing and legal gymnastics. We felt very sorry for Predator aka Mike Carlton suffering a fatal illness in 2003-4 perhaps conned into signing the false eviction notice above. It can't have done his state of mind any good.

    In 2001 Mike  helped investigate (legally) how to re connect power to a 1000 sq metre fraction of the mothballed Streets Ice Cream Factory. We were stuck in a grey area between Energy Australia and Pacific Power after market contestability was introduced but neither wanted the universal service obligation for a minnow. Now we notice a wholly new power pole on the frontage in 2008. We had a lease for the space but needed to connect water, power and make it safe for use with incredible residual plant all over this huge food factory space.

    This writer who alone discovered this factory site opportunity for the community sector despite what you might read then tipped off a reputed desperado looking for real estate in about August 2001 namely Dillon about an even rougher space adjacent to 1 Henry St, technically 3 Henry Street which is now known as Mekanarky going 6 years now. They had a huge task setting up too.

    We took many inside photographs at the expiration of the formal 3 year + 1 year option in late 2005. Sadly we either lost or had our camera stolen which may explain why we can't find the evocative images of factory spaces renovated for reuse. We had some 15 different tenants which this writer negotiated the great majority, as well as 50% of the fitout over 6 months then 3 month world trip to return to litigation to defend the achievement. The Indymedia and Catkore IT spaces were impressive, as were the 5 art studios, tv studio, with office spaces.

    It was all a bit too close to M5 East Stack pollution in nearby Turrella Reserve shown below but a very educational experience for the 4 years we worked and lived there. The school rezoning and DA 2002-04 never went ahead. Just another vested interest seeking to gazump the lease amongst many.

    It was very fitting that Predator's wake was held at Turrella. It was the better part of discretion to not attend but he was a very significant contributor in his own way.

    Posted by editor at 6:47 AM EADT
    Updated: Thursday, 24 January 2008 10:47 AM EADT
    Monday, 21 January 2008
    NSW Energy privatisation: Trusties on new committee make it a sell off stack?
    Mood:  incredulous
    Topic: nsw govt

    Cartoon via Sydney Morning Herald 2007

    Apparently Morris Iemma has been promoting a colour brochure of his effective leadership within the NSW ALP Parliamentary party. This must take the role of spin by the ALP machine to even greater heights:

    Premier calls in spin doctors to help power sale bid | The Daily Telegraph  19 Jan 2008

    It also suggests Iemma is really quite worried about his $15B privitisation agenda crashing and his leadership with it. Today we read of a new so called committee "to consider the effect of the sale on the state's electricity industry".

    Unsworth to head electricity committee 21 Jan 2008

    On face value it looks an obvious stack of the committee despite overwhelming public opposition, a numbers game fix beloved of Iemma & Co for a sale, as follows:

    A FORMER ALP state premier, Barrie Unsworth, will chair the group established by the State Government to consider the effect of the sale of the state's electricity industry./As a former union official who started his working life as an apprentice at Bunnerong power station, his selection has been endorsed by union representatives on the committee.

    Comment: Barrie arguably is a dependent of the Sussex St machine in retirement. He will want to deliver whatever they want in a majority report. Union endorsement suggests they believe Barrie's spirit is still willing on the idealistic front but we still think the flesh will be weak in time honoured ALP back room fashion. Unsworth will try to be an honest broker and mediate a deal for the machine.

    Other members include three union representatives - Ben Kruse of the United Services Union, Matt Thistlewaite of Unions NSW and Steve Turner of the Public Service Association

    Comment: all three will oppose privitisation unless instructions from the their union membership suddenly change. Unlikely. 

    - and two community representatives, UnitingCare's Reverend Harry Herbert ...

    Comment: Harry Herbert looking at welfare concerns has a history of constructive collaboration with the NSW ALP. He won't try to oppose the govt on principle but seek to salve his ethical conscience over loss of a natural monopoly/essential service out of public hands by mitigating impacts on the poor. No overt side deals on policy tradeoffs but you never know, like ongoing govt support for the MSIC

     .....and Jeff Angel of the Total Environment Centre.

    Comment: An honest representation would have included someone like Professor Stuart White of Institute of Sustainable Futures,  or Dr Mark Diesendorf of the Institute of Environmental Studies UNSW. Both of these are experts on renewable energy and conservation with good credentials as indepedent of politics. Angel, or "Angel of Death" as one cynical Greens local councillor refers to him has a highly controversial record in the broad green movement - inclusive of substantial Green Party with 3 MP's - for gazumping green campaigners with tradeoff deals with this NSW ALP Govt when they are in a tight spot. This well understood aspect of Angel as an ALP trusty keen for a deal is generally not reported by the Big Media fearful or contemptuous of more radical independent voices out of the ALP's grasp but the links provided here remain strong evidence of govt collaboration and we argue demonstrably at the expense of the public interest.

    Specifically on energy privatisation we can report this indicative anecdote of 1996 as reported by John Connor then exec officer of NSW Nature Conservation Council (later ALP aligned Climate Institute), with others including Jeff Angel in the foyer of Bob Carr's office for a lobbying meeting: There is a delay. Staff emerge and speak openly to these allies in the tough state election battle the year before: 'We are looking at a $450 million green fund out of the sale of the state's energy assets, like the Telstra $1B Natural Heritage Fund'.  Significantly the ALP advisers were cocksure of support of narrowly focused peak green group reps like Angel they had cut policy tradeoff deals with already and given the nascent Green Party were still no threat to that PR approach. Since 1996 this compromise on public interest policy has been greatly reinforced on such as:


    Government representatives are the director-general of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Robyn Kruk, and David Richmond, the co-ordinator-general of NSW, ....

    Comment: Both loyal govt public servants they will seek to deliver the energy industry sell off as instructed by their ministers/Premier.

     ....and two state ALP politicians, Steve Whan and Michael Daley.

    Comment: Both right wing Sussex St machine men. We understand Whan was pro Snowy Hydro sale until the wheels fell off in 2007 and will want to manage the politics of that again, otherwise do Iemma's bidding. Daley in Carr's seat in Maroubra is a creature (advisedly) of the Right who we understand has showed concern or at least agnosticism to noisy local branch members but privately stated it should have been sold years ago, and if the sale and similar policies eventually led to an economic crash (like the fear in the USA) then it would be after he's gone (!)

    According to this head count above we have 3 against and 2 possibly swinging (Unsworth, Herbert) but arguably for, and 5 for the sale for whatever reason. Worse case scenario for democracy it's a fix at 3 versus 7 despite overwhelming public opposition to the sale.

    Postscript #1

    This is the biggest govt policy play in town and for a long time too. Not surprisingly there is an update story already here early afternoon:

  • 1:53pm | NSW unions will try to halt power sale
  • Postscript #2

    In our main post above we suggest Diesendorf or White as worthy experts on renewables and conservation policy rather than Angel. On Tuesday 22nd Jan 08 Clive Hamilton of the Australia Institute (to step down sometime) has entered the fray. He is indeed a highly credible expert on resource economics as it relates to greenhouse/climate policy and could also have been added to our list of possibly greater reliability to Jeff Angel to tell it straight, no side deals. Maybe or maybe not, because like Angel, Hamilton is also very connected in the ALP. Arguably even better than influential Jeff Angel, having once been head of research for the Hawke inspired Resource Assessment Commission.

    We wonder if the against case within the ALP Family have already moved to annexe Clive's expertise by either lobbying or employing him to do his "independent" report much like one lawyer in a stoush retaining experts to the exclusion of the rivals? A scan of Clive's paper suggests a non financial motive of getting square with "climate sceptic" NSW Treasurer Michael Costa: Clive would reject outright he is a gun for hire, or even if so that it might affect the integrity of his research & analysis, and there is no doubting his commitment to the view climate change is the over arching environmental problem (he lambasts opponents of wind farms for not getting the gravity of the threat). We do tend to trust him.

    In any case Clive is a top academic and must be taken seriously. He effectively gazumps Jeff Angel which we find quite ironic. Always a bigger fish as they say. Here's the link to Clive's presser (a samll PDF), and full paper (a 5 page PDF) and to a Herald report on this important turn of events, and notice the very big sting in the tail [bold added]:

    Taxpayers face $15b power sale sting Sydney Morning Herald Date: January 22 2008

    Andrew West and Brian Robins


    NSW taxpayers could be forced to pay more than $15 billion to indemnify private companies bidding for the state's power assets, a report has found.

    The indemnities - against losses that privatised coal-fired power stations would face under a new national carbon trading scheme - would wipe out the $15 billion revenue boost the Iemma Government expects to gain from the privatisation.

    An analysis by the independent think tank the Australia Institute has revealed the carbon trading scheme the Federal Government intends to introduce to combat global warming would dramatically reduce the value of coal-fired generators.

    According to the author of the report, economist and institute director Clive Hamilton, the cost of the indemnity could reach $15.4 billion.

    "This amount would be the cost borne by NSW citizens if the NSW Government indemnifies private buyers against future carbon liabilities," he concludes.

    Under the proposed national emissions trading scheme, scheduled for 2010, all electricity generators and other producers of carbon will need permits to cover their greenhouse gas emission. The scheme aims to impose a cost on electricity generated through fossil fuels and remove the price advantage that coal enjoys over gas and other renewable energy.

    The State Government has challenged the institute's findings. Alison Hill, a spokeswoman for the Premier, Morris Iemma, told the Herald last night: "There will not be an indemnity."

    But the Iemma Government has set a precedent by indemnifying Bluescope Steel for the next 25 years to ensure new investment in its Port Kembla steelworks.

    "The Government has form on this issue," Dr Hamilton said. "And they will come under even greater pressure from potential buyers to offer them indemnities, too. There is nothing to say the Government could not, and would not, do this in secret, using all sorts of commercial-in-confidence provisions, and the public may know nothing about it for 20 years."

    The NSW Government said last night the indemnity given to Bluescope did not apply if a carbon trading regime was introduced.

    The Rudd Government is yet to clarify the details of its trading scheme, adding to doubts raised by the institute about the liability NSW taxpayers face.

    "It's a bad time to be selling electricity assets when there is so much uncertainty about the carbon liability of coal-fired power plants," Dr Hamilton said.

    The institute's report warns that no prudent investor would commit to major expenditure in such a risky commercial environment, predicting that "carbon liability and the indemnity issue will dominate negotiations in the sale process".

    The electricity industry is asking the Federal Government to grant carbon permits to offset the immediate financial penalty operators of coal-fired power stations would face from a carbon trading scheme.

    "We would seek a one-off allocation of permits to generators so that their position would be preserved, so they would be willing to consider investing in new generation technology," the executive director of the National Generators Forum, John Boshier, said.

    Dr Hamilton doubts the Federal Government will agree to the electricity industry demands because such permits would undermine its carbon trading system.


    Posted by editor at 12:12 PM EADT
    Updated: Wednesday, 23 January 2008 6:46 AM EADT

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