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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Thursday, 21 February 2008
Dept of Planning DG Sam Haddad politicised in Marrickville by-election 2005?
Mood:  sharp
Topic: nsw govt

PM - All eyes on Marrickville by-election Friday 16th Sept 2005

Good old Sam Haddad, competent bureaucrat, now DG of Department of Planning, previously called DIPNR as above,  was wheeled out this morning for the NSW Govt just before 9am on abc 702.

He was rebutting Opposition Hazzard on 2GB with Alan Jones just before 8am  re Heritage Council being monstered and folded into the DOP by Minister Sartor here in NSW - allegations of lost independence, developer undue influence, echoes of corruption, as per dirt down in Wollongong Council.

Haddad sounds very honest. But how honest is he? And has an honest man been compromised by his political master Sartor? Do good men do bad things?

Does Haddad have form?

Back in 2005 Haddad was a deputy director general, before he was promoted by Sartor, and he refused our FoI for a very sensitive Commision of Inquiry report into Port Botany expansion. But it was the way he refused the FoI that was most instructive. Our appeal was run down to the time limit and the opportunity to publicised the consequence of the Port expansion namely a secret $5 billion truck tunnel under Marrickville. This was a real and proximate threat to the byelection voters.

Frank Sartor cunningly then released the Port Inquiry report which had been mouldering for months given its adverse findings for the state government, with a perverse spin as if it favoured govt mega expansion 4 weeks AFTER the byelection: As per this media release:

Media Release - Minister's Office

Sydney: 14 October 2005


Haddad even signed the refusal letter some 3 days after it was prepared, itself only released as a result of our telephone complaints on lack of an answer up to the byelection deadline: We even had to go into the DIPNR office in Bridge St and defacto picket the office until we got our paper copy of the refusal letter at least revealing the cover up of the Cleland Report they said they "would put in the mail for me". Get it?

No Cleland commission report. No refusal letter until we stamped our feet and got it finally 12th Sept 2005, only 5 days before the vote. No evidence of a secret truck tunnel on the cards

 'Secret' $5 billion tollway to tunnel under city | NEWS.com.au March 1 2007

until after the sensitive byelection delivering Carmel Tebbut from the upper house to her lower house ministerial perch, and fast track to promotion up in Cabinet:

A truck tunnel we in the green movement already knew must follow with the same smog stacks like the infamous M5 East now to poison Marrickville voters. A real vote changer in fact. So did Haddad deliberately squash both the report and the refusal letter as late as possible to help his political master Sartor?

Has Sam Haddad been politicised contrary to his 'honest broker' role on 702 this morning? You be the judge. We feel he has, but then that's just us.



Posted by editor at 10:21 AM EADT
Wednesday, 20 February 2008
The real politik provenance of NAIRU: 'whitey' on Megalogenis dense econo blog The Australian 16 Feb 08
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: aust govt

George Megalogenis 

"George Megalogenis is The Australian's resident nit-picker."  


Here is the article link:

 We’re not in Kansas any more

Meganomics Blog | February 16, 2008 | 43 Comments

Here is "whitey" no. 2 comment with bold added, which shows Big Mal Turnbubll or similar is foraging the press for question time tactics - like everyone else. We couldn't resist tipping off Wayne Swan's office now the milk is spilt, and Mal Turnbull has the equally high standard to meet:

Sat 16 Feb 08 (07:56am)

Indeed so, George, I believe it’s known as NAIRU, the non accelerating inflation rate of unemployment. It does throw into relief the promises made by the Libs during the election to bring unemployment rates down to “a figure with a 3 in front”. It’s clear they didn’t do anything to expand capacity during those wasted years, so by definition this would have increased inflation, which by definition would have increased interest rates, since it’s part of the independent Reserve Bank’s charter to keep inflation under control. So all those whinging Liberal nellies saying higher inflation is the inflation we had to have don’t get it—there’s a unemployment figure below which inflation and interest rates will rise, and we are currently below that point. Cutting wages through Work Choices for the low paid, as it’s now clear was the Liberal plan, will not and has not stopped inflation and interest rates from rising. It would smashing for unemployment to be zero, just as it would be smashing for me to be given long service leave eight years early from my current job so I could head off to WA and see some prolonged sunshine for the first time in about 2 rainy Sydney months. Neither is going to happen any time soon.
I reckon Rudd’s wages call is an attempt to erect some early political insulation from when things get tougher. But you’re right, both Swan and Turnbull are pretty rubbish. The only good sign is that the ALP recognises there’s a problem. If the other side was still in power they’d be going full steam ahead for the rocks with their eyes closed

Posted by editor at 9:27 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 20 February 2008 1:39 PM EADT
Monday, 18 February 2008
NSW energy public assets: Greens attack 'push polling using taxpayer's money'
Mood:  energetic
Topic: nsw govt
Dr John KAYE,  MLC

 [Media release] 

Iemma's power sell-off push poll is waste of public money
Media release: 18 February 2008
The Greens have received complaints that the NSW government has resorted to unethical and prejudiced opinion surveying to mask public opposition to electricity privatisation, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye
Dr Kaye said: "A number of people have contacted me after being cold-called by market researchers asking biased and loaded questions about attitudes to the sell-off of the electricity retailers and the long term leasing of the generators.
"From what I have been told, the survey was overtly designed to leave very little room for an anti-privatisation response.
"The questions were carefully crafted to make on-going public ownership look dangerous and undesirable.
"It was not surprising to see a report in the Sunday Telegraph of the results of a government opinion poll supporting the sell-off.
"This is tax-payer funded propaganda at its worst. It is a massive waste of public money and an abuse of the Premier's authority.
"If the government's polling is to have any credibility, Morris Iemma should immediately release the entire set of questions.
"Last year, Unions NSW commissioned their own survey which found 85 per cent opposition to power privatisation. It's hard to believe that there has been any significant softening in attitudes, given the run of appallingly bad news stories that have plagued the government's plans.
"It is much more likely that Premier Iemma asked for questions that locked in the answers he and his Treasurer Michael Costa wanted to hear.
"The Premier's spin doctors have been working overtime to take the sting out of the embarrassment of a Labor rank-and-file revolt.
"The government's polling results were made public on Sunday after the latest anti-privatisation meeting of party members on Saturday morning.
"The Iemma government is facing an internal uprising and they clearly want to distract attention by publishing their own bogus polling results," Dr Kaye said.
For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455


We wrote earlier today;

Sent: Monday, February 18, 2008 8:25 AM
Subject: Prof Bob Walker expose of accounting re public power assets on Alan Jones 2GB - long interview 10 min. plus

> Walker may have been on Stateline or 7.30 last week with the same message on
> 2GB this morning. Can't recall exactly when - though Costa was on Stateline
> last Friday responding.
> But notably Walker gave a hammer blow to power privatisation with strong
> sympathy from Alan Jones on 2GB after 7 am this morning Monday 18th Feb  re
> 'another NSW State Bank' sell off financial joke.
> Combine with the Sunday fairfax poor approval lead re Iemma yesterday, and
> the lack of integrity stories re corporate donations in today's Herald and
> Hazzard MP with Alan Jones again for 10 min. just before 8am - usual
> resonating thesis about dictatorial attacks on planning with 500 public
> submissions kept confidential by Sartor, Part 3A etc etc.
> The govt's broad critics are getting critical mass, and the coalition side
> of things are smelling some blood as a result, and that's a real politik
> observation, not a barrack.
> Yours truly, Tom McLoughlin


In addition John Kaye MP from last week on base load power:

 Reality bites deep into electricity privatisation argument
Media Release: 13 February 2008
A gas-fired baseload power station being built near Wollongong further undermines the NSW government's pretext for electricity privatisation, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.
Commenting on a story on page 5 of the today's Sydney Morning Herald, Dr Kaye said: "Treasurer Michael Costa argues that public ownership of the state's electricity supply industry is a barrier to private sector investment in  baseload capacity.
"Mr Costa needs to get out more.
"On the shores of Lake Illawarra, near Wollongong China Light and Power's Australian subsidiary, TRUenergy is close to completing a 400 MW gas-fired baseload power station.
 "According to Michael Costa, this could not happen, but it is.
"A private sector investor is already building at least one baseload station.
"Michael Costa is busy pushing for the sale of the state's electricity industry without knowing what is happening on the ground.
"This is dangerous territory for the state when the Treasurer is so ignorant of the industry he is trying to sell.
"The 'private sector barrier to investment' argument is as bankrupt as the rest of the Iemma government's rationalisation of their sale push.
"The NSW government claims the state needs yet more baseload power by 2014 or the lights will go out. They also claim that the state cannot afford to build generators plants or it will blow out its AAA credit rating.
"Both are wrong.
"If the state does need more baseload energy, our analysis shows it can be achieved by phasing out electric off-peak water. Not only is this cheaper than building new generators but it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"Michael Costa might have been able to recruit former Premier Bob Carr and Prime Minster Kevin Rudd onto his privatisation bandwagon, but reality is running firmly against him," Dr Kaye said.
For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455

Posted by editor at 10:16 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 18 February 2008 2:55 PM EADT
Sunday, 17 February 2008
Sunday political talkies: Big media giving praise and sharp prods to Rudd administration
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: aust govt



Picture: "Newshounds" certificate for helping raise $2K for East Timor charity with Sydney Media Monitors in 2001. Plenty more work to be done but this time as fifth estate blog discipline to keep this new Federal ALP Govt honest. 



Author’s general introductory note (skip this bit if you know this regular weekly column):



This is not a well packaged story. It’s a contemporaneous traverse of the Sunday television free to air political talkies indicating the agenda of Establishment interests: Better to know ones rivals and allies  in Big Politics and Big Media.



Indeed it’s the tv version monitoring task similar to what Nelson Mandela refers to here in his book Long Walk to Freedom (1994, Abacus) written in Robben Island prison (where he was meant to die like other African resister chiefs of history in the 19C), at page 208


“..newspapers are only a shadow of reality; their information is important to a freedom fighter not because it reveals the truth, but because it discloses the biases and perceptions of both those who produce the paper and those who read it.” Just substitute ‘Sunday tv political talkie shows’ for "newspapers" in the quote above.


For actual transcripts go to web sites quoted below except with Riley Diary on 7. And note transcripts don’t really give you the image content value.


Media backgrounder – this section under construction till later Sunday/Monday


-         great interview Doogue with George Williams Sat radio national about 8.20 am

-         Laurie Oakes first column with Sydney Daily Tele yesterday Saturday gets banner pointer from page 1. Tight article some original personal material about Nelson.

-         Macca has chats with Emerald flood victims – hundreds of thousands of property value trashed in “flood free” greater than 1 in 100 year event areas. “The maps are being redrawn now”. That’s suggestive of capricious extreme climate.

-         Only a few significant political stories in the Sunday press.


Sunday 9 7.30am- 9.30am


Barack Obama feature, quite sympathetic Steve Croft CBS. Overall impression – he’s brilliant (my word, first used by Oprah). Ellen Fanning compere (EF) refers to Howard sledge back in 07 lead to demise of Howard, rise of Barak.




Jill Jollife freelancer re East Timor. May 2006 – not sympathetic, arrogant, retarded adolescence. Untreated post traumatic stress. Ex child soldier at 11 years old. Local youth sympathized.



Not so easy watching and listening to 7.45 am abc radio news but okay with the walkperson (solar of course). Wally Lewis considered suicide in the tabloid promo.




Promo Ross Coulthard at 8.08 am with medical misconduct story, important but not particularly political in nature except organization integrity of health system, which probably is political State v Federal resourcing and talent.





Business, economic roundup with Ross Greenwood clash with 10 MTP something about banks being scared to lend now.



Bega Valley doctor – Reeves. Looks grim about cover up. Coulthard very strong interview with medically abused women. This story will run.


Laurie Oakes with Nelson – missed the start. Oakes goes in hard sliding around re how principled and honest to explain change from ALP to Liberalism.


Fudges answer about never voted Liberal in my life – should have said he was threatened by ALP activists milling around.


Leadership all about character. LO raises fear factor in 93, under pressure lied about his voting record. Timidity is his trait.


Start about emails re Rudd and Bourke. Nelson wants to bring it back.  Interview truncated to finish at 9am?



Poll – 51% agree with sorry, 49% don’t. But that polls is before the 5 channel full house live  tv coverage as here in Sydney. Next poll Q is about (?).










10 Meet the Press:  8- 8-30 am



Missed the start, re press roundup. Foreign minister Stephen Smith is the talent. Mostly about East Timor to first adbreak. Out take is Rudd down the barrel apology to Aboriginal Australian stolen generations. Powerful stuff.


Annabel Crabb and is the panel.Looking smart and corporate, curly locks gone for brushed look. She’s pretty hot and that’s just her intellect. Paddy stock.


Steve Lewis Sydney Daily Tele/ national tabloids stable news limited. Normal grey man suit as per most blokes on the panel


Downer not in govt job plans, communication lines open with him post parliamentary politics (?).


G8 summit in Japan, oz no invite yet?


Reverse vote against Declaration of Indigenous Rights at UN.


Out take Nicholson cartoon Rudd credibility gap on valid apology, but no compo. Good that Big Media have kept him on the Govt’s game.


Tom Calma Indigenous Social Justice Commissioner – questions legitimacy for Brough as Minister taking advantage of his political career to drive business projects in such as Tiwi Islands.




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



Myspace web address: www.myspace.com/meetthepeople






7 Weekend Sunrise: 8.35-40 am Riley Diary  -



Riley diary – fantastic images of Aborigial welcome, spiritual experience. GG speech amusing juxta, Jenkins dragged to Speaker. Was deputy and follows Dad.


Kevinator tag used. Mr People skills tag on Abbott still. Plays rich spouses card. Bronwyn Bishop ‘kept man’.


Juxta of Obama, superb speechifying versus workmanlike Ruddy. O dear.


Q&A learned Rudd is very good at controlling the agenda, re ambush on consultation, ambush on legislative agenda, dragged opposition into the tent. [like Latham but smoother]. “A certain approach” revealing itself how keenly he watches the issue and precisely presents them to the public.


Brian Burke affair in the mud affect Rudd. ‘We know he had contact before’ referring to News Ltd Milne story eg Sunday Tele. [Burke has kept the emails of maybe just trivial logistics]. May not be hooked. Wait and see.








Insiders 2: 9- 10am


Same footage at MTP down the barrel apology of Rudd., Footage of Peter Slipper etc.


Sunday press round up



Misha Schubert, Malcolm Farr, discussion re Iemma and power privatization. Glenn Milne story re emails content or how many. MTP Smith interview ‘Bourke is relic of the past’. It’s hard testing by the Big Media and this is very healthy.


Explanation goes to candour.


Segue to Gillard on the screen looked pretty sour, and painful smile greeting, trying. Pulls the shutters down. BC compere says maybe you should just release them in spirit of openness.


Legal advice about compensation obtained. “About building a bridge to future – renewed vigour on health, education services, economic opportunities, closing gap” political line. [Chris Merritt The Australian legal editor makes the same argument – political not legal, compare Faris QC via crikey.com.au]


[draining voice, trumped by mofrobro film review on 9].


“working families” x 2


Everyperson segment




Farr – was shimmering day, saturated in politics. Those ephemera (my word) will fade but the apology will stand up.


Schubert – no jot of difference, wrong, will make a difference after decades. Validated and have an effect for their kids and kids.


Milne great speech, very moving. Daily concerns will move in re economics etc as per Your Shout segment.


Schubert agrees ambush and BC notes Rudd is working the politics effectively like a 5 am starter.


Paul Kelly soliloquy, Nelson had coalition baggage to contend with rather than words just itself, eg Howardism agrees Kelly noting Abbott point about turned backs.


Footage re bipartisanship. Andrew Bolt refers to punch drunk Liberals.


Milne notes talk back in the cities different to the bubble. Howard AWOL – Milne yes, Farr, Schubert disgree.


General discussion: 4 Corners preview re Costello leaked agreement of leadership deal. McLachlan had been touting the agreement. Minchin, Sinodinis wanted Howard out at the 10th anniversary.


Footage of W Bush quarantining Chinese Olympics from global concerns – the Dalai Llama crow, the global warming crowd, the Darfur crowd’ Flippant asks BC?


Predictions: Schubert – ALP using taxpayer money to deal with high court challenge in seat of McEwen federal election result, big precedent use of our money. Farr …. Milne Howard glad he lost Bennelong so not on the backbench now.



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








Posted by editor at 10:17 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 18 February 2008 3:02 PM EADT
Saturday, 16 February 2008
How to get a $65Kpa community sector wage without any open job selection process?
Mood:  sharp
Topic: local news



We understand from a source that Yvette Andrews (pictured middle above) who was until recently the Honourary Board President of the Addison Rd Community Centre (that is appointed by a faction of the Board as below), has now been appointed as the "temporary" General Manager on a $65K per annum wage.

Andrews was elected as an onto the Board around November 2006 otherwise of no significant connection to the centre except ALP aligned contacts. It's a narrow voting base for the Board, with only some 22 of 42 tenants with a franchise to vote. It helps if you have experience in a Party Machine.

Andrews was formerly a staffer to now retired Meredith Burgman MLC, and president of the Legislative Council. She is also co author with Burgman of the Ernies feminist satire awards.

Apparently at one Board meeting in 2006 4 of the 7 Board members now including Andrews had caucused and voted for her as President. That's bootstraps genius really.

We are advised that her position now as GM will be temporary for 6 months. Meanwhile there has been no public advertising of the job which has not been officially filled for 4 months, which one might think was sufficient time to do it. The last person who was GM Ian Laird was appointed by an open job advertisement and selection process. Laird resigned to go to another position in October 2007.

So 4 months later there is still no open public advertisement of the choice paid position at your local community centre. An advert might look like this:

Addison Rd Centre General Manager 'Job Vacancy' closing date 1st April 2008

There was a widely held view or rumour that Andrews would be employed by Senator John Faulkner in Canberra but that does not appear to be the case anymore. This writer publicly raised concerns about governance under Andrews tenure as President over recent months namely

  • allegedly sanitising a 4 year rent free deal for one tenant with a new lease on still very discounted terms
  • allegedly orchestrating the sabotage of the centre website gateway work (main web address http://www.addisonrdcentre.com.au/ is still offline for 2 months now), work done by this writer under direction of the previous GM;
  • a duly lodged internal grievance procedure was effectively turned into a deadletter by way of fraudulent jurisdictional exceptions, and is now referred to the Australian Services Union (by this writer)

These concerns were referred by this writer to the office of both Liberal (Marise Payne) and Green Senator (Kerry Nettle) office as loyal Opposition and done in a way the ALP were aware of it. It's a matter of speculation whether Andrews was unemployable after that as a political staffer given the heat that might arise in Senate Estimates committees, especially working for Senator Faulkner, famous in that forum. Several key tenants have federal government grants at the ARCC.

We understand the faction behind the appointment of Andrews as President of the Board shown above (at their last AGM in Nov 2007) are:

  • John Reynolds of ARTV
  • Natalie McCarthy a subtenant (other position?)
  • ALP local councillor Rae Owen (who is now replaced by Greens Peter Olive since as the numbers changed on the Local Council), and 
  • Yvette Andrews voting for herself (casting vote).

Interestingly we are advised that Andrews has been appointed as General Manager virtually unanimously by the new Board , in the absence of a publicly advertised job selection process, endorsing a proposal from Andrews herself that the Board employ her. In short one might call that a rout of governance control at the ARC by the Andrews faction. One Board member has advised us he insists on public advertising of the GM position in 2 months in to her 6 month tenure.

Our response here at SAM is don't hold your breath waiting to see the adverts. More likely it's an April fool's schedule.

As the former acting GM Peter Talmacs told this writer earlier in February 08, advising that he had resigned as acting GM, there are "power games going on" and yes "you have been treated badly/vindictively".

Actually there is no real news in power games. This is normal for any community organisation but what makes it different this time is when the power games compromise the good governance of your and my community centre.

  • A secretive 4 year rent free tenancy? Get real.
  • Sabotage of the cyber gateway?
  • Turning the objective mediation, conflict resolution policy into a dead letter?
  • Failure to advertise the GM position for 4 months and another 2 or more months, making a total of 10 months with no GM duly appointed by transparent job selection process?

That's "bad governance" as we pointed out to one of the Board members by phone earlier today:

Picture: At back Terry Cutcliffe ARCC gallery curator, grifter and schemer (?) on 4 years rent free 500sqm on community land making a platform for the ALP Left aristocracy? Or simply champion of Indigenous Rights and community service? Or maybe both? This photo mid 2007 NAIDOC day celebrations had Linda Burney refer to Terry's marvellous home overlooking Earlwood, but she didn't mention the tennis court. This writer attended a tennis party coincidentally (?) held on the anniversary of Sept 11 WTC death of 3000 plus Americans, about 2004. Cutcliffe hounded the last GM out of the ARCC and is regularly sledging the Green Party as "hopeless".


And we are advised by a tenant that the other main management job of office administrator job will not be publicly advertised either, though this is not confirmed.

Time will tell.

It's your community centre, and you have a right to know what is going on there on your community land. It doesn't belong to a gerrymandered few at a fraught AGM. It doesn't belong to the local ALP Left aristocracy. It doesn't belong to the odd scheming tenant who manages to hussle a 4 year rent free period for some 500 sq metres of precious community space, with all the opportunity cost that involves.


 Picture: New General Manager Yvette Andrews in the middle too stodgy or risky to get a job in Canberra with the new Federal Govt?

Additionally, there may well arise the perception that this turn of events is a 'jobs for the old girls network': There is a widespead knowledge at the AR(C)C that the previous GM Laird was hounded out of his job, and was keen to move on to another position in October 2007. Actually what he said was "to get out alive".

Depending on who you ask some will say all to the better. Many will say not (one Board member Stavros Economidis in 2007 said he was the 'best GM in 30 years'). What written above doesn't turn on the ex GM's merits. He has his enemies and barrackers. SAM will stay agnostic in this post because we don't have the evidence of all the to and fro, and we don't need to say.

Only to note the barrackers could well logically argue that the current situation looks bad because Andrews was in the vanguard of the hounding of Laird out of his job, and wrote him some hate mail in his last week. This is known, and it shows a quite unprofessional approach.

Now Andrews literally has his job, no open job selection process. As one long time user of the community garden and a critic of the previous GM said to this writer recently: "Isn't there legal requirements for that?" The accusation surely will be a scenario that the hounding related to coveting the ex GM's job rather than the merits of his job performance.

Alternatively, if Andrews did expect to go to Canberra for work, that she coveted his job for some other factional mate regardless. Could this be what acting GM (Oct 07 to Feb 08) Peter Talmacs referred to as "power games are going on"?

There is added credence to this view from the belief of one tenant in the centre that Reynolds on the board (shown popping his head up in the picture above) is a cipher for his business partner Jill Hickson, a very ideological and energetic political campaigner. But has she overstepped the boundaries of  open goverance here?

 Picture: Jill Hickson is a busy behind the camera and behind the scenes at the ARCC.

In our own humble opinion it's res ipsa loquiter - an old legal phrase meaning the matter speaks for itself. Over to you ALP Left in Marrickville, including Anthony Albanese MP from the same Left faction - do your worst. Which of course you will. Attack the person instead of address the real governance issues outlined above.

There will be accountability and transparency over time and yes even personal satisfaction/justice. It's bankable. The SAM editor's attitude has hardened over the last month or so over the failed cyber gateway and fraudulent jurisdictional exclusion of a genuine greivance lodged, and we have a real head of steam and it's good community media copy too. We have identified a new angle already and there are bound to be many.

If the ALP Left are so committed to the local Indigenous community, as they want to believe, why can't these have the chance like everyone else to apply for the GM position in their local community centre? Simply because the job is not advertised for 6-10 months, if ever. It's outrageous, and shameful.

This writer was on a job selection panel as a local councillor for Bondi Ward for a high powered departmental director's position at Waverley in the late 90ies and we are know enough to know this whole matter needs a shakeout.

Picture: Ideology over common sense? Blind or commendable passion? Community owned billboard with an individual agenda, photo taken back on 27th December 2006 (by unknown) organised by Gallery curator Terry Cutcliffe which lasted about 2 days. The ARCC caretaker Kerry Lindstrom had the duty to paint over this billboard due to public complaints, presumably from traffic along busy Addison Rd.


Posted by editor at 10:07 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 17 February 2008 10:17 AM EADT
Maroota sandmining II: 'experts' alleged 'fraud' exposed on dam into groundwater, dust on local school?
Mood:  irritated
Topic: ecology

In August 2007 an area known as Lot 196 at Maroota which is 45km north of Sydney looked like this - a desolated sand mine with little or no progressive rehabilitation in 20 years, now operated by Dixon Sands (Penrith) Pty Ltd:. You can imagine this as the "after" photo.

But in 1984 it was a perched wetland in the Hawkesbury Valley with myriad species and likely rare and endangered species: There are no photographs available for the "before" picture but there are these diagrams from a 1984 Environmental Impact Statement for an earlier sandminer PF Formations Pty Ltd which gives the idea (via creekline and "perched water table" :


The people who are copping it most apart from the environment are probably the kids and teachers here at Maroota Public School because the wind whips up the sand which apparently after long term exposure can even cause silicosis. But no one in big business or govt cares about that very much. The lack of rehabilitation over 20 years is the proof of that:

We made the second of two pro bono chunky legal/ environmental submissions to the NSW Department of Planning on this situation in Maroota yesterday 15 February in cooperation with a community activist Neville Diamond:

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

The full text of this second submission, another fairly brutish 3250Kb sized document will be posted on the internet here

15 Feb 2008 - Objection to Old Northern Road Quarry, Lot 196 Maroota, NSW

 , excluding a sensitive appendix B alleging fraud by scientific experts in the 1990ies who we submit airbrushed the perched wetland/groundwater of 1984 out of existence - but proven by the EIS diagram above, and a hell of alot of other evidence in that 1984 and similar 1989 document.

This presence of sandmine dam into groundwater aspect is critical because if the main storage pond on Lot 196 intersects the ground water table (which it clearly does) it must have water licensing under the Water Act 1912 Part 5. The sandminer has never had such a license presumably because it has implications for the fraught local controversy regarding over use and competition for a scarce resource (hence a govt Maroota Groundwater Study from about 1996-8). The imperative of business is to stay clear of dam/groundwater use licensing as much as possible to avoid reconciliation of water use calculations by govt. The business strategy is to say as much as possible dams are above groundwater table and simply catching surface water. Such is the suspicion of systemic corruption of the water use accounting at Maroota and NSW generally.

Notice this from our first submission in January 2008:

We understand that statewide the Dept of Water Annual Report 2005-2007, 2006-7 p28 reports no prosecutions statewide for breaches of the Water Act 1912 in either year, only 2 penalties for the Water Management Act 2000 in 05-06, none in 06-07, and only 1 prosecution under the Rivers & Foreshores Improvement Act 1948. These low figures of enforcement are derisory compared with 90,000 ground water bores and 13 900 surface water licences according to the 06-07 Annual Report.

Even so we can't say if 2 experts in particular lied, including before Judge Talbot of the Land & Environment Court in 2003, or alternatively just got it wrong and betwixt those two is a potential defamation suit and not for publishing here. .... yet, and maybe never.

The earlier submission 31st January 2007 can be found via our story here:

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Posted by editor at 6:34 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 February 2008 6:45 AM EADT
Friday, 15 February 2008
Legal thrills and spills at Jabiru courthouse anti Jabiluka U mine 1998
Mood:  accident prone
Topic: nuke threats

We came across this educational experience in our old files on work for the Mirrar Traditional Owners campaign in the Northern Territory, Spring 1998, Third Opinion magazine, out of print now:



Posted by editor at 8:47 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 15 February 2008 9:03 PM EADT
Another suspicious fire in Broadway retail area?
Mood:  on fire
Topic: local news

Three days after the widely reported fire at Broadway shopping centre we took a look at the damage this afternoon - despite a surly traffic monitor who maybe had experienced too many fumes. He tried the old one about getting permission to take photographs in a public street - and then lectured me on compulsory voting being anti democratic! Mmm, and we were feeling sympathy.

All this suggested quite a worried attitude about retailers going out of business. And we can see the logic in that. We reported recently on 3 other suspicious fires in the general area, 2 last month and one another 2 years before:

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Our colleague on the sand mining sagas had a point of view about another motive - protection racket (!?) But this was pure speculation. In the meantime what really matters is that the air in the shopping complex was not the usual crisp cool fresh air conditioned norm. In fact it was uncomfortably warm. We took our tea at the little UniLodge arcade over the road instead.

And the scorch marks were damn high on the building too, and the number of high powered generators out in the street were going for it full bore trying to keep the retail heaven going. Below are more pictures of the fire that remains unexplained:




Posted by editor at 7:24 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 15 February 2008 8:20 PM EADT
Super container ships presage dangerous climate change via dredging of Botany Bay, Port Phillip Bay
Mood:  irritated
Topic: globalWarming

A profound game breaker in the dangerous climate change scenario was published yesterday and this is where lifestyle, transport and survival of the planet all converge in one all mighty scary confrontation of the profound ecological limits of  'neo liberalism' as a way forward for Australia and humanity.

We have been writing about the big power sell off agenda supposedly to grow economic development as somehow a form of social progress according to ALP leaders Iemma and Rudd. For instance to get the money to build a $5B truck tunnel to serve a Port Botany expansion:
'Secret' $5 billion tollway to tunnel under city | NEWS.com.au [2007]


Then this ran yesterday in a hammer blow to the credibility of the top ALP and neoliberalism generally:

 and notice this
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] 
These jumbo ships are what the highly opposed and controversial dredging at Port Botany and Port Phillip Bay are all about. But it's suicidal madness to pursue this ever bigger growth fetish.

We at SAM were vaguely aware of the ecological reality of climate impact of super container ships back in  January 2008 when we noticed Minister Garrett flying to Antarctica and considered an anecdote from one Judith Greeening: This retired yoga afficianado and vegetarian told me of her trip with rich sister on a tourist ship to Antarctica in the late 90ies. She commented on the huge volume of fuel they needed to get there and back.
But that's only half the equation on greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions: the super containers are filled with ghg embedded retail products from China and India, so that's yet another impact on the global commons. Facilitating these jumbo container ships is starting to look like a very dumb idea. As is unqualified neo liberalism, ie well intentioned economic growth trickle down economic benefits. It's a much more complex world now and survival of the species is the prize for getting it right, otherwise dangerous climate tipping points, enclavism and game over for the human project. Crash out or smooth landing? In many ways the choice is ours.

We rang abc 702 radio at the time and said for all the other tourism impacts of an airlink it might help save on greenhouse impacts to fly comparative to big ship.

And now the UN IPCC chief Dr Rajendra Pachauri  corroborates the suspicion with his quotes as per these damning words on the major shipping industry:
"This is a clear failure of the system. The shipping industry has so far escaped publicity. It has been left out of the climate change discussion. I hope [shipping emissions] will be included in the next UN agreement. It would be a cop-out if it was not. It tells me that we have been ineffective at tackling climate change so far."
Other press updates on this hard fought convergence of retention of public power assets, transport planning and dangerous climate threat at the highest levels of politics in NSW and Australia that we have noticed:

- Costa confirms talks on new power station - National - smh.com.au 13th Feb 2008

- Bulldoze old power stations, says adviser - Environment - smh.com.au 14th Feb 2008

- from back in 2007 the hugely greenhouse embedded super container ships First China-made 8530-TEU container ship delivered

Meanwhile the global credit crunch is also taking its toll [Media release follows]:

Credit agency report tells Iemma to dump electricity privatisation

Media Release: 14 February 2008

A new report by Standard & Poor's gives a clear warning that this is a particularly bad time to be privatising the electricity industry, according to Greens MP John Kaye.

Dr Kaye said: "The Iemma government sets its entire economic policy direction by the credit ratings handed out by Standard & Poor's.

"Premier Iemma cannot selectively ignore this report which graphically describes the impacts of the drought, the carbon market and global financial turmoil on the sale price of the electricity industry.

"Standard & Poor's is not the first organisation to say that potential buyers are being made nervous by the climate of financial and policy uncertainty.

"The Greens, the union movement, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and energy industry experts have been telling NSW Treasurer Michael Costa for months that he has embarked on a dangerous path that could result in a fire sale of assets.

"Mr Costa wilfully ignored our warnings but now he and the Premier have no choice but to take notice.

"This report gives the Premier the excuse he needs to reign in Michael Costa and put the sell-off on ice.

"It would be irresponsible to forge ahead with privatisation now that Standard & Poor's have warned potential buyers of the risks," Dr Kaye said.

For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455

Posted by editor at 6:01 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 15 February 2008 6:55 AM EADT
Thursday, 14 February 2008
Genetic Engineering of food crops opposed by large slice of civil society
Mood:  rushed
Topic: ecology

The famous Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki was a world class geneticist until he got into the history of his discipline. As he tells it (from memory via ABC radio national in the dim mists of time) he found that the leading scientists of the early 20C were pretty much gungho eugenicists and probably racists. As we understood his reflections it was carthartic and he decided to redirect his enormous talents not least advocacy into ecological sustainability.

So we thought of Suzuki when we saw the above advert (7th Feb 2008 p5 The Australian) which manifests a very serious disagreement even into the agri business and global commerce as explain here in the Big Media:

GM ban bolsters state split | The Australian 9th Feb 2008


             SA's GM crop ban divides the State
11 February 2008

The issues are further expounded here:

Media Release from Ian Cohen MLC
Friday 8 February, 2008
South Australia – new homeland for NSW canola farming refugees?
Mike Rann is to be congratulated for today extending South
Australia’s moratorium against the growing of genetically modified
food crops.
“Mike Rann’s decision today in favour of an indefinite extension of
their moratorium cuts straight through the GM industry spin coming from
Ian Macdonald’s office here in NSW,” said Upper House Greens MP Ian
“They have extended their moratorium because they are concerned about
the damage to their agricultural sector that GM food crops represent.
“They want to maintain their clean green image, which their
Government recognises is critical to the marketing of South
Australia’s food and wine products.
“If it’s critical in SA, why isn’t it critical in NSW?
“The South Australian Premier’s press release also demolishes an
argument repeatedly put to the Parliament here about price premiums for
GM free crops.
“Ian Macdonald told the Upper House on the 28th November last year
that ‘Australia is, in fact, not achieving price premiums for bulk
non-GM canola in the international marketplace’ .
“Mike Rann today quotes ABARE as indicating ‘that in some of this
season’s markets there were significant premiums for GM-free
“Farmers in NSW should pay close attention to what happened today in
“Our farmers have been hung out to dry by the NSW ALP, by the Liberal
Party and worst of all by their own people - the Nationals.
“SA’s Agriculture Minister is right to warn that ‘we must be
mindful that there’s simply no turning back once the moratorium has
been lifted’,” said Mr Cohen.
Further Information: Ian Cohen: 0409 989 466 or Nic Clyde on 0417 742

Nic Clyde
Adviser, Greens MLC Ian Cohen
Macquarie Street, Sydney, 2000
Tel: +61-2-9230 3305, Fax: +61-2-9230 2267
Mobile: 0417 742 754
Web: www.iancohen.org.au


Media Release from Ian Cohen MLC
Tuesday 5th February 2008
Legal advice torpedoes protection for GM-free farmers
New legal advice obtained by Greens MP Ian Cohen warns that biotech
companies will still be able to sue NSW farmers for patent infringement
despite the so-called ‘legal liability’ protections negotiated by
the Coalition at the end of last year.
“Our advice is that the Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium)
Amendment Act 2007 will not protect NSW farmers against patent
infringement actions that may be pursued by biotech companies.
“Whilst the amendments will provide some cover for farmers in NSW
courts, it will provide none against the Patents Act which is
enforceable through the Federal Court.
“Farmers were relying on the Opposition to make sure they were
protected by a solid legal liability regime. Instead, they buckled under
the Government’s pressure and now farmers are left with a legal Swiss
cheese standing between them and the biotech multinationals.
“The Coalition told the Upper House in November of last year that
their amendment would ‘ensure that if a non-GM grower gets GM material
on his property, he will not be liable to prosecution as a result’.
Clearly this is a promise they were never able to make and cannot keep.
“It’s no surprise that a Rural Press survey of farmers in October
of last year found that only 27% want the option of growing GM grain
crops. Farmers tell us this is because farm gate benefits remain
unproven and legal liability issues have not been sorted out. In
addition, the community tell us they don’t want to eat GM foods.
“Farmers have been sold a dud with these GM canola amendments. The
crop is famous for the promiscuous pollination that makes segregation
from GM-free product impossible. Unfortunately our major party
politicians are equally infamous for their promiscuous pollination of
bad legislation.
“The moral majority are right on this one – the only way to protect
against GM foods is to ‘just say no’,” said Mr Cohen.
Further Information: Ian Cohen: 0409 989 466 or Nic Clyde on 0417 742

Which leaves us to ask - What would David Suzuki think about all this as surely one you might trust on such science and ecological concerns of cane toad like GE super weeds jumping fences, hybridising with wild plants, over leaping species boundaries with unknown ripple effects in the very chemistry of life at protein and amino acid level replicated off the DNA itself, of terminator genes annexing farmers to multinational dependence. Even the CSIRO seems to be embroiled in hosting a debate on this matter.


Next best source would be Bob Phelps of the Gene Ethics Network in this debate for 20 years as per Online Opinion listing:



Bob Phelps, Bob Phelps is Director of the GeneEthics Network. Author's website: GenEthics Network

We need to take five and consider the future of our GE-free reputation
Environment - 13/08/2003
US genetic engineering on the skids
Science & Technology - 15/11/2001

Generically Manipulated Optimism: fast track for GMOs
October 2000 Feature - 15/10/2000


We managed to contact Bob Phelps and our interpretation of the situation on the real politik dynamic is:

  • There are contrived monopolies being contructed with Big Agri Industry parallel movement of 1. $300M private equity (including names like Cornish in a recent Stock & Land, found in Victoria) are gearing up to go on an acquisition crusade, with 2. vertical integration of farming by such as Dow, Bayer and Monsanto to control seed availability and screw the family farmer that way.
  • truth telling scientists like John Williams, as a member of the Wentworth Group, and Maartin Stapper recently sacked from CSIRO allegedly for speaking out on GE, allegedly being suppressed (?). More detail The People versus Victoria | newmatilda.com 13 June 2007 by Katherine Wilson

On the pro-GM side was State Treasurer and Innovations Minister John Brumby, a fierce GM food advocate. Below him was Agriculture Minister Joe Helper, by name and nature. Rubbing shoulders with them were Premier Steve Bracks, CSIRO, the DPI, and most of the media.

A complex of industry lobbyists followed including the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) and their PR arms, like the IPA's Australian Environment Foundation (not to be confused with the citizen-supported Australian Conservation Foundation). Driving these were multinationals Bayer and Monsanto, leading the vastly-funded gene technology industry.

And on it went. A squad of vocal scientists in receipt of GM funds were plotted alongside the panel appointed to review the bans. On the panel: the lovable Sir Gus Nossal, who has spoken cautiously in support of GM food crops, and Merna Curnow, who represents the pro-GM Grains Research Development Corporation. (Not much is known about the third panelist, Christine Forster.)

Finally, there was Australia's Chief Scientist, the formidable Jim Peacock: friend of John Howard, founder of GM companies, lodger of contentious GM patents, who recently called those opposing GM foods 'self-serving unprincipled minorities.'

If the whiteboard's pro-GM camp reeked of fiscal and political power, the GM-free side had people power. Celebrity chefs Margaret Fulton, Charmaine Solomon, Maggie Beer and Stefano Di Pieri sat alongside nutritionist and biochemist Dr Rosemary Stanton, epidemiologist Dr Judy Carman, medical scientist Professor Stephen Leeder, and erstwhile CSIRO soil scientist Dr Maarten Stapper, who claimed to have been sacked for speaking out about the dangers of GM crops.

Supporting them were health and environment groups and, well, most people. In every poll taken to date, the public is overwhelmingly opposed to GM food. So are an even larger majority of polled farmers, who don't want GM food crops.

Finally, there were allies like celebrated geneticist Dr David Suzuki, who has said: 'Any scientist or politician who tells you [GM] foods are safe is either very stupid or lying.'

  • Premier Brumby in Victoria is a crude 'economic development at any cost' dinosaur as per this [PDF] media release Brumby's GM canola: doomed to fail 5th Feb 2008, just like the blind faith in the growth fetish driving highly controversial dredging in Port Phillip Bay for super container ships (echoing Iemma in NSW at Botany Bay).
  • Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP) suits by Big Agri against independent farmers in North America who try and buck the stitch up, or unlucky farmers who get contaminated by GE crops, have been rife in the USA with confidentiality settlement agreements. Refer  Monsanto vs Schmeiser, with Percy Schmeiser, a real cropping expert with his own wikipedia entry 


      Monsanto vs Schmeiser
The Classic David vs Goliath Struggle...


  • The European Union have maintained a ban on GE foods apparently as per this report in the New York Times late 2006 which closes down our market there if we go GE

Both Sides Cite Science to Address Altered Corn By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL A proposal to ban the planting of a genetically modified corn strain sets up a bitter war within the European Union. December 26, 2007

  • Have no doubt about it, big money politics is in play here as per Katherine Wilson referenced above:

So when GeneEthics (a network of farmers, scientists, foodies and concerned citizens) failed to get studies showing negative impacts of GM into media reports, its supporters raised enough money to buy a series of advertisements in the Grains Research and Development Council's magazine, Ground Cover. After publishing one ad, Ground Cover, dependent on big agribusiness dollars, cancelled five subsequent GeneEthics ads. 'The GRDC is funded by farmers and taxpayers, yet we can't even buy space in their journal. This was the only way of reaching an audience of 50,000 graingrowers,' said GeneEthics executive director Bob Phelps. As Jeffrey Smith's Seeds of Deception documents, this is the norm for scientists worldwide who attempt to publish research showing the negative impacts of GM. The free market of ideas, says Phelps, is free not just to those who can afford it, but to those who agree with it.


Posted by editor at 7:17 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 15 February 2008 5:16 AM EADT

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