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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Wednesday, 9 April 2008
John Button's spirit at the 2020 Summit regarding forests: 'Woodchipping's a bastard of an industry'
Mood:  crushed out
Topic: aust govt


Alan Ramsey tipped off the broader political community last Saturday side column of the impending death of this retired federal ALP politician, a Truman Capote figure of a man in physical stature at least. A pollie who later said he would have preferred to be a journo as his son did become.

He presented as small and yet perfectly formed. By all accounts he was whimsical and disarmingly honest and direct. He was very big in "horsepower" outgrowing his own body in wit, intellect, fierce independence in the factions.

John Button

Make no mistake he was tough as ALP Senate leader and Industry Minister for Australia 1983 until 1993 when he retired. People respect strength, not least of character. Now the Big Media and Big Politics are moving through their own shock on a human level at his final departure, to the next phase of cannonisation of an important life completed. It will be in all the press today.

Fred Chaney as former Senate Coalition Party leader in the 1980ies was on abc radio last night saying he envied the talents of his rival Button. now that's a compliment.

Yesterday Crikey.com.au ran a dignified obit with no byline here, waiting they later said for something more worthy again. And sure enough later in the day, unusually they broadcast a second obit stand alone from former PM Paul Keating:

Dear Sole Subscriber,

Former Labor senator John Button died overnight at 74. We were waiting for a fitting tribute, then along came Paul Keating. This is what he thought:

John Button is a real loss to the country and the Labor Party alike.

A lawyer who inhabited the centre ground of Victorian Labor politics, he was material in returning the pendulum of Labor politics from the left, where it had stuck fast for a quarter of a century, to the political centre.

A consequence of his work within the Independents’ group was the advent of the Cain Labor government and with that change, the underlying fabric of Victorian politics returned to the Labor fold, where it has more or less remained, for just on thirty years.

A person needs a lot of horsepower to be at the forefront of such a change, and while it was not all John Button’s work, he left his fingerprints on all the important bits.

In his prime, he was more or less despised by the left and the right. In the swing position, he played corner politics with cunning and élan. Some would say too cunning, others mercurial, while the impartial onlooker might say inspired.

As a Senator, he was a member of the post-Whitlam government group lead by Bill Hayden in 1977. That group, the reform ministers of the 1980s and early 1990s, came together as a coherent unit out of conviction borne by the defeat of the Whitlam government and the fact that post-War growth, worldwide, had collapsed from the mid 70s in the context of hyperinflation.

John Button like every other member of the group knew that the old closed way for Australia, the old Australian economic defence model was coming to an end. Like the rest of us, he was not sure what should take its place but he knew it had to be something competitive and more open.

As a person with a background in legal issues, including such things as civil liberties, it was a surprise to us all that he asked Bob Hawke for the Ministry of Manufacturing Industry. I remember going to his office after our swearing in and saying ‘what are you going to do with this job?’ He said ‘I dunno; something! God knows, something needs to done.’ Pretty much reflecting the mood of most of us.

Button was a case book example of giving a complex job to a person with a good mind, one formerly unsullied by its complexities, leaving the mind to sift through the issues, while coming to a new set of conclusions. As it turned out, he was the Minister for Manufacturing Industry at the fulcrum point of that industry’s development and history.

He and I had great battles over tariffs and for the tariff reductions announced in the May Statement of 1988 and the Industry Statement of 1991. But he knew the reform mantle meant he had to see his constituency’s interests in a longer term perspective. I remember calling him at home one Saturday morning in 1991, urging on him a further reduction in general manufacturing protection to 5% by the year 2000. I said ‘come on John, in for a penny, in for a quid’ and in a measure of all that was good and brave about him, he said ‘why not?’.

He drove a hard bargain at the Cabinet table on adjustment packages for particular industries, perhaps best known being the car industry, but being prepared to play the game, whilst being charming with it, I found him, at once, exasperating yet irresistible.

He was a fully paid up and foundation member of the reform group of ministers, the one that changed Australia forever. Deep personal losses in John’s life meant his heart and mind were always vulnerable to issues which affected the needy or those less well off.

He had a large group of friends and political associates and of course, many he picked up in his lifelong support of the Geelong Football Club. He was a warmly regarded person, yet for all that, he was always a loner. An intellectual loner and a political loner. None of us held that against him, because the same epitaph may be stuck to so many of us.

For all that, he held firmly to one idea throughout his life, and that was that political life was the highest calling, within which great things could be done; where the greatest leverage existed. And as his life’s work attests, he stuck to that idea with enthusiasm and perseverance.

John Button is gone but he will not be forgotten, inasmuch that at some point, we are all forgotten. Those of us who were close to him will always remember his penchant for devilment, for the zany and the unpredictable, but also the fun in being around such a quixotic character.

PJ Keating
8 April 2008

Another ex Prime Minister Bob Hawke was also on the vision last night and there was something quite moving at the pause and the humility on the face of the often swaggering "silver bodgie'.

As a younger wonky activist in harness for The Wilderness Society in 1992 we first came to learn who John Button was. The national campaign team under Director Karenne Jurd were all in a twitter in the old St James lane office (rented off the Teachers Union or was it the MUA?) just down from the Sussex St ALP head office in China Town.

The excitement was around Button who had spoken: He told a press conference somewhere on the subject of the woodchipping industry that destroys natural forest to this very day under the ALP:

"It’s a bastard of an industry."

And why wouldn't he tell the truth about that? The hard impartial evidence was in. The 3 volumes of the Forest & Timber Inquiry report of the Resource & Assessment Commission 1992 was done with research led by Dr Clive Hamilton. RAC reported amongst so many other gems that there was not one example of 'ecologically sustainable native forest logging' to be found in the whole of Australia.

This is what Ian Cohen MLC was referring to in Hansard in 1998 just prior to the March 1999 NSW state election here.

In 1992 onward this was the shudder that went through the whole corrupt rotten logging industry led by such grubs as Gavin Hillier, national logging unionist, recently spotted trawling racialised filth out at Camden prior to the last federal election:

12th March 2008 Gavin Hillier, prominent retired logging unionist on Stateline footage as protester no.5?
Mood:  caffeinated

The pithy Button statement was in context of federal cabinet discussion to that point too. Back in 1991 cabinet had a meltdown and backed off allocating public natural heritage forests to private profit interests rent seeking "resource security". Which actually means refusing to buy their own land with sufficient rainfall to grow their own tree farm timber. No, they demanded intensified destruction of the public estate via unprecedented highly mechanised job destroying woodchip operations.

And why wouldn't federal cabinet refuse such rent seeking after reading a briefing note like this from The Wilderness Society that helped get them over the line in 1987, 1990 and by default in 1993?

But the industry learned from their defeat. They copied the TWS grassroots model creating a front group filled with client employees called Forest Protection Society - a breach of s.52 of the Trade Practices Act. Then they renamed FPS to Timber Communities Australia funded in large part by National Association of Forest Industries. Later PM John Howard's senior staffer Catherine Murphy became their CEO.

The loggers as opposed to the timber industry proper (mostly already in plantations in volume and job numbers) lobbied hard with 'timber truck' blockades taking time out from feeding Eden ChipMill. They demanded 'resource security' again in 1994 in Canberra. Bob Carr on a high profile forest protection platform was elected in March 1995 promising to close the Eden chipper in a ferocious blowback against the loggers but the ALP federally under Keating in Canberra tragically lost their way. Button was gone. Faulkner as Environment Minister was outnumbered. Keating fell to Howard in 1996.

The RAC report and Button's honest interpretation was perverted into a weasel words National Forest Policy Statement from 1993-1995. Then  the NFPS transmogrified into 'Regional Forest Agreements' (with no agreement) and the holy grail of 20 year resource security for private industry in public forests, the browns of the ALP ascendant, hand in glove with dinosaurs of the National Party.

As gracious as PJ Keating's soliliquy above for Button's life and career above reads, the ALP under his leadership failed to confront union/industry rent seeking liars and thugs and the electorate's respect was soon to follow. Who could condone this kind of thuggery by the logging union, emboldened by the same PM Howard's dinosaur values 1996-2007?:


6th Dec 2006 - New paper: Logger terrorism under the Howard federal government 

Paul Keating was later to say he regretted not doing 'more on the environment'. Regrets of course are as human as life and death itself, not least some 80 million tonnes of natural forest exported as woodchips 96-08.

We wrote yesterday on crikey comment string about John Button:

Tom McLoughlin
Tuesday, 8 April 2008 3:59:09 PM
Very sad to suffer this manner of death. What a full life. He reminds me of a character from fiction - I think it was in Beau Geste (?), on the boat trip escaping Britain - a little guy is getting bullied by the sloven, loud mouth ship's cook. So little guy invites this thug out onto the deck and puts on a display of technical boxing excellence for all the sceptical roughnecks on board. By the end everyone was cringing for the big guy totally outclassed, demolished. John Button seemed to come across like that. A class act. Big on the inside. Quality ALP. Like Nifty in his heyday I suppose. Apparently he actually wanted to be a journalist, as his son did become one? Condolences to his family and his mates.

In 2004 Mark Latham as then ALP Opposition Leader did the intellectually honest thing on such magnificent world heritage quality forests in Tasmania, and given the real economics as opposed to the corporate welfare of special interests: How many of these brave scientists listed here back in 2004 will be at the 2020 Summit later this April 2008?:

21/9/04...ABC Earthbeat ventillates real scientitic consensus for Tas forest protection with text of scientists' letter and huge signatory list 

While the thugs in the logging union hierarchy in 2004 did the wrong thing and got away with the ecological and electoral betrayal:

And what plays for public land use policy in Tasmania applies in East Gippsland and NSW still. The woodchipping industry as John Button has said is a bastard of an industry:



In 2007 before the true shock wave on dangerous climate change had really been demonstrated in the electorate we made this report:

Tuesday, 31 July 2007
Tas forest shock wave on federal election gathers momentum
Mood:  energetic
Topic: election Oz 2007

That was then. This is now. The planet can't wait Prime Minister, the challenge is only getting harder the longer you put this structural reform off to shut out the dinosaur woodchipping industry from natural forests, while the vast majority of the industry is based in existing plantations with most employment. Stop subsidising privte industry with public land Mr Rudd!

None of this is easy but the Rudd Govt were elected to do the hard stuff, just as John Button did with his celebrated industry plans. There are these competing agendas here about logging internationally versus the destructin here at home. Perhaps Button would say two wrongs don't make a right.

And notice this high level scientific advice. Another absentee from the 2020 Summit?

 [December 2007] New Australian Forest Science - Released at UNFCC Bali Conference From Adrian's Zero Emission Bali Blog. For more blogging see: www.zeroemissionnetwork.org.au

"The last event of the night was run by The Wilderness Society. It included a presentation of the excellent work by Brendan M Mackey from ANU on determining the natural Carbon Carrying Capacity (CCC) of different forest types in the South East Australia. His work builds on the previous data for the forests of SE NSW and the E. ragnans (Mountain Ash) forests.

Prof Mackey stated that Natural CCC was underestimated everywhere because foresters and forestry data is used as bases for calculating natural CCC. This is shown in the significant difference between between CCC calculations by the IPPC, 60 t C ha-1 yr-1 average for a temperate forest and Mackey's work which produces an average of 670 t C ha-1 yr-1.

This work relates directly to one of the key focuses of the Bali meeting which is the debate around reducing emission from deforestation and degradation (REDD).

Prof Mackey makes the point that current GREEN carbon (living terrestrial biomass and soil carbon) is not accounted for, unlike BLACK (fossil fuels), BROWN (agriculture and plantations) or BLUE (atmospheric and ocean) and that we must have definition of green carbon so we can actually see it in the context of action on climate change and REDD. Prof Mackey defined degradation of a natural system as any action that reduces its CCC.

One exciting bit of work the Zero Emission Network has been doing with Prof Mackey's previous data, was showing that if the forestry sector was included in a carbon pricing mechanism (either tax for trading) with a minimum price of $10 or more a ton of C the native forest industry would collapse over night. This new research seems to support this.

The report is currently only in limited release, but people interested in it should contact 

The second part consisted of a talk about the challenges of protecting one of the world's last natural substantial tropical rainforests, the forest of Aceh, protected for many years by a succession war run out of the jungle. Here the main drivers of destruction are palm oil plantations destroying lowland peat swamp forests, and illegal logging. However there are some positive programs including the elephant patrol which consists of former Acehnese fighters that patrol the jungles looking for illegal logging on the back of elephants."


Here is some more feedback from author Tony Kevin on another of the fairly subjective selection outcomes for the 'best and brightest' 2020 Summit (following other impertinent deconstructions of the Sustainability selection group), and doens't the 5th estate blogosphere do straight talking impertinence well - John Button always opposed to "dullness" would surely approve?:

Here is a case study. In the group on "Australia’s future security and prosperity in a rapidly changing region and world", chaired by Michael Wesley, in a field I thought I was reasonably familiar with (foreign policy and national security); I think I recognized only about 28 from the 90 names, and I know personally about half of those. I feel a bit uncomfortable not recognizing the names of over 60 people - I must be really out of touch. (I thought perhaps I had failed to recognize international trade specialists - not my field - but then I saw that is part of an economics-oriented committee). Here are some of the names not on the list for the 'foreign affairs and security' committee -commentators and writers Bruce Haigh, Peter Mares, Dick Woolcott, Allan Behm, Nic Stuart, activists Helen Caldicott, Sue Wareham, Margo Kingston, controversial persons Andrew Wilkie, Lance Collins, Richard Butler and yours truly, academics Owen Harries, Coral Bell, Alison Broinowski, Stuart Harris, Tony Milner, Desmond Ball. Of course some of these - myself included - may not have applied. And most of my names here are over 55s. I wish the summit well.

In crikey.com.au 'Your say' section 7th April 2008


Posted by editor at 6:33 AM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 9 April 2008 11:22 AM NZT
Tuesday, 8 April 2008
Unwatchable Films event in Erko this Wedn evening 9th April 08
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: culture

photo by Alex Wisser. 

It's been ten months in the making but
kicking off this Wendeesday nite 9th April
is .....drrdrrdrrrdrrrrrrrrrr
A series of screenings of BRILLIANT FILMS that you haven't seen
or maybe even heard of -
226 Union St, Erskineville
upstairs in the Alpha House Gallery
7-11pm (movie runs 7.30-10)
First on the wall will be Hungarian director Béla Tarr's 2001 film "Werckmeister Harmonies".
From Darrin Baker, co-programmer -

Many consider Werkmeister Harmonies to be Bela Tarr's greatest achievement to date, and I have to agree.

A carnvial arrives in a freezing Hungarian town, and brings with it a malevolent form of hatred and mistrust, that spreads throughout the town's inhabitants.

This amazingly shot and directed film was never released in Australia, despite winning many prestigious awards. And aside from a screening at the Sydney Film Festival on the year of its release, this will probably be Werkmeister Harmonies' first public screening in Australia!

Slightly more information (or the same info, slightly different) can be found here -
Logisitics -
It's essential that you bring your own bean bag or cushion to sit on
and a gold coin will get you in.
Handing over yet another gold one could get you soup or mulled wine or pop corn... or just a smile - try your luck on da nite. 
Alpha House is close to King St, Newtown.St Peters is the closest train station and Newtown station is about an 8 minute walk away.
Can't wait for it to be 7pm!
wu hu!
* Feel free to bring friends and to forward the invitation on - especially to people who make films.

Posted by editor at 5:18 PM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 April 2008 5:27 PM NZT
Online news format evolutions in the local indy, community sector
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: independent media

Sydney Alternative Media has gone to roughly 20K pageviews a month. As Lili the lovely jobsearch consultant this last 2 months has said "that's alot". Yeah but what the hell to do with it? To sell adverts on it would surely spoil 'the vibe'. Even google adsense seems grim and bound to end in tears flogging more useless widgets. Subscription business model? Who could be bothered.

We do enjoy the 20K per month pageview figure (about 10 stories per page) built up over 16 months. That's overtaking the usual monthly circulation of the erstwhile employer Sydney City Hub reborn 6 years now. That's satisfying.

And what about imitation as flattery? Well that would be exagerating but we do notice ABC spruiking the 'go local, online, interactive' exhortation this week in their old media radio spruiking on 702. This is what they are referring to:

Daggy vacuum cleaner indeed (!?). There is an interactive link at the bottom of their front page leading to this:

We imagine this interactivity splurge has something to do with a gentle sledge by a guy called Tony Moore, an ABC-o-phile no doubt, in the Sydney Morning Herald opinion pages recently, which we in turn extracted in a speech recently at UTS:

Similarly I like and respect the ABC but I don’t trust it entirely. I am heartened by an article by Tony Moore where he notes:

“The ABC is grappling with how to transform itself from a paternalistic public broadcaster catering to a loyal if passive audience to a multi-channel narrow-caste, engaging diverse and conditional audiences that have an expectation they will participate, or at least be consulted, in content creation.”  SMH 25 March 08 p11 [bold added] in Your ABC board should be sacked, not stacked - Opinion - smh.com.au

Meanwhile New Matilda has expanded it's horizons too with a daily news story and good looking new webpage format, seeking to build up it's own interactivity with cut and thrust comments section, where sleeping dogmatists may not lie (?!):

Meanwhile in the huge email influence stakes there is the original Crikey.com.au which has expanded it's comment section on stories to a whopping 1000 characters limit up, from some 250. This might be a mixed blessing in terms of brevity and clarity of comments -time will tell. Here is one of our comments and notice the clumsy URL went off the page. The intention was to expose a covert ALP lobbyist also mentioned there.

We are not sure what (now venerable) Get Up have done to tweak their model post Rudd election and this bears some investigation in due course.

Also honourable mentions to maverick Stephen Mayne's Mayne Report which is pitching to the business market building on his business editor experience with News Ltd and of course as original founder of Crikey.com.au itself:


Posted by editor at 10:58 AM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 April 2008 5:04 PM NZT
Sydney press on lucky no.8 day: Protesting human rights to Beijing Govt's olympics
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: human rights

Apparently in Chinese culture the number 8 is said to be lucky. And today 8th April 2008 is a great lucky day for Chinese democracy if one takes a sophisticated view of the outpourings of free speech at the parade of the Beijing global tour of the Olympic Torch. This is indeed what engagement with the rest of the world is actually about.  Wikipedia explains lucky eight as follows:


The word for "eight" in Chinese (Pinyin: b?) sounds similar to the word which means "prosper" or "wealth" (?amp;#8216; - short for "?amp;#8216;e'?", Pinyin: f?). In regional dialects the words for "eight" and "fortune" are also similar, eg Cantonese "baat" and "faat".

There is also a resemblance between two digits, "88", and the shuang xi ('double joy'), a popular decorative design composed of two stylized characters ?mp;#8211;œ (xi, 'joy', 'happiness').

Telephone number 8888-8888 was sold for USD$270,723 in Chengdu, China.

The Summer Olympics in Beijing are scheduled to open on 8/8/08 at 8:08:08 p.m.[2]

A man in Hangzhou offered to sell his license plate reading A88888 for 1.12 million yuan.[2]

Dragon Fish Industry in Singapore, a breeder of rare Asian Arowanas (which are "lucky fish" themselves, and, being a rare species, are required to be microchipped), makes sure to use numbers with plenty of eights in their microchip tag numbers, and appears to reserve particularly numbers especially rich in eights and sixes (e.g. 702088880006688) for particularly valuable specimens

We wrote recently about how Sydney 2000 Olympics was a very robust Big and Little Media dynamic evidenced by a good 15 cm of clippings 8 years ago, searching out every wart and human flaw in the now global big business circus that is modern elite sport:

26 March 2008 Retrospective Sydney 2000 Olympic racket: Bribes, drugs, lies, arrogance
Mood:  irritated
Topic: human rights

This in truth is the world we really live in including China who should and must engage and interact. It's global conversation grassroots style.

Here is some other press coverage today on lucky 8th April 2008 here in Sydney while keeping in mind it's not so much about picking on China, or the Chinese culture, but on democracy and human rights for all (not least the Chinese too), which is why the IOC/AOC are on a hiding to stand against such outpouring, which they seem to accept in recent utterances now:

But notice the Big Business subtext rolls on, because money talks loudest of all including in the 'democratic' West:


And significantly local bank ANZ is right into the Olympic $ trough as per the advert above which has some major global environmental obligations to address regarding finance (or not) of Tasmanian pulp mill to destroy huge areas of world heritage quality forest:

 19th March 2008

ANZ shareholders encouraged to band together

Community protesters inform ANZ customers and the public of ANZ's potential role in funding Gunns' pulp mill, Sydney. - The Wilderness Society Collection
Click here for larger image

The Wilderness Society is encouraging shareholders of Gunns Ltd’s banker, ANZ Bank, to get in touch and form a syndicate of concerned shareholders who have the power to call an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) should ANZ fund Gunns’ pulp mill in Tasmania.

Click here for an open letter to ANZ shareholders seeking their support to hold the EGM.

If ANZ funds or organises finance for the pulp mill project, it will demonstrate serious systemic failures in the bank’s environmental, social and economic investment policies. They will then have serious questions to answer from shareholders who expect the bank to act on environmental and social responsibility, and not just use it as greenwash.

Australia’s Corporations Act 2001 has provisions aimed at ensuring that the will of shareholders is reflected in the running of their company. EGMs give shareholders the opportunity to express their will and to obtain critical information. To force an EGM, the commitment of 100 shareholders is needed.

Polls have consistently shown that the majority of the Australian public are opposed to Gunns’ forest-hungry pulp mill because of its predicted environmental, social and economic impacts.

Similarly, it is likely that the majority of people who own shares in ANZ would hold major concerns about the pulp mill project, both from an economic risk point of view, and the impact ANZ’s support for the project could have on their investment.

If you own shares in ANZ, you have a critical role to play in deciding on the future of our forests, climate and economy.

For more information about the pulp mill project or the EGM, please contact The Wilderness Society Tasmania on (03) 6224 1550, or email pulpmill@wilderness.org.au

Click here to download the open letter to ANZ shareholders.

Regardless of whether you are an ANZ shareholder or not, you are encouraged to take action and sign the Pulp Mill Pledge. The Pledge was launched at Hobart's massive rally attended by 15,000 people in November 2007, and around 7000 people have signed it since.

Sign the pledge now

For more information, please contact:

Vica Bayley
Tasmanian Forest Campaigner
Email Vica Bayley

Created: 19 Mar 2008

A very bad look Mr ANZ suffering a credit crunch here in the press today:





Posted by editor at 9:59 AM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 April 2008 5:07 PM NZT
Monday, 7 April 2008
Jeff Angel breaks cover from Industry Packaging Covenant sinecure to boost Garrett politik?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: ecology

 Immig, John. Goulburn Collex Woodlawn Bioreactor, New South Wales, November 2005 [picture]

Picture: Photograph by John Immig 2005 shows disposal of Sydney's garbage at the former site of the Woodlawn mine. The company Collex has changed its name to Veolia Environmental Services. The Veolia Environment (VE) group, is the world leader in the provision of waste management, water, energy and transportation. There was much controversy in the green movement at the time at Total Environment Centre director Jeff Angel's silence regarding this NSW ALP Government project.


We held off a gratuitious real politik deconstruction about the front page lead in the Sydney Morning Herald today:

7 April 2008

Recycling illusion exposed THE amount of paper and glass packaging being recycled by Australians has been seriously overestimated, a confidential leaked audit of a national recycling report sent to federal and state ministers has found.

There is this cute anonymous "source" connected to the National Packaging Covenant Council in the story:

"The covenant and the council have already agreed to amend the data," said a spokesman for the National Packaging Covenant Council, Russell Peel. "I don't believe the alterations are serious, or undermine the improving recycling performance."

But a source connected to the council said it had been happy to keep up the appearance of continual improvement, when the figures were not so rosy.

"The system is not working," the source said. "The ministers have to face reality. The 65 per cent recycling target won't be reached. I think they have been negligent in not properly checking the figures because they were happy with the nice figures."

[bold added]

And of course that "source" would be Jeff Angel, director of the Total Environment Centre and the ALP Right in NSW go to man to control the mainstream environment groups because the ALP sure as hell can't control The Green Party. Angel outed himself thus on ABC radio earlier in the day.

So what's going on to make Big Jeff break cover now over failure of industry to meet waste recycling targets say as opposed to last year, or the year before, or indeed when the NSW ALP Government under Bob Carr were busy building a landfill for Sydney waste into a great big hole at Woodlawn near Goulburn? In breach of their election promises and the goals of the Waste Minimisation and Management Act 1995 now repealed and replaced in one of those 'change the goal post' exercises.

This was an even bigger "rort" that Angel barely managed to grapple with, much to the alarm of local campaigners like Frank Miller (RIP) of Southern Highland Greens/Friends of the Earth. Also those residents impacted in Sydney by the Clyde Waste Transfer station including big fights through the Land & Environment Court were similarly struggling without active TEC support.

TEC did issue this press release the day of the Commission of Inquiry Report for Woodlawn 10th Feb 2000 but it was all spilt milk by that time and it seems fair to say the group was missing in action up to that time. It did lay down a paper record of opposition.

TEC in the early 90ies supported the massive escape hatch for waste of a 'waste to energy' 2nd generation Waterloo Incinerator in the early 1990ies an agenda that was thwarted by this writer (not least for dioxin byproduct), amongst others, and which is now the Green Square urban redevelopment precinct.

Certainly Angel can see the main chance involves working up an agenda with the federal ALP. Since November 24th 2007 election that means tag team with Peter Garrett as federal environment minister, as per ABC news radio last night:

Govt 'increasingly concerned' about recycling targets Posted Mon Apr 7, 2008 6:23pm AEST

The Federal Government says it is concerned by reports Australia might not meet packaging recycling targets by 2010.

A draft audit of package recycling rates has emerged, showing previous estimates had been inflated by including items that were not packaging.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett says he will be meeting with state governments later this month to discuss ways to increase recycling rates in Australia.

"Australians are increasingly concerned about our levels of recycling and so is the Rudd Government," he said.

"We are absolutely committed to seeing recycling levels increase in this country. That's what Australians want, that's what this Government wants and that's what we're going to work towards."

It might have been a bit more consistent and indeed ethical to deal with industry at arms length right from the start, no sitting fees, no hush hush, and spurning a seat on the Packaging Covenant Council rather do the ALP's work of ambushing the NPCC out of tribal loyalty to to one side of politics in April 2008?

At the very least it serves 'greenwash' brand ALP getting some distance between the ongoing developer donations scandal in the last week, and longer, which after all is Jeff Angel's raison d'etre:

6th April 2008 The developer donations the Greens say the minister must explain

Here the Greens are putting their perspective based on the same front page story:

 Media Release from Ian Cohen MLC
Monday 7th April, 2008
Industry trashed on packaging waste: Greens’ container deposit law now
Greens MLC Ian Cohen will introduce and debate Container Deposit
Legislation this week in the NSW Upper House, as new information reveals
the failure of a voluntary national recycling scheme.
“Self regulation has failed and the credibility of the packaging
industry has now been pulped – it should not be recycled yet again as
it’s clearly contaminated,” said Upper House Greens MP Ian Cohen.
“This is an issue that has been debated for years. The community is
ready for container deposit legislation and that is why I will be
introducing and debating my Private Member’s Bill this week.
“The Chairman of the National Packaging Covenant Council (NPCC) -
Russell Peel - was on ABC’s AM this morning selling the current
voluntary scheme as a success. How can a scheme that results in glass
being dumped in landfill because it’s cheaper than recycling, be a
“Government and NPCC recycling figures have been suggesting that
recycling rates are at 56%, when the truth appears to be that they’re
closer to 43%. A private consultancy firm’s audit has exposed the
quality of packaging statistics as being about as reliable as Chinese
ministry statements on Tibet.
“The community is passionate about recycling. It’s not OK to peddle
dodgy figures on the recovery of packaging waste, inflated by glass
recycled in New Zealand or by including non-packaging waste in the
official figures.
“We also need to remember that the NPCC’s now discredited figures
enjoy an additional boost by the inclusion of South Australian
statistics. SA is the only state that has container deposit legislation,
and therefore their excellent resource recovery statistics further mask
failure in the rest of Australia.
“My legislation is known as the ‘Waste Avoidance and Resource
Recovery (Container [Deposits]) Bill 2008’, and I will be asking the
Parliament to respect the wishes of the community on this issue and vote
in favour of the Bill’” said Mr Cohen.
Further Information: Ian Cohen: 0409 989 466 or Nic Clyde: 0417 742

Posted by editor at 8:06 PM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 April 2008 9:52 AM NZT
Global god father of climate change science Dr James Hansen writes to PM Rudd
Mood:  special
Topic: globalWarming

We picked this tip off via the blogosphere, which is surprising as we might have expected to see it in th Big Media first? Maybe it's there and we are falling behind again.

This guy Dr James Hansen of NASA strikes us as about the most trustworthy scientist on the planet at the moment. Here is a link to his letter complete with colour diagrams in the briefing note attached. 

[12 pages PDF]

Here is the 3 page letter extracted in full which precedes the 7 page briefing note at the PDF, with the bold not added, it's Hansen's own emphasis:

27 March 2008

The Hon Kevin Rudd, MP

Prime Minister of Australia

Australian Parliament

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 2600

Dear Prime Minister,

Your leadership is needed on a matter concerning coal-fired power plants and carbon dioxide emission rates in your country, a matter with ramifications for life on our planet, including all species. Prospects for today's children, and especially the world's poor, hinge upon our success in stabilizing climate.

For the sake of identification, I am a United States citizen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Adjunct Professor at the Columbia University Earth Institute. I am a member of our National Academy of Sciences, have testified before our Senate and House of Representatives on many occasions, have advised our Vice President and Cabinet members on climate change and its relation to energy requirements, and have received numerous awards including the World Wildlife Fund's Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal from Prince Philip.

I write, however, as a private citizen, a resident of Kintnersville, Pennsylvania, USA. I was assisted in composing this letter by colleagues, including Australians, Americans, and Europeans, who commented upon a draft letter. Because of the urgency of the matter, I have not collected signatures, but your advisors will verify the authenticity of the science discussion.

I recognize that for years you have been a strong supporter of aggressive forward-looking actions to mitigate dangerous climate change. Also, since your election as Prime Minister of Australia, your government has been active in pressing the international community to take appropriate actions. We are now at a point that bold leadership is needed, leadership that could change the  course of human history.I have read and commend the Interim Report of Professor Ross Garnaut, submitted to your government. The conclusion that net carbon emissions must be cut to a fraction of current emissions must be stunning and sobering to policy-makers. Yet the science is unambiguous: if we burn most of the fossil fuels, releasing the CO2 to the air, we will assuredly destroy much of the  fabric of life on the planet. Achievement of required near-zero net emissions by mid-century implies a track with substantial cuts of emissions by 2020. Aggressive near-term fostering of  energy efficiency and climate friendly technologies is an imperative for mitigation of the looming climate crisis and optimization of the economic pathway to the eventual clean-energy world.

Global climate is near critical tipping points that could lead to loss of all summer sea ice in the Arctic with detrimental effects on wildlife, initiation of ice sheet disintegration in West Antarctica and Greenland with progressive, unstoppable global sea level rise, shifting of climatic zones with extermination of many animal and plant species, reduction of freshwater supplies for hundreds of millions of people, and a more intense hydrologic cycle with stronger droughts and forest fires, but also heavier rains and floods, and stronger storms driven by latent heat, including tropical storms, tornados and thunderstorms.

Feasible actions now could still point the world onto a course that minimizes climate change. Coal clearly emerges as central to the climate problem from the facts summarized in the attached FossilFuel Facts. Coal caused fully half of the fossil fuel increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the airtoday, and on the long run coal has the potential to be an even greater source of CO2. Due to the dominant role of coal, solution to global warming must include phase-out of coal except for uses where the CO2 is captured and sequestered. Failing that, we cannot avoid large climate change,because a substantial fraction of the emitted CO2 will stay in the air more than 1000 years.

Yet there are plans for continuing mining of coal, export of coal, and construction of new coal-fired power plants around the world, including in Australia, plants that would have a lifetime of half a century or more. Your leadership in halting these plans could seed a transition that is needed to solve the global warming problem.

Choices among alternative energy sources - renewable energies, energy efficiency, nuclear power, fossil fuels with carbon capture - these are local matters. But decision to phase out coal use unless the CO2 is captured is a global imperative, if we are to preserve the wonders of nature, our  coastlines, and our social and economic well being.

Although coal is the dominant issue, there are many important subsidiary ramifications, including the need for rapid transition from oil-fired energy utilities, industrial facilities and transport systems, to clean (solar, hydrogen, gas, wind, geothermal, hot rocks, tide) energy sources, as well as removal of barriers to increased energy efficiency.

If the West makes a firm commitment to this course, discussion with developing countries can be prompt. Given the potential of technology assistance, realization of adverse impacts of climate change, and leverage and increasing interdependence from global trade, success in cooperation of developed and developing worlds is feasible.

The western world has contributed most to fossil fuel CO2 in the air today, on a per capita basis.

This is not an attempt to cast blame. It only recognizes the reality of the early industrial development in these countries, and points to a responsibility to lead in finding a solution to global warming.

A firm choice to halt building of coal-fired power plants that do not capture CO2 would be a major  step toward solution of the global warming problem. Australia has strong interest in solving the climate problem. Citizens in the United States are stepping up to block one coal plant after another, and major changes can be anticipated after the upcoming national election.If Australia halted construction of coal-fired power plants that do not capture and sequester the CO2, it could be a tipping point for the world. There is still time to find that tipping point, but just barely. I hope that you will give these considerations your attention in setting your national policies. You have the potential to influence the future of the planet.

Prime Minister Rudd, we cannot avert our eyes from the basic fossil fuel facts, or the consequences for life on our planet of ignoring these fossil fuel facts. If we continue to build coal-fired power plants without carbon capture, we will lock in future climate disasters associated with passing climate tipping points. We must solve the coal problem now.

For your information, I plan to send a similar letter to the Australian States Premiers.

I commend to you the following Australian climate, paleoclimate and Earth scientists to provide further elaboration of the science reported in my attached paper (Hansen et al., 2008):

Professor Barry Brook, Professor of climate change, University of Adelaide

Dr Andrew Glikson, Australian National University

Professor Janette Lindesay, Australian National University

Dr Graeme Pearman, Monash University

Dr Barrie Pittock, CSIRO

Dr Michael Raupach, CSIRO

Professor Will Steffen, Australian National University


James E. Hansen

Kintnersville, Pennsylvania

United States of America


The full document can be found here: [12 pages PDF]

Posted by editor at 6:59 PM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 April 2008 9:54 AM NZT
Sunday, 6 April 2008
Big Agri into the heart of the NSW ALP govt GM policy despite pecuniary conflicts?
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: nsw govt

The Hon. Ian Michael MACDONALD,  BA(Hons) MLC

Agriculture Minister on public right to know - GM food crops

Media Release from Ian Cohen MLC
2nd April 2008
Agriculture Minister on public right to know:
“I am not giving any undertakings regarding a question from you on this
matter - none whatsoever”.
As allegations of bias continue to emerge in the media against Minister
Macdonald’s expert committee on GM food crops, Upper House Greens MP Ian
Cohen reminds the public of the Minister’s statements in the NSW
Parliament on GM food crop ‘conflict of interest’ issues.
An article in the Sydney Morning Herald today reveals more detail on
the potential for bias of committee members, also aired on ABC’s PM
program last week.
“The Herald story today on the bias of expert committee panel members
explains the extreme reluctance of Minister Macdonald to level with the
Parliament last month,” said Mr Cohen.
In response to a question to Ian Macdonald, asked by Mr Cohen, on
whether or not the Minister would table the expert committee’s
disclosures book on direct or indirect pecuniary interests, the Minister
“I am not giving any undertakings regarding a question from you on this
matter - none whatsoever” (Hansard - 05.03.08).
“The Minister told the Parliament that even if a member of the panel
had failed to disclose a pecuniary interest, that ‘it would not
constitute an act that would detract from the decisions of the committee’
(Hansard - 05.03.08).
“So here we have a Minister telling the Parliament that it doesn’t
matter if expert committee recommendations are influenced by the
pecuniary interests of its members. The Minister is treating the
Parliament as his own fiefdom, oblivious that his statements are now on
the public record.
“Even more concerning is the privity clause in the Gene Technology (GM
Moratorium) Act. Section 7A(11) means that no Court or Tribunal in
Australia can review the decision of the Minister’s approval of GMOs. 
“This means that the Minister’s approval is beyond reproach. This is in
direct contradiction with the High Court’s approach to the
constitutionality of privity clauses.
“The Premier must now intervene to reassure the public that decisions
on GM food crops are being made in an informed and impartial manner,”
said Mr Cohen.
 Further Information: Ian Cohen: 0409 989 466 or Nic Clyde: 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


Meanwhile Gene Ethics have also issued this statement:

Network of Concerned Farmers - Media Release  
International legal expert says government not
following International polluter-pays principle 
Sydney, 4 April 2008: At a press conference at NSW Parliament House this morning, the Network of Concerned Farmers (NCF) launched a legal briefing on Australian Liability for Damage Caused by Genetically Modified Crops, prepared by international lawyer, Duncan Currie. The briefing explains that Australian governments have adopted a polluted-pays principle rather than a polluter-pays principle for genetically modified crops. Mr Currie recommends urgent legislative changes be introduced to protect non-GM farmers and that GM distributors and GM farmers should bear any costs associated with GM contamination.

International lawyer Duncan Currie said, "It will be extremely difficult for non-GM farmers to protect themselves from the effects of GM contamination and pollution. To ensure they have the best chance of ensuring some recovery, non-GM farmers should give formal letters of notice to their GM growing neighbours that they will not accept any damages as a result of GM contamination."
And that is exactly what the Network of Concerned Farmers (NCF) are doing, says Julie Newman, National Spokesperson for NCF, who has been travelling through Victoria, SA and NSW distributing the letter to farmers.
"It is a sad day when state government promote suing neighbours rather than adopting fair risk management. State governments are working against choice for farmers and consumers, and the drive appears to be to promote their own patent investments in GM technology research" said Mrs Newman.

"We are disappointed to expect Australian farmers to tolerate contamination, lose markets and be liable for paying patent fees for using a patented product they don't want," said Ms Newman.

Mr Currie recently participated in the international Liability and Redress Working Group to the Biosafety Protocol (Convention on Biological Diversity) meetings in Cartagena, Columbia in mid March.
The international meeting resolved that there are a number of outstanding concerns with regards to liability for costs arising from the international trade in GMOs and who is liable for costs associated with contamination and other damage from GMOs and how environmental cleanup will be paid for.
"Australian governments are currently acting against principles widely accepted internationally - the polluter pays and the precautionary principles. This means that when non-GM farmers crops are contaminated by GM canola, they will have very limited access to compensation and redress for their loss.  This includes lost market access to countries such as Europe, decreased value of crops, clean up costs, and ongoing testing to demonstrate that crops are non-GM," said Mr Currie
"The Australian Government should participate constructively in the International Biosafety Protocol liability and redress negotiations. It should use this process to ensure that rules, procedures and a backup fund are put in place to address these issues consistently and effectively on a national and international scale," concluded Mr Currie.
More information:
National Spokesperson, Network of Concerned Farmers, Julie Newman +61 427 711 644
Lawyer, Globelaw International Environmental and Transnational Law, Duncan Currie + 64 21 632 335 (mobile) +64 3 384 6977 (landline)
And similarly this information package from Gene Ethics (Melbourne based):
Gene Ethics - News Media Release

Melbourne, April 3 2008: New Swedish research just published confirms that GM canola contamination will be permanent and irreversible. GM canola is a weed as its seed can lie dormant and germinate up to 10 years after it is planted on a site.

"Even worse, scientists confirm that GM canola will transfer Roundup herbicide tolerance to related brassicas that are already troublesome weeds in Australian environments," says Gene Ethics Director Bob Phelps.

"Wild radish, wild turnip and charlock that get the GM gene for Roundup resistance will be superweeds that will be expensive for farmers, councils, park managers, and gardeners to manage.

"Weed management costs Australia $3-4 billion pa already, money that is sorely needed to restore our degraded environments.

"Yet the Victorian and NSW governments have ended their GM bans, allowing Monsanto and Bayer to sell seed from the plant equivalent of the cane toad.

"These governments should reimpose their bans on GM canola as the costs outweigh any conceivable benefits.

"Australia's Office of Gene Technology Regulator was fully aware of this weed problem, yet issued licences in 2003 for the unrestricted commercial release of herbicide tolerant GM canola seed.
http://www.ogtr.gov.au/pdf/ir/brassica.pdf Pages 9 & 25
Professor Mark Westoby's comments at: http://www.aussmc.org/GMseedpersistance.php confirm the need for the OGTR to publicly reassess the licences for herbicide tolerant GM canola before it is allowed to be sold anywhere," Mr Phelps concludes.

More comment: Bob Phelps 03 9347 4500


GM seeds can 'last for 10 years'
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Protest. Image: AP
France has recently seen street protests against GM crops

Seeds of some genetically modified crops can endure in soil for at least 10 years, scientists have discovered.

Researchers in Sweden examined a field planted with experimental oilseed rape a decade ago, and found transgenic specimens were still growing there.

This was despite intensive efforts in the intervening years to remove seeds.

No GM crop has been found to endure so long; and critics say it shows that genetically modified organisms cannot be contained once released.

Tina D'Hertefeldt from Lund University led the team of scientists that scoured the small field which had hosted the GM trial 10 years ago looking for "volunteers" - plants that have sprung up spontaneously from seed in the soil.

"We were surprised, very surprised," she told BBC News. "We knew that volunteers had been detected earlier, but we thought they'd all have gone by now."

Eradication effort

Presenting their findings in the journal Biology Letters, the researchers note that after the trial of herbicide-resistant GM rape, the Swedish Board of Agriculture sprayed the field intensively with chemicals that should have killed all the remaining plants.

And for two years, inspectors looked specifically for volunteer plants and killed them.

We should assume that GM organisms cannot be confined, and ask instead what will become of them when they escape
Professor Mark Westoby
This is much more effort than would usually be deployed on a normal farmer's field.

But even so, 15 plants had sprung up 10 years later carrying the genes that scientists had originally inserted into their experimental rape variety to make them resistant to the herbicide glufosinate.

Non-GM varieties were used in the 10-year-old study as well, and some of these had also survived.

"I wouldn't say that the transgenic varieties are able to survive better," said Dr D'Hertefeldt. "It's just that oilseed rape is a tough plant."

Jeremy Sweet, a former head of the UK's National Institute of Agricultural Botany and now an independent consultant on biotech crops, agreed.

"It's been known for some time that oilseed rape is a bit of a problem because of the survival of its seed," he told BBC News.

"It means that if farmers want to swap [from growing GM rape] to conventional varieties, they will have to wait for a number of years."

Growth industry

Rapeseed - often known by its Canadian name canola - is the fourth most commonly grown GM crop in the world, after soya beans, maize and cotton.

An industry organisation, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), calculated recently that more than one million square kilometres of land across the world are now dedicated to growing GM plants.

Europe accounts for only about 0.1% of that total, with a single maize variety the single transgenic food plant being grown.

Many European countries, including the UK, have yet to implement legislation on the thorny issue of how fields of genetically modified crops could co-exist with others that farmers are keen to keep free of transgenic material.

The Lund research does not deal with the flow of genes into neighbouring fields, or whether transgenes can transfer into wild plants growing nearby.

But Tina D'Hertefeldt believes legislators do need to take note of her findings.

"What we are saying is they also need to take into account the temporal aspect," she said.

Professor Mark Westoby, a plant ecologist from Macquarie University in Australia, had a more blunt assessment.

"This study confirms that GM crops are difficult to confine," he said.

"We should assume that GM organisms cannot be confined, and ask instead what will become of them when they escape."


Posted by editor at 1:25 PM NZT
Updated: Monday, 7 April 2008 2:26 PM NZT
Sunday political talkies: Fed Govt in lock down budget prep/PM absence, Nelson grasping at PR straws?
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: aust govt




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.


Sunday 9

Great footage of RBA Glenn Stevens looking well in control and long view on economic history. Looks fit and strong no fear or favour kind of bloke. Real balancer to front page Telegraph yesterday.

Feature on architects sustainability re dangerous climate change, feature on criminal/medical confusion over child death. Coulthard has it, it’s a tough tough story, not nearly as politically impacting as the butcher of Bega story. I found it confusing to understand the merits.

Laurie Oakes with Jenny Macklin super portfolio of various social welfare. Geofrey Boycott of politics? Dull voice, looking a little bleary eyed which doesn’t mean much really. Not really looking happy in her job is possibly more important. Old people solidarity re[Therese’s fitout. Fact is she is fat. Bottom line (poor pun that). Needs counseling on her diet. Really.]


10 Meet the Press:  8- 8-30 am

Footage of Nelson sewing poison about Ruddster overseas in budget season. Acting PM JG looking lean and a little browner, is talent. Unlike McGauran she does look like an “exotic bird” and maybe not in a gilded cage either. The gild is in her ornamental

Mal Farr and Brad Norington of two News Ltd heavies on the panel. Go straight to panel which is different. Deb Rice stand in as compere and usually tops. Should have led in with a question on Rudd absence but perhaps a lame line of inquiry anyway, too orthodox. Smarter tactic to go straight to attack ‘dogs’. And it is a hard fought interview both ways.

Will ‘working families’ be better off?

Conversion of LPG be cut? Good question follows article during week. JG takes a while to decline rule in or out “game”. [deadly serious game]

Rice comes in re computers in schools is it a”a shambles”? JG rejects outright.

Out take of Nelson in radio booth with eyes looking very puffy, over work, wrong computer screen CRD versus LCD!? (my problem).

Teachers Union has polished PR advert, This one with kind authoritive father figure, youthful daughter students. Very proper. Compare older aunty in power suit style ad break last week, and 2nd adbreak.

Probing question on US election – diplomatic formula answer, fair enough

Farr quite anxious is going hard on computers before time runs out. Cost onto state school budgets for support systems. Mal Farr goes hard, technical staging process type answer.

Rice is tetchy too on scheduling perhaps – about costly by elections –

2nd adbreak – older aunty in power suit teacher union ad break.

Buy in interview with McCain as republican, older, bright eyed. Plays the phone call at 3am, but will an old grumpy man really be best suited, or a fit fresh younger man?

Meet The Press - Watch Political Video Online - Channel TEN.

Riley Diary 7

[previous segment on inevitable Therese Rein dress ups, all a bit “shallow” they admit and “very accomplished”. She is “representing Australia” actually not really as the spouse so the fact she still is means we have adopted her as the two in one package and fair enough for such a big brain.

Nelson listening tour – insightful – as usual and pretty harsh as to his ability to employ the common touch. All a bit unreal seems to be the gist. Then for balance harsh grabs on bureaucratise of “Kevinator”. Footage – deputy sheriff half salute, under pressure lies about just saying hello, when


Insiders 2: 9- 10am

Incredible sound track of Stones ‘pleased to me you’ which is actually a song about the Devil, for real, so is it the USA, European ‘evil empire’ from ABC kremlin sly dig? Or just shallow match of lyrics. Funny, and such good music.

Nelson footage in radio booth.

Panel – David Marr looking fit and rested.

Press – ironic tone about Rudd celebrity stuff. Lenore Taylor who may have jumped to the Australian. Gerard Henderson – solidarity of all for Therese [while all glad they are not as fat.]

Cross is to Stephen Smith – Zimbabwe violent political fix in a 2nd round vote. Tuned out, but sounds competent.

Marr refers to Rudd triumph overseas echoing cute saying ART – another Rudd triumph.

Henderson challenges half salute of USA president Bush as embarrassing. Marr says we have to work out our relationship with the USA. Symbolism of this, agrees its nothing, trivial. Paul Kelly – incredible trip – sucking sound in here. Which probably is the point, Rudd was sucking.

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

Posted by editor at 12:48 PM NZT
Updated: Sunday, 6 April 2008 12:59 PM NZT
Della Bosca 'improving' something in NSW ALP, but what is it?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: nsw govt

The Hon. John Joseph DELLA BOSCA,  BA MLC

Stateline NSW last Friday 4th April 08 ran footage in the wind up of a presser in NSW Parliament (with the bland blue curtains on level 6, which is actually one floor below ground, just across the corridor from the rabbit warren of the press gallery): John Della Bosca MP and Education Minister based in the Upper House was busy last week ruling out any challenge to Premier Iemma "and not just because I'm standing next to him" (as here abc 2nd April 08).

On the other hand Della has always sought to "improve himself" which is a nice line for a guy who looks as above like (but doesn't sound like) a hard working council garbologist (and god bless them for keeping the city clean and safe too in that comparatively hard honest work).

Della has egg on his face just now over misfiring PR on jailing of negligent parents - or worse - parents acting like Fagins' criminalising their kids by letting/keeping them out of school. (Think Cowper St smash and grab zone in Glebe just outside the Sydney CBD terrorising local public housing residents like wild kids in Aurukun apparently, or indeed euro-Aussie sportsman clubbers on the latest binge.) This would be egg that feels very humiliating for a hard nosed thinker like Della.

Notably Simon Benson, an ALP drip feed in the Telegraph, wrote last week in one of those 'let me have the last word on this' pieces that it could be a sound policy but requires astute presentation which it wasn't. Maybe so Simon, maybe.

And so we come to the front pager in the Sunday Telegraph today, echoed on ABC 702 radio this Sunday morning. This leadership ruction is all "a fiction, they made it up" says Della on the abc airwaves this Sunday 6th April with the orthodox demonstrations of loyalty. Maybe they did.

But we feel the issues of presentation are at the heart of all this:

- Poor law and order tub thump presentation blamed on Della, hurting Iemma and morale booster to the Opposition.

- Iemma's inability to generally present as 'a good government, good premier' even if  'a good father, husband, man'. Not least the Sunday Herald coverage here front pager today of systemic conflict of interest over vesting massive discretion in the planning minister Sartor:

The ALP and conservatives like Gerard Henderson (Insiders today) are keen to say this is a mere Greens conspiracy theory and smear, or hyperbole in GH's terms. Certainly the determined accusation is that the ALP are running a sophisticated developer fed racket.

A perhaps unintended corroboration of the Greens thesis here?: Mr Thorpe to retire from powerful grog and pokies Hotels lobby this week was in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday saying he lobbied the administrative arm of the NSW ALP (who receive the donations) in order to get changes in policy. Not the ministers direct. To quote Pub rocker Thorpey wines off 5th April 2008 by Andrew Clennell State Political Editor [bold added]:

In the interview to mark his departure after more than 10 years in the job, Mr Thorpe, 68, also:

* Says he regularly spoke to Labor's former general secretary, Mark Arbib, to attempt to get policy results, rather than talk directly to the Government, showing the power Mr Arbib wielded and the importance of political donations;

* Blames generation Y for problems with violence outside pubs and says they just have not experienced enough "adversity"; and

* Credits former gaming minister Richard Face - whose career ended in disgrace after he was fined for lying to the Independent Commission Against Corruption - as the man who pushed the idea of poker machines in pubs and made it happen.

- yet unreported is the disjunction of on one hand

* Della Bosca MP presentation as a serious minded and ministerial politician on say local 702 ABC radio, 

while on the other hand

* Della's habitual adolescent affectations in tandem with haughty blustering abrasive offensive dishonest Michael Costa, Treasurer, in the general by play of the NSW Legislative Council.

In this Upper House forum 'play pen' we have witnessed the true swaggering Della Bosca in default mode, just like Costa. Who have a whole career behind them of brute power politics leading to sinecure in the "unrepresentative swill" of the Upper House rather than the arts and discipline of geniune policy and pursuasion in the lower house.

 The Govt ministers in the Upper House have a tendency to exude arrogance (Hatzistergos is a notable exception to the adolescent jokester behaviour) presenting as truly bizarre, or zoo like, if you have ever sat in the public gallery. In this jolly arrogance we include ALP Left's Penny Sharp presumably relieved at that lifelong financial security of a parliamentary pension.

One can only sympathise with the weary patience of the idealistic Green MPs sitting like 3 condemned convicts, situated with backs to the gallery - surely positioned by the Speaker to keep them as invisible as possible by comparison with the shonky competition - and regularly verbally abused for the audacity of defying the ALP machine hegemony.

Even at Iemma's cynical, dissembling worst in the Legislative Assembly he does front up to the Opposition in the lower house and takes public/press gallery scrutiny as orthodox politics. Iemma took the insulting questions from Quentin Dempster on the chin last Friday on Stateline with as much grace as he could though clearly squirming.

This is the opposite of the grotesquely haughty Upper House crew in the ALP who appear so two faced according to our witness.

Is Della "improving" his mate Costa's public energy sale privatisation agenda with a stick on Iemma's premiership? Or is it simply the cracked policy delivery in the Iemma glossy paint job exposing to the public the metal fatigue of the ultimate ALP machine man Della underneath? This is one old car with rust through the panels and its best days are well behind. Is the chasis still sound? Clearly the Greens think it should go over the pits for thorough inspection by which they mean Royal Commission. Meanwhile they have this private members Bill, akin to superficial road service call out unless it can gather more numbers:

[media release 3rd April 2008] 

Bill to Ban Developer Donations Introduced Into NSW Parliament
A Bill to that will make it an offence for political parties or
candidates to accept donations from property developers was introduced
into state parliament today by NSW Greens MP, Sylvia Hale.
“This Bill will, in one simple step, remove the vast majority of
conflicts of interest that have brought the state’s planning system
into such disrepute,” Ms Hale told the parliament.
“This Bill will provide the test of whether the Labor and Liberal
parties are serious about cleaning up the political funding system.”
“The planning system has been corrupted by a climate of rampant
conflicts of interest and, at times, outright corruption.”
“ICAC inquiries  the Tweed, Liverpool, Rockdale, Strathfield and
Wollongong councils have provided incontrovertible evidence that
political donations have affected decisions relating to
“There have also been too many examples of favourable decisions by
the government or its Ministers in relation to particular developments
following donations to the Labor Party by the proponents of those
“The public does not find it acceptable for an ALP Minister to make a
decision that provides a financial windfall to a developer who is a
substantial donor to the ALP. The conflict of interest in obvious,” Ms
Hale said.
Ms Hale’s Bill will also strengthen environmental protections and
improve appeal rights for projects “called in” for approval by the
state Planning Minister.
“The Bill will make the decision-making process by the Minister more
transparent and will allow greater scope for the Minister’s decisions
to be appealed.”
“In situations where the Minister is given wide discretionary powers
it is imperative from the point of view of maintaining public confidence
in the system that the Minister’s decisions are made in an completely
transparent way and that they are subject to review.”
The Bill will also add the requirement to address climate change to the
objectives of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.
“Greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation of the effects of climate
change are central to planning questions relating to housing and
building design, the location of farming, residential and employment
lands and the nature and location of transport corridors. By placing
this issue within the objects of the Act planners, developers, Councils
and community representatives will be encouraged to consider these
issues when considering key planning issues,” Ms Hale said.

Debate on the Bill will resume next week.

"Neither Labor nor the Coalition have yet indicated of they will
support the Bill but following the Wollongong scandals and revelations
about Ministerial decisions benefitting party donors, public pressure to
vote for the Bill is intense" said Ms Hale.

 Further information: Chris Holley  (02)9230 3030 / 0437 779 546

Posted by editor at 9:54 AM NZT
Updated: Monday, 7 April 2008 2:56 PM NZT
Official 1979 brochure NSW ALP halcyon days: Opening of Eastern Suburbs Rail
Mood:  lyrical
Topic: nsw govt








Posted by editor at 8:59 AM NZT

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