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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Friday, 9 May 2008
How to really save driving time, petrol cost and love road cyclists
Mood:  crushed out
Topic: local news

 Picture: Local bus driver Steve inspects the aluminium recycling for the editor's ecology action pick up van earlier this week.

The big cycling driver aggro debate is escalating with a malicious attack on a group of sportsmen and women. It looks like a hit and run and legal bunfight with some heavy weight stakeholders like Olympian athletes, cyclist Adam Spencer of 702 abc radio and NRMA deep bias to car drivers.

But there is actually a resolution in this pitched battle over property in the road surface, and human right to choose one's mode of transport (especially the ethical choice of cycling). It's more about adjusting human perspective than surrounding transport realities which don't change very much.

Our credentials here are 5 years 2002-2007 as street press delivery driver thoughout the inner city. And we still do some delivery work occasionally as above. Not quite the freeway type road conditions on the relevant Southern Cross Drive in this conflict but the principles are the same:

1. Expert fuel conservation drivers advise that a speed reduction of say 50% on city roads has not much change in the trip arrival time but it also saves petrol used by 30% saving alot of money (see below). How so? Well it's obvious really - city driving is from one bottle neck (eg traffic light, congested traffic) to the next. It is nothing in this reality to be held up 30 seconds at a traffic light, similar to navigating past a big bunch of sports cyclists. Not that we are into cycling for sport, more like for work and basic transport:

It's not your maximum speed, it's the average around you that counts. To fight against the crowd around you is like swimming against a rip at the beach - it's a waste of time and energy. People who don't get this are having trouble with their own narrow perceptions (which brings me back to the old hobby horse about alcohol and the decades long slow brain damage, or indeed the bad mood from a hang over the morning after):

It's amazing how over takers will be right next to you at the next lights because everyone is only as fast as the next bottleneck. Indeed look at this expert study of lane changers for no time saving with excess use of fuel:

 [University of Queensland, Faculty of Engineering, Physical Sciences and Architecture]

New Research Says Lane Changers Get No Savings

11 August 2006
by Charlotte Nash-Stewart
With petrol prices rising, new research from Civil Engineering’s Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) Research Laboratory shows aggressive drivers not only use more fuel and create more emissions than defensive drivers, but save themselves little travel time in the process.
“When you compare the fuel consumption and emissions, it can be up to four times greater for aggressive drivers in a motorway environment,” said ITS Lab Director Dr Hussein Dia. “And for just a 4% saving in travel time.” (62seconds on a 26 minute trip)
The study modelled aggressive drivers as taking greater risks when following other vehicles and changing lanes, and simulated travel on a fairly uncongested M1 motorway.
“In the simulator, aggressive drivers accept shorter follow-up distances to the vehicle ahead,” said Dr Dia.  “For instance they are willing to take a two second gap where a defensive driver might look for a four or five second gap.”
Aggressive drivers were also more hazardous.  The simulations show frequent braking while attempting lane changes results in near collisions, which can also create a congestion “shock wave” in traffic behind them.
“This effect can last for 10-15 minutes, and by the time you get past it, there is no apparent problem,” said Dr Dia.  “All it takes, especially on freeways, is someone travelling at 100km/hr to suddenly brake to create this ripple effect.”
The ITS lab generated the data from existing simulation programs, and included their own fuel field data validated consumption and emissions model.
“From the acceleration and speed of the vehicle we can tell how much fuel is being used,” said Dr Dia.  “From the field data, we are quite confident it is a good replication.”
Many drivers listening to the research findings on ABC radio were surprised to hear that many lane changes would not significantly speed their trip.
“A lot of people were surprised because they thought they would get there five or ten minutes earlier, but this wasn’t the case, and they didn’t realise the damage they were causing the environment,” said Dr Dia.  “Most fuel consumption and emissions occur during accelerating and decelerating.  If you travel smoothly and only change lanes when necessary it is much more efficient.”
“You might save a couple of minutes here and there, but what you’re doing to the environment and your own hip pocket, not to mention stress ... These findings reinforce what we already know:  lane discipline is a basic premise in traffic engineering as it ensures that drivers and vehicles get from their origins to destinations quicker and safer,” he said.  “That is the ultimate aim of any efficient transport system.”
Dr Dia said the key was changing driver behaviour, and this data compliments research on other applications being prepared for the Queensland Department of Main Roads to encourage drivers to stay in their lanes and maintain safe distances.
Such measures include lane control, such as on Coronation Drive, over-road dynamic message signs, and variable speed limits which would allow bottlenecks to be relieved at peak periods by dynamically changing the speed of upstream traffic.
The simulations on aggressive driver behaviour were undertaken for an ABC field study and Dr Dia said it was rewarding that the simulation results matched the field data, showing the ITS Lab models to be calibrated and validated with a practical degree of accuracy.
For more information…

ABC Catalyst Program News Item
View the Simulation Experiment

2. Building on point 1, cutting travel time while driving is all about planning ahead and making the right strategic decisions about how to get into the best flowing stream of traffic while travelling quite moderate or slow. For instance:

(a) Marrickville to CBD 7.30-9.00 am , best to avoid Newtown totally, and go via Dulwich Hill to Parramatta Rd via Broadway.

(b) Similarly Marrickville to Eastern Suburbs in peak hour morning or evening - avoid CBD and Oxford St. Travel via Alexandria, Surry Hills and Moore Park Rd.

3. Driving fast in city traffic is a very big waste of money:

 Take it slow and save big on gas

Driving style has a big impact on fuel economy. Backing off can save big.

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - You can get 35 percent better fuel mileage out of your current vehicle by using a device most drivers already have.

That would be your right foot.

Most drivers agonizing over the cost of gasoline fail to realize the enormous impact their driving style has on fuel consumption.

During the last run-up in fuel prices, we wrote about Edmunds.com's tests of common fuel-saving driving tips. Some common tips, it turned out, had little or no effect on fuel economy. (Edmunds.com provides data and content for CNN.com's automotive Websites.) ...

If you want a big gain in fuel mileage, though, you need to seriously lay off the pedals when driving around town. Accelerating more slowly away from green lights and stopping more gradually for red lights cut fuel consumption in Edmunds.com's tests by 35.4 percent for the Land Rover and 27.1 percent for the Mustang.

Slamming down the gas pedal pushes more fuel into the engine while it also keeps the engine running faster.

You can also save a lot of gas by just lifting your foot off the accelerator as soon as possible when approaching a yellow or red light or a stop sign.

For one thing, letting up on the gas sooner gives your car more coasting time.

By the way, when we say "accelerating hard" and "stopping abruptly" we aren't necessarily talking about juvenile tire-squealing antics. If you start keeping a conscious eye on how you drive, you may realize that you've been hot-rodding around for years without realizing it.

In Edmunds.com's tests, they slowed acceleration times down to a 20-second run from zero to sixty miles per hour. Compared to the kind of zero-to-sixty times we hear car makers bragging about these days, 20 seconds may sound impossibly slow. In fact, it is slow. But, while it won't get your pulse pounding, it will get you safely onto the highway.

Since most drivers don't have a stopwatch handy to time their acceleration, Cole Quinnel, a spokesman for Chrysler Corp. engineers, advises not pressing the gas pedal down by more than an inch unless you really have to. Using that approach, the difference in fuel economy will be appreciable.

Let's say that your car currently gets 22 miles per gallon overall. If this laid-back driving style gets you just 30 percent more in fuel mileage, which Edmunds.com's tests indicate it could, you'd see that increase to about 30 miles per gallon.

It's not easy, though. For most people, driving this way will feel, to say the least, awkward. When I tried Quinnel's high-mileage driving advice, it was difficult to maintain this disciplined approach to acceleration and deceleration without consistent effort. The minute I let my concentration slip -- Zoom! -- off I'd go again in a gas-wasting rush, just like I usually do.

And, to be perfectly honest, it was a little embarrassing to drive that way. Every molecule of testosterone in my body was begging to be excused for the day.

But, in a couple of short drives, the car was using significantly less gas per mile, even with my occasional slip-up. Maybe if I keep it up, I can soothe my dented ego with a little cash in my wallet.

4. In all cases never worry about travelling slow or fast behind other traffic. Have your favourite music in the car and radio stations. Carry water in case it gets hot and suffer dehydration leading to rage. Be happy, don't worry. Experienced drivers tend to even read a bit at the lights but the authorities probably wouldn't encourage this.

The real disruption to travel time is the choice of road with congestion bottlenecks and knowledge of all sidestreets which only comes with experience, and ability to judge the traffic ahead of time to avoid navigational mistakes stuck in the wrong lane etc.

In this way you can save alot of petrol driving slower, arrive at roughly the same time, feel alot more relaxed and learn to love bunches of cyclists because everyone stops at the next bottleneck anyway.

And the last principle? No. 5 taxi drivers are very arrogant, but then who would want to do their job every day?

As petrol becomes very very expensive we have been researching the following:




Posted by editor at 9:56 AM NZT
Updated: Friday, 9 May 2008 1:03 PM NZT
Thursday, 8 May 2008
Murdoch broadsheet: 'Chinese hostile to Western media'
Mood:  sad
Topic: human rights


8 May 2008 Chinese hostile to Western coverage | The Australian

"Rowan Callick, China correspondent | May 08, 2008

DEATH threats against foreign correspondents and official statements demonising Western media risk creating a hostile environment for foreign journalists based in China and for tens of thousands of other media staff arriving to cover the Beijing Olympic Games.

This was a warning issued by the Foreign Correspondents Club of China this week, 100 days ahead of the opening of the Games.

But the warning prompted an outpouring of anonymous attacks onforeign journalists in the online forum of the Global Times, the popular sister publication owned by the Communist Party's flagship newspaper, People's Daily.

The FCCC revealed that at least 10 foreign correspondents have received anonymous death threats "during a campaign on the web and in state-run media, against alleged bias in Western media coverage of the Tibetan unrest and its aftermath".

The organisations that have received death threats include the BBC and CNN.

The introduction of new regulations for the Olympic period, freeing travel and interviewing restrictions within China until October, "represented an improvement in reporting conditions", said the club, which represents more than 800 accredited foreign journalists based in China.

But the FCCC said that in the past two months, since the unrest began in Lhasa, it has learned of more than 50incidents of interference in the work of international media trying to report in communities in the greater Tibet area.

It said: "Foreign correspondents have been detained, prevented from conducting interviews, searched and subjected to the confiscation or destruction of reporting materials.

"Authorities have intimidated Chinese sources and staff, and in some cases ordered them to inform on foreign correspondents' activities."

If this is allowed to continue, said FCCC president Melinda Liu, Newsweek's China bureau chief, "the reporting interference and hate campaigns targeting international media may poison the pre-Games atmosphere for foreign journalists".

She urged the Government to investigate the death threats, "which violate Chinese law".

But police have been reluctant to pursue such complaints.

The club urged Beijing to make good on its commitments, made public in 2002, to "be open in every aspect to the rest of the country and the whole world" and "to follow international standards and criteria" before and during the Games.

Recent comments in the Global Times online forum, a popular gathering place for extreme nationalists, include several quoting a song from a patriotic 1950s film on the Korean War: "When friends come, I bring out good liquor, when the jackals come I bring out the hunting rifle."

Others said:

* "China doesn't like people who become enemies. Kick them out. If they won't leave, annihilate them. To hit the enemy is to protect oneself."

* "These beasts are as annoying as hell, f..king chattering all day. These bastards make one want to throw up. I strongly advocate tossing them into the Taiwan Strait to fill it up. They're like flies. Disgusting. Are these half-breeds trying to sicken Chinese people to death?"

* "When the eight united armiesinvaded China (in 1900, after their citizens were murdered during the Boxer Rebellion), they made China pay indemnities. Even today, foreign devils dream of doing the same thing!"

* "Their statement exemplifies the bias resulting from Eurocentric brainwashing. Now that the sons and daughters of China have stepped out into the world to express their feelings about the 100 years of shame (before the 1949 revolution), we're being made into the enemy. This is aclassic case of the bandit crying:'Thief!"'

* "We 1.3 billion Chinese have nothing to fear from threats by shameless Western journalists, we won't tolerate their smears and slanders against China."

Posted by editor at 8:13 PM NZT
Updated: Friday, 9 May 2008 9:53 AM NZT
Get Up blows whistle on greenhouse mafia inside Federal Parliament House
Mood:  sharp
Topic: globalWarming

 Get Up broadcast email to their 230,000 subscriber base

 They've taken over Canberra

Click here to sign the petition now!  


Something very troubling is happening right now in Canberra, as our pollies put the final touches on next week's Budget. It only became clear to us while delivering your People's Budget Submission - the halls of Parliament are crawling with lobbyists from the powerful and well-resourced polluting industries, using their industrial muscle to aggressively argue against climate change action.

We urgently need an active people's movement to counter the largest and best-funded lobby in Australia. Next Thursday, the Government will meet with environment groups to discuss climate change solutions. We want tens of thousands of signatures to bring to the table, calling for emissions to begin declining by 2010, and be cut in half by 2020. Nothing less will do.

Will your signature be one of those countering the polluters' push for short-term profit?


All the polluting industries have combined their resources to trump the will of the people: coal, aluminum, cement, electricity generators, mining, and many more. But our politicians work for us - they need to set targets and pass laws that reduce emissions, not reward polluters.

We are much closer to a crisis tipping point than previously thought. It's now possible that there will be no Arctic summer ice by 2013, 90 years earlier than IPCC predictions. With existing projections being viewed as the minimum changes we can expect, Australia must adopt a science-based emissions reduction target - and nurture a green economy with green jobs to get us there.

Our economic prosperity and our environment depends on it, and that depends on our politicians being willing and able to resist the powerful self-interests of the polluter lobby. Help swing the debate back in favour of the people, by signing this urgent petition today, before next week's meeting:


The polluter lobby must not set the terms of the debate around climate solutions. We know that the costs of inaction are catastrophic and will affect every aspect of our economy and our lives. Kevin Rudd is making decisions this year that could help avoid that - but only if you demand it. He needs you to let him know you expect corporate greed to not trump climate need.

Thanks for being a part of the solution,
The GetUp team
PS - To read the full version of your People's Budget Submission, based on your Biscuit Budget results and People's Agenda process,
click here.


GetUp is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group. We use new technology to empower Australians to have their say on important national issues. We receive no political party or government funding, and every campaign we run is entirely supported by voluntary donations. If you'd like to contribute to help fund GetUp's work, please
donate now! If you have trouble with any links in this email, please go directly to www.getup.org.au. To unsubscribe from GetUp, please click here.

Authorised by Brett Solomon, Level 2, 294 Pitt St, Sydney NSW 2000

Posted by editor at 7:25 PM NZT
Updated: Friday, 9 May 2008 1:11 PM NZT
Law Council of Australia April 08 Newsletter (repost)
Mood:  chatty
Topic: legal

[repost of their ezine follows]

Contact Details

Phone: +61 2 6246 3788
Fax: +61 2 6248 0639


Edited by Ben Caddaye
Phone (02) 6246 3725


Welcome to the April issue of the Law Council's monthly e-newsletter - @theLCA. The newsletter is designed to provide timely information on a range of topical issues relevant to the Australian legal profession. Contributions to @theLCA are welcome and should be forwarded to the editor on the details provided.



President's Message


Ross Ray QC


It has been a busy month as usual for the Law Council, highlighted by a short but productive meeting between myself and Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard on April 11.

Ms Gillard and I discussed a range of issues including funding of law schools; incentives for lawyers in rural and regional areas, occupational health and safety law reform and workplace relations law reform.


click here for more




Law Council Tests Its 20-20 Vision


The Law Council made sure its thoughts on the future of this country were put before the Prime Minister’s Australia 2020 Summit, held in Canberra on 19 and 20 April.


click here for more




Legal Aid Boost a Step in Right Direction


The Attorney-General’s recent announcement of additional funding for community legal centres and legal aid commissions should mark the beginning of a genuine attempt by the Government to address shortfalls in this crucial area, according to the Law Council.


click here for more




LCA Backs Changes to Same-Sex Laws


The Law Council has welcomed an announcement that Commonwealth laws which discriminate against same-sex couples will be either gone or on their way out by year’s end.


click here for more



Quentin Bryce Welcomed as New Governor-General


The Law Council this month congratulated Quentin Bryce on her appointment as Governor-General of Australia.

“Ms Bryce’s appointment as Governor-General is richly deserved and caps a long and distinguished career, which began in the law,” Law Council President Ross Ray QC said.


click here for more




Law Students Call For Scholarship Overhaul


The peak body representing Australian law students says the Federal Government’s Commonwealth Scholarship Program falls short of the mark and has called for a number of shortcomings to be rectified.


click here for more




Future of Federalism Under Microscope


Brisbane will play host in July to an international panel of experts to discuss the major challenges and opportunities for federal systems around the world.


click here for more



So You Think You Can Practise Downunder?

By Elizabeth Lee*



April 2008: the perfect time to be in Washington DC. Cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The Pope is in town. A lone Aussie young lawyer makes the trek out there also.


click here for more




What's On


What's On is your guide to conferences, workshops, seminars and other events of interest to the Australian legal profession. Items for What's On are welcome and should be submitted to the editor on the details provided.


click here for more

Posted by editor at 5:47 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 8 May 2008 7:01 PM NZT
Grog pushers in the Sydney press today, Denton/ABC leverage social concerns
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: health

The ABC are running a tv show promotion with the angle of 'adverts' on the public broadcaster. It's an Andrew Denton viral marketing tactic by this advertising agency Three Drunk Monkeys:

 Fury at spoof advert on ABC | NEWS.com.au

and the Sydney Daily Telegraph are running a straight story (above) today as if by way of interference as they take the big advert revenue for retail grog. As they do over at the Sydney Morning Herald. 

The whole alcohol impact on society is getting a thorough dose of salts at the moment, and we wonder indeed if alcohol is actually promotes political apathy amongst voters by dulling the senses (all the better to keep worker bees in their place?).

We also had a dig at News Ltd there for being surrounded by pubs yesterday which we feel is not their fault but might cloud their judgement so to speak. More power to Andrew Denton we say and his Gruen ditty as per Adam Spencer abc 702 radio show this morning not so far away from the sex advert juxtaposition above in the SDT.

7 May 2008 News Ltd HQ in Sydney keeping afloat 10 pubs all within 500 metres?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: big media

Apparently only 2 alcoholic drinks a day increases one's chance of cancer fo the throat, breast, liver, bowel, stomach. It's all pretty awful really. The trouble with alcohol like most drugs is that it's a great deceiver, so most will probably brush off this warning as not real in part at least because their judgement is damaged by the alcohol itself. We know prohibition is dangerous to good government too but more effective education is always welcome.

8 May 08 Even two drinks a high cancer risk

ALCOHOL is one of the most well-established causes of cancer and there is no safe level of consumption, the Cancer Institute NSW has concluded after an extensive analysis of worldwide research.

The state government agency will today release a new report on the strong link between alcohol consumption and cancer, highlighting alarmingly high rates of risk from just two drinks a day.

The institute says alcohol is particularly linked to cancer of the upper-aero digestive tract, breast, colorectum, liver and stomach.

Its report, Alcohol As A Cause Of Cancer, says the risk of cancer in the upper-aero digestive tract is increased by 40 per cent (voicebox) and by 75 per cent (mouth and pharynx) from two alcoholic drinks a day.

The risk of breast cancer is 11 to 22 per cent higher in women that drink than in non-drinkers.

Four drinks a day increased a man's risk of bowel cancer by 64 per cent.

The institute said there was convincing evidence that heavy consumption increased the risk of liver cancer, starting at about 17 per cent from two drinks a day. There was a modest increase of 7 per cent in the risk of stomach cancer from two drinks a day.

High alcohol consumption, of about eight drinks a day, increased the risk at any site by 90 per cent.

"This report … presents the results from a systematic review of the world's literature on alcohol and cancer and clearly shows that the consumption of alcohol, even at moderate levels, is associated with an increased risk of several cancers," the chief executive officer of the institute, Professor Jim Bishop, said.

Bowel and breast cancer are the second- and third-most common cancers in NSW.

Posted by editor at 1:59 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 8 May 2008 2:39 PM NZT
Visit to the land of volcanoes, Chile's X & XI regions, 2002
Mood:  spacey
Topic: world

A volcano dormant for at least 2000 years has blown recently as per Sydney Morning Herald reportage here today. And here

Picture above: image lifted off Sky News of Chaiten Volcano, Chile.

Spitting lava ... One of the few remaining residents of Chaiten gestures at the volcano that has forced most from the area.

Spitting lava ... One of the few remaining residents of Chaiten gestures at the volcano that has forced most from the area.
Photo: LA Tercera [Sydney Morning Herald]


It is literally 8 km from the town of Chaiten in southern Chile known as the 11th region as shown by our Google Earth screen shots below. 

Picture above: Google Earth of the surrounding region, main town Puerto Montt at the top of the picture, Chaiten middle right, Chiloe Island middle left (accessible by tourist bus and car ferry).

Picture above: Chaiten volcano at top right like a giant oval, dormant for 2000 plus years, but no longer.

It reminds of the editor's travels in 2002 to nearby town of Puerto Montt and Chiloe Island which are just north in the '10th Region'. This is all great volcano and earthquake country as per this picture below.

Our interest in this part of the world was for tourism, but also regarding this local controversy of a US $3 billion hydro smelter scheme by Noranda, a Canadian multinational mining company. It would have caused untold damage to the marvellous fjordlands, lakes and original forest and wildlife of the 11th region and we played our role in stopping that vandalism (including employment of 2 staffers costing $15K):

Patagonia ecology solidarity project

Picture above: Campaign poster with provenance to Australia because the hand prints were spurred on by Jabiluka campaign handprint stickers shown to the locals, while also noting the Chileans had their own Indigenous rock art to take their inspiration.





Picture above: Editor with local environmental leadership in Santiago 2002.

Note the website address for no alumysa has been superceded by www.ecosistemas.cl and in particular this page

Picture above: Images of Puerto Montt and surrounds taken in 2002 by the editor. Notice puma raised from a cub let out to breed but always returns according to owner. Also winter woodsmoke pollution evident. Lovely estuary scenic areas. Ship heading south called 'Navimag'. Ferry over to Chiloe Island opposite Chaiten including township of Castro. Spectacular local mountain parks, and inland lakes. German-Swiss style house construction.

Picture above: The trip left such an indelible mark we kept the tickets.

Picture above: Bus crossing of the Andes to Argentinian city of Mendoza. Top left shows the switchbacks ascending. Blizzard conditions soon after closed the crossing for 3 days. In Mendoza protests were breaking out over the collapsed currency, and police with shiny double barrel shotguns guarded the bus from opportunistic cirminals, and to keep safe their country's reputation, while we visitors from Chile were stranded in a traffic jam.



Posted by editor at 1:01 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 8 May 2008 6:37 PM NZT
Comment: Ex PM Howard rages against the dying of the light* .... like Burma's afflicted
Mood:  sad
Topic: aust govt

Picture: 27 March 2006, Sydneysiders flock to the coast to witness dramatic Cyclone Wati ripples travelling 1000 km south west, to the shores of Sydney. 

We wrote last night of evidence of former Liberal Party parliamentary deputy leader, Peter Costello MP, engaged in real politik in an effective way again: A Laurie Oakes' column in the Sydney Tele, a Dennis Shanahan front pager in The Oz.

All in the federal budget season which Costello prepared every year since 1996. One feels Costello as former federal Treasurer would indeed be twitchy at such a time another has got his harness now.

So now ex PM John Howard is reported last night at a dinner for nostalgic 1,200 fans calling for his party to 'rage against being in opposition' and to 'not take cheek from the other side' or words to that effect. But this all sounds like raging against the dying of the light of literary fame.

But we are at a junture in Australian politics far more serious than these shallow concerns of self respect or image. If Al Gore is right about intensity if not occurrence of cyclonic impact in Burma, and other storms despite the predictable ridicule or red herrings (?) about mangrove removal, and Howard is indeed in generational and political economic denial, which we think he is, then dangerous climate change is stalking large population centres now.

Can't happen here? Darwin, Cairns, Brisbane, even Sydney in 20 years with tropical and sub tropical weather patterns?

And apart from meteorological/science debate there is the political reality of perception, with not a hint of scaremongering involved. 

Then federal treasurer Peter Costello MP, with his electorate in Melbourne, took serious climate change to Cabinet apparently in 2003 and apparently was rebuffed:

 20.2.2007 - Winds of climate change stir cabinet consciences Katherine Murphy The Age.

Cabinet dumped a serious emissions trading proposal brought by the Treasury and Environment departments in 2003 because of opposition from coal and aluminium interests. But by early 2005, the issue was back on the move.

In February of that year, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, then environment minister Ian Campbell and parliamentary secretary Greg Hunt sat down for a meal to talk about how to bring China and India to the table on a post-Kyoto framework. Government insiders believe the Foreign Minister's influence has been critical in bringing Prime Minister John Howard around from his previous doubts about global warming.

Twelve months after the three ministers' discussion, the Government had engineered, with like-minded souls in Washington, Beijing and Delhi, the AP6 group. This small burst of momentum continued. Around the middle of 2006, Mr Howard was making his own inquiries about policy options. Sources say last year's nuclear energy inquiry was born of the PM's sense that some kind of public shift on energy and climate was in progress.

But while the shift was there in nascent form, the Government badly misjudged the politics, ridiculing former US vice-president Al Gore's environment warnings, and appearing to be dragged to the idea of emissions trading.

Divisions, coupled with a lack of decisions on all major policy issues, have made it hard for the Government to show that it has a clear sense of where to take the country.

More or less consistently on the side of carbon abatement has been Mr Downer — under pressure from Greg Hunt, to whom he is personally close, Ian Campbell (and his predecessors Robert Hill and David Kemp), new Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and Peter Costello.

Mr Hunt did his university thesis on carbon pricing. He believes the firming of the scientific evidence has been critical in getting the Government to the table on the issue. "The science through the International Panel on Climate Change has moved from likely but still conjectural to pretty much lock-down. The cabinet has moved and the Prime Minister has led the move," he says, adding that there remains a legitimate debate over the timing of policy changes and the mechanisms required to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Ian Campbell had been talking about global warming since 1990. Visitors to his office were always greeted with a chart showing the steps required to reduce greenhouse gases.

He took up the fight consistently in Government ranks, gaining a few enemies along the way. Ironically, he was dumped from his position just as the Government finally accepted his message.

Costello reportedly did not attend the dinner for Howard last night with video messages from both VIP's GW Bush (climate change denier) and Tony Blair (climate change campaigner).

Putting all of these factors together Costello has a political future of some kind. And that Howard endorsement of Brendan Nelson as leader is more a kiss of death. Time will tell, but according to the best science time is also against us, all of us.

* Do not go gentle into that good night,  by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Posted by editor at 10:11 AM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 8 May 2008 11:12 AM NZT
Wednesday, 7 May 2008
Energy industry whistleblower : 'evidence of a national market has largely disappeared'
Mood:  bright
Topic: nsw govt

We received this correspondence late today from an industry insider. We don't claim to have the technical ability to fully absorb this information but we include the explanation by this whistleblower, who appears to be totally contradicting Paul Keating's recent spin article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the efficacy of a national energy market, a topic of great interest to the NSW ALP caucus in their meeting yesterday 6 May 2008.

Dear [SAM editor],

I read with relish your rejoinder to Kirk McKenzie in New Matilda - well said!

There is so much bullshit written about how state ownership in NSW is keeping the price of electricity high and how a free market would bring prices down.

The attached charts plot electricity pool prices, state against state, for NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

If there really were a national market for electricity each plot would be a diagonal line through the origin with just a few excursions when there were transmission constraints between the states.  There is evidence for the operation of a national market some of the time such as in 2001, but in recent years that has largely disappeared.

It has also been claimed that NSW prices are too high compared with Victoria, ostensibly on account of the lower efficiency due to overmanning and poor work practices.  The chart give the lie to this also.  In 2006 the average pool price in NSW was $3.12 lower than in Victoria.  In 2007 it
might have been $3.67 higher in NSW than Victoria - but the average price in both states had doubled!  So much for the greater efficiency and competition in Victoria bringing down the price of electricity.  I am sure that production costs in each state didn't double overnight.

In 2006 all the generators, both state and private, were complaining that they were losing money hand over fist.  It looks to me like they finally stopped cutting each others throats with their stupid bidding behaviour and
worked out how they can all make huge profits with the right bidding strategy.

All of my data came from the NEMMCo website where it is freely available to the public; all I have done is collated it and charted one state against another with a logarithmic scale that shows the whole range of bids to finally reveal what the hell is going on.

What we have to remember too is that the average pool price will have to go $90 per MWh for wind farms to be financially viable for investors like Babcock & Brown.  That ain't gonna happen unless Babcocks et al can get
their hands on all the thermal stations in the country and push the price up by shrewd bidding practices.  Outright collusion isn't necessary, just tacit acceptance of a few simple rules that they all seem to have learned quite well during 2007.  So if we want to go green to save the planet, we have to bribe investment capital into doing it by doubling electricity prices.  And people like Bob Carr and Paul Keating are standing at the elbow of the investment houses guiding their hand.

I am happy for you to use this information anyway you want because there is nothing stopping you or anyone else from obtaining it like I did.  All I ask if you do so is to remain anonymous ......

Posted by editor at 8:40 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 8 May 2008 4:44 PM NZT
Is Peter Costello leaking treasury, Cabinet documents from the Howard days?
Mood:  lyrical
Topic: aust govt

A nasty pre budget leak of a treasury document has apparently set the cat amongst the pigeons in the Canberra Press Gallery. They are talking about this 'scoop' or 'non story' depending on your party allegiance, by Dennis Shanahan in The Australian page 1:

TREASURY: Coalition leaked warning, PM says

DENNIS SHANAHAN BLOG: IR dragon set to breathe fire 

with this editorial

Wages threat defined, Labor faces conflict over IR and interest rates

But we commented on this crikey.com.au thread as follow:

Time to stop hugging the Liberal corpse Dennis

 [Our comment follows]

Tom McLoughlin Wednesday, 7 May 2008 4:34:41 PM

Call me stupid but my quick reading of Dennis is that the document was "obtained" but doesn't say from whom. It is "subject " of an FOI request but it doesn't say that was the source. Last week Laurie Oakes wrote a story as per Sydney Daily Telegraph Saturday edition that was clearly based on a Howard regime cabinet or cabinet related document. ....What I'm saying is - how do you know Costello isn't the source? And good luck to him too. Who could begrudge the guy some consolation prizes. I mean Dennis virtually gives away that he got it from Costello given the ABCTV were refused the document "last week". Call it dumb intuition but methinks the old Peter Costello is getting a whiff of the old battle smoke in his nostrils.

 Tom#2 Wednesday, 7 May 2008 4:42:02 PM

By the by, it would be one good way to build interest in the Costello memoirs too. A leak here, a leak there. Could turn into quite a crescendo. Mark Latham set the bar quite high with his Diaries. Let er rip I say.

Back on Saturday 26th April 2008 we noted in our obsessive way about the earlier Laurie Oakes article implying Costello was playing politics again as follows:

Costello as former treasurer has apparently leaked a similar 'reform' previously considered by the Howard Govt to veteran Laurie Oakes writing Bulletin style stories out of place in the Daily Telegraph cartoon book:

[offline] Howard plotted to scuttle the states April 26 2008 p26

Maybe a leak so Costello can shore up his dormant leadership ambition? Or to sell his memoirs? Or even to distract from FoI expert Peter Timmins (SMH today) who implies that Costello's Govt deliberately squibbed criminal sanctions for cartel behaviour (like big Liberal Party donors and a certain cardboard box king).

(Actually such stories by 'the sphere Laurie Oakes' are offline for google search in Australia and absent from the Daily Telegraph's own website. But there is a global google search which brings up press screen shots of such stories if you search the exact article name and newspaper. It may be web subscription only - we haven't got that far - and it may be only temporarily accessible. Obviously someone has a buiness model literally scanning the press pages from Australia - maybe via license from local Media Monitors or similar who would be doing this scan anyway (we speak from depressing experience 1999-2001).

And now we have a copy from the blessed recycling here:



Posted by editor at 6:29 PM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 7 May 2008 7:52 PM NZT
News Ltd HQ in Sydney keeping afloat 10 pubs all within 500 metres?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: big media


To get an understanding of the Sydney Daily Telegraph loyalty to the big alcohol industry one can look to their full page adverts, with a sample here:

Or one can notice articles like this:

29 March 08 Drinking under attack from the new wowsers | The Daily Telegraph

5 May 2008 Laws to ban drinking at home | The Daily Telegraph

5 May 2008 Reader's Comments: Radical laws to ban drinking at home | News.com.au

and this

Or one can read extracts of the Latham Diary about hard drinking news men with 'scores to settle' with loads of people.

Or one can simply take a little tour of the neighbourhood in which their multi-storey headquarters taking up a full city block is located. Which we did:











Which just left us to take the first picture above of a totally coincidental street frontage - a local fancy dress shop - also very close by. Quite a metaphor for the mask that News Ltd wears regarding legal drugs.

Posted by editor at 5:05 PM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 7 May 2008 7:56 PM NZT

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