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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
Diamond Diary Part 1: Amazing career of environmental litigation
Mood:  on fire
Topic: legal


Over the last 2 months we have been doing pro bono work for Mr Diamond as his court agent in the Land & Environment Court jurisdiction.

He recently swore a 41 page affidavit which gives a history of his at times very effective legal activism from 1995 to 2008. Regretably his latest case was dismissed yesterday due inter alia to $30,000 in unpaid costs to the same sandminer in previous litigation, and bankruptcy.

Justice Lloyd in the Land & Environment Court stated he couldn't and wouldn't look to the detail of how he came to be owing $30,000 to Birdon Contracting Pty Ltd, or how he became bankrupt, we say fighting the (mostly) good fight against illegal sandminers. In fact Lloyd J said his affidavit was "inadmissable" for lack of relevance.

We respectfully disagreed with his Honour and duly lost but in any event we offer the same hot affidavit for the information of the court of public opinion, so to speak. Because there-in is quite a ripping yarn: Of 

  • evil sabotage,
  • fire bombing, home invasions and gunfire
  • polluted waterways,
  • stolen guns,
  • drains illegally bulldozed through crown land,
  • rival sandminer secretly funding litigation with thousands in cash paid over in the LEC toilet so lawyers would go on that day,
  • revenge by allegedly bent council officers resulting in $6M in lost revenues to one sandminer
  • same officers allegedly getting the boot including a general manager
  • Ministerial salve on the open wound of 'the sand wars at Maroota',
  • $50,000 payoffs to go away, and
  • ongoing illegal sandmining impacting World Heritage Tinda Creek under a lapsed consent since 1999-2008.

The decision yesterday by Lloyd J is a legal setback for an irrepressible character to be sure. Meanwhile he has given SAM permission to publish his affidavit, at least the first 41 pages given there is another 392 pages of cross referenced annexures as well. There will be some legal vetting too and deletion of some names where necessary.

Following is first installment of the Diamond Diary:


My environmental and community credentials, and public interest in this litigation

2. I have been campaigning for protection of the conservation values of Tinda Creek  which runs into Gibba Swamp, Wollemi Creek and the Colo River all in the Wollemi National Park for 24 years due to water pollution issues and now more recently over use of water resource and other environmental impacts. I am well known in the Tinda Creek area having supported various neighbours over the years including collective effort to fight bushfires in the area. For instance I co-ordinated the Seventh Day Adventist and Coptic Church helpers in 1994 – a very bad year for bushfire.


3.  I know from direct observation that Tinda Creek runs into the Wollemi National Park and I understand it has been listed as World Heritage since November 2000. Refer material from NSW NPWS and Australian Heritage Database at annexure …2…


4. I know from direct observation that Tinda Creek runs adjacent to the sandmine site on private property at Lot 2 owned by Birdon – and in part by the Crown, and a useful corroboration of that is figures 2 and 4 in the Chris Jewell expert report for HCC of June 2007 which shows the close proximity of Tinda Creek to the edge of the sandmine which sits on the former wetlands feeding the creek. This report is at annexure …3.. Another good location map for Tinda Creek is the extract from the NSW Government Topographical map 1:25,000 of 1977 which shows where the creek was before the sandmine sitting on its watercourse now in 2008.


5. Since 1999 onwards I have been very worried about  the combination effect of sandmining and prolonged drought and now in the last few years climate change impact on the water resource from Tinda Creek to

(a) this section of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (“WHA”) of Gibba Swamp, and

(b) other landholders in the area.


6. I have nothing to gain financially from taking this litigation that I am pursuing in this case. My motivation is the public interest in protecting the WHA and Tinda Creek waterway. I submit there are special circumstances to allow my case to go forward:

(a)  being one of the very few people with the working knowledge of the situation in this remote location;

(b)  with a genuine concern for Tinda Creek into the WHA; and

(c) the courage to stand up against the menaces and criminality I and other landholders nearby have encountered from the sandmine interests at Tinda Creek;

(d) that I can satisfy the legal tests for no order as to security for costs as outlined below in my affidavit under a separate heading.


7. I have a reference letters from peak green group The Wilderness Society with perhaps 20,000 members and Colong Foundation for Wilderness supporting my litigation in these proceedings. Colong in particular are highly respected for their dedication and expertise in relation to the WHA. Their founder Milo Dunphy was instrumental in promoting the World Heritage listing, as well as founder of the Total Environment Centre in 1973. Colong are cited in the Bibliography of the Australian Heritage Database linked to the website of the Australian Heritage Database, Federal Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Refer Annexure …2….



8. My agent informs me and I truly believe that he has spoken last week with Andrew Cox, Executive Officer for the peak green group NSW National Parks Association and that the NPA are “not happy with what is going on up there”. My agent also informs me and I truly believe he has spoken by phone to Tara Cameron with the President of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society and that she also is very concerned about any expansion of the sandmine affecting the water resources to that section of the WHA. Her email is attached at annexure …5…..


8A. Other neighbouring landholders are also worried about Tinda Creek drying up for instance xxxxxxxxx  downstream of the sandmine on Tinda Creek on the west of Singleton Rd. Refer email correspondence at annexure …6…


9. I am also supported by my accountant neighbour Mr Aldo Crino at xxxxxxx     who has provided me with pro bono support in the past, including use of his mailing address for personal security reasons. A letter evidencing his retainer is at annexure …7….


9A. I am similarly supported by my court agent Tom McLoughlin with a career back to 1992 in public service for the environment. He is working for me pro bono because he says this issue is so important to that part of the WHA. Tom’s mentor was Milo Dunphy from 1992 to 1996 until Milo died, and he has a zoology degree and is a solicitor in NSW on a restricted certificate, recommenced in 2006 having been admitted in 1990. His resume is attached at annexure …8..


10. My agent Tom McLoughlin also wrote a submission objecting to the 1996 sandmine development application for green group Friends of the Earth, refer annexure …9…. And he has had extensive correspondence with senior levels of then NSW Carr Govt about Tinda Creek around that time refer annexure …10..


11. My agent Tom McLoughlin is also owner and editor of the community news website SydneyAlternativeMedia established in January 2007 with about 20,000 pageviews per month readership. As further evidence of the public interest in this case he has written two web based articles outlining issues of public concern about the Tinda Creek sandmine operated by the Birdon entitled:

(a) 6 October 2008 “Google Earth reveals illegal drain intercepting Tinda Creek to World Heritage area?”

(b) 10 October 2008 “Misleading plan and letter by sandminer in threat to Blue Mtns World Heritage Area?”

A copy of both articles and record of readership figures are attached at annexure …11..


12. Other character references regarding my standing in the Hawkesbury community and public interest in this litigation include:

- Jackie Verzi, formerly public officer of Rapping Association Inc till it finished in 2006, now public officer of Hawkesbury Council Watch Inc

- Lydia Clare, Hawkesbury Spirtualist Centre

- Peter Waite OAM -


Refer Annexure 12. 


13. Recently I celebrated my 60th birthday with a party of 20 at a local restaurant in Windsor, although I have been living out of the district at Turramurra for several years now.


14. I was brought up in a strict Catholic family and have been a spiritual person of a Christian non denominational approach for at least 20 years and including with Hawkesbury Spiritual Centre for 6 years as per the reference from Lydia Clare referred to above and more recently MOSAIC Community Church Hornsby for 18 months. MOSAIC stands for Multicultural One Stop Information and Assistance Centre and every Sunday without fail I help Korean Australians with cross cultural lessons, and various other people. I have also attended Midway Pentacostal Church at South Maroota 1996-2000.


15. I am not an educated person in the formal sense in part because I was diagnosed with a tumour in 1971 and spent 6 months in hospital and was lucky to survive, and why I limp to this very day. My education has all been in the general workforce as a truck driver, and music business with the Musicians Union and trading in cars and managing land. I probably have a theatrical streak from working for such big names in the 1970ies like ACDC, Dragon, Deep Purple, Manfred Man and many others. This lack of education has affected my ability to conduct litigation on my own behalf in the Land & Environment Court where I have won several and lost a few. I have relied alot on the flexibility in section 39 (1) of the LEC Act 1979 giving access to people like me as it reads:

Proceedings in Class 1, 2 or 3 of the Court’s jurisdiction shall be conducted with as little formality and technicality ….. as the requirements of this Act …. permit”

I very much appreciate the help and patience given to me over the years by the Registry staff, Registrars and judges. I know I need more professional support in order to conduct public interest litigation efficiently and am making a lot of progress with that help in 2008. My goal in reality is to finish with this very case and then never return to the Land & Environment Court jurisidiction ever again and manage rock bands and do other ventures.


16. I am a pensioner in part because of medical problems with my spine, neck and back and I am primary carer of my 87 year old mother with whom I live.


My public interest environmental litigation credentials – successful cases


16. Contrary to the Birdon’s Grounds for the strike out motion at paragraph 1q and the compromised affidavit of Russel Byrnes dated ……..  I have always had as my main concern the environmental protection of Tinda Creek, and Wollemi National Park, now a WHA:


(a)   In 1994-95 I briefed my current court agent Tom McLoughlin who was then the Sydney City CBD based NSW Campaigns Coordinator for The Wilderness Society about a developer’s plan to install a big smelly water polluting mushroom composting ‘factory’ at Tinda Creek by Mushroom Composters Pty Ltd. It was located downstream of the sandmine at Tinda Creek, at the property known as the Slip Rails on Lot 5 at Mellong. The property is now owned by Uri Annin who is also an objector to the Tinda Ck Quarry today along with another downstream local landholder Danny Pullicin. Tom organised on my behalf in 1995 as a freelance organiser for a Wollemi Legal Fighting Fund supported by diverse green groups namely:

- Colong Foundation for Wilderness

- The Wildernes Society         

- Confederation of Bush Walking Clubs NSW

- Australian Conservation Foundation

- Coalition of Hawkesbury & Nepean Groups for the Environment

- NSW Nature Conservation  Council

- Total Environment Centre

- NSW National Parks Assoc.



We raised collectively about $15,000 from the Walkers and other local landholders, as well as an advert in the Sydney Morning Herald , to retain Bruce Woolf & Associates. Proceedings commenced in the Land & Environment Court as Diamond v Mushroom Composters Pty Ltd in 1995. The developer offered to buy me out at “market value” if I withdrew my objections and  litigation. My valuation at the time was $260,000 for Lot 1 which I owned under mortgage. However when we had a meeting at their office at Ebenezer and they showed me the 3 km odour buffer zone into the national park I declined the offer. This knew this would be an illegal use of the national park. This is all evidenced on the HCC’s council file for that DA such as letter of 1/8/94 Mushroom Composters to Mayor Wendy Sledge at annexure  12A…referring to a buyout clause.  I served the LEC Application to the LEC on the day the HCC were meeting to  consider an approval. The developer withdrew the DA, and there were no costs ordered after all our expense and time. Refer the attached community campaign materials from that time at annexure …13..

(b)    In about 1996 I also raised concerns about a large chicken farm in the headwaters of the Wollemi-Tinda Creek area at Mellong which development was still approved but greatly reduced in scale and does cause some pollution risk to the area to this day. Copies of relevant correspondence is at annexure ….

(c)   In 1997 I commenced legal action as public officer of Tinda Creek Spiritual & Environment Centre Inc v Birdon Contracting Pty Ltd & Poyneed Pty Ltd & Hawkesbury City Council 10041/1997 against unlawful sandmining as referred to at 1.n and 1.o in Byrnes/Birdon letter of 9 Sept 2008 setting out their Grounds for the strike out motion attached at appendix ……. The settlement of that court action, with no costs order, was based on an agreed option to purchase my block of land back from Birdon which they bought in a forced bank mortgagee sale at only $130,000 when the property was valued at $ 260,000. The option was to buy back half my property for $65,000 plus subdivision cost plus interest. A local press report of that outcome is at annexure …14..  dated August 20 1997 in the Hawkesbury Gazette.


(d)   Diamond v PF Formations Pty Ltd  and Baulkham Hills Shire Council 10064 of 1998 (unreported), which included Brian Preston then as counsel for BHSC who literally wrote the book Environmental Litigation. This case was run efficiently by Bruce Woolf as solicitor and undisclosed principal Ken Dixon paid for him and the expert reports. This was a sand mining case at Maroota settled by consent, resulting in protection of the public’s Maroota Trigonometric Reserve and strengthened rehabilitation conditions. There was no costs order. Preston told our solicitor at one stage we “had some good stuff” in our evidence. Issues included protection of threatened species of flora listed by the NSW Scientific Committee. The decision is unreported on the internet however my agent’s copy of the final consent orders and Friends of the Earth media release are attached at annexure 16.. These proceedings were financed up to some $40,000 by Ken Dixon paying costs and disbursements of experts and lawyer Bruce Woolf, with pro bono research help of Tom McLoughlin then representing Friends of the Earth Sydney.


 Picture: The infamous 30 metre deep so called surface road to nowhere sandmine at PF Formations Pty Ltd site, Maroota late 1990ies.

(e)   I understand from conversations with current and former Mayors of BHSC John Griffiths and Sonya Phillips (who happens to be Ken Dixon’s cousin) and I truly believe it to be the case that as a result of our successful and expensive case in 1998 of Diamond v PF & BHSC 10064/1998, the regulatory officers at BHSC knowing it was financed by Dixon’s, initiated legal action to close them down as revenge: Cr Rasmussen of Hawkesbury City Council told me he was told of this revenge motive by Peter Lee as  an officer with BHSC, previously HCC.  I was not a party to that litigation but it cost Dixon’s about $100K and they lost and it had the consequence that Dixon’s sand mine was closed in 1999 at Maroota. It also cost them $6M in sales for that year.  Dixon’s took their grievance/allegation about partial conduct in BHSC toward PF Formations to the State Govt ministers and hierarchy of the Planning Dept. Dixon’s were allowed to recommence mining in 2001 by the State Govt. This in turn brought great pressure on BHSC officers involved in the Maroota sandmine precinct with the following consequences :

-          planning officer xxxxxxx who [allegedly] perjured himself in the 1999 litigation (BHSC v Dixon) forced to resign in around 2002 for improper use of council resources for a private consultancy

-          xxxxxxx as special projects officer pressured to resign in late 2004.

-          xxxxxxx the GM was told to resign or be sacked by the Minister for Local Govt in 2004

-          xxxxxxx  was also pressured to resign about 2004 for maladministration

(f)      In 2005 I commenced legal action in Diamond v Birdon Contracting Pty Ltd, Poyneed Pty Ltd & Hawkesbury City Council in proceedings 40230/05, and Diamond & Kent v Birdon Contracting Pty Ltd, Poyneed Pty Ltd & Hawkesbury City Council  40430 of 2005 with another Applicant Peter Kent. Both cases were settled and – on the surface but not in fact - resolved by consent orders with all parties paying their own costs. This was yet another attempt to get some regulatory compliance discipline on the sandmine operation at Tinda Creek in the consent orders.  There were no orders for costs. Regretably Birdon blatantly breached those consent orders as per my letter of 24 Feb 2006 to the GM of HCC and Russell Byrnes for Birdon Contracting (refer annexure …16….) so I commenced contempt proceedings which were not successful and are discussed further below.  As part of the settlement of that case Birdon paid via his solicitor a total of $50,000. Initially they offered money without promising to fix Tinda Creek and I refused. Finally we agreed as I was a bankrupt to pay $40,000  to my son as compensation, stated expressly for past criminal events at Tinda Creek, with $5,000 to myself for my expenses in running the litigation, and $5,000 for Mr Kent for his expenses. In the Grounds dated 9 September 2008 served on me for this strike out motion there is significant reference to Mr Kent and Mr Richardson not attending court or revealing their personal details. The fact is they were too scared to given the vicious campaign of intimidation I have suffered from the sandmine staff and criminal associates. That is my sworn evidence.

(g)   David  Kettle Consulting [agent for Coca Cola Amatil] v Gosford City Council 2005, where Tom McLoughlin appeared for me as agent over a 2 day hearing. There was no order as to costs. The final judgement is reported on the Austlii website for 1 October 2008.  In an interlocutory hearing Pain J gave me judgement on 4 July 2008 (refer annexure …17…) despite severe contest by both other parties to participate as an intervenor under the Double Bay Marina rule applying s 38 (2) of the LEC Act 1979. Evidence for my intervenor application included reference from registered charity (since 1981) Mangrove Mountain District Community Group Inc signed by Margaret Pontifix a local authority figure, retired science and agriculture high school teacher of 40 years (refer annexure 18..). My participation was only on a limited basis but as a result my agent and I with the support of the local community were able to seriously influence proceedings with several expert reports that I believe both other parties wanted to keep away from Commissioners Moore and Taylor in the main hearing:


(i)                  170 page report of Dr Noel Merrick, UTS groundwater centre of 2006

(ii)                the 33 page report of the  CSIRO of July 2008 regarding climate change with major implications for future drought and extreme temperatures in NSW

(iii)               Weatherzone report of driest  month of May on record for New South Wales suggestive of a climate shift or change.



There were no costs orders in this case and the final decision of Commissioners Moore and Taylor leaned heavily on the precautionary principle regarding climate change which was bolstered by the contribution of my submission of expert evidence reports. Indeed I was the only participant to submit evidence on climate change issues because it appears Gosford Council were not up to the job. For instance the Commissioners in their  judgement state [bold added]:

32 In response to a question in relation to ground water recovery rates, Mr Lane [single parties expert] confirmed that he had assumed a continuation of past rainfall and aquifer recharge patterns.

33 The most recent information published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes it clear that the validity of such an assumption is improbable. Recent observational data show that relative to the worst-case scenario model developed by the IPCC, climate change is occurring more rapidly and at a greater magnitude than anticipated. These recent significant upwards increases in climate change rates coupled with an inherent uncertainty associated with the limited temporal data elucidating the ground water-extraction relationship, direct us to consider the matter with caution.

34 In BGP Properties Pty Limited v Lake Macquarie City Council (2004) 138 LGERA 237,
[2004] NSWLEC 399, McClellan CJ made the following relevant observation with respect to the consideration of an appropriate level of caution in such matters:

113. In my opinion, by requiring a consent authority (including the Court) to have regard to the public interest, s 79I(e) of the EP&A Act obliges the decision-maker to have regard to the principles of ecologically sustainable development in cases where issues relevant to those principles arise. This will have the consequence that, amongst other matters, consideration must be given to matters of inter-generational equity, conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity. Furthermore, where there is a lack of scientific certainty, the precautionary principle must be utilised. As Stein J said in Leatch, this will mean that the decision-maker must approach the matter with caution but will also require the decision-maker to avoid, where practicable, serious or irreversible damage to the environment.

114. Consideration of these principles does not preclude a decision to approve an application in any cases where the overall benefits of the project outweigh the likely environmental harm. However, care needs to be taken to determine whether appropriate and adequate measures have been incorporated into such a project to confine any likely harm to the environment.

[later in the judgement Commissioners Moore/Taylor go on to say:]

39 We do not express our conclusion in precise terms as being a response to the precautionary principle (and without undertaking a rigorous analysis of whether or how that principle should be applied to this operation in light of the totality of Mr Lane’s evidence). However, we have concluded, consistent with the approach inherent in McClellan CJ’s observation, that this approach is the appropriate balance after weighing up the evidence of Mr Lane and the Department’s past estimate of the volume of water capable of being extracted from the aquifer without damaging it [on one hand] and the broader scientific uncertainty about the extent to which climate change is highly likely to continue modifying rainfall and inturn impact potentially on the health and resource capacity of this aquifer [on the other hand].

I am proud of the result in the Kettle/Coca Cola Case because contrary to a report in the mass media (Sydney Morning Herald 4th October 2008 “Coke clear to pump extra water, court says”  the community were quite successful in forcing CCA in the public interest to continue a further 3 years of trial conditions, which they greatly objected to. My agent has summarised the legal outcomes of the case in this legal article on SydneyAlternativeMedia website “Coke cola juggernaut hits corrugations: Pumping trial and risk continues until 2011, copy at annexure …19….  


(h) Most recently in these proceedings  Diamond v Birdon & HCC 40733 of 2008, I have been vindicated to date having stated for years to the HCC that the sandmine has lapsed consent for non compliance with their 1996 consent condition 4. This relates to failure to provide to the State Dept the details of   “Erosion and sedimentation control devices” critical to the proper functioning of the waterway. This finding is contained in the Chief planner Owen’s report of 29 July 2008 at pages 43-44 and page 70 (refer extract at annexure …20.). I am further vindicated by the expert report by hydrologist Chris Jewell of June 2007 (refer annexure …3..) for the HCC finding that the final landform of a proposed 22 ha lake will reduce the water resource to the WHA by 37 to 53% (at middle of page 11 of the report) and this would be against state govt policy. The evidence from the CSIRO and Weatherzone in the Coca Cola Case regarding climate change as a major impact matches up with the expert report by hydrologist Jewell. The Jewell report was only obtained by the HCC in large part due to my lobbying to bring greater regulation onto the Birdon.

I attach the CSIRO and weatherzone reports at annexures …21… and 22.. as they are relevant to the strength of my case in these current proceedings as regards precautionary approach to drought/climate change future impact on Tinda Ck into the National Park and as such relevant to the orders I seek regarding the urgency of rehabilitation of the final landform of the sand quarry literally on the natural creek line (orders in the Application/Amended Application 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13).  These reports of climate threat are also relevant to proposed order 20 for a new EIS subject to legal clarification by the court of whether s.96 modification can be designated development.

The NSW EPA have also written in 2007 to the HCC expressing concerns about the size of the tailings ponds at the sandmine causing excessive evaporation at point 10  on page 2 of their letter of 17 Sept 07  . The expert report is attached at annexure …..

(j) Additionally regarding the Kettle/Coca Cola Case I now have good evidence via a conversation with Margaret Pontifix secretary of the Mangrove Mountain District Community Group Inc, and farmer at Peats Ridge, that DWE licensing officer xxxxxxx xxxxxxx had solicited a bribe from her to obtain an increased water allocation around …2003…….. She gave sworn evidence on Sept 4 2008 making a general reference to this without naming xxxxxxxx as such to say the court should be wary of delegating future decisions to DWE. But in the car ride back to the northern suburbs on the night of 3rd Sept 2008 she was categorical it was xxxxxxxx  seeking a bribe and I took file notes of the conversation. The significance for me is that xxxxxxxx  was the licensing officer at Tinda Creek where clearly Birdon are using way more water than they are licensed to use as per the declaration I seek  at paragraph 23 in my Amended Application in Class 4.



[Next installment of the Diamond Diary Part 2: "unsuccessful cases"]

     Picture: Dog rescue Trig Hill Area, Maroota late 1998. Community inspection discovers pet in distress mired in slurry pit of PF Formations Pty Ltd, Neville Diamond digging with hands.

Posted by editor at 1:34 PM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 22 October 2008 4:15 PM NZT
Forest friendly film maker fundraiser for free speech versus Govt loggers
Mood:  smelly
Topic: human rights


[This from Harriet Swift convenor of ChipStop, a very reputable person and group for the environment (according to SAM's Editor, Tom McLoughlin, solicitor in NSW)]

Subject: Fundraiser for Jeni McMillan's court costs

In 2004, Jeni McMillan was fined and arrested while filming the documentary 'Bankrupt - the man or the system?' in southern NSW forests. The story is an exposé of forest mismanagement and the impact it had on the lives of former forester, Gerhard Wiedmann and his partner Corinne Jenkins. Jeni had pro-bono legal support and paid for all her other expenses but still needs to raise 2900 dollars towards court costs. We are hoping to raise this with your support.
Funds raised above this amount will go to The Bega Environment Centre.
Please pass this on to anyone who may be prepared to help.
Christal George and Jeni McMillan
A suggested donation is 75 dollars. (Perhaps lower income friends may consider a joint donation?)
Donations can be forwarded to:
Bendigo Bank Account
BSB 633 000
Account no. 130310105
Doners so far include:
M.Smith and Sarah Chapman
Jeni's story...
'I appealed against my original 100 dollar on the spot fine and won. The other charges were also dismissed. However NSW Forests chose to appeal the magistrate's decision to the NSW Supreme Court. I raised a constitutional challenge 'implied freedom of political communication' because we do not have a Bill of Rights in Australia to protect freedom of speech. We argued that a Forestry regulation for 'safety' was being misued to prevent information on their management practices being revealed to the public.'
...After 4 years of court proceedings her options were to take the matter to the High Court of Australia which would be prolonged, expensive and unlikely to succeed in front of a conservative bench. Or to have the case reheard in the local Bega court.
'I reluctantly chose the re-trail so I could get on with my life. I saw Gerhard and Corinne worn down by their battle for justice and I wanted to use my energy in more positive ways than being locked in a legal combat that was being increasingly narrowed by the terms of the law.'
...The local judge gave his verdict in favour of NSW Forests.
All Jeni's documentary work has been self funded. The documentary 'Bankrupt' was used in TWS' Forests for Water roadshow and continues to be screened at Grass roots venues and recently on channel 31. Since Jeni has been in France she has screened the film at a community venue and given a public lecture on the subject 'What positive changes can we make?'
See the documentary in two parts at:

Posted by editor at 1:19 PM NZT
New indy Shappelle Corby film tackles the Big Media bad manners
Mood:  chatty
Topic: big media



This media release is from a gentleman called "Mark Simpson" by email yesterday, and we have lifted a YouTube frame to give some context.

We at SAM don't have a view on the merits of the film on YouTube but we present the link in the interests of free speech, and debate.

Also we do wonder about a tangential matter from that part of the world of the Bali Bombers in the news alot in the last week, who killed 200+ Indonesians and Australians in 2002, only a few months after this writer visited the Island back from a world trip. The 'shock jock' Alan Jones on 2GB mentioned just prior to 7 am early this week to the effect: "I have to tell you I am opposed to the death penalty." Gutsy call Allan. Very gutsy, based on principle not vengeance. Why lower our collective selves to their murderous fanatical level? 



An independent film has today been released which condemns Australia's
media over their long term reporting of the tragic Schapelle Corby case.

In 2005, Schapelle Corby was sentenced to an unprecedented 20 years in
an Indonesian prison cell, for importation of marijuana, following one
of the most harrowing show trials of modern times. To this day she
maintains her innocence, with observers and human rights support groups
urging her release. As a recap, the film cites many of the disturbing
aspects of the case, including the refusal of the court to test the
drugs for country of origin, the subsequent burning of the untested
drugs, and the much lesser value of the drugs in Indonesia than in the
country of alleged export, Australia.

The main body of the film, however, highlights the Australian
government's position in terms of its strategic relationship with
Indonesia, and identifies a six step media management process designed
to influence public opinion against her. The specific steps described by
the film range from the selective and repeated use of the phrase
"Convicted drug smuggler, Schapelle Corby" to what it terms "constant
and unsubstantiated smear and innuendo against her and her family". It
further alleges the marginalization of the reporting of real events and
news, and the systematic shifting of focus from legal and human rights
abuses. For each step, the video also explains the impact, in terms of
effect on public perception and opinion.

Rachel James, of Schapelle.Net, states: "Some of the worst excesses in
Australian journalistic history have been evident with this case.
Stories have been fabricated, and legally shown to have been fabricated.
Opinion has been presented as fact, and real facts have been buried. The
Australian public have slowly but surely had a false picture pulled over
their eyes, to blind them from what they had actually seen for

She continues: "The real news is the show trial, the breaching of
Schapelle Corby's legal and human rights, and her appalling conditions
and suffering over the last four years. But when was any of this last
reported? This excellent film highlights many of these issues."

The movie also quotes the CLA (Civil Liberties Australia), who recently
accused the media of becoming her persecutor, and the FPSS (Foreign
Prisoner Support Service), who in the same article allege media

The video, which is titled 'Burying the Truth, Burying Schapelle Corby',
can be viewed on YouTube (
It is also available from several Schapelle Corby support sites
www.schapelle.net/media.html) and a range of human rights
related portals.

This is the second film on this case from the same independent UK based
production team, which promises further investigative releases in the
future. The film was researched using direct archival sources, with
analysis of reports dating from the onset of the case itself.

Posted by editor at 12:39 PM NZT
'GFC' delivers Callan Park planning back to Green Liechhardt Council from Sydney Uni?
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: nsw govt

Last Monday saw Premier Rees asked a doozey of a question by compere Kerry O'Brien along the lines of 'Why don't you do what some other governments have done and support a vote of no confidence in yourselves and bring on a general election?'

It will be all there on the 7.30 Report transcript. But what won't be visible is the quick talking, very articulate Mr Rees gag for a second over the political reality behind the question.

Hardened political activists will say that's just rhetoric and the constitution is just that with 4 year terms, with many benefits avoiding the opportunism and flaky policy games that go with arbitrary election dates.

Hard heads will say another 2.5 years to run can make a world of difference. SAM news website tends to agree with that sanguine perspective too.

But there is definitely real politik adjustments in the State Govt settings of late. The breaking news that Callan Park is being taken out of the hands of Syney University is a big win for open space and open access campaigners of Inner Sydney.

How much is this decision announced on abc local radio in the last 2 hours is due to Sydney Uni pulling back from it's expansionary, pro development budget due to the Global Financial Crisis? Certainly the EDO lawyers tell us recently they are noticing a range of damaging projects falling over for lack of easy finance. How much is success of the local Green Party in general council elections in September? Armchair observers will be debating the parents of this government switch. Probably both.

We notice in the abc radio coverage that the empire builders at the 'NSW Writers Centre' are implicated in the now dead dirty deal with Sydney University as owners of their building in Callan Park. If true then shame on them being captured by the ALP machine within Sydney Uni seeking to enclose public land exclusively for Big Education.

And then there is the Coalition counter intuitively last Sunday announcing it's policy to formally repeal the developer's Part 3A section of the Planning Act which we read here as a wedge on the browns in the ALP Government, as ex Premier Bob Carr wedged the Coalition on green issues in 1995.

New Premier Nathan Rees is nothing if not, like this writer a political student of the 90ies.

Posted by editor at 12:10 PM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 22 October 2008 12:34 PM NZT
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
World heritage vandal gets technical win in Land & Environment Court ...for now
Mood:  accident prone
Topic: legal

Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 3:04 PM
Subject: Temporary setback to protect Tinda Ck world heritage Blue Mtns in LEC class 4 dismissal today

Dear Pike Pike & Fenwick/Andrew & Hawkesbury City Council GM/Peter

As categorical as Lloyd J's decision was this morning to dismiss public interest litigant Mr Diamond's class 4 proceedings against sandminer Birdon Pty Ltd - on the fatal technical objection to his status as a litigant namely previous unpaid costs order to Birdon, and current bankruptcy status - some things to note:
1. Our environmental supporter Peter Waite OAM, JP was in court for our case today in support of applicant Diamond, and has reaffirmed with me by telephone this afternoon he is still willing to help finance a security for legal costs for a future case against Birdon up to $10,000. Mr Waite will support another public interest litigant to bring to account Birdon's vandalism of the World Heritage Blue Mtns listed Tinda Ck area.
The substantive breaches of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 are still to be tested in a robust way.
Mr Waite was carrying with him an 80 page advice from Tim Robertson SC regarding another woeful quarry situation in the Hornsby LGA which he has obtained at his own expense.

2. This development is now returned to the decision making role of HCC as consent authority. You still have the formal advice of your chief planner Matt Owens of 29 July 2008, as well as presumably legal advice of PPF, and certainly EDO advice, that the s.96 'modification' application by Birdon cannot proceed as consent has lapsed. In other words the mine has been operating illegally arguably for 9 years already. It has also comprehensively failed to follow the rehabilitation, reporting and staging conditions of consent. We refer also to the damning letter from DWE attached dated 3 March 2008 repudiating managing director of Birdon, Mr Tom Bruce regarding compliance with consent condition 4. You also have the warnings from your own  independent expert hydrologist Chris Jewell regarding water loss from expanded lake 17 to 22 ha in size.

3. This writer in all the circumstances will be watching HCC's decision making with great interest and can commit to a class 4 proceedings in my own name, not hampered by financial debts or bankruptcy. Now that we have completed the training run with Neville Diamond as the public interest applicant we have all our evidence collated and ready to marshall for the main legal contest.

4. Mr Diamond was specifically not declared a vexatious litigant in relation to Tinda Ck by Lloyd J with the implication that arguably if he can overcome his bankruptcy and outstanding $30K debt to Birdon for the previous case, he could conceivably join a future legal action.

5. Your client Hawkesbury City Council are on record stating HCC is willing to mediate a class 4 claim regarding Birdon's lapsed consent as per advice of PPF, and general manager Jackson. Further that you neither support nor oppose Birdon's highly defensive security for legal costs tactic.

6. I have a tentative offer of pro bono help from a respected barrister in the LEC jurisdiction as of yesterday. The EDO will likely be available to run my case for me also.

7. We have the ongoing public interest of reference providers The Wilderness Society, Colong Foundation for Wilderness, Hawkesbury Council Watch and also expressions of concern by NSW National Parks Association and Blue Mountains Conservation Society. Other public stakeholders will also be interested to support a challenge to Birdon's vandalism of the Tinda Ck area as they did against Mushroom Composters Pty Ltd in 1995.

8. The ongoing damage to the World Heritage listed Tinda Ck area of the Blue Mountains is not a trivial concern and given the party political tensions from local to state to federal level we feel that it won't take very much for the federal government minister Peter Garrett to take an interest in the destruction of part of the iconic Blue Mtns listed area in your LGA.
Please do not hesitate to contact the writer on tel. 02-9558 9551 or 0410 558838 or by return email.

Yours truly

Tom McLoughlin, court agent for Neville Diamond.

CC public interest stakeholders
Sent: Monday, October 20, 2008 5:22 PM
Subject: Diamond v Birdon & Hawkesbury Council

Dear Mr O’Loughlin,

We have been informed that Mr Diamond contacted Council following our earlier email message to you of today. 

Although we do not know exactly what was said, it appears as though Mr Diamond may believe that Council is opposed to a mediation.

We do not wish there to be any confusion as to Council’s position in these proceedings tomorrow or later.

Council’s position in relation to Birdon’s Notice of Motion tomorrow is to neither consent nor oppose the orders so sought against Mr Diamond.

If the proceedings are not struck out or permanently stayed and are to proceed, Council will consent to a mediation providing that all parties are brought to the table.

It is a matter for the Court whether to require Birdon to attend mediation under s.26 of the CPA.


Andrew Simpson

[solicitor Pike Pike & Fenwick for Hawkesbury City Council, cc Peter Jackson General Manager HCC]



Previous posts on this issue are here:

16 October 2008 Hawkesbury City Council public duty to protect their World Heritage park in court Friday 9.30am
Mood:  blue
Topic: legal

Friday, 10 October 2008

Posted by editor at 4:38 PM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 22 October 2008 1:19 PM NZT
Monday, 20 October 2008
Questions with notice for Addison Rd Community Centre AGM 5 Nov 08
Mood:  chatty
Topic: local news

Sent: Monday, October 20, 2008 3:36 PM
Subject: Questions with Notice for Addison Rd 2008 AGM to be held on 5 November at 6pm in Hut 21.

Dear general manager

Questions with notice for Annual General Meeting

1. Why have the asbestos roof tops on numerous huts still not been sprayed with sealant according to best practice?
Supplementary: Given the local federal member is a senior minister why can't he organise this? There is $600 million in the general news today earmarked for local government projects.
2. Why has there been no competitive job selection process for the general manager's position for nearly a year, as promised to at least one board member would happen by April 2008, even then 6 months overdue?
Supplementary: Has the board compromised itself by flouting this normal public administration principle, indeed breached its duties as directors/management committee members on the basis of bias, or negligence or whatever in failing to advertise a competitive job selection process?
3. Have financial accounts been provided and circulated to the centre board members and/or other tenants for the 'private business' that has been operating from 2003 to 2007 at the gallery on two levels, and ancillary 3 studios for private rental?
Supplementary: Have financial accounts for the new incorporated association set up since late 2007 to control the gallery and ancillary rooms (after pressure to reveal the financial accounts), been provided for year 2007-2008?
4. Is it necessary to obtain a development approval from the Local Council for say the (very big) converted shipping container on previously open space in front of Reverse Garbage? Similarly DA approval for construction next to the community food forest, and the awning in front of the gallery?
Do ARC need DA approval with Local Council!?
CC Marrickville Councillors, ARC tenants


Posted by editor at 4:54 PM NZT
Updated: Monday, 20 October 2008 5:36 PM NZT
Coalition in NSW moves to wedge ALP Right from Labour Movement on Part 3A developer mates?
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: nsw govt

This announcement by Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell by his minister Brad Hazzard MP on ABC news last night says alot. It looks like another policy out of the pragmatic political file as per opposition to the open slather privatisation of public energy assets.

The same Brad Hazzard MP shadow minister for planning (?) we noticed nattering to an ex Liberal Environment Minister Tim Moore in Martin Place one lunch time.

That takes us back to 1992 when we got our green slippers on as street activist for The Wilderness Society and soon after the Greiner regime imploded under pressure from Independent MP, former Liberal MP, Terry Metherell over destruction of forest and wilderness areas. That and the 3 cross benchers in a minority government, and the hungry ALP Opposition behind them again.

If one had to guess one would say the Liberal National Coalition in NSW are learning how not to be wedged on the "mainstream" issue of the environment. And learning perhaps how to return the favour in 2011. That all those scolded community groups' anger the length and breath of NSW for some years now is worth harvesting. The kind of groups the ALP Right treated with base contempt for way too long. The groups that Bob Carr courted in 1992-1995 and won a famous victory by only 3 seats.

Meanwhile Liberal Party Mayor of Hawkesbury City Council is weighing up how to approach a hearing tomorrow in the Land & Environment Court. It's about protecting a chunk of Blue Mountains World Heritage where a sandminer Birdon Contracting Pty Ltd has a highly defensive claim for security for costs as a way of preventing ventilation of their breach of DA consent, which HCC's own chief planner reports 29 July 2008 has lapsed, recommending a cease to operate notice be issued.

Various community groups are riding this court case just like the folks at the big protest in Macqarie St yesterday in this image shown above. The Liverpool Plains farmers with the squat triangle placard remind us of a conversation outside the Environmental Defenders Office last Friday.

"You don't look like your average greenies" I said to this older distinguished looking couple in smart suits.

"We're from the Liverpool Plains. Do you know why?"

I did, being a bit of a media obsessive, regarding King Coal and juicy exploration license fees to the NSW Govt for prime farming country. Food versus coal. This gentleman was a retired judge now farmer!

Everyone is a greenie now.

Posted by editor at 1:07 PM NZT
Updated: Monday, 20 October 2008 1:58 PM NZT
Antimony, Dr Google and chipped enamel pots
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: health



It's time to chuck out our favourite enamel porridge pot. And enamel plates and cups all invariably chipped. They've done good service over the years but a bit of Dr Google has got us spooked. We have been experiencing some heartburn on and off for years so we have been examining our diet and lifestyle lately. Some changes like cutting alcohol, decaff coffee, more exercise etc. Then we got to thinking about our cooking gear too.

Turns out chipped enamel leaks antimony. Turns out that mildly acidic foods like fruit juice in enamel is a no no and can cause temporary poisoning by leaching out the antimony. Or so says the various google sites on enamel. What about fruit muesli as porridge cooked on slow for half an hour while I go on the morning exercise regime?

Maybe they should be chucked out after all as a customer mentioned on a market stall to us once.


Posted by editor at 10:23 AM NZT
Updated: Monday, 20 October 2008 10:52 AM NZT
Sunday, 19 October 2008
Sunday Political talkies: Still no pay cuts at the top of, for, by the Rich
Mood:  chatty
Topic: aust govt

Picture: Symbolically red cartoon by Bill Leake who had a very bad fall later on Saturday night. Get well Bill we hope and trust, previously Kid from Bondi.

Author’s general introductory note

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.



For actual transcripts and/or video feeds go to the programme web sites quoted including Riley Diary on 7. And note transcripts don’t really give you the image content value.




Media backgrounders


* John Robertson of Unions NSW to go to the Upper House to share the political workload. An opposite man to Michael Costa.

* Greens take 3 seats and to share Govt in ACT population of 300K compare Tas with 500K.



* Tim Gartrell ex ALP federal secretary just the latest to fall out of love with big party donations culture? Opinion piece in Sydney Sun Herald today. His farewells sound like a guy who wants time with his children before the whole western capitalism/dangerous climate thing goes crash.


* Actor Eric Bana, as per the graphic from 7 Sunrise above right, does his part for redneck car culture with new move Love the Beast. Notice the use of forests and cars on the road and ethereal 'nature' music reminiscent of Into the Wild. It's a classic form of culture jamming for possibly the biggests killer of nature and waste of natural resources in the history of mankind - the automobile. Also shown is Coca Cola's Mount Franklin adverts for women's health - same 7 sunrise website. Very sophisticated advertising strategy.


This is not so sophisticated:




 Picture above - Hunters advert in the middle of the classifieds this weekend, colour and all. Breach of fair trading legislation (eg s.52 of the Trade Practices Act) for misleading and deceptive conduct? Professional sharp shooters use science, seasonal studies, well mapped locations. Weekend warriors they are not, who invariably miss, as well as releasing their own pets into the wild, and grooming feral populations for sport. Just another redneck agenda in Big Politics.




Speaking of Coca Cola Amatil - they have been in the news all over the place copping flack for their PR tactics with actor Kerry Armstrong - perennially skinny unlike most soda drinkers. What we noticed too was the very fit CEO of CCA in a profile piece in a colour supplement called "The deal" in one of the big press - seems he sleeps at 9.30 pm, and rows 2 hours every morning from 4 am. And doesn't drink his own company's products?





And speaking of fat (head?): Front page of the Sydney Morning Herald bottom left about we fatties from Oz 'having overcome the US to become the fattest nation in the world with more than 9 million adults rated obese or overweight' only Barry Cohen on the back of the front section at page 40 says 'We also ranked fourth in the obesity stakes.' That folks is what sub editors are for before you sacked them.



We get the feeling that Greenpeace have noticed our own ecology action mantra since establishment in 2002 in our own humble way, with their latest PR angle for fundraising - another insert in the big press this weekend as shown - some $8M a year apparently. Gawd, what we could do with that! Not jealous, just wondering.




10 Meet the Press:  8- 8-30 am



Julie Bishop follow up to Laurie Oakes on 9 last week. Competent but plain.  Struggles heroically to find a federal angle in 4 byelections in NSW. Panel Fran Kelly and guy from WA News.


Part 3 to Gerry Harvey – no regrets about consumer debt



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




Riley Diary 7, 8.35 am

Good footage weaving in Dad’s Army – all doomed, versus don’t panic from Rudd Govt in some contradiction, with Capt Quibble Opposition Leader. Good use of weather metaphor again after rainy perfect storm. Missed last week’s still not on 7 video on demand. Slow update of Riley Diary dedicted page.






9 Sunday newshour Laurie Oakes interview 8.40 am



Interview with talking dopey koala … oh sorry it was Jenny Macklin. Didn’t bother listening.



Oakes own web link Oakes Report is here, and don’t miss his Saturday Daily Telegraph column which is often probative and makes Piers Akerman look the poor man’s LO.









Insiders 2: 9- 10am



Govt staged gravitas on Global Financial Crisis (GFC) which the show obsessed on last week available as video on demand in my case.  Panel is Lenore Taylor, Brian Toohey, Tim Blair over his camera sweats. Vindicated by 15% got safety margin in NSW state seats.



Talent is Malcolm Turnbull. Makes a good point as per Alan Ramsey about accountability and role of parliament. “Thrown democracy out the window” claiming spin model like ‘NSW Govt’. Not eye glazing, which is saying something given the topic.



Everyperson segment – pensioner single mother teenage children. Suitably grateful.



BC etc picks up confused messaging of Govt as per Riley Diary.


Paul Kelly falls into line praising Rudd’s calmness which just so happens to fit his employer’s corporate self interest and sounds unconvincing about good policy or not, when the big media game is keeping the advertising industry on life support. 

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

Posted by editor at 11:48 AM NZT
Updated: Monday, 20 October 2008 10:19 AM NZT
Thursday, 16 October 2008
Big conservative NSW green group not happy with disney style national parks
Mood:  blue
Topic: ecology


[Media Release follows]


MEDIA RELEASE - 14th October 2008



NPA today released legal advice that confirms its worst fears about proposals before the NSW Government regarding the protection of national parks that will turn 50 years of conservation on its head.

“We wondered why big development and tourism interests were pushing to insert the word ‘tourism’ into the National Parks Act,” Andrew Cox of NPA said.

“Now we know why. Our legal advice confirms that it would allow developers to build all sorts of trashy things like amusement parks and fast food joints in our national parks.”

“Big industry has been pressuring the Government behind the scenes. They think they can get their way without the public noticing. They pretend to be all soft and eco-friendly but there’s a dingo under the possum-skin cloak,” Mr Cox said.

“Under existing national park laws, developments are only allowed if they support the main purpose of parks, which is conservation, and low impact visitor activities. This is what’s stopped our parks from being urbanised and Disneyfied.”

“If the NSW Government goes ahead with these changes we can wave goodbye to the international tourists who come to see our clean, green and natural attractions. The people’s sanctuaries of peace and serenity will disappear, piece by piece,” Mr Cox said.

“Our legal advice says that national park protection would be weakened by a ‘radical shift’ in the objects of the National Parks Act. Putting ‘tourism’ into national park management principles would have similar consequences. It will be much easier to allow ‘purely commercial tourism activities and associated developments’ by ignoring the conservation priority.”

“This will privatise the people’s parks, the only places left where we can still go to escape crass commercialisation everywhere else. It would be a disaster.”

“The proposed changes to the National Parks Act are unnecessary and fundamentally change the purpose of national parks. No other state except Tasmania have the word tourism in their national parks legislation.”

“Documents obtained under FOI confirm that the proposal is being advanced by the Taskforce on Tourism and National Parks. We fear the Taskforce will recommend the opening up of national parks for new accommodation that can better be sited outside national parks or in nearby towns. We have formally sought written assurances from the Environment Minister on some of the worst possibilities, but this request has gone unanswered.”

The Taskforce on Tourism and National Parks is due to release its draft report in several weeks.

“There is just one question people need to ask themselves. If you take away the legal protection, do you trust this Government, any Government, with your national parks?” Mr Cox concluded.

Contact details:
Andrew Cox on 02 9299 0000 or 0438 588 040

Posted by editor at 9:56 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 16 October 2008 10:20 PM NZT

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