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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Thursday, 27 November 2008
Solar evangelists converge on Darling Harbour as Pope installs PV* panels
Mood:  special
Topic: globalWarming

* PV stands for photo voltaic solar energy derived electricity (eg for lights, computers, other appliances at about 15-25% energy efficiency from the sun's rays). This is distinct from another form of solar energy being thermal solar (heat energy up to about 30-40% efficiency) generally used for hot water systems (often the biggest drain on household energy bills). PV and solar thermal are often used in tandem. See an example of both types of panels pictured below.  We are no expert but we understand these levels of efficiency are similar to conventional coal or nuclear sources given network leakages, rules of entropy (to degrade energy) in physics.

Picture: From right, Artur Zawadski of Wizard Power and chairman of convening group Australian New Zealand Solar Energy Society, Monica Oliphant president of convening group International Solar Energy Society (UN affiliated, daughter in law of nuclear physicist Sir Marcus 'Mark' Oliphant), Professor Deo Prasad of UNSW, John Susa of multinational (Chinese) solar company TrinaSola, and Dr Muriel Watt of UNSW

Picture: Slide from Dr Muriel Watt, UNSW on where we are, and where we are not, as in foot dragging (our word) by the current federal government on renewable energy policy. Minister Garrett did give a speech (which we missed) but according to another expert observer he failed to address 'MRET', gross 'FIT', 'RE' and Innovation Funds for renewable energy. These terms are mandatory renewable energy target, feed in tariff, renewable energy.

Yesterday we attended gratis via IMCS conference organisers the 3rd International Solar Energy Conference in combination with the 46th Annual Conference of the Australian & New Zealand Solar Energy Society. The ANZSES were also holding their AGM last night to adopt a new constitution and appoint a new CEO/CEO structure to get in shape for the years ahead.

We are talking literally a sunrise sector that is big money, big energy, big global outreach via UN affiliations, and big names at this conference like Prof David Mills featured in a new movie premier last night called The Future Makers in conjuction with Discovery Channel.

By coincidence we were reading via Crikey.com.au ezine that the Pope has joined the solar photo voltaic evangelists in their quest for "grid parity" over the next 10 years. This term refers to the point at which the cost of solar energy is the same as grid power (not sure if this is only running cost, or includes capital set up cost via loan with interest/amortisation of cost).

Refer the Vatican news here:


  • The Vatican goes green Ruth Brown
  • and more directly here via Reuters complete with photo slide show for the devout tourist:

    Vatican set to go green with huge solar panel roof

    Tue Nov 25, 2008 3:02pm EST

    By Philip Pullella

    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican was set to go green on Wednesday with the activation of a new solar energy system to power several key buildings and a commitment to use renewable energy for 20 percent of its needs by 2020.

    The massive roof of the Vatican's "Nervi Hall," where popes hold general audiences and concerts are performed, has been covered with 2,400 photovoltaic panels -- but they will not be visible from below, leaving the Vatican skyline unchanged.

    The new system on the 5,000 square meter roof will provide for all the year-round energy needs of the hall and several surrounding buildings, producing 300 kilowatt hours (MWh) of clean energy a year.

    The system, devised by the German company SolarWorld, will allow the 108-acre city-state to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by about 225,000 kilograms (225 tonnes) and save the equivalent of 80 tonnes of oil each year.

    The Holy See's newspaper said on Tuesday that the Vatican planned to install enough renewable energy sources to provide 20 percent of its needs by 2020, broadly in line with a proposal by the European Union.

    The 1971 Nervi Hall is named after the renowned architect who designed it, Pier Paolo Nervi, and is one of the most modern buildings in the Vatican, where most structures are several centuries old. The hall can hold up to 10,000 people.

    It has a sweeping, wavy roof which made the project feasible and the solar panels virtually invisible from the ground. Church officials have said the Vatican's famous skyline, particularly St Peter's Basilica, would remain untouched.

    An editorial in Tuesday's newspaper appealed for greater use of renewable energy.

    "The gradual exhaustion of the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect have reached critical dimensions," the newspaper said.

    By producing its own energy the Vatican will become more autonomous from Italy, from where it currently buys all its energy. The Vatican is surrounded by Rome.

    Pope Benedict and his predecessor John Paul put the Vatican firmly on an environmentalist footing.

    Benedict has made numerous appeals for the protection of the environment. The Vatican has hosted a scientific conference to discuss the ramifications of global warming and climate change, widely blamed on human use of fossil fuels.

    Environmentalists praised the pope last year after he made a speech saying the human race must listen to "the voice of the earth" or risk destroying the planet.

    (Editing by Tim Pearce)

    Back at Darling Harbour great speakers, nice venue, good people, huge challenges. Lunch served in plastic throw aways which is a bit of a jarring note. Glad we took the solar ride yesterday and thanks to the conference organisers for the complimentary community media access.

    We are still waiting for Minister Garrett's speech to arrive via email via their parliamentary staff (!?). The staffer suggests it may be on the ministers website here - and indeed so it is:

     Speech to the 3rd International Solar Energy Society Conference, Asia - 26 November 2008

    We are advised he didn't take any questions. Here is his $6M solar announcement for Alice Springs via media release of same day. Apparently there was controversy whether he would make it at all:

    13 Nov 08 Garrett snubs energy conference | theage.com.au

    But on that score the Minister did better than shadow minister Greg Hunt, a sharp thinker too, who cancelled next day, and conservative non govt group WWF's Greg Bourne, formerly oil company BP, was also a no show. Bourne according to rumour had been called to Canberra at short notice (?!).

    We later spoke with Gordon Stewart, Sales and Business development manager of Suntech Australia (whose founder Dr Zhengrong Shi  of UNSW is richest man in China reportedly) who noted that the federal govt White Paper on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (previously Emission Trading Scheme) is thought to be released as soon as next week. A great profile of Suntech's founder involvement with Uni of NSW in Australia is here via old show Sunday on channel 9:

    The richest man in China 7 Oct 2007

    Profound footage there of Dr Shi sounding like the Chinese version of Al Gore, full of passion for the ideals not just the bottom line. Great stuff.

    Picture: Scott Friar, as chief of mulitnational Spanish renewables energy company Abengoa. Scott is a Texan with a style like Sol Trujiho, with dry twist. Made some profound comments about the solar sector having to reprove their technology of 1983 again in 2008.









    Posted by editor at 6:52 AM EADT
    Updated: Friday, 4 May 2012 3:30 PM NZT
    Wednesday, 26 November 2008
    Tony Stewart MP legal issues discussed
    Mood:  chatty
    Topic: legal

    Based on the Herald story today some initial comments, preliminary legal advice even. The Herald story is here:

    26 Nov 2008 Sacked minister could be expelled - National - smh.com.au

    Prof George Williams is on ABC just after 8.30 in a brief Q&A this morning and we think we can add to that also. 

    1. There is some precedent of a SA ALP MP Ralph Clarke who sued over preselection rorting back in 2005

     Labor Seats for Sale, http://sunday.ninemsn.com.au/sunday/cover_stories/transcript_369.asp

     He won but was booted out of the ALP eventually, and lost preselection regardless. (He later also initiated defamation proceedings against that state's ALP AG but that's another chapter in 2005:  The World Today - Former Labor MP tells of SA Govt corruption.)

    The significance of the case was that the general law applies to party rules because they use public funds to sustain themselves, hence the law of judicial review and administrative law applies e.g. natural justice to be heard, relevant and irrelevant factors, bias, improper purpose (and see no.4 below) etc etc

    2. As George notes even if he wins he may still have the reconsidered decision against him anyway in a replay of the decision making process. So this is all about saving face.

    3. Two matters I haven't considered - will taxpayers pay the legal costs? And would expulsion be contempt of court? George stated it would depend on timing and efficacy of that expulsion decision.

    4. But one thing we add building on point 1 above in the Clarke case, the ALP disciplinary rules shouldn't be allowed (and question is this good law) to use their membership contract (incorporating party rules for explusion eg rule not sue another ALP member in the SMH story) to contract out of the general administrative law. It is a general principle of contract law you can't have terms of a contract that break the general law, invalid for illegality. It's a fairly small step from there to say terms of a contract (eg ALP membership) have to be read down so they don't promote breach of the general law: In this case threat of expulsion for seeking the benefit of administrative law. That surely would be an improper purpose again under administrative law picking up George's point at 3 above about efficacy of an explusion.

    In conclusion fact is the ALP like all parties are publicly funded and to allow explusion for seeking to enforce administrative law of the land that applies to the ALP and all parties, would be to victimise a theoretical whistleblower. As happened with Ralph Clarke in SA and was a travesty of justice.


    Having said all that - we think Tony Stewart after 13 years as a backbencher has run his race and should withdraw and save the taxpayers the legal fees, even if he were to win (which he well may).

    Posted by editor at 8:39 AM EADT
    Updated: Wednesday, 26 November 2008 9:43 AM EADT
    Tuesday, 25 November 2008
    Donald Friend in Bali, p*dophile diary: ABC Law Report today
    Mood:  don't ask
    Topic: legal

    The ABC Law Report have run a confronting and important story this morning on Radio National Tuesday 25 Nov on the vexed and awful subject of child sexual abuse, with web entry here:

    Monday 24 November 2008| 

    Identifying victims of child sexual assault and abuse

    The Australian news media never publish or broadcast the names of survivors of sexual assault and child abuse unless they have the express permission of the victims. But what about other publications like non-fiction books and diaries?Seems the National Library have published this diary with admissions of leading artist and intellect Donald Friend of child sex.

    Legal issues relate to potential defamation of the now adult victims in Bali, a fairly vague suggestion of deceptive conduct regarding lack of consent for the publication under Trade Practices, and even profits of crime being child prostitution in 1960ies and 70ies.

    Given the Henson furore this programme will only add to the intense moral and emotional debate. Beware of moral panic we say, but then don't censor the real history either.

    We spoke to one expert commentator about this and was told that child protection campaigner, and possibly ALP political aspirant (?) Hetty Johnson has quoted this artist Friend as an example of misplaced tolerance for child abuse. Bali where these criminal acts occurred has strict laws for decades against child prostitution including convictions back to the 1930ies.

    The show also mentioned how Margaret Olle ws given the opportunity to edit publication of her mentions (unrelated issue of excessive drinking) in the diary by the Australian National Library, but the now grown child victims of Friend were not. That sounds rough.

    Anyway we blog on this because the show will archive the transcript in due course and will feed into a serious legal, political and moral debate ongoing, with implications for governance and power relations, which is our constant focus.

    Given the location of the crimes it could even morph into another aggravation between extreme Islam in Indonesia and Australia.

    And watching episode 2 of The Howard Years last night we were struck again by the dynamic of Australia aiding East Timor out of the clutches of power mongering Indonesian colonialism. We recall all that Media Monitors work at that time in late 1999 of ultra murderous violence and even calling the White House and the New York Times wanting to complain about lack of US support. 

    We travelled in Bali as an innocent tourist in July 2002 for 4 days Kuta to Ubud and Lovinna. We hired a bicycle riding into the sprawling Denpassar market place to much amusement and somehow we were reminded of East Timor locals going about their business in the tropics. Months later arguably the political payback for East Timor came with bombing of tourists in Kuta in Sept 2002 - with 200 dead. Some cruel locals, possibly apocraphyl at nearby Lombok were heard to joke "Aussie BBQ" but actually it was mostly Balinese and Indonesian victims. May they rest in peace.

    Now we live in the age of ascension of coloured US president Barak Obama, which hopefully will take alot of pressure off in Indonesian politics and marginalise the extremists.

    Posted by editor at 10:36 AM EADT
    Updated: Tuesday, 25 November 2008 11:13 AM EADT
    Sunday, 23 November 2008
    Sunday political talkies: Rudd's 1st year still running as fast as he can
    Mood:  chatty
    Topic: aust govt


     Picture: Rudd doing his 'Holy Billy' pose in yesterday's Sydney Daily Telegraph  in the Laurie Oakes feature. This was a tag that wild redneck Wilson Tuckey MP used to apply to then Governor General William Deane for his 'transcendant ways'. A characteristic that infuriated at risk Tuckey.


    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


    Refer penultimate post Big Media short takes.


    10 Meet the Press:  8- 8-30 am


    No show for Rugby World Cup.


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



    Riley Diary 7, from 8.30am

    Amusing as ever, Rudd waxing lyrical about Kokoda with 7 proprietary footage. Recognised the creek crossing with log, we took in flood, pack unbuckled for drowning risk.

    Also at APEC in Peru with Rudd attending but solutions ‘as rare as a 5 legged llama’. [Sounds like a Tintin story.] Caricature of 500 year old South American culture of pageantry. Careful there Riles, they’ve been around a lot longer than the young country of Australia.


     No cross for Q&A.





    9 Sunday newshour Laurie Oakes interview 8.40 am


    LO has Nicola Roxon as Health Minister [recently scored at 7 or 8 out of 10 in The Australian scorecard of ministers after first year].

    Nice image of her watching Barak Obama’s interview from CBS Sixty Minutes in previous take. Michael Usher also looking inspired. No doubt it’s inspirational talent as per SAM link to YouTube also.

    Missed the start, questioned on sexism in federal politics but plays a dead bat on the issue that she takes it in her stride. No victimhood for sisterhood for Ms Roxon.



    Insiders 2: 9- 10am

    Big red is the talent, deputy PM Gillard. Bolt predicts Rudd will sashay off as UN General Assembly with JG as PM and Tanner as Treasurer Ahem. Most interesting aspect of the whole show, except perhaps Mike Bowers in the Rudd old street of childhood in Nambour. Revealed as a history swot a bit like Howard was in the making of the man. Also that as a small child say 2 years he spent 12 months in calipers.

    A bit like Kerry Packer with his recovery from polio. Only Rudd was too young to remember perhaps.

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


    Inside Business – 2 at 10am 

    Refer http://www.abc.net.au/insidebusiness/

    Posted by editor at 1:50 PM EADT
    Updated: Monday, 24 November 2008 8:39 AM EADT
    Big media short takes
    Mood:  chatty
    Topic: big media

    * Our predictions of climate intensified storms travelling south to Brisbane, and the real politik implications of that for the pineapple mafia / Rudd led federal Govt, seem to have been realised this week. Implications include perceptions/reality of climate change, and escalating insurance payouts.

    You couldn't get a view on the tv news without Rudd, Qld premier and BrisVegas mayor all looking earnest on location of storm damage: While having very little practical to offer in real organisational involvement. They might allocate more funding perhaps. It was all about expressing the politics of symbolic empathy. Poor sods.

    We recall a contact telling us how his father, a painter by trade in Rockhampton, was unusual in that he had a metal anchor from the slab of the house up to the roof - to avoid the kind of storm damage all this last week. Quite proud of it too.

    Which all reminds us of the ripples of cyclone Wati on 27 March 2006 on the shores of Sydney, though the storm was actually 1000 km north east of Sydney. People crowded the coastal walk to watch the show.

    * Tragedy of father and two sons death at Tathra results in local fools beating up media doing their job. This echoes what green people on the South Coast have expressed for years - the tendency for violence by the local loggers for instance, itself encouraged by the culture of Howard Govt domestic terrorism on the environment. Several loggers around Cobargo have been convicted of violent assault, as well as reports of cowardly rock throwing. Such cave dwellers deserve no sympathy.

    * A raucous festival (as per ABC audio) of feminists held their Ernies event last week according to radio news. But this year it didn't travel much beyond that. No press or tv news pictures that we could see.

    And we can imagine why - ex MP, now Cr, Meredith Burgmann awarded 'prizes' (actually raspberries) to anyone and everyone it seems but ALP figures like now notorious Matt Brown MP (alleged t*tty f*cking), Tony Stewart MP (alleged leg holding bully) both dismissed from Burgmann's own government cabinet.

    Is that bias undermining the whole point of the event? Ernie apparently was a unionist after all. Instead Liberal Tony Abbott got a 'repeat offender' award. No wonder most news services dropped the story cold.

    * We have our own insights into the cynical tribalism of local ALP politics. Co-author of the Ernies book Yvette Andrews - former staffer of ex MP Meredith Burgmann - still hasn't submitted to a competitive job selection process for the $65K per year manager's job at Addison Rd Community Centre for over 12 months now. This has got to be the most brazen breach of ethical employment policies in any community organisation we have ever heard of.

    Now a source advises that copies of the minutes of the recent AGM for ARC are not available to tenants/members let alone the public 'because they might be leaked to the community media'. ARC is all public land and receives significant public funding one way or another. The governance there is also a fearful secretive nepotistic disgrace.

    All in all this is why the important purpose of the Ernies exposing sexism is failing in it's mission. It's being implemented with biased motives by  ALP cronies under cover of principle. Meanwhile a much drier but arguably more reliable source of advice in the wake of the Ernies is in the press today, namely federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Ms Elizabeth Broderick, p 9 today's Sunday Telegraph.

    * Uh oh, Lisa Carty has a story about Robert Furolo MP, Iemma's ex electorate staffer and Mayor of Canterbury still in the SunHerald. An important story on cash for access to ministers. 

    Only they've got the wrong photo on page 13. Maybe they should've just gone to the NSW parliament website (actually his pic is not up yet) or maybe Canterbury Council via google as we did. Furulo is pictured in the free inner west suburban press almost every week. Or did they mean to use the wrong picture? That would be sneaky.

    * Same Fairfax stable - Sacha Molitorisz (bloke) back page of Review section p38 of weekend Herald wrings his hands snag like over sexism and the cute and funny Cilmi video "Nothing sweet about me". It's running at about 13 milliion views on YouTube now. That's big. Does Sacha get the punchline wrong regarding revenge fantasies of young women?  

    The guy hung upside down finally cut free as the song closes in a cutaway is possibly like one of those folks in an upturned car after a crash, hanging by their seat belt. On sudden release they suffer potentially broken neck. Happens sometimes apparently. Nothing sweet indeed. It is carefully choreographed - the victim is shown aware of the fall to come and his arms are extended hopefully to take the weight?

    Superb song all the same. But on the more serious point, emotional violence is a spiral. Reverse sexism is just that, best keep that in mind champ. The rest is sophistry.

    * Heather Ridout, of Australia Industry Group and Rudd Govt confidante is revealed as an ex Greiner staffer, which figures given her ideology on energy privatisation.

    * Joe Hildebrand runs a YouTube image with his Saturday column in the Daily Telegraph which looks suspiciously like a SAM format of a recent story about US Govt $700B bailout via big alternative media programme Democracy Now! with Naomi Klein and Amy Goodman. We wonder.


    * Curiously our SAM micro news website has now had 4 days [make that 5 at 24 Nov] running of 'zero pageviews'. Unlikely given we also look at the website, including from another distinct work station. It's a puzzle. Maybe the host server is cutting back on that information tool in difficult financial times. Maybe we wrote something - last hot one was about W Bush alleged looting of the NSW Treasury in his last 2 months. We haven't got a clue. But we don't write for audited circulation. We write because we can and for peace of mind.

    [and now see this graphic, traffic metric stopped at November 19 by the host server based in the USA.]

    [Host server writes 25 Nov to say "Unfortunately, we are currently doing maintenance to our servers which is causing you not to see your reports correctly.

    We hope to have this resolved by the first week of December.

    We do apologize for the inconvenience and we thank you for your patience as we work to get this resolved for you as soon as possible

    * Imre Salusinsky waxes lyrical in the Weekend Australian applying an apocalyptic metaphor with locusts in the regions swarming closer to the Rees Govt in Sydney. Very literary for a literary premier. A shallow device nevertheless Imre.

    * The same newspaper carries ex NSW Treasurer Michael Costa earlier in the week, prominently. Only he writes like a honking goose. Says he shouldn't attack the mini budget, which is laughable after dumping on his Govt at his resignation presser.

    He also badly misconceives the reality of his own ALP-union political milieu: It's not the comparatively low 20% membership of unions these days, but the 50-80% coverage of work places by award conditions that truly measures the role of unions. Just as Telstra complains bitterly about other small telco companies as passengers on their infrastructure and investment. Unions feel the same about non union members getting pay rises that unions fought for. But it's no use complaining, it's a systemic reality.

    Similarly there is a truism we heard at the Future of Media conference called the '1:9:90 rule': Meaning only 1% of society are very active participants in any given agenda, 9 moderately and 90 tend to be passengers. That puts the union 20% membership in a genuine perspective. They are the victims of their own success in achieving such wide economic coverage and that's a good thing.

    * The mean and nasty ultra ideologues, some of whom still hang at News Corp, never liked Nicole Kidman ever since she did The Interpreter as a vehicle for the United Nations. 

    The film also featured lefty Sean Penn - and check the film for the Robert Mugabe character feted at the start, despised at the end. Also funny the trailer above shares suspense soundtrack from the Bourne trilogy.  But we digress. You see the UN went up against W Bush's outrageous Iraq war and was supposed to be marginalised and crushed by the neo cons. Somehow we think this might explain this sniping at A lister Kidman, just like Charlie Chaplin?

    * Sharp thinker Marian Wilkinson as environment editor at the SMH ran a friendly story out of Deputy Premier Tebbutt's office 2 weeks ago. This coincidentally (?) was when the pressure came on the SMH to run in the newsprint not just hidden away on the website about logging of koala habitat on the NSW south coast. Tebbutt being the environment minister now. Senator Bob Brown will be attending the logging protest later this month down at Bermagui. It still hasn't run in the SMH proper 3 weeks later.

    Wilko's colleague James Woodford locally based down there has also failed miserably to report the logging protest either in the Herald or on his real dirt website despite ABC TV news, PM show, JJJ coverage. Tebbutt cunningly gave a feature about how she declined the premiership, crowding out why she declines to protect koala habitat from logging at Bermagui. How shameful.

    Sooo this weekend we have a balancer from Wilkinson edging up to the koala issue with picture on page 7, Sydney Morning Herald. Again Tebbutt is in the story as well as some koala study in Gunnedah, still not south coast logging of koala habitat going on NOW at Bermagui.

    (Gunnedah reminds of our work in the mid 90ies lobbying for Pilliga wilderness area where we helped with a $1M buyout of a willing seller with koala habitat by the NSW NPWS. )

    At least the article mentions "woodchipping" and a quality scientist Dan Lunney. It's a grudging half hearted coverage.

    * Nor has Minister Tebbutt been much help protecting the Blue Mtns world heritage area. Recently SAM's editor played a central role in a reversal by Hawkesbury City Council  cajoled, briefed, flattered and embarrassed into voting 12 to zero against a local sandminer. We have reported the saga here exclusively on SAM. In 2004 HCC wavedt the sandmine through. We got an email from a well intentioned staffer for Minister Tebbutt after the event to say 'Oh that world heritage, thanks for the updates etc etc.' Too late, too late.

    * Michael Duffy SMH yesterday runs a policy call out advert for the NSW Liberal Opposition in his column, last sentence. This was after colleagues in the Big Media ran press tantrums over many days the previous week which got the anti Labor forces in NSW exactly nowhere.

    * Big Barry O'Farrell is to "wield the axe"  on his shadow ministery, says the Sunday Telegraph p15. Seems latest Newspoll has Nathan Rees as preferred Premier still after literally 10 days of fearsome anti ALP tantrums. Wow. And we noticed the tide turning on that attack about 4 days back too. Rees has a certain sense of teflon. Not indestructible but tough all the same. And people warm to strength.

    We called it early here on SAM that the big press tantrum(s) over failure to privatise energy was like being 'thrashed by a wet lettuce' and Rees would make it through if he held fast. And so it seems to be. We also raised the prospect of the next NSW election being the first internet one like Obama leveraged the net all the way to the presidency. 2 years is a long time to be writing off Rees.

    * A much more convincing piece about the woes of political culture in NSW came from (I say grudgingly) Ken Phillips of the Institute of Public Affairs. It was a bit conspiracy theory regarding the NSW IRC gazumping the High Court of Australia (sounds dubious). But his piece rang more true in The Australian than Michael Costa same day 21 November. Refer Yvette Andrews/ARC above for nepotism.

    * Tim Blair despairs at Obama as president elect. Keeps referring to roaring trade in USA gun shops. He really is a nasty piece of work is ole TB. How prescient of TB's parents to choose those initials perhaps alluding to the global campaign to eradicate the persistent disease. (A cheap shot but hey the guy is an avowed gun lover.)

    In his Saturday column he notes Rio Tinto greening up with a photo competition about evidence of global warming for staff. TB is dismayed the concern over climate has spread literally like ... TB.

    Our source tells us it's much worse than that TB, now increasingly relegated to the back of the newspaper. Apparently Rio Tinto were so averse to bad PR on the environment such as via the Gunns pulp mill that if the greenies had lobbied Rio to not sell the land where the proposed pulp mill is sited to Gunns, they would have blocked the sale.

    Only like in cricket, the greenies failed to make the appeal in such a direct fashion to Rio that they felt okay to sell he site Gunns. (In the rules of cricket if the fielding team don't appeal the umpire can't give the batsmen out. We actually saw this once as a colt.) This was in the days before Gunns pulp mill was really ramped up as a national cause celebre, not least ex Premier Lennon exposed allegedly lying about the reasons for cancelling a Planning Assessent Commission (in the press this week).

    Our source is a good one - family friend of a staffer in a section of Rio in Tas that would know.

    * Petrol is down to about US $50 a barrel. That changes politics alot.

    ......and many, many more quirky notables in the Big Media but too numerous to go here. Stay tuned.

    Posted by editor at 8:18 AM EADT
    Updated: Tuesday, 25 November 2008 10:34 AM EADT
    Saturday, 22 November 2008
    SAM website stats hit zero 3 days in a row
    Mood:  not sure
    Topic: independent media

    We first heard about the big case of notorious Gordon Wood being sent down for murder mid morning Friday 21st November. That's the 24 hour news cycle then, we concluded.

    Time enough to get some useful things done free of media monitoring - 2 loads of washing for a start. What about a little weeding to grow tomatoes as spotted in a Marrickville terrace front yard close enough to pick and run. This turned into alot of weeding and a new compost dump and a tan.

    So then we got to thinking about other domestics - like the layout of the micro news SAM website - yes there is a segue in here finally. It is slow and clunky with the host server all the way over there in the USA (safe from then Howard regime business cronies here in Oz at start up Jan 2007 re upcoming federal election Nov 2007).

    Little SAM needed a white background colour in the body to speed up a tad. We also needed to get the news story in the top right corner where the eye defaults. Then after trial and error we liked yellow background for the side panel, green for the main title (SAM name and mission), and blue for the links. Yellow, green, blue. That's weeding under a blue sky! That's the golden wattle. That's Australia. That's our soul.

    As it happens we were already making some inquiries in parallel about how to monetise a blog, as you do, and by serendipidity about Technorati, and Alexa, blog web information sites. So we registered with Technorati for the first time. We're ranked about 3 million of say 150 million blogs in the world. Woohoo. We have an 'authority' of 2 which is just above the lowest of 1. But more of that dubious cred amongst bloggers below.

    Now this is where the zero stats figure for 3 days comes in. Yes there is the second segue folks. We always knew this was a clunky, not very interactive, probably specialist micro news blog website. As such we have come to understand quietly, secretly, that we don't mind if our audited circulation is humble. We care about cred as a specialist service, and real politik effectiveness.

    That's partly why we have lower case in the header. It's not really about us, it's about the message.

    We take heart from the blacklist by the talkback staff on the phones at a certain abc radio breakfast show. We are not Joe Average after all. We do exemplify the 1:9:90 rule of hyper engagement being a 1 in the ratio of activity, 90 being the passengers in the democracy. We are a citizen but obviously that's not enough.

    For instance we notice the logical inconsistency of the ABC ramping up the profile of the Medium Media like the Cumberland press guy, and other Big Media personalities in Fairfax and News Corp while blacklisting the micro guy. We notice too the systemic bias of same ABC show running Lab/Lib-Nat spin doctors and party liners bet never it seems, we repeat never, a rep of the 10% Greens Party. Someone like Ben Oquist for a time (now back in harness) or a retired Green MP or whatever. Even a Democrat like Athur Chesterfield Evans though not Cheryl Kernot please. There was even a whisper from big Deb this might happen but alas.

    So getting back to Technorati - they provide a feedback service on what other blogs are reacting to your blog. Given SAM's editor virtually never reads or comments on other people's blogs we hardly care what they say or write. It's the Big Media stupid!

    Well almost don't care. There's alot of emotional violence to avoid on the net much like dog poo on the street, but you can't help getting a whiff sometimes no matter how innocent. I had about 26 responses, some nice others not. Tim Blair was making an effort to sledge a few times about 10 months back (that's good, the right enemies), and one Monica Tan at ninemsn.

    We responded to Ms Tan as follows just now:

    I noticed you sledging my humble micro news website, only because I 'claimed' my blog on technorati recently. It was an old post about my talk at New Matilda which is by the looks an ALP front operation.

    As reaction perhaps to Crikey as a pseudo wet Liberal free market operation.

    It seems to me your comments to the effect of being "crappy looking political blog" are assuredly right compared to your own high production values. But then shallow looks are indeed superficial.

    You work at ninemsn you say, which is on the slide maybe, maybe not. That suggests you're fairly snobbish and patronising conservative political person. Well that's your right but it's no guarantee.

    Here's where your takeout is misconceived:

    The SAM blog is not about good circulation per se (that means of itself, it's from Latin! ha ha).

    It's about real politik timely strategic analysis. It's not the 20K per month readers. The audience is probably only ever about 1000 political staffers across the Australian parliaments. It's the one influential reader that I'm about. It could be Kevin Rudd. It could be Barak Obama. It could be Laurie Oakes. It could be Tim Blair. It could be an executive producer of 9 Sixty Minutes. It could be a NSW stateline reporter.

    3 of these 6 examples I can verify. Another 1 of 3 is highly likely. 2 of 6 is very unlikely but still conceivable. I do stuff to undermine Big Media like your ninemsn. And it's working. They echo my concepts and angles - with their high production values - so often I've lost count. I call you guys my echo chamber. It's very satisfying too.

    Feel free to disagree, be dismissive, contemptuous or whatever. But I'm getting better at this, and I'm doing it for nothing. While you are losing circulation it seems while relying on the professional cred to make your living. On the other hand being totally financially independent I have the capacity to make and break people's careers .... in politics I mean depending on their performance and my analysis - because I am trustworthy. It's like giving evidence in court from a totally unbiased perspective. One becomes the professional honest broker.

    That's the ngo activist campaigning reality Monica, so now you know a little about why I feel justified condescending to you about my forte.

    Good luck with your media career. As it happens my latest post has zero hits for 3 days running about W Bush regime looting the USA treasury in the last 2 months of the Imperium. Which is a record in reverse. No post can be zero, especially SAM with 20K pageviews per month. It's piqued my interest. Rather than being concerned about it, which I was a little to begin with, now I'm fascinated. I'm going to delve into the meaning of it and like the martial art of Jiu Jitsu enlist the force of the incident to my own purpose. Like I often do.

    Have a good weekend.

    So now we are thinking it could be interesting to ride this zero stats per day thing all the way to the beach. Are people so in denial of W Bush's failure after the Iraq tragedy/fiasco that they can't bear to read or hear Democracy Now! draw back the curtain in our last post? Arguably it is the most important post we have made in the last 23 months. Not one reader?

    Maybe they are just noting the headline in their RSS feed and going direct to YouTube or the Democracy Now website via google. But not every one of them. Some would click through via SAM.

    As they say in the law of evidence (being a lawyer), there is no such thing as absolutes. Zero is an absolute that doesn't happen. Just as perfect never happens. We smell a curious quandary.

    Like the incessantly scratchy phone that regularly rings and tells me I have the wrong number. Do tell. Is this marketing software gone haywire? Another manifestation of Telstra's huge complaints record lately? Or something a bit more dodgy in the land of spookery? A little tutorial run for trainees perhaps at the expense of a blogger? One never knows. So far we've come up with ... zero (!) explanations for the clicks and whirs mid conversation like a Star Wars r2d2. Surely Glen Stevens is not worried about the little SAM spark.

    It reminds us of a little proposed home phone repair work in the old factory, which we hasten to add is illegal under the Federal Communications legislation. Didn't do it, you can't prove we did it, it wasn't us, it wasn't our fault etc etc refer Bart Simpson, our lawyer.


    Postscript 24 Nov 2008: Not really sure but it looks as if we might have broken the traffic counter with our Nov 19 post below on the notion of 'W Bush looting the treasury in the last 2 months'. At the least our traffic metric from our host server stops at Nov 19, 2008 as per this screenprint taken 24 Nov 2008, five days of zero traffic: 




    Posted by editor at 8:41 AM EADT
    Updated: Monday, 24 November 2008 9:00 AM EADT
    Wednesday, 19 November 2008
    W Bush regime 'looting the treasury for illegal bailout': Naomi Klein, Democracy Now
    Mood:  don't ask
    Topic: world

    The first of two video links below - from YouTube - is not pleasant watching. The interview on Democracy Now! suffers from lack of a willing contary view but even if half of author Naomi Klein's concerns are right, the USA and the world and the Obama presidency are in trouble in this last 2 months of the W Bush presidency. God have mercy.

    Here's the link and the interview is long - about 25 minutes or more:

    Klein is not a lone voice by any means either as per this story on our ABC here in Australia on the AM show:

    "Only a week ago [Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke] announced they wanted to use [the $700B bailout fund] to inject billions of dollars into banks instead of buying bad mortgage backed assets, which was their original pitch.

    Democratic members of the House Financial Services Committee are irate about the change of plan.

    FEMALE CONGRESS MEMBER: The fact that you Mr Paulson, took it upon yourself to absolutely ignore the authority and the direction that this Congress had given you just amazes me.

    It seems to me the second largest bait and switch scheme that history has ever seen, second only to the reasons given us to vote for the invasion of Iraq."

    For those who prefer more sunlight and wishful thinking then this is alot more uplifting, finally available on YouTube given the CBS website seemed overloaded for at least a day (apparently they had highest ratings for 9 years). Broadcast last Sunday 17 November USA time:

    Some stand out moments of each item: In the first one Naomi Klein's capacity for a relentless narrative regarding corrupt special interest governance - $250B of good money after bad she argues. Klein makes quite a case for 'colonial style looting of the US Treasury by free market robber barons compared with the strict controls achieved by Gordon Brown in the UK. As we said - it's grim.

    In the second  Youtube is president elect Obama describing the dump of an apartment the he lived in even as a Senator, and the car he drove as younger man complete with a rusty hole in the floor. The experience of that side of life says so much to this writer about the fitness of the man for the challenge of the job ahead. The dismay in Michelle Obama's voice at her man's circumstances was also apparent. But then she didn't have a Phd anthropologist for a mom.


    Postscript 24 Nov 2008: Not really sure but it looks as if we might have broken the traffic counter with this post. At the least our traffic metric from our host server stops at Nov 19, 2008 as per this screenprint taken 24 Nov 2008, five days of zero traffic:



    Posted by editor at 6:14 PM EADT
    Updated: Monday, 24 November 2008 8:58 AM EADT
    Monday, 17 November 2008
    Big media short takes
    Mood:  d'oh
    Topic: aust govt



    * Will the Howard Years episode one deal with a story that 4 Corners was too scared to cover - Jabiluka Uranium mine beaten by the traditional owners, national green groups and NT progressives? This was 1996 to 1999 but in particular mid 98. This set the scene for the Shane Stone Country Liberal Party being beaten in the Statehood referendum and then losing the govt to Clair Martin's ALP. But it all started with the Jabiluka blockade in our humble view and we played our part as a legal adviser taking time out from Waverley as Bondi Ward councillor.

    * Pre emptive attack on local councils via AFR story about cost savings by amalgamating councils. Be careful what you wish for - like social security local councils are the democratic social fabric of society. Sure after a GFC it's tempting to cut costs but then so is the slippery slide to Mussolini making the trains run on time.

    * '400 Bob Jellys are meeting in Canberra'. So funny. As compared with 'the shallow craven 400 Mike Moores' from the Big Media who live and work there week in week out??? And yes we did do our 4 years tour of duty as a local councillor at Waverley as per the plaque on the library in Bondi Junction.

    * Fed Govt backups purchase of Toorale with water rights from Tandou, at 250 gigalitres for $34M 'to buy back the floods'.

    * The current reportage of a past period of grim contest ALP versus Coalition Greiner-Fahey Govt from 1991-1995 has lacked a bit of context to our way of thinking:

     15 Nov 2008 That one day in September - National - smh.com.au

    There was not only the assassination of MP John Newman in Sept 1994. In the highly political role as NSW campaign coordinator for The Wilderness Society we can say it was like hand to hand trench combat with dueling fax machines and talkback via such as newly invented broadcast fax via single coded sheet. To be frank the death of one obscure MP was a side play to power wrestle with the National Party over statewide policy on land use on forest, logging and wilderness, and the 'minor' matter of the Wood Royal Commission into the Police. Then there were the horror bushfires of summer 1993-4 to recover from. All this was in the backdrop of  Greiner effectively sacked by his own side of politics in 1992 after the Metherell Affair was referred to ICAC.

    As regards the Newman murder we got to reflecting that regardless of the intent of the accused/convicted Ngo his high status calls up a sense that any particular criminal might have wanted to appease the Big Man with or without his endorsement. As soon as Della Bosca let Ngo in on Newman's shaky preselection such a rumour could have run and run fast even within hours, including to sinister forces wanting Ngo in place regardless. Newman famously campaigned against organised crime and stated to camera such crims 'didn't fear gaol only deportation to the jungles of Vietnam'. The question is whether Ngo or any other was in on it, and who was the actual shooter.

    * We commented in Sunday Talkies on the glowing profile of Kathy Ridge as the acceptable face of the green and reconciliation movement who interestingly grew up to some degree in the shadow of Ok Tedi environmental disaster. Good to see Carol Ridgeway-Bisset native title claimant for Stockton Bight based at Nelson Bay in the story. There is no doubt since Senator Kerry Nettle of The Greens crashed in the last Federal Election this state of NSW is missing the alpha female Green MP at federal level. Or any Green MP at NSW federal level. And one reason we suspect for that election loss is the colonisation of Nettle's office by the CFMEU with their coal and woodchippiong record. So regretable. We took a pic of her senate shopfront post federal election with dead pot plants in the window as some kind of metaphor.

    Or maybe Ridge is being positioned to replace aging Jeff Angel or indeed shell shocked Ian Cohen MLC?

     * The lack of ethical framework of Tim Blair and perhaps News Corp itself was clear to see with the juxtaposition of a feature about Obama "Living in the line of fire" Sat Daily Telegraph p85 15 Nov 08 while next page Tim Blair ran cartoon (for mental age of reader) graphic for story "Puppy love with a bang" and "Obama is the best gun salesman we've had". Thank God TB's gun totin fans didn't win the USA election.

    * Laurie Oakes has a balancer last Saturday ameliorating the favouritism of PM's wife launching his book Power Plays. We thought that was too close for real independence and stand by that. So Laurie leads with gibe against PM while Rudd is out of the country "Don't say anything, Rudd's in the Room" as if to set the scales to sceptical equilibrium again. Noted LO, noted.

    * Interesting biofuel story targetting non agricultural land .... maybe ....

    15 Nov 2008 Oil from wasteland tree to power Air NZ jet | The Australian 

    * Twiggy Forest is now officially not so rich, down $11 billion to $1 billion in personal wealth. So sad. Actually it really might be given his support for 50,000 jobs in the Indigenous population will be mightily affected. That really is sad.

    Forrest down to his last billion as freeze sets in | The Australian 14 Nov 2008

    * Biggest con job in modern political economic history? The coal industry have received legislative approval to write off future risk of CO2 leakage in the future. That explains the 4 full page adverts so far explaining why they are doing alot to combat climate change ....not. The adverts are in sky blue format or is that Liberal Party blue?

    We think the world and Australia will live to regret such a free pass for the coal sector, and Senator Milne (Greens) is right. We think the underground reservoirs will leak as night follows day, probably kills hundreds or more in the process, which is why the Europeans don't like it. Meanwhile the coal sector's main concern is expansion at any democratic cost 

    16 Nov 2008 Roozendaal declares war on wealth in state budget | The Australian

    as some ten thousands march against warming last weekend:
    * China allocates $855 billion in economic stimilus which is big news for suppliers like Australia BUT as far as the GFC goes as David Hale pointed out to Doogue abc RN last Saturday (in due course), China is a $4 trillion economy while the USA is $14 trillion, Europe $8 trillion, Japan $3 or 4 trillion etc. His point being China will help but not resolve the GFC, and they are slowing down too. 


     * To echo the full page adverts about CCS bury it and hope it will go away approach, The Australian (or is that the journalist in this case) is ramping the split in the business community with the Business Council of Australia representing 100 top Australian companies, and Minerals Council of Australia sticking to the 2010 Emissions Trading Scheme timetable and other special interest sectors buy out of the scheme including the odd lead smelter and concrete maker:
    13 Nov 2008 Business splits on carbon deadline   DIVISIONS are emerging in the nation's peak business body over the Rudd Government's 2010 deadline for a carbon trading scheme, with...
    However to be fair there has been a bit of a tweak and shift in climate related news coverage there at The Australian. Even hard man Matthew Warren has left for the renewable energy industry sunrise sector, and they have a "Green business" framework too now: 


    * As if to underline the point about the GFC affecting everything Gittins climbs down from his more strident page 1 attack on the Rees Govt last Wednesday in his bigger but more hidden weekend column. Not in the headline mind you but tucked away last quarter of the article some crucial quotes here: 

    But here's the point: state governments aren't national governments and most economists agree that what state governments should do with their budgets during downturns in the economy is different from what national governments should do.

    Why? Because we live in a national economy, not six state economies. There are no economic barriers between the states and much economic activity flows over state borders.

    State government budgets are heavily affected by the economy's movement through the business cycle, particularly on the revenue side. In a downturn, collections from the goods and services tax and payroll tax will grow less strongly and collections from stamp duty on conveyances of residential and commercial property will dive because far fewer properties change hands.

    So state governments' operating budgets - which cover their everyday operations, not their investment in new capital works - deteriorate sharply, with surpluses quickly turning to deficits.

    My view is that governments should live with such deficits because to try to correct them by means of spending cuts and tax increases would be "pro-cyclical" - it would make the downturn worse - and possibly counterproductive, in that the negative effect on the economy could leave you with a bigger deficit not a smaller one.

    In other words, state governments should allow their budgets' "automatic stabilisers" to work unhindered, thus helping to prop up the economy. (The quid pro quo is that state governments should run large operating surpluses during the good years, with the surplus used to help finance that year's capital works spending.)

    I don't think it's good practice for state governments to do what a national government would do: go a step further with discretionary spending and tax cuts to actually stimulate economic activity.

    Why not? Because a lot of that stimulus could leak over the border into other states, because state governments have less capacity to borrow than the national government and their budgets have less ability to rebound in the upturn. That's how the Cain government in Victoria got itself into so much bother in the recession of the early 1990s.

    The one qualification I'd make is that state governments with infrastructure backlogs should increase their capital works spending during recessions.

    Why? Because the time when private sector construction activity has fallen off is the ideal time for the public sector to fill the gap, limiting unemployment in the industry and getting things built when costs are lower and there's little risk of inflating prices.

    The NSW mini-budget doesn't involve cutting back capital works spending until 2011 - which is too far into the future to worry about - but it does involve significant spending cuts and tax increases intended to reduce the operating deficit, thus making it pro-cyclical. Why do such a thing? Because the rating agencies have threatened to downgrade the state's AAA credit rating. The whole purpose of the mini-budget was to avert that.

    But is it worth paying such a price to retain the top rating? That's a question too few people ask. Watch this space.

    The reaction of the Secretary to the Federal Treasury, Ken Henry, is worth noting, however. He said on Wednesday it was important for NSW to retain the top credit rating, while acknowledging that the mini-budget could well have an impact on the macro economy.

    However, he said, the Federal Government stood ready with further budgetary stimulus if needed.

    In other words, the management of demand and the smoothing of the business cycle was a job for the Feds, not the states (and the Reserve Bank, of course).

    So in conclusion, states can validly be asynchronous to federal policy (eg $10B stimulus package), but they shouldn't worry too much about AAA rating from crap rating agencies, and should still go into deficit for infrastructure. So it's a partial climb down. Back last Wednesday after the mini budget Gittins wrote under heading: 12 Nov 2008  Labor sham will make it worse :

    There you have it: this mini-budget is about nothing other than doing "whatever it takes" to prevent a downgrading in the state's credit rating. All the rest is either detail or spin. ......

    But for the Rees-Iemma-Carr Government there can be no debate. Its reputation as a manager of the state's affairs is already so tattered that to suffer a credit downgrading would be the last nail in its coffin.

    Rightly or wrongly, it would be taken as the ultimate, irrefutable proof of the Labor Government's economic incompetence.

    Sorry, but Nathan Rees and the union bosses who appointed him just aren't prepared to run that risk to their survival in office.

    And if it makes the downturn worse rather than better for the people of NSW, that's just something the people of NSW will have to cop.

    At a time when the Federal Government is busy increasing its spending - and rapidly turning a surplus into a deficit - to bolster the economy during the downturn, it may strike you as strange that its state counterpart is doing the opposite: cutting spending and increasing taxes.

    You're right, it is strange. Perverse, in fact. Eric Roozendaal says this is a tough budget for tough times. A snappy line, but treasurers haven't believed it made sense since the same mentality helped to prolong the Great Depression.

    As you can see these two views 4 days apart don't bear reconciliation. Gittins quotes Ken Henry Treasury Secretary against himself on the AAA, and he notes that NSW shouldn't play the role of economic stimulus. Trouble is correcting ones initial dogma on page 44 is alot different to page 1 4 days earlier. Where is the shame? 


    * We took a swing in Sunday Talkies at Paul Kelly aka HMV aka The Professor for this article:

    Quoting ex Premier Greiner "You cannot have a proposal that goes from being right to wrong in a fortnight. It means there is no systematic plan for NSW and government departments don't know what they are supposed to be doing."

    Excuse me, tell that to Lehman Bros. Merrill Lynch. Fannie Mae. Freddie Mac. Countrywide Financial. Bear Stearns. American Insurance Group. And then there was Enron all those years ago. Or HIH here.

    Greiner and Kelly have selective memory when it comes to an ALP nominally Left Govt. If the GFC can knock $40B off federal budget projections than a fortnight can knock off the north west metro and it did knock it off.

    Kelly then contradicts NSW roundsman from the same paper Imre Salusinszky 2 weeks back that conceivably Rees could go ahead of Rudd in a deal possible under the NSW Constitution. That is due to flexibility in a clash with any federal election in Feb March 2011 and Rudd technically can wait until April 2008 as well. Imre confirms these theoretical views by phone today while noting everyone expects Rudd to go late 2010. But will he?

    In Sunday Talkies we also noted: "Paul Kelly hopelessly flawed article in The Australian yesterday. Airbrushes real NSW political history regarding Greiner years - seeking to buy off Metherell's vote on forest destruction by job sinecure in the EPA, over feisty public servant Neil Shepherd. Carr winning on the green vote - narrowly. Falsely conflating two very different energy sell off proposals 1997 to 2007-8 with a $10 billion disjunct in the assets (no transmission infrastructure in the second). Greiner being a big business lackey in name as well as substance today working for British American Tobacco. Kelly needs a good spanking."

    * Someone called "Herman Daly, former senior economist of the World Bank, did the maths years ago" says Leslie Cannold in Sun Herald 9 Nov 2008 at p8 of Extra: "He argues that catastrophic climate change is just one manifestation of our tragic miscalculation. .... The economy is not just killing the planet. It's killing the economy." Quite.

    Posted by editor at 9:43 AM EADT
    Updated: Monday, 17 November 2008 8:49 PM EADT
    Sunday, 16 November 2008
    Sunday political talkies: Coalition pining over end of Bush Howard era
    Mood:  chatty
    Topic: aust govt


    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 (and see following post on SAM of 'big media short takes')

    * Refer previous two posts on the big press ‘tantrum' after the mini budget last week in NSW perhaps indicating the old media don't realize they don't make or break government's anymore in the age of Get Up etc. There is the 5th estate accountability on their spin and selective editing. True it's still early days but Obama literally leveraged the internet to the US presidency, and young mind Nathan Rees is in the cycle race of his life starting at 29% primary vote polling handicap to win in 2 years. And the alternative media will play a significant role in that now that he has stared down the Daily Telegraph and SMH front page malice. As if in agreement it's a new media future editor David Penberthy to go to new projects in the same stable.

    * Speaking of Penberthy, notice this ‘truth or fiction you decide' piece by Joe Hildebrand in yesterday's Terror:

    * Tim Blair is replaced in his location by serial reactionary Andrew Bolt spruiking Melbourne. The tactic is to make the Sydney public feel embarrassed or humiliated based on collective pride. But this will likely misfire just as Howard attacked Obama and was told to ‘shut the f*ck up and mind your own business', so Sydney and NSW people will likely be offended by the Daily Telegraph running Bolt with no loyalty or history in NSW to qualify anything he says.  We wonks and insiders know it's the same News Corp but the readers don't - they will see Sydney Daily Telegraph as treacherous giving a platform to  a Melbourne critic.

    * News Corp papers are at least an hour or more late Saturday morning. Desperate headline too about blood suckers attacking Rees Govt.

    *  Paul Kelly hopelessly flawed article in The Australian yesterday. Airbrushes real NSW political history regarding Greiner years - seeking to buy off Metherell's vote on forest destruction by job sinecure in the EPA, over feisty public servant Neil Shepherd. Carr winning on the green vote - narrowly. Falsely conflating two very different energy sell off proposals 1997 to 2007-8 with a $10 billion disjunct in the assets (no transmission infrastructure in the second). Greiner being a big business lackey in name as well as substance today working for British American Tobacco. Kelly needs a good spanking.

    * Mark Scott revealed on ABC conversation hour. If it looks like, sounds like, smells like a lone Liberal Party SAS advance inside the ABC then it probably is. Reveals his days as political staffer with Terry Metherell presumably not for his forest loving ways. Rather his attempt to split and scatter the teacher union stronghold in the education sector for free market ideologue Nick Greiner. The man for a job would have been the thought of the Howard clones.

    * SMH runs another natural history puff piece for the new Govt via James Woodford about an island habitat on the NSW South Coast. Their real environment reporter did a web story on the koala habitat logging on the NSW south coast a week ago. As did PM abc. As did ABC TV news. As did JJJ late last week. But not the newsprint at Fairfax this weekend. Instead they do a book review of depressed, maybe neurotic, Woodford entitled Grid Life Crisis. Arts graduate passenger on the backs of 1,500 people arrested trying to stop the Eden woodchipper destroying our south coast.


    * Indeed the SMH compounds the conformist conservative careerist view of the environment with a profile of Kathy Ridge, a greenocrat former exec officer of NSW Nature Conservation Council at a time when the state govt became quite disastrous on environmental management. But don't take our word for it - let me quote Ridge herself in email effectively reporting on the failure of her own tenure at the helm:

    From our own SAM/ecology action archive: Tarnished credentials of Bob Carr's ALP NSW Govt 1999-2003 written about March 2003, and see links below for more archive of the Carr years:

    5. Nature Conservation Council spits the dummy and gobs on Premier Bob Carr!?

    Extracts of Kathy Ridge Executive Officer summer newsletter article 2002/2003.

    [Intro by Tom McLoughlin of Ecology Action Sydney.

    The umbrella group for most big and small green groups in NSW - though not all e.g. Greenpeace, NEFA, ecology action and some others - has laid the boot into Bob Carr's 'green' credibility. The NSW Nature Conservation Council is supposed to be a networking and service provider to the green movement rather than a spokesperson per se but the group is recognised in NSW legislation and has undoubted stature and influence with the community and the public. Often it does act as a small 'g' greens spokesperson.

    The NSW NCC is emphatically stating there is something wrong in the state of Denmark. It is a safe bet to say Bob Carr is following former NSW ALP Premier McKell's successful rural electoral strategies to win over redneck votes from the coalition. However, Carr has forgotten one thing - McKell was a Premier for a pre-environmental age of the mid 20th Century, when the word 'ecology' was barely invented, and 'environmental flows' meant the reverse of today i.e. damming the next floodwater, not saving the fish or South Australia's water supply.

    But don't take my word for it - read the esteemed Ms Kathy Ridge in her last newsletter for summer 02-03, soon to bail out for a legal career as a judge's associate. A careeer change can do wonders for the vocal chords, they say. Extract follows,]

    "Selling out the environment"

    "Kathy Ridge [pictured, lead story, page 1 Environment NSW, the quarterly newsletter of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW Summer 2002/3]

    "At the time when the landscape of NSW and its dependent regional communities are suffering the worst drought in 100 years, the Carr government has backed away from the very reforms that would have delivered a more robust environment.

    "The last two months has [sic] seen the NSW government fail to put in place two of the most important strategic natural resource management frameworks - the Native Vegetation Management Strategy, and the State Water Management Outcomes Plan.

    "Both policy frameworks were designed to guide the work of regional natural resource committees, including Catchment Management Boards, Regional Native Vegetation Committees and the Water Management Committees.

    "Without clear policy positions being articulated by the government, community based planning has been an utter failure dogged by poor data, insufficient resources and lack of transparency and accountability in committee processes.

    "It has also limited the discussion of the value of the outcomes within government. Each of the draft regional vegetation plans are of varying quality with no cohesive statewide direction being discernible. The extensive, not to mention expensive, Water Sharing Plan process is going to deliver less than a 0.5 per cent increase in water for the environment statewide, and very little of that increase is protected as environmental health water.

    "Against the backdrop of landscape scale failure to address land clearing and over extraction from our rivers, the ongoing destruction of old growth forests, woodchipping and charcoal threats, loss of valuable public lands to developers and suffocating stacks in our suburbs, Carr could well be advised to not rest on his environmental record.
    "It will be a long 'hot' summer, both politically and environmentally speaking."

     More archive here:

    9 Mar 2006: Blast from the past, Sid Walker former Executive Officer NSW Nature Conservation Council 1990-1995 on Carr's broken 'ban on woodchipping' promise.

    21/3/05...Objective analysis of Carr on the environment, it's not the TEC director? [discusses undue positive reports by SMH/TEC re Carr regime '95-99,'99-03 and Green Party/other ngo balance effect]

    Material on this page below focuses mainly on the NSW Govt period of 1999 to 2003.  For the Carr Govt "dodges"  up to 1999 see: 

    30/1/99...The REAL Carr govt on forest protection and destruction, prelude to 1999 election


    Whether despite KR's stirling efforts under an increasingly brown and spin driven govt, or because of it we remain agnostic. We have real regard for her spouse barrister McAvoy, and she did seem to be getting an independent mojo by the end of the NCC tour. But the point is while saying she doesn't want the PR she is pictured beaming into the camera with chunky jewellery and business suit in place. 

    KR we assume has never been arrested for her beliefs and lives a comfortable career and that's about the speed of the SMH commitment to the environment. Tame captured greenies including by flattery in the first instance. We reflected recently how precious privacy really is. Good luck KR you're going to need it after that profile piece. And what a miserable life it must be in the public eye 24/7.


    10 Meet the Press:  8- 8-30 am

    Press roundup - decline the Rees beat up, run with breaking G20 summit. Sunday mail in Brisbane re vaccine for skin cancer. SunHerald story about ABC Learning chosen.

    First guest is Kim Carr - Industry Minister.  Traverse the Rudd Bush dynamic ‘can't take it seriously' says Carr.

    Great out take of axe weilder comedy show with Julie Bishop. Very comic and charming and alarming too. Panel really amused on recommencing.

    Next segment of show, grab of Ken Henry don't talk ourselves into a recession.

    Panel is Alison Carabine 2UE, Brad Norrington News Corp. Get to his portfolio about industry. Structural advantages. Carr is earnest, articulate big bear of a guy, quite persuasive. Sounds steady. His suit seems to fill ¾ of the screen.

    AC goes Rees "betrayal" in NSW. Helped by NSW? Presses. This is the business. Get's to it by saying NSW has "special problems" working through it as soon as we can. Or something like that.

    Another ripping out take animation of PM Kevin and Wayne Treasurer on the scene of filim "Australia" (speaking of hyperbole). Bombing of the surplus by the GFC says a lot, levering the plot line of bombing of Darwin, a seriously untold story here of WW2. Hundreds killed apparently. Grim.

    Australian Industry Group - Heather Ridout without even looking - 60% per cent reduction. Sounding as articulate as ever, but a lot slighter and softer voiced. Has she been ill? [Reminds saw her in Newtown street possibly but looking a lot thinner than I recalled.] Diplomatically declines debate over 1.5 to 2% Coalition.

    BN criticism of NSW? 30% of economy reducing, need Federal Govt send in administrator - very careful investment path, stable let alone growth.

    AC lack of political leadership, drag down national economy. Why is Victoria doing better than NSW? It's all about management. Ridout relies on USA for precedent of no arbitration in industry - back to the bad old days. Bongiorno intervenes umpire is in our constitution. Free market ideologue leveraging economic downturn to ruthless business power. Inner Ayn Rand showing.

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


    Riley Diary 7, from 8.30am

     Very good comic traverse of Rudd hyperbolic ‘war' rhetoric on all kinds of topics. Hockey line "war on relevance" is cute and Rudd sidelining the institution of parliament is starting to resonate as real. Rudd needs to show more respect for parliamentary institution as a real politik risk, not just an insider's gripe by Ramsay et al. The 4th estate have got a point. As do Opposition. Don't blatantly avoid parliamentary scrutiny.

    Riley off to APEC in Peru this week but cut to LO below during this Q & A.



    9 Sunday newshour Laurie Oakes interview 8.40 am

    LO has Julie Bishop on. It's a balancer for Therese Rein launching his book 2 Fridays ago. His column yesterday was also symbolically rude to the ALP PM though only while Rudd was out of the country.  It's also good value grist about real politik of GFC, fallout of USA election for Howard's People.

    Cut's across Q and A in Riley Diary cie la vie.

    Missed some of the boiler plate on political economy of the GFC with $21 billion of surplus spent etc. She also retreats  a little on the 2% versus 1.5% growth projections and moderates her approach to ALP Governance - ‘that we will get through this' showing she realizes the problem of blame for talking the economy into a recession as per Henry comments on MTP.

    Dives into the "confidential talks" with Bush story but projects her own anxiety over Obama winning, and her side losing. It's a proxy argument, somewhat in denial of changed real politik - for instance refuses to repudiate Howard attack on Obama as friend of Al Qaeda. A disgusting slur. Shows Bishop remains a Howard clone.

    LO gives several chances to "repudiate" slur on Obama and she like the nasty Republicans leaves these things hanging out there.

    LO presses her hard on this. Combine with MTP grab of  anecdote of the 4 year old axe wielder of sisters swing set  10 Newsweek comedy and that she is happy to reveal her zeal and determination beyond sensible balance, shows that she is indeed something of an extremist. In a telling and cruel blow LO quotes Dennis Shanahan of News Corp hardly a "mad leftie" against her as "damaged political goods" failing to take Swan down. She takes it squarely but it's serious impact on her cred as Julia Gillard floats on through as deputy PM (as per Crabb columns).

    Worth consulting the transcript in due course to fill gaps.



    Insiders 2: 9- 10am

    Headlines, showcasing Fran Kelly on Howard Years. Cross to G20 ie GFC summit fallout.

    Refers to Rudd Bush dynamic [is this all a real subtextual balancer in power relations for US ambassador attacking Latham in domestic politics here? That Rudd is an Obama barracker.]

    Panel - Fran Kelly. Handshake Bush v Rudd barest of handshakes. Meglo. Mal Farr. The pro observers all agree. But the fact is Obama is pres and it's all about Bush being seriously damaged. The more Bush reacts the more the Obama folks will like him.

    Footage of Rudd aggregated stimulus packages of 1 trillion dollars.

    Lindsay Tanner - Q of financial sector serving wider economy or other way round. ABC childcare via local councils discussed. Boilerplate about retail and jobs ticking over and public construction hinted at. Diverse approach.Cute reference to arm wrestle or mud wrestle with State Govts after Federal support. Left out Barnett from WA - bad form? Tanner boilerplate doesn't answer.

    Have to renege on election promises? Doesn't agree. Tanner says Bush Rudd dynamic is "nonsense" attacks Bishop re slur on Obama. True she was deliberately hardball. Tanner is covering about ‘body language' as Kim Carr was.

    BC cross refers to LO interview suggestive he watched it pre 9 am maybe or maybe building on Tanner comment.

    Every person segment refers to Barak as Beroc as in berrocca energy lift drink.

    Meglo points out deficit under Costello in 2000-01 discreetly. Mal Farr questions loathing of deficit word and won't be marked down if do mention it. Footage of Swan refusing to mention deficit without damaging confidence.

    Meglo formula of words "not afraid of deficit to keep the economy growing".


    Australian editorial sticks by their story. Good source. Fran Kelly says sure it's false story. Ill judged. Reflects on PM via tone of self aggrandizement. The panel buys in seriously now. Mal Farr from same News Corp stable waxes on it. More realistic person would know it wasn't true. The tone of the story is that a staffer ran a false story and Rudd won't cut them loose.

    Rudd footage on Downer refusing to who released a story in 2003. "Unacceptable" .

    Paul Kelly late emergence in the show at 9.38 perhaps because of his weasley piece in The Oz yesterday. Voice is a little thick and nasal like a cold, like LO last week, must be going through the gallery? Bangs on about G20.

    Kelly says Opp has unhealthy fixation with Ken Henry re mid year forecasts. Opp target officials "never works" should target ministers. Treasury at press club still optimistic. In place most of the Howard period, no question of integrity of independence.

    Robb grab not attacking officials, silence critics on every front. Meglo warns Robb be much more careful. Go the govt not the officials. [So is Robb projecting their own period in govt - of cooking up, or at the least anticipating Fran Kelly interview re kids overboard dishonesty courting the One Nation cohort - that rings true].

    Nice grab on Rudd using Member for Wentworth not Leader of Opposition. Meglo says one of the best questions in the last 20 years. Cut away to Govt laughing at Rudd would have been good. Rudd amused also.

    Showcasing of Howard Years. Daily Telegraph Mal Farr unhappy didn't get a copy of The Howard Years but direct competitors did. Sunday Telegraph did get it. Interesting ABC sanction. Mal sounded aggrieved.

    Kelly says loyalty remains to Howard from his then ministers Downer, Reith.

    Jim Ballman Cincinnati Inquirer, talking pictures, constructive competition. Likes Obama for being a young mind text and email.

    [Howard suffered so long and so deep he wasn't going to give up his achievement to anyone else who hasn't suffered as much. He has set the bar too high really for anyone to aspire for leadership transition. The Liberal Party is deformed by Howard gigantism.]

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

    Inside Business - 2 at 10am

    Refer http://www.abc.net.au/insidebusiness/



    Posted by editor at 10:22 AM EADT
    Updated: Monday, 17 November 2008 10:44 AM EADT
    Day 3 and 4 of Sydney press tantrum over energy assets denied?
    Mood:  d'oh
    Topic: nsw govt

    Comment from SAM editor

    Fairfax hypocrisy over a sexualised society, and poor sense of news values has infested the Sydney mainstream press this last 4 days. It's mostly a tantrum about big corporate advertisers and political mates not getting their snouts in the trough of a $15 billion energy industry that is publicly owned.

    Today it's an embarrassing massage parlour site, wickedly leveraging the unrelated gruesome murder of 2 Chinese alleged sex workers who have nothing to do with the Premier's electorate office, or him.

    The Sun Herald front page story is pure political malice by the Fairfax owners, who care little or nothing for their own journalists. Their sexual hypocrisy about objectifying women is pretty (!) obvious in the screen prints we took of the Fairfax website from today and Saturday's archive. Flesh is the word. But not just on the web, burgeoning home of modern porn, but also racy lifestyle pages in the newsprint.

    Ironically it's News Corp, equally malicious who decline the sex angle - wisely given the number of brothels near Holt St. Rather yesterday in true schlock tones they take a horror "blood" suckers route. Vampires anyone? There's nothing in it except special interest private health insurers paying their share for the blood bank public service. These are the insurance folks who destroyed public health in the USA.


     Is Premier Rees also a nazi, child molster, AIDS carrier? Stay tuned for day 5 of The Tantrum and no doubt all will be revealed.

    We reserve special attention for later this morning to Paul Kelly in The Australian promoting the false history of NSW politics via ex Premier Nick Greiner - a man thrown out of office for corruption later reversed on appeal.  Good lawyers are like that. Greiner now works for British American Tobacco and he's the honest broker? Head shaking stuff really.

    One howler in Kelly's piece can be mentioned here already - the 2007 energy sell off proposal did not include the wires and transmission infrastructure - a mere $10 billion dollar difference when compared with the 1997 proposal. But Greiner conflates the two as did Paul Keating in his own opinion piece in Fairfax earlier this year - who also works for big business these days.

    Posted by editor at 7:16 AM EADT
    Updated: Monday, 17 November 2008 9:24 AM EADT

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