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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
SAM micro news pageview stats for January 2009 trending up to 27,462
Topic: independent media

This month we further refined our Google Adsense advertising to continue sustainably. We managed to sort out the code for the skeletal frame of the SAM site. It is pretty safe to say it adds authority to the site if only because people in government and business and the public expect to see an implicit financial model behind every activity in this world. More's the pity.

If we could do this without adverts we would by personal preference. This comes from our Adbuster reading days sub title - journal of mental environment.

This month we also had a 6 thousand increase in pageviews which is something like 20% increase. This puts us back to the 27,000 high of June 2008. Yes we can.

Notable stories this last month of course including the ongoing fatal conflict of Gaza with highly instructive meta analysis of local media coverage (eg discipline on local abc radio) particularly as it's a diaspora kind of thing both Arabic and Jewish. Especially teasing out the Yigal Amir factor on Israeli society (the Israeli assassin of PM Yitzak Rabin). And all increasingly of world security significance with a nuclear arms race in the offing.

Other important story topics included leak from the Addison Road Community Centre of email traffic indicating power struggles and criminal assault.

Other stories of note this last month included various NSW govt evolutions regarding Robertson and Sartor MPs; some local media figures Leak, Spencer, Ferguson; our departed father of the editor and Waverley Councillor Norman Lee; ex PM John Howard subject of massive 2003 anti war protest and ascension of Obama to POTUS;

We remain pleased with new livery of yellow, orange, red, with colour code for the advertising which we can control to some degree.

We claimed a first of exposing Katherine Wilson as the hoaxer of Keith Windschuttle via a crikey.com.au ezine string then writing it up here on 14 Jan 09. We also noticed the big media (abc and said ezine) pick up our long time tactic of counting up booze press adverts causing bias in news coverage. There was some holiday culture in there of reviews of old movie Rendition and catchup on some Michael Moore The Awful Truth.

Previous monthly reader pageview figures for 2007, 2008 verified by screen shot (web host provider monthly pageview account details) posted on or about 4th day of the month found in this thread:

  • January 2009 - 27,462
  • December 08 - 21,858
  • November 08 - unavailable, host breakdown
  • October 08 - 20,343
  • September 08 - 20,746
  • August 08 - 25,344
  • July 08 - 22,855
  • June 08 - 27,440
  • May 08 - 25,046
  • April 08 - 19,250
  • March 08 - 20,803
  • February 08 - 13,109
  • January 2008 - 19, 898
  • December - 11,627
  • November - 10,220
  • October - 9, 100
  • Sept - 8,100 roughly, no screenshot
  • August - 8,845
  • July - 7475
  • June - 9675
  • May - 9, 059
  • April - 12,087
  • March - 6,684
  • February - 5,372
  • January 07 - 2800 3rd Jan - 3rd Feb 07

Posted by editor at 4:02 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 6 March 2009 10:58 AM EADT
Stimulus II Sydney coverage: Rudd as no freckles Latham, in House of Pleasure and Pain?
Topic: aust govt

There was a big explosion at the Hells Angels clubhouse last night in the next suburb which we understand to be in Crystal St Petersham. Just around the corner eastward is a tattoo parlour Platinum Ink which has been shot up a bit too. Further east other side of the road is House of Pain tattoo parlour not involved. In the other direction a few blocks south along Crystal St is the Oxford Tavern on the corner with Stanmore Rd, a late night strip joint.

So much for pleasure and pain. So much for Gimme Shelter about the Hells Angels stalking The Stones in the 1970ies. The explosion somehow echoes the drama of a $42 billion economic package in all the reportage this morning. In a way PM Rudd is blowing up orthodox politics as we know it with all the risk and uncertainty and opportunity that involves.

Here are our main points of meta analysis working off the Big Media as a non economist but also as an acute (we hope) observer (eg a business law degree etc):

1. We can't really get a full sense without viewing former PM Keating on Lateline last Monday and Costello as ex Treasurer last night same show. But with the caveat of reading both down for their intense political self interest, not least over ownership of economic history;

2. Like Mickey Mouse and his 3 helpers pictured above we are in a bit of ALP media choreography today. Tanner is everywhere as Finance Minister, even Parliamentary & News Network live at 7.30 am. Rudd's statement to the nation at 6.55 pm last night on national radio, reprinted in The Oz today, long interview 7.30 Report with nasal cold last night. Swan as Treasurer less prominent here but busy on AM (transcript in due course 4 Feb 09), Chris Bowen Assistant Treasurer taking callers after 8.30 am on local abc;

3. Costello is referring to ex PM Whitlam-esque deficits as reckless, similar to the oil shocks chapter of political history early 70ies. There is partial resonance to the claim but maybe more to do with Gough's famous and brave 'crash or crash through' seizing of the leadership and election victory, rather than the deficits as such. A bravery that perhaps Costello never had;

4. Yesterday Stephen Mayne made a flippant claim via Crikey.com.au ezine that Rudd was making a diversion on the scandal of Stanley Ho Chinese gambling mogul of Macau funnelling half a million dollars into the NSW ALP and trying it on at federal level too.

However we think there is partial truth in Mayne's gripe - Rudd is at risk like the literary character Gulliver of being staked down by many little issues in the land of Lilliput;

- Ho's donations

- a vibe that Rudd was never elected on a platform of economic crisis management more as conservative rich man success in boom times

- unconditional backing in January byPM Rudd of a demonstrably racist murderous element in the Israeli Defence Force (eg page 1 expose' by John Lyons in the last The Weekend Australian)

- often argued NSW union puppeteering of Rudd's ascension with the in turn ascension of union leader John Robertson to NSW Parliament preventing the huge energy privatisation agenda of big business

- recent data of collapsing trading destinations with 4 year profile of increasing deficits perhaps the thickest cord on him of all by late Monday 2nd Feb 2009;

- Harvey Norman sledging stimulus mark I as failing to prevent big retail closures;

- probably other issues of individual nuisance value 'in due season' (!) but all taken together quite threatening to Rudd's status and leadership

Gulliver has broken the threads and strode forward with this giant stimulus mark II package. But will it work?

5. Rudd seems to be wise to the very real one term wonder risk - he's been doing gym work apparently. We suspect his wifey too has been trying to shed a fair degree of the pear. He's been re-writing the philosophical thrust of the government in his Monthly piece to accommodate the global market failure aka GFC. That probably does reveal leadership and a grip on reality. Will it work? We suspect it's building a bridge to an economic growth paradigm that no longer works and where modern western politics is broken.

6. Earlier this week we commented on the Bernard Keane Crikey ezine string about lack of govt economic plans to 'de-leverage debt' and need for 'green infrastructure' and 'quiet peaceful multi occupancy residential':

Where is the plan for staggered de-leveraging from high debt, programmes for low cost self reliance including:

- home food production,
- transport self help with free bicycle repair warehouses,
- models for quiet peaceful multi occupancy residential,
- national roll out of green collar jobs in the energy sector,
- personnel diplomacy in foreign lands via teachers, doctors, tradespeople.

Looks like our instinct was good in parts. Here is some reportage today:

But the insulation in every home policy, as welcome as it is, could well play like the cynical NSW ALP free green light globes programme in 2006-2007 in Sydney in marginal seats, unless it is administered with integrity. More expensive vote buying to be sure at $1,500 a house. Or is it?

7. As we write Opposition Leader Turnbull is speaking in parliament, contradicting Michelle Grattan's view earlier on ABC RN about their silence being "very very odd indeed". Wrong in part because Joe Hockey was on 7 Sunrise contemporaneously rebuffing the Rudd railroad. Senator Brown too literally 10 minutes later to same Fran Kelly show saying taking more time is valid.

Brissenden on local abc cross after 9 am echoed Grattan that no formal Opposition response was a weak position. This was a bit surreal. Why would they respond so quickly to a $42 billion package? We are in budget in reply type dynamic here which takes real time. And the Govt are impertinent to suggest otherwise.

Even so, Turnbull has told Parliament he is not supporting a rail road and thus demanding real time to analyse the Bills. Given he is seen as vindicated on the differential bank deposit argument we tend to agree Parliamentary democracy should play a serious role not ALP executive govt alone. Alan Ramsey made the same point late 2008 and we agree if parliamentary democracy means anything:

Extreme times coming to a TV near you - Alan Ramsey - Opinion ... Sydney Morning Herald. October 18, 2008 The Rudd Government this week 'dealt' with the gravest 'global financial crisis' since ... Depression of the 1930s by ignoring Parliament, writes Alan Ramsey.

8. What we are seeing surely is as much a thoughtful policy response as a Rudd leadership political survival emergency measure. As Kerry OBrien asked PM Rudd last night - why the tub thump urgency vibe, which just scares people? The vox pop interviews running earlier today have average Joe and Mary wavering in their choice to spend or save the new largesse. But in a real pump priming economic emergency there is no choice but to spend. Which all suggests there is no real emergency as such. Not yet at least.

9. Our view at 8 on relative urgency is reinforced by Turnbull, a patriotic Australian no doubt, on 7.30 last Monday night with a steely confidence the government was in real trouble with the data indicating major deficits of $115 billion over 4 years (due to trading partners exit from the market). Up from $50 billion deficit in a day. That's a siren song to a Coalition re-election after a one term Rudd Govt. But Turnbull's confidence still implies Australia will muddle through and be repairable and worth governing next election despite those deficits.

On the other hand Rudd's giant package is a political railroad fanning insecurity to leverage incumbency as the champions of economic security. Much like Howard leveraged incumbency on security from terrorism. Trouble is the current govt package by it's nature has arguable merit.

10. Indeed the tardiness of the Rudd Govt in being honest last year tells the story: Failure to admit deficit profile late November 08 (as per Kerry Ann Walsh on Insiders: 30/11/2008 Panel discuss Govt spending). Similarly the last show 08 of Alan Kohler Inside Business to 'don't believe the government, there will be a recession' : 2008 an extraodinary year in finance "Alan Kohler gives a final summary of what happened in finance in 2008". The Govt lacks integrity to some degree in leveling with the people in a timely way. Not that the Opposition can be trusted on face value either.

11. The 25 minutes phone call between Rudd and POTUS Obama a week back reinforces this huge package is intended by Rudd and ALP to be in synchrony with the new Obama regime where 'capitalism is broken'. Davies in the SMH today expands that US scheduling there: (I have three years to fix economy: Obama - World - smh.com.au). The Republican Opposition are decidedly cold on that giant US stimulus too.

12. Indeed Peter Hartcher today and economics editor Gittins both smart guys in the SMH, with Lenore Taylor in The Oz, are all today referring in effect to a kind of Back to the Future 3 movie script where the Rudd Govt build a bridge to somewhere that no-one even knows exists: For the choo choo train to miraculously traverse the economic canyon in the nick of time by the magical creation of railway tracks using a time machine. Too bad if there is no other side to the canyon, because it's a long way down in terms of debt. We just don't know where and when this 'private sector recovery' or 'capitalism recuperating' and 'generating economic growth' is likely to happen. Gittins indeed has the honesty to ask "how temporary" is this deficit model? Not very short would be our view. At least 4 years.

13. To answer the question in 12 means knowing and understanding what caused the Gobal Financial Crisis today. But who really does? There is alot of loose talk about "greed", or as Obama refers to "a deficit of trust". Again we refer to late 2008 Inside Business:

"HAMISH DOUGLASS: It actually was something else Alan. What happened three days later, there was a very large money market fund in the United States, the Primary Reserve Fund, it's actually the largest money market fund, it's the oldest money market fund in the US. And believe it or not they held $800 million worth of Lehman Brothers senior debt and commercial paper. And on that Wednesday this made an announcement they held this paper and they were going to write down the net asset value of their money market fund below one dollar.

ALAN KOHLER: And that was because of Lehman Brothers?

HAMISH DOUGLASS: That was because of Lehman Brothers. This was the unintended consequences of the collapse. What then happened, they made a secondary part of the announcement, they were going to freeze redemptions in that fund. Well this set off a whole set of dominos around the world."
In Hamish Douglass and Alan Oster join Inside Business 7 Dec 2008

But we suspect systemic causes underlie proximate ones, perhaps like advent of the internet, collapse of religious belief in economic growth, record immigration to prop up consumption models, unsustainable population growth globally, and ecological unravel in most metrics.

14. One thing is for sure the Opposition can't say the Govt are not making real decisions anymore. Also that the ALP are indeed the mummy party in orthodox analysis.


Posted by editor at 9:41 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 5 February 2009 7:17 AM EADT
Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Gaza local coverage: Murdoch broadsheet expose' of IDF racist murder in "cold blood", ABC 702 insult today?
Topic: big media

Have a look at this horrific story. IDF airforce use white phosphorous shells usually banned as a weapon of war and kill some Gazan Palestinians with terrible burns. The injured and dead are carried by farm tractor to hospital when the two youths driving are shot dead "in cold blood" with arms raised in surrender.

John Lyons, Sydney journalist, has the story here on page 1 and large section of page 2, and feature story on p23 last weekend to the heartland of the conservative readership of Australia. There is no reasonable doubt the soldiers are racist murderers within the IDF:

This story combines with the feature story later in the newspaper here:

Will the cycle be unbroken | The Australian 31 Jan 2009 [though the print version is called "Choice is talk or fight again"]

Then the ABC radio this morning, Cameron show, says they are running a feel good story later today about the Israeli Air Force helping to save birdlife with research for a neat radar device. Not a mention of UN accusations of war crimes for use of white phosphorous bombs. Sydney ABC radio running interference for Israeli propaganda machine on profound evidence of war crimes and murder by racist predators in the Israeli IDF?

How out of touch is that? How offensive to Arabic Australian listeners in Sydney? How pathetic can the public broadcaster be? Or stupid?

Indeed we called the Executive Producer before the story ran with a fair warning that this story will be seen as running a feel good story for the IDF and in particular the Air Force under pressure over demonstrated war crimes. Sure enough the Tel Aviv University researcher confirms research in collaboration with "the Israeli Air Force" has been able to save the birds migrating through the "Gaza war zone". The ABC telephone interview goes all the way into Israel.

And there folks is how a war machine does PR. Too bad our ABC is caught in the manipulation with our tax dollars. Quite shameful in fact.

And that's speaking as a zoology graduate from Australian National University with 15 years at the coal face of conservation campaigning and 6 arrests for peaceful protest on forest issues and the like.

The interview winds up with Polyanna Deborah Cameron in twee form "Isn't he great?" of the Israeli conservationist. She thinks it's a bridge building story across political boundaries - funded by the Israeli Air Force and their white phosphorous shells.

This reportage in The Australian above puts others to shame in big media too such as Paul Sheehan at Fairfax and indeed PM Kevin Rudd as apologists for the racist elements of the IDF in Israel.

............................

Postscript #1 4 Feb 2009: As if to respond to our stinging critique of abc Deborah Cameron show (re deceptive PR for the IDF) we noticed her retreat today from the web media reality to a segment about Old Media same schedule. It's with the letters editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, her old workplace. That's what we call existential angst - which is good. Because she should feel it: Our email response this morning;

Having disgracefully pandered to the Israeli PR regarding the 'moral' IDF and their bird wildlife protection yesterday, well exposed by our web post yesterday, you retreat to the letters page of alma mater .... in the age of the blog and ezine self expression. As if.

Tom McLoughlin


Posted by editor at 9:10 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 4 February 2009 9:50 AM EADT
Monday, 2 February 2009
Robbo as minister for corrective services, and neighbour Brett Collins of Justice Action in Sussex St building complex
Topic: nsw govt

John Dowd, former NSW Attorney General sounds miffed. He reckons just now on ABC local radio "What would new Minister John Robertson know about corrective services?"

http://www.amcran.org/images/stories/launch/DowdSpeaking.jpg

Well the last time we went into Justice Action office to talk to Brett Collins and crew to take the picture of a mural below - good mates with Lee Rhiannon MP they are too - we happened to bump into ... John Robertson in the lift well.

We talked briefly about Enron: Smartest Guys in the Room and how you can watch it on Google Video for free. He said he had just bought a copy and was about to watch it.

That was mid to late 2008 or so. That's right, Robbo at Unions NSW was a close neighbour of Justice Action a few years. Brett Collins at JA is another shortish tough fit nuggety looking bloke who has beaten the system particularly as a Kiwi avoiding deportation through the application of Rolls Royce administrative law in the 80ies. That's when we met Brett first, intrigued as a law student about this ex prisoner, he giving a talk at the Australian National University to an audience of 5 or so at ... the Student Union. Later we saw his name in the Administrative Law class cases taught by the respected John McMillan, later Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Collins, a reformed bank robber with 10 years in prison under his belt, is now a Big Media go to expert on the receiving end of the justice system. He's also a pretty friendly bloke, doting father with a fast paced conversational style and an effective advocate. He's no angel but he's no thug either, and arguably an ornament to our democracy in a curious way. He's a living example of rehabilitation perhaps more by individual struggle than anything else.

We think Robbo knows a fair bit more about Corrective Services and maybe even 'Rotten Ron' than big Liberal progressive, former Attorney General John Dowd quite realises. Indeed Justice Action have even been known to quote John Dowd approvingly here in another context. Another close friend of Justice Action would be former senator Kerry Nettle who has been on the same civil right platform as VIP Dowd.

Take the hint Mr Dowd!


Posted by editor at 9:32 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 2 February 2009 10:22 AM EADT
Biologists studied the basis of co-operation versus cheating first?
Topic: globalWarming

Ross Garnaut talks about the 'prisoners dilemma' in the context of his global warming report. He means folks who cheat on their buddy - the other prisoner - who doesn't know whether he will be turned in. Yet if both cooperate and trust eachother (in this case to stay silent) both will have equal advantage from severe penalty.

He means if everyone behaves in a Kyoto style treaty of international cooperation everyone benefits unless someone cheats - like the USA under W Bush, or like India or China growing with dirty energy.

Then there is Professor Peter Singer the famous ethicist on ABC RN this morning and recent book reviews also wondering aloud about the motives for charity to save child lives versus the selfish. Why some do and others don't.

And in popular culture form it's represented in The Dark Knight by the evil Joker holding two groups of people in separate ships wired with explosives. It's a global warming metaphor and perhaps the political aphorism 'disunity is death'. Who will murder the others based on irrational fear to prevent the same to them? Who will cheat? It's Palestine Israel. It's the whole life experience.

All this takes us back to the 1980ies study of evolutionary ecology at the Zoology Dept of the Australian National University. What causes "co-operation" within some species to evolve? (In writing this we are now reminded that "mutualism" refers to co-operation between species.) Why share when the food and other individual goals like breeding or shelter might benefit the individual cheater more, than pulling ones weight? That is advance the one over the many.

Then proceed to complex theories of shared genetics (kin selection) amongst relatives in a flock or mob versus competitors of the same species. And debates over group (or multi level) selection versus individuals in the test of survival of the fittest. Also analysis of external threats, like large carnivores or maybe temperature regulation, and other benefits of co-operation.

All very apt given the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin father of evolution.

........................

Charles Darwin 200th anniversary book launch - Sydney

Location: Law Courts Building, Sydney

Address: Banco Court, Level 13, Queen's Square, 184 Phillip St

Date : Thursday, 12 February 2009

Time : 5:45pm

Website: www.cis.org.au

Professor Dutton will show how Darwin?s evolutionary ideas not only explain the facts of animal and human biology, but have much to say about the moral, intellectual, and artistic lives of human beings. Evolutionary processes tell us why the arts are central to human life across cultures and ages. This provocative lecture will include an opportunity for questions and answers, with Dutton offering radical new insights into both the nature of art and the workings of the human mind.

Who's coming:
Prof. Denis Dutton

........................

The zoologists and behavioural ecologists have trodden this theoretical path and scientific discussion for literally decades. The economists and ethicists might benefit from talking to some serious evolutionary ecologists about co-operation - where it works and where it doesn't.

A caution applies: The story of humanity doesn't really conform to Darwin's evolutionary theories in any neat form. Short sighted people breed all the time. Others also prosper like cripples with a gift for science, or folks lucky enough to get penicillin for child hood ailments.

But the concepts behind analysing co-operation in evolutionary theory might have some lessons to offer yet.


Posted by editor at 9:15 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 2 February 2009 10:58 AM EADT
Al Jazeera on Gaza: Splinter group beyond Hamas control breaks ceasefire? Israel airstrike now
Topic: world

Al Jazeera English reports that Al Aqusa Brigade is outside the unilateral ceasefire decision of Hamas that complements the Israeli unilateral ceasefire.

Radio National ABC just before 8 am carried Mark Regev for Olmert Government on its last legs until the election on Tuesday week - in 8 days. RN says they will talk to a senior Hamas representative tomorrow possibly similar local Sydney time.


Posted by editor at 8:11 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 2 February 2009 9:13 AM EADT
Sunday, 1 February 2009
Fatties Piers Akerman and Michael Moore in sumo death match
Topic: big media

Funny to read son of the empire Piers Akerman getting more strident by the day lashing out against PM Kevin Rudd. Piers in existential angst mode? Interesting to read on wikipedia he was expelled from school in his final year, born in the PNG colony, a baby in India, raised in white supremacist Western Australia.

As colleagues Penberthy and Hilderbrand migrate to the web. As coffee coloured Obama holds the USA Presidency with grace and wit with a team prepped for the next 4 years hard slog. Likely more grey than brown when it's done.

One becomes increasingly aware that big Piers won't make it to the web frontier or even News Corp mark II post Rupert hegemony.

Centre Left governments all over South America. Former PM Howard here booted from his own seat. W Bush in disgrace. Pro Nazi Nationals out of power in South Africa a good 20 years. Europe collectively committed to global warming policies.

Israel's Right increasingly exposed for their murderous double game of domestic torture of Palestinians not least via local aparthied land law and siren song of international victimhood.

As corporate giants of decades long provenance and reputation stagger, then collapse in rubble. Akerman still sings the capitalist free market hymn.

An amusing anecdote last federal election compared Akerman to a Japanese veteran fighting WW2 .... in 1954 ..... ensconced deep in a jungle somewhere on some mosquito infested tropical island. For younger readers that's 9 years after the war ended.

A man who doesn't change even when the world around him does? Bring on the comfort food?

......................

By contrast we have that other committed fatty Michael Moore, obverse of Akerman. We've been catching the pepperoni pizza loving, still clean shaven one, in series 1 of The Awful Truth 1999 (Marrickville Library) filmed in Obama land Chicago Illinios, and even by the 3rd episode some spontaneous insights:

File:Michael moore.jpg

1. The stage set with large tv screen backdrop reprises Academy Award winning Australian Peter Finch's Network political media satire of the mid 1970ies. A forelock tug by Moore surely to the radical tradition of critique of his own mass media industry. A man who respects history and context complete with slogan "People's Democratic Republic of Television" PDRTV for short.

2. This is not some accidental comic. This is 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore' with intellect and humour ... just like Network. Truly comedy can be deadly serious.. This is The Chaser here in Australia exposing the hyperbolic security industry at APEC. This is brave good work: The 30 year old father standing up in the audience to acclaim for getting his pancreas transplant from the stooges at Humana HMO aka Health Maintenance Organisation aka "pure evil" (story 2, episode 1 "Funeral at an HMO").

3. As if to ram home the comparison with Network by episode 3 Moore notes incredulously "We are still on the air" just like Finch's Howard Beale character defied the odds after a nervous breakdown on air:

File:Peter Finch in I Thank a Fool trailer.JPG

4. James Carville turns up in episode 1 as former campaign director of Bill Clinton, called "A Cheaper Way to Conduct a Witch Hunt" regarding Ken Starr's $50 million investigation of Bill Clinton 'to prove old guys have affairs with young women'. Amusingly Michael Moore points out he could tell you that for $50. We recognise home boy of the South, drawling Carville in 2009 on the panel of the Obama election victory CNN coverage of 4 November 2008.

But the joke was on the American electorate and us worldwide as the US Republicans built their shiny platform for a morals candidate in GW Bush for President for the next 8 disastrous years. Never has a democratic president in Bill Clinton f*cking around caused so much deathly grief.


Posted by editor at 11:20 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 2 February 2009 8:27 AM EADT
Misconceived Robbo abuse as Big Govt workers comp 'reforms' pay off big time for Big Insurance?
Topic: nsw govt

Is that the best News Corp ninnies can do yesterday page 4 of the Sydney Daily Telegraph?:

Will former union boss John Robertson run NSW one day? | The Daily Telegraph ...By Joe Hildebrand. January 31, 2009

If you are going to attack now minister in NSW John Robertson MP on ideological grounds at least get your facts and history right.

Regarding the protest pictured above, the NSW budget was under pressure early this century from escalating workers compensation insurance payouts and litigation costs. So the then premier Carr tried to 'reform' the sector. Then union secretary Michael Costa led a strong campaign against weakening workers legal rights only to trade his political capital for a cosy parliamentary pension, and implement the 'reform' as a Cabinet minister and more so later as Treasurer.

Trouble is since then we have seen the HIH collapse with huge social disruption and various convictions for fraud in the insurance/finance sector. Also academics and judges have now spoken out about insurance premiums for workers comp going up while payouts to actual injured workers have gone down while company profits have gone up - alot.

Big Govt and Big Business - quite possibly the same thing - are happy. But is it right?

...............................

Picture: Screen print of a death: Workers are killed and injured in this state every year in the course of earning a living, guaranteed. People who only work in offices tend to forget this reality.

.............................................

This 'reform' has been our own mini Enron, our own whiff of the Madoff and Walls St meltdown. courtesy of Carr, treasury hacks like John Pierce and treacherous Michael Costa. It was a bogus 'reform' deal at the expense of the little people and simply fed the big end of town's insatiable greed.

Fact is the 'reform' was a big business crock of financial and legislative shite.

Robertson as NSW union heavy blockading the gates of NSW Parliament over protection of labour rights has been vindicated on this topic. So this is just more Big Press nonsense. Like the whining over failed energy privatisation in a dead market, which would have destroyed jobs, asset value, state income. Thank heavens it didn't proceed. We are no friend of the ALP but this ideological irrationality and anti ALP tribalism is frankly quite tedious.

See the real financial story below - from the same conservative press 2 years back - with some juicy bits in bold (added except for the first paragraph which is the newspaper's intro). Read this and ask yourself one question - how big were the donations by the insurance industry in NSW and Australia generally to both sides of politics over this period? A good second question: Who in the big parties in parliament got sweet sinecures later on?

Background:

Liability of flawed law reform | The Australian

| April 14, 2007

FIVE years ago, David Ipp proved he was no ambulance chaser. At the height of the insurance crisis, the NSW Court of Appeal judge drew up an instruction manual for state governments on how to end the litigation explosion.

It became the bible of tort reform and led to restrictions on personal injury claims that have slashed the amount of litigation around the nation. Plaintiff lawyers, who lost millions of dollars in potential income, still seethe.

Ipp's credentials on this issue are impeccable. And that is why this judge has just become the worst nightmare for state governments.

Ipp has aligned himself with those who have been arguing all along that tort reform had gone too far.

To lawyers, this is the equivalent of St Peter denouncing the Catholic Church for excessive zeal. If the architect of these changes says they went too far, it gives credence to those who have questioned whether Australia gave away too much in order to solve an insurance crisis of the time.

Ipp's intervention has highlighted the fact that the price of solving that crisis goes beyond the realignment of the civil justice system. It has also handed governments the power to strike out a category of litigation that could expose their incompetence.

One of the reasons public liability insurance was unavailable or unaffordable in 2001 was the withdrawal of many insurance companies from the Australian market. They were struggling under an avalanche of litigation, were losing money and, understandably, had no desire to lose more.

Ipp's 2002 report provided the intellectual framework for the legal changes that enticed them back. But he did not have the last word. The insurance industry had a seat at the table and helped state and federal governments design the new civil justice system. A revolution that began in NSW has spread in varying degrees to the other states.

So while it should come as no surprise that lawyers criticise the system that has cost them a fortune, it is entirely predictable that insurers defend it vehemently. It has put them in clover.

The general insurance industry's return on net assets in the year to last December was a healthy 19.4 per cent. And that was no fluke. The year before it was 21.4 per cent, according to figures compiled by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

Net incurred claims for the year to December were down 5.1 per cent, following a 0.5 per cent rise in 2005.

The Insurance Council of Australia says the changes are "carefully designed and principled". "The reform brought together the fundamental issues of people in the community taking greater personal responsibility for their lives while providing for the needs of the seriously injured," ICA spokesman Paul Giles says.

Even though insurers still pay for most awards of damages, they have greater certainty over their exposure. They are insulated from thousands of small claims that once would have cost them money. And even when injured people win in court, insurers have the comfort of statutory caps on the amount of compensation.

Tort reform has undoubtedly eased the pressure on public liability insurance premiums, which have fallen by 20 per cent. It has also made it possible for the insurance industry to write 610,000 new public liability insurance policies between 2003 and 2005.

The number of civil claims lodged in the nation's courts has been slashed by 75,376 since 2000-01. More than half of that reduction was in NSW, where Productivity Commission figures show civil claims have fallen by 39,959 cases.

But the new system is far from perfect. Rushed and inconsistent law-making has left so many anomalies and loopholes that Ipp and some other judges are clearly exasperated.

The legislators have left a gap in the compensation arrangements of NSW that is big enough for an injured policeman to fall through.

This system also hands blanket immunity to some government authorities, a change that goes beyond the approach recommended by Ipp.

The judge started criticising NSW compensation arrangements in 2005 when he handed down a judgement that said: "The statutes in this state relating to workers compensation and common law damages claims by workers against their employers and others can be described as a hodge-podge. No consistent thread of principle can be detected."

He removed all doubts about his position last month when he addressed a legal convention after crossing paths with former policeman Gordon "Bennie" Ball, who is seeking compensation for psychological injury.

The judge had been obliged by NSW law to strike out crucial parts of Ball's compensation claim, undermining his chances of winning a payout and lumbering him with a legal bill expected to be between $25,000 and $30,000.

This is not the outcome envisaged by former NSW premier Bob Carr when he introduced the first stage of the Civil Liability Act, which is the centrepiece of that state's tort reforms. "There are fundamental rights involved in what we are drafting and no one wants to deprive the genuinely deserving of compensation," Carr told parliament.

Two days after ruling against Ball, Ipp made it clear he did not like what he had been obliged to do. He told a stunned gathering of lawyers in the NSW Hunter Valley that the legislative inconsistency at play in the Ball case had led to "anomalies and unfairness".

He was referring to the fact that Ball, like other long-serving police, is not covered by the statutory workers compensation system, which only gives benefits to injured officers who were employed after 1988.

Ball is receiving a proportion of his final income. But if he wanted compensation for his injury, he would have had little option but to go to court. That would have put him up against the legal immunity the Carr government gave government agencies in the Civil Liability Act.

Ipp told his audience that tort reform had gone too far and those seeking changes had "really good points".

While adhering to what he said in his 2002 report, Ipp said he believed the legislation put in place had gone further "and sometimes much further" than what he had recommended.

He also revealed that two weeks earlier he had criticised the NSW Government for placing government agencies in a privileged position.

"Public authorities are given a host of novel and powerful defences that are in conflict with the notion that the Crown and government authorities should be treated before the law in the same way as an ordinary citizen," Ipp told a conference marking the anniversary of the Australian Law Journal.

"It is difficult to accept that public sentiment will allow all these changes to remain long-term features of the law."

In 2002, when introducing changes to the Civil Liability Act, Carr said he believed that courts should not have the power to determine how a public authority should spend its money. As a result, public authorities were given immunity from all actions concerning the general allocation of resources.

That might sound reasonable. But in practice, the immunity has allowed the NSW Government to dodge the sensational accusations of mismanagement contained in Ball's statement of claim.

Until he retired, Ball had been crime co-ordinator in the state child protection enforcement agency: the pedophile police.

His statement of claim accuses the Government of almost halving the number of police pursuing the state's pedophiles and child molesters in the late 1990s.

In the five years to 2001, the strength of his unit fell from 50 to just 30 officers, Ball's claim says.

Under-resourcing meant his unit had insufficient resources "to adequately carry out its investigations or prosecute pedophiles", it says.

He also claims staff shortages led directly to many investigations being suspended when he believed they should have been pursued. As a result, he claims he had to prioritise every investigation until he retired on medical grounds suffering from guilt, depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

The case has outraged the NSW Police Association.

Association secretary Peter Remfrey accuses the state Government of "hypocrisy" over its handling of the matter.

Instead of testing Ball's claims in court, the Government assembled a high-powered legal team and took him to the Court of Appeal.

The Government's legal team included Crown Solicitor Ian Knight, Paul Menzies QC and barrister Elpi Chrysostomou. They did not challenge the substance of Ball's claim that government negligence had directly caused an injury that forced him to leave the force.

They urged Ipp and the other judges to apply the immunity that rules out claims based on a government authority's general allocation of resources.

The judges found themselves duty-bound to rule against Ball.

By relying on the immunity, the NSW Government might have beaten Ball. His case will need to be re-pleaded on narrower grounds that do not accuse the government of causing his injury by under-resourcing his unit. That will weaken his ability to prove the government was at fault. It could also reduce the amount of any damages.

By invoking the immunity, the NSW Government has pushed the police association into the arms of those who want the immunity abolished.

Remfrey says the government had effectively "legislated themselves out of being liable for their own actions".

He says the police association agrees with Ipp.

"This tort reform has gone too far," Remfrey says. "Why should the NSW Government be able to pass laws making itself immune from the obligations placed on every other employer?

"Police officers are particularly vulnerable under these changes because they are charged with dealing with the implications of shortfalls in spending by all government agencies."

The Law Council of Australia and the NSW Bar Association believe it is time to review the impact of tort reform.

Law Council president Tim Bugg said the fact that the author of the last round of changes believes they have gone too far is a strong reason for calling a second review. "Our starting point is that no wrongdoer should be protected from his or her negligent actions, regardless of whether it is a government instrumentality or someone out in the street," Bugg says.

NSW Bar Association president Michael Slattery QC said any law that gave governments privileges above those of the rest of the community was not sustainable.

"Even worse, why should the community tolerate the suppression of litigation that would have revealed government incompetence and mismanagement?" Slattery says.

"This legislation suppresses criticism of government operations. The Ipp report did not authorise that."

A spokesman for NSW Police Minister David Campbell said details were not available on staffing levels when Ball was still in the force.

As well as appointing 40 extra police to prevent and investigate crimes against children, the Government had increased police powers and introduced new laws to protect children, he said.

Newly appointed Attorney-General John Hatzistergos adheres to Carr's argument in favour of the immunity.

"It is not the courts' function to be determining budgets. That is obviously a matter for the executive government," he said. "We need to ensure that duties of care are observed but that the courts, at the end, are not entrusted with a role of resource allocation in the general sense," Hatzistergos says.

..................................

More from the labour lobby here quoting former Compensation Court judge and former Attorney General Frank Walker:

Workers Online : Legal : 2001 - Issue 95 : View from the Bench

15 Nov 2005

Posted by editor at 10:34 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 1 February 2009 1:18 PM EADT
Saturday, 31 January 2009
Norman Lee father of Ben Lee, a nasty bald headed political raptor expelled by the local ALP
Topic: local news

Some historical 'clarifications' are needed of the Ben Lee cover story in the Good Weekend supplement to the Sydney Morning Herald today regarding his political father Norman Lee. It doesn't behove well to speak ill of the dead especially given one's own alcoholic father was just buried yesterday in Melbourne. But the true nature of Norman Lee the local council politician should be recorded. The truth - not rose tinted. This might also help his son Ben Lee unscramble a bit.

Here's our campaign photo, skinny and hairy, in 1995 with Rosie (medical student) and Lexy (actor) on the successful ticket with about 15 others competing for the last councilor position in Bondi Ward behind Labor and Liberal.

This writer sat 2 seats from Norman Lee for 4 years 1995 to 1999, Cr Peter Moscat (ALP) thankfully between us. That was every Tuesday evening till late and one Saturday a month for 4 years. You knew these people like family members loved or not. Lee was the most loathsome of the 12 councilors plus senior staff around the chamber, not least because of his skills at niggling and undermining of a personal not policy nature. He was an independent for the Dover Heights, Rose Bay, Vaucluse end of Waverley Council. His constituency was in particular the Jewish vote up there.

No problem with that, a significant demographic with an inherent need for democratic cultural representation. He was for most of the next 4 years always an independent aligned personally to Armitage as Mayor for 2 of those years. Apparently he had been booted out of the ALP caucus peviously as unmanageable.

Contrary to the sanitised version in the press today possibly sourced to then mayor Barbara Armitage via journo John Huxley, Norman was an aggressive prick and this was well understood by most councilors.

His clashes with youthful fellow Jewish councilor George Newhouse (in the ALP proper) were often and at times serious. At one point we intervened Gandhi style to prevent a sincere threat of defamation proceedings by Newhouse on Lee over the latter's rumour mongering in their common social networks. This would have infected the reputation of the council and increase friction at meetings already demanding enough. This was not normal politiking, ALP to Liberal or my own Green Party at that time. Lee was a brute and a dinosaur.

From the very first in 1995 Lee took a set against this writer possibly for being a bright eyed idealistic successful Green Party councilor. In reality on many discretionary decisions outside party platforms councilors could chop and change to make shifting and creative alliances. But Lee always spoke against and voted against the Green position if at all possible. It became cliche for to speak in opposition to us far more than any Labor or Liberal councilor cared to or needed to. Indeed he was instrumental in attempting to orchestrate a referral of this writer to the Dept of Local Govt to have us expelled from council for campaigning against the Waterloo Incinerator. Just another example of political bullying.

Some, but by no means all of this conflict with Lee might be explained as normal policy clashes over closure of that facility spewing dioxins. Lee and the ALP under Armitage but not so much now MP, then Cr, Paul Pearce wanted to rebuild it, not closure. It was the closure decision in 1997 by the NSW State Government that saw Paul Pearce take over Armitage's role as leader of the ALP group, the mayoralty and fast track to Ernie Page's seat in Parliament.

Fact is Norman Lee was a nasty little man at Waverley Council 95-99. We always put his abrasiveness down to our position being one of true independence, as an honest broker between the two major parties in a well to do part of the city. By contrast Lee was independent in name only as the crucial last vote keeping Barbara Armitage in power. Never was a mayor more happy than to see Norman return after a serious heart attack late 1997 or so.

True Lee senior was always associated with Norman Andrews House charity for the homeless, and his turf was chair of the Traffic Committee which he did competently. But these were the exception not the rule. More generally he was a brawler and contrarian on his last legs.

A change in tone eventually transpried when he linked arms at a Port Botany picket line against the Patricks Howard Govt takeover of industrial relations. Norman was heard to call the federal Government "fascist" in the council chamber which was surprising given his constant negative attitude to the Greens. He was re admitted to membership of the ALP in his last years of life, possibly on the strength of this renewed loyalty.

Lee made it easier in the end for the Green Party to make a decision to sell off vacant public land for house blocks in Dover Heights - Norman's turf - in order to transfer the income for construction of the new Waverley Library in Bondi Junction. Norman wanted them to be tennis courts to promote outdoor sports, which meant in effect no library. And intrusive floodlights and noisy balls going bop, bop, bop all day or night in a built up area. Ironic therefore to see his name and ours on the same plaque (below). A travesty really of history albeit good unity politics by the Labor machine.

It's true Norman Lee was proud of his son Ben, explaining how he played music from the youngest age at BeeBees bar and lounge when it was on Curlewis St Bondi , now a phone shop if memory serves. To paraphrase John Lee Hooker when a kid has the boogie woogie in him it has to come out.

True Lee senior was entertaining at times, recalling the Liberal Mayor of the 1980ies at a Red Cross charity dinner going from table to table at the end of the function and finishing every leftover half glass of wine. He was an alcoholic and said to be a Force of Darkness for the developer lobby. This was the time of ICAC corruption finding against then director of planning Don Stait pursued to the end by Armitage and Lee providing the muscle for her protection.

For these achievements of throwing out the spiv white shoe brigade at Waverley in the 1980ies when it counted the community can and should be grateful but the vicious grip on power afterwards late 90ies was unhealthy. In 1999 the Green Councilor numbers tripled from 1 to 3, though this writer stepped down for other interests. Richard Davidson as leader of the Liberal Group including now Mayor Sally Betts told us in 1999 if only we had stayed "you would have been mayor" with 3 Green and Liberal votes. A position he of course really aspired to. Ah yes Richard, but then possibly only to end up like Norman Lee.

And how pray tell would that help save the forests?


Posted by editor at 9:29 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 1 February 2009 10:33 AM EADT
Friday, 30 January 2009
Green Senator Milne seeks 2nd pulp mill notch on her belt with referral to ASX and ASIC?
Topic: corporates

For a while now we have held the view that political corruption by Gunns Ltd would inevitably also involve financial deceptions. We assumed it would be flushed out, if ever, by say new rules requiring auditors to answer written questions of shareholders (thank you John Howard!).

But here we read today of alleged failure to disclose correct market sensitive information relating to an expert report. This project has a bad whiff of dead cat about it just like the Franklin River Dam project of the early 1980ies. Another bad project by a bad company.

Green Senator press release follows:

Did Gunns mislead ASX? Full investigation needed immediately

Hobart, Friday 30 January 2009

The Australian Greens are today calling for a full ASIC investigation
into whether Gunns misled the Australian Stock Exchange yesterday.

Gunns yesterday released the Herzfeld hydrodynamic modelling Report,
which Senator Milne has been attempting to obtain since April 2008. In
releasing the report to the ASX, Gunns claimed that Minister Garrett had
approved Module L of their environmental impact assessment, a claim
denied by Minister Garrett this morning.

"In trying to spin their way out of Dr Herzfeld's frying pan, Gunns may
well have landed themselves in a much bigger fire," Australian Greens
Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.

"The ASX must immediately commence an inquiry into whether or not Gunns
misled investors yesterday, and refer the issue to ASIC for a full
investigation.

"The Herzfeld Report is deeply embarrassing for Gunns. It confirms that
Gunns' pulp mill will pollute Bass Strait and will jeopardise the
precious marine environment."

Dr Herzfeld said: 'this creates the possibility for high concentrations
to be carried significant distances from the source and will certainly
reach Commonwealth waters [and the coast] under conducive forcing
conditions.'

Dr Herzfeld goes on to say that, based on criteria prescribed in the
State Pulp Mill Permits 2007 regarding chlorate, Gunns would be in
breach of the conditions 'on an almost daily basis'.

"Gunns has spent the past four years trying to persuade the Tasmanian
community that its pulp mill would not pollute Bass Strait," Senator
Milne said.

"Gunns is clearly trying to spin the Herzfeld report as superseded on
the basis that Minister Garrett has approved Module L, but the Minister
has made it clear that nothing in Module L is set in stone. Minister
Garrett has said that, not only has he not approved Module L, but that
he will not do so until he has all the necessary science in front of him
from the real time hydrodynamic modelling, which will take a further 18
months to be completed.

"Gunns' claim that Dr Herzfeld's report has been superseded is desperate
and misleading spin from a company increasingly on the back foot.

"Far from being superseded, the facts remain that Gunns will dump 64,000
tonnes of effluent, including dioxins, every day into shallow Bass
Strait waters.

"Tasmanians do not want their precious coasts, marine life and seafood
compromised by Gunns' polluting pulp mill," Senator Milne concluded.


Posted by editor at 11:40 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 30 January 2009 12:32 PM EADT

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