« February 2009 »
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Entries by Topic
All topics  «
about editor
aust govt
big media
contact us
donations to SAM
election nsw 2007
election Oz 2007
free SAM content
human rights
independent media
local news
nsw govt
nuke threats
publish a story
zero waste
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
official indymedia
ecology action Australia
ecology action
Advertise on SAM
details for advertisers
You are not logged in. Log in

sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Monday, 9 February 2009
Of bushfire horror, weather and woodchips
Mood:  sad
Topic: aust govt

The ACT fire January 2003 was a giant weather changing locomotive according to reportage of the time: ' Nothing could stop it'. And nothing could stop the political and legal fallout afterward either. Just like after the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires when we were a kid in Warrnambool, or after the 1994 conflagrations in NSW as per the front page stories above.

PM Rudd is down at the affected communities north of Melbourne yesterday with social welfare payments and military mobilisations of heavy machinery. His party political colleague Premier John Brumby is struck silent by grief and shock in front of the microphone and camera.

Back in NSW in the summer of 1993 and January 1994 there was hell to pay for the 700 odd bushfires and handful of deaths. [The Victorian Govt have just announced a royal commission and the terms of reference will be forthcoming.] What followed was a parliamentary inquiry in parallel with a coronial inquiry. Similarly the ACT after 2003 was a legal and political sh*t fight.

We represented The Wilderness Society in 1994 after the previous state campaigner in Sydney Rod Knight was driven off the political arena by attacks of the logging industry across all big media platforms. Rod's main thesis was illegal ignition causing the trouble. But this was howled down 14 years ago. Rod has been vindicated.

In truth he had decided to move on before those shocking early 1994 fires but an innocent submission on closing unnecessary fire trails in New England wilderness far from towns and farms to maintain wilderness values was a pretext for statewide attack by redneck industry and Natioanal Party closely allied to private logging interests. This was hugely ironic as will be demonstrated with a much bigger role in causing wildfire for which they are in denial.

It was timely for a litigation lawyer like us to be handed the reins. We got a 'letter of the week' in The Land newspaper (which now seems to be lost in the dreaded filing system) which appeared in most every regional newspaper in the state exhorting co-operation not division while the fire threat was still underway. This is what people wanted to hear. We listed little towns from north to south where local greenies were pulling their weight as part and parcel of the local bushfire brigade. One bloke from North East Forest Alliance had the local firetruck parked in his driveway as he took the call.

That's what happens in reality in rural and regional areas - left, right, brown, green, people pull together in an emergency because they only have each other. And that's why The Land newspaper, no friend of The Wilderness Society, printed our letter as letter of the week.

We explained why wilderness was a scape goat for threats on the town bush interface and the official statistics proved this. That the real threat factors are:

1. extreme weather - to which we can add global warming drying out the country - including hot days, low humidity and windy conditions;

2. ignition problems with arsonists

3. planning issues of separation and preparation of property near forested country.

This communication strategy was successful. By the time the Inquiries came around where this writer was called to both our attendance was a non event at both. No media flurry, no toxic political attacks from industry. There was no credibility in the attacks.

Even so be assured there will be hell to pay over the deaths of 66 [now 130 plus] people and 700 plus homes in rural and regional Victoria this last horror weekend with the threat to life and property ongoing. Comparison with Ash Wednesday 1983 with several deaths there are being made. Only this is very much worse. Back then we remember as an 18 year old having the chance to fly over areas of the Western Districts of Victoria to determine the location of the ignition. Our father, a local lawyer, was retained to sue the local energy authority or perhaps it was sparks from a farming machine on rocks. Hard to recall.

No wonder Premier Brumby broke down over burns victims in Alfred Hospital yesterday afternoon. Our guess his career is effectively over. As much as NSW is lampooned in the national press, our Bushfire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons - whose own National Parks and Wildlife employee father was killed in bushfire - is an acknowledged safe pair of hands. As was the logistically successful Phil Koperberg, later elected an MP, before him. 'There is no land management agency in NSW that prevents bushfire precautions in NSW' is the testimony of Fitzsimmons only a fortnight ago on the big media. That's the legacy of 1994 speaking.

We still have our big dangerous bushfires in NSW but we also have sky crane helicopters, a military finesse to the organisation of professional and volunteer bushfire brigades, police increasingly aware of arson as a focus, local government planning rules, political resourcing and community level of expertise. No bogus political debate distractions in NSW these days over fire trails in wilderness areas. If they are genuinely needed they are there.

However the logging industry in "production forests" do have some serious questions to answer over landscape changes converting bushfire country into wildfire country.

There is life after bushfire as these pictures indicate from a walk later 1994 in the Colo Heights/Tinda Ck/Mellong area (Six Brothers map) of Wollemi world heritage area with the writer doing the Milo Dunphy thing: This area has suffered another bushfire as we write so we don't recommend an outing like this for quite a while:

Here is our briefing note from the editor's ecology action web pages:

Bushfire science

These diagrams below first presented in 1995 reveal the process of landscape conversion of native forest from moist old growth fire resistant type, derived from their closed canopy, to dry sclerophyl bushfire prone regrowth type.

As long as a moisture rich closed canopy is in place a high density of ground cover remains of moderate risk and tends to break down quite quickly as well.

The most severe process of logging disruption of the closed forest canopy has been going on since the advent of high intensity 'integrated logging' for timber but also high proportion of woodchips especially since the mid 1970ies. This was around the time of the advent of bulldozers, other big machines and modern chainsaws.

Thus even if a small proportion of a forest of say 2 or 3% suffers high intensity logging per year, after 40 years of patchworking, close to 100% of the moist micro climate will have been destroyed along with the broken canopy. It will take maybe a century to re establish the moist old growth closed canopy microclimate across broad areas of forest IF devastating fires don't constantly set the clock back to zero again in a cruel ecological game of snakes and ladders.

That's how grim the situation has become in large areas of forested south east Australia as a result of rampaging logging and greed. Even much contemporary national park has been patchwork logged already prior to reservation in the last 40 years and still to regain closed canopy moisture. Depending on the fire patterns in the future they may never regain that closed canopy and moisture level.

There are many other factors contributing to bushfire such as ignition sources like arson or naturally occuring dry lightning. Climate impact of low rainfall also impacts fire intensity and risk. Ground fuel levels are also very significant.

But what is apparent in the current anxious reflections and research into how best to deal with the impending catastrophic fires of the futre is that the modern logging industry have been getting away with environmental murder that promotes mega bushfires. It all follows from breaching the natural water cycle under a closed canopy:

The diagrams above are based on the following scientific papers:

Cornish PM (1982) The variation of dissolved ion concentration with discharge in some NSW streams, Forest Hydrologist, Forestry Commission of NSW, The First National Symposium on Forest Hydrology, eds. EM O'Loughlin & L J Bren, May 1982,

Rieger W A, Olive L J and Burgess J S (1982) Behaviour of sediment concentrations and solute concentrations in small forested catchments, University of NSW, Department of Geography, FAculty of Military Studies, The First National Symposium on Forest Hydrology, eds. E M O'Loughlin & L J Bren, May 1982

Stokes R A and Loh I C (1982) 'Sustaining Sensitive Wildlife Within Temperate Forest Landscapes: Regional Systems of Retained Habitat as a Planning Framework', pages 85-106 in Ecology and Sustainability of Southern Temperate Ecosystems, eds. Norton T W & Dovers S R, CSIRO 1994.

Wronski E (1993) Tantawangalo research catchments, Change in water yield after logging, Report to the Forestry Commission of NSW, 1st July 1993

Declaration: The editor/author was called as witness to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry, and briefly to the Coronial Inquiry after the summer 1993-4 bushfires, as a representative of the Wilderness Society in NSW.


More background

The public are noticing the intensity of forest fires seem to be greater and to have more devastating effects. Certainly there are many factors involved:

1.climate eg drought, very low humidity, hot winds etc.

2. ground fuel load is significant but notice

(a) closed canopy wet 'old growth' or rainforest is far more fire resistant than a dry sclerophyl eucalypt forest regardless of leaf litter, and dry sclerophyl is being spread like a curse by the woodchipping sector. The wet fire resistant nature of old closed canopy is not our invention: An excellent scientifically referenced booklet called 'Old Growth Forests and their High Conservation Values' was published in Feb 1995 by Taylor, Woof, Thomson with relevant diagrams. We submit this process has contributed disastrously to fire intensity over the last 35 years and could literally take centuries to reverse, short of concreting the lot. No one wants that.

(b) that the high ground vegetation grazing pressure by ground dwelling native herbivores has been greatly reduced as a result of feral predators killing these critters off.

3. arson: A recent Institute of Criminology report late 2004 found up to 9 out of 10 fires are started by arsonists and in NSW the government have taken action to address this. This was the concern of green groups from at least 1993 but largely ignored by authorities until now.

4. escaped logging fires. These are less arson, as negligent land practices. Evidence of these are listed further below.

In the area of fire management the politics of the Carr NSW government are on track compared with so many other land use policy areas ...if one ignores the underlying landscape transforming impact of woodchipping Carr has so far failled to ban: We submit that closed canopy forests have been systematically wiped out in Australia especially in the last 40 years, which has destroyed the natural water cycle and humidity in forest understorey and more generally.

In the environment movement we still hear, not so much in NSW, but from colleagues in Victoria and elsewhere cheap shots at greenies not pulling their weight in rural fire brigades etc. When we last investigated this point in 1994 during during the Black Friday bushfire crisis we learned that 20 or 30 places across regional NSW had greenies in their local brigade ... that rural people invariably pull together whatever their politics.

One fellow in the north east angrily commented he was the driver of the local fire truck and it was in his driveway. The letter I wrote rebutting such nasty cheap political shots was printed in virtually every local newspaper in NSW including letter of the week in The Land newspaper. People were in no mood for cheap smears during such a serious bushfire event. We have no reason to doubt that reality in 2005 and beyond.

Source documents can be found in the following links:

13 Dec 2006 ...Howard?s divisive politics: bushfire green baiting today, dog whistle white supremacism yesterday

April/May 2003...El Grande, Tasmania: fire vandalism by govt logger/regulator exposed by expert botanist

4/2/03... loggers cause fire in Tasmania says Wilderness Society

2/2/03...How the Regional Forest logging 'Agreeements' omitted bushfire effect on volumes

22/1/03... intensity: role of logging old, closed canopy forest over past 50 years

13/5/02...Clearfell logging is making the wet forests of the Otways drier and more fire prone

1/1/02...Koperberg dismisses burn-off, Sydney Morning Herald

1/1/2002... Fire reduction burn offs useless: Daily Telegraph

Jan/Feb 2000...Serious forest fires in the Otways are started by careless logging practices

patchy, rare fire occurrence in wet forests of Otways, Vic

1997....scientific refutation of the 'burn lots and burn often' simplistic approach allegedly used by pre European Aboriginal society

Return to ecology action index page here

Posted by editor at 2:58 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 9 February 2009 7:29 PM EADT
Saturday, 7 February 2009
Bikie club explosion a day after, pedestrians beware cars and bombs!
Topic: local news

We went down to the Hells Angels building on Crystal street roughly 30 hours after the dramatic event early 4th Feb. After the police had gone, the street re-opened, the big media done and dusted. A couple of mild mannered sight see-ers even at 6 am. And a sad sorry neighbouring small business owner arriving early for work, the day after their world went boom.

Some reflective images here:

Posted by editor at 5:04 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 7 February 2009 5:41 AM EADT
Curious case of imploding Board at Addison Rd Community Centre as 3 resign, special meeting 25 Feb
Topic: local news

Picture: A written circular to all tenants, not emailed, perhaps so that the document will not then appear on the SAM local news website. A noticeable absentee is board member and local ALP mayor Sam Iskander. Also notable is abstention of John Reynolds of radical left group Art Resistance, who himself has been the subject of allegations of bullying (by this writer in fact, editor of SAM as ex ARC employee 2003-2007).


As we understand, as a former employee and ongoing friend of the ARC, the president Narelle Mantle and 2 others resigned last Wednesday 4th February 2009. It may be a gender thing as they are all women we are advised.

Given the general manager Yvette Andrews is a famous feminist writer with Meredith Burgmann of The Ernies, also former staffer to Burgmann, we wonder if the age old gender war has resurfaced at the ARC.

Or perhaps as a source writes below it is "amid allegations of nepotism, mismanagement and bad behaviour"

Readers of SAM may recall our regular updates regarding;

- most recently allegation of mild assault of a previous president Don Mamouney;

- Mamouney credited with achieving a 50 year community lease of the 4 ha site in 2003 losing his Australia Council grant funding recently at Sidetrack Theatre;

- strange failure to implement open employment procedures for Yvette Andrews, and allegations of nepotism with employment of her spouse John Blair;

- strange failure to openly tender the huge gallery building to the non profit sector, with current tenant sometimes offering works at $30,000 a pop;

- almost complete absence of financial reporting of various senior tenancies to the public regarding the public land;

- no circulation of board minutes to tenants let alone the surrounding Marrickville community,

- of long time ALP co-option allegations with the current ALP Mayor Sam Iskander on the board.

- bad faith in dealing with grievances over bullying at the ARC;

- effective but controversial previous manager jumped before he was pushed

Even allowing for the usual argy bargy in any community organisation where competing philosophies, level of focus, and differential skills and talent roam free, this is indeed fractious.

One current respected Greens Councilor told us recently they "hate the place".

What indeed is going on, other than tedious, ineffective, sleazy politics? As we always say, transparency is the key to a better future at the ARC. Such a simple concept but amazingly influential.

Transparency - not for shaming or embarrassment or revenge, but for better capacity building, co-operation and unexpected synergy. In short of healthy democracy.

In our 15 years in the sector we know the community sector is an amazing pool of talent. The people already there at the ARC also have immense talents but they are being sabotaged by their own baulkanisation. And that's a systemic thing to maintain an existing power structure. The local ALP in reality. In many cases that existing power structure involves self serving and arguable sweet heart deals for the long term tenants themselves.

There is no guarantee that what comes after will be any different given the precedent set.

Who indeed are the innocent players of good faith here? Transparency is the key.

It's small wonder the ALP got a 10% swing against them at the last local council election. They can blame it on state wide reaction to Wollongong scandal but some new ALP councilors for instance at Leichhardt bucked the trend. So we don't really buy that. We think the voters are well informed on local concerns in the age of the internet and voting accordingly.

For instance it defies belief why Meredith Burgmann is a rump of 1 for the ALP on the Sydney City Council. A source tells us Burgmann presents as bewildered at her council meetings "because she doesn't have anyone to do things for her anymore".


Latest developments

So now we understand last Wednesday 4th February 2009 the Board met and 3 of the 7 members resigned.

The 3 we understand are Narelle Mantle (president ARC, general manager Reverse Garbage), Laurel Draffen (a ring in "community member" from a govt dept: NSW Federation of Housing Associations "Laurel Draffen, Manager - Good Practice Unit"), and Emma Synott ("Emma Synnott, Senior Sustainability Consultant. Arup, Sydney Office"). Arup is a developer.

As one source writes yesterday:

Sent: Friday, February 06, 2009 11:22 PM
Subject: ARC
There is to be a Special General Meeting of the ARC on 25 February. The President and the two community reps have resigned from the board leaving Andrews floundering amid allegations of nepotism, mismanagement and bad behaviour generally at the Centre. An opportunity for some transparency and democracy.

Indeed another source - it's called stock standard democracy folks - forwarded this series of emails about this special general meeting (from most recent, to oldest):

# 1 .............................

Subject: Re: ARC Special General Meeting
Date: Fri, 06 Feb 2009 14:36:50 +1100

Dear Vivi: Thanks for your concern. In calling this meeting
we are hoping to provide an opportunity for all members to
have a say in the development of ARC. As you know I was
instrumental in setting up a Board structure for Addison
Road. The reason I was such a strong advocate of replacing
the old 35 member management committee and executive that
was our governing body until the early 90s was that, among
other things, it was an outmoded and inefficient instrument
that often became bogged down in trivialities and was open
to the kind of corruption that led to the loss of more than
a million dollars in funding and eventually threatened the
Head Lease. Having said that I am not advocating a return to
the older system but I am concerned to ensure that there is
a balance between the necessary executive powers of the
board and that of the membership. Essentially my feeling is
that the Board is there to serve the membership. When we
elect a board we have a reasonable expectation that they
will act on our behalf and in the best interests of the
Centre and that their actions should be accountable and
transparent and that they will employ best practice
particularly in relation to employment practices. Clearly
in recent times these expectations have often been ignored.
We have begun to be addressed and treated as "tenants" ,
minutes have not been circulated and in fact the minutes
have not even been placed in the minute book. (this was
true less than 2 weeks ago). In the last couple of months I
have raised some major concerns with the board and with the
manager which eventually led to me being injured and later
drunkenly abused in a board meeting. This is not the ARC
that we have struggled to build and nor does it represent
the best of what we do here. Following the last board
meeting we have a greatly depleted BOD. We need to get
behind the remaining directors who have the task of
rebuilding the board. This SGM can help. The necessity of
such a process is now more urgent than ever. We need to
restore trust, safety, and good governance and we need to
do so with a generosity of spirit. In calling this SGM, I
think I can speak for the other signatories by saying the
meeting has been called, in a way that we can put negativity
behind us and work openly and creatively towards the future
of ARC. I hope you and all other members will engage with
the process to make it enjoyable, optimistic and



# 2 ......................................

Vivi Koutsounadis wrote:
> Dear Don
> Thanks for the clarification but did members approach the
BOD > requesting a meeting and they refused to hold one. I
think it would > be better if we request them to call a
meeting and if they refuse we > go ahead with the members
meeting. In my view I think we need to > follow a process
of resolving an issues first altogether before > members
calling special meeting. >
> Regards
> Vivi

# 3 ............................................

> ----- Original Message ----- From: "don mamouney"
Sent: Friday, February 06, 2009
12:09 PM > Subject: Re: ARC Special General Meeting
>> Thanks also Vivi: Under section 9.4. Members may call a
sgm provided >> they meet the cost of holding the meeting
>> Regards
>> Don
>>> Dear Don,
>>> Thank you for your message. I am a bit confused about
the process >>> and the the notice you sent for a Special
General Meeting. As I >>> understand it members sign a
requisition for an >>> Extraordinary/Special General
meeting to be held and direct this to >>> the Board of
Directors of the organisation to call the meeting. If >>>
they do not call a meeting within the specified time, then
the >>> members call the meeting themselves. Have members
requested the BOD >>> to hold such a meeting and they did
not? Can you please clarify. >>>
>>> Regards
>>> Vivi Germanos-Koutsounadis
>>> Executive Director, ECCFCSC.

# 4 ..................................................

>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Sidetrack"
>>> To: "Don Mamouney"
>>> Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2009 4:19 PM
>>> Subject: ARC Special General Meeting
>>>> Dear Members: As I indicated in my last email here is a
>>>> requisition for a special general meeting of ARC. The
signed copy >>>> of this was put into your pidgeon hole at
ARC today. Let's make >>>> this meeting an opportunity to
imagine and plan a new ARC. Let's >>>> break out of this
cycle of mistrust, fear and negativity, Let's >>>> talk,
lets imagine new possibilities for ARC in the future. If you
>>>> have any questions please feel free to contact me.

>>>> The best email and number to get me on are as follows
>>>> Regards
>>>> Don Mamouney

# 5............................ (attachment to # 4)

>>>> We the undersigned members of ARC call a Special
General Meeting >>>> of the Addison Road Centre for arts,
culture community and >>>> environment Ltd under 9.4.1 of
the constitution >>>>
>>>> Date and Time 6pm Wednesday February 25
>>>> Place: The Addison Gallery
>>>> Name: Don Mamouney [ principal Sidetrack Theatre, former president ARC and father of new Board structure and constitution: SAM editor]
>>>> Name: Geoff Hague [principal Ultimo Project artist studios: SAM editor]
>>>> Name: Ridvan Manov [principal Turkish Welfare, martial arts expert/teacher, tenant 20 years plus: SAM editor]
>>>> Purpose of Meeting: To pass resolutions towards a new
Strategic >>>> Plan for ARC
>>>> Preamble: It is now many years since ARC went through a
thorough >>>> planning process. The underlying intention of
calling this meeting >>>> is to set in motion a process
through which all ARC members, >>>> including associate
members and members of Centre groups will be >>>> able to
contribute to the future development and direction of the
>>>> Centre through the creation of new Five Year Strategic
Plan. >>>>
>>>> We would like to see a plan emerge from the process
which is able >>>> to provide a management framework
through which ARC can better >>>> serve the membership and
the broader community through improved >>>> management and
communication practices; and a planned process of >>>>
development and maintenance of the grounds buildings and
activities >>>> of the Centre.
>>>> Motion
>>>> 1.1 That ARC develop a new Five Year Strategic Plan.
>>>> 1.2 The new strategic plan should include all aspects
of the Centre >>>> including but not limited to our
Cultural and Community mission, >>>> aims and objectives;
grounds planning, traffic management and >>>> buildings
maintenance and development; management and staffing >>>>
needs, employment procedures and principles, leasing policy,
>>>> sustainability and environmental practices; governance
issues, >>>> budgeting and financial reporting and the
rights and >>>> responsibilities of members.
>>>> 1.3 And that the process of creating the plan include
the >>>> employment of an independent Facilitator to
assist the process and >>>> presentation of the new plan.
>>>> 1.4 And that this meeting approves a budget of up to
$30,000 >>>> towards the planning process
>>>> 1.5 And that the Five Year Plan must be approved by the
full >>>> membership in a specially called meeting or
meetings. >>>>
>>>> 1.6 And that this meeting elect an organising sub
committee to >>>> oversee the development of the plan and
that the subcommittee be >>>> made up of 2 ARC member group
board members, 3 members, not >>>> currently board members
, and 1 associate member. >>>>
>>>> Access
>>>> 1.7 And that should the Strategic plan subcommittee or
the >>>> facilitator need access or copies of any papers,
contracts, >>>> budgets, financial records or documents for
the purposes of >>>> reviewing current and past practices
of the company that access and >>>> copies be freely
provided. >>>>
>>>> Costing and Prioritising
>>>> 1.8 And that in order that development and planning
instruments can >>>> be prioritised within the Centre's
budget frame work that all >>>> agreed to development
proposals be fully costed. >>>>
>>>> 1.9 And that development, planning instruments and
policies be >>>> prioritised
>>>> Time Frame
>>>> 1.10 And that this meeting adopts the following
time-frame >>>> guidance for the completion of the plan
noting that the final >>>> time-frame will be influenced
by the availability and methodology >>>> of the
Facilitator. >>>>
>>>> March/09: Organising sub committee Call for expressions
of interest >>>> from prospective Facilitators, shortlist,
interview and contract a >>>> Facilitator
>>>> May/June/09: Facilitator conducts a series of planning
meetings >>>> with the Centre membership. With a draft plan
sent to members by >>>> June 30. Members feed back on draft
plan >>>>
>>>> July/09: Special General meeting of membership to
approve plan >>>>
>>>> Moved by... Don Mamouney
>>>> Seconded by... Geoff Hague

Posted by editor at 3:25 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 7 February 2009 5:02 AM EADT
Stimulus II: Unemployed given a fortnight's grace on paperwork as Centrelink prepares the giveaway?
Topic: aust govt

Being self employed, and underemployed and unemployed lawyer, and don't forget 10% GST payer, we do the fortnightly Newstart thing. Being a rabble rouser and political analyst we don't, as Senator Fielding diplomatically puts it, have prospects of employment for the next 2 years.

Indeed we feel a bit like Jack Mundey who legend has it was black listed by the NSW Government for being too effective. Paranoia aside, we do our best. Yesterday our Google Adsense monthly income figure was derisory so there's not much prospect of eating off that. Just as well we don't drink, smoke or gamble, and like cycling and growing vegies.

On the other hand we are in the market for investors in social capital who want to promote community media and ecological awareness. Stay tuned.

So yesterday we telephone the good and wise Centrelink general information number because for the first time ever we received two fortnightly forms, one cancelled the form due 10 Feb 2009, saying lodge for the period 28 Jan to 24 Feb on that day. That is skip a fortnight. Now we wondered did that change our cash flow and was re-assured, no worries, the payment on 10 Feb 2009 was made automatically. No paperwork until later. No questions.

That's quite a coincidence given the huge ructions in federal parliament over an unprecedented give away, and we wonder if Centrelink are preparing for the overload of work coming it's way implementing Stimulus II, as amended by the Senate.

Posted by editor at 3:06 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 7 February 2009 4:53 AM EADT
Friday, 6 February 2009
SAM live work office space looking for new home by 14 April 2009
Topic: independent media

Picture: Non digital SAM files, aka bed base.

Our live work base has never been so pleasant. The pumpkin patch is going gangbusters. The back shed is functional churning out repaired items. The neighbours are putting out the bins. And quiet. The co-joined backyards are flowering. The washing machine hasn't needed a fix for months.

We hear above the rampart that the global financial emergency is a chance for re-organisation. The glass is half full. I'm an optimist. Seize the day. Etc etc. Which is how we take the news yesterday of having to move. We have got a little bored here after 2 1/2 years on a rediculous $120 a week. Our last move found this great place so maybe it can happen again. And the thing about a web focused publishing operation is that it doesn't really matter where you are located. However what to do with 5 filing cabinets? Mmm. True we will miss the local shopkeepers. That's a bit sad.

SAM website is looking for our next home base. We issued this yesterday test the social capital out there:

Call for expressions of interest to start a greenie share house somewhere close by.

So much for the federal stimulus package ? my place is now being renovated by the owner and I?m looking to reboot by 14 April 2009. That?s just after Easter. If you are quiet, responsible, into composting, smoke somewhere else or not at all, and have at least $100 a week to contribute and four weeks bond I?m interested.

I?m a dedicated media/political analyst, web publisher, non smoker or drinker, lawyer, vocational activist, into Gandhi philosophy, cycling, enthusiastic repairer and gardener, fit and strong 44 years.

Tom McLoughlin tel. 02-9558 9551, 0410 558838,

Editor, owner www.SydneyAlternativeMedia.com/blog 27,500 readers per month

It's a snakes and ladders sort of existence this freelance web publishing thing. On the ladder: This last month was our highest readership at 27, 500 readers in January 09. Also we noticed via self referential google we are top of the namesakes ahead of a resort operator and a shlock Hollywood film director, and other assorted paddy cashed up New Yorkers.

We emailed the five local Green Party councilors yesterday with some news about this federation red brick pile with 8 little units, including our one room jobby, two windows, kitchenette:

Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2009 3:28 PM
Subject: Looks like the SAM home has to move by April 14th
Just got a call from the real estate agent saying the new owner Peter Tamvakeras has targeted my particular one room unit for renovation. So my two and a half years of good luck is running out. What a shame with a nice shed and garden here.
My guess he wants to get the best organiser out before he moves on to the other low income tenants. The frontage has a heritage listing apparently.
If you get any leads on cheap places, or decent share situations, even ratty ones that can be fixed up, provided they are fairly quiet and safe, please let me know.
I have a computer and 5 filing cabinets to house. This is the nerve centre of the www.sydneyalternativemedia.com/blog
with 27,500 readers last month.

Will keep you posted.

Yours truly, Tom McLoughlin,
tel. 0410 558838, 9558 9551

Our buddy the Vexatious Litigant has a good 2000 model stationwagon he can loan us for SAM's haulage. And two spunky friends, Japanese Geisha and Russian Doll needing a share. We hear there are ructions at Addison Road Community Centre which might be a window, our natural home, but siting there could be a big hassle! We have some good experience of handyman repairs and building management. Maybe we should buy a dump leveraging the Rudd Govt giveaways for first home owners and the Maverick Conveyancer? The Accountant might have some ideas how to.

Which reminds us better get the 07-08 tax return in after all, possibly via the friendly Tax Agent.

Heaven knows some kind guiding spirit has floated us every other time, possibly due to karma banked, (despite critics, and slick real estate agents desperate to keep a client by ringing every last dollar out of a tired old place.) Bring on the stimulus!

Posted by editor at 4:52 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 6 February 2009 6:30 AM EADT
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?"


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

Newer | Latest | Older