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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Sunday, 22 February 2009
Sunday political talkies: Shadow play beyond light of a hellish megafire
Topic: big media


This is not a well packaged story. It?s a contemporaneous traverse of the Sunday television free to air political talkies indicating the agenda of Establishment interests: Better to know ones rivals and allies in Big Politics and Big Media.

For actual transcripts and/or video feeds go to the programme web sites quoted including Riley Diary on 7. And note transcripts don?t really give you the image content value.

Media backgrounders

National day of mourning for bushfire victims.

10 Meet the Press: 8- 8-30 am

Wayne Swan as treasurer, Hartcher and Schubert on the panel. Boilerplate.

Brumby, as Vic Premier, at one point very contemplative. A Saul moment in his life.

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

Riley Diary 7, from 8.30am

Very amusing theme about shadows in the Liberal Party re Costello intentions.


9 Sunday newshour Laurie Oakes interview 8.40 am



Insiders 2: 9- 10am

Panel is K Middleton, Meglo and chubby Blair.

Feature interview is new shadow treasurer Joe Hockey. Go on a diet Joe.

Vox pop in WA re J Bishop stepping down.

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

Inside Business ? 2 at 10am

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

Posted by editor at 10:18 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 22 February 2009 10:27 AM EADT
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
'Taking out the trash' in the wake of unprecedented bushfire tragedy
Topic: aust govt

Australian politics and maybe even business are noticing the vacuum for broad media coverage of diverse subjects in the wake of an unprecedented megafire mass fatality in Victoria.

We have made a mental note of various items that look to be what the West Wing tv series refers to as Taking out the Trash - negative stories power players prefer don't have too much coverage. Not a cover up as such but a deliberate playing down via juxtaposition with a much bigger problem:

* NT Minister Marion Scrygmour (forgive the spelling) has chucked in the towel up there.

* PM Rudd officially admitted the delay in Sorry Day annual reportage meant to be on "the first day of parliament" which didn't happen. But no worries Kev, $42 billion stimulus and a global recession sort of explains the distraction which applies to our Black brothers and sisters as much as anyone.

* Today we have Brendan Nelson and Julie Bishop, the former bailing, and latter shifting sideways perhaps to have a sisterly natter with Hils (US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, for whom pioneering blogger Matt Drudge held a symbiotic relationship). To our eye Julie Bishop not only resigned in a classy presentation but actually manifested relief from the shackle of recession style economics grind. Horses for courses has resonance provided it can be done with dignity.

No doubt we will gather more of a list for the 'taking out the trash' decisions in the backplay of this horror fire tragedy. To illustrate the media effect - 50 people die in a spectacular plane crash in a suburb in the USA - one story on the nightly news and gone. Potentially a story for every airport here. Compare with days of skillful, maybe lucky, landing on the Hudson river which got days of coverage. At the risk of grim cliche the megafire through Victoria killing 200-300 is sucking the oxygen out of other news stories and expert pollies and their media minders are working off that reality.

Not so much cynical as realistic. They might even allow a bit restructuring without needless shallow gotcha or undue humiliation. And if have been under done unlike the 90ies these less newsworthy events are still searchable via google - that great cyber archive in the ether for when things settle back to a semblance of normality.

Except in the age of climate change that's a semblance only of a changed reality with mega fire every 5 to 10 years now. God have mercy.

Posted by editor at 9:39 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 17 February 2009 11:18 AM EADT
Victoria Bushfires: Royal Commission, big media to report redneck loggers steering forests into megafire?
Topic: big media

Picture: 1995 info sheet in the Telegraph in a time when Big Media were in denial over the role of arson in bushfire criminality. Hence the juxtaposition of Red Head advert. In January 1994 Rod Knight of The Wilderness Society Sydney Office named arson as the main cause of the blazes across the state but was howled down by loggers and Big Media. This writer took up the reins at TWS from then for 2 years. Knight has been vindicated over the role of arson ever since, with no apology to date.

Yesterday avowed climate change denier Piers Akerman condescended to provide advice from his tabloid bullypit to Royal Commissioner Teague.

Perhaps he assumes the retired respected judge moonlights from the broadsheets in his media consumption down there in Victoria. Our old man may he rest in peace - a good mate of Justice Bernard Bonjiorno - used to scan all the press, trash or otherwise and maybe that's where we got our habit too, so maybe Akerman is right. Our dear old dad helped take instructions on the case against a power company back in 1983 Ash Wednesday fires near Warrnambool as a then partner of Madden & Co solicitors.

This is what Judge Bonjiorno decided back in 2000 regarding Akerman soulmate and climate skeptic Andrew Bolt at sister paper Herald Sun also very prominent offering advice on bushfire causation:


Victoria's Deputy Chief Magistrate Jelena Popovic has won libel damages of $246,500 and costs. Ms Popovic sued the Herald Sun, Melbourne, over an article written by Andrew Bolt and published on 13 December 2000. Bolt claimed she had hugged two drug traffickers and bullied a police prosecutor. A jury had found the article was untrue, unfair and inaccurate and had defamed the magistrate. In making the damages award in the Victorian Supreme Court, Judge Bernard Bongiorno criticised Bolt and the Herald Sun for attempting to put a favourable "spin" on the damages claim before it was decided and for comments Bolt made outside the court following the jury's verdict. The Herald Sun will appeal the Supreme Court's decision (Australian, 7 June 2002, p.3)

in Australian Newspaper History Group Newsletter July 2002 [pdf]

And so we think we might offer some lines of inquiry too. First we would refer to our previous articles here outlining the 50 year history of the loggers rationalising and covering up their key role in destroying fire resistant forest types: The programme to log rainforests, which then gave way to destruction of wet old growth forests. Now most of these landscapes in their tenure are miserable skinny dry sclerophyll forests that are immensely flammable.

Turbo charge that with a succession of 45 degree days and hot north wind, and climate driven drought, and you have not only bushfire and wildfire, but also megafire. 4 Corners last night was very eloquent in describing that megafire scenario if not all the ingredients. We know in 1994 weather was blamed by the inquiries as the main causation too. There were some other clues on 4 Corners- a reference to remnant "wet forest" types in Victoria by one observer so appealing to local residents. We can be sure Royal Commissoner Teague did watch that. And almost certainly Media Watch afterwards. That's the A1 ABC audience demographic unlike the ranting of Piers Akerman at the Daily Telegraph (with honourable exceptions like Laurie Oakes, Clair Harvey too).

If only that wet forest type was 90% of the forest estate and not now less than 10% thanks to the logging industry. Thanks to the dominance of financially conflicted foresters in our public forests.

Media Watch picked up the generally very good but also at times flawed media industry effort this last week: And refugee from the Sydney Daily Telegraph - now with the broadsheet Sydney Morning Herald - Miranda Devine was singled out for "hatemongering" based on ignorance. A theme we mentioned yesterday via Lord of the Flies allusion.

How long before the legal representatives of victims and their families, Big Media, Royal Commission and ALP governments, and greenies themselves, in South East Australia consider the land tenure history of forest conversion to dry sclerophyll. A history since mechanisation over the last 50 years in nearby state forests as the source of the firestorm? Of the systematic liquidation of rainforest and wet old growth forest intrinsically fire resistant? Of a firestorm, aka red steer, or more accurately red "tsunami", out of landscape wide dry sclerophyll. Converted by logging from wet Old Growth and rainforest contrary to all the protests of greens everywhere. Who constantly bang on about destruction of mature forests as bringing on dangerous climate change and extreme weather events.

No wonder the National Association of Forest Industries are calling for a bushfire summit. Their whole method of operation is under severe scrutiny now. As it must be. The path of the fires and the land tenures do not lie.

How long before the 'timber' industry - actually mainly mining forests for woodchips - is revealed as the main culprits of firestorms in modern day forests, as per the statistics out of the NSW 1994 bushfires? When 200-300 people are killed as now in Victoria one can be sure that all policy stones will be upturned and considered and that's why we make our submissions here with 15 years of policy experience on forests including zoology degree from ANU, and law degree from there too.

Posted by editor at 7:24 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 17 February 2009 8:39 AM EADT
Monday, 16 February 2009
Victorian bushfires: Select redneck media ignore moisture element to protect their logger mates from blame?
Topic: aust govt

Picture: Skinny dry sclerophyll regrowth as pictured here burns intensely. How much of this was once wet old growth and semi rainforest - and therefore fire resistant - until the logging industry started in with intensified mechanisation of chainsaw and bulldozer up to 50 years ago? Less than 10pc of wet forest types remain due to logging policies.

Very revealing to see select big media bigots parade their falsehoods in the wake of an unprecedented bushfire tragedy.

Andrew Bolt has been frothing with this most recent column determined to create a wedge between the G/greens and respected veteran Barry Cassidy of the ABC:

One nasty redneck dissembler is here in the string:

FOEHN replied to strange days indeed
Sun 15 Feb 09 (02:22pm)

Look on the SMH letters page from Friday, 13 February. Some clown from the Friends of the Earth is advocating no burns, no fuel reduction in the forests.

But that letter said the exact opposite as copied and posted here on SAM elsewhere (at the end of the article). That's an evil and cynical attempt at dis-information.

Indeed Bolt's articles have a comment string that read like Young Liberal brown shirts holding a branch meeting and frothing and lacing up steel cap boots. Honest debate is not really the purpose. It's adolescent testosterone filled rambling. Ironic since Bolt once referred to lefties as "kindymedia". Seems he runs a kindy of sorts too. Or is that Lord of the Flies?

What is most galling, and probably evil, is that the advocates and allies of the logging industry, especially from ex forester bushfire experts, is the dishonesty over how we got to this situation: A 50 year systemic process of conversion of wet old growth semi rainforest types into dry sclerophyll eucalypt in the name if not reality of logging for timber, and since the 1970ies especially virtual mining for export woodchips. A situation most likely irreparable by any natural means in terms of wet forest type.

Today we have a landscape wide drying out not in just one or a few areas, but across whole landscapes and regions. This is a bushfire scenario (mechanism via diagrams explaining how here) decades in the making with or without constant fuel reduction via prescribed burning. Indeed in hot dry windy weather this dry sclerophyll bushfire becomes wildfire in the crowns. Now with climate induced rainfall reductions and drought (as per the CSIRO report of July 2008 reference) we are experiencing dry sclerophyll wildfire as megafire.

The reduced rainfall works in two ways. The fuel is not only dry and therefore more flammable, but there is more of it because the forest floor doesn't reduce by natural decay (eg fungi, moss, lichens and native critter foragers). Water limits all processes of life just like a composter at home in the garden.

It would be a whole lot easier to read such as Piers Akerman, Miranda Devine and Andrew Bolt who are ideological and bigoted if there was more honesty about their allies in the logging industry region wide determination to liquidate wet old growth and rainforest areas over decades. Particularly since mid 20C mechanisation of chainsaw and D9 bulldozer and high volume export woodchipping (now at 8 million tonnes a year) from native forest.

Akerman in particular today repeats this hoary old chestnut today at page 10 of the Sydney Daily Telegraph (offline):

"Every basic firefighter is taught the "fire triangle" - its three components are fuel, oxygen and heat source. / No-one can do much about the oxygen factor, it's almost everywhere, [sic] fire sources roughly fall into two categories - deliberate or accidental - which leaves fuel. / Demonstrably, it is the only factor over which a level of control can be exercised through controlled reduction."

Trouble is like expert Rob Incoll today in the Sun Herald this is wrong, via the same limited equation. The fourth factor as explained in our headline is moisture, including humidity. We submitted a comment but suspect it won't get in:

"You say as a forester:
"A fire needs fuel, heat and oxygen to burn./ Fuel is the only factor that can be altered. "

No. Fire also needs absence of moisture. And low humidity helps alot too. You left that out, and I suggest it's for this reason. Your industry as with illegal logging [of rainforest] at Dingo Creek, and smashing of semi rainforest at Goolengook, have been transforming the wet old growth forest types to dry sclerophyll [for 50 years]. That's the brutal truth. Time to be honest.

So now how to deal with the spilt milk? Fuel load can be managed in various ways. One I'm interested in is the Walmsley/Earth Sanctuary high concentration of native critters behind feral proof fences. That might be of interest to the inner ring of Kinglake West or similar. My understanding the firestorm came from middle ring farmland, and outer ring State Forest. True?

Now that our forest estate is down to less than 10% of the wet forest type (as per a 1993 scientific paper by then Dr now Prof Tony Norton of ANU Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies) the loggers are responsible for creating a landscape wide problem. The loggers' spilt milk, but now our society's/governments' and G/greens problem. Thanks for nothing, rednecks.

The loggers and their friends do have a point about attention to fuel reduction in buffer zones especially close to homes. Too bad their land use policies in the loggers' own state forests and plantations didn't change the outcome in Victoria. Or on farms with their long grass. At least as we understand it that's the land tenure where these fires got the firestorm run up like a lethal Geof Thompson bouncer.

Even better to not create the problem in the first place. Yet the last wet old growth forest types are still being logged in Australia every day including in East Gippsland Victoria. In preparation for the next megafire. Thanks for nothing rednecks.


Posted by editor at 8:31 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 16 February 2009 10:55 AM EADT
Sunday, 15 February 2009
Sunday political talkies: Bushfire pall of loss, pain, confused anger and guilt despite $42 billion stimulus
Topic: big media


Picture from Fairfax press of the farmland surrounding the badly hit towns of Kinglake West and Kinglake, which fire break did not protect from a firestorm that originated on farm, plantation, and state forest for logging.

Author's general introductory note

This is not a well packaged story. It's a contemporaneous traverse of the Sunday television free to air political talkies indicating the agenda of Establishment interests: Better to know ones rivals and allies in Big Politics and Big Media.

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

Media backgrounders

*Andrew O'Keefe proves his worth with one comment about 'cool Greg Brady with his lava lamp'.

* Laurie Oaks homes in on Gary Nairn fairly politicized bushfire inquiry frozen out by the ALP states, not least NSW which had done most of the hard work since 1994 in policy adaptations.

* Steve Price Sydney Sunday Telegraph declines the greenie bashing blame game unlike a certain opinion writer colleague based in a sister paper in Melbourne. Price here, and we heartily concur:

A bit too early to point fingers | The Daily Telegraph By Steve Price. February 14, 2009

10 Meet the Press: 8- 8-30 am

Inner Melbourne MP Lindsay Tanner as Finance Minister on stimulus 2 rationale re lurch of nation into debt. Speculations about Shadow Treasurer. Looking fatigued and sad too.

Out take with MP for McMillan Russell Broadbent emotional speech on bushfire impact with Wilson Tuckey MP asleep/unmoving for 30 second grab.

Panel on the couch new set, Jennifer Hewitt and Milne news corp.

Milne quotes ABN Amro critique of not economy building. Tanner disagrees firmly.

JH raises pressure on maternity leave. Missed answer deliberate droning (?).

PB- going to call an election early by end of this year?

2nd out take Moir cartoons.

Second guest Dr Damon Muller, criminologist, lack of research. Needs to be in the Royal Commission. Cost of $1.6B per year from arson, that includes structural value.

When it comes to bushfire hard to value heritage loss, tackling will free up resources a lot.

Crime reduction to monitor known arsonists. Other states follow South Australia example. Bureaucratic infighting question.

Younger males of lower socio economic, quite likely from the same area for familiarity and escape from fire. This is rich best part of the interview and very valuable info.

Q, fair line of inquiry from JH re arson as scapegoating re other policy failures natural bushfires. Agrees only one part of the solution. Anger of public noted.

Out take shows journos pursuing the conversation.

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

Riley Diary 7, from 8.30am

Bushfire round up, upset pollies, Rudd hugs, Gillard, Broadbent as ex fire crew at Beaconsfield, upsetting just to write a report here. Ends on the point "mass murder".

Q&A Riles says voice of the people wavered, cracked, etc. Very difficult of the parliament regarding laws, but also voice of the nation.

Q re playing politics? Govt stumbled stimulus linked to this package. Reasonable to link to public housing and relief, but seen as threat to those undecided vote.

Notes Xenophon incredible success as independent in making a deal.


9 Sunday newshour Laurie Oakes interview 8.40 am

Julie Gillard as deputy PM. Looking fatigued and sad. Q re federal govt role. Recovery Authority being set up.

Criticism of state govt re factors, clearing vegetation around homes, hazard reduction of national parks, building and planning rules.

Says extreme yes, but extreme weather huge and unprecedented event. Not about laying blame, about bringing people together.

LO - host of inquiries. Same recommendations. Disagrees everyone will want to hear this RC and nationally will want to see action. [misconception in question that it?s all the same - but it's not]

LO re fires in 5 states including ACT [that last one is the real escalation] not acted upon, why not?

JG - can't speak for the past.

Topic moves on to the stimulus package.


Insiders 2: 9- 10am

Panel - KA Walsh, Sun Herald Sydney Fairfax, Atkins Qld Courier Mail news corp, Bolt Melb Sun Herald news corp,

Bolt hammers lack of hazard reduction, Barry Cassidy draws him back to hazard reduction around the towns impacted not just the forest [perhaps realizing it's not conservation reserves that carried the firestorm.

Minister Jenny Macklin interviewed about how to rebuild.

Film grab of PM Rudd praising MP Bailey for being out in the electorate, highly marginal seat.

Fran Bailey MP for McEwen covering most of the impacted area. Focused on the future. How to rebuild. Get communities involved in that. Refers Bolt on fuel reduction. "Enormous area" to address she says.

[Consider this comment by "Mark of Moorabin" on an Andrew Bolt Melbourne Sun Herald blog of 12 Feb 2009

Just in case it escaped anyone's attention, a repost from yesterday's article on the fires:

There is a 150 meter wide "fire break" (under the high tension power lines) about 2km north west of Kinglake.

Crown fires create sheets of flame hundreds of metres wide that speed up hill at furious speed and spot kilometres ahead.

In 2008, an area of approximately 8 square km was burnt as a fuel reduction measure. This area is approximately 1 km north west of Marysville.

So, did your firebreak and fuel reduction burn work?

What are you gonna do now, cut down all forests? Replace them with plantations that are even more flammable? Even houses in the middle of paddocks were burnt out. But you just keep denying everything that?s going on with the climate despite all the evidence that is clear to the rest of us as that ugly red nose on your face.

I am also distressed by these events but I cannot sit back and let people exploit the emotional sensitivity and desperation of the moment to push half-baked and ignorant agendas that will lull people into a false sense of security.

In Victoria, these conflagrations are, and always will be, inevitable.


[same reader with later comment which does look quite instructive]

How about some more facts instead of emotional outbursts?

Kinglake fire:

Fire started with powerline in cleared farmland.

Then hit pine plantations and jumped Hume Hwy.

Back into farmland.

Hits more plantations.

Back into farmland with pockets of forest.

(all privately owned so far)

Fire enters publicly owned forest that is managed for timber production (featuring lots of clear-fells and regrowth).

HitsKinglake National Park. Mainly `39 regrowth with some old growth.

(back into privately owned land)

Exits park and hits more plantations.

Enters more farmland with scattered trees and pockets of bush scattered with houses.

Hitting, en route, Clonbinane, Wandong, Humevale, Kinglake West, Strathewen, Kinglake and jumping a 150 metre powerline fire break.

So where does the fuel reduction help here?

It's a beat-up. Fuel reduction will not stop bushfires and, as I have shown with earlier comments on Marysville, is of limited value. Even with fuel reduction burns the bush will still monster up like last Saturday.

The myth and misinformation you are pedalling will only result in a false sense of security leading to more disasters of this kind. That?s more children, women and men who will eventually die if reactionaries gain any purchase over public policy. It?s populist drivel.

As for David "eco-terrorists waging jihad" Packham, Athol Hodgson and Peter Attiwell, they are fossilised '39 relics who need to move with the times and stop grandstanding. Once things have settled down, I expect that plenty of experts with both sensitivity to the moment and a more considered approach to the science will make their cases.

Now, how about looking at some of the facts instead of shrill and emotional, ill-informed rhetoric?


Notes the kindergartens and schools were out on Saturday but that would have been incomprehensible.

BC notes "pity" about class legal action story arising so early (why?) [over a electricity pole and 1 km snapped power line and whipping the ground in the high wind and sparking on the ground.]

Everyperson segment - Q re politicians performance, response of victims showed they were appreciated.

Senator Brown notes fear of question time by major parties quarreling at time of a national tragedy.

Discussion of linking bushfire with stimulus package. Panel and implied gallery see it as despicable.

Senator Xenophon looking better slept. Argues money brought forward [but in a deficit that's priority over money that doesn't exist.]. Got 900M not 4B still effective relying on experts.

Bolt says 35B deficit on measures won?t help us pay it back.

[This is very arguable, less congested city economically more efficient, less health costs from cooler homes with oldies dying in summer, other economic benefits to account for? Tanner contests the point.]

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

Posted by editor at 12:19 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 15 February 2009 3:46 PM EADT
Saturday, 14 February 2009
Victorian bushfires: Jill Redwood responds to Barry Bullsh*t pandering to logger theories
Topic: aust govt
Jill Redwood, convenor of Environment East Gippsland, featured in Woman's Day and other popular media, and who has lived in the heart of forested country in East Gippsland at Goongerah for decades writes as follows:
Sent: Saturday, February 14, 2009 11:28 AM
Subject: [chipstop] Planet rapers fire picnic

Whoever saw/heard the 7.30 show on fire last night .....Below are some points that have already been sent through this week by various people, but are again resent for reference if needed.

* The Greens do not have a policy that advocates no fuel reduction burning - but a more scientific approach. They have never made a campaign out of this. Similar policies are held by environment groups in general.

* How after 12 years of drought and the recent mega fires and a policy of so much fuel reduction burning, do we get the claimed record levels of fuel? But how do you control a fire under the following circumstances?

  1. Temperatures where there hottest ever recorded at 47 degrees.
  2. Relative humidity in single figures and winds constantly hitting 100kmh.
  3. A 12 year drought.
  4. 1ml of rain in 6 weeks.
  5. The previous week had a run of 5 days each over 40 degrees. Unheard of.
1) Much of the fire burnt most intensively through dry forest. On the Modis fire satellite image, the fire appears to have burnt these forests most intensively, whereas the wetter forests are patchy. The towns of Marysville, Kinglake and St Andrews are surrounded by these drier forest types, where we see the highest levels of devastation.

2) These fires burnt very aggressively in plantations. The Churchill fire burnt through large areas of plantations. These are intensively managed for wood production, with no understorey or fuel loads, yet these burned very intensively.

3) Around Whittlesea, Wallan and East Kilmore, much of these fires burnt through long grass on farmland. The argument of forest protection around these areas is irrelevant, given that these areas are cleared farmlands and had very little forest areas upwind on Saturday.

4) The fire on Mt Riddle was ignited by a lightning strike and burnt the northern slope. At the beginning of last year, the DSE/Parks Victoria lit a large control burn on this slope, of which it even scorched the crowns of the eucs. This control burn did not prevented the ignition and spread of this fire into Healesville and surrounding forest.

5) Many of these fires have started on either private land or non-forest areas (ie the fire that burned over Mount Disappointment). The only fire at this stage to have started in National Park was the Mt Riddle Fire.

6) Large fire breaks had been cut through Mt Disappointment bounding the Wallaby Creek water catchment. This is 'active management', yet they were useless in preventing the fire from spreading from the state forest into the protected Wallaby Creek catchment.

7) It is suspected that the fires west of Mt Disappointment and Yarra Glen, along with Churchill, were deliberately lit. This is a case of managing 'people' rather than forests.

8) These fires are being intensified by a rapidly changing climate. Scientific models developed by the CSIRO have predicted that high fire danger days are going to increase dramatically with increased greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere.
9) Scientific studies around the world indicate that highly disturbed ecosystems are more vulnerable to the climate crisis than less disturbed ones.

* The Kilmore fire started on the edge of a farmland, was not catchable, ripped through plantations and across huge firebreaks like the Hume freeway and strategic breaks. It had burnt around the farmland trapping people trying to escape out of Kinglake long before it burnt through the National Park and into Kinglake. It burnt quite slowly through the Wallaby Creek catchment (unlogged) compared to the Mt Disappointment state forest. Mt Disappointment state forest is a mecca for 4wds and other recreationists that claim by allowing them into the bush, then fires will be stopped. Eventhough it was still moving at over 10kmh. A fire is pretty well much uncontrollable at around 2kmh.

* This fire has burnt through the urban interface, the most heavily fire managed areas around. The Kinglake National Park is on very poor quality soils. Hence it is mainly only low growing grasses.
* The Murrundindi fire started in very close proximity to a timber mill. It burnt to Marysville 20 kms away in just over an hour. This is in the most heavily logged and woodchipped area in Victoria and also a mecca for the 4wd and associated groups. It has spotted across the Acheron valley and raced up areas heavily woodchipped as a crown fire (not initially burning through ground fuel) into the closed O'shannassy water catchment.
* We are getting a picture that SOME areas of old growth ash forest remained unburnt in the initial fire storm. But they are burning at very low intensity and will hopefully survive.
* The Old growth of Maroondah catchment has generally survived to date but again fires are just starting to enter them. hopefully they will stay at an intensity low enough for the eucs to survive.

* Apart from Bunyip, I cannot think of any major fire this season that hasn't been in a plantation or other heavily logged forestry area. It is almost like they are being targeted.

Taken from DSE data current to this week:

  • 50% of estimated area of Vic fires are on private property
  • 12% in national parks
  • remainder in state forests, crown land or undisclosed.

Hard to see how this can be turned around to blame national parks

The senate inquiry in 2007 was at pains to point out that in uncontrollable firestorms like this, tenure and land management is irrelevant and we have to build community preparedness to survive the onslaught.

Full quote from conclusions is

?... there will always be uncontrollable bushfires from time to time. This is most evident from evidence regarding the Australian Alps, which experienced their worst fires in 1939, under a completely different land tenure and management regime to that in place when fires burnt there in 2003. A significant part of living in and managing the environment must be acceptance of fire and ensuring preparedness for it.?

Posted by editor at 12:08 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 14 February 2009 12:35 PM EADT
Victorian bushfires: NSW 1994 precedent - wilderness areas, national parks were innocent factors
Topic: aust govt

In the fallout of the 1994 bushfire disaster in NSW the cynical misinformation industry with their political axe to grind and bigoted prejudice against the green movement were exposed by the real statistics of the emergency:

Here are some more instructive fallout from the huge 1994 bushfire emergency with parliamentary and coronial inquiry that followed:

The Fire Authorities did major housekeeping to get rid of people like this:

Lines of communication between farmers and other private land holders and the fire authorities was addressed and improved:

State and local government was forced to get organised and standardised with new planning legislation and expert committees across regions:

Nothing really changes, even with the hundreds dead in this latest tragedy. The blame shifting and lies are being spread like merde by sinister creeps, fools and so called objective experts, in effect industry advocates rather than honest brokers. And the biggest industry with most dirty secrets is not the tourism or conservation sector but the logging industry converting landscapes to tinder dry sclerophyll forest over decades.

Some recent rebuttal in the big press here:

Posted by editor at 9:31 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 14 February 2009 10:09 AM EADT
Victorian Bushfires: Peter Attiwill, the loggers friend
Topic: aust govt


Tonight we saw an ABC TV bushfire special "After the Firestorm". And sitting there on screen was local federal MP in the Opposition Fran Bailey who brought with her Professor Peter Attiwill described as a "forest ecologist".

However one ought to be very clear about the antecedents of Peter Attiwill. He's a champion of the logging industry, ever since his graduation from the Creswick School of Forestry here:

"John Chinner took up his appointment as Senior Lecturer in charge of Forestry in the Faculty of Science in 1945. He successfully pursued research grants and support for lectureships from industry and government agencies. Many of his postgraduates went on to lead the development of forestry research in government agencies, industry and universities in Australia and internationally. The names of postgraduates to 1979 include: Drs Peter Attiwill, ..." in Chapter 7: Forestry At Creswick And The University, 1910

Here he is again in 1996 as the Howard Govt took office and the loggers needed a framework to continue expansion of the woodchipping industry of public forest heritage for private profit:

[PDF] Victoria's Mountain Ash Forests: A Case of Sustainable Management, Agenda, Volume 3, Number 2, 1996, pages 229-240

 And again here adopted approvingly by the National Association of Forest Industries. The man does not appear to be independent.

So Attiwill, it is safe to assume, will never criticise loggers for destroying wet old growth forest over the last 50 years leaving barely 10% of this forest type now, converting it into bushfire prone dry schlerophyll. Nor will he observe that the firestorm in Victoria originated in highly disturbed logging or farming country.

Nor will Attiwill note the loggers love of post logging burns which sometimes escape or smoulder on until a hot north wind arrives. He will never criticise the loggers smashing of a semi rainforest old growth complex like the infamous Goolengook in East Gippsland which probably has never burned for 150 years. And never by Aboriginal firestick either.

He will say once its all converted and dried out you have to promote broadscale burning off every 7 to 10 years. Which is exactly what he said on tv tonight.

No account for promotion of fire weeds. No account for destruction of rainforest or mature wet old growth forest types. No honesty about how we got to this situation today from 50 years of logging context, his very own discipline. We say this as a zoology graduate from the Australian National University (1986).

And just by coincidence this form of fire regime is perfect for defacto conversion of the public's natural heritage into a defacto timber production plantation with much reduced flora and fauna diversity and water catchment values. That's okay if you are only managing for timber production and your logging mates. That's okay if you support an effective privatisation of public land.


But what about the rest of society and their values? And the rest of nature for that matter, in some cases stable forest eco-systems (eg the forest type shown here) for thousands of years? And indeed prevention of bushfire risk from dried out forests?

Far better to find natural methods of fuel reduction in forests of this type perhaps by breeding up native critters as grazers and browers of the understorey and fencing out of ferals. It's probably just as practical and as expensive.

What about the skinny regrowth forest already stuffed by Attiwill's mates? They do need longer term restoration logging to ever return to their former glory, perhaps by thinning out the regrowth to allow large dominant old growth overstorey to restore the water cycle. But that could take hundreds of years to re-establish which is not very likely, with all the fire risk that entails in the meantime.

At the very least logging of wet old growth forest should be banned as criminal vandalism for promotion of bushfires as much as any arsonist. And the real fire history of mechanised logging should be told.

Nor was Barry Cassidy much sense with his folksy and dumb comment "I grew up in the bush and we had a saying 'expect to to be burned if you don't burn'". Yeah Barry, but how often? And where? And how practical over huge areas with limited time is it? That is the problem and Cassidy obviously doesn't have a stick of sense to add to that quandary in an age of climate change and limited days in the cool season.


If Attiwill had his way his mates would be burning and logging rainforest as happened here with this illegal logging in East Gippsland court saga:

Hastings v Brennan & Anor; Tantram v Courtney & Anor [2005] VSC 37

.... with further background here.



Forest giants laid waste

Look familiar?


And see this this 'before' photo ....

And after ....perfect for bushfire prone regrowth ...


Posted by editor at 12:06 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 14 February 2009 12:40 PM EADT
Friday, 13 February 2009
Victorian bushfires: Detail of firestorm origins on multiple use highly impacted land tenures
Topic: aust govt

This email is forwarded from Jill Redwood who received it on behalf of Environment East Gippsland lead group, and as land owner and CFA (Country Fire Authority) volunteer and renowned environmentalist of Goongerah, East Gippsland unaffected by the Victorian bushfires. However we understand she has been involved in support work.

We have added bold to instructive bits about type of land use type with high speed fire storm which has proved so devastating. The message appears to be that the highly disturbed, logged areas of dried out forest has burnt the fastest and most dangerous.


Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 2:03 PM
Subject: [chipstop] Responding to incorrect fire information
Hi various listers -
this was sent in by a friend. I thought it might be of interest. Jill

I find it deeply disturbing that people think they shouldn't enter into the bushfire debate. These fires provide a great opportunity for conservation advancement.

If you look at the facts there are so many opportunities and every time, some dickheads like Boswell or Turkey or the Australian newspaper go unchallenged more people will believe them.

As a movement are we prepared to be kicked down with lies and then try to challenge an entrenched view in months or years.

After I watched 200 people loose their lives, I want you to read some very basic information.

The Kilmore fire started on the edge of a farmland, was not catchable, ripped through plantations and across huge firebreaks like the hume freeway and strategic breaks. It had burnt around the farmland trapping people trying to escape out of kinglake long before it burnt through the National Park and into Kinglake. It burnt quite slowly through the Wallaby Creek catchment compared to the Mt Dissapointment state forest. Eventhough it was still moving
at over 10kmh.
A fire is pretty well much uncontrollable at around 2kmh.

Mt Dissapointment state forest is a mecca for 4wds and other recreationists that claim by allowing them into the bush, then fires will be stopped. Didn't do a thing to slow the fire down and it sped up to a speed that fire fighting agencies couldn't even get around to warn communities what was coming.

This fire has burnt through the urban interface, the most heavily fire managed areas around. The Kinglake National Park is on very poor quality soils. Hence it is mainly only low growing grasses.

The Murrundindi fire started in very close proximity to a timber mill. It burnt to Marysville 20 kms away in just over an hour. This is in currently the most heavily woodchipped area in Victoria and also a mecca for the 4wd and associated groups. It has spotted across the Acheron valley and raced up areas heavily woodchipped as a crown fire into the closed O'shannassy water catchment. We are
getting a picture that SOME areas of old growth ash forest remained
unburnt in the initial fire storm. But unfortuntately they are now burning because there are not enough resources to go and put them out and a little inaccessible. But they are burning at very low intensity and will hopefully survive.
DSE are putting there emphasis onto stopping the fire from getting into the Upper Yarra catchment and this may include back burning the rubicon state forest and private land and other catchments.

The Old growth of Maroondah catchment has generally survived to date but again fires are just starting to enter them. hopefully they will stay at an intensity low enough for the eucs to survive.

Apart from Bunyip, I cannot think of any major fire this season that hasn't been in a plantation or other heavily managed forestry area. It is almost like they are being targetted.

Current lifestyle of making everything drier and hotter. We can expect fire events like this again.

Now is the time for the logging industry to be moved into the plantations.We've barely got any forest left. The burnt forests will eventually re-grow - Australian native forests can recover from fire. Moving into plantations is a better way for the industry to move forward.

In a way this event is wiping the slate clean of our past land management mistakes and giving the australian bush to continue to evolve as it has for thousands of years with fire.

Salvage logging - will strip everything there. At the moment the situation is that the forests have burnt, but that's happened for millions of years in Australia. Fire does provide opportunities for nature, native forests recover from fire.

The plantations need to be salvaged - these are private investments that farmers and other landowners have made - in the face of losing other assets, they need to be worked with to make the most of what's left and what they've invested in over years. Help stimulate the economy, protect communities and stop it from being a burden on tax payers.

How after 12 years of drought and recent mega fires and a policy of so much fuel reduction burning, do we get the claimed record levels of fuel. But how do you control a fire under the following circumstances.
where there hottest ever recorded at 47 degrees celcius. Relative humidity in single figures and winds constantly hitting 100kmh. A 12 year drought. 1ml of rain in 6 weeks. The previous week a run of 5 days each over 40 degrees. Previously unheard of.

Please respond with fact and dont create hatred at a time when Australian are bonding.


Posted by editor at 8:05 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 13 February 2009 8:54 PM EADT
Stimulus II $42 Billion: Senate go 'large and timely' as cross benchers get on board 11.30 am today
Topic: aust govt

As we write the Australian Senate are in the endgame of the approval of the Stimulus II package.

We managed to capture an image of the National's Senator Barnaby Joyce spitting chips at the effective negotiation of the ALP Govt senators and Greens Senator Bob Brown:

Senator Brown (Greens) had already outlined his amendments which apparently are moderate bolt ons earlier today.

Joyce was sledging the Greens for being gazumped by independent Senator Xenophon.

Senator Carr was tub thumping at the failure of extreme capitalism after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Investment Bank in Sept 2008.

Now the Opposition's Liberal Senator Eric Abetz is refering to the "economic tsunami" and the high debt 'sugar coated pill' with "a very very bad after taste in the mouth".

One can imagine a speech of the critical vote of Independent Senator Xenophon will be made soon. Sure enough by 11.30 am we see Senator X speak in the committee phase of the debate regarding amendments. X is very flattering of other cross bench senators particularly his Green counter part from South Australia Hanson-Young. X along with Fielding table letters from the Government of the amendments agreed:

Next is independent Senator Fielding who has buckled down to supporting the government package with a $200M Get Communities Working pilot programme. Fielding has also been flattering to his cross bench senate colleagues X and Brown (Greens):

Senator Wong for the government gets up to accept the deal is made. We missed our screen print of the Senator. Never mind.

And now the Opposition Senator Minchin underlines the concern at the deficit and recession looming in losing the vote. He mentions what the Howard Government would have done if elected. Which tells the story - it wasn't. Minchin is mild with Xenophon's principled stand for the Murray Darling Basin, Minchin being a South Australian colleague. Then back to defending "the Howard Government" removed from office in November 2007.

Lastly we see the Government's Senator Evans accept the deal with the cross benchers:


In conclusion we seem to be witnessing the effective rollback of all the revenue raised by the GST since 1998 (?) in order to build an economic bridge to hopefully some kind of safe haven on the other side of a global recession.

Posted by editor at 9:50 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 13 February 2009 12:27 PM EADT

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