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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Sunday, 15 March 2009
Sunday political talkies: 'The purpose of politics is not opposition leader' - Costello
Topic: big media


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. 




Other sources of pollie talkies on Sunday include SkyNews paytv Sunday Agenda, Radio National Monica Attard Sunday Profile show. And of course Sunday night shows SBS Dateline, Sixty Minutes and now Sunday Tonight on 7.   



 Media backgrounders  


* Royal Commissioner draws veil of ‘sensitivity’ over initial hearings with victims on location in Victoria. News Ltd The Australian newspaper are seriously annoyed, and we tend to agree. 


* Moir cartoon rerun of Turnbull instead of Howard with cataclysms all around. 


* conservative press get nasty against Pauline Hanson using 30 year old nude photographs to trash her credibility. TVs are running the story this morning. It’s a News Corp version of the Rudd in a strip club story – loaded with malice. 


* Garrett rocking along but MIA as federal environment minister on Qld oil spill, in an election week no less, shallow over substance is the lasting impression 


* Barry OFarrell ignores the reality of Enron doco available on google video of Bushwacking of Gray Davis, even claimed on Stateline Davis was corrupt as well as incompetent as Enron literally shut down traffic lights and caused fatal accidents, and huge windfall profits. Still went bankrupt with Enron deeply corrupt.

* SAM possibly first to call the Costello leadership agitation last Saturday. Crikey editorial finishes the week as Costello a “stalker”. We also carried this back in October 2008:


Friday, 3 October 2008


* Lisa Hamilton honours thesis 1988 or so, later IR Freehills Melbourne probably the real brains behind Costello’s Dollar Sweets case leveraging common law IR legal cause of action. That’s our memory of an ex girlfriend now counsel at Woodside NW WA. 





10 Meet the Press:  8- 8-30 am


Press round up Garrett, Hanson, stimulus effectiveness. New set looks okay.


Talent is Tony Burke re Agri minister, arts law city man, looks a bit like Larry or Doug Anthony but it’skin deep. Enjoys his job no doubt. Big guy as per side shot.


PB targets ETS issue.


Humour break – Rudd and the swear jar as per X


Panel Is MGrattan Fairfax/Age, Milne NewsCorp – good weight.


MG on unemployment increase. 11% in last recession figure. TB uses the recession word. No map? Relies on economic modelers, very lame response. Didn’t even talk up his own agri sector good news. Eyes looking shifty in full glare of headlights of big media questions.


TB - Credibility in Copenhagen. Sledges [flip flop] Turnbull but gently. Then stronger later pandering to work choices and climate skeptics.


Estimates bushfire 12K km fences, thousands stock. Permananent plantings take 5 years.


Humour break re Costello references in Parliament and Moir cartoon.


Public Service Union tv advert re essential services.


Polling thermometer economy – environment only fell 5 points since September versus 36 point increase for economy now leading at 69%. Says most surprised env holding it’s ground.


Sounds a credible survey speaker Randall Pearce.


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



Riley Diary 7, from 8.30am


Parly word games and acceptance of the ‘Great Recession’, ‘Rudd recession’ etc. Peter Costello mystery in an enigma. Footage of PC waving to Rudd but methinks its waving goodbye not hello, and hostile for splashing ‘his’ surplus [again we see it as GST rollback in effect]. Q&A with Riles after this. Tony Abbott asleep in the Liberal Conference yesterday.






9 Sunday newshour Laurie Oakes interview 8.40 am 

Synchronised with Riley. Talent is foreign minister Stephen Smith but all domestic issues first section.


Agrees with our view above re strip club analysis Rudd in strip club. [ALP could come out swinging against abuse of political process against Hanson as a game of misogyny, even as they disagree with her policies. That might position Premier Bligh though.]


Goes into Afghanistan. Conference in Hague 31 March UN conference. Smith labouring a little on his answer.





Insiders 2: 9- 10am


 Opens on Costello in Howard walkies mode. Riley Diary style soundtrack. Chris Uhlmann called in early. “Up to no good”. “Overshadow”.


CU: Having effect on policy shifting Turnbull to Right, abandoning ETS. Costello could still end up in the orchestra pit but appearances damaging Turnbull.


Sunday Press – goes to Gerard Henderson 1/3 party room back Costello, 28 versus 21 anonymous 11 undecided as per Sunday Telegraph [pointed refusal to cover Pauline Hanson so far]


Misha Schubert, Annabel Crabb also. Midnight Oil reprise. ‘Long time since 30 seconds of Garrett’. Henderson attacks media trivia on page 1. He’s so right. Schubert and Crabb should have damned this story but lacking in fibre.


Swan as treasurer in London – 10% unemployment by Christmas? Won’t agree to that. Banks do more to keep jobs here? Swan sticking with CPRS to position for green jobs.


Everyperson via Brisbane presenter about ….?


Discussion about “crazy” party. Costello is “passive aggressive”. Turnbull thrives on confrontation. Henderson notes the votes have increased since last 10 years under Howard.


Cross to Anna Bligh one week out Qld vote. Gender discussed. Choice is about parties etc.


Discussion about salty/bad/toilet language.



Website cross referencing here: http://www.abc.net.au/insiders/



Inside Business


Essential viewing for summary of Emissions Trading Scheme. Interesting to see dweeb Miles Prosser as aluminium industry, previously logger industry, stooge from non descript student at Ursula College residence ANU in the eighties. 


Kohler's talking point is a cracker about 20 spectators at the G20 running out of excuses, with roundup of causes of the GFC and 2 years of debt adjustment and rising unemployment.



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


Posted by editor at 11:12 AM NZT
Updated: Sunday, 15 March 2009 11:38 AM NZT
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Laundering of illegal sandmine damaging Blue Mtns World Heritage, via imminent 'consent order' absent judicial analysis?
Topic: legal


To the Chief Judge Land & Evnironment Court, Brian Preston J

CC Counsel for Dept of Water & Energy, Tim Holden
Counsel for Dept of Environment & Climate Change
Stephen Griffiths, Pike Pike & Fenwick
General Manager, Hawkesbury City Council
Russel Byrnes, solicitor Birdon Contracting Pty Ltd
Environmental Defenders Office
National Parks Association
The Wilderness Society
Colong Foundation for Wilderness
Hawkesbury Council Watch
Minister for Environment NSW
Green Party MPs
Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Daily Telegraph

Dear Chief Judge

Birdon Contracting Pty Ltd v Hawkesbury City Council no. 11133 of 2008  set down for 16-18 March 2009

I take the unorthodox approach of writing this open letter as agent for objector Neville Diamond supported by peak non government groups opposing an illegal sand mine adjacent to World Heritage Blue Mountains/Wollemi National Park at Tinda Creek. My letter is about the process and efficacy of the LEC.

From before you were a judge as counsel for Baulkham Hills Shire Council over sandmining at Maroota in the mid 90ies I have been monitoring the performance of your Land & Environment Court in my role as a vocational public interest advocate, and community media practitioner. And I've reported your fine speeches to the Environmental Defenders Office/Sydney University Law Conference.

Nevertheless it's a general conclusion of the non government sector, right or wrong, that the LEC has via the oppressive costs regime and political pressure become the developers court despite the fine intentions of the 1979 legislative model creating the court, the Planning Act and so on: That the LEC is being crushed by the weight of dark forces: Money talks and public interest walks. Lawyers get paid and the public interest goes begging.

There are honourable exceptions like the recent $400K fine for illegal landclearing of an internationally protected wetland. But the traffic is nearly all the other way, including by reversal of court decision by a corrupted parliament on a diet of developer donations.

So much for real politik.

Now we learn from Stephen Griffiths/Pike Pike & Fenwick, solicitor for Hawkesbury City Council, of cancellation of a court inspection scheduled for 16 March 2009 in Birdon Contracting Pty Ltd v Hawkesbury City Council no. 11133 of 2008. See letter attached. The fix, your honour, is in.
We are advised by Griffiths this was due to the approach of Russel Byrnes solicitor (and business partner?) for Birdon to the registrar 'so as not to waste the time of the court of 6 hours driving out to the site'. HCC apparently didn't even appear on the motion. Maybe they supported it?

One can well predict orders by consent will now proceed before even community objectors are able to give their evidence to the court sitting in the shoes of council on this s.96 variation hearing: Will the public interest objectors even get to put their evidence to the court of the 376,000 tonnes of illegal silt fines death trap proximate to the surface of a tailings dam, contrary to DA approval to bury at 15 metres depth, which would have been revealed by such an inspection?
That might unravel the whole narrative and false postures of the illegal sandmine for over 13 years?

A mess that embarrasses HCC as well as condemns sandminer Birdon? That reveals the DWE regulator as having been duped or distracted from their duty?

Will the HCC's own expert report by hydrologist Chris Jewell of massive intervention of the water flow in Tinda Creek to the world heritage area even be ventilated? Or suppressed?

The details of this demonstrably illegal mine are published as a publicly accessible archive here:
8 March 2009
I respectfully submit your honour that the LEC is under scrutiny, as much as Birdon, as much as HCC and the DWE/DECC. The ngo sector and the court of public opinion will be watching the process and substantive outcomes of this case closely. Just like the recent Coca Cola Water Bottling Case where the public interest achieved some real satisfaction via the judgement of Commissioners Moore and Taylor late 2008, with this writer agent for the same public interest objector with NGO support via ruling of Pain J. Win or lose in the Birdon matter.

In the latter eventuality we will approach the the Administrative Decisions Tribunal using Freedom of Information laws as an alternative forum in which to get justice for the World Heritage Area and the safety of the public.
Please do not hesitate to contact the writer with any queries on tel. 9558 9551 or 0410 558838 or by return email.

Yours truly

Tom McLoughlin, agent for objector Neville Diamond, principal/owner
www.SydneyAlternativeMedia.com/blog 25,000 readers per month.

Posted by editor at 8:33 AM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 10 March 2009 8:53 AM NZT
Sunday, 8 March 2009
Sunday political talkies: Pollies decline 'recession' rhetoric porn, as Big Media calls for 'clarity' threaten sentiment?
Topic: big media


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


[not exhaustive, missed Fri to read, press piling up like Weekend Oz, Doogue early Sat morn. Catchups later ? maybe.]


* No balls cartoons have finally got to Peter Costello after his '18 years as in parliament and 18 months on the back bench'. Smooth line about his defecto sabbatical.

* Picture of Rees with Tony Abbott, solidarity over gay rumour mongering? ABC Glover promo quotes joking about Prince Charles "coming out" very self referential. Great headline "this spin is for a good cause". But whose spin is it? ALP likely.

* Schanfreude bounce in polls for Rees as premier of NSW as a result of Qld losing its AAA rating, that is not NSW, and who cares about a AA rating anyway given the crook rating agencies??

* Tax stimulus advert half tabloid pages common to both Sunday papers now.

* ALP derived attack on Abbott page 14 Sunday Telegraph today. Detect a weak link now? Politics is such a brutal game. Though perhaps Abbott got an ALP friendly pic in Sunday Herald as balancer at page 4?

* 4.5 million job losses in USA in recent months out of population of 300M or so. Do the math for Australia at 20 million.

* Rudd emotes in story feed to old tired Laurie Oakes in Saturday Daily Telegraph. Stop being a cipher Laurie.

* Costa runs his line in 2 page spread for News Corp ? his natural home of the Liberal Party newsletter.

* Malice of subliminals of front pager on Friday of 'green' ocean with maybe a shark - is it a dolphin???? Who would know for sure? Looks like a shark. Telegraph have form on this kind of sly attack on the Green Party subtext. Pretty deplorable exploitation of shark attacks and injury for cheap politics.

* SBS Sound Relief music promo for natural disaster relief. Category 5 cyclone through this morning.

* ABC AM last Saturday completely misinterprets real politik of Turnbull essay about corrupt copper Rudd metaphor, all about pushing Costello profile out of the big media. Very personal but Rudd not the real target. It's Costello. Too mild Lyndal Curtis master of detail not overview.

* Hartcher looks like he get's it this weekend with more politics in his column and less economic theorizing - which admittedly is his strength only he doesn't have Ross Gittins job. Still have to read it.

* Interesting story about tremours in NSW and dam safety with graphic p 20 Sunday Herald today.

* Interesting story Selling off the heart of our nation about concerns of extremists buying up agriculture.

* SAM's editor gets 3 tax assessments moderately in our favour. Phew. Relocation plans going quite well, due by April 15. Many challenges in new set up, not least bushfire bunker construction, mains grid connection, telephone, cleanout of the dead rats. Boiling sanitse and wash all kitchen items. Antiseptic over all touch surfaces. Tea tree woody weed. Removal of old cars in storage by scrap metal guy. You know regular activist grovel.

* Zimbabwe - Nelson Mandela's eldest son was killed in a car crash while he was leading the resistance from Robben Island. Speculation about that as sabotage too. Google might clarify.



10 Meet the Press: 8- 8-30 am


Lead in is footage of earnest mode Rudd warning all that the recession is real and coming to where you live. Gallery believe him too. [Hark back to last show November Insiders Govt sledged for not being honest about recession Kerry Anne Walsh]


Talent is Bob Brown senate Green leader: Equal opportunity being gay professional and MP weekend of Mardi Gras. [Builds on Michael Kirby opinion piece very well written ex High Court Judge now retiring.]


So far excellent interview: Reverse whether recession or not. Who invented technical recession. Therese Rein $1M bonus is her own business, but 3 times PM?s income (her husband). So diplomatic.


Out take is 'jokey' ex porn star footballer Capper and Pauline Hanson in Qld election seat. Trivialising their candidacies in a Big Media choreography. There to be taken.


Panel Alison Carabine, of 2UE and Marius Benson of ABC radio news


Grab of Ross Garnaut seemingly agreeing recession will happen.


AC: Why not delay due to the recession causing emission reductions.


Can't take a Chamberlain attitude to dangerous climate change. 150 million on the move by mid 21C, Shanghai to ???,' record of natural disasters here' Quite compelling answers, we thought, yes we would say that.


AC Qld litmus test jobs over boutique green issue? BB No jobs jobs jobs in sustainable industries is the way to go as per Qld state election.


MB: Politics - Senate block so Labor ETS fails. Ian Dunlop formerly of the coal industry condemned ALP package. Logging not least Tasmania, emphatic.


Viewer question: ETS cause lose jobs. Employer export benefit if greenhouse labeled products as per European market.


AC sounding tetchy BB hasn?t implode as predicted by gone Aust Dems, 42 billion splurge wasted, helping the govt with wastage?


Refused to be a wrecker [as positioned by the whining Australian Democrats].


AC recession still. BB ? That?s right. Job creation happy and green country.


Alcopops tax back in Senate - $200M should go into a health fund.


Out take humour - socks and jocks draw is empty.


Grab of Turnbull, ETS is going to


Listening problem Senator Ron Boswell. Damaged the format of the interview. RB - ETS will be a tax on every motor, conveyor belt, every job. If we go it alone China India going to ignore, will achieve nothing.


MB - climate change human activity? RB. Debate over - equal sides of scientists on each side. [That?s a lie.] Support any form of an ETS?


Don?t telegraph - personally against it, Coalition unclear.


AC - ALP proposals Fair Work bill, agree with Costello, cost jobs.


Grovelling apologies from Bonge to RBoswell. Never seen such a bad ongoing technical glitch perhaps due to remote location of RB as Qld Nat??? Sometimes they get feedbacks but fix during the interview. What about



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



Riley Diary 7, from 8.30am


Pollies under pressure - looking grim - Swan, Rudd, Turnbull expressions.

Keating gave it to us straight - had to have.

Rudd - global cyclone

Julia Gillard - fudged it.

Turnbull - fudged it.

Costello - gave it straight. Footage on Q&A indulging himself and stalking the shark himself.

Q & A with Riles and comperes. People do know and quotes Howard and Costello said global tsunami was coming. And Govt has pushed the same angle. Big day for Turnbull next Saturday?? Missed it.


O'Keefe shows his worth again re Gay or Lesbian





9 Sunday newshour Laurie Oakes interview 8.40 am


Missed the start - but got THE question about most MPs see Opp Leader job as being stalked by Costello.


'Elephant questions first quickly'.


I do not tell lies says MT about any colleagues - question about offered shadow treasurer job. Declined


Charms LO with rhinoceros pronunciation joke. Sharp and lively comment.


Attacked Rein as PM wife, why? Involved her in The Australian ? - MT wants everyone to read [I bet see backgrounder comment at front]. Disingenous answer congratulations when LO is right that it's a veiled attack. But it's also a fair attack because she is in the real politik and to suggest otherwise is patriarchal. If she is playing an honourary role then keep it strictly so. No half way houses.


LO - political risk involving Rein, you and wife are rich and vote against $900 per pensioner and tax payer. Says voting for responsible financials. On personal matters - ALP have viciously attacked him for a lifetime. Says dereg and privat that enabled he and wife considerable wealth. Biting the hand feed him.


Economy - MT this is the elephant. PM has been apocalyptic.


LO - inconsistent given what you MT quote `gravest threat in our lifetime? Sept 2008?


Says it's about the language. So fudging the LO question. [Convicted of being a politician. Not a hanging offence.]


LO - March 2008 to Neil Mitchell, again similar to LO. MT says talking about words not economy . Wasting time talking about this. A year ago I didn?t think it was likely. Narrative of inconsistency by LO but Rudd could hardly bear up to that test either - ['science on forests will decide logging policy' as loggers destroy every fire restant wet old growth and rainforest they can access - because it?s the highest growth and volume of timber, but thereby converting whole landscapes to skinny regrowth dry sclerophyll.]


A real engagement with LO tackling him on his ground, giving real punches back. LO is a bit of bloat and deserves a workout.


Very funny back to comperes about 'getting squeezy in here with pesky political pachyderms'. That's real competition for 7 Sunrise, reversed seating blondy on right today. Indeed broad smile of Turnbull getting a glass of water showing he was under pressure has probably put LO and Turnbull in a good light.






Insiders 2: 9- 10am


Stimulus 1 Dec 08 Swan v MT, Costello emerged as 3rd wave.


Panel is KAW, Dennis Atkins, Bolter.


Moral hypocrisy issue of Reins income and fair political game or not. Compare with high paid Bonds exec contrast with owner Reins.


Talent is Foreign Affairs Minister Pakistan. Big issue. Pakistan needs help. What can we do to help. [It's Indonesia mark 2. The West have a big challenge to help these people. And they to help themselves to harmony in diversity.]


Afghanistan comes into conversation. Whole segment prefaces major foreign challenges for us for real.


Zimbabwe - help rebuild policy questions. Risks to be involved. Should start to help social and economics of the country not just condolences for death of his wife, mother of his six children. Open inquiry.


Comments on personality politics. All disingenuous.


Everyperson - buskers in Adelaide Fringe festival. 90 year old much better. Very articulate: "Who knows". Great images, and quality buskers.


PM using "all the risk on the downside". Journalists gripe about this: But none honest enough to note it's a gotcha scenario about "recession" talking the economy down which as real consequences beyond the next newspaper sale. So Big Media are trying to hurt the public with talking down sentiment. The pollies are probably being more responsible.


BC agrees with 90 year old 'who knows?'. Bolter says Rudd too doesn't know. Argument moves to who will make it worse. Who will prolong. [It?s a battle of ownership over definitive negative.]


Bolter argues Bonds working to save remaining 5K jobs. Spin or substance? Who can say?


Costello Q & A show, looking fitter, has exercise regime. "engaged in a civil war Tony". 3 times said this is my policy.


Footage of rhetoric - "economic cyclone" per Rudd. MT talks storm metaphors. [Indicates Rudd affected by the Vic bushfire politics - Vic ALP 'can't stop' the megafire firestorm, seems to be sublimating his tour of empathy duty down there to the global economics.]


Cyclone Hamish - for real cross to Lawrence Springborg. With a purple ribbon. Ribbons always now it seems. On Murray Darling - says 60% of waters released. 100% of NSW used, SA 65 times that originates there. Bit disingenuous given headwaters function of Qld? Certainly can talk and talk smooth. Won't reveal business donors says scared of ALP thuggery. Quite are resonating line but bad policy and behaviour all round.


GG is doing political work, not a ribbon cutter says KAW, Bolter says turning into a hack, back in the box. BC says becoming an issue. [Goes right back to the 7.30 Report interview said she wouldn't just proclaim new bills. That was a weird. And broke the feel good narrative with shadows of 1975.]


Talking pictures: Bob Brown stunning nature images in court case costs 280K re Wielangta. Genuinely good work.


Bolter says Hanson tantrum shows been given a hard time and panel agrees jail for crime she didn?t commit changes people. Subtext won?t buy into adverse coverage, she gets a free pass from the system.




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



Posted by editor at 10:00 AM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 10 March 2009 9:04 AM NZT
Friday, 6 March 2009
SAM micro news website pageview stats for February 2009 - 23,208
Topic: independent media

Screen shot above taken on 5th March accurate to the 3rd of March according to the host metrics, which is our usual time of the month for this post. Fairly happy with consistency of reader figures. Could go sensational and bring them up, but we prefer the echo chamber approach into Big Media thinking on our genuine merits, not manipulation of the public's knee jerk emotions. That's good for peace of mind.

Usually we like to traverse significant stories for the past month with inside comments but that will have to wait - perhaps in an edit on the weekend.

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:

  • February 2009 - 23,208
  • 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 10:52 AM EADT
Submission to NSW Govt/DECC lawyer Gordon Plath on fine silt deathtrap in the Blue Mtns WHA, Hawkesbury LGA
Topic: legal

Beware the 3 or 4 letter acronym. DECC in the headline stands for Dept of Environment and Climate Change. WHA is for World Heritage Area. LGA is Local Govt Area.

Plath whom we know of from our student days at ANU law school is manager of environmental litigation at DECC these days and good luck to him for that too.

Below is our letter regarding an appeal in the Land & Environment Court of NSW by Birdon Contracting Pty Ltd/Tom Bruce as managing Director represented by solicitor Russel Byrnes (also doing the Balmain harbour boat tragedy case) based in Surry Hills. Veteran environmental lawyer Stephen Griffiths of Pike Pike & Fenwick is representing Hawkesbury City Council. We are agent as per the LEC rules for objector Neville Diamond.

The case is set down for 16-18 March 2009. The area in question is shown above in the lower half image of 2005 as per a HCC flyover. The top image is the 'before' image from the early 1980ies. What has changed is an open farmland area with the rising of Tinda Creek in the far background converted to wet open cut sandmine.

This has cut 37% water flow to Tinda Creek and likely to cut 53% if it continues according to council's independent expert Chris Jewell, hydrologist. The World Heritage Area of Wollemi National Park is the neighbour having it's water strangled, along with other cowered neighbours of the sandminer. No wonder various groups including big conservative National Parks Association have bought into the issue here:

From: Andrew Cox NPA
To: ecology action australia
Cc: Zoe Palmer ; Keith Muir ; Alan Catford (PMC)
Sent: Thursday, March 05, 2009 6:58 PM
Subject: Concern over Tinda Creek Sand Mine

Dear Tom,

National Parks Association is a community-based conservation groups establish in 1957 and seeks to protect our natural areas.

We support your efforts and the efforts of Neville Diamond to prevent the continued operations of the sandmine at Tinda Park adjacent to the World Heritage listed Wollemi National Park.

For over a decade now, concerns have been raised about the suitability of the site and the likely impacts on the national park and its catchments. Their apparent illegal operations confirm our fears about the mine.

We are opposed to the continuation of the mine due to its detrimental impact on the water table and the runoff from discharges from the site into Wollemi National Park.

Please note that I will be on leave from Monday 9 March for five weeks. After that time, please contact Zoe Palmer, who will be acting in my position.

Kind regards

Andrew Cox,
Executive Officer
National Parks Association of NSW
PO Box 337, Newtown NSW 2042; Tel: 02 9299 0000; Fax: 02 9290 2525
Email: execofficer@
Website: www.npansw.org.au

'protecting nature through community action'

Here is the letter to DECC's legal man Gordon Plath:

From: ecology action australia
To: gordon.plath@environment.nsw.gov.au
Cc: Keith Muir ; bmcs@ ; Andrew Cox NPA ; Peter Cooper ; Kirsty Ruddock ; sgriffiths@ppf
Sent: Monday, March 02, 2009 7:08 PM
Subject: update on legal appeal re Birdon Tinda Ck sandmine
Dear Mr Plath/Gordon, managing solicitor DECC NSW,
CC Stephen Griffiths Pike Pike & Fenwick for Hawkesbury City Council
Birdon Contracting Pty Ltd (Tom Bruce managing director) v Hawkesbury City Council 16-18 March 2009 in the LEC, re Tinda Creek sand mine impacting Blue Mountains World Heritage Area
I write as agent for Neville Diamond as per the LEC Act 1979.
As suggested late last year in the email attached below dated 10 November 2008 the Hawkesbury Council did vote 12 to 0 against approving the s.96 variation for the Birdon Contracting P/L sandmine on the grounds of lapsed consent and therefore out of jurisdiction to extend the life of the mine in this way.
My pro bono client Neville Diamond suggests the consent had already lapsed for similar reasons on the previous occasion of a 2004 s.96 variation approved by a previous manifestation of the council. Now council newly constituted following the election of Sept 2008, and since 2004 now with a new
- general manager
- director of planning and
- mayor
have agreed with my client's legal argument of lapsed consent.
The HCC refusal decision has been appealed by Birdon/Tom Bruce as sandminer and goes to the LEC on March 16-18, 2009.
Though not strictly on the issues of the case re lapsed consent decision, there are two broader public interest issues for DECC's, and perhaps court's, consideration and indeed raised by us in verbal submissions before the council vote, namely safety and water supply to the World Heritage Area:
1. The fine silt tailings are a public liability quick-sand death trap and contrary to the staging plans approved by council way back in 1996 where the silt fines were meant to be 14 to 20 metres below the pond surface in the lake final landform. The developer prefered not to pay for crown consent license for depth 15.24m to 20 metres and dumped silt fines closer to the surface.
These silt fines are now situated from 1m to 5 below the surface water down to 14 metres depth according to the developers own verbal admissions to council in 2004 and 2008. This depth will be easily accessed by children, adults or wildlife with no safety fences anywhere in the final approved lake landform.
We estimate the silt fines cover an area of 400m by 200m (80,000 m2). The tonnage of silt fines we estimate at 376,000 tonnes (based on a 65:35 sand exported to silt fines ratio, with 700K tonnes sold since 1996 consent).
No doubt the council are aware any expansion of the sandmine hole/'lake' final landform makes the situation ever more dangerous (as well as compound damage to water flow in the Tinda Ck World Heritage area). This safety problem is not going away for people or wildlife.

We see options for a return to a safe sand mine operation as follows:

(a) In the short term exclusion fencing of the unsafe ponds;
(b) longer term
(i) The silt fines in this incorrect location would cost $millions to relocate safely to the DA approved greater depth, and there is no Crown consent from 15.24 to 20m depth anyway. This was the original plan for final land form with lake. The high cost relates to the highly viscous quality of the silt fines - hard to lift, hard to carry, hard to dump. There is next to no chance of this option being implemented; or
(ii) Capping the silt fines with at least 2 metres of surface compacted solid fill as has happened successfully with sandminers PF Formations at Maroota lot 198, and similarly Dixons at lot 196.
Unlike Maroota mining sites that are ridge lines where silt fines eventually dry out over years here at Tinda Ck the whole quarry is sited in wetland. If, and only if, a 2 metre cap albeit under water has efficacy starting from dry surface sloping to say 3 metres under water, we estimate 400m x 200m x 2m depth making 160,000 m3 of clean fill needed to quarrantine the dangerous fines for anyone swimming or entering the lake final landform. This would have to come from existing cleared adjacent private land of the developer.
The cost of this would be $500K to $1M plus at current prices for truck, loader, dozer, dredge barge, labour prices. This approach delivers a safe final landform of a lake as intended.
(iii) capping and filling in total the hole(s) with silt fines up to dry ground level final landform - which also benefits the re-establishment of the flow in Tinda Creek by removing a major source of evaporation of concern to the DECC: Kieran Horkan, Unit Head Sydney Industry letter to G Hall of HCC dated 17 Sept 2007 -
"10. As part of a remediation action plan to minimise evapotranspiration from open water DECC recommends that open water areas be reduced as much as possible".
We estimate this option would require 400,000 m3 plus of clean land fill from existing cleared adjacent private land owned by the same developer on lot 2. (Calculated as an area of 200m x 400m of silt fines from 1 to 5 m depth from surface water and another 2 metres to orginal dry ground level; That is 200m x 400m x 5m (average) depth = 400,000 m3.)
The cost of this mitigation would be $1-2M plus - in effect a penalty for breach of the 1996 DA staging - to relocate fill from adjacent cleared private land (and otherwise unprocessed) using dozer, loader, trucks, dozer again, roller and landscaping. This provides a safe lake final landform as intended.
(iv) A best case scenario for re-establishing flow in Tinda Ck to the World Heritage Area: We estimate 700,000 tonnes of clean fill to cap all holes from existing land cleared land owned by the developer.
The cost would be $2-3M.
2. Peak environment groups The Wilderness Society, NSW National Parks Association, Blue Mountains Conservation Society, Colong Foundation for Wilderness and local neighbours have all written and expressed alarm at the strangulation of water into Tinda Creek catchment in the Wollemi section of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area due to the sandmining.
Council's expert whose report we have dated May 2007, who we also trust and rely on, namely hydrologist Chris Jewell has advised that if the developer expands according to his s.96 variation he will impact Tinda Ck water flow into the world heritage area by up to 57% [bold added]:
"Although an assessment of the site water balance indicates that it is unlikely that, to date, the quarry has had a significant impact on the water balance of Tinda Creek, as the operation proceeds, evaporative losses from the ponds will increase and the reduction in outflow from the upper catchment to Tinda Creek will become significant. If the site is closed with a water-table window lake remaining, then a long-term reduction of the order of 37 percent of the original outflow from the catchment upstream of the quarry is possible. Losses will be higher if the final landform includes a lake extending across the entire 22ha site." ................

?If the final landform involved a lake occupying the entire 22-ha operational site, as now proposed, then the reduction in outflow of Tinda Creek would be 204 ML/year, or 53 per cent.?

Chris Jewell in correspondence dated 13 October 2008 to us maintains the final landform in the s.96 variation is at least 17 ha based on Birdon/Umwelt?s own final landform diagram, which is up from 11 ha in the EIS/approved plans.

The water loss is therefore likely to be greater than 37% and closer to 53% which is unacceptable. You will also be aware generally of CSIRO report of July 2008 of downward trend rainfall for NSW in the climate change paradigm, which Commissioner Moore relied on late 2008 to apply the precautionary principle in a judgement adverse to Coca Cola Amatil at their Peats Ridge water bottling plant. (We provided that evidence to the Commissioner).
There is a third issue regarding issues of veracity of the sandminer - including deceptive references to the wrong approved plans by their consultant Umwelt - which the court may possibly address as part of the lapsed consent argument. We submit clause 283 of the EP&A Act 2000 Regulation regarding misleading and deceptive conduct may be involved.
In conclusion we invite DECC to play a role as a friend of the court and/or provide expert advice as needed on finding a way forward in this mess that has become the Tinda Creek sandmine impacting a World Heritage Area in a lower rainfall reality.
Yours truly, Tom McLoughlin, legal agent for Neville Diamond.
Attachment: Original written submission to HCC found here, our additions in red typeface:
----- Original Message -----
From: ecology action australia
To: gordon.plath@environment.nsw.gov.au
Cc: terrigal@ ; castlehill@ ; LOP
Sent: Monday, November 10, 2008 7:41 AM
Subject: fyi as mentioned sandmine issue Wollemi Fw: Final part 6 re Tinda Ck Blue Mtns World Heritage before council Tues 11 Nov 2008

Attn Gordon Plath [managing] solicitor/DECC legal branch
My information is that the majority of Hawkesbury City Councillors on the Liberal controlled council will be voting against the expansion of the sandmine tomorrow evening 11 Nov 2008 but you never really know.
Notice CC list - big press, HCC councillors all factions, Peter Garrett's man Ben Pratt, ngo groups, Ian Cohen MP office, council expert Chris Jewell, nsw env minister, local govt minister. And above to the related ministries in the state opposition. No more secrets for this cowboy sandmine unlike the last 20 years of menaces and violence.
Here's hoping the council do the right thing and follow their senior officer's recommendation to refuse the expanded development impacting the Blue Mtns World Heritage area.
Yours truly
Tom McLoughlin, court agent for Neville Diamond.
----- Original Message -----
From: ecology action australia
To: bart.bassett ; barry.calvert; council@hawkesbury ; kevin.conolly@; christine.paine@; bob.porter@; paul.rasmussen@ ; rex.stubbs ; leigh.williams@
Cc: Jackie ; ben.prattEAFed ; chrisJewell ; Ben Cubby SMH ; Kirsty Ruddock EDO ; Keith Muir Colong ; Peter Cooper TWS ; Andrew Cox NPA ; BMCS ; cate faehrmann NSWNCC ; r.chapple@bmwhi.org.au ; Scott Hickie ; bmwhi@bmwhi.org.au ; bmcs@bluemountains.org.au ; stateline ; ian.cohenMPGreen; dp.office@tebbutt; perry.minister ; bensonsDailyTelegraph

Sent: Saturday, November 08, 2008 7:54 AM
Subject: Final part 6 re Tinda Ck Blue Mtns World Heritage before council Tues 11 Nov 2008

The sandmine using between 37% and 53% of Tinda Ck water into the Wollemi World Heritage Area - as climate change bears down on us all - is going before Hawkesbury City Council again this Tuesday 11th Nov 2008. The chief planning officer's report recommends refusal and to issue a notice to cease operation.

Last and final part 6 of this series of evidence about the issue is here:

Previous items in this serial are here:
Tuesday, 28 October 2008 Diamond Diary Part 4: Attacking the messenger, not the vandalism Mood: don't ask, Topic: legal

25 October 2008 Diamond Diary Part 3: Getting to grips with the costs regime in the NSW Land & Environment Court, Mood: not sure, Topic: legal

Thursday, 23 October 2008 Diamond Diary Part 2: How I went bankrupt 'doing litigation for Dixon Sands' Mood: accident prone Topic: legal
Wednesday, 22 October 2008 Diamond Diary Part 1: Amazing career of environmental litigation Mood: on fire Topic: legal
Tuesday, 21 October 2008 World heritage vandal gets technical win in Land & Environment Court ...for now Mood: accident prone Topic: legal

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

6 October 2008 Google Earth reveals illegal drain intercepting Tinda Creek to World Heritage area? Mood: sharp

----- Original Message -----

From: Tara Cameron President Blue Mtns Conservation Society

To: Tom McLoughlin

Sent: Sunday, October 12, 2008 12:11 PM

Subject: Tinda Creek

Dear Tom,

The Blue Mountains Conservation Society has over 1000 members and is extremely interested in developments impacting upon the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Hence we are concerned about the Tinda Creek Sandmine in respect to its impact on the Wollemi National Park. We are particularly concerned about the tailing ponds and their capacity to reduce the amount of water to Tinda Creek. Water quality is also a problem that we would focus upon.

The Society will be discussing this issue at our next Management Committee Meeting.

Yours sincerely,

Tara Cameron


Picture: 1996 thankyou card to this writer in 1996 from Leslie Walker objector and former neighbour of the sandminers,whose sheep were mysteriously shot dead and has now left the district.

Posted by editor at 9:06 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 6 March 2009 10:41 AM EADT
Wednesday, 4 March 2009
Of gay Liberal MP rumours, redneck Liberal green baiting, shaky Costello pulpit, and fatal bee stings
Topic: aust govt

Inman as Mr. Humphries in Are You Being Served?

Yes it's Mardis Gras time, festival of tolerance, diversity and creativity in Sydney this weekend.

We are fond of this time ever since we as "distribution manager" unintentionally made Lawrence Gibbons, owner/editor of gay friendly mag Sydney City Hub, deliver 9,000 copies of his own newspaper on Mardi Gras weekend 2007: A small problem of the cover being tacky, undeliverable in family outlets, subjudice of a criminal case underway regarding sex shop products putting our solicitor's qualification at risk, and possibly conflict of interest with his partner's planning work for ... the sex industry.

And being this time of year perhaps explains the rumour indirectly via Northern Beaches Liberal Party source that a certain federal Opposition MP and pugilist has allegedly left his wife and "moved in with a man" in Canberra.

Let me count the real politik explanations of this latest rumour mongering:

1. If true so what? Sorry for his spouse, kids, life goes on. Private lives are officially irrelevant. Well no, perception on that side of politics is just as powerful as any other side so not irrelevant, more's the pity:

2. 'Move in with a man' is cute ambiguity given all kinds of rough tough hetero MPs share houses to deflect rental costs while in Canberra;

3. Promotion of Christopher Pyne MP as manager of Opposition Business over Tony Abott is bound to cause uncomfortable frictions - as distinct from enjoyable ones (?). We suggest the Abbott rumour mongering could well be a bit of gay community whispering payback for Abbott sledging Pyne and being forced into a groveling apology last week. Indeed leader Turnbull has surely consolidated his own vote in the Eastern Suburbs with the promotion of Pyne, whom 7's press gallery man (married, kids) Mark Riley compared to John Inman aka Mr Wilberforce Clayborne Humphries in Are You Being Served comedy show in his last Sunday roundup on family friendly Sunday Sunrise.

Riley Diary 1 March


Riley Diary 1 MarchPla

4. The rumour gathers some pace from the real life recent blackmail criminal conviction and suppression of male MP identity as reported from Victoria recently. Who is it hardly matters, it's the synchrony of the thing which all devilishly effective rumours build on as pure fiction:

22 Feb 2009 MP blackmail attempt on gay sex film - National - BrisbaneTimes A MAN attempted to blackmail an Australian politician after secretly filming them having sex


Indeed we know about adverse rumours. Jeff Smith the director of the NSW Environmental Defenders Office rang last Monday after 6 pm as if to apologise that this writer didn't get an interview for 2 solicitor positions there. They had 45 applications apparently and he wanted to acknowledge the past work together and collaboration.

We took it on the chin, but are left wondering all the same what past political and policy and indeed moral conflicts over corruption in my own sector have done to place one pretty firmly on a blacklist.

We are good enough to beat the high priced lawyers at Coca Cola Amatil last year in the Land & Environment Court with a pair of twos in our hand so to speak (as per this decision under what's known as the Double Bay Marina Rule at paragraph 23 before Pain J, and this decision where we participated on a narrow basis including cross examination of CCA's Director of Corporate Affairs - Alex Wagstaff) but not good enough to be paid for it. Yet it's the path we choose no point crying victim.


Which brings us to Peter Costello lecturing the G/greens about getting serious on nuclear power in the SMH today 'if they really want to tackle climate change which can only be done with techno fixes':

Perhaps Obama can convince the holdouts | smh.com.au Perhaps Obama can convince the holdouts. Peter Costello; March 4, 2009

Like all lawyer politicians and indeed like another former treasurer Paul Keating, one has to read down his self interest: Costello needs the numbers of the hard right - that's Julie Bishop's people in WA and Nick Minchin people in SA, all gungho uranium miners. And given the recession and jobs tub thumping one potential growth sector is uranium exports.

But we are reminded of another big mining company Woodside and one of their staffers Lisa Hamilton based up north west Port of Dampier way - as far away from her home town of Devonport Tasmania as you might possibly get. As we took our nostalgic mid life web surf we first noticed another student 'colleague' now acting NSW Solicitor General Karen Ferris. Quite an achievement. Then we came to Lisa Hamilton pictured in a Woodside annual report looking the same ANU Law student, computer science double degree of the 1980ies plus 20 years. Was she happy? Certainly well paid. Does she still follow the ruthless Ayn Rand philosophy?

Half-length monochrome portrait photo of Ayn Rand, seated, holding a cigarette

Serendipidy is an amazing thing. Because back in the mid eighties Hamilton's honours thesis around 1986 was on the innovative approach of common law actions in industrial relations. In short union busting. Indeed the kind of legal action that Peter Costello took in the famous Dollar Sweets Case that Melbourne based Crikey regularly refers to in relation to Costello. The union busting case that made Peter Costello the national politician he is today.

Only we suspect the brains behind the Dollar Sweets common law cause of action busting the union was not Costello but Hamilton's honours thesis. Is Costello actually derivative, grabbing the fame from a successful female legal graduate? Should he really be lecturing folks in the Green movement on intellectual and moral rigour? Folks like Senator Christine Milne in strategic alliance with Opposition Leader Turnbull on climate change/ETS senate inquiry? Turnbull being a sincere rival to Costello's leadership aspirations?

Costello is also seriously weighed down by his active Cabinet support of the Australian Government for what Nobel prize winner in economics Joseph Stiglitz calls the $3 trillion Iraq war. A war that surely has contributed to the USA 'leadership' of the world into a globally synchronised recession. Again is Costello really able to lecture anyone about intellectual rigour on his own preferred turf of the national accounts?

We think Peter's time has passed for him to have lost his way on green matters so badly. And we thank Lisa Hamilton for the whole line of inquiry/narrative all these years later. And we hope she is happy too.


Which brings us to the loud green baiting by this week's Inner West Courier suburban freebie, strong hold of the Green Party with tragic picture of Vic bushfire destruction and headline "Passions inflamed/Ashfield Liberals blame Greens for massive bushfire death toll - Page 9."

There is nothing probative in the story. It's stock standard smear and green baiting. Indeed it's profoundly ignorant not least from the reality of the logging industry having converted whole landscapes of wet old growth and rainforest to dry sclerophyll: The tinder box of the megafire today. A point well made in effect by bushfire expert Phil Cheney below in this precious quote provided via Jill Redwood of green group Environment East Gippsland below in Forestry Tasmania (2001), Thinning Regrowth Eucalypts - Native Forest Silviculture Technical Bulletin No. 13 Second Edition, Forestry Tasmania.

And a prefacing explanation of the relevance: The firestorm at Kinglake and Marysville etc monstered up mainly on state forest with high intensity logging history, as well as existing cleared farmland and also forestry plantation. This is the taboo that state and federal governments dare not declare responsibility for because that's 50-100 years of false land use policy steering the wet areas of national forest estate to megafire in the age of drought via a predominance of dry sclerophyll forest types.

Notice especially the reference to alteration of the humid microclimate as a result of logging and increase in fuel loads:

"Planning Considerations

Fire Risk

One of the major planning constraints associated with thinning is the higher level of fuel present after the operations. It is not considered feasible in Tasmania to carry out fuel reduction burns in thinned coupes because of the high fuel loads and the sensitivity of the retained trees to fire. The location of thinned coupes amongst conventionally logged coupes is problematic, as it is not recommended that any regeneration burn take place within two kilometres of areas with high levels of flash fuel within two years of harvest (Cheney 1988).

Tree crowns (heads), bark, and other harvest residue make up the fuel load. The climate on the floor of the forest is altered by thinning, with higher wind speeds and temperature, lower humidity, and lower moisture content in the fuel itself. Understorey vegetation characteristics change because of these changes to the microclimate, especially increased light. Bracken ferns and cutting grass may grow vigorously, each having a far higher flammability than the replaced woody species (Cheney and Gould 1991)."

Maybe the Ashfield Liberals are Ayn Rand supporters too, and hope to drive a wedge between Turnbull and Milne on the deceptive Emissions Trading Scheme? To assist the Costello leadership aspiration?

When the Liberals like Peter Costello, or the Ashfield Liberals, start lecturing the logging industry - on destruction of wet old growth and Tasmanian rainforest leading to tinder box dry sclerophyll over landscapes encouraging megafire risk - then we know they will be serious on the environmental challenges of the 21C. Moral high ground indeed.


Thank heavens for the David Penberthy balancer over 2 pages today about bee stings killing more people than sharks despite press panic:

Penberthy: Get tough on bees, Rees

Penberthy: Get tough on bees, Rees
I'VE got shark fever, an obsession with sharks is hard-wired into my brain. Blog live with David Penberthy from 1pm.

The same newspaper and other media could report the same concerns about increased shark sightings and attacks without going the Jaws style movie rhetoric. But selling panic is the name of the game. Which is only slightly less obnoxious than publishing this letter below:

As Greg Barnes wrote on crikey.com.au recently regarding Miranda Devine a refugee from the same Sydney Daily Telegraph now with Fairfax Sydney Morning Herald: Encouraging people to political violence is a breach of anti terrorism laws. The letter writer and the newspaper are probably in criminal breach of that law here. Like in cricket all it would probably take is an appeal to the umpire.

Posted by editor at 10:16 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 5 March 2009 1:18 PM EADT
Monday, 2 March 2009
Gosford Council: Dick Persson expert administrator report to State Govt for over 3 weeks now
Topic: nsw govt

Flood victims / NEWS.com.au

Picture: Collage via News Limited: "Gone ... Adam Holt, 30, and Roslyn Bragg, 29; their two daughters Madison, 2, and Jasmine, 3; and Ms Bragg's nephew Travis Bragg, 9 / NEWS.com.au composite image:"

One of many contacts on the central coast confirms early this February that Dick Person, formerly NSW Government administrator at the sacked Port Macquarie Hastings Council, has completed his report into Gosford Council.

This is the council that willingly gave away control of the old Pacific Highway at Piles Creek after the devastating untimely death of a family of 2 adults and 3 children in a washed out section of road.

NSW Govt to take back Old Pacific Hwy ABC Sat Dec 6, 2008 9:01am AEDT

The Sydney based coroner was scathing of lack of local government rigour:

Culvert tragedy: coroner blames council - National - smh.com.au 18 Sep 2008

Similarly this quote from the SMH:

"An "incompetent and ineffective" NSW council is entirely to blame for a highway collapse that killed five family members, including three children, a coroner has ruled.

In damning findings, deputy NSW coroner Paul MacMahon said Gosford City Council had failed to provide the most basic road maintenance, and that neglect had cost five lives.

Adam Holt, his partner Roslyn Bragg, 29, their young daughters Jasmine, 3, and Madison, 2, and Ms Bragg's nephew Travis, 9, died when a culvert collapsed and swallowed part of the Old Pacific Highway at Somersby, north of Sydney, in June last year."

And then we have this follow up:

Council risks second road collapse - National - smh.com.au 22 Sept 2008

and this

Pipes corroded before road collapse: inquest ABC Tue Jul 1, 2008 12:45pm AEST An inquest into the deaths of five people in a road collapse on the New South Wales central coast has heard Gosford Council failed to keep adequate records of repairs needed to the roads.

and this

Documents reveal collapsed highway section needed repairs ABC Mon Oct 15, 2007 8:04pm AEST

There are a legion of hostile residents and ratepayers in Gosford LGA or so it seems:

Mayor defends 'most complained about' council ABC Thu Oct 30, 2008 1:37pm AEDT

Yet the Person Inquiry was haphazard at best. Many did not know how to make public submissions. Indeed there wasn't any public advertisement calling for these. Did Dick Person access this torrent of information?

Piles Creek 12

Another contact says there has been a report of alleged corruption sent to ICAC regarding deliberately deleting the content of resident complaints from the council's own information database. Of cooking the information flow. Who would have thunk it?

The inquest heard the Gosford City Council were 'aware of structural problems'.

Picture: The inquest heard the Gosford City Council were 'aware of structural problems'. (ABC TV)

Another contact says there are two (not one) KPMG reports one of which allegedly calls for directors at Gosford to be sacked. Did Dick Person see this particular KPMG report? Does it exist?

Yet another contact says there are two reports by a state government and Gosford council retained consultancy called Internal Audit Bureau into alleged incapacity of Gosford to properly do land use planning and assessment in relation to water licensing. Are these the kind of skills also involved in landscape engineering, say for road safety? Did Dick Person access that as yet IAB confidential report?

Suffice to say our submission to Dick Person was sent direct via his email address at Port Macquarie Hastings not via Gosford Council.

We look forward to Dick Person's findings and the State Government response not least for the memory of those 3 dead children and their hapless parents. Will they get justice?

Posted by editor at 7:32 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 2 March 2009 8:05 PM EADT
Online legal research update at UNSW with Mr Cool
Topic: legal

6 points of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education. How could I resist, especially with some one else paying.

Actually it sounds like the legal version of accountancy, or maybe weeding, but no it was a very enjoyable hob nobbing with the partner from Turnbull Hill, and the Clayton Utz senior associate or probably partner. As the google graphic shows today, online data bases actually have their lighter moments (a Dr Seus theme shown here but not likely to endure):

We discovered that moi can still mix it with these guys after all those years of activist grovel: The police prosecutor dude from up Grafton way who knew about some of the real bad guys in Underbelly 2 back in the day. The union lawyer taller than Nick Seddon (the formidable contracts lecturer at ANU law school, again back in the day - last usage we promise).

And the cream was our lecturer, hippie zen style Colin Fong complete with nifty ringtail possum hair style. This intrepid guy knows his precedent data bases. Subscription or free source? Even does a bit of open university social capital in Western Sydney. This guy was too cool for law, and yet here he was out of the big firms giving back to the grassroots, well in my case at least.

So there I was 10 minutes late, pumped up by cycling in sub tropical rain, clammy wet shorts and shirt hanging out, clasping change of clothes and bag , sheepishly walking into a room of sharp female lawyers. The backbone of the legal service industry in fact. Talk about gender imbalance. (Which reminds of an old girlfriend now "acting solicitor general of NSW" I notice on one of those mid life nostalgic web surfs - but that's another story: That's what you get for 20 years of public servant grovel - quite an achievement to be sure. Still pondering how one could work for 'them' or something as ephemeral as a mortgage.)

Then one by one the other guys arrived. 5 in succession for the next 2 hours or more. All late and not a blink of shame. Disorganised? I commented to the refugee from CCH reference service:

"What does this say about the blokes?"

"I'm saying nothing" came the very knowing reply.

Perhaps this recent MCLE experience also explains the vivid dream last night turbo charged by fresh air and hard yakka: Attending moot court arriving late, empty room then surrounded by raucous students and referred to as son of the surgeon general - go figure.

Back in reality Colin The Cool got me to ask for consent for the sufficiently anonymous photograph angle above and write this report "in the next week?". Yes, except the schedule got a little misplaced. There's that bloke thing again. So now here it is full of Hawkesbury fresh air to kick it along. I told him I would need to spice it up with some newsy angles like:

  • how judges control which cases get an official report (a PR factor of bias in there?), no doubt of interest to the right wing baiters of plaintiff lawyers and so called activist/undemocratic judges as per USA experience. Reports involving sleeping judges, or perverse outcomes get censored as "unreported"? Combine this with our direct knowledge of the assiduous Media Monitors account with the NSW Judiciary and you know this 3rd arm of the executive care about their PR. On the other hand the monitoring helps prevent breaches of sub judice;
  • Good online research by the Big Media and journalists generally should help better deal with the Right to Know agenda explained here recently: Suffocating in a state of secrecy | The Australian 14 Feb 2009;
  • how some companies hide their presence in law reports via use of an agent's name (tsk tsk Coca Cola Amatil, Land & Environment Court, just look for David Kettle Consulting Land & Enviornment Court of New South Wales);
  • saucy law reports covering Errol Flynn's sex life, "its all there" apparently;
  • topical legislation this month to give more property rights to same sex couples etc. Must be the same legislation front page of the Sunday Telegraph yesterday about property claims for mistresses. A big topic at News Corporation it seems;
  • that someone can make alot of money doing a progressive update of Family Law precedents because a comprehensive guide doesn't really exist.

One exercise task involved finding the technically accurate name of the recent federal government Stimulus Package: "Which one?" was my smart *rse question, no. 1 or no. 2? Funny that I was the only one cued into current affairs who actually noticed the ambiguity. " It doesn't matter" - which was true for the exercise involved - came the unintentionally profound response from Mr Cool. He meant package no. 1 but indeed neither according to orthodox economic analysis will make a jot of difference to the sad sorry synchronous global economic downturn. Thrift people, thrift. Get with the programme.

Other useful tips we noted in addition to the text book "A practical guide to legal research" Milne, Tucker Lawbook 2008, and loose leaf study notes explaining "Boolean" and "proximity operators":

  • Pandora held by the National Library keeps a record of old websites:
  • Google can't search some data bases like phone numbers, you have to go to the online White Pages/Yellow Pages, then search
  • There is an "invisible web" of other data for those who know how
  • Austlii is a critical tool not least "advanced search" of discrete data bases, "Noteup" for referencing by other reported cases, along with Comlaw and legislation.gov.nsw.au for status of legislation, and then parlimentary websites for status of bills.
  • Austlii are fibbing (lawyers fib?) when they claim they reproduce the CLR's (Commonwealth Law Reports to you common folk) which carry the High Court of Australia historical case reports. They are similar but not the same because they do not carry the case summaries apparently as per the old CLRs. Also in this modern age the court publishes their own reports in what's knows as "media neutral" form, that is undiluted by any publishing house. Gone are the days when a judge could say "I can't hear you" for quoting the unauthorised case report using say the ALJR instead of the CLR publishing house. It's all online direct from the HCA and other courts.
  • If you are in the money there are subscription legal data bases Lexis Nexis, CCH and Thompson, Law Book online (phew).
  • As well as industry journals like Lawyers Weekly which may be free. Similarly The Australian carries google searchable legal industry articles every Friday in their press. As does the Australian Financial Review which is overpriced both online and press.

And Cool also took us back to the first "bulletin board" case of the delightfully named Justice Ipp in 1994 in Western Australia, which was about the internet before it was called the internet: It was only because librarians get together and hobnob that it was indexed under internet and is accessible to online precedent searches today:

That WA case Rindos v Hardwick has resonance today and has influenced thinking world wide: Take this 1994 article extracted onto the web here:

This article is reprinted with permission from the June 13, 1994 issue
of The Nation [USA] magazine. (c) 1994 The Nation Company, Inc.....
Individuals, however, are still responsible for their own words
communicated through cyberspace. The first trial for libel by
e-mail--held in Australia--concluded with a substantial fine being
imposed on the offending e-mailer. In that case, an anthropologist
fired by the University of Western Australia sued another
anthropologist, claiming he had been defamed in a computer bulletin
board message. The case went to the West Australian Supreme Court,
which ruled in April that libel in cyberspace is actionable. David
Rindos, who has a doctorate from Cornell University, was dismissed
last June because of insufficient productivity. A supporter of Rindos
posted news of the firing on the DIALx science anthropology
international computer bulletin board; many colleagues e-mailed their
support for him, but Gil Hardwick, an anthropologist working in the
field in Western Australia, posted a message criticizing Rindos.
According to Justice David Ipp, it declared that Rindos's career was
based not on academic achievement "but on his ability to berate and
bully all and sundry." The message also contained "allegations of
pedophilia," in the words of Rindos's lawyer, and falsely implied that
sexual misconduct had some bearing on his firing by the university. 

Twenty-three thousand people around the world have access to the
bulletin board on which Mr. Hardwick's message appeared, and most of
them are professional anthropologists and anthropology students. "The
defamation caused serious harm to Dr. Rindos's personal and
professional reputation," Justice Ipp declared. "The publication of
these remarks will make it more difficult for him to obtain
appropriate employment.... The damages award must compensate him for
all these matters and vindicate his reputation to the public."

Although it's easier to win a libel case in Australia than in the
United States, the same circumstances here would produce the same
result, according to Martin Garbus, an attorney and a libel law
authority. The Internet is not a free space when it comes to libel; it
is subject to the same libel law as any publication.

In the Australian case, the libelous message had been posted on a
bulletin board available to thousands; but even individual email
messages can cause legal problems. The day is not too distant when an
e-mailer will find himself or herself in court, perhaps in an
employment discrimination suit, for a statement uttered only in a
single e-mail message. E-mail messages, like other written
communications, are discoverable in legal proceedings, according to
William Parker, director of the office of academic computing at the
University of California, Irvine--they can be subpoenaed and presented
as evidence in court. And that's only the beginning: It turns out that
your old e-mail is not necessarily gone just because you deleted it.
At my campus of the University of California, and probably at most
universities as well as private corporations, backup copies of most
e-mail messages are retained on tape as part of the nightly backup of
the main computer. Ollie North was unable to destroy evidence of the
Iran/contra cover-up because the White House maintained a backup copy
of the e-mail system on which he had plotted his crimes. Erasing his
hard drive and shredding his paper copies didn't help. Most e-mailers
are as vulnerable today as North was. Parker's advice: "You should not
say anything via e-mail that you would not say publicly."

Which takes us to our next MCLE outing in mid March - Media Law and Defamation. Can't wait.

Posted by editor at 5:26 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 2 March 2009 7:32 AM EADT
Silly billy subbies unusual stuff up at SMH
Topic: big media

What's wrong with this image below? The highlighted extracts on the flagship editorial opinion piece are transposed. Never seen that before. That looks like excessive staff cuts and undue pressure to moi:

Posted by editor at 5:14 AM EADT
Sunday, 1 March 2009
Economic wheels, rudder fall off Sydney Daily Telegraph's $9 Billion fantasy truck tunnel to Port Botany?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: nsw govt


Maybe the Sydney Daily Telegraph brain's trust who are beating this story:

Vote grab sinks Sydney road plan | The Daily Telegraph24 Feb 2009 ... A $9 BILLION roads plan to solve Sydney's transport and congestion

might take a look at this story above from their own sister newspaper via The Australian, in the Wall Street Journal.

Call me a stupid greenie, commercial lawyer, evolutionary ecology graduate, and otherwise grovelling gardner, delivery van driver, bottle shop attendant, and reader analyst, but the synchronised global recession looks alot like there is no economic case any more for super containers to Port Botany (or Port Phillip in Melbourne for that matter).

No doubt the army of sub-contractors and tradies out there need a $9 billion meal ticket. Trouble is, a glorified truck tunnel to Port Botany as a cover for every mega road project wet dream of the Roads  Minister is probably a white elephant.

And how did we get all this congestion in the first place? More mega roads rather than sophisticated public transport? Do you think? We can't even get an integrated ticket organised. 

Far better if that army of job hungry workers were set to work on real sustainability projects - like wave power energy for instance. Geo thermal. Solar photo voltaic and water heater power on every northerly facing roof.

Or urban friendly bike paths. Or water tanks. Or ..... the list is endless really.

Posted by editor at 1:49 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 2 March 2009 12:00 PM EADT

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