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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Friday, 30 October 2009
ABC shrink 2,000 barrels a day oil blow out down to 400 via corporate spin
Mood:  sharp
Topic: big media

 Picture: Senator Rachel Siewert, Greens MP from Western Australia leading accountability on the West Atlas/Montara oil well blowout estimated at 5,880,000 US gallons so far after 70 days, based on Federal Environment Dept and Geo Science Australia evidence to the Australian Senate.

Well it's been a battle of corporate spin this last 24 hours news cycle in the south east Australian news audience, that is, where the weight of democratic power resides in this country.




The best estimates from independent evidence we have of West Atlas/Montara oil blowout on the north west shelf is that the flow rate is 'up to 2,000 barrels a day' which puts it in the infamous Exxon Valdez category. Even at 400 barrels and $150 million reportedly in trying to stop the gusher so far, we are still talking 1/10 Exxon Valdez but the upper figure of 2,000 is to be preferred as per this critical exchange in Federal Parliament, bold added:

Preface: This is the transcript of Hansard 21 October Senate Estimates Economics committee (note Mr Squire is from the Federal Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism officials). The relevant Estimates Economics Committee 21 October 2009 page E84 is at http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/senate/commttee/S12500.pdf It seems to download for me best on explorer not firefox.


Senator SIEWERT—In terms of the amount of oil that was previously and is now coming out of the well,
have you had any discussions with the company about what that rate is? They have said publicly what it is, or
speculated in fact. Have you had a discussion with them about that?

Mr Squire - There is a figure in the media of 300 to 400 barrels a day. The view of the department is that it
is difficult without access to the rig to quantify what that rate of flow is.

Senator SIEWERT—That is significantly different from the production figures that the company itself had
said would be coming from that well when it was in production.

Mr Squire—That is correct.

Senator SIEWERT—I presume through the regulatory process you have been provided with flow data
from that well and similar wells in the area.

Mr Squire—You are correct to say that the estimated rate of flow is far less than what the well would be
producing if it were in production. We certainly do have information about potential flow rates when those
wells were drilled as production wells.

Senator SIEWERT—Did you do any calculations yourself on the potential flow rates? Initially there was
an absence of company advice on what the potential flow rates were. Did you do any calculations yourselves
to estimate what the flow rates could be?

Mr Squire—Yes, we did.

Senator SIEWERT—And what were they?

Mr Squire—The information that we sought from Geoscience Australia was an estimation of what the rate
of flow would be if that well was entirely unsealed, for want of a better expression.

Senator SIEWERT—And what were they? What was that rate?

Mr Squire—The maximum leakage rate from that well could be as much as 2,000 barrels of oil a day, with
condensate as well.

Senator SIEWERT—That is in addition?

Mr Squire—In addition to oil.

Senator SIEWERT—Is it possible for you to table the basis on which those figures were calculated?

Mr Squire—We should be able to provide you information concerning the testing of that well when it was
drilled as a production well.

Senator SIEWERT—That would be much appreciated, if you could. In terms of the Timor Sea in general
and oil and gas exploration and production in the Timor Sea, it has been suggested to me in the past that there
have been several other potential incidents that never in fact eventuated because there was good contingency
planning in place. Have those sorts of incidents ever been reported to the department? …….

However as explained in recent SAM posts the corporation and government have been desperate to sell a line of 400 barrels a day. It's almost certainly a lie. Even on their own terms driller PTTEP say words to the effect of 'there is no scientific basis for determining the flow rate' while sticking to their own (scientific?) 400 barrels figure.

Indeed go figure. In Geo Science Australia public servants before Parliament we trust thankyou very much.

Which brings us to the ABC record this last 24 hours news service. We tracked them last night on PM national radio, 7 pm abc tv news, update on 9.30 pm tv news, then 7.45 am prime time radio bulletin earlier today. All at '400 barrels a day' as per corporate spin, slightly mitigated by insertion of "an estimated 400 barrels" later on as criticism arrived.

We've pressed them all the way with calls and emails on the Estimates Committe evidence, as well as on the relevant Crikey.com.au and Unleashed websites of Monday/Thursday and Tuesday respectively. We've had a chat to the office of the director of news.

This oil flow rate reportage stinks. It's much worse than 400 barrels a day according to best evidence so far, that's clear. Indeed even local ABC radio reported as much here:

Here is the abc radio news story of Oct 22 too. So how can SE Australia ABC start quoting the company’s spin unchallenged?:


and News Corp here

Perth Now web news story Oct 22 based on Geo Science Australia referred to in evidence to Senate Estimates the day before - 2,000 barrels a day, NOT 400 barrels:



Posted by editor at 2:53 PM NZT
Updated: Monday, 2 November 2009 9:59 AM EADT
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Sexy Alan Ramsey is angry ... and wrong, Oakes got it right
Mood:  loud
Topic: big media

So Alison Carabine cheekily refers to Alan Ramsey as 'the sexiest man to have ever worked in the Canberra press gallery' on Sydney wide abc radio. A middle aged female colleague to a retired 73 year old, or thereabouts.

All good humoured stuff, boosting his book promo.

But then an inhouse feud is aired where veterans Oakes and Ramsey didn't speak for 5 years.

It was over Oakes revealing an affair of the flesh and presumably spirit between Cheryl Kernot as then Democrats leader and Gareth Evans then ALP leader of Opposition in the Senate.

Ramsey argues there was no public interest as both were out of politics a good 3 years or so when the revelation was made.

This is why Oakes is right and Ramsey perhaps is revealing his ALP history as press secretary to former ALP parliamentary leader Bill Heydon:

We well recall the agitations around nascent Green Party contesting the role of the Australian Democrats. Kernot was electioneering on such things as preferencing with dubious other minor parties and acting very righeous about political pragmatism.

It was about this time that AD senator Stott DeSpoya (or however you spell it) on the annoucement Kernot was quitting the leadership and defecting to the ALP occurred and Stott referred to the record of Kernot as "very interesting". As if she knew alot more about Kernot's allegiances than she was saying.

And now with the hindsight of the Green Party replacing the Australian Democrats we can say it was quite crucial for the public to know what conflicts of interest the federal party of the Australian Democrats had as the "honest broker" 3rd force.

Potential conflicts of interest specifically include other politicians you are having an affair with. That's the human condition. Not for scandal or senationalism but to know who political players are biased toward from other parties based on other than policy merit. The public at least have a right to know and judge whether performance is being compromised.

For Ramsey to suggest otherwise is highly unrealistic. Oakbarrel was right. Ramsey is wrong. They both remain legends.

Posted by editor at 11:12 PM NZT
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
ALP machine rolls out compassionate PM wife in face of refugee "debacle"
Mood:  accident prone
Topic: aust govt

Tonight the ABC broadcaster 7.30 Report NSW edition has effectively rolled out interference on the Opposition, Green Party and Big Media negative theme criticising Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on a range of matters.

The intervention was achieved via a rare interview with the PM's wife Therese Rein on a very controlled basis in her preferred setting of a disability service radio station. She presents as very intelligent, engaging, probably more calculating than immediately obvious, and also compassionate person in relation to employment of disabled people, as daughter of a paralympian father. As loyal as ever to her politician husband she vouches for his sensitive nature while everyone else knows him as a workaholic hard arse.

Rein is chalk and cheese compared to the tedious wife of former PM Howard. On the other hand Rein has an element of kooky eccentricity in her personality that somehow gels with her husband. A certain blinkered perversity one might expect at holy roller Christian campus prayer meeting, or perhaps out of a bottle of prozac - always seeing the positive when reality is far more nuanced with shades of grey. In common with Howard they are both slaves to their respective party machine.

The placement tonight is orthodox spin to neutralise the strained testy interview over refugee boat interview by Foreign Minister Stephen Smith immediately preceding, after the Tamil boat deal seemingly unravelled in federal parliament earlier today.

What the appearance of the softer Rein tells us is that the Prime Ministerial machine is rapidly burning their political capital to stay ahead of the hunting dogs of national politics. Essential even for a high polling PM as he is nominally non factional, and must avoid any circumstance that might cleave consensus in his favour.

These huntings dogs are the criticism around diverse intractable issues:

- Tamil refugees marooned off Indonesia refusing to go ashore with provincial governor refused to force them raising the prospect of an international diplomatic problem;

- Government party figures are publicly challenging PM Rudd on lack of compassion for the same Tamil refugees such as Julie Irwin MP and Paul Howes of Australian Workers Union;

- inflation figures are up and rate rise scheduled for Melbourne cup day

- West Atlas oil spill at 5.88 million gallons is now half as big as the infamous Exxon Valdez disaster which reached 10.8 million gallons, still thankfully in the open ocean, but with no obvious solution for 70 days now.

- Telstra are refusing to buckle down on the hyperbolic $43 billion national broadband network 'plan' given existing infrastructure as potential commercial competition and 1.3 million shareholders to represent.

- shaky climate change legislation prior to Copenhagen conference in December.

Any one of these policy areas have the potential to shrink Prime Minister Rudd, not least because Australians have this quite nasty streak of cutting down any tall poppy. Ironically we wonder if the easing of the economic crisis will mean Rudd can no longer count on being everyone's 'mummy' political leader anymore.

Having created the bread Kevin Rudd is a Little Red Hen surrounded by various greedy farm animals who now want to help him eat it: Meaning he's achieved prime ministerial authority, but many others in his own party want to elbow their way into the exercise of that discretion.

Posted by editor at 10:20 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 29 October 2009 11:21 PM NZT
West Atlas oil pollution disaster now half as big as Exxon Valdez at 5.88 M gallons
Mood:  sharp
Topic: aust govt

It becomes apparent by a combination of Crikey, Unleashed and comment analysis (as per the last two posts reportage here) that we are at 5.88 Million US gallons of oil spilled at West Atlas, north west shelf of Western Australia already.

This figure is arrived at as follows:

2000 barrels a day leakage as per Senate Estimates 21 Oct 2009

x 70 days duration (since 19 August 2009 as reported open source)

x 42 US gallons per barrel (according to Hudson Godfery comment string Unleashed)

Assuming this numeracy is good we are at 5.88 million gallons which is half Exxon Valdez disaster at Prince William Sound Alaska at 10.8 M gallons spill. True it is open sea rather than a coastal bay but there is no guarantee that will remain the case.

Posted by editor at 11:58 AM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 28 October 2009 12:11 PM NZT
ABC Unleashed caught blocking public interest comment, published at Crikey?
Mood:  sad
Topic: big media

Our penulitmate post is mainly about describing the ALP Govt and Coalition Opposition bipartisan PR choreography to downplay the very real oil spill disaster ongoing off the Kimberley Coast of north west Australia.

But another troubling aspect is that the ABC Unleashed website appeared to be blocking genuine public interest information from their coverage of that story, such as:

1. The rate of spillage at 2,000 barrels a day according Senate Estimates, not 300, 400, or 1300 barrels a day, an upper figure that vindicates the Green Party despite slurs to the contrary;

2. The choreography of Minister Garrett announcements around a protection of large area of NT land at low risk, to offset damaging reports of extreme actual vandalism of smaller but increasingly large area at West Atlas oil spill. Particularly as West Atlas is a lesson on future of $50 billion Gorgon project likely to destroy class A nature reserve Barrow Island. 

This contrasts with the story on Crikey.com.au by the same author Gilly Llewellyn of World Wildlife Fund, which by contrast does allow the same analysis to go through in the comment string.

Such biased gatekeeping at Unleashed is not what taxpayers expect or pay for. Which is why we keep subscribing to Crikey.com.au because it has pioneered fiesty news reportage on a commercial model.

It now appears today 28th October, a day after the profile story was posted on Unleashed, and we started kicking up a stink on the Crikey parallel comment string, that the comments posted by this author have been allowed through at the ABC site. But why the delay? Maybe it's normal work schedule at Unleashed. We do hope so. The trouble is we have a distinct memory of comments being posted after our submission with ours deleted. But now they go forward. Mmm.

To their credit at Unleashed we now see they have run this comment now too which is harrowing:

"Hudson Godfrey :

27 Oct 2009 8:20:50pm

One of the interesting aspects of this is that comparisons should and could be drawn. So I've looked up some figures that may help establish some kind of perspective. A barrel of oil is 42 US gallons and this spill if it continues for around 90 days will if at 400 barrels a day as claimed have spilled 1.5 million US gallons. That number which I calculated myself is simply an easy source of comparison with Exxon Valdez which spilled 10.8 million gallons according to Wikipedia. It will have been a very large catastrophe and and unmitigated disaster in anyone's terms, but clearly not quite as large as some of the worst tanker spills. I just thought I'd like people to know at what level environmental damage can be balanced by some at least against petrol dollars."

End quote. However at 5 times that spillage rate at 2,000 barrels a day, which is the more correct estimate, the Exxon Valdez headline by Crikey.com.au is very very apt. Assuming the numeracy above - 70 days since leak x 2,000 barrels per day leakage x 42 gallons per barrel,  we will be at 5.88 million US gallons in 70 days right now.

A shocking situation. Half Exxon Valdez disaster and counting.

Now we understand why the Rudd Govt are going the coastal protection tub thump re climate as a PR diversion. So cynical.

Posted by editor at 10:43 AM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 28 October 2009 11:29 AM NZT
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
PM Rudd's green front man Garrett goes hoarse on 2,000 barrels a day oil pollution
Mood:  down
Topic: aust govt



What gall of the Australian Govt. They parade their concern for the coast from rising ocean waters while a 2000 barrel a day oil gusher pollutes north west Australia and neighbouring Indonesia/West Timor.

Till now industry and Govt have masqueraded behind claims of a much smaller 400 barrels a day problem. That got blown away by this strong work by Greens Senator Siewart in Senate Estimates Committee last week here (bold added):

Oil spill likely to be much larger - Dept backs Greens' claims
MEDIA RELEASE - Thursday 22 October 2009

Information revealed during questioning at a Senate Estimates hearing indicates that the amount of oil leaking from the Montara wellhead may be much higher than the company's estimates.

Yesterday (Wed 21/10/09), under questioning by Greens' Marine Issues Spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert, Federal Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism officials said that PTTEP had given them no basis for their 400-barrels-day figure, and their own calculations based on Geoscience Australia data suggested a rate of around 2,000 barrels-a-day, plus condensate.

Using PTTEP's own documents and data from similar wellheads nearby, independent analysis sourced by the Greens in the weeks following the spill calculated that the Montara wellhead may be leaking up to 3,000 barrels of oil-a-day into the Timor Sea off Australia's north-west coast.

This calculation was disputed by the Rudd Government, with Federal Minister for the Environment Peter Garrett later saying the real figure was just 300 to 400 barrels-a-day (see

Despite requests by the Greens, there has been no explanation of the basis of this figure.
"It is clear that we can have no confidence in the estimates by the company and I must ask why the Government chose to support the company's estimates rather than the Department's estimates," Senator Rachel Siewert said.

"It is clear a thorough and comprehensive inquiry is needed into this spill.

"If the oil had continued to leak at this rate over the two months since the accident on 21 August, this would suggest that up to 20 million litres of oil could have leaked into the Timor Sea.

"However, given the drop-off in the observed rate of oil leakage in the first weeks of the spill reported by AMSA, we might expect that the total amount of oil spilled could be lower, perhaps around 10 million litres.

"This puts the Montara oil spill clearly up there in the top three worst oil spills in Australia's history," concluded Senator Siewert.


Minister Garrett by our reckoning has been bought off in a policy sense to go quiet on the disaster at West Atlas rig. But before that he was already dancing around the giant Gorgon gas project threat to a class A nature reserve at Barrow Island in the Kimberley:  

Garrett decision on Gorgon means destruction for environment spacer 26th August 2009 EST

The Australian Greens today slammed the decision by the Minister for Environment Peter Garrett to allow the Gorgon development to go ahead on Barrow Island, saying he is signing off on the destruction of this unique environment. "There is no way that the environment of Barrow Island can be protected ... Greens MPs - 11:49 a.m. Wednesday  26th August 2009 EST

Garrett broke into the press and tv news soon after this criticism by rivals, to offset the Gorgon sell out at Barrow Island,  with a very big NT Indigenous Reserve and employment package in a remote region: 

New agreement to conserve Indigenous land, , Broadcast: 28/09/2009 , Reporter: Murray McLaughlin

at http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2009/s2698918.htm

The NT land apparently was not under any direct level of threat but a good news story to be sure. Very uplifting if it wasn't to run interference on the Gorgon sellout. Almost as if Garrett had to be thrown a reward by Rudd Cabinet for his loyalty on Gorgon/Barrow Island.

With the Green Party running hard on both Gorgon/Barrow and West Atlas oil spill as exemplar of threat to all of the Kimberley the Govt started backgrounding against The Greens about their so called 'exageration and hyperbole'. Heavyweight Laurie Oakes slammed the Greens in print here

Greens senator Rachel Siewert exaggerates West Atlas oil spill ... 4 Sep 2009

only for the veteran Oakes to get egg on his face as per the Estimates Committee evidence last week with official backing for the Greens metric of 2,000 barrels of oil spilled per day. Sheepishly Oakes had Greens Leader Bob Brown on his tv show in a balancer/mea culpa last Sunday on Today 9 (October 25th 09).

People have noticed how Garrett is so selective now, and so quiet after the West Atlas oil spill disaster.

 West Atlas oil spill | Garrett maintains oil spill has had no "significant" effect 2 Oct 2009


Rudd defends time taken to address oil spill October 27, 2009 - 6:02PM

Garrett wasn't always captured as he is in his new ALP ministry job. Notice above the protest label on his 1992 music cassette EXXON OIL MAKES US SICK. To understand how the PR choreography works notice this chronology based on open source big media reports all available from google:

West Atlas oil pollution disaster: Chronology of a political sellout of the environment:


30 April – WA state Environmental Agency provisional approval to $50B Gorgon gas deal off Kimberley coast

10 August  - WA state Govt approves Gorgon gas project

19 August 4 am – oil spill begins 250km off the far north Kimberley coast in Western Australia and 150km south-east of the Ashmore Reef at West Atlas, operated by Norway's Seadrill for PTTEP Australasia. The gusher is several hundred metres below on the ocean bottom

22 August – 69 workers evacuate West Altas oil rig.

26 August – Federal Minister Garrett waves through Gorgon multi billion decision for Barrow Island off Kimberley Coast with undue

28 August – Senator Siewart Greens flyover and pictures of oil spill West Atlas/Montara oil leak starts off Kimberley Coast

28 August – Federal minister Garrett announces 2 million hectare national park in remote Arnhem Land in Northern Territory with strong involvement of Indigenous traditional owners. The level of threat is low compared to the extreme threat of the West Atlas oil spill. National media coverage results.

4 September - Laurie Oakes slur on Greens for ‘exagerating’ oil spill, runs nationally in all News Corp newspapers based on dishonest industry govt backgrounding

21 October – Senate Estimates evidence from Federal Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism officials said that PTTEP had given them no basis for their 400-barrels-day figure, and their own calculations based on Geoscience Australia data suggested a rate of around 2,000 barrels-a-day, plus condensate.

25 October – Veteran journalist Oakes redeems himself in part with Green Leader Bob Brown on Today 9 Sunday show profile balancer on various issues including West Atlas oil leak.

27 October – Federal Govt release report to national media coverage on climate change sea level rise threat to coastal development – an issue well understood for over a year.



The latest report on rising sea level insurance problems might be renamed "Bipartisan PR interference support for Gorgon at Barrow, West Atlas oil spill"?

One thing is apparent: Garrett as a former rock and roll front man can sing anybody's PR song. Just tell him the words. He can even turn the microphone off if that's what you need.

And now we have discovered this evening that the ABC public broadcaster website called Unleashed have preferred to censor the gist of the above information about the Garrett PR quid pro quo. Their article is here below, but our comment inclusive of the strong presser by the Greens re Senate evidence of rate of spillage at West Atlas, and Gorgon/Barrow airbrush is censored off the comment string. So much for "diverse and robust opinion":

The same author of the Unleashed article Ms Llewellyn of WWF group - who also understates the barrels of oil spillage per day - is similarly published recently on the private Crikey.com.au ezine and there they allow genuine robust comment string on Garrett's role:

 Monday, 26 October 2009 / 12 comments Our quietly spreading Exxon Valdez in the Timor Sea

Crikey allow the Greens presser of evidence in Estimates and the choreography of the NT reservation in the face of sacrificing Barrow Island to Gorgon.

Posted by editor at 10:41 PM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 28 October 2009 9:45 AM NZT
Sunday, 25 October 2009
Sunday political talkies: Greens profile on refugee human rights, major parties cold
Mood:  chatty
Topic: aust govt


Author’s general introductory note   

This is not a well packaged story. It’s a contemporaneous traverse of the Sunday television free to air political talkies indicating the agenda of Establishment interests: Better to know ones rivals and allies in Big Politics and Big Media. Perhaps the greatest utility is the headline synthesis above of the 3 or 4 shows followed in this session.


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.  

1. To confirm the increasing irrelevance of the Coalition the Iraq war party farewelled Brendan 'war for oil' Nelson from parlaiment with ex PM Howard and ex Treasurer Costello and current embattled Opposition leader Turnbull all in attendance.  

2. The new shrunken business/sport section of the SMH is surely the first step to a more tabloid format as revenues bleed to the web. How long until the AFR is in that fold in an amalgamation of both newspapers? This would parallel the increasing doubts about the financial viability of The Australian broadsheet also.  

3. Meanwhile we notice increasing engagement of ABC figures into News Corporation (Uhlmann in The Oz this weekend, Colvin/Sales on Punch webstie, Masters now ex ABC in Daily Telegraph) leaving such as Marg Simons at Crikey/freelance/Monash Journalism School and this writer wondering why. Partly to rival Crikey? Partly to moderate News Corp viciousness to the public broadcaster. Partly Mark Scott empire building with reassurance of strong govt subsidy and web/NBN expansion any time now. 

4. With all the controversy over "influence peddling" in NSW Planning we noted ex minister Sartor met one or other Medich developer some 4 times in some reportage somewhere (or did we, it gets so confusing in the deluge). Sartor refused to answer whether he was lobbied by Obeid and Tripodi MPs in a parliamentary inquiry last week.

Now as we did our tax late this week we came across this scrap of notepaper out of the shoebox literally - quickly scrawled in a coincidental conversation with an off duty abc journo on a city train ride mid 2008.  

The timing indicates many people knew Mr Vereker was an unlikely big ALP party donor in 2008. We don't know what the Mr Ell reference is exactly, but we notice his name in the press also this weekend some 15 months later (shown). Mmm.

5. Laurie Oakes uh oh moment came in estimates last week when West Altas oil leak was revealed as potentially 2000 barrells a day, after Oakes attacked Greens Senator in print for daring suggest more than 400 barrells on bum steer from ALP resource mates/ministers. But in a strong redemption Oakes runs Senator Brown in a balancer today on Today 9 tv show. That's what we call a fair go too LO.

6. Here is that picture of Julia Gillard gotcha moment we sought from last week with LO on Today 9, when she realises her own 2003 media release is being quoted at her regarding "another boat, another policy failure". Gotcha maybe but we saw it as human expression of due shame for a shameful period in Australian politics over 5 years ago now, and best left there. The lips are wide not to speak but quick inhalation during listening mode, followed by a deep blink as if to wipe the slate and start again with a new script. A real CSI moment. And she didn't pause indicating quite some steel in this politician.


7. KKK aka Minister Kristine Kershner Keneally, theology and politics graduate with a flair for bright red outfits, described as "a knockout" by the News Corp press gallery man Salusinsky, is like air freshener sprayed to disguise rotting dead cat in the rafters. A sickly sweet experience that you know is unhealthy. Part of the theatre is a gender righteousness (eg on display on NSW Stateline). Trouble is the ALP have a problemmatic record on gender as red herring so to speak when it comes to integrity issues : Yvette Andrews - exposed here on SAM - was 18 months the general manager at Addison Rd Centre in Marrickville on $60K a year (possibly pro rata) without any competitive job selection, indeed refusal of the board to advertise, then resigned just as a controversy involving her husband assaulting a tenant caused shockwaves there. A rolled gold scandal. And Andrews just happens to be co-author and former staffer to Meredith Burgmann's famous Ernies, beloved of the sisterhood. She liked to run her gender righteousness too. It takes a sleazy party to run interference like that.

8. Boris Johnson the newish Mayor of London, and hardly a raving socialist, had a cracking piece in our local press regarding banks as giant vampire squid. They 'don't get it' was his premise and 'call in the regulators'. Strange times indeed.

10 Meet the Press:  8- 8-30 am 

Intro on national broadband network NBN - $42B. Rudd and Turnbull. Press roundup on ‘plane people’ in Sydney Tele etc.  

Conroy is the talent. Boilerplate on boat people re global patterns of instability. Telco Industry Ombudsman report huge increase in consumer complaints across the sector. Out take is Joyce and Feilding going at eachother. Grab from Nick Minchin re Telstra legislation allegedly rushed through.  

Panel is Hewitt News Corp and David Crowe of AFR. Minister says reshape the industry as competition has not delivered, higher prices, less innovation. Crowe penetrating questions for a newbie in this forum. 

Out take Nicholson Indon solution speaking strine.  Intro grabs – Stone, Tuckey, Rudd etc.  Senator Sarah Young on 78 boat people still moving around. Questions of open door. Location means much less than other countries. Boat arrivals miniscule but safety issue is highest. [Presents like ex Senator Kerry Nettle as very articulate.] Open door? Presses refugee convention signatory, never let this happen again with Jews in WW2.  Q whether tamil fighters on board. Assessment. Should accept real refugees. Regional solution okay, neighbours should sign refugee treaty, build up cooperation. Hewitt looking suitably impressed by young bright senator of similar proportions. Is good.  

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


Riley Diary 7, from 8.40am 

Start runs into Oakes interview. Advert for national swine flu programme. ETS dynamics, tennis metaphor, best of bucks fizz, Trioli finger twirl, Rudd on Rolling Stone.  Aaa mate, for a in Copenhagen, the island state 



9 Sunday newshour Laurie Oakes interview 8.44 am 

Senator Bob Brown Greens with LO [balancer for attacking Greens on leak rate at 2000 barrels  a day said only 400 barrels, good deal LO]


Sanctions on Sri Lanka push factor. Bradfield and Higgins byelection. Greens versus the Coalition in both seats. Susie Gemmell, and Clive Hamilton, very tough to win, vote will grow and promote democracy.


Claims Greens shepherd the $42B stimulus package versus Coalition. Pushes equity of payments to households not polluters. Polluter pays. Happiness is not related to consumer excess. Prosperity too.


Tone is real fireside chat material. Get out of destruction of Australian forests and woodlands get 20%.


Oil leak in north west WA, judicial inquiry rejected, brought machine from asia not locally took too long, same company new area to explore. Rewarding the polluter. Govt ecologically irresponsible. Peter Garrett has a lot of questions to answer from.


Treasurer Ken Henry in news re kangaroo industry 50M cull per year.  Bob Brown says he’s an admirable Australian and guided Greens approach on economic policy.




Insiders 2: 9- 10am


Riley style package on asylum seekers re morality, with Sarah Hanson Young. Profound footage of PM Rudd rejecting Tuckey. Parliamentry adversarialism prominent.


Panel is Schubert Fairfax (centre left), Coorey Fairafax (centrist/centre right), and Glen Milne News Corp (centre right).


Talent is Stephen Smith Foreign Minister boilerplate on humane balance re asylum seekers talking the issue out of oxygen and then onto Afghanistan and trade/Stern Hu issues with China.


Vox Pop Tas amongst the horsies, why Rudd so popular. Is it the money?


[refer cartoon from 6 months back, clipping in due course].


Terrorists in boat people – was it outrageous or unremarkable? Milne says not – [but that’s wrong as per Alan Jones ramp up of fear mongering]. Danby plea for correct language re refugees. Big issue re temporary visas again or not re Pacific Solution. Coorey says Rudd won’t backslide to that again.


Paul Kelly basically agrees with Rudd SE Regional approach. Population discussion by panel – is a serious issue.


Nelson farewell, Costello grabs x 2. Clive Hamilton for Greens – litany research material that could be used to embarrass. Milne rubbishes as far left. Canberra based.  


Dutton Bowen mutual sledges.


Interview of US figure on NZ television about Australia not a deputy sheriff.


Merits of Canberra. Talking pictures with Alan Ramsey with book, fantastic Ward ONiel cartoons [like AFR guy today David Rowe]. War story about calling PM Gorton a liar from the gallery and almost lost his job. Piles of hard copy in his office.  Grand Old Man tone.



  Inside Business with Alan Kohler  

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


Posted by editor at 11:24 AM NZT
Updated: Sunday, 25 October 2009 12:24 PM NZT
Saturday, 24 October 2009
Perfect song for Don Lane farewell plays over Penrith
Mood:  bright
Topic: local news


This song with the luscious base synthesiser played yesterday on Penrith commercial radio, satellite city to Sydney Australia. We were listening to it in 35 degree heat all around mesmerised. 

American-Jewish guy and big tv entertainer based here in Australia, called Don Lane, died the day before in Sydney. Apparently he was highest paid tv star in his time 70ies and 80ies in Australia. Perhaps the mutual love in was that he chose us all the way from modern Rome, so we Austalians chose him (though this writer not so much). Perhaps he just didn't believe in the Vietnam war?

So you see the craft of this song captures the emotion again and again for people in the entertainment industry. Nice one DJ, nice one. We grabbed this image of Don Lane looking for all the world like an Andy Kaufman character. May he rest in peace.

And Nightshift refers to two departed artists the year before in 1984. One the famous Marvin Gaye. The other Jackie Wilson here on YouTube. And the parallel with Jackie is even more spooky. Lane was laid down with dementia. Wilson was in a coma 9 years after a heart attack while performing at a benefit concert according to the wikipedia entry.

Jackie Wilson looks and sounds very much like the original 'Elvis Presley' here on YouYube - without the due credit. We know better now it was always going to be a coffee coloured future, ain't that right Mr President.



Posted by editor at 4:57 PM NZT
Updated: Saturday, 24 October 2009 5:30 PM NZT
Sam Haddad reverses Judge David Lloyd in 2000? The curious case of Dixon Sands at Maroota
Mood:  not sure
Topic: legal


Picture above:  Lands Dept aerial photo 1998 of Maroota district showing sand mining with gold star indicating unlicensed water pumps of different operators at various times over the last 20 years in Maroota: 

Our source advises that Senior Planner Sam Haddad has been associated with approving a controversial, environmentally destructive development in the past, well before the now famous Catherine Hill "land bribe" finding by Justice David Lloyd of the NSW Land & Environment Court (LEC) , or murder of Mr McGurk causing a parliamentary inquiry into planning issues.

Indeed Judge Lloyd's name comes up again  hold the line on good planning practise in 1998, as does Planning officer Sam Haddad and an allegation of "two green lights" being issued according to a sand miner applicant with his gun barrister to load on the pressure. Read on.

Dixon Sands (Penrith) Pty Ltd out at Maroota 45 km north west of Sydney (in the picture above) were shut down by Baulham Hills Council in 1998. It went to the LEC and David Lloyd's reputation as a hanging judge was in action with this devastating decision against the sand miner costing them millions of dollars in a shut down. Here is the decision:

(From Land and Environment Court of New South Wales; 18 December 1998; 42 KB)

Land and Environment Court of New South Wales

Record of hearing

Judge Lloyd J

Number 98/40130

This was during what became known locally as The Sand Wars between various miners and local community groups reminiscent of a Mad Max script.

The decision of Lloyd J late 1998 is very severe, to quote (with bold added):

57. I have come to the view that the applicants should not receive the benefit of the Court's discretion for the following principal reasons.

* the sand mining is now being carried out on the land without consent;

* the sand mining being carried out on the land is designated development. The development thus has special status under the Act, which includes the involvement of others as well as the applicant. The Act requires the views of members of the public and other authorities to be taken into consideration before such development is to be permitted. It would be contrary to the scheme of the Act to allow the development to continue without consent;

* the development has been carried out in breach of several of the conditions of the consent and in breach of the provisions of the EIS and the supplementary report to the EIS. I have referred in paragraphs 10-48 above to these breaches, some of which are continuing;

* many of the breaches of conditions and of the provisions of the EIS have been influenced by considerations of commercial expediency. That is to say, where considerations of commercial expediency have, in the respondents' views, outweighed the requirements of the conditions of development consent and the provisions of the EIS, the considerations of commercial expediency have prevailed;

* apart from the hours of operation, the haulage road and the five year limit to the term of the consent, no application has been made to modify those conditions of consent or provisions of the EIS which are said to be commercially impractical. The respondents have instead unilaterally decided that any inconvenient conditions or provisions will be simply ignored;

* many of the breaches have had adverse environmental consequences. For example, the failure to grant the right of way for the haulage route has resulted in traffic being adjacent to the area occupied by the rare plant kunzea rupestris; the ineffective sediment controls have resulted in sediment entering bushland on the adjoining Crown land; sand mining has been undertaken within the 50 metre buffer to the kunzea rupestris, thus compromising the survival of that rare plant; the absence of the ten metre vegetative buffer has meant that there is no visual screening to the development; the excavation below a depth of 15.2 metres has thus created a deeper excavation which in turn makes compliance with condition 2 impractical and rehabilitation more difficult; the breach of operating hours, intended to limit the times at which trucks enter and leave the site, may well have had an adverse impact on residents who live along Old Northern Road; and the abandonment of the extraction plan and of staged extraction and rehabilitation has resulted in almost the whole site remaining in a disturbed state;

* the applicant is the body charged with the duty and responsibility of administering the Act within its area. It is thus acting on behalf of the public and in the public interest. The Court is thus less likely to deny relief than it would in litigation between private citizens;

* it seems to me that the respondents have, throughout the whole of the period of the consent, been motivated by considerations of commercial expediency when such considerations conflict with the conditions of development consent and the provisions of the EIS;

* as noted by Mahoney JA in Warringah Shire Council v Sedevcic (at 346):

"The courts have, under the various planning regimes, emphasised the significance of compliance with planning requirements and the danger of allowing individual hardship in particular cases to erode the general operation of planning schemes. These considerations are no less relevant at the present time."

This consideration, it seems to me, has even greater force where the case is one which involves designated development;

* the present predicament in which the respondents find themselves is entirely of their own making. They knew when the development consent was to expire. The have only belatedly set about preparing a new EIS for a new development application to continue the sand mining. They have belatedly made an application for the modification of the consent pursuant to s 96 of the Act by amending Condition 6 to provide them with an additional period of twelve months;

* in short, I do not think that the respondents can be trusted. I have considerable doubts as to their willingness to comply with all the conditions of the development consent and the provisions of the EIS which are in conflict with considerations of commercial expediency. The respondents' conduct suggests the contrary;

* whilst there may be some financial penalty as a consequence of the respondents' activities being restrained, I note that there is evidence that the subject land is not the only source of income of the first respondent. It has other sand mining activities elsewhere, which will continue to provide it with income. I also note that the agreement between the first respondent and the land owners (the second and third respondents) may be terminated by them if sand extraction is no longer possible. If as a consequence of the Court's orders in this case the agreement is terminated, then the land owners would, it seems, be free to enter into another agreement with some other operator.

58. Accordingly I make the following orders:

1. The first and second respondents, their respective servants and agents abstain from using, permitting to be used or causing to be used the land being lots 196 and 29 in Deposited Plan 752025 within the Parish of Cornelia and County of Cumberland and being contained in Folio Identifiers respectively 196/752025 and 29/752025 situate on Old Northern Road at Maroota for the purposes of an extractive industry and sand mining (except for works of remediation or restoration) until such time as a development consent permitting any such use is granted.

Meanwhile the dubious operations of PF Formations Pty Ltd, commercial rival of Dixons, in the same Maroota locality went on their merry way apparently with Council staff blessings.

This perceived differential of local council treatment, as well as intrinsic impacts, was at the heart of the conflicts with the local council and the local objectors also.

 Picture: Dixon Sands operation in 2008 EIS for extension of their development approval area.  

What we find most fascinating is this scenario according to our source: Patriarch Ken Dixon, who is now an invalid, and his heir apparent, son David Dixon having been burned badly by Lloyd J, then organised a conference with non other than senior planning officer Sam Haddad, over a year later in 2000. Also was present was the barrister for Dixons by the name of "Phipps". Our source now thinks it was Jerrold "Cripps" but we don't know. There is no barrister currently called Phipps in NSW according to our search of the bar assocation here 9 years later.

We don't know if it was Jerrold Cripps, later to become Chief Judge of the LEC, and head of ICAC. Dixons apparently wanted '"the best". Cripps resume' does suggest he was in private practise during this time as here via open source



2004-present - Commissioner, Independent
Commission Against Corruption

2000-present - Member of the Court of Arbitration of

2001-2004 - Acting Judge of the New South Wales
Supreme Court and Court of Appeal

1992-1993 - Judge of the New South Wales Supreme
Court and Court of Appeal

1985-1992 - Chief Judge of the New South Wales Land
and Environment Court

1980-1985 - Judge of the New South Wales Land and
Environment Court

1978-1980 - Judge of the District Court of New South Wales

A barrister is obliged to accept clients according to the taxi rank rule and we can't say the miner or their lawyer did anything wrong pressing their case. What we worry about is the selective open door policy by the Dept of Planning or as Quentin Dempster calls it "influence peddling".

David Dixon reportedly then told our source after the meeting with planning officer Sam Haddad that "we got 2 green lights". Meaning they would be approved by Planning way ahead of the actual public process, to recommence sandmining and so it turned out apparently. This set off another litigation in 2004 here in favour of the sandmine via the NSW Dept of Planning:

Diamond v Minister for Planning New South Wales and Another (No 2) [2004] NSWLEC 254 (24 May 2004) [36%]
(From Land and Environment Court of New South Wales; 24 May 2004

But what has got us puzzled is what is meant by "two green lights" back in 2000, which then led to an amateurish, failed community legal challenge? Was that private meeting official planning process? Absent public submissions and application of planning rules according to merit? 

Was the meeting in 2000 transparent, recorded on file notes or not, as per scrutiny of more recent cafe meetings with Graeme Richardson for an unrelated development reported on NSW Stateline, as here in due course, last night 23 October 2009?

All very interesting because we have heard allegations that another council Penrith, with a big sand mining sector was running a bribes book by one of the officers many years ago. Whether the book still exists we don't know.

Posted by editor at 3:25 PM NZT
Updated: Sunday, 25 October 2009 10:44 AM NZT
Swimming pool regulation in NSW: Nanny state or essential intervention?
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: legal

We noticed 'the freedom party' candidate in Australian Big Media aka Miranda Devine tub thumping recently:

Nanny state helps to drown us in our own stupidity October 22, 2009

Well as Forest Gump might say, stupid is as stupid does/writes, eh Ms Devine?

We have vague recollections of writing a legal briefing note on the original pool legislation in NSW in the early 1990ies. We suspect it may have been for the Environmental Defenders Office at the time, as we sniffed around which green group we might contribute the most.

Here is the current Act here:



And then we saw this above  last weekend, picture taken today - and yes that is a childrens play slide about 5 metres from an unfenced/broken fence pool, albeit raised off the ground. And yes that is the open driveway from the street at left foreground theoretically accessible to neighbourhood kids. 

We were hurried along by an occupier so we don't know if it was filled with water or not. Nor did we see any children nearby. A week earlier in another location we drove along a street in the Hawkesbury at 7 am on a Monday, street quite empty, and we noticed a 3 year old healthy happy child wandering the street alone complete with grubby barefeet and coloured pencils in one hand.

Suffice to say with the help of a local taxi driver - including brief report via taxi radio to the local coppers - we encouraged this brave little adventurer who apparently woke up with the early sunlight to go home quick smart . An old lady sweeping her front told this writer she had noticed this wandering angel several times and that "It's dangerous".

Get it? The reality of unsupervised kids and unfenced pools?

If the pool legislation saves only one child from drowning - will it be worth it? Probably.

We also noticed another property frontage in the local 'hood, we think 'freedom loving' Ms Devine would feel quite at home

Posted by editor at 1:39 PM NZT
Updated: Saturday, 24 October 2009 1:44 PM NZT

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