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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Tuesday, 9 January 2007
The Oz opinion piece on bushfires is surprisingly balanced
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: wildfires

Editor: It's a little bit waffly but also duly sophisticated unlike the wicked NAFI logging industry pre emptive smears of conservationists in the press every so often. The expert here even notes the wrongdoers in the logging industry which is quite right: They have got off scot free for 30 years for the woodchipping effect promoting landscape change and more intense bushfires in spindly regrowth in place of mature forest. A 30 year scandal on our watch.

Also an interesting comment from a contact: fires on farmland are generally not really 'bushfires' as such, they are properly described as 'grass', 'agricultural' or 'farmfires' rather than bushfires. That may well be pretty fair in relation to say the big fires of the Eyre Peninsula (SA, 2005) or South West Victoria (1983) on mainly agricultural land burning grasslands.

More on bushfires here too: http://cpppcltrust.com/ecologyactionsydney/id2.html

Kevin O'Loughlin: Burning issue begs a new solution
08 January 2007

WITH the immediate summer bushfire threat appearing to have eased, the debate has hotted up on the causes of recent big bushfires, who is to blame, and what the solution might be.

Along with the most recent fires in Victoria's alpine region, we've had some extreme fires in recent years: January 2006 in the Grampians, the NSW mid-north coast and southwest slopes; 2005 in the Eyre Peninsula and Perth Hills; 2003 in Canberra and the Southern Alps; and the Black Christmas fires of 2001 in NSW, to mention only a few. After each of these, the debate has been similar.

Given the frequency of very large fires in the past five years or so, it seems fair to aSK: are big fires inevitable? And, if so, what can we do about it?
Busfires are not confined to southeast Australia. In northern Australia, millions of hectares of tropical savanna grassland burn every year. The international perspective is also relevant. In 2003 alone, along with Australia, Portugal, France, Spain, the US and Canada experienced extreme fires.

In the US, fire and land managers, scientists and conservation groups are working together to find solutions to more frequent, severe fires. The former US Forest Service national fire director and now adviser to the Brookings Institution, Jerry Williams, was in Australia at the invitation of the Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre recently talking about mega fires. He defines them as destructive, record-breaking, long-running fires that can't be suppressed until there's a break in the weather. The US has had at least 10 mega fires since the late 1990s. Williams argues it's not just about the need for more suppression resources to protect people and properTY: it's about management of natural resources, public policy, and about how to engage all relevant parties in finding solutions.

The present alpine fires in Victoria seem to have a special message. More than two million hectares of alpine country were burnt in 2003 and the current fires are now approaching one million hectares. Are fires of this size and frequency telling us something?

Of course, the long-running drought and the current El Nino are factors. But so are the higher-than-normal temperatures in Australia over the past decade, suggesting climate change is also a factor. We have a tendency to look for the simple answer but the reality is more complex.

Despite technology, society is now more vulnerable in some ways. The already dire situation with our water supplies means that a major fire in our main catchments could be catastrophic. It could destroy water quality and, once new tree growth is well established, reduce the run-off for decades as younger, fast-growing trees use more water than mature forests.

We also have more people living in the bush fringes of our major cities as the suburbs expand. In the 2003 Canberra fires, the heavily mulched native gardens carried the fire further into the suburbs.

These fires are also devastating for our forests. The forestry sector is sometimes seen as one of the bad guys in the fire debate. But the sector has an important role. Professional foresters have expertise in fire management and these forests are assuming an increasingly important role as a factor in carbon storage.
The environment sector clearly has a role, too. The environmental damage of these big fires is drastic and long lasting. But here's a paradOX: periodic fire is essential to much of our fire-dependent ecosystems. It can improve the health of forests and increase bio-diversity. But what is the right dosage for each part of the ecosystem and how do you manage it?

The state and territory fire, park, land and forest management agencies have day-to-day responsibility for fire issues. They are the ones who struggle with the dilemma of prescribed burning. We can't control a drought or change the climate easily, but we can influence the build-up of fuels. But how do you achieve the desired targets when the fire season starts early and the fuel loads cause extreme behaviour even in moderate weather? Research to improve weather forecasting and fuel assessments is part of the answer, but there are no simple solutions.

The community, too, is a critical factor. Will it accept more regular local smoke from prescribed burns as a lesser evil? In major fires, many people now understand they can't necessarily rely on a red truck to save their house.

The Bushfire CRC is now halfway through its first seven-year term of multi-disciplinary research on some of these complex issues. A national bushfire forum in Canberra on February 27 will be a step in this direction.

Are more big fires inevitable? I believe the answer is probably yes. We need to know more about the complex issues involved, but the time has come for nationally co-ordinated action based on what we already know.

Kevin O'Loughlin is chief executive of the Bushfire CRC.

remote Posted by editor at 8:01 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 9 January 2007 8:13 AM EADT
Monday, 8 January 2007
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation spin machine in Australian press, pre empts Monday shocker?
Mood:  irritated
Topic: big media

A strange combination of two articles appeared on the Sunday and Monday Fairfax press. The earlier one is offline by the look of the index archive and features a nice large image of charming, long distance running Melinda. Bill’s better half indeed. It’s a highly complimentary one page feature in the Sydney SunHerald 7th January 2007 at p71 after the lifestyle and glossy liftouts, with the curious non title in large font:


She has been dubbed the most powerful woman you know nothing about


But then next day we see this crash tackle in the much lower Monday circulation below, a very rude article undermining all that good PR they are getting about philanthropy of unprecedented level. What indeed is going on? Are we seeing a differential of circulation tactic to spin the impact of the second damaging story?


The Monday January 8th 2007 shocker in Fairfax Sydney Morning Herald is here

(and refer here for more horror info on the situation of Shell in Nigeria which is in the story: Shell Hell) sourced to the Los Angeles Times:



The Gates cash that keeps people healthy but makes them sick


Charles Piller in San Francisco and Edmund Sanders in Nigeria
January 8, 2007


JUSTICE ETA, 14 months old, held out his tiny thumb. An ink spot certified that he had been immunised against polio and measles, thanks to a vaccination drive in Ebocha, Nigeria, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


But polio is not the only threat Justice faces; he has suffered from respiratory ailments since birth. Many people blame this on the flames and smoke that rise 100 metres over a nearby oil plant. The plant is owned by the Italian petroleum giant Eni, whose investors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


The makeshift clinic where Justice Eta was vaccinated and the flares spewing over Ebocha represent a head-on conflict for the Gates Foundation. In a contradiction between its grants and its endowment holdings, the foundation reaps vast financial gains every year from investments that contravene its good works.


Elekwachi Okey, a local doctor, says hundreds of flares at oil plants in the Niger Delta have caused an epidemic of bronchitis in adults, and asthma and blurred vision in children. Many of the 250 toxic chemicals in the fumes and soot have long been linked to respiratory disease and cancer. "We're all smokers here," Dr Okey said, "but not with cigarettes."


The Gates Foundation has poured $US218 million ($280 million) into polio and measles immunisation and research worldwide, including in the Niger Delta. At the same time it has invested $US423 million in Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Total of France - the companies responsible for blanketing the delta with pollution, beyond anything permitted in the US or Europe.


Local leaders blame oil development for fostering some of the very afflictions the foundation combats. Oil bore holes fill with stagnant water, a breeding ground for mosquitoes that spread malaria. Health inspectors also cite an oil spill clogging rivers as a cause of cholera. The gas flares contain toxic byproducts such as benzene, mercury and chromium and lower immunity, said the area's health commissioner, Dr Nonyenim Solomon Enyidah.


Like most philanthropies, the Gates Foundation gives away at least 5 per cent of its worth every year, thus avoiding paying most taxes. In 2005 it distributed nearly $US1.4 billion.

A policy officer at the foundation, Monica Harrington, said the investment managers had one goal: returns "that will allow for the continued funding of foundation programs and grant making".

An investigation has found that the foundation has holdings in many firms that have failed tests of social responsibility because of environmental lapses, employment discrimination, disregard for worker rights, or unethical practices. The foundation has big holdings in several companies ranked among the worst US polluters, including ConocoPhillips, Dow Chemical and Tyco.


The investments also include pharmaceutical firms that price drugs beyond the reach of AIDS patients the foundation is trying to treat. Hundreds of Gates Foundation investments have been in companies that countered the foundation's charitable goals.


This is "the dirty secret" of many large philanthropies, said Paul Hawken, director of the Natural Capital Institute. "Foundations donate to groups trying to heal the future, but with their investments they steal from the future." Worse, said Douglas Bauer, of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, was investing for profit without attempting to improve a company's way of operating.

By contrast, foundations that make social justice, corporate governance and environmental stewardship key considerations in their investment strategies include the $US11.6 billion Ford Foundation, America's second-largest private philanthropy.


The Gates foundation did not respond to written questions about whether it might change its investment policies.


Los Angeles Times



Posted by editor at 8:14 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 9 January 2007 8:01 AM EADT
Toe rags in the Big Media incite disharmony with figleaf 'reporting the facts'
Mood:  lazy
Topic: big media

Two fifteen year olds are described as "racists" in a shallow, stupid opinion piece by the egregious Paul Sheehan in the press today:

A whitewash of criminal realities

It was inevitable that someone like Andrew Farrugia was going to be killed by members of the feral underclass that exists in many rural towns with large Aboriginal populations, Paul Sheehan writes.

for their alleged role in fatal violence in what looks alot like a violent mugging that has gone horrifically wrong in Griffith last week. One white teen is dead, the lives of another two black teens (the alleged perpetrators) quite likely ruined.

No winners, great anger, great tragedy.

And Sheehan makes it all worse: Here's why: He says literally "Andrew Farrugia died for one reason only. He was white." in the second paragraph.

No hiding stereotypes here for Sheehan emboldened by community horror and distress like the emotional vampire these right wing shrieker media types always prove to be. No concern about tainting a legal case that is obvoiuslsy subjudice either.

Sheehan claims this so called tough straight talk is stating the hard facts and putting aside false "picancaninny" attitudes by which I guess he means treating Aboriginal folk like moral babies, or "mendicants" meaning beggars. We have to go hard, and apply tough standards expected of every other citizen.

Yeah? Really?  Fifteen year olds, likely very disadvantaged fifteen year olds, are supposed to have a handle on all this mature responsibility and obligations from within a slum pit surrounded by slippery walls, real and conditioned?

How simple and stupid of Sheehan who surely has no concept of a real slum the world over.

And the bigots in our society are similarly emboldened, but more of that below. First to dissect this pathetic thesis of Sheehan.

It is at least open to question whether one reason the "white" 17 year old reportedly was preyed on was that these "black" teens apparently were intent on criminal theft, to pursue an age old franchise - getting things with violence. Since when is theft a particular racist agenda? And if the richest pickings are white, well it might look racial but its just money. 

It is also an open question whether it was an immature gang attempt to enforce a territorial domain in 'their' streets at night. Again hardly a novel, particularly racist agenda. But Sheehan is so sure.

And it's not as though Black Australia has missed their lesson from the world's best teachers after the British Empire invasion, and subordinate colonial governments, from 1788 onward. Okay that's a very stale complaint you might say, but a defeated People know what they are even subliminally. It's just that non Aboriginals have never had to think about it. But even that old sore doesn't get to the heart of the situation of Black criminality.

How much money did those black teen alleged wrongdoers have on them? A mobile phone? Quality of their clothes? When did they eat last? What quality of food? What kind of adult supervision? Did they even have a Christmas? Even if not, it doesn't excuse the outrageous violence, but it does get closer to the truth than Sheehan ever will.

Indeed we've just come off the most stressful time in the year, the consumer excess of Christmas and New Year. Where life's winners and losers cannot avoid knowing their true lot in life even if they wanted to. But with a teenage mind much harder to accept. It sounds corny but not much love out there for some of these black kids.

Sheehan calls it racism, I call it just as likely systemic economic violence. And yes it is inevitable. But here is why Sheehan is so sick and has got it so wrong. If it was a rich black kid from middle class USA, or black teen from another tribal group elsewhere in Australia, on the taxi rank at 2am alone in Griffith, my feeling that black kid similarly would have got 'rolled' as in mugged, with possibly fatal consequences. That's violence based on envy and poverty at the heart of the problem.

If it was a black victim the outrage might not be nearly so great.

Sheehan on his highly indulgent $150,000 plus annual salary wouldn't get it in a hundred years, wouldn't know a childhood of poverty and desperation creating criminals the world over of every colour and creed, if it poked him in the eye.

The guy is a lightweight, though in person he is actually very pudgy.

Then Sheehan has the hide to condemn those with the stomach for even getting into those pockets of desperation, trying often against hope to unravel traditions of deep ingrained social poverty breeding criminality common to every slum from Santiago to Johannesburg. That's a real low act  for Sheehan in his ivory tower to exploit anguish over a teenager's tragic death to promote his own eccentric worldview through racial lenses.

None so blind as the affluent I suppose.

If it was just blow hard Sheehan on his bully pulpit in the local pub it wouldn't matter, but his Big Media influence, along with toe rag The Sydney Daily Telegraph (admittedly more moderate under David Penberthy with his Latin influences) widely spread their stereotyped white supremacist sickness to the less educated amongst us, the less disciplined in analysis.

You can just imagine the indignation of a Mandela or a Gandhi at the ignorance of someone like Sheehan. These giants were no apologist for black criminal violence, but they knew what a black underclass does to humanity.

Today I wrote this letter, as an example of the Sheehan intolerant sickness spreading:

Dear **** Board,


Can someone in a position of responsibility counsel X behind the counter at ***** to refrain from using insulting xenophobic language when he is working there. We are after all a ****** in the middle of a highly multicultural society which I rejoice in actually.



Fact is we live in a complex time of great diversity, with a premium on tolerance and mutual understanding, that requires listening and reflection, and careful avoidance of spiraling intolerance; suspicion; stereotypes and entrenched poverty (both financial but also educational and health wise).



Of course there is criminal violence in society, of course there is reverse racism, but I don't need a lightweight to preach to me from the counter of the ****** when I am responding to the [your] phonecall to me by making a visit last Saturday morning.



If I have to put up with dodgy aggressive weasel words it is quite the simple matter to generate a sworn statutory declaration, lodge it with the Anti Discrimination Board and see how many red faces that generates, not to mention empty pockets.



Here was last Saturday's soliliquy, with another staffer there as witness (whose name escapes me) totally unprovoked as best I can tell:


'my father and his father fought for this country'


'now Iemma and the ALP are destroying it letting these criminals in here' and


'so are your kind bringing the country down too' [whatever that means],




'don't talk to me about Aborigines, they don't know snot'.


The weird thing is it was all on the back pedal as if he couldn't afford to hear an answer to this simple convenient construct less the house of cards come falling down.



These attitudes are pathetic, and easy to laugh off, but I'm not laughing. These loaded obnoxious views ought to be confronted and rejected not as some harmless whimsy from a lovable old guy, but for what they are: The seed of violence and sickness that infects our society in multiple directions, and often in a negative spiral.



It hardly helps matters that easily led people are incited by toe rags like the Daily Telegraph and other shrieking right wingers in the Big Media pandering to Old White Empire like stupid Paul Sheehan in the Sydney Morning Herald who lives on a $150,000 annual salary and likely wouldn't know a childhood of poverty if it poked him in the eye.



X by all means in a democracy can choose to follow the Paul Sheehan's and Alan Jones of this world, but he can also accept the consequences.



X has an obligation to carry out his role diplomatically and ethically at ****** in a [a place] with all kinds of people with politics he may not agree with. It's not a place for white supremacist sympathies, volunteer for * years at ******* or not. I know he loves working there and is generally valued but that doesn't mean turning a blind eye as has been implied to me previously.



For the record I do think the future is coffee coloured and a good thing too (not least the melanoma rates). I don't need people agreeing with me, but staff will treat me civilly and with tolerance. I will make sure of it one way or another.



There are some fellow travellers of X knocking around the place, thankfully .... a tiny rump.... Bring on the positive changes, I say.



Yours truly


Tom McLoughlin, solicitor in NSW, grounds staff Addison Rd Centre,

principal, ecology action sydney http://cpppcltrust/ecologyactionsydney

editor www.sydneyalternativemedia.com/blog


For those interested in the nonviolence formula of a small brown man, called Gandhi here it is:
Gandhi nonviolence
including these ten principles:
Gandhi's ten principles of nonviolence:

1. Humiliating or deliberately provoking your opponent invites violence.

2. Knowing your facts and arguments well helps avoid violence.

3. If you are open about your cause your opponent is less likely to be violent.

4. Look for common ground between you and your opponents to promote trust and understanding.

5. Do not judge others.

6. Trust your opponent. They will sense this trust.

7. Compromise on inessential items to promote resolution.

8. Sincerity helps convert your opponent.

9. By making personal sacrifice you show your sincerity.

10. Avoid exploiting weakness in your opponent. Aim for integrity, not simply to win.
Postscript: The leadership of the ABC news media on this issue has been quite outstanding in the last 24 hours. Last night on 7.30 Report on Monday 8th Jan 07 regarding successful employment scheme in Moree agriculture (cotton, but that's another question), refer http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/.
Again on AM show on 702 radio this morning a successful employment scheme of Indigenous in "meaningful" conservation work on Cape York recognised with a $6M federal government grant: refer 9/1/07 at http://www.abc.net.au/am/ 
Less well known are a group of artists from the Central Desert who I am advised made $20K from their artwork created while in Sydney last year.

Posted by editor at 4:59 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 14 January 2007 9:30 AM EADT
Community media conference April 2007 by UWS leveraging central UTS venue
Mood:  special
Topic: independent media

 [lifted from the official website pages]

Conference Theme: Sustainable Futures: Roles and Challenges for Community, Alternative and Citizens’ Media in the 21st century

expanded here:


"The Conference will take place at the University of Technology, Sydney, Broadway Campus, at the Guthrie Theater, Peter Johnson Building." http://www.ourmedia07.net/?page_id=13

Dates: April 9-13, 2007


December 21st, 2006


The Conference Organizing Committee has received nearly 200 proposals, from over 35 countries, including academics, activists, community media practitioners, artists and media/social researchers.

A provisional program will be online by mid January together with information on Keynote Speakers, Accommodation, and Conference Registration.


OURMedia / NUESTROS Medios is an international network and forum founded in 2001 by a group of engaged academics interested in advancing the democratic potential of community, alternative and ‘citizens’ media. Recognising that the intellectual and policy frameworks for citizens’ media are often out of touch with the on-the-ground reality, the purpose of OURMedia is to connect scholars, practitioners, activists and policy-makers towards defined outcomes. OURMedia is now a network of over 500 people from 50 countries and has generated an extensive body of practical and theoretical knowledge primarily in English and Spanish.



Past OURMedia conferences have been organized in the United States (2001), Spain (2002), Colombia (2003), Brazil (2004) and India (2005). These conferences have consisted of scholarly and academic presentations, media activism initiatives, policy workshops, community cultural development roundtable debates, new media labs, research-led forums and engagements by local media producers.


Main Sponsors

The conference is hosted by the School of Communication Arts, University of Western Sydney in association with the Centre for Cultural Research at UWS, and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney

Other Australian universities providing funding and support are:

* RMIT School of Applied Communication
* QUT ARC Centre for Creative Industries and Innovation

Other institutions and community organizations supporting OUR Media 6 are:

Information & Cultural Exchange (ICE)
AMARC (Asia-Pacific)
Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA)
• 3RRR Community Media Services
Channel 31 Melbourne
• * UTS Research Initiative on International Activism (RIIA)
• Community Spectrum Taskforce
Katalyst Design

The conference will be hosted by the School of Communication Arts, University of Western Sydney (UWS) in association with the Centre for Cultural Research at UWS, a member of the Consortium of Humanities Centres and Institutes. The University of Western Sydney is member of AUCEA, an alliance of Australian universities committed to supporting university-community engagement to promote the social, environmental and economic and cultural development of communities. A central aim of the University of Western Sydney (UWS) is to link arms with community, public services, industry and business across Greater Western Sydney to exchange knowledge, harness community expertise, and contribute to the region’s development, prosperity and social capital. UWS also houses the studios of Channel 31 Television Sydney (TVS), a free-to-air community TV station.

Costs at http://www.ourmedia07.net/?page_id=12

Costs - Registration



More information on how to register will be posted here shortly


* Full Rate: A$300 (US$230) (E€180)

* Subsidy Rate: A$150 (US$115) (E€90)

* Daily Rate: A$100

* Local subsidised daily rate: A$50



Check Exchange Rates





Registration covers:



Attendance to all conference sessions for 3 days

Lunch, morning and afternoon tea for 3 days

Welcome Reception

Conference Satchel and Program


More information about conference dinner and 4th day visit to community organizations will be posted here shortly.

Posted by editor at 11:16 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2007 8:27 AM EADT
Environment as keystone of all future viable governments?
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: election nsw 2007

First published here:

by ecology action, Tom McLoughlin Friday December 22, 2006 at 09:15 AM Sydney, NSW

Was the Cronulla riot in Sydney an aspect of the Environmental Debate? Undoubtedly yes. Did Bob Carr resign as successful premier after 10 years as an aspect of the environment debate. Undoubtedly yes. Did Nick Greiner lose his premiership as an aspect of the environment debate? Undoubtedly yes.


But only if you have eyes to see, and ears to listen, would be my caveat.

I will explain each example in turn:

1. Cronulla: ethno religious tensions are nothing new, in fact as old as politics itself. Similarly there will always be a small fraction of white supremacists or what I’ve heard called Islamo fascists. These simply prove how decent and lovable the vast majority are by contrast. And in Australia we have been pretty cool and successful about tolerating difference but also demanding a fair go in both directions. Not least my groovy home suburb of Marrickville.

So what went wrong at Cronulla? Well we have heard of lots of things in the general media from police performance to anglo baiting, to Muslim baiting, to right wing shock jocks, to criminal patterns of sexual violence, to the mundane matter of active versus passive recreational space in the glow of the World Cup soccer (or ‘wog’ ball as we Irish Catholics called it at Warrnambool CBC), to God knows what else.

But here is one of those shifting tectonic plates of social consciousness most people are not really attuned to but I monitor and describe as a vocation: The politics of the Environment. In relation to Cronulla it logically follows like this:

a. ethnically sympathetic Iemma govt plays catch up on climate change water supply problems since full Warragamba dam in 1997-98 (them days are gone!).

b. NSW copies WA ALP sister government successful desalination policy but where to put it?

c. Identifies Botany Bay, which is the traditional dumping ground of Sydney, never say Pittwater or Middle Harbour where the rich folks live.

d. Trouble is civil society umbrella groups like the popular Surfrider Foundation, more traditional high membership Greenpeace, the Green Party and even my own 33 strong BBACA, are against this old style disrespect for the coastline, on principle and for its practical impacts. We see this as evidence of betrayal of the fundamental obligation under the NSW Constitution in modern times for the ‘welfare and good government of the people of NSW’ as the imperative of sustainability on an exhausted and over populated planet really bites. This is becoming a subliminal spiritual belief across all society, if only to protect our species itself with the benefit of historical anthropological insight.

e. Cronulla and Sutherland ‘Shire’ is a big surf and ocean related culture there and they ‘get it’ as regards their environment at d and can feel their State Govt losing its moral credibility. They love their surf, their beach, their ocean, their coast.

f. What happens when a govt loses moral credibility? Society like nature abhors a vacuum: A hurricane of other authoritarian voices rush in to fill the space asserting their own moral claims to the way forward but it follows the vacuum over environmental credibility. A fundamental concern, a fundamental obligation.

g. A riot is exactly that ‘hurricane of other authoritarian voices’ filling a credibility gap, which started way before but includes the Desal plant proposal. Clearly this moral vacuum on the environment was allied to other cultural and harmony concerns but they don’t cancel each other out. According to this thesis the surface agenda of white supremacism against ethnics was a nasty morphing of an environmental backlash against the ethnic Premier for Lakemba dumping his desal plant on the local area.

2. Carr’s resignation after 10 years ascendancy

a. I knew Carr would resign to preserve the electoral viability of the ALP 5 years before it happened. Eh? 5 years ago? Well in a manner of speaking I knew because it was the logical converse of why he was elected. He never expected to win evidenced by his own diary. But this long time activist worked damn hard for 3 years to see him elected on March 25 1995 because it was an environmental agenda to so do. He was promising the best deal against the forest woodchippers.

b. But Carr broke his promise in the wake of the 1999 re-election. I never trust a politician regardless and was agnostic and then sceptical from at least 1997 he would follow through, to ‘end woodchipping by 2000’. By 1999 it was obvious what a liar he was positioning for a ’20 year resource security for loggers’ (in 2006 the chippers at Eden bragged about a record 1 million tonnes from high conservation value forests, in the process increasing bushfire risk hugely by destroying canopy and humidity.

c. From 2000 I decided to destroy Carr’s moral credibility on the environment for his betrayal, because I knew without that fundamental trust he was unelectable. One person cannot do much against a whole government but in time they can. Especially a good uni trained and experience and courageous one. By 2003 he was in trouble but got back. By 2005 he was drowning. Websites, individual protests, picking the wings off FOB’s (Friends of Bob) in the green movement. As I said to logger industry rep Colin Dorber outside Parliament some 6 years ago as he got his woodchipper victory (a heart attack survivor probably caused by me): “I will be doing this in 20 years time, what about you?” He retired from the fight within a year. Wise choice Colin for you and family. Carr was despised by many sectors and many civil society groups by the time he quit. He was unelectable as unaware of this reality as he was. There was no trust left on diverse policy areas but the ball that was rolling against him first, creating suspicion on other fronts, was environment as the facts became compelling on failure in

- waste management
- water recycling
- forest woodchipping
- land clearing
- urban over development especially tollways
- public transport
- air quality
- Botany Bay destruction by Port authorities
- Dioxin in Sydney Harbour
- more recently coal mining, and no doubt others

All of these were failures as cynical as the broken woodchipping ban promise broken in 2000. Other social policy sectors person by person started jacking up and refusing to suspend their scepticism or to swallow the onslaught of ‘journalist spin premier’ Bob Carr.

d. Carr resigned and slithered over to his true home, Macquarie Bank, the fast money men who have corrupted planning in Sydney for a decade or more.
Carr’s environmental wax wings had melted in the sunlight, a disinfecting sunlight.

3. The collapse of Nick Greiner political career, Liberal Premier in 1991-2

It takes a bit of memory to remember all this. I am not from NSW and was a student at ANU for much of Greiner’s term. But from January 1992 I was a committed lawyer activist in Sydney with The Wilderness Society.

I was amazed at how the Sydney Morning Herald failed to report the underlying environmental agenda that brought Greiner down. I am not so surprised now at the cynicism of the Big Media doing everything they can to freeze out the radical anti consumer ecological revolution thinking. Their environment coverage is still mostly tokenism amongst the leveraged buyouts and overpaid journalists and executives as western civilisation sleep walks to dangerous climate change, not least 5 metre plus ocean rise.

To recap, a wilderness protection lover, Terry Metherell, the Education Minister jacked up at Greiner (said to have family logger financial interests with a company called Big River Timbers) promoting open slather logging, particularly woodchipping, in NSW. This was the time of 1000 arrests in south east NSW 1989 to 1991. It was the time of Chaelundi legal case and blockades in the north east. It was high controversy and a huge moral imperative. Metherell drew a line, and I was reminded of this in footage of recent retrospective on Stateline tv show in NSW recently.

Tight numbers in Parliament pressured Greiner to cut a deal to move Metherell out of Parliament and the deal fell apart in many directions, not least Neil Shepherd refusing to hand over the EPA chief’s job to him, and ICAC finding it was a corrupt inducement (later quashed by NSW Court of Appeal but the political rejection of Greiner over his vandalistic agenda was real enough). Another casuality was go between Liberal Environment Minister Tim Moore.

How else, except for lost moral credibility on the fundamental of environmental sustainability, to explain a theoretically clean legal slate but destroyed political currency for sacked Nick Greiner? The Nick Greiner who has no moral problem today post politics working for Tobacco criminals Phillip Morris. The effective sacking like Carr above was superficially about other labyrinthine concerns, but it all followed an environmental credibility vacuum from this writer’s perspective.

(This story of political environmental imperative is also my personal story. It is why, I believe, Carr’s people (the FOB), correctly perceiving the dangerous analysis of this writer, effectively delivered via one of their messengers in the late 90’s that this writer was officially “marginalised” (Jeff Angel to environmental peers and colleagues in about 1998). But what they didn’t know was that I expected, from my knowledge of human nature in pop culture and not least commercial legal litigation career, the challenge of the mainstream. After all what is a vocation worth if it is not long term?

Indeed there is a natural and logical process involved, for a real ecological revolutionary, of social rejection as integral to the full journey, a well worn theme in any good story from Mohammed Ali to Ghandi to Nelson Mandela. And thousand other more humble toilers like me. Rejection as prelude to real change. Cie la vie and I really do embrace it. It's a badge of honour really.)

The Liberal Party under Debnam (and read Howard pulling the strings) running against Iemma are subject to this environmental discipline like the obviously corrupt ALP government, as Greiner’s fate exemplifies and the rise of the Independent MPs here too.

One practical aspect of this paper is:

Will Debnam rule out repeal of expanded national parks that Bob Carr did actually achieve while appeasing the loggers with everything left out, in a massively over cleared and disturbed NSW landscape this last 200 plus years?

It’s not a theoretical or trivial question. It will affect either his vote in March 2007 or the viability of his premiership on an increasingly exhausted and crowded planet. People know. They can feel it. They can see it in the weather. We all know spiritually, subliminally the environment underpins the moral credibility of a government as they go about all other demanding and fraught policy areas, the ecological sustainability of our home as a first but not necessarily sufficient policy area for successful government.

Which is why by the way the Green Party are called that, and not say Purple (as in sexuality or gender), or Red (as in communist) or Blue (as in capitalist libertarian).


I might have added re Desal
by original author Sunday December 24, 2006 at 07:57 AM


Within the political cycle here some relevant things have happened since the Desal plant was first proposed, mooted, rallied against, and rejected by locals, and more broadly concerned civil society groups:

The blanket coverage of the Stern Report and the subsidiary coverage of the drought which is percieved as a spooky aspect of dangerous climate change. All the Big Media commentators have noticed similarly a sea change in public mood.

Even more recently the mega bushfires, again in character seen as a spooky aspect of dangerous climate change for the earlier timing, the dryness, the undefendable nature of intensity. (My worry is too the decades of landscape change feeding into that fire profile as per book by Paul Collins and his comment piece in Fairfax recently).

Iemma's professional pollies are attuned to this evolving awareness of the merciless drying out of the country, which in turn changes the moral equation. Whereas before Sutherland folks in the semi social isolation were ready to jack up with riots at a stupid govt, now they are far more subdued on water supply concerns: 'Maybe a desal plant is the moral thing to do?' is the question arising as the last week[s] or so in the media cycle refers to relentless downward track of water supply for Sydney.

In this respect as regards Iemma, desal, and Botany Bay/Sutherland social dynamics, time and climate change driven drought are on the NSW government's side. It's only going to get worse is the general vibe. So quiety without riots or much backlash of any kind except the most dedicated Green MPs [and greenocrats], the highly cynical Planning Minister Sartor got brave and formally approved the Desal recently 'but only if the supply gets below 30%' despite earlier mass rallies.

Unless people realise a coal fire powered anything including a desal is how we got to this terrible pass in the first place, which is a pretty optimistic given the vague indirect nature of that reality, the desal in Botany Bay looks a fait accompli. Unless it really does rain. There is talk of renewable power sources but it looks like talk at this stage. And I pity the poor ecology of slowly flushing Botany Bay, and its eroding beachfronts that would never be tolerated at say Bondi or Manly.

Again not where the rich white folks live in Northern Sydney. South western half of Sydney always gets the industry they don't want up there and it's NOT FAIR, but that's another long story in due course.

Posted by editor at 10:53 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 8 January 2007 10:54 AM EADT
Real safety at home, streets ..... mental health funding: Greens
Mood:  bright
Topic: election nsw 2007

[Press release follows, bold added]

8 January 2007

Increase in funding first response to mental health crisis 

Greens MP Lee Rhiannon said today that the present crisis in the mental
health system will continue while the NSW and federal governments
continue to underspend in this crucial area.

*The death of a nine months old baby is an indictment of a mental
health system in crisis and responsibility does have to come back to
government policy and lack of adequate funding,* said Ms Rhiannon.

*Premier Morris Iemma said mental health was one of his three
priorities when he came into office. His track record has not matched
his fine words.

*In 2004-5 the mental health budget was underspent by approximately
$10 million. NSW has spent less than other states and territories in
this area.

*The death of this baby should be a giant wake up call for Premier

*Australia spends far less on mental health compared to equivalent
countries. Because of this lack of funding only about 40 per cent of
people with a mental illness are diagnosed and less than half of those
receive adequate treatment.

*This means that only one in five people with a significant
psychological problem is getting the treatment and care they need.

*A World Health Organisation report released last year on the most
appropriate treatment for mental health found that a 30 per cent
increase in funding would lead to a 90 per cent improvement in the
number of people recovering from a mental illness.

*An increase in funding would be an important step to preventing
another innocent person being killed by a person suffering from a mental
illness. It would also be a highly cost-effective investment in reducing
the number of hospitalisations from acute mental illness.

*A boost in funding would allow for an expansion of community-based
services across the state, particularly in regional and rural NSW.

*The Greens are campaigning for the expansion of facilities such as
Callan Park across the state,* Ms Rhiannon said.

For more information: Lee Rhiannon ....

Posted by editor at 10:33 AM EADT
Plastic bras and ribbons better than bags
Mood:  amorous
Topic: zero waste

More from irrepressible Lyndall McCormack, internet agitator and  green granny from Padstow, in the wake of high profile Ian Kiernan on the ABC 702 radio this morning calling for 'the next step' on our dodgy plastic bag habit:

Plastic bag levy failing

[To be fair Lyndall sent this through before the Herald story but I was busy cycling to Killara (see previous story) in topic 'election Australia 2007':

Why did student activist now minister Tony Abbott punch Peter Woof?]

Here are some constructive (?) uses of recycled plastic via the Lyndall net vacuum cleaner:

# 1

Bows bows bows, everywhere you look. I love it! I've not worn a ribbon in my hair since I was knee-high to a grasshopper and I don't think I could get away with wearing one now. So this Plastic Bow Barrette from Urban Outfitters is a nice grown up alternative (yeah right). Now you can wear a bow in your hair without looking like a sap or an overgrown schoolgirl. Best part is it's on sale for a paltry $6.99, bad news - only in the US [insert full on girly tantrum here].

[Indeed so popular it looks like its been sold out at the link above: editor]


# 2

JAPAN: Triumph launches shopping bag bra

9 November 2006| Source: just-style.com

In a bid to highlight waste caused by the use of free plastic shopping bags, Triumph International Japan has showcased new lingerie that can be converted into a shopping bag.


[submission login required]


Sustainability: Free Master Recycler Plastics Roundup Feb 3 2007

[How they round up the plastic waste in Washington USA]


DIY sector in UK comes under waste reduction scrutiny in UK


Sunday, January 07, 2007

WRAP turns attention to home improvement sector

Packaging use in the home improvement market is to come under scrutiny from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) as it seeks to add to its progress in the grocery sector.
WRAP staged a dinner for some of the home improvements sector’s biggest players last month to kick off its programme of work in the area, which will include looking at how packaging can limit damage to products.
Mark Barthel, WRAP’s special advisor on retail and innovation, said the DIY and home improvement sector was “second only to grocery in terms of the impact it has on lifestyle behaviour”.
Later in the year WRAP will also turn its attention to the packaging employed by major internet retailers, including Amazon, and the grocery retailers’ web sales channels.
WRAP’s main focus so far has been on the grocery sector, where it has signed up 13 retailers and three brand owners to the Courtauld Commitment, the landmark agreement implemented to reduce packaging and food waste.
WRAP is also seeking applications for its £8m Waste Minimisation Innovation Fund in two new streams.
One will provide funding for schemes that can reduce household packaging waste. The deadline for applications is 31 January.
For more information, visit www.wrap.org.uk.


Posted by editor at 9:40 AM EADT
Why did student activist now minister Tony Abbott punch Peter Woof?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: election Oz 2007

The editor had an interesting interview recently with long time qualified high school teacher here in NSW, and Canada, Peter Woof, a long time supporter of environmental causes.

He tells an interesting story from his parents lounge room in Killara  (a pretty exclusive north shore suburb of Sydney):

In 1978 25 year old Woof stood up to student politician, now federal government health minister, Tony Abbott who he says was allegedly caught doing unethical or perhaps illegal things like changing the locks on the student union offices and other things.

Woof says Abbott, a well known boxing enthusiast now if not then, punched Woof in the face. Woof was a 24 year old technician employed at Sydney University.

The date can be corroborrated by reference to civil assault suit documentation against Abbott presumably created for Woof in the Glebe local court at the time. Woof represented himself but was totally out muscled financially, he says, by 'half a dozen' barristers and lawyers who turned up at the preliminary hearing turning the civil suit into a high risk of huge legal costs against the alleged assault victim Woof.

Woof assumes these expensive lawyers taking a student activist dispute to another level were paid for by Abbott's 'rich father'. (It also suggests a serious fear of a  blossoming conservative political career almost destroyed at birth.)

This legal bullying tactic arguably at the expense of justice has the echo of the vexatious legal suit by Gunns Ltd bullying of Tasmanian environmentalists in the last few years.

Woof withdrew the civil suit he says under financial duress.

Peter Woof is a very experienced and qualifed person. He has an engineering degree. He is a qualified radio operator and mechanic who ws driving an LPG 4 cyllinder sedan in the early 1980's years before LPG was so popular. He owns his own house.

Woof is no shrinking violet. He is a friend and colleague of anti pirate whaler Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd fame.  Woof has participated in environmental protests including conviction for entirely peaceful protests against a nuclear warship in Sydney Harbour and the docking of a rainforest timber ship in the 1980ies and 90ies. During this period in 1986 Woof held down a high school teaching job in Bombala, a well known 'Timber Town' in NSW.

The Canadian teaching accreditation authority are aware of this lively history and have endorsed Woof's employment as a talented and committed non prosletising high school teacher. He is flying out today to continue his teaching job in remote Saskatchewan Canada


Woof notes that global warming has massively contracted the viability of traditional 'winter roads' (over frozen swamp and bog) in remote Saskatchewan, such that only one month mid January to mid February is now safe for high volume road transport during winter. This is too small a window he says to properly provision remote areas prefacing a depopulation of large swathes of North America in the future.

Peter Woof can be contacted by email on:

[pwoof dot bigpond dot net dot au]

Woof whose eyesight is suffering long sightedness in middle older age is no longer able to do much close work but obviously has some very interesting tales to tell still in his career of environmental advocacy back to the Franklin River blockades and earlier.

The alleged assault by Tony Abbott was openly discussed at a recent reunion of the Sydney Bushwalkers Club in 2006 and there are likely to be several sources to corroborate this version of student activist history of the 1970's here in Sydney.

One such witness in the 1970's approached Woof (attending with his elderly parents) at the dinner and said words to the effect of "It's a pity Peter you didn't knock Tony Abott's block off when you had the chance."

Obviously the student politics back then was very willing. Woof's social companion who made this comment unprompted is now a senior executive with a NSW Govt agency (details held by the editor).

Posted by editor at 8:58 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 13 July 2012 9:07 AM NZT
Sunday, 7 January 2007
Debnam targets ALP slush fund where it hurts?
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: election nsw 2007

The state election skirmishing is hotting up as reported here previously in the ecology topic list at:


'Dioxin in Sydney Harbour is much bigger than a quick and dirty $40M fix?' index.blog?topic_id=1083693


Today's press carries veteran Alex Mitchell on the choreography of the election debate here: Deep-seated differences create a debate debacle


But what really caught this writer's eye was this story in Fairfax about the abuse of taxpayer's money yesterday:


 Leaflet on water drips with spin: Opposition

 in a rerun of the Carr ALP green tinted advertising strategy in 1999 about 'saving forests and jobs'.


(In fact 1 million tonnes of woodchips was shipped off from NSW out of natural forests in 2006 by the same ALP govt, as per every year since their 1999 advertising eg refer http://www.forests.org.au/chipstop).


This is in a long line of fraud policy performance on the environment by the Carr now Iemma ALP NSW govt documented here:


Carr alp dodges 1999-2003


and here


Carr dodges 95-99


and here


Lake Cowal Scandal in Central NSW, cyanide leaching for gold


and here


Nov 06 - Alarm of independent greens over miner 'Environment Foundation' pay off to badly compromised 'peak' greens


This writer can't quite recall the green tinged abuse of tax dollars in govt adverts in the 2003 NSW election but it's a well worn path now, and at Coalition Federal government level too abusing taxpayer funds as a party political slush fund.

In truth money politics has broken democracy in Australia as we sleep walk to dangerous climate change. That's why both ALP and Coalition get away with this corruption.


This quote from the article seems quite worthy:


"The Opposition Leader, Peter Debnam, has promised to legislate if he wins office to get the Labor Party to pay back the money [$1.25M plus $4M?] for the advertisements."


in Leaflet on water drips with spin: Opposition Sydney Morning Herald 6/1/07


Will Debnam keep that promise if he wins? That's a very big IF.


Posted by editor at 8:10 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 7 January 2007 9:04 AM EADT
Plastic: What's in it, and is it safe?
Mood:  sharp
Topic: zero waste

Lyndall McCormack of Padstow, a waste reduction activist writes with this confronting story

Plastic: What's in it, and is it safe?
January 2, 2007

By Romana King, CBC News

We bathe with it, clean with it, play with it and eat off it. Plastic. It's a petroleum engineer's dream and a product manufacturer's best friend. It allows for lighter, tougher and better packaging and provides cheaper options for gifts and merchandise.

Yet, the very substance that revolutionized consumer goods may actually be harming us.

Plastic is raising concerns among researchers that in some forms it may be toxic and dangerous - not only to the environment but also to human health. While it's everywhere in modern society, there are options for those who want to minimize the use of plastic.


While plastics haven't been definitively linked with health problems, studies show the prevalence in our bodies of chemicals used in plastic and the correlation between these chemicals and health issues.

One study, released in June by Environmental Defence, a national advocacy group, tested a sample of Canadian children and parents for the preponderance of 68 chemicals, all found in consumer products. The findings showed that on average the participants' bodies contained levels of 70 per cent of these contaminants. What's worse is that children had higher levels than their parents.

According to Kathleen Cooper, senior researcher at the Toronto-based Environmental Law Association, plastic itself is not the problem. It's some of the material used to make plastic that is harmful.

"Manufacturers all over the world use chemicals that soften, stabilize and create malleable plastic products. These chemicals contain phthalates and other dioxins that are known endocrine disruptors," Cooper said.

Add in toxic metals, such as lead, which is used for colour, stabilization and as a flame-retardant.

Lax regulations

"The use of these chemicals is totally unregulated internationally," Cooper said. "So even if there is a voluntary agreement in domestic markets, the cheap stuff from developing countries or export processing zones makes it on to our shelves and into our homes."

Among the more worrying materials for contaminate leaching is PVC (polyvinyl chloride), commonly referred to as vinyl. The chemicals leached during the PVC lifecycle include mercury, dioxins and phthalates. PVC is used in numerous consumer products, including adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, solvents, automotive plastics, plastic clothing, personal-care products (such as soap, shampoo, deodorants, fragrances, hair spray, nail polish), as well as toys and building materials.

Organizations including the U.S.-based National Toxicology Program, the Environmental Protection Agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health agree that vinyl is one of only 52 chemicals/compounds designated as a confirmed human carcinogen. As a result, many groups, including Greenpeace, Children's Health and Environmental Coalition (CHEC) and the US-based Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) advocate a restriction or prohibition of PVC in all consumer products including toys, building materials and packaging.

Even though numerous studies, including a 2003 Center for Disease Control research report that documented human exposure to 116 chemicals, show heightened levels of toxins in people linked to PVC exposure, governmental and industry regulation in North America is minimal at best.

In the past decade there has been only one voluntary withdrawal issued in North America for toys containing one specific phthalate. In contrast is the European Union's responSE: Seven years ago the EU banned six separate phthalates in children's toys, and it continues to review and amend its list.

"Ultimately, governments have a responsibility to regulate things that impact people's health," says Brian McCarry, department head of chemistry at McMaster University and an expert on environmental contaminants. "The European Union is by far ahead in this capacity; they are more prepared to step in and use precautionary principles."

Consumer responsibility

In the absence of government controls, many advocacy groups are calling on consumers to get involved. Particularly, Cooper said, since the current method of regulation allows trade to trump health.

"People need to get upset about this. It has to be consumers voting with their wallets; consumers expressing concern," Cooper said.

By demanding alternatives - through letter-writing campaigns and purchasing power - consumers are creating a market for less toxic, more sustainable products. While the number of products made of toxic PVC can seem overwhelming, there are alternatives as the number of viable, natural and non-chlorinated plastic substitutes in the market grows.

Labels and packaging

At present, labelling laws do not require manufacturers to list all toxins used in the creation of their product. However, there are easy ways to recognize a PVC-based toy or produCT: Look for the three-arrow "recycling" symbol with the number 3 or the initials PVC, which indicates polyvinyl chloride. If neither symbol is present, then call the manufacturer's question/comment line (usually a toll-free 800 number) listed on the package or label.

Another clue to look for is the use of malleable or soft plastic. This can be found in toys, but also on clothing, bed linens and packaging. Read the labels and when in doubt, opt for a different product.


For those concerned about what's in toys but unable to do extensive research on what they contain due to the holiday-buying rush, pick toy manufacturers who opt for non-PVC-based plastic. These brands incluDE: Chicco, Evenflo, Gerber, International Playthings (including Primetime and Early Start), Lego, Sassy, Thomas and Tiny Love. According to Greenpeace's Toy Report Card, Discovery Toys and Manhattan Baby also provide an extensive selection of PVC-free toys, but some products do still contain it.

Another alternative is to purchase toys made from organic cotton or certified sustainable wood. Companies that specialize in these fibres incluDE: Brio, Lamaze, Melissa & Doug, Thomas and Woodkits, to name a few.

Alternatives to PVC

While avoiding all plastics is advised by some, it is not always practical. Thankfully, not all plastics are created equal.

Look for other plastics that are considered less harmful, such as #1 PETE, #2 HDPE, #4 LDPE and #5 PP. While these plastics also leach chemicals, studies suggest that their level of toxicity is not as great as with PVC products.

Here are some suggestions for ways to avoid plastic this holiday season:


a.. Choose refillable containers. Glass, for example, can be re-used for food storage.
b.. Choose packaging that's made from truly recyclable materiaLS: paper, glass, metal cans. (Purchasing recycled paper products completes the recycling loop, too.)
c.. Buy in bulk, whenever possible. It's the least-packaged option.
d.. For wrapped foods, choose butcher paper, waxed paper or cellulose bags.
e.. Bring cloth bags when you go shopping, rather than using PVC-based plastic bags.
f.. Choose things made from #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE) whenever plastic cannot be avoided. These are the most commonly recycled plastics.
g.. Avoid plastics that aren't readily recyclabLE: #3 (PVC), #4 (LDPE), #5 (PP), #6 (PS), #7 (often polycarbonate).
h.. Avoid single-use, disposable packaging.
Other tips
a.. Bring your own non-plastic container to salad bars, yogurt shops, etc. - any place you'd otherwise be served food in plastic containers.
b.. Avoid plastic cutlery and dinnerware. Use stainless steel utensils and look for recycled paper products.
c.. Microwave foods and drinks in oven-proof glass or ceramic dishes with lids. Never let plastic wrap touch food while in the microwave, as this is one way chemicals are suspected of leaching from plastic into food.
d.. When purchasing cling-wrapped foods from the supermarket or deli, slice off a thin layer where the food came into contact with the plastic and store the rest in a glass or ceramic container, or in non-PVC cling wrap.

remote Posted by editor at 7:48 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 7 January 2007 9:06 AM EADT

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