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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Wednesday, 10 January 2007
Debnam's ethanol car echoes West Wing cracking episode last Monday
Mood:  smelly
Topic: election nsw 2007

The Greens have railed against the "car addiction" of society as the root cause of alot of our problems (refer media release below). They are exactly right to use this phrase.

Since December the editor has made a conscious effort to get back on the bicycle, mostly out of guilt for unnecessary petrol use in the age of global warming, with some surprising results:

1. cardio respirator fitness was hopeless even with a fair bit of walking in my life, now fast improving, even while physical strength was way above average for all the bundles of press I deliver;

2. surprising travel times: If the journey is not too long the bike beats my van every time. Example Addison Rd Community Centre to Ultimo office of AMG about 20 minutes (both ways), not too stressful either. Same trip by car usually 30 minutes in day traffic.

The key I am finding is concentrate on flat contours, not distance. Little hills are okay on a 15 gear bike but long hills and radical troughs are too much.

Last Monday we were treated to this episode of West Wing tv series:

  "King Corn

first broadcast January 26th 2005 there in modern Rome of which we are just a province really, where every presidential candidate in fictional modern USA politics knows Iowa's penchant for subsidised agricultural ethanol for the nation's transport fleet is an environmental and economic joke, taking 'as much oil to make a gallon of ethanol'. But because it's the first of many campaign states they all (except one, a conservative) take 'The Pledge' to continue agri subsidies.

[a full discussion of West Wing lessons for Australia is on SAM here at 4 January 2007 West Wing tv series, bourgeoisie wank or worthy response to Ed Murrow's example?]

There are parallels here: Senator Barnaby Joyce (was that the bloke I saw at Bondi promenade yesterday?) is loud on ethanol agri business subsidies:

"Australia has an immense potential to be a great benefactor in the bio-renewable fuel industry at the 21 Century." June 5 2006 http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2006/s1655718.htm

SAM's editor offers no economic/green analysis if the WW script applies here or not, whether Joyce is right or not.

But we notice NSW Opposition Leader Peter Debnam also making a perhaps too simple virtue of his ethanol campaign tour car this next month, weaving it into a $40 million policy for all 'cleaner fuel' cars, well reported (curiously) in The Age but not it seems sister paper Sydney Morning Herald at


Pushing the broader policy mix on "car addiction" is Green MP Rhiannon here:

8 January 2007

Coalition new fuel policy will only fuel car addiction

Greens MP Lee Rhiannon said today that the opposition leader Peter
Debnam*s plan to reduce air pollution by bringing in a new fuel policy
will make no impact so long as he is doing nothing to boost public

*Cleaner fuel for vehicles can only significantly reduce air
pollution if it is linked with a plan to reduce the number of cars and
trucks on NSW roads, and we can only achieve that if public transport
services are expanded,* Ms Rhiannon said.

*The only real solution for Sydney's deteriorating pollution and
traffic is a significant investment in public transport.

*NSW government figures show that people are travelling further in
their cars, there are more vehicles on our roads, and the morning and
afternoon traffic peaks take longer to clear.

*The average distance of car driver trips has increased by five per
cent, while the number of vehicle kilometres travelled and the total
number of household vehicles are growing at a faster rate than the
increase in the population.

*Mr Debnam's so-called Cleaner Vehicles and Cleaner Fuels policy
announcement is a distraction from long term solutions. It fuels the
state*s addictions to cars. At best it will keep pollution levels

*Public transport is clearly low on Mr Debnam*s priority list.

*This is not surprising as he has announced he will get rid of 29,000
public sector jobs so public services will clearly deteriorate under a
Debnam government.
*This Liberals' policy distraction shows that they have only
piece-meal answers to the issues facing NSW voters.

*Public transport offers the best way to address pollution, and would
also provide Sydney with less road congestion,* Ms Rhiannon said.

For more information: Lee Rhiannon ....

Posted by editor at 9:47 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 10 January 2007 10:00 AM EADT
Tuesday, 9 January 2007
Monty Python's Terry Jones rips into US $500B Iraq war folly
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: election Oz 2007

Editor: What does this opinion piece, from the Left but as brutal in effect as the condemnations of neocon Perle et al from the Right in Vanity Fair, have to say about our own Prime Miniature John Howard's unquestioning loyalty to Georg W Bush's incompetent war in Iraq, when anyone who has been watching knows it was actually Libya that had the secret nukes via AQ Khan in Pakistan, and not Iraq?

Libya who then gave up said nukes to Britain and the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency after they saw what happened to Iraq from the USA blind fury (emphasis on blind) with no Osama Bin Laden to punish for criminal leadership behind the bombing via hostage airliners of the World Trade Centre in Sept 2001: Libya that walks away all at the expense of the USA electorate as detailed here by Terry Jones, and of course the badly suffering little people of Iraq.

No wonder the ascendant US Democrats are talking no compromise rhetoric about getting out. Over to Terry Jones via contributor Maireid Sullivan:

Terry Jones is a film director, actor and Python www.terry-jones.net

They have made a killing: The US has spent a million dollars for every dead Iraqi - is that what they mean by value for money?

Terry Jones

Saturday January 6, 2007 The Guardian

Early this year the Bush administration is to ask Congress to approve an
additional $100bn for the onerous task of making life intolerable for
the Iraqis. This will bring the total spent on the White House's current
obsession with war to almost $500bn - enough to have given every US
citizen $1,600 each. I wonder which the voters would have gone for if
given the choice: shall we (a) give every American $1,600 or (b) spend
the money on bombing a country in the Middle East that doesn't use
lavatory paper?

Of course, there's another thing that George Bush could have done with
the money: he could have given every Iraqi $18,700. I imagine that would
have reduced the threat of international terrorism somewhat. Call me
old-fashioned, but I can't help thinking that giving someone $18,700
brings them round to your side more quickly than bombing the hell out of
them. They could certainly buy a lot of lavatory paper with it.

In 2002 the house budget committee and the congressional budget office
both guesstimated the cost of invading Iraq at approximately $50bn;
$500bn seems a bit wide of the mark. What's more, with over half a
million dead, it means that the world's greatest military superpower has
spent a million dollars for every Iraqi killed. That can't be value for

So how on earth could such a vast overspend occur? After all, the US is
the flagship of monetary common sense. Well, for starters, in 2003 the
White House refused to allow competitive bidding for contracts in Iraq,
which is odd for the champions of free enterprise. Then the White House
ensured there would be no overseeing of what was spent. In the original
Iraq spending bill, which earmarked the first $87bn to go down the
drain, there was a provision for the general accounting office to keep a
check on things, but that provision was stripped from the bill - even
though the Senate had originally voted for it 97 to 0.

But what I want to know is: how do they actually spend all that money?
Well the answer is: they don't. According to the website
Halliburtonwatch, the Halliburton subsidiary KBR bills the US taxpayer
for $50-$80 per day for labourers working for it in Iraq, but pays them
only $5-$16 per day. It's the same with Halliburton. In December 2003
the US army discovered that the company had overcharged by $61m for fuel
transportation and $67m for food services in Iraq.

Then there is good old-fashioned incompetence. Take the al-Fatah
pipeline: KBR went through $75.7m of taxpayers' money, supposedly trying
to replace a pipeline across the river Tigris that US forces had blown
up. They never finished the job, but still got paid.

With all this double-dealing and incompetence, you'd expect that those
responsible would have been penalised by now. But that's where the
mystery deepens. Companies such as Halliburton and its subsidiaries have
never had it so good. In January 2006 the Bush administration intervened
in a dispute between the Pentagon and Halliburton, and agreed to pay the
company $199m in disputed charges. On January 26 2006 Halliburton
announced that its 2005 profits were the "best in our 86-year history".
And to date KBR has received around $16bn from its contracts in Iraq.

Vice-President Dick Cheney, formerly CEO of Halliburton, has not had a
bad war either. His tax returns for 2005 show that he earned $194,862
from his Halliburton stock options alone. Mind you, it's small change
compared to his $36m payoff when he left the firm. Was that for his past
role, or was Halliburton anticipating further services from the future
vice-president of the US? Perhaps it's just as well that in 2003 the
White House removed from the Iraq spending bill any provision to
penalise war profiteers who defrauded US taxpayers.

· Terry Jones is a film director, actor and Python www.terry-jones.net

Posted by editor at 10:19 AM EADT
Burrup world heritage quality cultural resource being vandalised again
Mood:  sharp
Topic: indigenous

Senator Rachel Siewert
Australian Greens Senator for WA

Monday 8 January 2007

Destruction of rock art to commence on the Burrup

"This Government and Woodside will go down in the history books as
vandals for allowing the destruction of rock art on the Burrup", said
Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"I'm extremely disappointed with the news that Woodside is commencing initial site works on their Burrup Pluto site today."
"I can not believe that in this day and age our Governments think it is acceptable to destroy ancient rock art to allow development," said
Senator Siewert.

"It is not too late to relocate the development onto already cleared
land next-door to the current site. Surely Woodside can negotiate with its joint venture partners to protect this unique rock art?"

"Woodside have not even made the final decision to commit to the
project, and reportedly will not be making this decision until later in
the year - yet they are still proceeding with initial site works," said
Senator Siewert.

We need to ask why they are rushing to clear the site now - is it simply because in the New Year period they think people won't be paying attention?"

"I simply cannot understand why the Federal Government is not requiring Woodside to co-locate the plant just a couple of hundred metres up the road - thereby enabling the development to proceed and saving the rock art," said Senator Siewert.

"Our failure to protect our unique Indigenous heritage is an
international shame."

Posted by editor at 9:22 AM EADT
NSW fish ecology needs a refuge for industry and environment: Greens
Mood:  energetic
Topic: election nsw 2007

9 January 2007

NSW fisheries headed for disaster under Debnam

Greens MP Lee Rhiannon called on Opposition Leader Peter Debnam to use his visit to Port Stephens to stop playing politics with the future of NSW's fisheries.

Ms Rhiannon said: "The Opposition has made political mileage in
coastal seats by opposing marine national parks and no-take zones. Yet the Coalition has no plans to ensure that NSW's fisheries will survive through the next decade.

"If we believe what they are saying, a Debnam government would give into a small but vocal minority and remove or savagely dilute the few protections that are coming into force. They would condemn  the oceans to lifeless future.

"Recreational angling, Sunday night fish and chips and commercial
fishing would become distant memories if the Coalition wins the state election in March.

 "A long history of poor management practices has stretched this
state's fisheries resources beyond carrying capacity. Nearly all
marine and freshwater resources are either fully exploited or

"There have been serious declines in important commercial fish
species, such as southern bluefin tuna, southern shark, orange roughy and gemfish.

"Marine national parks with no take zones are an important component of an overall strategy to steer the fisheries away from collapse and onto the path to recovery.

"The Carr/Iemma government has taken an important first step by
creating a number of marine national parks but much more is needed if the fisheries are to be brought back from the brink.

"Fish stocks have gone into collapse in other parts of the world.
Global warming will inevitably place even greater stress on fish
populations. Now is not the time for the Opposition to be playing
politics with the future of NSW's fisheries," Ms Rhiannon said.


[The editor is aware of quite strong advice from the Canadian fishery of industry recovery as a result of judicious marine refuges with a 5 to 10 year turn around. Here are some dated references for example via google, and one expects much more recent data also available:






Posted by editor at 9:05 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 9 January 2007 9:21 AM EADT
Tasmania's unprotected forests still being vandalised
Mood:  sad
Topic: ecology

GUNNS chose "worst place possible" for controversial billion dollar pulp mill
by Winston S - Indymedia Tuesday January 09, 2007 at 04:19 AM

January 09, 2007 - Atrocious Location: Timber giant Gunns Ltd has chosen the "worst place possible" in Tasmania to build the highly controversial $1.4 billion pulp mill, which it hopes to have up and running by 2010.

Full story here based on diverse sources:


 A related press release from another Tasmanian battle front for forests:

Abetz Move to Make Illegal Logging Legal

8th Jan 07

The Howard government's Minster for Forests and Conservation, Eric
Abetz, is moving to deliberately send Australian wildlife to extinction,
Greens Leader Bob Brown said today.

"In the wake of the Federal Court ruling that logging in Tasmania's
Wielangta Forest is illegal because it threatened the rare Tasmanian
wedgetailed eagle, swift parrot and Wielangta stag beetle, Senator Abetz has flogged amendments to extract the teeth from Australia's wildlife protection laws.

"This must involve breaking international law (the Biodiversity
Convention 1992) as well as emasculating Australian law. At the start of an election year in which the environment will be centre stage, the minister's move will outrage voters right across Australia. He is saying that where government agencies break the nation's environment law, the government will change the law, not the agency. It is a case of the outlaws writing the law.

"The Greens will put up a huge fight to protect Australia's wildlife,
and to stop this corruption of proper process. Senator Abetz, as
minister for forest conservation, should be insisting Forestry Tasmania be prosecuted for breaking the law," Senator Brown said.


The release above echoes a comment pre Christmas 06 by this writer here from legislative history in NSW early 1990's:

Wielangta decision fallout has the clear echo of the nsw dynamic in 1992 after application of the Endangered Fauna (Interim Protection) Act 1992 (NSW) ('EFIP')

(which itself was an evolution of the precedent case of Corkill's successful Chaelundi Case using the protected fauna provisions of the chief National Parks & Wildlife Act)

which as the EFIP name states was interim and was folded into the Threatened Species Act (NSW) proper eventually, but not before a cutely named Timber Industy (Interim Protection) Act NSW (1993?) (known as the TIIP Act) was passed to address both the successful blockade in compt 1402 in Coolangubra at Nalbaugh State Forest (with cathedral like brown barrels 400 years old, the biggest and best the SE had to offer) in January 1992 that I was part of using EFIP, and responding to alarm by the logger industry group Forest Products Association.

For instance Colin Dorber put out a release during the 1402 protest something like '6,000 jobs at risk from forest blockade victory'. We were thrilled. Never had 6 tree sitters achieved so much, we thought. But we had no idea the cascading effect for the next 3 years (starting no doubt with the Chaelundi case and of course alot earlier with 1000 plus arrests in the south east in the late 80's and 90's.

You may not read this history anywhere else either. But it's why the release for logging of the 1402 area in the Eden RFA was such a govt and industry calculated insult to the real independent forest conservation movement as opposed to blowins and paid off sellouts of so called green representation amongst the befuddled and the idiotic.

In other words the legislative protection in Chaelundi/NPWA Act then EFIP Act (read Wielangta and EPBC Act today) was repealed quickly which inspired rolling blockades 1992-1995 in nsw and led to the election of the Carr govt in a close election March 1995.

You can see from this short history why I hold Carr's political debt to blockaders and election activists like me and many others 1992-1995 as personal, and unpaid to this day. ......

The clear lesson from this history, suggested by Tas premier Lennon himself, is a repeal of the precedent value of the Wielangta case by Howard government as soon as federal parliament resits.... The steps to take when that inevitable industry pressure ramps up and the repeal very very likely of Wielangta Case decision follows is a matter of great interest too, 10 months to a close federal election.

But history is the guide. Start analysing it and planning based on similar.

Yours truly

Tom McLoughlin, principal ecology action sydney


Extensive entry on Wielangta legal decision in the Federal Court here:

The Wielangta Legal Precedent materials here
by via ecology action Wednesday December 20, 2006 at 08:36 AM




Posted by editor at 8:52 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 9 January 2007 9:19 AM EADT
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

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