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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Thursday, 1 February 2007
India's President calls for public feedback on solution to terrorism via yahoo blog
Mood:  crushed out
Topic: peace

Our man in South Korea Jarrah Keenan, with plenty of reason to ponder the question of peace south of the DMZ there, sends this intriguing message about a Gandhi style internet based process to find the solution to terrorism:

Howdy Tom! I thought this question on Yahoo! Answers might be interesting to you.

any chance of adding this to SAM and MIM? it's really very thought provoking - global democracy in action!!!

What should we do to free our planet from terrorism?

jarrah_fortytwo


Posted by editor at 6:18 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 1 February 2007 7:05 AM EADT
Energy lobby still in thrall to fossil fool greenhouse mafia says Milne
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: globalWarming

As the 7.30 Report last night ran this

Australia ignoring solar power, says pioneer

Australia's leading solar power innovator leaves the country tomorrow, frustrated because he believes this country cannot see past its rich coal and uranium reserves, and recognise that the sun is Australia's richest energy resource of all.

in effect a profoundly depressing coverage of groundbreaking solar energy technology going to China, Europe and the USA out of Australia to help save our planet, to strains of denial of Industry Minister McFarlane and to this ear a sound of voters rushing for the door, Senator Milne of the Greens below identifies where the Howard government, and the energy sector here have gone so horribly wrong. And she is right.

It is a depressing and very frightening manifestation of an earlier profound report on ABC flagship 4 Corners about an insiders club 'greenhouse mafia' here:

The Greenhouse Mafia

Reporter: Janine Cohen Broadcast: 13/02/2006

Four Corners returns for 2006 with a whistleblower … and revelations of a powerful insiders’ club...

"Having found out what I’ve found out, I find it impossible to continue with a clear conscience without speaking out" - whistleblower interviewed by Four Corners.

Are Australians getting the whole truth on global warming?

Not according to evidence given to Four Corners, which returns with disturbing allegations about the power wielded by industry lobbyists, the self-proclaimed greenhouse "mafia". http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2006/s1566257.htm

Over to Senator Milne .... 

MEDIA RELEASE

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

No time to delay climate action - Howard must price carbon now

Australia cannot afford to wait for experimental technology to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions and advocates of this 'wait-and-see' approach
are risking catastrophic climate change, the Australian Greens said
today.

Greens climate change and energy spokesperson Senator Christine Milne
said a report commissioned by the Energy Supply Association of Australia
(ESAA) was self-serving, arguing for the nation to put its hopes in
carbon capture and storage, and ignoring the potential gains from energy
efficiency.

"It is in the interests of the fossil fuel industry to claim that
renewable energy and energy efficiency are no solution to climate change
and that we must rely instead on an experimental and costly technology,"
Senator Milne said.

"The ESAA should be advocating improving energy efficiency and demand
reduction - the quickest and cheapest way to reduce emissions - but of
course this in not in their members' short-term financial interest.

"The Howard government has deliberately refused to review the scope of
renewable energy and energy efficiency to meet deep greenhouse reduction
targets, instead directing all its efforts at 'clean coal' and nuclear
power, which it favours.

"This policy failure has driven renewable energy technologies like solar
thermal power company Solar Heat and Power offshore where it is
recognised that solar thermal power is a probable replacement for coal,
nuclear and oil.

"The urgency of action on climate change is reinforced with the release
today of a CSIRO report on the likely impacts for NSW. The forecasts are
alarming

"Australians have a right to be angry with their governments for
continuing to prop-up polluting energy interests and failing to treat
climate change with the urgency it demands.

"We need a national effort, starting with the federal government setting
a national greenhouse reduction target, introducing an emissions trading
scheme and a carbon tax on transport fuels, a higher mandatory renewable
energy target and investment in public transport."


Posted by editor at 5:52 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007 8:06 AM EADT
Kaye exposes slashing of education programme for western Sydney teens
Mood:  irritated
Topic: election nsw 2007

As the Sydney Daily Telegraph education reporter Maralyn Parker notes the "arrogant" and "complacent" attitude of Minister Carmel Tebbutt, who is also MP for marginal seat of Marrickville in an article yesterday

Voters can count, too

Greens aspirant and favourite of the Teachers union, Dr John Kaye, slams the education policy of the ALP on their own credentials of social equity, and he does look to have a very sound point:

Struggling teenagers in Western Sydney getting a raw deal

Media Release - 31 January 2007

The Greens today called on the Iemma government to reverse its
appalling decision to dismantle a number of highly successful
educational programs targeted at disadvantaged young people in
Western Sydney.

Greens Education spokesman and Upper House candidate John Kaye,
said  "Youth Outreach, Chifley Centre Programs and volunteer tutors
with TAFE have contributed to keeping young people in school who
would otherwise drop out.

"It is a disgrace that these valuable and highly effective programs
are being sacrificed, when the 63 wealthiest private schools continue
to receive $59.6 million each year from the state government.

"These programs support young people who are not going to school, by
employing youth workers who are able to liaise between school and young people.

"Each of these programs is a triumph for good practice in public
education that deserves the full support of the Iemma Government.
Long term, sustainable funding for these programs is a start to
making sure the most disadvantage young people get the help they need
to stay at school.

"These cuts are a short sighted approach to education and will strike
hard at young people who are finding life tough. The Greens are
committed to making sure that all young people have the best start in life.

"The Greens are also concerned that funding for Plumpton Babies is
inadequate and may have been reduced. This program allows school aged
mothers to bring their babies to school while continuing their education.

"There couldn't be a more stark contrast. Youth Outreach programs
cancelled while SCEGGS Redlands gets $1.3 million a year from the
state government. Chifley Centre and TAFE tutor training programs
de-funded while Trinity Grammar gets $1.7 million a year.

"If Labor is serious about addressing the welfare needs of students
in the West and South West of Sydney, they will take on the wealthy
private school lobby and free up the funds needed to continue these
important programs.

"The money is there. It is the political will in Macquarie St that is
missing," Dr Kaye said.


Posted by editor at 5:40 AM EADT
ASIO got it wrong with Nauru detainee says Nettle
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: human rights

[media release follows]

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Greens Welcome release of Nauru detainee

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle today welcomed the release of detainee
Muhammad Faisal from detention after five years.

"The release of Muhammad Faisal, following a fresh security assessment
by ASIO, raises serious questions about the accuracy of ASIO
assessments," Senator Nettle said.

"This man's life has been ruined and his mental health destroyed because
ASIO got it wrong. What could possible have changed about Mr Faisal's
security status during five years detention in Nauru," asked Senator
Nettle.

"Asylum seekers' claims should be assessed on their need to for
protection, not on a secret, bogus security assessment."

"After visiting him last year, I'm thrilled that Muhammad will be able
to live in the community. It's a shame for his mental health and
Australia that it is five years too late," Senator Nettle said.


Posted by editor at 5:36 AM EADT
Air quality crusader takes the final journey: Charles William Briers RIP
Mood:  sad
Topic: ecology

We received this email below from Charles' email sender address late last night. We published in full his latest RAPS newsletter only days ago, and met him a few times at his place in Earlwood just over the hill from the Turrella M5 East toxic pollution stack.

His last Residents Against Polluting Stacks newsletter is here on SAM at:

Wednesday, 24 January 2007
Iemma spinning portal toxic emissions from M5 to fit election timetable: RAPS
Mood:  rushed
Topic: ecology

[received 23rd January 2007]

Charles, Rest In Peace, cobber. You ran the good race right to the end. No one can do better than that. You will be sorely missed:

Charles Briers passed away earlier this week.  He had been battling various
complications of Parkinson's disease.

Our heartfelt thank you's to all who have sent messages of condolence and
support.

Charles' funeral will be held at 10am this Friday at the South Chapel,
Woronora
Crematorium, Linden Street, Sutherland, NSW :
http://www.woronoracemetery.org.au/Map.html

Please come along and celebrate the life and love of a truly good man.

Donations in lieu of flowers to Parkinson's Australia.
http://www.parkinsons.org.au/

Thank you.

Gina Briers and family
31 January 2007.


Posted by editor at 5:17 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 1 February 2007 5:30 AM EADT
Wednesday, 31 January 2007
crikey.com.au expose Howard's Cammora style Italian fix for Vanstone
Mood:  down
Topic: election Oz 2007

SAM's editor is 1/8 Italian apparently on my mother's side, from Calabria area. It's confusing because I am quite attracted to dark skinned black haired types but am Germanic Irish fair looking fellow.

I was advised by an Italian traveller that this is the home of the Cammora organised crime mobsters, whereas the Mafia are from Sicily:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_organized_crime

Crikey.com.au have written about another form of Italian organised 'crime' in their editorial today which is entirely homegrown courtesy the Australian federal government:

Italian jokes aside, the wink-wink-nudge-nudge-who-me-yet-to-be-confirmed appointment of Senator Amanda Vanstone as the new Australian ambassador to Italy is merely the latest example of why politicians deserve to be held in such low esteem.

This is what the sacked Vanstone
told Sky News about her non-appointment to Rome yesterday:

My departure from cabinet is completely unconditional, absolute and final. It's not conditional on anything … The prime minister, when he made his statement, said that I was keen to continue in public service ... That's right, but there's a whole range of opportunities there … I don't know that I'm heading anywhere … Anything is an option. I'm here and I've got four years left on my Senate term. I may be made an offer … I may stay in parliament, who knows. ... I'm still thinking about that.”

Really? Try telling that to the current Australian ambassador in Rome, Peter Woolcott, the fall guy who has been instructed by the Department of Foreign Affairs to pack his bags, pull his kids out of school and return to Canberra almost a year earlier than his tour of duty was scheduled to finish.

Of course, when the non-appointment is announced the Senator will be surprised, honoured, humble -- and shameless. So will the Prime Minister. And the well-earned reputation of senior politicians as conniving, self-serving, hypocritical liars will be preserved, yet again.

If Amanda Vanstone gets her dolce vita quid pro quo it won't be a case of arrivederci, but good riddance.


Posted by editor at 3:32 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007 3:42 PM EADT
Angelic greenwashing of water guzzling cyanide gold mine at Lake Cowal
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: water

An influential figure on environment in this state has a dirty secret (and likely many more) which dilutes the moral authority of his role, say on climate change on abc radio this morning.

 

Jeff Angel was once described to this writer by the national director of the The Wilderness Society Karenne Jurd in 1992 as “such a bastard”, and it took quite a few years to see where she was coming from. At the time it just seemed professional jealously. But that was a naïve view.

 

At the time I decided to defy Jurd and work on Angel's draft South East Forest Protection Bill by taking a temporary job in NSW Parlaiment with Clover Moore MP on the cross benches to the Fahey minority government. The job was to shepherd the SEFPB through the Parliamentary Committee Inquiry involving inter alia Kim Yeadon (later forest minister), Pam Allan (later environment minister) and Craig Knowles (later planning and health minister and heir apparent to Bob Carr before crashing out). Clover was the MP sponsor of the private members bill which played well with innner city voters given 1500 arrests on the issue in 1989-91 period.

 

Those were heady days with John Hatton MP down the corridor saying 'Everyday I feel like we are getting stronger', and his indefatigable staffer Arthur King famous for organised crime locking him in a car boot for 3 days who told me 'brevity is golden'.

 

Maybe if I had taken that meeting with Jurd I would have made some quite different decisions. The SEFPB did its job of promoting a new ALP government in 1995 and I went back to The Wilderness Society in 1993. It was Angel's project but it was his senior Milo Dunphy that I met first at TEC and respected for his kindness of spirit and great experience.

 

This morning on ABC radio news Angel was heard positioning as the honest broker on need for ‘politicians to behave properly’ on another alarming report this time from ‘credible, conservative, portentious’ CSIRO. More detail here:

 

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/soaring-temperatures-unstoppable/2007/01/31/1169919346716.html

 

This climate change story precedes the next big scary report of the International Panel on Climate Change due any day now

 

UN report turns up heat on PM

 

which this observer understands will likely still underplay the urgency for failure to properly factor in sea rise due to rapid glacier warming discussed more here:

 

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/01/arctic-sea-ice-decline-in-the-21st-century/

 

Here is an image and caption from that scientific article of 12th January 2007 of the decline of ice cover in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s all downhill for ice, and up for sea rise over the next century, decade by ominous decade (also canvassed by Phillip Adams Latenight Live radio show with 3 climate scientists recently).

Figure 2: Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent in September for all seven integration of the CCSM3 with observations from satellite era shown in black.

 

In Australia its not ice melt, or even sea rise (including here) which is alarming people so much as change in rainfall resulting in drought.

 

Angel is busy exploiting that widespread concern over water sustainability too in the TEC franchise on environmentalism: He is in the lead front page story today Sydney Morning Herald about failure of the Iemma Govt to do it's own housekeeping on water conservation plans, as here: 

Water crisis plan sinks in red tape

Water gushing from a tap. A STRATEGY to save billions of litres of water has become so mired in bureaucracy that the State Government has approved only 15 per cent of the plans to slash usage.

All well and good. This is the core work of any public interest non government organisation.

 

The story by Anne Davies, a top political reporter, builds on this TEC statement involving TEC riding the publicity wave of concern on water recycling here: Government inaction cripples key program to save Sydney's water 

 

But the question is whether TEC have an honourable history and honourable intent to deserve any profile on this issue in the first place? Sure its useful and embarrassing to expose the Iemma Govt on it's own performance and feeds into Fairfax owners' determination to oust the ALP, but rewarding TEC's director with greater influence, and typically, government funded participation in the policy responses only maintains a shallow protection racket with no real duopoly party political reform for ecological protection.

 

In fact the ALP get more cocky with every environmental problem that they just have to buy off Jeff Angel.

 

Like an alcoholic the institution of democracy gets a short term fix via aggrandisement of the TEC with its 700 odd members, but is left more tatty and unreliable than before once the hangover sets in as the money runs out and no systemic change in political power is achieved.

 

Protection racket? Yes, as illustrated by the following irreconcilable opportunism by Angel's TEC:

 

In the Lake Cowal area of central western NSW the water table has reportedly fallen 30 metres from 20 metres below ground to 50 metres, and farmers can’t reach it with their bores. It is also the place where a controversial gold mine churns through water for it’s cyanide leaching process having commenced in 2004 after political approval some 5 years earlier:

 

3rd Nov 06 - Lake Cowal cyanide gold mine chewing up farmers drought water, 20m water table drops to 50 m depth!

 

There are rumours local farmers are being paid off to keep quiet. Most independent green groups hate this mine in NSW:

 

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

 

But three ‘peak’ groups led by Jeff Angel at the Total Environment Centre found a way to participate in an ‘environmental foundation’ that suggests the mine is environmentally responsible while being paid $100,000 a year to run their green projects out of cyanide dependent gold mining profits. To quote their website:

 

“During the operational life of the mine, payments exceeding $2 million are expected to be made to the Lake Cowal Foundation. Although largely funded by Barrick, the Foundation also attracts external funding and works with a range of other groups and organisations.”

 

and

 

"The current members of the Foundation include the Total Environment Centre, National Parks Association, Nature Conservation Council and Barrick Australia Limited. The Lake Cowal Foundation is managed by a Board of Directors represented by five Directors including two environmental NGO representatives, a local landholder representing the Bland Shire Community, one independent scientist and a representative from Barrick."

 

at

 

http://lakecowalfoundation.org.au/index.cfm?objectid=9F3C510A-91EB-7705-7630C4979809223D

 

It is well worth noting that this deal for mining company funds to select tame green groups was made and commenced well before the mine actually commenced around 2004. That is the pay off was in place well before the time of the mine as a fait accompli.

 

Indeed this author has tracked the real politik of the cyanide gold mine from the furore of bird kills at a similar mine at North Parkes on 60 Minutes, then Timbarra mine which was beaten off by green groups, and now Lake Cowal gold mine approved with green sinecures by the ALP Government under ex Premier Bob Carr:

 

15/3/04...The dirty Lake Cowal cyanide gold mine trust terms discussed here in 'Lake Cowal and real politik of mining decisions under Carr govt'

 

This dirty scandal of pay offs to greenie groups, or “duchessing” being the term used by Milo Dunphy founder of TEC in 1972 (and mentor of this writer), as hush money on a water guzzling mine to help their political mates (or conversely blackmail them for a green kiss off), is a game breaker for Jeff Angel’s compromised credibility in the lead up to the state and federal elections.

 

Rainforest Information Centre, The Green Party, Friends of the Earth Australia, local Traditional Owners like Chappy Williams and many others condemn the cyanide water guzzling mine but Angel’s affinity group are being financed by it indirectly. And he still presents to Big Media as “independent” and often gets away with it.

 

Demonstrably false.

 

But it is a sophisticated operation this protection racket. At the same time deals are being cut to go quiet on Lake Cowal cyanide monster we have the story above,  or this other issue on the Total Environment Centre website:

 

"New Report: longwall mining destroying NSW rivers, Thursday, 25 January 2007, Underground coal mining is resulting in major damage to the state's water resources and the Iemma Government can no longer afford to ignore the problem says a report released today by the Total Environment Centre.

http://www.tec.org.au/dev/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=521&Itemid=301"

 

A good strong conservationist line, but totally inconsistent and hypocritical compared to the Lake Cowal scandal. The two approaches are in fact irreconcilable. It is grand opportunism to keep TEC in business. Karenne Jurd was right.

 

This writer has followed Angel’s career at close quarters and from a distance since 1992. Milo Dunphy, it is also fair to say rejected Angel’s professional ethics. The green movement is littered with burnt and broken middle ranking green campaign experts on forests, Snowy River, Zero Waste, Olympic Games, transport and more that have been gazumped or sidelined by Angel via an inside running and back room deal making with the corrupt NSW government. I know most of them over the years. This writer is one of the burned.

 

Another example is the creation of the Green Games Watch with government money to buy off green groups' complaints of govt fraud in submitting in the 1993 bid documents to the International Olympic Committee that these green groups endorsed the government's 'green bid'.

 

Another example is juicey negotiating grant money for forest discussions with the Carr government which junked the promise to end woodchipping of natural forest by the year 2000, back to 1 million tonnes a year out of Eden chipper, in fact more than at the height of forest protests mainly organised by The Wilderness Society in 1990 with 1500 protester arrests

 

The model of sell out has eroded somewhat over the last year or two as the strength of the Green Party has progressed, who have no need for ALP sinecures, and factual and objective postings like this one work there way into the consciousness of fair minded observers and environmentalists alike, but the legacy of corruption of how the ALP does business is still there for all to see, evidenced by the Lake Cowal cyanide mine deal condemned by such as Ian Cohen MLC (The Greens) this writer and others.

 

All of this should be transparent to the environmental, political and media community.

 

As if to underline the point of the demise of independence of certain so called 'peak' green groups taking industry money brokered by compromised government at Lake Cowal, here is the Green Party's real and searching water reform policy going into the 2007 election:

Media Release - 30 January 2007

Greens 2007 election urban water policy (detailed policy included)

Greens MP and Upper House candidate Lee Rhiannon - launching the Greens
urban water strategy today - said the major parties have underestimated
the community's willingness to treat water as a precious commodity
and be part of the solution to drought.

"The major parties have failed to read the community mood. There has
been a welcome shift in support for water recycling, but we must not
lose sight of the enormous capacity of the public to save water and
use it more efficiently," Ms Rhiannon said.

"The major parties are scared that Sydney residents will punish them at
the ballot box if they don't promise big ticket engineering solutions,
like desalination.

"The Greens plan for Sydney centres on rainwater tanks, local grey
water treatment, stormwater harvesting, wastewater recycling, improved
efficiency and stronger restrictions.

"By abandoning plans to pre-emptively construct a desalination plant,
the Greens' strategy potentially saves $1.2 billion, at least half
of which can be invested in these measures.

At a glance, the Greens policy (attached) involves:

 + Doubling the current rebates on rainwater tanks and allowing
   consumers to pay off the cost of tanks as part of their quarterly
   water bill. This would encourage a six fold increase on uptake rate,
   reduce water demand by 10 million kilolitres (10 GL) each year and
   cost just $66 million.  We aim for Sydney to have 250,000 water
   tanks by 2011, up from the current 20,000.

 + Improving household water efficiency, including accelerated
   retrofitting of households and banning water inefficient appliances.

 + Local recycling and reuse projects for industrial and commercial
   premises, including on-site grey water pilot projects with the
   goal of re-using most water at least three times.

 + Enhancing BASIX to ensure all new and renovated dwellings and
   commercial premises are water efficient and maximise the capture
   of rainwater, stormwater and wastewater.

 + Immediately introducing Level IV water restrictions, backed up by
   enhanced enforcement and community education. By banning outdoor
   hosing and placing stronger requirements on some businesses and
   government agencies, storage levels could be safely held above
   the 30% trigger for a desalination plan.

 + Financial assistance to low income households to reduce their
   water demand and increase efficiency. This includes rebates on high
   efficiency appliances for pension card holders.

 + Making Sydney Water a partner with households in reducing water
   consumption, not just a government cash cow.

 + Abandoning plans for the desalination plant and aquifer pumping.

 + Commencing the process of closing ocean outfalls and phasing out
   the environmentally disastrous pumping of water from the Shoalhaven.

"Times have changed, and the government needs to work on a permanent shift
in how we manage water.

"Our policy will see Sydney through this and subsequent water crises and
avoid the need to spend money on expensive white elephants like desalination
and aquifer pumping," Ms Rhiannon said.

For more information:          Lee Rhiannon 0427 861 568

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Greens Community Water Solutions Package for Sydney

January 2007

1. Emergency drought measures

The Iemma government scrapped plans to introduce level IV restrictions
when the storage levels fell to 35% in February 2006 in favour of
building the desalination plant and aquifer pumping.

With no time left to introduce other water savings measures, the Greens
would:

 - immediately introduce level IV restrictions. These would ban outdoor
   hosing, further restrict the filling of swimming pools and place
   tougher limits on some businesses and government agencies. They
   are designed to reduce water consumption by 30%.

 - back the restrictions up with enhanced compliance enforcement and
   community education. Working with the community to develop
   widespread confidence in compliance is important to the success
   of the restrictions.

 - abandon the pre-emptive plans for the desalination plant and aquifer
   pumping. These are expensive and environmentally damaging. The
   desalination plant could add up to 1.4% to NSW's stationary source
   greenhouse gas emissions.  If a 500 ML/day plant were operated
   for 50% of the time, it would provide only 15% of Sydney's annual
   water consumption. Sale of this water would earn about $30 million
   in net revenue which is an extremely poor return on a $1.2 billion
   investment.

Level IV restrictions and compliance measures are only needed because of
past failures to treat water as precious commodity. If Sydney had reduced
amount it had taken from its dams by 20% over the past five years, then
water storage would currently be at 58.5%. There would be no water crisis.

2. Preparing for the next drought

Climate change is likely to deliver Sydney a more hostile climate
with increasingly frequent and severe droughts. The lessons of the
current crisis should not be wasted.

While protecting the reliability of the water supply requires careful
planning, building expensive supply side options like desalination in
an ill-considered attempt to drought proof Sydney is likely to be an
expensive failure. Demand side options like water tanks and improved
efficiency are cheaper and more reliable. They also continue to make
economic and environmental sense even in the absence of drought.

The Greens would implement cost effective and environmentally sensitive
options to reduce Sydney's vulnerability to adverse rainfall patterns,
including:

 - banning water inefficient appliances. We would work with other state
   and territory governments to develop a nation-wide ban on the sale
   of appliances that unnecessarily waste water.

 - the widespread use of rainwater tanks in homes, businesses and
   public buildings, by increasing subsidies, removing barriers and
   developing financial arrangements that allow consumers to pay off
   the cost of rainwater tanks as part of their quarterly bill.

 - financial assistance to low income households to reduce their water
   demand and increase efficiency. This includes rebates on high
   efficiency appliances for all pension card holders.

 - strengthening the water component of BASIX to ensure that all new
   and renovated dwellings and commercial premises are water efficient
   and maximise the capture and use of rainwater, stormwater and
   reuse of wastewater.

 3. Making Sydney a world leader in water wisdom

In the longer term, Sydney's environment and economy can benefit
from a change in the way we think about water.  The experience of
the drought and the development of new technologies mean that the
community is now is a position to break away from outmoded thinking
that treats our storages as inexhaustible and the oceans as a dump.

The Greens will work with the community to implement modern notions
of water supply and sewerage services that include:

 - The grey water revolution. The Greens would urgently implement
   on-site grey water pilot projects with the goal of re-using most
   water at least three times. The best focus for these projects
   would be on domestic uses such as clothes washing and shower
   water. Separating easily re-used grey water before it is mixed
   with more contaminated products, especially human and industrial
   waste, will reduce the energy required to process it to potable or
   near potable levels. Doing this locally will significantly reduce
   transport costs and pumping energy.

 - Sydney Water a water services provider, not just a water supplier.
   Sydney Water is publicly owned. Last year it provided $193 million
   to the state government. Sydney Water's business model means the
   more water Sydney uses, the greater the short term profit that is
   delivered to the NSW government. Instead of just providing water
   at the meter and taking sewage at the street, Sydney Water can
   become a partner with households in reducing water consumption and
   overall costs. This involves changing the structure and culture
   of the organisation and removing the incentives to sell more water
   and make bigger dividends.

 - No public private partnerships that lock Sydney into a waste-driven
   future. Public Private Partnerships deliver short term capital
   at the expense of long term flexibility and environmental
   sustainability. Most private sector projects, such as sewer mining
   and desalination proposals, have contractual requirements that
   work against water efficiency and water self-sufficiency measures.

4. Expenditure and water savings

The following table describes some of the Greens' water initiatives.
The cost for each year over 2007 to 2010 and the total water savings
potential per year by 2015 have been estimated using data from the
Review of the Metropolitan Water Plan by ACIL and the Institute for
Sustainable Futures.  The total cost over the four years is less then
one half of the cost of the desalination plant.

Option                                  Additional Cost  Water Savings
                                          ($million/yr) (GL/yr by 2015)
--------------------------------------------     ------        ------
Water Tanks: double the current rebate               66            10
and encouraging a six fold increase
in the uptake

Residential indoor water efficiency:                 20            12
accelerated retrofitting and increased
rebates, including low income households

Residential outdoor water efficiency:                10            12
community education on water efficient
gardens and on-site landscape assessments

Local recycling and reuse programs:                  20           100
developing, implementing and monitoring
household and neighbourhood grey water
reuse projects. Initially as pilot projects
leading to widespread implementation

Enhanced BASIX: increasing the requirements          20            23
on water savings in residential housing design

--------------------------------------------     ------        ------
TOTAL:                                              136           167

For comparison, total water consumption for Sydney between
1 July 2005 - 30 June 2006 was 528 GL.


Posted by editor at 12:54 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007 8:11 AM EADT
No joke, Tony Abbott got religion after punching into Peter Woof 1976?
Mood:  accident prone
Topic: election Oz 2007

 

 Picture: Image from Fairfax press early 2005 of Minister Tony Abbott in the middle and older ex girlfriend left and her son, both as it happens unrelated to self promoting punching machine Tony Abbott.

We read about Tony Abbott's colourful history every so often.

 His official profile is here as federal Minister for Health

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/ministers/publishing.nsf/Content/health-profile-ta-profile.htm

and a more breezy one here:

http://www.tonyabbott.com.au/aboutTony.aspx

We used to see pictures of muscular Abbott in boxer shorts and gloves (if we can find an image it will be posted) who won a University "blue" for the sport, but he seems to have moved on to cycling in middle age:

http://www.tonyabbott.com.au/polliepedal/default.aspx

For lack of picture of pugilist Abbott we note these quotes:

"MICHAEL BOWERS: You seem to be a man who's shaped in your political career by some of your experiences in earlier life, you're very big on sports and health. You were a boxer and you played rugby in your earlier career. Is it unfair, because the cartoonists will latch onto something like the boxing and they just don't let it go?

TONY ABBOTT: The boxing and the cauliflower ears. I could have my ears surgically removed and they'd say, "Just like Chopper", I suppose. But, look, it's life, and if it's done with style and a bit of humour, great. I could go into a Buddhist monastery, renounce red meat, assume celibacy once again and they'd still go on about that kind of stuff. "

3rd Dec 2006 Talking Pictures segment http://www.abc.net.au/insiders/content/2006/s1802883.htm

and again here dated around 2002 in a story called The Rise and Rise of Tony Abbott, presented by heavy hitter John Lyons on Sunday Ch9 programme:

TONY ABBOTT - FEDERAL WORKPLACE RELATIONS MINISTER:

TONY ABBOTT: I was very, very nervous, as you can imagine. It was my first formal bout. The Blues boxing match was locked 4-4 with the heavyweight to decide it. The Oxford Town Hall was absolutely packed to the rafters with very excited people who, I'm afraid, had been in many cases drinking rather heavily for quite some time. So I got into the ring, determined to hit my opponent harder and more often than he could possibly hit me. I went out like a whirling dervish, kept hitting him again and again and again with just a left, right, succession. And then I got him this magnificent left upper cut and he seemed to go up in the air, across the ring and almost through the ropes. As I said, I could hardly believe it then and I can still hardly believe it. But it certainly made for a spectacular end to the Blue's boxing match that year. http://sunday.ninemsn.com.au/sunday/cover_stories/transcript_882.asp

Real echoes of the 1978 National Lampoon's Animal House

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_House

Abbott was also in a fairly bizarre and frankly embarrassing media frenzy March 2005 about a child out of wedlock which he felt he had to fess up to, but DNA tests proved wasn't his progeny anyway:

http://www.smh.com.au/news/National/Abbotts-love-child-turns-into-a-shaggy-dog-story/2005/03/21/1111253960197.html

Too much information! Plain embarrassing intrusin into personal irrelevancy for this observer. Sometimes I do believe there is such a thing as too much publicity even for a politician. So undignified.

But very important to the more conservative religous amongst our community who vote on moral questions.

More recently Abbott, aka "The Mad Monk" to his rivals, has been preaching to the Opposition Leader about of all things political opportunism in religious communities, as per this report in Rudd’s home state of Queensland with a busy evangelical voter cohort

Abbott raps Rudd on God

January 27th 2007

http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,21130056-953,00.html

 

Abbott's words jarr with impertinence and hypocricy about oppportunism because some would say he indulged his own hunger for political PR at the expense of other private citizens unlucky enough to have been involved with him in a younger life. Here he is talking up his life story June 2005 on on ABC

 

http://www.abc.net.au/sundayprofile/stories/s1389511.htm

 

Opportunism? Gratuitous? Of course it is, because a politician needs publicity like a junkie needs drugs.

 

And here is the ALP political payback for attacking Rudd via John Cain, ALP 'Premier Past' of the State of Victoria in the press today:

 

http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/abbott-under-fire-for-glorifying-dark-sectarianism/2007/01/30/1169919340429.html

 

For reasons below, this writer tends to agree with Cain.

 

Also of original significance in this post when SAM kicked off our website for 2007 coincidentally we had a friendly interview with a public school teacher colleague Peter Woof who he says, and we believe him, was punched by Tony Abbott in either 1976 or 1978 in the thick of student power politics at Sydney University. Abbott is known as a sporting pugilist in publicity shots and Woof has some disturbing things to say about legal/financial duress forcing him to withdraw a case he took to the Glebe Magistrates Court against Abbott.

 

This perhaps was around the same time Abbott's colleague Peter Costello the current Federal Treasurer was famously pictured bruised and battered in student politics in Melbourne. Seems Abbott was dispensing the blow up here in Sydney with some one paying the big legal protection as he went about his business of enforcement of right wing values, according to Woof.

 

The full report is here, just click on the date at top right or go to the relevant topic at right:

 

Monday, 8 January 2007

Why did student activist now minister Tony Abbott punch Peter Woof?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: election Oz 2007

 

Peter Woof is in regular contact by email.

 

Declaration: This writer is a 'lapsed' Catholic but still quite sympathetic to the New Testament view of things, whose family is from regional Victoria in part and was depressingly dedicated to the Santamaria/The Movement view of conservative politics. No wonder SAM's editor became a zealous greenie instead. The author is not a member of any political party.


Posted by editor at 10:50 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007 12:00 PM EADT
Tuesday, 30 January 2007
Election rivals must transcend their neurosis over the artificial 1998 Sydney water contamination 'crisis'
Mood:  cool
Topic: election nsw 2007

We have a shared problem in Sydney of insufficient accessible water and yet 450 billion litres of water resource lost to ocean outfalls per year.

 

By my tally ABC 702 radio listeners reckon it’s a no brainer to recycle Sydney’s extravagant dumping of water. Certainly the public have clued in that all water is in fact recycled and a hell of a lot better than dying of thirst.

 

 

 

Similarly crikey.com.au ezine ran this opening editorial which goes to at a guess 30 thousand subscriber email boxes yesterday 29th Jan, a pretty diverse mob in government, industry and community:

 

 

 

The Queensland government’s decision to abandon its referendum on recycling drinking water from treated sewage – because the water shortage is too acute and there’s no time to waste – will probably be cited as an example of government autocracy or even dumb politics.

It is neither. Rather, it’s an example of what governments are supposed to do – govern. Be decisive in the interests of the electorate. Accept the mandate and exercise it.

The same applies to Peter Beattie’s blunt and aggressive sales job -- "These are ugly decisions ... but you either drink water or you die ... There's no choice ... It's liquid gold ... it's a matter of life and death". Beattie is doing what he’s paid to do: communicate.

Queenslanders should be relieved they have a government prepared to shortcut the “system” to ensure they get water that is treated just like Orange County’s "toilet-to-tap" project which will purify enough sewage water to serve for 140,000 families.

The real referendum question in Queensland should be: do you want to drink recycled water or no water at all. It's a question Peter Beattie answered, with alacrity, on behalf of everyone.

 

 

 

Stirring stuff. But that’s Qld. Even when ostensibly rival PM John Howard fully endorses the Beattie approach in Victoria Premier Bracks, despite broad concern as per this group

 

 

 

http://www.cleanocean.org/index_general.asp?menuid=020

 

 

says its not necessary to go down that path yet:

 

 

 

http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/bracks-rules-out-sewage-recycling/2007/01/29/1169919275238.html

 

 

What about NSW? The Iemma government are hanging tough too despite a front page last Saturday in the high circulation News Ltd Sydney Daily Telegraph, PM Howard’s favourite newspaper, last Saturday 27th January 2007 “Australia drink this” with a picture of a purified beaker of water on high.

 

 

 

The subtext was pretty clear. It’s okay to go in the recycled water, because big tough News Ltd are cool with it, complete with quotes from Howard fixer Senator Bill Heffernan, a farmer by trade in …NSW. On the front page. Their flagship edition for the week.

 

 

 

But Iemma is stubbornly resistant as here

 

 

 

Don't rule out recycled water, Turnbull urges http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200701/s1834969.htm

 

 

 

and more of that below.

 

 

 

That’s a whip hand you might think: PM Howard with an integrated $10 billion policy platform, Premier Beattie in Qld, 70% of Australian press backup (maybe) in News Ltd. Matter of time for the dominoes to fall. Indeed the story running last night on tv and today was whether the dominoes are telling the truth about falling or not under pressure from the cashed up federal government:  

 

Debnam 'PM's puppet over water' January 30, 2007 http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21140715-1702,00.html

 

 

 

As if to to underline the curious political waters we are in its not all one way traffic either:

 

 

 

Acclaimed Aussie scientist won't drink recycled water 1/29/2007 4:02:57 PM

 

 

This same expert was effectively buried in the Sydney News Ltd press by running front page of the MX (metro express) free daily of the same afternoon “I won’t drink to that/Water expert cans recycling”. This from the same News Ltd boosting recycled water in the much bigger and powerful Daily Telegraph 2 days earlier front page too. The expert, Professor Don Bursill may well be Premier in NSW Morris Iemma’s scientific figleaf. But it looks more fear than science.

 

 

 

 http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/recycled-water-rejected-out-of-fear-say-critics/2007/01/29/1169919274749.html

 

 Plenty of other experts at say UNSW say its fine technically, while the good professor Bursill refers to human error in 75% of cases of contamination in Europe over 80 case studies.

 

 

 

But this writer strongly suspects the real political obstacle is not science, or even human error which can be managed. It is corporate memory from a nasty political experience 8 years ago of a local water contamination crisis, where recycled water had no role to play, proving if anything that contamination can occur regardless.

 

 

 

Minister Craig Knowles was in charge of resolving the crisis around cryptosporidium, giardia etc which apparently are naturally occurring at low levels anyway, but are no good for the immune suppressed, or for food preparation etc. For weeks there was no ice for business from tap water. Bottled water and boiling became a back up strategy. The Big Media including Sydney Daily Telegraph were pumping out the political alarm bells full bore.

 

 

 

But this was 1998 when Warragamba Dam supplies were full. When climate change scepticism was still plausible, and respectable even. It was even before google existed as a tool on the internet, and thus you may not find very much history on the web. We at SAM probably have a few choice articles tucked away in our extensive files but this Hansard from 1998 gives a taste (!) of the intensity of the times:

 

 

 

http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/PARLMENT/hansArt.nsf/V3Key/LA19981118020

 

 

This looks to be pretty balanced analysis too (though not fully checked out) about reality versus pereception in 1998, in the lead up to the 1999 March election in NSW:

 

 

 

http://www.activedemocracy.net/articles/02_sydneywater.htm

 

 

and here is likely to be a carefully researched and balanced reference document only partly extracted here:

 

 

 

http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/publications.nsf/0/19C04E52FEA11A35CA256ECF00096CEA

 

 

 

The point is that 1998 is a very different time to now. Not least the bipartisan desire for sustainable water solutions and the political imperative to avoid being seen as counter productive in a quite urgent debate: Notice still ‘political’ debate as all big issues are, but evidence based and constructive, or be condemned for wasting everyone’s time as well as scarce water.

 

 

 

Could the NSW ALP government and Opposition be stuck in that 1998 time warp of emotional impact still over a superficial contamination ‘crisis’? It feels like it.

 

 

 

Some corroboration comes too from the environement writer for a major daily who suggests to this writer by phone today that Murray Hogarth environment writer at the time for Sydney Morning Herald ran a big feature in the Good Weekend colour magazine showing that essentially the 1998 water scare was a beat up and phoney.

 

Mmm. There is that perception versus reality thing again: In 1998 unrecycled pretty clean water said to be risky for scandal mongering reasons, and in 2007 recycled water even cleaner than drinking standard yet again somehow risky?

 

 

That's no way to make good public policy. Leadership is the question not water quality. The same journo asked this writer what do you think the Premier will do - water recycling or desalination plant, or both? The cynic in me said expensive desal plant from ocean water to make the construction unions happy, the idealist said water recycling as more sustainable, but quite possibly both.

I also suggested the best outcome for NSW was a minority ALP government like the Greiner/Fahey Coalition 1991-95 subject to the discipline of impressive cross bench independents.


Posted by editor at 12:22 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007 10:49 AM EADT
NSW legal capers. Big media-pollies 3, lead judges 2, but red card for abuse of constitution and still 7 weeks to play
Mood:  energetic
Topic: legal

The legal administration seems to be suffering some post holiday hangover headaches here in NSW. Made more painful by the election sound chamber drilling into the brain.

 

First a declaration: The writer is a junior solicitor in NSW and for a good six months now also a tea totaller who no longer worries about hangovers. There is a $140 invite to the “2007 Annual Opening of the Law Term Dinner” for two on my desk which was held last night but my budget doesn’t allow. The relevance of the dinner is revealed below and how.

 

The chronology seems to be this:

 

Magistrate O’Shane got mugged in the media recently for a pretty decent and rational decision to let an Aboriginal defendant have another chance in life as reported here at SAM:

 

Monday, 22 January 2007

Magistrate O'Shane transcript shows a professional judge, not so Iemma or ABC TV news Mood:  a-ok Topic: legal

 

[Just click the date at top right hand corner or go to the topics at right.]

 

But she got attacked in the election to and fro as an easy mark given past controversies:

 

http://www.theage.com.au/news/National/NSW-govt-wants-OShane-inquiry-widened/2007/01/17/1168709808715.html

 

Media/pollies 1, judges 0

 

This writer took up the cudgels versus Big Media and cynical selective politicians on the Melbourne Indy Media site as an example for failing to address the provocations of racism argued by the defendant in the case. A glaring omission bespeaking systemic bias.

 

In the washup O’Shane has come out smelling pretty good as here in Fairfax to quote a postscript to another story on SAM of 25th January

 

“A moving article about Magistrate OShane ran with a picture in The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, which indeed was a good balancer to all the baiting she has been getting: O'Shane makes peace with her demons

 

Integral to the recent O’Shane winning PR was gutsy backup of the independence of the judiciary by Chief Magistrate Henson early in the flurry this January 07. He had the reassurance of a decision of the Judicial Commission Conduct Division, 3 senior judge panel, in O’Shane’s favour in another legal conflict.

 

media-pollies 1 , judges 1

 

with honourable mentions to Tim Dick of Fairfax for some outstanding redemption coverage of the OShane career, and Green MP Lee Rhiannon who stuck by the judge when it counted (with some prodding by this writer).

 

Premier Iemma then goes technical in this political bunfight with “2 community members to be appointed onto the Judicial Commissin Conduct Division”. Get it? Not so many as to change the majority 3 judges, but enough to signal displeasure at the judges ratification of OShane which Iemma implies is a closed shop. We are getting disturbingly close to interference with the independence of the judiciary here. Even so with this significant election PR we can call this technical move by Iemma:

 

media-pollies 2, judges 1

 

Then Richard Ackland the well respected editor of legal magazine http://www.justinian.com.au/

 

as well as a long time Fairfax correspondent takes a cruel and likely fair prod at the Chief Judge of NSW JJ Spigelman AC for giving boring Law Dinner speeches in past years here:

 

Friday January 26, 2007

Uniformity and lying down on the job

The politicians are back from holidays with an amended line-up of prefects and house monitors, writes Richard Ackland.

 

Talk about cutting and amusing copy. The CJ would have been fuming about that public mocking, albeit gentle manner of presentation by charming Ackland. Try this cracking sledge here that would have had every serious lawyer in Sydney choking on their weeties with hilarity (one hopes anyway being notoriously grey folks):

 

“In 2003 his law term dinner speech was about previous speeches he'd made. A speech about speeches, which included references to a speech about the importance of plans for a uniform scheme for the regulation of a national legal profession. The Chief Justice said he trusted that the national approach would not be delayed for too long "by the processes of discussion required in a federation such as ours".

 

Sadly, four years on, this noble, if hardly radical, enterprise remains a work in progress, as some states have not yet passed the newfangled "model laws".

 

Riveting stuff … not, is the accusation. And the subtext is ‘Jim get relevant and get real.’ Ackland may well be exaggerating and it was mildly flippant. Here is Big Jim’s 2006 speech so judge (!) for yourself:

 

http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lawlink/Supreme_Court/ll_sc.nsf/pages/SCO_spigelman300106

 

Nevertheless we can certainly call this certainly:

 

media-pollies 3, judges 1

 

But Big Jim Spigelman CJ is one tough cookie and this writer for one is scared of him or perhaps respectful of his capacity and power is more appropriate language. He is not Chief Judge in tough town Sydney “for nuthin” to borrow a phrase.

 

Today we have the Beak's riposte. Not only has Jim met the Ackland challenge with a speech with serious interest, he has made the news on the issue de jour (of the day) as we march to the election drum beat: ABC radio report that the Law Dinner last night saw the Chief Judge condemn the intrusion of ‘any group with an agenda’ such as victims rights groups having any role in the panel of the Conduct Division.

 

Here is a press edited version of the high impact speech already placed with the Sydney Morning Herald obviously from the night before to make the deadline. (Not read by this author on first version of this post including the part below about importance of separation of powers):

 

A judge's lot to protect independence

 

and full text likely will appear on legal websites in due course. A quote of this profound speech is worthwhile, because it is so stirring and profound:

 

"We tinker with this institutional arrangement at our peril. Today, this tinkering is often expressed in terms of judges being "out of touch". However, as the Chief Justice of the High Court, Murray Gleeson, has observed, the real complaint is not that judges are "out of touch" but that they are "out of reach". Judges are meant to be hard to get at.

It is essential to understand that the most frequent litigant in the courts of this state is the executive branch of government.

People who are used to getting their way do not usually take kindly to their wishes being frustrated. In the past that has included the aristocracy, when it was the centre of social and economic power. These days such centres of power include major corporations and the mass media. Throughout history the executive branch of government has been such a centre of power.

It is vital that the independence of the judiciary does not depend solely on the personal integrity and resilience of individual judges. Independence has been institutionalised.

The exercise of judicial power must be insulated, indeed isolated, from pressure or interference by the executive branch of government.

[bold added]

On sound public policy grounds our top judge must be right. How can non judicial officers have a judicial role over the staffing of the judiciary in a constitutional system of separation of powers. The sector via Law Council, Bar Association and Law Society almost certainly concur. Ex practicising lawyer Iemma is being too cute by far.

 

Here is press reaction from News Ltd this morning:

 

Iemma defends judicial interference

NSW Premier Morris Iemma is standing firm in the face of a withering attack by the state's top judge over political interference in the judicial process.  

 

and then later "Public cannot judge us: law boss" p11 30th  Jan 2007; 

 

and in Fairfax also:

 

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/top-judge-takes-government-to-task/2007/01/29/1169919274725.html

 

I am willing to call this

 

media-pollies 3* - judges 2

 

* the raw scoreline is misleading, and doesn't quite reveal Judge Spigelman's genius. With the added impact of a red card for likely breach of the constitution this leaves the media and pollies seriously down in team resources with 7 weeks left still to play. As all the converts to the World Cup know, you can’t win in the top division without a full team.

 

The smart money would be on the Judges this far out.

 

In the other main match in the legal admin election tournament we have the media-pollies B team led by Debnam versus police-pollies A team led by Minister Watkins: The first half of that match has been about the Police Academy churning out “F-Troops” who can’t pass their ethics exams for a start:

 

NSW Police Commissioner defends recruitment practices Sunday, 28 January 2007 http://www.abc.net.au/news/items/200701/1834871.htm?nsw

 

 

 

That's a big 1 to zero against the government-police team.

 

 

This writer rang yesterday to encourage the ABC Law Report show on radio national to take an interest not only in police failing ethics classes in a diverse and demanding job, but also young lawyers: When this writer studied theory of law called Jurisprudence in 1989 at ANU and revelled in it, I was bemused at the widespread rebellion of ambitious law students against the subject, who hated being taught the purpose and social context of the law. "What's the point?" was the disturbing refrain. My guess it's not just police who have a problem with social awareness and moral concerns.

 

Seven more weeks of this. Like viewing the World Cup soccer these debates of law and order are going to be entertaining, ugly, painful, and frustrating, with only one guarantee - everyone will be exhausted at the end, win lose or draw.

Postscript #1

The Australian is running this feature story today by their highly intelligent resident ratbag Imre Salusinszky NSW correspondent

Fighting for justice The turbulent life of controversial NSW magistrate Pat O'Shane, voted a national treasure, is heading for a showdown.

Why ratbag? Well for instance he omits the element of racial provocation accepted on the evidence in the OShane decision to acquit one Mr Rose, and secondly that 3 senior judges in the NSW Judicial Commission comprehensively exonerated her in another complaint while Salusinszky merely notes "the case was dismissed". That's stingy sloppy reportage of unconscious or deliberate bias against OShane, and perhaps sour grapes for an exclusive story with the Sydney Morning Herald recently over his paper The Australian.


Posted by editor at 9:56 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007 4:28 PM EADT

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