Topic: local news
Author’s general introductory note (skip this if you know this regular weekly column):
This is not a well packaged story. It’s a contemporaneous traverse of the Sunday television free to air political talkies indicating the agenda of Establishment interests: Better to know ones rivals and allies in Big Politics and Big Media.
Indeed it’s the tv version monitoring task similar to what Nelson Mandela refers to here in his book Long Walk to Freedom (1994, Abacus) written in Robben Island prison (where he was meant to die like other African resister chiefs of history in the 19C), at page 208
“..newspapers are only a shadow of reality; their information is important to a freedom fighter not because it reveals the truth, but because it discloses the biases and perceptions of both those who produce the paper and those who read it.”
Just substitute ‘Sunday tv political talkie shows’ for "newspapers" in the quote above.
For actual transcripts go to web sites quoted below except with Riley Diary on 7. And note transcripts don’t really give you the image content value.
Media backgrounder: (and see two postscripts at the end of this post)
Cheap shot of the week
Brown registers high carbon footprint p38 Sunday Telegraph 17th June 2007, (offline?)
This impertinent piece of sophistry sledging Senator Bob Brown who literally risked personal bankruptcy in the Wielangta Forest court victory Green joy at legal victory | Mercury - The Voice of Tasmania to keep directly maybe 24,000 tonnes of carbon upstanding, compared to a trivial 24 tonnes of personal carbon footprint this year.
Picture: 24 tonnes of woodchips in one log in Tasmania's 'timber' industry?
Nigel Wilson in The Australian comes up trumps again with an interview with Gerry Hueston, BP’s Australian President with quotes like
“Hueston says the federal task group's recognition of the need for the support of low carbon technologies during the first stages of Australia's climate-change response was important.
"While emissions trading will ultimately provide the primary incentive for the deployment of low-carbon technologies, the demonstration of new technologies at scale are essential in helping to both deliver the structural reductions in Australia's emissions portfolio that will be required, and buffer the economy and Australian households from the inevitable price shocks.
"These forms of direct support will help enhance the elasticity of the energy market, as it seeks to adjust its otherwise capital-intense and long-term fixed infrastructure. The power stations of 2050 are being designed today, so direct support to encourage low-emission technology will leave the economy better placed to absorb a higher carbon price at that time."
Hueston says the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency will be picked first.
The point is that emissions trading is not about replacing power stations but determining what new technologies could be adopted for future infrastructure.”
For an oil executive that’s pretty much what SAM news blog posted late last week about the inevitability of guillotining carbon rich products from China or India just like the Ozone Depleting Substances under the Montreal Protocol.
Similarly we have in this same Weekend Australian China the biggest carbon emission problem, says BP
And for the green baiters who say this ignores social well being, consider this potentially historic human rights issue: Offline “Climate change refugees need protection, UN told” p10, Resources section Weekend Australian 16-17 June 2007.
And similarly Climate change refugees: who’s to blame? from Lawyers Weekly, and this from Doctors for the Environment Climate change and Environmental Refugees | Doctors for the ...
10 Meet the Press 8-8.30 am
Winter break – golf broadcast.
Transcript in due course www.ten.com.au/meetthepress
7 Weekend Sunrise, 8.35-40 am Riley Diary -
Congratulations 7 for streaming this on your website (2 week delay?)
Dalai Llama in very cold Canberra. Quite a pop star. Senator Brown of the Greens and Michael Danby of the ALP strong voice for Jewish interests in Australia both prominent in the footage.
website backup materials
Depression story about lawyers, Peter Hayes death. Robert Richter on the OHS situation for lawyers under high stress pressure work.
Faris interviewed. Truth coming out about drug use in the profession. Close to home with my old father, and my determination to be a tea totaller now.
Bloody good story actually. By Adam Shand, surely related to top barrister Shand? “Great access” to barristers for story. Raises whole issue of drug testing.
Oakes interview with Shrek … err Joe Hockey on IR. Sounding grumpy, opposition like?
Hard to keep up with 2 and 9 re Oakes reference to Abbott frothing at the mouth in Hockey interview, Oakes goes feral on Govt for attacking democracy of talking to the community, and being smeared for it. It’s a pretty punchy presentation by Joe Hockey.
Throws to Ross instead of Ellen at the end, almost chuckling at the parody of the whole situation.
Story on 21C singledom orthodoxy – mingles, offals and slobbs – charming.
Gilliard looking well, composed, focused on IR. Looking fit.
Panel: Lenore Taylor, Panel Matt Price, Glen Milne (looking good lad).
Every person segment Qlders. Will be on webcast as missed it.
Jim Middleton for Paul Kelly today. Rudd strong on productivity but missed inflation point. Polling due this Super Monday.
Milne says but for $8K paid no access into Kirribili, unless a Liberal Party delegate.
Discussion on Rudd interview quality with AM’s Uhlmann. It’s a false controversy. Rudd sticks to the trend problem in depressed productivity. Lawyers point about short term improvement in the latest National Accounts. Tiny blemish amplified.
High humour on the panel. Laughing as sign of transition in their subconscious.
Home page is http://www.abc.net.au/insiders/
Postscript #1 late Sunday 17th June 07
The economics lecture of Keating on Lateline recently made reference to this article by Ross Gittins in both the Age and Sydney Morning Herald 2 weeks ago:
"WHEN you divide the pie of national income between the share going to wages and the share going to profits, you find the workers' share keeps shrinking and is the smallest it has been....If you already knew that, congratulations. You are exceedingly well informed — because that startling fact has received minimal publicity.
If the boot had been on the other foot — if it had been the profits share that was shrinking — you would never have heard the end of it. But when it is just the workers' share, economists are not all that fussed.
If we focus just on the "total compensation of employees" (which includes employers' superannuation contributions on their behalf) and "total gross operating surplus of corporations" (the main national accounts measure of profits), we find that, in 1999-2000, the share of national income going to labour was 70.3 per cent, leaving the share going to capital at 29.7 per cent. But by the December quarter of last year, the wages share had fallen to 66 per cent while the profits share had increased to 34 per cent.
That is a shift of a remarkable, unprecedented 4.3 percentage points in just 6½ years.
Let us be clear on what this means. For a start, it does not mean wages have been falling. We are talking about changes in the workers' share of the (ever-growing) pie, not the absolute size of the share.....This explains why the Government can still say that real wages continue to grow. But the fact remains that, if the wages share is falling, workers are not getting their proportional — their "fair" — share of productivity gains.
Why not? Well, because this has been going on since the start of the noughties, it is not likely to have much to do with WorkChoices.
If you break down the wages and profits shares by industry, you find three where the profits share has increased noticeably: mining, wholesale trade and finance.
Mining is no surprise — the prices they receive have gone through the roof. It is more surprising that the wages share has fallen most in the finance (mainly banking) industry. Finance industry wages have not risen nearly as fast as fees and other charges have risen.
But this is not an adequate explanation.
There remains more to this business than we have yet determined — if economists were more interested in finding out."
......and on it goes courtesy of economics champion Ross Gittins. In other words this is definitely not a government for the battler on a wage as claimed by PM Howard. As Gittins points out it's not really resolved the cause but we think quite suggestive it's a government for large shareholders and overpaid executives??
By George the contest for the seat of Wentworth in East Sydney is gaining intensity, and local Mayor George Newhouse is getting way serious. We are tempted to nominate as an independent just to see if we can influence the result. Having been one of the councillors at the time who voted for the beach side parking meters to finance management of whole of Sydney tourism impacts on one LGA when Kim Anson was a dept head in the late 90ies (to become General Manager - and may still be), we can easily see where Ambitious George is coming from.
We have no doubt it's a very popular move, a real election policy in fact. Here are the swathe of Sunday press clippings in Sydney, and notice Mal Turnbull's faithful stock item - a grant to the local surf club. Trouble is they likey knew some of the victims of the Bali bombing in 2002, the govt it seems were tipped off about, as per recent ASIO leak story (reported here on SAM via The Australian).
When the Murdoch controlled press report ASIO officers being prosecuted for leaking documentation allegedly revealing US intelligence advice about impending bombing of to quote "sin spots" in other parts of Indonesia, just before the Bali bombing in 2002, then its definitely worth another look.
We clipped the article below and duly circulated it around. The article reveals a stark allegation the US intel was passed to Australia. But then where did it come from?
We think we can assume the Indonesian Intelligence knew of it full well also.
The implications are enormous. We find this all extremely coincidental regarding the rapid action in recent days involving arrest of leading JI terrorism suspects:
since that serious, serious story of the leaked US intel was published here:
A cynic might think the Indonesian Intel fully knew where the JI leaders were parked and moved quickly to swamp this highly damaging, devastating story above revealing apparently that both Australia USA and quite likely Indonesian intel knew pretty well that the Bali 2002 bombing or similar was coming. The story clipped above and the allegation, if true, reflects extremely badly on security services and thus governments of both countries. A stain that might be mitigated by some urgent raids and arrests of the culprits, one assumes.
Is this another example of the Indonesian political "chess" we heard described over the Inquest into the Balibo 5 murdered no doubt by the ruthless Suharto regime? Thankfully Suharto is gone but maybe old habits continue regarding cover ups?
Foreign Minister Downer, and the relevant Defence Minister at the time (Robert Hill?) have some very big questions to answer about USA tip offs pre Bali 2002 bomb deaths of 88 Australians. And he is all over the story of the latest arrests to suggest he well knows it.
As helpful as these latest arrests are, our government must account for their state of knowledge prior to the Bali bombing. Especially now the Murdoch press national broadsheet did their job and published the ASIO leak story, suggesting they were tipped off before 88 Australian's were murdered.
With all the concern after 4 Corners last Monday in a programme called "Ghost Prisoners" about state sanctioned torture, and here in the press today:
it is well to remember Pinochet's neo nazi fascist coup on 11th Sept 1973 was extremely brutal and murderous also. Especially on the occassion of the visit of the "barquentine" Esmeralda to our coastline today, because it too presents as a ghost ship with a grim history.
We didn't know about this tall ship Esmeralda's contribution as a torture/murder chamber by the Chilean Navy to consolidate the coup's more general murderous rampage (killing well over 3,000 victims). That is until we noticed this: ESMERALDA: TORTURE SHIP VISITS SYDNEY | Sydney Indymedia
Here is a past image of the ship in a previous visit to Sydney Harbour, ghostly white, which is ironic.
Picture: Esmeralda visits Sydney 1988 during our Bicentennial when Neo Nazi dictator Pinochet still ruled Chile.
This is not some old wound that should be left in the past and simply sanitised. The truth should be known. We all know about the crimes of mass murder at Port Arthur by one of our own, and now torture of Mamdouh Habib, and it is not airbrushed from Australian history. Nor should the vicious torture and deaths of over 100 at various times on the 'good' ship Esmeralda after the coup in Chile in 1973 against a twice democratically elected President Allende.
It's true a great number of Chileans do want to move on too especially in that country, and not have this sorrow like a millstone around their necks, but then there is no statute of limitations on murder either. This website report is very revealing, including a modern legal consequence for Pinochet:
Victims - Victimas Father Michael Woodward
"The Esmeralda ship: The Chilean Navy's Torture Chamber
by Germán F. Westphal (2003)*
Thirty years ago, on September 11th 1973, general Augusto Pinochet ousted Dr. Salvador Allende's Chilean constitutional government in a bloody coup d'état. During the 17 years of his dictatorship, he coerced Chile into an empire of state terrorism, the most cruel of all forms of terrorism since it relies on the use of authority to commit its crimes. According to official information, during this period 3,197 men and women were brutally assassinated by state agents. This number includes 49 children between the ages of 2 and 16 --one of them, a 13 year-old boy found with 11 bullet impacts on the body and 9 impacts on the head--, 126 women --some of them pregnant--, and some fifty foreign nationals.
According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (Report 24/OCT/74), Amnesty International (Report AMR 22/32/80), the American Senate (Resolution 361-16/JUN/86), and the Report issued by the Chilean Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Part Three, Chapter I, Section 2 f.2.), immediately after September 11 1973, the ship Esmeralda was used by the Chilean Navy as a centre of detention and torture in the port of Valparaíso.
The testimonies to the fact that the Esmeralda was indeed used as a floating torture chamber include that of Chilean lawyer Luis Vega, who died in exile in Israel (2001); the ex-government official of the National Institute of Agricultural Development, Claudio Correa, currently residing in the United Kingdom; and the college professor and ex-mayor of Valparaiso, Sergio Vuskovic, currently residing in Chile.
According to the report of the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission, "In the case of the ship Esmeralda, the investigations conducted by this commission established that a special unit of the navy was operational on board for the purpose of interrogating detainees who were on the ship and also those brought to her from other detention centers. As a general rule, these interrogation sessions included torture." According to the same report, the other detention centers included the cargo ships Maipo and Lebu.
Due to the fact that the detainees were being moved from one ship to another, the actual number of prisoners on board varies depending on the testimonies. However, the U.S. Senate (1986) indicates that there were 112 of them at one point. According to the evidence available, there were 40 women who were subject to all kinds of torture, rape, and other violations of their dignity and rights. Moreover, amongst the detainees there was a Chilean-British Catholic priest, Michael R. Woodward, who had to be taken to the Naval Hospital upon the recommendation of a navy doctor. Father Woodward eventually died as a consequence of the torture inflicted upon him. To this date, it has been impossible to determine where his remains were buried.
Father Woodward's assassination by the use of torture is part of Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón's case against Augusto Pinochet for his responsibility in the crimes of genocide and international terrorism involving multiple assassinations, conspiracies to assassinate, kidnapping, torture and forced disappearances. Father Woodward' detention on the Esmeralda was first reported by the Valparaíso newspaper La Estrella in September of 1973, while all the Chilean media, including La Estrella, were under military censorship. This fact constitutes undeniable evidence of the truthfulness and accuracy of La Estrella's report regarding father Woodward's detention on the Esmeralda.
The Esmeralda's Cóndor figurehead is not only one of the the Chilean national emblems, but also reminiscent of Operation Cóndor, the international terrorist plan implemented by Augusto Pinochet and his military supporters to coordinate military repression in the countries of the Southern Cone of Latin America, Europe and the U.S. In fact, Operation Cóndor allowed them to use military intelligence services for the purpose of assassinating Chilean General Carlos Prats in Buenos Aires and President Allende's Foreign Relations Minister Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C. Operation Cóndor was also instrumental in the assassination attempt against former Chilean Vice-President Bernardo Leighton in Rome and the death of ex-President Joao Goulart in Brazil.
The Esmeralda is not only the Chilean Navy's Torture Chamber, as it has been thoroughly documented, but also --along with the bird of prey on its bow-- a symbol of the most heinous crimes ever committed in the countries of the Southern Cone of Latin America.
The ship's annual visit to different
ports of the world should not be welcomed until the Chilean Navy overcomes its moral cowardice, acknowledges the criminal use of the ship and other detention, torture and death centres under its control, discloses the names of the criminals involved, applies dishonourable discharge to them, and fully cooperates with the Chilean Judiciary system surrendering all relevant information and documentation.
* Germán F. Westphal is a former Chilean political prisoner and a Professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Maryland, 21250, U.S.A.
This grim history is quite different to the general PR around the visit of this ex death chamber, as for earlier today on ABC radio and here for a local charter business:
This morning we went down to the naval dockyards to see this ship and the locals of South American especially Chilean descent making their point about human rights abuses on this so called "graceful lady" of the Chilean Navy.
We noticed heavy weight local Unionist Andrew Ferguson giving his moral support but the ship was still offshore due to heavy weather so we were advised by the local security personnel:
We often refer to the criminal assasination of one Victor Jara in a sport stadium (that now is known as Victor Jara stadium in the suburb of Central Estacion in Santiago) a legendary folksinger who was every bit as significant as Bob Dylan to the tens of millions of Spanish speaking South Americans. A superb musician dangerous to the dictator for his ability to communicate to millions of poorly educated via song having lived the same peasant upbringing.
Pictures: The revered Victor Jara legendary folksinger and leader of a cultural revival in Chile under Allende also pictured, at right with son and step daughter, from Victor An Unfinished Song by his widow and British dual citizen Joan Jara.
If one is fortunate to hear Jara's dulcet tones (which seem to be growing like topsy on YouTube here also in a marvellous whimsical song) one cannot help but feel righteous anger that such a voice and genius was denied to the world by a pompous military thug in padded shoulders and gold braid. You don't really know until you actually hear. Just like say Jeff Buckley to this generation, but in Jara's case singing the song of his country's reality and crushing poverty for many.
On a wholly satirical note, in the Young Ones tv comedy of a disfunctional group house in Britain the snotty Rick Mayal character is always fantasising about being the 'People's Poet' as some kind of left wing saint. We believe the comedy writer is in fact referring to the real life Victor Jara - who was actually martyred by the Pinochet thugs. Listen to this song again and say he doesn't sound like a saint.
That's why many Chileans with some fair logic regard Pinochet as a ruthless neo Nazi as here VIctor Jara Y Violeta Parra - Documental p 1
Similarly SBS Dateline 27th June 2007 in this truly brilliant work Pursuing Posada " In the last day, the US Central Intelligence Agency has released some 700 pages of what it called "the family jewels" secret files detailing, among other things, years of attempts to assassinate the communist Cuban leader, Fidel Castro. And, Dateline can reveal the life and times of a man right at the centre of those attempts. Last month, in Texas, Luis Posada Carriles walked free from a court after US immigration charges against him were dismissed. On the face of it, a fairly unremarkable event, but below its surface is a tale of international intrigue and espionage stretching back for close on five decades. In Latin America, several governments have labelled Posada one of the world's worst terrorists, responsible, they claim, for death and destruction throughout the region. So why, you might ask, is he still free and living in the US? Dateline's David O'Shea has come up with some answers."
Whoa. This is bad news for community media. Open publishing always had some whiskers on it by allowing ratbags and fruitcakes to publish unintelligible sometimes uneducated rubbish under the guise of free speech. And that's not being an education snob. There's many ways to gain wisdom and knowledge in this world and lack of formal education can still mean very well worth looking at. Only ranting was never a useful form of expression at any time. And most people know it.
But still we feel sorry, and can only hope MIM revives. Damn. And at such a close time to the federal election. I always said this was a period of unusual risk and danger for community politics with a stale cynical 11 year old federal govt hanging on grimly by its fingernails. MIM as it is known seemed to be ahead of the curve ball generally speaking.
The key to community publishing is interactivity, without the hogwash and sabotage. Not really that hard to establish, look at the long long comments strings on YouTube. It can be done.
Here is the last official post for the time being:
Melbourne Indymedia Suspends Publishing
Open publishing has been suspended on Melbourne Indymedia as numbers in our editorial collective are insufficient to manage the site effectively and responsibly. We realise that MIM has played a vital role in reporting activist news from Melbourne, around Australia and internationally. To this end the present collective will be assessing options for how best to provide an activist news service in the future. If you wish to get involved, please contact us, or subscribe to our mailing list.
While open publishing is suspended, our collective suggests if you have a well researched, well-written story about Melbourne events, you should post the story to Sydney Indymedia. We thank our many loyal readers and contributors for several years of grassroots journalism and media activism and hope we can resume reporting with an even better interface at some stage in the future.
Melbourne Indymedia Collective
We just had to add a comment to Paul Kelly's blog here:
No easy way to share emissions cuts burden, Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Actually Kyoto was, and remains the valid model in a geo political economy.
It's based on the precedent of the Montreal Protocol targeting the ozone hole problem in that case not greenhouse gases.
China and India similarly didn't want to retool out of CFC and HCFC gases destroying the ozone layer.
The western countries, including USA and little sir echo Australia, put their foot down on the ozone hole and said yes, you must retool or we embargo those goods/services inputed with those ozone depleting substances (ODS).
China and India retooled in 5 years in their huge populations so they could keep selling their air conditioners and fridges to the USA and other countries.
True the Montreal Protocol is a qualified success with a fair degree of backsliding and cheating, but basically the model works ... IF...there is a unified block of western countries hosting the buyers market here in the more affluent economies. In short the West controls the market access that India and China need, as much as the West need their cooperation on GHG reductions.
Actually a shame on this govt and Big Media for not knowing this environmental politics AO1. But then it was under this govt that the ABC cut Earthbeat in 2005 specialising in environmental policy. Get the picture?
This market based reality is indeed why China for one, with all its coal fired power stations is also accelerating their solar and other renewable energy industries as fast as they can. They know they've been here before on ODS. As I do. As anyone with some brains should by now. It is also why Rudd would be a better PM in the future with his Chinese language skills for the messy negotiation.
But what this situation also does reveal is that Australia as a main supplier to China and India is in fact part of the China-India block, and is playing a rodent like double game. To the West especially Europe we say we support ghg cuts, but to the East we say come and get our coal as much as you like until the music inevitably stops.
The truth is Australia will cop the same discipline as these two major fossil fuel consumers China and India when the USA eventually stops playing chicken with global ecological reality just as they did with the ozone hole, and buckles down to a carbon constrained future and threatens refusal of Chinese etc goods . That would be about January 2009 when W Bush is removed from office along with his Big Oil mates.
Perhaps this is why Costello who gets climate change supports some insurance with a massive solar technology power plant in north west Victoria. It's our future, or very similar, too (geothermal, wind etc), not just China and India.
But it is quite shocking the level of rodent in Australia's dealings on this issue: The Australian Govt has been doing it's best to maximise our coal sales by literally working to delay (read sabotage) as long as possible the western markets inevitable guillotine on Chinese/Indian carbon rich cheap produce.
In this sense it doesn't matter what it's called - Kyoto, G8, APEC, Sydney, or Bali being the next scheduled UN talks in December 2007 (after our federal election as per Marian Wilkinson here G8 moves to put APEC in the political shade - Opinion - smh.com.au, an article that parallels Prof Kelly's article above).
The leverage on China and India remains the same, and has always remained in the hands of Western Countries if they were unified and serious: The threat of a collective ban on carbon rich sales into affluent western markets just like ODS under the Montreal Protocol. By the way the Montreal Protocol also systematised financial and technological transfers to India and China to meet the challenge on ODS just as will be necessary on GHG reduction West to East, and who knows East to West one day.
The community of nations seems to be dancing to the carbon tune in a game of renewable energy musical chairs knowing full well the music stops with a market based guillotine sooner or later. And that it will indeed hurt many if not all if it's not done well. The key is to grow the number of renewable energy chairs and pronto.
We hear that Premier Iemma on ABC radio noon today 14th June 07 via his Attorney General is consulting the Bar Association and NSW Law Society over the lifetime tenure of the DPP.
That's interesting. We think the Bar and Law Society may potentially have a conflict of interest getting involved in such "consultations".
What if say a public watchdog was investigating a minister of the NSW Govt? Just say they were investigating them right now. If they were to make an adverse finding or discover adverse evidence, who would be obliged to proceed with prosecution of the NSW minister?
We think it would be Nick Cowdery, Director of the DPP who would decide to prosecute or not.
So the Law Society, and Bar Association as in effect chief officers of the court for their respective professions could be drawn into "thugging" of a DPP's life tenure, when their real interest if they were fully informed, might be to actually seek as much employment independence from the NSW Govt as possible.
We have been in correspondence with both the Law Society and Bar Association in relation to this. We notice the Law Society carried the chief agent for Iemma on their Law Society Journal recently (as above).
We trust that doesn't affect their independent approach to the framework and status of employment of the DPP in these curious times.
Postscript #1 15th June 07
The more things change the more they stay the same:
Friday, 13 June 2003
The New South Wales chief prosecutor has warned the State Government off any moves to limit his term to a fixed seven years.
Nicholas Cowdery has a lifetime appointment as the Director of Public Prosecutions, but the Premier says this is an anomaly and should be changed.
Bob Carr also says that if Mr Cowdery does not plan to move on soon, the Government might have to bring in the reform before his term ends.
Mr Cowdery says limiting the DPP's term could affect the independence of the office with political decisions being made to shore up a second term of employment.
"I would caution the Government to think very carefully before unilaterally altering the conditions against which I serve this office," he said.
"Unilateral interference with the terms of employment of a statutory office holder is not something to be undertaken lightly."
The President of the Bar Association Michael Slattery (whose office we lobbied yesterday on this) was on 702 ABC radio this morning just after 7 am. He pointed out the life time tenure of the DPP came in across many western countries to quarrantine the DPP from political interference in sensitive prosecutions - he didn't say but presumably like ex ALP MP Milton Orkopoulos pre 2007 state election, or say adverse findings by say ICAC of current ministers.
The Daily Telegraph is running a story with the line that the up until now esteemed ICAC have a director on a limited tenure term. The trouble with that example is that the ICAC have become quite mediocre and ineffective from this writer's view. Well who cares about us you might say. Significantly some influential writer(s) at the Murdoch owned Sydney Telegraph have reached a similar conclusion.
The Telegraph were concerned about some matter of public policy or other that wasn't pursued with quite the vigour or acuity that they thought was needed.
Off the record a very senior journalist at Fairfax has made similar sceptical comments to this writer regarding the success rate or effectiveness of ICAC.
For our part we we worried about consistent failure of the govt over years to seriously prosecute rich farmers of outrageous breach of land clearing laws, and ICAC determination to avoid any flushing out the sleaze behind that approach at political level.
It's a long time since we had the impressive ICAC's Ian Temby QC rampaging against Nick Greiner's tricky jobs for Indy MP's in the Metherell Affair. In that situation at heart was the protection of the environment concerns of ex MP Metherell who refused to deliver up his vote in parliament to destroy.... forests, in a hung parliament.
If only we had an ICAC with that kind of guts today. Maybe with life time tenure they would?
We suggest the last word should go to this scathing criticism of the federal govt sleazing of the independence of their federal public service by destroying permanent heads of department. Sound familiar?:
14th June 2007 Editorial Sydney Morning Herald
TENSIONS between politicians and public servants are inherent in the Westminster system, a fact exploited to brilliant effect in television's Yes Minister. But there is nothing funny about what has happened to the relationship between ministers and mandarins, between ministerial advisers and bureaucrats, over recent decades, and particularly under the Howard Government. The politicisation of the federal public service - the imposition of the electoral and ideological priorities of the party in power on supposedly apolitical officials - has gone so far it poses a serious threat to Australian democracy.
The warning bells have been rung by an authoritative insider, Andrew Podger, a former public service commissioner and head of three different federal departments. In the Australian Journal of Public Administration, Mr Podger says changes to the conditions under which departmental secretaries - they used to be called "permanent heads" - are employed, rewarded and penalised have eroded their independence and professionalism. The big turning points were the introductions of job contracts for secretaries (by the Keating government in 1994) and of performance-based bonuses as a percentage of their salaries (in 1999). These changes, and the increasing tendency to give all but "favoured" departmental chiefs contracts of three years, rather than five, have heightened the tension between the requirements that they be both professionally impartial and responsive to government wishes. The result, says Mr Podger, has been greater emphasis on "responsiveness" and a tendency on the part of senior officials to hedge bets, limit the issues on which to take a stand and craft documents more carefully.
It is depressing, given the roles of politicians and public servants in scandals and cover-ups such as the "children overboard" affair, mistreatment of migration detainees and AWB. Doubtless, Mr Podger will be accused of special pleading - he candidly admits having once been denied reappointment and once denied a bonus - but he is persuasive in his calls for a return to five-year contracts as the norm for secretaries, while retaining flexibility, and for the end of performance pay at this level. Unhappily, the Government is as unlikely to listen as it is to face up to the even graver problem posed by unaccountable ministerial advisers.
And now today in their Editorial today:
Starving the DPP into submission
The DPP's budget is to be cut and the operations of his office are to be subjected to an extraordinary audit. Mr Cowdery may hold the office for life but the Government is looking at ways to ensure his successors do not. Mr Cowdery is not accused of serious malpractice or incompetence, though the Government would dearly like to trump up an overseas trip he had planned into a scandal. His real - his only - crime is candour. At different times he has been less than wholeheartedly in support of Government law and order policy. He made some tart, but justified, comments about the egregious state plan. But candour, under the Iemma Government, is the worst crime of all. Now Mr Cowdery will suffer for it. Yet the Government is playing a dangerous game.
Its first danger is that by neutering the office of the DPP, one of the few remaining independent sources of advice is silenced. We will not speak of the move as unwise: it is demanding too much to require wisdom in politicians. Let us just call it counterproductive. Governments of all persuasions need their servants to speak the truth without fear. How will they know what is happening in the world around them if all they hear is flattery or their spin played back to them?
Second, and more important, it is dangerous because it places too much power in the hands of the government of the day. The Iemma Government may not have heard of the separation of powers, but the rest of the community has. Once the DPP becomes subject to executive pressure - and that is the intention of the campaign against Mr Cowdery - the prosecutor risks becoming the attack dog of the government of the day. The impartiality of the law is put in danger. Temporary political storms whipped up against individuals or groups - and how many of those have we seen in recent years? - can then become truly oppressive. A DPP on a short leash becomes a direct threat to democracy. The Government should back off immediately.
The Green Party have chimed in here too:
15 June 2007
Govt tries another repellent for DPP pest
Greens MP Lee Rhiannon says the Iemma government*s proposed review of
the tenure of the NSW DPP is designed to strip the chief prosecutor of
protection crucial to guaranteeing his independence and indicates a
rotten government bent on silencing its critics.
*The judicial appointment model for the DPP, which has been adopted
in NSW and other jurisdictions around the world, is key to protecting
the prosecution process from political meddling,* Ms Rhiannon said.
*The government is clearly intent on putting the Director of Public
Prosecutions on limited tenure.
*The Iemma government*s manoeuvre smacks of a school yard bully
set on securing its ascendancy.
*The review is one more attempt to silence a valuable critic of the
Iemma government*s popularist law and order policies. It follows
Treasurer Michael Costa*s plan to cut the DPP*s budget.
*The government*s bid to control key appointments and bury
information that should properly be in the public domain is eroding
democracy in this state.
"Mr Nicholas Cowdery QC has been an outspoken critic of Labor's justice
*Mr Cowdery had the courage to label the State Plan a 'political
and has resisted government attempts to meddle in his sentencing and
*Provisions exist to dismiss the DPP for misconduct that ensure
accountability alongside life tenure.
*Preserving the independence of the DPP is crucial for the quality of
justice in this state.
*Greens MPs will vote against any attempts to downgrade the NSW model
for DPP appointments,* Ms Rhiannon said.
Contact: Lee Rhiannon 9230 3551, 0427 861 568.
Powerful article here by Fairfax's Andrew Clennell 15th June 07Cowdery has rare freedom to say what he thinks - for now NICHOLAS COWDERY has been fearless in asserting his independence.
Telegraph story page 2 here, seems to be offline (maybe) - Fixed term moves on prosecutors