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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Saturday, 15 December 2007
Tim Blair, Tele opinion editor, baits victorious Left with implied anti semitism smear
Mood:  sad
Topic: big media

As a preface to such a sensitive topic we note a profound belief that there are many, many lovable Arabic and Jewish folks in the world, no doubt, both here in Australia, world wide and in the Middle East.

That being said:

What does a right wing Howard screamer like Blair do when he's got nothing left to win an argument with? Not an election result. Not a PM patron. Not a shred of scientific credibility on dangerous climate change. Iraq war tragedy? Nope.

Well today we know - Tim Blair goes the low rent smear conflating the disturbing consequences of Zionist Extremism based on theorcratic arrogance, as distinct from WW2 imperatives, with emotional blackmail about alleged left wing racist global Jewish conspiracies: Here it is

Tim Blair: My trip to the heart of Jewness

As always the cunning of 'News' (maybe) 'Limited' (so apt) shriekers is a grain of truth to his smear. At the far reaches of the Left and of the Right the tail of the snake touches the mouth as the political spectrum actually does a twirl on itself, like one of those lectures on the space time continuum (where space is a sheet of paper and then folded on itself front to end).

Recently we wrote to a contact who has been drawn into the Sept 11 "truth movement" as follows, and we feel this is instructive to the Green and Left movements having actually been elected for 4 years in a significantly Jewish part of Sydney 1995 to 1999 where we needed to find our own moral equilibrium in such a comunity:

Sent: Friday, December 14, 2007 8:12 AM
Subject: unconvinced so far, tease out a few things here Re: Reply to yours

... Your views about a false flag operation are noted. But I'm not convinced on my limited information. Yeah know about King David Hotel and the ultra violent MO of Zionism. I also am vaguely aware that the middle east people allied to the Nazis at some stage in the 2nd WW for geo politic positioning. This especially is a critical aspect of the fall out to hold onto.
So my overall view about the situation in the middle east is tens of millions died world wide, mostly russians and the world's borders changed for a reason. Winners and losers. The right winners. The right losers as regards Nazism.There was always going to be a redefinition post WW2 huge disruption. Regardless of 2000 years plus of history. Even 4000 years.
That being said little people should not suffer pre emptory eviction in hundreds of thousands, and theocratic/racist states are bound to tend toward fascism. My feeling is Israel acts out as a nation the holocaust on itself in perverse and fearful ways. Bullied becomes the bully. Nothing new under the sun.
Back to false flag views - Those planes just taking off with excess fuel can melt steel like butter. I've seen a petrol tanker 50% vapourised. I'm no engineer but I wonder because never in history has two planes done that ever, thus common sense tells me unexpected consequences. Like the chain reaction of a 1,500 degree celsius fire, with steel girders like logs of wood.
Secondly as best I can tell Osama and his folks pretty much take credit for the attack on 'The Great Devil'. Maybe not direct credit. I'm not sure. But pretty keen. I don't think it's wise to be too naive about engineer Osama. I was in a youth Hostel in an obscure part of Ireland 5 years back and Muslim prayer group was there on a retreat. I was with a girlfriend. I had a friendly chat with the mufti and he said "but you are married?" given we were in the same room, asking twice. He was happy to talk to a curious accent Aussie but he made it very clear there was only one acceptable answer. I told him "yes". It was a lie he felt quite comfortable with because he wanted to like me. I have no regrets lying. ...
The point is our religious friend had intolerant fascist tendencies, not so different to extremist Christians. I always take people as I find them, any colour race or creed. I found that particular cultural view impertinent and stupid. If you do a mind experiment and extrapolate it leads to many possibilites.
As Christian Kerr in his right wing attitude prods me and others, the Islamofascist would kill us off as soon as their main enemies if it was practical or convenient. Remember those pleas of the sisterhood late 90ies 2000 pre WTC to save the sisters under the heel of the Taliban fascists. I don't agree with Kerr on many things but he's got a point. A serious point. Extremism. It's ugly and unacceptable both Right and Left.
Anyay there's my analysis, 15 years in the media analysis business. I was working as a night shift reader analyst for Media Monitors that night Sept 11 01, but it wasn't until next [24 hour] cycle the Fin Review ran front page the jumpers. A shocking editorial choice but a good one because it was their financial people jumping.
Even so, far more die everyday elsewhere. As Sean Penn says the absence of the WTC let light in. Pretty profound and disturbing comment that.
Cheers Tom (editor!)
PS As to the bright worthy writers on the middle east, thanks but too little time. My strategic view is its a whirlpool of confusion like most violent neurosis that sucks the energy of everyone dry. Also its not my fight not being of the relevant ethnicity. But I take a definite interest out of common humanity and secondly the nukes mean 'we and our environment all live in the middle east'. Re read violent neurosis comment again. It's like .... a self sustaining unhealthy catch 22: The fighters are psychologically too damaged to see beyond the tit for tat. Gandhi was right.
Earlier I had written of a secular Jewish academic and human rights campaigner by the name of Uri Davis in Wikipedia here. Uri Davis pretty much demolishes the ignorance of such as Tim Blair here:
Uri Davis - Against Israeli Apartheid - for Freedom and Justice in ...
How does Tim Blair actually deal with the Israel as Aparthied state thesis? Israel apparently has no written constitution upon which a fair and objective land law could be developed. This is Uri Davis's big point.
Assuming its true which we do, then Blair's attack falls in a great heap. It may well be that Blair is the racist by airbrushing the humanitarian claims of millions of Arabic people when advocating for a safe homeland for Jewry post WW2.

Posted by editor at 8:43 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 15 December 2007 10:10 AM EADT
Friday, 14 December 2007
Get Up show their mettle post election, take a stand on Tas pulp mill saga
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: ecology

[Repost direct email from Get Up dated 13th Dec 07 timed at 3.23pm and again at 6.24 pm to our inbox. Crikey.com.au are reporting an inside tip that the ANZ are against financing the project (?). Could it really be true?]

Dear friends,

Right now, in a skyscraper in Melbourne the fate of the Gunns pulp mill in Tasmania's Tamar Valley is being decided by ANZ bank executives - and with your help we can make sure ANZ makes the right decision at their AGM next Tuesday and beyond.

The ANZ bank is considering financing Gunns' controversial pulp mill this week. Despite having the short-sighted approval of the new Labor Government, without a financial backer the project simply can't go ahead. Banks aren't answerable to the voters but they do listen when customers, shareholders and the public put their reputation at risk.

Our contacts inside the ANZ have told us that the ANZ decision-makers like the new head of the ANZ Mr Smith are actively listening and now this is the time to add your voice. Can you send a message to Mr Smith, to encourage him to do the right thing and not finance the Gunns pulp mill?


Public pressure has been proven to make large corporations act more ethically, for fear of tarnishing the company's reputation and customer backlash - that's why ANZ is feverishly considering the implications before they approve the mill's finance. Let's leave them with no doubt that bankrolling this environmentally disastrous development would be equally disastrous for them.

Your email to Mr Smith at ANZ could save the equivalent of 2.3 million cars being taken off the road each year. 25,000 of you have already written submissions to the government inquiry, but whereas our politicians were too worried about losing votes, your email to ANZ will help make financing this project risky business:


The Government has so far failed us on the pulp mill, by refusing to listen to the tens of thousands of Australians outraged by this ill-conceived development - the ANZ can't afford to be as foolish. This could be our urgent last chance to stop the pulp mill - the ANZ AGM is next Tuesday, and we want every executive to enter that meeting knowing Australia does not want them to become a climate villain.

Thanks for being a part of the solution,
The GetUp team

PS - Both the new Climate Change Minister Penny Wong and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Al Gore are taking your climate concerns direct to Bali! GetUp met with Penny Wong on her way to the climate negotiations to give her the 96,000-signature climate petition. Read our Blog!

Posted by editor at 3:01 PM EADT
NSW power sale: Will public sector unions officially shift to The Greens?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: nsw govt

Picture: Is Michael Costa considering a career with Macquarie Bank after politics like Bob Carr, and will the Bank participate in the privatisation feeding frenzy?    


We hear on the ABC radio news hourly bulletin at 1 pm 14 Dec 07 via Treasurer Costa that the power privatisation decision of the Iemma Govt is "final". This is the same Costa who it might be said has never faced the people for election in his own personal capacity having come up through the union ranks to a cosy spot in the Upper House ticket to get his parliamentary pension.


There has even been talk Costa is keen to retire before the next election, even by 2009:

The big if: is Premier ready to cut and run? - National - smh.com.au

That is, even as the ranks of opponents move against the sell off gather steam as here reported yesterday

Forces gather against power privatisation - National - smh.com.au

and today

Builders to fight power privatisation | The Australian

Costa patronisingly tells the unions they have no role in this because it's "final".

Time will tell. The pro public sector unions have some serious decisions to make about where the ALP, their party, are coming from.

Meanwhile the Green Party are going as fast as they can to campaign against the sell off of the huge public assets:

Greens launch "Public Power" campaign to stop electricity sale

Media Release: 13 December 2007

Greens NSW MP John Kaye today unveiled his party's posters, badges, web site and other materials as part of their campaign to stop the NSW government's privatisation of the electricity industry.

Dr Kaye said: "Premier Morris Iemma has badly underestimated community opposition to electricity industry privatisation.

"We will be working along side unions and community groups to turn that opposition into action.

"It is not too late to stop the privatisation of the electricity retailers and the long term lease of the generators.

"The Iemma government is trying to use the holiday season to get away with this unpopular move. No doubt they are hoping that voters will be distracted by celebrations with family, friends and colleagues.

"The Greens will be putting up posters and distributing fliers to remind Christmas shoppers that while they are celebrating, Premier Iemma and his Treasurer Michael Costa will be busy selling off their electricity industry.

"Today we are also launching our website, john.greens.org.au/privatisation, that equips visitors with the arguments against privatisation and allows them to send a click-and-protest anti-privatisation message to Premier Iemma.

"Last weekend the State Conference of the Greens NSW voted to establish a No Privatisation Working Group. The level of outrage within the membership stems not only from the greenhouse impacts of the sell-off but also the loss of jobs and the damage to consumers.

"We want Labor party leaders to know how angry the community is.

"The Federal Coalition was swept aside by the Your Rights at Work campaign.

"The Iemma government should be very afraid that the determined combination of community power and organisation does not send them to the same fate as John Howard's administration," Dr Kaye said.

Visit the Greens anti-privatisation campaign at: john.greens.org.au/privatisation

For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455

In our local area we wonder whether the ALP members of parliament are too well off and comfortable to really know what little people want anymore. For instance what is Federal Infrastructure Minister Albanese's attitude to the sell off, from the Left of the party? He's very quiet just as he is very quiet about the massive expansion of Port Botany impacts on his seat of Grayndler.

If you look at p3 of the The Glebe 6th December 2007 you will notice this article:


It's very revealing of Minister Albanese's anxiety to prove his battler Left credentials. Indeed it could be more than a coincidental response to this humble micro news website 24 Nov 07:



What this 'humble origins' PR completely fails to recognise is that he is a millionaire based on he and wife's combined career Lefty Big Party income. This affluence definitely pisses off some in the local Left ranks. All it needs is a kick along. The
'millionaire representative MP for Grayndler.'
'Forgotten where he's from'.
'Lost touch with poor people'.
'Doesn't know what it feels like anymore for the little people'.
'In it for himself'.
All that kind of sledging. Arguably quite true and not just one ALP MP. Certainly Albanese seems sensitive about it. All that dosh.
As the momentum in the local area for rampant development - differentially enriching the ALP mates in the business sector at the expense of their resident's amenity and health takes hold- then this stark contrast between rich slippery talking pollie on fat wage and those copping the downside may generate a serious voter backlash. Of course it's a taboo subject for the overpaid mainstream media, and the pollies themselves but its bound to influence people the more they think about it.
Enough anger to unrust the Left ALP voters to the Greens? 


It is about financial envy, and it is about punishing the so called 'meritocracy' but only because no individual needs that much affluence to live in a crowded inequitable world. It's basically an affront to equity that these MPs are climbing on the shoulders of the local little people, while always claiming to help them. Not as Rudd's Infrastructure Minister he won't be. He will be building big road tunnels through his own seat.


This is why Minister Albanese has to parade his humble origins in the letter above, while CBD Mayor Clover Moore donates her second wage to charity. The perception the 'pigs are walking on their hind legs' just like Animal Farm starting to behave like the farmer, that is the bosses party (the Liberals). One wonders if that is the case with Treasurer Costa as well telling the unions the govt decision is "final".


But The Greens for instance have to be up for the argument. They have to have their own moderate finances in order.  The ALP Left will squeal blue murder because it's potentially a winning brutal and personal argument that will peel their wings off in the local power stakes especially with the rusted on poor ALP voters who are on traditional riding orders parent to child to always vote ALP.

Anyway that's one analysis how to replace the rotten ALP borough and their patronage and access machine deliverying for the big end of town and bugger the little people.

Posted by editor at 1:38 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 14 December 2007 3:07 PM EADT
Sydney University maintain 6 month access ban on SAM community media post federal election
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: independent media


We recently corresponded with the senior folks at Sydney University as follows, and refer especially the part in bold near the end. Photos are all from the great pro education rally 2nd May 2007 Sydney University front lawns and down Broadway meeting other campus groups and into the CBD. One image is a rally organiser Corinne Grant formerly of the Glasshouse abc tv show. There was very little mainstream Big Media coverage of the event, as expected, hence our attendance:


Sent: Monday, December 03, 2007 1:19 PM
Subject: Tom McLoughlin community media 2nd May 2007 USYD campus student education rally

Without prejudice


Professor Jeremy, USYD
CC Richard Fisher, general counsel USYD
Michael Conaty, NSW Ombudsman, investigating officer
By email
3rd December 2007
Dear Professor

Breach of norms of free press community media on campus at student education rally 2nd May 2007

I refer to your letter of Nov 15 2007 offering to reinstate my general public licence to attend the campus.


Thanks for your contact just prior to the federal election. I am copying in Richard Fisher based on previous exchange of correspondence and also Michael Conaty at the Ombudsman's Office for reasons that will be apparent.


1. My first letter was 2nd May 07 via electronic email with revealing photos therein. USYD have only responded 6 months later by your letter of 15 November 07. .... Frankly I don't buy the convenient excuses about miscommunication there at USYD.  A cynic would say this was only due to the eventual involvement of Conaty at the Ombudsman's office and on that we hang our hat.


2. With due respect you start out 2nd paragraph asserting the "private property" status of the front lawns there. To my mind (High Distinction in Land Registration at ANU in 1985!) this looks like shallow posturing. Everyone knows the Uni is massively publicly subsidised thus the reliance not on private trespass laws but the statutory Inclosed Lands Act just like Darling Harbour and Opera House etc which is your legal right. So yes it is quasi private, but conversely it is quasi public. Hence the whole public licence/termination regulatory regime.


3. That being said I prefer to not bandy legal niceties of land tenure with you. I'm busy, no doubt you are to.


4. The truth of the incident whether in your reports or not is that at law I don't need permission 'to photograph without consent' as you put it. Further, to be entirely accurate I was asked my name as I moved on to the gathering of students and their rally which was the next newsworthy location some 30 metres away. Your man tried to run interference by holding me up to get my name in his little note book, and I said "You can walk with me. I am working." He didn't follow me into the midst of the gathering student protester crowd. Quite wisely I thought.


5. Some 60 minutes later I was surrounded by 4 security as I tried to get my bicycle to leave with the rally. They had been photographing and monitoring my community media work all this time as evidenced by my record and were clearly stalking me for the opportunity to pounce. Only well after the rally was moving off did they demand my name and details. There was some clarifying debate about their legal power and then I gave my solicitor's card with ID. I repeatedly answered the question "Do you have a lawful reason to be on the campus?" with the incredulous response "I'm here to report the student rally for community media. I'm the reporter and editor for Sydney Alternative Media.com."


6. There can be no mistaking the motive and intention of these security staff. It was straight out oppression of free media coverage of the student rally, and of their method of dealing with that student gathering. Very unimpressive in a democracy actually. Your letter 'as you are advised' is in reality an impertinent deception to suggest otherwise.
7. I submit the cancellation of public licence was because of my answer of my purpose for attendance being community media, not the provision or not of ID. That looks quite a dishonest rationale. My ID was provided as evidenced by the cancellation notice itself. Not to mention the menacing threats to arrest me, while standing over and around me simply trying to continue coverage of the rally. In fact it looks highly consistent with the facts that the threats to arrest me were a clumsy attempt to prevent coverage of the strong rally down Broadway.


8. Without doubt given my solicitor status and stated community media role the Termination of Licence Notice was demonstrably not "reasonable in all the circumstances". Again with due respect this is legal bluster and face saving.


9. Having said that, I accept that you are most likely offering in good faith "to withdraw this Notice on receipt of a written undertaking from you to comply with the reasonable inquiries and directions of the University's authorised officers in future". I do so undertake with this email correspondence and without prejudice as to what has occurred on 2nd May 07. On that we do disagree.



10. I am not so naive in this day an age not to accept the proper role of security especially for a vulnerable student body and diverse international concerns. That's accepted. My point remains upon presentation of the solicitor photo ID card that was the time for your over zealous and frankly anti publicity security staff to back off and let me proceed on my way. It could easily have been dealt with by correspondence to resolve any future concerns.


In conclusion Professor, I do believe the USYD remains quite exposed to the claim of staff seeking to constrain public reportage of a potentially very embarrassing student rally (which actually got minimal coverage hence my interest to provide community media profile) some 2 weeks before the highly sensitive federal budget. That we submit is the awkward subtext you cannot avoid.


On the other hand it would be somewhat foolish in diplomatic terms to not acknowledge that since November 24 2007 we do indeed live in somewhat kinder times in terms of debate and dissent. At least that's my provisional view. May it continue to consolidate.

I have submitted to your general counsel an estimate of my legal time/costs in seeking to have what we say is a wrongful termination of licence reversed, and unresponsiveness for a good 6 months in the critical pre federal election period. I press that modest estimate with the University (eg a gratuity/no admission of wrongdoing on your part), to cover my time and effort. In this way I would be willing to withdraw my complaint to the NSW Ombudsman for the perceived legal injury and embarrassment caused in the course of our community media work, as well as the approximately 6 hours now of legal time drafting and settling correspondence about this issue.

Your continuing ban on my attendance at the campus is noted which will take same into its 7th month and to my mind compounds the potential quantum of my legal compensation including via the Ombudsman's office.
Please do not hesitate to contact the writer on tel. 9558 9551 or 0410 558838 to discuss any of the matters above, or by return email (note updated server address).
Yours faithfully,
Tom McLoughlin, solicitor/editor www.sydneyalternativemedia.com

Posted by editor at 11:47 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 14 December 2007 2:47 PM EADT
Thursday, 13 December 2007
Led Zeppelin reunion concert on YouTube: Viewer numbers flying along
Mood:  special
Topic: world

The excited flush of the tv news announcers last night on most channels seemed to indicate it was a great show. And when you see the skyrocketing viewer numbers on YouTube and the quality of the soundtrack for these old guys, you just have to shake your head at their impressive command of the art form. And it was a charity show too apparently. Really beaut.

The setlist from their December 10th reunion show in London is as follows:

"Good Times Bad Times"
"Ramble On" (live debut)
"Black Dog"
"In My Time of Dying"
"For Your Life" (live debut)
"Trampled Under Foot"
"Nobody's Fault But Mine"
"No Quarter"
"Since I've Been Loving You"
"Dazed And Confused"
"Stairway To Heaven"
"The Song Remains The Same"
"Misty Mountain Hop"
"Whole Lotta Love"
"Rock And Roll"













Posted by editor at 5:39 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 19 December 2007 3:36 PM EADT
Latest news from Bali climate change conference ... not
Mood:  blue
Topic: globalWarming


Posted by editor at 5:01 PM EADT
Sydney Magazine 'most influential list' howler #2
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: big media

        Homebush Bay, Sydney Harbour has a grim legacy
       Image from this cute website.


Appropo the Sydney Magazine in your Sydney Morning Herald today: Our mother said a good aspect of our personality is that we never hold grudges or get jealous. Well maybe, but certainly our long memory is not so flexible.

We have already briefed Tim King of The Wilderness Society about the spin re the 'influential' role of Keith Muir's Colong Foundation 'support' for The Wilderness Act in our article on the howler #1. So bogus and deceptive.

Here we go again because, even allowing for natural envy, we can't wait to brief Greenpeace this morning on the "environment" section on page 44 which somehow transforms the real legacy of Greenpeace's Karla Bell behind the Green Olympics concept into Jeff Angel of Total Environment Centre. We presume this was  'guided' by Jeff's ex employee on the reference panel James Woodford. For instance the article asserts:

"Angel was instrumental in the Sydney Olympics being the first green games"

This is not true and we wonder if it may also be a deliberate lie. The truth about Angel? Well we regard him as not much better than a grifter with his begging bowl to the Carr ALP 1995-2005 including over Sydney Olympics.

What a cracking story lies behind first the Coalition and then ALP Govt sleaze desperate to do over the pioneering role of Greenpeace as distinct from Angel and his trusty Green Games Watch 2000. GGW was funded by the federal govt to avoid a scandal in their IOC bid documents from way back in '93. How embarrassing.

Read it all here:

By Tom McLoughlin, principal ecology action sydney 26th January 2006 (Australia Day usually celebrated here on Sydney Harbour)

Here is an extract:

Perhaps the nadir for relations between the NSW/Federal government sponsored bid and local green groups excluding Greenpeace, was the verbal report internal to the green movement around 1993 that the covert bid documents FRAUDULENTLY asserted two groups, Total Environment Centre and NSW Nature Conservation Council endorsed the bid. This was an outright lie which aggrieved the respective groups, and was never denied by any of the parties, despite publication such as this article ‘The Olympic greenwash’ by noted expert environmental writer Jim Green in Green Left Weekly p12 10/2/1999 quoting this writer. It was hushed up assisted by the fact the bid documents were kept secret as much as possible.

 Rather than risk a public backlash from the pro Olympic bid media boosting, these two aggrieved green groups who felt pimped to the IOC decided with their allies to take another tack: To extract their financial pound of flesh. They didn’t go public attacking the almost certainly breach of s.52 of the Trade Practices Act for misleading and deceptive conduct, rather through Jeff Angel in particular, they brokered govt grants for a employment honey pot for these green groups called Green Games Watch 2000. This had the added attraction to government of a tamer version of the really financially independent and rather scary Greenpeace. [who pioneered the bid and did the real discipline on green preparations].

In other words firstly Angel didn't promote the Green Games bid in '93, secondly he only got involved to exploit a Govt/business fraud to leverage some soft funding for a qango of his, and thirdly he effectively undercut the hard political discipline by Greenpeace on the local SOCOG (eg the failure to really solve the dioxin in the Harbour problem) with light green interference on Greenpeace's world famous PR machine.


When we looked further at the images in the Sydney Magazine we asked ourselves why would an ngo rep want to be pictured with company like this? One of the influential characters (at right below) is one Simon Smith deputy director general, Climate and Environment Protection Group. Sounds like a non govt organisation. But actually it's a NSW Govt Department grey man as here in a previous cloud seeding experiment with our nature. Now he's in charge of the very corrupt notion of "biobanking" which is all about appeasing developers.

Of even greater irony perhaps is that one section of the newspaper contradicts the merit of bio banking suggesting the left hand doesn't know the right hand in today's edition of the Herald: The letter of the day is by Tim Cadman a long time ngo figure who has drifted off into academia, and who refers to exactly this sleazy biobanking concept in his strong letter. To quote:

In 2000, in a report commissioned by the not-for-profit sector, I demonstrated how a number of Tasmanian forestry investment companies - including the state's pulp mill proponent, Gunns Ltd - were clearing old-growth forests and rainforests to establish carbon offset plantations. Some of these schemes still exist. In other schemes, consumers are being offered free energy-saving light bulbs without being told that the company intends to trade in, and profit from, any national emissions reduction program that might be developed in the future. Indeed, so popular has this "market-based" model become that the NSW Government is offering land developers access to sensitive environmental areas in exchange for offsetting this development by protecting land elsewhere. [bold added]

This is the bio banking plan Simon Smith is implicitly lauded for in the Sydney Magazine. That is destroying what's left in the name of the environment. Spare us please. This sophistry is nauseous. Cadman exposes it all quite well:


Posted by editor at 8:45 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2007 2:33 PM EADT
Exec Officer NSW Conservation Council '92-97 dishes the dirt on today's anti green CFMEU
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: aust govt



Log and chip stockpiles at the Eden chipmill

Truck unloader

Squirrel glider

Endangered tiger quoll


Sid Walker was the executive officer of the NSW Nature Conservation Council in NSW during the tumultuous 1992-1997 period which saw the political leadership of NSW Govt change twice Greiner to Fahey, Fahey to Carr, when Sid retired to the Aussie north probably exhausted like most of us.

Here he relates his experience of the logger union, within the super CFMEU union, in the halls of Canberra's Parliament House and other experiences of those pulling the ALP strings, and likely will again. Those who don't learn from history? Over to the inimitable Sid Walker:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Union heavies who scare me

CairnsBlog contributing writer Sid Walker, tells us his thoughts about the Unions... hold on for the ride.

Like many Australians, I have a soft spot for Julia Gillard.

Unfortunately, some of her ex-boyfriends scare me.

Michael O’Connor, for example, has been a pro-woodchipping, anti-environmentalist heavy in the
CFMEU for many years. He’s played no small part in delivering the atrociously high levels of native forest logging that still persist in Australia – most notoriously in Tasmania.

The CFMEU, since its inception, has been a serious drag on the ALP’s environment policy. I don't doubt there are many fine people in this very large union, even among its national leadership - but a coterie controlling timber industry policy have consistently white-anted Labor’s ability to develop progressive policy over native forests. O’Connor is one of them. The union has a lot to answer in other environmental policy areas too, including climate change.

Because practically the entire world now accepts we are in dire straights over climate change, extremist environmental reactionaries seem to have lost some of their grip over Labor's climate change policy. Thank God for that! Even so, Labor’s schizophrenia over the future of the coal industry signifies the CFMEU’s continuing malign influence.

Labor’s policy on the fate of native forests in the southern states, on the other hand, is an area where ‘CFMEU Rules OK!’ is a fitting summary of the state of play.

Large-scale logging of native forests still occurs in NSW, Victoria - and worst of all in terms of scale, in Tasmania. Blame for this does not attach solely to the CFMEU. But I have little doubt the union would happily accept credit for this, which it sees as an ‘achievement’. The union leaders involved are so one-eyed they truly consider the continuing assault on native forests an achievement. When I last heard their smug greenwash, they called it ‘sustainable harvesting’ or some such thing.

I don’t often feel in imminent danger of physical assault, but once upon a time – sometime in the previous century - I met a certain CFMEU heavy in the corridors of Parliament House Canberra and told him he cozied up to the bosses over the native forest issue.

The offended apparatchik indicated with body language that comments like that merit what Londoners call a ‘bunch of fives’, but I'm glad to say he remained a gentleman and restrained himself. Well trained by Julia, perhaps? Anyhow, I’m glad I didn’t cop a knuckle sandwich, but would gladly repeat the remark if the opportunity ever arises again. I have more grounds for believing it now than at the time. The truth can be painful, but sometimes it needs to be ventilated.

The number of workers employed in the Australian native forest timber industry hasn’t amounted to much for decades – not since the general demise of the native forest sawlog industry due to generations of gross over-cutting. The residue of this destructive industry could be closed down and the workforce generously compensated and/or found suitable alternative employment. It is a very affordable option – and has been since the 1980s if not before. Relatively few unionized workers would be affected. In spite of all this - and showing blithe contempt for massive community campaigns over native forests in the last quarter century - short-sighted union bosses clung to an industry model that has proved highly profitable for a very small number of companies, but grossly detrimental to the environment and the overall public good.

Far North Queensland is a place where we can truly say “been there, done that!”.

We had a native forest logging industry here too, until a generation ago. Who now mourns its loss? “Of course we don’t log our native forests”, we smilingly tell tourists, especially envious visitors from the south.

Instead of forging links with conservationists, who've always supported generous compensation arrangements and alternative employment options, including jobs centered around truly sustainable wood growing - a clique in the CFMEU took the strategic decision, years ago, to cozy up to the (biggest of) bosses and support their ugly and rapacious plans for broadscale logging of native forests, mainly for low-value woodchips. The currently proposed major pulpmill in Tasmania, of course, would yet further entrench native forest destruction.

In that beleaguered little island, the union’s stranglehold over ALP forest policy (along with the direct influence of Gunns itself) has generated a morbid two-party consensus which permits continuing environmental pillage on a vast scale.

It sucks. Bigtime!

Gillard’s previous leader - Mark Latham - had a much better take on forest policy than her current boss or one or two of her old flames, for that matter.

It was rebellion from CFMEU heavies that fatally undermined Latham's chances in the 2004 election.

Pundits and 'insiders' quickly pinned the blame on Latham and his ‘risky’ policies - and spun the election away from Labor's grasp in the last couple of weeks of the campaign. There is, however, an alternative view. This is that a few union hacks (with plenty of help from the media itself) recklessly played havoc with Latham's credibility. Shows of disunity on the Labor side during election campaigns are usually subject to retribution. What occurred in the final weeks of the 2004 election was a huge breach of party discipline. But with the demise of Latham’s leadership after the election, it went unpunished.

Discipline during Rudd’s campaign has been tighter. But would these CFMEU hard cases have pulled the same stunt on Rudd, had he committed Labor to stronger forest protection or promised to review the deeply unpopular pulpmill proposal?

We won’t know. Clearly, Rudd had no enthusiasm for a repeat experiment. In this, he may have been influenced, in part, by Julia Gillard.

Contrary to conformist insider opinion, Mark Latham's forest initiative for Tasmania was a major step in the right direction and for the public interest. The fact that Labor lost the 2004 election - and the spin most pundits have since applied when explaining the defeat - means Australia's forest policy to this day remains in a pre-civilized era, at least in the southern States. It's a great shame – literally – and an issue that won't go away.

The 2004 CFMEU betrayal leaves a very bad after-taste. Interestingly, in late January 2006 Glen Milne wrote an article in the Australian, which is commented upon
here and here. I can’t find Milne’s original via Google. It may have disappeared from the web – or perhaps The Australian never published it online.

These two must-read articles refer to shenanigans prior to the 2004 election by O’Connor and co so treasonous – from a traditional Labor perspective - that the mind reels.

The role of the media itself also raises eyebrows - or would in a society where media watch meant more than a 15 minute weekly TV program.
Larvatus Prodeo reports there was a subsequent letter to the Australian, that commented:

  • IF Glenn Milne knew all about the underhand deals going on in Tasmania before the last election (”PM out of the woods”, 30/1), he had a duty as a journalist to report this important information to The Australian ’s readers before the election, not wait until the Liberal minister for forestry Ian MacDonald got the sack. It seems he has let his loyalty overcome his journalistic principles.

Spot on! Some ‘reporter’! No wonder he thrives somewhere near the epicenter of the Evil Empire of Oz.

I have general sympathies for unions and respect their many achievements on behalf of workers, but cringe when I see the Coalition’s ads warning of the consequences of union power if the ALP wins office throughout the continent.

I know at least one case where it rings true.

Trouble is, in that particular case, John Howard is on the same lousy side as the ‘union heavies’ he excoriates.

Posted by editor at 8:07 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2007 2:37 PM EADT
Does Maxine really get it? Bennelong victory is less about her and more about the voter.
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: aust govt

Picture: Maxine Mckew with the "mobile lunar park" tv smile according to cartoonist Warren on the last ABC Insiders for the year, on Sunday 8th Dec.

There was Maxine at the official declaration of the poll on the tv news bulletins last night. All of them. And on front of the Daily Telegraph today and page 2 of the SMH. We explained our inspired observations of the compelling vision on the tv last night to our local press provider (grabbing our newspapers like others take drugs);

McKew was very deferential and actually nervous about the awesome 30 year career of ex PM Howard. He was gracious but also clearly in pain, ill at ease, and didn't want to be there. But he made himself do it. He's got courage to be sure which is in fact how he got to the top.

But her nerves are a problem to us because it shows she doesn't really believe in why she won. Because it is indeed  extraordinary for the Australian public to vote out a sitting PM in his own seat: All that free media profile and benefits of incumbency for the PM. If publicity is votes,which in an election it definitely is, a sitting PM should be unassailable. But he lost all the same. And the answer to that question provides the platform for the victor to proceed in a sensible way.

Australians in Bennelong voted Howard out for VERY GOOD reasons: He took us to a disastrous war in Iraq. He helped turn the NSW Liberal Party into the default 'white supremacist party' tearing at our social fabric. He's been disastrous for the environment.

I did alot of electioneering in Bennelong in 2004 and I know that electorate fairly well. It's very conservative. I worked for Not Happy John and I believe we 'unrusted' the voters from Howard. They still voted for him but they were getting very iffy. For instance in 2004 we reinforced Canada (an excellent parallel to our middle order status) didn't join the Coalition of the Willing in Iraq, so why did Australia go in lock step with W Bush? Andrew Wilkie for the Greens was important in the unrusting too: He got a good vote as a defence and intelligence expert.

And the ALP come in and harvest the lot in the 2007 election and we get nothing (eyes rolling, much sniggering all round). [In fact votes for Lindsay Peters for the Greens, with preferences delivering victory to McKew, means $2 per vote to that party which $1,000s will have a very big multiplier boost for the micro party used to doing more with less.]

And it's a problem because McKew's anxiety in the presence of such a genuinely historical figure as Howard yesterday means she doesn't understand (at least yet) it's more about us than about her, talented as she is. Rather she can afford to have confidence in the sound electoral basis  for the removal of Howard from his own seat. It's not about her so much [depending on just how slick her campaigning secrets prove to be in the Good Weekend press], it's about the electorate's good judgment. That's a foundation stone she can build on without fear of the ex PM.

And she needs to respect that choice as much as Howard, in effect to not respect Howard very much at all on big ticket issues of our time: Iraq, Climate, Social inclusion.

Picture: The 'great woman behind every great man' aphorism gets a reworking in this publicity pic off the ALP site: There's a great man behind every great woman? Bob Hogg former federal secretary of the ALP in 1993 during the unexpected victory of Paul Keating in that federal election.


Posted by editor at 7:02 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 14 December 2007 8:30 AM EADT
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
MOSOP Protests Against Shell in Nigeria
Mood:  sharp
Topic: human rights


Picture from the SAM file:  Ken Saro-wiwa, martyr killed by the state in Nigeria, prominent human rights campaigner for MOSOP against Shell Oil.

Nigeria: Environment - MOSOP Protests Against Shell

Ahamefula Ogbu
Port Harcourt

The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) yesterday blocked the entrance of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Port Harcourt in protest of what they called human and Environmental rights abuses of their people by Shell.

The protest which saw about 250 Ogonis protesting in front of the oil giant coincided with the celebration of the United Nations Human Rights Day where they vowed that Shell was not going to return back to Ogoniland.

The march which was led by the Information Officer of MOSOP, Mr. Bia-ara Kpalap who said that they had no alternative than to make public the negative impact that SPDC has visited on their people.

He said that since Shell entered Ogoni land, they have lost human and natural resources, adding that they were tired of living without peace which was why they had asked the federal government to give the wells in Ogoni to another company.

There was almost a breakdown of law and order when a Shell staff who had removed his name tag came out to where the police were dialoguing with the Ogonis and asked them to use tear gas on the protesters.

This angered the youths who said they have always usedpeaceful means of making their grievances known. Theyinsisted that they would go into the Shell compoundand meet with the Managing Director.The police however pleaded with them to select fiverepresentatives who will go inside and meet with theofficer in-charge of their facilities in Ogonilandwhich MOSOP turned down.Kpalap dismissed the peace and reconciliation effortsof the Reverend Father Mathew Hassan Kukah Committee, saying he became partisan in the matter and startedrelating to shell without recourse to them on the matters of common interest.

He also dismissed the remediation effort by UnitedNations Environmental Agency (UNEP) as it was beingcarried out secretly without the knowledge of the Ogonis which he said smeared the effort. "We are using December 10th, International Human Rights Day, to associate our call for justice with thepending 60th anniversary of the Universal Declarationof Human Rights. The United Nations has longrecognised the injustices in Ogoni and the Niger Delta as a whole. We are calling on the UN and the international community to recognise that abuses arecontinuing and that injustices in the name of oil production must end now.

"We associate ourselves with all those opposing gasflaring, which has been a curse on the Niger Delta for 50 years. It has damaged our environment daily, andnow it is contributing to climate change whichthreatens all of Africa.

"We cannot accept that oil companies can tell theinternational community and the public that they are concerned about climate change and then ask for anextension of gas flaring in the Niger Delta. It ishypocrisy beyond words."Our stance is also informed by reports, endorsed by our own President, which say that agriculture, whichis the lifeblood of our communities, will inevitablybe impacted by climate change", they charged.

Posted by editor at 5:39 PM EADT

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