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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
Corporate predators with lazy $200B stalk profitable NSW power and other public assets
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: nsw govt

Refer $200bn infrastructure bonanza coming | The Australian p36 Dec 15th 2007. This feature story adds to other background in the press today:

Majority oppose power sell-off A $380,000 sales pitch to promote the privatisation of the state's electricity system has been started by the Premier, Morris Iemma, and his Treasurer, Michael Costa. But they could be wasting taxpayers' money, an opinion poll shows.

Power sale a Chinese takeaway EXCLUSIVE: MORRIS Iemma is considering selling off up to $15 billion worth of power generators to the Chinese Government.

- Push for special debate on ALP power sale fails | The Australian

And notice this recently on SAM micro news blog here (14 Dec 07):

NSW power sale: Will public sector unions officially shift to The Greens?


And notice this:

 - NSW Power sell-off a rare chance, offline page 5 supplement Resources editorial page Dec 15 2007 Weekend Australian, as below with cute picture of NSW ALP spouse Tebbutt of federal infrastructure minister Albanese, beside Premier Iemma. This presumably is the personal link Iemma to Tebbutt to Albanese to PM Rudd to  Big China Inc investors in the press today


A choice quote from The Australian feature story hard copy below:

According to the ABS, total assets of super funds reached $1.1 trillion in the December quarter of 2006. Projections by industry analysts indicate that the pool of superannuation savings will escalate to more than $2 trillion by 2020.

But the lack of opportunities to fund these projects means they are being forced to spend the money on infrastructure overseas.

As one investment banker who specialises in infrastructure says: "Water plants, power plants and ports have good commercial rates of return, but a lot of other infrastructure assets don't and so the private sector isn't interested in investing in those."

In the past few weeks Challenger Infrastructure Fund announced it was part of a winning consortium for the pound stg. 4.19 billion ($9.7 billion) Southern Water Capital water and sewerage group, which was put up for sale by Royal Bank of Scotland earlier this year, and a few days ago Colonial First State Global Asset Management announced it had won a bid to acquire United Utilities Electricity Limited for $3.88 billion. Meanwhile, Sydney-based Spark Infrastructure has revealed it is looking at a gas distribution business in the US valued at up to $1 billion.

Australia's top 10 infrastructure funds are drowning in cash as they increasingly struggle to find assets to invest in.

Put simply, in the past 18 months, 72 infrastructure funds have been established globally, raising more than $US160 billion ($182.2 billion), and of them, 17 have raised more than $US2.5 billion, all looking for infrastructure assets. The problem with this is a lack of suitable assets.

In a recent report, Australia's Infrastructure Priorities -- Securing Our Prosperity, IPA identified three sources of funding: superannuation funds, state government funding, and increased gearing levels by the states offering up debt funding.

IPA's Mr Birrell says despite this money looking for a home, there are not enough opportunities in Australia. "There is no matching of the funds with assets and so you are seeing companies like Macquarie Bank and Colonial buying water assets overseas," he says. "They could be doing a lot more here if they had the opportunity."  ..... [bold added]

More background revealing articles on this big corporate govt play are here:

-Iemma defies party, survives power shootout | NEWS.com.au

- Power privatisation stand-off down to the wire | The Australian

-              AGL looks at NSW power assets

- Union to fight electricity privatisation,

- Builders to fight power privatisation | The Australian

- From powerhouse to museum | The Australian

- Morris major winner with power sale | John Durie Blog | The Australian

- NSW's $15b power sale - National - smh.com.au

- NSW power sale fees to tip $150m | NEWS.com.au Business





Related story same page/day in The Australian

King gambles reputation on green and global | The Australian


Postscript #1 28th Dec 2007

- 27 Dec 07, page 1 story Union backs Labor rebels - National - smh.com.au

- 27 Dec 07 Anxious Iemma's bold power bid | The Daily Telegraph

Other relevant older stories

- 20 Dec 07 Unions revive poll teams to fight power sale - National - smh.com.au

- 29 Nov 07 Power station plans shelved | The Australian

Posted by editor at 7:25 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 28 December 2007 9:31 AM EADT
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
Crikey break story of systemic fraud in the defence department?
Mood:  down
Topic: aust govt

Crikey.com.au run an alarming story today which effectively describes systemic fraud of the public revenue by redefining contractual performance of defence suppliers. It's actually a cracking story only vaguely sketched out at this stage suggestive of systemic corruption. Stay tuned.

10. How creative Defence bureaucrats get the goods on time, every time

An anonymous public servant explains to the new minister:

Defence procurement is a complicated multibillion dollar business and, as the sad history of projects running late and overbudget proves, a lot of risk is involved. Risk to the taxpayer, but also risk to senior Defence bureaucrats who have to explain cost overruns and late deliveries, let alone put at risk of justifying salaried performance bonuses.

The problems with Defence procurements have been an ongoing saga, globally. The Yanks use a traditional approach to solving these problems - hire more engineers and hire smarter engineers - until the project is back on track, and hopefully on budget. This lack of creativity on the part of US Defence procurement officials shows, since a great many of their projects are still late and still over budget.

Our Canberra bureaucrats have solved this problem, permanently, and managed to do so without having to hire expensive engineering talent - always a pain since they have a bad habit of talking back, questioning, and generally arguing that expedient fixes will come back to bite you.

What our bureaucrats did last year was to change the way in which an item of equipment is judged to be ready for operational service. Until then, we followed the rest of the OECD defence procurement community, and used the definition of “Initial Operational Capability” as the benchmark for the equipment being ready for service. Not to be accused of copying, our bureaucracy labelled “Initial Operational Capability” as “In Service Date” or ISD. This definition says that the equipment has to be capable of performing all of the functions it was contracted to do, before it is considered ready for troops, sailors and airmen to operate.

The new approach introduced recently by our creative Canberra bureaucrats was to devise a new definition for ISD, making it quite different to the definition of “Initial Operational Capability”. This new interpretation has “In Service Date” or ISD now meaning:

The point in time that symbolically marks the beginning of the transition of a capability system, in part or full, from the Acquisition Phase to the In-Service Phase. ISD coincides as closely as is practicable with Initial Release.

Gone is the pesky expectation for the equipment to actually fully meet whatever functional and operational specs were put down when it was ordered. Now, a senior bureaucrat can simply nominate an ISD milestone, and leave the dummies all wondering what that means once the calendar rolls over to that date.

Problem solved, expediently, quickly and permanently. Now these annoying Defence Ministers, Parliamentary Committees, and media can eat their hearts out, since all projects will be on time and inside budget by the “In Service Date”.

Unfortunately we still have some folks out there complaining. They are saying naughty things like “if the In Service Date does not force the contractor to make the equipment work, our servicemen and servicewomen might get killed in combat, or in accidents”. Even naughtier is the claim that “taxpayers will have to shell out a fortune in extra costs to fix things which should have been made to work in the first place, since a contract which uses the In Service Date instead of Initial Operational Capability is not enforceable”.

One eminent spoilsport has actually described this creative problem solving approach to be a “con”; intended to bamboozle parliamentarians, media and public.

This is nonsense, obviously, since they have missed the point here. If you look at the problem, it is not that the equipment is over budget and can't do its job properly; it is that all of these silly people are complaining about it! If you use the new ISD definition, then the REAL problem goes away instantly.

There is still a risk that the new government might just toss this creative innovation out the window, not having any appreciation for what REALLY matters in government contracting. But if the new Defence Minister endorses all at the upcoming MRH-90 helicopter rollout, all will be well after all.

Send your tips to boss@crikey.com.au, submit them anonymously here or SMS tips and photos to 0427 TIP OFF.

Posted by editor at 7:05 PM EADT
Maxine McKew MP and her high class problems: Public policy talent or shallow PR brand?
Mood:  not sure
Topic: aust govt

All praise to Maxine McKew for winning her seat, and ousting PM Howard. The general political community are debating what the hell happened for her to pull it off. Allow for some shock even weeks later.

We sort of have the Maxine version via a journo insider Margot Saville (talk about Upper North Shore) at least in terms of extracts like this one in Fairfax of her book:

The Battle for Bennelong

We have the flippant and annoying version of the editor of the Canberra Times who put a way too leggy, avert your eyes, skirty image on the front of his paper causing mayhem in the comments section of Crikey.com.au and to the paper direct.

We have another version from John Valder of Not Happy John in the letters page of the Sydney Morning Herald today which reads just a little churlish:

Sorry, Maxine, but Bennelong could have been Labor's in 2004

At the risk of committing blasphemy, heresy, or even treason, can I be a plain old party pooper and have the temerity to qualify Maxine McKew's win in Bennelong?

In 2004, when I was preparing the "Not happy, John" campaign, the legendary ALP powerbroker John Faulkner told me in no uncertain terms that it would be a waste of Labor's time, money and effort to bother supporting its candidate, Nicole Campbell. So, with virtually no resources, all poor Campbell could do was doorknock, which she did relentlessly and effectively. So effectively that she and Andrew Wilkie, the highly respected Greens candidate - both strongly backed by a vigorous "Not happy, John" campaign - made such inroads into John Howard's hitherto comfortable majority that for the first time he was forced to preferences.

For some time I have speculated that Howard would almost certainly have lost his seat in 2004 if the ALP had bothered to put even half the resources behind Campbell that it has just put behind McKew.

McKew had several other significant advantages that Campbell did not have in 2004. The electorate had been redistributed in favour of the Labor Party, and McKew, while standing against an incumbent prime minister, also found herself standing against the most unpopular Liberal candidate in Australia. After all, Howard had become the principal election issue. And the ranks of unashamed Howard-haters had swelled to tidal-wave proportions that carried away not only Howard but the whole country, taking the Liberal Party with it.

In my opinion McKew should have romped in. Sure, she did win, thankfully, but only after an agonisingly drawn-out count. My theory is that she would have won much more decisively, even spectacularly, if she had deigned to get her hands dirty with a much more robust campaign than the softly, softly model she chose to pursue. Sorry, Maxine.

Congratulations just the same. But it was lucky for you that Faulkner and the ALP misjudged the 2004 election so badly. Otherwise you probably wouldn't even have had the chance to stand against Howard, let alone defeat him. And Peter Costello might have been adding to three years as prime minister. If only.

John Valder (former federal president of the Liberal Party) Bayview

Here's 'grumpy' John Valder earlier this year Sept 27:

We commented on Sept 30th in this way:

- We noticed page 5 of The Oz 3 picture splitting story (show above)about Not Happy John team getting a chill from charmer Maxine McKew in The Oz, who doesn't want the abrasive aspect to her outreach. This writer felt a twinge of criticism, but agree with the notion Howard Hating is no way forward for previous supporters of Howard because it provides no room for dishonourable disengagement from the Rodent. And the real point is as Silas once of NHJ and now of Get Up will tell you, Maxine has her own new 'NHJ' run by Brett Solomon/Evan Thorley et al. So dear John Valder it is time to focus on Wentworth where they enjoy a bit more biffo compared to Epping. Mind you Darling Point and Double Bay are very Epping too even if the white picket is more deck and balustrade than fence paling.

We conclude a degree of truth in all claims and more. We are profoudly grateful she did nominate, she clearly put her heart into it and that's worth a hell of alot because vollies take note, and proved a stable ship on the tempestuous sea and she did WIN. All the rest is baloney compared to that.

"Some people find this hard to imagine, but I can feel for both Mr and Mrs Howard" … Maxine McKew.

But given we quite like the odd baloney sandwich here's a few thoughts:

The darkish blue T-shirts (shown above) of the MK team looked mighty reminiscent of ... the Not Happy John colour scheme 3 years before. It also happens to mimic the royal blue of the Liberal Party. Convergent evolution or deliberate echo of NHJ? Who really cares given she won?

The ALP machine definitely made a big difference but then they had to decide to really put in, and that turns on who Maxine McKew is, all 30 years savvy media career woman, and the two-for-one other half who is no political slouch either. In similar vein our grabs on the crikey.com.au moderated comments board read:

How much is Maxine 'tv presenter' 30 years 'media style/PR' and how much is substance? How much is ALP machine cred as per tactics of Big Kev, MSG, avoiding 'vicious animus' of the HHaters, Albert in the mixed marriage? MK cred is unclear to me so far.

... only to contrast Roxon, Gillard, Christine Milne, Lee Rhiannon, Margaret Simmons (!) have more cred to me this early. Yet out doing Howard is a massive entre, much gratitude here, and a big act to follow up like a no.1 hit first release.

I kno this is dangerous turf, and yes sexist photo, but here's the thing: Sexy tv presenter does not a serious public policy talent make, which is a Q now after knocking over the PM. To me the photo is the (bad taste) metaphorical question: MK+time = ?

The more presidential the PM, the more free media nationally, which all gets loaded onto Howard's PR reach in his own seat . Yet Bennelong still voted him out, so big cred to Max the Axe Woman. To quote the statewide average is foolish, pure coincidence.

Yeah, nah. Can't compare even neighbouring seat swing. No other candidate had the PR reach of 'the PM' free media (esp Ruddock in Berowra - nil). And 2004 was a serious try (refer Oakes), but the last 2-3% was probably exponential hard to get. Max Axer.


But Maxine McKew also symbolised female energy like Granny Smith herself that neutralises the tub thumping alpha male paradigm, not just the PM, the ALP machine too.

As to the cross cultural aspect of bilingual daughter with Hong Kong Chinese Australian son in law Albert Tse back in May 07. Soon after in our obsessive reader analyst way we noted the dirth of coverage of multicultural Albert. We have no doubt this was to avoid the wrath of the red neck 5% 'One Nation' vote, but we wrote somewhere (stay tuned), probably our Sunday Talkies weekly column that Albert might help deliver Bennelong. This now seems prescient. Back on May 6th we were writing about Peter Costello and his leadership travails drawing a parallel with new movie Spiderman character Peter Parker (enjoy the laugh) and isn't that like 1,000 years ago?:


Picture: Images from Spiderman 3 trailer: “How long can any man fight the darkeness … before he finds it in himself?” Is our Treasurer “Peter” caught in his own political web and desire for revenge? Will he break free with a heroic budget? Will he get to say “Everyone loves me”. Will he triumph and get the girl … err top job? Or will an evil sand man (John Howard/Kevin Rudd) still destroy all electoral hope? Come see the longest running most expensive Hollywood movie ever made, roughly 5 months duration and $240 billion expenditure. It’s a blockbuster! It could reverse the polls by 10 points or more!


As we know the Sandman (Rudd) did get him. And we wrote this about marvellous Matt Price RIP, in harsh terms, without fear or favour, back on May 6th 07, not at all knowing the real truth of his fatal illness, God forgive me:

Media Backgrounder: - Matt Price, The Australian



What happens to talented journalists who work for News Ltd? Does the money and the capitalist greed finally get them in the end? Or do they just get an infected foot and start blathering and missing the obvious?


With dancing bear Greg Sheridan one assumes he sold out a long long time ago, revealed by his own admissions of dedicated hatred of the Lefties on his university campus. Was it the ultra Right Bulletin or Quadrant that gave him a start? Same thing really.



But what about Matt Price? He has wandered around pretty badly this last week. Late on Friday he blathered on to Jennifer Byrne on ABC 702 radio about Howard stock standard election year “listening” backflips and terrible comments by Bill Heffernan as to Julia Gillard’s childless fate. But not once did he say what everyone else in the political community knows – it was a Heffernan dog whistle to the ultra right, not least the Assembly of God/Family First fruitcakes.



The cartoon in the Herald covered it so well here:


Was it just a cavalier late Friday arvo blather from Price, you would expect in workplaces nationwide? Well no because he wrote a column along the same lines in The Australian the same day May 5th: Budget for more bile as desperation rises | Matt Price | The ... The article was a study in fence sitting: “For all her talents, Gillard is an extraordinarily defensive politician” followed by a determined sledge of Medicare Gold, while the Coalition Govt sits on $15.5 BILLION surplus. So unrealistic eh, Matt?

Indeed The Australian played along with the bury the lead re Heffernan's obscenity here: p4 2/5/07 postage stamp bottom left far corner by Samantha Maiden “Libs stick to barren gibe”. Everyone else went big including Ch10 Meet the Press tv talky today 6/5/07.


No mention of Big Heff dog whistling by their gun commentator Price. That’s quite an omission there Matt......[sledge of colleague at The Australian Sheridan here] ... Don’t go down the Sheridan track Matt Price, baffled by your own bullshit. They can’t pay you enough."


And we had this back on May 20 about the fate of Captain Jack (John Howard):

Picture: Will Capt Jack Howard be eaten by electoral fate? Will he go down with the Liberal ship as APEC meeting of the world's pirates ...err leaders comes to Sydney Sept 07? Images from YouTube trailer of Pirates 3 World's End movie out May 24. 

Picture: The govt definitely has whiskers on it now with polls suggestive of a Davy Jones Locker result next election, the question being do Australians really want an economic pirate for a Prime Minister (Howard/Costello in the alternative)?

Picture: is that the ship sinking, or the sea rising? Refer world class climate scientist James Hansen quotes in Media Background above re 5 metre rise in the next 90 years.


But what we wrote about Albert Tse appropo McKew's run in Bennelong was on 14th May 2007 as follows (!):

Monday, 14 May 2007
Ruddy son in law to campaign for Maxine McKew in Bennelong?
Mood:  amorous
Topic: election Oz 2007

Picture: Actor Dule Hill at top right was a standout character in the West Wing tv series for  the racially charged North American society it was made for.



Is the real life Australian equivalent of Charlie Young going to help take Bennelong off PM John Howard?

Charlie who? Charlie Young is a character from the West Wing tv series played by Afro American Dule Hill. And not just any coffee coloured gentleman but a dark skinned man. Distinctly racial casting choice. A very fine actor. A dramatic juxtaposition who in the script loves in the biblical sense the President’s youngest white bread daughter.

It’s pretty racy stuff right?

But what’s that got to do with Bennelong?

Ruddy’s daughter just got married. If I’m not mistaken her husband is an Asian Australian chap. Who knows, he may end up being like that 3rd richest dual Australian citizen solar energy entrepreneur like Dr. Zhengrong Shi of Suntech (featured on SBS Dateline in a story called 'The Sun King' back in March  CNN here,  local Sydney Morning Herald and Labor eHerald) or some other world beater. But it's also clear as day the daughter is a living example of cross cultural sophistication including in life choices. Like her dad.

We are reminded of a highly flattering feature story about Rudd’s working life in China for Foreign Affairs that ran in the Sydney Morning Herald recently: Rudd's long march to Asia's heart - National - smh.com.au by a smart writer there Hamish McDonald with Mary-Anne Toy..

These are the most sensitive cultural matters. It’s life as melting pot for real.

It’s the Charlie Young factor. In Sydney, and likely all of Australia, this plays very well in the Asian Australian community. Sydney is the home of the Unity Party represented till recently by an Upper House Dr Peter Wong in NSW Parliament.

It’s where the local edition of the Epoch Times is published with an emphasis on South East Asian coverage as well as general news, and strong slant against the Chinese dictatorship government.

All this is a sensitive mix of cultural and racial undertones but with 6 months to run in a grinding election campaign every area of right, left, bigot and enlightened social policy will be flushed out. We say better to have it out in the sunlight amongst the grown ups.

From our media watching we noticed a real under emphasis in the presentation of the good bride’s new husband. But the Asian Australian community in Bennelong must have noticed surely, or will do so. In this sense they are likely to shift their vote to the ALP as a more tolerant leadership for harmony and multiculturalism to the detriment of John Howard.

On the other hand the ultra right ‘One Nation’ type 5 % dedicated racist vote is out there and do play a role in Australia more generally, also counterbalanced by the Asian Australian Bennelong factor too.

All of this becomes very relevant demographics given the outstanding very early polling results in favour of candidate McKew as reported in the press yesterday as here: McKew would win Bennelong: poll - National - smh.com.au

and here

McKew needs 'miracle' to beat Howard in Bennelong. 13/05/2007. ABC ...

Meanwhile John Howard is going down scale talking about school bullies from the height of his Prime Ministerial office. That's a little weird. And he sounds like a shouting sergeant major on the radio just now.

At this rate the election campaign may yet turn to a macabre procession for 'honest' John. No post budget polling bounce, no ecological credibility, captured by white supremacist leanings a la Alan Jones et al. It could get very grim indeed.

# For our review of the West Wing tv series based on a marathon sitting of the first 5 series, go here and scroll down to 4th January 2007 (one of the first stories on Sydney Alternative Media micro news website aka SAM.)


So for Valder to say the ALP machine done it, and 3 years late, is no argument really, as MK/faithful Bob Hogg brung 'em, while doughty Nicole Campbell of the ALP (who is actually very pretty by the way on all those korflutes in 04) couldn't.

Also you might think McKew has earned quite a deal of grace for withstanding reported death threat: We note our observation dated 4th March 07 here:

Lastly by way of preface, just as The Greens candidate in 2004 federal election Andrew Wilkie experienced death threats for running against Howard in Bennelong, and famously Maxine McKew in the last few days has apparently suffered same, as noted by Ch10 coverage of the newspapers this morning: As a driver for the Not Happy John democratic exercise in Bennelong in 2004 we too experienced violent menaces - on the main road through Ryde: A hotted up car revved and flashed lights in slow traffic on the highway within inches of my rear bumper bar. It really was nerve wracking, though I do enjoy the odd dramatic thrill too.

I jammed the brakes on in my dumpy old car, knowing they had a lot more to lose with a front end collision to their pride and joy. Then in reaction the outraged aggressor drove alongside the passenger seat to swing at the panels at least 3 times before racing hard leftward towards Epping. I did report it to the police. On another occasion in West Ryde/Broadmeadow light industrial area one nice fellow delighted in tearing up my NHJ leaflet in my face aggressively. So yes there is an underbelly of menace in the PM’s electorate.

We wrote of this at the time on Sydney Indymedia self publishing site (around October 2004), which may or may not be available in their records, and copied it to top NHJ organizer John Valder, former President of the federal Liberal Party and signed up ‘Howard hater’ over the PM taking us into the Iraq war unlike say Canada. And I continued with the democratic work, as Maxine McKew can and must, and win the seat also.

And yes the Greens are right to claim their crucial preferences via Lindsay Peters, as well as honourable 'unrusting of Howard' work with Wilkie and NHJ in 2004.

We wrote earlier that MK has some serious high class credibility challenges: Is she a one hit wonder? Like a no.1 hit record off a first release to then disappear in the serious public policy stakes? Overtaken by the quiet achievers like Wong, or even Hunt? We doubt it. She's got 30 years of depth and contacts to draw on, lots of time, and some serious cut through like the reference to "vicious animus" of the Howard Haters being counter productive in weaning folks off their voting habit. Another winning insight - Bennelong the  historic figure, is buried in Bennelong. She spoke of this on abc radio recently (Fran Kelly) and quite moving it was too. Stay tuned on the Indigenous front. Lots of accounting still to be done as here [first posted May 27 07]

 And this:

As to sorry day one cannot go past this movie Australian Atomic Confessions made with funding from the NSW Film and Television office by our Friend Greg Young and others in 2005 how Blacks were effectively murdered to do nuke weapons tests in the 1950ies in Australia under the Australian Government of Robert Menzies Liberal Party. [Declaration - we donated Greg Young's airfaire to a film festival screening in Taiwan in 2006 partially re imbursed by the festival organisers.]



And notice this backgrounder on Cape York travails, dated 10th June 07:


A stark contrast is here [first posted 28th June here on SAM]

"Bininj culture really strong. You have to look after country. For your grandfather country, like mother country, take care." Yvonne Margarula, Mirarr Senior Traditional Owner.

 Including this "Over to Gavin Mudd here 27th June Using children to nuke Aboriginal land rights"



Second, is MKstereotyped now as the 'sexy high profile tv presenter for 30 years' thus no expectation of fresh, important or profound policy contribution, rather a derivative PR product or brand, just as the younger telegenic Cornes in South Australia was (badly) treated and who grew in stature? (If only there were more shots of Cornes in her 'matron in control' mode in the national media she might have got less of the young dizzy dolly bird treatment?)

Well I think McKew has a degree of control over this second stereotype. She is going to have to be the change she wants people to believe in. She's not a reporter now. She's part of the government with real power and responsibilities. A high class problem she asked for and now she's got. She's going to have to start dressing like a pollie too, whatever that actually means. We are no fashion adviser but even we noticed Gillard improved her presentation as befits a deputy PM, not a tough woman on the factory floor (with all due respect to them too). In McKew's case it may mean dressing down.

So we say good luck from humble SAM website, anyone who can knock over a PM like Howard has got our respect. Nice to have high class problems really. Here's another problem in Bennelong for her [first posted Sept 16 07 here on SAM]

Picture: Protesters at Premier Morris Iemma's election launch in early 2007, concerned about a state govt overdevelopment in the sensitive seat of ...Bennelong. Meanwhile  Howard swears to stand by Bennelong

Posted by editor at 4:20 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 19 December 2007 1:25 PM EADT
Most of Callan Park open space to be closed off in Sydney University plan?
Mood:  blue
Topic: local news

We have reason to take an interest beyond normal good governance of scarce open space. Our younger sister is a graduate of the art school at Rozelle there in the historic buildings. But also our recent experience of oppressive exclusion from a public event while working on community media has put us on notice of the heavy handed administration of Sydney University, that is, the private corporate culture intruding on an essentially public institution:

Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2007 8:14 AM
Subject: 28 days notice to cancel termination on undertaking

Without prejudice
Reply address: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Professor Jeremy, USYD
CC Richard Fisher, general counsel USYD
Michael Conaty, NSW Ombudsman, investigating officer
By email
18th December 2007
Dear Professor
Breach of norms of free press community media on campus at student education rally 2nd May 2007 - 28 days notice to cancel termination of license upon undertaking here
I refer to previous correspondence in particular of 3rd December 2007:
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. [bold added]
Late last week I discussed the ongoing termination of licence for a good 7 months now with Michael Conaty, investigator at the NSW Ombudsman's office.

Without seeking to verbal Conaty, my understanding is that he suggests (and I agree) that I should write to you separately here repeating the above written undertaking regardless of any other outstanding issues which could take quite a while to resolve.

My understanding is that he suggests a deadline for your answer should be 28 days. I said I thought it should be much less given the 7 months delay already. However I accept his advice and his view that my previous letter of 3rd December may well be held up in the USYD legal office for other entangled concerns. I note his advice that failing action by you within 28 days that the NSW Ombudsman office 'can always revive the matter'. We take that on board and feel you should be aware of this too notwithstanding his previous willingness to close the matter.

I think you may want to also consider that we maintain a file on the USYD property interest in Callan Park as a future campus as reported in The Glebe and Inner West Courier recently, and feel the attempted May 2nd 07 exclusion of community media at a public event is a serious aspect of the planned expropriation of that public park land. I am intending to write to Hal Greenland and Friends of Callan Park, Green Party etc about what we say is this previous oppressive aspect USYD management culture. As an essentially public institution we say USYD should always be subject to community media reportage in a healthy democracy including in principle at places like a future Callan Park campus, if that eventuates. We feel there is a public interest right to know about such a change to public access regime in a traditional open access area.

Please let me know within 28 days of this letter that you have cancelled the termination of licence to attend the USYD campus, failing which I can pursue the termination again with the NSW Ombudsman's office.

Please feel free to contact the writer by tel. 0410 558838, 9558 9551 and note new reply address above xxxxxxxxx.

Yours truly
Tom McLoughlin, solicitor in NSW, editor www.sydneyalternativemedia.com

Picture: This image taken in 2007 outside the popular Manning Building with various student services. Is this the repressive officious tone appropriate to Callan Park in the future, let alone Sydney University?


Posted by editor at 8:25 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 19 December 2007 6:02 AM EADT
Carr govt incompetence doomed heavy and light rail development to Bondi Beach, put buses at risk?
Mood:  lazy
Topic: nsw govt


Picture: Various flyers above and below and information from the 1996-7 controversy over the Bondi rail 'planning' by the Carr Govt.

Historical revisionism is in the air again over why the Bondi heavy rail scheme of 1996-7 failed and the reasons are very instructive for future success. This comes up every couple of years and the bogus excuses fall apart each time under serious scrutiny, just as they did back then.

 Here we go again via response to Crikey.com.au edition 17 Dec 07 (which they probably won't publish?):

Sent: Monday, December 17, 2007 7:55 PM
Subject: NSW public transport, Niall Glugston comment ignorant, wrong green baiting

Niall Clugston (Comments 17/12/07) is ignorant about the faulty Bondi heavy rail plan of 1996-7. The files are damning of the inept Carr Govt. Most believed and the govt never denied the huge Meriton high rise today over Bondi Junction station was in store for the privately owned station at the Beach side park (a 14m height limit defended for decades), the ticket price was going to be about $10 a trip at 1998 prices (a rip off). Then to really rub salt in, the highly profitable 380 bus line - a major revenue source that cranks the generally loss making city wide bus routes - was to be discontinued in one of those funnel traps like the Cross City Tunnel. Thousands would have to walk a kilometre either way to get to a station (they cancelled the mid station stop, too expensive). All in an area with very high patronage and dependence rates. The community caught Carr red handed trying to privatise the profit, and socialise the cost, and slash other city bus services. It was a scandal. Superior light rail was also ruled out. No surprises MacBank sponsored the heavy rail who embraced Carr in retirement. Mmm. Wrong again about the controversial Lave Cove River rail crossing front page of the Daily Telegraph here. A fair reading of Hansard of 20 May 2000 extracted at length here shows the democratic base of the green movement and Green Party supported a 14 metre high bridge in 2000 to smooth the project's way, the Upper House so voted, but were aghast when the Carr govt played favourites with one narrow splinter to reconfigure this in 2001, adding 800 metres of line. Why all these stuff ups? Suspicions abound in Sydney the tollway sector have too many ex MPs and ex union hacks who are more than happy to see public transport falter and stall with lousy planning and management to keep their road business in profit. The M2  is one, Eastern Distributor is another.
Tom McLoughlin, principal ecology action Australia.
NSW public transport:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. "Iemma's NSW: at least the trains, ah, well you know ..." (Friday, item 13). Critics like Ben Sandilands always blame Sydney's public transport shortfalls on the State Government. Sure they're responsible, but so are other people. He mentions the railway to Bondi Beach being sunk by an armada of celebrities. Similarly the Parramatta-Epping link was indefinitely postponed after community protests led by Tom Uren. The problematic tunnel under the Lane Cove River, which Sandilands mentioned, wouldn't have been constructed without a supposed environmentalist campaign against a bridge. The proposed North-West Rail Link has been drastically revised after public consultation and will probably never go ahead. Bad as they might be, the government should not be damned when they ignore community pressure and damned when they respond to it. If Sandilands really cares about the issue, he should address the public attitude that wants long-term transport issues fixed at the stamp of a foot without any impact on the existing suburban landscape. There is no advantage for governments in embarking on long-term infrastructure projects that are beset at every turn by community tantrums.






Postscript 19th Dec 07: Crikey did publish the comment above but not this exchange so far, thus giving Niall Clugston the last word (below), that he doesn't deserve:

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2007 5:19 PM
Subject: Coalition did it better 1988-95 on NSW Transport, reply to Niall Clugston

Some perhaps missed the real depth of my cynicism over NSW transport planning (Niall Clugston, Comments 19th Dec 07): I say the political issues are quite soluble even in the face of vociferous democracy. Noise is water off a ducks back for a senior politician. Indeed this never halted one tollway sector project. No, the problem is the govt party simply fails to convince it is acting for the right reasons - to reduce air/noise pollution, facilitate amenity and efficiency for the family and make a profit for the public revenue to feed back into services. Sadly the funding and settings of the govt party and it's big corporate mates just reinforces the general view big money runs the show. Legal or not. When Niall refers to the last 30 years as uniformly frustrating that's a bit too convenient. Actually the NSW Coalition record 1988-95 on rail (eg Bruce Baird as minister) was likely better than the ALP. Maybe Bruce should make a come back like Led Zeppelin.
Tom McLoughlin

NSW transport:

Niall Clugston writes: Matthew Weston and Tom McLoughlin (yesterday, comments) exemplify the point I made about the transport debate. I never defended the NSW government, but I did suggest community groups need to take responsibility too. This, for them, is unthinkable. At least McLoughlin acknowledges the role of community movements in stalling projects, but he says in the case of the Bondi link the protesters were absolutely right and in the case of the Lane Cove tunnel they were just a 'narrow splinter'. Either way, it's the government's fault. Both Weston and McLoughlin heap all the blame on Carr and Iemma, ignoring the preceding thirty years of governments which did nothing about rail. But why would a government do anything? All these criticisms and protests come from governments trying to do something! The same applies to Sydney's second airport...

Posted by editor at 7:05 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 20 December 2007 3:06 PM EADT
Monday, 17 December 2007
Victorian ALP Premier John Brumby, back then, on forest protection
Mood:  chatty
Topic: ecology


Sent: Sunday, December 16, 2007 10:22 AM
Subject: [chipstop] BRUMBY LIES


Check out this footage taken by the legendary John Flyn in 1995 at a Melbourne forest rally. It has John Brumby then the Opposition leader promising that should the Labor party be elected in Victoria it would; protect all HCV forest, end export woodchipping, and move the entire logging industry into plantations. 

Since getting elected Labors' record on forest protection has been appalling, it  has;  continued to allow logging in the states last areas of  old-growth HCV forests and rain forests such as Goolengook, Errinundra etc,  increased export woodchipping, and continued the policy of massive subsidy to the native forest logging industry to allow it to compete with the plantation based timber industry... 

Even the Labor government most recent promises made before the November 2006 state election - to immediately protect Goolengook and 30,000 Ha of extra old-growth forest has been broken.. so now following on from such a litany of lies it has been decided to release this bomb-shell footage exposing the Victorian Premier as a liar. 

See the link below, hopefully it works. High resolution copy is available for media use.. 


Posted by editor at 5:19 PM EADT
Systemic racism in NSW behind the 1997 origins of 'bio banking' aka 'tradeoff' land clearing?
Mood:  sharp
Topic: indigenous

When we first read Henry Reynolds - Law of the Land published 1987 - we were shocked by the reference to 'sado masochistic Sunday afternoon hunting parties', and of 'childrens skulls smashed in'. This was Tasmania of 19th and 18th century colonial times that Julia Gillard euphemistically calls "settlement" surely not realising the unintended fiction - at the hands of brutalised convicts doing the British Govt's dirty work. As eloquently argued by many since it would take a triumph of willful blindess for we the Australian ancestral benefactors of the active theft or inheritors via disease and violence to quiet the whispering in our hearts, just as the UK Govt with the remoteness of distance might effectively ignore the truth.

We wove that 1987 book into our honours law thesis in 1989 called A Legal Foundation for Aboriginal Land Rights around the nascent concept of Native Title which was in fact recognised by the High Court of Australia 3 years later in Dec 1992. The famous Mabo Case and surely a hero of the age. But in 1989 we never quite nailed down what Australia was legally because the British empire had officially 'conquered' some of their global dominion in which case local people's land law continued in some form say under a treaty like Waitangi in NZ, and 'settled' other 'empty' land. But Australia seemed to be "sui generis" which is latin meaning "one of a kind" mentioned in some of the writings in dusty old common law cases from India and South Africa. 

Now we conclude Australia was neither empty/settled or peopled/conquered in the minds of the UK seat of government. We personally have no doubt it was a covert creeping invasion and consquest using convicts as the catspaw of the Empire. It was invaded by convict criminals sent in with sickness and violence to clear out whatever they came across. All very convenient and racist to not even formalise an international legal categorisation for the hapless Aborigines who lived so very close to nature.

In 1993-4 we played an active role at least here in NSW in reforming The Wilderness Society's national approach to such issues into a quite strong and ethical Land & Rights Policy which prefaced alliances over such campaigns in Starcke and Jabiluka of the 1990ies with Traditional Aboriginal owners of land. (We were not the instigator of such a reform, rather this was a couple Larry and Marg from memory, but we loved the change.) This was in a time when Noel Pearson was pretty friendly to the non govt group too. 

The essence of the TWS reformed policy was to recognise large intact natural areas known as wilderness under the NSW 1987 legislation as in fact Indigenous land, and secondly while never walking away from the goal to conserve such lands, to never seek to pre emtively extinguish that traditional, custodial Indigenous history in any deal making with other stakeholders in land such as govt, agri or other resource extraction industries.

One implication of that huge symbolic shift was that it could theoretically involve the TWS both supporting a native title holder's ownership and at the same time campaigning against them if they sought to act as a vandalistic black developer of crucial conservation values. This was a risk deemed essential in a new moral path for the green movement and for the nation post Mabo. It felt right and it was right.

5 years later 1997 we realised the game of covert extinguishment was still under way in NSW but this time by the NSW Govt Depts,  farmers and also either using or willingly with the aid of certain green groups.

Indeed the name of the game in conservative politics under the federal Howard govt was extinguishment of the Mabo legal test of 'ongoing physical connection with the land' and in the most redneck parts of the nation it looked like the bulldozer was the preferred method as here in Qld:

And not just the bulldozer to ensure extinguishment of native title with ongoing agri industry pressure on govt for corporate welfare via freeholding of govt leasehold land to the non indigenous squattocracy of the Western Division here:

And the farmers had their reasons to seek out their "bucket loads of extinguishment" as the Howard Govt proudly expressed in Federal Parliament, if they didn't care about the morals, because they knew they were being stalked legally after Mabo and after the Wik case earlier like this report dated April 2000:

This particular legal saga was trashed by the High Court of Australia in August 2002 as explained here [pdf file]

Native Title and the Western Division of NSW

eventually raising the question whether all that pre emptive land clearing was really needed in either NSW (see one report of the sorry landclearing detail here) or Qld (above) up to that point.

In 1997 the green groups were not to know how the legals would work out not least after the Federal Court decision in favour of the native title claim relevant to a huge areas of western NSW.

It was in this context that the 'leaders' of the NSW green movement were summonsed to this:

We particularly remember Jeff Angel blessing these endeavours by Jamie Piddock and being "very impressed" for franchising the idea of "clearing tradeoffs" by farmers. Jeff's blessing some 10 years ago is in stark contrast to some quotes in the press last Saturday Dec 15th 07 (below). Not a mention of native title extinguishment. Not a mention except by this writer as confirmed by the contemporaneous notes of the time. Here is Piddock's briefing note of this 'environmental' initiative to keep the farmers happy, and sideline the Blacks altogether (and note our very bad handwriting):


Our alarm at this attempt to promote trade offs of one area of native bush for another, after 200 years of land clearing and a general scientific understanding that no more land clearing was desirable in Australia at all, let alone to extinguish critical historical native title rights, and with a green stamp on them was pretty much ignored. This was a shameful day for the NSW green movment with Jeff Angel ascendant. Hence the careful notation of the documentation and signature and dating by hand above. Angel in particular should account for this (while Jamie Piddock is God knows where). Not least because he was busy on ABC radio last Saturday morning Dec 15th and in the Sydney Morning Herald with pretty much the direct opposite view against exactly this kind of 'bio banking tradeoff land clearing in favour of regional conservation outcomes' which the govt jargon for green lighting, greenwashing developer bush clearance.


In principle 1997 good, 2007 bad? Western NSW 'Black Land' good. Sydney urban bushland bad? Go figure. This may be what Jeff Angel said on 702 on air to be 'good in principle, its the implementation that matterrs'.

Angel is clearly right in 2007. But he was woefully wrong in 1997 so what's changed? Bob Carr is no longer premier is one significant factor. The ascendancy of the far more independent and fiesty Green Party is another.

Are you reading this Warren Mundine, prominent in the NSW ALP?

Some of us have a long memory about such things and we can prove it. Here is some of our confidential briefing notes of that shameful May 12 1997 cave in to redneck land clearing deal to further oust the Blacks from the Western Division:







Posted by editor at 9:58 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 20 December 2007 3:42 PM EADT
Sunday, 16 December 2007
Into the Wild to heal, just don't eat the wrong plant, remember the mosquito net
Mood:  lyrical
Topic: culture


Sean Penn’s film Into the Wild featuring Emile Hirsch as Christopher Johnson McCandless (CM) is a gem. We are told this officially by Margaret Pomeranz (5 stars) and David Stratton (4.5 stars) on the ABC Movie Show (linked below). It's based on the book by Jon Krakauer who also wrote the cracking Into Thin Air about another tragedy and Jon knows his stuff, both nature and people with the courage to be honest about both.


We took in the gentle non fiction masterpiece like a long drink of tea after a cycle, which was also the case, at Dendy Newtown Saturday night, smallish theatre ¾ full.



Play video Rated M

The first thing about the story line is that it’s a tragedy. Ours and his. You know he dies young almost from the beginning when his acute mind has barely fully formed. A 24 year old blade, A-grade student of literature, 'destined for Harvard law school' but actually an emotionally brittle young man with the wit to seek to heal himself … if he can. This is the story of his courageous battle to do just that. It's his courage which is so admirable.



We 'know' McCandless like many other young men will see themselves at least in part embracing wild nature, adventure, feral camp living as an antidote to the “hypocrisy of parents, politicians and society”.


Actor - Emile Hirsch


Some movie reviewers in their arty farty milieu (we imagine wine glass in hand on polished floor boards) have reacted against “the extremism” of McCandless’s fate poisoned it seems by a poor choice of forest herb having incorrectly read his edible botany manual, perhaps driven astray by painful hunger itself.


So let me explain as best I can. The young man, a child really, does his best in simpatico with the mainstream that inspiring Sicilian American student leader Mario Savio in Berkley in the Sixties called “the odious machine”: An economically focused career producing education system (aka sausage maker). Significantly Savio became a bookshop owner immersed in ideas his whole life. CM (or alter ego Alexander Supertramp over the 2 year chronology) has his love of books too and realises by the end of college his 'success' as Bob Dylan sings is “no success at all”. Why so? Certainly it was not his own choice and lacks ambition over the seriously big questions of our time. CM is not in fact a drop out, he want's to change all society starting with himself first. And as Paul Kelly song goes if he falls others are rising.


Mario Savio on Sproul Hall steps, 1966
Mario Savio on Sproul Hall steps, 1966


Predictably CM has some big neuroses to work through. Made bigger by his sensitive antennae. The family has secrets and unhealthy dynamics and CM can’t grow emotionally without resolutions. GM needs to metamorphose into an adult phase with sutiable calibrations on his emotional equipment for the full life journey. His parents settings might have gotten them through with bumps and scrapes but can’t sustain a bright intellect like CM much past teens dealing with whole new issues. CM like all annoying kids sees all the falsity but not perhaps the validity in their time. CM's trouble, and our Trouble, is he has his own life and time to negotiate, and the parents world view won’t fit. Their pain is to not accept this disjunction, that times are "a changin'".


Indeed our times have desperate inequality in Africa as CM studies, and of frivolous material "things" that we imgine CM finds contrary to ecological sustainability, though the film avoids any environmental prosletizing. CM is primarily a humanist who despairs for humanity. A very logical rational insight into present predicaments, albeit a taboo especially around 1992 (the year we started our own ecological activism). (We had a similar crudely formed insight as a young bloke in 1982 - and this is really true - along the lines of 'at this rate humanity will choke on itself' when deciding what direction to take just out of high school here in Australia.)


This is the critical point: CM needed to find and build a new spiritual reality, because such a mind was heading for self destruction from addiction or madness anyway if he didn't. That's the hard truth of the matter. It may indeed be a comfort to his grieving parents to know CM almost certainly learned to pursue his quest for “truth” from them by example in their highly contested way. It’s to CM’s credit that he chose “the truth” of nature above all of the other destructive imposters and diversions. And in a sense, if you prefer, it is God’s creation which indeed is beautiful, highly sophisticated, intricate, safe and quite satisfying “if you know how to look at it”. The converse can prove just as true.


So CM goes looking for this solid believable ‘truth of nature’ (just as this writer studied zoology to balance law) in contrast to classrooms, emotionally violent parents, shallow materialism, like so many before and will in the future ..... presumably to heal: There is an anecdote about WW2 veterans working in the Tasmanian forests building railroads, or whatever, just going walkabout and sucking up the life in nature to revitalise after the deathly horrors. Then there are the Vietnam War Vets up North Qld way similarly recovering in quiet bush camp surrounds. CM is no different. Paddling the rapids of the Colorado River, surviving if he can, and such a metaphor for a screwed up family.


The production values are great in this movie and we expect no less from Penn these days after Mystic River etc. The music is good with Eddy Vedder of Pearl Jam fame, with his own travails in earlier life and of a similar vintage, to match 'a grunge' paradigm of drop outs and lovable Euro hippies communing with nature. We kept thinking the theme would morph into a recent inspired version of Somwhere Over the Rainbow  here on YouTube by Israel Kamakawiwo Ole.


Eddie Vedder on stage with Pearl Jam in Pistoia, Italy on September 20, 2006.

Eddie Vedder on stage with Pearl Jam in Pistoia, Italy
 on September 20, 2006.



CM is essentially right about many things well portrayed. Excess material things are ridiculous when ‘it’s the ecology stupid’ to quote Steve Biddulph in the Sydney Morning Herald recently. CM is also a human being whose very nature even amongst the smartest of us is to make sometimes fatal mistakes. We are a herd animal for the reason we avoid many dangers that way by sharing information. CM could have survived  the winter but had too much to learn in too short a time with too much faith in his undoubted intellect, youthful strength and book learning. If he’d had one native Indian friend with some indigenous wisdom he would be alive today.


We first felt an echo of our own experience in an early scene with CM stepping away from a car ride into 2 feet of snow at the edge of the Alaskan wild. Just glad to step away from the normal traditional world of material power and comfort. He’s off to explore but mainly we believe to rebuild his sensory and philosophical instrumentation to carry him through what he thinks will be say another 50 years. He doesn’t expect to die but on the other hand he knows when it’s coming which surely is a blessing : To make peace with death.


Picture: Kokoda map we had laminated after solo trek in 1990. 6 days of malaria was a bummer, glad to get home but a great experience. We got lost about 8 km west of here, alot easier than you might think from the deceptive lines above. Rescued by local 'nationals' (the ones not carrying guns).


Our echo was 1990 in the hot steaming jungle of Papua New Guinea, just out from a village called Sogeri, fatefully without a mosquito net. 2 bouts of malaria and 17 years later we still sleep under a mosquito net not wanting to be the first to suffer malaria, Ross River or Barmah Fever out of the local Cooks River in Marrickville, which is surely coming in the age of global warming.


The dangerous river crossing with heavy pack that can drown you. The fear of wildlife and the odd gun toting local. The incredible beauty as a reward for endeavour. We remember the thrill of life again after feeling like a perfectly red apple yet brown and bruised inside after a childhood of contradictions.


The message of Into the Wild is actually a pretty simple one and well worth the time. Humans make mistakes. Some of us die testing ourselves. Even the best and smartest. Those that make it grow and get stronger building on a sensory and philosophical experience that we can trust and that works for this age, not the past. Such people are worthy leaders and CM was potentially one of those. In fact he still is because his facility with words and writing means he never actually quite left especially with Krakauer's book and Sean Penn’s skills as a film maker.


And that’s why I think the movie reminds me of the essentially hopeful tune “Somewhere over the rainbow”. He died young, but you can’t say he didn’t live a great time.  And for all those mortified parents out there one advantage of today is the internet means you can’t ever really lose contact directly or indirectly even as a powerless voyeur on the progress of your little bundle of joy. Back in 1992 there was only snail mail. These days we have blogs, and similar expressions of self of greater or lesser palatability.


In conclusion we agree children should not simply live the life of their parents for very sound reasons, and they should live as simply as they can.


Thanks to the community radio sector for the ticket with this film review offered in the same spirit.


Picture: wonderful Mt Aspring south island NZ a tad under 13,000 feet, climbed in 1989 by the main face. 



Postscript #1 24th December 2007


The big Fairfax media in the wake (?) of this piece have run a prominent page 3 picture story the Saturday before Christmas dated 22nd December 2007 about such "a leader" out of the discipline of the law and journalism in fact (hence the sympathy), not so different to the example of Christopher McCandless. As we like to say, getting arrested usually sorts the wheat from the chaff and so it is with this youngish well educated activist who clearly 'does not lack ambition' by simply taking a less travelled path:



in Tree-sitting activist wins high praise from judge referring to the precocious 23-year-old Ms Holly Creenaune here. Take a bow Sean Penn for helping make the space for such acknowledgement mainstream to fringe.

Posted by editor at 7:02 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 24 December 2007 9:32 AM EADT
Saturday, 15 December 2007
Stairway to Heaven in the age of dangerous climate
Mood:  lyrical
Topic: globalWarming


It's getting hot at the Bali UN conference on global warming apparently, going into extra time and all this Saturday Dec 15th 07.

There is another parallel seemingly unrelated global phenomenon going on too with aging rock music fans lapping up the Led Zeppelin reunion concert (see below). Many of us are thinking whoa, if they can pull it off maybe anything is possible? 

See list of various clips from YouTube here

Indeed what are the politics of the commanding Led Zeppelin reunion concert?? Politics? Aw come on, its a pop music show, it's not politics.

Well maybe, and maybe not. There is certainly something subliminal going on here in our western pop culture of interest to anyone in politics.

Stairway to Heaven their signature tune, amongst some other gems, is running at 835,434 views on YouTube since its posting Dec 10th, which presumably is early Dec 10th 2007. Only 5 days.

We are not sure how this compares with other big listings on YouTube having seen some at say 4 or 5 million views but only after a long time. We suggest 800K in 4 days is huge. It's gone up 200K in the last 36 hours.

Is this just music industry marketing significance? Certainly it's clever marketing for the copright owners to allow it up on YouTube because it's mere phone camera quality and just whet's the appetite to buy the real DVD.

The quality US politcial insider press apparently runs this reported quote:

The Washington Post claimed that, “By the time they finish their second and third songs — ‘Ramble On’ and ‘Black Dog’ — it is becoming clear that, even if they are not gods who walk the Earth as men, these are no mere mortals before us. And this is going to be no mere rock show. We are witnessing history.” The Wall Street Journal reported that Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham, the son of John Bonham, Zeppelin’s original drummer, who died in 1980, “mixed their brand of rock and metal with an authority that suggested they still might be the best rock band in the world.”

Consider this in the public political domain:

- Led Zeppelin play their first recorded song 1st album called Good Times Bad Times of 1969 as their opening tune in London 4 days ago. Does that title resonate beyond its surface meaning?  We are in good and bad times when it comes to impending dangerous climate change. In fact the opening stanza are Viking style thunderclaps presaging a fatal ice storm of the US mid west or massive hail damage here in Sydney

- Plant and Page in particular as lead singer and guitarist respectively present as your archetypal hippy musos, as brilliant as they are. With all that heavy rock they would still fit in easily to your local hippy flower power organic produce market scene.

- They embody a more hopeful, yet also intensely serious time of the Vietnam War tragedy, a time of social change and flux of the 60ies and 70ies. Much like this documentary of idealistic Berkley in the Sixtes.

- Their recent London location for their reunion concert success is a place protected from sea rise by the Thames Barrier, and world wide interest tells you at least quite alot of people want to feel like they did 40 years ago when another future seemed quite possible.

- The concert was a charity event for the Ahmet Ertegun Education Fund in the name of their friend and original promoter, as a homage to him. Education as a public value in itself. Quite a hint about climate ignorance in fact, intended or not.

- in terms of frugality to match the times, it played to a humble 20,000 fans when 20 million wanted to see them. Hence all the calls for a concert tour. There is a profound metaphor in all this. Manage with less, not more. The old ways of extravagant excess have to end. That's a good philosophy in the age of the threat of dangerous climate change. Don't fly to the concert. Watch it on YouTube at least in part. Even people helping themselves via YouTube to experience the event rather relying on some monolithic agency to organise it for them. Sounds like random action little people are taking all over the place to halt global warming.

Methinks like many seemingly humdrum things, this concert, has turned out to be a political event, intended or otherwise. Not for open prosletising but for Led Zep phenomenon being what it is. For being themselves.

We wrote elsewhere too about this beaut Plant/Krause bluegrass duet from their recent album Raising Sand (another oblique hint about our situation?) called:


which sounds so much like the Bob Dylan 'get your mojo back" Time out of Mind album.




It's no surprise to us 'Planty', as I have now dubbed him in the Aussie style, is progressing that gentle music with sweet Alison Krause, ie her ying to his yang. It does really work. After to listening to that track in particular you would have to be made of stone to think there is no spirituality in Plant's return to the public stage.

This morning Don Henry, as director of the Australian Conservation Foundation has said "the truth is there are few angels on the ground here" at the extra time in the Bali UN Framework on Climate Change Conference: 10 am ABC radio news, Sydney Australia Dec 15th 2007.

Few "angels" on a



It just might be a sound track to the end of our climate and maybe us. Or as the evolutionary biologists like Harvard professor E O Wilson put it 'the best and worst of times for all creation'. May God have mercy on us.

Posted by editor at 10:26 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 15 December 2007 12:01 PM EADT
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

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