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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Friday, 16 January 2009
NSW on cusp of unprecedented era of honest governance as Rees spreads the ratsak around?
Topic: nsw govt

Main points:

- Sage advice from Michael Costa ex Treasurer in his slot in The Oz today regarding 'honest good policy' is the only way forward not personnel/leadership changes. Appears to be reaping the benefits of a decent holiday and rest resulting in resonating and moderate analysis. (No one ever thought Michael Costa was dumb just seriously manic, lacking balance.) This kind of policy hard work will be a shock to the bone lazy ALP tribe of nepotistic slobs and liars on $100K plus wages infesting our public institutions in NSW. But if Rees can get them to work hard and maybe grind out a deal of dead wood in the process - like Rudd has been doing - then it might just work. Cannon fodder if you like in the public interest.

- The current dynamic is a rerun of summer of 1994 but different too. Same like with Carr v Anderson ructions, bushfires (Fitzsimons safe hands, Koperberg back then), environment a strong theme in the electorate (then forests, today climate), Rees like Carr is bookish but less so and has embraced the internet with ministers forced to post media releases. Instructive from that time that natural heritage land use was Carr's point of differential and wedge on the Lib Nat rivals. Rees is in Government now not Opposition as Carr was in 1994 but in a real sense he is in opposition to the Opposition in the polls and with voters.

Picture: It's bushfire season proper just like the grim January 1994 season but management and equipment have improved radically since then. Still NSW Premier Rees must feel a bit "trapped" by the firey crucible of hostile press today. As the saying goes if it's too hot in the kitchen champ shove off otherwise get on with it.

- Rees like Carpenter - who lost in WA - has a clean persona. He may yet lose but the way forward remains self respect, honourable endeavour, best of a bad job and play for time, even for future inspirations.

- In this new era of mass communications and transparency the influence and power of Boomers like Obeid , and Bourke in WA, will crumble just as Carr's did. Obama and the web changed politics forever in the USA and Rees is part of that next wave and will need to leverage the net 2.0 to have any chance as well. Both newspapers are themselves desperate to be seen to wield the power that can make and break governments because that sells more press, keeps state political reporters in a job, and appeals to their traditional privilege and ego. But that influential stature in society is changing as their balance sheets detect severed internal arteries yet to bleed out.

- the press coverage today is riddled with journo rhetoric and wishful beat ups leavened with equivocal context, some loose speculation (Benson - various meetings meaning what?), some wrong (Clennell - Rees does have cabinet solidarity of Tebbutt and Roozendaal at a fair guess). The most mature comment is from Imre Salusinszky that the situation is prone to 'spark'. Benson concedes as much in his last paragraph about a 'huge political void' allowing for the hyperbole.

- the wretched and illegal slaughter by our "allies" Israel of innocent Palestinian children and a feeling of betrayal - given Israel cares nought for western sensibilities on human rights - is leaving everyone including politicians quite pissed off and grumpy and wanting a displacement, including the political journos. The fact is the biggest LOCAL political story is Gaza 10,000 kilometres away because we are so multicultural and it affects the world too. No wonder Sartor was dismissive on camera yesterday. Obeid too will be watching Al Jazeera and caring nothing for Rees or his ALP Govt today.

- Rees will have some advantages in a poor polling environment where his job is both to deliver good decisions on policy, and be popular. The two are related but only loosely. He has emotional security with his now wife. That will help his focus and energy levels. He's a toughie already, and young, and won't expect any easy rides therefore unlikely to collapse with dashed expectations, or throw tantrums, like 'frank' Frank Sartor (who is probably running out of time career wise). As for Robbo as potential leader, his charm as straight shooting working man will win blue collar voters in droves, but that won't win the ALP an election, and he surely knows it. And he doesn't look like the kind of guy to change his image to suit the vagaries of the infotainment industry. His best contribution would be ... you guessed it .....good policy development.

- The Opposition have structural advantages of superior polling against a too old nepotistic and dishonest party of government such that they can stalk traditional centre left ALP ground - like tackling the causes of recidivism in Law N Order area, which could well make for good policy. Remember that? The real purpose of public office? This will quieten the nascent energetic Green Party usually feeding into the ALP count. Stay tuned for more shift in emphasis on the environment too from the NSW Coalition (?).

- Rees ought to study 1994 and the sound policy development (by Carr from Opposition). He knows he has to present the ALP as a greener future as well as economically competent. But how is he going to actually do it? Closure of the Eden Chipmill was hugely popular with light green voters and economically responsible given the pathetic cross subsidy in public forest for plantation development. He could also privatise the plantation estate with strict environmental controls for a cool $1B income. Narrow sectoral union interests would hate it which would be another big vote winner on the conservative and green side of politics. And Carr never did deliver on that election promise made in 1995.

- Rees will have to think up some other innovative ideas of his own. And failing that sleep on it for another day.

Posted by editor at 10:39 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 16 January 2009 12:13 PM EADT
Wednesday, 31 December 2008
Redgum forest decision in Victoria: Time for complementary NSW protection by Minister Ian Macdonald
Topic: nsw govt

Victoria has just announced conservation decisions on their side of the border for highly stressed river redgum forests as per coverage in The Australian newspaper today. Below are images we have collected over the last 12 months regarding campaigns for this by for instance The Wilderness Society. The second image is taken in December 2008 in Illawarra Rd Marrickville which is close to the electorate office of Acting Premier Carmel Tebbutt also environment mnister.

The bottom image is a more generic concern from an event just prior to the last federal election in late 2007.

Is it simply a coincidence that an ALP government source in NSW has leaked receipts of arguable expenditure against notorious redneck and industry mate Minister Ian Macdonald in the NSW Government also responsible for redgum forests north of the Murray (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Energy, Minister for Mineral Resources, Minister for State Development) ? That story is on page 1 of the Sydney Morning Herald (again) today. If it is related it does sort of echo the modus operandi of the rough play of folks in that NSW ALP tribe.

Or that co-financier of the original Get Up lobby group, Evan Thorley MP from the Victorian ALP, Government, and talented internet businessman, has just announced he is quitting to go back to private enterprise, in apparent dis-satisfaction with the progressive policies of the Brumby Govt?

Perhaps they are all separate ingredients in today's political stew. Who really knows. But here's hoping the NSW Govt do the right thing on their side of the border too.

Posted by editor at 8:51 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 31 December 2008 9:55 AM EADT
Monday, 29 December 2008
Green MP scolds Rees ALP Govt over bicycle unfriendly budgeting
Topic: nsw govt

Ironic given Premier Rees is a well known bicycle man in his younger years and doesn't own a car licence apparently. Perhaps Nathan thinks we should all just float above the traffic like a certain mythical guy? And notice the manic eyes of the reindeer - go thee forth and shop!

Media release follows:

29 December 2008

NSW cyclists get the cold shoulder as Rees govt breaks promise on
infrastructure spending

Cycling is booming but new figures obtained by the Greens on the types
of cycleway infrastructure in NSW show bike riders continue to be the
big road losers, Greens MP and transport spokesperson Lee Rhiannon
said. (Sydney Morning Herald, 29/12/08, page 2)

Recent RTA data released in questions put to Roads Minister Michael
Daley reveal that purpose built, on-road bike only lanes make up a
mere 1.8 percent of the 4,100km of cycleways across NSW. In stark
contrast, 65.5 percent of existing facilities have cyclists relegated
to road shoulders ? the small gutter area next to the vehicle lane
that is shared with parked cars.

"These road shoulder lanes are cheaper and easier to construct, but
far more dangerous than bike only lanes," Ms Rhiannon said.

"This government's failure to deliver world class cycling
infrastructure, with a focus on separated cycleways, is a lost
opportunity for congestion, public health and the environment.

"In 2005 the NSW government slashed bike and pedestrian funding by
nearly two-thirds of what it was. The current government allocation
for cycling infrastructure, education and promotion is only $7.6

"This represents $1.20 per capita on "bicycle-specific programs". This
compares with $3.16 per capita in Queensland, $4.93 in Western
Australia and $3.89 in Victoria

"It is disappointing that Roads Minister Michael Daley has said that
it will take 5 to 10 years for Sydney to catch up with other
Australian states in terms of expanded cycling facilities.

"For too long the RTA has marginalised bike riders by concentrating on
shoddy shoulder lanes which risk lives and foster road rage.

"The current high number of bike lanes squeezed between parked cars
and traffic lanes increase the risk of 'door death', as there is often
minimal or inadequate clearance between riders and parked cars and
drivers must cross the bike path to park.

"Accident statistics reveal the dangers of shoulder bike lanes.

"Hospital data from the Austroads report AP-R157 identifies dooring as
the cause of 40.7% of cyclist injuries in Sydney CBD and 17.6% in the
rest of the City," Ms Rhiannon said.

Posted by editor at 8:37 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 30 December 2008 2:32 PM EADT
Rudd's new finance 'champ' Mr John Pierce, out of the NSW ALP machine, cost $200K on USA sabbatical?
Topic: nsw govt

New job...Robyn Kruk, said to be dissatisfied with Joe Tripodi (left)...Resources role, John Pierce, the former state Treasury (right).

Picture via SMH: New job...Robyn Kruk, said to be dissatisfied with Joe Tripodi (left)...Resources role, John Pierce, the former state Treasury (right).

Environmentalist and community activist Lynda Newnam has revealed this interesting $200K plus sojourn of a NSW Govt finance supremo in the USA lasting some 6 months in 2004-5, all at taxpayer expense.

Interesting because John Pierce is apparently now with the new Rudd regime as per a scarce Boxing Day edition of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Pierce is a big wheel in NSW ALP governance as per this 2006 briefing note by Hawker Britton (ALP aligned lobbyists).

This sort of corroborates the attack of the Opposition today with new treasury spokesperson Mike Baird in harness, which is a fairly energetic start to the new political year.

Sent: Saturday, December 27, 2008 11:54 AM
Subject: Rudd needs new blood
Hi All
If we could single out any one person for delivering the Port Expansion I think it would be John Pierce. I sent this letter off yesterday. Seems the appointment of Pierce will pass without a murmur and the media will continue to focus on Carr and Iemma as the bad boys. I wouldn't be surprised if Pierce had been advising Rudd before coming into the job and had a hand in lowering the targets in the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. The appointment of Kruk to head Peter Garrett's department is also disturbing.
The following is from the 2004-05 Annual Report of NSW TREASURY - in that year the annual salary for John Pierce was $412,280 - from August 2004-January 2005 (the month that Egan resigned) Pierce was in the USA - from page 99: http://www.treasury.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/2609/04-05_annreport.pdf

United States of America

The Secretary, John Pierce was on assignment in the United States of America from August 2004 to January 2005. He was commissioned by the then Treasurer, Michael Egan,to explore policy options to respond to long term budget pressures from an ageing population and trends in expenditure growth. Mr Pierce was based at the Boston University where he accessed research on long-term fiscal policy. He also investigated research by the Kennedy School of Government on productivity and performance. Mr Pierce consulted Federal and State officials on the United States. experience and International Monetary Fund staff. The results of Mr Pierce.s research will be used in a coordinated effort by Commonwealth, State and Territory Treasuries in formulating a response to the challenges confronting all governments due to an ageing population and expenditure growth.

So for over $200,000 plus all the travel and accommodation expenses and the cost of an acting Treasury secretary, Egan sends Pierce for a trip around the USA in the last six months of his tenure as Treasurer. Surely the State could have got more for the 'research dollars'. This sounds more like a parting 'gift'.

Cheers, Lynda

----- Original Message -----
From: Lynda Newnam
To:Letters to editor
Sent: Friday, December 26, 2008 3:46 PM
Subject: Rudd needs new blood
John Pierce, Financial Supremo for NSW from 1997 to November 2008 has been appointed to head up the Federal Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism. (Herald 26/12/08 "Rudd picks senior officials who quit NSW bureaucracy") During the years that Pierce was Treasury Chief the NSW government squandered opportunities to invest in public infrastructure, entered into Public Private Partnerships which strongly favoured the private over the public, and stifled development in key regions of NSW while fostering congestive growth in Sydney. Captain Rudd is not going 'to turn the Queen Mary around' if he appoints 'business as usual' crew.

Posted by editor at 8:05 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 29 December 2008 8:22 AM EADT
Friday, 26 December 2008
Marrickville ALP apparatchiks consolidate grip on 'largest community centre' in Australia?
Topic: nsw govt

SAM publishes below a a revealing email string numbered in chronological order relating to our local Addison Road Community Centre. But first context, context, context.  We don't know the sender either by name or otherwise. We do have patchy 'sources' at the Addison Rd Centre, but the significance of this correspondent is we have no idea who they are, where they fit in, any ulterior motives, party affiliations or whatever.  Rather they seek to air a grievance about their community centre but are too fearful to speak up in person.

The source claims that a $62,500 job has been given to the husband of ALP figure Yvette Andrews who is General Manager at ARC, co author with ex ALP MP Meredith Burgmann and former political staffer. Here is a picture of the workplace with curator Terry Cutcliffe. (The two giant recycled pots shown were made from old water filters by SAM's editor, and this spot now has an awning again part constructed by the writer as paid work in 2007.) Cutcliffe's friend Burgmann recently failed spectacularly in her bid for the Mayoralty of the Sydney CBD with the ALP left a rump of 1.

Back at Addison Rd is it a legitimate job selection for the Indigenous Arts Officer spouse? Maybe it is? It sure is a coincidence. Here is local Indigenous MP Linda Burney at a function in 2007 at the ARC gallery. Burney's seat of Canterbury neighbours ex premier Morris Iemma..

We have published stories about the ARC and we should declare that we quit our job there in late 2007 due to harrassment and failure to implement their own grievance procedure, as well as (we say) breach of directors duties under the companies code which does apply to non profit incorporations to some degree. True we were just a humble part time gardener and web site builder but then it's surprising how many people you consult in both those roles with our education and skills base. Here are some related SAM links to the ALP performance in this part of the city:

Monday, 20 October 2008 Questions with notice for Addison Rd Community Centre AGM 5 Nov 08
Mood:  chatty
Topic: local news
Tuesday, 8 July 2008Burgmann's mate in job sinecure at closed shop Addison Rd Centre
Mood:  sharp
Topic: nsw govt

Thursday, 3 April 2008 Addison Road Community Centre board minutes leak out, suggesting more ructions?
Mood: quizzical
Topic: local news

Over to your deep throat and the email string here:

#1 ----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 12:06 PM
Subject: ARC
You have missed the main story.


#2 Sent: Tuesday, 23 December, 2008 5:53:16 PM
Subject: ? Re: ARC

what is the main story?


#3 Sent: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 6:06 PM
Subject: Re: ? Re: ARC

Who has been given the $62,500 job as the indigenous arts officer without the job advertised. Have a look at the publicity for the latest exhibition.


i??#4 Sent: Tuesday, 23 December, 2008 6:59:36 PM
Subject: ? Re: ? Re: ARC

Okay, who has I wonder. Yvette's husband? Terry Cutcliffe? Natalie McCarthy?

The latest show is not on the web as best I can tell, probably a card in envelope PR approach.
There is no doubt the governance at ARC is riddled with irregularities. Absolutely nothing would surprise me. All it needs is a good dose of transparency.
If you can give me some more verifiable details then as per convention I will respect your source as confidential, as you please. ...
Yours truly
Tom McLoughlin, editor/lawyer


# 5 Sent: Wednesday, December 24, 2008 12:11 AM
Subject: Re: ? Re: ? Re: ARC
Due process has not been followed for any of the jobs at ARC for over a year. That includes the appointment of the two community board reps. The council rep is the labor mayor. Yvette just appointed her husband to the new position she created and the board must know about it. I know there was no ad for it, or her job, or the admin job.


# 6 Sent: Wednesday, 24 December, 2008 2:29:43 PM
Subject: legal structure relevant here Re: ? Re: ? Re: ARC

I do agree the indigenous arts officer position should be advertised for open employment good policy.

However I can advise what I think will happen with this concern, complaint or grievance:
1. I will send preliminary questions to Andrews as GM, Cutcliffe as curator of gallery, and Mayor as rep to ARC board copy to loyal opposition councillors, MP or two. The questions will raise the issue(s) of

- was it advertised?,

- who got the job?,

- was there competitive selection process?,

- who was on the panel?,

- was any conflict of interest declared re relations with Andrews?,

- was notice of irregularity of GM appointment with no competitive job selection also constructive notice to get it right for this position? etc

2. There will be stony silence.

3. I will publish it .. in the public interest. Those who hate the ALP will be pleased. Those who love the ALP will hate it. I will be further marginalised. Oh well already out here. ..... The Big Media will similarly ignore it as either too small or too compromised themselves. It will be corruption of a lower order that will continue on until something truly scandalous blows the whole place open - perhaps by way of critical mass - say loss of lower house seat to the Greens state or federal - in many years to come.

4. The employment of the Indigenous Arts Officer may well turn on the legal structure of the gallery - it's an incorporated non profit association. It's also a closed shop controlled by the ALP. We have written before:
Our advice is that the "Addison Road Gallery Arts Association Inc" no. 9888276 was registered on 15/10/2007 at the height of the scandal and just before the last AGM for the centre and the public officer for this Gallery body is one Rebecca Kaiser, former ALP Deputy Mayor of Marrickville. How unsurprising: [in]
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
Chances are the grant will be going through this ARGAA Inc with its closed shop governance, closed membership etc - even more so than ARC proper is now. The grant will be coming via ALP ministers state or federal. It will be devilish hard to find out who is administering the grant in order to properly ground a complaint of failure to follow grant guidelines of competitive open job selection process to the non profit, ie free of nepotism etc.
5. I need to say that as a lawyer I am bound to report your information to the authorities (ICAC maybe, Ombudsman more like it, local councillors, Dept of Local Govt maybe) but without compromising you as the source which should remain confidential.
Who are you by the way? Where do you fit in?
Yours truly, Tom McLoughlin, editor/lawyer
tel. 0410 558838


# 7 Sent: Thursday, December 25, 2008 12:25 AM
Subject: Re: legal structure relevant here Re: ? Re: ? Re: ARC

My interest is that I would like to see the place become a "community Centre" again. That is all. Confidential.


# 8 Sent: Friday, December 26, 2008 6:35 AM
Subject: time to publish in edited form I think Re: legal structure relevant here Re: ? Re: ? Re: ARC
ah yairs, but you see it IS a community centre, just not an honest or equal access one, and ANYONE can be involved as long as you tug the forelock and accept ALP hegemony as a subtext. Probably just like Sydenham or Newtown Neighourhood Centre. None of this is about good governance or fairness, it's about monopolising power on the left side of politics. If one buys into those games rather than say build one's own equity and influence then it becomes a negative corrosive dynamic.
As I say what the ARC needs is a good dose of transparency for all concerned and then the place will reach a healthy natural equilibrium.
By the by, on reflection my guess is that the grant application for the indigenous arts position may well have been based on the particular namedi??individual being appointed to the position with particular skills and expertise? Even so I think it's selling the Indigenous community short that they don't get a competitive job selection process as well.
I've decided to publish this string, rather than waste time getting no answer to a string of questions, with 20K readers per month with name of the source deleted for confidentiality. But given I don't know you or where you fit in to the ARC food chain it's just as much a mystery to me as to the general reader. The protagaonists can answer either in the comments section or by email as they please, or indeed legally if they are foolish enough to waste their money suppressing news and debate on a public interest matter of public land and community assets.
Yours truly, Tom editor/lawyer

.........................................................[End of email string]

Posted by editor at 6:50 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 26 December 2008 9:02 AM EADT
Sunday, 16 November 2008
Day 3 and 4 of Sydney press tantrum over energy assets denied?
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: nsw govt

Comment from SAM editor

Fairfax hypocrisy over a sexualised society, and poor sense of news values has infested the Sydney mainstream press this last 4 days. It's mostly a tantrum about big corporate advertisers and political mates not getting their snouts in the trough of a $15 billion energy industry that is publicly owned.

Today it's an embarrassing massage parlour site, wickedly leveraging the unrelated gruesome murder of 2 Chinese alleged sex workers who have nothing to do with the Premier's electorate office, or him.

The Sun Herald front page story is pure political malice by the Fairfax owners, who care little or nothing for their own journalists. Their sexual hypocrisy about objectifying women is pretty (!) obvious in the screen prints we took of the Fairfax website from today and Saturday's archive. Flesh is the word. But not just on the web, burgeoning home of modern porn, but also racy lifestyle pages in the newsprint.

Ironically it's News Corp, equally malicious who decline the sex angle - wisely given the number of brothels near Holt St. Rather yesterday in true schlock tones they take a horror "blood" suckers route. Vampires anyone? There's nothing in it except special interest private health insurers paying their share for the blood bank public service. These are the insurance folks who destroyed public health in the USA.


 Is Premier Rees also a nazi, child molster, AIDS carrier? Stay tuned for day 5 of The Tantrum and no doubt all will be revealed.

We reserve special attention for later this morning to Paul Kelly in The Australian promoting the false history of NSW politics via ex Premier Nick Greiner - a man thrown out of office for corruption later reversed on appeal.  Good lawyers are like that. Greiner now works for British American Tobacco and he's the honest broker? Head shaking stuff really.

One howler in Kelly's piece can be mentioned here already - the 2007 energy sell off proposal did not include the wires and transmission infrastructure - a mere $10 billion dollar difference when compared with the 1997 proposal. But Greiner conflates the two as did Paul Keating in his own opinion piece in Fairfax earlier this year - who also works for big business these days.

Posted by editor at 7:16 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 17 November 2008 9:24 AM EADT
Friday, 14 November 2008
Day 2 of press tantrum over energy assets sees dummy spit at News Corp
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: nsw govt

Well, it's turning into one of those days again. Pulling the weeds, managing middle age ailments, when the ABC runs a brief line or two at 11 am: The editor of the Sydney Daily Telegraph has resigned. Such a short story yet so significant in context.

Some of that context appears in this google for a start:

You get the drift - Penberthy has been a player in the meat grinder that is NSW politics.  A crucible that reaches red hot temperatures. Other metaphors come to mind - live by and die by the sword.

As the ABC reports below, News Corp's editor has blinked in a power struggle in two respects - political power over who decides govt, and also who decides policy on public energy assets. 

We were always going to do another post on the 'big press tantrum day 1' after our penultimate post: Some things we noticed in the Sydney press today:

* Although both newspapers run negative front page stories they are both fairly thin. One about single deck train purchases (Fairfax), one about a so called "Labor MPs in Budget revolt" (Daily Telegraph).

* But the front of the Herald is mitigated by rebel MP Stewart looking more 'conspiracy fetish' and 'Walter Mitty' by the day. Fair or not. And as every administrative law student knows any judicial review in his favour in the Supreme Court just means a re-run of the process by the same decision maker - Rees, Ronaldson SC or whoever. Stewart's political capital is arguably going backwards faster than the Rees premiership.

* The front of the Tele is mitigated for Rees by the page 4 breakout with a classic Liberal Party newsletter demographic - newsagent from Campbelltown. No lost Labor voter there. Then there is the story above with a shopping list of "must do" and tucked in quietly is sale of $10 billion in public energy assets. Which is the whole point of the campaign against Rees to deliver $10 billion in assets into private corporate hands. It's a free market ideological thing. A fairly bizarre editorial claims this in fact would be to "take on the top end of town on behalf of the little guy". Little guys like investment banks and foreign energy multinationals? That's confusing.

* Nor does Tony Stewart MP get off free in the Telegraph either. This graphic shows his ALP Right amigo and factional prop ex PM Paul Keating is being trashed for not supporting charity while on a lifetime PM's pension. You can't play in the public life of the nation Mr Keating and not pull your weight for charity. Talk about basic politics.


* Then we have Simon Benson in the News Corp tabloid misconceiving Australian history comparing NSW in Premier Jack Lang's time in 1932 with Rees in 2008. Foolish because in those days NSW had the stature and size of a national govt, and the feds were the beggars. Today tax and budgetary roles are reversed along with revenue base. Apples and oranges Simon. Bad history. The irony is that this is Paul Keating's history lesson via ABC radio some years back.

* Peter Hartcher in the Herald conspicuously displays his political economy credentials in the main opinion piece.  As if in riposte to our sledge about big press weak grasp of political economy in their trantrum of yesterday, but likely a coincidence. Patronising as Hartcher is, his piece is quite informative of why the federal Opposition attack on Rudd economic governance is misconceived, as arguably the News Corp tabloid gets it wrong versus the NSW Govt economic governance. Hartcher mentions our Australian good fortune regarding

  • strong company profits
  • low unemployment
  • fat order book
  • $10.4B federal budget stimulus
  • 20% fall in dollar for export sales
  • 30% fall in price of petrol
  • echo of other western countries' stimulus packages
  • RBA dramatic interest rate cuts

Which apparently lends to PM Rudd powering along in the polls. Certainly Rees is not so blessed in NSW but he's in there swinging and it's News Corp who look to have blinked today.

Richard Ackland the Fairfax legal writer adds salt by noting despite the News Corp led Right to Know Coalition not one journalist has applied for tape recordings now possible in any court. And this all round sledge of Big Media morality:

The media has always suppressed things when it suits; it just wants a wider choice of things to suppress.

The spokesman for ARK is News Ltd's corporate affairs and PR man, Greg Baxter, who for seven years held a similar job at the asbestos and building products group James Hardie.

Last month he spent a gruelling time in the witness box during the Australian Securities and Investments Commission civil penalty suit against 10 former executives and directors of the company. Bret Walker, SC, cross-examined him and made him look a bit of a goose. Not a line of this appeared in News Ltd's newspaper The Australian.Who can forget Channel Nine's former boss Eddie McGuire in 2006 rushing to seek suppression of the publication of an affidavit that embarrassed him and other executives?

Then there was the ABC board's decision not to publish Chris Masters's Jonestown and to fight "freedom of information" applications for information about its complaints-handling processes.

And at Fairfax whatever happened to that profile of Wendi Deng?


* Punters on the rail might have noticed something more than the daily press of concern to wonky obsessives: There was a security blitz Tuesday evening on the public rail system. It's reported in part on page 11 of today's Terror. We say a big bunch at Windsor and Blacktown last Tuesday evening. 900 arrests all up says the little report. We think this might be the equivalent of road works in the last 6 months before a local council election (engendering a sense of - finally we get some govt attention around here), only this time it was rail security and a mini budget for the State Govt.

Posted by editor at 11:44 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 14 November 2008 3:44 PM EADT
Thursday, 13 November 2008
NSW Premier Rees thrashed with wet lettuce via Big Press bullsh*t today?
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: nsw govt

We have some appointments but given the ramp up in both press today in Sydney some preliminary comments are timely:

* You know there's a rat in the stew of Big Media coverage when Piers Akerman of all people accuses the ALP of spin doctoring. Excuse me, that's rich coming from machine operator Akerman there at tabloid News Corp. Akerman thinks balance is a sugar substitute. Talk about hypocrisy.

* The rusted on Liberal Party readers load up a survey of 89% at the News Corp tabloid who want to junk the 4 year terms. An important reform in 1992 that prevented govt be the plaything of Big Media corporations for a start. And so what? Let's see a real poll done independently based on public rejection of energy privatisation and willingness to make sacrifices for that.

* You can't take the ex News Corp tabloid out of the woman: Devine refers to "bankrupt" NSW - fact checker anyone? We saw "bankrupt" bobbing around somewhere else too by some know nothing.

* The give away to the spin machine of the Big Press today with it's fearsome tantrum is the constant reference to failure to privatise the public's energy assets e.g. Telegraph editorial but also Gittins influential column p1 Herald yesterday. Sue Cato chimes in on the 'spin doctors' segment abc radio.

But none of these are man or woman enough to admit that the Global Financial Crisis meant such a sale would have been a disastrous outcome for undervalued assets.

* To top it all off about the whining and carping and cant is that petrol is now heading to $1 a litre. Which will save more money than any tiny increase in congestion charges.

If these capitalist reactionaries in the press don't even know their own political economy why should anyone else take them seriously. Let the tantrum proceed. However be assured, it's both boring and boorish Big Media bullshit.

* The federal budget has lost some $40 billion in projections - what makes people think that the cost of a capuccino per day won't come off their lifestyle as well? Wake up to yourselves.

* A "cheap shot" at Rees is that he doesn't have a car license as if it's a metaphor for lack of understanding or sympathy. But how dumb is this attack? Anyone in a really busy job knows how much work can be done in a car if you are not driving, not least from mental energy saved not watching the road rules. The idea of premier or minister driving themselves is a false economy.

Rees is a dedicated cyclist previously competition level. We are not. But even we were surprised the other day taking only 25 minutes by bike from Marrickville to the CBD. That's quicker than train and car. We took 50 minutes to Bondi on Tuesday last (and back again similar time phew).

Admittedly this was after a year of training up the fitness levels. But we are no spring chicken and it does show how dumb the car really is as a primary mode of transport in Sydney.

Posted by editor at 10:15 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 13 November 2008 4:50 PM EADT
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
ALP machine disciplines Keating via dumping of state MP for Bankstown?
Mood:  energetic
Topic: nsw govt


We made hay last Sunday in our Political Talkies headline and coverage leveraging a comment of Ms Jodi McKay MP, NSW, Minister for Tourism:

 Sunday, 2 November 2008 Sunday Political talkies: Ms McKay's 'weird aggressive' mates in NSW ALP?
Mood:  chatty
Topic: aust govt

In effect it was a culture jam of her (or the journalist's?) allegation of "weird aggressive" folks in national parks. Her implication was a clumsy smear on all mainstream bushwalkers using national parks that you would never want to share a night with in a hut.

In our experience of huts in conservation areas - admittedly mostly in New Zealand's mountain country as we generally camp here in Australia - the people you meet in huts in remote areas are self selecting. They are generally the healthiest, most sensitive, most sociable, and interesting people, often from foreign lands with cute accents (like the Swedish folks on Mt Aspiring near Wanaka). They are also usually so tired from a day's walk the last thing on their mind is making trouble.

It was too much for McKay MP to be smearing national park users in general as an entre for developers like Packers 5 toasters proposed for Thredbo in Koscuiszko National Park only a year or so back, with all the sewage load on the park that implied: Refer Colong Foundation [PDF] Bulletin 205 (Good work by Fiona McCrossin, sister of media identity Julie).

But we digress - in our list of arguably 'weird aggressive' people we thought Ms McKay might have been projecting onto bushwalkers from her own milieu included ... Tony Stewart MP facing allegations of bullying.

Now the loyal ALP female blonde attractive staffer has decided to press her complaint about bullying, and MP Stewart has been stood aside.

But is it as simple and brutal as that? We do wonder. As written late last week in another piece here on SAM, Paul Keating seems to have got an attack of the political vaudeville deliberately calling up a "divisive" argument about the role of Gallipoli versus Kokoda. As if there is a competition, with him as self appointed judge and jury. The story is here:

Friday, 31 October 2008

Not surprisingly PKwas sidelined by PM Rudd as raising a can of worms that interfered with the ALP Govt(s) messages and clear air. We thought the timing so curious we wondered if Keating was actually running cover for his mate in NSW Cabinet Tony Stewart, MP for Bankstown. Paul Keating was MP for Bankstown for all those years too.

As Premier Rees has said his and deputy Tebbutt's ascension have been a tectonic shift in nominally Right to Left factional politics here in NSW. Stewart and Keating are in the Right. Keating has no entre into the Pineapple Mafia out of Rudd and Swan's Qld machine at federal level. He needs Tony Stewart MP in NSW Cabinet on such sinecures as design of Barangaroo east Darling Harbour.

But Rees, Robertson, Bitar, Foley/Thistlewaite, Arbib, of the NSW Machine, and by extension PM Rudd too, don't need ex PM Paul Keating, or his proxy Tony Stewart MP. That was the tectonic shift after the blue over public energy privatisation

When Keating ran this impudent letter via Alan Ramsey's column last Saturday we felt it was crazy brave: It's worth extracting in full because in a way it's Keating swansong regarding real political influence, like Morris Iemma is so ex Premier:

What you get for having a shot at Keating - Opinion - smh.com.au Alan Ramsey November 1, 2008.

Paul Keating took dead aim at Kevin Rudd yesterday. He did not miss. Keating has never taken a backward step to jingoism, let alone posturing at his expense, and yesterday afternoon, very deliberately, he gave his successor as Labor prime minister a verbal thumping such as Our Kevin has not experienced publicly by a Labor colleague in his 10 years in national political life.

The words, by email from Keating's office, were headed simply: "PJK rebuttal of K. Rudd's remarks on Gallipoli." Here is the full text:

"The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said today that I was wrong to reject the popular view that Australia was redeemed at Gallipoli. I should have thought the Prime Minister might have noticed I have spent most of my political life rejecting so-called popular views. A political leader's true task is to interpret events and reality to a conscientious nation. It is not to wallow in jingoism in the hope this might find some harmony with an old chord.

"Had I, as prime minister, accepted Kevin Rudd's view of today, that 'I am absolutely proud of it' - that is, that he is proud of having Gallipoli as the focal point of Australian remembrance of military service abroad - then I should never have turned that focus back to Kokoda as the one true 'Battle for Australia', as I did in 1992.

"The Prime Minister recently declared an official 'Battle for Australia' day, though without any reference to the fact, unpopular at the time, that I had sought to redress and rebalance the country's wartime history by calling Kokoda the 'Battle for Australia' to reflect the strategic truth. The truth and not the jingoism.

"Or the stylised and rote remembrances by the RSL's leadership.

"Yesterday I was commenting on what the historian and author Graham Freudenberg had written in his outstanding history, Churchill And Australia. Freudenberg said that owing to 'Australia's own ambivalence about itself and to prove the British race in the Antipodes had not degenerated, in an almost theological sense, Australian Britons had been born again into the baptism of fire at Anzac Cove'. Yesterday I was agreeing with Freudenberg's imputations in that extract: that we had no cause for ambivalence about ourselves in 1915, that left alone in the Antipodes we had not degenerated and, therefore, had no need of being 'born again' at Anzac Cove.

"After federating in 1900, by 1914 the country was doing quite well in the first great flush of Australian social and economic nationalism. We had no need of sacrificing Australian men to prove we were legitimate, any more than we needed to earn our nationhood. But none of that went on to diminish the bravery of the Anzacs at Gallipoli, whose sacrifice did deepen our understanding and sense of ourselves, including subsequently, our national identity. The pity was our enhanced identity cost them so much.

"This was the point I was making yesterday, making it in such a way as to endorse, and make explicit, the view Freudenberg had expressed.

"There is another point the Prime Minister should grasp. The possession of the prime ministership does not automatically invest anyone with wisdom; this has to be displayed upon the conscientious consideration of facts, moments and events. Kevin Rudd says Paul is 'completely wrong on that, completely and utterly, absolutely 100 per cent wrong'. Well, that is Kevin Rudd's view. But on this subject that cuts no ice with me.

"I suggest he could do the country a greater service by taking the long view of history, from now just on a hundred years ago, to reflect on the world then and what we now know about the 20th century, especially as it relates to European history and to the history of Australia within it. Whether Kevin Rudd decides to give young Australians the appropriate lead or otherwise, they will work it out. But what they will most appreciate is some direction for their thinking based on substance and truth and mature reflection which, in this case, a century of hindsight provides."

No, PJK did not miss.

We demur here Alan. Keating may not have missed but he's seriously miscalculated. Keating came a cropper in the pages of the SMH earlier this year, falsely conflating two different financial proposals in his opinion piece seemingly biased by his position with investment banker Lazard Carnegie Wylie . Indeed he left out accounting of $10-15 billion of value in power assets between a different proposal in 1997 to 2007. It was cute rhetoric by ex PM Keating but hopelessly misconceived financial analysis. It smacked of conflicted self interest and the Greens seized the error as loyal opposition in NSW.

One problem for Keating is that he might (as Imre Salusinszky has written) believe the script writer of his namesake musical. We did enjoy the show too, impressed pre federal election by the full house at the Seymour Centre, but we did notice it wasn't an historic document. It left out Keating's trashing for woodchips of the "Deferred Forest Areas" - best forest in Australia released to the loggers in 1993-4 contrary to his own government's National Forest Policy Statement. This was Keating's way of diverging from Hawke's Resource Assessment Commission (people like Clive Hamilton).

This is still have it's consequence today:

We still have the filing cabinet of those historic documents of the DFA selling out our environmental future. Interestingly Senator Faulkner was  done over by Keating as then Environment Minister. Faulkner was at the book launch last week where Keating launched into the Gallipoli issue. Rudd calls Faulkner "a wise owl".

Also notice comments in crikey.com.au ezine last Friday 31 October in the unsourced Tips & Rumours to the effect (subject to correction by them) that only one sitting MP, Senator Faulkner, was at the function of former ALP Right luminaries Carr, Brereton, Keating, Wran etc:

Graham Freudenberg's much-awaited book Churchill and Australia was launched in the Jubilee Room at Parliament House in Sydney yesterday by former Prime Minister Paul Keating. The launch was attended by a glittering band of Labor identities, academics and media. They included Senator John Faulkner, former Premiers Neville Wran and Bob Carr, former Treasurer Michael Egan, Channel Nine's Laurie Oakes, broadcaster Mike Carlton, Tony Whitlam QC, Foxtel's Kim Williams and Blanche D'Alpuget. Extraordinarily, not a single sitting Labor MP bothered to attend. It raises the question whether any of them can read.

Or it raises the question of who is being frozen out? Generational change anyone? 

Now Keating has arrived at true real politik irrelevancy courtesy of his own machine. Sure Tony Stewart MP is the collateral damage via a staffer's vexed complaint but it's Keating who is being given the message and it's a serious one. There is an irony and symmetry to this result - live by and die by the machine.

Rudd beat Howard by transcending divisive politics and the "Howard haters". Howard mirrored Keating's penchant for wedge and division which people have grown leery of with such genuinely serious and worrying issues to tackle cooperatively like dangerous climate threats. Keating's model of doing politics is broken, even when it's for an ostensibly honourable goal like the Republic, just like the Barak Obama inclusiveness has found fertile ground and is increasingly ascendant.

Alan Ramsey said Keating didn't miss with his email to Rudd's people. One might call it's Paul's Pearl Harbour: Awakening the giant of the federal ALP machine's anger. We know how that ended.

An epithet for Paul Keating: "Bring back the biff" well describes Rugby League of the 1970ies in your formative stages, indeed the flower of your youth, but it's not how we do things in the 21st Century.

Posted by editor at 5:42 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 4 November 2008 8:53 AM EADT
Saturday, 25 October 2008
Yes, green 'leader' did take wrong turn on steep rail at Lane Cove
Mood:  sad
Topic: nsw govt


Ironically - given SAM's penultimate post - it was Fairfax that carried the story earlier this week about the awful, awful problem of what looks like a badly designed, too steep track on the Chatswood to Epping link under the Lane Cove River:

Epping rail noise 'won't delay opening'

October 23, 2008 - 8:38AM

"RailCorp chief executive Rob Mason said the noise exceeded acceptable levels when train carriages tested on the track travelled the steep, curved section under the Lane Cove River.

"Yes, the noise, using our existing CityRail trains is too high compared with the same trains in our other tunnels of the network," Mr Mason told ABC Radio on Thursday.

Fairfax newspapers reported that train noise levels reached 90 decibels, comparable to a Boeing 737 plane coming in to land."

The SAM editor knows a bit about why the steep section was constructed. We know that the Urban Bushland mafia with Dr Judy Messer as their champion as chair of the NSW Nature Conservation Council would brook no counter arguments from Friends of the Earth Sydney (this writer's then home group) or other public transport campaigners about the extra stations from a 14 metre high bridge option.

The letter writer to the Sydney Morning Herald 24 Oct 2008 rings true. It saddens me to say so, but they are so right.

The Urban Bushland mafia within the green movement had to have every last fraction of the Lane Cove National Park sacrosanct, as daily some 2,500-3,000 native trees in public forests are woodchipped down at Eden, and 400 plus people die prematuresly from bad air quality in the greater metropolitan area. Losing perspective? We do think so. Some of that 200 square metres of the park was already disturbed land apparently.

It's only a consolation now for the green movement that it was not the now ascendant Green Party sector nor was it several other peak groups.

Dr Judy Messer, you should face up to this disaster, not least your haughty policy agenda to the exclusion of other public policy concerns and other credible voices in the green movement. Bring on the accountability we say, both within and outside the green movement. Talk about Baby Boomers sitting on their digs too long.

The whole grim affair was reported by SAM micro web news back in December 2007, bouncing off a News Ltd front page screamer:

Friday, 7 December 2007
See in particular extensive quoting there of NSW Parliamentary Hansard about that split in the green movement. Here is the front pager:

Posted by editor at 11:40 AM NZT
Updated: Saturday, 25 October 2008 12:22 PM NZT

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