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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Monday, 2 March 2009
Gosford Council: Dick Persson expert administrator report to State Govt for over 3 weeks now
Topic: nsw govt

Flood victims / NEWS.com.au

Picture: Collage via News Limited: "Gone ... Adam Holt, 30, and Roslyn Bragg, 29; their two daughters Madison, 2, and Jasmine, 3; and Ms Bragg's nephew Travis Bragg, 9 / NEWS.com.au composite image:"

One of many contacts on the central coast confirms early this February that Dick Person, formerly NSW Government administrator at the sacked Port Macquarie Hastings Council, has completed his report into Gosford Council.

This is the council that willingly gave away control of the old Pacific Highway at Piles Creek after the devastating untimely death of a family of 2 adults and 3 children in a washed out section of road.

NSW Govt to take back Old Pacific Hwy ABC Sat Dec 6, 2008 9:01am AEDT

The Sydney based coroner was scathing of lack of local government rigour:

Culvert tragedy: coroner blames council - National - smh.com.au 18 Sep 2008

Similarly this quote from the SMH:

"An "incompetent and ineffective" NSW council is entirely to blame for a highway collapse that killed five family members, including three children, a coroner has ruled.

In damning findings, deputy NSW coroner Paul MacMahon said Gosford City Council had failed to provide the most basic road maintenance, and that neglect had cost five lives.

Adam Holt, his partner Roslyn Bragg, 29, their young daughters Jasmine, 3, and Madison, 2, and Ms Bragg's nephew Travis, 9, died when a culvert collapsed and swallowed part of the Old Pacific Highway at Somersby, north of Sydney, in June last year."

And then we have this follow up:

Council risks second road collapse - National - smh.com.au 22 Sept 2008

and this

Pipes corroded before road collapse: inquest ABC Tue Jul 1, 2008 12:45pm AEST An inquest into the deaths of five people in a road collapse on the New South Wales central coast has heard Gosford Council failed to keep adequate records of repairs needed to the roads.

and this

Documents reveal collapsed highway section needed repairs ABC Mon Oct 15, 2007 8:04pm AEST

There are a legion of hostile residents and ratepayers in Gosford LGA or so it seems:

Mayor defends 'most complained about' council ABC Thu Oct 30, 2008 1:37pm AEDT

Yet the Person Inquiry was haphazard at best. Many did not know how to make public submissions. Indeed there wasn't any public advertisement calling for these. Did Dick Person access this torrent of information?

Piles Creek 12

Another contact says there has been a report of alleged corruption sent to ICAC regarding deliberately deleting the content of resident complaints from the council's own information database. Of cooking the information flow. Who would have thunk it?

The inquest heard the Gosford City Council were 'aware of structural problems'.

Picture: The inquest heard the Gosford City Council were 'aware of structural problems'. (ABC TV)

Another contact says there are two (not one) KPMG reports one of which allegedly calls for directors at Gosford to be sacked. Did Dick Person see this particular KPMG report? Does it exist?

Yet another contact says there are two reports by a state government and Gosford council retained consultancy called Internal Audit Bureau into alleged incapacity of Gosford to properly do land use planning and assessment in relation to water licensing. Are these the kind of skills also involved in landscape engineering, say for road safety? Did Dick Person access that as yet IAB confidential report?

Suffice to say our submission to Dick Person was sent direct via his email address at Port Macquarie Hastings not via Gosford Council.

We look forward to Dick Person's findings and the State Government response not least for the memory of those 3 dead children and their hapless parents. Will they get justice?

Posted by editor at 7:32 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 2 March 2009 8:05 PM EADT
Sunday, 1 March 2009
Economic wheels, rudder fall off Sydney Daily Telegraph's $9 Billion fantasy truck tunnel to Port Botany?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: nsw govt


Maybe the Sydney Daily Telegraph brain's trust who are beating this story:

Vote grab sinks Sydney road plan | The Daily Telegraph24 Feb 2009 ... A $9 BILLION roads plan to solve Sydney's transport and congestion

might take a look at this story above from their own sister newspaper via The Australian, in the Wall Street Journal.

Call me a stupid greenie, commercial lawyer, evolutionary ecology graduate, and otherwise grovelling gardner, delivery van driver, bottle shop attendant, and reader analyst, but the synchronised global recession looks alot like there is no economic case any more for super containers to Port Botany (or Port Phillip in Melbourne for that matter).

No doubt the army of sub-contractors and tradies out there need a $9 billion meal ticket. Trouble is, a glorified truck tunnel to Port Botany as a cover for every mega road project wet dream of the Roads  Minister is probably a white elephant.

And how did we get all this congestion in the first place? More mega roads rather than sophisticated public transport? Do you think? We can't even get an integrated ticket organised. 

Far better if that army of job hungry workers were set to work on real sustainability projects - like wave power energy for instance. Geo thermal. Solar photo voltaic and water heater power on every northerly facing roof.

Or urban friendly bike paths. Or water tanks. Or ..... the list is endless really.

Posted by editor at 1:49 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 2 March 2009 12:00 PM EADT
Monday, 2 February 2009
Robbo as minister for corrective services, and neighbour Brett Collins of Justice Action in Sussex St building complex
Topic: nsw govt

John Dowd, former NSW Attorney General sounds miffed. He reckons just now on ABC local radio "What would new Minister John Robertson know about corrective services?"


Well the last time we went into Justice Action office to talk to Brett Collins and crew to take the picture of a mural below - good mates with Lee Rhiannon MP they are too - we happened to bump into ... John Robertson in the lift well.

We talked briefly about Enron: Smartest Guys in the Room and how you can watch it on Google Video for free. He said he had just bought a copy and was about to watch it.

That was mid to late 2008 or so. That's right, Robbo at Unions NSW was a close neighbour of Justice Action a few years. Brett Collins at JA is another shortish tough fit nuggety looking bloke who has beaten the system particularly as a Kiwi avoiding deportation through the application of Rolls Royce administrative law in the 80ies. That's when we met Brett first, intrigued as a law student about this ex prisoner, he giving a talk at the Australian National University to an audience of 5 or so at ... the Student Union. Later we saw his name in the Administrative Law class cases taught by the respected John McMillan, later Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Collins, a reformed bank robber with 10 years in prison under his belt, is now a Big Media go to expert on the receiving end of the justice system. He's also a pretty friendly bloke, doting father with a fast paced conversational style and an effective advocate. He's no angel but he's no thug either, and arguably an ornament to our democracy in a curious way. He's a living example of rehabilitation perhaps more by individual struggle than anything else.

We think Robbo knows a fair bit more about Corrective Services and maybe even 'Rotten Ron' than big Liberal progressive, former Attorney General John Dowd quite realises. Indeed Justice Action have even been known to quote John Dowd approvingly here in another context. Another close friend of Justice Action would be former senator Kerry Nettle who has been on the same civil right platform as VIP Dowd.

Take the hint Mr Dowd!

Posted by editor at 9:32 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 2 February 2009 10:22 AM EADT
Sunday, 1 February 2009
Misconceived Robbo abuse as Big Govt workers comp 'reforms' pay off big time for Big Insurance?
Topic: nsw govt

Is that the best News Corp ninnies can do yesterday page 4 of the Sydney Daily Telegraph?:

Will former union boss John Robertson run NSW one day? | The Daily Telegraph ...By Joe Hildebrand. January 31, 2009

If you are going to attack now minister in NSW John Robertson MP on ideological grounds at least get your facts and history right.

Regarding the protest pictured above, the NSW budget was under pressure early this century from escalating workers compensation insurance payouts and litigation costs. So the then premier Carr tried to 'reform' the sector. Then union secretary Michael Costa led a strong campaign against weakening workers legal rights only to trade his political capital for a cosy parliamentary pension, and implement the 'reform' as a Cabinet minister and more so later as Treasurer.

Trouble is since then we have seen the HIH collapse with huge social disruption and various convictions for fraud in the insurance/finance sector. Also academics and judges have now spoken out about insurance premiums for workers comp going up while payouts to actual injured workers have gone down while company profits have gone up - alot.

Big Govt and Big Business - quite possibly the same thing - are happy. But is it right?


Picture: Screen print of a death: Workers are killed and injured in this state every year in the course of earning a living, guaranteed. People who only work in offices tend to forget this reality.


This 'reform' has been our own mini Enron, our own whiff of the Madoff and Walls St meltdown. courtesy of Carr, treasury hacks like John Pierce and treacherous Michael Costa. It was a bogus 'reform' deal at the expense of the little people and simply fed the big end of town's insatiable greed.

Fact is the 'reform' was a big business crock of financial and legislative shite.

Robertson as NSW union heavy blockading the gates of NSW Parliament over protection of labour rights has been vindicated on this topic. So this is just more Big Press nonsense. Like the whining over failed energy privatisation in a dead market, which would have destroyed jobs, asset value, state income. Thank heavens it didn't proceed. We are no friend of the ALP but this ideological irrationality and anti ALP tribalism is frankly quite tedious.

See the real financial story below - from the same conservative press 2 years back - with some juicy bits in bold (added except for the first paragraph which is the newspaper's intro). Read this and ask yourself one question - how big were the donations by the insurance industry in NSW and Australia generally to both sides of politics over this period? A good second question: Who in the big parties in parliament got sweet sinecures later on?


Liability of flawed law reform | The Australian

| April 14, 2007

FIVE years ago, David Ipp proved he was no ambulance chaser. At the height of the insurance crisis, the NSW Court of Appeal judge drew up an instruction manual for state governments on how to end the litigation explosion.

It became the bible of tort reform and led to restrictions on personal injury claims that have slashed the amount of litigation around the nation. Plaintiff lawyers, who lost millions of dollars in potential income, still seethe.

Ipp's credentials on this issue are impeccable. And that is why this judge has just become the worst nightmare for state governments.

Ipp has aligned himself with those who have been arguing all along that tort reform had gone too far.

To lawyers, this is the equivalent of St Peter denouncing the Catholic Church for excessive zeal. If the architect of these changes says they went too far, it gives credence to those who have questioned whether Australia gave away too much in order to solve an insurance crisis of the time.

Ipp's intervention has highlighted the fact that the price of solving that crisis goes beyond the realignment of the civil justice system. It has also handed governments the power to strike out a category of litigation that could expose their incompetence.

One of the reasons public liability insurance was unavailable or unaffordable in 2001 was the withdrawal of many insurance companies from the Australian market. They were struggling under an avalanche of litigation, were losing money and, understandably, had no desire to lose more.

Ipp's 2002 report provided the intellectual framework for the legal changes that enticed them back. But he did not have the last word. The insurance industry had a seat at the table and helped state and federal governments design the new civil justice system. A revolution that began in NSW has spread in varying degrees to the other states.

So while it should come as no surprise that lawyers criticise the system that has cost them a fortune, it is entirely predictable that insurers defend it vehemently. It has put them in clover.

The general insurance industry's return on net assets in the year to last December was a healthy 19.4 per cent. And that was no fluke. The year before it was 21.4 per cent, according to figures compiled by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

Net incurred claims for the year to December were down 5.1 per cent, following a 0.5 per cent rise in 2005.

The Insurance Council of Australia says the changes are "carefully designed and principled". "The reform brought together the fundamental issues of people in the community taking greater personal responsibility for their lives while providing for the needs of the seriously injured," ICA spokesman Paul Giles says.

Even though insurers still pay for most awards of damages, they have greater certainty over their exposure. They are insulated from thousands of small claims that once would have cost them money. And even when injured people win in court, insurers have the comfort of statutory caps on the amount of compensation.

Tort reform has undoubtedly eased the pressure on public liability insurance premiums, which have fallen by 20 per cent. It has also made it possible for the insurance industry to write 610,000 new public liability insurance policies between 2003 and 2005.

The number of civil claims lodged in the nation's courts has been slashed by 75,376 since 2000-01. More than half of that reduction was in NSW, where Productivity Commission figures show civil claims have fallen by 39,959 cases.

But the new system is far from perfect. Rushed and inconsistent law-making has left so many anomalies and loopholes that Ipp and some other judges are clearly exasperated.

The legislators have left a gap in the compensation arrangements of NSW that is big enough for an injured policeman to fall through.

This system also hands blanket immunity to some government authorities, a change that goes beyond the approach recommended by Ipp.

The judge started criticising NSW compensation arrangements in 2005 when he handed down a judgement that said: "The statutes in this state relating to workers compensation and common law damages claims by workers against their employers and others can be described as a hodge-podge. No consistent thread of principle can be detected."

He removed all doubts about his position last month when he addressed a legal convention after crossing paths with former policeman Gordon "Bennie" Ball, who is seeking compensation for psychological injury.

The judge had been obliged by NSW law to strike out crucial parts of Ball's compensation claim, undermining his chances of winning a payout and lumbering him with a legal bill expected to be between $25,000 and $30,000.

This is not the outcome envisaged by former NSW premier Bob Carr when he introduced the first stage of the Civil Liability Act, which is the centrepiece of that state's tort reforms. "There are fundamental rights involved in what we are drafting and no one wants to deprive the genuinely deserving of compensation," Carr told parliament.

Two days after ruling against Ball, Ipp made it clear he did not like what he had been obliged to do. He told a stunned gathering of lawyers in the NSW Hunter Valley that the legislative inconsistency at play in the Ball case had led to "anomalies and unfairness".

He was referring to the fact that Ball, like other long-serving police, is not covered by the statutory workers compensation system, which only gives benefits to injured officers who were employed after 1988.

Ball is receiving a proportion of his final income. But if he wanted compensation for his injury, he would have had little option but to go to court. That would have put him up against the legal immunity the Carr government gave government agencies in the Civil Liability Act.

Ipp told his audience that tort reform had gone too far and those seeking changes had "really good points".

While adhering to what he said in his 2002 report, Ipp said he believed the legislation put in place had gone further "and sometimes much further" than what he had recommended.

He also revealed that two weeks earlier he had criticised the NSW Government for placing government agencies in a privileged position.

"Public authorities are given a host of novel and powerful defences that are in conflict with the notion that the Crown and government authorities should be treated before the law in the same way as an ordinary citizen," Ipp told a conference marking the anniversary of the Australian Law Journal.

"It is difficult to accept that public sentiment will allow all these changes to remain long-term features of the law."

In 2002, when introducing changes to the Civil Liability Act, Carr said he believed that courts should not have the power to determine how a public authority should spend its money. As a result, public authorities were given immunity from all actions concerning the general allocation of resources.

That might sound reasonable. But in practice, the immunity has allowed the NSW Government to dodge the sensational accusations of mismanagement contained in Ball's statement of claim.

Until he retired, Ball had been crime co-ordinator in the state child protection enforcement agency: the pedophile police.

His statement of claim accuses the Government of almost halving the number of police pursuing the state's pedophiles and child molesters in the late 1990s.

In the five years to 2001, the strength of his unit fell from 50 to just 30 officers, Ball's claim says.

Under-resourcing meant his unit had insufficient resources "to adequately carry out its investigations or prosecute pedophiles", it says.

He also claims staff shortages led directly to many investigations being suspended when he believed they should have been pursued. As a result, he claims he had to prioritise every investigation until he retired on medical grounds suffering from guilt, depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

The case has outraged the NSW Police Association.

Association secretary Peter Remfrey accuses the state Government of "hypocrisy" over its handling of the matter.

Instead of testing Ball's claims in court, the Government assembled a high-powered legal team and took him to the Court of Appeal.

The Government's legal team included Crown Solicitor Ian Knight, Paul Menzies QC and barrister Elpi Chrysostomou. They did not challenge the substance of Ball's claim that government negligence had directly caused an injury that forced him to leave the force.

They urged Ipp and the other judges to apply the immunity that rules out claims based on a government authority's general allocation of resources.

The judges found themselves duty-bound to rule against Ball.

By relying on the immunity, the NSW Government might have beaten Ball. His case will need to be re-pleaded on narrower grounds that do not accuse the government of causing his injury by under-resourcing his unit. That will weaken his ability to prove the government was at fault. It could also reduce the amount of any damages.

By invoking the immunity, the NSW Government has pushed the police association into the arms of those who want the immunity abolished.

Remfrey says the government had effectively "legislated themselves out of being liable for their own actions".

He says the police association agrees with Ipp.

"This tort reform has gone too far," Remfrey says. "Why should the NSW Government be able to pass laws making itself immune from the obligations placed on every other employer?

"Police officers are particularly vulnerable under these changes because they are charged with dealing with the implications of shortfalls in spending by all government agencies."

The Law Council of Australia and the NSW Bar Association believe it is time to review the impact of tort reform.

Law Council president Tim Bugg said the fact that the author of the last round of changes believes they have gone too far is a strong reason for calling a second review. "Our starting point is that no wrongdoer should be protected from his or her negligent actions, regardless of whether it is a government instrumentality or someone out in the street," Bugg says.

NSW Bar Association president Michael Slattery QC said any law that gave governments privileges above those of the rest of the community was not sustainable.

"Even worse, why should the community tolerate the suppression of litigation that would have revealed government incompetence and mismanagement?" Slattery says.

"This legislation suppresses criticism of government operations. The Ipp report did not authorise that."

A spokesman for NSW Police Minister David Campbell said details were not available on staffing levels when Ball was still in the force.

As well as appointing 40 extra police to prevent and investigate crimes against children, the Government had increased police powers and introduced new laws to protect children, he said.

Newly appointed Attorney-General John Hatzistergos adheres to Carr's argument in favour of the immunity.

"It is not the courts' function to be determining budgets. That is obviously a matter for the executive government," he said. "We need to ensure that duties of care are observed but that the courts, at the end, are not entrusted with a role of resource allocation in the general sense," Hatzistergos says.


More from the labour lobby here quoting former Compensation Court judge and former Attorney General Frank Walker:

Workers Online : Legal : 2001 - Issue 95 : View from the Bench

15 Nov 2005

Posted by editor at 10:34 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 1 February 2009 1:18 PM EADT
Sunday, 18 January 2009
The Frank Sartor and Lisa Carty show - flick the switch to vaudeville!
Topic: nsw govt

Thank heavens for local NSW politics. With Gaza such a horror being shot to pieces by IDF gangsters on behalf of sinister illegal squatter movement, one embraces the light relief.

"I won't tackle premier" blares the lower circulation Sydney SunHerald today. Derr Frank.

You don't have a faction, or history in the ALP until poached from Sydney City Council independent politics by then Premier Bob Carr. You won't tackle him because your's is the last man standing desperation platform. There's a clue here Frank: You've got a face only a mother or wife could really love Frank as per the press image here:

I won't tackle Premier Sydney SunHerald 18 Jan 09 Exclusive: Frank Sartor breaks his silence on the plot to unseat NSW Premier, Nathan Rees.

And even further back in the mid 1990ies when you couldn't even get a gig with the successful bid team for the Olympics under the Fahey Coalition Govt? You were the Johnny On His Own even as the independent mayor of the CBD.

You're a bolt on Frank (as well as having a head like one?). Just like Peter Garrett. You will never be given the levers to the machine. Control of the treasury decisions. You might have laid down on the railway tracks for 5 years doing developer dirty work for the Tribe but they see that as their genius leveraging your previous strong cred as an independent to their own sleazy benefit. But truly Frank - it wouldn't matter if you had given your whole body to be burnt. You are not congenitally ALP which is why you ran as a successful independent mayor for Sydney all those years ago. And not for the ALP.

It's an old cliche but when you've been f*cked for your body and not your mind, they don't respect you in the morning Frank. It's been the morning after ever since Carr bailed out mid 2005. Why do you think Deputy Premier Andrew Refshauge announced his retirement after Carr's resignation pronto making way for Carmel Tebbutt in his own seat of Marrickville. So you could be premier? Dear fellow, in the words of Daryl Kerrigan, you're dreamin'.

(Just as this writer was too of Starship Troopers pseudo fascists in the form of the IDF last night but that was from watching Al Jazeera coverage of Gaza last evening.)

And there is another reason Frank you won't "tackle the premier". He's younger, brighter, and far more adept at diplomacy than you when he tries, and he's got truck loads of courage to take on his own machine at the pre- selections. You never had to do that as an insert to the ex Premier Carr food chain.

You Frank, are like a whiny dog with his tail between his legs asking for more. In that respect you are doomed to a certain fate like Peter Garrett 'with limited power' serving the beast we all know as the ALP. It's a gilded cage for you Franky, and Peter. That's the price you pay for the strut upon the stage.

Even today's front pager is exploitative by Fairfax to balance last Friday's front pager in the Daily Telegraph. You might think your voters in Rockdale, a large proportion of Mediteranean background, might be just a little distracted with the Middle East at the moment than interested to gird their loins in favour of their local MP?

As for Lisa Carty she is the proverbial 'bony arse bitch' of a journalist in the sense of the movie Working Girl character Signourney Weaver.

She can't help you, but she can use you. And she just did with your front pager and 2 page spread signifying just about nothing. Rees will be chuckling in his weeties at the din of empty vessels.

Posted by editor at 7:15 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 18 January 2009 7:58 AM EADT
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

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