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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Friday, 6 November 2009
Opinion: Minister Ferguson as poacher/gamekeeper in West Altas Oil Inquiry farce
Mood:  loud
Topic: aust govt

It's a sham. It's a lie.

The resources minister responsible for managing oil drilling in a safe manner controls the terms of reference, the choice of presiding officer, whether it will be public or not. What's wrong with this picture?

The same minister who orchestrated backgrounding to veteran journo Laurie Oakes (4th Sept 2009 all News Corp syndicated press) arguing his critics in The Greens were full of hyperbole. Only to have the Greens vindicated by sworn evidence of Federal Dept of Environment officials that the oil blow out was 'up to 2,000 barrels a day' and not the company estimate of 300 to 400 barrels on 21st October 2009. Refer Senate Economics Estimates Committee page E84 exchange between Senator Siewert and Mr Squires of the Dept.

Meanwhile a gormless ABC news standard bearer have been hashing this critical metric of the scale of disaster (while otherwise doing a good job this last week) in informing the high population South East Austalian precinct. At first they attributed the company (PTTEP Australasia) estimate of a lower 400 barrels  per day leak (PM show), then repeat it as fact with no attribution (tv prime time news), then alter to "an estimated". Then again we hear 2 days ago it's 'hundreds of thousands of litres of oil spilled'. Trouble is even applying the company's low estimate it is millions of litres spilled:

70 days x 400 barrels x 42 gallons per barrel x 4 litres per gallon = 4,704,000 litres of oil spilled,

Notice international metric comparison with infamous Exxon Valdez of 10.8 million gallons oil spill, that would make West Atlas at 1,176,000 gallons.

But the real figure is 'up to 2,000 barrels per day' according to Geo Science Australia brief to Federal Environment Department in sworn evidence to the Australian Senate Estimates Committee on 21st October 2009.

The total spill figure may well be:

70 days x 2,000 barrels x 42 gallons = (up to) 5,880,000 gallons (or half infamous  Exxon Valdez spill). Or to put in litres 23,520,000  or 23.5 million litres.

The company reports the cost so far is $170 million in costs of the disaster with about $6M of that being clean up. We can assume higher figure is the replacement oil rig (probably insured and therefore not a real cost?) and the latter figure cost of chemical dispersant flown into the area to break up oil before it reaches coastlines of Australia, West and East Timor and other island coastlines. This suggests the oil and chemicals are all on the sea bottom and in the water column poisoning the ocean public environment for years to come.

Minister Ferguson gave new exploration licences to the same PTTEP company AFTER the oil blowout occured in the last month. Thanks for nothing Minister Ferguson. It was on your watch. The favourable decision post oil blowout was all yours. And the extent of damage and delay in plugging the blowout is your responsibility. 

On ABC radio national earlier today they go back to the figure of '400 barrels a day' flow rate of the spill as bald fact, no company attribtution, earlier today in an otherwise suitably strong preface to a live interview with Minister Ferguson: References to East Timor Govt concerns 250 km away.

It seems repeating a lie about the actual metric of the scale of the disaster often enough is the same as fact in the Big Media, even the best at ABC. Which somehow reminds us of this famous set of lyrics (from Talking Heads):

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...

Water dissolving...and water removing
There is water at the bottom of the ocean
Carry the water at the bottom of the ocean
Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean!

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones/there is water underground.

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

Posted by editor at 8:23 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 6 November 2009 7:11 PM EADT
Opinion: Ex PM Howard used 'boat people' to cover record immigration Big Business racket
Mood:  irritated
Topic: big media

Our truck driving landlord says 'mother earth' can't cope with 35 million population here in Australia, or 9 billion on planet Earth generally.

The biggest increase factor is record immigration as distinct from morally defensible/decent refugee policy for 'boat' or indeed 'plane' people.

To see ex PM John Howard with a disastrous murderous Iraq war behind him with a million deaths, direct and indirect, preach this last 24 hours about boat people policy is a joke.

He has as much credibility about boat people policy as WMD - weapons of mass destruction - never found in Iraq.

Indeed his successor leader of the Opposition Brendan Nelson revealed it really was a war to secure oil supplies - at least in part - when Nelson was Defence Minister prior to the election. He hurriedly tried to clarify in a later interview but the truth was out of the bag like a wild feral cat racing out the window. And what an ugly, srawny, flea bitten, fur ripped critter it was.

This issue of credibility is easy to make, only current PM Kevin Rudd was agnostic on the war in Iraq in 2002-03 because as Opposition Foreign Minister his careerism depended on amicable relations with the W Bush presidential regime in the USA. Thus Rudd is too compromised to raise issues of credibility over the cause of that war, and dealing with the obvious consequence of refugee sanctuary. More's the pity.

But getting back to Howard exploiting boat people as a controversy. He used this figleaf to increase immigration levels to record levels because the big shopping centre moguls like Westfield's Frank Lowy and high rise developers like Harry Triguboff, are both big donors and supporters of hyper immigration. They need high immigration around 400,000 a year taking into account student visas and all the categories, for competition and business for their products. In other words a political economy racket. Population policy in Australia has no efficacy, it is all weasel words. Better to scapegoat boat people refugees who actually have a strong case for being permitted into Australia under the Refugee Convention we signed.

Lowy and Triguboff and similar construction captains of industry donate big money to both sides of politics. Against that money politics refugees and justice have little or no chance. How cynical and evil.

Posted by editor at 7:45 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 6 November 2009 8:34 AM EADT
Opinion: Glover ABC 702 hashes New Media debate
Mood:  energetic
Topic: big media

We caught the Glover radio show yesterday while living our New Media lifestyle - driving a box of activist files to a chicken farmer at Mangrove Mountain.

No conference attendance at Media140 event. No interest in Facebook or twitter either which are just Sienfeld style fodder for Big Old Media on so many levels.

Here is an open email to Glover who is amongst the better Big Media practitioners:

Richard, you 'hashed' the discussion on new media and even you didn't sound convinced.

It's demonstrably NOT radio to television again because the set up costs are so small making the proverbial printing press AKA the web available to everyone.

It's relevant but insufficient that Old Media continue with big ratings.

Big Media now know they can be contradicted with evidence ... publicly .... referenced by google search. No doubt that creates fear and loathing. Too bad, suck it up. It also creates a better editorial process.

Secondly, who are journalist sources? Experts obviously. But the experts are cutting out the middle person and blogging it themselves.

Now corruption in the Big Media is better exposed as overpaid, patronising, intellectually corrupt or simply wrong and that's essentially why web 2.0 exists. To promote freedom from corporate hegemony.

Social media is indeed like Seinfeld trivia but that's a straw man argument beloved of Big Old Media. It's the serious blogging that keeps you on the run.

Like exposing the generally excellent ABC news errors of '400 barrels a day' figure for that oil leak at West Altas. The figure is a company estimate contrary to evidence to Senate Estimates (Economics Committee) by Federal Dept of Environment officials on 21st October 2009 at 'up to 2000 barrels a day'. Easy to find via the web.

The other day ABC said it was 'hundreds of thousands of litres' spilled. But even at company estimate - 70 days x 400 barrels x 42 gallons per barrel x 4 litres per gallon = millions of litres.

Like also the Poll Bludger blog on crikey.com.au with over 1000 comments since last Monday night on the latest Newspoll much more probative than Maxine McKew on Q&A last night. Indeed Q&A is simply a parade of the Establishment.

And so on ....

Anyway, I do enjoy the tone of your work this last year too. You seem to have reached a happy space in your life.

Yours truly

Tom McLoughlin, solicitor/editor


Posted by editor at 7:30 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 6 November 2009 7:39 AM EADT
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Australian unions call for humanitarian approach to refugees
Mood:  bright
Topic: human rights



Posted by editor at 10:26 AM EADT
Comments captcha code guide for SAM micro news blog
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: CommentCode

Perhaps the 2nd worst sin on the web behind lack of connectivity is lack of interactivity.

SAM here has never been very concerned about comment interactivity, relying more on 'beltway' interest and perhaps google referencing. Now we realise after 2 years (derr) that the captcha code for entering comments is particularly intimidating. We have been told this before but never worried about it. It's the host server design actually.

Now that we have worked out the captcha code from the USA based host server we provide some basic guidelines for users after working it through. It's not so hard after all.

In short, focus on the LARGE capitalised numbers and letters strictly from left to right no matter if it is high or low on the box. Just ignore the little numbers, concentric circles and lycos branding which are the very confusing items.

If you don't pick it first time you get a prompt in quick time. Here are some examples: First and Third are right. Middle one is no good.

1. Correct going strictly left to right, only large capital letters and large numbers. Notice tricky capital C is correct. Ignore little numbers and lycos brand.

2. Below, incorrect. 8 low in the box is correct going strictly left to right, error is last large capital letter J not K.


3. Correction of 2 above, ignore the little numbers and lycos brand




Posted by editor at 10:14 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 3 November 2009 10:20 AM EADT
Sunday, 1 November 2009
Sunday political talkies: Senator Fielding and PM Rudd-ick double talk on refugees
Mood:  blue
Topic: aust govt



Author’s general introductory note   

This is not a well packaged story. It’s a contemporaneous traverse of the Sunday television free to air political talkies indicating the agenda of Establishment interests: Better to know ones rivals and allies in Big Politics and Big Media. Perhaps the greatest utility is the headline synthesis above of the 3 or 4 shows followed in this session.


For actual transcripts and/or video feeds go to the programme web sites quoted including Riley Diary on 7. And note transcripts don’t really give you the image content value.


Other sources of pollie talkies on Sunday include SkyNews paytv Sunday Agenda, Radio National Monica Attard Sunday Profile show. And of course Sunday night shows SBS Dateline, Sixty Minutes and now Sunday Tonight on 7.  


Media backgrounders.  

1. Rees competent on Stateline NSW last Friday night, despite poor polling in The Oz weekend story ramped on abc tv, and front pager attacks.  Finishes on only strong argument namely lowest unemployment on the mainland. As a result of ramrod planning decisions. Carty lead story Sun Herald shows ironically that Rees is now camapaigning against his own ministerial sludge, which is probably not a bad thing. Carty on the other hand is a shallow sensationalist hyperbole addict who has to be read down virtually every time, based on her track record of frippery. 

2. Oakes says Rudd honeymoon coming to an end in Saturday News Corp press national column 

3. Huge huge huge Montara/West Atlas oil spill/blowout at 2,000 (not 400) barrels a day is 5,880,000 gallons (US) after 70 days. Which so far is ½ the infamous Exxon Valdez at 10.8 M gallons spill. The company spin echoed by Wilkinson SMH yesterday, ABC last Friday prime time, is surely wrong based on Geo Science Australia/Dept of Env evidence to Senate Estimates Economics Committee on 21st October 2009. Company says on one hand no science to prove flow rate, on the other insist it’s the lower 400 barrels a day (what’s wrong with this picture?).  

3. PTTEP company and Minister Ferguson say the 2,000 figure is only for full production rates. But what difference is a blowout to full production really? Arguably pumping in to increase pressure for egress of oil in a huge reservoir? A bigger hole? None of this rings true on basic physics of flow. Can’t wait for all govt documents to be revealed by November 16 as per this Greens presser late last week: Senate calls for release of oil spill environmental report

MEDIA RELEASE - Thursday 29 October, 2009

The Australian Senate today (29/10/09) called on the Federal Environment
Minister to table a marine survey on the environmental impacts of the
Montara wellhead spill by Monday, 16 November.

The survey of environmental impacts was announced by the Rudd Government
on 15 October, eight weeks after the spill first began, and following
widespread calls for the Government to take greater action.

"The Senate supported the Greens' motion, which also asks for all
documents used in the preparation of the report, including drafts, to be
tabled," the Greens Spokesperson on Marine Issues, Senator Rachel
Siewert said.

"The public has a right to know as much information as possible about
this spill, but to date both the Rudd Government and PTTEP have been far
from forthcoming.

"The Environment Minister now has until Monday 16 November to provide
these documents to the Senate. This is more than sufficient time to
report back."


4. Classic PR management by ALP of our own Exxon Valdez disaster  as per this potted chronology: 

30 April – WA state Environmental Agency provisional approval to $50B Gorgon gas deal off Kimberley coast

10 August  - WA state Govt approves Gorgon gas project

19 August 4 am – oil spill begins 250km off the far north Kimberley coast in Western Australia and 150km south-east of the Ashmore Reef at West Atlas, operated by Norway's Seadrill for PTTEP Australasia. The gusher is several hundred metres below on the ocean bottom

22 August – 69 workers evacuate West Altas oil rig.

26 August – Federal Minister Garrett waves through Gorgon multi billion decision for Barrow Island off Kimberley Coast with undue

28 August – Senator Siewart Greens flyover and pictures of oil spill West Atlas/Montara oil leak starts off Kimberley Coast

28 August – Federal minister Garrett announces 2 million hectare national park in remote Arnhem Land in Northern Territory with strong involvement of Indigenous traditional owners. The level of threat is low compared to the extreme threat of the West Atlas oil spill. National media coverage results.

4 September - Laurie Oakes slur on Greens for ‘exagerating’ oil spill, runs nationally in all News Corp newspapers based on dishonest industry govt backgrounding

21 October – Senate Estimates evidence from Federal Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism officials said that PTTEP had given them no basis for their 400-barrels-day figure, and their own calculations based on Geoscience Australia data suggested a rate of around 2,000 barrels-a-day, plus condensate.

25 October – Veteran journalist Oakes redeems himself in part with Green Leader Bob Brown on Today 9 Sunday show profile balancer on various issues including West Atlas oil leak.

27 October – Federal Govt release report to national media coverage on climate change sea level rise threat to coastal development – an issue well understood for over a year.

Picture: Minister for Resources Martin Ferguson 28 October 09 waxes lyrical on renewable energy policy, or anything really, rather than the West Atlas oil blow out disaster. A trick of timing suggests Deputy PM Gillard is trying to promote a vomit.

To which we can add the latest release via NT Govt of small (insignificant?) Puffin Oil gas leak – to create confusion over the public focus on West Atlas/Montara: Classic PR sleaze, and naïve Greens/greens to buy into that change of focus. And now a report “a month ago” for Garrett re environmental impacts. 

Meanwhile the industry itself has turned on PTTEP (in The Australian) and it's so far $150 Million clean up disaster (as per ABC also late last week).


5. Howes of AWU at only aged 28 on maximalist humanitarian refugee policy is simply message variation for same ALP factory. Will your soap powder have refugee eucalyptus fragrance, or sard stain remover? Either way please buy soap from our ALP factory. Trouble is the factory profits go to a corrupt self interested tribe, as per cynical Alan Ramsey interview reflections on 7.30 last week. 

6. Oil blow out in Timor Sea, north west shelf of Australia is almost certainly feeding into tensions with Indonesia. Poisoning 1,000 hectares of seaweed farming grounds, and poisoned fish on the coastlines, sort of does that.


7. Costello to lead Future Fund announcement to head off news of  FF tax avoidance in Cayman Islands as per World Today last Friday? Increased ALP tensions bound to result. Costello after all was Mr Waterfront IR 'smash the unions' back in the day.



8. We wonder if PM 'short memory' Rudd appointing all these Coalition figures fully realises that it was Crean not Rudd that saved the ALP reputation 02-03 after the Iraq war went so bad 04-05. That Latham was just a little too early but by 2007 the wheels had fallen off. If Rudd (and Garrett) did the job in late 2007 to get elected does that mean they are also best suited to lead in 2009/10?


 9. Oakes feud with Ramsey five years is aired. Oakes was right to publicise then leader of AD Kernot affair with Gareth Evans given minor party rivalry with greens and public right to know to judge whether or not the leader was performing in a compromised fashion. Indeed we had the right to know at the time, not 3 years later. That is the travesty. 

10. Crikey.com.au increasingly is becoming more than just a daily ezine. The time is soon approaching when the coalface itch will be satisfied online not via dead tree press, not yet, but it’s on the horizon like a refugee boat in sailing season. 

11. Speaking of Crikey the Sri Lankan govt  PR company (?) is busy with a profile advert there on the ezine last Friday if memory serves, after scandal of refugees from there sailing to Australia. 

12. ABC man Mark Scott, former Lib NSW Minister Terry Metherell staffer, but crucially – and note this – later independent MP who helped save NSW wilderness forests. Scott gets a softly softly profile in Herald glossy November edition of Sydney Magazine. True enough ABC online is hitting its straps and launching public broadcasting into the post News Corp ex hegemony world. Is good. Scott is a Howard appointee that has evolved to play an independent role. 

13. Interesting to see Hillsong Mercy Ministry hit the wall, confirming that religion as theatre is false and superficial. 

14. Cardinal George Pell may be promoted out of his anti green job in Australia to the Vatican. Pell was malicious on Glover panel discussion with John Kaye MP (Greens) last Monday Arvo. Pell is a dinosaur who belongs in a fossil museum and is in clear conflict with the Roman Catholic Pope over climate policy. The sooner he is gone the better.


 15. Great story in The Glenorian on Kokoda walk, with troubles that started at the end of the walk. Copy to follow in due course. 

16. Dennis Ferguson promo for 4 Corners this week, a life as a slow motion car crash, fascinating and horrific all in one disturbing package. 

17.  Therese Rein profile piece  on 7.30 pure machine spin for ALP over inhumane refugee policy settings, as per SAM wrap here previously. 


18. On the personal front SAM slogger is getting very good results from a product in Woollies for $27 called GastroHealth pro biotic healthy bacteria for digestion. We aren’t gluten intolerant. But we may yet be lactose intolerant. Hopefully the 3 years of suffering is coming to a close. 30 km cycle yesterday feeling good, with a thigh cramp to wind up the day. Another theory - all 2007 we got into grated ginger for taste in our tea tracking the federal election year and maybe we took out all that good digestive fauna in the process?  

10 Meet the Press:  8- 8-30 am 

Refugee issues preface footage. Press round up. [no mention of NSW premier spying story front page Sydney Sun Herald]


Turbull is talent looking chipper hand on hip, and gestures. Costello decision as head of future fund. Joyce ructions re stay in coalition/LNP membership divisin of federal Liberal party confusion.


Combet Park whispering campaign. Digging dirt? Turnbull  Humour out take Gillard penguin rubber boots


Peter Andrews Stop Bickham mine advert, high production values, river to be killed. Voice over by Jack Thompson.


Panel is Fran Kelly abc RN, Paul Maley The Australian. Economics and refugees boilerplate. Fran Bailey/Turnbull alleged disjunction.  Humour out take cartoon at Rudd expense.


Bickham advert runs a second time.


2nd guest is Senator Fielding – Telstra/NBN Bill vote this year. Double talk about refugees runs queue argument, our boat “hijacked” by refugees. [Fielding is scum.] Says Alex good English suggests not genuine. [Fielding is scum].


Meet The Press - Watch Political Video Online - Channel TEN.


Riley Diary 7, from 8.40am 

Image problems re boat people, body image federal parliament PR stunt – Kevvies Angels. Strong line in hypocrisy based on Charlies Angels. Kevinator lost power of pollie talk, sledge of Garrett pop lyrics, short memory etc. Honey moon is over echo of Oakes News Corp Saturday column. 


9 Sunday newshour Laurie Oakes interview 8.44 am 

Starts a tad late avoiding Riley package to near end of q and a. Oakes in rampant mood, Costello appointment – attacked after 12 years as hopeless now genius? Hypocrisy line. Talent is Stephen Smith sophistry re national interest job.


Growing resentment in Labor Party. Horses for course. Nelson supported as former defense minister re NATO.


Boilerplate on refugees, liaison with Indonesia foreign minister. Rudd not talking to President of Sri Lanka – why not [great question, the govt there is fascist as per murder of editor over there]




Insiders 2: 9- 10am


Riley style package on refugee issue. General theme is Rudd is a failure on humane policy with song of discontent. Sledge from Senator Hansen Young on PM Rudd ‘not thinking things through’ knee jerk. She gets platform in the chair.


Panel is Atkins re Costello appointment to FF, Crabb, Bolt – discussed gestures of bipartisanship, annoys Labor side as per Howard on NRL board. Purely strategic.


Sledging of Rees Govt [without any view of Stateline interview  last Fri – lowest unemployment on mainland, claims premier, rely on Carty who is intrinsically a shallow journo and perhaps the weakest lead political journo we’ve read in years.]


Set piece interview, going longer than expected, very competent, well presented, chunky bright young politician with big head and brain, without the ideological edge of ex Senator Nettle, “practicality” twice. And a subdued compere Cassidy as if even he could vote for that.


Govt more helpless than hopeless says compere. Grab of Howes, PM Rudd quoted response re “windbag” Howes. But it’s all an oxygen grabber for ALP with artificial message differentiation.


Minchin re all amendments on climate change won’t pass it still possibly. Agree serious time waster. Grab of Garrett re ocean rise, journalists on panel completely misunderstand 3 mm verus 1 mm exponential rate of change of ocean rise.


Talking pictures – “Kevin Ruddick” profound comment by Fiona Katsoukas with Zanetti, arguably better tv than accomplished Mike Bowers overseas on assignment.


Noted Therese Rein on 7.30 and Turnbull joint effort on breast cancer.  Humorous grab of Rudd shooing cat at presser.  Bolt says year long ban appearing on Insiders will continue.


Great footage of SA Parlaiment speaker threatening to resign over bogus alleged glamour blonde scandal with premier. Last refuge of the desperate Opposition promoting smear.




Inside Business with Alan Kohler 

Feature on water trading.


Refer http://www.abc.net.au/insidebusiness/ 


Posted by editor at 11:30 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 2 November 2009 9:57 AM EADT
Friday, 30 October 2009
ABC shrink 2,000 barrels a day oil blow out down to 400 via corporate spin
Mood:  sharp
Topic: big media

 Picture: Senator Rachel Siewert, Greens MP from Western Australia leading accountability on the West Atlas/Montara oil well blowout estimated at 5,880,000 US gallons so far after 70 days, based on Federal Environment Dept and Geo Science Australia evidence to the Australian Senate.

Well it's been a battle of corporate spin this last 24 hours news cycle in the south east Australian news audience, that is, where the weight of democratic power resides in this country.




The best estimates from independent evidence we have of West Atlas/Montara oil blowout on the north west shelf is that the flow rate is 'up to 2,000 barrels a day' which puts it in the infamous Exxon Valdez category. Even at 400 barrels and $150 million reportedly in trying to stop the gusher so far, we are still talking 1/10 Exxon Valdez but the upper figure of 2,000 is to be preferred as per this critical exchange in Federal Parliament, bold added:

Preface: This is the transcript of Hansard 21 October Senate Estimates Economics committee (note Mr Squire is from the Federal Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism officials). The relevant Estimates Economics Committee 21 October 2009 page E84 is at http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/senate/commttee/S12500.pdf It seems to download for me best on explorer not firefox.


Senator SIEWERT—In terms of the amount of oil that was previously and is now coming out of the well,
have you had any discussions with the company about what that rate is? They have said publicly what it is, or
speculated in fact. Have you had a discussion with them about that?

Mr Squire - There is a figure in the media of 300 to 400 barrels a day. The view of the department is that it
is difficult without access to the rig to quantify what that rate of flow is.

Senator SIEWERT—That is significantly different from the production figures that the company itself had
said would be coming from that well when it was in production.

Mr Squire—That is correct.

Senator SIEWERT—I presume through the regulatory process you have been provided with flow data
from that well and similar wells in the area.

Mr Squire—You are correct to say that the estimated rate of flow is far less than what the well would be
producing if it were in production. We certainly do have information about potential flow rates when those
wells were drilled as production wells.

Senator SIEWERT—Did you do any calculations yourself on the potential flow rates? Initially there was
an absence of company advice on what the potential flow rates were. Did you do any calculations yourselves
to estimate what the flow rates could be?

Mr Squire—Yes, we did.

Senator SIEWERT—And what were they?

Mr Squire—The information that we sought from Geoscience Australia was an estimation of what the rate
of flow would be if that well was entirely unsealed, for want of a better expression.

Senator SIEWERT—And what were they? What was that rate?

Mr Squire—The maximum leakage rate from that well could be as much as 2,000 barrels of oil a day, with
condensate as well.

Senator SIEWERT—That is in addition?

Mr Squire—In addition to oil.

Senator SIEWERT—Is it possible for you to table the basis on which those figures were calculated?

Mr Squire—We should be able to provide you information concerning the testing of that well when it was
drilled as a production well.

Senator SIEWERT—That would be much appreciated, if you could. In terms of the Timor Sea in general
and oil and gas exploration and production in the Timor Sea, it has been suggested to me in the past that there
have been several other potential incidents that never in fact eventuated because there was good contingency
planning in place. Have those sorts of incidents ever been reported to the department? …….

However as explained in recent SAM posts the corporation and government have been desperate to sell a line of 400 barrels a day. It's almost certainly a lie. Even on their own terms driller PTTEP say words to the effect of 'there is no scientific basis for determining the flow rate' while sticking to their own (scientific?) 400 barrels figure.

Indeed go figure. In Geo Science Australia public servants before Parliament we trust thankyou very much.

Which brings us to the ABC record this last 24 hours news service. We tracked them last night on PM national radio, 7 pm abc tv news, update on 9.30 pm tv news, then 7.45 am prime time radio bulletin earlier today. All at '400 barrels a day' as per corporate spin, slightly mitigated by insertion of "an estimated 400 barrels" later on as criticism arrived.

We've pressed them all the way with calls and emails on the Estimates Committe evidence, as well as on the relevant Crikey.com.au and Unleashed websites of Monday/Thursday and Tuesday respectively. We've had a chat to the office of the director of news.

This oil flow rate reportage stinks. It's much worse than 400 barrels a day according to best evidence so far, that's clear. Indeed even local ABC radio reported as much here:

Here is the abc radio news story of Oct 22 too. So how can SE Australia ABC start quoting the company’s spin unchallenged?:


and News Corp here

Perth Now web news story Oct 22 based on Geo Science Australia referred to in evidence to Senate Estimates the day before - 2,000 barrels a day, NOT 400 barrels:



Posted by editor at 2:53 PM NZT
Updated: Monday, 2 November 2009 9:59 AM EADT
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Sexy Alan Ramsey is angry ... and wrong, Oakes got it right
Mood:  loud
Topic: big media

So Alison Carabine cheekily refers to Alan Ramsey as 'the sexiest man to have ever worked in the Canberra press gallery' on Sydney wide abc radio. A middle aged female colleague to a retired 73 year old, or thereabouts.

All good humoured stuff, boosting his book promo.

But then an inhouse feud is aired where veterans Oakes and Ramsey didn't speak for 5 years.

It was over Oakes revealing an affair of the flesh and presumably spirit between Cheryl Kernot as then Democrats leader and Gareth Evans then ALP leader of Opposition in the Senate.

Ramsey argues there was no public interest as both were out of politics a good 3 years or so when the revelation was made.

This is why Oakes is right and Ramsey perhaps is revealing his ALP history as press secretary to former ALP parliamentary leader Bill Heydon:

We well recall the agitations around nascent Green Party contesting the role of the Australian Democrats. Kernot was electioneering on such things as preferencing with dubious other minor parties and acting very righeous about political pragmatism.

It was about this time that AD senator Stott DeSpoya (or however you spell it) on the annoucement Kernot was quitting the leadership and defecting to the ALP occurred and Stott referred to the record of Kernot as "very interesting". As if she knew alot more about Kernot's allegiances than she was saying.

And now with the hindsight of the Green Party replacing the Australian Democrats we can say it was quite crucial for the public to know what conflicts of interest the federal party of the Australian Democrats had as the "honest broker" 3rd force.

Potential conflicts of interest specifically include other politicians you are having an affair with. That's the human condition. Not for scandal or senationalism but to know who political players are biased toward from other parties based on other than policy merit. The public at least have a right to know and judge whether performance is being compromised.

For Ramsey to suggest otherwise is highly unrealistic. Oakbarrel was right. Ramsey is wrong. They both remain legends.

Posted by editor at 11:12 PM NZT
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
ALP machine rolls out compassionate PM wife in face of refugee "debacle"
Mood:  accident prone
Topic: aust govt

Tonight the ABC broadcaster 7.30 Report NSW edition has effectively rolled out interference on the Opposition, Green Party and Big Media negative theme criticising Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on a range of matters.

The intervention was achieved via a rare interview with the PM's wife Therese Rein on a very controlled basis in her preferred setting of a disability service radio station. She presents as very intelligent, engaging, probably more calculating than immediately obvious, and also compassionate person in relation to employment of disabled people, as daughter of a paralympian father. As loyal as ever to her politician husband she vouches for his sensitive nature while everyone else knows him as a workaholic hard arse.

Rein is chalk and cheese compared to the tedious wife of former PM Howard. On the other hand Rein has an element of kooky eccentricity in her personality that somehow gels with her husband. A certain blinkered perversity one might expect at holy roller Christian campus prayer meeting, or perhaps out of a bottle of prozac - always seeing the positive when reality is far more nuanced with shades of grey. In common with Howard they are both slaves to their respective party machine.

The placement tonight is orthodox spin to neutralise the strained testy interview over refugee boat interview by Foreign Minister Stephen Smith immediately preceding, after the Tamil boat deal seemingly unravelled in federal parliament earlier today.

What the appearance of the softer Rein tells us is that the Prime Ministerial machine is rapidly burning their political capital to stay ahead of the hunting dogs of national politics. Essential even for a high polling PM as he is nominally non factional, and must avoid any circumstance that might cleave consensus in his favour.

These huntings dogs are the criticism around diverse intractable issues:

- Tamil refugees marooned off Indonesia refusing to go ashore with provincial governor refused to force them raising the prospect of an international diplomatic problem;

- Government party figures are publicly challenging PM Rudd on lack of compassion for the same Tamil refugees such as Julie Irwin MP and Paul Howes of Australian Workers Union;

- inflation figures are up and rate rise scheduled for Melbourne cup day

- West Atlas oil spill at 5.88 million gallons is now half as big as the infamous Exxon Valdez disaster which reached 10.8 million gallons, still thankfully in the open ocean, but with no obvious solution for 70 days now.

- Telstra are refusing to buckle down on the hyperbolic $43 billion national broadband network 'plan' given existing infrastructure as potential commercial competition and 1.3 million shareholders to represent.

- shaky climate change legislation prior to Copenhagen conference in December.

Any one of these policy areas have the potential to shrink Prime Minister Rudd, not least because Australians have this quite nasty streak of cutting down any tall poppy. Ironically we wonder if the easing of the economic crisis will mean Rudd can no longer count on being everyone's 'mummy' political leader anymore.

Having created the bread Kevin Rudd is a Little Red Hen surrounded by various greedy farm animals who now want to help him eat it: Meaning he's achieved prime ministerial authority, but many others in his own party want to elbow their way into the exercise of that discretion.

Posted by editor at 10:20 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 29 October 2009 11:21 PM NZT
West Atlas oil pollution disaster now half as big as Exxon Valdez at 5.88 M gallons
Mood:  sharp
Topic: aust govt

It becomes apparent by a combination of Crikey, Unleashed and comment analysis (as per the last two posts reportage here) that we are at 5.88 Million US gallons of oil spilled at West Atlas, north west shelf of Western Australia already.

This figure is arrived at as follows:

2000 barrels a day leakage as per Senate Estimates 21 Oct 2009

x 70 days duration (since 19 August 2009 as reported open source)

x 42 US gallons per barrel (according to Hudson Godfery comment string Unleashed)

Assuming this numeracy is good we are at 5.88 million gallons which is half Exxon Valdez disaster at Prince William Sound Alaska at 10.8 M gallons spill. True it is open sea rather than a coastal bay but there is no guarantee that will remain the case.

Posted by editor at 11:58 AM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 28 October 2009 12:11 PM NZT

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