Thursday, 30 June 2011

Is Chris Hartcher trying to flannel the Clarence Valley?


From A Clarence Valley Protest on 29 June 2011:

Energy and Resources Minister Hartcher is a little economical with the truth
On the 29 June 2011 in an article titled Toxic metal hunt at proposed site State Energy and Resources Minister Chris Hartcher's position on any future mining proposal in the Wild Cattle Creek area of the Nymboida sub-catchment of the larger Clarence River catchment was elucidated:

“An exploration licence allows a company to undertake exploration, environmental assessments and feasibility studies only.”
Before any mine was opened strict guidelines had to be adhered to.
"Any future mining proposal would be required to obtain development consent through the relevant consent authority...As part of this process, proponents are required to prepare and submit a comprehensive environmental assessment that assesses all potential impacts of the proposal, including potential impacts on aquifers and water resources as well as cumulative impacts.”
Planning approval rests with the State Government until its plan to scrap Part 3A of the Planning Act is legislated.
Then it would be up to individual councils to sign off on any approval for the proposed mine.
“Local communities and councils are fully involved in the process, with planning approvals going out for public consultation,” Mr Hartcher said.


Unfortunately this is not the entire range of possibilities for progressing any future mining development application within the Nymboida or Clarence River catchment areas.

O'Farrell Government policy documents concerning the repeal of Part 3A of the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 reveal that certain mining proposals will still fall into a category which can attract a State Significant Development (SSD) classification which allows the Minister to ‘call in’ a development application and possibly hand it back to the Planning Assessment Commission or over to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure for determination.

Should any mining proposal in the aforementioned catchment areas be ‘called in’ in this way then:

Under the proposed delegation, the PAC will determine larger and more controversial projects, while senior officers of the Department of Planning and Infrastructure will determine projects which have attracted fewer than 25 submissions by members of the public objecting to the proposal and where the local council has not objected.
[NSW Planning & infrastructure (June 2011) Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Part 3A Repeal) Bill 2011: an overview]

This is a flow chart indicating the more likely route that any development application by China Shandong Jinshunda Group Co Ltd, Sunstar Capital Pty Ltd and Anchor Resources Ltd will take with regard to anitimony mining at Wild Cattle Creek.


Given the background of the mining corporation and Minister Hartcher's previously expressed sentiments on regional mining, I sincerely doubt that local communities will be more than a token consideration in any development determination.

Background:

Is Chinese Government policy encouraging mining in the Clarence River catchment in order to conserve its own national resources?

Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Part 3A Repeal) Bill 2011

The major project assessments system

Policy statement: State significant development – procedures
Policy statement: Proposed State significant development and infrastructure classes
Policy statement: Ministerial ‘call in’ for State significant development
Fact sheet

Farewell, Bananaby & Uncle Steve



Steve Fielding is not the full bottle - Erica Abetz


The guy is a psycho chook - Bananaby

Farewell Bananaby and Uncle Steve,
Finally time for you to leave
Though you're both very small
You could scare us all.....


NOTE: A little bit of wishful thinking was going on here as
Senator Barnaby Joyce was re-elected at the last federal election
and is now
Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Water,
as well as Leader of The Nationals in the Senate

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Saying it with pictures for the benefit of Tony Abbott


Tony Abbott told the 55th Federal Council of the Liberal Party of Australia on 26 June 2011; As I said in my maiden speech and have been repeating ever since, middle income families with children are Australia’s new poor.

Leaving aside both the fact that Tony Abbott entered Parliament seventeen years ago and the suspicion that he is using this tired old argument to advocate tax cuts for comfortably off families like his own - it is immediately obvious that this statement by Abbott is not true.

So for the benefit of this shabby economic illiterate politician I will say it with pictures.

The mean weekly equivalised disposable household income has been rising for the entire time Tony Abbott has been the Member for Warringah and, the number reporting financial hardship had fallen to below twenty per cent of total households by 2009:


Individuals and families with low household incomes remain the poor - period.
Individuals and families on middle incomes fare better and, have been doing so consistently for at least the last twelve years.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2010; The headline indicator shows that the middle income group had a slightly greater gain in real income between 1997-98 and 2007-08 than the low income group (46% compared with 41%) and middle income households have maintained around a seven percentage point lead on low income households when it come to a percentage share of total income received by persons between 1994-95 and 2007-08.

Those most likely to experience financial difficulties are not middle income individuals and families:
By 2009-10 there were 2.9 million families with children living at home. In 2011 The Australian Institute of Family Studies stated; Of all four groups, families comprising couples with dependent children were in the second best financial position, with an average disposable income of $810 per week, and with 19% of people reporting the experience of at least one of the seven financial hardships.

The Report for National Families Week 2011 included the observation that in 2010 couples with children were more likely to have one of the parents in paid employment than lone women with children:

Voluntarily filtering the Australian Internet - another reason to despise Stephen Conroy



Browsers which have attempted to access blocked sites will be directed to an Interpol page explaining why the site has been blocked [IIA 27 June 2011]

The Australian Internet Industry Association (IIA) on 25 June 2011:

The voluntary industry code of practice for ISPs in Australia would entail blocking child pornography sites which would otherwise be available to Australians. It would rely on a blacklist compiled and supplied by Interpol, in cooperation with the Australian Federal Police ('AFP').

Consistent with industry commitments made almost 12 months ago to develop a voluntary industry program to block child abuse materials, the IIA announced the final elements of the scheme were moving into place in preparation for a launch of the code in July.

IIA member ISPs in Australia have confirmed their intentions to support a code based approach.

"We anticipate that we will have ISPs representing between 80-90% of the Australian user base complying with the scheme this year," said IIA's chief executive Peter Coroneos.


Apparently this national filter will be based on the Interpol child abuse site blacklist, which as part of its inclusion criteria states that; The whole domain is deemed illegal if any part of it is found to contain sexual abuse material with children. One image of a child that fits the above criteria will be enough to classify the whole domain as illegal until the illegal material is removed.

As Interpol insists that there are no accidental domain name/web page errors in its black list and only it and the Australian Federal Police are envisaged as official arbitrators (ACMA seemingly having been reduced to a mere receiver of Australian complaints), one can almost see the problem rolling down the line for web hosts such as Blogger.com or Facebook and countless public forums.

Especially when the naturally malicious discover how easy it will be to bring a halt to online political debate, by taking a quick tutorial on YouTube, hacking a website and hiding a simple illegal image (or an image containing illegal content in an internal winrar file) on one of its pages and then making an anonymous complaint to the Australian Federal Police.

Many bloggers already find themselves spammed or linked to adult porn sites whenever they offend certain flying monkeys. At the very least I predict a large number of 'please explains' being swapped between bloggers and their ISPs as this so-called voluntary Internet filtering rolls out.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Raising repetition to an art form in the media


eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die(t)
anon


Going into the break at the end of last week these were some of the headlines displaying online on the subject of medication and the older person:

Fatal cocktail of common drugs putting elderly at risk
Telegraph - Jun 24, 2011
Which drugs pose a risk?
Telegraph – Jun 24, 2011
Q&A: Danger of mixing drugs
BBC News – Jun 24, 2011
Study looks at medication risk for elderly
NHS Choices - ‎Jun 24, 2011
GPs warned of fatal risk to elderly patients from common drug ...
Pulse – 24 June 2011
Well known OTC Drugs could put elderly at increased risk for dementia and even ...
Health Aim - ‎Jun 25, 2011
Common Drugs Linked to Cognitive Impairment and Possibly to Increased Risk of Death, Study Suggests
Science Daily - June 25, 2011

Fox et al have obviously sent out a rather sexy media release from their academic eyrie to coincide with publication in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society and, this has caught the eye of a number of journalists.

Now before you rush to the bathroom for a precautionary check of the medicine cabinet, take some time to notice one small fact. This 'news' isn't actually new.

Data on the subject was first collected in the late 1990s and the knowledge (that some drugs may produce cognitive impairment, balance problems and other health issues in older people) has been available as news items online since at least September 2000 when the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine published the results of the Mitzer & Burns study.
In April 2008 it was again reported online after Tsao and Heilman released their findings.

In 2009 The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association also published the results of yet another study on the subject by Richardson, Fox et al. Yes, that's the same Chris Fox being repeatedly mentioned over the last few days.

While the subject is a serious one deserving of careful consideration, I'm becoming rather jaded with all these public warning from the medical profession. It seems it is bad for our health to be too fat or too thin and we must avoid or limit our consumption of nicotine, fats, salt, sugars, alcohol and now even the humble over-the-counter anti-histamine product is on the suspect list.

Life has been turned into one long obstacle course by ardent medicos eager for a little media mention and my grey hairs find me in sneaking sympathy with the salt 'n' pepper-maned
Oliver Pritchett writing two days before this not-so-new story 'broke' this month.


The Fox et al study which is currently causing some journalists to hyperventilate can be found as a PDF file here - Anticholinergic Medication Use and Cognitive Impairment in the Older Population: The Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study

Corporate domination of global seed stocks led to this in less than 80 years?



Our Dwindling Food Variety
National Geographic Magazine,
July 2011
Click on graphic to enlarge

Monday, 27 June 2011

Live streaming Tony



With apologies to @JustinLee76 and Cat watching the Federal Council meeting. LIVE: http://bit.ly/iAKSeR @LiberalAus #55fc #auspol for the liberty taken.

Don't zap the Zac!


It's not just charities which depend on the five cent coin. A lot of self-funded retirees and pensioners know that they will be on the losing end if Swan and Combet give in to the Royal Australian Mint.
Many remember that everyone lost out after 1990, when the abolition of the one and two cent coins saw pricing slyly creep upwards.
You know that low income earners will again be losers not winners when the Australian Vending Association is boldly coming out in favour of eliminating this coin and the Australian Retail Association straddles the fence while its executive director Russel Zimmerman happily opines that; "it was likely the price of such products would be put up to the nearest 10 cent value, making smaller items more expensive for consumers".

Suck it up you Canberra fellas and keep the zac.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

LIVE EXPORT: The problem doesn't just belong to Government or Parliament - it belongs to YOU too



This is the Australian Senate Rural Affairs and Transport—References Committee composition:

Members
Senator Heffernan (Chair), Senator Sterle (Deputy Chair) and Senators O'Brien, McGauran, Milne and Nash

Substitute member
Senator Siewert to replace Senator Milne for the committee's inquiry into operational issues in export grain networks
Senator Siewert to replace Senator Milne for the committee's inquiry into live export markets

Participating members
Senators Abetz, Adams, Back, Barnett, Bernardi, Bilyk, Birmingham, Bishop, Boswell, Boyce, Brandis, Bob Brown, Carol Brown, Bushby, Cameron, Cash, Colbeck, Coonan, Cormann, Crossin, Eggleston, Faulkner, Ferguson, Fierravanti-Wells, Fielding, Fifield, Fisher, Forshaw, Furner, Hanson-Young, Heffernan, Humphries, Hurley, Hutchins, Johnston, Joyce, Kroger, Ludlam, Macdonald, McEwen, Marshall, Mason, Milne, Minchin, Moore, Parry, Payne, Polley, Pratt, Ronaldson, Ryan, Scullion, Siewert, Stephens, Troeth, Trood, Williams, Wortley and Xenophon

This is one of four inquiries the RAAT committee senators are conducting:

Improvements in animal welfare for Australian live exports.

The Inquiry is taking submissions until 15 July 2011.

This is senators’ problem:

THE Australian meat industry was warned of gross animal welfare abuses in Indonesian abattoirs long before shocking footage of the inhumane treatment of Australian cattle surfaced last month.

Meat and Livestock Australia and LiveCorp have repeatedly claimed that both bodies were unaware of the extent of animal welfare problems in Indonesia before the airing of a Four Corners program on May 30.

How much they knew is now the subject of a Senate inquiry.

Yet a report, commissioned by MLA and LiveCorp and handed to the bodies early last year, extensively documents every aspect of the abuse revealed last month.

The report makes repeated references to the shortcomings of the Australian-made restraining boxes, warns about the non-compliance with World Organisation for Animal Health standards, and says only four abattoirs in Indonesia had stun guns.

Most damning are accounts of slaughtering fully conscious animals, which suffered protracted, agonising deaths.

''At an abattoir in Sumatra the neck was struck with a knife using a hard impact to sever the skin above the larynx and then up to 18 cuts were made to severe the neck and both arteries,'' the report says.

''Bleeding was impaired in 10 per cent of cattle … possibly resulting in extended consciousness … In some instances where stunning was not used, the delay between restraint and slaughter was significant.''

On the performance of the restraining box, ''finding better methods of restraint with higher animal welfare outcomes is essential'', the report concludes. The ''mark 2'' box, designed to solve the problems, makes the plight of the animals even worse, the report says, to the point of being ''not acceptable''.

Thrashing, prostrate animals bashed their heads on the box's concrete plinth an average of 3.5 times before death. The report says: ''Where the severity of the fall was severe and head slapping occurred, significant animal welfare issues were identified that should be addressed.''

The halal practice of dousing the thrashing animal with water requires ''revision'', as ''disturbed behaviour … was particularly apparent when buckets of water were thrown over the animal before slaughter''……

[The Sydney Morning Herald 25 June 2011]

It is your problem also. Get involved.

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) response 24 June 2011

UPDATE:

From the Macedon Ranges Weekly 22 June 2011:

LARGE cattle could suffer protracted deaths from throat cutting in Australian abattoirs, a government report investigating animal welfare issues surrounding ritual slaughter has found.
Animal welfare groups, Greens, independent MPS and some Labor backbenchers have criticised the absence of mandatory stunning in the proposal the Australian Government has taken to Indonesia to reopen the live cattle export trade. Yet government-approved slaughter without stunning continues daily in Australian abattoirs.
The 2008 report, commissioned by the Primary Industries standing committee and written by the Department of Agriculture's animal welfare branch, recommended that the practice of allowing traditional Halal and Kosher slaughter, which requires the throat of a beast to be slit while it is still sentient, be discontinued for large animals such as fully grown cattle because research showed it could take more than two minutes for such animals to lose consciousness.
However, state and federal governments have failed to adopt the report's recommendations that a size limit be set on animals fit for slaughter without stunning and that alternative methods - which would render an animal unconscious before having its throat cut but still be acceptable to specific religious practices - should be investigated.
In 2009, a concerned member of the public, Harry Roden, from Newtown, wrote to the then minister for agriculture, Tony Burke, requesting the practice cease on grounds of cruelty.
Mr Roden received a response from Allen Grant, the executive manager of the department's Agricultural Productivity Division.
The letter, obtained by the Herald, dismissed Mr Roden's concerns and stated that ''the slaughter of livestock without stunning is a longstanding practice to meet the stated requirements of particular religious groups. Australia's management and control of this practice is consistent with the World Organisation for Animal Health's animal welfare guidelines.''
The Herald asked the Department of Agriculture for a list of the abattoirs granted exemptions of the stun-before-slaughter rule but it refused, saying that most approved arrangements were held by state and territory regulators. South Australia has nine and Victoria three abattoirs that were government-approved for ritual slaughter.


* Photographs sourced from Google Images

Ginge goes all political....



"If cannibals cooked a politician they'd have to use a crock pot" ran the graffiti scrawl in the Ginger Meggs comic on 21st June 2011.
Rather appropriate given the edifying performances being flounced across the national stage by Canberra 'stars' this month.

Note to The Egg Timer editor - you're at least two weeks behind Ginger Meggs online.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Wild Cattle Creek: China encourages mining in Clarence River catchment in order to conserve its own national resources?



China Shandong Jinshunda Group Co Ltd as principal shareholder and new 'owner' of Anchor Resources Ltd (through its wholly-owned Australian subsidiary Sunstar Capital Pty Ltd) has been reported as having signalled its intention to mine for antimony in the Nymboida River sub-catchment of the larger Clarence River catchment.

The Australian Government’s National Pollutant Inventory recognises Antimony compounds show toxic properties similar to those of arsenic and sets its safe upper level in water at a maximum of 0.003 mg/L (i.e. 0.000003 g/L) in fresh water and 500 micrograms/L (i.e. 0.0005 g/L) in sea water.

The four mining projects this Chinese-owned mining corporation identifies in the Northern Rivers region are within an estimated 100 kms of Coffs Harbour and, post-takeover, the project at Wild Cattle Creek is 100% owned by Anchor Resources and its majority shareholder Shandong Jinshunda.

This mining group expects that mining processes at Wild Cattle Creek will produce mercury and arsenic as by-products, according to its own scoping study. This same study indicates mineral deposit potential in excess of 2 million tonnes.

Any accidental or adverse weather related catastrophic release of these toxic substances into the Clarence river systems could have longterm consequences for riverine ecosystems, public health and the local commercial fishing industry which supports an estimated 199 jobs and generates in the vicinity of $19.9 million annually.

On 23 June 2011 The Daily Examiner reported:

Coffs Harbour's Greens councillor Mark Graham will table a notice of motion at today's council meeting calling for the prohibition of all antimony mining in the Nymboida River catchment, a move that is supported by Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson.
Cr Williamson said alarm bells should be ringing as the proposed location of the mine was in an extremely environmentally sensitive area of high rainfall.
“With that environmental sensitivity comes a great deal of responsibility that the proposal meets the strictest environmental guidelines,” he said.
He said the council would keep a very close eye on any developments involving the proposed mine.
“We have invested greatly in the water which we drink and in the catchment,” he said.
“We have worked closely with landholders and farmers along the riparian zone of the Nymboida River and its tributaries to ensure water quality has always been improved.”
Similar to arsenic in its effects on human health, antimony is a toxic element.
Use of the element is limited due to its toxicity, with the growth in micro-electronics seeing demand for antimony rapidly increasing. This demand has seen the price of antimony skyrocket by 300% in the past two years.

The Shandong Jinshunda Group is reputed to have no antimony mining experience and the Chinese Government’s Ministry of Land and Resources suspended (apparently for the third time since 1999) antimony exploration and mining applications until mid-2011, in an action designed to prevent over-exploitation and protect existing resources within its own national borders and possibly to address longstanding pollution concerns.

On 24 April 2011 China Daily reported China will not grant any new licences for prospecting or mining antimony until after 30 June 2012.

The Coffs Harbour City Council Ordinary Monthly Meeting 23 June 2011 NOTICE OF MOTION:

NOM11/14 PROHIBITING ANTIMONY EXPLORATION AND MINING AND PROTECTING
WATER QUALITY IN THE HEADWATERS OF THE REGIONAL WATER SUPPLY
(NYMBOIDA CATCHMENT)

Purpose:
Councillor Mark Graham has given notice of his intention to move:
Recommendation:
That Council:
1. Strongly oppose all exploration for, and mining of, Antimony within the catchment of the Nymboida River because of the unacceptable risks to the Regional Water Supply posed by these activities;
2. Inform all relevant authorities of this opposition including directly contacting relevant Ministers, Directors General and agencies with responsibilities for approval and regulation of such activities;
3. Seek the prohibition of all Antimony exploration and mining activities within the Nymboida
Catchment to protect the Regional Water Supply from contamination;
4. Inform residents of the City of the unacceptable risks to drinking water quality posed by Antimony mining in the Nymboida Catchment;
5. Approach Clarence Valley Council to seek a partnership for protecting the Regional Water Supply from Antimony contamination.
Rationale:The majority of the municipal water supply for Coffs Harbour is provided by Shannon Creek Dam, part of the Regional Water Supply Strategy shared with Clarence Valley Council. This 30,000 megalitre dam is located southwest of Grafton. It is an off-river storage reservoir gravity-fed by pipes directly from the Nymboida River. The Nymboida River has its headwaters across 1700 square km of the Dorrigo Plateau, an area renowned as the highest rainfall catchment in NSW.
Anchor Resources Ltd owns the Wild Cattle Creek/Bielsdown project within the headwaters of the Nymboida River, describing it as “an advanced Antimony project”. The company released a scoping study early in 2011 indicating that “positive financial returns are achievable from the project”. Anchor Resources Ltd is currently recommending that shareholders accept a takeover offer from the Chinese minerals company, China Shandong Jinshunda Co Ltd (Jinshunda).
Antimony is a “strategic mineral resource” used for a range of high-tech products such as polymers, fire retardants and electronics. Chinese national interests control over 90% of global supply of Antimony and they are seeking global dominance of all such strategic resources.
Antimony and many of its compounds are toxic; the effects of antimony poisoning are similar to arsenic poisoning. In small doses, antimony causes headaches, dizziness and depression. Larger doses damage the kidneys and the liver, causing violent and frequent vomiting and will lead to death within a few days; otherwise skin contact causes dermatitis. Major Antimony contamination is known from over 50km of the headwaters of the Macleay River to the east of Armidale, emanating from the Hillgrove and Bakers Creek Antimony and Gold mines.
Furthermore Urunga Lagoon immediately south of Coffs Harbour Local Government Area is heavily contaminated with Antimony as a result of a processing plant established there in the 1960s. Both areas have proven impossible to remediate and are gazetted as Contaminated Sites.
The proposal by Anchor Resources Ltd to undertake Antimony mining activities within the headwaters of the Nymboida River is of immense concern, particularly when considering that this catchment provides drinking and potable water for in excess of 100000 residents between Yamba and Sawtell. Of further concern is the extremely high rainfall in the Wild Cattle Creek sub-catchment, some years exceeding 3m of rainfall per annum. It is impossible to prevent migration of toxic minerals from mines established in such high rainfall areas, as evidenced by the high levels of contamination known from the Upper Macleay River, downstream of the Hillgrove Mine.
All efforts must be expended to protect the source of the Regional Water Supply from Antimony contamination, as clean water is the most critical resource for all life. A partnership should be established with Clarence Valley Council as a matter of urgency to prevent contamination of the Regional Water Supply with toxic Antimony.
Staff Comment:
The Executive Manager Coffs Water has compiled information regarding this issue and would be able to provide this to Council at a briefing.


It is understood that Coffs Harbour City Cr. Bill Palmer moved and Cr. John Arkan seconded a motion to defer consideration of Cr. Graham’s motion pending a briefing for councillors.

Local government and residents in the Dorrigo, Coffs Habour and Clarence Valley areas need to be proactive in their response to this proposal and those who are concerned at the prospect of mining within this environmentally sensitive catchment can contact China Shandong Jinshunda Group Co Ltd Chairman of the Board, Wang Gan, at sdjinshunda@sdjinshunda.cn and the NSW Minister for Mining and Agriculture Chris Hartcher at office@hartcher.minister.nsw.gov.au, as well as their own councils and state/federal members of parliament.

Media Release 24 February 2011 Wild Cattle Creek Scoping Study Outcomes.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Every old stunt is new again according to Joe Hockey


Not content with sqeezing the lemon analogy dry, the Liberal Party is now trotting out carboard figures again in an 'inspired' display of its lack of imagination.

Here's the 2008 premiere in the Australian Parliament and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey's latest effort at recycling via yfrog:


Conroy gives Australia one more reason to rue a conservative, blinkered and backward Labor Government


Next month Telstra, Optus and two other ISPs begin kowtowing to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and the ultra-rigid right within the Gillard Government by so-called voluntarily filtering the Australian Internet.
Every time I find my PC returning a cannot access notice (and it will be doing so because there is no way that innocent domains and IPs will not get dragged into this censorship black hole) I will be bombarding the entire government with my emailed complaints.
I suggest that everyone who signed up to these ISPs before they declared they were going to censor the Internet should switch carriers as soon as their current contracts expire.

Logos from NCV and Google Images

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Under the Nazi Banner: One reason why one should no longer take the Australian mining industry seriously


From 28-30 June 2011 the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC), the peak industry representative body for mineral exploration and mining companies in Australia, will be holding a convention at the Burswood Convention Centre in Perth West Australia.

These are the groups sponsoring and supporting this convention:


This is the man who opens Day Three for convention guests:


And this is the type of nonsense he currently purveys:

Professor Ross Garnaut's considered opinion on the economic and social impacts expected from increased global warming is "fascist point of view" according to Lord Monckton.


In light of this and the absurd political posturing of some of its members, perhaps AMEC might like to explain why any sensible person would believe that Australian mining companies are more than a collection of knuckle-dragging, anti-science rednecks.

It is no surprise to find Opposition Leader Tony Abbott taking part in the official conference opening. However, the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia might also like to explain how on earth they came to be associated with this absurd gathering and why they have not had their name removed entirely from the list so proudly displayed on AMEC’s website last night.

Live Cattle Export: I wondered how long it would take some fool to mention religion


One George Robert Christensen, the climate change ambivalent Liberal National Party MP for the Dawson electorate in Queensland (and a Mackay City councillor/journalist until the 2010 federal election), decided to sink his boot into Islam on the floor of the Australian House of Representatives. Clearly demonstrating just how far the Coalition has sunk under the leadership of Tony Abbott.

This is Christensen on 21 June 2011 according to the Commonwealth Hansard:

These fakers claim that they are out to protect animals, and what do they do? They vote to remove Australia from the situation, which does nothing for the cattle from other nations or from Indonesia that are going to end up at the abattoirs that are not doing the right thing.
It has occurred to me that there is something missing from this blame game. They are quick to blame Australian farmers and the industry, but they have not said anything about the religion that actually inspires the torture of the cattle there. I find that very hypocritical. We have not heard the member for Wills, the member for Fremantle or the member for Page raise that issue. But they are very quick to sink the boot into the farmers regardless of the consequences.


Intent on showing that his political bigotry is not just a passing phase, Christensen went on to tell The Age:


''There are many different culprits in the whole thing, [but] certainly the people who are doing this are not Australian farmers. The people who are doing it are Indonesian abattoir workers and their mates who, they say, are acting in accordance with their religious principles,''

Yes, that is truly an heroic effort and one which will surely assist the current negotiations between Australia and Indonesia concerning the circumstances in which live cattle export may be resumed.

Those who follow Queensland politics will remember George Christiansen was outed in 2010 as a former editor of the Central Queensland University newspaper The Student Advocate published on behalf of the Conservative Students’ Alliance:

As then editor of The Student Advocate, George Christensen had expressed concern that new versions of the Bible were, quote, "removing accusations that the Jews killed Christ". He also told homophobic jokes and stated, quote, "the truth is women are stupid and that's that".

Although Christensen is apparently comfortable with social media, I'm not sure if @GChristensenMP is actually his offical Twitter account. Nevertheless, it might be worth keeping an eye out for George in the twitterverse as he is sure to put his foot in his mouth again and again and again.

Images found at Google Images and Vex News

A bunch of ol' farts fall for the oldest trick in the book - a nonsense survey question from a TV channel


What on earth are they trying to measure?
Even I knew at first glance that attempting to correlate Julia Gillard’s prime ministership with a simple period of time and nothing else was a broadly-worded but emotionally loaded closed question which can’t give a reliable answer:

“The most negative groups were men (57% worse) and those aged 55+ (61% worse).”

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The incarceration rate of Australia's first inhabitants is deplorable

Top marks go to The Daily Examiner for today's Comment piece where the editor writes "Aborigines comprise about 5 per cent of the [Clarence Valley's] population, but it is evident from sitting in our courtrooms they make up 50% or more of the people going through our courts." (Source The Daily Examiner, 22/6/11)

Memo to Federal Minister Joe Ludwig: Australian Meat Industry Council and I agree


When I left my local butcher shop yesterday I came home with more than the modest amount of meat I can afford to purchase - I came home with a pamphlet from the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) calling for the immediate suspension of all live cattle exports to Indonesia and that this suspension should not be lifted until there are assurances that animal welfare standards are applies to all live exported Australian cattle.

If all Argriculture Minister Ludwig and the Indonesian Government can offer is a vague hope that live export cattle will be stunned before slaughter, then I concur with the Council's call to ban live export to Indonesia.

Indeed I would go further and say that all live animal export should be permanently banned across the board. This ban to be implemented over a three year period to allow for some export industry adjustment.

The AMIC website states:

The Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) is committed to the highest level of animal welfare and the humane treatment of livestock. Our mission is to ensure acceptable animal welfare standards are implemented and effectively verified. AMIC affirms that livestock processing in Australia is conducted in accordance with national laws and international requirements, and enforced accordingly by State, Territory and Commonwealth inspectors to ensure that high standards of animal welfare are maintained at all times. In 2005, AMIC proactively developed and implemented the AMIC ‘Industry Animal Welfare Standards for Livestock Processing Establishments’ which integrate the national Codes of Practice, relevant State and Commonwealth legislation and other commercial requirements. These Standards are verified by Commonwealth and State inspectors and commercial auditors on behalf of customers. The Standards were developed by a national committee, comprising representatives from Government, science, animal welfare organisations, as well as technical experts and representatives from industry. As part of the Standards meat processors are required to ensure personnel are trained and competent when handling livestock. In the last three years over 300 personnel have undertaken the “Animal Welfare Officer Skill Set” course. Approximately 150 new livestock handlers undertake the ‘Livestock Handling’ course each year.

In summary
The Australian Processing Industry
• is committed to the highest level of animal welfare
• operates under strict state and federal animal welfare regulations which are verified by Commonwealth and State inspectors and commercial auditors on behalf of customers.
• has developed and implemented worlds best practice animal welfare standards
• invests in ensuring its employees are trained and competent in animal welfare


Update:

The Sydney Morning Herald 25 June 2011
Excerpt from Meat industry knew of Indonesian cruelty last year
[Please note this article contains video images which may distress the reader]

Meat and Livestock Australia and LiveCorp have repeatedly claimed that both bodies were unaware of the extent of animal welfare problems in Indonesia before the airing of a Four Corners program on May 30.
How much they knew is now the subject of a Senate inquiry.
Yet a report, commissioned by MLA and LiveCorp and handed to the bodies early last year, extensively documents every aspect of the abuse revealed last month.
The report makes repeated references to the shortcomings of the Australian-made restraining boxes, warns about the non-compliance with World Organisation for Animal Health standards, and says only four abattoirs in Indonesia had stun guns.
Most damning are accounts of slaughtering fully conscious animals, which suffered protracted, agonising deaths.
''At an abattoir in Sumatra the neck was struck with a knife using a hard impact to sever the skin above the larynx and then up to 18 cuts were made to severe the neck and both arteries,'' the report says.
''Bleeding was impaired in 10 per cent of cattle … possibly resulting in extended consciousness … In some instances where stunning was not used, the delay between restraint and slaughter was significant.''
On the performance of the restraining box, ''finding better methods of restraint with higher animal welfare outcomes is essential'', the report concludes. The ''mark 2'' box, designed to solve the problems, makes the plight of the animals even worse, the report says, to the point of being ''not acceptable''.
Thrashing, prostrate animals bashed their heads on the box's concrete plinth an average of 3.5 times before death. The report says: ''Where the severity of the fall was severe and head slapping occurred, significant animal welfare issues were identified that should be addressed.''
The halal practice of dousing the thrashing animal with water requires ''revision'', as ''disturbed behaviour … was particularly apparent when buckets of water were thrown over the animal before slaughter''.

CSIRO shows the air pollution science


According to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO):

Cape Grim, on Tasmania’s west coast, is one of the three premier Baseline Air Pollution Stations in the World Meteorological Organization-Global Atmosphere Watch (WMO-GAW) network. Baseline stations are defined by the WMO to meet a specific set of criteria for measuring greenhouse and ozone depleting gases and aerosols in clean air environments.

Full data updated monthly can be found at Cape Grim Greenhouse Gas Data

Click on carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide graphs to enlarge

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Monday, 20 June 2011

'Carbon Tax' plebiscite? Jeez Louise, whose dumb idea was that?


In Australia there is the ability to hold Advisory Referendums (also called Plebiscites) which in the present era are conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission on a fee for service basis.
These plebiscites involve voluntary voting on an issue and these votes has no legal force whatsoever.
Like national referendums, national plebiscites don’t have a history of giving the question framers the answer they want.
So who doesn’t have a right to insist that the Gillard Government contract the Australian Electoral Commission to run a “carbon tax” plebiscite costing somewhere between $69 million and hundreds of millions? Who also says he won’t be bound by the results if it’s a big “Yes” to a carbon tax, but who supposedly wants 14 million+ voters to turn out on a probably wintry Saturday to cast their votes anyway?
Who won’t be paying anything out of his own pocket, but expects the Government to cut back on what it delivers in the current Budget by dipping into funds supplied by the hard work of taxpayers?
Or if the Government understandably won't oblige, may even expect people like mining magnates Gina Rinehart and Twiggy Forrest to dig into their own deep pockets to force the issue for him?
You guessed it in one – Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, aided and abetted by his Coalition cronies.
Maud Up The Street tells me she phoned Tony Abbott's parliamentary office this morning and was told that Abbott doesn't intend to put any bill before the Senate or the House just yet - instead he intends to put a notice of motion on the House of Reps schedule foreshadowing a private member's bill on a plebiscite. Maud says that means it won't come before Parliament for a week or two at the very least and during that time the composition of the Senate will change. Something she says Abbott is careful not to mention if he can help it.

Potted History: Australia 1952 t0 1956 - Women as Reds Under Beds


League of Women Voters of South Australia (1909 - 1979)
Alternative Names
Women's Non-Party Political Association (former name)
Women's Political Association (former name)
Summary
Originally formed in 1909 as the Women’s Political Association, its name was quickly changed to the Women’s Non-Party Political Association and then the Women’s Non-Party Association. Catherine Helen Spence spoke at the inaugural meeting and introduced the major planks of the Association which were ‘Equal Federal Marriage and Divorce Laws’, and ‘Equal Pay for Equal Work’. In 1939 the Association changed its name to the League of Women Voters. This was an Australian-wide title that enabled its aims to be more widely known. The League remained politically active in these areas and was instrumental in the development of a Parliamentary Bill to enact the principle of equality for female and male parents which was passed in 1940. In later years the League developed a close relationship with the Women’s Electoral Lobby, acting as a mentor. In 1979 the League was voluntarily wound up as it was felt that the Women’s Electoral Lobby could carry on its work. Ellinor Walker gave the valedictory address.


There was a time not so long ago when standing up for women's rights and equal pay meant that Communisim was suspected by Government and ASIO.............

Today is UNCR World Refugee Day - time to remember that Refugees R Us

The global theme for UNHCR World Refugee Day in 2011 is “One  refugee without hope is too manyand it’s time to remember that Refugees R Us.
Many of our own forebears came almost penniless to Australia after 1788 because they had been dispossessed in Scotland, were persecuted because of their religion in Ireland, experienced poverty and discrimination across England, endured years of political upheaval and cultural suppression in various European states or were fleeing catastrophic wars and sometimes genocide.

At last! There is movement at the station....


....and a little good news on the renewables front.
A media release by the Australian Prime Minister, and Federal Minister for Resources was sent out on 18th June 2011 telling us that:
"The Federal Government will provide more than three quarters of a billion dollars to help build two of the largest solar power stations in the world.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson today announced the record funding to support construction of the solar projects at Chinchilla in Queensland and Moree in New South Wales.
Solar Dawn and Moree Solar Farm have been selected as the two successful consortiums to build the power plants under Round 1 of the Australian Government’s $1.5 billion Solar Flagships program..........
Together, the projects are expected to generate enough power to support the electricity needs of more than 115,000 Australian homes per year.
The Solar Dawn consortium, led by Areva Solar, will build a 250 megawatt (MW) solar thermal gas hybrid power plant near Chinchilla.
Solar Dawn will be one of the largest power plants of its kind in the world as well as one of the most environmentally responsible.
At least 85 per cent of Solar Dawn’s power generation will be entirely emissions free......
The Moree Solar Farm consortium, led by BP Solar will build a 150 MW photovoltaic power plant near Moree.
This is nearly twice the size of any photovoltaic power plant operating in the world today......
Work will commence next year and the plants are expected to be completed and commissioned by the end of 2015.
Together, Solar Dawn and the Moree Solar Farm will bring Australia closer to a cleaner energy future."

Moree Solar Farm is a consortium of BP Solar, FRV and Pacific Hydro and Solar Dawn was created by a consortium compsed of Areva Solar and CS Energy.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Fairfax's move to dumb down its reporting is working

Fairfax, publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review, has been dismantling its senior (experienced) staff and opting for fewer, newer, fresh faced staff (who are obviously cheaper) in its bid to cut costs but as can be seen below cutting costs results in cutting corners. Gilard!
Image displayed 7.00am Sunday 19 June 2011.

And, like the Murdoch publications, Fairfax plans to put some of its online content behind a paywall. Heaven help its readers!

What does it take to ensure a company that controls South Grafton’s abattoir complies with court orders imposed on it?








A company that gave Grafton workers the boot just before Christmas in 2008 and has repeatedly polluted local waters has to front the Land and Environment Court on charges of contempt of court.
The Daily Examiner reports the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water confirmed that contempt charge against the licensee of Ramsey Food Processing (RFP) are set down for August 11.The Ramsey associated with RFP is the same Stuart Ramsey who has very extensive interests in the racing game. It seems Ramsey can find enough cash to put heaps of money into his nags but cannot find enough money to ensure he's a responsible employer and business owner. Shame! Shame! Shame!

Ramsey is somewhat elusive. It seems he's able to avoid being captured on camera at race tracks despite getting heaps of free publicity. His name and racing interests get lots of mentions on the SKY Racing channels ... hmmm.


Here's a pic of young Ramsey when he was a school boy.
Although he's holding a winner's pennant, who did the hard yards?



Credits: The Daily Examiner and The Daily Telegraph

NSW Natural Disaster Declarations after June 2011 storms and flooding



Photograph of Red Rock storm damage from The Daily Examiner 18 June 2011


Storm and floods - June 2011

Bellingen
Cessnock
Clarence Valley
Coffs Harbour
Dungog
Glen Innes Severn
Gloucester Shire
Greater Taree
Kempsey
Muswellbrook
Nambucca
Port Macquarie-Hastings
Port Stephens
Upper Hunter


This is the second time natural disaster declarations have been issued this year for Belligen and the Clarence Valley on the NSW North Coast.

A full chronological list of NSW Natural Disaster Declarations 2009-2011 can be found here.

Malcolm Bligh Turnbull gets caught out by The Register


Here’s Richard Chirgwin (and that’s a sound Cornish-Australian name if I’m not mistaken) on the 16th June 2011 in The Register:
“The opposition spokesperson for communications in Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, has delivered a damning blow to the government’s plans for a National Broadband Network (NBN), citing international data to show declining demand for services at 100 Mbps.Since the NBN’s business plan assumes a fairly strong takeup of 100 Mbps services, a lack of demand at that speed pots the network’s underlying assumptions into the corner pocket……Yep, data like that is a real problem.
Because it’s incomplete – and its incompleteness is its downfall. Because I’m a data geek – in another orbit, I’m an analyst specializing in telecoms – something didn’t ring true, so I decided to go looking.
South Korea doesn’t just have one fixed broadband carrier; it has three. KT, whose data Turnbull cites, along with LG U+ and SK Broadband. LG U+ offers 100 Mbps both on its hybrid fibre-coax (HFC) network and under the “optical LAN” brand, while SK Broadband identifies its services as “Fibre LAN” in its financial reports.
You can tell what’s coming, can’t you? The 100 Mbps market in South Korea isn’t declining: it’s booming. A country that also offers a fair number of wireless broadband services is still adding new fast fixed broadband users at an impressive rate.”

Now Chiggers attributes Turnbull’s error to an honest mistake. I think he’s being overgenerous.


Rest of the article at Well, that about wraps it up for the NBN: Stop looking at South Korea, says Turnbull

Saturday, 18 June 2011

"Yamba": the mouth of the Clarence

This week The Sydney Morning Herald's Column8 has been running items about nicknames. Today's item has a local flavour (see below).

National Day of Action to End Live Export, At Noon Saturday 18 June 2011 at Byron Bay, Grafton & Coffs Harbour


National Day of Action to End Live Export

12pm Noon Saurday 18 June 2011


NEW SOUTH WALES
Sydney - Parliament House
All the following, outside main Council Buildings (Mayor’s Office)
Byron Bay
Grafton
Coffs Harbour
Port Macquarie
Newcastle
Woollongong
Blue Mountains
Broken Hill
Mildura
Armidate
Tamworth
Taree

Departing Yamba business cries "Blue Murder"


The main topic of discussion around Yamba's central business district at present is the signage tenants of a commercial property in the town's main street placed in the front window of their business.


The business, which is a healthy food outlet with an A-1 reputation for providing five-star products, will close at the end of the month.

Locals and visitors who saw the signs were gob-smacked. They were astonished the business felt it had to resort to such a tactic to demonstrate the extent to which factors beyond its control were responsible for the business closing.

Apparently, the signs in the shop's window didn't muck around. Allegations were made about greedy landlords (the $ amount of rent for the premises was shown), high costs of utilities and costs imposed on the business by government.

Also, it's said the signs named names, businesses and levels of government which are allegedly involved in the high rents and charges imposed on the business.

The bottom line: another well-supported business departs the local scene due to the burdens of overheads imposed upon it.

Footnote: the building housing the healthy food outlet that's about to close recently lost another tenant from the premises next door; that business specialised in what Yamba's renowned for, its fresh seafood.

Yet another scam targeting pensioners and other welfare recipients


Media Release
TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
Minister for Human Services
Minister for Social Inclusion


Friday, June 17, 2011

Warning of scammers posing as Centrelink workers
The Federal Government is warning people to be wary of a new Nigerian-like scam where victims are asked to transfer money to someone claiming to be a Centrelink employee.
Minister for Human Services Tanya Plibersek today said several recent reports have emerged of customers being asked to transfer several hundred dollars to an account in India in order to facilitate a substantial return payment.
“We have received several reports of people making phone calls claiming customers will receive a large Centrelink payment when they transfer several hundred dollars to a designated bank account,” said Ms Plibersek.
“People should be aware that claims made by callers of large sums of money being available in exchange for payments are a scam and they should not cooperate.”
“Centrelink never asks its customers to transfer funds and I urge people not to send money to anyone they don’t know.”
Ms Plibersek said recent months reports of people being targeted by scammers purporting to be Centrelink workers have occurred in West Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland.
The most recent report of the scam occurred in West Australia when a man was asked to transfer $300 to India in return for $3,000. In another recent call an elderly Queenslander was asked to send $800 through Western Union in return for $3,000.
The scam is similar to the so-called “Nigerian 419 scam” where people are contacted by email or letter and asked to transfer money to assist in the release of funds for a substantial “reward.”
“Unscrupulous people who perpetrate scams often target the most vulnerable in the community such as the elderly and people from non-English speaking backgrounds.”
“I urge anyone who suspects they have received a scam phone call to make a note of the details including the time and date of the call, the gender and accent of the caller and what the caller said.”
Ms Plibersek said people who received such calls should report them to the Australian Government’s fraud tip-off line on 13 15 24.
Information about scams can also be found at
www.scamwatch.gov.au

Media contact Minister Plibersek’s office: Simon Crittle 0466 773 531

Friday, 17 June 2011

Saffin invites Inquiry Into The Operation Of The Insurance Industry During Disaster Events to hear evidence on the NSW North Coast


Media release from the office of Janelle Saffin, Federal Labor MP for Page, on Thursday 16 June 2011:

PAGE MP Janelle Saffin has welcomed a new inquiry into how the insurance industry responds to natural disasters, including floods, storms and bushfires regularly experienced by Northern Rivers residents.

Ms Saffin has wasted no time in inviting the House of Representatives Standing Committee Chair, Graham Perrett MP, to hold public hearings in her electorate during the second half of this year.

“Our region is frequently affected by floods, storms and bushfires, sometimes several times a year, and there always is a mountain of paper work and phone calls for policy-holders to navigate,” she said.

“Some of my constituents have been less than satisfied with their insurance companies’ handling of claims or unacceptably long delays in having those claims assessed and finalised.

“This new inquiry will provide the insurance industry and consumers will an opportunity to make submissions on how the system can be streamlined or improved.”

The inquiry will examine the insurance industry in respect to extreme weather events, which due to Climate Change, are becoming more common.

It will consider:

· The information provided to consumers about claims processing arrangements.

· The timeliness of claims processing.

· The impact of third-party consultants on timeframes for claims processing, and

· External and internal dispute resolution processes.

Ms Saffin urged policy-holders who had made a disaster-related claim in the past five years to participate in the Committee’s on-line survey by visiting www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/spla/insurance/index.htm

Full terms of reference for the inquiry can also be found at this website. Individuals and organisations are invited to make submissions to the inquiry by Friday, July 15, 2011.

----------------------------

This Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs inquiry is also conducting an online survey:

To gauge community concerns relating to this inquiry, the Committee is conducting an online survey. The survey is targeting members of the community who have made a disaster-related claim on their insurance policies in the last 5 years.

Tell us about your experience of dealing with insurance companies in relation to disaster-related claims here.

Another non-event on the night


It is almost a certainty that if a spectacular night-time celestial event is about to take place (be it comet, meteor shower or total lunar eclipse) then the night skies over northern NSW coastal estuaries will seriously cloud over.
Last Wednesday night and early Thursday morning were no exception.

Here is a little taste of what places like Mt. Gambier in South Australia saw on the night

This is what Yamba, Iluka and many other Northern Rivers villages saw as the Moon turned red


Still, one must be thankful for Nature's wayward mercies. At least it has stopped raining for the moment.