Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts

Monday, 11 June 2018

The Turnbull Government is about to decide what is in the "public interest" and what is "fair and accurate reporting"...


And how the Turnbull Government couches these definitions in relation to national security and classified information may decide if a whistleblower or journalist ends up spending two years in an Australian gaol.

Excerpts from National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017 currently before the Parliament of Australia:

122.4 Unauthorised disclosure of information by Commonwealth officers and former Commonwealth officers
 (1) A person commits an offence if:
(a) the person communicates information; and
(b) the person made or obtained the information by reason of his or her being, or having been, a Commonwealth officer or otherwise engaged to perform work for a Commonwealth  entity; and
(c) the person is under a duty not to disclose the information; and
(d) the duty arises under a law of the Commonwealth.
           Penalty: Imprisonment for 2 years.
(2) Absolute liability applies in relation to paragraph (1)(d)
Note: A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matters in 10 this subsection (see subsection 13.3(3)).

122.5 Defences
Powers, functions and duties in a person’s capacity as a 4 Commonwealth officer etc. or under arrangement……
Information communicated in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013
(4) It is a defence to a prosecution for an offence by a person against this Division relating to the communication of information that the person communicated the information in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013.
Note: A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matters in 24 this subsection (see subsection 13.3(3)).
Information communicated to a court or tribunal
(5) It is a defence to a prosecution for an offence by a person against this Division relating to the communication of information that the person communicated the information to a court or tribunal (whether or not as a result of a requirement).
Note: A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matters in this subsection (see subsection 13.3(3))......

Information dealt with or held for the purposes of fair and accurate reporting…
(6) It is a defence to a prosecution for an offence by a person against this Division relating to the dealing with or holding of information that the person dealt with or held the information:
(a) in the public interest (see subsection (7)); and
(b) in the person’s capacity as a journalist engaged in fair and accurate reporting. Note: A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matters in this subsection (see subsection 13.3(3))......


SECRECY OFFENCES - DEFENCES AND OTHER MATTERS

Recommendation 26
5.87 The Committee recommends that the following proposed defences be broadened to cover all dealings with information, rather than being limited to communication of information:
§ proposed section 122.5(3) – relating to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner,
§ proposed section 122.5(4) – relating to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013,
§ proposed section 122.5(5) – relating information provided to a court or tribunal, and
§ proposed section 122.5(8) – relating to information that has been previously communicated. 

Recommendation 27
5.90 The Committee recommends that the Attorney-General’s proposed amendments to the defence for journalists at proposed section 122.5(6), and the associated amendments at 122.5(7), be implemented. This includes expanding the defence to all persons engaged in reporting news, presenting current affairs or expressing editorial content in news media where the person reasonably believed that dealing with or holding the information was in the public interest.
The Committee also recommends that the Government consider further refinements to the proposed defence in order to
§ make explicit that editorial support staff are covered by the defence, including legal advisors and administrative staff,
§ ensure editorial staff and lawyers, who are engaging with the substance of the information, be required to hold a reasonable belief that their conduct is in the public interest, and
§ allow administrative support staff working at the direction of a journalist, editor or lawyer who holds the reasonable belief, to benefit from the defence.

The Australian Attorney-General and Liberal MP for Pearce Christian Porter sent out this media release on 7 June 2018:

Attorney-General, Christian Porter, welcomed the release today of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security on the Government’s National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017.

"This is a major step forward in securing passage of this critical legislation and protecting Australia’s democratic systems from Foreign Interference, and it is my expectation that the Bill will be considered and passed during the next sitting period later this month," the Attorney-General said.

"The Committee has made 60 recommendations, the large majority of which are minor changes to definitions and drafting clarifications. The most substantive changes are those that adopt the Government’s proposed amendments which I submitted to the Committee as part of its deliberations earlier this year.

"Those Government amendments expanded the public interest defence for journalists and created separate graduated offences for commonwealth officers and non-commonwealth officers. The amendments were designed to strike the best possible balance between keeping Australia safe and not impeding the ordinary and important work of journalists and media organisations.

"In addition to minor drafting amendments and the adoption of the substantive Government amendments that I provided earlier this year, the additional substantive changes now recommended include that:

*There be a reduction to the maximum penalties for the proposed new secrecy offences, and to require the consent of the Attorney-General to any prosecution under these proposed new secrecy offences;
* That all secrecy offences in other Commonwealth legislation are reviewed; and
* Clarification that the journalism defence extends to all editorial, legal and administrative staff within the news organisation.

"Even in the time that it has taken to consider the Espionage and Foreign Interference Bill, the threat environment has changed and become more acute. As senior ASIO officials have said repeatedly in recent months, we now live in a time of unprecedented foreign intelligence activity against Australia with more foreign agents, from more foreign powers, using more tradecraft to engage in espionage and foreign interference than at any time since the Cold War."

"Given the rapid change in the threat environment it is the Government’s intention to consider the report and recommendations for amendments very quickly and my expectation is that the Bill, in essentially the form now recommend by the Committee, should be passed through Parliament during the next sitting period later this month; noting of course the primary and most significant recommendation of the report is that the Bill be passed."

The Attorney-General said this Bill and the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill were both critical to modernising our national security laws as part of the Turnbull Government’s commitment to keep Australians safe and the Attorney-General wanted to make particular note of the hard work of the Committee in the last two weeks to produce this most recent Report.

"Safeguarding Australia’s national security will always remain the Turnbull Government’s number one priority and the Committee’s role in considering and making amendments to national security legislation is at the centre of a process that has seen ten tranches of national security laws passed since 2014, with the Government accepting 128 recommendations of the Committee, resulting in 293 Government amendments," the Attorney-General said.

"This process was conducted squarely in the national interest and represented a real fulfilment of Australians expectations for cooperative bipartisan conduct when serious national security issues are at stake. On this point I would like to personally thank the Chair Andrew Hastie MP, the Shadow Attorney–General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP, and Deputy Chair, the Hon Anthony Byrne MP, for their skilled and good faith dealings with my office to deliver recommendations which ultimately improve the Bill."

It goes without saying that incorporated community organisations, grassroots activists and social media bloggers/commentators are not afforded the protection of any detailed set of defences set out in the bill or in report recommendations.

On 8 June 2018 this was how the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and World Wildlife Fund - Australia saw their position under the provisions of this bill and review recommendations:

WWF-Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation say charities who hold the Australian Government to account on its environmental record, could be charged under proposed foreign interference and espionage laws.

Both groups say changes recommended by a bipartisan committee, to address “overreach” concerns with the Bill, don’t go far enough.

“We could still be charged with espionage just for doing our job, which is a ridiculous situation,” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.

Charities such as WWF-Australia and ACF are often sought out by international bodies to provide independent analysis and a scientific assessment on the Australian Government’s environmental performance.

If either organisation briefed the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on failings to address threats to endangered species they could be charged with espionage. 

Or if they gave evidence to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on shortfalls in Australia’s record on the environment they could face espionage charges. 

“Providing independent analysis is core business for environmental organisations trying to save Australia’s forests and threatened species,” Mr O’Gorman said.
“Would the 2050 Plan to save the Great Barrier Reef have happened without attention from UNESCO?”

ACF Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dr Paul Sinclair said: “Protests and advocacy may make some politicians uncomfortable, but they are essential ingredients of a vibrant democracy and healthy environment.

“Our security is of course important. But restricting civil society advocacy in its name is dangerous and would limit the community’s ability to hold the powerful to account for any damage they cause to our clean air, clean water and safe climate.

“All parties must work to rewrite this bill to strengthen protections for the public oversight, free expression and peaceful protest that makes our democracy strong.”

These conservation organisations have some reason to be concerned as committal for trial for an espionage or foreign interference offence is essentially a political decision taken by the Attorney-General, given s93.1 of National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017 requires consent from the Attorney-General to proceed.

Given the antipathy displayed by the Abbott and Turnbull Coalition Governments towards any form of organised political, social or environmental activism, it is not hard to imagine a scenario in which a federal government would act maliciously against those opposing its policy positions or actions and use the provisions in this bill to effect such an act.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

The political endorsements of extinction by Turnbull, Berejiklian and Palaszczuk governments continue




Wild fish stocks in Australian waters shrank by about a third in the decade to 2015, declining in all regions except strictly protected marine zones, according to data collected by scientists and public divers.

The research, based on underwater reef monitoring at 533 sites around the nation and published in the Aquatic Conservation journal, claims to be the first large-scale independent survey of fisheries. It found declining numbers tracked the drop in total reported catch for 213 Australian fisheries for the 1992-2014 period.

The biomass of larger fish fell 36 per cent on fished reefs during 2005-15 and dropped 18 per cent in marine park zones allowing limited fishing, the researchers said. There was a small increase in targeted fish species in zones that barred fishing altogether.
"Most of the numbers are pretty shocking," said David Booth, a marine ecologist at the University of Technology Sydney. “This paper really nails down the fact that fishing or the removal of large fish is one of the causes” of their decline.

Over-fished stocks include the eastern jackass morwong, eastern gemfish, greenlip abalone, school shark, warehou and the grey nurse shark. The morwong catch, once as common as flathead in the trawl fishery, dived about 95 per cent from the 1960s to 109 tonnes in the 2015-16 year to become basically a bycatch species……

…Peter Whish-Wilson, the Greens ocean spokesman, said the new research was largely based on actual underwater identification – including the Reef Life Survey using citizen scientists. It suggests fishing stocks "are not as rosy as the industry or government would like us all to think".

"This study also shows that marine parks can be successful fisheries management tools but we simply don’t have enough of them or enough protection within them to deliver widespread benefits," he said.

"The new Commonwealth Marine Reserves are woefully inadequate and won’t do anything to stop the continuing decline in the health of our oceans."


Humane Society International Australia (HSI), represented by EDO NSW, is seeking independent review of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) decision to approve a lethal shark control program in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

HSI has lodged an appeal in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) which will require a full reconsideration of the approval of the shark control program. The 10 year lethal control program targets 26 shark species in the Marine Park, including threatened and protected species. The appeal is based on the public interest in protecting the biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.....

As apex predators, sharks play a vital role in maintaining the health of the Great Barrier Reef. HSI is concerned about the ongoing impacts caused by the use of lethal drumlines which are known to impact not only on shark species but also dolphins, turtles and rays. HSI is calling for non-lethal alternatives for bather protection.


Forest covering an area more than 50 times the size of the combined central business districts of Sydney and Melbourne is set to be bulldozed near the Great Barrier Reef, official data shows, triggering claims the Turnbull government is thwarting its $500 million reef survival package.

Figures provided to Fairfax Media by Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy show that 36,600 hectares of land in Great Barrier Reef water catchments has been approved for tree clearing and is awaiting destruction.

The office of Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg did not say if his government was comfortable with the extent of land clearing approved in Queensland, or if it would use its powers to cancel permits.

The approvals were granted by the Queensland government over the past five years. About 9000 hectares under those approvals has already been cleared.

Despite the dire consequences of land clearing for the Great Barrier Reef – and billions of dollars of public money spent over the years to tackle the problem – neither Labor nor the government would commit to intervening to stop the mass deforestation.


Freedom of information laws are an important mechanism for making government decisions transparent and accountable. But the existence of such laws doesn’t mean access to information is easy.

It took a three-year legal process for the Humane Society International (HSI), represented by EDO NSW, to access documents about how the Australian Government came to accredit a NSW biodiversity offsets policy for major projects

The NSW policy in question allowed significant biodiversity trade-offs (that is, permitting developers to clear habitat in return for compensatory actions elsewhere) seemingly inconsistent with national biodiversity offset standards. HSI wanted to know how the national government could accredit a policy that didn’t meet its own standards.

Despite Australia being a signatory to important international environmental agreements and accepting international obligations to protect biodiversity, in recent years it has been proposed that the national government should delegate its environmental assessment and approval powers to the states, creating a ‘one stop shop’ for developers.

The original FOI request in this case was submitted in early 2015, during a time when Federal and State and Territory Governments were actively in consultation on handing over federal approval powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). This was to be done in the name of efficiency, with the assurance that national standards would be upheld by the states.
Over 60 documents finally accessed by HSI show this was a false promise. The documents reveal that federal bureaucrats in the environment department identified key areas of the NSW policy that differed from federal standards.

Despite this, the policy was accredited.

Accreditation meant that the NSW policy could be used when approving developments with impacts on nationally threatened species found in NSW, instead of applying the more rigorous national offsets policy.

In the time it took to argue for access to the documents, NSW developed a new biodiversity offsets policy as part of broader legislative reforms for biodiversity and land clearing. Unfortunately, the new NSW biodiversity offsets policy continues to entrench many of the weaker standards. For example, mine site rehabilitation decades in the future can count as an offset now; offset requirements may be discounted if other socio-economic factors are considered; and supplementary measures - such as research or paying cash - are an alternative to finding a direct offset (that is, protecting the actual plant or animal that has been impacted by a development).

While there have been some tweaks to the new policy for nationally listed threatened species, there is still a clear divergence in standards. The new policy, and the new NSW biodiversity laws, are now awaiting accreditation by the Australian Government.

How our unique and irreplaceable biodiversity is managed (and traded off) is clearly a matter of public interest. And on the eve of a hearing at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the federal environment department agreed and released over 60 documents. While it was a heartening win for transparency and the value of FOI laws, it was a depressing read when these documents revealed the political endorsement of extinction.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

CONSERVATION GROUP FOUNDED TO COMBAT PULP MILL CELEBRATES ITS HISTORY


"No Pump Mill" memorabilia - image supplied

The Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition celebrated its “almost” thirty years of activity at a Re-Weavers’ Awards Dinner in Grafton on 1st June.

The Re-Weavers Awards, which are held annually on the Friday nearest to World Environment Day, recognise the valuable contribution individuals and groups have made to environmental protection over many years.

The Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition was founded almost thirty years ago because of a proposal for a chemical pulp mill in the Clarence Valley.

On 30th August 1988 The Daily Examiner’s front page headline shouted: “$450m valley mill planned by Japanese”.  Daishowa International had made an in-principle decision to build a chemical pulp mill on the Clarence River near Grafton. This, it was claimed, would create about 1200 direct and indirect jobs in the region.

This fired up the local community.  Some community members welcomed the announcement, claiming the mill would provide an enormous boost to the local economy. 

But not everyone welcomed it.  Many feared the impact such a large industrial development would have on the local environment – not just of the Clarence Valley but of the whole North Coast because it was obvious that such a large mill would be drawing its feedstock from across the region.  Concerns included the amount of water this mill would use, the decimation of the forests, the likelihood of poisonous effluent being released into either the river or the ocean and air pollution.

On 19 September 1988 concerned people met in Grafton to discuss the proposal and consider what action should be taken.  This meeting resulted in the formation of the Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition (CVCC).

Rosie Richards became its President.  She was an ideal person for the job in many ways.  In the conservative Clarence community she was not publicly associated with any of the recent or on-going conservation issues. While she was concerned about environmental impacts, both short and long-term, and made no secret of the fact, she did not look like a greenie – or the conservative view of what a greenie looked like. Rosie was 56 years old.  She was a grandmother. Her background was not that of a stereotype greenie either. She grew up in Pymble and in the early fifties was a member of the Liberal Party Younger Set.  Her other life experiences included years as a farmer’s wife and the wife of a professional fisherman.  (Her husband Geoff had been both.)

Rosie’s personality also qualified her for this leadership role in the pulp mill campaign.  She ran both the CVCC committee and general meetings efficiently.  She was calm, sincere, friendly, articulate and very much “a lady” in old-fashioned terms.  But she was also determined and possessed a “steel backbone”.  This “steel backbone” and her courage were very necessary in the campaign to obtain information and disseminate it to the North Coast community. 

Courage was necessary to the campaigners because those promoting the benefits of Daishowa’s plans attacked the CVCC, referring to its spokespersons as scaremongers and “a benighted group who distort the facts.” Those in power locally and at the state level weren’t in any hurry to provide facts but they decried the efforts of community members who were trying to find information on pulp mill operations.  However, this did not deter the CVCC.  It sought information on pulp mills and pulping processes from around the world, asked questions of those in power and disseminated information to the community.

Other important campaigners included media spokesperson Martin Frohlich and Bruce Tucker whose time in Gippsland had shown him what it was like to live near the Maryvale Pulp Mill. Others who played vital roles were John Kelemec, Rob Lans, Geoff Richards and Bill Noonan as well as core members of the Clarence Valley Branch of the National Parks Association. These included Peter Morgan, Stan Mussared, Celia Smith and Greg Clancy.

Public meetings were held in Grafton, Iluka, Maclean and Minnie Water as well as in other North Coast towns.  In addition the group produced information sheets, issued many media releases, participated in media interviews, distributed bumper stickers, circulated a petition, met with politicians both in the local area and beyond, and wrote letters to politicians and The Daily Examiner.

And there were many others who wrote letters of concern to the paper as well as some who wrote supporting the proposal.  It was an amazing time as there was a deluge of letters to the Examiner. There has been nothing like it since!!

One of my memories is taking part in a Jacaranda procession, probably in 1989.  We used Geoff Welham’s truck which was decorated with eucalypt branches, and driven by Rob Lans with Bill Noonan beside him. Others of us, wearing koala masks, were on the back.  As we drove down Prince Street, Bill had his ghetto blaster on full volume blaring out John Williamson singing “Rip, rip woodchip.” I think we drowned out music of the marching bands.

Following Daishowa’s announcement that it would not be proceeding with its pulp mill proposal, CVCC President Rosie wrote to the Examiner (4 April 1990) praising the efforts of the community in defeating the proposal:

“It has been an interesting nineteen months; a period that has seen the resolve of north coast people come to the fore; we have seen People Power used in a democratic way to say ‘No’  to something that we knew would harm our existing industries and our air and water.  If it had not been for the people of the Clarence Valley and their attendance at public meetings, their letters to politicians, to newspapers in Tokyo and our own Daily Examiner, and their strong support of the Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition, we may have had a huge polluting industrial complex set down in our midst, without a whimper.”

People Power did do the job – but Rosie Richards and the others on the Coalition Committee played a very important part in organizing and channelling that people power.

The lessons of history never seem to be learned.  Those campaigning to protect the environment from the greed of pillagers face the same problem today.

What Rosie wrote in a letter to The Daily Examiner in November 1990 still applies today:

“It seems that every time we stop for breath another issue crops up that summons us to speak up for common sense and common interest.  Most of us would much rather be doing other things besides acting as watchdogs for what we see as poor bureaucratic decisions and flawed advice to governments.”

In the same letter she answered a criticism that conservationists were “greedy”:

“We speak out as we do because we believe that the people of today’s and tomorrow’s Australia will not be well served by a country whose finite resources have been exhausted by sectional interests that have until now not had to make long term plans for the sustainability of their industries.”

The pulp mill campaign was significant both in the Clarence and further afield.  It reinforced the message of the other earlier environmental victory – the success of the Clarence Valley Branch of the National Parks Association in campaigning to save the Washpool Rainforest.  Both of these campaigns showed the state government and local councils as well as the North Coast community in general that there were people who were prepared to campaign strongly for effective protection of the natural environment.

            - Leonie Blain


Leonie Blain (left) & Lynette Eggins (right) - image supplied

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Where the Trump Regime goes the far-right in Australia's Turnbull Government are sure to follow


Emboldened by the Heartland Institute's capture of the US Trump Government, I suspect that Australia will see a renewed push by one of the compatriots of this American lobby group  - the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) - to further wind back federal and state environmental protections.

The IPA already has an uncomfortably close relationship with the Turnbull Government as a number of its members are within its ranks.

This is the current state of play in the United States.

DeSmog Blog, 29 May 2018:

A lawsuit filed in March by the Southern Environmental Law Center and Environmental Defense Fund has revealed new levels of coordination between Scott Pruitt's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the climate science-denying think tank the Heartland Institute.

The EPA had repeatedly failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests by the two groups, which resulted in the lawsuit and subsequent release of the email communications.

However, both the EPA and the Heartland Institute have strongly defended their actions revealed by the newly released emails. EPA spokesperson Lincoln Ferguson told the Associated Press that communications with the Heartland Institute helped “to ensure the public is informed” and that this relationship “… demonstrates the agency’s dedication to advancing President Trump’s agenda of environmental stewardship and regulatory certainty.”

The current head of the Heartland Institute is former Congressman Tim Huelskamp who also was quick to defend the relationship.

“Of course The Heartland Institute has been working with EPA on policy and personnel decisions,” Tim Huelskamp said in a statement to AP. “They recognized us as the pre-eminent organization opposing the radical climate alarmism agenda and instead promoting sound science and policy.”

In March Huelskamp wrote a piece in The Hill titled “Scott Pruitt is leading the EPA toward greatness,” in which he made it quite clear that the reason for this greatness was that “Trump and Pruitt share an understanding that climate change is not a significant threat to the prosperity and health of Americans.”

While in Congress, Huelskamp’s top donor was Koch Industries, the massive petrochemical empire owned by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David.

However, this latest revelation is unlikely to derail Pruitt’s career at the EPA. Pruitt is currently the subject of at least ten investigations. At a scathing hearing in April, he was told by one Congressman that “you are unfit to hold public office and undeserving of the public trust.”
Still, Pruitt remains the embattled chief of the nation's top environmental agency under Trump, and, perhaps not surprisingly, President Donald Trump has been supportive of Pruitt……
Like his boss, Pruitt is quick to blame the media for his problems.

“Much of what has been targeted towards me and my team, has been half-truths, or at best stories that have been so twisted they do not resemble reality,” Pruitt said in his opening remarks to Congress during the April hearing. “I'm here and I welcome the chance to be here to set the record straight in these areas. But let's have no illusions about what's really going on here.”….

Supported by funding from the Koch network, Heartland has been actively spreading disinformation about climate science for years.

What the latest EPA emails reveal is the extent which these Koch-funded climate deniers are now in direct communication with the EPA and helping influence policy. 
One email from John Konkus, EPA’s deputy associate administrator for public affairs, assures Heartland's then-president Joseph Bast that “If you send a list, we will make sure an invitation is sent.”

The list refers to Heartland’s recommendations for economists and scientists that the EPA would invite to a public hearing on science standards. Under Trump and Pruitt, climate science deniers are now hand-picking who advises the EPA on climate change science….

Read the full blog post here.

BACKGROUND

 DeSmog Blog, undated:

May 16 - 18, 2010

The Institute of Public Affairs was a cosponsor (PDF) of the Heartland Institute's Fourth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC4). [28]

DeSmogBlog concluded 19 of the 65 sponsors (including Heartland itself) had received a total of over $40 million in funding since 1985 from ExxonMobil (who funded 13 of the organizations), and/or Koch Industries family foundations (funded 10 organizations) and/or the Scaife family foundations (funded 10 organizations). [29]
October 1, 2010

Together, the Heartland InstituteAmericans for Tax Reform, the Property Rights Alliance, and the Institute of Public Affairs sponsored the Heartland Institute's Fifth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC5) in Sydney, Australia. [30]

The Conversation, 6 June 2016:

A group of prominent Melbourne businessmen founded the IPA in 1943 in the wake of the United Australia Party-Country Party coalition’s devastating election loss.

Inaugural chairman G.J. Coles (founder of the Coles supermarket chain) outlined the IPA’s approach. He said it:

… did not wish to be directly involved in politics, but it wanted to help create a modern political faith, which would be constructive and progressive and which would receive a large measure of public support.

Concerned the Labor Party was leading Australia down a path of central planning and socialism, the IPA set out to develop and promote an alternative vision. To that end it published a 70-page pamphlet titled Looking Forward: “a post-war policy for Australian industry”.

One person paying close attention was Robert Menzies, who in 1944 described the pamphlet as:

… the finest statement of basic political and economic problems made in Australia for many years.

Many of the policies outlined in Looking Forward were incorporated into the platform of the Liberal Party, founded the following year.

Though the IPA and the Liberal Party were characterised in their early decades by a mildly Keynesian, interventionist approach to the economy, since the 1980s both have switched to a more hardline neoliberal philosophy – embracing free markets, lower taxes and trickle-down economics.

Shared personnel

David and Rod Kemp, sons of the IPA’s founder and driving force C.D. “Ref” Kemp, became key figures in both the IPA and the Liberal Party.

David wrote his honours thesis on the founding of the IPA, then combined an academic career with stints advising Malcolm Fraser before entering parliament in 1990. Rod took over and revitalised the IPA in 1982 before he was elected to the Senate, also in 1990. Both were ministers in the Howard government.

Former Liberal MP and leading economic “dry” John Hyde ran the IPA from 1991 to 1995, before being replaced by Mike Nahan, who is now treasurer in the Western Australian Liberal government....

When Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt was found to have breached Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act in 2011, the IPA was outraged and immediately launched a campaign to repeal the offending section.

A full-page advertisement was taken out in The Australian. It included the names of senior Liberals such as Jamie Briggs, Michaelia Cash, Mathias Cormann, Mitch Fifield, Nick Minchin and Andrew Robb.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Noble Caledonia Limited changes its mind about Port of Yamba-Clarence River?



noble-caledonia.co.uk, 27 May 2017

Noble Caledonia Limited’s “Australian Coastal Odyssey” twenty-two day cruise from 9-31 October 2018 - flying from London to Cairns to Port Moresby, then sailing through the Torres Strait and down the east coast of Australia to berth in Melbourne before returning home on 31 October - is still being advertised online and it just got a lot cheaper.

In an apparent effort to fill cabins aboard the vessel MV Caledonian Sky, the UK-based cruise line is now offering across-the-board discounts of £1,000 per two-person cabin.

There has also been a change in the ship’s itinerary for Day 16 - 24 October this year.

All mention of entry into Port of Yamba-Clarence River was removed from the cruise line's website sometime between 21 and 27 May and, Trial Bay, South West Rocks inserted instead for both its October 2018 “Australian Coastal Odyssey” and October 2019 “Australian Coastal Discovery” east coast cruises.
Caledonian Sky has already booked port berths/moorings in Queensland and Victoria as well as for two of the six official ports along the NSW leg of the 2018 cruise – Port of Newcastle (7am 25 October) and Port of Eden (7am 27 October). There is no published booking for Port of Yamba which requires piloted entry for sea-going ships.

Which has set Lower Clarence residents to wondering about the reasons for this welcome change of plan.

Some think it may be a public relations feint by Noble Caledonia to dampen expression of local concerns and it may yet decide to slip into the Clarence River estuary on or about 24 October this year.

Others point to the level of risk always associated with bringing ships like the 5-deck high, 91 metre long, est. 4,200 gross tonne Caledonian Sky across the entrance bar while avoiding collision with the culturally important Native Title reef “Dirrangun” and, the possibility that the cruise line’s insurance company might not be impressed if that risk were to be realised and it was faced with a second reef maritime incident in less than nineteen months involving the same ship.

Given the protracted negotiations between Noble Caledonia, its insurer and the Indonesian Government over a reported £350 million ‘fine’ incurred when the Caledonian Sky damaged over 18,000 sq. metres of pristine coral reef in the Raja Ampat island chain in March 2017, it is understandable that Noble Caledonia Limited may have reassessed the original “Australian Coastal Odyssey” itinerary and decided it preferred a less problematic short-stay mooring for Day 16.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Here we are on the NSW North Coast living amid remnants of the splendor that was Australia in 1788.....


....and it is fading and dying before our very eyes, while the Turnbull Coalition Government follows in the footsteps of the Abbott Coalition Government by turning its back on us and our concerns.

North Coast Environment Council, media release, 7 May 2018:


… SCIENTISTS ARE THE NEXT CASUALTIES …

Malcolm Turnbull's Government has launched yet another offensive on the environment, with the announcement it was sacking dozens of scientists.

“The rivers of cash that the government has to splash around don't extend to environmental protection,” said Susie Russell, North Coast Environment Council Vice-President.

“This will have a significant impact on north coast forests. We have been relying on the Recovery Planning process to guarantee some protection for nationally endangered species. Only last month, NCEC was a signatory (with NEFA, the National Parks Association and the South East Region Conservation Alliance) to a letter to federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg. We pleaded for Canberra to take its environmental responsibilities seriously. We pointed out that the NSW Government was not abiding by Federal Recovery Plans for threatened species.


The Greater Glider is one of the species where a Recovery Plan is required, but nothing gets produced.
Photo by Jasmine Zeleny.