Saturday 31 October 2009

I don't know what's more offensive - Abbott's arrogance or his monumental stupidity

Earlier this week Tony Abbott said that he wasn't worried about climate change.
Sky News repeated the exact words that he used in interviews that night.
Sea levels had risen along the NSW coast by more than 20 centimetres during the past century, the Liberal frontbencher said. 'Has anyone noticed it? No, they haven't,' he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.
The man's mad. Doesn't he look out the window during a big storm or go down to the beach afterwards?
More importantly, hasn't he been reading news from small towns up and down the coast where houses are losing front yards to the ocean and landslips are becoming common?
I've got my own news for Abbott. Mother Nature doesn't stop misbehaving just because you and your cronies don't believe in global warming and you can't hold back the sea by pretending that the tide isn't getting higher each year.

Coffs Harbour

Coalition dinasours!: the Member for Page rises to her feet during the second reading debate on the re-introduced CPRS Bill 2009

Open Australia website; an exerpt from the Hansard debate record of the Federal Labor Member for the NSW North Coast elecorate of Page on 29 October 2009:

Photo of Janelle SaffinJanelle Saffin (Page, Australian Labor Party) Share this Hansard source

In 2007, when I stood for election with the Rudd Labor team, we had a plan. That plan was to tackle climate change. It was a 10-point plan, a holistic approach to the challenge of climate change. It was a plan that would protect our jobs, protect the environment and the economy in the here and now, and take us into the future. It was a plan that rose to the challenge. Since I came into this place—since the Rudd government was elected—we have all worked to implement that plan. Since the election we have had the appointment of the Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong, the green paper, the white paper, draft legislation, and wide consultation and deep consultation with communities, industry and interested groups on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which brings in the emissions trading scheme and its implementation. It is one of the biggest consultation processes that I have seen.

When we went to the election, the people of Australia said: 'We want you to do something about climate change.' We are doing something about climate change and we will continue to, but that has been thwarted by the coalition—the opposition. The coalition were and are divided on climate change. They do not talk about solutions and responses. Their view of climate change prevents them from coming to any reasonable let alone reasoned response. It just seems to me a crazy way to do business. They say that they are interested in jobs and, you know, they are—it seems the key job they are focussed on is the Leader of the Opposition's job and other aspirants coming up behind him. It is in their base political interest to drag it up. That is what I see and that is what people in the electorate see. That is the reality. Their coalition partner, the National Party, has nine members in this place and five in the Senate. The only jobs they are interested in are their own. It is like natural attrition; they are going the way of the dinosaur.

It's Samhain in the Northern Hemisphere......

.....with echoes of this time in the old Celtic calendar reduced these days to kids in ghoulish fancy dress trick or treating around their neighbourhoods.
However, 31 October is not celebrated as the last day of Autumn and the beginning of Winter in the Southern Hemisphere - so why has the local supermarket been tarted up with pumpkins and witches all week and why must I expect at least a few knocks on my door tonight from clueless Aussie kids loosely aping a now essentially American custom of sending kids out to threaten mischief and beg for lollies?
Double bah! and triple humbug!

Pic from Poor Reds

Friday 30 October 2009

Grafton's Jacaranda Festival (30 Oct-8 Nov 2009) gets a ping from Bing

Bing Homepage 30 October 2009

Grafton on the NSW North Coast is holding its 75th Jacaranda Festival starting today and running until 8 November 2009.
Events program here.

It's raining, it's pouring, the old Roo is......

Marge the rain’s here!!!

After months of no rain, dust storms and paddocks slowly browning, the first rain we have results in a flood warning.
A day moving the pump from the river and moving stock to higher ground under much protest from the cows.
I did agree with them; the rain had just washed the dust off the grass and the best grass was down on the flat where the flood waters if they come will cover.
Had to be done though given the time difference of flood peaks means the water should begin swirling in at about 2am in the morning.
Not a good time to be moving cows, they are like me - don’t like being woken up that early in the morning.

One good piece of news is the frogs that had been waiting out the dry in my shower recess have moved back outside.
For the first time in months I've had a shower without them muscling in.
These frogs were very particular about the temperature, not too hot.
The chill of the water was what they like best, I like it a bit hotter than that.
If it got too hot the frogs would jump all over the place, and that place usually was me.
Believe me a frog landing on your privates is not something you would like repeated.

2009 CHOICE Shonky Awards - lemony winners announced

CHOICE is a not-for-profit consumer protection organisation which started life as a magazine and has been operating in Australia for the last fifty years. The group states it currently has 200,000 members. Every year it now announces annual awards for the worst products on the domestic market. These awards are called Shonkys.

The 2009 CHOICE Shonky for:

  • Plugging Stuff and Nonsense goes to Reegen Micro-Plug
  • Cheese-Fearing Surrender Monkey goes to Tiffany FP807 Food processor
  • Water at What Price? goes to Chef's Cupboard and Massel liquid stocks
  • Honey (Oat crisp), I shrunk the groceries goes to Uncle Toby Oat Crisp Honey cereal
  • Blinding us with dodgy science goes to L'Oréal Elvive
  • Profit Protection Insurance goes to the Credit protection insurance industry
  • Sky high surcharges goes to Qantas and Tiger Airways
  • Teleconfusication goes to Tel.pacific phone cards

Poor Bolta - he can't even get up a good snark anymore

Early on a Monday morning Andrew Bolt sent a weak and feeble snark down the digital highway which ended up as a Herald Sun post at 7.21am on 26th October 2009.
He'd obviously only recently noticed how many times the Australian Prime Minister makes no apology for this and that and he listed 7 instances of 'no apology' from June 2008 until this month.
It must have been a hard weekend at the Bolt house because he obviously hadn't anything decent prepared for publication and hurriedly cast a short net.

Here is what a quick squiz at Open Australia throws up with a simple search through Hansard records:

As I said in response to a question in this place yesterday, this government makes no apology whatsoever for the fact that it is expanding its cooperation with the Indonesian government in the area of people smuggling. {Hansard 22nd October '09}

This government makes no apology whatsoever for the fact that we have a tough line on asylum seekers when it comes to dealing with the challenges of people smugglers around the world—tough but humane.
{Hansard 21st October '09}

That is the right way to proceed. It is called a rational policy debate. That is what we on this side of the House are engaged in. We do not apologise for one element of it. {Hansard 18th August '09}

I make no apology whatsoever for being conservative about the projections we have made about the impact of the global recession on Australia. {Hansard 3rd June '09}

I would say to the barracking new Leader of the Opposition, the member for Wentworth, this: on the question of terrorism, this government makes no apology for taking a hard line. It makes no apology for making clear-cut statements to the Australian community that we will not brook— ..........
We take a hard line. We make no apology for it. {Hansard 17th September '08}

We are a party and a government of nation-building and we are so without apology. {Hansard 3rd September '08}

We make no apology at all for the fact that we have commissioned Ken Henry of the Treasury to undertake the Henry commission of inquiry. {Hansard 26th June '08}

Families across the country are dealing with real challenges, so we make no apology—while those opposite giggle and guffaw about the financial pressures faced by families today—for delivering $47 billion of tax cuts to those families, no apology for ensuring that we deliver an education tax refund of $4.4 billion, no apology for ensuring that we increase the childcare tax rebate... {Hansard 15th March '08}

Since the snark was posted there have been other mentions, which include this blockbuster later on that same Monday:

Our policy is unapologetically tough but humane.....
is unapologetically tough when it comes to people smugglers and unapologetically
humane when it comes to dealing with asylum seekers. It is a tough but humane approach......

We, the government, make no apology for this regional approach.....
Our policy is also unapologetically humane. We have ended mandatory detention for children.......
It is a balanced approach, a mainstream approach; one which unapologetically also engages our friends and partners in the region, {Hansard Proof 26th October '09}

But even raising the score to 23 versions of what is almost a prime ministerial verbal tic doesn't make Bolt's paid 'professional' MSM post worth the effort. So far that's only roughly one non-apology uttered every month since Rudd was elected. Bolt's post tastes of FAIL. Try again.

Moggy Musings [Archived material from Boy the Wonder Cat]

A Nathan Rees leadership musing: A mutt, who knows a mutt, who knows a moggy I know well, sez that a leadership spill is definitely happening in the NSW Labor Government on Tuesday 1 September 2009. Yet another mutt says that NSW Planning Minister Kristina Keneally is a member of Opus Dei - which would make her the first high profile female I've heard of apparently belonging to this particular kozy kaffee klatch.
*On 1 September 2009 an advisor to Minister Keneally sent an email to Boy which stated in part:
"The Minister is not, and has never been, a member of Opus Dei. This is absolutely untrue.
This allegation has been made before by news publications, and in all cases it has been retracted or a denial has been published."
*Perhaps the Rees Government should have a training day for staffers as that bit of gossip started life in the Labor stable.
A loyalty musing: Malcolm Turnbull's dogs are privately telling their friends that it doesn't matter a jot to them that their master might suffer from narcissistic personality disorder. Jojo, as spokesdog for the Liberal leader's canine pack, says that having a top dog with tickets on himself did no harm in any tree watering contest.
A Fourth Estate musing: My little canine friend, Veronica Lake, tells me that when her friends gather round the fire hydrant they are discussing the rumour that a certain North Coast newspaper editor is said to have threatened a shire councillor with negative press, because this councillor wasn't voting the way the editor wanted with regard to one of his pet projects.
A cats rule the stars musing:
I hijacked the PC keyboard in time for the August 2009 National Science Week and along with thousands of others sent a message to our nearest Earth-like planet; I am a domesticated cat and my kind is one of the most sucessful modern mammals living on Earth. Higher species like humans are our willing slaves. :-D
Fred Mason from Roberts Creek, Australia sent this message:
Hi There: Sorry about the Outer Limits; hope you enjoyed I Love Lucy. Have you got all our missing socks? Love, Earth
A Rooks rock! musing: I've always known birds were smart - for years even the tiny ones have been able to steal the fur from my back to line their nests. So it came as no surprise to find that Rooks use tools; Rooks Use Stones to Raise the Water Level to Reach a Floating Worm

Thursday 29 October 2009

Happy 40th Birthday to the Internetz!

Around 10.30pm on October 29 in 1969 is popularly held to be the time and day the Internet was born.

Happy birthday, Internetz!
Let's party

Graphic from Google Images

Racial profiling in the Northern Rivers - an unpleasant odour lingers in APN media

It is less than two months since the unlamented departure of Peter Chapman from the editorial helm of The Daily Examiner, so it is perhaps overly optimistic to expect all the bad journalistic habits he fostered with such relish to have disappeared into thin air.

However, it is more than unfortunate that one bad habit which appears to linger is a tendency to report the racial characteristics of persons accused of a crime.

Last Saturday an individual before the court accused of aggravated sexual assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and related charges was described in The Daily Examiner's lead story as Caucasian in appearance.

What alleged racial appearance has to do with such a crime remains a mystery to me and can only be considered a gratuitous mention that this newspaper would be better served by deleting from future editions.

It's been 70 days since an uncontrolled toxic oil leak began from the Montara rig in the Timor Sea

Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Thailand’s PTT Exploration & Production Pcl delayed a fourth attempt due today to plug an Australian well that may have spewed 27,000 barrels of oil into areas inhabited by dolphins, sea turtles and humpback whales.
“We’ve got an environmental disaster unfolding,” Gilly Llewellyn, Sydney-based conservation manager at
WWF-Australia, said by telephone today. Dolphins, birds, sea snakes and other marine life have been seen swimming in a slick from the field off the northwestern coast, the group said in an Oct. 23 report.
PTTEP, Thailand’s only publicly traded oil explorer, has failed in three attempts to plug the leak that started Aug. 21. It has estimated the well has been spilling 300 to 400 barrels of oil a day into the Timor Sea. The Australian resources and energy department’s estimate is “in line” with that, said Michael Bradley, spokesman for Energy Minister
Martin Ferguson.
Bangkok-based PTTEP said today a bid to intercept a 25 centimeter diameter steel well casing 2,600 meters (1.6 miles) below the seabed was now likely later in the week, after drilling equipment became stuck on Oct. 24 and caused a delay. On Oct. 25, PTTEP said it planned to make the attempt today.
The Thai company met yesterday with rival oil companies in a bid to find a way to stem the Montara field leak, the
Perth-based West Australian reported, without citing anyone. Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Apache Corp. and Texan oil-well firefighting specialist Boots & Coots, were among those at the meeting, the paper said. Woodside offered in late August rigs, boats and experts to assist PTTEP.

Times Online slide show of oil spill

Wednesday 28 October 2009

A question for Not Evil Just Wrong: where exactly are are the 31,000 scientists who say there is no climate change crisis?

Not Evil Just Wrong (NEJW) is a documentary on DVD allegedly revealing the dangers of global warming hysteria.

These dangers apparently being clearly seen by 31,000 scientists around the world if the Internet promotion is to be believed and, presumably these so-called scientists are the same grab bag of signatories to the old, discredited Global Warming Petition Project.

In an effort to lay the astroturf wall-to-wall the promoter/s of this documentary are paying AU$5 to certain blogs featuring the NEJW flashing badge.
Even the Australian Libertarian Society blog is bragging about getting a slice of the profits to promote freedom in Australia.

Tiffany McElhany is the front person in this film and is described on the associated website as a mother and wife, living in Vevay, Indiana. Tiffany's husband, Tim works in a local plant making mufflers for Toyota and, Fred Singer is listed also as a contributor to the site along with a number of other climate change denial supporters.

However, what was a surprise is to find James E. Hansen listed as a contributor to this anti-Gore, anti-global warming website.

Now Dr. Hansen is almost as far from a climate change denialist as one could get (as his April 2009 draft letter to the Australian Government demonstrates) and, is committed to the idea of mitigation measures.
To make it quite clear this is what Dr. Hansen stated in The Sword of Damocles:

Over a year ago I wrote to Prime Minister Brown asking him to place a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants in Britain. I have asked the same of Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, Kevin Rudd and other world leaders. The reason is this – coal is the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on our planet. Our global climate is nearing tipping points. Changes are beginning to appear, and there is a potential for explosive changes with effects that would be irreversible – if we do not rapidly slow fossil fuel emissions over the next few decades.

So what on earth is he doing on the very short list of NEJW website contributors and, what is environmental activist Ed Begley Jnr doing up there along with him when as late as the time of writing this post Begley was not lisitng NEJW as a group he was associated with?

Uh oh...........seems like the NEJW group have a lot more questions to answer than those it raises in its own documentary.

Death took a national half-holiday in Australia in 2007 but not on the NSW North Coast. Make a memo, Premier Rees & Health Minister Tebutt

While you and your ministers are riding your party towards factional ruin, Premier Rees, please spare a thought for the fact that NSW Government health policy is also shuffling our family members off this mortal coil faster than we would like here on the NSW North Coast.
Nationally it seems that for every birth around two minutes later there's a death, but I remember some years where total births and deaths were running neck and neck in places like the Clarence Valley, so I expect that the North Coast has a higher number of older people than many other parts of the state and therefore we might expect some differences to show.
However I have to class it as passing strange that.......
In 2007 when the nation was enjoying longer life expectancy and a decline in the crude death rate with record low numbers for three years in a row, the Clarence Valley's death rate rose to 476 souls out of a population of about 50,542, taking it above the national standardised death rate.
Deaths also rose in the Byron, Coffs Harbour, Richmond Valley, Tweed and Kyogle areas.
That's more people falling off the perch in 6 out of 8 North Coast council areas than had died in the previous year according to this ABS spread sheet.
Not something to be proud of Premier, when your North Coast Area Health Service had been relentlessly cost-cutting and downsizing over those very same years.
From what I can gather, the national death rate is on the increase once again this year and (along with the fact that lower socio-economic status means worse health outcomes and this region certainly has more people per capita on low incomes than the big cities) that doesn't bode well for our local communities.
Now The Daily Examiner tells us that Maclean District Hospital right in the middle of a retiree belt has just lost 6 more beds reducing overall bed numbers to 36 beds:
"The surge model allows beds to be closed during periods of low demand and reopened when needed.
But the doctor said that was not how the system was working last week, the problem being that the staff needed to attend those six beds were not rostered on and therefore the beds could not be used.
"We've always understood that surge beds could be subject to open time to time but on Friday we were told they were gone forever and we should consider ourselves a 36-bed hospital," the doctor said.
While he acknowledged the hospital had a high number of spare beds for a couple of days, he said that was part of the normal turnaround and patient numbers could fluctuate greatly.
Even still, he said the 11 spare beds was an exception and usually the hospital was full.
He said Maclean was an area experiencing significant population growth and the hospital needed more beds, not less, and the real motivation behind the move was to cut staff.
While that may be okay for a large hospital, for a small community hospital it was deadly, he said.
"We're operating on a skeleton crew as it is and it's dangerous. We've already been cut to the bone - we don't have any fat left to cut," he said.
He said he was only speaking out because he was angry cost-cutting was being put before the needs of patients and the community.
"We are there to service the community and how can we do that when we are turning people away?"
Not a great position to be in, Premier, and one that's getting many of us a bit hot under the collar up here on the NSW North Coast and just itching to front a polling booth.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

"Managing our coastal zone in a changing climate: the time to act is now" - October 2009 report to Australian Parliament [full report download]

This morning the Australian media has picked up on the threat to coastal communities of rising sea levels and climate change generally, as set out in an October 2009 final report to the Australian Parliament's House Standing Committee on Climate Change, Water, Environment and the Arts.

This report makes forty-seven recommendations which clearly show that Australia is underprepared to deal with; a) natural disasters resulting from climate change-induced adverse weather events; b) continual sand/land erosion: c) widespread seawater inundation of urban areas; d) sustained flood events; e) mass evacuation of populations; f) contamination of water supplies; g) private and public insurance risks; h) loss of coastal land value and potential no-go zones for human occupation; i) inadequate building codes; j) biodiversity degradation; k) loss of indigenous heritage sites and l) loss of large offshore islands/territory.

Essentially these problems are well-known to all tiers of government, as there have been a number of previous climate change impact assessment reports containing recommendations which for the main have languished on departmental desks for want of political nerve.
The level of inaction at state and local government levels (both of which have direct responsibility for coastal land and how it is used) is quite frankly astounding at times.

Shire councils such as Clarence Valley Council continue to support large-scale unsustainable development proposals, like the move to place over 2,000 extra residents on flood-prone land in the Clarence River estuary which is already beginning to feel the first effects of climate change.

State Governments such as the NSW Rees Government actively encourage this global warming myopia, create coastal policy documents with the aim of transferring liability while still allowing development and fail to move decisively against such inappropriate development as the West Yamba proposal currently before its Planning Minister, Kristina Keneally.

Download Managing our coastal zone in a changing climate: the time to act is now:
  • Single chapter version downloads
  • Consolidated version download (PDF 5.3 MB)
  • Update:

    Clarence Valley coastal zone has worst erosion in decades this year

    North Coast businesses on NSW Food Authorities Name and Shame List

    The NSW Food Authority publishes lists of businesses that have breached or are alleged to have breached NSW food safety laws.

    The lists gives consumers more information to make decisions about where they eat or buy food.

    Individuals and businesses may receive either a penalty notice for their alleged offence or be prosecuted before a court.

    These North Coast businesses are on the list.

    (8/12/2008) Fail to display potentially hazardous food under temperature control - hot food displayed below 49C, and staff did not check temperatures Penalty $330.00

    (10/12/2008) Did operate a food business without a license - manufacture of cheese Penalty $660.00

    (20/11/2008) Fail to maintain food premises, fixtures, fittings, equipment in a good state of repair and working order having regard to their use - coolroom door, coolroom door seal, and conveyor belt of dough rolling machine in state of disrepair Penalty $330.00

    * CURRY & KEBAB KING SHOP 2/164 CANTERBURY STREET CASINO 2470 (25/2/2009) Fail to take all practicable measures to eradicate and prevent the harbourage of pests - A cockroach infestation was observed on the premises Penalty $330.00

    (25/11/2008) Failed to display for sale potentially hazardous foods under temperature control - Lasagne had a core temperature of 35C and no thermometer present on the premises Penalty $330.00

    * HENRY'S BAKERY 87 KEEN STREET LISMORE 2480 (25/8/2009) Sale of unsuitable food - rodent bait pellet found baked into bread, open pellets observed in foil trays near baking trays Penalty $1100.00

    (30/10/2008) Fail to maintain food premises and equipment in a clean condition Penalty $330.00

    (4/3/2009) Food for sale past its use-by date Penalty $330.00

    (24/4/2009) Permitted a live animal in food handling areas, other than seafood or other fish or shellfish - a small dog was permitted in the front and kitchen areas Penalty $660.00

    (14/1/2009) Fail to maintain food premises to the required standard of cleanliness - There was an accumulation of food waste, grease and grime on walls, floors, and ceilings Penalty $330.00

    (28/10/2008) Fail to take all practicable measures to eradicate and prevent the harbourage of pests on the food premises - damaged back door and evidence of pest activity Penalty $660.00

    (4/3/2009) Fail to display potentially hazardous food under temperature control - fish displayed at a temperature of 12C Penalty $330.00

    (4/3/2009) Fail to ensure that persons undertaking or supervising food handling have necessary skills and knowledge Penalty $330.00

    (3/10/2008) Fail to maintain fixtures and fittings in a clean condition - accumulation of food, grease, cockroaches Penalty $330.00

    * SOPHIES RESTAURANT (THE CECIL HOTEL) 100 CENTRE ST CASINO 2470 (14/10/2008) Fail to take all practicable measures to eradicate and prevent the harbourage of pests on the food premises - mice droppings found and blow flies present Penalty $660.00

    (16/7/2008) Fail to maintain food premises in a clean condition - unclean walls, display cabinet and exhaust canopy Penalty $330.00

    * WOODBURN EVANS HEAD RSL 11-13 MCDONALD PLACE EVANS HEAD 2473 (4/8/2009) Fail to maintain easily accessible hand washing facilities on the food premises - handwash basin obstructed by a bucket in the basin and a garbage bin in front Penalty $660.00

    (14/11/2008) A person must not sell food that is unsuitable - A loaf of bread sold contained a cockroach Penalty $550.00

    NSW Electoral Commission changes its mind and Page electorate loses voter numbers

    From a 23 October 2009 Australian Electoral Commission media release:

    The augmented Electoral Commission for New South Wales today announced the outcome of the deliberations on the boundaries and names of the 48 federal electoral divisions in New South Wales, in accordance with a requirement of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.
    The presiding member of the augmented Electoral Commission for New South Wales, the Hon. Peter Heerey QC, said that it had adopted the proposal of the Redistribution Committee for New South Wales, published on 7 August 2009, with some changes.
    The augmented Electoral Commission considers that its proposal is not significantly different from that proposed by the Redistribution Committee. Therefore, a further objection period and further hearing are not required.
    The formal determination of the boundaries
    and names of the electoral divisions will be gazetted on 22 December 2009.

    This means that the NSW North Coast Page electorate currently held by Federal Labor MP, Janelle Saffin, will shrink back from its originally proposed new boundaries.

    The Poll Bludger gives more details in the post Redraw redrawn.

    Click on map to enlarge

    Conservatives for Climate and Environment Inc. comes out with a strong name change

    These are the current opening lines on the Conservatives for Climate and Environment Inc website:

    If you believe in ...

    > acting without delay on climate change,

    > supporting a strong enterprising economy,

    > protecting the environment,

    > responsible small 'l' liberal values,

    then your support now will make all the difference!

    Conservatives for Climate and Environment is a federally registered political party formed in early 2007 by concerned people from around Australia, frustrated by the lack of voting options for economic conservatives who value the environment, take climate change seriously, and take a responsible approach to social issues.

    A nuclear energy industry was only one part of its rather sparse four-part policy.
    This week the Australian Electoral Commission published a name change request for the Conservatives for Climate and Environment political party to
    Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy Australia Incorporated.

    Is this a major shift in emphasis for the party, Mr. Evill?

    Remember when we were told that Aussie workers needed to prepare for a life of increased leisure?

    Sometime in the 1980s when industrial relations reform and multi-skilling the workforce were on Australia's national agenda we were all warned that even semi-skilled workers needed to prepare themselves for a future with a four-day week and lots more leisure.
    Aussie workers were not just going forward to a universal 38 hour week - it was going to be one of only 32 hours in some golden future which was just around the affluent corner.
    This month we're told; According to the ACTU, a quarter of employees work 40 hours a week, 11 per cent work up to 48 and 13 per cent work 50 or more.
    That's 49% of the workforce who were well and truly sold a pup.
    Pollies and big business will tell you anything when they're trying it on, won't they?

    Monday 26 October 2009

    When we let senators out to play overseas strange things can happen.........

    Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi is being a bad, bad, boy by blantantly misrepresenting the Rudd Government stance on its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) emissions trading bill if reporting on 23 October 2009 by The Washington Independent is true:

    Cory Barnardi, a Liberal Party senator from South Australia, is in Washington for meetings with some stateside conservative groups. (The Liberal Party in that country is the conservative opposition to the ruling Australian Labor Party.)
    I talked with him briefly and asked about the impact of the House vote on cap-and-trade legislation back in Australia.
    The prospects for a climate bill had stalled out, but then the U.S. House moved on cap-and-trade and the ball began rolling again.
    "It's a problem," said Bernardi. The Labor Party's principles on climate change, he explained, call for a vote if and after the United States passes its own bill. There is a movement afoot to change that, he said, but it's not changed yet.
    And if the U.S. Senate passed a climate change bill? "That would make things more difficult." [my bolding]

    For all the flack that will come Cory 'lose with the truth' Bernardi's way, he didn't even get his name consistently spelt correctly over those nine short lines.

    Just for the benefit of American readers - the Australian Federal Labor Government is trying very hard to get its climate change bill creating an emissions trading scheme (aka cap-and-trade) passed into law before the beginning of December 2009 and had its re-introduced CPRS bill read a second time in the House of Representatives on 22 October 2009.

    It has consistently refused to tie the carriage of this bill to anything other than domestic considerations and a desire to have legislation in place before the COP15 climate change conference being held in Copenhagen at the end of the year.

    Here is the Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change on his feet in the Australian Parliament:

    I would like to address at the outset some of the major arguments of those who oppose action on climate change.
    It is sometimes said that because Australia is responsible for a small proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions, we should not be 'acting ahead of the rest of the world' by unilaterally committing to reduce our emissions—that this would impose costs on Australia without solving the global warming problem.
    We are not acting ahead of the rest of the world—in fact 27 EU countries, the US, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and Korea all have, or are developing, cap-and-trade systems.
    And there is no need to wait until after Copenhagen as there is nothing in the Bill which makes its passage contingent on Copenhagen outcomes.

    A consistent government position of which Senator Bernardi is well aware, but obviously one that he was determined not to convey to readers of The Washington Independent.

    A big thanks all round to the Firies and all who battled recent North Coast bush fires

    First from the Labor MP for Page, Janelle Saffin in the House of Representatives on 19 October 2009, courtesy of Open Australia:

    I would like to pay tribute in this House to firefighters from four agencies who have been working overtime to control bushfires in my federal electorate of Page, and the neighbouring electorates of Cowper and Richmond, since late last week. It is hard not to mention neighbouring electorates because the firefighters and the fires do not know the boundaries; they have been working over them all. Tragically, a retained Kingscliff fire brigade firefighter, Andrew 'Packy' Turnbull, died after battling a grass fire at Fingal Head last Friday night. Mr Turnbull leaves behind five children and two stepchildren. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and many friends in the Tweed shire.

    Firefighting crews from New South Wales Rural Fire Service, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Forest New South Wales and New South Wales Fire Brigades have been working long shifts to battle the Centre Road fire near Brooms Head village on the Clarence Coast. I pay tribute to Superintendent David Cook, manager of Far North Coast team New South Wales Rural Fire Service. Last Thursday night this fight came very close to the popular Brooms Head Caravan Park, and now has burnt out 10,000 hectares of Yuraygir National Park towards Clarence Peak, a local landmark in the area. Residents at 'the Broom', Wooloweyah, where my adviser lives, Angourie, Sandon, Minnie Water, Wooli, Diggers Camp and Pillar Valley were on high alert over the weekend, but a massive effort by firefighters on the ground and from the air was helped by favourable winds and cooler temperatures. The danger is far from over as little rain has fallen. (Time expired)

    Then from a longtime Brooms Head resident this letter to the editor in The Daily Examiner on 20 October 2009:

    Thanks firies

    As a Brooms Head resident I would like to express appreciation for the magnificent work of the local Clarence Valley and outside brigades in saving the village from what appeared to be likely destruction - particularly on Wednesday afternoon and night last week.
    The fire was bearing down on the village, fanned by an appalling hot north-west wind. A terrible situation.
    Without the selfless work of the brigades, through the afternoon and right through the night many houses would have been lost.
    Then, having saved the Brooms Head village, they continued to work for days to stop the fire spreading north to Wooloweyah and Angourie, as it certainly would have done.
    Many thanks indeed.

    Brooms Head.

    Finally, from the good folk at Gurranang and Banyabba in the 23 October issue of the same newspaper:


    THE residents of Gurranang and Banyabba, being around 35km north of Grafton on the Summer-land Way, would like to publicly thank members of the local Rural Fire Service and the State Forests for their courage and valuable assistance in the bushfire last Wednesday.
    Most of us had a fire truck at our homes to help us defend our homes, where unpredictable and high winds quickly spread the fire throughout the area.
    The volunteers in the Rural Fire Service deserve the full support of the community and hopefully many more will join up to maintain this priceless service.
    Thanks once again.


    Monsanto: St. Lois we have a problem

    Despite its market dominance Monsanto & Co. is continuing to show financial loss according to the St. Lois Business Journal this month:

    Monsanto Co. reported Wednesday a wider fourth-quarter loss on charges from recent layoffs and the sale of its sunflower operations. Monsanto lost $233 million in the quarter ended Aug. 31, compared with a loss of $172 million a year earlier. Results reflected restructuring charges that included the costs of staff reductions, streamlining brands, and office and facility consolidations. Monsanto recently cut 1,800 jobs, including 300 in St. Louis.

    Monsanto's woes do not stop there however, because there is growing unease among government regulators around the world who suspect that anti-competitive practices abound in the global seed industry,
    not least in the multinational's home country America.

    Here are the opening paragraphs of 23 October 2009 of
    The American Antitrust Institute white paper discussing the issue Transgenic Seed Platforms:
    Competition Between a Rock and a Hard Place?:

    With the widespread adoption by farmers of corn, cotton, and soybean seed containing transgenic technology, the U.S. seed industry has changed rapidly in the past twenty years. The largest changes include the creation of strongholds of patented technology and the gradual elimination of the numerous regional independent seed companies through consolidation. Resulting increases in concentration in affected markets has been driven largely by the industry’s dominant firm, Monsanto.

    A threshold question to consider is whether Monsanto has exercised its market power to foreclose rivals from market access, harming competition and thereby slowing the pace of innovation and adversely affecting prices, quality, and choice for farmers and consumers of seed products. If the answer to this question is yes, remedying the intractable competitive situation that prevails in the transgenic seed industry may require antitrust enforcement, legislative relief, or both. The problem highlights both the importance of competition policy and the security and diversity of a key agricultural sector.

    White Paper PDF download here.

    * This post is part of North Coast Voices' effort to keep Monsanto's blog monitor (affectionately known as Mr. Monsanto) in long-term employment.

    Sunday 25 October 2009

    The Twitterverse on the Coalition's CPRS emissions trading scheme bill amendments

    The Twitterverse is underwhelmed by Malcolm Turnbull's proposed amendments to the Rudd Government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009.

    no_filter_Yambano_filter_Yamba Coalitions ETS amendments - NO, NO, NO, NO and NOoooo!

    A triumph of ego over substance: Steve Fielding once again demonstrates why he's such a lightweigt politician

    It would appear that Family First's one and only federal senator, Steve 'I'm an engineer so I know about stuff' Fielding, is feeling slighted by the Australian public broadcaster, if his recent Senate estimates committee questions to the ABC's managing director are any indication.

    A triumph of ego over substance and a waste of time at taxpayers expense:

    Could you give us a handle on biases in The 7.30 Report, just generally? Are there some sorts of guidelines about keeping an eye on it?.........

    Do you have any monitoring of the range of viewpoints by political parties that have actually been on The 7.30 Report?......

    There are three parties sitting in the crossbenches with equal weighting and I thought those views would be interesting to hear on The 7.30 Report. I cannot recall the last time that Family First appeared on The 7.30 Report. I am just wondering: is something going on there?.......

    But the Labor Party has been on there a lot, which is fine, and so has the Liberal Party and so have the Nationals and so have the others.

    But not it seems Family First's favourite bottle imitator, to his obvious chagrin.

    Photograph of Senator Fielding as a bottle from The Sydney Morning Herald

    The incredible beauty of small things

    Tiny red fungus at Chatswood (NSW) by cskk

    One of a series of photographs Most Beautiful Mushrooms

    A rare endangered Australian fungus from the Lane Cove (NSW) area

    Ron's photo of Mycena from the Cairns (Qld) region

    Best online media headlines of the week that's past

    The Vatican finally gets its revenge on Henry VIII
    A Brisbane Times article on the Catholic Church further relaxing its criteria for admission of Anglican clergy and parishioners into Teh Church of Rome.

    Australians all let us react, says right
    WA Today piece by Richard Ackland on asylum seeks.

    Driver loses licence after 45mins tells the world about an 18 year-old caught out less than a hour after passing his driving test.

    Giant seagull appears behind Nine newsreader Peter Hitchener again, this time proving that a picture is worth yada, yada, yada....

    Poll: Fewer believe in global warming

    MSNBC and Ali Weinberg giving the big polluting multinationals some cheerful news at breakfast.

    'Day after tomorrow' map shows consequences of climate change
    The U.K. Telegraph also tackles the climate change subject by announcing a Science Museum map showing Great Britain can expect sea level rise, drought, heat wave and food shortages if global temperatures continue to trend upwards.

    Obama makes a hero of Fox News
    Kansas City Star lets us know that the U.S. President is a miracle worker.

    Saturday 24 October 2009

    First Dog On The Moon Presents: How To Deny Climate Change! An illustrated Typography of the Denialist's Journey

    First Dog on the Moon at Crikey takes on Andrew Bolt and climate change denialism on 16 October 2009:

    Click on
    flow chart
    to enlarge

    A cry from the heart......

    From the Koori Mail online:

    Ms Macklin, we deserve better

    AS D-Day steadily approaches for the Indigenous community of Yarrabah, a large number of our people are facing uncertain times. The hope for the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme to be extended past 1 July has been lost, with Federal Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin rejecting the local leaders' plea, and putting what she thinks will work in place. She has rejected another proposal by the local leaders to extend CDEP, once again acting bull-headed towards our people and Indigenous Affairs. These brash and foolish decisions which have been made by government ministers over the last decade who have handled Indigenous Affairs did not help us move forward one bit. Minister Macklin's latest decision is also going to backfire and fail miserably unless she becomes more proactive towards the community in Yarrabah, instead of bureaucrats dictating from their flashy offices in Brisbane. They're still sending their feedback drones or mules into the community meetings to do their dirty work. Shame on the ministers and the Government. Five hundred people will lose their jobs and their families will be left to live off the dole. So much for our 'highly skilled' labourers and qualified tradesmen who have also proved themselves working in the mainstream. It is a shame we have been given this to live and abide by in our beautiful home in a year where Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he would start closing the 18-year life-expectancy gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australians. This neglect has been with us Yarrabah folks since the old missionary days of 1892. Our people are totally sick of it. We wonder why we still die younger than expected. These new changes have no respect for our cultural identity, making us into dole-bludgers and draining our confidence instead of giving our residents hope of being employed in their home town. Ms Macklin, if you really care about Indigenous Affairs and your fellow Australians in far north Queensland, I urge you to visit us in Yarrabah to meet the residents to find a better outcome, because the one you settled on is not good enough. We are not all useless. We are Australians too, the real Australians. We deserve much better. ... BRAD HIGGINS Yarrabah, North Queensland