Monday 31 May 2010

Nationals' candidate for Richmond bows out

Murdock quits: I've had enough
Northern Star
Murdock pulls out of election

Tweed Daily News

Tania Murdock will not be standing as a National Party candidate for Richmond in the next Federal election. Mrs Murdock accused some in her own party of ‘having their own agenda’ and also said her personal reputation had been unjustifiably attacked by Liberal candidate Joan Van Lieshout.

Mrs Murdock told The Northern Star:

"She (Ms Van Lieshout) flatly refused (to work in together) which was a bit of a surprise seeing we are both on the same side of politics.

“She then made inaccurate claims and deliberately created a negative impression about me personally.”

While conceding that she had made some novice mistakes since winning nomination in December, Mrs Murdock said many of these were blown out of proportion by her enemies within the party.

“Some internal people who have their own agendas politically have jumped on any little mistake they can,” she said.

Sources: The Northern Star and Tweed Daily News

Ask President Obama to reject a deal that would legitimize commercial whaling

Photographs by Byrant Austin
slideshow here and website gallery here

To get an image, Austin finds a pod of whales, and then stays at the surface of the water, waiting for one of the whales to approach him. When they do, he starts photographing them, swimming less than six feet away from them. After taking hundreds of high resolution images of a whale - all on the whale's terms - he pieces them together into one complete, life-size whole. He's the first artist to show photos of whales at life-size, and the impact is profound.

This week the Australian Government will commence legal proceedings against the Government of Japan in the International Court in The Hague, over the annual commercial slaughter of whales (including protected/ threatened species and females in calf) in the Antarctic conducted under the guise of 'scientific research'.

A petition to US President Barack Obama requesting that he reject a deal that would legitimize commercial whaling is now online for signing at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The International Whaling Commission meets again in June 2010 and Australia needs a strong ally in this fight - so use the NRDC link and personalise the message to Obama at the beginning of the online petition to let him know what the world thinks.

Now is the time to act!

The world according to Tony Mark I or II 0r III or IV or V...........

A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise.

Now just in case you think Oz Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has had a divine revelation on the 27th of May about global warming and climate change - remember that he tailors his opinions to his audience.
Here's Tony over the last six months:

"If you look at Roman times, grapes grew up against Hadrian's Wall - medieval times they grew crops in Greenland. In the 1700s they had ice fairs on the Thames. So the world has been significantly hotter, significantly colder than it is now. We've coped....
Well, look, if man-made CO2 was quite the villain that many of these people say it is, why hasn't there just been a steady increase starting in 1750, and moving in a linear way up the graph."
{Tony Abbott in Lateline interview on 19th November 2009}

"I mean in the end this whole thing is a question of fact, not faith, or it should be a question of fact not faith and we can discover whether the planet is warming or not by measurement. And it seems that notwithstanding the dramatic increases in man made CO2 emissions over the last decade, the world's warming has stopped. Now admittedly we are still pretty warm by recent historical standards but there doesn't appear to have been any appreciable warming since the late 1990s."
{Tony Abbott in 2GB Radio interview with Alan Jones on 9th December 2009}

"In a wide ranging speech, Mr Abbott talked about climate change, the Liberal political fortunes and Kevin Rudd. Quote - the argument on climate change is absolute crap, he said."
{Editor of Pyrenees Advocate quoting Tony Abbott in North Coast Voices post on 8th February 2010}

"OK, so the climate has changed over the eons and we know from history, at the time of Julius Caesar and Jesus of Nazareth the climate was considerably warmer than it is now....And then during what they called the Dark Ages it was colder. Then there was the medieval warm period. Climate change happens all the time and it is not man that drives those climate changes back in history.....It is an open question how much the climate changes today and what role man plays."
{Tony Abbott to a school class quoted in The Australian on 8th May 2010}

"I am confident, based on the science we have, that mankind does make a difference to climate, almost certainly the impact of humans on the planet extends to climate."
{Tony Abbott in a speech to 11th National Business Leaders Forum on Sustainable Development quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald on 27th May 2010}

Sunday 30 May 2010

Australian mining industry piles on the tax distortions as it tries to win over the electorate

If one relies on media reports it would appear that the Australian mining industry might have a case against the Rudd Government's proposed Resource Super Profits Tax which is due to activate in 2012.

However, if one cares to open the media releases put out by the Mining Council of Australia the flimsy nature of arguments used by the anti-RSPT lobby begins to emerge.

To date my favourite assertion is; The super tax is, in effect, a Government-mandated sale of 40% of Australia's resources industry at a Government mandated price.
Another favourite is the statement that; For the industry as a whole in 2007-2008, ATO statistics show mining companies paid 27.8% effective corporate tax rate, which rises to 41.3% when royalties are included.
While Mining pays a higher tax rate than any other industry stands out as a blatant attempt at misdirection.

All these quotes are found in the Mineral Council's The truth about the super tax –the myths and the facts, 25 May 2010.

So let's look at the forced sale argument.
No established mining corporation is talking of selling off the parent company or subsidiaries - in the middle of a resources boom most of these companies are very profitable and likely to continue so for many years even with mooted tax reform.
The only threats being made by some mining companies is that they will reassess their scheduled mining projects in light of the proposed tax and rebate scheme.

What about that colossal corporate tax rate quoted, I hear you ask.
Well in 2007-08 there were according to the Australian Taxation Office 2007-08 statistics; 4,290 mining companies having combined incomes which totalled $160,323,192,189, which in turn had combined taxable incomes of $29,010,243,407 and net tax actually paid was $8,068,463,15 after all allowed deductions had been made.
As for royalty payments made in Australia these added up to $3,924,902,975 in 2007-08, which was a little over half of all royalty payments across all listed industries made in that financial year. (Update: A hat tip here to Peter Martin for pointing out in a recent post that mining royalties are tax deductible)

What the Tax Office also points out is the fact that of these 4,290 mining companies there were some who paid no tax at all and, these comprised 68.3% of all mining companies.
In fact the mining sector has the second-highest percentage of 'no tax paid' than any other listed industry.

How did they do that?
Well there are at least 20 deductions, rebates, concessions, exemptions, offsets etc. available to the mining industry and their combined value is literally worth billions.
The industry total for expenses claimed under R&D concessions alone was $2,508,321,897 and immediate deduction for capital expenditure $3,785,347,506, in 2007-08.

So how does the claim that the mining industry is paying a higher tax rate than any other industry fare?
Quite frankly the mining industry tax rate does not stand alone from some other listed industries in terms of comparable tax percentages to taxable income.

It is worth noting that in 2007 the Business Council of Australia in Tax Nation calculated corporate tax (as a percentage of profit) at 20% for the mining industry.
Interestingly this same document stated; Taxes Collected are negative for the mining industry group because as major exporters survey participants reported a significant GST refund which more than offset other Taxes Collected.

It is also interesting to see that the Mining Council of Australia's advertisement presently being broadcast states that the mining industry currently pays 38% tax, which is a figure significantly lower than those quoted in other council documents which had the combined company tax and royalties running at 41.3%.

Next time you see a talking head spruiking for the mining industry or catch one of the industry's televised advertisements - remember that all is not as these miners would have you believe.

Image from Mumbrella

Stop the world - I want to get off!

Ever wondered how we're all going to respond to an increasingly hostile physical world?
What path we'll go down as we confront the dire consequences of our own collective actions?
In the face of one monumental environmental disaster the only psychological defence left for some is laughter:

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – At a conference of oil leak experts in Washington today, attendees proposed plugging the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico with executives of BP, the company responsible for the catastrophic spill.

"We've tried containment domes, rubber tires, and even golf balls," said William Cathermeyer of the National Oil Leakage Institute, a leading consultancy in the field of oil leaks. "Now it's time to shove some BP executives down there and hope for the best."

Submerging the oil company executives thousands of feet below the ocean's surface could be a "win-win" situation, Mr. Cathermeyer said.

"Best-case scenario, they plug the leak," he said. "And at the very least, they'll shut the fuck up."

But even as the oil leak experts proposed their unorthodox solution, environmental expert Marilyn Sufranski warned of the possible negative consequences of plugging the oil leak with BP executives.

"The Gulf of Mexico is slimy enough already," she said.

Saturday 29 May 2010

The Daily Examiner in Grafton holds its own in APN regional circulation breakdown

A general gloom still lingers over falling circulation numbers for major Australian newspapers, which this last quarter have been blamed on a slow news cycle as well as the proliferation of free online news and comment sites.
However for some regional mastheads it is slightly a different story.

The Daily Examiner on the NSW North Coast holds its own against larger newspapers within the APN group which in the week ending Saturday 22 May 2010 had a combined paid sales figure of 882,161 copies for its fourteen dailies.

The Daily Examiner which has been publishing in the Clarence Valley since 1859 came in with a daily circulation of 5,604 in 2010 year to date (YTD) terms. This showed a small percentage increase of 0.75%, which made it the only newspaper in the APN stable to be in the black for the year thus far.

Well done to the team at DEX.

The Clarence River as part of Earth's big picture

Clarence River mouth from the air at Blue Skies

From the abstract for Continental rifting and drainage reversal: The Clarence River of Eastern Australia by R. J. Haworth and C. D. Ollier, Department of Geography and Planning, The University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales 2351, Australia:

The Clarence River on Australia's east coast has an anomalous drainage pattern. Its right-bank tributaries are markedly barbed, suggesting reversal, whereas Tertiary volcanism has disrupted its left-bank drainage. The southeast-flowing Clarence is closely aligned with the northwest-flowing Condamine River just across the Continental Divide. The Condamine-Clarence alignment is continued by a large southern tributary, the Orara River, which flows northwest, away from the sea, to meet the southeast-flowing Clarence. A broad river with a quite different character flows east from near the Orara-Clarence junction to the sea. This is essentially an overflow channel.
This series of aligned streams, the Condamine-Clarence-Orara, represents the remains of an earlier northwest-flowing stream that extended the full length of the Clarence-Moreton Basin, an eastern extension of the Great Artesian Basin. During the Jurassic, the Clarence-Moreton Basin was filled with sediments from the surrounding highlands, including those to the east of the present coastline. Continental rifting from Late Cretaceous times onwards led to the opening of the Tasman Sea, causing the reversal and beheading of the original northwest-flowing streams and the formation of the Great Escarpment.
The evolution of the Clarence River does not fit into most conventional geomorphic paradigms such as cycles, climatic geomorphology or steady-state landforms. It is the result of a succession of unique events on a very long timescale, and as such is a classic example of evolutionary geomorphology.

Water spouts on the NSW North Coast

Local photographer Steve Young manged to catch these two water spouts and the Coffs Coast Advocate reported last Friday:
"Coffs Harbour Bureau of Meteorology duty observer Roger Brown said water spouts were uncommon here but not rare.
“They usually form in a thunderstorm,” Mr Brown said. “It is a type of tornado, although they are usually much less potent than the ones we see in the mid-west of the US. We probably see a couple every year – when they’re forming you often see a couple at a time.”

Here's another pic from Port Macquarie on the mid-North Coast in 2007, found at Flickr's 'australia waterspout' tag:

Pics by Steve Young and beachcomberaustralia

Friday 28 May 2010

Colourful National Party character will be back on the road again

(with apologies to Willie Nelson)

District Court Judge James Black has changed a sentence for drink-driving handed down early this year to Nationals stalwart Murray Lees.

Lismore's Northern Star reports:

Judge Black yesterday set aside Murray Lees’ eight-month suspended prison sentence, handed down by Magistrate Michael Dakin at Murwillumbah Local Court in January for Lees’ fourth drink-driving offence in five years.

Mr Dakin had also banned Lees, 44, of Dulguigan, north of Murwillumbah, from driving for three years.

Lees, who ran the Nationals’ Page campaign in 2007, stepped down from his leadership positions within the party while he dealt with issues around depression and drinking.

Yesterday’s decision will let Lees get back behind the wheel on September 17 – a year after he blew 0.085 after being stopped by police while racing to get to his brother-in-law, who had just been in a bad traffic accident.

Judge Black allowed Lees to enter the interlock program, which would allow him to drive so long as he fitted a device to his car that forced him to pass a breathalyser test before starting the engine. He won’t be allowed to drive without the device for two years from September 17.

The court heard Lees had been celebrating his birthday and was waiting with his wife for a taxi to go out to dinner when the couple got a call from Mrs Lees’ brother, who had just been in a traffic accident.

The couple jumped in the family car, with Lees behind the wheel, and drove off to help, but ended up being stopped by police.

Sources: The Northern Star and

What goes on behind closed doors should stay there, says Daily Examiner editor

A bouquet for The Daily Examiner editor David Bancroft's Page 10 comment on 26 May 2010:

IN the past week we have seen some parts of the media lurch dangerously towards titillation over substance, highlighted by the "outing" and subsequent resignation of the former transport minister, David Campbell.

Throughout our history, Australians and the Australian media have shied away from intruding into the private lives of politicians, but the treatment of Campbell and, earlier, John Della Bosca suggests the old rules no longer apply.

Della Bosca was forced to resign after the media revealed an affair with a younger woman, and Campbell last week handed in his resignation after Channel Seven secretly filmed him entering a gay night club.

It appears, in Campbell's case in particular, that he was set up.

Despite suggestions in Channel Seven's early report that Campbell had misused his ministerial car he, in fact, committed no crime and no breach of ministerial guidelines.

This was not news.

Channel Seven had no right to first pry and later report what Campbell did in his private life.

Being homosexual is not an offence and did not prevent him from carrying out his ministerial or electorate duties.

It should be a matter for Campbell, his wife of 30 years and his children.

To air his personal life on national television only serves to further erode public confidence in the media.

What politicians do behind closed doors should stay there unless it impacts on their duties or conflicts with moral statements they have made.

I, for one, certainly don't want to know what people like Wilson Tuckey get up to in their bedrooms and I think most Australians would feel the same.

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill 2010: when 'we told you so' is hopelessly futile and any penalties imposed on polluters not enough to satisfy

The U.S. Public Broadcasting Service is running a meter calculating the amount of oil now devasting the marine environment, sea creatures both large and small, bird life, foreshore and estuary ecosystems for hundreds of miles along the Gulf of Mexico thanks to British Petroleum and partners.

PBS 'The BP Spill's Impact on Wildlife'

WARNING: Some images are distressing

UPDATE on 30 May 2010:
There is some talk that BP executives are pressuring the mainstram media and organizations involved in the oil spill clean-up not to give regular accounts of numbers of wildlife killed or rescued and not to give a daily reckoning of the amount of oil still leaking into the Gulf of Mexico.
The fact that PBS paused its meter (above) on 28 May 2010 seems to lend credence to this claim.

Thursday 27 May 2010

Don't do it Swanee! Don't water down the RSPT

Here I was thinking that at last the big bloated mining companies operating in Oz might finally be made to pay a realistic tax on the huge profits they make out of a very finite resource.
Even in the middle of the global financial crisis they were all doing nicely thank you.
I switch on the radio today and find that Swan and Bowen are being tipped to back down and give in to the dishonest media campaign those same big miners are running.
Don't do it fellas - those Aussies battling their way towards retirement and facing less and less in the way of social infrastructure to help in old age are standing squarely behind this tax rearrangement.
Swanee - forget the meeja, ignore the polls, remember the people!

How some of that filthy lucre's adding up:
17 May 2010 Leighton announces third quarter profit of $400m and $37.5bn of work in hand....These are strong results for the nine months which reflect solid performances in mining and infrastructure
26 Feb 2010 ... Perilya announces net profit after tax of $28.5 million in six latest month report.
Rio Tinto's net profit after tax came to $5.43 billion in 2009
Fortescue Metals Group reported net profit after tax for the 12 months to June 30, 2009 of $626.13 million
30 June 2009 On an underlying basis, Centennial returned a record $82.0 million after-tax result.
9 September 2009 Hillgrove Resources Limited (ASX: HGO) is pleased to announce a net profit after tax (NPAT) for the six months ended 31 July 2009 of $53,973,885 (2008 6 months: $2,208,242 loss) after tax expense of $27,170,778
Industrea have announced an adjusted net profit after tax (NPAT) of $41.3 million for the 12 months to 30 June 2008, up 122% from the previous year's result
2008 Alumina Limited's net profit after tax for 2008 was $168 million...AWAC's 2008 net profit after tax was US$592 million compared to US$953 million in 2007
ERA's net profit after tax for the full year ended 31 December 2008 was a record $221.8 million, compared with $76.1 million for the same period in 2007. Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) were $318.0 million (2007: $108.0 million)

Australian Federal Election 2010: Bowen does Hartsuyker on superannuation

Australian Federal Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law and Minister for Human Services Chris Bowen, speaking of NSW Nationals MP for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker, according to Hansard on 24 May 2010 courtesy of OpenAustralia:

One month ago the shadow minister for superannuation—and, yes, there is one; it is the member for Cowper—gave a speech to the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees.
It was a scripted, written speech.
As far as we know the member for Cowper might have even rehearsed in front of the mirror, so we should have been able to take what he said as the gospel truth.
He said that the opposition in government would allow people over 50 to make concessional top-ups to their superannuation payments.
That was a commitment from the shadow minister for superannuation.
It lasted one month.
On 19 April this was announced as policy by the shadow minister for superannuation.

On 19 May, the shadow minister for finance announced this was no longer opposition policy; it had been discontinued.
It lasted a month. Their commitment to people aged over 50 lasted a month.

How inconsistent can you be?
But the Leader of the Opposition is probably very pleased with this. He is probably pleased with the inconsistency.

We're all in trouble when the Australian coal industry lobby begins an advertisemnt with this graphic

A NewGenCoal online advertising link to its website on 24 May 2010

Not everyone stays on a webpage for the complete advertising slideshow and so might not be aware that the people at NewGenCoal are actually referring to climate change denialism in this graphic - not their own stated position on global warming.

Still, this image does feed the prejudice of some in the Australian energy sector.......

Remember when overseas travel was an Oz rite of passage?

Remember when overseas travel was an Oz rite of passage? When dressed in our best clobber we boarded that ocean liner or hopped on a Qantas or Boeing flight and, with a letter of introduction to Grand-aunt Susan's second cousin once removed in the north of England, we headed overseas on our great adventure? One of the lucky few who had managed to scrape together the money for such a luxury or perhaps one of the very privileged who had received enough money to cover travel costs as a 21st birthday gift.
Well times have changed. Today's global travel is inexpensive by comparison and Generation Y is lapping it up.
According to Roy Morgan this month:
"The majority of Generation Y have moved out of home according to a recent study by Roy Morgan Research. In the 12 months to March 2010, only 25% of Gen Y now live with their parents (down from 51% five years ago), with 40% living with a partner, 27% in a shared household and 8% in some other arrangement. Additionally, 27% of Gen Y now have children.
More than half of Generation Y have completed a tertiary qualification or are still studying at a tertiary institution (53%) with 45% of them currently in full time work.
Almost all Gen Y (95%) have accessed the internet in the last 4 weeks, with 80% having accessed a community or messaging site, such as Facebook, and 27% having bought, sold or shopped online in the last 4 weeks. 62% also agree that they 'are always ready to try new and different products' — higher than both Gen Z (58%) and Gen X (57%)."
"Gen Y * is more likely than other generations to have taken at least one overseas holiday or leisure trip in the last 12 months, according to the latest Roy Morgan Research Single Source data.
In the year ended March 2010, 25.4% of Gen Y had taken at least one overseas holiday or leisure trip in the last 12 months, ahead of Baby Boomers (22.6%), Gen X (17.7%), Pre-Boomers (15.4%) and Gen Z (14.8%).
* Gen Y is defined as Australians born between 1976 - 1990; Gen Z between 1991 - 2009; Gen X between 1961 - 1975; Baby Boomers between 1946 - 1960; and Pre-Boomers 1945 or earlier.

"As Generation Y of Australia age, move through the life stages, and become increasingly wealthy over the next decade they could potentially represent a larger proportion of tourism expenditure in Australia. The challenge is that many of Gen Y are choosing an overseas holiday rather than a domestic one.
"Gen Y have diverse cultural backgrounds, but as a group they are highly educated and career minded. Roy Morgan Research has recently released a report on Gen Y Holiday and Leisure Trends which can assist tourism operators and destination marketers in understanding what motivates Gen Y, how they relate to the world, and how to communicate with them."

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Vandals told to take up a sport or start knitting

Haylee Gough, Chloe Duroux, Lily Porra and Tayla Lambeth are Year 6 students at Grafton Public School. They penned the following piece for the local paper, The Daily Examiner.

Stop the vandalism

AS Year 6 students we are all sick and tired of inconsiderate vandals destroying our schools almost every weekend, disturbing our schoolwork, costing us money and forcing someone else to clean it up.

These thoughtless people are disturbing our schoolwork. Children can't work in their classrooms if the general assistant or their teacher is cleaning up the mess or something is being replaced.

Vandalism is costing schools across Australia millions of dollars a year. This money could be better spent on school resources, sports equipment and electronics, like whiteboards and computers.

Someone always has to clean up the mess, whether it is the cleaner, general assistant, teachers or maybe even the students. It is very dangerous to clean up broken glass and burnt property.

In conclusion, we insist that these vandals stop what they're doing NOW! If they're so bored on the weekend, why don't they take up a sport or start knitting.

Source: The Daily Examiner, 25/5/2010

Nats Kevin Hogan spins the resource profits tax for his NSW North Coast audience

Well one NSW North Coast Nationals federal candidate in this year's Australian federal election, Kevin Hogan, thinks he has finally found a local issue on which to hang his hat.

His 25 May 2010 letter to the editor in The Daily Examiner suggests that the new resource profits tax and rebate scheme (an opt-in replacement of the crude oil excise operating in parallel with state royalties) will seriously impair Metgasco's Casino project:

A tax too far
I MET with representatives from Metgasco last week.
They are gravely concerned that the Rudd Government's proposed new Resource Profits Tax will in their words 'seriously impair' Metgasco's Casino project.
They have written a letter to Kevin Rudd expressing their concerns.
Metgasco has invested tens of millions of dollars in the project to date.
It has the potential to offer local jobs and boost the local economy.
It also will offer a supply of 'clean' energy to the Northern Rivers, replacing some of our reliance on coal-powered energy.
This project does not deserve to be killed off by another bad policy decision by the Rudd Government.
Local jobs are more important than Labor taxes to pay for wasteful spending.
KEVIN HOGAN, Nationals Candidate for Page

Predictably Mr. Hogan has gone electioneering without looking into the company background.

In 2007 Metgasco Ltd received a $1 million grant from the Australian Government to assist with its exploration and development in the Clarence-Morton Basin [RWE Australian Business News, 1 May 2007].

Three years later in April 2010 Metgasco told the Excellence in Oil & Gas Conference that it had "A$29 million" in cash at the end of 2009, no debts, energy resources (ten gas/oil exploration wells showing significant coal seam gas reserves ) in trial production with good profit margins anticipated once fully operational and, that the Casino power station had reached development application stage.

According to what the company told ASX at the end of April it is continuing to investigate gas commercialisation opportunities and currently in discussions with several prospective customers and will be progressing its exploration and testing activities.

The company's share price is also tracking above the last ordinary share issue listed price of 11 May 2010, according to the Australian Securities Commission this week.
This despite the fact that share price had been steadily falling between mid-April to early May this year:

[ASX,Metgasco Ord,Chart of daily prices over 6 months,Dec 2009-May 2010]

Indeed to date the company has never again reached the heady days of 2007 and 2008 when it share price went over the dollar.

Despite the Nationals candidate's protestations, the 11 May budget night announcement does not appear to have affected this company's Casino project. Something a spokesperson had to concede to The Byron Shire News on 11 May 2010.

The fact is that at this point in time Megasco is more an exploration company, rather than a fully operational development and production company generating strong positive cashflows and demonstrating significant value creation.
Therefore it is nowhere near attracting any form of 'super profit' in the foreseeable future.
The company would appear to be some years off from paying any appreciable level of tax directly to federal or state governments.

Metgasco is just another mining company lobbying against the prospect of paying a decent return to the nation when the good times roll and, Kevin Hogan just another wannabe politician happily stirring the pot in pursuit of his own ambitions.

Hogan's attempt to spin the deferred national emissions trading scheme met a similar response from a NSW North Coast resident in The Northern River Echo on 13 May 2010:

Carbon dating
Kevin Hogan levels the charge at Kevin Rudd that the Prime Minister only believes in the latest opinion poll on an issue (Echo, May 6). Amongst other things, Mr Hogan links this claim to the deferral of the emissions trading scheme. Maybe Kevin Hogan doesn't study opinion polls because they have consistently shown over the last few years that the vast majority of Australians do want to see government action to decrease carbon pollution. Recent polling has the figure running at 65% in favour and it has been higher than that. The federal Labor government has attempted to get a price on carbon pollution and did strike a deal with Malcolm Turnbull to get the carbon pollution reduction scheme through the Senate. The Liberal/National coalition then moved to change its leadership to prevent the scheme from being enacted. Global warming may still be the greatest moral issue of our time but the Liberals and the Nationals do not believe that it is, and are doing all they can to make sure this Labor government does not get an emissions trading scheme underway. The electorate will have the opportunity to break the deadlock in the Senate at the next election. Maybe then we won't be in a position where the coalition blocks everything socially and environmentally progressive. A delay is not a backflip when the people creating the delay are the opposition parties. The cowardice on the issue of carbon pollution and global warming is being displayed by the Liberal/National coalition.
Eric Kaiser,Kyogle

Mid-week blues......

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Clarence Valley and Yamba are special

Letter to the Editor published in The Daily Examiner on 24 May 2010:

Hospitality a hit

I RECENTLY brought my invalid mother Joy Hempenstall to Yamba for a four-night stay.

What started out a logistical nightmare became a seamless dream for her and for us, and I could not have done this without help from services provided by the Clarence Valley.

I have struggled with ways to thank them as everything seemed to pale into insignificance.

I hope these heartfelt words of thanks will reach them.

Firstly, we could not have Joy stay at our home because of stairs etc so we booked her into The Cove. Georgina and Jim were fantastic from the moment of inspecting the most suitable rooms to looking out for us during Joy's stay and various people coming and going. In fact it was hard to get Joy off the balcony overlooking Main Beach and who can blame her.

The girls at Maclean Community Health came to our rescue with the supply of equipment like bed sticks and the like. We were able to create a mirror image of where Joy resides in care in Brisbane and so provide a safe and familiar haven for her.

Clarence Valley Nursing provided overnight care for my mother and this enabled her to have some independent company and someone else to look out for her while I was able to slip off back home. She became so attached to these gorgeous girls she didn't want to let them go or she wanted to take them back to Brisbane with her.

Just when you think everything is going well I damaged a wheelchair I borrowed from a friend and with one desperate call to Janene at RSL Life Care I was able to pick up another chair within 30 minutes.

Joy experienced the very essence of Yamba while shopping at Zig Zag's Boutique, BWL Jeweller and Sweet Vintage where everyone was so kind, patient and helpful to us.

You people are amazing.

You have collectively given an old sick woman more to live for in five days than she has had for the last five years.


Abbott wins Golden GLORIA inaugral award this month

Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott won an award this month when one hundred and fifty people gathered at NSW Parliament House on 17th May 2010 "to award the first ever Gay and Lesbian, Outrageous, Ridiculous and Ignorant comment Awards – the GLORIAs. Abbott got the Golden GLORIA for his admission on TV's 60 Minutes recently that homosexuality makes him feel threatened...

The winners in the first four GLORIAs category were:

Politics: Tony Abbott for his comments about feeling threatened by homosexuality and his follow up comments saying that [homosexuality] challenges the orthodox notions of the right order of things.

Religion: Jim Wallace from the Australian Christian Lobby for saying:
"Some of you won't like this but it is fact. In Australia, in Ireland, in America the people who are prosecuted for sexual offences against minors have in Australia been over 70%, [homosexual] and remember that the churches who have been the victims of this have had a policy where they don't accept homosexuals as part of their clergy. Yet in Australia over 70% of the offences have been committed by homosexual clergymen."

Sport: The Footy Show for skit in May 2009 featuring the fictitious gay brother of NRL siblings Matthew and Andrew Johns called Elton Johns.
In the skit, the Johns's father attempts to return the gay son, played by Matthew Johns, to hospital saying "I want to return this, it's faulty".

Media: Australian Communications and Media Authority for ruling an episode of Dante's Cove breached of the Code of Practice because it simulates male/male sex rather than male/female. Nine is questioning the decision-making and points out that similar depictions between males and females have been aired without incident.

Law US Court of Appeals – 4th circuit for ordering the father of a dead solider to pay $16,000 to Westboro Baptist Church when he took them to court for protesting at his sons funeral. Westboro believes that military deaths are the work of a wrathful God who punishes the United States for tolerating homosexuality.

Monday 24 May 2010

ICAC investigation into lobbying in New South Wales - have your say on undue influence and corruption

Communities on the NSW North Coast are subject to sustained population pressure and the growing influence of developers both large and small is distorting the democratic process in relation to planning policy and implementation at state and local level.

Here is an opportunity for Northern Rivers residents to have their say on failing processes in formal and informal interactions between government, elected representatives, public servants/local government management and communities.

From the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) website:

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is conducting an investigation into lobbying of public officials and public authorities in NSW and the related procedures and regulatory system.

The Commission is seeking input from individuals and organisations through a call for submissions which must be received at the Commission by 5pm Wednesday 23 June 2010. See the guide for making a submission for more information.

Submissions may respond to the Commission's issues paper on lobbying, the investigation scope and purpose and other relevant issues concerning lobbying in NSW.

Lobbying in NSW - issues paper

Guide for making a submission to the ICAC

Scope and purpose of the investigation

The scope and purpose of the investigation is to examine whether the relationship between lobbyists and public authorities and public officials may allow, encourage or cause the occurrence of corrupt conduct or conduct connected with corrupt conduct and to identify whether any laws governing any public authority or public official need to be changed and whether any methods of work, practices or procedures of any public authority or public official could allow, encourage or cause the occurrence of corrupt conduct and if so, what changes should be made.

Is your local council using this tool?
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has recently released a Development assessment internal audit tool. The ICAC recommends that councils adapt all or part of this tool to address the potential corruption risks within the development assessment process.

Whales begin their annual migration out of the Antarctic killing fields into an evermore uncertain future

A 52-foot-long female Humpback whale and her newborn calf filmed in the South Pacific atoll of Moorea (Polynesia).
Image found at Big Movie Zone

As southern whales begin their annual trek out of the Japanese killing fields in the Antarctic to calve in warmer waters off Australia's far northern coastline and in the wider Pacific Ocean, they move into an evermore uncertain future.

Despite international concern about the fate of cetacean species, the Government of Japan and its uneconomic commercial whaling industry (conducting business under the guise of 'scientific research') continue to lobby vigorously for an end to the moratorium on whaling.

It is hard to see how the conference last weekend in Helsinki on Cetacean Rights: Fostering Moral and Legal Change will be an effective counterbalance to the votes and opinions Japan and other whaling nations will 'buy' at next month's International Whaling Commission
four day annual meeting in Morocco.

Generally the Japanese media still see the debate as one centred on the good of national scientific research and how little whale meat is in actually eaten in the country. Ignoring any real discussion of environmental, biodiversity and species impacts from sustained killing in the Southern Ocean and the fact that whale meat appears to be entering the local pet food industry.

Wild Politics has promised to post Helsinki conference papers soon. Margi Prideaux deserves a round of applause for that undertaking.

Cetacean Rights Conference May 2010 Opening Address:
Fostering Moral and Legal Change Towards Cetacean Rights
and presented conference paper abstracts

Lesser books you may have missed

Where ever I looked in the Oz blogosphere last week we were all being so deadly serious, so 'twas a relief to come across this #lesserbooks tag at Twitter.
Here's a small selection of titles on offer:

A Basement Master's Guide (Second Edition)
The Color Mauve
Pedagogy of the Depressed
A Clear and Present Annoyance
The Scarlet Debtor
Diary of a Cake Fiend
Tupac Kills A Mockingbird
Horton Hears a Where
War and Peas
Prude and Prejudice
The Maltseser Falcon
The Hitchhiker's Guide to Montana
Gone With the Breeze
Apprehension and Disapproval In Las Vegas
The Lion, The Witch and the Cupboard
The 38 steps
The Norwich Outpatient
Lard Times
Thus Spoke Uncle Bert

Sunday 23 May 2010

A Sunday smile.....

From xkcd

From Ned the Bear

All things greenhouse in New South Wales

While all things greenhouse appear to be marking time at a national level and, many who voted for Kevin 07 are unhappy and some horrified at the thought of his budgie-wearing counterpart Tony 10, matters chug along at NSW state level with average equivalent emissions this week running 15% above the level required to stop global warming and dirty energy prevails according to The Weekly Greenhouse Gas Indicator.

Queensland is a shocking 90% over equivalent weekly emissions levels for 1990 and South Australia is 12% below. The Northern Territory and West Australia are not tracked it this longtitudinal data collection.

New south wales

This week's (7 May to 13 May) NSW Indicator is 1.908 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, the breakdown is as follows:

In tonnes:
Electricity from coal: 1.106 million; 58.0%
Natural gas: 0.171 million; 8.9%
Petroleum: 0.632 million; 33.1%

This week

NSW's emissions from energy grew by 2.2% or 42,000 tonnes, due to an increase in emissions from both gas and coal-fired generation.

Emissions sources

Emissions from coal-fired electricity, which accounted for 87% of electricity generation in NSW this week, grew by 0.9% or 10,000 tonnes with a number of generation units operating at a higher capacity.
Emissions from gas grew by 23% or 32,000 tonnes.
Emissions from petroleum products continued at the same low level as last week – the lowest level of petrol emissions for the state in over two years.

Demand & Import/Export

Electricity demand grew 1.5%.
NSW imported 5.7% of its electricity demand from other states, compared to 6.9% last week.


This week's Indicator is 9.2% lower than the same week in 2009 and total emissions to this stage of 2010 are 5.5% lower than the similar stage last year.
This week's Indicator is 15% above the average equivalent 1990 weekly emissions and 1.3% below the equivalent 2000 weekly average.

Saturday 22 May 2010

The bloke ought to keep his mouth closed and let people think he's a racist idiot, rather than provide the proof

Patricia Laurie, Councillor for the North Coast Region of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, has very neatly put a gigantic racist ignoramus on his backside.

Last week James Mackenzie told Byron Shire Council that the Aboriginal nations Arakwal and Bundjalung are a fiction. McKenzie claimed there was no Bundjalung nation, tribe, people, language, culture, clan, nor horde. "No Bundjalung anything." (The Northern Star, 14 May)

Here's Ms Laurie's piece Bundjalung nation 'very much alive'. It's in today's Northern Star.

Some days you wake up better than others. But last Friday, I awoke to discover that I wasn't real.

In the May 14 edition of The Northern Star, a story appeared entitled 'Arakwal, Bundjalung don't exist'.

You can imagine my surprise, given that I am both a Yaegl woman and a member of the Bundjalung nation.

I pinched myself, just in case, and can confirm for Northern Star readers that I am, in fact, real.

I can also confirm that the Bundjalung nation is very much alive, and is one of the best known in the country.

Tens of thousands of Aboriginal people alive today - myself included - identify with the Bundjalung nation, either as their country, or the country of their ancestors.

The bizarre and ridiculous claims have come from 'James McKenzie, a great grandson of pioneer James MacKenzie, who was called Wollumbin Gum Jimmy'.

Mr McKenzie somehow managed to grab a microphone at a meeting of the Byron Shire Council.

By the end of his rant, Mr McKenzie had abolished two nations and called for 'a parliamentary inquiry into the scandals and the politicians involved'. What, all of them?

I'd respectfully suggest to The Northern Star that while coverage of council is important - and in The Star's case generally comprehensive - you don't have to report absolutely everything that is said.

If a man stands and makes a fool of himself, it might make for a colourful headline, but given the ridiculous and divisive nature of what's been said, reporting it doesn't make for harmonious relationships in the community. That, I would suggest, is in everyone's interests.

To my black brothers and sisters I'd make two points: Firstly, you reap what you sow; if you want to help other people question Aboriginal identity because it suits your political agenda, then expect to have your own identity questioned. Secondly, since the British arrived in 1788, Aboriginal people have been kept busy fighting among themselves. It's one of the great 'tools of the oppressor'.

Finally, to Mr McKenzie: I note that you claim to be a 'descendant of the famous MacKenzies', who helped build this region since colonisation.

The fact is, Mr McKenzie, I don't get to define your identity, any more than you don't get to define Aboriginal identity.

You can advance all the bizarre conspiracy theories you like, but it doesn't change who we are. All that's changed is what we think of you.

Sources: The Northern Star and The Daily Examiner (pic)