Sunday 31 October 2010

Smokers get royal treatment in Maclean

The Lower Clarence Services Club in Maclean  has gone to great lengths and spared no expense to ensure its patrons who want to have a durrie or two can do so in very comfortable surrounds.

Here are a couple of pics of the new palatial smokers' room which is housed in a new extension the club added to its premises.

Maclean locals are reported to have said they have no idea how much the new building must have cost the club, but they reckon the architect's fees alone were probably a six-figure sum.

Club members and visitors who use the room are reported to be tickled pink and really appreciative of the club's management for making what they describe as "a very bold move".

Patrons who are partial to the dreaded weed said they are sick and tired of having to put up with the terrible antics of club patrons who are on the premises simply for tippling purposes, feeding one-armed bandits or having punts on the TAB and Keno.

"It's about time we were looked after", one patron told NCV. "We've had a gutful of having to hide in toilets and similar locations in the club. Drinkers and gamblers wouldn't put up with the conditions we've had to endure."

Not a good look for the unpopular K-K-Keneally

The Daily Tele does graphs on 28 October 2010
Click on images to enlarge

Kristina just can't win. First an opinion poll which had her publicly eating crow with only a small side dish of spin:
"[It] confirms to me what I already knew - I have a tough job,'' the Premier said in response to a poll which found her government is now the most unpopular Labor administration in polling history, with a primary vote of just 23 per cent."
Then getting caught taking advantage of a solar scheme she would soon effectively wreck for we lesser mortals:
"NSW Premier Kristina Keneally purchased a $3000 solar system for her home five days after her government flagged moves to slash the tariff.
Documents obtained by The Weekend Australian yesterday show Ms Keneally ordered a solar system for her Sydney home on August 29 despite serious concern among bureaucrats and industry experts that public funds were being drained at an alarming rate by the Solar Bonus Scheme.
On August 24, after a series of internal warnings that the scheme -- one of the world's most generous -- was unsustainable because of its burden on the public purse, NSW Energy Minister Paul Lynch announced a review.
The review led to Ms Keneally and Mr Lynch announcing on Wednesday that the scheme's generous provisions would end with the cutting of the bonus for owners of solar systems from 60 cents to 20c per kilowatt hour.
Ms Keneally described the changes as necessary to slow down the scheme and "stop any further impact on electricity prices", while Mr Lynch said the changes were "specifically designed to avoid the bust".
Ms Keneally's decision to sign up for the solar system in late August, eight months after it started, placed her in line to receive the higher taxpayer-funded rate."
So why might this NSW premier drop from an likeability rating of 73% and preferred premier figure at 42% to a preferred premier rating of 35% less than twelve months later?
Is it just those tired, unimaginative policies and the woeful calibre of her ministry or is it perhaps the fact that a cold-blooded arrogance surfaces at all the wrong moments?

Saturday 30 October 2010

Die a wrongful death in Oz and you're worth something, die in Afghanistan and.....

The Herald-Sun yesterday:
"THE going rate for a life in Afghanistan's war is about $US1200 ($1230).
That's the figure the Defence Department and Federal Government are secretly paying to civilian casualties of war.
Australian soldiers paid $US10,200 to compensate for the lives of six civilians, five of them children, accidentally killed in a night raid just north of the Tarin Kowt base on February 12 last year."
While here in Australia:
"A Woolworths employee who injured his lower back while lifting a tub of meat has won a compensation payout of more than $82,000."
"CHRIS Hurley - the policeman acquitted of manslaughter over a Palm Island death in custody, only to face a civil claim from the victim's family - received a confidential $100,000 payment from the Queensland Government after the incident."
and again
"In August 2005, Mr Yousefi lodged a claim in the Supreme Court of NSW for compensation due to permanent psychiatric damage suffered as a result of his experiences in detention. He was awarded $800,000 compensation for wages, and lifelong medical care. As a result of his ordeal in detention, Mr Yousefi could never work again and would require medical care for the rest of his life."

and again
"The widow and four children of Mr Ward, whose first name cannot be published for cultural reasons, will receive a total $3.2 million as an ex-gratia payment from the state government for his death.
It includes an earlier $200,000 interim payment.
Mr Ward, 46, of Warburton, died in January 2008 while being transported 360 kilometres from Laverton to Kalgoorlie to face a drink-driving charge."

and yet again
"Andrew Mallard has been offered a $3.25 million compensation payment by the WA Government after being wrongfully jailed for 12 years over the 1994 murder of Mosman Park jeweller Pamela Lawrence.
The ex-gratia figure includes an earlier payment of $200,000 that Mr Mallard received in December 2006."
What's wrong with this word picture?
Well it seems that compensation for death, injury or loss suffered at the hands of Australian governments or corporations is worth more if it actually occurs within national boundaries. Heck, even a person allegedly responsible for a death gets the moola.

On the other hand - if a life is wrongfully taken in Afghanistan then it's only chump change which will be handed out by the Federal Government.

Never a truer word.......

MightyChewbacca @Salvor_Hardin_ Halloween is just bloody fair dinkum Un-Australian! via Mobile Web

Friday 29 October 2010

Political barometer predicts church attendances

IF, and that's a mighty BIG IF, new research from Northwestern University and Duke University holds water, then the State of NSW should have already seen a mass conversion of its good citizens to some form of faith if they were not already believers.

Professors Aaron Kay and Adam Galinsky and their colleagues examined whether changing political climates can drive religious belief, especially faith in a controlling or interventionist deity. They found that beliefs toward God and the government can help satiate the same psychological need for structure and order and are interchangeable with one another.

The study suggests that when a government weakens, people’s faith in a higher power becomes stronger.

According to Kay, an associate professor at Duke University, “Although there are undoubtedly multiple causes of religious belief, one cause may be that when people perceive their government as unstable, they turn to God or other religious deities to fulfill a need for order and control in their lives.”

The research would have it that before the next NSW State Election in 2011 with government instability perceived to be high then people should be more likely to believe in a controlling God. That should contrast with events immediately after the election when a sense of government stability has been restored and the citizens consider they don't need to put their faith in an intervening God.

Given the parlous condition of the current NSW Government, due in no small amount to the significantly less-than-ordinary performances by its tribal leaders, the research would have it that there should be huge numbers of new believers flocking to Sunday school and similar religious activities.

Read more about this earth-shattering research here.

Caveat emptor: pay new prices at Target but take home pre-loved goods!

Recently I went into the local Target store and came out the 'proud' owner of a new digital camera.
Or did I?
This short video filmed by an unknown person was found in the camera's memory and, its very existence probably voids any warranty.
Nice one, Target!

Hockey one, hockey two, hockey three.....

Poor Uncle Joe. It felt so right when he practiced his indignation in front of the bathroom mirror, but then it all started to unravel after the Australian Industry Group’s national forum wound down.
First his fearless leader publicly failed to support him – not once but thrice.”
“Back home on the political front today, the spotlight was on the Opposition after Coalition Leader Tony Abbott declined three times to back his Shadow Treasurer's nine-point plan for a more competitive banking system before finally rectifying the matter.”
Then the banks began to bite back at his 9 Point Banking Plan. With “populism” being the kindest term used for his wish list.
Finally Joe fronts the cameras and tells the world that the Federal Treasurer agreed with him in Parliament, but neglected to point out that it was Graham Samuels with whom Swan was agreeing.
Joe obviously forgets that both Hansard and Open Australia have the exchange word for word
And I was actually beginning to feel for the bloke – until that pork pie on national television.

Thursday 28 October 2010

Personal political perspectives debating the Afghanistan War

Statements made by Federal MPs with electorates on the NSW North Coast, during the Afghanistan War debate in the Australian House of Representatives.

Janelle Saffin, Member for Page [Hansard, 26 October 2010]

I also have had a conversation with a constituent who is the mother of a serving soldier in Afghanistan, and she feels quite passionate about it. She talked to me about when we will be able to leave and things like that, but at the same time she wants us there and wants the job well done. There is a conflict around it. Like a lot of members, I have been contacted by a whole range of groups from around the country, particularly social justice groups. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, ACFID, the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition, Pax Christi, Jason Thomas, who is a commentator, and all sorts of people and organisations have contacted us.

My local newspapers have been talking about the issue. There was an editorial in the Daily Examiner by David Bancroft, the editor, with the headline 'Keeping the Peace'. I would like to put on record the last two sentences from an article that Chris Masters wrote:

There is no question that our soldiers should leave Afghanistan, and leave sooner rather than later. But only once the job is done.

That is the overwhelming feeling that comes from the community. That is the commitment of the government and the opposition and the message of most of the comments that have been made in this place.

There is currently talk about whether or not we should talk with the Taliban. My information and experience leads me to the view that we always have to talk to those that we seek to make peace with in some way, whether that be through military or other means. But it should always be done strategically, for some sort of strategic advantage. The Taliban regime that ruled Afghanistan was toppled in 2002, but the Taliban are certainly a part of life in Afghanistan. There has been quite a lot of commentary about that recently. I always remember very well what the wonderful President Nelson Mandela said: ‘We don’t make peace with our friends.’ We make it, obviously, with our enemies.

Rob Oakeshott, Member for Lyne [Hansard 21 October 2010]

We have now found ourselves in one hell of a bind. If we leave, like when the 120,000 Russian troops left in 1989, there will be a void. There will be civil unrest and there will be blood. The bad elements of the Taliban would push back and potentially again gain control. The implications for being a 'base for terrorist groups' would potentially re-emerge. On the upside if we leave, however, our 1,550 Australian troops are safe, our tight budget has less strain and our ability to engage on both domestic and regional defence matters arguably increases. Importantly, we must also recognise that article 4 of the ANZUS treaty would be tested if we left.

Compare this with our military staying; there would be more Australian deaths and wounded. The 'base for terrorism' would continue to move to alternative locations such as Pakistan, the Horn of Africa, several Asian hot spots and even into locations such as London. We would continue to work on peace and reconstruction, with gun in hand—'shoot and talk' as General Petraeus recently put it—and we would continue the work of clear, hold and build for at least another 10 years.

Importantly, however, if we are operating in Australia's sovereign interests, we have to leave sometime and we cannot delay the inevitable void that will follow—not now nor in 10 years time. It is this issue—the one called Australia's sovereign interests—that should be central to this debate. We will leave sometime so that we do not spend another $6.1 billion on questionable return. We will leave sometime so we do not continue to lose Australian soldiers for a corrupt regime. We will have to at some point accept a lesser democracy than ours and we will have to at some time recalibrate to focus on our international obligations to our region, to the many challenges that religious extremism and terrorism pose and to what we can and should be doing to develop peace and development in our own region.

Luke Hartsuyker, Member for Cowper

Has not yet risen to his feet in the Afghanistan War debate in the House of Representatives, according to Open Australia records.

Justine Elliott, Member for Richmond

Has not yet risen to her feet in the Afghanistan War debate in the House of Representatives, according to Open Australia records.

Regional Women Wanted!

Media Release on 26 October 2010:

Page MP Janelle Saffin says there need to be more women in the boardrooms of Australia.

Ms Saffin is calling on suitably experienced local women to apply for a new scholarship program aimed at increasing the number of women on boards.

Applications opened today for the Board Diversity Scholarship Program, a $400,000 election commitment from the Australian Government which is jointly funded with the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).

The scholarships will assist women to attend the AICD’s Company Directors course or Mastering the Boardroom course and participating women will receive a one-year membership of the AICD.

Ms Saffin said the program is designed to prepare talented women to join the boards of companies, community groups and Government organisations.

An Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace census found that only 8.4 per cent of board directorships in the ASX 200 are held by women.

The Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis, said Australian women are continuing to be shut out of our most senior corporate boardrooms.

“The board scholarship program is aimed at getting more Australian women- who already have the skills, abilities and experience to be strong contributors-onto our corporate boards.” Ms Ellis said.

Janelle Saffin said applications for the Scholarship Program are being sought from suitably qualified women from various backgrounds from around Australia, including rural and regional areas, and she encouraged women from the Page electorate to apply.

Suitable background for the course includes experience as a board member; an executive or advisor reporting to a board; a senior executive reporting to a CEO; a senior government or public official; or senior academic.

The scholarship recipients will be selected by representatives of the AICD and the Australian Government’s Office for Women.

This initiative complements the Australian Government’s commitment to increased representation of women on Government Boards.

Applications close on 12 November, 2010 and more information is available at

Photograph from The Northern Star

Wednesday 27 October 2010

A message for those who think water that runs into the sea is a waste

Recommended reading for persons who support the diversion of Australia's east coast rivers.

Today's edition of The Age carries a succinct letter to the editor that just about says it all.

Paradoxical view

Moggy Musings [Archived material from Boy the Wonder Cat]

An everyone's an expert musing: A local golfer was about to tee off when a family of Kookaburras began to raucously laugh from a perch on a nearby tree. Quick as a flash the golfer cried: "I haven't hit the ball yet!"

A big fish in a small pond musing: September is the month for mayoral elections in the Clarence Valley and knives have been stealthily unsheathed as councillors jockey for enough votes to become the next mayor or deputy mayor. Wonder if anyone's going to point out that the present Clarence Valley Mayor, Richie Williamson, committed a big no-no when he used his title to formally endorse Federal MP Janelle Saffin at the August 2010 federal election? It's a non-aligned local government that you're supposed to be fronting, Richie!

A cat's got the (ice) cream musing: Somebody whispered in my ear that the Wendy's-Arby's international franchise group is looking into the possibility of an outlet on the Clarence Coast. The company just might be focussing on Yamba. Supa Shakes 'n' icecreams marching seawards to finish off the few small family take-away businesses that may manage to survive McDonald's recent move there?

A green about the gills musing: The moogies in Yamba are all looking a bit sick this morning since they discovered a younger Barnaby Joyce had been bonking in their territory. Expect a lot of scent spraying tomorrow!

A Rexie turns reporter musing: Hey Boy, While out walking with the boss (well, I let him think he's the boss, but you and I know otherwise) this week I heard that a lady golfer (yes, I know what you're thinking, and I have to agree with you - blokes who participate in that activity, which is often described as an exercise that destroys a good walk, play in men's events and not gents' events while the sheila sex play in ladies' events rather than women's events) shot a hole in one on the Yamba course. Weather conditions on the day were most uncomfortable, and that's putting it mildly, so the woman promptly adjourned to the club house with a view to celebrating her success, which was a first for her. However, the woman was advised that unless she competed her round of golf her achievement would not be recorded. So, the woman returned to the course and finished her round and can now proudly officially boast about her performance. Strange game, that golf, wouldn't you agree? Woof! Woof! Rex

An I can't believe he said this musing: Watching Lateline over Ian's shoulder on 28th July I saw a clip of Tony Abbott saying that his company tax cut will be in place by 192013. Now that's a long time to wait!

A political clone? musing: Rex the German Shepherd tells me that hoomins aren't smart enough to recognise by smell so they're all getting a bit confused because Nationals candidate in Page Kevin Hogan is so much like the last Nationals candidate in that electorate - from his hairdo right thru to his focus-speak campaign ads. "So easy to confuse the b#ggers!" is what they're saying.

Now media tart Howes enters the water security debate

Adding nothing to the Murray Darling Basin Plan debate except more politics and personal ambition, here comes P-A-U-L!

"Today, wide-ranging groups from union officials to irrigators have been meeting in Sydney to discuss the impacts of the draft basin plan.

Paul Howes from the National Workers Unions says the plan points to significant job losses - and that is the union's main concern.

"The Murray-Darling Basin itself is the heartland of AWU - it is where we are from," he said.

"It is where we still have a bulk of our members who work in the horticultural and agricultural industries and we will work with those other organisations in those areas who have concerns.

"We are not going to jump the gun. We understand that this is a proposal from an independent commission.

"We are not going to be alarmist and we are certainly not going to play into the hands of the Opposition on this, but equally we are going to make sure we live up to our responsibility which is to make sure AWU members' job security is protected and we are not going to be supporting or backing any proposal from the commission that would see even a single job of an AWU member lost."

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Have Lleyton and Bec sold the naming rights of their third born?

Want to know the name of LLeyton and Bec Hewitt's Number 3?
That's easy, peasy and will only cost a measly two bucks.
Using a premium (yes! that's what it's called, I kid you not) SMS service called ''Text A Star'' sports fans and other assorted idiots can find out the infant's name.

 Today's Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Fans who want to find out the baby's name have to subscribe to a premium SMS service called ''Text A Star''.

The service, which costs $2 a message, was set up to allow sports fans to ''get a unique insight into the life of your favourite player … without any media filter'', its creators say on its website.

First came the expensive glossy magazine spreads of celebrity baby snaps sold to the highest bidder. Now we have an Australian sports star charging fans for the privilege of finding out the name of his newborn. The tennis player Lleyton Hewitt and his former actress wife Bec announced at the weekend the birth of their third child, a girl.

Hewitt posted on his website on Saturday: ''Today, Lleyton Hewitt announced via Text a Star the following: 'Bec, Mia, Cruz and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into our family last Tuesday. Mum and baby are great! Dad, big sister and brother elated.

Obviously, Hewitt's earnings of $2.9 million in 2009 and $6.6 million in 2008 were not enough.

 Credits: The Sydney Morning Herald  with image by Cathy Wilcox

Dracula Rising and David Hicks {video}

Taking water for irrigation from the Murray-Darling Basin [poll]

The Essential Report for 25 October 2010 had this result on the subject of water extraction in the Murray-Darling Basin:

Click on image to enlarge

47% agreed that “strong action must be taken to restore the health of the Murray Darling river system even if it means some job losses or other economic impact “ while 31% agreed more with the statement “protecting the economic well being of local communities and jobs must be the first priority”.
A majority of Labor (52%) and Greens voters (74%) agreed that “strong action must be taken to restore the health of the Murray Darling river system even if it means some job losses or other economic impact” while Liberal/National voters were split (42%/42)%.

# The survey was conducted online from 19th October to 24th October 2010 and is based on 1,002 respondents.

Oi, Nick! How many rivers will you kill?

A Clarence Valley Protest wonders about Nick Xenophon’s maths abilities, attention to detail and motives:

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Exactly how many coastal rivers systems would Senator Xenophon like to lay waste?

South Australians Senator Nick Xenophon and Family First Legislative Council Member Robert Brokenshire are calling for the Gillard Government and Federal Parliament to look at damming and diverting the Clarence River across the Great Divide and into the Murray Darling river systems.

Xenophon appears to believe that the total volume of additional annual environmental flow (which the Murray Darling Basin Authority has identified as being required to stop the Basin rivers and wetlands irreversibly failing) can be found through interbasin water transfer.

Brokenshire envisions water diversion on a similar scale to the Snowy Mountains Scheme which ruined the iconic Snowy River.

Both men clearly have the Clarence River in their sights.

In 2004 a South Australian state government water diversion investigation decided on the basis very limited data that the average annual discharge for the Clarence River system is 3,700,000 ML/year and the 2007 SMEC desktop study gave a very optimistic top annual freshwater figure of 100,000 ML/year allegedly available for diversion [,March 2004,"Water Proofing Adelaide: Large Scale Water Supply Schemes",information sheet,pp.3-4 and Australian Parliament,Senate 2007,RRAT Committee, Inquiry into Options for additional water supplies for South East Queensland,Report].

While according to The Clarence Environment Centre; the Lilydale gauge readings (which provide the most accurate flow figures available) indicate that water discharge into the sea is less than two million megalitres per year on average [Submission No. 214,May 2007].

Senator Xenophon mentions a water volume of 4,000 GL/year as the diversion level required to ‘save’ the Murray Darling Basin:

Going in to bat for farmers in the basin, he said diverting 4000 gigalitres annually into the river system would alleviate the need for irrigation cuts and secure environmental flows.

Now 4,000 gigalitres is 4,000,000 megalitres – so at first glance Xenophon is either supporting future zero flow in the Clarence River and its inevitable death or he has more than one coastal catchment in mind.

So how many rivers would Senator Xenophon like to lay waste in order to satisfy the greed of Murray Darling Basin irrigators?

Monday 25 October 2010

The water madness continues.....

Reported in The Daily Examiner on October 23 2010:

THE grab for Clarence water continues in political circles with South Australian independent Senator Nick Xenophon calling for the Murray Darling Basin Authority to examine the viability of diverting the river.
Senator Xenophon was joined by Family First Legislative Council Member Robert Brokenshire in pushing for diversion as a solution to irrigation problems in the Murray Darling Basin.
With the massive social impacts to communities in the basin and the enormous cost of water buybacks estimated at $6 billion, plus an agricultural production loss of between $1 billion and $2 billion, Senator Xenophon said diversion was becoming a financially attractive proposition.
Going in to bat for farmers in the basin, he said diverting 4000 gigalitres annually into the river system would alleviate the need for irrigation cuts and secure environmental flows.
Mr Brokenshire said the Clarence River scheme could deliver the same amount of water to the Murray Darling system as utilised by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric scheme, by building a 25km network of tunnels across the Great Dividing Range.
This week, Senator Xenophon asked independent New England MP Tony Windsor, the head of the inquiry into the social impact of irrigation allocation cuts in the Murray Darling, to look at alternate water sources for farmers in the basin.

Around the traps in the last few days.....

A bit of free promotion APN didn't need?
With the euthanasia debate heating up, I was amused to see that APN Outdoor received a bit of free promotion on the nightly news last week after one of its outdoor billboards advertising in Yagoona ran a large advert promoting the pro-choice position. Probably won't please the bishops.

Fine print on the back of that NBN envelope?
NATIONAL Broadband Network users will not be able to use their telephones in a power failure unless they pay for a back-up system.
Telstra copper lines will be replaced by NBN fibre as part of the $11 billion deal with the federal government.
NBN Co has a hands-off approach to ensuring lines will be available at all times.
Customers will rely on the fibre network for broadband and fixed telephone services. Each home and business will need a network termination unit for power.
The unit needs a standard 240 volt, 10 amp power outlet and without that it cannot work.
If the unit loses power, telephone lines will not work unless NBN users have a back-up battery system, an optional item under NBN Co guidelines.
The peak electrical body says NBN Co and the government must ensure service providers guarantee basic telephone services or people's lives could be in danger in emergencies.
The company says it will not supply, install or maintain the battery back-up. That means network users will have to purchase a back-up unit and battery, and ensure the unit is next to a power outlet.
Users must buy the back-up unit from their NBN service provider. The 12V 7.2Ah sealed lead acid battery for the back-up costs about $50. {The Australian 22nd October 2010}

NSW water raiders using #agchatoz to tweet their displeasure....
Untitled_normal nswirrigators: 464 pages of Volume Two of #basinplan just released online. Saving the environment by ruining a forest? #agchatoz
Untitled_normal nswirrigators: 3.30pm on the day #basinplan volume two was meant to be released and nothing yet. These people do not learn... #agchatoz #abcrural

A victim of friendly fire
"This is a debate that Australians need to have about the future of banking, and the banks now are clearly ignoring the government," Mr Hockey has said. "The Australian people need to know where the banking system is going."....
Liberal MP Don Randall launched into a withering attack on Mr Hockey's suggestion, labelling a "typical lunatic fringe idea" from the Greens - until it was pointed out that it came from the Coalition's top money man. "It's really going to have a negative effect on our economy ... it's really a worry". { 21st October 2010}

Ad astra takes on Tony
Take the attack on the Government by Tony Abbott over the contemporary court martial of three Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. In a particularly contemptible assault he accused the Government of ‘stabbing the soldiers in the back’ and not giving them the support they deserved, of abandoning these men fighting as they are for their country. It was a powerful and aggressive strike. Yet what did the mild-mannered Stephen Smith say? He said Abbott’s words were ‘unfortunate’. Too right they were, but in the hurly burley of politics, words hardly like to make headlines, hardly likely to effectively rebut the Abbott charges.
I would have preferred him to say to Abbott: “How dare you have the temerity to make such outrageous accusations. It was the Howard Government, in which you were a minister that created the process for such trials of servicemen thought to be in contravention of the rules of engagement, and it had bipartisan support from Labor. You know perfectly well that in this process Government has no part to play, nor have politicians or politics. You know that this Government wants the process YOU established to bring about a considered outcome and that it wishes to play no part in it. Yet you come along with this completely illegitimate accusation which you know is dishonest, in order to score political points. And you were only too willing to enlist Alan Jones to promulgate this deception, something he was only too ready to do. Worse still, you allowed him, without contradiction, to denigrate the female prosecutor for laying the charges, even although you knew that she was acting completely in accordance with the process the Howard Government established. How dare you behave in this disgracefully disingenuous way, cast aspersions on those involved, and the Government too, although it is NOT involved. This is worse even that the usual low standards of political discourse which you employ. You are a disgrace.” {The Political Sword 22nd October 2010}

Too much fiction in Pollieville, U.K.?
A BRITISH MP enraged her constituents and her party after letting slip that her blog, which tells people how hard she works, is "70 per cent fiction".

Nadine Dorries, a Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire in southern England, made the admission to investigators during a sleaze inquiry that cleared her of abusing the Government's expenses system but found that she misled voters. { 22nd October 2010}

Sunday 24 October 2010

The atheist and the ancient lamp

Source: The Fitz Files, The Sun-Herald, 24/10/10

Australia's Great Divide

Source: The Readers Panel, SMH, 23/10/10

Face it, Howard. You lost bigtime

John Winston Howard’s publicist is obviously out doing a bit of a beat up for the imminent release of the former Oz PM’s memoirs.
From what’s been written in the meeja so far it seems
that Howard is looking to place the blame for the Coalition’s resounding 2007 general election defeat elsewhere than at his own feet.
Howard probably just can’t face the fact that he lost both his seat and government because enough Aussies thought he was a dangerous, jumped-up little shite.
What is interesting about Howard's publicity teasers was not the predictable Costello response they were designed to elicit, but the fact that Mrs. Bucket encouraged Howard to tread that ruinous political path.
The little woman behind the man seems to have nurtured some of his worst features and supported unwise decisions right to the bitter end.
In 2010 nothing much has changed.
Cartoon from Google Images

Saturday 23 October 2010

A fact that all those living in the Murray-Darling Basin need to consider

Photograph of Clarence River displayed at,15 October 2007

With Senator Nick Xenophon now on the interbasin water transfer bandwagon and yet more discussion about damming and diverting Clarence River catchment water into the Murray-Darling river systems, it is once again time to actually look at the physical reality.

This is a photograph of the freshwater flow in the upper reaches of the Clarence River.

Most of the popular images of the Clarence River showing what appears to be a wide full river, are from within the approximately one third of its length which is salt and strongly tidal.

When are all those local councils, communities, primary industries and irrigators in the Murray Darling Basin going to open their eyes and finally admit that extracting anymore fresh water from the Clarence and its tributaries is nothing more than an unsustainable pipe dream?

Dispiriting questions about water security

What hope is there for Australia ever developing and implementing a national water security policy - if every Man Jack in the Murray Darling Basin with even one drop of water entitlement seems determined to not only hold on to that entitlement, but also appears hellbent on increasing allocations by supporting unsustainable inter basin water transfers?
Is 2010 the year we see the fate of the one mighty Murray-Darling Rivers finally abandoned to individual greed, naked self-interest and blind chance?
Future generations will curse us all for this.

Friday 22 October 2010

Ginger Meggs's school boy howler

A mate who reads everything and anything has picked up a howler in a recent Ginger Meggs strip.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Can you find the howler?

Thanks, Yamba's Apostrophe Person, for the tip.

Why Clarence Valley businesses are giving Telstra the flick

A Grafton business owner has provided ample evidence of why local businesses are leaving Telstra (which is closing its Grafton call centre) in droves.

Daily Examiner (22/10/2010)

I have a business in Grafton that I will soon be relocating to different premises, but still in Grafton.
Over the past week I have made three separate attempts to notify Telstra that we are moving and will need to have our services relocated.
I originally notified them and gave them the new address, which is a current business premises in Prince Street.
The person from the call centre (not in Grafton) said they could not verify the address in their system and said someone would call me back later that day.
No-one did.
I called again the next day, they still couldn't work out where the address was and assured me they would call me back.
Still no-one called back.
So on my third attempt and after 15 minutes of the usual recorded messages telling me how important my call was, I finally got through to a customer support person who was fantastic.
She was from the call centre in Grafton.
Her name was Cheryl.
In no time at all she had verified the address, booked the relocation of the service, and gave extra useful advice.
What a pity Telstra is going to lose helpful staff like Cheryl and we will all be forced to tolerate the generic incompetence that is so often the benchmark of large call centres either in southern cities or offshore, where staff appear to have scant knowledge of regional issues (such as reality of ADSL speeds) and little empathy towards customers.
So, well done Cheryl, but Telstra, I can fully understand why local businesses are moving away from your services in droves.

Source: The Daily Examiner

Do you need the services of a Justice of the Peace?

Finding a Justice of the Peace can at times be a bit of a problem.

The NSW Department of Justice and Attorney General has a very handy online site that provides a Register of JPs.

JPs on the register are volunteers so, understandably, they may not be available at short notice or at all times of the day.

Click here to find a JP in your local area or submit a name and check if someone is a JP.

NSW Irrigators Council proves that tweeting doesn't improve intelligence

If the MDBA's new #basinplan study involves WWF lobbyists "Wentworth Group", it should and will be rejected. #agchatoz

How sad it is to see the Murray Darling Basin water security debate reduced to such a mean, pointless and rather inaccurate characterization.

This is what the
Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists states about itself:

MEMBERS - Dr Neil Byron, Mr Peter Cosier, Prof Tim Flannery, Prof Quentin Grafton, Dr Ronnie Harding, Prof David Karoly, Prof Hugh Possingham FAA, Mr Robert Purves AM, Dr Denis Saunders AM, Prof Bruce Thom AM FIAG FTSE, Dr John Williams, Prof Mike Young FASSA,

FORMER MEMBERS Prof Peter Cullen AO FTSE, Ms Leith Boully FAIC, Prof David Lindenmayer FAA

The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists is an independent group comprising leading Australian environmental, economists, scientists and business leaders with conservation interests.

The Wentworth Group has three core objectives:

1.Driving innovation in the management of Australia’s land, water and marine resources;
2.Engage business, community and political leaders in a dialogue to find and implement solutions to the challenge of environmental stewardship facing the future of Australian society;
3.Building capacity by mentoring and supporting young scientists, lawyers and economists to develop their skills and understanding of public policy.
Since coming together in November 2002, the Wentworth Group has been the catalyst for a series of ground breaking land and water reforms across Australia.

The Wentworth Group’s first statement, Blueprint for a Living Continent, set out what it believed were the key changes that needed to be made to deliver a sustainable future for our continent and its people. They emphasised the need to:

•Clarify water property rights and the obligations associated with those rights to give farmers some certainty and to enable water to be recovered for the environment.
•Restore environmental flows to stressed rivers, such as the River Murray and its tributaries.
•Immediately end broadscale landclearing of remnant native vegetation and assist rural communities with adjustment. This provides fundamental benefits to water quality, prevention of salinity, prevention of soil loss and conservation of biodiversity.
•Pay farmers for environmental services (clean water, fresh air, healthy soils). Where we expect farmers to maintain land in a certain way that is above their duty of care, we should pay them to provide those services on behalf of the rest of Australia.
•Incorporate into the cost of food, fibre and water the hidden subsidies currently borne by the environment, to assist farmers to farm sustainably and profitably in this country.........

In 2008 the Wentworth Group with other scientists put forward an Interim Basin Plan as a model for excelerating water reform across the Muray-Darling Basin in a senate submission: 'The urgent provision of water to the Coroong and Lower Lakes'.

The Wentworth Group remains committed to using its combined experience, interdisciplinary expertise and shared values to work with others to improve the long term management and conservation of the Australian landscape.

The Wentworth Group exists thanks to the generous support of the Purves Environmental Fund.

Purvis Environmental Fund according to itself and Source Watch.

Thursday 21 October 2010

Some campaign slogans never die.........

This is the 2007 campaign slogan used in the Clarence Valley in the fight to stop the Howard-Turnbull-Vaile attempt to raid this catchment's fresh water.

What a pity that less than three years later this slogan is just as relevant, as once more the water raiders seek the ear of Federal Government touting the idea that the Clarence River should be dammed and diverted.

Of course the 2007 water raiders behind the Howard-Turnbull-Vaile push never really went away and their political sock puppets continued to agitate for more water over those years.

Never one to waste an opportunity 'independent' representative for Murray Darling Basin irrigators/farmers,Tony Windsor, has been beating the drum on interbasin water transfers whenever he found an opening.

This is Windsor on Thursday, 18 September 2008 at 3:16 pm according to Open Australia:

Tony Windsor (New England, Independent)
My question is to the Prime Minister and relates to comments made by the Prime Minister, senior ministers and scientists that a major part of the Murray-Darling crisis is caused by climate change. Could the Prime Minister quantify how many gigalitres of lost inflows in the Murray-Darling system are caused by climate change? Given Professor Garnaut’s admission that his recommendations of five or 10 per cent emission reduction targets by 2020 will not alleviate the Murray-Darling crisis, would the Prime Minister initiate a cost-benefit analysis of potential intercatchment transfers of water to cancel out the climate change components of the reduction in inflows?

As one can see, Windsor takes the basic MDB irrigator positions as he tries for a new way to sing the old refrain:

  • less water in the system is always someone else's fault - this time it's climate change.
  • the answer to river system decline is not to reduce the chronic over-allocation of Basin water resources - it's to take someone else's water.

Since then the Independent Member for New England has extended the 'not our fault' argument and, this was Mr. Windsor on 14 October 2010 explaining to the world that (most uniquely among humans) Basin irrigators don't contribute to man-made climate change:

Mr Windsor said the MDBA should not allow water to be taken away from irrigators on account of climate change, because they were not responsible for the problem.

No wonder Clarence Valley residents are brushing off that slogan and again saying loudly and clearly...........


A case of duelling beef exports

It seems the Nats just can’t let go of the idea that there is bovine mileage in pursuing Page MP Janelle Saffin over her suggestion that chilled beef exports should be encouraged over live cattle exports.
It doesn't take expert knowledge to understand that jobs and humane animal handling would win hands here on the NSW North Coast.

“Nationals Member for Lismore Thomas George says Janelle Saffin's bid to ban live exports demonstrates her disconnection with the constituents of the Page electorate and clearly is supporting Greens policy. Ms Saffin, Federal Member for Page, plans to raise a notice of motion to debate the live animal export issue in Parliament next week.

Mr George, a former stock and station agent, founding member of Beef Week and director of the Northern Cooperative Meat Company, said in all his years working in the cattle industry, he had never been approached with complaints from anyone about the trade.

"How could the Member for an area that boasts a strong beef industry put forward such a motion?" he questioned.”

This is our Janelle in reply via a media release which followed hot on the heels of Ol' Tom's effort:

Federal Member for Page, Janelle Saffin has hit back at State Member for Lismore, Thomas George on the issue of live exports.

Ms Saffin is calling for an increase in chilled beef exports and the phasing out of live exports.

She said contrary to her State Parliamentary colleague’s claim, she has indeed been dealing with locals in the beef industry on this issue.

“Experience as a stock and station agent does not make him the only spokesman about industry policy, nor the ultimate expert.

“I do recognise his experience in rural matters, but I am not without experience either.

“What I am paying attention to is the need to strengthen our local job base, and not argue the case for exporters in this case of live exports, who do nothing for our local economy, except threaten future trade out of our region.

“I am for building jobs, not exporting them.

“I also note that the Member for Lismore said that he has not been approached by constituents on this matter, well I have.

“When I addressed hundreds of meat processing workers in my seat of Page, many of whom live in the State seat of Lismore, they cheered when I said I would raise the matter of phasing out of live exports in Parliament,” Ms Saffin said.

“There are others in the industry who have encouraged me as well, on the basis that live exports export jobs.”

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Saffin sends a message to the Two Tonys -Not A Drop!

From A Clarence Valley Protest on 19 October 2010:

A Message to the Two Tonys - Not A Drop!

The Federal Labor Member for Page Janelle Saffin taking the Clarence Valley's message to Water Minister Tony Burke and New England Independent Tony Windsor on 18 October 2010, according to the Commonwealth Hansard:

Page Electorate: Clarence River

Ms SAFFIN (Page) (10.57 am)—I have a message on behalf of my community in Page that I want to give to the parliament and everybody who is going to be involved in the Murray-Darling Basin plan and debate. The message from my community, which is home to the Clarence River—and a lot of people seem to be talking about wanting to get their hands on it and are looking at it for diversion—is this: not a drop. Right across my electorate thousands of cars have that on their bumper stickers: not a drop. In effect it is saying hands off the Clarence River.
The idea that the Clarence River can be diverted is one of those issues that have been around for quite some time.
Everybody has raised this issue at different times. In particular, there was some engineering plan that it could be done. My message to the two Tonys is: not one drop will be taken out of the Clarence River. I have also been told, and I do not want to verbal the honourable member for Kennedy, that on the member’s website he talks about those not in favour of looking at some sort of diversion as being political pygmies. While I am not going to comment about my size and whether that is correct, I would say to the honourable member that the people in the Clarence Valley and in Page are certainly not political pygmies. The catchment area of the Clarence River falls within 100 kilometres of the New South Wales coastal strip. Our industries are fishing—we have a huge commercial fishing industry—and agriculture, and the economy is heavily underpinned by that commercial fishing. There is also forestry and tourism. It is all worth a lot to us. This debate is one of those debates that come up every now and then. Engineering wise, we can do anything—we can do marvels—but in terms of the environment and also the viability of the Clarence it would be a disaster. They can look all they like but—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Peter Slipper)—Order! In accordance with standing order 193, the time for members’ constituency statements has expired.

The nature of poverty on the NSW North Coast in 2010

The Salvation Army commissioned Roy Morgan Research to conduct a CATIBus national telephone survey which formed the basis of the recently released Perception of Poverty: An Insight into the Nature and Impact of Poverty in Australia. This report can be downloaded as a PDF file here.

ABC News 18 October 2010:

The Salvation Army says that many families in the Northern Rivers are living below the poverty line. A report released today by The Salvation Army says that low income earners are now known as the "working poor".

A new report released by The Salvation Army called "Perceptions of Poverty" shows there are 2 million Australians living in poverty. Doug Barber is the Northern Region Community support coordinator for The Salvation Army. He says that on the north coast many low income families are living below the poverty line and they are seeing a greater call for people seeking material aid through neighbourhood centres, The Salvation Army and other centres."That is a trend that has been reported to us in the past 3 years, so pre-dated financial crisis. [There is an] increasing number of families and older people, the type of people who wouldn't normally have access to support services, coming for assistance", he said.Mr Barber says that some of the factors contributing to people living in poverty on the north coast are long term unemployment, intergenerational unemployment and high housing costs.
"The housing costs here are relatively high relative to income that essentially keeps people in poverty. People are trapped in a cycle of low income and essentially having to commit a large proportion of their income to maintaining a roof over their heads", Mr Barber said.
Nationally the report said that there are 80,000 new clients for the Salvation Army last year and are part of the new working poor, people who have full time jobs but just can not make ends meet. The Salvation Army says housing and rental costs in the Northern Rivers are extremely high and people are paying between $300 and $450 per week in rent and their income across a fortnight is around $1000-$1200 per fortnight and people are struggling to make ends meet.......