Tuesday 30 November 2010

Gabba - Day 5 - Oz selectors need to show some gumption

Yes, the scoreboard said the match ended in a draw, but anyone with a modicum of common sense knows the Poms had a solid points victory and will head to Adelaide for the Second Test (it starts on Friday) with their heads held high while a few of the Oz mob must be wondering about the security of their spots. Honestly, some of the Oz lot are so deep in the doldrums they need to be sent back to state duties with specific instructions to improve their game or take the big step and advise selectors that their dance cards have expired and will not be renewed.

The Poms piled on record after record performance.

The Poms declared at 1/517 in their second innings - enough said!

Now who has been loose with the facts in the Clarence Valley rate debate??

Was poor Truth murdered by the Colonel in the conservatory, the Rector in the library or the Cook in the kitchen?
I leave those who know the local personalities involved to make up their own minds.

Excerpt from The Great Divide, Graham Orams, The Daily Examiner, 18 November 2010, Page 1:

Councillor Craig Howe strongly disagreed, stating the Valley already had parity in water, sewerage and waste collection rates.

He went on to say it was unfair that a Grafton business valued at $150,000 paid $2776 in rates, whereas a business in Maclean paid just $1138, and only $848 in the tourist mecca of Yamba.

"This issue is causing divide in the Clarence Valley community and needs to be addressed in a real way that achieves a fair outcome for all businesses," he said.

Excerpt from former Maclean Shire councillor Bill Day's letter to the editor, The Daily Examiner, 26 November 2010, Page 12:

In your November 18 front page story, "The Great Divide", you quote councillor Craig Howe as saying it was unfair that a Grafton business valued at $150,000 paid $2776 in rates, whereas a business in Maclean paid just $1138, and only $848 in the tourist mecca of Yamba.
This is a deliberate distortion of the real issues......

Excerpt from Clarence Valley Shire councillor Craig Howe's letter to the editor, The Daily Examiner, 29 November 2010, Page 10:

At no point did I ever refer to Yamba as "the tourist Mecca". I would not be so flippant or inflammatory with such a serious matter, don't take my word for it, ask the journalist for a copy of what I said.....

Cartoon figure from CrystalXP

B#gger, b*gger, b^gger! Our Tony just won't shut up

I honestly thought, with the 2010 Australian Federal Parliament in its last dying days playing legislative catchup before the Chrissie break, that I wouldn’t find Opposition Leader Tony Abbott saying something quite so stupid as this comment on the pending marriage of a young British couple:"something as natural and as fitting as the marriage of an appealing man and an attractive woman".
Although most of the print media tried to save Tony from himself by omitting the “fitting” from published quotes on Sunday, ABC News gave the game away with its televised sound bites from his speech at the national conference of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy in Sydney on Saturday, 27th November.
Fitting? Wot? It’s unnatural and improper for socially inept, cauliflower-eared blokes like myself to pull a sheila who’s attractive?
Strewth, Tones, you live in a weird and dispiriting world!
#Snapshot of Abbott with foot-in-mouth on 27.11.10

Monday 29 November 2010

Ashes Test at Gabba - day 4 - Poms turn it on

Boy, oh boy, what a difference a day makes! The Poms really gave the Oz XI something serious to think about on Day 4.
Pommy openers Strauss and Cook put on 188 before skipper Strauss departed for a very solid 110. Cook had another Big Day Out and at day's end was 132 not out - his 67 in the first innings was obviously an entree.
The Poms go to Day 5 with an overall lead of 88, so they can be expected to grind away at the expense of an Oz bowling attack that looks like it's been to the blood laboratory and had it confirmed that it currently lacks venom.
Heading the lengthy list of visitors from Old Blighty at the Gabba is the Royal Family.
 And for those who think/hope/wish the Barmy Army will fade away in the not too distant future, they're in for a big disappointment. Young BA offspring were at the Gabba in big numbers!

NCVs had a yarn with a couple of Pommy brothers who were beside themselves about their prospects for the the rest of the series.
Remember, the only Oz who took a wicket on Day 4 was Marcus North and his hold on a position in future Test sides is indeed most tenuous.Reckon that says it all.

Congratulations to all 2010 Heywire winners

HEYWIRE is a space and a competition where young people create and share their stories, ideas and opinions…..
Anyone can upload stories to this website, but you have to be aged between 16 and 22, and live outside Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide or Perth, to be eligible to win the Heywire Competition. Each year in September/October the best stories that have been uploaded throughout the year are chosen to be broadcast across the ABC. The roughly 40 winning entrants get the chance to go to Heywire Youth Issues Forum in Canberra in February.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners and a special mention to Alexandra and Elizabeth from the NSW North Coast!
Their winning entries were The Ag plot and But it is Normal.

Complete list of winners:

New South Wales

Alexandra Neill: Grafton

Bubli Rawat: Shell Harbour

Elizabeth Kennedy: Murwillumbah

Benjamin Vella: Tamworth

Janet Brown: Wagga Wagga

Brendon Reynolds: Pambula

Jack Stanley: Broken Hill

Northern Territory

Skye MacFarlane: Mataranka

Kylie Sambo: Tennant Creek


Jack Piggott: Rolleston

Nicolette Worth: Cairns

Clair Ryder: Townsville

Lucy Hanson: Crow's Nest

Emily Lohse: Brooweena

Luke Chaplain: Boomarra Station

Ria Garside: Clermont

South Australia

Annie Rudiger: Karoonda

Talisha Queama: Fregon

Tameika Schultz: Streaky Bay


Sophie Chandler: Crabtree, Tasmania

Jeremy Stingel: Burnie, Tasmania


Taylor Smith: Geelong

Jakob Quilligan: Bendigo

Robert Colgrave: Moe

Razia Gharibi: Shepparton

Alanna Pasut: Red Cliffs

Amber Brimley: Edenhope, Victoria

Bethany Evans: Timboon

Western Australia

Joel Weston Jackson: Karratha

Sean Painter: Pithara

Jarrod Offer: Cunderdin

Dana Harrold: Eaton

Samantha Fielder: Kalgoorlie Boulder

Australian airport security. It sounds a lot more civilized, but....

The mainsteam media and blogosphere is full of stories about intrusive, embarrassing and sometimes downright abusive body searches of airline passengers at international airports overseas.
Underwear and breast prosthetic ordered to be removed during separate searches, urostomy bag dislodged during rough 'patdown', small child 'groped', working mother ordered to submit pumped breast milk to irradiation by x-ray as supposed security measure - the list goes on and on.
However the question remains, are security measures that much better in Australia when your granny with a metal pin in her hip has to be subjected to a "frisk" body search or worse?
On balance Australians probably fare better going though national airports, but I wonder how long that advantage may last.
See Australian Government airport security screening video.

Security Screening Video - Transcript [DOC: 25 KB]

With all these over-the-top rights to intrude into the personal sphere (across the world and it seems this nation) government employees and officious agents of government policy are fast becoming little bullies with big mouths who don't like to be crossed.
As an example - recently I was told of one North Coast Area Health Service employee who gratuitously and without permission divulged medical information about a constituent to a staff member of a local MP.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Day 3 - Ashes Test at the Gabba

Day 3 started early and finished late, making for a very long day, especially for the Poms in the field and your correspondent who left at sparrow's to get to the ground on time and then had to take a different bus home  after hours which meant he had to trek up hill and down dale across tortuous tiger territory to get to his destination.

Resuming at 5/220 and still 40 runs in arrears Oz batsman Hussey 81 and Haddin 22 found the going rather hard for the first hour or so.

Then the pair started stacking on the runs and produced a partnership of 307 - a record high for an Oz partnership at the Gabba.

Eventually Haddin, who reached his three figures with a six, went for 136 and then Hussey departed a bit later when just 5 short of a double-ton.

Gee, you'd have to feel for Mitch Johnson who sat, padded up, in the sheds for over 24 hours while his team mates Hussey and Haddin enjoyed themselves. Truly, it was little wonder Johnson departed the scene without troubling the scorers. But, honestly, captain Ponting must take the blame for Johnson's demise- rumour has it that Johnson had a very severe case of rashes on his legs due to the length of time his leg movements were restricted due to him being continuously padded up (sources at the ground say he slept in his pads).
Question: Who scored 114 runs at the Gabba today?
 Ok, you've looked at the Gabba Test scoreboard and you reckon I'm crackers.
Well, have another look.
At the start of play Hussey was on 81 and Haddin was on 22. Hussey added 114 to finish with 195 while Haddin added 114 to end up with 136.
That's one for the trivia buffs, especially the lot that put the quiz questions on the inside of tops of beer bottles. Ok, beer barons, forward the royalty cheques this way when you use that one!

Urban etiquette in regional Australia. Animalia......(7)

Although we don't always notice, there are rules of etiquette which apply whenever we leave the house and enter public spaces in urban areas or when denizens of those same public places enter our homes.
On the New South Wales North Coast (as elsewhere in regionl Australia) these rules take on a distinctive flavour.

Basic Rules

  • Never argue with a snake. It almost always wins any territorial dispute and the losers sometimes find themselves in A&E at the local district hospital.
  • Estuary waters and the ocean are the natural home of sharks not humans, so be polite and don't disturb them at dawn and dusk by swimming in their living rooms.
  • A Maned Wood Duck usually crosses the road on foot to get its small brood to the other side, so drivers should slow down and keep eyes open for fledglings if an adult bird is sighted on the bitumen.
  • Spur-Winged Plovers always have undisputed right of way on a footpath when they are taking their young out on that first excursion into the big wide world, and they will tell you so - loudly!
  • Magpies won't like you during breeding season if you haven't politely introduced yourself to the family when they first moved into the neighbourhood. A friendly word in passing pays dividends later on.
  • Spiders are not your friends, but neither are they your enemies - recognise that most are merely passing the time of day and don't whack them with that rolled up newspaper or deploy the fissionable material you keep under the sink.
  • Small birds often fall from nests during storms. If a parent bird isn't near or the fledgling is just too young to make it into a bush or tree - call WIRES for help.
  • Possums in the roof space may be a nuisance, but they are not committing a capital offence.Trap and release these furred offenders elsewhere, don't poison them.
  • Don't steal flowers and native plants from the wild - be honest and pay for specimens at the local plant nursery. Most plants ripped from natural habitat die when replanted in the average garden anyway.
  • Never be polite to a mosquito - it is always looking for new ways to bite and annoy you.
  • Bush flies must be endured with stoicism if you want to be seen as a true blue Aussie.
  • Cane toads are the spawn of Satan so give no quarter.
  • Keep your pet cat in the house between dusk and dawn and don't let your dog roam free.

ABC1 "Family Confidential" episode on the Mundine Family of Baryulgil at 8pm on 20 December 2010

At 8pm on 20 December 2010 ABC1 will televise a documentary on:

Australia’s most high-profile Aboriginal family, the Mundines, whose members include boxing legends Tony and Anthony ‘Choc’, are cursed from a source that once gave them power and unity.

A remarkable act of charity 60 years ago gave the Mundines an extraordinary advantage over many others in their community. The owners of a NSW cattle station, where the Mundines lived and worked, gave the family 50 acres of land to call their own.

Having this property saved the family from untold suffering and dispossession by the Aboriginal Protection Board. It was a gathering place for the clan, and the children who grew up in its bushland came to cherish ‘The Square’ as it became known, and the roots it gave them. There were even jobs for all the Mundine men when a mine opened and operated right next door.

A new generation grew up with the confidence and wherewithal to move to the city and build exciting new futures. Leading the charge was Tony Mundine who became a world champion boxer – and put the family, and Baryulgil, on the map.

But gradually the Mundines became aware that for all their success, something was terribly wrong. In an ironic twist, the land that had given them so much was slowly but surely killing them.

Now, the Mundine women, who’ve held the family pain for over 30 years, are finally telling their story. They’ve lost hundreds of their family and many are still getting sick and dying. Led by Tony and the most famous of them all, his son, ‘Choc’, the family is facing the fight of their lives. [ABC Television online promotion]

Saturday 27 November 2010

Day 2 @ Gabba - promised much, but disappointed

Who gave Michael Clarke the all-clear fitness wise to play in the First Test? If he/she is a registered medico he/she should be struck off. Clarke struggled all the way as he dribbled to a grand total of 9 measly runs while he occupied the crease for an excruciating 81 minutes. An in-form Clarke is a delight to watch, but his performance at the Gabba causes one to recall, "They shoot horses, don't they?"
Truly, Clarke was pathetic.
And, honestly, head honcho Punter Ponting, who preceded Clarke, wasn't much better. Ponting, who scrambled to 10, was never in tune and it was only a matter of time (34 minutes - 26 balls) before he fell over.
Marcus North, who specialises in ducks or tons, did his level best to maintain that record, but failed miserably. He managed a mere solitary single, occupying the crease for just 6 minutes (8 balls).
Honours for the day went to Mr Cricket (aka Mike Hussey), who was 81 not out when rain and bad light forced umpires to call an early halt to the day's proceedings. Second in line for Oz honours was opener Simon Katich (50).
The Pom's bowling attack was, overall, efficient but not something to write home about. Broad extracted a lot of bounce, but was too short too often to pose any real threat. Swann, who went for 30+ off his first 4 overs,  finished with 1/59 off 20 overs but it must be noted that his single wicket was that of North whose tenure on the number 6 spot must be under review. (I heard a wag sitting near me at the Gabba suggest Australian Cricket ought to call for tenders for the position.)

Political opportunism continues in relation to loose talk concerning any Clarence water diversion

From A Clarence Valley Protest on 26 November 2010:

Fringe parties still making hay with Clarence water talk

August and November 2010 sees political opportunism continue.........

# The following is on the website of the fledgling political party the Citizens Electoral Council of Australia:

Newly elected National Party MP for Riverina, Michael McCormack, described the plan as "a guide to depopulate inland Australia". Although this was said in passing, it reflected our material, and was the most truthful thing any Federal MP has said about the implications of the plan. He also asked what effect this is having on our kids, as they hear their parents talk about the meaning of the plan……………………..

What we lead with in one meeting, we find is raised more in questions at the subsequent meeting, ie repealing the Water Act, or the Wentworth Group. Circles discuss it, and raise it at the next one. An Italian farmer talked about the Clarence River scheme, and had our leaflet from Griffith on him when he asked the question.

The LYM spoke to a Hay councillor who recognised the CEC, and was very responsive on water projects, the Clarence and Bradfield, saying we should've done this a long time ago. All of the MDB Fraud DVDs were distributed, to a very good response.

* Michael McCormack is on the parliamentary committee currently inquiring into the regional social/economic impacts of the proposed Murray Darling Basin Plan and probably looking at interbasin water transfer.

# The Agmates website indicates that another fringe political party Climate Sceptics Party of Australia is also out in the Basin stirring up support for interbasin water transfer:

Climate Sceptics candidates Steve Davies (Barker) and Leon and Nathan Ashby (Senate) will tour Murray river towns early next week explaining their policy on water.

The party believes there is plenty of water in Australia and it would not support a water buy back policy for the River Murray but rather support diverting water from Northern Australian rivers as the solution for extra water to SA. It would be a vastly improved Bradfield scheme something proposed over 70 years ago by the designer of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, John Bradfield. Lead Senate candidate Leon Ashby says "Rivers such as the Clarence, Tully, Herbert, Burdekin, and Flinders in northern Australia have vast amounts flow into the sea during floods.
These floods could be diverted to flow to many places inland including down as far as Murray Bridge via gravity fed pipelines and channels."

# The Murray Darling Basin Authority is noting this discussion:

The Authority heard:
•That the MDBA should consider the need for extra dams.
•That the Lake Mejum scheme should be reconsidered as an option for storing water for irrigation.
•Support for building the Clarence river scheme.
•That the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme being built to generate power but also for irrigation and to look after the environment – it was straight forward, why are we moving away from this?
•There is a need for real works and measures to water the environment.
•Concern that vast amounts of water are lost to evaporation.

Under "Abbott" in the 'Nothing Would Surprise Me' File

You just can’t trust these people, Alan.
Tony Abbott to Alan Jones on 16th November 2010

Something of a rake’s progress appears to be underway in Abbottsville and it's being reported from Sydney to Alice Springs to Darwin to Brisbane and onto Canberra (sometimes, perhaps).

The Sydney Morning Herald on 3rd March 2010:

"Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott got lost in the central Australian outback and was forced to send a text message to his press secretary: "WERELOSTNEARFOSSILCREEK".
While Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was gearing up for a big health announcement, his opposite number was yesterday contemplating a cold and uncomfortable night, lost and sleeping rough, before being saved.
Just before lunchtime yesterday, Mr Abbott set off with a small party on "quad" four-wheeled motorbikes to ride deep into Watarrka country in search of Aboriginal sacred sites.
Six hours later, separated from his "guide and guru", local Aboriginal entrepreneur Ian Conway, and with sundown approaching, Mr Abbott and his companions were seriously concerned about their situation: stuck in unfamiliar country, with no idea of the way out and no way of communicating with the outside world."

The Punch on 5th March 2010:

"Back in October last year, I promised a group of Aboriginal stockmen that I would soon return to observe progress in the re-establishment of an Aboriginal cattle industry in the Northern Territory. It was not a promise that I considered I could break just because I now had a different job. The problems of indigenous Australia need to be taken seriously by Australia’s leaders and not just by the ministers and shadow ministers with special responsibility for them.
That’s how I came to be on a quad bike, low on fuel, following tyre tracks in the gathering dark earlier this week."

Alice Springs News on 19th August 2010:

“Country Liberals heavies appear to have been scheming to sacrifice Leo Abbott – highly unlikely to win Lingiari – to get at Labor’s Damien Hale who is on a knife’s edge in the seat of Solomon (Darwin).
This is suggested by an email exchange leaked to the Alice Springs News……
The apparent schemers behind the attempted dumping include former Chief Minister Shane Stone, CL director Peter Allen and treasurer Graeme Lewis.
Mr Lewis said to 10 addressees: “I doubt that disendorsement is a legal option – voting has started.
“But we need to put petrol on the issue to fix Hale right up.”

Eureka Street on 8th November 2010:

“But there is something I find deeply disturbing in the way he carries out his public role. Charming and disarming as he can be, I find myself wondering wherein lies his moral core. Not long after his election as leader of the Liberal Party, Abbott was trying to explain away statements from his past claiming that he sometimes makes 'unreliable statements' in the 'heat of discussion.' At that time I thought that the way to get a handle on Tony Abbott was to realise that he was like a high school or university debater. He would say anything to win an argument, confident that there would be no consequences to his actions.”

ABC Darwin on 12th November 2010:

“We know that pollies are prone to bending the truth, but if you want to believe that sometimes they straight out lie....read on. Our Territory can be pretty daunting, mysterious and foreign for those who don't know her well...and it seems that Tony Abbott exploited those ideas to generate a bit of publicity. In fact, the allegation from one person in the know, is that this story was a complete beat up! Lies!

Audio clip http://blogs.abc.net.au/nt/2010/11/tony-abbotts-territory-lie.html?site=darwin&program=darwin_drive

Alice Springs News on 18th November 2010:

“Former Country Liberal Party (CL) candidate Leo Abbott would not confirm nor deny that he was offered a government job, if the Liberals won, on condition that he withdrew from the candidacy.
Mr Abbott was standing in Lingiari in this year’s Federal election amidst a bitter party dispute over allegations against him of domestic violence.
Despite a boycott from members of his own party, Mr Abbott made significant inroads into the votes of long-term sitting member, Warren Snowdon, in the formerly safe Labor seat.
Reports of the job offer come from well informed sources.
The offer is alleged to have been made by NT Opposition Leader Terry Mills and his Federal counterpart, Tony Abbott (no relation to the candidate). Tony Abbott’s office said the story “is totally incorrect”.
A spokesman for Mr Mills said he “won’t be feeding the rumour mill on this matter”.

The Sydney Morning Herald on 25th November 2010:

“The Northern Territory's attorney-general is seeking an investigation into claims Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and his NT counterpart tried to bribe a candidate not to run in the 2010 federal election.

NT Attorney-General Delia Lawrie has tabled in the NT parliament her letter asking the Australian Electoral Commission to investigate allegations that Tony Abbott and NT Opposition Leader Terry Mills had offered Country Liberal candidate Leo Abbott a job if he withdrew from the election……

She wrote that she was "very concerned" that "inducement was offered to the Country Liberal candidate for Lingiari Leo Abbott to withdraw his candidacy".

"It is asserted that this offer was made by the Leader of the Federal Liberal Party, Mr Tony Abbott, and Leader of the Northern Territory Country Liberal Party, Mr Terry Mills," the letter said.”

Club Troppo on 26th November 2010:

No doubt governments frequently make such offers to induce lame-duck MPs or candidates to walk away quietly, but they’re invariably done behind closed doors with only loyal insiders present. However in the current situation there’s a disaffected former CLP Management Committee member by the name of Steve Brown who apparently claims to have been present during the phone hookup when the offer was made. Brown is gunning for the political carcass of the party’s current parliamentary leader Terry Mills and seems prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve it. Brown is rumoured to have significant support within CLP ranks in Alice Springs though less so in Darwin.

The possibility that these yokel machinations might even inadvertently pull down Tony Abbott as collateral road kill should not be completely discounted. Some may remember that former NSW Liberal Premier Nick Greiner lost his job in not dissimilar circumstances in 1992, though corruption charges against him were later dismissed. Terry Mills has kept his head down to date, and as far as I can tell the story hasn’t yet registered with the Canberra Press Gallery so Abbott hasn’t been questioned.

Friday 26 November 2010

Gabba hat-trick - Siddle's ace performance

Broad falls LBW to Siddle, providing the birthday boy with his magic hat-trick

Aussie bowler Peter Siddle celebrated his 26th birthday in style at the Gabba in the Ashes First Test, taking a hat-trick. Siddle's hat-trick wickets were Cook (67), Prior (a duck) and Broad (a duck).

Earlier, England had been travelling reasonably well at 4/197 before Siddle struck and, in the wink of an eye lid, they slumped to be 7/197. Not long after Siddle took his hat-trick, Swann (10) also fell to Siddle giving the Victorian pace bowler his sixth wicket. Siddle finished with the impressive figures of 6 wickets for 54 off 16 overs. He was easily Oz's best bowler. Oz test debutant Xavier Doherty wrapped up the innings with the wickets of Bell (76), who was England's best batsman, and tailender Anderson (11), who fell playing a shot that would, at best, be described as somewhat unorthodox, and is something Anderson ought not to attempt to replicate any day soon - it was a shocker.

Playing before a crowd of 35,389 (although some media reports reckon 46,000 tickets were sold) Australia ended the day at 0/25 after dismissing England for 260.

After winning the toss and electing to bat on a Gabba track that has no real demons England should be licking their wounds and wondering why their wheels fell off. Honestly, the Poms should have gone on to get 350-plus runs and be in the box-seat.

Image: Personal effort of the author (yes, he ought to undertake a photography course!)

Skewed Australian response to climate change - fight coastal erosion not carbon pollution


URGENT action to cope with the impact of rising sea levels needs to start now, including improving evacuation routes for coastal communities during extreme storms and flooding.

As well, a sweeping federal parliamentary report calls for an overhaul of the building code to make homes more resilient and for the legal liability for future property losses to be sorted out.

Warning that ''the time to act is now'', the bipartisan report brought down last night states that thousands of kilometres of coastline have been identified as at risk from the threat of rising sea levels and extreme weather events caused by climate change.

The committee, led by Labor's Jennie George and with the Liberal Mal Washer as co-chairman, wants the Government to take a far greater role in preparing coastal towns and cities to adapt to the impact of sea level rise.

Their report recommends a new intergovernmental agreement on the coastal zone to be worked out between Canberra, the states and councils to set out actions and guidelines on the enormous coastal challenges from climate change. [The Sydney Morning Herald on 27 October 2009]

Climate Change Risks to Australia's Coasts report released with prediction of 1.1 metre sea level rise for New South Wales in ‘worst case’ scenario. [C’wealth Dept of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency on 14 November 2009]

The Labor government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) was defeated for the second time in the Senate. Under the new coalition rule of Tony Abbott, only two liberal senators crossed the floor and voted with their opposition for the ETS legislation - they were Senators Sue Boyce and Judith Troeth. At 33 votes for to 41 against, their votes were not enough to pass the bill. [Sustainability Matters on 3 December 2009]


WOOLI residents have met to discuss their fightback against a proposal to let rising sea levels inundate threatened areas of their village.

More than 90 residents took part in a meeting in the Wooli Hall on Saturday afternoon to plan submissions to Clarence Valley Council protesting against a council draft proposal to allow the sea to flood around 45 houses on a section of land between the Wooli beach and river.
[The Daily Examiner 19 October 2010]

The Federal Government has committed to a national strategy to help communities affected by coastal erosion.

The Independent member for Lyne Rob Oakeshott says it is a landmark initiative for the North Coast.

Mr Oakeshott says the government has responded to 47 recommendations from the bipartisan 'Jennie George' report on the impact of climate change on coastal communities.

He says the government recognises the need for national leadership and coordination to manage coastal erosion issues.

Mr Oakeshott says key government commitments include establishing an Intergovernmental Agreement on the Coastal Zone.

A proposal will also be developed with the states and territories to investigate insurance-related issues for affected stakeholders.

The government has also agreed in-principle to an inquiry regarding legal issues, including liability concerns for property owners, councils and governments. [ABC News on 24 November 2010]


Threatened species, wildlife crimes and marine protection

The International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) came into effect on 23 November 2010 after the Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Secretary-General of ICPO-INTERPOL, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the President of the World Bank and the Secretary-General of the World Customs Organization (WCO) have signed a Letter of Understanding which includes this:

HEREBY agree, within the context of their respective responsibilities, capabilities, and priorities to:

  • highlight within their institutions the importance of the fight against wildlife crimes and other related violations and promote ICCWC among governments of States, through inter alia, relevant international fora;
  • assist countries in reviewing their current responses to wildlife crimes and related violations, facilitate national multi-agency interaction and cooperation, and encourage effective responses throughout the justice system;
  • develop a joint work program that will include joint activities in the fields of capacity building, operational support and coordination of transnational interdiction efforts;
  • disseminate existing, and jointly develop new, capacity building materials and tools to enhance the knowledge and skills of national agencies in combating wildlife crime and related violations;
  • undertake research into the causes, nature, scale and value of wildlife crime and related violations and propose innovative ways to prevent and discourage such crime and related violations, for example, through the provision of socio-economic incentives which encourage local communities to use natural resources in a lawful and sustainable manner and to participate in related monitoring and control efforts;
  • assist in promoting best practice in the fields of natural resource conservation and management; and where appropriate, seek donor support to enable the provision of such services in the form of joint projects and programmes.

We further agree that our agencies, when collaborating together, will work under the title, the ‘International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime’.

Meanwhile this month, the Gillard Labor Government’s Fisheries Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2010 finished wending its way through both Houses of the Australian Federal Parliament.

According to the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry this bill will:

provide strengthened arrangements to combat illegal fishing both in our remote sub-Antarctic territories and closer to home. The first set of amendments will address a technical issue that currently permits foreign fishers to traverse the Australian fishing zone to fish illegally in state and Northern Territory coastal waters. The second set of amendments will implement an international agreement with France, allowing cooperative fisheries law enforcement activities in our respective Southern Ocean maritime zones. Both amendments are to the Fisheries Management Act 1991 and will strengthen Australia’s fishing and maritime security.

The first set of amendments to the bill will address a technical legal issue in fisheries management legislation which currently allows foreign fishers to traverse the Australian fishing zone to illegally fish in coastal state and Northern Territory waters. It is important that this matter is rectified quickly lest foreign fishers take advantage of this situation and change their methods of operation to avoid prosecution. The second set of amendments will address illegal fishing in Australia’s remote southern maritime territories……

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a concern for the Australian government. Illegal fishing on the high seas is a highly organised, mobile and elusive activity undermining the efforts of responsible countries to sustainably manage their fish resources. International cooperation is vital to effectively enforce Australia’s national laws in our remote and expansive maritime territories.

Additionally this month Humane Society International (HSI) announced that is has been successful:

in having southern bluefin tuna (SBT) formally protected under Australia’s national environment laws as a threatened species.

HSI submitted a nomination for SBT to be protected under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in December 2006 and Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has just announced that protection will be given.

Previous environment ministers rejected our earlier nominations on grounds HSI considered a cover for concerns over the economic and political fall out of protection for this highly lucrative species, even though the Minister’s own science advisers had previously determined the species to be ‘endangered’.

Even today, SBT has not been listed in the category it qualifies for – critically endangered – because that would put a stop to the commercial exploitation and export of SBT from Australia[i]. The SBT population has been reduced to 4.6% of its unfished biomass. IUCN lists the species as critically endangered.

Instead, Minister Burke has opted for the lesser ‘conservation dependent’ listing which is the lowest protection available for a threatened species and which allows for continued fishing and exports

Also in November the ever hypocritical Government of Japan began its 2010 Antarctic whaling season and once its government-funded 'research' fleet reaches the Southern Ocean it is expected to kill for commercial sale at least 1,000 whales, including an endangered cetacean species and possibly for the first time since the 2007 agreement, humpback whales.

Thursday 25 November 2010

Saffin explains where it's at in the keeping Telstra jobs in Grafton campaign

Federal Labor MP for Page Janelle Saffin's media release on 23 November 2010:

Page MP Janelle Saffin said she notes that Telstra has made some efforts to retain jobs in Grafton, following the local campaign against the closure of the call centre.

“I welcome the personal involvement of CEO David Thodey, following my representations and meetings with him on this issue.

“I understand that he visited Grafton and faced the workers last week, which I had requested he do, to see for himself the local situation and what might be done to support jobs in Grafton.

“When I met with Mr Thodey in my Parliamentary office last month, and had Clarence Valley Mayor on the phone as well, we made clear the strong local reaction to the planned closure of the Telstra call centre.

“Mr Thodey also said at that meeting that when some NBN services were available he would consider what more could be done.

“At this stage I understand there are 18 positions to be maintained in Grafton until at least the middle of next year. I am hopeful that they will become ongoing positions.

“I have kept in touch with the union to discuss the latest situation for the employees who have lost their positions and how many are still in the area looking for local jobs,” Ms Saffin said.

“I feel for the workers losing their jobs, and extend my thanks to those local employers who have hired Telstra workers, starting with The Daily Examiner which was the first cab off the rank.

“It is very disappointing that many jobs have been lost, but I have to be gracious and acknowledge Telstra’s latest developments, as our concerted community campaign did achieve some positive results.”

Swearing on National White Ribbon Day 2010

Today is National White Ribbon Day 2010 when all Aussie men are encouraged to think about the following:

In Australia, one in three women will be assaulted or abused in her lifetime. These women are our mothers, our girlfriends, our wives, our daughters, our colleagues and our friends. How have we allowed this to occur?

Not only is it unacceptable for this violence to take place, it is unacceptable that we allow certain behaviours and attitudes to go unchallenged.

Some of us experience violence first hand. Others hear stories of violence against women. Others observe it or look on from afar. The worst part? We remain silent.

If we are to move our society forward and prevent violence against women from occurring, we must speak out. We must take action to challenge attitudes and behaviours. We must not remain silent.

And make this commitment.......

I swear:
never to commit violence against women,
never to excuse violence against women, and
never to remain silent about violence against women.
This is my oath.
Swear now
Help spread the word

Wednesday 24 November 2010

In the real world of gender inequality in Australia 2010

It would appear that in the real word of unequal wages based on gender in a country where women on average earn around 82-84 cents for every dollar earned by men (often when doing identical work) and its first female prime minister is ambivalent on the issue, it literally pays for women to collectively bargain in the workplace.

This week the Federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations released its report AGREEMENT MAKING IN AUSTRALIA UNDER THE WORKPLACE RELATIONS ACT: 2007 TO 2009 which stated in part:

A total of 24 156 collective agreements were approved under the WR Act between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2009. This was a 14.7 per cent increase from the 21 057 collective agreements approved in the previous three year reporting period.

Twenty-nine per cent of employees had their pay set by a federally registered collective agreement during the reporting period. This was a slight increase from the 28.5 per cent of employees who had their pay set by a collective agreement during the previous reporting period.

Employees whose pay was set by a collective agreement earned, on average, more than those whose pay was set by an individual agreement.

The average hourly ordinary time earnings of non-managerial employees on federally registered collective agreements was $29.00 in August 2008, compared with $28.60 for employees whose pay was set by a federally registered individual agreement.

For female employees, the difference was slightly larger, with $27.10 under collective agreements compared with $26.00 under individual agreements.

At the same time the department also released TRENDS IN FEDERAL ENTERPRISE BARGAINING JUNE QUARTER, 2010.

Snapshot of GetUp! wage calculator

Of bats and B52s

Bats are still a favoured topic in letters to the editor found in the Old Egg Timer of Grafton on the NSW North Coast.

Clarence Plague

A NEW disease has been discovered in the Clarence Valley, which is believed to be associated with bats.

It is thought to be a virus, and rednecks, halfwits, and National Party politicians are especially vulnerable to the virus.

It is particularly virulent in the Cowper Electorate.

Symptoms include ranting, raving, frothing at the mouth, chest beating, and a type of flatulence that results in copious amounts of hot air issuing from the mouth.

Other symptoms include a morbid desire to seek media attention, and those afflicted will be seen standing near high schools, hospitals or roads trying to get their pictures taken.

Another manifestation of the condition is the writing of irrational letters to the local papers advocating all sorts of strange anti social behaviour, including discharge of fireworks in public places.

Those afflicted who are also gun nuts, become obsessed with the idea of putting on their camouflage fatigues and roaming around discharging firearms.

Medical authorities think that the condition is incurable and the most humane option would be to euthanase the sufferers.

Bio-ethicists are concerned that this might be construed as a form of eugenics which is against the Geneva Convention and The Hague Protocols.

Of more concern is the worry that if the local authorities don't get the outbreak under control soon, it will attract the attention of the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta, and the Americans will fly a B52 over and drop a 10-megaton warhead on the Cowper Electorate, to stop the spread of the contagion.

The bats say however, that they are the victims of a vicious smear campaign and the virus got into Australia via racehorses from Abu Dhabi, or banana imports from Ecuador.



Some background here from our local political wonderkind in clogs - Hartsuyker’s strengthens Maclean bats Bill to end bureaucratic buck passing and remove Federal Minister from the process

Tuesday 23 November 2010

North Coast fishermen and cane farmers oppose any Clarence River water diversion

Excerpt from The Land article Clarence River can’t ‘spare a drop’ on 19 November 2010:

While North Coast primary producers have a lot more sympathy for the plight of inland irrigators than they do for the Queenslanders in population overdrive, they say that despite the image most people have of the massive Clarence the reality is the river cannot spare a drop.

The fresh water flushes during floods are the lifeblood of the region’s fishing industry, the biggest supplier of seafood in NSW, sustaining 140 wild harvest commercial fishermen.

Professional Fishermen’s Association executive officer, John Harrison, Maclean, said the fresh water flows brought nutrients and the opportunity for fish growth and there was “no room for a single drop” to be taken from the system without a detrimental impact on the fishing industry and environment.

Beef producer, Elizabeth Fahey, who has double frontage to the Clarence on her Brahman breeding property at Copmanhurst, said there were times during dry spells when she could walk across parts of the river without getting her feet wet.

“The practicalities are that the expense of setting up the infrastructure required to allow inland producers to utilise water in times of high flow would not make the scheme viable, when the access to water would not be all the time,” she said.

While sugar producers in the Clarence don’t irrigate, NSW Canegrowers chairman, Vince Castle, said the region could not do without its fishing industry and the overwhelming feeling among cane growers was “utter opposition” to the concept.

True words tweeted in jest?


Australian politics: the asinine versus the inept, reported by the facile. I swear to dog it's enough to make you move to NZ.

via TweetDeck

Monday 22 November 2010

Free EarthScan webcast "Reconnecting Nature and Culture", Wednesday, November 24, 2010 4:00 am Sydney AEDT

A hatip to Margi Prideaux over at Wild Politics for alerting the blogosphere to this event:

Earthcasts are monthly free one-hour interactive web events from Earthscan

In November the subject is:

Reconnecting Nature and Culture

Understand the concept of biocultural diversity
>> Learn how to integrate cultural and spiritual values into conservation, tourism and heritage management practices
>> Discover how embracing the values of local people can dramatically increase the success of conservation and sustainability efforts, for the benefit of all

Tuesday 23rd November 2010
17:00 (UK time – GMT), 12:00 (EDT), 9:00 (PDT)

Click here to register

There must be something in that there Canberra water!

There must definitely be something extra in the water down Canberra way……..
This week we were all treated to the decidedly unholy sight of Tony Mad Monk Abbott scurrying into the back pews of the House of Reps clad in singlet and shorts sans shoes, because after all as Leader of the Opposition a personal exercise regime is more important than anything else.
The shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey was heard monumentally wasting the House’s time on a housekeeping measure; “Mr Speaker, I am reluctant to raise this, but I have raised this matter previously with Parliament House departmental officials. Early in the morning on sitting days there is a tendency for lawnmowers and air blowers to be used outside offices during radio interviews. On one occasion I actually had to stop the interview—I know it is hard to believe, Mr Speaker—until the noise had passed. Given that there is a considerable amount of time when parliament is not sitting and that we do not sit on Fridays, I again request that we do not have the extraordinary noise from lawnmowers and various other machinery being used outside our office windows between 7 am and 9 am.”
And later in the week telling another member; “Just keep your hands well displayed there, Bill! Keep them up; keep them above the table! We do not know what you have in your holster, old son; we can only guess! He is the one who has to go through the metal detector on the way into parliament! You have to be careful of the smiley ones! I am having a great time paying out on this guy..”
Does everyone in the Opposition think that the Xmas silly season began early this year?
All that was needed was to spot Bronnie in an Ascot hat to confirm the lack of political direction.

Pic taken from ABC The Insiders on 21st November 2010.
Quotes from Hansard

Sunday 21 November 2010

One in the eye for Windsor and Xenophon

From A Clarence Valley Protest on 19 November 2010:

Clarence Valley Council responds to Windsor, Xenophon and the rest of those would be water raiders

From the Minutes of Ordinary Monthly Meeting of Clarence Valley Council on 16 November 2010:

(Cr Williamson)
1. The Council again register it strong opposition to any plans to divert waters out of the Clarence catchment.
2. Council makes a submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia inquiry into the proposed Murray-Darling Basin Plan (MDBP), noting Council’s opposition to any plans to divert waters out of the Clarence catchment.
Voting recorded as follows:
For: Councillors Williamson, Comben, Dinham, Howe, Hughes, McKenna, Simmons, Tiley and Toms.
Against: Nil

Gillard Government to remove cap on redundancy payments says Saffin

Media release from Member for Page Janelle Saffin on 19 November 2010:

Page MP Janelle Saffin has welcomed new redundancy provisions that mean from next year workers will receive redundancy pay for every year of service if their company goes broke.

From January 1, 2011, the Gillard Government will remove the cap on redundancy payments so that workers’ payouts will be based on how many years they have served.

Ms Saffin said at present, if an employer becomes insolvent and cannot fund redundancy entitlements, the redundancy pay is capped at 16 weeks.

“This means that an employee who has been with a company for 35 years can receive the same as someone who had worked there for only five years.

“It is a big blow to any employee if the company they work for goes broke and they lose their job, but it is even tougher for those who don’t get their full entitlements

“However, under the Government changes, from next year workers will receive a payout of up to four weeks pay for every year of service.

“This is a fairer system, and ensures employees are paid what they deserve if their employer goes into liquidation,” Ms Saffin said.

“The global financial crisis led to an increased need for redundancy payments and the Government is committed to funding entitlements.”

The changes will be made by amending GEERS (General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme) Operational Arrangements.

Friday 19 November 2010

NSW North Coast beaches receive mixed review in latest DEWCC report

Photograph of Wategoes Beach at sunrise from World Tourism

Thirty-seven ocean beaches and river swimming spots on the NSW North Coast in Byron, Ballina, Richmond Valley, Clarence Valley and Coffs Habour local government areas, were included in the recently released State of Beaches 2009-2010.

A total of 265 swimming locations along the New South Wales coast were monitored during 2009–2010 under three programs: Beachwatch, Harbourwatch and the Beachwatch Partnership Program.

However, not all popular northern ocean and river sites were included in this NSW Dept. of Environment, Climate Change and Water report.

Of those included, The Strand, Belongil Beach, Wategos Beach, Tallow Beach (Byron Bay), Tallow Beach (Suffolk Park), Seven Mile Beach, Lighthouse Beach, Airforce Beach, Main Beach (Richmond Valley) and Shark Bay received the highest rating given “Very Good”.

Nineteen other locations were awarded a “Good” rating, two more were classified as “Fair”, three “Poor” and three “Very Poor”.

What was surprising was how Clarence Valley river sites fared in comparison with other North Coast areas – with not one location in the highest category.

Gradings used in the report:

Very Good – Location has generally excellent microbial water quality and very few potential sources of faecal pollution. Water is considered suitable for swimming for almost all of the time.

Good – Location has generally good microbial water quality and water is considered suitable for swimming for most of the time. Swimming should be during and for up to one day following heavy rain at ocean beaches and for up to three days at estuarine sites.

Fair – Microbial water quality is generally suitable for swimming, but because of the presence of significant sources of faecal contamination, extra care should be taken to avoid swimming during and for up to three days following rainfall or if there are signs of pollution such as discoloured water, odour, or debris in the water.

Poor – Location is susceptible to faecal pollution and microbial water quality is not always suitable for swimming. During dry weather conditions, ensure that the swimming location is free of signs of pollution, such as discoloured water, odour or debris in the water, and avoid swimming at all times during and for up to three days following rainfall.

Very Poor – Location is very susceptible to faecal pollution and microbial water quality may often be unsuitable for swimming. It is generally recommended to avoid swimming at these sites.