Monday 28 February 2011

Sarah Palin is elevated to higher office

The Abbott Monologues: a shrill man falls foul of Shakespeare and history

Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is nothing if not predictable – back with his great big new tax on everything mantra and a time wasting censure motion on the last parliamentary sitting day of the week which inevitably fails to get up.

This week's obviously rehearsed sound bite was; She has never seen a tax she did not like. She has never seen a tax she would not hike. Unfortunately the contrived nature of this utterance was exposed by the grinning backbencher sitting immediately him in the House clearly mouthing the words along with his leader.

Last Thursday’s very shrill effort during Question Time also saw the inevitable botching of detail as Abbott got carried away for the benefit of cameras and media.

Though this time one of the wonky details came from a surprising source. Waxing lyrical when speaking of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, he cried “Out, out foul spot” when supposedly quoting from Shakespeare’s play Lady Macbeth.

Of course Year 10 high school students would be able to tell him that the spot was not foul but damned and, although Lady Macbeth was a notorious sleepwalker she was not given to stuttering.

But then, at the beginning of this week Abbott obviously thought a form of modern government existed in New South Wales during the time William Bligh when he attempted a comparison with the Keneally Government. Bligh of course as a military governor of a British colony was virtually an absolute local ruler answerable only to the British Parliament. He had long left the colony by the time a legislature came into being. Abbott also appears to believe that it was definitely warmer when Jesus allegedly walked the earth than it is today.

Sunday 27 February 2011

Northern Rivers studies in browns

Penny Evans, The Swarm 2008 (top)
Ron Leonard, Cage One (centre)
Lae Oldmeadow, Canopy Sacred Seed 1 2008 (bottom)

Arts Northern Rivers

Sometimes a cartoon is all too accurate....

A small hint received from a friend.....

Clarence Valley's 'professional' contrarians are at it again

Mighty Clarence
Over the years there has been a resistance to building a dam on the Clarence River – “Not One Drop – The Mighty Clarence”. This seems to be irrational and a case of NFromMBY. It’s not as though we use very much of the water. According to government figures < 1% of the water is being used with the other 99% going out to sea. And the new Shannon Creek Dam will provide our domestic water if necessary. So why should we reconsider? There have been two major floods in two years, (and there will be more). These have caused considerable hardship, disruption and cost in the valley and to the state’s transportation corridors. Current articles talk about the cane farmers being adversely affected for up to two years; prawn stocks being washed out to sea; fish kills due to deoxygenation; river events being cancelled; major infrastructure damage or destruction; people and trucks stranded for days; health alerts; sugar and fishing jobs threatened… Maybe it should be called “The Mighty Destructive Clarence”. We need a dam that can be used for flood mitigation, (which does not mean flood prevention) and provide water to the Murray Darling Basin. It would also provide a great fresh water recreation area for the Clarence Valley.
A plan put forward by the late Professor Lance Endersbee included five dams and multiple pipelines. A mini-Snowy Mountains scheme is not needed. The fallacy of his scheme is that lots of water needs to be stored. It doesn’t, because of the Clarence’s large catchment and the generally reliable, high rainfall. It needs only one dam on the eastern side of the range that would provide mitigation and MDB water.
The dam would be built after the major tributaries, such as the Timbarra and the Nymboida/Mann flowed into the Clarence. The best site for the dam would be in the Clarence River Gorge. From this dam the water would be pumped over the Great Divide, to a holding dam that would then release water into the Severn River and the existing Pindari Dam. From there it would flow through the Macintyre-Dumaresq-Barwon Rivers, and into the Darling. The 80km pipeline would be a straightforward project compared to say the Trans Alaska Pipeline, which I worked on for a number of years.
It is a dam that would be beneficial for the Clarence Valley and our inland neighbours, who provide much of the food WE eat and who will again, be subject to long, severe droughts. If the Mighty Clarence can’t offer a parched neighbour “ONE drop”, it does not deserve to be called mighty. The dam should not be damned. It deserves to be discussed in a no-parochial, unemotional manner. I would be happy to provide more information, to any interested parties.
John Ibbotson*

[The Clarence Valley Review, letter to the Editor,9 February 2011]

* Mr. Ibbotson describes himself variously as Metallurgist, Systems Analyst, Photographer, Author. His submission to Federal Paliament Water Proofing the Murray-Darling Basin contains the same arguments as those in his letter. Ibbotson is something of a conspiracy theorist and anthropomorphic global warming denialist.

Worth thinking about
I found it a pleasure to read John Ibbotson’s easily understood and emotionally unbiased letter (CVR 9/2/11) on that perennial question that is too much of a hotcake for any local politician to pick up on.
Personally I agree with Mr. Ibbotson’s opinion.I further offer the following. Having studied a rather crude topographical map, a dam at the Gorge would probably require a construction and service road from Summerland Way to the site which in turn would require a second bridge across the Clarence River.
Worth thinking about?
And certainly worth further discussion
Thomas Macindoe *

[The Clarence Valley Review, letter to the Editor, 23 February 2011]

* Mr. Macindoe is one of the Clarence Valley’s resident contrarians who in retirement will often take contradictory positions on given issues providing his stance runs counter to either expert opinion or public sentiment. One of his most endearing traits is his predictability.

Saturday 26 February 2011

The Bobbsy Twins Pell & Plimer get a dose of legitimate science

Finally! In the Senate Hansard, showing restraint and respect, Dr Greg Ayers exposes Cardinal George Pell for the foolish man that he is (subsequent to certain correspondence between the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the prelate).

Despite a valiant attempt by Senator McDonald, to divert and over talk Ayers in order to protect this meddlesome priest and his pet climate change denier, the following went into the historical record as part of ENVIRONMENT AND COMMUNICATIONS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE ESTIMATES (Additional Estimates) MONDAY, 21 FEBRUARY 2011

Dr. Ayers full statement here - with interruptions and senatorial dummy spits removed.

What Julia Gillard really said about pricing carbon

Listening to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott lay into Prime Minister Gillard over the announcement that her government was moving towards setting an interim price on carbon from 1 July 2012 as a precursor to an national emissions trading scheme by 2017 and, then hearing knuckle-dragging radio ‘personality’ Alan Jones’ near hysterical rant on the same subject (full transcript here) one could be forgiven for thinking that Ms. Gillard had never let the Australian electorate know her thinking before the last federal election held on 21 August 2010.

Both of these gentleman forget the enduring convenience of Google when it comes to checking if one’s memory is correct or not.

Yes, she did say that there would not be a carbon tax and, despite Abbott and Jones trying to rewrite history, a stand alone, permanent carbon tax is not what is being planned for now.

However, Gillard did go to some pains to let us all know that carbon pricing was going to occur if Labor was re-elected.

In June 2010 The Australian reported:

Julia Gillard will pursue a carbon price if she wins the next election…

In July 2010 The Herald Sun also reported the Prime Minister’s position:

"We will have that price on carbon when we have a deep community consensus."
Today, Ms Gillard emphatically ruled out a price on carbon before 2012 as she prepares to release a new policy on climate change.
That means no ETS, no carbon tax and no interim carbon levy until then.

The Business Spectator in July 2010:

The federal government has agreed new policies on climate change, including a commitment to set an interim price on carbon, the Australian Financial Review reports.

On the day before we all went to the polls Gillard was reported at

Julia Gillard says she is prepared to legislate a carbon price in the next term as part of a bold series of reforms

In The Australian on the same day:

In an election-eve interview with The Australian, the Prime Minister revealed she would view victory tomorrow as a mandate for a carbon price, provided the community was ready for this step.

Even Tony Abbott was aware of Gillard’s commitment to pricing carbon. His own website contained this post almost two months before the last federal election:

If she is serious about putting a price on carbon she shouldn’t wait until after the election, she should sit down with Bob Brown now, come up with something, tell us now what she’s going to do rather than just fudge this until after the election. But it’s typical of the new Prime Minister that she wants to get credit for wanting to do something without getting the blame for actually doing something and this is a Prime Minister who will tell people what she thinks they want to hear but she won’t then put the policies in place to deliver on that.

Friday 25 February 2011

We're white hot and angry? Quick, look in the mirror and check!

The very partisan and super aggressive Alan Jones over at 2GB this morning told the Prime Minister that there is white hot anger out there over the announcement of a framework to introduce a national carbon price.

This came as a great surprise in our house because yesterday we greeted that same announcement with sighs of relief that Australia was once more moving forward on climate change.



* GuestSpeak is a feature of North Coast Voices allowing Northern Rivers residents to make satirical or serious comment on issues that concern them. Posts of 250-300 words or less can be submitted to ncvguestspeak AT for consideration.

Christchurch Earthquake Appeal: you've seen the news video - now help the cast

You’ve watched the 24 hour news coverage, spoken with friends and relatives – now donate a dollar or two to the New Zealand Christchurch Earthquake Appeal.

Salvation Army Australian donations online here.

Australian Red Cross online donations here.

Westpac Bank is accepting donations at local branches and customers can also donate via online banking.

ANZ Bank is accepting donations at local branches – Account name: Red Cross New Zealand Earthquake Appeal, BSB: 013 265, Account: 4768 62394

Commonwealth Bank accepting donations at local branches and via NetBank - Account name: Commonwealth Bank New Zealand Earthquake Appeal, BSB: 06 2000, Account number: 1405 2924

McDonald's Australia - a fast food nightmare

No wonder that McDonald’s new fast food outlet in Yamba doesn’t appear to be doing a roaring business during peak tourist season on the Clarence Coast:

MCDONALD'S new Favourites Combo meal contains enough calories for a whole day, horrifying nutritionists.

It contains 1623 calories and 68.5g of fat.

It's McDonald's new Favourites Combo - being promoted as a lunch meal for one, which contains almost the entire daily recommended calorie and fat intake.

Tania Ferraretto, a dietician for 17 years, said she would never recommend anyone eat the calorific meal.

She said a person's required calorie intake was variable depending on age, gender and activity level but that the average adult needed about 2000 calories per day.

"This McDonald's meal is a huge proportion of that," Ms Ferraretto said. The meal is also dangerously high in saturated fat - containing a whopping 24.4g.

"That's more saturated fat in one meal than you need in one day," Ms Ferraretto said.

"Saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol.

"I think it's completely irresponsible and ridiculous to promote a meal like this, especially in the current climate with obesity being such a problem."

The promotion hit South Australian stores on January 25 and will only be available until March 2.

In the middle of the promotional period, the Cancer Council released results from a national survey which revealed one in four high school students were overweight or obese and 51 per cent had tried a new food or drink in the past month that they had seen advertised.

McDonald's Hindley St store manager Yihong Hu said the Favourites Combo promotion was proving to be popular…….

[, 20 February 2011]

Long memories may plague Williamson in March 2011

On Facebook this month at No to McDonalds in YAMBA:

Dave Fleming Dont forget our spineless Mayor Ritchie Williamson's involvement in the Yamba Maccas when you vote in the state election next month.

Thursday 24 February 2011

Limits on scratchie lottery tickets

Hey, Senator Nick Xenophon, did you watch Adam Hill's Gordon Street Tonight on ABC TV?

A member of the audience admitted to spending $250 on scratchie lottery tickets in one session at one outlet.

What's stopping that person going to other suburbs and doing repeat efforts?

There's not much difference between doing your dough on the pokies and blowing it on things like scratchies.

NSW State Election 2011 results a forgone conclusion on the NSW North Coast?

Antony Green has issued updated election result predictions for the NSW general election on Saturday, 26 March 2011 showing the Coalition will gain an additional 27 seats off a 62% 2PP swing and, margins given for NSW North Coast electorates indicate that Nationals candidates just have to have their names on the ballot paper to win.

Tweed New margin NAT 17.3%
Ballina New margin NAT 28.8%
Lismore New margin NAT 24.3%
Clarence New margin NAT 25.9%
Coffs Harbour New margin NAT 31.9%

For all those global warming doubters out there....

Date Processed: Mon Feb 21 06:00:31 2011
This data image is generated on a daily basis using SST data from a variety of polar-orbiting and geostationary environmental satellites from NOAA and its partners, including GOES, POES, Meteosat, and Metop-A. The data is processed daily and has a spatial resolution of about 11 km/pixel. The colorscale uses blues to show cold waters, red and orange to show hot waters, and yellow and white to show temperate waters. Major currents can be seen as snaking areas of warm or cool waters surrounded by areas of greatly different temperatures

Global Surface Temperature Anomalies

Wednesday 23 February 2011

HEALTH WARNING: This post contains material which may seriously damage the emotional equilibrium of persons with average or above average intelligence

2011 Montana Legislature





NEW SECTION. Section 1. Public policy concerning global warming. (1) The legislature finds that to ensure economic development in Montana and the appropriate management of Montana's natural resources it is necessary to adopt a public policy regarding global warming.

(2) The legislature finds:

(a) global warming is beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana;

(b) reasonable amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere have no verifiable impacts on the environment; and

(c) global warming is a natural occurrence and human activity has not accelerated it.

(3) (a) For the purposes of this section, "global warming" relates to an increase in the average temperature of the earth's surface.

(b) It does not include a one-time, catastrophic release of carbon dioxide.

NEW SECTION. Section 2. Codification instruction. [Section 1] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 75, chapter 2, and the provisions of Title 75, chapter 2, apply to [section 1].

NEW SECTION. Section 3. Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.

- END –

* Joseph L. Read is a Tea Party-backed GOP politician and, the principal sponsor of this bill as a member of the Republican controlled Montana House of Representatives.

Joe is living proof of both his election campaign observation; “ten words we should fear most – I’m from the Government and I’m here to help” and of the fact that one doesn't need to be able to count to get elected.

Apparently Joe didn't consult any scientists before authoring his bill. He states in an interview with the Wonk Room; Climate policy….is essentially an attempt to steer money and control into the federal government, which has been dictating the direction of climate science research for decades….“The purpose of this whole issue of carbon credits and pushing the agenda of global warming….is about directing levies and fees for carbon credits so the federal government gets an income source.”

One has to suspect that Teh Man from Montana is a distant relative of Australian Liberal Party Leader Tony Abbott who pursues his own opposition to a carbon price because it is “great big new tax on everything” and is a closet climate change denier par excellence.

With Liberal Party anti-muslim sentiment off the reservation, the hate emails are again doing the rounds

Abbott, Bernardi, Morrison, Bolt, Jones et al should be very careful about blowing those anti-Islam dog whistles, as it takes very little for Cronulla-style hate to bubble to the top once more.

Various versions of the 'story' below has been around for more than a year on Facebook pages, in online chat rooms, the odd letter to the editor in obscure newspapers and unsurprisingly have recently resurfaced as a nasty tweet or email this year.
The Nik mentioned appears to only exist in cyberspace.

Nik Ziogopoulos states what is fact and what we all believe.
Nik would be in his 70's at least.

Nik Ziogopoulos
I emigrated to Australia over 60 years ago – On the ship there were Poms,Italians (Spags), Germans (Huns), Yugoslavs (Yuges), Poles, Ducchys, Ukes (Ukrainians) and Greeks. (Note – All European people!!) all looking forward to starting a new life in Australia . I arrived with 30 quid in my pocket and that’s all I had to my name Did I put my hand out?? Of course not – I got a job and paid my way just like everyone else who came to this country back then.

Now, it’s my taxes that subsidize these people who think they have Gods given right (read Allah) to come here and criticise those of us who have worked for the country we now call home.

If I didn’t like what I saw when I got here I would have gone home – they have the same option.
If they don’t want to become an Australian,

When will this stop?
They want 2 of their own public holidays, because Christians have
Christmas, Easter & Good Friday,
They force our children to eat Halal Meat Pies and Sausage Rolls from the school canteens, so the Muslim kids can feel more Aussie. We were not consulted about this change - they went ahead and just did it.
Our foods are slowly all becoming Halal foods, our cheeses, chocolates & even good old sanitarium foods

Our Government is ALLOWING this to happen.. It has to stop now, while we still have some power to be able to stop it.

Regarding Our National Anthem -

I am sorry, but after hearing they want to sing the National Anthem in Arabic - enough is enough. Nowhere or at no other time in our nation's history, did they sing it in Italian, Japanese, Polish, Irish (Celtic), German, Portuguese, Ukrainian, Greek, or any other language because of immigration.
It was written in English, and should be sung word for word the way it was written.

The news broadcasts even gave the translation -- not even close.

I am not sorry if this offends anyone, this is MY COUNTRY -
IF IT IS YOUR COUNTRY SPEAK UP ---- please pass this along

I am not against immigration -- just come through like everyone else. Get a sponsor; have a place to lay your head; have a job; pay your taxes, live by the rules AND LEARN THE LANGUAGE as all other immigrants have in the past -- and LONG LIVE Australia !

Think about this:
If you don't want to forward this for fear of offending someone-
Will we still be the Country of Choice and still be Australia if we continue
to make the changes forced on us by the people from other countries
who have come to live in Australia because it is their Country of Choice??

Think about it!


It is Time for Australia to Speak up!
If you agree -- pass this along; if you don't agree -- delete it!
That's your choice.

(in this Australia where 'freedom of speech' is a fundamental right of every Australian)

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Clarence Valley Council gets a serve over rates

With Clarence Valley Shire Council seemingly under the thumb of the Grafton business district, most councillors bracing for yet another stoush with the valley community over its rates structure and Mayor Richie Williamson apparently desperate to defer trouble until after the March 2011 NSW general election campaign at which he is standing as an independent, one Yamba resident demonstrates that none of these elected representatives are going to have an easy ride by deferring the coming storm to a committee which will not report to council until 2012:

Get priorities right

CVC's recent decision to place on public exhibition Grafton's estimated $6.6m waterfront precinct plan at a time when the GM Mr McPherson attempted to increase rates above the pegged rate increase on the basis of councils diminished capacity to fund capital works, suggest a council out of touch with mainstream community needs.

It can hardly be said Grafton is doing it tough, $19.2m hospital, $5m Super clinic, $2m south CBD, $8m library, $2m Fisher Park, $78k Hawthorne Park, $50k Pioneer Park, $32k McKittrick Park, $50k rowing club etc.

Many of these facilities have to be matched with council funds as well as requiring extensive maintenance costs. Yet the stupor to this folly is that Grafton's rates are being reduced while the rates of the rest of the shire are being increased to make up the shortfall.

While council keeps records of the amount of rates each community pays, it does not keep records of the amount of services each community receives and therein lies a problem.

It is not suggested each community receives services amounting to the amount of income it provides. What is suggested is that as a democracy, we the people of this shire are entitled to transparent factual information that assists us in determining how we are governed.

That information should include where and how our monies are spent and not compromised by inadequate council records.

There is no excuse for council not disclosing that information. Upon amalgamation, council was provided with the financial records of each of the former councils including Grafton showing it to be living way beyond its means. Had these records been maintained, councillors as well as rate payers would know the present financial status of each of those former council areas.

It can hardly be argued those records would be too expensive to maintain when council can publish a $6.6m plan for a Grafton waterfront precinct.

Ray Hunt


A little light relief as an antidote to all this #*#@+** Oz weather!

Monday 21 February 2011

BOM tells South-East Queensland & Byron to the Tweed to batten down now

Australian Bureau of Meteorology 4.49pm 21 February 2011

Tropfest 2011 Winner monkeying around

Tropfest 2011. Make up your own mind........

Damon Gameau, has won the 19th annual Movie Extra Tropfest - the world’s largest short film festival in front of crowds of 150,000 nationwide and a live broadcast on Movie Extra to hundreds of thousands more film fans.

“Animal Beatbox” was voted in by some of the film industry’s most respected, including well-known feature film director Bruce Beresford, living legend Olivia Newtown-John, Aussie favourite Jack Thompson, Twilight heartthrob Xavier Samuel, director Stephan Elliott, producer Liz Watts, last year’s Tropfest winner Abe Forsythe and Tropfest Founder and Director John Polson.

Surprise judge ‘Shakespeare in Love’ actor Joseph Fiennes weighed in live from Majorca Spain before casting his vote online.

The winning film is a branch into animation by Underbelly and Balibo actor Gameau, with a catchy lyrical and poetic narrative. The film was shot in his mother’s spare room for just $85 and on a liquid detox diet with his girlfriend by his side – somehow they are still together. “I’m quite new to stop animation, but I find it a quick and versatile way to express any idea that may be lurking in my head,” he says.

And this is a biotech company FSANZ takes at its word......

On of the most disturbing facts about methodology employed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand when it 'investigates' new food products or genetically modified food/food additives, is that it takes the so-called research offered in support of produce/product safety at face value when it is presented by biotech multinationals such as Monsanto & Company.

It is almost as though FSANZ is completely blind to a corporate history of environmental damage, deceit and avoidance of responsibility that is the trademark of this multinational.

Apparently choosing to believe that biotech industries miraculously operate differently once they establish themselves in Australia.

This is posted on the
Environment Agency U.K. concerning what The Guardian U.K. called in 2007 one of the most contaminated places in Britain:

Between 1965-70 Brofiscin quarry was used as a disposal site for industrial and chemical waste.
The wastes included toxic substances such as solvents, heavy metals, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs.......

We have completed our extensive enquiries to identify those we consider should be held responsible under the contaminated land laws and be held liable for the cost of remediating Brofiscin Quarry. We are at an advanced stage in our consultations with BP, Veolia and Monsanto to provide them with the opportunity to help remediate the land on a voluntary basis. We expect to make further progress on this matter in the next few months. If this approach is unsuccessful, we have the power to carry out the work needed ourselves and recover our costs. The three companies have been identified under the legislation as inheriting the liabilities of companies who were associated with depositing wastes at the quarry.

This is not the only site used by Monsanto which has problems with PCB or other toxic contamination - the company doesn't mind polluting its home country, wrecking the health of its own workers, generally running roughshod over the interest of countries in which it operates and, if the Ecologist is to be believed is not above bullying witnesses to its bad corporate behaviour.

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

Sunday 20 February 2011

The cheque really was in the mail

A Yamba resident fought the law and won on Tuesday when he managed to get his fine for driving his unregistered ute overturned.
Documents tendered to the court proved Mr Y (name changed) had paid his green slip, pink slip and posted a cheque to the RTA with his rego papers on May 31, 2010.
After posting the letter thinking he had renewed his registration, Mr Y flew from Ballina to Bathurst on June 1, to visit his sick mother, and returned on June 8.
When he got home, although he had not received his registration papers from the RTA, Mr Y presumed it had been paid and began moving green waste to the tip in his ute.
Police conducting random breath tests on Yamba Road stopped Mr Y at noon on June 11.
When he passed the breath test, police noticed the vehicle’s registration had expired on June 2.
When police questioned Mr Y about the expired registration he replied: “I posted it to the RTA.”
It turns out the mail was stuck in transit for more than a week at Maclean Post Office, not reaching the RTA until Mr Yintervened.
After checking with his bank, which confirmed his cheque hadn’t been presented, Mr Y phoned Maclean Post Office staff, who said they had his letter.
But they hadn’t put it with the shared mail for the council chambers.
After a 45-minute phone call to the RTA customer service hotline pleading to be transferred to the Maclean RTA, Mr Y finally spoke with a Maclean staff member, agreeing to pick up the letter in their lunch hour and process the payment.
Mr Y hand-delivered it to Yamba police station at 5.45pm that day, thinking the matter was over
That was until he found a $506 infringement notice on his doorstep a couple of days later, which he challenged in court.
The Magistrate found Mr Y had done everything he could to pay the registration and dismissed the infringement notice under Section 10 of the Crimes Act.

Source: The Daily Examiner, 19/2/11

Don't look for openess and transparency from the HoR Standing Committee on Regional Australia

After the selective (and still incomplete) publication of submissions ahead of rather hurried interim findings being presented to the Federal Water Minister when there are at least seven more days of evidence still to hear, the House Standing Committee on Regional Australia is beginning to look less like a body conducting a genuine inquiry and more like an example of parliamentary match fixing.

So on a day when the Inquiry into the impact of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in Regional Australia only had a NSW state minister and various senior public servants on its official witness list for a public hearing held in Canberra, it was hardly surprising to find this statement appearing in the transcript not once but twice:

Evidence was then taken in private but later resumed in public—

Says it all really…………..

Saturday 19 February 2011

Japan's ICR accuses Australia of encouraging "eco-terrorism" as activists force its fleet to leave Antarctica

Minke Wales in Antarctic waters


18 February 2011

JARPA II research vessels to return home

Today, after careful consideration to the situation in the Antarctic and consultation with the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan announced withdrawal of the research activities based on the Second Phase of Japan’s Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the Antarctic (JARPAII) for this season, in order to avoid any injury or threat to life of the crew members and property of the fleet caused by the continued illegal attacks and sabotage by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS).

JARPAII is a perfectly legal activity carried out under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW). The ICR strongly condemns the SSCS and its continued dangerous and violent actions against Japan’s whale research vessels in the Antarctic.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has condemned SSCS’s tactics against Japan’s whale research vessels. In 2008 the IWC member countries adopted by consensus a statement which calls on Sea Shepherd “to refrain from dangerous actions that jeopardize safety at sea” regardless of different positions of countries on whaling.

This issue is not about whaling, but about the safety and violent activities at Sea.

The Dutch and Australian Governments could not stop violent activities of the SSCS while they register SSCS vessels under their flags.

Also today, the Australian and New Zealand Governments officially welcomed the decision by the Government of Japan to withdraw the JARPAII research vessels for this season without condemning the extremely dangerous activities of the SSCS.

In this regard, the ICR cannot help deeming with regret that these countries are encouraging so-called “eco-terrorism”, by their actions of condoning illegal activities of the SSCS and of welcoming the results of such activities.

Once more again we request that Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands behave earnestly and according to their obligations as members of the international society and fulfill their duties under international law to deal with the SSCS criminal actions in a strict and objective manner.

The start and finish of 'charity' according to Hartsuyker

The Federal Member for Cowper and Shadow Spokesperson for the Dog Whistle on the NSW North Coast forgets that old saying that although charity begins at home it should not end there and that Australia has international humanitarian obligations as well as domestic commitments:

THE Gillard Government is refusing to support university students from regional areas whilst doling out millions of dollars to keep asylum seekers in hotels and motels, The Nationals federal member for Cowper's Luke Hartsuyker said today. Mr Hartsuyker was commenting on media reports the Government is forking out $2.5 million a month to house 500 asylum seekers and that an extra $290 million will be required this year to fund Labor’s failed border protection policy. “The Gillard Labor Government simply has the wrong priorities,” Mr Hartsuyker said. [Stock and Land,15 February 2011]

With the Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott now heading a coalition which appears to be fast redefining itself as anti-immigration and anti-Muslim, it is hardly surprising to find Hartsuyker seeking media attention by parroting yet another dubious version of Abbott's "With so many schools destroyed or damaged in Australia we do think that charity begins at home".

This week:

Another call for Morrison to go

A sentiment with which it would be hard to disagree, from the pen of The Daily Examiner Editor David Bancroft on 18 February 2011:

Morrison simply must go

You would have to go a long way to find a lower political act than that demonstrated by, of all people, the federal opposition spokesman on immigration, Scott Morrison.

First, the honourable member, if that is what he can be called, bemoaned the fact the government was spending taxpayers' money on sending some of the survivors of the Christmas Island boat tragedy to the funeral of many of those who died.

Such compassion.

He has since apologised, not for what he said, but for the timing.

We have now heard he floated the idea of using community concern about Muslims as a political tool.

So, what was the idea? Whip up hatred and distrust for a few votes?

This is exactly what causes division in the community, exactly the type of behaviour that would drive disenfranchised Muslims or other minority groups into the arms of extremists.

We don't need that, Mr Morrison.

We need, wherever possible, to encourage and promote unity.

Thankfully some of the cooler heads in the Liberal Party have prevailed and his suggestion never got to see the light of day.

But for the opposition spokesman to even suggest anti- Muslim sentiment should be used as a political tool, demonstrates he is not fit to hold the position. There are some extreme right wing views starting to surface in the party.

Hopefully there still remains enough with the belief systems on which the party was founded and named, liberalism, to keep them forever in check.

Friday 18 February 2011

So, what happened to Perle Pty Limited and why is it suddenly on the political radar?

Snapshot of Perle Pty Ltd website

Here is a corporation (apparently owned by one Norman Herfurth and Graham Keeping through their own individual companies) which has been in existence since 1997, was expecting an annual turnover in 2010 of approximately $35 million, had ongoing contracts to build social housing for the NSW Government and private schools for the Catholic Church and boasted this substantial client list on its own website:

AMP Capital, Australian Museum, Australia Post, BNP Paribas, Bovis Lend Lease, City of Sydney, CMC Markets, Collex / Veolia Water, Incorp Interior Designs, Jones Lang LaSalle, Macquarie University, Memo Corporation, Mintel International, Racing NSW, Railcorp, Reserve Hotels, Rice Daubney, Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA), Roberts Weaver Group, Savills, Sydney Ferries Corporation, Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, Sydney Opera House Trust, TransGrid, University of Technology, University of Western Sydney, Virgin Mobile and Visa International

So why did Perle Pty Limited operating as Perle Construction Management suddenly go into voluntary liquidation with a list of around 500 creditors (some on the NSW North Coast) and, why is Federal Nationals Luke Hartsuyker attempting to link the Federal Government’s Stimulus Package with the downfall of this company and subcontractors current financial problems when elsewhere creditors appear more stoic?

Perhaps the answer to the first part of this question lies in the fact that this company appears to be more experienced in refurbishing/refitting existing structures rather than building from-the-ground-up, may have been over-ambitious in applying for new construction contracts as well as having a penchant for luxury cars and allegedly pretending all was well in order to receive progress payments from the NSW Dept of Housing and, the second part is easily explained by the Federal Opposition’s desire to use everything and anything it can to beat the Gillard Government about the head and the willingness of local tradies to be used as political tools by the deeply cynical Member for Cowper.

If any one government is to blame for this debacle the finger should be firmly pointing towards the NSW Keneally Government which lurches from one mismanagement disaster to another and a state public service which has been out to lunch for years.

While the real losers in this matter are creditors both large and small, as well as those on the North Coast sometimes desperately waiting for affordable rental accommodation.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Life's little lessons learnt from Cyclone Yasi

Drought-driven dust storms, tropical cyclones, east coast lows, out-of-nowhere tornadoes, storm surges, floods, bush fire - it seems Australia has seen them all over the last twelve months, so this blog post reprinted with kind permission of Island View over at Blogging Townsville contains some hints for the disaster next time......

What I learnt from Cyclone Yasi

While Yasi's winds here were equivalent to a severe Category 2 or weak Cat. 3 cyclone there are some useful things I learnt (or were reminded of) for next time:

  1. The wind follows the land - the gullies and valleys - just as fires and flash floods do
  2. Get a manual coffee grinder
  3. Solar houses don't have to wait for the power to come on
  4. Get an alternative mobile phone charger - car, solar, wind-up, whatever
  5. A surprising number of people build stupid houses in stupid places
  6. Building on or immediately behind the foreshore dune is dumb - it's a sand dune for god's sake! It has a purpose - to move, to replenish the beach!
  7. The ONLY media that works/adds value in a crisis is local ABC radio and a battery powered receiver - it must be defended at all costs
  8. There is no such thing as too much duct tape
  9. Don't assume that because there's a cyclone, it's gonna rain - fill the bath all the way
  10. Emergency alert text messages are great - if you have a mobile
  11. Charge the camera beforehand - taking pics on the mobile chews up battery time
  12. Tell everyone beforehand to only text you and not to ring
  13. Get more ice beforehand, fill the fridge up with it (unless you have a solar house of course)
  14. The Internet is invaluable until you lose power - but only because in enables you to track the cyclone closely.
  15. News sites are hopeless and Facebook is downright dangerous in the hands of a teenager who can't discern rumour from fact or possibility from probability.
  16. Print media is useless unless they can can get an edition out before the power comes on
  17. The BOM site is fantastic but I suspect most people don't know how to read the forecast maps
  18. Most people have no idea of the country on which they live or how it works
  19. Most people (and journalists) have no appreciation of the geography of Queensland
  20. Don't wait for the last minute to buy your beer supply and when you do don't forget to get extra for all of those chats with the neighbours after
  21. Always be nice to the Ergon and CityWater guys - they are worth their weight in beer at the very least. They do an amazing job in appalling conditions
And finally, when everyone is locked down and until the storm passes, you are starkly reminded that ultimately in this world, you are on your own baby.

Magnetic Island, 9 February 2011

Antarctic whale hunt 'suspended'

Not victory yet - just a temporary ceasefire in the whale wars.

According to the Sea Shepherd organisation on February 11, 2011 - Japanese Whalers Escorted out of the Whaling Grounds

The Japanese whaling fleet is heading eastward at full speed and is now east of the boundary for their whaling grounds. The eastern boundary of the Japanese whaling operations is 145 degrees west. The whaling ships and the two Sea Shepherd ships are now at 72 degrees south and 133 degrees west on a course of 145 degrees. With the Bob Barker and the Gojira in pursuit, the Nisshin Maru continues to head eastward at 14 knots.

Both the whaling ships and the Sea Shepherd ships Bob Barker and the Gojira are now closer to South America than to New Zealand and Australia. This position is 3000 nautical miles southeast of Hobart, Australia and 1700 miles southwest of Patagonia, Argentina.

The Nisshin Maru is making erratic course changes. “It’s like they spin the bottle every watch to see what course to set,” said Captain of the Bob Barker Alex Cornelissen. “There is no rationality in these course changes. They go east, then south, then west, then north and then back east again. In short, they are burning quite a bit of fuel, going absolutely nowhere, and without being able to kill a single whale.”

The Steve Irwin is southeast bound, out of Wellington, en route to rendezvous in about a week with the other two Sea Shepherd ships and the Japanese whaling fleet.

From ABC News on February 16 2011:

Anti-whaling activists cautiously welcomed news that Japan was suspending its annual hunt near Antarctica as a result of their harassment campaign.

"If that's true then it demonstrates that our tactics, our strategies have been successful," Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson said by satellite phone from the ship Steve Irwin after being told of the suspension.

"I don't think they've gotten more than 30 whales from what I can think, certainly they haven't got many whales at all," he said.

Mr Watson was reluctant to claim a victory over the whalers, but said "every whale saved is a victory to us, so we've gotten a lot of victories down here this year".

Japan's fisheries agency said it had suspended operations on the Nisshin Maru factory ship and was considering an early end to the annual harpoon mission after harassment from the conservation group.

"Putting safety as a priority, the fleet has halted scientific whaling for now. We are currently considering what to do hereafter," Fisheries Agency official Tatsuya Nakaoku said.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

It's not just the food you eat that contains genetically modified organisms

Record of GMO and GM Product Dealings under Section 138 of the Gene Technology Act 2000

Dealings Involving GM products - therapeutics

NB - All of these products have been approved for supply in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

Some of these approvals go back as far as 1987.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Moggy Musings [Archived material from Boy the Wonder Cat]

A died and gone to heavenz musing: The whisper is that this applies to moggies also: The Observatory Hotel offers pet-friendly rooms at an additional charge (from $50 per pet per night). Dogs will receive a pet bed and their owners can choose dinner from the Scoopy Doo room service menu.

A how not to respect your professional peers musing: Sometimes I even get emails on various subjects from hoomins. Like this snippet for example........."the reality is many of the APN's stories are beat ups - this is inevitable when their journalists are trained to use emotive and adjectival language and make judgements in what are supposed to be objective reports - (this despite the journalists' code of ethics) - However, I do acknowledge that this is becoming the 'norm' in a rapidly changing media world, where stories are dumbed down to appease the lowest common denominator on a populist basis (print/digital/broadcast). The sad thing about this lazy and inept form of journalism is that most readers don't know they are being hoodwinked - so, in many cases one lazy journalist uses another lazy journalist's 'facts' as a given, without doing their own research."

A Rex the German Shepherd in gossip mode musing: Hey Boy, Don't know about you, but Dudley, a mate of mine down the road, reckons our local daily rag, The Daily Examiner, might have introduced a Family First Employment Policy. Dudley pointed out to me that about a month or so ago he noticed a DEX photographer's son was on the payroll and yesterday he noticed a DEX higher-level journo's nephew started scribbling for the paper. Cheers, Rex

A sad goodbye musing: Goodbye, Artemis. We didn't know Artemis except through her family's online mentions of her antics and those posted pics, but all the moggies and doggies associated with Moggy Musing will, I'm sure, join me in wishing her family and many furry friends well after hearing of her sad passing.

A happy, happy musing: Scooter, a 9 month-old Labrador went missing on Christmas Eve and was handed into the Grafton pound and reunited with his family on 30 December 2010 - just in time to have a long nap or three after his big adventure and then join in New Year celebrations.

A furry friend grapevine musing: If your dog or cat appears to be grinning this week it's probably because it has heard that Clarence Valley shire councillor Margaret McKenna has begun to get examples of McDonald's (Yamba) branded rubbish in her mail - sometimes a vote for unpopular development will come back to haunt in the most unusual ways!

Yamba Rugby players go too fast

Although they lost three games at Crescent Head on the weekend, Yamba's rugby players, The Buccaneers, really do need to slow down a lot more.

The team was on the losing side of the ledger to Campbelltown (35 to 5), Sunnybank (35 to 7) and Wollongbar (25 to 7).

However, a report in The Daily Examiner states 
The team travelled three hours down the Pacific Highway to the Crescent Head Sevens.

Heck!  Three hours for the trip from Yamba to Crescent Head! That suggests the rugby boys were putting their feet a tad too heavily on their accelerator pedals.

According to three independent sources, Google Maps, Whereis and TravelMate, it's a distance of about 270kms from Yamba to Crescent Head and over 250kms of it is on the very dangerous Pacific Highway.

Fellas, have a good season in 2011 and travel safely to and from your games.

Image credit: Yamba Buccaneers

Aerial crop spraying on NSW North Coast in the news again

Excerpt from NSW Environmental Defender’s Office newsletter on February 10, 2011:

Byron Shire Echo : Spraying locals with pesticides (8 February 2010)

Helicopter spraying of potentially harmful chemicals on corporate macadamia nut farms in the area has sparked calls for greater transparency in spraying practices.

The United States based Hancock Agricultural Investment Group – which owns several macadamia farms near Dunoon – used choppers for aerial spraying on at least two occasions late last year, causing serious concerns within parts of the local community.

During the November incident the chopper sprayed difenoconazole, a substance that is described as a ‘possible carcinogen' and suspected of damaging the hormone system, according to a recent report co-written by the Northern Rivers EDO, and the National Toxics Network.

To read this article, please visit: