Wednesday 29 February 2012

More from the Cansdell-Gulaptis Roadshow

Cartoonist Jules Faber joins in electorate-wide laughter in the 29.02.12 issue of The Daily Examiner.

While Nationals MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis also tries for a humorous response to his politically co-joined twin status being accidentally recognised in Hansard:

"It's a bit of a dent to the ego, actually," Mr Gulaptis said yesterday.
"Steve's copped a couple of knocks to the head and had a few other bumps and bruises along the way.
"I thought they might have noticed the difference.
"It seems like it might be a bit like the Australian cricket team a few years ago - once you get in you'll never get out."

NSW Parliament 2012: The Ghost Who Votes

When political tragics in the NSW state electorate of Clarence started to call the new member of parliament ‘Steve’ Gulaptis MP (because there appeared to be less than a finger width difference between disgraced former Nationals MP Steve Cansdell and his replacement Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis) it was a bit of an ‘in’ joke which grew organically on Google.

However, the joke seems to be on the O’Farrell Government for the identity confusion has spread farther than expected.

Although Cansdell resigned in September 2011 and, is awaiting the outcome of a police investigation into his own actions, he is still voting in the NSW Legislative Assembly in 2012 according to Hansard in proof edition on 22 & 23 February.

I understand that now the joke is very public there is a bit of a scramble to correct the record to show that it was actually parliamentary novice Gulaptis who was voting. However, these snapshots preserve The Ghost Who Votes for posterity.

Tuesday 28 February 2012

How many police are assigned to the NSW North Coast?

When individuals on the NSW North Coast become dissatisfied as a result of their interactions with police, they often point to perceived low police numbers in their area as one of the reasons for any failings with regard to law enforcement.

Excerpts from the MINISTERIAL AUDIT OF THE NSW POLICE FORCE: Version 2 – October 2011 below appear to indicate that, although authorised and actual local police numbers compare favourably with other regional areas, these numbers are disproportionally impacted by the level of sick leave occurring across North Coast area commands.

At the beginning of the 2011-12 financial year the combined personnel shortfall in these northern commands totalled 145 officers, with 172 officers being on long-term sick leave for 45 days out of the previous 60 days.

Northern Region Local Area Command Strength Figures at 31 July 2011:
Coffs/Clarence Authorised 193 Actual 194 Operational 153 Variance –40
Mid North Coast Authorised 174 Actual 171 Operational 141 Variance –33  
Richmond Authorised 197 Actual 196 Operational 165
Variance – 32
Tweed/Byron Authorised 172 Actual 171 Operational 132 Variance -40  
Long term sick (LTS) does not impact on LACs in the Central Metropolitan Region as it does on the country Regions. The LAC with the highest number of staff not available due to LTS is Sutherland with 5 - compare this with Newcastle City (33) & Tweed/Byron (15) - Northern Region; Wollongong (21) & Lake Illawarra (16) - Southern Region; and, Oxley (Tamworth)(14) & Chifley (Bathurst)(14) - Western Region.

Northern Region has the highest percentage variance of operational strength versus authorised strength of the six Regions
 The most occurring category for unavailability is Long Term Sick
 172 officers in the Region as at 31.6.2011 had been recorded as having been off duty on Long Term Sick 45 days out of the previous 60 days
 124 officers in the Region were unavailable due to having been placed on "restricted duties‟ - this includes permanently restricted (37); temporary
restricted (65); pregnancy-related protocols (21); and, disciplinary (1)
 46 officers were officially classified as "Medically Overstrength‟ (awaiting discharge)

In Northern NSW the top five LACs for Long Term Sick are - Newcastle (33); Tweed/Byron (15); Richmond (14); Coffs/Clarence (12) and, Mid-North Coast and Port Stephens (Both 11).

WetlandCare Australia's 14th Annual Cane Toad Roundup at Yamba NSW - Sunday March 4, 2012

Click on poster to enlarge
Be there!
WHERE: Yamba Golf & Country Club
WHEN: Roundup begins after sunset and registration starts at 6.30pm
WHAT TO WEAR & BRING: Covered footwear, clothes appropriate to the weather, gloves, torch, net and insect repellent
CHILDREN: Under 18 year-old participants must be accompanied by an adult. At least 1 adult for every 4 children.
FOOD: Sausage sizzle on the night

Finally, Labor factional warlord and Australian Senator Mark Arbib resigns

One of the more poisonous features of the Australian political sub-culture are those operators who think it's all about the influence and power held by their own ideological 'tribes'.
Thankfully, one of the most destructive examples of these narcissistic warlords NSW Senator Mark Arbib has finally resigned.
But not until after he had followed up his whiteanting of NSW Labor with a four-year long attempt to bring Federal Labor to its knees.

Snap of Arbib from The Age

Monday 27 February 2012

Former Member for Clarence, Steve What's-his-name, gets an unfavourable mention in Hansard

On 22 February the former MP for Clarence, Steve 'Stat Dec' Cansdell received a mention in the Legislative Assembly but it was not one that he is expected to obtain a copy of and paste in his scrap book.

Craig Baumann, the member for Port Stephens (he's a member of the Liberal Party) remarked to the current MP for Clarence, Christopher Gulaptis:
As one who sat next to Steve in this place for four years, I think Steve held the record for being late for question time. I think you, Mr Assistant-Speaker, would agree.

Federal MP for Page Janelle Saffin's statement on the Labor leadership ballot of 27 February 2012

Janelle Saffin’s statement on the leadership ballot

Today the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party held a leadership ballot. The Caucus chose Julia Gillard, who will continue to lead our party in Parliament and lead the country as Prime Minister of Australia.

I have worked in the past with both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard as Labor Prime Ministers, and have done so to the benefit of the Page electorate. Both have been good friends to our electorate and this relationship will continue.

Like Kevin Rudd, I’ve been a member of the Australian Labor Party for 30 years. I believe the ALP is the best vehicle to achieve fairness and justice in Australia society and I’ll continue to represent the people of Page in an effective, strong and independent way.

I am heartened by the comments of both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard today after the vote, and their gracious recognition of each others’ strengths, abilities and achievements.

I know people may be disappointed, as like me, we all get to love our leaders. I know some would like to directly vote for leaders but we don’t. It is not our law or tradition. The party that secures government does so.

I congratulated Prime Minister Gillard on her success and I congratulated former PM Kevin Rudd for his contribution to Australia and the Labor Party.

As Prime Minister, Kevin did Australia proud and is widely recognised as being right up there with the best. I want to say that he has left us a great legacy -- leading us through the Global Financial Crisis, the Apology,  the pension increases, paid maternity leave and more.

Julia as Prime Minister built on these and is building her own leadership legacy.

For me, I can say I am relieved that this is over as I stepped in a small way on to the national stage through the media as this was an important discussion.

I had declared publicly my support for Kevin Rudd and I stated my reasons. I pleased some and disappointment others, but I spoke truthfully as I do with my electorate.

I thank all the thousands of people who made their views known to me and say that I shall now continue to do what I do best -- be a feisty local Federal Member and in my words, get things done, for the people of Page.

Media contact:  Lee Duncan 0448 158 150

Wikileaks begins release of Stratfor Global Intelligence files on 27 February 2012

LONDON—Today, Monday 27 February, WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files – more than five million emails from the Texas-headquartered "global intelligence" company Stratfor. The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods, for example:
"[Y]ou have to take control of him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control... This is intended to start our conversation on your next phase" – CEO George Friedman to Stratfor analyst Reva Bhalla on 6 December 2011, on how to exploit an Israeli intelligence informant providing information on the medical condition of the President of Venezuala, Hugo Chavez.
The material contains privileged information about the US government’s attacks against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Stratfor’s own attempts to subvert WikiLeaks. There are more than 4,000 emails mentioning WikiLeaks or Julian Assange. The emails also expose the revolving door that operates in private intelligence companies in the United States. Government and diplomatic sources from around the world give Stratfor advance knowledge of global politics and events in exchange for money. The Global Intelligence Files exposes how Stratfor has recruited a global network of informants who are paid via Swiss banks accounts and pre-paid credit cards. Stratfor has a mix of covert and overt informants, which includes government employees, embassy staff and journalists around the world.
The material shows how a private intelligence agency works, and how they target individuals for their corporate and government clients. For example, Stratfor monitored and analysed the online activities of Bhopal activists, including the "Yes Men", for the US chemical giant Dow Chemical. The activists seek redress for the 1984 Dow Chemical/Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India. The disaster led to thousands of deaths, injuries in more than half a million people, and lasting environmental damage.
Stratfor has realised that its routine use of secret cash bribes to get information from insiders is risky. In August 2011, Stratfor CEO George Friedman confidentially told his employees: "We are retaining a law firm to create a policy for Stratfor on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. I don’t plan to do the perp walk and I don’t want anyone here doing it either."
Stratfor’s use of insiders for intelligence soon turned into a money-making scheme of questionable legality. The emails show that in 2009 then-Goldman Sachs Managing Director Shea Morenz and Stratfor CEO George Friedman hatched an idea to "utilise the intelligence" it was pulling in from its insider network to start up a captive strategic investment fund. CEO George Friedman explained in a confidential August 2011 document, marked DO NOT SHARE OR DISCUSS: "What StratCap will do is use our Stratfor’s intelligence and analysis to trade in a range of geopolitical instruments, particularly government bonds, currencies and the like". The emails show that in 2011 Goldman Sach’s Morenz invested "substantially" more than $4million and joined Stratfor’s board of directors. Throughout 2011, a complex offshore share structure extending as far as South Africa was erected, designed to make StratCap appear to be legally independent. But, confidentially, Friedman told StratFor staff: "Do not think of StratCap as an outside organisation. It will be integral... It will be useful to you if, for the sake of convenience, you think of it as another aspect of Stratfor and Shea as another executive in Stratfor... we are already working on mock portfolios and trades". StratCap is due to launch in 2012.
The Stratfor emails reveal a company that cultivates close ties with US government agencies and employs former US government staff. It is preparing the 3-year Forecast for the Commandant of the US Marine Corps, and it trains US marines and "other government intelligence agencies" in "becoming government Stratfors". Stratfor’s Vice-President for Intelligence, Fred Burton, was formerly a special agent with the US State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service and was their Deputy Chief of the counterterrorism division. Despite the governmental ties, Stratfor and similar companies operate in complete secrecy with no political oversight or accountability. Stratfor claims that it operates "without ideology, agenda or national bias", yet the emails reveal private intelligence staff who align themselves closely with US government policies and channel tips to the Mossad – including through an information mule in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Yossi Melman, who conspired with Guardian journalist David Leigh to secretly, and in violation of WikiLeaks’ contract with the Guardian, move WikiLeaks US diplomatic cables to Israel……

David Pope put Labor leadership challenge into perspective - with a sweep sheet

 David Pope
Here's a handy form if you're running a sweep at work this morning:  

Last week in pictures and today's Australian leadership ballot live coverage.....

As the nation waits for the Labor leadership announcement

ABC NEWS 24 live cover (without international geoblock)
from approximately 5am Monday 27 February 2012 AEST
Ballot expected shortly after 10am

National Times live blog
The Sydney Morning Herald live updates with video

UPDATE:11.19am Labor Caucus ballot result:
Gillard 71
Rudd 31

Sunday 26 February 2012

How the U.S. Embassy saw the Rudd-Gillard relationship in December 2009

Apparently Kevin Rudd may not have been as surprised by Gillard’s 2010 challenge as he now claims……………

2009-12-23 00:00:00
Embassy Canberra

“9. (C) Rudd has unprecedented power for a Labor leader; one MP told us he had never seen a Labor Caucus as subservient to its leader, noting Rudd's control over promotions.
Another told us she was surprised at marginal seat holders' acquiescence on the ETS.
However, powerbrokers confide the factions will assert themselves when Rudd's popularity wanes.
Possibly aware of this, Rudd in 2009 further courted New  South Wales factional heavyweights Anthony Albanese (New South Wales Left) and Mark Arbib (New South Wales Right) and elevated Senator Joe Ludwig (Queensland Right - Swan's faction) to a more senior position in Cabinet. Ludwig is the son of powerful Queensland Right union official Bill Ludwig.
One theory is that Rudd is developing a "praetorian guard" based on the historically powerful New South Wales Right to head off any challenge from GILLARD; that it was no accident that Rudd promoted Arbib, Bowen and Clare (all from the New South Wales Right). Bitar, who is close to Arbib and succeeded him as New South Wales General Secretary, became ALP National Secretary in late 2008……
14. (C) COMMENT: After two years in office, questions are being asked about the Rudd government's appetite for making tough decisions. Rudd will be scrutinized in 2010, accused by some of over-promising and under-delivering, particularly on health care issues. The Opposition will highlight Rudd's penchant for lengthy reviews and overseas trips….”

A short note to Kevin Rudd MP from one regional voter

Dear Kevin,

I’m not going to recap your past political victories or defeats here . Real though they may be, in many respects time has made them irrelevant to the present situation.

Nor am I going to dwell on any perceived failings of federal government from November 2007 until now – because government has been steady under trying circumstances over those four and a bit years.

What I am going to do is urge you to consider your own behaviour in either victory or defeat after next Monday.

Should you lose the ballot cast by your peers, I recommend that you do not challenge for leadership again before 2015 and foreswear any private contact with journalists  or political commentators until then.

Should you win through on Monday and become Australian Prime Minister once more, then I strongly recommend that you find a level of  personal and professional humility, tolerance, empathy and understanding which has so obviously escaped you thus far.


A Regional Voter

Guest Speak is a North Coast Voices segment allowing serious or satirical comment from NSW Northern Rivers residents. Email ncvguestspeak at gmail dot com  to submit comment for consideration.

Anthony Albanese displays grace under pressure

Sydney Feb 25, 2012
ISSUES: Labor leadership
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thank you for joining us. I intend to make a statement. I will then take a limited number of questions and to save media outlets some phone calls over coming days, these will be my only public comments before the ballot on Monday.
I love the Labor Party.
I was raised by a single mum and I was told that you always had to stand up for what you believed in, regardless of the odds.
I hope that when I leave politics people will regard me as a straightforward politician who said what he thought, who acted in the interest of the Labor Party. Not because that was an end in itself, but because it is only the Australian Labor Party that can advance the long-term national interests of this country.
Mum raised me with three great faiths: the Catholic Church, the South Sydney football club and Labor. She said to be true to all three. Well, with regard to the Catholic Church, I believe that the social justice values that I was raised with, I have kept. With regard to South Sydney, in spite of 41 years of constant disappointment, I have remained faithful. I have also remained faithful to the Labor Party. I have devoted my life to advancing the cause of Labor.
I have despaired in recent days as I have watched Labor’s legacy in government be devalued. We have been a good government since 2007.
Under Kevin Rudd, we had the apology. We brought the troops home from Iraq. We ratified the Kyoto Protocol. We advanced the National Broadband Network.
In my portfolio, we established Infrastructure Australia, we doubled the roads budget. We increased the rail budget by more than 10 times. We committed more to urban public transport than all governments combined since federation.
We have been a good government since 2007. Under Prime Minister Rudd we advanced a great deal. Most importantly, we got through the Global Financial Crisis better than any economy anywhere in the world. We should be proud of our record and not undermine it.
Under Prime Minister Gillard, she has led a government that has achieved outstanding things, particularly under the circumstances of minority government. Two hundred and sixty-nine pieces of legislation. Finally we have a price on carbon; we have structural separation of Telstra; the Minerals Resource Rent Tax and just in the last fortnight, reform of private health insurance. Making sure that my private health insurance isn’t subsidised by working people in my electorate. And, of course, the ABCC legislation to get rid of that unfairness in the workplace.
I believe we’ve been a good government since 2007 and it’s incumbent upon members of the Caucus to advance that – each and every one of us.
Over recent days I’ve had a difficult decision to make. I’ve consulted friends, colleagues, branch members. Members of the community have come up to me, have written to me, have rung me.
Yesterday in my electorate office I rang a number of constituents who’d emailed me cold – people who had given particularly thoughtful contributions – just to have a chat about their thoughts on these issues because at the end of the day while it’s a decision for the Caucus, it’s also a decision for the nation.
Last night upon talking to family, I came to a decision. I rang the Prime Minister this morning and had a lengthy conversation with her. I informed the Prime Minister that I would be voting for Kevin Rudd in Monday’s ballot.
I went through the reasons why and, given my position as Leader of the House, I also offered my resignation to her. As Leader of the House, in particular, I think it’s a different circumstance to which other ministers find themselves in. We had a good constructive discussion. She thanked me for the way that I had conducted myself and expressed confidence that I should remain as Leader of the House due to the loyalty that I had shown, the tenacity that I had shown in that position and said that I would continue to be able to have her confidence – her full confidence – if she was successful in Monday’s ballot.
In recent times, I’ve argued against the predicament that the party now finds itself in. I’ve argued against the spill. I’ve argued against those people who argued we should ‘bring it on’, as it were called, whether they be forces inside or outside the Labor Caucus. I also argued against a challenge against the Prime Minister and indicated that I would not support any challenge against the Prime Minister, should someone seek to bring it on. I believe that the last few days have done damage to our party – there’s no doubt about that.
I have argued against this sort of action before, on the night of 23 June 2010. I believe the Government’s difficulties can be traced to that night. Labor is the party of fairness. It was not fair. It was wrong. We cannot have a situation whereby a first-term elected Prime Minister is deposed, without warning, under the circumstances in which it was done, and I think that anyone who analyses those circumstances objectively would agree with that regardless of the personalities involved.
We’ve only had three leaders lead us from opposition into government since the Second World War: Kevin Rudd, Bob Hawke and Gough Whitlam. Each of those three gentlemen deserved our respect. That’s important. Each of those three gentlemen were formidable campaigners indeed. It is tough. It is tough to take Labor from opposition to government. Kevin Rudd showed in 2007 that he could do that.
I argued that night to Kevin Rudd that he shouldn’t contest the ballot because it was in the interests of the party that we get a clean change, given that the circumstances were that he would not have been successful had he contested, and given the proximity to a federal election. That was a difficult thing to do.
Monday’s ballot is the only opportunity I have, therefore, in a ballot to express my dissent from the actions of that night. And I intend to do so.
I do so with a heavy heart. In politics, as in life, you cannot just consider the past; you have to also look to the future and I also believe that our future prospects would be stronger with Kevin Rudd as leader.
We need to win in 2013 to entrench our reforms. We’ve had, under both Prime Ministers Gillard and Rudd, a big agenda. But in order to entrench the reforms that are there, the equity changes that we’re making in education, in health, in my area of infrastructure, you need a long period of time in order to achieve change. All of that, all of that is at risk. All of that is at risk if Tony Abbott becomes Prime Minister.
Can I conclude with this: that I have made my decision and it has not been an easy decision. I respect those who disagree with me. It is a judgement call. Both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard are formidable politicians and good human beings with good hearts and smart heads. They are formidable people, both of them, and both of them have my utmost respect.
Can I say this also: that no one has fought the Government’s critics harder than myself. Day in, day out, in the Parliament, on the floor of the House of Representatives, in Question Time, in suspension motions, outside of Question Time in the public. When a convoy of very hostile people came to have a demo outside my office, I fronted up. Months ago I said we had to front up to our critics and take them on.
I’ve seen a lot of passion over the last few days from members of the Australian Labor Party. What I want after Monday morning is for that passion to be channelled, regardless of the outcome, into defeating Tony Abbott at the next election. Unless we do that and move forward, we will deliver a Government to someone who – I disagree here with Kevin Rudd, who said he was the most conservative leader that the Liberal Party have had. He’s not a conservative. He is a reactionary. He is a reactionary who has modelled himself on the far right of US politics, and we’re seeing some of that played out at the moment.
I won’t make any further comment after this. So now is your chance if journalists have any questions.
QUESTION: Why have you gone against of the majority of the ministry to support a leader who is so unpopular internally?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: We’ll wait and see the outcome of the ballot on Monday. I don’t pre-empt what Caucus members do. But let me say this: I have not taken this decision in any opportunistic fashion. I think that most people who have observed what’s going on in recent days would have to acknowledge that this is a tough call for me to make. This is not the easy option. This is certainly not in my personal political interest. I am doing it because it’s right.
QUESTION: If Kevin Rudd loses the ballot, what ramifications do you expect there to be for you in the new Cabinet?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: None at all. I have had a good discussion with the Prime Minister this morning. I rang her first. We have obviously spoken at other times in recent days but I rang her to inform her of my decision. I then rang Wayne Swan and told him and had a discussion with him.
Then I told Kevin Rudd. I’m old fashioned. I tell people who I’m not voting for them first. I think that what happens in a process like this – and this is a very important process in terms of restoring Caucus processes –people should go along, they should vote whatever way they themselves think and people should then respect the decision.
The problem with what occurred in June 2010 was that no one had the time to consider the circumstances, to make a reasoned decision. No one, not just inside the caucus but outside the Caucus as well, which is why there was such a reaction to it. My view, and I’ve spoken to Kevin Rudd. He has indicated that if he is not successful, he will not challenge again. He will go the back bench. Julia Gillard has said the same thing.
QUESTION: Do you think your decision could influence other ministers to change their vote for Kevin Rudd?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’m not lobbying for anyone. Indeed to be frank my preferred position, and we should have a discussion about this in the fullness of time, is that we’ve got to get real about the amount of TV and internal discussions which take place during one of these processes.
It is my preferred position to go into the Caucus and cast a secret vote in a secret ballot. However, given that every single minister has done stand-up TV interviews, I was of the view – and it was suggested to me that I didn’t have to do this press conference, not by the Prime Minister, she respected my views – but some of my closest friends suggested that. I was of the view, given that every single person was out there stating their position, that for me and the sort of politician I am, to not go public with my position now that I have determined what it would be, is not what my electorate would want and not what my branch members would want.
I fully understand that there are those who will disagree with my position, particularly some people in the electorate. I say this to them: this is not the easy option. All the indications are that Julia Gillard will be successful in Monday’s ballot. The easy thing to do, and what often happens in these ballots is that people like to go with the big group, not the small group and maybe just because I’m from the New South Wales Left – by definition, that is something that doesn’t worry me at all.
I have thought really genuinely and seriously about this. And there are no hidden agendas. You won’t hear any criticism of Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd from me because I think they have both been outstanding Labor Prime Ministers.
QUESTION: You’ve been very emotional here today. What sort of personal toll has this taken on you?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well this is tough. I like fighting Tories. That’s what I do. That’s what I do. And I have lifelong friends who disagree with me on this. It has been very difficult. I knew that if I came to this position I had to be in the position of being comfortable with offering my resignation to the Prime Minister as the Leader of the House. That was the position I came to and it’s a big call. Those people who watch Question Time might notice that I quite like being Leader of the House and, what’s more, I think I’m good at it. I think I’m good at it and I serve the government well.
I was pleased that under the circumstances, and I made it clear to the Prime Minister, that it would be perfectly reasonable for her that, under the circumstances where I indicated I was going to make my position public, she accept that resignation. She refused to on the basis that she had absolute confidence that I would continue, were she to continue as Prime Minister to hold her confidence that I would serve her loyally, as I have. As I have each and every day.
I remind people that after the ballot, well, the non-ballot or the change of Prime Minister on that Thursday, I ran Question Time. I did it while those processes were going on, on that Thursday.
But it is difficult. The truth is it has been very traumatic. I would just simply rather have arguments with those people who I disagree with so strongly.
We have a good record. We have a good record in government. We have a good story to tell. We need to tell the story. We need to take on our conservative critics, at each and every level, inside the Parliament and outside the Parliament.
That is the basis for why this has been difficult. I’m not singling myself out. This has been difficult for everyone and most difficult for Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd and their families.
QUESTION: Have you spoken to Kevin Rudd today at all?
QUESTION: And what did you say?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I told him that I had rung the Prime Minister and that I’d be voting for him on Monday.
QUESTION: What was his response to that?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: He thanked me for my support and that was it. It wasn’t a very long conversation. You tend to not need to have as long conversations with people who you are telling that you are voting for them as you do with people who you are telling that you’re not voting for them.
QUESTION: You know by going public with your decision you will influence others. How many others do you think?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: This isn’t aimed at influencing anyone. This is aimed at indicating clearly, transparently, what my position is.
QUESTION: Did you ask the Prime Minister not to stand in the ballot?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s not up to me to do that.
QUESTION: [Inaudible]…nature of the feedback from your electorate… [Inaudible]?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look, some of those remain confidential obviously. In general, there was a consistency with the position that I’ve taken. I mean people can see the polls in today’s paper. There is no reason to suggest, I know there’s this great science always about internal polling. Guess what? It’s a scam made up by political apparatchiks such as me to pretend that we know more than you do. You know, read the paper. It’s there but certainly not uniform. There are some people in my electorate who will strongly disagree with my position.
QUESTION: [Inaudible]…is this the first time you’re voting against the leader…[Inaudible]?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’m trying to think. I’ve been through a few, a few too many, but I don’t have a great record of backing winning candidates. So, if you go back and look at who’s been defeated, chances are I voted for them.
QUESTION: How do you respond to…
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I supported Kim Beazley against Kevin Rudd for example very openly and I supported Kevin Rudd against, when Julia Gillard challenged him in 2010. My general view is that it’s incumbent to back leaders – that’s my gut instinct. But these are circumstances which are pretty unique. You essentially have two former prime ministers. Had the circumstances arisen whereby Kevin Rudd announced that he was challenging the Prime Minister, then I would not have taken the position that I have.
Kevin’s position was made pretty difficult I think. My view is that this shouldn’t have happened. My view was the Prime Minister was doing her job; the Foreign Minister was doing his job. It is other people’s interventions that caused this to be brought to a head and I don’t think it was inevitable as much as the media tried to talk it up because it gives you something to talk about for all these days. But I don’t think it was inevitable. That was my strong view and that was conveyed to anyone who would listen.
QUESTION: How do you think the numbers are going?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’m not counting numbers.
QUESTION: You’re not doing anything [indistinct]?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I am not counting, I am not counting numbers. I am not doing that.
People will find out on Monday. Once again, there are various things in the papers and stuff. Can I say this about the various lists and, I’ve been on all of them in different positions. There isn’t a single journalist who I have spoken to about what way I’m voting. The person who heard that I was voting the way that I was first was the Prime Minister. That was this morning and that was appropriate.
Thanks very much.

Meet The Great Barrier Reef - virtual tour

The Catlin Seaview Survey aims to carry out the first comprehensive study to document the composition and health of coral reefs on the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea across an unprecedented depth range (0-100m). There are three components to the Catlin Seaview Survey:
1) The shallow reef survey will involve photographing the reef in full 360 degree panoramic vision on an unprecedented scale using specially developed cameras. These images will be analysed automatically using image recognition software creating an incredibly rich broad scale baseline for scientific analysis from locations along the entire length of the 2300km reef. The visual baseline will be made freely available through Google, for scientists all around the world to study.
2) The deep reef survey looks into the effects of climate change on one of the least known ecosystems on the planet – the deep-water reefs or mesophotic coral ecosystems (between 30-100m). It will provide a comprehensive study of the health composition and biodiversity of the deepwater reefs on the Great Barrier Reef as well as experimentally assess their susceptibility to increased temperature and climate change.
3) The third component of the survey is the mega fauna survey. This is led by Emmy award winning cinematographer and shark researcher Richard Fitzpatrick. We’re going to be tagging and tracking manta rays, turtles and tiger sharks using satellite tags and tracking their movements live in relation to oceanographic data. This is a really important study as there are almost no comprehensive studies that have examined how large animals are changing their distributions in response to rapidly warming seas.
Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg is the chief scientist on the project and is overseeing all three components.

Project home page

This virtual tour may become a poignant reminder of the past due to the ongoing industrial ravages imposed on this natural wonder:

Saturday 25 February 2012

Rudd Rampant

Kev, me ol’ china, you know that’s nonsense. In Australia the people don’t elect the prime minister, the parliament doesn’t elect the prime minister – the political party which wins government elects the prime minister.
Fer gawds sake, you’re starting to sound and act like Tony Abbott!

Old goat taken from Google Images

Reconciliation Australia and you

The people of Page are being invited to join a grassroots campaign to support the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in the Constitution.

In August last year the Federal Member for Page, Janelle Saffin hosted public consultations in Grafton and Lismore as a member of the panel appointed by the Prime Minister to advise the Government on how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people could be recognised in the Constitution.

Ms Saffin said it was clear from the views raised at the consultations that there was strong support from the local people who came along and their views were reflected in the panel’s report presented to the Prime Minister in January this year.

“At the local consultations held in Grafton and Lismore there was strong support expressed for constitutional recognition. There was debate about what goes in and overwhelming support to get rid of Section 25 (this says that if a State law disqualifies all the people of any race from voting in State elections, then those persons shall not be counted when working out how many seats each State gets in the House of Representatives).

“Some people started saying we want the Rolls Royce model- and I agree- but are happy to start with what we can all come to agreement on.

“Now we are taking the next step towards long-overdue constitutional change with the roll-out of a national community awareness and education campaign. The panel’s work was a great starting point but the next step is to harness the goodwill and sense of fairness of the Australian people to build the momentum for change,” Ms Saffin said.

Ms Saffin said Reconciliation Australia, the peak national organisation building and promoting reconciliation across the country, had been appointed to lead the national movement for change.

“The Reconciliation Australia campaign will build on the positive mood for change that was evident at the hundreds of meetings and consultations that panel members held across the country, including here in my seat of Page on the Northern Rivers. This support came from a range of organisations, community groups and individuals and now we are looking forward to working with them to see this through to a successful referendum.”

“We want people to spread the message on how important it is for a modern, forward-looking country like Australia to recognise the history, cultures, art and languages of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

“They can do this by talking about it to their families and friends, at school, at their workplaces, at their sporting clubs, community meetings and their churches. We need everyone to start thinking and talking about it.

“A good place to start is to visit the website to find out more, show your support and see what others are saying about constitutional recognition,” Ms Saffin said.

For further information contact Lee Duncan 0448 158 150

Office of Janelle Saffin MP, Page Electorate, media release on 23 February 2012