Monday 30 April 2012

NSW North Coast residents head to Sydney for Anti-CSG Rally on 1 May 2012

Opinion piece Protest hitting its mark**  by The Daily Examiner journalist Terry Deefholts on 30 April 2012, as NSW North Coast residents and Dirtgirl head to Sydney:

SHORT of a war against an invading enemy, it's difficult to recall an issue that has united such a cross-section of the Australian community as coal-seam gas mining.
As the momentum for tomorrow's rally against CSG mining on productive land gathers steam, some other developments are having an equally large impact on the industry.
Websites opposed to CSG are updated several times a day with articles outlining spills, leaks and general bad behaviour from mining companies, but one article stood out in the past 48 hours.
The news, as reported in The Sun-Herald, that the Chinese Government had pulled the plug on $10 billion in mining-related investments in Australia is loaded with questions.
Quoting mining industry sources, the article stated the Shenhua Group, which spent $600 million developing a coal mine in Gunnedah, will no longer pursue plans to spend a further $9 billion across the country.
Shenhua, it said, told the department of the Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson that it would take its money to mining projects in African Mongolia because of "political interference" and regulatory roadblocks it experienced under the NSW Coalition Government in NSW.
While the loss of such a large investment is hardly a thing to celebrate financially, indeed it will have a terrible impact on north-west NSW if it proves true. The NSW Government can hardly be blamed for putting in place moratoriums to protect water resources and land for its constituents. Food and water security should not be negotiable for anyone and they clearly overrule some company's right to a profit.
The Examiner wishes a safe journey to those who are making the effort to get to Sydney tomorrow to have the community's voice heard on this topic.
A special shout-out to dirtgirl, CVACSG members and The Gas Girls, who will be resplendent in gold.

** It is interesting to note that the reported threat by China Shenhua Energy Company Limited’s Shenhua Group (which owns Shenhua Watermark Coal Pty Limited operating in north-west NSW) is apparently not one it has relayed to any other interested parties and, it is going ahead with its community consultations at Gunnedah in May and expects to begin construction in 2013 according to its website. Any theat probably has more to do with the hard-line bargaining position it takes with state governments and any short-term mining activity economizing this multinational corporation might possibly be considering in NSW may have as more to do with its intention to purchase a $7.9 billion energy asset in China.

North Coast Regional Environment Conference, Coffs Harbour 5-6 May 2012

North Coast Regional Environment Conference, Coffs Harbour May 5 and 6

Venue: Cavanbah Centre, 191 Harbour Drive, Coffs Harbour [admission free – donation requested for lunch]

NCC and conference hosts North Coast Environment Council (NCEC) have announced an exciting regional conference agenda for 2012.The North Coast Environment Council is hosting the Nature Conservation Council of NSW annual regional environment conference in Coffs Harbour on May 5 and 6.

Saturday, May 5, the focus will be on mining. With Coal Seam Gas threatening to devour the Northern Rivers, Coal eating up the Hunter Valley and Antimony and Gold huge threats to the Dorrigo Plateau and the coastal rivers including the Macleay and Clarence... it's time to get a regional picture and plan a regional response.

There will be a range of speakers including Bev Smiles who has watched coal eat the villages of the Hunter; Sue Higginson from the Environmental Defenders Office on legal options to protect land, water and community; and Aidan Ricketts, one of the creative thinkers behind the Northern Rivers Community Strategy to Lock Out CSG.
May 6, the focus will be on creating Healthy Landscapes with a panel discussion on the Canary in the Coalmine... but in this case it's the disappearing Koala in our Forests.

The afternoon of May 6 there will be a couple of options for field trips.

Follow the link below to find out more and register.

[By email 29 April 2012]

April 2012: Abbott's month that was..........

On 29 April 2012 Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott called for the approximately 93,661 voters in the federal electorate of Dobell in NSW to be immediately disenfranchised after he heard that their elected representative since 2007, Craig Thomson MP, had resigned from the Australian Labor Party and moved onto the parliamentary cross-benches as an Independent.

Again on 29 April Sky News revealed Abbott’s personal reference for then Coalition MP Peter Slipper:

On Sunday Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne defended Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's personal reference for Mr Slipper's preselection campaign at the 2007 election which praised the Sunshine Coast MP.
"Tony Abbott has always been famously generous with his colleagues and his friends. It doesn't surprise me at all that he would write a reference of that nature," Mr Pyne told Sky News.

Also on 29 April  the Northern Rivers Echo reported that the highest levels of the Howard Government (in which Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was then a senior minister) had known about and attempted to conceal Peter Slipper's parliamentary travel expense allowance difficulties:

AN ''urgent'' ministerial briefing note to the former special minister of state Eric Abetz warned that as far back as 2002 something was amiss with Peter Slipper's family travel expenses.
The note, obtained by The Sun-Herald under freedom-of-information laws, reveals Mr Abetz and other ministers were advised Mr Slipper had been spoken to ''on various occasions'' about his family travel entitlements, yet continued making expense claims that broke the rules.
Other documents obtained under FOI reveal the Howard government at the time prepared a brief titled ''hot issues'' just in case the matter was raised in an estimates hearing.
The suggested response was to say Mr Slipper had repaid the $5079.40 owing to the Commonwealth but in the background notes, headlined ''not for release'', it said ''Mr Slipper was critical of departmental processes in identifying apparent travel outside of entitlement.......
Elsewhere it was reported that known Abbott ally Senator Santo Santoro had supported Slipper's continued pre-selection in Fisher, before his own ministerial fall from grace in 2007. Abbott later voted for Santoro in his successful bid to become vice-president of the political arm of the Liberal Party in 2011.
The Sunshine Coast Daily on 25 April takes Abbott to task for trying to rewrite his history with Peter Slipper:

Tony Abbott lied on Monday night when he told the ABC he had been in the process of shepherding Mr Slipper out of parliament when Julia Gillard made him Speaker.
How can that be true? Mr Abbott and his then Prime Minister John Howard wrote letters to Liberal members in Fisher urging them to back Peter Slipper in a preselection contest with Glenn Garrick and Harry Burnett.
Mr Abbott's office was the source of the press release Mr Slipper put out explaining his reasons for accepting the PM's offer of the deputy speakership even after he absented himself from the Liberal Party room vote that selected Bruce Scott as its nomination for the job.

On 24 April The Australian carries Abbott's denial that Coalition staffers didn't help prepare the sexual harassment case against Speaker Peter Slipper, but didn't mention the newspaper's previous claim that Coalition political operatives began leaking to it after Slipper's defection or that Abbott had particular friendships with senior staff at The Australian. on 24 April points to Abbott’s troubles with the calendar:

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was a week out when talking about the cost of borrowing being cut, apparently confusing the release of inflation data with the Reserve Bank's board meeting.
He told reporters today: "Should the Reserve Bank lower interest rates today, that will be welcomed.
"But that obviously is a matter for the bank."

On the same day and at the same news outlet, Abbott the man who became Parliamentary Leader of the Liberal Party and therefore also of the Coalition Opposition by a margin one solitary vote, woke to see this:

"I have been a good friend of Tony Abbott even when he didn't have many," Mr Slipper said on Twitter.
"I even delivered him the key vote he needed to become leader."

On 23 April the Fraser Coast Chronicle snapped Abbott in those red budgie smugglers and accidentally let us all know that this is one pollie who is beginning to pork up:

9 News on 20 April carries Abbott’s attempt to bury Joe Hockey’s bout of truth telling:

The coalition has no plans to abolish any welfare programs, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says.
Mr Abbott has again defended comments made by shadow treasurer Joe Hockey, who warned Australia needed to keep an eye on its welfare payouts.
Mr Hockey used a speech in London this week to criticise the "age of entitlement" in regard to social payments in western nations and urge development countries, including Australia, to means test them.

On 18 April one voter did what Australians do best – laughed at the political Abbott:

Tony Abbott has been brooding!
His budget plan’s been dissed! He can’t see why!
He’d billed it as a Magic Pudding!
Claims it’s better than Labor’s flat square pie!
“I’ll safely manage Oz finances.
My team Catholic, church-going, good!
With atheist Gillard you’re taking chances.
Where’s her faith in a magic pud?
...... (more here)
The Manly Daily outs Abbott on 17 April for coming second last in a competitive ocean swim:

The federal Liberal Warringah MP and Opposition Leader finished second-last in the 50-59 age group, with a time of 46 minutes 59 seconds.

In The Australian on 16 April Abbott tries to distance himself from his finance spokesperson:

TONY Abbott has distanced himself from Andrew Robb's defence of ANZ's rate hike, saying it is not his place to dictate what banks should and shouldn't do.
In a rebuff to his finance spokesman, Mr Abbott said big banks were “quite capable of defending themselves” .
Gay rights protesters zero in on Abbott on 15 April as he dines with his “friend” Greg Sheridan, foreign editor of The Australian newspaper:
On April 12 The Canberra Times asked:
Is Australia ready for a Prime Minister in red budgie-smugglers, and what will our nation – or the world – look like with Tony Abbott in charge?
Finally, what would a month be without the sight of Abbott in lycra - as in this stage managed AAP One media shot on 1 April:

Sunday 29 April 2012

Battle of Two Valleys: Clarence & Lismore Councils vying for 2012 National Award for Excellence in Local Government

Clarence & Lismore councils vying for National Excellence Award

FEDERAL Member for Page Janelle Saffin has congratulated Clarence Valley and Lismore City councils on becoming category winners and finalists for the 2012 National Awards for Local Government.

“Clarence Valley Council and Lismore City Council are now in the running for the overall 2012 National Award for Excellence in Local Government, to be announced at a special presentation in Canberra in late June,” she said.

“Lismore City and Tweed Shire councils recently agreed to work with Northern Rivers-New South Wales Business Chamber regional manager John Murray on a great initiative to make local councils more ‘small business-friendly’.

“This is why I have asked Federal Minister for Local Government Simon Crean to consider adding another category to next year’s national awards aimed at encouraging closer relationships between the local government and small business sectors.”

Ms Saffin said Clarence Valley Council this year had added to its cabinet of previous national awards, taking out two of the 27 category awards and being commended in a third category.

These included:

  • Winner for Regional Collaborations, for the Clarence Valley Industry Education Forum, a partnership initiative established in 2006 which aims to build the future of the Clarence’s young people as well as meeting industry and community needs. The forum has three current programs – ‘Career Link’, ‘Fresh Start’ and ‘Stellar’.
  •  Winner for Engaging and Strengthening Indigenous Communities, for ‘Fresh Start’, a  school-to-work transition program for Aboriginal students and their families that tackles high Aboriginal youth employment.
  • Commended for Innovation in Natural Resource Management for Building Innovative NRM Partnerships – A Success Story on the North Coast of New South Wales.

Ms Saffin also praised Lismore City Council’s Road Safety Officer Lisa Marshall and her team for winning the National Road Safety Council-sponsored Excellence in Road Safety Award for its ‘Drive To Conditions’ program.

“This integrated road safety program was developed in response to the high number of crashes occurring locally as well as consistent feedback from community members and local police that many motorists were not driving to conditions,” she said.

Information about the National Awards for Local Government can be found at

Friday, April 27, 2012.  Media Contact: Peter Ellem 0437 303 875.

Maclean Agricultural Show 1-2 May 2012 & Grafton Agricultural Show 4-5 May 2012

Blue Ribbon winner being put through its paces at the Maclean Show

Maclean Agricultural Show

Event Date: May 1, 2012 - May 2, 2012
Event Type: Exhibition & Show
Address: Maclean Showground, Cameron Street, Maclean (map)
Contact Name: Dawn Stewart
Phone: (02) 6645 1532
This fun family event is held over 2 days. Events include: sideshows, equestrian events, sales displays, floral and fruit exhibits and food stalls. The Show also has exhibits in craft, beef cattle, vegetables, poultry, cooking, caged birds and photography. In addition there is a championship dog show, exhibits from local schools and from Trade.

Alpacas on parade at the Grafton Show

Grafton Agricultural Show

Event Date: May 4, 2012 - May 5, 2012
Event Type: Exhibition & Show
Address: Grafton Showground, Prince Street, Grafton (map)
Contact Name: Suzanne Patricks
Phone: (02) 6642 2240
A great place to take the kids or your friends to this fun packed 2 day event. Features of the show include sideshows, food stalls, exhibitions, farm displays, equestrian events, trotting and the Grafton Show Girl Quest.

For more information on Clarence Valley events go to Clarence Tourism

Photographs at Google Images

Saturday 28 April 2012

Health Services Union Debacle - a family affair?

It’s not hard to think of the Health Services Union debacle as a family affair. The problem is deciding if the family is the Union itself, the Labor Party or another ménage entirely .

Kathy Jackson National Secretary of the Health Services Union and ALP member

Fegan v Kathy Jackson 2 April 2009

Australian Labor Party – Pre-selection for by-election in State seat – Whether procedure in Victorian Branch rules is binding – Application of National rules – Justiciability

The Australian  2 February 2012
TWO senior Health Services Union officials have made formal complaints to Fair Work Australia president Geoffrey Giudice alleging FWA vice-president Michael Lawler, the partner of HSU national secretary Kathy Jackson, intervened in internal union politics.

The Australian  3 February 2012
FAIR Work Australia vice-president Michael Lawler has made sensational allegations to NSW police that two senior officials of the Health Services Union may have engaged in serious criminal activity.

The Age 4 February 2012
HEALTH Services Union whistleblower Kathy Jackson has been accused of destroying documents and laundering money through a colleague's bank account, according to a leaked email obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald.
Ms Jackson, the national secretary of the union, has described the allegations as ''entirely false''.

The Australian  18 February 2012
JACKSON was not well disposed towards Thomson when she succeeded him. She says the two had fallen out over his political ambition which she saw as overriding the interests of HSU members. "At the end of the day I just found Craig sly and smarmy," she says. "He had this selfish ambition."

The Australian 25 April 2012
A MEMBER of the Health Services Union has brought union charges against national secretary Kathy Jackson and her "sidekick" Marco Bolano, alleging gross misbehaviour and neglect of duty.
In a 49-page schedule of charges, detailing a long list of concerns that have been raised about Ms Jackson's role over many years, Daniel Govan alleges union elections were corrupted by spending without proper authority, that $58,000 was paid into an account in the name of Ms Jackson's former husband, an $84,000 luxury Volvo XC90 was bought with a $5000 unexplained invoice discrepancy, and payments were made to a childcare centre known to be used by Ms Jackson.

Jeff Jackson one-time Branch Secretary of Victoria No. 1 Branch Health Services Union and ex-husband of Katherine Jackson

The Australian 11 April 2009
The statement of a Bendigo Gold Visa card allegedly issued to Jackson shows expenditure on services that fall far outside his normal duties. It includes a string of prostitutes, designer clothes, dental work, gourmet food and drinks at a favourite Melbourne hotel. Jackson challenges the authenticity of this credit card account and dismisses allegations he has misused any funds as part of a "dirty tricks campaign" mounted by opponents withinhis union….
The allegations against Jackson, a senior figure in the ALP's Victorian Right faction, have only come to light because of leaks after a nasty power struggle within the HSU's No. 1 division.
No one emerges as a cleanskin in this battle: certainly not Jackson's main opponent, the HSU branch's president Pauline Fegan.
But the sloppy and sometimes sordid details of union spending at the HSU have emerged in the same week that one of its former officials, federal Labor MP Craig Thomson, has been forced to fend off allegations that he, too, used his union credit card on prostitutes before entering parliament at the 2008 federal election.

Fair Work Australia Investigation into the Victoria No. 1 Branch of the Health Services Union under section 331 of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 mentioning Pauline Fegan, Jeff Jackson and Kathy Jackson

The Victorian No. 1 Branch (“the Branch”) of the Health Services Union (“the Union”) has ceased to function effectively and there are no effective means under the rules of the Union by which it can be enabled to function effectively.

Health Services Union of Australia and Health Services Union of Australia Victoria No 1 Branch In the Matter of an Inquiry Relating to an Election for an Office 25 February 2000

Craig Thomson Federal ALP Member for Dobell and former HSU member and office bearer 20 April 2012
HEALTH Services Union (HSU) acting president Chris Brown says reports that the union paid former official Craig Thomson a sum to settle a defamation action are wrong.
Fairfax Media reported today that Mr Thomson, now a federal Labor MP, received a secret payment of $160,000 from the HSU three years after he'd entered parliament....
"Legal action against the union by Mr Thomson to have his accrued leave entitlements paid resulted in the union paying Mr Thomson a sum to cover those legal entitlements.
"The sum quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald and other media is wrong and over-inflated."

The latest twist

A KEY executive of the scandal-plagued Health Services Union has called for it to be placed into administration.
Gerard Hayes, the acting deputy general secretary of the NSW branch, said the union was ''hemorrhaging members'' because of the ''factional warfare'' between whistleblower Kathy Jackson and the union's head Michael Williamson, who is refusing to step down from the union he has run for 17 years.

The Australian 26 April 2012
THE GILLARD government has moved to intervene in the internal workings of a trade union for the first time in decades, applying to appoint an administrator to the Health Services Union's scandal-ridden East branch.

Janelle Saffin encourages all local veterans communities to tap into funding for Anzac Centenary commemorations and projects

Janelle encourages veterans to tap into Anzac Centenary Program

PAGE MP Janelle Saffin is encouraging all local veterans communities to commemorate the nation’s  military history under the Australian Government’s new $83.5-million program marking the Centenary of Anzac from 2014 to 2018.

“As we approach the 100th anniversary since the Gallipoli landings and major battles on the Western Front, the Anzac Centenary Program will honour the sacrifices and service of the first Anzacs and of all members of the Australian Defence Force who have kept the Anzac spirit alive,” she said.

Ms Saffin welcomed a package of commemorative events and initiatives, including a local grants program to help Northern Rivers communities carry out their own Anzac commemoration projects, with funding available from January 2013.

Ms Saffin said some key elements of the program include:

  • The refurbishment of war graves to ensure individual and collective memorials to our war dead, in Australia and overseas, are properly maintained.
  • Funding for the running of commemorative services overseas during the Centenary;
  • An Arts and Culture Fund to support individuals, artists and cultural institutions to develop commemorative displays and artistic creations that showcase our military history;
  • A scoping study for a travelling exhibition or similar, that will take important memorabilia from the First World War and subsequent conflicts out to communities across Australia.
  • Funding for the establishment of the Anzac Interpretive Centre at Albany, Western Australia, where the first convoys of Australian and New Zealand soldiers left for Egypt and Gallipoli.

Ms Saffin said it was fitting that on the eve of Anzac Day 2012, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Minister Assisting her on the Centenary of Anzac Warren Snowdon were launching a seven-year program in partnership with local councils, communities, ex-service organisations, state and territory governments and international partners.

Ms Saffin also congratulated the Rotary Club of Lismore Incorporated and the Port of Yamba Historical Society after Veterans’ Affairs Minister Snowdon announced they had received Australian Government Saluting Their Service grants for commemorative projects.

Lismore Rotary will use $3356 to help install a stained glass window in the Warrior’s Chapel of St Andrews Anglican Church, Lismore, to commemorate the servicemen who perished in the Sandakan POW death camps and on the Sandakan death marches in Borneo during the Second World War.

Port of Yamba Historical Society will use $1487 towards staging its current exhibition, The Ghosts of World War One, which commemorates the local men whose names appear on the Yamba War Memorial and honour rolls displayed at the Museum.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012. Media Contact: Peter Ellem 0437 303 875. 

Friday 27 April 2012

Australian Mining Industry: So which version do you believe is the more accurate?

mUmBRELLA 20 April 2012:

Less than two hours after publishing the story we received the following letter from XStrata Coal:
I refer to the video titled “Ad pastiches mining industry’s ‘This is our story’ campaign” published on your website:
The video found on this link contains a parody of the piece concerning (name withheld by Mumbrella for legal reasons).
Xstrata recognises that there is legitimate scope for parody in public debate, and appreciates the importance in public life of a free and frank exchange of views. Nonetheless, we take exception to the piece concerning (name withheld by Mumbrella) because it makes a number of suggestions concerning (name withheld) that are unfair and defamatory. In particular:
(allegation withheld by Mumbrella for legal reasons);
(allegation withheld by Mumbrella for legal reasons);
(allegation withheld by Mumbrella for legal reasons);
(allegation withheld by Mumbrella for legal reasons);
These examples are by way of illustration only.
Xstrata is happy to accept robust criticism. But we are not content to allow a valued employee to be defamed in so unfair and personal a fashion. We therefore require that the video found in the above link (and on any other website hosted by Mumbrella or YouTube) be removed immediately and remind you that all persons involved in the publication of defamatory material are equally liable for defamation. We also observe that the reproduction of the whole of the video taken from appears to constitute a breach of copyright. We request your immediate confirmation that the videos will be removed from Mumbrella and YouTube and we expect that it will be taken down forthwith.
We do not wish to escalate this to a legal dispute, but you should not underestimate our willingness to do so if your website continues to defame our employee.
Yours sincerely
Tom Cregan
Legal Counsel
Xstrata Coal

Tweed Cane Toad Muster at Knox Park April 30, 2012

From My Daily News April 24, 2012:
THE Cane Toad Muster is on again and this time the Bush Futures Project wants help to remove the pest from Knox Park.
The muster on Monday, April 30, will be the last for the season.
Tweed Shire Council invasive species officer Pamela Gray said she hoped for a large turnout to really make a dent in the park's toad population….
Participants are asked to wear a long sleeved shirt, long pants and covered shoes and are advised to wear insect repellent.
Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult over the age of 18 in order to participate.
The hunt for the poisonous pests will start at Knox Park's Gazebo next to the lake and will run from 5.20pm until 6.30pm.

Cane toad portrait from Google Images

A short summary of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's policy positions

Tony Abbott’s big knob has carefully coiffured hair above his forehead when he faces the cameras with a tonsorial wasteland hidden behind.
His social, environmental and economic policies are much the same - all front.

Thursday 26 April 2012

Peter Slipper Cabcharge Dockets. Is somebody having a lend of APN journalists?

Psst! Did you hear that a friend of a friend of a friend of my brother who lives somewhere in Queensland unlawfully used a Peter Slipper CabCharge docket?

That appears to be how ridiculous the media rumour mill is becoming.

The latest to come to my attention is this little gem up on multiple APN newspaper websites, including The Daily Examiner:

The cabbie went on to say he thought it was "strange" at the time.
Strange is not the word for this story, because presumably a copy of the alleged Cabcharge docket would have had to eventually find its way to the Department of Finance and Deregulation and, this does not appear to have happened according to available records covering 1 January 2010 to 30 June 2011.
Not only did this not happen, but the Department has no record of any travel on 23 October 2010. Either by taxi using a Slipper Cabcharge docket which would have to be swiped with his card to be valid (see example below) or indeed by hire car or Commonwealth car.
So the question is: Why on earth didn’t any APN newspaper check with the official website - which posted Land transport travel records for Hon. Peter Slipper, Member for Fisher, for period 1 January 2010 – 30 June 2011 on 10 April 2012  - fourteen days before The Daily Examiner et al began spreading such nonsense?

Copy of a Slipper Cabcharge docket posted at Scribd

Saga giving North Coast backpacker hostels a bad name

The Northern Star  9 December 2012:

EchoNetDaily 13 December 2012:

Byron Shire Council media release 28 February 2012 :

EchoNetDaily  20 January 2012:

The Northern Star  20 January 2012:
25 February 2012:
25 February 2012:

EchoNetDaily 3 April 2012:

Byron Shire News on 12 April 2012: