Thursday 28 February 2013

About that stench in the Clarence Valley (No, not the flood mud!)

Today's Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Speed fine MP could be charged for lying on oath - barrister

A leading Sydney barrister has raised doubts about whether authorities properly investigated what criminal charges could be laid against the former state MP Steve Cansdell.

Greg James, QC, who is a retired Supreme Court judge, believes Mr Cansdell could be charged for making a false statement on oath under the provisions of the Crimes Act for his admission he lied on a statutory declaration to avoid losing his driver's licence.
Mr Cansdell, who was the member for Clarence and parliamentary secretary for police, quit the NSW Parliament shortly after the 2011 election after the admission. He said one of his then staff members, Kath Palmer, was driving when his car was caught by a speed camera in 2005.
NSW Police announced last October it would not lay charges against Mr Cansdell, stating Ms Palmer had ''declined to be interviewed''.
Ms Palmer's solicitor denied this, claiming that while Ms Palmer declined to be formally interviewed, she offered to make an ''induced statement'', which would protect her from prosecution.
In his opinion, requested by the NSW opposition, Mr James said that, subject to proof the statutory declaration was falsely sworn, there is ''a sufficient basis to investigate whether the staff member as a principal and Mr Cansdell as an accessory had committed offences …''
Mr James notes the police and DPP have the discretion not to proceed, but says: ''It is hard to see that those discretions have been properly applied … without a detailed consideration of what evidence might be available having been conducted.''
The shadow attorney-general, Paul Lynch, said the government had ''questions to answer about the lack of investigation''.

Did the Government of Japan condone what appears to be the deliberate ramming of Sea Shepherd ships?

Excerpt from an Institute of Cetacean Research media release dated 20 February 2013:
On February 20 around 1100JST until about 1200JST during refueling operations, the Antarctic whale research (JARPAII) mother ship Nisshin Maru (NM) and her supply tanker were subject to sabotage by the Sea Shepherd (SS) ships Steve Irwin (SI), Bob Barker (BB) and Sam Simon (SmS). The SI and BB are sailing under the flag of the Netherlands while the SmS has Australian registry.
1. As the NM was about to come alongside her supply tanker for refueling, SS vessels, SI, BB and SmS, in foolhardy obstruction attempts, repeatedly came at close-quarter distance with the NM and the supply tanker. During their obstruction to refueling operations the SS vessels provoked several collisions (at the least: SI once; BB twice, SmS once) with the NM. The BB collided with the supply tanker too.
2. There were no injuries to the crews of research vessels including NM and the supply tanker. However, the NM suffered denting damage and broken hand railing on her bow section while the supply tanker port side hull was dented and her hand railing was damaged. Both vessels’ ability for navigation was not affected by these damages.
3. During the attack, the NM used her water pump as a preventive measure to make SS vessels refrain from further approaching and repeatedly broadcasted a warning message to stop them. However, the NM decided to interrupt her refueling operations attempts judging from difficulty due to the extremely dangerous behavior of the SS vessels.....
Full media release here.
The Institute offers no video evidence of these collisions as they were occurring but does have one short clip showing the Nissin Maru bearing down on the SS Bob Barker. It has published some selective photographs of the collisons.
However, the Sea Shepherd organisation does have film and its videos call into doubt the Japanese version of events.
It is hard not to conclude that the Nissan Maru did not collide with, but instead deliberately rammed, Sea Shepherd vessels.
A conclusion made all the more disturbing by the fact that this ramming appears to have been sanctioned by the Government of Japan, as there is no evidence that the Japanese Coast Guard officer/s on board the Nissan Maru attempted to intervene with that ship’s captain when he embarked on this reckless course of action.

Another ramming incident on 25 February 2013

Is Metgasco being entirely honest with the Northern Rivers?

No-one can deny that Metgasco Limited is a listed public company incorporated in New South Wales, Australia or that it is considered a ‘junior’ coal seam gas mining business.

Also on the public record is the fact that it is the ultimate holding company for Clarence Moreton No.1 Pty Ltd and The Lions Way Pipeline Pty Ltd, as well as being a shareholder in Richmond Valley Power Pty Ltd.

Like many other mining corporations its directors and senior staff have worked for many players in the industry, including Exxon Mobil, and some like Steven Joseph Koroknay hold multiple directorships.

Even Metgasco’s largest shareholder CSG Nominees Pty Ltd is registered in this country – in Perth WA.

All in all it would appear that Metgasco is a true blue Australian company with its eye set firmly on the domestic market as it stated on 24 January this year:

we are seeking approvals to allow us to sell gas locally… by year’s end… to local businesses…

Then there is this.................

Metgasco’s largest shareholder is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liquified Natural Gas Limited (LNG).

LNG’s major shareholder as of 5 February 2013 is China Huanqiu Contracting And Engineering Corporation (HQC) which in turn is owned by the Chinese Government.

This is a flow chart of the relationship between Metgasco, LNG and China.

It would seem that any local gas sales are a minor consideration and that Metgasco sees its future in the export market once Fisherman’s Landing is completed.

Supplying LNG with between 90-260 tj of gas per day for a minimum of 15 years, which appears to be almost all of the total projected daily production at Casino under its current license.

A sustained supply volume which is problematic given that in 2013:

So where is Metgasco heading with its business plan? Is it being honest with North Coast local governments about its prospects? Will it able to meet either the domestic or export aims?

The impediments are obvious; the low rate of proven commercial flow, its present inability to fund construction of the proposed Lions Way pipeline between Casino and the Ipswich gas hub, the fact that in 2012 its major investor had to declare a $6.5 million impairment to its own shareholders due to Metgasco’s sustained low share value, its 17th largest shareholder just publicly abandoning it on ethical investment grounds and, a closing share price on the Australian Stock Exchange yesterday of less than 10 cents.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Paedophiles in the Catholic Church and those who enable them: The mindset never chages

Photograph from Urban Christian News

On 19 February 2013 News Ltd reported:

An association of US Catholics has launched a petition to keep a retired Los Angeles cardinal mired in a pedophilia scandal from taking part in the conclave that will choose the next pope.
The group, Catholics United, is targeting Roger Mahony, who last month was relieved of all church administrative and public duties for mishandling abuse claims against dozens of priests, dating back to the 1980s.
"Cardinal Mahony: Stay Home," the online petition reads.
"Your further implication in the church sex abuse scandal and being barred from public ministry in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles should be an indication to you that you should not attend the next Papal Conclave."
Mahony was stripped of his duties by his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, who took over for him in 2011.

This is what disgraced L.A. Cardinal Roger Mahoney wrote in his personal blog on 14 February 2013:
Given all of the storms that have surrounded me and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles recently, God's grace finally helped me to understand:  I am not being called to serve Jesus in humility.  Rather, I am being called to something deeper--to be humiliated, disgraced, and rebuffed by many.

I was not ready for this challenge.  Ash Wednesday changed all of that, and I see Lent 2013 as a special time to reflect deeply upon this special call by Jesus.

To be honest with you, I have not reached the point where I can actually pray for more humiliation.  I'm only at the stage of asking for the grace to endure the level of humiliation at the moment.

In the past several days, I have experienced many examples of being humiliated.  In recent days, I have been confronted in various places by very unhappy people.  I could understand the depth of their anger and outrage--at me, at the Church, at about injustices that swirl around us.

Thanks to God's special grace, I simply stood there, asking God to bless and forgive them. 
[red bolding is mine]
Apparently this Prince of the Church sincerely believes that victims of sexual abuse, their families, friends and supporters are to blame for the harm he did.

ABC hacked - details of around 49,561 people who've commented online now up on PasteBin

If you created an ABC account you may have a need to change the password on any email account you used to register.
This email address is visible on PasteBin - along with your location,  IP used and comment made.

You may no longer be as anonymous as you once thought, even if you used an online pseudonym.

So Internet users, like kitty who posted To love and be loved over two years ago, are now visible and vulnerable.

Playing regional politics results in false savings

The Daily Examiner 20  February 2013:
THE Clarence Valley Council has chosen to opt out of Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils (NOROC) with Mayor Richie Williamson saying membership does not represent bang for our buck.
The motion was eventually passed unanimously at last night's ordinary meeting but Cr Jason Kingsley did question whether the Valley would benefit from having allies.
"I would assume councils would be looked upon more favourably if they were part of an alliance rather than just shag on a rock," Cr Kingsley said.
But Cr Williamson was clearly steeled in his resolve; the Valley did not need NOROC.

Letter to the Editor in the same newspaper 23 February 2013:
Please explain
Clarence Valley Council is saving $20,000 by withdrawing from the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils. According to Mayor Williamson, Clarence Valley Council is not getting enough "bang for our buck" through membership.
Was it just coincidence that the council has voted to spend the same sum - $20,000 - on planting and decorating nine Christmas trees? Does this decision give us "bang for our buck"?
Spending $20,000 on Christmas trees is a gross waste of money. NOROC membership offered better value.
Leonie Blain
Online comment 21 February 2013:
Would it be too cynical to suggest that Nationals stalwart Mayor Williamson may be demonising other Far North Coast councils in order to further the NSW Coalition Government's preference for a super council centred in Coffs Harbour and including the Clarence Valley?
EmmaB from Yamba

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Essential Report: Most voters appear to believe that either nothing will change for them under an Abbott-led government or that they will be worse off

This week’s Essential Report poll* finds that the majority of Australian voters surveyed are leaning towards the Coalition parties, however most also expect either no additional benefit or a worsening of general conditions/personal circumstances if they favour Tony Abbott & Co. at the September 2013 federal election.

Under a Liberal Government, respondents though that the economy overall (+10) and company profits (+25) would be better.
However they were more likely to think that workers rights and conditions (-22), benefits for people on Government support 
(-21), the environment (-14), interest rates (-12), job security (-12), public services, health services (-11) and the cost of living (-10) would all be worse. 22% think their own financial situation will be better, 31% think it will be worse and 42% much the same.
*The survey was conducted online from the 21st to 24th February and is based on 1,035 respondents.

The first career limiting move of the long lead in to the 2013 federal election campaign?

Who is this 'senior' staffer?

When it comes to state and federal election campaigns National Party staffers are renown on the NSW North Coast for a pit bull-like defence of their own MPs.

However, most wait until after the election writs are issued before they begin either publicly or privately embarrassing their parliamentarian or party candidate.

Not so this year, when one Canberra staffer of a leading federal agrarian socialist has recently called a local newspaper with a venerable masthead (and its staff) some very harsh names:

a partisan rag
grossly unprofessional

Thus managing to embarrass both the Federal MP for Wide Bay and his hopeful candidate from Casino.

Can’t see the National Party giving this particular dummy spitter a national award for excellence.

More likely he will find himself shifted sideways or sacked if the candidate does not do well at the ballot box. Personally I believe the bully boy should be shown the door now. 

Rumour has it that the hopeful candidate was seen hotfooting it into the newspaper office, allegedly to apologise for the staffer’s ill-advised words.

Monday 25 February 2013

NSW Farmers asks O'Farrell to protect all strategic agricultural land, water resources and lots zoned residential from CSG and coal mining

NSW Farmers on 19 February 2013 as reported in the RuralWeekly:

The following motion was passed at this morning's executive council meeting:
NSW Farmers supports Premier O'Farrell's decision to take a tougher stand on CSG compliance, and extraction near iconic agricultural industries. We call on the NSW Government to improve this policy by taking the following steps:

1.   apply the 2km buffer to Strategic Agricultural Land and water resources, as identified in Strategic Regional Land Use Plans;
2.    apply the buffer to minerals exploration and extraction (including coal) - not just coal seam gas;
3.    apply this policy to all projects which have not yet received approval, or release legal advice detailing why this step cannot be taken; and,
4.    apply the 2km buffer to all areas zoned as residential (as opposed to setting a population-based definition).

Question for 2013: So exactly when is the Australian National University going to become an ethical investor?

In January 2013 local and national media reported that the Australian National University (ANU) was still a significant shareholder in Metgasco Limited, a coal seam gas exploration and production company operating without a social license on the NSW North Coast.

When caught out ANU pleaded that there were few buyers for Metgasco shares.

To date there has been no announcement that ANU has divested itself of the 2,500,000 Metgasco shares it held as of September 2012.

So how genuine is the University when it comes to ethical investment?

After a Student Union campaign, on Tuesday 11th October 2011 ANU's vice-chancellor Professor Ian Young announced the university investment fund would sell-off $1 million worth of Metgasco shares.

However, share movement indicates normal investment trading from 2004-2012, rather than any desire on the university’s part to divest itself of all Metgasco shares from October 2011 onwards.

For interested readers – here is a brief history of ANU shareholdings according to Metgasco company documents:

Between 2004-2006 the Australian National University is not on Metgasco’s 20 Largest Shareholders list.

“Metgasco completed two private placements and a Share Purchase Plan during the year.
The Share Purchase Plan was strongly subscribed with over 70% of shareholders taking up their rights to participate.”

The Australian National University Investment Section - 1,250,000 shares representing 1.03% of all issued Metgasco shares as of 31 August 2007.

Making it the 14th largest shareholder.

ANU holdings increased by an unquantified number of shares.

The Australian National University - 2,712,000 shares representing 2.05% of issued Metgasco shares as of 17 September 2008.

Making it the 11th largest shareholder.

ANU holding increased by 1,462,000 shares.

The Australian National University - 2,500,000 shares held representing 1.34% of issued Metgasco shares as of 15 September 2009.

Making it the 11th largest shareholder.

ANU apparently divested itself of 212,000 shares

The Australian National University - 2,283,333 shares representing 0.91% of issued Metgasco shares as of 22 September 2010.

Making it the 12th largest shareholder.

Apparently ANU divested itself of 216,667 shares.

On 17 June 2011 “the Company launched a Share Purchase Plan (“SPP”)….
In mid-2011 we raised new capital of $21 million via a targeted placement and a Share Placement Plan for existing shareholders….”

The Australian National University - 4,206,409 shares representing 1.25% of issued Metgasco shares as of 16 September 2011.

Making it the 10th largest shareholder.

ANU holding increased by 1,923,076 shares.

NOTE: On Tuesday 11 October 2011 ANU informed the Students Association that it was intending to sell an estimated $1million worth of Metgasco shares, after a campaign by students which one would presume occurred over a number of weeks or months.

The Australian National University - 2,500,000 shares representing 0.64% of issued Metgasco shares as of 21 September 2012.

Making it the 17th largest shareholder.

ANU apparently divested itself of 1,706,409 shares.

ANU’s current total number of Metgasco shares held is now the same as its September 2009 total.

ANU Environment Collective


Further Update

The Daily Examiner 26 February 2013:

A GROUP of students is claiming victory today after learning the Australian National University sold its remaining shares in gas mining company Metgasco.

Vice-Chancellor Ian Young sent an email to ANU Environment Collective spokesman Tom Swann this morning revealing the shares had been sold.

"I am informed by the ANU Investment Office that the university has now divested itself of all shares in Metgasco," Mr Young's email read.

APN Newsdesk has contacted ANU seeking confirmation about the sale and answers to other questions.

Mr Swann said the EC campaign to have ANU sell its shares in Metgasco began two years ago after the group was contacted by activists in areas where Metgasco was mining…..

Sunday 24 February 2013

Clarence River Flooding January-February 2013

By now almost everyone in Australia will have seen at least two recent photographs of towns and villages nestled along the NSW North Coast's Clarence River and its tributaries - it has been hard to miss those January and February flood images on the nightly television news and in the online media.

This is yet another perspective captured at 4.30pm on Sunday 24 February.

Click on graphs to enlarge

Real time data for other NSW rivers can be found here.

Did the Japanese whaling fleet pollute Antarctic waters?

Sea Shepherd 17 February 2013:
In the early hours of the 17th of February, while the SSS Sam Simon was tailing the South Korean owned Sun Laurel, fuel bunker ship to the Japanese whaling fleet, the Sam Simon crew noticed the smell of diesel fumes coming from the wake of the Sun Laurel, over one mile ahead.
Captain Luis Pinho radioed the Sun Laurel at 3:00 am AEDT, approximately 15 minutes after the Sun Laurelentered Australian Antarctic Territory, informing them that they smelled diesel fumes, could see fuel slicks in the wake of the Sun Laurel, had collected water samples, and would be reporting the Sun Laurel to the authorities.
On the 17th of February at approximately 4:00 pm AEDT the Sam Simon recorded an audio transmission between the Captain and Bosun of the Sun Laurel - the Japanese whaling fleet's refuelling vessel. In this recording, the Captain of the Sun Laurel refers to the oil spill that the Sam Simon had documented and collected samples of hours earlier. The Sun Laurel Captain informed his Bosun to take care covering refuelling hoses, and that if oil dropped into the water there would be a “big problem”, as the Sam Simon had caught the Sun Laurel leaking fuel into the wake behind them earlier that morning.
Sea Shepherd Australia believes this transmission is further proof of an oil spill by the Sun Laurel in Antarctica's pristine waters, and has reported the incident to Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

Greens Split From Labor: what took them so long is a question not only just being asked by a cartoonist dog

Saturday 23 February 2013

Resolve firming against coal seam gas mining on the NSW Northern Rivers

The Northern Star 17 February 2013:
Since 1975, Jennie Dell has been a constant presence in the Northern Rivers media firmament.
This week she retires from the Northern Rivers Echo, the paper she was founding editor of in 1991, to devote more time to her family and gain the freedom to express herself politically.
"One of the reasons I am retiring is to join the Knitting Nannas Against Gas, to take part in demonstrations and to be free to express my very strong views against coal seam gas mining," Jennie said.
"I was at Terania Creek (protests in 1979) and at Mount Nardi saving the Nightcap National Park forests and I see the real necessity for a huge demonstration of people power to move the CSG issue into the courts and into the parliament."

Bellingen Readers & Writers Festival, 22-24 March 2013


Click on program to enlarge

Quotes of the Week

Whale theory
The Japanese claim their whaling expedition is for research (''Anti-whaling ships hit'', February 21). Are they researching how long it takes a protest vessel they ram to sink?
Thos Puckett Ashgrove
{Brisbane Times 22nd February 2013}

Coal Seam Gas
When is he going to stop rabbiting on about the previous government granting licences. HE RENEWED THEM LAST YEAR!
Norally Ewingar
{Daily Examiner 21st February 2013}

@TonyAbbottMHR - when you say you "wouldn't do deals" like Labor did, am I to understand you're not in a COALITION with the Nats?#auspol
James Raynes @jimmyraynes
{Twitter 20th February 2013}

Driving all this public speculation are the opinion polls. Who creates the opinion polls? The media. Who drafts the questions? The media. Who promotes the results? The media. Who acts as if opinion surveys are surrogate elections? The media. Who profits from the publicity and the speculation? The media.
Paul Sheehan columnist
{The Sydney Morning Herald 21st February 2013}

Economics 101
Too much water so the price goes up. An over-supply of electricity so the price goes up. I thought conservative governments championed market-based economies. Will the price come down when there are shortages?
Scott Winspear Marrickville
{Brisbane Times 22nd February 2013}

Friday 22 February 2013

Northern Rivers communities to celebrate three months of sustained peaceful protest against CSG in the Northern Rivers

Communities to celebrate three months of sustained peaceful protest 
against CSG in the Northern Rivers

Local communities and CSG free groups that have sustained the Doubtful Ck blockade will scale down the action at the site following yesterday’s announcement by Metgasco that drilling work has been completed. The drill rig is expected to leave the Northern Rivers once the drill hole has been concreted as Metgasco have finished their current core hole drilling program in the region.

“The imminent departure of the drill rig from Doubtful Creek will mark the end of more than three months of ongoing and effective peaceful protest against CSG operations in the region,” said Boudicca Cerese, spokesperson for CSG Free Northern Rivers.

“In that time we have seen Metgasco abandon one drilling site, drastic falls in Metgasco share prices and the departure of Arrow Energy from the region.”

“There can be no doubt that the persistence of our local communities to resist the gas invasion is having a positive effect,” she said.

“It’s not only the companies that are feeling the heat, local federal politicians of all shades are now responding to community pressure and coming out in opposition to the unconventional gas industry,” said author and activist Aidan Ricketts of CSG Free Northern Rivers.

“This week the NSW government also started offering exclusions to politically sensitive areas of the state.”

“Unfortunately the government’s new policies will not necessarily protect rural communities in the Northern Rivers so we expect local opposition to the industry to continue into the foreseeable future,” he said.

“I commend all the efforts of the thousands of people from all walks of life who have attended rallies, protests, vigils, concerts, meetings and other events across the region and congratulate them for their restraint in difficult circumstances and for maintaining good relations with local police,” said Gordon Fraser of CSG Free Lismore.

“With the return of the drilling rig to Queensland there is time to pause and consider what the next steps will be in tackling the insidious invasion of the unconventional gas industry in our region.”

 “Future action will be necessary to protect our families, land, and animals from the unconventional gas industry and we will continue to stand united across the region in our opposition to this industry,” he concluded.

 “A music event will be held in Lismore on Saturday 23 March at Lismore Workers Club commencing at 7.30PM to celebrate the achievements of our communities in maintaining persistent opposition to this unsafe industry,” said Mr. Fraser.

More information about future activities can be obtained from

Media Release: 22nd February 2013

Research into the quality of Australian Health Services

Quality of Health Care Service & Communication and Cultural Issues

Macquarie University is researching the quality of services in the Australian health care sector.

Have you visited a doctor in the past 6 months in Australia? 

Are you between 18 and 80 years of age?
If you answered YES to these questions you are eligible to participate in this research.
The purpose of this research is to understand your opinions about the quality of health services you have received, your relationship with the doctor and also communication or cultural issues you might have experienced with the doctor or staff.
The outcomes of this research will help the health sector improve its services based on patients’ feedback, preferences and needs.
The questionnaire will take 10 minutes of your time.

If you would like to participate and share your views please click here to complete the survey.