Sunday 31 March 2013

NDIS forums in Goonellabah and Ballina next Tuesday 2 April 2013

Visit to Page by Amanda Rishworth MP, 
Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers


VENUE: Lismore Workers Sports Club, 202 Oliver Avenue, GOONELLABAH

EVENT: Amanda Rishworth MP and Janelle Saffin MP will deliver the first of 2 local public  forums to update the community on the NDIS legislation that has recently passed Parliament.
TIME:   1.00pm – 3.00pm, BALLINA

VENUE:  Richmond Room, Regatta Avenue, BALLINA

EVENT: Amanda Rishworth MP and Janelle Saffin MP will deliver the second public forum on the NDIS legislation.

 Media are welcome at both events.                  

Media contact:  Matt Dunne 0417 287 456

Remembering when 2,000 of cartons of beer fell into the Tweed River.....

From MURBAH2484

Hard work pays off 

A few years back a large beer truck lost its load in the Tweed River just outside the main business area of Murwillumbah. The river was, as a result of this accident, full of imported bottles of beer. 

Now the good citizens of Murwillumbah will always help and on this occasion they went out in force to help – themselves – to the booty that lay on the sandy floor of the river. They came in wet suits and with boats. They spent hours under water retrieving the loot and as night fell it was party time in them tha hills. 

On hearing of this major rescue operation the insurance company for the truck wanted the beer back. No chance. Even the local police (allegedly) had a stash in the lock up!

ABC PM program covered The great beer salvage on 17 April 2001.

An Easter Message

Saturday 30 March 2013

My day of reckoning is upon me......

Tomas Young’s letter published in Dangerous Minds 19 March 013:

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

Tomas Young


Quote of the Week

“In the end, all that transpired was that a bunch of self-entitled blokes finally cleared out of the cabinet and left Gillard to get on with the job of running the country instead of baby-sitting their egos.” {Corrine Grant How to burst a blood vessel 26th March 2013}

Friday 29 March 2013

If this is what several hundred coal seam gas wells would leave behind in Pilliga, what would Metgasco's 1,000 wells do to the Northern Rivers?

No-one could seriously believe that the O’Farrell Government, in its headlong rush to satisfy the coal seam gas industry, has given any thought to the consequences for north east NSW economies based on agriculture, forestry, fishing and tourism after reading what it is prepared to visit on another region.

Artificial lakes will be dug out of the arid soil of the Pilliga district, in north-western NSW, to hold millions of litres of contaminated water from coal seam gas wells.

Gas company Santos plans to drill several hundred wells in the area. The plastic-lined lakes will store the huge volumes of water that will be sucked up, along with gas, from a kilometre underground.

Construction of the lakes, which will hold enough salty brine to fill about 240 Olympic-sized swimming pools, was approved by the state government this week.

That was despite the NSW Environment Protection Authority writing to government planners in January, warning of the "inherent risk" of approving construction before a complete water management plan had been developed.

The site has been plagued previously by contaminated water spills, which were only made public after local residents tipped off the EPA. Investigations continue into the damage caused by the spills, which took place when the site was being managed by another gas company, Eastern Star, in 2010…….

Santos regards the new water storage scheme as a way to close down and rehabilitate the network of small, polluted ponds which dot sections of the Pilliga Forest as a result of drilling test wells, and to consolidate the waste water in one place.

But it is unclear what will happen to the water once it is in the lakes.

The company says it could be treated for use on farms, or injected back underground to "recharge" aquifers that may have been partially drained by the drilling.

Yet treating the briny water will leave behind mounds of salt, probably laced with traces of arsenic and heavy metals, which have been detected in water from test wells already operating on the site.....

Metgasco’s preliminary plans for Casino in the Northern Rivers in 2012: Metgasco says it needs about 1000 wells to make the money it predicts in a recent economic forecast report.

Abbott's plan for Australia?

First make a train wreck of the Australian Constitution and democratic processes……

But if the Senate proves intransigent, the Government could increase the stakes by including amendments to the Electoral Act as part of a double dissolution trigger.
A parliamentary secretary, Mr Tony Abbott, who is close to the Prime Minister, has weighed into the debate by floating two radical options to curb the power of minor parties.
The first involves expanding the size of the Parliament, making it easier for the main parties to win a majority of Senate seats in each State, thereby diminishing the ability of the minor players to affect the outcome of votes on legislation.
The second option would divide each State into two Senate constituencies, with minor parties having to achieve a much higher quota of votes to get elected.
While conceding there are drawbacks with both, Mr Abbott said the options would give the Government a handy weapon to threaten the Senate if the Upper House refused to acknowledge the Government's election mandate. [The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 August 1996, “Senate voting rethink to curb minor parties”]

Thursday 28 March 2013

This is Gary Gray, Federal Minister for Resources and Energy, Tourism and Small Business

For readers on the east coast unlikely to know more than the name - this is the Hon Gary Gray AO MP the new Federal Minister for Resources and Energy, Tourism and Small Business, former climate change sceptic and former supporter of the Lavoisier Group.

This is what he said about himself before his recent political elevation to the Gillard Cabinet:

Gary arrived in Australia from Yorkshire, England in 1966 and settled with his family in state housing in Whyalla, South Australia.
Gary got his first job after high school in the local BHP steelworks. In 1981, he graduated from the Australian National University, Canberra with a degree in economics.
In 1983 Gary moved to Kwinana, Western Australia to study education at the University of Western Australia.
He began working for the Labor Party in the Northern Territory and then in the United Kingdom. From 1986 to 1992 Gary worked on every state and federal election.
In 1993 Gary was elected as National Secretary of the ALP holding this office until 2000 when he relocated back to Perth with his wife, Deborah and three boys.
On returning to Perth in 2000 Gary was asked by the Chairman of Wesfarmers, to work as the Executive Director of the West Australian Institute for Medical Research.
In 2001 Shell attempted to take over Woodside Energy, Australia’s biggest independent oil and gas company, which has its head office in Perth. Gary was engaged by Woodside as an Adviser in the campaign to keep the company in Australian hands – which succeeded.
Gary was then asked to join the company, becoming the Director of Corporate Affairs and a member of the company executive team. In this position Gary represented Woodside before governments on four continents as a negotiator, advocate and leader. Gary left this exciting position in 2007 to commit full-time to the community of Brand.
Gary’s contribution to Australia’s democratic process was recognized in 2003 when he was invited to accept the high civil award of Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) and an Australia Medal.
In 2007, Gary was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Development and Northern Australia in the Labor Government. In 2009, he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Western and Northern Australia.
At the 2010 Federal election Gary was re-elected as the Federal Member for Brand and later appointed Special Minister of State & Special Minister of State for the Public Service and Integrity.

In 2007 this is what Gary Gray said about uranium mining:

 Wikipedia had this to add about Gary Gray:

Foreign worker EMAs

As a parliamentary secretary in the Gillard Government, Gray chaired a taskforce comprising employment and training agencies, unions and employers to examine ways of dealing with the expected shortage of workers on major resource projects. In July 2010, the National Resources Sector Employment Taskforce put recommendations to the Australian Government, including a proposed enterprise migration agreement (EMA). After consideration by the government, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen and the Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, announced on 25 May 2012, the first EMA for the planned $9.5bn Roy Hill iron ore mine, proposed by businesswoman Gina Rinehart. The announcement said more than 8000 workers would be required for the construction phase and to meet labour demand, the government would allow up to 1715 457 visas for overseas workers for the three-year construction phase….

What he told The Australian in June 2012 about bringing in foreign skilled workers:

without the EMA, "we won't get the next generation of mining and oil and gas facilities constructed on time and on budget".

Quoted in The West Australian in May 2012 on the subject of cash incentives to encourage workers to relocate to WA:

WA Labor frontbencher Gary Gray said there had long been a deep reluctance to head west for work, conceding financial incentives had generally failed to get people to shift.
"For many, the relocation is difficult because of the great distance, the lifestyle change, and the separation from family and friends," he said.
"Today, there is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all Australians to be part of the amazing economic expansion in the north, where miners are offering the best wages and conditions on new projects."

On the matter of coal seam gas exploration in 2012:

GARY Gray, the federal Special Minister of State, is assessing an application for coal seam gas exploration at Holsworthy Military Reserve.
If approved, it would be the first time seam gas exploration work would take place on military land and could possibly set a precedent for future applications.
A spokeswoman from the Department of Finance and Deregulation confirmed to the Champion an application had been made by AGL.
"AGL has expressed interest in obtaining access to commonwealth owned land located in NSW, including in the Holsworthy area," the spokeswoman said.
"Under the Lands Acquisition Act 1989, all decisions to authorise or to refuse access to Commonwealth land by mineral explorers are made by the Special Minister of State."
An AGL spokeswoman told the Champion consultations had begun for preliminary exploration….

On Sky News PM Agenda, 19 March 2013:

 I'm a strong supporter of the coal seam methane industry, of the shale gas industry, of unconventional gas as we call it.

On the subject of mining generally:

In The Sydney Morning Herald,  25 March 2013

Our resource industry rests on a secure and sound environmental approvals process,
A good approvals process is as essential to a successful mining operation as good engineering and sound banking.

Speaking with Emma Alberici he stated that the mining industry needs bankable approval processes.

Hansard, 17 September 2009 on the subject of his contact with James Hardie:

I rise to discuss a matter recently published in a book called Killer Company by Matt Peacock, a book about James Hardie and about James Hardie’s actions in seeking to deal with asbestos issues. In that book the author records as follows:
Baxter quickly sought advice from Hardie’s other PR consultant, Gavin Anderson and Co, which suggested hiring Stephen Loosley, a former secretary of the New South Wales Labor Party and then consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he had been joined by the former national secretary of the Labor Party, Gary Gray.
At no time have I ever worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers. At no time have I ever provided advice to James Hardie. At no time have I ever been a paid consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Indeed, this allegation as recorded by the author, Matt Peacock, followed an article in the Sydney Morning Herald five years ago which prompted me to write a letter to the editor which was published in that newspaper. In his article about the James Hardie inquiry, ‘Guns are trained on Hardie’s messenger’, in the Sydney Morning Herald dated 24 September that year, Richard Ackland wrongly asserted that I had been engaged by James Hardie to work for it behind the scenes. The facts are as follows. In 2000 I worked for the West Australian Institute for Medical Research. One of the research projects was on mesothelioma, funded in part and for many years by James Hardie. The research was highly regarded. I approached James Hardie in late 2000 specifically with regard to its funding of this research. During that approach I was asked if I was able to work for James Hardie as a consultant. I said I was not able to work for it but that I might be able to if I accepted a position, which I was at that time considering, as a consultant to the legal firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. As things worked out, I did not work for that legal firm. I did not work for James Hardie and I received no payment from James Hardie, and I did not provide it with any advice. I was not engaged to work behind the scenes, and I said in that letter that if Mr Ackland had checked his facts with me he would have known that to be the case.
Unfortunately, it is the case that Matt Peacock did check the facts with me and I did inform Matt that at no time had I ever worked as a consultant to PricewaterhouseCoopers and at no time had I worked as a consultant to James Hardie. I find the way in which Mr Peacock has recorded this fact pattern to be both bizarre and inaccurate. He could have done better in order to better illustrate his story of the need for adequacy in the funding vehicle which was to be created by James Hardie to fund future actions with regard to victims of asbestosis. I am more than prepared to say to Matt Peacock that his book is a fine piece of work. I have not found any other inaccuracies in it and regard it to be an excellent study of the dynamics and the consequences of Hardie’s actions.

Snake! Snake! Snake!

The Daily Examiner 22 March 2013:

EIGHTY-seven-year-old bingo enthusiast Una Walters responded to the cry of "snake" faster than she could say "house" at South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's club last week.
A red-bellied black snake interrupted the weekly meat raffle on Friday by crawling up a lady's leg.
As the club's secretary manager Col Green panicked and scrambled for a handbag to capture the metre-long intruder, one of his most loyal customers leapt into action.
"I turn around, and here's Una standing there with the snake in one hand," Mr Green said.
"I'm not scared of the bastard!" Una shouted as she held the snake near its head.
It was about 6.45pm last Friday and the meat draw was well under way when someone from a table in the centre of the room yelled: "Snake! Snake! Snake!"
Commotion ensued and people scattered from their chairs as the red-bellied black slithered its way between the feet of scurrying patrons and club staff.
"He (the snake) had crawled up a woman's leg and tried to curl around it," Mr Green said.
"I grabbed a lady's handbag, hoping to get the snake in there so we could send him on his way."
The perpetrator evaded being caught for some time until Una intervened.
"I turn around and here's Una standing there with the snake in one hand," Mr Green said…..

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Former Member for New England and Nationals candidate in the 2013 federal election has home raided by ICAC

The Armidale Express  27 March 2013

The Telegraph online 27 March 2013:

DUMPED nationals candidate Richard Torbay has had his house raided by ICAC, following revelations last week that he had been referred to the corruption watchdog.


The Coffs Coast Advocate 27 March 2013:

FORMER Northern Tablelands MP Richard Torbay was believed to be lying low at a property near Coffs Harbour today as ICAC officers reportedly performed a search of his Armidale home this morning.

Position vacant: appplications to be forwarded to Chris Gulaptis, Member for Clarence

The lads at the table of knowledge at the local watering hole had a rib tickling session yesterday. The main topic on the session's agenda was local MP Chris Gulaptis's bit about who would have the honour of presenting the trophy to the owners of the winner of the 100th Grafton Gallops Cup this year. On Monday Gulaptis told State Parliament the Premier had been invited to present the trophy but the Premier would be otherwise engaged on the day so has had to rsvp with an inability card.

Gulaptis went on to say, "Unfortunately, I cannot see anyone (else) of sufficient standing to present the trophy to the 100th Grafton Cup winner this year."

So, there you have it! No Barry, ... , no one up to his standing, ...

Does that mean the cup will have to be abandoned?

O'Farrell's new coal seam gas policy is an invitation to corruption

In March 2013 the O’Farrell Government placed a draft State Environmental Planning Policy on public exhibition which purports to create exclusion zones wherein coal seam gas exploration and mining cannot take place in future.

However, this draft amendment to the Mining State Environmental Planning Policy allows local councils to grant exemptions to these exclusion zones.

Apparently Premier O’Farrell and his backers have decided to ignore the fact that local government is the most corruptible of all three tiers of government in Australia.

One has only to look at this short list of NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigations into councils over the last five years to realise this.

In 2012 ICAC found that twenty-one people employed or formerly employed by fourteen different local government councils had acted corruptly and, that fifteen employees of private sector companies and one employee of a government agency had assisted in these corrupt activities.
Also in 2012 ICAC found that a councillor and a property developer had acted corruptly in 2009 and 2010.
In 2011 ICAC found three employees at three separate councils had acted corruptly.
In 2010 the Commission found an employee and a contractor had acted corruptly at one council, while a job applicant had been found to have offered a bribe at a second council. In that same year another person was found to have acted corruptly when seeking a licensing agreement with a third council.
In 2009 ICAC made corruption findings involving two persons associated with a property development and one council employee and, also found that two person had attempted to bribe council employees at another council.
In 2008 the Commission found ten people had acted corruptly with regard to one particular council, including four sitting councillors and, that this corruption had allegedly involved 139 offences.
In 2007 ICAC made corruption findings involving three councils.

As for any thought that the revamped Division of Local Government (now under the wing of the Dept. of Premier and Cabinet) may curb any future enthusiasm for corrupt behaviour should local councillors and senior managers be given any right to extinguish the possibility of exclusions zones on land wanted by mining companies – on past performance aid from this quarter is highly unlikely. Especially as the Division appears to prefer sending problems brought to its notice back to councils for resolution and, as since April 2012 the pecuniary interest of councillors is no longer a bar to voting on the creation or amendment of a local environmental plan which is a land use planning instrument.

In 2011-12 alone at least 34 per cent of the complaints concerning 125 councils the Division received involved either natural resource management, public land management, land use planning/development or pecuniary interest.

That mining companies may offer bribes as a matter of course in doing business is not a new issue, often misleadingly referring to them as tax deductible facilitation payments or business expenses if they appear on company books at all.

The O’Farrell Government’s desire to shift responsibility for creating lasting exclusion zones back onto local government, with its highly suspect track record, is an act of betrayal of Northern Rivers communities. Nothing more, nothing less.

If Federal Labor retains the Page electorate in September 2013 it will be due to the almost universal respect won by the sitting member Janelle Saffin

Only the most rusted on of Liberal or Nationals supporters dispute the assertion that Labor's Janelle Saffin is a respected and hardworking advocate for her electorate.

This is a typical view.......

UrsulaTunks from Grafton in The Daily Examiner 22 March 2013:

Janelle has always been a Kevin Rudd supporter, since this government was first elected. She didn't commit political suicide she simply displayed her integrity and remained loyal. Janelle isn't interested in 'politics' per say, Janelle’s primary interest is our electorate. I'm not a Labor voter, nor a member of the Labor party. However when it comes to Members of Parliament Janelle will go down in history as one of the best, hardest working members in the history of Federal Government.

Just how many unfortunate nicknames can one bloke have?

 LUKE AQUINAS FOLEY MLC giving evidence before ICAC last Tuesday morning and revealing to the world knowledge of obscure nicknames:
“Well, one of Ian Macdonald’s nicknames was bestowed by Bob Carr that he was Della’s pet crocodile, another nickname was that he was Obeid’s left testicle.”

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Cansdellgate continues

Northern NSW newspapers, including The Northern Star and The Daily Examiner, are carrying reports about the latest 'happening' associated with disgraced former Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell.

Smith won't pressure DPP to charge MP Steve Cansdell 

Attorney-General Greg Smith has told NSW Parliament he will not call on the Director of Public Prosecutions to pursue criminal charges against disgraced Clarence MP Steve Cansdell until "otherwise advised".
Despite lying about not being behind the wheel of his car when it was snapped by a speed camera in 2005, the former police secretary escaped criminal punishment when the staffer he claimed was driving refused to make a statement.
The Government's handling of the investigation has been subject to debate since retired QC Bruce James suggested in February that Mr Cansdell could still have been prosecuted for lying under oath.
He questioned whether the DPP had properly investigated the charges that could have been laid.
Earlier this month Mr Smith told parliament Mr James's concerns were a matter for the DPP.
But in a letter sent to shadow Attorney-General Paul Lynch last week, the DPP advised that Mr James's recommendations must be referred by Mr Smith's office.
Yesterday, Mr Lynch again asked Mr Smith if he would use his power to ask the DPP to consider the senior barrister's advice.
Mr Smith said while he had "great respect" for Mr James, he was willing to "stand by" other well-respected lawyers who did not agree with the advice until "otherwise advised".
Mr Lynch he would not give up, the questions raised must be pursued and instead of "sitting on his hands", Mr Smith needed to ensure the DPP "has another look".
Mr Cansdell quit shortly after the 2011 election following revelations he had told police his staffer Kath Palmer was driving at the time of the offence to avoid being stripped of his licence.

Source: The Northern Star and The Daily Examiner.

Have you accepted The Out Of Order Coke Challenge?

'Sticking it to Coke' for suing the Northern Territory over their 'cash for cans' scheme and standing up for our wildlife!

Abbott the hypocrite par excellence

A yet to be Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott writing to BA Santamaria when he was considering entering politics and Santamaria was advising him to join the Liberals:

To join either existing party involves holding ones nose.

The Liberal Pary is without soul, direction or inspiring leadership.

Abbott during Question Time on 21 March 2013:

I have seen enough of good people on both sides of this chamber to have some respect for the Labor Party…..

Abbott in an Address to the Victoria Liberal Party State Council on 28 April 2012:

And we, my fellow Liberals, are fundamentally a party of values and of principles.

Tony Abbott photograph from Google Images

Monday 25 March 2013

The difference between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott

During the National Apology for Forced Adoptions held in the Great Hall at Parliament House in Canberra, the difference between the world views of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott was graphically demonstrated.

There were tears and applause for Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard:

The first moment when approval of the Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott  turned to anger, interjection and shouting:

Full speech transcript
Note: transcript appears to have been amended by author since first publication

A perspective from one of the many in the Great Hall that day:

Yesterday I stood proudly alongside my biological mother -- who I now call mum -- in Canberra to hear the historic national apology. It was a monumental occasion to be sitting next to my mother listening to Prime Minister Julia Gillard give an authentic and informed apology. Mum and I were both impressed, and you could tell by the response of other people affected by forced adoption that they were elated when she actually acknowledged the harm by talking about the loss of lives to suicide.
The emotions in the room were palpable. Gillard used the word illegal, which we were hoping for. Mum desperately needed to hear that word... 

When Abbott started speaking, immediately the tone of the room and the elated atmosphere disintegrated rapidly. Abbott obviously had not consulted with anyone. He didn’t understand the findings of the Senate inquiry and didn’t understand that language is so important when we’re talking about forced adoption. He spoke about "relinquishment" not "forced adoption". We were there for a national apology on forced adoption, not relinquishment. My mother did not relinquish me, I was taken.
He also used the term "birth mothers". For the majority, the mothers and fathers consider themselves parents, period. That’s when the heckling occurred, when he used the term birth parents. For my mother, it echoed the judgemental and insensitive practices of the past.
Everything that Gillard achieved in terms of validating all the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters was completely eroded by Abbott’s speech. One of the recommendations was to bring broader public awareness around the coercive and illegal practices that occurred. If our Opposition Leader couldn’t even understand what happened and use the appropriate words, then what hope do we have of the broader community understanding?

The ugly face of any future Abbott Government?

Hon. Christopher Pyne
Federal Liberal Member for Sturt and Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives
19 March 2013

House of Representatives Hansard Tuesday 19 March 2013:

Mr Pyne: Madam Speaker, on a point of order, the  Leader of the Opposition asked a perfectly valid question. The Prime Minister answered the question and then she as an aside said for some unknown reason, 'Misogynist Tony is back'. I would ask her to  withdraw it because it is a slur on the Leader of the Opposition and a desperate play from a desperate Prime Minister!
The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will leave the chamber under standing order 94(a).
Opposition members: Why?
The SPEAKER: Why? If anybody needs to ask that they might all just leave the chamber.
The member for Sturt then left the chamber.

Sunday 24 March 2013

A pinch of perspective for the Australian media and political commentators in March 2013

A little historical perspective for the Australian media and assorted journalists still hyperventilating over the third week of March 2013.

The Universe when it was only into the 380,000 year of its estimated 14 billion years of age to date.
Planck CMB, 21/03/2013 12:00 pm 

ESA and the Planck Collaboration 

The anisotropies of the Cosmic microwave background (CMB) as observed by Planck. The CMB is a snapshot of the oldest light in our Universe, imprinted on the sky when the Universe was just 380 000 years old. It shows tiny temperature fluctuations that correspond to regions of slightly different densities, representing the seeds of all future structure: the stars and galaxies of today

Just when you think the political class could not possibly become any dumber

The Raw Story 3 March 2013:

State Rep. Ed Orcutt (R), wrote an email to a constituent who disagreed with his support for a new tax on the sales of bicycles, a proposal being considered as part of a larger piece of transportation legislation. Reached by the Seattle Bike Blog, he confirmed the email is real.
In his message, sent to the owner of a bicycle shop, Orcutt wrote: “If I am not mistaken, a cyclists [sic] has an increased heart rate and respiration. That means that the act of riding a bike results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider. Since CO2 is deemed to be a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride.”
He added that when citizens drive cars they are helping to pay for the roads, whereas bicyclists “need to start paying for the roads they ride on rather than make motorists pay.”

Saturday 23 March 2013

The gentle and generous humour of Prime Minister Julia Gillard

The ABC’s Sally Sara tweeted this image of Paul Bongiorno replacing Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at her desk to celebrate his 25 years as a member of the Press Gallery. The Prime Minister is acting as one of his ‘assistants’ for the camera.

Cycling NSW: when corporate vision goes wrong

Cycling NSW laid out its vision in the 2012-15 strategic business plan – it wants to be a voyeur!

Earth Hour challenge from Clarence Valley Council Mayor

The NSW North Coast has an estimated 80,000> small-scale roof top solar systems installed on buildings/homes in the region – making it an area with a strong commitment to renewable energy.

Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson would like everyone to make an extra effort to reduce electricity consumption tonight and, those still  without solar power to consider switching to renewable energy.

Mayor: Richie Williamson
General Manager: Scott Greensill                                                                  
22 March 2013

Earth Hour challenge from the Mayor

On Saturday 23 March from 8.30pm to 9.30pm, hundreds of millions of people around the world will again unite for one hour – Earth Hour – as a symbolic expression of concern for the environment and the future of our planet.

"The Clarence Valley area is already a leader at the forefront of the renewables revolution. This Earth Hour, the goal is to bring renewable energy to the top of our minds with the 'Switch to Renewables' campaign"  Mayor Richie Williamson said.
Via the Earth Hour website, Australians are being asked to 'pledge to switch' or register as 'already switched' to renewable energy.

"In 2013 we'd like to see a 12% or greater reduction in energy consumption during Earth Hour in the Clarence!  All households, communities and businesses are urged to switch off their non-essential lighting and appliances during Earth Hour, and consider adopting these practices from now on" Mayor Richie Williamson said.

"Earth Hour illustrates how simple it is for each of us to take action against global warming.

We look forward to another successful Earth Hour, making a big difference in just one hour".

Release ends.

Authorised by: Richie Williamson Mayor   02 6643 0245  or  0427 457 382

For further information contact:
Des Schroder  Deputy General Manager (Environment & Economic)  6643 0203
Clarence Valley Council
Locked Bag 23
Grafton, NSW, 2460

Friday 22 March 2013

Want to have your say on the latest O'Farrell Government attempt to force CSG mining on reluctant communities?

The NSW Government intends to implement the proposed coal seam gas mining and exploration exclusion zones for residential areas and critical industry clusters, as an amendment to the Mining State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), titled State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) Amendment(Coal Seam Gas Exclusion Zones) 2013.

What the advertisement currently appearing in selected local papers on the NSW North Coast doesn't say is that this change will also give local councils the right to override proposed CSG mining exclusion zones provisions to allow for exploration and mining:
The draft amendment is currently on public exhibition and can be viewed here.
The deadline for submissions is Friday 12 April 2013.
Submissions can be mailed to:
The Director – Strategic Regional Policy,
NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure,
GPO Box 39, Sydney NSW 2001
Further information can be obtained at Department of Planning and Infrastructure’s Information Centre on 1300 305 695 or by emailing to