Sunday 25 December 2022

*********Wishing Everyone A Happy Holiday Season*********

North North Voices
all its readers

             HAPPY  HOLIDAY  SEASON 

The blog will return from its annual break on 1 January 2023


Saturday 24 December 2022

Tweet of the Year



Quotes of the Week


On Monday, at the final public hearing of the House Jan. 6 committee, Representative Bennie Thompson said that any attempt to overturn the legitimate results of an American election, impede the peaceful transfer of power or foment an insurrection must never be allowed to happen again. To that end, Representative Jamie Raskin firmly announced that the committee was making four criminal referrals whose center, in each, was Donald Trump, the man who hatched a scheme that would, if successful, defraud Americans of their sacred right to have their vote count.

These unprecedented referrals suggest that Mr. Trump, who as president took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not only violated that oath, but also committed a series of specifically indictable crimes. One of these referrals — for the crime of inciting an insurrection — is the most stunning, the most unpredictable and the most crucial, for its implications and its remedy include barring the former president from holding political office.”

[Author & essayist Brenda Wineapple writing in The New York Times, 23 December 2022]

'Scott Morrison has apparently always held himself in some regard, reportedly describing himself in the following ways in 2006: “Under the heading of personal attributes he listed: Positive, direct, determined, decisive, pragmatic, articulate, passionate, outcome focused, innovative, discrete (sic), personable, motivated, committed, reasoned, analytic, responds to challenges, loyal, works well under pressure”. And humility?

As the former Howard government minister Fran Bailey observed: “It was all out there for everyone to see. I think he is missing that part of his brain that controls empathy. Everything had to be his way, he would not accept advice, he would not collaborate unless it was with the cheer squad that he surrounded himself with.” Nothing much seems to have changed.” '

[Former Labor senator Steven Loosely, writing in The Weekend Australian, 24 December 2022]

Cartoons of the Week


Mark David

David Rowe

David Pope

Friday 23 December 2022

Is Clarence Valley Council finally beginning to grapple with the need to limit development on the Clarence River floodplain?


Clarence Valley Mayor Ian Tiley         Deputy Mayor Greg Clancy

Clarence Valley Independent, 20 December 2022:

Clarence Valley Council (CVC) will seek legal opinion to see if compensation will be liable if vacant land that doesn’t have development application approval at West Yamba is rezoned by the NSW Planning Minister – a move that would limit further development.

Deputy Mayor Greg Clancy put forward the motion at the December 13 CVC meeting concerning land in the West Yamba Urban Release Area WYURA, which is predicted to increase the population of Yamba by 2000 people when development is complete.

Cr Clancy said planning approvals in Wyura requiring large amount of fill would appear to be exacerbating localised flooding around the Carrs Drive roundabout and the area surrounding it.

Following the impact of the 2022 floods, which saw Yamba cut off for several days, there is also concern that the large amount of fill is affecting, and will increasingly affect the drainage of the area, adversely affecting low lying residences and the environment.

Cr Karen Toms asked Cr Clancy whether he knew that the General Manager had already sought legal advice before he put the motion forward.

I was aware that the Mayor had asked the General Manager to seek legal advice, I wasn’t aware that it had actually been done,” he said.

Cr Clancy said with all the issues going on in the Yamba area, council was now in a position to understand what we can do or can’t do in terms of development on the floodplain.

We’ve had the Prime Minister and we’ve had the Premier both stating that there should be no more development on the floodplain, he said.

However, to date we haven’t received any official notice that there’s legislation being prepared, or passed, or whatever, to do that.

In the interim we need to determine councils’ position in relation to development on the floodplain and West Yamba is our largest area where we have potential development on the floodplain.

All this motion is doing is seeing whether council or the ratepayers would be liable if we go down the path of applying for a rezoning of land which has been zoned under the Wyura as residential, back to rural, and or a mixture maybe of rural and conservation, because there’s some important conservation areas in that area.

Once we get the legal opinion, council would be in a much better position to consider what action we want to take.

If we put a rezoning application in, we would need to know if the council and the ratepayers would be liable to any compensation.”

Mayor Ian Tiley said he and General Manager, Laura Black had discussed the matter a number of times and council was awaiting legal advice on rezoning.

Cr Steve Pickering said he would be supporting the motion as the community wanted to see action not just in Yamba, but on the floodplain generally.

This is a question that has been asked many times of me and I think it’s prudent for us as a council to actually seek legal advice,” he said.

Cr Karen Toms said she would not be supporting the motion as it was ‘a what if question’.

To me it’s a speculation in itself because we’re asking a lawyer to say well if the government decides to come in and change the zoning of privately owned land will we need to pay compensation,” she said.

I would rather see this put on hold until we actually get the information back.”

Cr Bill Day said he believed the motion endorsed the actions of the Mayor and the General Manager to seek legal advice on rezoning land at West Yamba.

In the motion put forward by Cr Greg Clancy and seconded by Cr Jeff Smith council resolved to seek a legal opinion as to:

1. Whether compensation becomes liable when and if the NSW Planning Minister was to rezone vacant lands that have not had DA approval for development on the Yamba floodplain (WYURA ) from R1 General Residential to RU2 Rural landscape and C2 Environmental Conservation zonings at Council’s request, and

2. Whether compensation becomes liable if land previously approved for the importation of fill was to be similarly rezoned;

3. Whether there are any other legal implications of such an action.

The motion was carried 7-2 and supported by all councillors except Cr Karen Toms and Cr Allison Whaites.

Thursday 22 December 2022

Native title over certain land & waters in the Northern Rivers region granted to Widjabul-Wia-bal People on 19 December 2022


On 19 December 2022 the Federal Court of Australia recognised Native Title in relation to Application NC2013/005 - Widjabul Wia-bal People.

The Widjabul Wia-bal now hold native title over approximately 11,700 hectares of their traditional lands and waters within Ballina, Byron, Kyogle, Lismore City, Richmond Valley and Tweed local government areas. As set out in Widjabul Wia-Bal v Attorney-General of New South Wales (Section 87 Agreement) [2022] FCA 1521.

Click on image to enlarge

According to the NSW Government the settlement also includes an agreement to disregard historical extinguishment of native title in national parks within the claim area, paving the way for the future recognition of native title over an additional 2,600 hectares of national parks.

From the beginning the NSW O’Farrell-Baird-Berejiklian-Perrottet Coalition Government resisted this native title claim in the Federal Court and, in this writer’s opinion, did not always act in good faith.

Perhaps this determination may give the Rothwell Family, Winten Property Group, Winten (No 12) Pty Limited, Glorbill Pty Ltd, Folsom Pty. Ltd, William Anthony Sexton, Lismore City Council and Mayor Steve Krieg, pause for reflection on their own business decisions and/or political ambitions.

Wednesday 21 December 2022

La Niña continues into the Australian Summer


Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Climate Driver Update, 20 Dec 2022:

  • La Niña continues in the tropical Pacific, but some indicators show signs of declining strength. La Niña typically increases the chance of above average rainfall for northern and eastern Australia during summer. Models suggest that ocean temperatures may reach ENSO-neutral levels during January or February 2023, and remain at neutral levels until at least April. Model accuracy for lead times greater than four months is generally lower at this time of year than at other times, so outlooks beyond April should be viewed with caution.

  • The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is neutral and has little influence on Australian climate while the monsoon trough is in the southern hemisphere (typically December to April).

  • The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) is in a positive phase and is likely to be neutral to positive through January and February. During summer, a positive SAM increases the chance of above average rainfall for parts of eastern Australia and below average rainfall for western Tasmania.

  • The Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) is expected to move across the Maritime Continent and Western Pacific regions over the coming fortnight, which may lead to increased westerly flow and rainfall across parts of northern Australia. The influence of the MJO may lead to the onset of the Australian monsoon during this time, while also increasing the risk of tropical low and cyclone formation across the region.

  • Sea surface temperatures remain warmer than average in the western Pacific, much of the Maritime Continent, and around northern Australia, particularly in the Coral Sea. Warmer Australian waters, especially in the tropics, can result in greater evaporation, humidity, cloudiness, and rainfall.

  • Climate change continues to influence Australian and global climates. Australia's climate has warmed by around 1.47 °C in the period 1910–2021. There has also been a trend towards a greater proportion of rainfall from high intensity short duration rainfall events, especially across northern Australia.

Next update expected by 3 January 2022

Administrative Appeals Tribunal became so bloated by Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government appointees that Liberal Party cronyism began to eat away at its reputation. It is to be abolished and a new tribunal created in 2023

ABC News, 16 December 2022:

One of the most notoriously politicised bodies, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, will be abolished after the attorney-general declared its reputation had been irreversibly damaged.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the former government made dozens of politicised appointments to the AAT in its time in office, and that he would end the "cronyism".

"By appointing 85 former Liberal MPs, failed Liberal candidates, former Liberal staffers and other close Liberal associates, without any merit-based selection process … the former government fatally compromised the AAT," Mr Dreyfus said.

"Australians rightly expect honesty, integrity and accountability in government."

A new review body will be established in the new year, and already-appointed tribunal members will be invited to continue with it.

For almost 50 years the AAT was tasked with reviewing the decisions of government, including on matters of taxation, immigration and social security.

Appointments to the AAT were made by the government of the day for terms of up to seven years, though members could be re-appointed.

Mr Dreyfus said the new body would have a merit-based process for appointing tribunal members, after he accused the former government of sometimes appointing members to review issues such as taxation despite having no expertise in the area.

"The AAT's dysfunction has had a very real cost to the tens of thousands of people who rely on the AAT each year to independently review government decisions that have major and sometimes life-changing impacts on their lives," Mr Dreyfus said.

"Decisions such as whether an older Australian receives an age pension, whether a veteran is compensated for a service injury or whether a participant in the NDIS receives funding for an essential report."….

Accusations of politicised appointments have been levelled at former governments of all stripes, though progressive think tank The Australia Institute found a significant rise in what it deemed political appointments after the Coalition won office in 2013.

The think tank found around 5 per cent of AAT appointments under the Howard, Rudd and Gillard governments had been made to people with political connections, but that jumped to more than one-third of appointments under the Morrison government.

It also found a quarter of senior AAT members who were political appointments had no legal qualifications.

Plum jobs that paid as much as $500,000 were sometimes offered to people in the dying days of government before a federal election.

Former NSW state Liberal minister Pru Goward, former WA Liberal minister Michael Mischin, and Mr Morrison's former chief of staff Anne Duffield were among those appointed to the AAT in the final days of the Morrison government.

The AAT had also faced several accusations of bullying by its members since 2016.

Bill Browne, The Australia Institute's democracy and accountability director, said reform was urgently needed.

"Whatever body replaces the AAT must be robust and independent, and that means the AAT’s replacement must be carefully designed with an open and transparent appointment process that ensures only qualified, independent members are appointed," Mr Browne said.

Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns SC welcomed the AAT's abolition.

"Mr Dreyfus has the chance to create a new, impartial and fully independent tribunal that deals with thousands of cases each year involving Centrelink issues, tax issues and military compensation, to name some of the areas," he said.

"Today is a win for the rule of law."

Justice Susan Kenney has been appointed as the acting president of the AAT to guide its transition to the new system.

Mr Dreyfus said the new review body would be given 75 additional staff to help clear backlogs, at a cost of $63.4 million.

He said legislation to establish the body would be introduced next year, though likely not until the second half of the year.


ABC News, 7 November 2022:

Administrative Appeals Tribunal reveals 17 members have faced bullying or harassment complaints since 2016

Seventeen current members of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) have had more than one bullying, harassment or discrimination complaint made against them since 2016.

Allegations have been made against 19 members in total, with two members no longer working with the AAT.

They include senior officials and a deputy president, with the head of the tribunal unaware until Monday that they were still serving despite the multiple complaints.

The Klaxon, 3 September 2022:

AAT member paid for two gov’t jobs – for over five years

The top public official responsible for penalising medical practitioners who rip-off Medicare was paid for two Federal Government jobs for her entire five-and-a-half-year tenure.

The Klaxon can exclusively reveal Professor Julie Quinlivan, the long-time head of the Federal Government’s Professional Services Review agency, was also paid as a member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Quinlivan has been employed as a “part-time member” of the Federal Government’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) – in a position paying tens of thousands of dollars a year – since July 2015.

She was also employed as the full-time “director” of the Professional Services Review (PSR) agency from February 2017 until six weeks ago, when she quietly departed, seven months before her contract was due to expire.

The director of the PSR is responsible for reviewing allegations of “inappropriate practice” against Medicare by medical practitioners – including double-billing – and is paid almost $400,000 a year.

The payments to Quinlivan while she held both the AAT and PSR positions totalled over $2 million.

ABC NEWS, 14 April 2022; 

Government unnecessarily extends jobs ahead of election

Plum jobs worth up to $500,000 a year were extended to Liberal Party-linked individuals by the Morrison government in the lead-up to the election, and many were not due to end for another two years. Some had their tenure extended by Morrison & Co to 2027.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 February 2019:

Morrison government moves to re-appoint Abbott-era AAT members

The Morrison government is moving to re-appoint dozens of Abbott-era Administrative Appeals Tribunal members despite their terms coming to an end six weeks after a May federal election.

Crikey, 27 November 2019:

AAT accused of ‘intimidating’ robo-debt victims out of appealing

In the last financial year, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal contacted almost 800 people who wanted to appeal their Centrelink debt. Around half of those contacted withdrew their appeal, a figure that has alarmed experts.

Crikey, 25 September 2019:

Members of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal are steadily losing their jobs and being replaced with people less qualified.

Terry Carney lost his job as a member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) via a short, blunt email. It arrived five months after he delivered a tribunal decision which declared Centrelink’s robo-debt scheme to be illegal — a finding that angered the federal government.

Tuesday 20 December 2022

The fate of Banyam Baigham-the Sleeping Lizard (North Lismore Plateau) remains unresolved


An artist's impression of the 'Sleeping Lizard' goanna that forms the hills of North Lismore Plateau site.(Facebook: North Lismore Plateau Protection Group) - ABC News, 10 February 2022

ABC Premium News, 16 December 2022:

....Panel chair Paul Mitchell told a determination meeting that virtually every aspect of the $39 million housing proposal needed further work but he had not ruled out future development on the site.....

The development of the site has been discussed for many years, with Aboriginal heritage & biodiversity listed as the greatest concerns.

Developers urged to submit again

Lismore City Council general manager John Walker said there was support for flood-free housing on the plateau.

"It's disappointing because we do need land, but any approval for DA (development application) must be fully compliant," Mr Walker said.

"You can't expect councils & planning authorities to approve matters without the necessary studies & reviews."

A report from the independent flood inquiry recommended urgently moving people out of high-risk areas on flood plains.

Mr Walker has urged the developers to submit a new application.

"We would certainly encourage them to do so, the plateau was a really important part of the future of Lismore. We'd encourage them to work with us to get that development happening," he said.

Consultants speaking on behalf of the developer told the panel they will now consider starting proceedings in the Land & Environment Court.

ABC News-ABC North Coast, 16 December 2022:

Panel chair Paul Mitchell told a determination meeting that virtually every aspect of the $39 million housing proposal needed further work but he had not ruled out future development on the site.

"I'm sure we'll see some residential development on the plateau," he said.

"The issues are not insurmountable, but this development application wasn't complete in the sense that it didn't answer key questions, such as whether landslip issues could be managed."

Lismore City Council had previously supported development on the plateau but in a submission to the panel recommended the project be refused.

Northern Star, 16 December 2022:

Finding significant and unresolved issues with the development application, the planning panel unanimously voted down the $39 million housing development on Dunoon Rd in North Lismore on Thursday…..

Lismore ratepayer Dot Moller said a new nuanced plan for the development of the North Lismore plateau may be required.

There is a potential injustice to the population of North Lismore, our community badly affected by the devastating floods this year.

Many families are still homeless and living in substandard conditions right at the foot of our green plateau.

Folks have left as they‘ve been unable to find work or repair their homes. Social and affordable housing is desperately needed.

It is time to think about what we really need – not what a big Sydney development company thinks will work for them.”

Lismore resident Helen Robinson pointed out to the panel some of the land on the proposed estate had been identified as suitable to relocate up to 500 homes off the flood plain in North Lismore by the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation.

Those homes are suitable to move to the foothills of this estate where the people can maintain their communities,” she said.

(But) council maintains that it's not in the community’s interest. I wonder which part of the community they’re considering.

I don’t think they’re considering the people of the flood plain.”

Major concerns that sank the development included, environmental and wildlife impacts from land clearing, bushfire hazards, pollution of drinking water, increased stormwater run-off, noise from traffic and undue pressure on infrastructure.

But the elephant in the room – and the biggest obstacle facing the developers – is the outstanding Aboriginal cultural heritage assessment.

A significant shortfall with the application is a lack of consolation and documentation in regards to Aboriginal cultural heritage,” the council’s assessment reads.

The plan to build on the Northern Plateau has been banging around for over a decade, with the development hotly debated.

The council’s assessment found the DA as presented was in contravention of Aboriginal heritage conservation.

Known culturally as the ‘Sleeping Lizard’ because of the shape of the land, the site is said to hold significant cultural value to Widjabul Wia-bal traditional owners of the Bundjalung Nation.

Back in 2011, members of the Widjabul Wia-bal community protested after the council voted to allow the development because of the cultural significance of the site.

More than 10 years later, the issue of heritage conservation on the site is yet to be addressed by the prospective developers, the Northern Regional Planning Panel heard.

Tony Hart and Clyde Treadwell, consultants who represented land owners trying to develop the land, acknowledged the issues. They asked for a six-month extension for “specialist consultants” to resolve the problems.

Frustrated panel chair Paul Mitchell said: “The problem with that is that the application shouldn't have been lodged in the first place.”

Every aspect of this application that needs further work … virtually none of the fundamental issues have been finally resolved.”

Mr Hart and Treadwell told the panel landowners would proceed to take Lismore City Council to the Land and Environment Court for a determination if the extension and DA was refused.

We do not want to go to court but we will have to if there is no other avenue,” Mr Hart said.

Mr Mitchell said that would be “unfortunate” because it would be “an expensive burden” on Lismore residents.


NORTH COAST VOICES, Sunday, 11 December 2022:

Given the NSW Northern Regional Council is in the pocket of the Perrottet Government and that state government has passed law which allows it to facilitate landgrabs by professional property speculators, this matter is not going to end well for Lismore

Sleeping Lizard
IMAGE: displayed on