Sunday, 8 September 2019

Catching up on Trumpian politics


The New Yorker online, 4 September 2019, excerpt:

Trump not only makes us believe it now but, as we approach the three-year mark of his upset victory, in 2016, his project has succeeded in such a confounding way that it seems as though Americans will now believe anything—and nothing at all. 

Today there are few things too extreme not to have plausibly come out of the mouth, or the Twitter feed, of the forty-fifth President. 

In August, Trump called himself the “Chosen One” for the confrontation with China, grinned and flashed a thumbs-up during a photo op with the family of mass-shooting victims, accused Jews who voted for Democrats of “great disloyalty,” and called the chairman of the Federal Reserve an “enemy” of the United States. 

He cheered the robbery of a Democratic congressman’s home and labelled various critics “nasty and wrong,” “pathetic,” “highly unstable,” “wacko,” “psycho,” and “lunatic,” among other insults. 

The daily stream of invective from Trump was dizzying to keep track of, and so voluminous as to almost insure that no one could, in fact, do so.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Quote of the Week


"...now, as in the past, they [religious leaders] assume the right to impose their faith on others. Far from being denied a "voice" in the public square, they have a megaphone. What irks them is that fewer of us are listening." [Freelance journalist Julie Szego, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 September 2019]

Tweets of the Week


*Unfortunately this was a Trump impersonator 

Friday, 6 September 2019

Destruction of tree cover at Woombah Woods Caravan Park still not resolved


"We're literally on watch to call them [council officers] if we see or hear anything. The clearing started without any regard to rules, regulations or the Woombah community." [Emma Mills, Woombah resident quoted in Coastal Views, 16 August 2019] 

 ABC News, 9 August 2019: 

PHOTO: Council approval to develop the site was granted in the 1980s. (Supplied: Emma Mills)


There are fears important wildlife habitat is being destroyed as a developer tries to reactivate a 35-year-old site approval on the New South Wales north coast. 

About 30 large trees have been felled at the Woombah Woods Caravan Park near Iluka this week. Property developer William Hu paid about $2.7 million for the park earlier this year.......

PHOTO: William Hu has plans to expand the caravan park. (ABC North Coast: Bronwyn Herbert) 


He said he planned to remove every tree on the site to make way for more than 60 new cabins. 

"It is my legal right to clear all the trees within the approved footprint," Mr Hu said. 

"I'm a businessman. I want to make money. 

"But I also want my whole community to make money or live in a better environment." 

Clarence Valley Council planner Des Schroder said a temporarily stop-work order had been issued for the site. 

"The reality is that DAs (development approvals), as long as they're commenced, are valid forever," he said. 

"They have started work, the first stage; the question is whether they need DAs for further stages. 

Trees have been cut down in the Woombah Woods Caravan Park.

"That's the point for investigation ... if there needs to be a contemporary ecological survey done, even if the trees are allowed to be cleared. 

"There is significance from a koala point of view ... there is potential maybe for koala food trees or for a corridor." 

Emma Mills lives next to the caravan park and said the area was home to a significant koala population. 

It was also adjacent to a section of the Pacific Highway upgrade where the Roads and Maritime Service had taken measures to keep wildlife off the road, she said. 

"They have just recently installed a koala grid because there is an active koala colony just the opposite side of the highway," Ms Mills said. 

"They have indeed put a highway underpass for the koalas just to reach the eastern corridor, which we form part of. 

"We also see countless birdlife, kookaburras, parrots, black cockatoos, wallabies, bandicoots, possums." 

Stu Stark, who lived in the park for 18 months while building a house nearby, also said he saw and heard koalas. 

"We only saw a couple — they are very hard to spot, but they make a really loud noise at night time," he said. 

"I'm not sure if that's mating, I'm not sure what it is, but we heard plenty of that when we were living over at the caravan park." 

Mr Hu said long-term residents of the park told him they had never seen koalas on the site. 

The developer said he bought the park because he liked its feng shui, and he hoped to buy and develop other similar facilities. 

"This is my baby, my first caravan park. I want to build it up to the standard of William Hu," he said. "I'm going to do more after this one."

Clarence Valley Independent, 14 August 2019:


Mr Hu said that the clearing of the trees was to make way for new cabins and he was acting on advice from consultants who assured him a 1984 approval for development meant he did not require further council approval for the trees removal. 

Clarence Valley Council (CVC) issued a notice “to cease any further works until at least Council completes necessary investigations and provides further advice”. 

The removal of the trees (thought to be grey gum and tallow wood) was raised by the ‘Association of Iluka Residents’ (AIR) last Wednesday. 

President of AIR, Tony Belton claimed the trees were “a significant koala habitat” and that it was thought many of the trees may be around 100 years old.


Mr Belton said the developer is claiming that a DA approval issued over thirty years ago is still relevant, but his argument surely is now invalid, as the science is now showing that koalas in Northern NSW are threatened and under great duress due to habitat removal, displacement and connectivity obstruction. 

“It’s ironic that the major Pacific Highway upgrade being undertaken a mere one hundred meters away (from this caravan park) has had many kilometres of koala fencing and under road tunnels and grids to accommodate the recognised koala habitat and connectivity at Woombah. 

Possibly hundreds of thousands of Federal tax dollars have been spent on this infrastructure in and around Woombah as part of the highway upgrade. 

Surely this is contradictory policy in 2019,” he said. 


As of 3 September 2019 no further tree clearing has occurred at the caravan park and it is understood that the temporary stop work order is still in place.

Given discussions between the Queensland developer and council are confidential, concerned Woombah residents still know little more than those facts contained in the initial media reports.

However, it does appear that the developer's vision for this caravan park may possibly be far removed from conditions contained in the original 1984 DA consent document.

NSW Law Enforcement Conduct Commission will investigate complaints concerning the behaviour of officers belonging to an elite police unit in Grafton


The Daily Examiner, 3 September 2019, p.3: 

The NSW Law Enforcement Conduct Commission will investigate complaints into the behaviour of officers belonging to an elite police unit in Grafton in May. 

Grafton solicitor Greg Coombes has lodged complaints with the LECC, alleging officers from Strike Force Raptor targeted him over a two-day period when he was due to defend a member of an outlaw motorcycle gang on an animal cruelty charge. 

The State Crime Command’s Gangs Squad formed Strike Force Raptor in 2009 to tackle outlaw motorcycle gangs and any associated criminal enterprises. 

Mr Coombes said the LECC had two courses of action open to it. 

“They can direct the police to investigate the complaint, or they can run their own investigation,” he said. 

“In my case they’ve decided to take the harder option and conduct the investigation themselves.” 

Mr Coombes said he understood the LECC could recommend anything from exoneration to sacking following an investigation. 

“I’m certainly glad they’re taking this seriously,” he said. 

“It’s one thing to hassle bikies, but it’s another thing entirely to actively interfere with the court process.....


NOTE


The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission is an independent statutory body. Its principal functions are to detect, investigate and expose serious misconduct and serious maladministration within the NSW Police Force and the NSW Crime Commission. The Commission is separate from and completely independent of the NSW Police Force and NSW Crime Commission.

Past investigations can be found at https://www.lecc.nsw.gov.au/investigations/past-investigations/2019.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Campfires and barbecues using wood, charcoal or other solid fuels have been banned in all NSW state forests from 1 September 2019 until further notice


Forestry Corporation of NSW, media release, 30 August 2019: 

Campfires and barbecues using wood, charcoal or other solid fuels have been banned in all State forests on the North Coast, Northern Tablelands Central West Tablelands, South Coast and parts of Western NSW from Sunday 1 September until further notice to reduce the risk of bushfires.

Forestry Corporation of NSW's Senior Manager of Stewardship, Kathy Lyons said the ban applied in all State forests from the Central Coast to the Queensland border, from Nowra to the Victorian border, on the Central West tablelands and north of the Mitchell Highway, and visitors should plan to bring gas stoves for cooking. 

“Fire season has commenced early this year due to extremely dry conditions across much of the state. Our firefighters on the north coast are already fully committed fighting many fires which have taken off due to the dry conditions,” Ms Lyons said. 

“In the past few weeks our firefighters have been tackling wildfires around Grafton and Wauchope and with the weather forecast predicting hotter and drier weather and little rain on the horizon, we need to take steps now to minimise the risk of further bushfires. 

“All fires using solid fuels such as wood or charcoal are now banned in most State forests across the state until further notice. 

“Campers and picnickers wishing to light a fire to cook in these forests can only use gas appliances until the ban is lifted, which won’t be until after significant rainfall. 

“This ban applies every day, not just on days when total fire bans are declared, so we are asking people who are planning to camp in the forests during spring and summer to plan ahead and bring gas appliances. 

“Visitors should also be prepared for days when total fire bans are declared, as all fires including gas fires are prohibited on total fire ban days. 

Information on total fire bans is available on the Rural Fire Service website.

“State forests are popular with campers and visitors throughout the spring and summer period and while we encourage people to get out into our forests and enjoy them, we do need to act to reduce the bushfire risk during the high fire danger period. 

“Solid fuel fire bans improve safety for campers and local communities.” 

Failure to comply with the Solid Fuel Fire Ban carries a maximum penalty of $2200. If in doubt, contact your local forestry office. 

For more information about Forestry Corporation of NSW, or to find details of your local office, visit www.forestrycorporation.com.au 

In the event of a fire or other emergency, contact 000.

Australian Medical Association formally declares climate change a health emergency


The Guardian, 3 September 2018: 

The Australian Medical Association has formally declared climate change a health emergency, pointing to “clear scientific evidence indicating severe impacts for our patients and communities now and into the future”. 

The AMA’s landmark shift, delivered by a motion of the body’s federal council, brings the organisation into line with forward-leaning positions taken by the American Medical Association, the British Medical Association and Doctors for the Environment Australia. 

The American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians recognised climate change as a health emergency in June 2019, and the British Medical Association the following month declared a climate emergency and committed to campaign for carbon neutrality by 2030. 

The World Health Organisation has recognised since 2015 that climate change is the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century, and argued the scientific evidence for that assessment is “overwhelming”. 

The AMA has recognised the health risks of climate change since 2004. Having now formally recognised that climate change is a health emergency, the peak organisation representing doctors in Australia is calling on the Morrison government to promote an active transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy; adopt mitigation targets within an Australian carbon budget; promote the health benefits of addressing climate change; and develop a national strategy for health and climate change. 

The AMA president, Tony Bartone, argues the scientific evidence is clear. “There is no doubt that climate change is a health emergency. The AMA accepts the scientific evidence on climate change and its impact on human health and human wellbeing,” he says. 

Bartone says the climate science suggests warming will affect human health and wellbeing “by increasing the environment and situations in which infectious diseases can be transmitted, and through more extreme weather events, particularly heatwaves”. 

“Climate change will cause higher mortality and morbidity from heat stress,” the AMA president says. “Climate change will cause injury and mortality from increasingly severe weather events. Climate change will cause increases in the transmission of vector-borne diseases. Climate change will cause food insecurity resulting from declines in agricultural outputs. Climate change will cause a higher incidence of mental ill-health. 

“These effects are already being observed internationally and in Australia.” 

Bartone told Guardian Australia the motion adopted by the federal council had followed an ongoing discussion among stakeholders, and medical practitioners within the AMA membership....... 

 The latest official data released last week confirms that greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise in Australia. National emissions increased by 3.1m tonnes in the year to March to reach 538.9m tonnes, a 0.6% jump on the previous year. 

Emissions in Australia have increased every year since the Abbott government repealed a national carbon price after taking office in 2013.