Mood: don't ask
Topic: nsw govt
Picture: Our Forests, Our Future conference flyer later this election year. Prominent environemntalist Jeff Angel is not on the speakers list though his group is listed in support. Details include:
CHIPSTOP campaign against woodchipping the SE forests, 02-64923134, PO Box 797 Bega NSW 2550 Australia, http://www.chipstop.forests.org.au
Angel is a prominent environmentalist who leads the Total Environment Centre. He is also quite controversial within the green movement.
We began our career in 1992 quite liking Angel. His co director at TEC Milo Dunphy first took me under his wing in the Dunbogan Canal Estate Commission of Inquiry which was a win for the environment. Then Angel positioned this writer into a job for Clover Moore MP’s private member’s South East Forest Protection Bill as a wedge on the National Liberal Party Coalition.
Well I remember redneck MP Peter Cochrane of the Nats referring in the House to Angel as “a weasel”. With my ecological training and commitment and with shared enemies like Cochrane I should be a fan of Angel surely?
So why about 1994 did I become aware of great animosity to the man. Director of The Wilderness Socity, Karenne Jurd, hated “the bastard”. It’s a matter of public record that founder and co-director of TEC Milo Dunphy distrusted his colleague Angel greatly too – with dark mutterings about ‘a Jewish mafia’ within his own ranks. Was this the environmental movement version of anti semitism?
Certainly this writer had no time or interest in indulging any kind of covert bigotry. I was a child of authors like Bernard Malamud and impressed with the gutsy Isrealis, and their survival from the mundane bureaucratic industralised horror of the holocaust and death of 6 million innocents, children, women and men ie Jewish families. The horror and never again were my top of mind views on such subjects in my undeveloped political persona.
But the antagonists to Angel within the green/Green movement kept coming. There was Carl Drury who spearheaded the Snowy River campaign from the grassroots and ended up writing in a letter to the Herald attacking Angel’s alleged ‘sellout in a deal with the NSW Govt’.
Dunphy died in 1997 and Angel became top dog in the NSW official green NGO movement in alliance with ALP aligned Australian Conservation Foundation (who had raw numbers), and needed his on the ground smarts in NSW.
I was put in mind of this with Angel on the ABC tv prime tv news last night 15th August 2007 - calling reportedly “for the end to landfills’. An end?
Oh dear how the history on waste reform just lurches out of me like spewing lava at the sound of the words. In 1995 I became ex officio a co director of the Waverley Woollahra Process Plant aka Waterloo incinerator after the council election in Sept of that year. Ironic for a councillor at Waverley representing the Green Party. I had earlier that year joined Friends of the Earth in Sydney and got to know John Denlay a Churchill Scholarship winner and waste reform guru. John and Greenpeace wanted the old dioxin spewing monster closed and a whole new era of 60% waste reduction, in fact adopted in word if not deed by the incoming ALP govt in 1996 in the Waste Management Act of that year.
But TEC were in favour of an incinerator upgrade all through the early 90ies. Conceptually this is like a waste to landfill only via gases in the air – a giant open ended escape hatch, out of sight out of mind either in a furnace or a big hole in the ground. The result is the same – no pressure on designers, builders, industry, govt or society to clean up its act and put materials to their highest order of re-use. In nature there is no such thing as waste and indeed this is the conceptual under pinning of the pro business approach of Amory Lovins of “natural capitalism” – use all by products.
It would not be fair to tarnish Angel with the pro incinerator agenda but it remains true TEC were the achilles heal of the FoE Greenpeace campaign and his role is unclear. The incinerator closed in 1997 in no small part to this writer and the $40 million upgrade was in tatters.
But the Carr govt were now really faced with the waste reform challenge. Waste Boards, industry plans, waste services, environmental socio economic justice problems across regions all escalated as concerns. And the rich kept churning out the rubbish as did all industry sectors – what to do with the stuff?
This is where the next Angel hater arose – Frank Miller of FoE network and Goulburn Greens Party group and representative of the Nature Conservation Council at the Commission of Inquiry into Woodlawn landfill. A gritty experienced landholder in the Goulburn Braidwood area, a former tank driver in the 2nd World War, Miller wasn’t having truck and train loads of Sydney crap contaminating his rural region if he could help it.
We have correspondence from the late 90ies with Miller scathing of Angel’s apparent endorsement or at the least acquiescence of Carr’s waste to super landfill agenda at Woodlawn near Goulburn. There is no doubt Miller saw the Carr govt as corrupt, and a corrupting influence, with the Sydney Catchment Authority changing the content of its submissions mid stream in the C of I, seen as a buckle to political masters by the waste reform collective at NCC. The collective via Miller even referred it to ICAC only to have Dr Judy Messer as Chair seek to withdraw the referral over the heads of the collective experts. Messer was the long time ngo appointee to the Sydney Water Board for many years and a high status and cosy position to hold.
Certainly Angel had nothing to say about the problem of landfills on the ABC TV news during the whole Woodlawn fracas not least opposition here in Sydney to a massive transfer station at Clyde in suburban Sydney opposed by a group called RAGE (if memory serves). Yet there Angel was last night 11 years after the Waste Management Act pioneered by Denlay and after hopeless failure on Woodlawn landfill 6 years before, on August 15th 2007 national abc news calling for the 'end to landfills' or similar. Now but not when it counted? Hypocrisy? Selective? Tactical silence?
We realised there was something wrong with Angel’s independence in about 1996. Recently the 4 Corners reporter Liz Jackson was at Gleebooks in Glebe Sydney to present a Q and A with commodities economist Judy Adjani (nee Clark) with a new book called Forest Wars whose career long thesis is that plantation resource from the 60ies onwards is way big enough to drive reform in the loss making native forest sector. We agree entirely as does the TWS subject to strict environmental controls – as the jargon goes. This was as true in 1996 as it is now. But when we wrote a draft economic submission under delegation for the combined NSW green groups as part of the Peace Plan process under Carr’s election winning platform of ‘95 (partly negotiated by prominent Green MP and secular Jew Ian Cohen), Angel deleted my referencing of Adjani (then Clark) and the Resource Assessment Comission (C’th) work on plantation resource, RAC having been led by such as Clive Hamilton in 1992. Yet these were central planks to real opportunity for reform supported by the vast majority of the green movement in democratic numbers.
This economic reform based on substitution into the massive existing plantation was lost from this and no doubt other similar negotiations in a tragedy for the NSW industry and environment. Why Angel would do that I can’t fathom unless he was collaborating with the the ALP Govt to stay in native forest logging despite overwhelming public (80%) support to get out of woodchipping forests in particular. Certainly the logging union behind the ALP wanted all the forest they could cut.
I became an Angel sceptic myself from about that time on, especially as more classic forest was woodchipped in East Gippsland (eg Goolengook), and southern NSW (Deua, Nalbaugh, Badja etc) through the late 90ies and noughties. Carr having prepared the way for staying in native forests broke his election promise to end native forest woodchipping by the year 2000. The words of ex TWS director Jurd ring in my ears and how she wanted to meet me before doing Angel’s agenda via Clover Moore in NSW Parliament. Oh how the naïve wise up. Jurd was of course right about Angel and even allowing for her eccentricity should be acknowledged for that.
Then in about 1998 I finally came to believe there was something deeply morally wrong with Angel which only in hindsight I have been able to put into a real politik context. He was appointed around this time to the NSW Native Vegetation Committee of the Carr Govt to allegedly halt land clearing: A campaign championed by Penny Roberts (of National Parks Assoc) since the early 90ies.
Roberts was ‘a close friend’ of Dunphy. She either quit her job or was sacked apparently on his death from NPA. Angel convened a meeting with Jamie Piddock then of WWF conservative green group with the other peak green ngo groups. Together these two proposed rural tradeoffs of bush conserved in exchange for NSW farmers to clear relatively less endangered bush types. There was no mention in the meeting of native title property rights of traditional owners in this huge swathe of the western division leases under current litigation following Mabo High Court decision in late 92. It was a damage control strategy rather than confront the madness of clearing directly, exposing the failure of the NSW Govt and nurturing a public wave of political action to discipline the govt as per the groundwork of Roberts for the previous 7 years.
But I knew the significance from my own honours thesis in 1989. The Piddock/Angel agenda was a classic farmer extinguishment via clearing of native title evidence. To claim native title one needs ongoing physical connection – quite easy to erase with D9 bulldozer and chain. And the farmers wanted the greens to bless this in a classic wedge by them of the Greens/Blacks and probably of Left and Right of the ALP itself. Just as the rednecks had turned the greens against the blacks over national parks in other parts of the country. This was Angel’s leadership? No thanks.
But my voice was “marginalised” at the meeting of some 10 mid to senior level campaigners of diverse 'peak' green groups. This was racism for real against for all we knew were legal NSW Aboriginal property interests under Mabo. I was outraged. I had played an honourable role in supporting native title with The Wilderness Society 1992-5 and ever since and these turkeys were about to blunder over all of that great work and reconciliation.
As it happened the native title claims over the western division leases were lost in that litigation all the way to the High Court but we were never to know that in the proposal to just let the farmers rip in a NSW Govt deal to be blessed by the greens led by Angel and Piddock. Many other places have had their native title upheld all over the country up to 2007. And the NSW decision was probably wrong under a notoriously conservative High Court anyway.
And the Angel haters still keep arising. There is Mersina Soulos founder of Concord based Green Party group (somewhat misnamed Inner West Greens) who has dark things to say about redevelopment of contaminated land in Homebush Bay at Rhodes Pensinsula involving Angel in some way.
There are the Chipstoppers network still fighting the NSW ALP govt over their broken year 2000 election promise to end the forest woodchipping not least for dangerous climate change reasons.
There are the Lake Cowal traditional owners and diverse environmentalists (including Green MP Cohen , Rainforest Information Centre, Benny Zable another prominent secular Jewish environmentalist expert in street theatre) outraged at a $6M revenue deal with select tame green groups out of profits of a cyanide gold mine destroying ephemeral lake Lake Cowal and massively drawing down the water table there. That’s a $6M deal orchestrated by … Jeff Angel to help Bob Carr manage industry backlash over refusal of a cyanide tailings dam at North Parkes gold mine killing birdlife exposed by 60 Minutes.
In recent time we have been reading about Louise Adler the secular Jewish lady who is a publisher for Melbourne University Press. In a profile we noticed her reference to the Jewish collaborators in the murderous Nazi regime with ‘disprorportionate survival rates’ from that horror. Then this word for the collaborators – the Judenrat - as here
Angel may have many flaws but survival instinct is not one of them, even as woodchipping of natural forest in NSW and South East Australia generally is at record levels, land clearing atrocities unfold at the Macquarie Marshes off a decade of multi million hectare clearing her in NSW this last 15 years under both major Parties, coal mining is expanding at a massive rate, and Frank Sartor puts planning on developer steroids to appease the bean counters and the economic cheer squad, not least premier Morris Iemma, Daily Telegraph and Sydney Morning Herald.
So we pose the quite deliberate and scathing question “Is Angel a collaborator in environmental destruction?” the environmental Judenrat of our time, and should he actually be working in an official paid position with the NSW Govt and not the ngo movement?
Postscript #1 17th August 2007
The timing of this article is around any influence Angel may bring to bear in the lead up to the federal election on both green/Green and ALP policy. Just as the pro ALP biases of Peter Garrett have been well exposed by such as Senator Bob Brown's example of independence in the Green Party.
We spoke with Jeff Ash by phone yesterday many know as an architect of the NSW Greens (he drafted me in 1994 for the councillor job) working within MLC John Kaye's office. (The purpose was to note Eric Roozendaal as Roads Minister was campaigning for Carmel Tebbutt in Marrickville where pollution stacks will be located from trucks tunnels on the front of the Daily Telegraph.) This writer mentioned this SAM news site article and the underlying thesis of Angel as biased to the ALP and Ash's comment was along the lines "we already know that".
We say for those seeking successful environmental campaigs this grip by the ALP on the vibrant beating heart of the NSW Green Movement has been essential knowledge for over 15 years now. Thus an ALP MP whose name is lost in the mists of time stated famously "We can work with Jeff" by way of contra distinction. Just like Peter Garrett. Yes the ALP can work with these, but not necessarily to save the environment, more to get and hold power while doing the destruction for greater powers of industry and government (and revolving door big media). What a human and ecological tragedy.