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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Free speech for tree chippers but not green activists in South East NSW?
Mood:  hug me
Topic: independent media

Quite a disjunction in these two stories over the cultural values around democratic free speech in lead up to inaugural Bega Festival:

#1 of 2 


Back flip on wood chip festival ban

Posted Mon Nov 16, 2009 3:05pm AEDT

A festival committee on the New South Wales far south coast has backed down over a decision to ban the region's big timber processing company from attending a Clean Energy Expo.

Last week, the Bega Festival Committee barred Eden's South East Fibre Exports company from distributing information about its proposed biomass electricity generator that will use wood waste as fuel.

The decision brought a community backlash, including the Bega Chamber of Commerce and the anti-logging group Chip-Stop, saying the move was stifling free speech.

But the Founder of the Clean Energy for Eternity movement, Matthew Nott, says the chip mill has taken up a new invitation to be part of the community celebration.

"I am quite keen to get South East Fire Exports to the Clean Energy Expo," he said.

"I have had a couple of chats with Vince Phillips from South East Fibre Exports over the weekend.

"He and I are both happy to get South East Fibre Exports to the Clean Energy Expo.

"I think it is a good opportunity for Fibre Exports to present their case."


#2 of 2


Anti-woodchip signs go
Conservationists are annoyed that the Bega Valley Shire Council has used ratepayer funded resources to remove anti-woodchipping signs from the Bermagui Tathra road at Wapengo.
The signs have hung for over a year from trees high above the approaches to each side of the Wapengo Bridge.
They highlighted the threat of logging koala habitat in Mumbulla forest, part of the Wapengo catchment.
Greens Councillor, Keith Hughes is seeking details of the costs born by ratepayers from the Council.
“These signs were securely and safely erected and carried an important message for visitors,” he said.
Chipstop convener, Ms Harriett Swift, who raised the matter of the signs at a public forum of Council this afternoon (Tuesday), said that censorship is no way to win an argument.
“Residents and visitors to the area have a right to know what is going on in the region’s forests,” she said.
Forests NSW have indicated that logging of Mumbulla Forest is likely to start early in the New Year.

Photo caption: one of the signs from Wapengo bridge removed by Council

Keith Hughes, Harriett Swift 0414908997, 64923267
19 November 2009

SAY "NO" TO WOODCHIP POWER. Sign the on line petition at: http://www.gopetition.com.au/petitions/say-no-to-woodchip-power.html


abc reportage here


The Bega Valley Shire Council on the New South Wales far south coast has removed illegal anti-logging signs near Bermagui, prompting a back-lash from conservationists.

Two signs placed by anti-chip campaigners in trees a year ago on the Bermagui to Tathra Road, at Wapengo, were designed to draw the attention of tourists to logging in native forests and its effects on the region's bio-diversity.

Greens Councillor Keith Hughes concedes the signs were erected without a development application but says other groups have been allowed to keep their signs.

"Some forests have prescriptions where they try and make the logging less visible from the road but apart from that narrow visual protection strip, people aren't aware of the intensity of the logging that's just out of sight," he said.

"People drive along that road and it's a beautiful stretch of road.

"It's good to inform them about what's happening out of site but not far away."

Posted by editor at 10:48 AM EADT
Bushfire science
Mood:  blue
Topic: wildfires


We noticed an abc Sydney radio report this morning on the Australian fire fighters union lobbying the Senate on climate change action. Here is a similar report from Feb 2009:

At risk' firies want urgent global warming action

By ABC News Online's Cassie White

Posted Thu Feb 12, 2009 3:46pm AEDT
Updated Thu Feb 12, 2009 4:48pm AEDT

Risk ... firefighters have been told to prepare for many more extreme fire danger days.

Risk ... firefighters have been told to prepare for many more extreme fire danger days. (Getty: Scott Barbour)

Australia is at risk of more tragedies such as the Victorian bushfires if the Federal Government does not reassess its approach to global warming, says the peak firefighters union.


A timely backgrounder also from our Ecology Action resources on an additional factor on how we got to this extreme wildfire scenario involving extreme dryness across NSW from local or global climate effects: There is a long run land use legacy of converting large areas of wet forest types into dry schlerophyll which burns fiercely. Refer this background paper:

These diagrams below first presented in 1995 reveal the process of landscape conversion of native forest from moist old growth fire resistant type, derived from their closed canopy, to dry sclerophyl bushfire prone regrowth type.

As long as a moisture rich closed canopy is in place a high density of ground cover remains of moderate risk and tends to break down quite quickly as well.

The most severe process of logging disruption of the closed forest canopy has been going on since the advent of high intensity 'integrated logging' for timber but also high proportion of woodchips especially since the mid 1970ies. This was around the time of the advent of bulldozers, other big machines and modern chainsaws.

Thus even if a small proportion of a forest of say 2 or 3% suffers high intensity logging per year, after 40 years of patchworking, close to 100% of the moist micro climate will have been destroyed along with the broken canopy.  It will take maybe a century to re establish the moist old growth closed canopy microclimate across broad areas of forest IF devastating fires don't constantly set the clock back to zero again in a cruel ecological game of snakes and ladders.

That's how grim the situation has become in large areas of forested south east Australia as a result of rampaging logging and greed. Even much contemporary national park has been patchwork logged already prior to reservation in the last 40 years and still to regain closed canopy moisture. Depending on the fire patterns in the future they may never regain that closed canopy and moisture level.

There are many other factors contributing to bushfire such as ignition sources like arson or naturally occuring dry lightning. Climate impact of low rainfall also impacts fire intensity and risk. Ground fuel levels are also very significant.

But what is apparent in the current anxious reflections and research into how best to deal with the impending catastrophic fires of the futre is that the modern logging industry have been getting away with environmental murder that promotes mega bushfires. It all follows from breaching the natural water cycle under a closed canopy:



The diagrams above are based on the following scientific papers:

Cornish PM (1982) The variation of dissolved ion concentration with discharge in some NSW streams, Forest Hydrologist, Forestry Commission of NSW, The First National Symposium on Forest Hydrology, eds. EM  O'Loughlin & L J Bren, May 1982,

Rieger W A, Olive L J and Burgess J S (1982) Behaviour of sediment concentrations and solute concentrations in small forested catchments, University of NSW, Department of Geography, FAculty of Military Studies, The First National Symposium on Forest Hydrology, eds. E M O'Loughlin & L J Bren, May 1982

Stokes R A and Loh I C (1982) 'Sustaining Sensitive Wildlife Within Temperate Forest Landscapes: Regional Systems of Retained Habitat as a Planning Framework', pages 85-106 in Ecology and Sustainability of Southern Temperate Ecosystems, eds. Norton T W & Dovers S R, CSIRO 1994.

Wronski E (1993) Tantawangalo research catchments, Change in water yield after logging, Report to the Forestry Commission of NSW, 1st July 1993

Declaration: The editor/author was called as witness to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry, and briefly to the Coronial Inquiry after the summer 1993-4 bushfires, as a representative of the Wilderness Society in NSW.


More background

The public are noticing the intensity of forest fires seem to be greater and to have more devastating effects. Certainly there are many factors involved:

1.climate eg drought, very low humidity, hot winds etc.

2. ground fuel load is significant but notice

(a) closed canopy wet 'old growth' or rainforest is far more fire resistant than a dry sclerophyl eucalypt forest regardless of leaf litter, and dry sclerophyl is being spread like a curse by the woodchipping sector. The wet fire resistant nature of old closed canopy is not our invention: An excellent scientifically referenced booklet called 'Old Growth Forests and their High Conservation Values' was published in Feb 1995 by Taylor, Woof, Thomson with relevant diagrams. We submit this process has contributed disastrously to fire intensity over the last 35 years and could literally take centuries to reverse, short of concreting the lot. No one wants that.

(b) that the high ground vegetation grazing pressure by ground dwelling native herbivores has been greatly reduced as a result of feral predators killing these critters off.

3. arson: A recent Institute of Criminology report late 2004 found up to 9 out of 10 fires are started by arsonists and in NSW the government have taken action to address this. This was the concern of green groups from at least 1993 but largely ignored by authorities until now.

4. escaped logging fires. These are less arson, as negligent land practices. Evidence of these are listed further below.

In the area of fire management the politics of the Carr NSW government are on track compared with so many other land use policy areas ...if one ignores the underlying landscape transforming impact of woodchipping Carr has so far failled to ban: We submit that closed canopy forests have been systematically wiped out in Australia especially in the last 40 years, which has destroyed the natural water cycle and humidity in forest understorey and more generally.

In the environment movement we still hear, not so much in NSW, but from colleagues in Victoria and elsewhere cheap shots at greenies not pulling their weight in rural fire brigades etc. When we last investigated this point in 1994 during during the Black Friday bushfire crisis we learned that 20 or 30 places across regional NSW had greenies in their local brigade ... that rural people invariably pull together whatever their politics.

One fellow in the north east angrily commented he was the driver of the local fire truck and it was in his driveway. The letter I wrote rebutting such nasty cheap political shots was printed in virtually every local newspaper in NSW including letter of the week in The Land newspaper. People were in no mood for cheap smears during such a serious bushfire event. We have no reason to doubt that reality in 2005 and beyond.

Source documents can be found in the following links: 

13 Dec 2006 ...Howard’s divisive politics: bushfire green baiting today, dog whistle white supremacism yesterday

April/May 2003...El Grande, Tasmania: fire vandalism by govt logger/regulator exposed by expert botanist

4/2/03... loggers cause fire in Tasmania says Wilderness Society

2/2/03...How the Regional Forest logging 'Agreeements' omitted bushfire effect on volumes

22/1/03... intensity: role of logging old, closed canopy forest over past 50 years

13/5/02...Clearfell logging is making the wet forests of the Otways drier and more fire prone

1/1/02...Koperberg dismisses burn-off, Sydney Morning Herald

1/1/2002... Fire reduction burn offs useless: Daily Telegraph

Jan/Feb 2000...Serious forest fires in the Otways are started by careless logging practices

patchy, rare fire occurrence in wet forests of Otways, Vic

1997....scientific refutation of the 'burn lots and burn often' simplistic approach allegedly used by pre European Aboriginal society

Posted by editor at 8:35 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 19 November 2009 10:06 AM EADT
Monday, 16 November 2009
Did SAM micro news blog save premier Rees' neck?
Mood:  lyrical
Topic: nsw govt

Copy to SAM web micro news:

#1 of 2

Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 6:40 AM
Subject: civil society briefing note on $35B sale proposal breaks Rees critics on Right? Re: [chipstop] goodbye macca

This is a big break for the redgum forests I imagine.
I'm going to post a self referential (!) story this morning, something about 'Did SAM save premier Rees?'
Which of course is tendentious/speculative. But it goes like this and it's an intriguing scenario: The 1997 failed energy privatisation has been driving alot of the angst in state politics. Keating reckons it was worth $35B, if only really $25B, and privatisation mark 2 in 2007 also failed at $10 to 15B (different asset range, different market). So Right and Left in ALP Govt and big media were at each other's throats, not least over investor fees to be gotten (in the $150M range in 2007).
The Greens were in alliance with the unions against the sale(s).
Into this poisonous soup of political ambitions and fear and loathing about 2 months back we posted this story:
Briefing note from civil society group on 1997 NSW power sale
Mood:  sharp
Topic: nsw govt
Since about that time, the ructions over the power sale political dynamics have evaporated from big media. More light than heat to help the bruvvers understand what really happened back in the day, pre google? Could be.
Regards, Tom
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, November 15, 2009 5:36 PM
Subject: [chipstop] goodbye macca

He's gone. Whacko!


NSW Premier Nathan Rees forces Joe Tripodi and Ian Macdonald out of cabinet

  • Imre Salusinszky, NSW political reporter
  • From: The Australian
  • November 15, 2009 4:35PM

NSW Premier Nathan Rees has sacked two of his most controversial ministers in a desperate attempt to gain a lift for his Labor government in the polls.
Ports Minister Joe Tripodi and Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald tendered their resignations to Mr Rees today after the Premier called them last night and said he wanted them out of cabinet.
They will be replaced by Heathcote MP Paul Macleay and upper house President Peter Primrose, with an announcement of portfolio changes expected tomorrow.
Mr Tripodi has been a constant source of controversy to the Government due to suggestions he and his fellow Right faction warlord, Eddie Obeid, maintain close relationship with property developers who, in exchange for generous political donations, expect high-level access to government figures.
Mr Macdonald has been at the centre of numerous allegations of excessive use of ministerial expense accounts and, unlike Mr Tripodi, has aligned himself with recent moves to challenge Mr Rees's leadership.
Mr Tripodi said this afternoon: “I have been nothing other than loyal to Nathan Rees.”
But he insisted he accepted the Premier's decision and would not be moving for a leadership spill.
The sacking of Mr Tripodi and Mr Macdonald follows rapidly upon the heels of Saturday's decision by NSW Labor's annual conference to grant the party leader unfettered power to sack and appoint ministers.

# 2 of 2
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 6:43 AM
Subject: transport Re: civil society briefing note on $35B sale proposal breaks Rees critics on Right?

Not to forget this one also, posted the same day, getting into the head of big media, big politics at the time:

Posted by editor at 6:51 AM EADT
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Sunday tv talkies: NSW integrity gestures as feds obsess on boats borders and agri climate emissions
Mood:  down
Topic: aust govt



Picture: Wong's history is the proof - 1/4 of forest at risk traded for 3/4 also at risk gifted to logging industry in NSW in the late 90ies. Hence the huge ALP Carr Govt tv advertising spend in the 1999 state election 'Saving trees and job' to achieve a very big lie in recent political history. A grave precedent for the bogus ETS currently before federal Parliament.


Author’s general introductory note   


This is not a well packaged story. It’s a contemporaneous traverse of the Sunday television free to air political talkies indicating the agenda of Establishment interests: Better to know ones rivals and allies in Big Politics and Big Media. Perhaps the greatest utility is the headline synthesis above of the 3 or 4 shows followed in this session.


For actual transcripts and/or video feeds go to the programme web sites quoted including Riley Diary on 7. And note transcripts don’t really give you the image content value.


Other sources of pollie talkies on Sunday include SkyNews paytv Sunday Agenda, Radio National Monica Attard Sunday Profile show. And of course Sunday night shows SBS Dateline, Sixty Minutes and now Sunday Tonight on 7.  


Media backgrounders.  

1. Retired legislative lion John Hatton challenge to NSW ICAC as a “dud” (on nsw stateline 2 weeks back) resonating with premier Rees policy at ALP conference to ban developer donations in press today? We think so, as well as smh front pager smear on Tripodi yesterday leveraging arguably valid policy on competition initiative of some kind - which shows how easy it is to smear the bloke even when he has a case.

2. MTP 10 compere Paul Bongiorno AWOL. Rimington in the chair.

3. Rees got his nsw stateline interview in just in time 2 weeks back ‘lowest mainlaind unemployment’ assertion made only to jump to highest mainland unemployment at 6.1% official data one week later. That’s the ALP machine doing it’s choreography. Probably only innovate sunrise green industry is going to change this employment descent in NSW.

4. Public transport union chief Nick Lewocki bails out of the ALP Admin Committee, again on Stateline last Friday. Lewocki pictured with Della Bosca in the press, with DL since sidelined badly by ruthless central coast internal polling. Lewocki says in effect going to war on public transport until the election in 2011. Magically Rees announces return of south west heavy rail at ALP conference yesterday but not NW rail in Sydney Liberal electorates.

5. Labor ex premiers around their own ‘table of knowledge’ in an echo of the symbolism of the Wollongong developer scandal, plastic table for developers? Carr at Macquarie Bank, Iemma similar, both slashed Env Planning Act via Part 3A repeals, Wran a diverse business operator today but quite green back in the 80ies, one presumes Unsworth similar. As Keating always says – self interest is always trying?

Picture: The summary of ALP premier 'achievements' is a bit weird in these captions. Wran introduced the 1979 Planning Act which Carr and Iemma later trashed. Unsworth gun control laws lost a 1988 election but was the right thing to do not least after Port Authur massacre.  As regards Carr's national parks, see Wong above re woodchippers gifted 3/4 of forest at risk for 1/4 protected. That's not green hence the huge PR tv spend in 1999 by the NSW ALP to sell that particular big lie.

5A. Carefully note, the left sidebar story re ICAC access to McGurk tapes. Is this the real driver of internal ministerial reshuffles and disinfecting sunlight on developer donations and ministers "the public can have confidence in"?  That the factional bosses and backroom boys know of scandals to come and moving the furniture before the sheriff arrives - so to speak?

6. PM Rudd similar solidarity imagery with Rees. What does tribe Labor know about evidence to ICAC in the McGurk tapes, Della Bosca etc?

7. First Tuesday in November is ‘take out the trash day’ for Defence re incompetence and lack of leadership were key factors in the death in action of an Aussie Digger in Afghanistan, to paraphrase Sydney Daily Telegraph.

8. Cynical bushfire rhetoric on Sixty Minutes last Sunday totally misconceives the role of moisture/lack thereof in forest landscapes. More here Bushfire science. Logging industry gets free pass again on massive transformation of moist forest types to dry schlerophyll mega fire fuel. This process has gone on for 50 years and now the logger-woodchippers like David Packham and allies trashing wet areas of East Gippsland (with 800 year old trees) dare to claim the high moral ground on hazard reduction HR burns. Grotesque hypocrisy. Hopeless big media bias exploiting country people's genuine fears. And yes we are in a bushfire zone, and built a bunker last winter for a handicapped tenant.

9. The Oz glossy earlier 2009 (shown above) re Minister Wong trashed ¾ of unprotected forest in NSW with sellout to logger corporates and industry in the 90ies. So what else is new in the ETS negotations 10 years later? Absolutely nothing. The public interest is being trashed only mitigated with such as NSW decision for a 7 year gross feed in tariff to promote roof top power stations.

10. Clark & Dawe do the job for the otherwise respected ABC news machine, as the only section of the national broadcaster with the guts to report albeit by satire the actual 4,500,000 litre oil spill in the Timor Sea north west Australia. Interestingly Paul Bongiorno of MTP 10 was the only outlet in SE Australia carrying the right metric last Sunday.

11. The Senate estimates economics committee 21 Oct 2009 heard

12. Strong string on corporate welfare of carbon capture sequestration CCS on New Matilda by Ben Eltham. See our link added there to Norway Petroleum Saftey Authority.

13. Riley Diary and Oakes interview increasingly head on clash scheduling these day. Inconvenient really without taping one or other.14. On a personal note a buzz cut never worked so well in this hot weather, the ¼ may become a 1/8 soon.  

10 Meet the Press:  8- 8-30 am 

Hugh Rimington in the chair [ex squeeze of Stot back years ago], package preface is refugee with MT sledging govt, Minchin denialism on anthropogenic global warming AGW.Tanner soporific guest. Breaking news of two refugees shot by Indonesian authorities etc. Walsh [redneck] sledge of PM, Ray re Rudd Nelson column aspect. Brittle loyalty to Rudd? Tanner sophistry about how govt has evolved [actually major party corporatism as Greens genuine grassroots democracy hunts their corruption].  

T argues ETS postpone agriculture for 5 years, hedges on done deal [in press today]. Humour out take Gillard can’t cook.

Panel is Hewitt and Lewis both of News Corp. ETS deal making discussed. Tanner runs web pressure on books as real competitive pressure. Walsh attack on Rudd raised again. Humour out take at expense of Rudd hairdryer man ‘lest we forget’.


Adbreak Pages River Stop Bichham Coal Mine advert. Grab from PM Rudd, Graeme Bradley Business Council of Australia – looks like a mild mannered character, on ETS topic. More compensation. BCA on electricity, coal, trade exposed sectors [the whole point of the ETS].

Meet The Press - Watch Political Video Online - Channel TEN.


Riley Diary 7, from 8.40am 

Albanese car door mishap, foreign affairs alphabet soup, Rudd wank in Afghanistan inclusive of shaggy dog story. Fairly negative package for the Govt.



9 Sunday newshour Laurie Oakes interview 8.44 am 

Missed first quip/barb. ETS main topic re agri ‘indefinite suspension’ from ETS [which is about as solid as a rubber shovel] get out for Turnbull and Govt vis-à-vis country Australia. Move on finally to “border protection” policy [meaning refugee policy]. Minchin on 4 Corners re denialism of climate change. Says shadow cabinet discipline. Great riposte re Minchin sees CC as global leftist conspiracy.


Fearmongering re “open borders”. Argues Rudd (red) carpet for “people smugglers”. Oakes says going for redneck/Rudd vote?


[All a distraction from huge immigration levels which Turnbull supports, unqualified. Won’t cut that to allow for more refugees. Pathetic fearmongering and dishonesty. At least Rudd and Tanner say they support 35M population which is deeply unpopular too.]


Dissension in Liberal Party re cruelty to genuine refugees (Troeth, Georgiou), and didn’t take to party room. Says he knows and supported by party room.


Interview runs right to 9 am boundary. Turnbull trivializing Oakes as “affable pussycat” meant lightly but jarrs. Political killing season says Oakes?





Insiders 2: 9- 10am


News update re Rudd in Asia with Mark Simpkin who is competent. Package on ‘Goodbye Bligh’ on ‘travesty Traveston Dam’. Footage of Garrett bolstering tarnished reputation. Jarring segue to book pricing issue. Allan Fels argues little people case when it’s really the big book retail chains who wanted it. Fels [gets his retail pricing wrong ] re Dan Brown The last symbol, [wrong as per SMH letters page].


Media round up: Fran Kelly re ETS agri exemption, agrees personally, turning on hard to measure. A lot of pressure on Nats, make money from offsets. Meglo on auditor critique re advertising for stimulus. Good kicking for unclear. Stuchberry emboldened with powers to select their own ministers unlike Wran or Carr. Grabbed the power ‘do or die’. Argues Tripodi may be dumped – FK says would be amazed if that happens (despite polling).


Grab re Rees public have “full confidence” in their ministers. [Is this the Orkopolous scandal/outrage catch up finally by the ALP?]


Book policy re vested interests versus broader interest?  


Guest is Minister Wong re ETS looking very haughty and satisfied. Concession made by govt important to the Opposition [bone to Turnbull keep him propped up versus Minchin/Joyce et al]. Challenged on Mary River Dam decision, Wong backs Garrett decision. [Ironic as each speaks on other’s portfolio). Refugee issue, begs off not her portfolio and talks out boilerplate. “Good to speak with you” which is a mindless Ruddism on her part.


Vox pop re books at sculpture by sea. Most people agree online is the cheaper method. Lose identity without local support.


Books, dams discussed. Qld electoral dynamics analysed by Meglo. Defends ‘rogue’ poll. Pat Oliphant guest on cartooning with Fiona Katsoukis. Final comments FK and Meglo re Copenhagen trumps Australia ETS big time. Stutch on stimulus, school halls. “Penny is wrong” re ETS significance says FK [ouch].




Inside Business with Alan Kohler 

Alan on an overdue diet perhaps? Mostly about nbn, ie national broadband network postures.

Refer http://www.abc.net.au/insidebusiness/ 


Posted by editor at 10:35 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 15 November 2009 11:03 AM EADT
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Michael Usher dons the Richard Carlton black hat at 60 Minutes 9
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: big media


Tabloid news 60 Minutes style. Get the ratings. Get the advertising. Richard Carlton died in recent years but during a retrospective for Australian 60 Minutes he used to refer to adopting "The Black Hat" whereby he would go in aggressive and confrontational as the bad cop to the good cop colleagues at the show.

Nine Network reporter Richard Carleton ... has died after suffering a suspected heart attack at Tasmania's Beaconsfield Gold Mine.

Now Michael Usher is there on the Australian version of satirical Frontline hair all coifured, challenging an alleged refugee smuggler from Indonesia. This was 2 weeks ago. Straight off Usher refers to "illegal immigrants" about the least journalistic term available. No Refugee Convention signatory. No compassion.

Here we go. It's a beat up. Sri Lanka civil war and Afghanistan War push factors don't exist. Newspoll (rogue poll?) has ALP Govt on the backfoot. Interview subject is a desperado brownie foreigner. Perfect for prejudice tv and tabloid sensation.



Come forward to last Sunday night. Usher traverses the diabiolical bushfire threat this summer. He sets on hazard reduction burning as the answer oblivious to the concept of fire weeds from transitional vegetation growth. Oblivious to high impact land use areas where bushfires usually arise - like private farm, like state forests, rather than conservation zones. With a belated reference to actual climate effects.

Usher notes in cavalier certainty a deceptive oft repeated forumula - 'fire needs fuel oxygen and ignition'. Well no it actually needs a fourth thing - lack of moisture. Low humidity. Climate micro and macro. The moisture that prevents hazard reduction burns in the first place over winter. What bushies call "Too juicy". Hence the limit of the formula.

And guess where his star guest David Packham came from originally: The loggging industry - which has spent the last 50 years destroying big wet old growth forest types for woodchips, and replacing it with dry schlerophyll forest. Not just a few trees. Whole landscapes. Hundreds of thousands of hectares. That is wet to dry. Absence of moisture. That turns forest litter into fuel. Thankyou logging industry. And do they have a guilty conscience whispering in their heart? You bet they do.

Any scapegoat will do to avoid addressing that history of landscape abuse.

Thankyou Mr Packham and Michael Usher for obscuring this profound reality.

Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Posted by editor at 11:44 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 11 November 2009 11:46 AM EADT
Andrew Bartlett, Clive Hamilton reveal what Peter Garrett can't say about major parties
Mood:  special
Topic: aust govt


The delightful news that Andrew Bartlett is committing to run for The Greens in a lower house seat in Brisbane, Qld, as former Democrats Senator, is a stark reminder of the lack of independence from the ALP of some senior environmental figures. A previous reminder was Clive Hamilton nominating with the Greens in ex Costello seat of Higgins by-election.

These public figures expose the hopeless lack of independence of 'team player' Peter Garrett as ALP Minister for Environment. And the fact the ALP are champions at pimping the environment - witness their coal policy dependence while spruiking a weak cap and trade regime.

Another, less well understood pro ALP figure, is Jeff Angel as director of the Total Environment Centre and favoured appointee to numerous NSW government committees. Angel is the brains behind the infamous and cynical Lake Cowal Environmental Trust Fund.  The LCETF is cover for the cyanide gold mine at the same location which has destroyed an ephemeral lake and water bird habitat in wet years.

Angel was in the news again yesterday complimenting the NSW ALP indeed excellent decision to support a gross feed in tariff for solar panels. Trouble is those who have struggled mightily for such an outcome were not quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald.

People like the solar energy activist academics Mark Diesendorf at UNSW, Dr Muriel Watt of UNSW or even Stuart White at UTS and no doubt others. But the lazy SMH goes with dial a quote Angel. He knows alot but he's undeserving, and undermines other environment groups for his own profile, and government access, and not just in our direct experience.

A story no doubt untold in Angel's alleged 'Insider account' published by the ABC. If we ever get the time we will read and deconstruct that for what it really is, probably with some choice primary documents over the same period. His book no doubt is an attempt to portray his legacy as he gets closer to retirement from his pro ALP perch.

The irony is surely that rough head Angel doesn't comprehend he is hardly the best presentation for the burgeoning NSW green movement in looks or voice but still wants that front man role. He's all chess, no charisma.

We know the ALP are anxious what to do once their man is gone from Sydney's TEC as the acceptable (ineffective?) face of the NSW green movement dependent on govt grants. Here's a hint - it's called Opposition.

Posted by editor at 11:05 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 11 November 2009 12:39 PM EADT
Meet The Press 10 do Media Watch's job on West Atlas oil spill figure
Mood:  loud
Topic: big media


Everyone enjoys Media Watch 'until they are on it'. Now we ask did the good and formidable Media Watch fall at the last hurdle in 2009?

Perhaps Media Watch won't enjoy this post either. A rolled gold case of apparent conflict of interest arose on the ABC national news machine this last 2 weeks. But Media Watch last episode for the year on Monday night didn't manage to cover half of it. Let us explain.

There was a cascade of embarrasing items on MW about Big Media in all it's diversity and MW would have have completed a strong showing with a swipe at it's own, you know for 'balance'.

What was the omission? Well it's this. ABC news constantly under report the actual metric of the West Atlas Oil spill over the last 10 weeks: A disaster putting strain on relations with East Timor, and Indonesian West Timor, fishing industry in north west Australia and environmentalists everywhere.

We could quote compelling chapter and verse of ABC alternatively going strong on the issue, and yet hashing the relevant metric on this story, and quite a bit is on SAM micro news here this last 2 weeks. But let's just go with this:

Meet The Press on Network 10 compere Paul Bongiorno last Sunday 8 am show refers to the 'four and half million litre oil spill' while interviewing guest Minister Peter Garrett. The figure is correct as a minimum based on the estimate conceded by company PTTEP at 400 barrels a day, much lower than some other estimates too.


Meet The Press 08/11/2009 seg 1 image

Meet The Press 08/11/2009 seg 1

Talks with Environment Minister Peter Garrett.

The same morning the ABC repeats in their 7.45am Sydney radio news (which covers Garrett home seat where he is most accountable, a coastal seat highly sensitised to oil spills) the wrong assertion of an oil spill of 'hundreds of thousands of litres'. Wrong number, wrong scale of disaster, wrong level of scrutiny and accountability.

Coincidentally, and we really do hope so, the ABC at this very same time since 4 November 2009 are promoting a funding pitch to the federal government to allow expansion of news services to Asia Pacific neighbours - like East Timor, West Timor, Indonesia etc. They have a good case too, unless their integrity of news is questionable:

The ABC and Australia’s strategic policy — playing our part Crikey Subscriber / Friday, 6 November 2009

Would neighbours get the wrong metric on West Altas oil spill? Last Sunday morning ABC radio prime news slot was only the last prompting several telephone calls to correct their ongoing errors. Calls direct to the radio news room from this writer. Direct to the office of the director of news also. So ABC can't say they aren't notified of the mistake in a corporate sense if not the MW show specifically.

Media Watch effectively fell at the last hurdle. And people (read parliamentarian(s)) know the ABC keep falling over the metric for the West Altas oil spill this last several weeks.

On 21st October 2009 sworn evidence was given to the Senate Estimates Committee by Fed Dept of Environment suggesting the oil spill could be as high as 2,000 barrels a day. That puts the oil spill at potentially 23.5 million litres, as if 4.5 million was not bad enough. And the ABC say, wrongly, it's hundreds of thousands of litres.

Heads should roll.


Postscript: The Greens have issued this presser yesterday:

Govt must investigate oil impacts on Indonesian fishers -

Greens release video footage by Indonesian fishers of oil-like substance and dying fish 

MEDIA RELEASE - Tuesday 10 November 2009

The Australian Greens have reiterated their calls for the Rudd Government to immediately send investigators to Indonesia to look into claims of impacts from the Montara oil spill on Indonesian fishing communities.

"The DVD sent to us this week by the West Timor Care Foundation is just one of many reports in the past several weeks about impacts of the oil spill on the people of Indonesia," the Greens Marine Issue Spokesperson, Senator Rachel Siewert said.

"Today, we again call on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to publicly commit to investigating these claims, including testing samples of oil that have been collected in Indonesian waters to determine whether the oil has come from the Montara leak.

"The video appears to show that oil is impacting on legal fishing grounds for Indonesian fishers.

"We have also heard reports of oil much closer to the Indonesian coast during the past several weeks - and as yet these reported sightings of oil and dead fish are apparently yet to be investigated by Australian authorities.

"We hear that fish is an important protein to many poor villages on the coast of Timor and Rote - if people are unable to fish, their diets, as well as incomes, suffer," Senator Siewert continued.

"We therefore cannot ignore the potential seriousness of this for our neighbour.

"The Greens intend to supply this DVD, as well as any other information that may be relevant, to the Government's inquiry - as soon as advice about how submissions may be made becomes available."

Note to editors: The DVD footage is available on request.

Posted by editor at 8:49 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 11 November 2009 9:29 AM EADT
Tort law aspect of googling around Rupert's Paywall?
Mood:  not sure
Topic: legal



We responded to this editorial on Crikey yesterday ....

 Dear Sole Subscriber,

Rupert Murdoch has had a lot to say lately about the internet, and how a modern media mogul might milk it for corporate gain.

Paywalls appear to be a key to the Sun King's strategic thinking, restrictions around content to squeeze micro-payments from an eager readership. We already have one right here at News Corp, Murdoch enthuses.

"We have it already with the Wall Street Journal. We have a wall, but it's not right to the ceiling. You can get, usually, the first paragraph from any story -- but if you're not a paying subscriber to WSJ.com all you get is a paragraph and a subscription form."

We hate to break this to you Rupert, but the WSJ doesn't so much have a paywall as a permeable membrane. You can read anything you like on the site, in full and for free.

This is how you do it:

  • Go to the site's home page (here it is).
  • Look for a story with one of the little key symbols next to the headlines. This denotes paywalled content.
  • Click on that headline. When the locked story page opens, cut and paste the headline of the story, in full, into the search bar of Google. Google will pull that story up to the top of its search page.
  • Click on that headline link and there, hey presto, is the story in full for free.

We point this out just by way of showing what a tricky thing these internets can be. Sorry Rupe, but there it is.

.... as follows ....

Sent: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 7:13 AM
Subject: your editorial, tort law and paywalls, for the future

I'd be a little cautious about that google method of going around a paywall, or promoting same. Forewarned is fore armed.
As true as it may be, it may be technically illegal to promote such a mechanism one day. Even if not currently, in the future.
Consider the tort (like negligence law but not negligence) called tortious interference in contractual relations.
So, say the News Corp website has a preface page saying, by opening this page you agree to our terms and conditions - no payment required. (A pretty common requirement on software downloads too, and who the hell reads them anyway.)
The terms and requirements tick the box would create 'a contract' - this is a technical issue itself (what is the contract?- Perhaps this: News corp provides webpage access to news precis, viewer agrees to terms and conditions like to not google around paywall, promise each way, contract? I do think so as former novice commerical litigator).
Now the viewer goes to news precis page, but now as a contractee not just a web surfer.
Now if other people (like Crikey etc) encourage a breach of the paywall then you will be exposed to a legal claim of tortious interference in contractual relations. That is you will have interfered in performance of a legal contract by tempting people into illegal non compliance. It looks quite arguable to me anyway. 
The tort originally was designed to prevent meddlesome third parties from frustrating normal commercial relations between folks as a public value in the emergence of capitalist society, but surely applies in the web 2.0 world.
And it probably matters not (?) if the interference is to the benefit of one or other party (by helping the viewer avoid the paywall fee).
Sure enforcement will be a big issue. But then the law is catching up with hackers too. Prison even.
Disclaimer: You will need to get your own legal advice. I don't have a principal solicitor in NSW only a restricted practising certificate and can't sell legal advice as a sole practitioner. Consider this an academic article.
Yours truly, Tom McLoughlin [Editor of this micro news website]

Posted by editor at 8:04 AM EADT
Sunday, 8 November 2009
Sunday political talkies: Defeated Howard emerges like Thing from the Swamp to hurt refugees
Mood:  accident prone
Topic: aust govt


Author’s general introductory note   

This is not a well packaged story. It’s a contemporaneous traverse of the Sunday television free to air political talkies indicating the agenda of Establishment interests: Better to know ones rivals and allies in Big Politics and Big Media. Perhaps the greatest utility is the headline synthesis above of the 3 or 4 shows followed in this session.


For actual transcripts and/or video feeds go to the programme web sites quoted including Riley Diary on 7. And note transcripts don’t really give you the image content value.


Other sources of pollie talkies on Sunday include SkyNews paytv Sunday Agenda, Radio National Monica Attard Sunday Profile show. And of course Sunday night shows SBS Dateline, Sixty Minutes and now Sunday Tonight on 7.  


Media backgrounders.  

1. ABC 7.45 am run wrong figures on oil spill ‘hundreds of thousands’. Meet the Press run the right level at 4.5 million litres even then low estimate at 400 barrels a day (conceded by company), Fed Dept says ‘up to 2,000’.


1A. Resources Minister Ferguson has done a lot of cynical bully boy tactics to shrink the true scale of the West Altas oil spill.


2. Ex PM Howard keen to talk about figleaf boat people issue, but not his promotion of record immigration levels. Says it all really. Big business donate to prop up competition for rental business (shops, housing) driven by … some 3-400K a year immigration when including student visa, and tourist overstayers etc. Better to take 50K refugees and cut economic immigration to 200K.


3. Howard also not keen to talk about the million deaths direct and indirect in Iraq for no weapons of mas destruction/deception. The man is monster with no credibility on foreign relations, let alone our biggest Muslim neighbour.


4. Our choice of headline relates specifically to the eyebrowed one John Howard with reddish visage in the middle pages of the Sunday Telegraph. A swamp thing.


4A. Big media complaining PM Rudd gave 14 interviews but didn’t say anything. In a hole stop digging. But can’t take his interview and complain about him saying what he wants to say. Something vaguely undemocratic about that. However shaky his message.  What might go better is if Rudd refered to ‘strong on people smugglers and fair go for refugees’ not humane so much as fair go which is strong Australian value.


5. John Hatton former cross bench MP in NSW on abc Stateline refers to ICAC as “a dud” for not getting to Maquarie St level of corruption. Says as many years on ICAC oversight committee ‘I know what corruption is. I know what evidence is’. As sponsor of critical Wood Royal Commission mid 90ies into police corruption Hatton has a lot of heft.


6. Regarding Cripps refer our backgrounder about Dixon Sands here on SAM involving it seems their counsel Jerold Cripps meeting Planning Dept fixer Haddad in 2000 for special favour/approval outside the normal planning system in 2000. Cripps became ICAC commissioner appointed by parliament via NSW Govt until this year. Hatton says ICAC has never got to ministerial level on planning scandals including after Wollongong systemic corruption.


7. By coincidence (?) the NSW Govt has advertised both main press this weeken for more Acting and full time Commissioners at the Land & Environment Court. And note our backgrounders here on C’er Brown approving a 20 year sandmine extension based on the wrong EIS submitted to the court, and ignoring evidence of a 40% exceedance from previous (dubious) approval. Bad, bad, bad.


8. Crikey’s blog Poll Bludger had the huge comment string and consequent deep analysis on the potentially ‘rogue’ Newspoll with over 2,000 comments with 500 in less than 12 hours.

9. New media conference at ABC late last week but there is still alot of angst about democratising the high paid old media judging by the gatekeeper sledging of expert bloggers, previously known by journalists as 'sources'.  

10 Meet the Press:  8- 8-30 am 

Promo preface is rip of Thin Red Line music and Miranda Otto cameo. Nice.


Lead in Swan on economic success to date, Hockey debt line, rate rise historically low. Turnbull rate of increase due to stimulus. Boat people re Newspoll, other polls not following.


Garrett is the guest. Press roundup. Business on tax review (?). Howard Sydney News Corp, Sex ed in Sydney Fairfax. Building green specs.

PG on boat people, argues Opposition lack of policy alternative. Boilerplate on sensationalism, subtlety, values, perspective. Burrow ACTU refugees safe haven.What’s wrong with safe haven at Christmas Island. Argues Indonesia joint approach.

Green specs for buildings. Argues lots of work being done. Humour out take


Adbreak with Pages River threat from Bickam coal mine advert again – Jack Thompson, Peter Andrews, high production values.


‘4.5 million litre oil spill’. Panel is Hall abc World Today, and Milne News Corp. Why no public inquiry? Avoids question, says option, strong terms of reference. Waffle answer. Up to Commissioner re public. [outrageous response.] Any reason at all for this to be private presses. Milne and Hall go hard and his ACF previous settings much greater concern. Garrett motor mouths it with no content. “Govt played it down” “Green Senator has a point.”


Won’t agree to publicity of any oil spill, only notifications to govt like secretive Puffin oil field secret for 7 weeks.


Sea rise debate, Lateline quotes scientists up to 6 metres by end of century. 750,000 structures in the coastal zone and 250 billion of value at risk.


Q on decision on Traveston Dam, release all documents about that? Statement reasons cross referencing but no release in effect. Waffle about understands emotion. Says reason not released by previous. Humour out take is Rudd picks Melb cup winner, and interest rates cartoon ‘is shocking’. Pages River threat from Bickam coal mine advert again – Jack Thompson, Peter Andrews, high production values.


Sri Lanka High Commissioner – denies anything to hide in leadership refusing to answer UN questions,  argues economic migrants not refugees in effect. Argues friends and and relatives welcoming them. Alex spokersperson “people smuggler”, deported from Canada, street gang in Toronto. Bats off Hall question, denial by Alex. What would happen to them on return? Brought to justice, if no offence let go. Pained expression from Eleanor Hall looks pained, knowing the slaughter that’s happened in SL.



Meet The Press - Watch Political Video Online - Channel TEN.


Riley Diary 7, from 8.40am 

Kevin hero worship theme with Spongebob squarepants  cartoon character, and PM Rudd on asylum/refugee issue, with PR old media offensive last week. Direct clash with Oakes interview.


9 Sunday newshour Laurie Oakes interview 8.44 am 

Cage match clash with Riley Diary. Barnaby Joyce National Party MP from Qld argues “illegal arrivals” treated tougher. Won’t say if pay for their own detention. Won’t say take back to Indonesia. Says take back to Sri Lanka as if “safe” there. [Joyce confirms he’s a killer in a suit given slaughter in SL to make that incredulous proposal]


Argues against ETS, gesture, massive tax. Argues no effect ‘pretty good scare campaign’. John Howard was wrong? Says yes. Tax prior to Copenhagen frothing about debt burden. Loses it with rats and mice urinating on something or other. Q re lack of team spirit from Joyce quoting shadow minister McFarlane. Q about Liberal Party discipline on Joyce? Sounds puzzled or even confused about the question, though member of LNP state division of federal Liberal Party.




Insiders 2: 9- 10am


Riley style package of Rudd PR media offensive re Newspoll changeover, with Idol winner guy soundtrack. Shocking horse winner Melb Cup, PM pick.


Akerman on panel re Howard 2 years later interview. Rests on record and Rudd is do nothing govt, same refugee policy. Middleton refers to failure to implement green energy on parliament. Marr re Rudd backed Rees yesterday.


Grab on Copenhagen pollie of some kind. Panel guest is Treasurer Swan live from London re G20 and sober economic reading globally. Boilerplate answers, competently,  and funny question about bunny hopping the economy like a teenage driver on the clutch.


Costello too strict as Future Fund board member. Defends Costello’s qualifications on FF despite different philosophy. For instance access to FF on NBN broadband $43 B project. Advises on investment plans. Compere goes hard on Costello ill suited to an ALP Govt.


Asylum seekers debate – quote of Barnaby Joyce. Marr notes psycho political aspect of boat people symbolism. Akerman says soft aka humane. Moderate style


New settlers 182K of which 2K will be boat people [doesn’t include tourist overstayers and student visas and working visas too as high as 300-400K]. Akerman argues Australians want an orderly refugee migration policy. Analyse Rudd interviews not saying anything new. 14 in interviews in 3 days but only once to most Australians. Rail against spin [big media can’t have it both ways making himself available and complaining about what he says?]


Paul Kelly on refugees boat policy is not working. Grab of Rudd at Lowy “very aggressive speech” re “stop putting Australia’s children at risk of climate change threats’ as if not interested in a deal.




Inside Business with Alan Kohler 

Refer http://www.abc.net.au/insidebusiness/ 


Posted by editor at 11:15 AM EADT
Friday, 6 November 2009
Crikey's Poll Bludger goes nuclear on latest Newspoll analysis
Mood:  surprised
Topic: independent media


Forget ABC Q & A clunky interactivity on Big Old Media. We saw the Establishment being paraded - again. Boilerplate posturing as usual.

If you really want a piercing commentary and analysis of the latest 'shocking newspoll' 7 points change around from ALP to Coalition with Greens no change, then go to Crikey.com.au Poll Bludger.

For educational purposes we read 550 comments on Tuesday, comments added since last Monday night. A which point we started going a bit mad. We noticed it was up to 950 yesterday morning. We well expect it over 1,000 today.

And once you weed out a few nongs and ideological comments and synthesise all the comments, it's very deep analysis. Maybe we have this synthesis approach down pat. Either way it's far more satisfying media experience to understand the truth of the Newspoll result which is driving most of the politics this week.

Better than Q & A last night, or naive questions on abc Cameron morning show cross to Alison Carabine, as enjoyable as those segments are.

Posted by editor at 9:45 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 6 November 2009 9:48 AM EADT

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