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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Monday, 15 February 2010
Glenn Milne's strangest non sequitur yet?
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: big media


The insulation controversy marches on, sadly. (The picture above is more to symbolise the role of greed in this situation than anything else.)

But we almost choked to read Glenn Milne run this opening line today in The Australian:

"more Australians have died as a result of the Rudd government's home insulation program, "administered" by Environment Minister Peter Garrett, than lost their lives in the Iraq war"

Now what the hell is the point of this weird compare and contrast?

Put aside 500K -1M deaths in Iraq, human beings but not Australians: The grotesque insensitivity puts xenophobia on a whole new level. Indeed 250-500K Sydney residents marched against the Iraq war in Feb 2003 exactly because they feared this disgusting outcome.

So what about the war 'in Iraq' that visited Australia with terrorist bombings in Bali #2? Jakarta hotel bombings? How many Australians killed there?

[Bali #1 with mass fatalities of Australians was in October 2002 some 5 months before the Iraq war commenced in March 2003. Bali #1 is probably better understood as Australia's 9/11 - attacked by Islamist fanatics, but then PM Howard was loudly posturing too about invading Iraq with POTUS Bush so one wonders the dynamic there. Refer Opposition leader Crean here 26 Jan 2003 : in "Crean Says Howard Has 'Gate-Crashed' Iraq War And Ignored UN" some 2 months prior to the invasion].

Australian blood has being spilled copiously have no doubt. At least in part, and arguably mainly, because of the Howard-Abbott Govt eager participation in the mad Iraq war.



Posted by editor at 9:17 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 15 February 2010 11:01 AM EADT
Exposed: Paul Sheehan's mix of fact and fiction echoing Cardinal Pell
Mood:  sad
Topic: globalWarming



Today's opinion piece by Paul Sheehan (Fairfax Sydney) - who it has to be said has major credibility/ethical problems for urging the Israeli war on Gaza without declaring secret Israeli funding, promoting a shonky bottled water product - has again got it badly wrong today.

The drum beat of misconceived non sequiturs and egotistical posturing by science gumbies marches on.

Here is Professor James Hansen of NASA responding to all the fakes and phonies on 9th Dec 2009 on our ABC Lateline show just prior to Copenhagen debacle. We highlight in bold the section on heat island effect and the NASA sourcing of global temperature metrics:


TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Now to our interview. Dr James Hansen heads NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Science. The institute has been publishing global temperature data since 1987 and is now one of the key sources of data for climate scientists.

Hansen's own testimony to the US Congress in 1988 brought world attention to global warming. His latest book Storms of my Grandchildren carries the subtitle, "The truth about the coming climate catastrophe and our last chance to save humanity".

He joins us from New York. Professor James Hansen, thanks for joining us.

JAMES HANSEN, CLIMATE SCIENTIST, NASA: Sure, glad to be with you.

TONY JONES: Now you're accusing governments of lying through their teeth even as they sign up to large emission reduction targets for Copenhagen. Why so pessimistic?

JAMES HANSEN: Well it's very easy to show that they are either lying or kidding themselves because all you have to do is look at the geophysical data. You know, the governments all around the world now agree that we're going to have to stabilise atmospheric composition, carbon dioxide in particular, at a relatively low level.

And if you look at how much carbon there is in oil, gas and coal, what you quickly realise is that oil and gas is already going to be enough to get us up to approximately the dangerous level. The only way we can solve the problem is by phasing out coal emissions and prohibiting unconventional fossil fuels like tar sands and oil shale.

But in fact, if you look at what's happening, the United States just signed an agreement with Canada to make a pipeline to carry oil from tar sands to the United States, and Australia is expanding its port facilities to export more coal.

And coal fired power plants are built all around the world. Oil is even being squeezed out of coal. So there's absolutely no way that the world can meet the kind of targets that they're talking about for future decades. So they're just putting out numbers, you know, goals which absolutely cannot be met.

If you're going to use that coal, then you would have to tell Russia to leave its gas in the ground and tell Saudi Arabia to leave its oil in the ground but nobody's proposing that and you know they wouldn't do it anyhow.

TONY JONES: You've also described the whole Copenhagen approach as fraudulent because of its, quote, "ineffectual cap and trade mechanism". Now why do you say global emissions trading won't work?

JAMES HANSEN: Well we can prove very easily that cap and trade with offsets is not going to work. We tried that with Kyoto and the global emissions actually accelerated, even the rate of growth increased after the Kyoto Protocol.

A few countries cut their emissions a bit but as long as the price of fossil fuels is the cheapest energy, then they're going to be used by somebody. So this cap in trade and offsets, that's, basically what this is, it's like the indulgences of the Middle Ages, when the Catholic Church would sell forgiveness for sins.

This was great for the bishops, they collected a lot of moolah, and it was great for the sinners, because they got forgiven and they could still go to heaven or at least they thought they could.

That's what's happening in Copenhagen. Developed countries are coming and they're looking for these offsets so they can continue business as usual, they can continue their sinning, but developing countries, well they're happy to go along with that if the developed countries give them some money, you know, for climate adaptation or for the offset mechanisms if that will result in some money going to developing countries.

So that's what's happening. You've got both parties making this kind of a deal, and who's getting the short end of the stick? Our children and grandchildren, because the emissions are not going to decline. In fact, they'll continue to increase. That's as plain as you can see that very easily.

TONY JONES: There's been a huge debate in Australia over emissions trading. Are you saying that even with the best will in the world an emissions trading scheme in Australia will be ineffectual.

JAMES HANSEN: Absolutely. These cap and trade trading schemes are a terrible idea. You can see what they do. They are a way to continue business as usual because they include these offsets, for example. They're not attacking the fundamental problem. Who they're good for is the big banks. In the United States it's going to be Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America, the trading companies.

They have trading groups within their bank who are very skilled and they're going to make money, and where does the money come from? It comes from the public. There will be increased energy prices, big banks will make money, but the problem will not be solved.

There will be little reduction in emissions. Unless you attack the fundamental problem, you cannot solve the problem. And the fundamental issue is that fossil fuels are the cheapest energy. You must put a price on carbon emissions.

And the way to do that, and to make it acceptable to the public and actually very beneficial to the public, is to return the money that's collected from a carbon tax, and that tax needs to be applied at the source, at the mine or the port of entry.

You then distribute that money to the public, so that they will have the money to invest in more efficient vehicles, in insulating their homes, and that would encourage innovations, innovators would develop carbon free or low carbon energy sources.

That's the way that you can drive the system to slowly phase out fossil fuels, but the cap and trade doesn't do that at all, and it's impossible. As long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, you're not going to phase them out.

TONY JONES: Now you've proposed what you call a uniform rising price on carbon; effectively a global carbon tax. Now it's a simple approach but it would require carbon tariffs to be levied against those who refuse to put a price on carbon. But isn't that a serious problem? Won't it lead to trade wars?

JAMES HANSEN: No, in fact it is far simpler. As we saw in the Kyoto Protocol, you cannot get all the countries to agree, you have to bribe them one by one to try to get them to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol or a Copenhagen follow up.

But, in the case of a carbon price, which is simple and honest, it's a much easier task. All you need to do is get the major players to agree to put a carbon price on. And then if any countries don't want to do it, well then you put a tariff on the products that you import from those countries that are made with fossil fuels.

In effect, most countries would then decide, well, we would rather have our internal carbon tax because then we get to collect the money rather than the other country. That is much simpler than cap and trade.

TONY JONES: Can we talk about the science of global warming and climate change now, because as we've gotten closer to Copenhagen, the sceptics have become much louder. There's been a fierce backlash against the science. What do you think is going on here?

JAMES HANSEN: Well, the science, as you know, has become very clear. The evidence for climate change around the world is widespread.
The Arctic Sea ice melting, glaciers receding all around the world, climate zones are shifting, the subtropics are expanding, and that's affecting Australia, by the way, as well as the south-west United States and the Mediterranean region, and that's a reason why we have more extremes, including heatwaves and fires.

But also, when we have rain, it is heavier, because warmer atmosphere holds more water vapour. We see the climate change all over the planet, there's no question about that.

TONY JONES: But why do you think there's been a revival of scepticism against the science? You must have been disturbed yourself recently by the leaked email exchanges between your fellow scientists at Britain's climate research unit.

Now sceptics are using these emails to support their case that scientists are trying to hoodwink us, that scientists are falsifying data or hiding away evidence that disproves their arguments.

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah, these are very desperate efforts by the contrarians and those who are supporting the business community that wants to continue business as usual. But, you know, the data that is used to determine the temperature change over the last century or so, that data is available to everybody.

If there was anything wrong with the analyses that showed the magnitude of this warming, don't you think that these contrarians would quickly show, do their own analysis and show that there really wasn't any warming? Of course not because they know very well.

You know, they've tried to examine or data and they did find one flaw, which turned out to be 3/100ths of a degree and was an easily explained mistake, but that's the kind of thing, they're looking for nitpicking. They try to find small things and then they question the integrity of the scientists.

But in fact, there's the evidence for climate change, and the analyses is very strong. It's true that in some of these email exchanges that some of the scientists did some things which I think they probably regret.

For example, we should always make our input data available to the community, to anybody, so that they can check our analysis. But, in fact, we've been doing that for many years, and as I say, nobody can find anything that disproves proves our analysis.

TONY JONES: Okay well one of the published emails we're talking about goes to the key part of the sceptics argument that since 1998, the hottest year on record, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere kept going up, but the temperature didn't keep going up with it.

Now you've been bombarded, I understand, with scores of messages along those lines from people who want you to repent and admit that global warming is a hoax. So how do you respond to them?

You know, if you look at this global temperature curve and smooth it over a few years you'll see that it's continued to increase over the last decade. And in fact, it's not true that 1998 was the warmest year. 2005 was the warmest year.

The British analysis shows 1998 as the warmest year because they exclude polar regions, because there are no weather stations there or very few. But there are other ways to estimate the temperature in the polar regions and in fact, because of the decreased sea ice in the Arctic it has been warmer and warmer in the Arctic.

And when you include these polar regions, it turns out that 2005 was the warmest year. And when you average over a few years you'll find that the temperature curve has continued up. And besides, you don't expect the temperature to go up every year.

There's a lot of natural variability in the system primarily due to the tropical El Nino/La Nina cycle. And now we are moving into the El Nino phase, so it's a pretty good bet that, first of all, this year is going to be one of the warmest years, 2009, and 2010 will probably be the warmest year on the record.

TONY JONES: Is there already evidence for that? I mean are you seeing early data from your global temperature recordings?

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah, we see the data up to now, and we know that the global temperature tends to lag a few months behind the tropical temperature. So it's because the El Nino started a few months ago, it's likely to have its greatest effect on 2010, but it's already having an effect this year making this year some place between the second and the fifth warmest, it depends on the November and December data, which we don't have yet.

Okay, can you tell us how the Goddard Institute takes and adjusts these global temperatures because sceptics claim that urban heat centres make a huge difference; that they distort global temperatures and they make it appear hotter that it really is.

So do you adjust, in your figures, for the urban heat zone effects?

JAMES HANSEN: We get data from three different sources and we now, in order to avoid criticisms from contrarians, we no longer make an adjustment. Even if we see there are eight stations in Alaska and seven of them have temperatures in the minus 30s and one of them says plus 35, which pretty obvious what happens, someone didn't put the minus sign there, we just, we don't correct that.

Instead we send an email or letter or a letter to the organisation that produces the data and say, you'd better check the Alaska temperatures, because we don't want to be blamed for changing anything. But as far as adjusting for urban effects, we have a very simple procedure.

We exclude urban locations, use rural locations to establish a trend, and that does eliminate - though urban stations do have more warming than the rural stations, and so we eliminate that effect simply by eliminating those stations, but it's very clear that the warming that we see is not urban, it's largest in Siberia, and in the Arctic and the Antarctic, and there aren't any cities there, and there's warming over the oceans, there are no cities there. So it's not urban warming that's just nonsense.

TONY JONES: Well if I understand you correctly your biggest fear now is that these built in temperature rises will trigger what you call feedback mechanisms. Can you explaining how they work, and what are the implications of them?

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah, well that's what makes climate a really dangerous situation, because of the inertia of the system. It takes the ocean a long time to warm up, it's four kilometres deep, and it takes icesheets a long time to get started to move, they're very thick and have a lot of inertia.

The problem is that as these changes begin to occur, and they are beginning to occur - Greenland is losing ice faster and faster and Antarctica is beginning to lose ice at a rate of about 150 cubic kilometres per year - as you get to a certain point, you can get to a point where the dynamics of the system begins to take over.

If the icesheets begin to collapse, by that time it's too late. You've passed the tipping point and the icesheet is going to end up in the ocean. So, that's one of the tipping points. Another one is methane hydrates. We're beginning to see methane bubble out of the tundra as it's melting.

There's a lot more methane hydrates on continental shelves. As the ocean warms that methane hydrate can also begin to release methane, which is a very strong greenhouse gas and can cause amplifying feedback which makes the global warming much larger.

And this is not idle speculation, because we can look at the history of the earth. And in past global warming events we have seen those kind of amplifying feedbacks which then make the change extremely large.

TONY JONES: Okay, well you're talking about what you find from the examination of ice core data. Is there a comparable period in history, the history of the planet that is, where warming accelerates due to these feedback mechanisms, and do you get much more rapid sea level rises during that period?

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah, well, in the relatively recent paleoclimate, coming from the last ice age to the present interglacial period that we've been living in for 10,000 years, when that icesheet, the big icesheet on North America began to disintegrate, sea level went up five metres per century. That's one meter every 20 years for several centuries. So once an icesheet begins to melt and begins to disintegrate, things can move very rapidly.

TONY JONES: Okay let's go quickly through a couple of the other key arguments put forward by the sceptics. Why worry about carbon dioxide when water vapour is a stronger greenhouse gas and actually occurs naturally?

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah, that's the screwiest argument which keeps being made again and again and again. The amount of water vapour in the atmosphere is determined by the atmosphere's temperature, everyone should know that. Look at the difference between winter and summer.

As you go to a warmer climate the atmosphere holds more water vapour because at the places where the humidity reaches 100 per cent the water vapour falls out as water or snow. And therefore, as the planet becomes warmer, the atmosphere holds more water vapour.

That's why we get heavier rain falls as the planet gets warmer. So this water vapour is an amplifying feedback. It makes the greenhouse effect much stronger. But it's not something that just changes on its own accord; it changes in response to the temperature changes.

TONY JONES: Okay, if I understand it correctly your argument is that climate change is not only about droughts, but that effect you're talking about will cause much more frequent and much more severe storms; is that correct?

JAMES HANSEN: Yeah, the, both extremes of the hydrologic cycle must increase, become more intense as the planet becomes warmer. At the times and places where it's dry, the increased heating of the surface makes it hotter and drier.

On the other hand, the oceans, the places where you have water, the increased heating evaporates more water, so the atmosphere holds more water vapour and at the times when you get rainfall you will get heavier rainfall and greater floods, so the extremes of the climate increase, the extremes of the hydrologic cycle.

Now as far as storms are concerned, the storms that are driven by latent heat - that means thunderstorms, tornados, tropical storms - the strongest ones will get stronger because there's more fuel. The water vapour provides the fuel for those types of storms.

Not all of them will be stronger, but the strongest ones will be stronger than the strongest ones now. But in addition to that, and one thing I talk about in my book, Storms of my Grandchildren, I'm talking about the mid-latitude storms, the fact that as the icesheets on Greenland and Antarctica begin to melt more rapidly than they are now, they will discharge ice fast enough that it will cool the surface of the ocean, nearby ocean, in the North Atlantic and in the circum Antarctic Ocean.

That will cause the temperature gradient between low latitudes and high latitudes to increase, so the storms that are driven by horizontal temperature gradients will become stronger, and these can be very damaging storms, this is like the storms that hit the Netherlands and England in the 1950.

They can do enormous damage. So, yes, it's true that all the storms that we can think of will become stronger as the climate becomes warmer.

TONY JONES: James Hansen, one final question: what's your estimate; how long do we have before the planet reaches one of those tipping points that you're talking about and global warming is irreversible? And if that happens, what are the consequences?

JAMES HANSEN: Well, you know, we are probably, we're already into the dangerous level of carbon dioxide and it's going to increase more. If we would phase out the coal emissions over the next 20 years, then CO2 would peak at something like 425ppm.

Doesn't look like we're starting to phase out coal though, so it may go higher than that. We're going to go well into the dangerous zone, and some things are going to happen out of our control. But that doesn't mean we should give up, because whether we get a sea level rise of one metre, or 25 metres makes a huge difference.

What we will need to do once people really see what's happening, is we're going to need to restore the planet's energy balance, or make it negative, and you do that by reducing the amount of these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and so the planet begins to cool off a bit.

And then, even though we're going to get some icesheet disintegration anyhow and we're going to lose some species because we're already pushing some of them, we're putting a lot of stress on many species, but we don't, that doesn't mean we should give up and decide we're willing to give up all of them.

TONY JONES: James Hansen, we're going to have to leave it there. We thank you very much for coming to join us right on the eve of the Copenhagen conference.

JAMES HANSEN: Thank you for listening. Thanks.

Posted by editor at 8:30 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 15 February 2010 8:48 AM EADT
Sunday, 14 February 2010
Sunday tv talkies: What a choice - loud mouth Abbott versus burnout Rudd?
Mood:  chatty
Topic: aust govt

  Picture: Barry Cassidy compere of Insiders ABC TV: Call us speculative but BC looked a bit annoyed the PM was on Meet The Press at 10, and ABC's own Q&A but still no show on his premier Sunday tv show. Well not so much annoyed as angry. 


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.  

Some images from last week:  

Picture above: A frothing Sophie Mirabella MP Victoria's redneck answer to Barnaby Joyce?

Picture above: Louise Markus MP (Liberal) at left, outside Windsor Railway at 7 am earlier this week with a Tony Abbott climate 'direct action' pamphlet. And notice the upgrade works - upgrade infrastructure to support Richmond RAAF base as 2nd airport?


And not to forget the egregious Cardinal Pell (below) doing the devil's work hand in glove with the barbarians who drove Leonardo Da Vinci and other champions of science to despair in centuries past:


Just one example from the dissembling articles above: Pell says the globe was warmer in Roman Times, but ignores the much faster rate of change in recent decades as per profound NASA graph below. That is unnatural rate of change. It's sly commentary like that makes Pell a simpleton or a cynic putting millions of lives in jeopardy by promoting dangerous climate change denialism.



10 Meet the Press:  8- 8-30 am 

Opening footage Abbott Rudd Garrett re increase polls for Opposition and insulation controversy. Press round up: Brumby holds safe seat, Bligh in Qld on skids. Quotes Garrett scandal story in Sydney Sunday Telegraph – but it’s hidden away in our copy.


PM Rudd is main guest – “industrial manslaughter” raised re Garrett. 138K industrial accidents, 130 deaths per year investigated. Accusation by Abbott extremely poor judgement. Waiting for police, coronial, safety authority.


2 core issues – 2002 standard on foil insulation. Training standards – introduced by Garrett. Prejudging by Abbott. Redesign, good idea gone bad? Huge programme wait for authorities.


ETS on climate – sticks by it like 35 other advanced economies.


Panel is Hewitt and Farr both of News Corp – health compromise with the States. Says wants to get it right. [obviously GFC has crueled the implementation – should just say it?] Farr goes on immigration for mainland processing.


Viewer question homelessness. Earnest response. Farr question about his “credibility problem”. Quotes GFC, hundreds of promises kept. Afghanistan


Overall PM Rudd looks tired.


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


Riley Diary 7, from 8.40am 

Abbott iron man theme. Interesting footage. Garrett “massive botch up” on insulation. Chats after – Garrett keeping his job. Tactically PG has done well. But practically still big problem beyond politically. Sullied the whole industry due to cowboys. [Riley exaggerates ‘4 deaths’ as if ‘foil over bare wires’]. 



9 Sunday newshour Laurie Oakes interview 8.44 am 

Winter Olympics so no LO interview. Refer Sydney Daily Telegraph Saturday column.





Insiders 2: 9- 10am


Shabbiest week in Rudd Govt history starting with Q&A PM appearance, business unhappy, Garrett in trouble. [Barry Cassidy upset over PM appearing on Meet The Press earlier today. Everywhere including ABC except Insiders.


Riley style package Rudd getting sledged, Barnaby Joyce sledged, ALP Perrett MP stupidity. Abbott says Joyce hasn’t killed anyone with a policy. [But he wants to by cutting aid budget, as Abbott has with Iraq policy]. Garrett sound track.


Press roundup: Toohey - Conroy story about $250M license fee cancelled for free to air networks. Meglo says bankrupt economy if bailout every company after GFC. Brumby on racism. Middleton on Bligh polls, next election 2012.


Talent is Chris Pyne MP manager Opposition business on Garrett insulation programme. Call to suspend. [Motive to call off stimulus or safety? Opportunism now?] Relies on ministerial responsibility – Abbott record employer employee responsibility. What about Joyce heart of economic credibility. Pyne argues double standard re Keating on US debt [doesn’t wash]. Pyne flip flops on $250M fee cancelled to tv networks.


Panel on Garrett, Joyce, various


Meglo refers to indications of PM Rudd early burnout. [Compared I suppose to Abbott dangerously energetic empty vessel]




Inside Business with Alan Kohler  .

Kloppers on China resources client, CEO Pimco global bond traders.


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


Posted by editor at 1:54 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 14 February 2010 1:58 PM EADT
High class barrister Tania Evers wins defamation case against News Ltd?
Mood:  not sure
Topic: legal

We received a copy of this recently, which apparently ran on the Sydney Daily Telegraph website late afternoon last Tuesday 9th Feb. It may have run in print the next day but we didn't see it.


Which looks to be an echo of Fairfax blunder 2 years previously here:

Apology to Tania Evers - National - smh.com.au 2 May 2008

SAM was closely following this big media conflict with a leading human rights and social justice advocate about 2 years ago. We may have stayed out of print at the time but recall talking to Ms Evers about the brutal approach News Ltd take to inconvenient facts. It relates indirectly to Evers challenging legal work like this:

Erosion of the Accused's Rights in Sexual Assault Cases by Tania Evers

We first became aware of her through a reference from the Intellectual Disability Rights Service (refer penultimate story) who were most impressed with her competence and honesty.

Posted by editor at 1:02 PM EADT
Saturday, 13 February 2010
When the legal system works to protect the vulnerable ...
Mood:  special
Topic: legal

Picture: Carol and friends have lunch at Wesley Mission in Pitt Street Sydney. Photo by Tom McLoughlin.

By all normal expectations Carol should be dead, according to her own prediction. "When daddy dies I won't be here anymore".

This was the grim conversation we had with special needs greenie volunteer and art lover Carol 4 years ago. It still chokes us up to think about it.

A chronic generally harmless schizophrenic, she still manages to live independently, with an enormous survival instinct that honours both her deceased parents, survivors of the Holocaust.

"No. Carol, listen to me. Your life belongs to you. No one else. You have your own life after your dad dies." Seems no one ever told Carol this before explicitly or implicitly. Seems that's all 'the permission' Carol needed too.

In an early legal skirmish driving to the Guardianship Tribunal another moving conversation "Carol do you trust me?" "Yes". So that's what that oath back in 1990 being admitted as a solicitor in NSW was all about: An officer of the court albeit a shadow of 'The Street Lawyer' as author John Grisham describes them (a talking book on  recent drive to Canberra).

After chucking the suburban lawyer (our erstwhile principal) option we conferred with the good people at Intellectual Disability Rights Service. Who is "honest and competent" in this area? First referral was to barrister Tania Evers who sees us gratis in Martin Place office but she is overloaded. Next stop is Pam Suttor a member of the Law Society Council, currently convalescing from a serious back problem.

When we met Pam first she was in the main office at $450 an hour presiding over the boutique firm in York St like a cross between the Face of Boe and Jabba the Hut - an eternity of experience.

Much evidence and failed settlement conference later we came to the court hearing.

This week Carol represented by solicitors L Rundle & Co, principal Pam Sutter, lawyers Chris Windeyer (yes that famous name), and team, with barrister silk Chris Simpson SC achieved a judgement from Justice Ward in the NSW Supreme Court in favour of Carol. Out of the 12 parties in the Family Provision Act litigation involving $800K in legal costs (for all parties) over a family estate of perhaps $8 to 16M in size, Carol had the strongest case with her special needs.

L Rundle and barrister Simpson are yet to be paid anything for their 3 years of legal slog. They will be properly compensated out of the estate but they took the risk too for several years. I call that above and beyond the call of duty.

As did this writer signing the costs agreement for Carol which could lead to bankruptcy, being struck off etc

Carol was awarded a judgement of around $1.26M yesterday 12 February 2010  and we were honoured to be her pro bono legal tutor/next friend in the legal process. She has always been 'our people' as a greenie even as a conservative reader of The Australian.

In the course of the judgement hard nosed commercial legal veteran Justice Julie Ward, , said "..in Carol's case ... her normal life expectancy ... is around 41 years". Justice Ward then carved up both the legal arguments, evidence and estate of the parties according to their merit and needs and the legislation. In a 133 page double spaced judgement after a 4 day hearing mid December 2009. We guessed earlier this week in writing a $1.5M result for Carol, and perhaps the lower result down from $2M claimed resulted from a reduced "notional estate" around technicalities of survivorship/joint ownership of shares etc. A win for the wealthy step family.

Even so there is provision for current and future aged care accomodation, supervision and medical costs all itemised at paragraph 371 of the judgement. We are very confident there will be no appeal. The fund will be securely managed by the Public Trustee.

The law was moderating the cold dead hand still reaching out from the grave. Rest in peace daddy, the living will take it from here: Friends, legal respresentatives, public trustee, siblings, step brothers, other relatives .... and the law. Justice was done.


Posted by editor at 10:20 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 13 February 2010 11:31 AM EADT
Thursday, 11 February 2010
Uh oh SAM micro news stats counter has gone AWOL
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: independent media

Either our host server or some other bug has intervened in our daily stats counter. We were curious given activity in the last week but a big fat zero is the result. This isn't real because as a lawyer you get to learn that extreme results are usually impossible. A low or high number is more like it, zero is not. Sure enough the menu indicates the counter has frozen at 8th Feb 2010.

One sledge too many of the News Corp mega machine? One hopes not.

Such is life. Here is a screen shot extract telling the story:


Postscript - seems our counter is back after crashing 9, 10 Feb 2010. 1250 page views for 11 Feb 2010. Welcome back! 


Posted by editor at 10:53 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 12 February 2010 8:48 PM EADT
Teenage deaths, public policy and hypocrisy
Mood:  sad
Topic: aust govt

Picture: Shadow minister Greg Hunt MP significantly gets the first question of the day ahead of his own leader Tony Abbott who no doubt authorised the special prominence for his new shadow minister: Did Peter Garrett kill teenage insulation installers with a bad safety framework?


Did Peter Garrett MP, Environment Minister act soon enough and effectively on a billion dollar programme to ensure electrical safety standards on foil insulation? We defer to others on that detail.

Last week we commented both here on SAM and The Australian about the role of government in megafire fatalities through misconceived logging land use policy. More of that below.

Yesterday early morning we broadcast an email to all federal MPs which we argue is indirectly related: It's not about insulation or even Peter Garrett but it is about death and public policy: Failure of the Howard Coalition inclusive of Opposition leader Abbott as junior minister to action the Cape York Land Use Agreement of 1996, in breach of an election promise. That failure to apply $40M implementation funds surely resulted in many indigenous deaths through failed socio economic policy 1996-2007.

Abbott was a junior MP in 1996 but by 2003 Abbott was a favoured son of a PM who hooked up Australia like a rail car to the USA-Bush illegal invasion of Iraq resulting in 500,000 to 1 million death.

Then we have the Australian Building & Construction Commission star chamber process for unionists insisting on tough safety regulation and interventions. An initiative of the Howard Abbott Govt.

Then we consider cutting Australia's aid budget as suggested by Joyce for the Opposition lately: How many preventable deaths would that cause in socio economic terms amongst our near neighbours - thousands?

Token restructure of Australian climate policy by the Coalition which arguably will result in 100 million climate refugees from Shanghai to Bangladesh in the next 50 years. With grim attrition rate in the millions?

Another shocking public policy outcome alluded to above - a 50 year history of systematic removal of wet old forests and their water cycle of sopping wet undergrowth through south eastern and south western Australia to be replaced by dustry dry wildfire loving schlerophyll regrowth. Over hundreds of thousands of hectares and now in climate shift we are reaping the whirlwind.

This analysis pulls the wings off the Tony Abbott / Barnaby Joyce 'angry man' populist juggernaut. They are the problem not the solution. Ironically Garrett too has a reputation in the NSW green movement for being absent without leave on the long running saga of wet old growth forest protection. Because it exposed the ALP-CFMEU complex when he would rather discuss nuclear weapons. As head of the ACF Garrett famously refused to attend a Sydney Town Meeting criticising Premier Bob Carr. The job was left to Green MPs.

Yet how many have died from megafire in dry regrowth schlerophyll - 173 in Victoria Feb 2009 alone. But Abbott and Joyce are just as guilty in a bipartisan fashion. It's called hypocrisy and we believe the whispering in their heart adds the extra grievance in the Opposition Leader's voice on the current issue of aluminium foil insulation.

May they rest in peace - all fatal victims of public policy.

And a true accounting of the insulation rollout to 1 million homes would also consider how many lives have been saved statistically speaking from safer living temperatures in the latest summer heatwave, especially for the most infirm and vulnerable. Because heat is indeed a killer.


We also detect another impetus to the Abbott bitterness toward Garrett - apart from the symmetry of offsetting attention on risky shadow finance minister Joyce: An expert report on northern Australia agricultural expansion has come back very modest which was a big agenda of Abbott on both Indigenous employment and appeasement of National Party big agri interests. He wants revenge and Garrett will do.


We have been wondering about legal causation - as a lawyer here. Are the Government bodies who subsidise every teenage apprentice wage also responsible for guarranteeing a safe work environment or is it at first instance the small business employer? And the small business professional association of employers? Or is it the govt provider of the wage subsidy? Obviously it's the employer at first instance. Then the professional regulators of that trade sector. That seems a reasonable parallel with financial subsidy for a consumer product like insulation. 

What grates a deal with us is the notion of Kelly ODwyer MP in her maiden speech only 2 days ago 'that government can't solve every problem' and yet they are expected to be on the shoulder of every small business insulation installer. Mmm. That's not very consistent by Ms O'Dwyer even if she is a paddy.

The sad conclusion we have come to, without excusing anyone legally or morally, is that government policy deals in life and death every day. There are winners and losers for real and this life is not a read through.



Posted by editor at 8:35 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 11 February 2010 11:45 AM EADT
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
Climate danger denialism in federal parliament yesterday
Mood:  sharp
Topic: aust govt

We took these screen prints in chronological order of the real politik drama of ex Opposition leader in parliament yesterday well reported in the big media press today. The images reflect first Turnbill speaking, then longer shot of Opposition benches relatively well attended in respectul silence.

Then clean skin first ever ('maiden') speech of Kelly ODwyer MP in Higgins ex staffer now MP after byelection for her boss and ex treasurer Costello, again with long shot. O'Dwyer said not one word on the dangers of climate change despite the high drama around her and the issue of the day. Quite a Polyanna effort and a cynical expenditure of political capital by the Opposition whip/leader to offset the coruscating words of Turnbull repudiating the new leader as economically irresponsible.

Then finally Abbott in question time first quietly as here and then at his usual angry aggressive self.


By coincidence Crikey.com.au Richard Farmer ran this NASA graphic of escalating global temperature with link embedded:




Posted by editor at 11:07 AM EADT
Sunday, 7 February 2010
Sunday tv talkies: Back to school for federal politicians unvarnished
Mood:  chatty
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. Memorial for Black Saturday Vic bushfires, and Silly season officially over.


2. Paddy McGuinness – G Biz column continues to blaze the trail for depth of ecological economics business reportage every weekend in the Sydney Morning Herald.


3. SAM has been smacking down loggers in The Australian in the form of Gary Johns and redneck alliance.


4. TWS internal ructions will see a town hall meeting in Melbourne next week (12?).


5. SAM exposed the poisoned water hole creek evil history of murder of Blacks in the 19C, and fight for water in dying Murray Darling Basin as informing the pro development push in Cape York wild rivers today.


6. Even with the various ezines, we renewed our crikey.com.au subscription for 2 years.


7. SAM here pulls 31K January pageview stats (5 stories per page).


10 Meet the Press:  8- 8-30 am 

 Bonge in chair, opening is Abbott and Rudd re climate. Detour on economic discred of Opp esp Joyce, ethics of namecalling, twit Monkton, humour out take Abbott “first time nerves” [referring to his teenage years again?]


Adbreak with Irwin kids food product.


Panel Grattan in yellow glow (cool MG), Marius Benson. Opener on debt, says GFC. [really western FC].


Benson on 160 staff on ETS wasteful? LT refers to 1/3 artic tundra melting – have to act. One small fact.  Grab of Abbott re 20B waste given GFC over. LT says equity issue.


MG re population at 36M, says real issue is bad planning. In favour of aiming big? Change migration rate – economics [so does support high immigration, high population].


Humour out take Kudelka climate donkey. Restart Black Saturday memorial day – Premier of Victoria Brumby. Normalcy? Loyalty to 3 levels of govt and reconstruction authority, rejects criticism. Indian victims of crime.


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


Riley Diary 7, from 8.40am 

Back to school, lots of Dr Evil themes.  Hanson Young most gracious. Abbott as direct action man. Bearded lady sledge of frothing Joyce. Q&A re Abbott carbon plan, notes Abbott simplicity approach. Good value.



9 Sunday newshour Laurie Oakes interview 8.44 am 

Q&A of Riley cuts into start on climate. Gillard is talent. Notes Obama backing off, senate approach. Notes Abbott “crap” view. Back to senate.


Gillard has grey streak in her hair, and smart enough to know it. Suggesting gravitas, experience. Compensation for families in climate deal.


Rudd verbal sludge, black belt in boredom. Compared to Abbott. Disagrees with premise. Abbott punches through a simple message. JG says economic risk. Notes Costello would never have him as a deputy. Joyce as finance misjudgement by TA. TA Joyce risk all over them in the election.


As Ed minister – loyal to My School – says 110 schools will get more targeted assistance.  On IR runs better than Opposition on Work Choices [3 years ago]. Says it will be the next election campaign too.


Hoist on petard of Rudd PM workers no disadvantaged, JG belt and braces. Gillard repeats guarantee, LO says Rudd flip flopping should be briefed.





Insiders 2: 9- 10am


Riley style action man package. With big hair rock music back to the school. MishaSchubert, Bolt, LenoreTaylor. Turnbull to cross the floor.  Bolt sure this is irrelevant [wrong – 2 Lib senators].


Talent is Tony Abbott looking predatory, Rudd preface footage being very humble. $10B is the appropriate – says enough evidence to be prudent. Problem as conviction politician. Spinning climate is crap comment as scientific  Not vast in terms of overall government budget. Frontier as short to medium term measure. Nothing wrong sensible medium term plan. Worried by Turnbull cross the floor?  Not, everything changed after Copenhagen. Obama has plan B, Rudd doesn’t. Like Obama moving to direct action.


BJ mistakes acceptable – he will be barnstorming marginal seats over Rudd’s great big tax. 65 and 67 retirement ages unrealistic in battlelines – when? Says Lib policy longer productive lives, incentives.


Offshore processing of refugees, deter risky boat trips. Christmas Island over crowded. Strong enough deterent. And so on re climate costs. Barry grateful


Wine tasting Tas group in vox pop. Stupid comments about speedos.


Panel discussion on contrasting climate policy. Taylor reckons Abbott no chance of light green vote. Agreement ETS is problematic without other top 5 adopting, taking other action. Monckton as extremist. Role of media in fair reporting. Bolt agrees Joyce is a mistake. Finance is Mr Sober but Joyce is go for the throat. Damning footage of Joyce mixing billions with millions and trillions. Voter notes his terrible “flippancy”.


Talking pictures. Warren drinking a latte – very funny Monckton Fin Review David Rowe pieces. A toast – not very hygienic.




Inside Business with Alan Kohler  .

Climate policy sharp end – Yallourn brown coal MD for TruEnergy Inc Ian McIndoe is talent. Convert to gas? Pace for 10 to 20 year policy. Capitalism risk – why pay out now? Ans – affect foreign investors in future, need for changeover.

Super resource tax being discussed.

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


Posted by editor at 10:29 AM EADT
Friday, 5 February 2010
Fran Bailey MP asleep during 50 years of wet forest conversion to dry schlerophyll?
Mood:  sharp
Topic: wildfires


Who plays politics out of a guilty conscience over the Victorian bushfire disaster? As we always say 'the government is the government, .... is the government', and in this we include bipartisan opposition figures who support woodchipping of huge old wet forests.

Main candidates today would be Fran Bailey MP, on ABC RN radio this morning and Sophie Mirabella MP (nee Panopoulos) in the federal parliament Matter of Public Importance motion yesterday.


As per the pictures in the penultimate story we have giant trees in parts of Victoria even today in wet forest types that obviously have lived for centuries without fatal wildfires. Wet areas resistant to wildfire.

But over the last 50 years highly mechanised logging has changed the majority of those landscapes to dry schlerophyll eucalyptus. Same species but hundreds of thousands of hectares of dry hot dusty regrowth that builds up wildfire on extreme risk days.

The question Bailey and Mirabella need to answer is Do you support an audit of logging impact on the water cycle in regional landscapes over the last 50 years?

They never will - because the whispering in their hearts tells them it's one major root cause of bushfire intensity because ..... it's moisture levels that makes the difference between a safe day and a very, very, very ordinary day.

To get a sense of the specific mechanism of redneck logging tradition ripping miosture out of the water cycle converting wet to dry landscape refer diagrams here: Bushfire science

and the tab here wildfires re more recent profound scientific evidence of logging and wildfire problems by Australian Professor Lindenmeyer et al.


Postscript: Will the egregious moderator at The Australian take our comment on this article today, rebutting this piece Black Saturday could happen again this month authored by "Max Rheese is secretary of the Victorian Lands Alliance, which includes the Australian Environment Foundation, Australian Motorcycle Trailriders Association, Australian Trail Horseriders Association, Mountain Cattlemen, Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, Victorian Association of Forest Industries, and the Victorian Game and Deerstalking Association." 

Will The Oz block me today? Let's see? And yes I did pile burns, bushfire bunker etc this last winter and know the feeling of insecurity if not the horror.

This resource industry front refuse to address their own record of trashing huge old wet forest types, ripping moisture out of the ancient forests. Moisture which is the true difference between safety and a very, very, very ordinary day. Hundreds of thousands of hectares over the last 50 years have been converted to dry, dusty, regrowth schlerophyll eucalypt. Thanks for nothing. And that's best science talking, not just common sense.

As the good book says, look to the log in your own eye.

Posted by editor at 8:37 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 5 February 2010 9:19 AM EADT

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