Secretary Clinton Must Reveal Final Recipient of Military Cargo

Amnesty USA [15/3/12]:

(Washington, D.C.) -- The U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command insisted this afternoon that a cargo of weapons with explosives on the ship MV Schippersgracht, in route to Port Said, would not be off-loaded in any Egyptian port. The statement came after Amnesty International raised concerns earlier today that if the weapons ended up in Egypt there was a substantial risk they would be used by security forces to commit serious human rights violations.

The U.S. authorities did confirm that the Dutch ship is carrying U.S. military cargo. But the United States refused to confirm the final destination or recipient of the weapons, citing security reasons, nor did they give assurances that the cargo would not end up in a country where the weapons are likely to be used to commit gross human rights violations.

This episode is a clear example of the urgent need for the establishment and implementation of an effective global Arms Trade Treaty, so that there can be transparency in arms transfers and rules to ensure that arms are not transferred from any country to forces who pose a substantial risk of using them to commit human rights violations.

Amnesty International is urging U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to clarify who is the final recipient of the latest cargo shipment and to give assurance that this and other U.S. military cargoes are not going to any country where the recipients are likely to use the weapons to facilitate serious human rights violations. The organization also calls on Secretary Clinton to stop funding Egypt's weapons purchases with U.S. military aid in any case where there is substantial risk those weapons would be used to violate human rights.

Between December 11, 2011 and February 5, 2012, the Egyptian Procurement Office (EPO) of the Armament Authority, Ministry of Defense, shipped a total of 349 tons of military and dual use equipment, with a value of at least $35 million, supplied on seven U.S.-flagged cargo ships managed by American President Lines Maritime Ltd. Equipment on these seven cargo ships included military spare parts and components for electronic equipment, tactical and support vehicles, tanker vehicles, armored vehicles and tanks, spare parts for AH-64 Apache, H-3 and SH-2G(E) helicopters.
Way Past Time To End Mandatory Detention
Rally at Brisbane Immigration Detention Centre (Pinkenba)
Image: @AndrewBartlett [17/3/12]
Enter Jonathan Shier
'Whose ABC? The Australian Broadcasting Corporation 1983 - 2006', K. S. Inglis [Black Inc., 2006]:
... A few weeks earlier than Jonathan Shier, and with no publicity, Donald McDonald had made his own approach to Canberra on behalf of Radio Australia. In 1998, a parliamentary committee most of whose members belonged to Coalition parties, judged the silencing of transmitters on Cox Peninsula, near Darwin, 'the most counterproductive and incomprehensible action in Australia's regional public relations'. And that was even before the Suharto government fell and the end of Indonesian rule over East Timor was in sight. In 1999, the overseas (now 'Asia-Pacific') service did secure the use of a transmitter in Taiwan that could reach most of southeast Asia, but only for two hours a day, and with no guarantee of continuity. To people in and byond the ABC and the Department of Foreign Affairs, the closing of Cox Peninsula appeared more and more incomprehensible. Not so to the relevant ministers, who put out bland compliments to Radio Australia for making good use of resources which, regretfully, they were unable to augment.
In mid-2000, the story took a startling turn. For an undisclosed sum, the government granted a ten-year lease on the Cox Peninsula transmitters, and sold the land on which they stood to an organisation named Christian Vision, whose Radio Christian Voice was dedicated to offering salvation by that medium. Cox Peninsula, once the source of the secular, liberal and diplomatic voice of Radio Australia, would now be transmitting a fundamentalist Christian message to the predominantly non-Christian multitudes of Asia. (For the time being, to those among them who could understand English.)
Donald McDonald's was among public voices deploring the transaction. Unlike some of them, he did not speculate about the likely response of Asian governments to this Australian-based spiritual incursion. His concern was simply that the deal would remove the possibility that one day, the transmitters would again be used by Radio Australia. McDonald was also pleading Radio Australia's cause in private, to John Howard, bypassing the ministers for communication and for foreign affairs. Believing that the plight of the nation's overseas broadcaster had now become a 'whole of government' issue, he made a personal approach to the prime minister, not in a conversation between friends on the telephone or at home, but by appointment in his Canberra office. This was the first time, he told me at the end of the year, that he had asked the prime minister to intercede on the ABC's behalf. McDonald asked Howard to authorise a modest supplementation of Radio Australia's revenue. On 8 August 2000, he could issue a media release in which he 'warmly welcomed the decision by the government to increase its funding commitment to Radio Australia.' The ABC would now 'examine transmission options, including Cox Peninsula, for the expansion of Radio Australia's Asian service'. Alexander Downer and Richard Alston put out a joint statement that day, announcing that Radio Australia's budget, currently just over $7 million, would be supplemented by $2.8 million. This decision was attributed to 'recent events' which had 'highlighted' the value of Australia's international broadcaster, with no word either on what those recent events were or why the ministers had not seen the light sooner. Radio Australia could now afford to buy time at Cox Peninsula from Christian Vision. ....
Government Explained [VIDEO]

An inquisitive alien visits the planet to check on our progress as a species, and gets into a conversation with the first person he meets. The alien discovers that we live under the rule of a thing called "government", and wants to understand more about what "government" is, what it does, and why it exists.

Produced and voiced by Graham Wright, based on part of the talk by Larken Rose at the Free Your Mind Conference 2011, which can be found here:

A 'Wikileaks' Party And #JA4Senate In The Australian Polity: Can Parliament Be 'Occupied'?

Peter Kemp WL Central [2/1/12]:

... Lawyers traditionally, rarely give free legal advice off the cuff in unfamiliar areas without 'due diligence' research. One case of that was the wrong investment advice given at a social function and a lawsuit that followed - moral, that's why you should never ask a lawyer at a party for free advice, you might have to sue - however, on this occasion the question was so intriguing, a quick check of the Commonwealth's Electoral Act section 163 and section 42/43 of the constitution revealed some relatively simple law:

s163 Qualifications for nomination [see Note 5]
(1) A person who:
(a) has reached the age of 18 years;
(b) is an Australian citizen; and
(c) is either:
(i) an elector entitled to vote at a House of Representatives election; or
(ii) a person qualified to become such an elector;
is qualified to be elected as a Senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

(2) A person is not entitled to be nominated for election as a Senator or a member of the House of Representatives unless the person is qualified under subsection (1).

Note 5 refers to sections 43 and 44 of the Australian Constitution:

43 Member of one House ineligible for other
A member of either House of the Parliament shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a member of the other House.

44 Disqualification
Any person who:
(i) Is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; or

(ii) Is attainted of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer; or

(iii) Is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent; or

(iv) Holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth; or

(v) Has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons;

shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

On the strength of this, without further ado*, this writer tweeted in the affirmative to the extent of the above.

For an excellent article on "Crime and Candidacy" in an Australian and international context (and with a summary of Australian state laws) click here

An excerpt:

In November 1962, South African activist Nelson Mandela was jailed for five years for incitement and leaving the country without a passport. In 1964, a sentence of life imprisonment for sabotage (an offence similar to treason) was added. In 1990, after years of political negotiations, he was freed from jail, and in 1994 was elected President of South Africa.(4)

In December 1997, the Mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, made a public speech during which he read a poem by an Islamic nationalist. As a result, a court subsequently found him guilty of 'inciting hatred based on religious differences', and he was jailed for four months in 1999.(5) Three years later, his political party-the Justice and Development Party-won the national elections in a massive landslide. Erdogan's past conviction, however, meant he was banned by the country's constitution from standing for parliament. In late 2002, the Turkish Parliament took the steps necessary to amend the constitution so that Erdogan could stand for election, and become Prime Minister.(6) He was then elected to parliament in a by-election on 10 March 2003, and immediately given the Prime Ministerial role.(7)

The above history is a strong indicator that laws which leave it for voters to 'disqualify' a candidate rather than the 'law' itself doing the disqualifying, is arguably by far, much more democratic.

Electors like jurors, often have an uncanny ability to recognise what is just and proper on the issue of criminality. Politicians whose 'crimes' are related to arrest for protest of putatively unjust laws clearly will have a better time with electors than politicians who cheat for example on their travel expenses. "Underdogs" such as Julian Assange facing the might of a Swedish legal system's powers under the European Arrest Warrant system and the wrath of the US Empire, appears to have found great support in Australia which is support I assert which will easily be transposed to political support of a candidacy.

Discarding with ease the opinions of those who would say Julian Assange has committed treason to the US and/or Australia, the operative words for disqualification pertinent to Julian Assange's case is serving a sentence of a year or more for Commonwealth or State offences. Clearly that precludes whatever happens in Sweden (or the USA for that matter.)

Having Julian Assange elected to the Senate would give him some advantages, at the very least the embarrassment of the Australian government having to communicate to whatever authority in Sweden - or the USA as the case may be - about 'Senator Assange' or, if ensconced in Parliament, the embarrassment for Attorney General Nicola Roxon if ASIO was found to have tapped Julian Assange's parliamentary phone and internet connection: however, one Senator is a drop in the bucket in the scheme of a two party virtual monopoly on political power in Australia, with the Senate being a 'House of Review' and representing partisan party interests rather than the intended constitutional interests of the States.

I anticipate seismic shifts, interesting and amusing scenarios/battles if Julian Assange is elected. Day one for example: "No, you not are allowed to connect a Tor relay server to the Parliamentary internet system. ASIO would have a collective heart attack."

On worthy sharing of skills among parliamentarians: "No, I will not be starting a Godwin Grech Crèche for parliamentarians to learn how to detect forged emails that were never sent."

A Wikileaks Party?

A 'Wikileaks Party' makes great sense. It is an eminently logical extension of Julian Assange's question - having other members in a formal party contesting (and winning) State and Federal elections in all houses. It is not only feasible but likely given the support levels in Australia. It will bring the 'battle' right inside the 'Houses' where government policy has effectively said: Leave Julian Assange to His Fate in Sweden and/or the USA.)

Australia's two party system and bicameral houses.

Minor parties in the Australian Federal parliament have always had a tough time surviving let alone retaining party status for example maintaining a minimum requirement of five members in House of Representatives and/or the Senate. Party status gives additional staff for members and additional travel allowances and benefits for party leaders. The Australian Democrats are a good example of a minor party who strongly established themselves in the Senate under the leadership of Don Chipp whose mantra was to Keep the bastards honest.

Over the years, with considerable destructive infighting being one major factor, the Democrats withered away, lost party status towards the end, and were extinct (federally) in 2008 after thirty years.

As one of those Democrat senators experienced, making the transition to the lower house is very difficult.

House of Representative ("HoR") seats are contested by preferential voting in electorates of approximate equal numbers of electors. It is far far harder for a minor party candidate or independent to win a majority of votes (inclusive of preferences) compared to a Senate seat with proportional representation. It is especially difficult for a strong independent candidate where the major two parties have done a Faustian deal with a preference swap. Those preferences are put on how to vote cards handed out by the party outside polling stations for those who follow the 'party' preferential line which may cruel the independent/minor party candidate, which is exactly what happened to Janine Haines.

That independents currently hold the balance of power in the House of Representatives is most unusual. Suffice it to say the reason those independents are there is another complex story, except to say simplistically, they mostly belonged to major parties, fell out due to eg being disendorsed, and continued successfully as independents for various different reasons such as charisma and demographic change.

This is not to say that a 'Wikileaks' party could not win seats in the lower house. The two party system some would say has perverted our politics such that there is often bipartisan policy on crucial issues (war for example, anti-terrorist legislation, being a lackey to the US) that the majority of Australians do not agree with from time to time (if not all the time on war in Iraq and Afghanistan), notwithstanding that a majority support the Australian/US Alliance.

If that is a reasonable assessment of political reality (which always has a 'liberal bias' according to Stephen Colbert) then it is also reasonable (and democratic) if people want to change the Tweedledum and Tweedledee bipartisanship on war that exists not only in Australia but elsewhere, and is always characterised over the last decade, it seems, by the movement of left and centre left parties to the centre right - note Obama of late squatting in GOP 'territory' and thereby pushing some GOP presidential candidates towards the right of Ghengis Khan.

A Wikileaks party could well contest the HoR and take advantage of these 'unusual' times.

There must be at least fifteen electorates across Australia (Possum Comitatus @Pollytics kindly advise) with a preponderance of young people who are favourable to Wikileaks, along with others including traditional two party supporters and swinging voters looking for an alternative to the status quo of the cacophony of insults and incessant interruptions that passes for debate these days in our Federal HoR along with negative politics and politicians beholden to the Murdocracy. Such voters might therefore support a 'Wikileaks' party perhaps sufficiently to win a significant number of lower house seats.

The lower hanging fruit for new parties is the Australian Senate, simply because of the proportional representation process of electing Senators.

The role, powers and compositions of the Senate

The powers of the two houses of the Commonwealth Parliament, the Senate and the House of Representatives, are defined by the Australian Constitution. All proposed laws (bills) must be passed by both houses. The Senate's law-making powers are equal to those of the House of Representatives except that it cannot introduce or amend proposed laws that authorise expenditure for the ordinary annual services of the government or that impose taxation. The Senate can, however, request that the House of Representatives make amendments to financial legislation and it can refuse to pass any bill.

Under the Constitution, each state of the Australian federation, regardless of its population, has an equal number of senators. This weighting of parliamentary representation in favour of less populous states was designed to ensure that their views were not neglected.

The Senate currently consists of 76 senators, elected by a system of proportional representation. Twelve senators represent each of the six states, elected for a period of six years. A system of rotation, however, ensures that half the Senate retires every three years. The four senators who represent the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory are elected concurrently with members of the House of Representatives and the duration of their terms of office coincide with those for that House (a maximum of three years).

The proportional system of voting used to elect senators ensures that the composition of the Senate more accurately reflects the votes of the electors than the method used to elect members of the House of Representatives. Proportional representation also makes it easier for independents and the candidates of the smaller parties to be elected. In recent decades this has meant that the government party usually does not have a majority of votes in the Senate and the non-government senators are able to use their combined voting power to reject or amend government legislation. The Senate's large and active committee system also enables senators to inquire into policy issues in depth and to scrutinize the way laws and policies are administered by ministers and public servants. The Senate is thus a house of review and a powerful check on the government of the day. Detailed analysis of election results makes it clear that many Australians deliberately cast their votes in Senate elections with this review role in mind.

What would be a Wikileaks party policy be like?

The former Democrats had a most democratic policy of members deciding policy, however there is a common policy that Wikileaks supporters inherently appreciate: the transparency that Wikileaks creates in leaking documents:

From the Wikileaks site:

Publishing improves transparency, and this transparency creates a better society for all people. Better scrutiny leads to reduced corruption and stronger democracies in all society’s institutions, including government, corporations and other organisations. A healthy, vibrant and inquisitive journalistic media plays a vital role in achieving these goals. We are part of that media.

Scrutiny requires information. Historically, information has been costly in terms of human life, human rights and economics. As a result of technical advances particularly the internet and cryptography - the risks of conveying important information can be lowered. In its landmark ruling on the Pentagon Papers, the US Supreme Court ruled that "only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government." We agree.

Politicians who endorse transparency in government; who promote the spread of information and not propaganda through the Parliaments of Australia; who honestly scrutinise the legislative instruments and organs of the state to combat injustice and prejudice; who properly represent the interests of all citizens without fear or favour of foreign powers: that's the kind of politician and a party so many of us would like to see.

This writer incidentally misses the wit of conviction politicians, even that warhorse, Anglophile and Australiaphobic Robert Gordon Menzies, prime minister of a bygone age, when accosted at a political gathering:

I wouldn't vote for you even if you were the Archangel Gabriel.

Madam, if I were the Archangel Gabriel, you wouldn't be in my constituency.

(Readers are invited to suggest a name for such a 'Wikileaks' party in comments below.)


Daily KOS [16/3/12]


Enemies Of The Internet

ABC Radio National Media Report [AUDIO - 16/3/12]:

Every year, Reporters Without Borders (RWP) publishes a report on internet enemies. This year's enemies include countries like Saudi Arabia, China and North Korea. But RWP also has a second "under surveillance" list, and Australia has made the list, joining the likes of Egypt, Russia, Kazakhstan and Malaysia. We look at why.

The Secret Motorman Files (And The Leveson Inquiry)

ABC Radio National Media Report [AUDIO - 16/3/12]:

The Leveson Inquiry is focussed on phone hacking but have you ever wondered where the papers got the numbers to hack in the first place? They may well have come from another tranche of secretly gathered information called Operation Motorman. Everyone at Fleet Street knows about Motorman but nobody talks about it.

Public Universities Plow Ahead With Construction Despite Tight Budgets

Jon Marcus, California Watch [14/3/12]:

Construction cranes sprout from the campus of UC San Diego like towering palm trees in the Southern California sun.

There’s a new engineering building under construction, and a new addition to the school of management. A new office building is now open, along with a new parking garage, biomedical research and marine labs, cardiovascular center, $400 million student apartment and dining complex, and $55 million music center. New clinical research and biological and physical sciences buildings are scheduled to get under way next year.

In all, $2 billion worth of brand-new facilities are in the planning, design, or construction stages at UCSD. The broader University of California system has more than 200 building projects under way at its 10 campuses and five medical centers, together valued at $8.9 billion. “The cement never dries on a UC campus,” Carolan Buckmaster, a researcher active in the UCSD faculty union, observed wryly. In the California State University system, $161 million worth of new construction is going up.

All of these new buildings seem an odd contradiction in a state that has cut billions of dollars in operating money from its public universities, which have responded by reducing enrollment, dramatically increasing tuition and laying off employees. And since there’s not enough money to operate them once they’re finished, they’re further stretching maintenance and energy budgets. At least one new campus building is sitting virtually empty and unused because the university can’t afford to run it.

University officials say all this construction was already in the pipeline before the 2008 economic downturn squeezed state spending for higher education. Some is being paid for by part of a $10.4 billion bond issue voters approved in 2006, for instance, from which more than $3 billion went to public higher education. Some is being underwritten by private donations, government research grants and student fees. About $1 billion came from bonds issued in 2009 under the federal stimulus program – which the universities will have to repay – and $325 million in bonds the UC system issued that year on its own. Individual campuses also issue their own bonds, and community colleges often get construction money from local bond issues.

More importantly, these officials say, the money for construction is kept in strictly separate capital, not operating, accounts. It can’t be used for expenses such as increasing salaries or enrollment.

But David Kline, spokesman for the California Taxpayers Association, said that, by insisting on continuing to build in spite of the financial downturn, the universities are missing the point. The cost of construction is ultimately bankrolled by taxpayers, Kline said. That’s because California’s public universities and colleges are now paying a staggering $1.1 billion a year in interest on those construction bonds, more than double the amount of 10 years ago, the Legislative Analyst’s Office reported in August.

“People discuss bond money as if it’s free money that isn’t coming out of the taxpayers’ pockets, and that’s exactly where it is coming from,” Kline said.

The universities also have to clean, heat, light, cool and maintain these new buildings, the burden of which comes out of hard-pressed operating budgets that were cut by $1.4 billion this year, including $650 million at UC.

“The universities seem to treat this like a birthday gift or something,” said Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, an independent national research organization. “But there is a pain associated with the maintenance of these new buildings.”

Universities are feeling that pain. At UC schools, student fees rose 18 percent this year, and 4,400 employees have been laid off and 3,570 positions eliminated since the beginning of the fiscal crisis.

The most glaring examples of what happens when universities put up buildings they can’t afford to operate is at UC Riverside, which finished one new $36 million building last year for a planned medical school and has another under construction. But it has had to push back the medical school’s opening to next year at the earliest because it doesn’t have the money to run it.

Officials are now scrambling to raise private donations to operate the school.

The $8.9 billion in construction under way now on the UC campuses compares to $5.1 billion worth of projects that were in design, planning, and construction 10 years ago. The new construction at nine of the 23 CSU campuses is also an increase from 10 years ago, when it had $153 million in projects under way.

What’s happening in California is part of a nationwide building boom at universities that shows no signs of abating, in spite of budget shortfalls, endowment declines, and seemingly stretched resources. America’s universities and colleges have built more than $11 billion worth of new facilities in each of the last two years – in the depths of the economic downturn – more than double what they did in 2000, according to the market-research firm McGraw-Hill Construction.

And the spending has continued at the same pace this year.

“What you’ve seen in California you’ll see in other places, too,” said Mary Vosevich, director of the Physical Plant Department at the University of New Mexico and president-elect of the national association of administrators whose members oversee campus buildings and grounds.

Critics are seeing it – and they’re not happy. While they say some construction is justified – at jam-packed community colleges, for instance, where enrollment is increasing – they contend that many new buildings are going up on campuses because financial donors want their names immortalized, university presidents like to leave legacies of brick and mortar, and admissions directors are battling for applicants they’re convinced are lured by shiny new amenities.

“You can go into any community and talk to somebody whose son or daughter either can’t get in or can’t finish (college) because they can’t get this or that course,” said David Wolf, co-founder of the Campaign for College Opportunity, which lobbies for higher education in California.“Meanwhile, they go on campus and there’s all that fresh cement. That’s embarrassing, and it’s wrong.” ....

Rainbow Over Ephraim Island, Gold Coast
Sunshine Coast Residents Ordered To Evacuate On Fears Of Looming "Media Monopoly"
We first became aware of the shocking news thanks to the ABC News 24 scrolling banner: "Newspapers' demise sparks media monopoly fears".
The obvious conclusion was that the creeping Murdoch monopoly had claimed another victim in yet another genuine local news outlet.
Looking for "fair and balanced" coverage, we tracked down the following story from the local 'Sunshine Coast Daily' [15/3/12]:

News Limited is shutting down its Quest newspapers on the Sunshine Coast, leaving dozens of people out of a job. The Daily understands editorial, advertising and administration staff were told this morning that the Journal papers were closing down.

News Limited today said the closures would affect the Caloundra, Maroochy and Noosa titles and the Weekender magazine.

The Noosa Journal and Weekender were acquired by News Limited in 2006 and 2007 and extended to include local editions in Maroochydore and Caloundra.

Next week's editions will be their last.

News Limited's managing director of newspapers and digital products Jerry Harris said:

"It is with regret that we are closing these titles, but with continuing slow trading conditions on the Sunshine Coast the reality is that they are no longer commercially viable.

"We have begun consultations with affected staff and intend to redeploy as many as we can into News' other operations in South East Queensland, but inevitably there will be a number of redundancies."

The news comes after rumours were swirling through the industry a couple of weeks ago that News' new CEO Kim Williams planned to move in on the loss-making Coast operation. Quest Newspapers had only launched Caloundra and Maroochy versions of its paper just over a year ago.

Daily editor in chief Mark Furler said he was saddened by the demise of the competitors, particularly given the loss of local jobs.

"It's never a good thing to see a newspaper close down,'' Mr Furler said.

The news comes as the Daily-run community newspapers are about to get a fresh, new look.

"We are proud of the fact that we produce such a diversity of newspapers from Caboolture to Noosa,'' Mr Furler said.

"We know that people in Caloundra, Kawana, Buderim, Maroochydore, Nambour, the Blackall Range, Coolum, Noosa, Bribie Island and Caboolture love having their own local newspaper.''

ACT Has Highest Acceptance Of Other Cultures:

ABS Media Release [16/3/12]

The 2010 General Social Survey (GSS) conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) was the first to inquire into adult's acceptance of other cultures. The survey asked about the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “It’s a good thing for a society to be made up of people from different cultures.”

Nationally, 80% of respondents indicated that they agreed or strongly agreed with this statement. ACT recorded the highest proportion of positive responses to the statement, with 87% agreeing. Tasmania (77%) and Queensland (76%) recorded the lowest positive rates. In general, older age groups were less likely to agree. Tasmanians (9%) and Queenslanders (8%) were the most likely to disagree or strongly disagree with the statement.

Tasmanians were the most likely to have been born in Australia (87%) and 86% reported that all or most of their friends were from the same ethnic background as they were themselves. The jurisdictions with the lowest percentage of people reporting that all or most of their friends were from the same ethnic background were the NT (67%) and Victoria (69%).

How people keep in touch with their friends also varied between States and Territories. Those from the Northern Territory (32%) were the most likely to report seeing, on a daily basis, either their friends or those family members living outside their home compared to the national average of 20%. Canberrans (75%) were the most likely to use Internet services such as email or chat rooms to keep in touch with family or friends living outside their home while Tasmanians (51%) were the least likely to use the Internet to contact friends and family.

Use of computers and the internet has risen sharply across all States and Territories between the 2006 and 2010 surveys. While still the least likely to use computers to access the Internet at home, the proportion of Tasmanians and South Australians accessing the Internet from home increased the most of any region. In 2010 72% of Tasmanians accessed the Internet from home, up from 52% in 2006. The proportion of South Australians increased from 54% to 73%. People in the ACT had the highest level of home-based Internet access in the country (88%).

Further information is available in General Social Survey: States & Territories, 2010 (cat. no. 4159.0.55.003), available for free download from the ABS website at

Occupy Brisbane Supports The Aboriginal Tent Embassy In Musgrave Park

We thank the Aboriginal peoples for their kindness and support of the Occupy Brisbane movement in our time of need and wish them all our best wishes, support and the help we can give.

If anyone has anything to donate to the site, please feel free to do so. They can always do with non-perishable foods or camping equipment, tents, sleeping bags, etc...

We were asked also if there was anyone with fire wood or a means for them to pick some up.

If you cannot donate, then please just go down and offer your support and let them know you care and support their cause. You will be made to feel most welcome by the community.

Breaking Her Silence

Sunday 18th March, 4:30pm on SBS ONE

Living Black returns with an exclusive interview with the woman at the centre of the Australia Day rage.

Join us at 4:30pm Sunday as Barbara Shaw speaks out for the first time about her role in protests that made international headlines.

Also this week, we investigate trouble in Cape York, as traditional owners accuse the State Government of a land rort.

Over in Kempsey, a late-night sport is helping young people stay out of trouble.

And don't miss Sydney songstress Nadeena Dixon's studio performance as The Music Project returns for 2012.

There's Still A Long Way To Go, Baby

The World Today, ['Culture Crisis In Defence' discussion, ABC - 16/3/12]:
... EMILY BOURKE: Adair Donaldson if I can ask you, there is this push to get things right right from the start with really strong education programs. That's for personnel coming in from the beginning but how do you retrofit values on the existing serving personnel?

ADAIR DONALDSON: [lawyer with a more than 20 years experience as an army reservist specialising in training and legal affairs]: There has been quite a few recommendations which have spoken about peer to peer training and that means rather than having someone separate like an equity and diversity officer or a lawyer or someone external coming in and delivering programs which I don't think have been successful. In the past I think the mandatory training of one size fits all, which is basically the annual training which they receive, hasn't been working. Where I think there's a greater chance to bring about change is where if we can get the junior NCO's and the junior officers to firstly be understanding the issues and why they're so important and then believing in those issues I suppose is a big thing from a cultural perspective and then passing that training onto their men.

EMILY BOURKE: And women.

ADAIR DONALDSON: Oh sorry, men and women of course. But we've seen something like this occur. If I can use the NRL as an example, they had a situation a number of years back with the Coffs Harbour incident where essentially they had to, you know they threw their hands up in the air and said we've got a huge cultural issue here. They opened it up, they brought in the likes of Karen Willis from the New South Wales Rape Crisis Centre and other very well credentialled women and they said how do we bring about change? And the way that they started doing it was they started at that mid-level with the mentors and got them to start understanding the issues and then they were then delivering that training to the new employees coming in. ...

eWaste Recyclathon, Burleigh: GCCC Media Release [15/3/12]

Council is encouraging anyone with old or unwanted computers and associated IT products to dispose of them at the eWaste Recyclathon, to be held at West Burleigh on Thursday 22 March.

“Computers, laptops, printers, and monitors are among the most difficult products to get rid of in an environmentally sustainable manner,” said Community and Cultural Development Chair, Councillor Bob La Castra.

“That’s why we are encouraging residents, businesses and schools to avail themselves of free programs like the recyclathon to clean out unwanted equipment that will be around 95 per cent recycled.

“The last thing we want is for all of these products to end up in land fill.”

The Gold Coast recyclathon is one in a series in Queensland that is being conducted by Buyequip, a Brisbane based e-waste recycling company.

The first of these was held in the Brisbane suburb of Indooroopilly where 10 tonnes of IT waste was collected, and the second and third in Redcliffe and Springwood where even more was collected. One Redcliffe school dropped off more than one tonne of unwanted computer equipment. ...

The recyclathon will be conducted at Officeworks, 50 Kortum Drive, West Burleigh from 10 am to 3.30 pm.
NB TVs and white goods will not be accepted at the recyclathon.

Organic Flavoured Cheese Scores National Win:

Dairy Australia [14/3/12]

Barambah Organics Labna with Fennel & Sea Salt was today named Australia’s champion flavoured cheese at Dairy Australia’s 2012 Australian Grand Dairy Awards (AGDA) in Melbourne.

Barambah Organics sources its fresh organic milk from its own farm at Glenarbon, situated on the Dumaresq River, on the border of New South Wales and Queensland.

This year’s AGDA saw 115 cheeses judged in nine classes with 218 other dairy products such as butter, cream, milk, ice-creams and gelato, and desserts and yogurts judged in another 11 classes.

AGDA’s chief judge Neil Willman praised the scope of this year’s awards.

“There are winners from all around Australia, from top-quality dairy produce to the very best cheeses available, produced by small family enterprises to large manufacturers,” Mr Willman said.

“The texture of this cheese is spot on; smooth, thick and creamy and perfect for spreading. This labna had a particularly good balance between the three key sweet, sour and salty tastes. In this class, we look for flavourings that complement the cheese without overpowering it and in this product the scattering of fennel was well balanced and enhanced the cheese without masking the flavour.”

The 2012 AGDA panel of judges was assisted by guest international judge Professor Eric Spinnler from Agro Paris Tech; the Paris Institute of Technology for Life, Food and Environmental Sciences – who emphasized the quality of milk being produced by Australian dairy farms while appraising all the entries.

“Australia produces some of the finest dairy products in the world,” Professor Spinnler said.

In recognition of the 2012 Australian Year of the Farmer, this year’s AGDA also recognised inspiring people and inspirational stories from within the dairy industry.

“The dairy industry has a strong history of innovation and inspiration,” Dairy Australia’s Managing Director Ian Halliday said.

“Our dairying tradition has been forged by people with vision and a determination to succeed.”

To celebrate the 2012 AGDA winners, Dairy Australia has created the 2012 Australian Grand Dairy Awards ‘Best of the Best’ Cookbook which is available to view and download at

OCCUPY: Citizen Journalist SuperSuit [VIDEO]

A playful DIY instructional video on how to document at a protest, and how to prepare for and react to police brutality or other emergency.

Many thanks to Synchronicity LA for letting us shoot in their home

Motionography and Stunts by REBECCA BERDEL
Cinematography and Location Sound by JEFF KATZ
Assistant Camera by PETE GILL
Assistant Directed by SUSAN YI
Stunt Coordinator PETER DEAN

Music: ART OF REVOLUTION (Original Mix) by BASSNECTAR, Concept 15 by Kodomo, Diesel Not Petrol ( HD VJ Mix ) by Scandalous Unltd

Can You Imagine Brisbane Ever Hosting A Forum Like This?

Australian Centre for Independent Journalism:

Forum: Finkelstein Media Inquiry

The Finkelstein Inquiry into the accountability of the Australian media has just been released. It heralds some changes to the regulation of the media.

The ACIJ is hosting a forum to discuss the findings of the report and their implication for the media in Australia.


Julian Disney - Chair, Australian Press Council
Peter Fray - Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The Sydney Morning Herald
Philip Clarke - Broadcaster and former lawyer
Chair: Tom Morton, Director, Australian Centre for Independent Journalism

Date: 20 March 2012
Time: 19:00 - 20:30
Doors will open at 6.45pm
Location: City - Broadway Venue: UTS Bon Marche Studio, Ground floor, 755 Harris Street, Ultimo
Audience: All Welcome
Cost: Free

You Can't Believe The Media And Politicians From The Major Parties On Anything To Do With Occupy Brisbane And Post Office Square

In January, the Brisbane City Council removed the turf from Post Office Square and fenced it off from the public for three months. Occupy Brisbane - who are not "anti-capitalist" - had offered to remediate any damage to Post Office Square, but were rejected.

Post Office Square [17/1/12]

By Far, Most Environmental Destruction Is Carried Out By And For Our So Called Representatives In Council And Government - While Our Media Let Them Get Away With It

... Round And Round

Up And Down

Killing Trees In

Your Town ...

Remember this historic fig tree in Victoria Park, Kelvin Grove?

Construction of the polluting, unsustainable and insane scam that is the "Legacy Way" tunnel has also decimated half of Mt Coot-tha's Botanic Gardens.

Mt Coot-tha Road

Western Freeway

Chaplaincy Program Pushes Against Secular Public Education
Save Our Schools [16/3/12]:
This is a guest blog by Hugh Wilson of the Australian Secular Lobby.
... The “peer leadership and support programs” included the several evangelical, gendered, on and off campus, programs introduced to schools by NSCP funded chaplains, such as the Hillsong Church SHINE and STRENGTH programs for girls and boys. In Education Queensland schools, the Bligh Government allows students to Y10 to drop compulsory sport to participate in these religious programs, during school time.
Also, while ‘religious education’ appeared to be excluded from the duties of chaplains and student welfare workers, other sections within the NSCSWP guidelines contradict this with statements including:

The decision on whether non Program funded religious education is delivered by the same person who is employed with Program funding is to be determined by schools and Funding Recipients. However, to avoid potential role confusion, best practice recommends that these roles be conducted by different persons. Where this is not a school preference/not possible, schools need to ensure they take all necessary steps to delineate the roles.

A clear distinction (is required) between which school chaplains/student welfare workers and activities operating in the school are funded under the Program and which are not, particularly where Religious Education and other chaplaincy/student welfare services are also delivered at the school.

In late December 2011, when DEEWR posted the final lists of national NSCSWP ‘funding recipients’, or suppliers/employers of chaplains and student welfare workers, it was revealed that providers of student welfare workers would include para-church and evangelical organisations including ACCESS Ministries, Campus Crusade for Christ, Youth For Christ, Christians Helping in Primary Schools, Cornerstone Community, Fusion Australia and Young Life Australia.

Every instance of a perceived and touted ‘strength’ within the new NSCSWP guidelines was accompanied by a nullifying ‘at a minimum’ or similar loophole. Although it was rarely carried out diligently, if at all, the original NSCP guidelines at least attempted to define what constituted ‘broad community consultation’ regarding the engaging of a chaplain.

Under the new NSCSWP guidelines, the minimum requirement for ‘community consultation’ was now minuted school parent body (P&C) endorsement—which for the sake of a quorum can be as few as six persons. In schools of 1000 students, in NSW, it is not unusual to have a P&C body of about 20 people, including staff members, the chaplain and non-parents. In NSW, membership fees are charged to join P&Cs, further reducing the pool of parents prepared to participate. ...
In The Gold Coast Suburb Of Labrador, All Bus Stop Seats And Shelters Have Vanished
Gold Coast Highway, Labrador [15/3/12]

And bus stops are moved around all the time.

It's almost as if Council and the State Government are punishing public transport users, by making them stand, or sit on the ground in the sun and the rain.

10 Downing Street, Spring Hill

When Campbell Newman ran his Brisbane mayoral campaign, this property was all over the media.

It's probably where they invented the bogus "gridlock" meme that was used to inflict various toll tunnels and bridges on Brisbane's ratepayers.

What Are The Major Parties Hiding When It Comes To Uranium Mining?: Greens Media Release [15/3/12]

The LNP and Labor need to make their position on uranium mining in Queensland clear, the Australian Greens said today.

Greens nuclear issues spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam, who will be in Queensland this weekend, said the LNP had refused to come clean on the important matter.

"The LNP has been using deliberately weak language on this issue, saying they have 'no plans for uranium mines in Queensland at this time', which leaves wide open the option for the Party to back-flip tomorrow. The New South Wales Liberal-National coalition pulled that stunt, having 'no plans' for uranium mining before the election, and then announcing the go ahead for this toxic industry."

"I wrote to Campbell Newman on February 27th asking for an explanation of the LNP position on uranium mining, and inviting him to discuss the matter with me. More than two weeks later – he has not responded."

"At present Queensland Labor don't permit uranium mining, but do allow exploration work. With Federal Labor fervently pushing uranium mining and cutting deals with new nuclear customers including Russia, the United Arab Emirates and India – a strong stand is needed from Labor against uranium mining in Queensland. I contacted Premier Anna Bligh to request clarity on the issue, and a meeting – my requests were rejected."

"Twenty years after the closure of the Mary Kathleen uranium mine west of Cloncurry, there is significant physical and chemical mobility of uranium and related elements, including transfer into plants. The rate of seepage from the tailings dump is much faster than predicted and radiation is mobilised into surface water seepages."

"Farmers have a right to know where the LNP and the ALP stand, given the risks posed by any possible future uranium mining. As has been demonstrated, the flooding of gold or copper mines can have serious downstream consequences. If a uranium mine floods, the additional consequences of radiological contamination would be severe and long lasting.”

"The Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory experiences similar weather to much of north Queensland. Ranger is currently leaching more than 100,000 litres of contaminated water into groundwater beneath every day.”

"The industries generated by Queensland farmers and pastoralists deserve protection from this dangerous industry."

Please Consider Flying-Foxes And Other Wildlife When You Vote

Don't Shoot Bats:

The Queensland Government banned the electrocution of flying-foxes in 2001 and banned shooting of flying-foxes in 2008 because expert assessment found these methods were inhumane.

Queenslanders will elect their next government on 24 March.

Following is a summary of the position of each political party about flying-foxes and crop protection. While this is just one issue and involves just 4 flying-fox species, it has broader ramifications for the environment and animal welfare in general, as explained below.

What Qld’s political parties propose

Liberal National Party: The LNP says it will overturn the current ban on killing flying-foxes for crop protection. See here for more details about their position. This will take us back at least to the situation pre-2008 (before shooting was banned), possibly back to pre-2001 (before electrocution was banned). The LNP has refused to rule out the use of any lethal method. They have also refused to rule out removing the requirement for humaneness under the Nature Conservation Act. This has implications for the welfare of all wildlife protected under the Act.

Australian Labor Party: The ALP introduced the current bans on shooting and electrocuting flying-foxes, and continues to support only non-lethal methods of crop protection against flying-foxes.

Australian Greens: The Greens support only non-lethal methods of crop protection.

Katter’s Australian Party: The KAP supports lethal methods of crop protection and proposes to allow anyone to "eliminate" flying-foxes on their property.

There is a very clear difference between the parties The Liberal National Party and Katters’ Australian Party will permit cruel lethal methods of crop protection. The Australian Labor Party and Australian Greens will permit only non-lethal methods to protect crops from flying-foxes.

Implications generally for conservation and animal welfare

A return to killing flying-foxes for crop protection has much broader implications for Queensland’s wildlife and ecosystems.

Increased cruelty to wildlife more generally due to the likely removal of the requirement for humaneness when damage mitigation permits are issued under conservation laws. (The LNP has refused to rule out removing the requirement for humaneness in order to facilitate a return to lethal methods of flying-fox control.)

Compromised ecosystem services due to reduced pollination and seed dispersal by flying-foxes more...
Greater stress and resource demands on wildlife care groups, in rescuing and euthanasing or caring for injured or starving flying-foxes affected by shooting.

Old Parties Vote To Stay In The Dark On CSG: Greens Media Release [15/3/12]

Both the Government and the Coalition have chosen to stay in the dark about the real impacts of coal seam gas mining in Australia, by today voting down the Greens' proposal for the first nation-wide coal seam gas Senate inquiry.

The refusal to support widespread community concern about the impacts of CSG after today's public revelations that Bob Katter, now a vocal opponent of coal seam gas, in fact vetoed giving farmers any right to say no to mining on their land when he was Queensland Mines Minister in 1989.

"This inquiry would have looked at the big picture of coal seam gas across Australia: what CSG mining is doing to our communities, our health, our economy and our coasts, as well as our land and environment," Greens' mining spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters said.

"What does it say about the old parties that they don't want to know? Don't they want the facts on the true climate impacts of CSG? Or the real picture of what's happening in Gladstone harbour for coal seam gas exports?

"While Bob Katter and his party have said they support farmers in their fight against CSG, only the Greens have taken any action on CSG in the Federal Parliament - and it was Katter himself who refused to give back farmers' rights against mining when he had the chance.

"Likewise Senator Barnaby Joyce today again demonstrated that the Nationals have sold out the bush on CSG, and even tried to gild the lily by making out that this inquiry was repetitive of the last CSG inquiry. Any cursory read of the terms of reference shows it is nation-wide and would include coastal impacts which the last inquiry did not consider.

"The Government has rushed blindly ahead with the new fossil fuel industry, even though the CSIRO and the National Water Commission have both said that we don't yet know the long-term impacts of coal seam gas on groundwater resources.

"The Government and Coalition are also trying to ignore the outpouring of community concern about CSG - a Newspoll showed 67 per cent of Queenslanders don't support coal seam gas, echoing a similar poll last year that 68 per cent Australians want to press pause on CSG until it's been proven safe.

"The only choice in the Queensland election is Green for anyone who wants to slow down this runaway industry, given that the old parties have chosen to support the fossil fuel giants over Australian communities and Bob Katter has been revealed as all talk and no action."

Migration Legislation Amendment (The Bali Process) Bill 2012

Rob Oakeshott MP [13/3/12]:

Dear Colleague,

Re: Migration Legislation Amendment (The Bali Process) Biil 2012

I write to provide a copy of my private members bill titled Migration Legislation Amendment (The Bali Process) Bill 2012 (the Bill) which is expected to be debated in the House over the coming fortnight, with a vote possible on Thursday week.

One of the political criticisms of this Bill is that it is a "carbon copy" of a Government Bill titled Migration Legislation Amendment (Offshore Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2011. This is not correct.

The Bill is a combination of three sources:

1. The Bali Process - codifying in domestic law the good bipartisan work started by the former Howard Government in 2002, which provides a border protection and humanitarian framework on people smuggling, people trafficking and related transnational crime. This process is co-chaired by Australia and Indonesia and involves nearly 50 countries, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the Red Cross and Red Crescent;

2. The Government Bill, in response to the recent decision of the High Court, known as Migration Legislation Amendment (Offshore Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2011;

3. The Liberal National Coalition amendment to the above Bill, that attempts to only allow participating countries to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention (the Convention) to participate in bi-lateral agreements on offshore assessment. On the third point, I refer you directly to the following sections of the Bill that accommodate the Liberal National Coalition amendment representing a substantial shift from previous Bills before the House:

• Section 198AB Offshore assessmentcountry-in particular subsections (4) and (5) where direct reference is made to the core principles on non-refoulement and orderly assessment procedures of the Convention. This makes sure the amendment as proposed by the Liberal National Coalition is included in the Bill.
® Section 198AC Documents to be laid before Parliament- in particular subsection (2) so that all relevant decisions, agreements, and responses to any bilateral agreements (including from UNHCR and IOM) are documents to be put before the Parliament.

• Schedule 1 subsection 5(1) - The Insertion of the Bali Process itself. Any bilateral agreement reached within Bali countries is encouraged within the principles on both border protection and humanitarianism as agreed by 50 countries (predominantly Asia-Pacific region countries), and has direct input from the guardian of the Convention - the UNHCR, as well as input from the IOM and Red Cross and Red Crescent. This process has been supported in regional forums since 2002 by both the Liberal National
Coalition and the Labor Party. (I attach the most recent Regional Co-operation Framework principles to assist your considerations).

This private members bill establishes a higher standard of protection of human rights than has been sought from either the Labor Party or the Liberal National Coalition on any previous Bill or amendment in response to the High Court ruling on the Malaysia agreement.

Through discussions, I understand the Minister for Immigration will be recommending to the Labor Party Caucus that they support the Bill with some amendments.

At this stage, through discussions, it appears the Liberal National Coalition continue to want only UN Refugee Convention signatory countries to be able to enter into bi-iaterai agreements on people smuggling and people trafficking. I attach a list of those countries for your consideration.

As you can see, from the list, being a signatory country to the Convention does not automatically guarantee legal protection for any refugee. Our geographic challenge is that the Asia-Pacific region has a very low number of signatory countries, meaning the long-term opportunity for bilateral or multi-lateral agreements on people smuggling and people trafficking would be very limited.

Therefore it is logical that Australia, as a signatory to the Convention, is a country that will uphold its obligations on non-refoulement and orderly assessment with any country it enters into a contract with. To strengthen this, these two principles of non-refoulement and orderly assessment underpinning the Convention are now codified in this new private members bill as a higher humanitarian standard than any Australia has ever agreed to before. And to further strengthen humanitarian principles, this Bill also codifies the very good international principles of the bipartisan Bali Process into Australian domestic law.

In my view, this private members bill strikes a sensible balance between the complex issues relating to people smuggling and people trafficking, and the equally complex issues in relation to asylum seekers and refugees.

If you agree with this, I welcome your support for this Bill.

I am happy to talk through the issues involved, and certainly welcome any amendments that value-add to policy in the national interest.


ABC, PM [15/3/12]:

MARK COLVIN: Stop the boats is the catchcry of the asylum seeker debate but the majority are coming into Australia by plane not boat.

What most Australians don't realise is that the biggest numbers of those flying are coming from China.

While some might be legitimate, many are not and they're being supported by a network of corrupt middlemen from China, to migration agents in Australia.

Both Government and Opposition are willing to spruik how they're going to turn back the boats but on this issue they remain silent.

Matthew Carney reports.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Last year more than 6,000 asylum seekers arrived by air.

The largest group by far came from China with much smaller numbers flying in from India and other South East Asian countries.

Patricia Cruise worked as an immigration officer reviewing such claims for eight years.

PATRICIA CRUISE: What distinguishes the Chinese case load is that it's endemic. It's the norm with PRC (People's Republic of China) applications to have some fraudulent content and for there to be some dodgy practises along the way.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The Chinese enter on valid student, tourist or carer's visas and once in country apply for Asylum.

With the help of dubious migration agents they pose as persecuted Falun Gong practitioners or underground Christian worshippers.

The migration agents give them fake stories to learn and false documents to sign.

PATRICA CRUISE: The migration agent might have a sort of pro-forma where specific details pertaining to the applicant are inserted; a sort of generic statement of claims.

I have seen statements where particulars have clearly been inserted. You can tell by the change of font or excessive spacing between the words. So clearly some statements have been used more than once; just a simple bit of word processing.

MATTHEW CARNEY: To help their bogus claims many of the Chinese Nationals turn up at Falun Gong meetings or demonstrations.

John Deller of the Falun Gong Association of New South Wales says it's making it much harder for legitimate Falun Gong cases to be processed.

JOHN DELLER: There's a lot of people who we don't know appear and stand in front of banners and take photographs. And they do weird things like take of a Falun Gong t-shirt and give it to somebody else and exchange the camera and take photos. So this is not sort of behaviour which is obviously not of someone who's there as a regular practitioner supporting the activity of what we're doing.

MATTHEW CARNEY: And why are they doing that, are they being told this may help an application or?

JOHN DELLER: Yes well we've had that anecdotal evidence over the years really. I mean previously we've heard migration agents have said oh go and get a letter from the Falun Dafa association, that'll help you get protection.

MATTHEW CARNEY: About a third of the 3,000 appeals lodged at the refugee review tribunal last year were from Chinese Nationals.

Patricia Cruise says the Chinese are well organised and funded. If the claims are rejected by the Migration Review Tribunal or the Refugee Review Tribunal they'll appeal the decision and often challenge in the courts.

If process fails they can then resubmit new claims. It can go on for years.

Cruise says the Department knows about the fraud but is doing little about it.

PATRICIA CRUISE: The Department does not focus on immigration fraud. Generally speaking it focuses simply on meeting program targets, which means processing; processing quickly and processing a lot of applications.

The managers are focused on their section meeting the required number of decisions.

People down below, people who are the case officers, would like something to be done about it; there's just been no commitment, no focus.

MATTHEW CARNEY: PM was given the names and addresses of two migration agents in Chinatown in Sydney providing fake claims. But when we turned up there was no shopfronts, only post boxes.

Minister for Immigration, Chris Bowen, has not responded to the allegations raised in this report. But in a written response said "Each refugee case must be assessed on its merits and it is not possible under Australian law to refuse people their lawful right to an appeal".

Adrienne Millbank from Monash University says the system is open to manipulation. Once in country, unlike arriving by boat, it is much easier for apply for asylum, a protection visa, because Australia is bound by the Refugee Convention.

ADRIENNE MILLBANK: The hypocrisy of parliamentarians is where they're spending so much money keeping people out, extending their borders and controls out onto other countries. But then when people actually get in, they're very welcoming and it must be like winning the lottery.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Cruise and other sources have told PM the bogus Chinese claims are clogging the system.

In the last five years combined appeals to the Refugee and Immigration Review Tribunals have tripled. That's lead to a $14 million dollar cost blowout for taxpayers and has compromised the process for legitimate refugee applicants.

PATRICIA CRUISE: I think it undermines people's faith in the system really. We have on one hand the boats arriving, the majority of the people on the boats are found to be genuine refugees. But the ones who arrive by plane on a valid visa, frequently based on false information, fake documents. The service of false and fake official documents is openly advertised in Chinese cities and it's not hard to find in Sydney as well.

MARK COLVIN: Former immigration officer, Patricia Cruise, talking to Matthew Carney.

Occupiers Set Up Living Room In Bank Of America Lobby [VIDEO - 12/3/12]
A crew of occupiers makes a home of a Bank of America lobby with a couch, a coffee table, a rug and a potted plant. "Bank of America took our homes so we though we'd move in here!" Join them March 15 as America turns the tables on the nation's largest bank!


Travellors' Choice 2012 Beach Destinations

According to Trip Advisor:

1. Burleigh Heads, Australia

2. Byron Bay, Australia

3. Coolangatta, Australia

4. Broome, Australia

5. Noosa, Australia

6. Broadbeach, Australia

7. Surfers Paradise, Australia

8. Perth, Australia

9. Port Douglas, Australia

10. Sydney, Australia

Kirra Announcement, Saturday [17/3/12]

Griffith Centre for Coastal Management:

Good news is on the horizon for the long fight to restore the once famous surf conditions at Kirra Beach.

Gold Coast Mayoral candidate Cr Peter Young will be making a special announcement about Kirra at a BBQ and free sausage sizzle at Queen Elizabeth Park, Marine Parade & cnr Warner Street, Coolangatta, on Saturday (17 March) from 11am until 2pm

Surfers, local residents and businesses have called for the Big Groyne to be restored to its original length since 1995 when 30m of the rock wall was removed by Gold Coast City Council.

Cr Young will make the announcement at noon on Saturday.

He recently told local surfing veterans it was a tragedy that people who love Kirra had been trying to get a solution for a quarter of a century.

Kirra campaigner and surfing identity Andy McKinnon said the overwhelming majority of surfers believed the reduction of the Big Groyne altered the longshore current and changed the iconic Kirra Point Break even before the Tweed River Bypass sand pumping operation began in 2001.

Cr Young will be making several other key announcements on Saturday that relate to the great importance of surfing in the city's past, present and future.

The Ongoing Vilification Of Public Transport And Bus Drivers By SEQ's Hate Media, Wouldn't Have Anything To Do With Taking The Focus Off The REAL Issues - Would It?

TWU Queensland: Better Buses Campaign

The Better Buses campaign is fighting for a better bus industry for QLD, with a push for best practice for safety and conditions and more support for the drivers responsible for the most irreplaceable freight — you & I.

The Better Buses campaign has come together to let TransLink know that we want: A better Bus industry for Queensland.

Better Bus services where we need them, when we need them, for me and my family.

A better Bus system where contractors are held accountable.

Real value for my tax dollars.

Best practices for safety and conditions.

More support for the drivers responsible for my kids safety.

THEN and NOW – Water Police: QPS Media [15/3/12]

Water Police rowing down the Brisbane River toward the sea. The Naval Stores at Kangaroo Point, are in the middle background, 1906

On May 30, 1859, a Water Police contingent was started in Brisbane with William Thornton as Water Police Magistrate along with one Clerk, one Chief Constable and four Constables.

In the 19th century, the key duties of the Water Police were to investigate smuggling, maritime lawbreaking and desertion by seamen.

By the early 1860's the Water Police were conducting their affairs from an old convict hulk called the Proserpine, which was moored in the Brisbane River at Lytton. Water Police Officers lived and worked on the hulk which also served as a lock up for deserters and drunkards.

The early days of the Water Police were far from easy. The first vessel the Julia Percy was purchased in 1862 and used for harbour duties. It took another 20 years or so for the Water Police to take on a state presence with the purchase of the S.S. Vigilant in 1882 and used to patrol Cooktown and Cardwell.

There are currently Water Police Stations at ten locations along Queensland’s coast – Brisbane, Cairns, Thursday Island, Gold Coast, Wynnum District, Sunshine Coast, Hervey Bay, Yeppoon, Whitsunday and Townsville.

The Water Police mission is to contribute to the well-being of all persons in Queensland by protecting life and property, preserving order, preventing and bringing of offenders to justice, with emphasis placed on the policing needs of the boating fraternity generally, property owners located adjacent to waterways, on islands, and persons living in coastal areas.

The Police Museum is open 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 3pm on the last Sunday of the month (Feb-Nov) and is located on the Ground Floor of Police Headquarters at 200 Roma Street, Brisbane.

“Water Police” by the Queensland Police Service is licensed under a by the Queensland Police Service is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (BY) 2.5 Australia Licence.

Permissions may be available beyond the scope of this licence.

Optional Preferential Voting In Queensland: You Have The Power - Use It!

ABC Brisbane [AUDIO - 15/3/12]:

All eyes are on the seat of Ashgrove at this State Election. It's seen as a two horse race between Kate Jones and Campbell Newman, but what about the Greens?

Steve Austin spoke to Greens candidate Sandra Bayley.

UN Rights Expert Urges Israel To Release Palestinian Woman Prisoner On Hunger Strike: Media Release [14/3/12]
An independent United Nations human rights expert today urged Israel to release Hana Shalabi, a Palestinian woman prisoner who has been on a hunger strike for nearly a month.
“The situation of Ms. Shalabi is morbid and life-threatening,” said Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories.
“This is an appeal to the conscience and to humanity and a desperate call to all of us.”
Mr. Falk urged the international community to intervene on her behalf. “Israel ought to end its inhumane treatment of Ms. Shalabi. Release her immediately.”
He noted that Ms. Shalabi’s hunger strike “is against Israel’s abusive use of detention without charges and the degrading and physically harsh treatment administered during her arrest, interrogation, and detention process.”
Ms. Shalabi was arrested on 16 February and has been on hunger strike since.
“She is being held in solitary confinement. She has been treated inhumanely. In the presence of her family she was blindfolded and treated roughly by several of the 50 Israeli soldiers sent to arrest her, as was her brother who tried to protect her,” said Mr. Falk.
The expert voiced further concern that Ms. Shalabi’s 65-year-old mother and 67-year-old father also committed themselves to a hunger strike on 23 February. He denounced the silence over Ms. Shalabi’s fate in Israel and the international community, and called on the Israeli authorities not to continue to disregard their responsibilities under international law.
“The abusive treatment of Palestinian prisoners by Israel remains a cause of grave concern and the international community must continue to raise its voice for those risking their own lives to end injustice,” said Mr. Falk.
Earlier this year, the independent expert twice appealed for the release of Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan, who staged a 66-day hunger strike in protest of his humiliating detention and treatment by Israeli security forces.
Israeli authorities have agreed to release him in mid-April. Mr. Falk said that Israel currently has approximately 300 Palestinians detained without charges.
“I have requested information regarding each of these persons,” he said.
“I intend to follow up on each case and address this matter in my forthcoming report to the Human Rights Council.” There are also an estimated 4,400 Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, he added.

Goldman Sachs Executive Quits In a New York Times Piece, Did He Just Realize What Goldman Does?

The Daily Beast [14/3/12]:

A Goldman Sachs executive quit in a highly-viewed New York Times op-ed on Wednesday, moaning that the investment bank has lost its ‘spirit of humanity.’ Tunku Varadarajan asks, did Greg Smith just wake up from a fairyland?

Greg Smith woke up one morning this month, covered from head to toe in icky, slimy Vampire-Squid ink. After 12 years at Goldman Sachs, most recently as executive director and head of U.S. equity derivates in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, he decided he could no longer tolerate the moral turpitude at a place of work that had netted him—oh, at a conservative estimate—some $10 million over a decade. Cleansing himself was the only way to stay pure. So cleanse himself he did, with a cathartic op-ed in The New York Times, in which he announced (before telling his employers) that he was quitting Goldman Sachs—in effect, trading in his impressively lucrative job for 15 minutes of fame.

Smith’s cri de Coeur is being regarded as something noble—and not merely because of the unusual spectacle of someone walking away from millions. But to this reader, Smith’s jeremiad comes across as cynical and insincere, and Smith himself comes across as little better than a sanctimonious git. He describes the ugly Goldman he now feels compelled to leave as a place that has lost its “spirit of humility,” a place that, once upon a time, “wasn’t just about making money.” Yet Smith worked there for 12 years, in the belly of the beast. Did it take him 12 years to realize that Goldman isn’t a non-profit? You’ve got to love his prelapsarian tone, his contention that this edifice of integrity, so humanitarian when he started 12 years ago, has suddenly turned diabolical, caring only about m---y. ...

Cockatoo Documentary A Call To Action
CCWA [14/3/12]:
Western Australia’s peak environmental group is calling for an end to the destruction of critical cockatoo habitat by logging and land clearing, following the airing of a revealing documentary last night on the plight of WA’s endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo.
The film, titled On a Wing and a Prayer and broadcast to a national audience on ABC1 last night, profiled the efforts of Senior Wildlife Investigator Rick Dawson and a small family of Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos at a high risk nesting site Mr Dawson calls ‘The Stump’.
Conservation Council of WA Director Piers Verstegen said, “Last night a huge national audience witnessed the plight of our own unique and endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos. Since then the CCWA phones have been running hot with concerned people calling from all over WA, asking us what they can do to help our cockatoos.
“This is in addition to the more than 5,000 people who have already visited our website to send a message to Premier Colin Barnett and Environment Minister Bill Marmion calling for an end to the destruction of critical black cockatoo habitat by the loss-making logging industry.
“In the week before the documentary aired, shocking new data revealed the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo population has declined by 37% in just one year.
“The one common factor critical to the survival of all three species of endangered black cockatoos in WA is the need for mature trees and healthy forests.
“Cockatoo families like the one featured in On a Wing and a Prayer rely on mature forest trees with hollows for shelter during the breeding season. Nesting trees must be at least 150-200 years old before they develop the large hollows that the birds require to rear their chicks.
“We know that we need to protect our forests from logging and land clearing if we are to prevent the extinction of these iconic birds.
“Yet right now the State Government’s logging agency is targeting high-conservation value forests and felling and poisoning thousands of mature marri trees that provide a critical food source and nesting hollows for cockatoos.
“The Warrup and Arcadia Forests, currently being logged, are also home to some of the few remaining wild numbats and mainland quokkas.
“In On a Wing and a Prayer we saw dedicated wildlife officers doing everything they can to repair tree hollows suitable for cockatoos to breed in.
“Yet at the same time, loggers in Warrup and Arcadia are destroying exactly the sort of tree hollows which cockatoos need to breed, forcing cockatoos out of the forest and into suburban areas, farms and orchards in search of food.
Occupy Miami: Preemptive Raid and Search Encompasses Entire Apartment Complex [VIDEO]

Daily Kos [13/3/12]:

Even when Occupiers do not remain on public space and branch out to facilities that are privately owned it seems TPTB still want to disrupt their activities. The livestream team in NYC learned this. And now Occupiers in A Miami suburb also have been harassed by the police and FBI.

The entire building was cleared of residents and they were forced to remain in the parking area for several hours while the building was searched. For what were they searching for no one besides the police and whomever issued the warrant knows. Not coincidentally the Occupiers were preparing to go on a march as the police rolled up.

With the timing of the raid it is apparent that this was a transparent attempt to stifle attendance for the march. ...

Good evening Occupy Miami, it has been brought to our attention that there are a few things we feel we need to clarify; there are details which have been a bit isolated. First off, the building we are currently occupying has been donated to us the night of our eviction on Jan 31st by an occupier, we are not at this building illegally. What transpired today was a raid, NOT an eviction which we feel was a fear tactic. No one was arrested. 3 were put in cuffs and 3 others were detained without cuffs and all were eventually let go. They came to terrorize us then left. But in true occupy spirit, we commenced with our rally and march. We won't stop because we can't stop. ;D

Appalling Documentary Format Coming To A Country Near You

Njuice [13/3/12]:
SYDNEY - BBC America will make a local version of hit Australian documentary series, Go Back to Where You Came From, after acquiring the format rights from broadcaster SBS Australia and creator and producer Cordell Jigsaw.
The BBC America deal is one of a handful of deals with broadcasters worldwide for the format to the series which last year fuelled national and international debate about Australian attitudes to refugees.
The four-hour fly on the wall observational style series had cameras following six Australians who agreed to challenge their preconceived notions about refugees and asylum seekers and embark on a confronting 25 day journey, without money or personal belongings. ...

SBS has commissioned a second series for 2012, with a new group of travelers.

SBS managing director Michael Ebeid said: “It’s rare for a television format to be able to break new ground using an issue that’s a political hot button worldwide. The high level of interest from both international broadcasters and production companies is testament to the compelling nature of the format and the fertile ground it offers to tap into local sentiments about refugees and asylum seekers.”

“Go Back proved important issues don’t have to be dull television. We’re proud the series became part of the national debate on asylum seekers and is now on its way to becoming part of the international debate,” added Michal Cordell, principal of Cordell Jigsaw. “We’re also cock-a-hoop about the format sales. Instead of being a dumping ground for overseas formats, for once, an Australian format is being exported to the rest of the world. Hopefully it will help balance our cultural terms of trade.”

Perry Simon, general manager, channels, BBC Worldwide Americas said the series would follow the BBC tradition of “bold, provocative original programming that illuminates contemporary social and cultural issues. Go Back to Where You Came From provides another perspective on immigrants and refugees that is sure to spark conversation among our viewers and the public at large.”

TV2 Denmark and Keshet Broadcasting for Israel have also acquired the format rights while Tuvalu Media (Sony Pictures Entertainment), Studio Hamburg DocLights, Snowman Productions and Curious Pictures have all signed on having the option to produce local versions of Go Back in the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and South Africa respectively.

Our Taxes Are Being Used To Profit Rupert Murdoch And Fuel Hate And Racism
Are You Cool With That? - Evidently The Government Are
Does anybody seriously think this documentary is being produced to foster understanding?
And as @Glebe2037 tweeted yesterday: the sad thing about this Hildebranding thing in Alice Springs is that the other side does not have a voice or right of reply
ABC [9/2/12]:
Alice Springs Police are investigating an alleged attack on a film crew last night.
A camera crew including News Limited columnist Joe Hildebrand say they were attacked while filming a documentary on the banks of the dry Todd River bed in Alice Springs.

The crew were allegedly chased back to their hotel where they say they asked hotel staff to lock the doors.

The Cordell Jigsaw camera crew were in Alice Springs filming a documentary for ABC2 called Dumb, Drunk and Racist, which follows four Indian citizens as they visit locations around Australia to get an outsiders perspective on race issues.

The documentary presenter, Joe Hildebrand, says the alleged attack took place when the crew stopped on the path by the river to film a piece to camera.

He says they were approached by an Indigenous woman who made it clear she wasn't happy with the filming.

He says the group then crossed the road and continued filming before being approached again, this time by two Indigenous women who were yelling and interjecting.

"We decided to get the hell out of there and run into the hotel and get out of the way."

Mr Hildebrand says the attack was unprovoked.

"We made no effort to approach them, we didn't film them, we weren't even aware of their presence until they came up to where we were filming and started shouting and harassing us." ...

Anti-Monsanto Day Of Global Action
Occupy Brisbane are holding an Anti-Monsanto Day of Global Action protest this Friday the 16th March. There will be a speak out in King George Square CBD at 5pm, followed by a march.
Please come and lend support. Monsanto is a multinational corporation with it's tentacles in the US government and pushing dangerous agricultural practices and suspect GM products.
Protest At Brisbane's Detention Centre
The "Brisbane Immigration Transit Accomodation" (BITA) currently houses 51 asylum seekers.

Come to Brisbane's very own detention centre and demand freedom and justice for refugees.

When: 1pm, Saturday, 17th March
Where: BITA, 100 Sugarmill Rd, Pinkenba.

Meet at 11.30am inside Central Station in the city to catch the train. Look for the refugee rights placards.

Organised by Refugee Action Collective, Qld.

Leaked Serco Manual Details How To 'Strike' Asylum Seekers

Sydney Morning Herald [14/3/12]:

A prison-style training manual purportedly designed by Serco, the company contracted to run Australia's detention centres, has been leaked by Crikey online, detailing explicit instructions on how to use pain to "control and restrain" hostile detainees.

The 406-page training manual, said to be produced by the British-owned multinational in 2010, has numerous sections which include understanding cultural diversity, hostage dramas, conflict resolution and fighting scenarios with asylum seekers.

Under the "Control and Restraint" section is a breakdown of lessons on how to use force to restrain detainees.

These lessons cover the level of force considered to be "tactically correct (authorised)", "medically acceptable (justified) with minimum injury potential" and "legally defensible (excused) in court".

Firstly personnel are taught to target detainees' pressure points and put detainees in "joint-lock control and escort" positions to render them motionless.

Beyond those responses are defensive counter strikes that involve straight punches, palm heel strikes, side angle kicks, front thrust kicks and knee strikes.

The theory behind the counter strikes is to "create temporary motor dysfunction" and "temporary muscle impairment" through the "fluid shock wave" that gets sent around detainees' bodies, but only leaves bruising, the manual explains.

It is not known whether the training manual has since been updated.

The manual does, however, advocate for the "win/win philosophy of negotiations" and lists it as one of seven interventions for an aggressive detainee.

The others are to leave, take no action, surprise/diversion, blending (where a worker empathises/agrees with the detainee and moves with them enough to unbalance them), evasive self-defence and finally "fighting" – as a last resort.

It suggests to regain control during crisis communications by intellectual and emotional verbal persuasion, applying social pressures through family members, cultural representatives and control agents, as well as physical restraint by trained staff.

Serco has a $1 billion contract with the Gillard Government to run nine detention centres and is thought to be responsible for 4783 asylum seekers across Australia.

It has repeatedly fought the release of similar documents, claiming other versions are not in the "public interest" and could cause commotion inside lockups, according to Crikey.

The Age reported that the Immigration Department had modelled its policy on restricting media access to detention centres by consulting the United States' rules for Guantanamo Bay.

"One of the attractions of outsourcing for governments is that it is not merely functions that can be outsourced, but responsibility as well," said.

"Outsourcing magically renders problems of ethics and issues of accountability mere contractual niceties, enabling any concerns about how privatised functions are carried out to be deflected into internal processes -- invariably 'commercial-in-confidence' -- between government and contractor.

"Serco's training manual, complete with detailed instruction on the infliction of pain and carefully-split gender roles for staff, appears to be based on techniques for maintaining control inside prisons.

"The Department of Immigration likes to say that detention centres are not prisons, or places of punishment, but Serco's manual clearly establishes exactly such a framework."

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young was expected to read key sections of the training manual to Parliament.

She told Crikey the guide taught guards to treat "vulnerable people as if they are prisoners, when they have broken no laws and are asserting their international right to seek asylum".

"There is nothing in this training manual to suggest anybody working on the ground in our detention centres has the skills necessary to deal with the specific needs of asylum seekers," she said.

"All it does is teach how to use force. Serco officers themselves have told the Immigration Detention Centre inquiry and their union that they are ill-equipped to deal with mental health issues and suicide prevention training.

"The company and immigration department continue to brush those concerns aside, but this training manual proves those concerns are absolutely valid."

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has today continued to back Serco and its methods.

A department spokeswoman said that while DIAC did not approve Serco's training manual, since that was a matter for the company, it did assess very carefully during the tendering process for the government's $1billion contract "the capability, the experience and the culture" of the bidding companies.

"The department continues to regularly review the capability and experience of Serco and its staff," she said.

"DIAC is satisfied with the term and conditions of the contract it has with Serco and is satisfied with the arrangements in place to address what is a dynamic and fluid detention environment".

She said the department was committed to "treating people in our care with dignity and respect and keep those we are responsible for from coming to any sort of harm".

"Any use of force or restraint in immigration detention must be reasonable and used strictly as a last resort and only after techniques to deescalate a situation have been exhausted," she said.

"Appropriate use of restraint may be necessary to prevent a person from harming themselves or harming others, damaging property or escaping from detention."

About 60 people took to Perth's streets last Friday to protest against the state government's repeated use of Serco to provide services in public hospitals, detention centres, juvenile detention centres and for corrective services.

The group, under the banner of Occupy Perth – the same group that held a multi-day sit-in in the city centre last year - are concerned by what they say is a poor history of privatised government services.

The community activists claim deaths and riots in detention centre and serious illnesses from hospital infections were a reflection of the poor quality privately provided by Serco's services.

There are presently three inquiries into deaths in immigration detention centres run by Serco in Australia, according to activist group Serco Watch.

Serco's UK parent company was last year found responsible for the death of 14-year-old Adam Rickwood, who was staying at a UK youth training centre.

Serco Watch spokesman Colin Penter said a second inquiry into the 2004 death found Adam Rickwood was illegally restrained by Serco staff, which was a contributing factor in his death.

A state parliamentary inquiry is examining the privatisation of government services and is due to report later this year.

Serco has been contacted for comment.

Who Wins, Who Loses From The Mining Boom?
Free Public Forums In Cairns And Brisbane
The Australia Institute will host two events in Queensland in the coming fortnight to discuss the impact of the mining boom on the State’s tourism, manufacturing and agriculture industries. The events will focus on the 99 per cent of Queenslanders who don't work in mining.

Tuesday March 13
6.00 – 8.00pm
Civic Reception Room, Council Administration Building
119 – 145 Spence Street, Cairns

The event will be opened by Mayor Val Schier and speakers include The Australia Institute’s Executive Director Richard Denniss and Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Rob Giason. New research on the likely impacts of the proposed expansion of mining on the Tropical North Queensland economy will be discussed.

Tuesday March 20
6.00- 7.30pm
Bleeding Heart Gallery
166 Ann St, Brisbane

Speakers: Richard Denniss, Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind and Drew Wagner, Chief Policy Officer, Agforce. A new Institute research paper will be released to coincide with this event which details how the Queensland economy will be affected by the significant number of mining projects operating in the State.

For more information on either event contact Serena Rogers at or (02) 6206 8707.

Gladstone Harbour Dredging Stopped - Same Problem Same Solution: Friends Of The Earth Brisbane [14/3/12]

Marking the last day of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee visit to Australia protesters descended on Gladstone Harbour and stopped dredging. Mark (Potts) Driscoll chained himself to the harbour dredge Razende Bol and Rotterdam boat, shutting down the controversial development of the Coal Seam Gas LNG port facility on Curtis Island in Gladstone Queensland.

Potts Driscoll and Friends of the Earth have taken this action to remind the voting public of the beauty and environmental values of the Great Barrier Reef. Today signifies the last day of the World Heritage Committee's mission with this symbolic action to bring attention back to Gladstone and the destructive dredging.

“The dredging activities in Gladstone are a crime against the environment. The LNG facilities in Gladstone are another part in the destructive Coal Seam Gas industry in Queensland. This industry is destroying our farmland, polluting our water systems, and killing the Great Barrier Reef,” said Friends of the Earth spokesperson Drew Hutton.

“Today is the final day of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee monitoring mission to Australia. We want to send a clear reminder to the World Heritage team that Gladstone harbour is being killed and the dredging by the Coal Seam Gas industry is the cause”.

The visit by UNESCO was initiated by Gladstone locals over their concern for Gladstone Harbour and the massive industrial development, dredging and fish kills. In June 2011 the Australian Government was requested by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee to ‘please explain’ why it should be able to maintain World Heritage declaration over the Great Barrier Reef for allowing LNG projects within the Great Barrier Reef marine park.

Potts Driscoll has just completed a 550km walk from Dalby (Kumbarilla) to Gladstone to see for himself what the CSG (Coal Seam Gas) industry is doing to our countryside and Gladstone Harbour. Walking with 71 year old June Norman for 28 days along the proposed CSG pipeline and Wandoan mega coal mine railway line.

“Friends of the Earth calls for an immediate halt to all dredging activities and construction of the LNG ports in Gladstone Harbour,” said Drew Hutton.

The recent Gladstone Fish Health study conducted by the Queensland Government acknowledged the study parameters and research data were inadequate to make a final judgment on the cause of the terrible disease that has killed countless dugongs, turtles and fish.

“Friends of the Earth calls for an immediate halt to further major developments approvals in the Great Barrier Reef catchment until the Strategic Assessment is completed to the World Heritage Committee's satisfaction.”

“Friends of the Earth calls on the the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to pass a resolution at its June 2012 meeting to declare the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage in Danger, and move towards removing World Heritage status from Australia”, said Hutton.

“We need to shake things up. Surely it is time for our leaders to call a stop to this madness. The fishers of Gladstone are out of work, the harbour marine life is dying, and the World Heritage Committee have come to see the damage themselves. What more do we need to know before we stop the dredging?” said Hutton.

Findings from fisheries veterinarian Matt Landos counters the findings of the Gladstone Fish Health study by the Queensland Government. The report is due within 2 months. Initial comments released Monday, 12 March, are contrary to the State Government report stating the 2010 floods is unlikely to be the cause of the Gladstone harbour fish kill.

Gladstone Harbour and surrounding waterways of the Fitzroy River delta are set to undergo massive development to accommodate the Surat Basin and lower Bowen Basin's new coal and CSG LNG (Coal Seam Gas and Liquified Natural Gas) export port facilities. Current figures show Gladstone Harbour will accommodate export facilities for an additional 9 Coal Mines and 4 LNG projects, in addition to the current export from existing mines.

The dredging continues. Gladstone locals, fishers, and tourism operators have had enough.

Government Still In Denial On Gladstone Environmental Crisis:

Greens Media [14/3/12]

The first independent scientific investigation of the marine life contamination in Gladstone harbour still hasn’t prompted the Government to suspend the likely cause of the ecological crisis –mass dredging and dumping, Australian Greens environment spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters said today.

“This is the very first scientific study not conducted by the Queensland Government or the Gladstone Ports Corporation, the proponents of the mass dredging and dumping operation in this World Heritage Area,” Senator Waters said.

“The preliminary report shows an ecosystem in crisis, finding that fish, sharks, crabs and other marine species are still sick, that this widespread multi-species disease is unusual and the likely cause is still happening, rather than the floods from a year ago.

“Instead of acting on this new scientific evidence, the Queensland Government is instead still claiming everything is fine in the harbour, and refusing to suspend the mass dredging and dumping operations, while the Federal Government is continuing to do nothing at all to protect this World Heritage Area.

“Both old parties are prepared to sacrifice the Great Barrier Reef and Gladstone harbour within it for a fossil fuel export frenzy that is also damaging our climate and our food producing land.

“What a sad indictment on both levels of Government that the local fishing community had to raise the money to fund this independent science because the Government refused to do its job.

“If Queenslanders want to protect the Reef, they need to vote Green in the state election."

Download Senator Water's press conference on Gladstone science report [AUDIO]

Eton Mess
Eton mess is a traditional English dessert consisting of a mixture of strawberries, pieces of meringue and cream, which is traditionally served at Eton College's annual cricket game against the students of Winchester College.
Eton mess is a mixture of strawberries, meringue and cream. As the meringue sits in the cream it will turn gooey so, if you want your meringue crunchy, serve it straight away. You can use any soft fruit for this recipe - mango goes well, as do raspberries.
meringues 2 -3 ready-made
strawberries 125 g (half a punnet)
caster (superfine) sugar 1/2 teaspoon
thick (double) cream 125 ml (1/2 cup)
serves 2 takes 5 minutes
1. Break the meringues into pieces. Cut the strawberries into quarters and put them in a bowl with the sugar. Using a potato masher or the back of a spoon, squash them slightly so they start to become juicy. Whip the cream with a balloon or electric whisk until it is quite thick but not solid.
2. Mix everything together gently and spoon it into glasses.
['food cook eat', Lulu Grimes, Murdoch Books- 2003]
Food Security Forum March Through Ashgrove And Brisbane CBD: Coal Seam Gas News [VIDEO - 12/3/12]
Throwing down your hat is an old Australian bush tradition.
It's a challenge. It's saying you're in this for a fight.
Drew Hutton [12 March, 2012]
Sweeping Reform Changes Name Of Program, When Australians Wanted Chaplains OUT Of Public Schools

DEEWR makes good on school chaplaincy program [Commonwealth Ombudsman Media Release - 14/3/12]:

The National School Chaplaincy Program has been revised and renamed since the July 2011 Commonwealth Ombudsman investigation report regarding its administration.

Acting Ombudsman Alison Larkins today confirmed she was satisfied that the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) had, during the past six months, acted on recommendations to address matters of concern.

‘DEEWR has made a significant effort to reform its administration of the newly-named National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program,’ Ms Larkins said.

‘The program has been expanded to allow schools to engage welfare workers, as well as chaplains, all of whom must now hold or be working towards a minimum qualification in youth work, pastoral care or an equivalent discipline.

‘And new internal guidelines have been developed that require more rigorous assessment of applicants and provide greater clarity in relation to child protection issues and police checks.’

Some of the problems highlighted by the Ombudsman’s investigation involved processes for gaining parental consent for children to participate in the program, funding agreements and complaint handling.

Since then, DEEWR has responded by:

agreeing to develop and provide to parents relevant information about the program

clarifying its expectations about what constitutes adequate consultation with the school community and consent processes

creating a service agreement between funding recipients and schools to ensure that:

all key participants in the program are accountable; protection of children and parental rights is central to the administration of the program; schools manage the program in accordance with the guidelines; and consistent national monitoring of the program can be undertaken by schools and DEEWR officials

amending and expanding the program’s code of conduct

reviewing complaint-handling procedures and auditing the operation of new procedures.

Ms Larkins said that an outstanding issue was the lack of a direct definition of the term ‘pastoral care’ in the guidelines. In response, DEEWR agreed to address this issue in the near future to alleviate confusion regarding what is meant by the term.

Thoughtlines with Bob Carr [8/4/11]:

... My view has always been government funding for school chaplains is wrongheaded and should have been abandoned with the election of the Rudd government.

The program introduces religiosity into state schools. As might have been predicted in 2006, school chaplains in Queensland are conducting Christian prayers at school assemblies and conducting lunchtime prayer and Bible club and study sessions. Fine, but the taxpayer is funding it and this was meant to be a program that saw them as counsellors, not as evangelists. They also recruit students for “Jesus boot camps.” Taxpayers are funding Christian evangelistic activity.
Kevin Rudd in 2009 promised the Australian Christian Lobby an “investment” of $42 million to extend the chaplaincy program to 2011. Prime Minister Gillard has allocated $222 million to extend the program to 1000 more Australian schools.

Like Thomas Jefferson I believe in “a wall of separation” between church and state. I don’t want to see squabbles at P and C meetings about whether a minister, priest, imam or rabbi gets the gig for a school. John Howard was adamant that “Students need the guidance of chaplains, rather than just counsellors.” The notion of the state funding religious activity is abhorrent. ...

The Secular Public Education Lobby (SPEL) [VIDEOS]

The Secular Public Education Lobby (SPEL) contends that Australian public schools must become, by Commonwealth and State statute, unambiguously secular spaces, with no 'volunteer' provided religious instruction or religious activities ('comparative' or otherwise) being carried out within formal school hours (including lunch/recreation breaks) or on the school campus. This includes RI, RE, SRE, CRI, SRI and every other manifestation of religious and sectarian indoctrination, evangelising and proselytising.

If You Want To Attend The Lismore Transport Forum, You Must RSVP Today [14/3/12]

Email from Trains On Our Tracks to supporters:

Dear TOOT Supporters

There will be a Transport Forum in Lismore on Wednesday 21st March 2012, 6-8pm at the Lismore City Hall.

We need people to get along to say clearly that we need sustainable local public transport, and that it must include rail.

The NSW govt is running this forum as part of the Transport Masterplan process, which is being run across the entire state in just a few short months. This is the only forum for the whole of the Northern Rivers.

They ask people to RSVP to

If you'd like to go, but don't have any transport to get there, tell them, and tell us at we may be able to help.

This is the only forum in the whole Northern Rivers. ...

Tweed Daily News [14/3/12]:

Plans are on track to put rail services back on the Casino to Murwillumbah line and extend it to the Gold Coast so Byron, Lismore and Casino residents can go by train to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, says a North Coast MP.

Tweed MP Geoff Provest yesterday rejected claims by Byron's Deputy Mayor Basil Cameron that a State Government decision to develop state and regional transport plans would delay the return of services to the line by years.

He said a separate feasibility study on returning the rail services and extending the rail line to Coolangatta is steaming ahead and is likely to be completed by late this year.

His Lismore colleague Thomas George also rejected Cr Cameron's claims.

Mr Provest said he was told "10 days ago" tenders would soon be awarded for the $2 million feasibility study, promised in last year's election campaign.

He said it would identify the feasibility of services plus a route for the extension to the Gold Coast and "give us a proposition to take to Infrastructure NSW or the Federal Government".

"There is some urgency because the Gold Coast has won the 2018 Commonwealth Games," he added.
"We have got to be in a position to take advantage of that."

Mr George said the state plan had to be done first but believed both that and regional plans would not take more than a year.

"I know everybody wants everything done yesterday," he said, adding that interested residents should attend a forum on the transport plans in Lismore City Hall from 6pm next Wednesday.

However president of the Trains On Our Tracks (TOOT) lobby group Karin Kolbe warned the plans could amount to red tape that would strangle moves to return passenger services.

"They are setting up bureaucratic hurdles," Ms Kolbe said.

"It's a process that's designed to fail."

Ms Kolbe said people had to register online or by phone by today to attend next Wednesday's forum but it had been little advertised.

State Of Climate Report: More Ambitious Action Needed:

Greens Media Release [14/3/12]

The update of climate science in the State of the Climate report released today by the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology shows the wisdom of the Greens' approach which redesigned Australia's emissions trading scheme to enable increasing ambition each and every year instead of locking in a weak target.

This clear presentation of the science should also put paid to the recent surge in campaigning by vested interests to lower the $23 a tonne starting price for carbon dioxide, in effect an extension of their campaign of climate denial.

"All the scientific evidence is pointing to very serious global warming due to human activity causing more extreme weather, worse droughts, floods and bushfires and a worrying impact on our food chain," Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.

"Today's State of the Climate report is a reminder of the important of establishing an independent expert Climate Change Authority to recommend 5 year rolling carbon budgets, injecting solid science into this vital decision and giving us an opportunity to lift our ambition each and every year.

"Our best and brightest scientists are effectively sending a message to the big polluters who are once again campaigning to lower the carbon price that what we need is greater ambition in the face of a massive challenge.

"Far from a lower starting price reducing economic disruption, it in fact increases the climate risk in every investment, from on-farm to factory floor to household.

"All these big polluters are doing is locking in our dependence on increased coal exports and coal fired power, and increasing our vulnerability to economic shocks such as China's cap on coal use from 2015.

"For Australia to be competitive in this century, we must invest in the innovation and new jobs that will come from moving away from fossil fuels and embracing the transition to a zero carbon economy powered by renewable energy."

Commission Calls For Carr To Change Tack On West Papua

Catholic Justice And Peace Commission [13/3/12]:

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has called on the new Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, to change the direction of Australia’s approach to conflict in the Indonesian provinces of West Papua.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the militarisation of West Papua had led to great problems in the region which is situated on the western half of the island of New Guinea.

“The indigenous Melanesian people of West Papua have never accepted the Indonesian takeover of West Papua in the 1960s,” Mr Arndt said.

“While there has been a small armed independence group in West Papua, nonviolent, peaceful groups challenging Indonesian rule and the abuses of security forces have grown in recent years,” he said.

“Despite their commitment to peaceful action, Indonesian security forces respond with brutal tactics to keep a lid on their activities,” he said.

“The Indonesian Minister for Law and Human Rights recently said there were no political prisoners in Indonesia, but many Papuans are in prison for peaceful political actions like raising the Papuan flag,” he said.

“There are five Papuan leaders currently on trial for treason after they made a declaration of independence at a large Papuan gathering last October,” he said.

“The brutal attack on that gathering of unarmed, peaceful people is unfortunately all too common in West Papua,” he said.

“We hope that the appointment of Mr Carr as Foreign Affairs Minister will give our country a chance to take a stronger stand on military brutality and intimidation in the region,” he said.

“We also hope Mr Carr can encourage the Indonesian Government to sit down with all political groups in West Papua and find a way to end a conflict which has lasted fifty years,” he said.

“Australia cannot continue to hope this problem will go away,” he said.

“Ordinary citizens, human rights defenders and peaceful political activists have been subjected to many human rights violations and Australia must do its part to help end this concerning situation,” he said.

“There needs to be a new way found to end the violence and bring about peace in West Papua,” he said.

“This problem on our doorstep will continue to simmer and worsen unless we can encourage Indonesia to take Papuan hopes and concerns seriously,” he said.

The Commission helps to facilitate a local solidarity group, the West Papua Solidarity Group Brisbane. On this Friday 16 March at Anzac Square, 4.30 – 5.30 p.m., the Group will hold a public demonstration in support of the five Papuans on trial and of human rights in West Papua.

The group will also send a message of support to the five Papuans before the end of this week when, it is believed, their trial will conclude. It is currently collecting signatures from supporters before sending the message.

Mr Arndt said the Commission will continue to support the group’s efforts to lobby the Australian Government on human rights in West Papua.

A Room Full Of Hot Air: Meet The Candidates For The Broadwater Electorate, Paradise Point [13/3/12]

We didn't stay to see who won the fruit platter, there was too much partisan hoo ha from LNP and ALP supporters during the designated question time.

Here are some of the policy promises - and constituent reaction - which captured our attention:

Peta-Kaye Croft (Sitting member, ALP): Will lobby for a Medicare office at Runaway Bay shopping centre.

Ben O'Brien (Family First): Wants to synchronise buses and trains, reduce registration charges and public transport fares for students and pensioners.

James Brydges (Greens): Teacher and disability advocate. Owns a 52 ft catamaran. Is opposed to a Cruise Ship terminal and excessive dredging of the Broadwater. Didn't elaborate on his education and health policies - although he did highlight the need for serious attention to be paid to mental health care.

Liz Pforr (Independent): Civil marriage celebrant. Wants water craft leases and registration to be spent on the Gold Coast. Was scathing of the Hope Island Road debacle, but made a rude and unecessary comment about raising children and being in office.

Verity Barton (LNP): Grandfather was a Queensland MP. Will scrap the T2 lanes on Frank Street, install flashing lights at Coombabah State School, upgrade the Pine Ridge Road and fund teacher aides in Prep schools.

Ron Clarke (Independent): Concerned about the state's debt. Wants to cap and reduce bulk water charges. Said the Gold Coast pays more for electricity and water than any other Australian city. Received a negative reaction on mentioning what great opportunities the 2018 Commonwealth Games will bring to the Gold Coast.

Peter McCambridge (Katters Australian Party): Lived on a boat in the Broadwater for three years. Suggested a complimentary bus from Paradise Point to Southport, and said the KAP would scrap the Brisbane CBD light rail in favour of upgrading state roads.

There were about 150 people at the forum. Apart from the Peanut Gallery (who were loudly rude with their constant pointless and partisan interjections - very pro-LNP in direction and content) and a few other obviously 'major party' ring-ins, most people appeared genuinely interested in hearing from the candidates. The heckling and interruptions, although loud and distracting, were confined to a small handful of idiots.

Although it's great (and sadly too rare) to see the candidates and community in a "real" environment together, we were left with the sobering realisation that one of these seven people will be representing this electorate in the next Queensland Parliament.

Democracy is an interesting concept, and we really should try to get more of it.

What Do You Think Of When You Dream Of Cairns, And The Beautiful Places You Visited (Or Want To Visit) There?

What Do You Think The People Of Cairns Love About Their City?

Greens Media Release [13/3/12]:

A debate on the economy of the Cairns Region sponsored by the Cairns Chamber of Commerce on Thursday March 15 has failed to invite The Greens Party.

"After phone conversations and several emails asking that they reconsider their position, local Greens’ candidates have been told they are not welcome" said Barron River Greens candidate Elaine Harding, herself a local businesswoman and partner of the Business Enterprise Centre of Advance Cairns.

"As a potent third force in the Queensland elections, one that is shaping the nature of the CSG debate, as well as larger issues around leadership of the state, it is unfortunate that the local business sector has chosen this stance" she stated.

"Greens’ candidates in other parts of the state have been invited to Chamber debates, so why the shut out here in FNQ?" emphasised Dr Harding.

"Greens have many policies to contribute to discussions on sustainable business opportunities for Queensland and the Far North in particular."

Need A Costume For St Patricks Day?

Stanley Street, Woollongabba

The Missing Link? Phone Hacking And The Motorman files

Hacking Inquiry [13/3/12]:

The Leveson Inquiry urgently needs to break open the Motorman files – not least because they might reveal how phone hacking really worked.

Few news outlets reported in detail the evidence of Alec Owens, an ex-policeman and former Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) investigator who gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry about Operation Motorman and its aftermath. They should have. Not simply for the light it shed on the practices and ethics of newsgathering, but because his evidence – and the Motorman Files he discussed – might provide the key to how phone hacking worked.

Owens was senior investigating officer at the ICO from 1999 to 2005. In 2003 he led an ICO raid on a house in Hampshire from which a man called Steve Whittamore ran a thriving information acquisition business. Through a remarkable network of fellow blaggers and illicit contacts within the police, telephone companies the DVLA, and elsewhere, Whittamore could get almost any personal information on just about anyone in the UK.

Whittamore’s biggest clients? The British press. Not just the News of the World (who relied heavily on another private investigator by the name of Glenn Mulcaire) but The Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, The Observer, The People, The Daily and Sunday Mirror. In all, more than two dozen national newspapers and magazines commissioned Whittamore to acquire over 17,000 pieces of personal information (see What Price Privacy for list of publications). We know all this because Whittamore kept careful records, in four A4 sized coloured books – a blue one, a red one, a green one and a yellow one, plus lots of miscellaneous records.

The newspapers commissioned Whittamore to get home addresses from telephone numbers, names and addresses for vehicle registration numbers from the DVLA and Police National Computer (PNC), criminal records from the PNC. He was also paid to get phone numbers: ex-directory numbers, mobile phone numbers, BT “friends and family” numbers. None of these can you get legally without proper authority (although there are “public interest” defences).

After the raid Alec Owens and his team went meticulously through the coloured books, astonished at the Pandora’s box of personal information. At the time Owens could not work out why the newspapers had such a fascination with phone numbers. Of course journalists may want to get in contact with someone who is the subject, or the source, of the story. But there were far too many numbers just for that. And the numbers often included all those close to the subject of the story – their partner, their children, their close friends, the people they worked with.

Owens did not pursue this because – according to the evidence he gave under oath at Leveson – he was discouraged from doing so by his bosses. “We can’t take them on,” Owens reported ICO Deputy Commissioner Francis Aldhouse saying, “they’re too big for us”. By his account, he therefore could not question journalists as to why they had acquired friends and family numbers. Those who ran the ICO at the time, including Mr Aldhouse, firmly deny that this was the position.

Then the phone hacking scandal blew up, and some of the names coming out started to match up. Dozens of the people whose personal details were in Whittamore’s files had, it appeared, had their phones hacked. Not only that, but their parents, their partners, their friends, and their colleagues had often also been hacked. A light bulb clicked on in Owens’ head. That’s it, he thought, that’s what they needed all the numbers for.

As Owens says when questioned by Robert Jay QC at the Inquiry on Wednesday, November 30:

Robert Jay QC: You tell us in 5.2 [of your written evidence] you read about Glenn Mulcaire’s arrest which we know took place on 8 August 2006. You say you certainly never associated it with Operation Motorman. Do you now associate it in some way with Operation Motorman, Mr Owens?

Alec Owens: Yes.

Robert Jay QC: And why?

Alec Owens:Basically, at the time one of the burning questions was, especially for the ex-directory mobile phone numbers, what could all these journalists want it for? You’re talking about thousands and thousands of telephone ex-directory numbers. And essentially I — well, I can say, an awful lot of the names of the victims that are coming up in hacking are in Operation Motorman, Steve Whittamore’s books. An awful lot. And my personal feeling was Steve Whittamore was gathering the numbers — he wasn’t hacking, he was definitely not into hacking, we found no evidence of that. But he was then passing them to the papers and possibly those numbers were being passed to people who hacked. I mean the names of people like Milly Dowler, the numbers, ex-directory numbers, that sort of thing, and it wasn’t just an occasional one. There were dozens of them, of the names that have now come out in the hacking Inquiry.

Robert Jay QC: I should ask this question: did you see reference to the Dowlers’ ex-directory numbers in the Operation Motorman material?

Alec Owens:Yes.

(Oral Evidence, November 30, 2011)

So, according to Owens, dozens of the phone hacking names match up with the Motorman names. Even the Dowlers’ ex-directory numbers are in the Motorman files.

We do not know what these numbers were used for, or if they were ever called. But, at the very least, the Leveson Inquiry needs to find out if Owens was right. Were any of these phone numbers acquired illegally so they could be hacked? If so, were other newspapers involved in hacking? If not, why were all those phone numbers being bought – at considerable expense – and what were they used for?

To find out the Inquiry has to ask the journalists who commissioned Whittamore to acquire these ex-directory, mobile, and friends and family numbers. But it cannot ask the journalists without knowing who they are. To do this it has to open the Motorman Files. So open the Motorman Files. ...

What Does This Mean? And Will It Sell T-Shirts?

Adelaide Street, Brisbane

Charities And Volunteers Can Only Do So Much

They Shouldn't Be Responsible For Delivering Government Services Such As Teaching Our Children

School Library Association of Queensland, Teacher Librarian Campaign for 2012 State Election:

We are sending emails to as many candidates as possible before the 24 March state election. This will be for their education and so that we can advise our members and friends of school libraries which candidates support quality school libraries in Queensland schools.



March 10, 2012


The profession of teacher librarianship and its value in building a literate and information literate nation?

As a former high school English and French teacher, and as a Green, I highly value literacy as the fundamental key to lifelong achievement of individual potential, and indeed personal happiness. I also view literacy as crucial to a well-managed, principled society that can accommodate notions of equity, respect for human and nature rights, and far-reaching decisions for micro- and macroeconomic policy through an informed vote.

I had the enormous good fortune to be born to a family that valued literacy not only for its social usefulness but for the sheer lifelong joy that the written word can bring in its appeal to the range of human emotions I would experience at every stage of my maturation. Literacy also opens the way for the establishment of proper values and safeguards against decisions based on dangerous ignorance. I also view literacy as a staged and possibly infinite process and suspect that no matter how high a level of literacy an individual attains, there will always be a higher, deeper level beyond. My own literacy is my greatest personal inheritance from a generational point of view, and my most prized life possession. Libraries, whether public or private or school-based, whether an ancient, astoundingly comprehensive collection like the Bodleian Library, or something so unassuming as a single bookshelf in a beach caravan park have always represented hallowed and exciting spaces for me which are both deeply satisfying in their promise of opening doors to every avenue of accumulated human knowledge, and deeply frustrating in their declaration that my single lifetime will never allow me to access them all. A further frustration is the thought of all the collections of the languages of the Earth, which again, will remain inaccessible to me, since even the best translation risks missing the finest nuance of a language, which is the beautiful elusiveness of all languages including our own.

As to teacher-librarians, I can state with absolute sincerity that I have never met a librarian I didn’t like! I have enjoyed my interactions with them all from primary school right through to matriculation, and they remain in my memory along with some of the books they steered me towards, gently (and sometimes not!) away from my well-thumbed choices and with consistently rewarding results. As a teacher, I valued my teacher-librarian colleagues with their enthusiasm for their discipline, the pleasure they took in assessing a student and recommending an author, or helping them with research reading as required. In current times, I have often sought and continue to seek the help of library staff with the range of new technologies associated with managing research, as I have an unbreakable habit of retuning to study. In short, along with Terry Pratchett, I find librarians intriguing and utterly indispensable as long as humanity values knowledge and its careful storage.

The establishment and maintenance of qualified staffing and support services for libraries in both primary and secondary schools?

As technologies of data storage and access increase, but also as the very volume of works continues to expand, teacher librarians are becoming more valuable than ever to the education system at all levels. For the same reason, the workload for librarians and their need for ongoing professional development to keep up with rapid pace of change in their information area are also becoming onerous if quality of delivery is to be maintained. I have no hesitation in committing to additional and ongoing support to librarians in the form of professional development and registration qualification standards as well as extra staffing and resources to facilitate this important area in education.

Sponsorship in tertiary training courses to ensure that, over a period of time, established staffing standards can be maintained?

As noted above, I understand that librarianship in the modern context has undergone an almost total transformation in delivery services and the subsequent skills and knowledge required, despite the essentials remaining the same. Not only to address the implications of the modern phenomenon for teacher librarian and support staff needs for substantial base knowledge and ongoing updating, but also to dispel negative social attitudes to the teaching profession in general, the Greens strongly support high level entry qualifications for teachers and innovative funding solutions for ongoing professional development.

Greens further believe that teachers’ high level of subject knowledge as well as the fundamental role they play in maintaining Australia’s high standards of living, warrant recognition in higher salary rates. Greens value education as a top priority and insist on best practice in this as in all fields. As elected members we would all push very hard for increased and authentic funding of the above education outcomes as well as increased funding of tertiary places (along with ensuring the highest quality of tertiary delivery). Having had personal experience of the difficulties in affording further study at various points in my own life, and knowing the ongoing value to society of well trained teachers, I would also support sponsorships for ongoing professional development.

Collection of state data on school library staffing, funding, and scheduling, by requiring thorough and consistent collection by Education Queensland?

I would support this.

A statement in your education platform advocating for well-staffed and funded 21st century school libraries for Australia’s students?

I have great faith in the comprehensiveness of our Education Policy

(, which I believe covers all the concerns raised by your organisation at a general or implicit level. However, because of this exercise of having to revisit the policy from the specific point of view of library policy, I note that we do not have an overt statement to meet your specialist area. The Greens Party’s grassroots approach means that our policies are created by members who have direct experience in the relevant fields and/or in direct consultation with representative organisations. I am thus happy to commit to addressing this gap whether elected or not by writing a statement and addressing Party processes to bring the library issues to the fore on our policy page, and would welcome the opportunity to consult with the School Library Assoc of Qld after March 24 to ensure we can properly progress this request.

We are requesting you:

Question decision makers about diminishing library services in schools in your electorate

I will do so, and would appreciate any support data your Association is able to provide me for the seat of Albert.

Insist education decision-makers present the research evidence that underpins their decisions

I believe I am in the habit of doing this in the course of my experience as a teacher, parent and for four years, President of local high school P&C. I will continue to do so, as I try to keep up an active interest outside of election times in policy publications of government departments.

Ensure education authorities implement best practices for library services as outlined in the research. I am happy to give this commitment which dovetails with my personal approach to implementation, as it does with the Greens Party’s consistent call for best practice in all policy decisions.

We look forward to receiving your response and seek your assurance that you will not allow the children of your constituents to be disadvantaged, and that you insist that trained teacher-librarians are working in every school library in your electorate.

I highly esteem libraries as a resource, and librarians as mentors, colleagues and guides in my personal, ongoing engagement with knowledge. I support any legislative or funding actions that can ensure the finest delivery of library services to all levels of education. I have the most profound faith in education as the cure for all social ills as well as the path to individual life enjoyment. As a teacher and a mother and, I believe, a compassionate human being who still maintains high hopes and desires for us all as a species, I persevere in my private life as I would strive if elected, to bring the joy of a complete education to every Queensland child.

The NSW Government Is Outsourcing Foster Care

Safe Hands Campaign, Public Service Association of NSWL

At issue are the lives of extremely vulnerable children who have been placed into the state's legal care by the NSW Children's Court. No government should be allowed to shift its responsibility to provide these children high-level care and protection.

It's clear our government doesn't care about the children. They just want to wipe their hands clean - and they're putting children at risk.

Light a candle for children at risk

Join us for a Candlelight Vigil and show our Government that you care about the children. This is a community event and you are encouraged to bring family and friends.

Wednesday 14 March
5.30 pm
The Domain, Sydney (behind Parliament House)

There will be food, drinks and face painting.

Mainstreaming Sexual Exploitation While Simultaneously Restricting Reproductive Rights ...

Where Else But Queensland?

South Brisbane

Usually Listing Something On The Queensland Heritage Register Is A Sure Way To Fast Track Its Demolition, But Nevermind

Amanda Lake, Candidate for Division 4, GCCC [8/3/12]:

To everyone who loves Tipplers

We are STILL fighting to save Tipplers Tavern from demolition and at present there is a brief window of opportunity that we need your help with!!

There is now a chance to get Tipplers Heritage Listed - this heritage Assessment is open till 30 March 2012 for people to submit reasons/memories/their stories and pictures to help explain the importance of retaining this historic Tipplers Tavern building.

The heritage component was never investigated by GCCC when developing their plans for the Tipplers precinct, although the GCCC heritage team recommended that this be investigated way back in May 2009. Fortunately, due to this heritage assessment now underway, GCCC are momentariliy prevented with progressing with their plans to demolish Tipplers.

If Tipplers makes it onto the Heritage Register, this will stop its impending demolition and provide the opportunity to access much needed federal funding grants to undertake this refurbishment. If you, or anyone else that you know, would like to contribute to this heritage submission - in the hope of saving Tipplers - it would be most appreciated. ...

Richborough Power Station Demolished In Controlled Explosion [VIDEO]
Image: Daily Mail [12/3/12]
Telegraph [12/3/12]:
Dozens of people turned out to watch the collapse of three cooling towers and chimney, which have been a fixture of the east Kent skyline for the last 50 years.
The demolition, which took 18 months to plan, was over in less than a minute on Sunday after experts set off sequenced explosions at the base of the 300ft (100m) towers.

Richborough power station, near Sandwich, was opened in 1962 to generate energy from local coalfields. Despite the demolition, the site will continue to provide power in the future as the plant owners plan to build a green energy park in the towers' place.

Burke Delays World's Biggest Coal Port In World Heritage Area: Greenpeace Media Release [12/3/12]

Greenpeace was relieved to see Environment Minister, Tony Burke, is beginning to listen to the broader Australian community in deciding to extend the deadline approval of the massive expansion of the coal port at Abbot Point until December 2012.

However we are concerned this delay doesn't go nearly far enough to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

“We applaud the Minister for recognizing that it is not possible to approve this development without consideration of the environmental impacts of related projects. In light of this it is clear that any expansion at Abbot Point cannot be approved until the Government’s Strategic Assessment of the cumulative impacts of all industrial developments on the Reef have concluded,” said John Hepburn, Greenpeace Campaigner.

Minister Burke was expected to make a decision by the 30th of March on whether or not to approve the Multi Cargo Facility, the key to Abbot Point becoming world's biggest coal port, right in the middle of the World Heritage Area.

However, with the impacts of the coal boom on the reef running hot in the national media and with UNESCO in town, Minister Burke has signed a document pushing the approval date back until December 2012.

“The approval of the Multi Cargo Facility at Abbot Point has been proposed without full consideration of what it will enable.” said Hepburn. “It is clear that outside the coal industry, very few Australians had any idea of how enormous the coal port at Abbot Point could become. It would be three times bigger than the biggest coal port anywhere in the world with 4000 coal ships cutting through the Reef from it each year.”

“The industry lead cumulative impact assessment of Abbot Point is fundamentally flawed. To believe that the damage caused by building additional coal terminals and wharfs at Abbot Point can be assessed in isolation of other developments in the World Heritage Area is essentially a perpetuation of the existing project-by-project approvals regime: a regime that has failed to protect the Reef,” said Hepburn.

“That’s why it is untenable for Minister Burke to continue to propose approving the world's largest coal port prior to the completion of government’s Strategic Assessment,” concluded Hepburn.

Ozone Layer Scientist Rowland Dies

Independent [12/3/12]:

F Sherwood Rowland, the Nobel prize-winning chemist who sounded the alarm on the thinning of the Earth's ozone layer, has died.

The University of California, Irvine said Mr Rowland died on Saturday at his home. He was 84.

The cause was complications from Parkinson's disease.

Mr Rowland was among three scientists awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize for chemistry for discovering that a by-product of aerosol sprays, deodorants and other consumer products could destroy the earth's atmospheric blanket.

The prize was awarded more than two decades after Mr Rowland warned of the problem.

His theory was strongly challenged before it won widespread recognition.

Mr Rowland is survived by his wife, a daughter and a son.

Farmers And Greenies Come To Town As Alan Jones Leads The 1,000 Strong Brisbane Food Security March Through The CBD [12/3/12]
They marched from the Convention Centre to the Executive Building
View of the march winding off the Victoria Bridge along William Street
Gathering at the Executive Building, George Street
Throwing down the hats outside the Executive Building
Alan Jones addresses the protesters: This has nothing to do with political stripe, we need democracy!

Here is a speech delivered to the forum [apologies, as the recording device didn't pick up the speaker's - a veterinarian, mother and artist - name]:

[My message] is a letter to the shareholders of Newhope Coal. I'm telling them some facts they need to know about their company.

Newhope Coal has done something no other company has the arrogance or gall to do, they have crossed the line. They have moved into an area of the inner Darling Downs and they have started an open cut mine.

They thought they could come in with their wrecking balls and destroy the town and they thought Australia and the world would say and do nothing.

They are not welcome. They are not a part, or a good part, of our community. In fact, they are regarded by most farmers as an ugly, open sore on the agricultural back of our landscape.

We are tired of their coal dust and deceits. All along they have set a spin about how Acland and Oakey will grow and prosper. And all we see are lost jobs, closed small businesses, saleyards closing down, retail businesses shutting their doors, vet and teacher numbers declining.

And entire township has died and good farmland has been left in disrepair.

We are tired of the talk of jobs. Newhope and the entire industry behind them has a one-legged horse. And they just talk about 'jobs, jobs, jobs'. And everybody knows you don't back a one-legged horse.

Farming, instead, is a rich tapestry. It's people, and it's families and communities. It's sporting groups. It's the man that drives the truck that delivers the grain, the fellow that sells the grain in the first place. It's the solicitors in the local towns, the teachers that teach the children. It's everyone, it's that big flow on effect. All the industry that comes after the farmer. The vegetable packer, the distributers, the meatworks and the exporters.

The very cereal you had this morning probably took 15 or 20 people to get it there, and that's what we lose when mining comes into an agricultural district.

We are tired of the spin. Farmers and country people are neither dumb nor dispensable. The highly paid media specialists you employ and the liaison people you bring into our town will not pull the wool over our eyes.

No amount of sugar coating will turn the disgrace of the Jondaryan coal dump into a pile of fairy floss.

You cannot window dress the destruction of a town. You cannot hide the anxiety and stress and physical ill-health of the people that you are affecting. We are tired of the conflict which will only continue to fester and grow. Neighbour is set against neighbour. Just look at Jondaryan. Community groups in Oakey are divided. There are some that want the money and others who won't touch it with a ten foot pole.

We have managed without your money before, and we will manage without your money again.

We've lost a generation of farmers at Acland. A generation of expertise and experience and we will never get them back. Australians expect to live in a home of their own choosing, to breathe clean air and drink clean water - unless they live near Acland or Jondaryan.

But the tide is turning now, which you will realise when you read media reports about Newhope Coal. They used to be the tight, well run, efficient coal-mining company. Now they're called the 'controversial coal-miner', Newhope Corporation. Week after week Newhope is in the national headlines. Often not for very good reasons.

Your directors are worried. Stage 3 is not a "done deal". Politicians are treating the issue as political dynamite, and it may be potential political suicide. Opposition is growing as community groups hold up Acland as the worst case scenario of the farming versus mining debate in this country.

We've been joined with 'Doctors For The Environment", political parties like "Greens" and "Katters Australian Party". Also, "Lock The Gate" and also all the associated movements, and now even the farmers federations are coming on board and realising what is happening.

Newhope wants to jump ship. But the ship is listing badly and no-one wants to buy.

In the Court of public opinion the jury has met and decided and the verdict is clear. The Acland project is taking this mining business, and business in general in this country, to a new and dangerous level. It is unjust, unethical and unAustralian.

The Acland project, and others like it, is flawed on just too many levels - it is bad business. Your shareholders should meet, but not in a boardroom. They should get in a bus and come out to Acland. They should sit in Tom Doherty Park and talk to the people of Acland and Oakey and the surrounding district. They will be given hospitality and straight talking. For that is the way things are done out here. You will hear how for country people their land and their soil and their water is everything to them. Their bush around them is off limits. You will see they are decent people who deserve better treatment. They care about hard work, environment, family, community, heritage, innovation and how much their land can produce.

Now that's what we call a good, sound, long term investment for Australia.

'Bimblebox' - The Queensland Premiere

Six Degrees:
BIMBLEBOX is a new documentary about coal and coal seam gas (CSG) expansion in Australia, made by award winning US filmmaker Mike O'Connell. In a way, it is to coal in Queensland what Gasland was to CSG in the USA.
Paola Cassoni will be coming to Brisbane to share the story of her fight to save the Bimblebox Nature Refuge from being destroyed by a mega coal mine.

In 2010 the Bimblebox team heard about an independent filmmaker in the USA and his renowned documentary, Mountaintop Removal. Mike O’Connell’s film was telling the world about resistance to coal mining in Appalachia, West Virginia.

Mike's new film, Bimblebox, is named for the latest flashpoint in the conflict between coal and ecology in Australia. The story however is bigger that Bimblebox; it’s for anyone who cares about Australia, the environment, climate change, and the power of the coal industry.

The fate of Bimblebox Nature Refuge is shown in the context of community responses to the massive expansion of coal and coal seam gas mining across the eastern states of Australia.

More information about the Bimblebox Nature Refuge can be found here. Tickets will be sold at the door for $10 (concessions), $15 (regular) or $20 (supporter). All proceeds from the screening will go to the Bimbleblox team.

When March 13th, 2012 6:00 PM through 8:00 PM

Tribal Theatre
346 George St
Brisbane , 4000

Qld Reef Pilots Agree With Greens Assessment Of Threats:

Media Release [12/3/12]

The Queensland Greens have welcomed news of the Australian Reef Pilots - planned submission to state and federal governments on the problems posed by increased coal shipping through the Great Barrier Reef.

“A doubling of coal containers by 2015 inevitably means a doubling of risk,” Queensland Greens state spokesperson and candidate for Yeerongpilly Libby Connors said today.

“The Great Barrier Reef is vast and there will be ample opportunity for individual ships to flaunt the piloting rules and pressure from companies to cut costs.

“The Australian Reef Pilots’ evidence concerning unreported incidents deserves the most serious consideration by both levels of government who have shared responsibility for managing our World Heritage reef.”

Dr Connors said that the Bligh Government had boasted of plans to increase the capacity of Abbott Point seven-fold over the next decade so the community needed to be aware that shipping volumes were scheduled to increase beyond 2015.

“The hazards of Torres Strait and the Great Barrier Reef to shipping are central to Australian history both pre- and post-British colonisation.

“It is astonishing that governments in this day and age could be so ignorant of the environmental and historic realities of our northern coastlines.

“It is another example of Labor governments not getting out of Brisbane and Canberra enough to have a grasp of life in the regions.”

Beach Hire Business Not Approved: GCCC Media Release [12/3/12]

Gold Coast City Council today agreed with a committee recommendation that an equipment hire firm’s proposal to operate an exclusive beachfront business at Narrowneck, Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach not be approved.

Community and Cultural Development Committee Chair, Councillor Bob La Castra, said the recommendation followed a lengthy investigation and concerns that such a business would alienate the majority of beach users.

“The application sought Council’s approval to alienate sections of our beaches for the exclusive use of customers hiring the beach equipment,” said Cr La Castra.

“Based on the information provided, there could potentially be up to 540 deck chairs and beach umbrellas set up at any one time across nine sites at Narrowneck, Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach.

“Our concern is that these sites would be reserved for the exclusive use by patrons of the business, with other members of the public being prevented from using any part of these nine beach sites. There was also concern that so much equipment in confined areas could impact on the safety of beach goers.

“In essence, if we approve this application, it would result in alienating nine beach sites across some of our city’s most popular beaches.”

Councillor La Castra said the recommendation to refuse the application was also supported by Council’s Commercial Activities on Ocean Beaches Policy which required that, apart from those activities which had been identified by Council as exemptions, there was to be no commercial activities within the bathing reserves.

Queensland Greens Stand Shoulder To Shoulder With Queensland Farmers
Ashgrove [12/3/12] Image: @ConnorJolley
Large Majority of Australians (72%) Want Withdrawal From Afghanistan: Roy Morgan Poll

Finding No. 4717 - This special telephone Morgan Poll was conducted over the last three nights of November 2/3, 2011, with an Australia-wide cross section of 525 electors.: November 04, 2011

This is the first poll after 3 Australians were killed and 7 injured after a rogue Afghan soldier opened fire. A special telephone Morgan Poll over the last two nights (November 2/3, 2011) finds:

A majority of Australians (72%, up 32% from May 3/4, 2011) want Australian troops withdrawn from Afghanistan — almost 10 years after they first landed in the country in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Only 21% (down 33%) of Australians think Australian troops should stay in Afghanistan while 7% (up 1%) can’t say.

A majority of Australians (63%, up 30%) also believe US troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan compared to 23% (down 35%) that think US troops should stay in Afghanistan while 14% (up 5%) can’t say. ...
Southport [11/3/12]

Why Freeways Don't Cut Traffic

Common Urban Myths About Transport, Public Transport Users Assocation, Victoria:

The first reason freeways fail to relieve congestion is that freeway traffic still has to go somewhere before and after it uses the freeway. Prior to the construction of Citylink, VicRoads published figures showing that many roads allegedly 'relieved' by Citylink would actually be carrying moretraffic after Citylink opened than before.

Some of this would be through toll avoidance: thus VicRoads predicted that traffic in Mount Alexander Road would more than double, a prediction that has since come to pass. But they also predicted an 80 per cent increase in traffic in Gatehouse Street, a 65 per cent increase in Peel Street, and even an increase on Punt Road at the freeway junction.

These increases had nothing to do with people avoiding tolls, but rather the effect of drivers changing routes once Citylink was in place. The story has repeated itself more recently with Brisbane's 'Clem7' motorway (named after Lord Mayor Clem Jones, who oversaw the shutdown of Brisbane's tram system in 1969). According to the 2005 Environmental Impact Study, Clem7 will result in an additional 10,300 vehicles a day using busy Lutwyche Road north of the CBD.

There has been not one traffic engineer who has said that this tunnel will reduce traffic. At best it only displaces traffic. This tunnel is a civil engineer's wet dream, but it will do nothing to fix traffic issues in Brisbane. ---'Dangerman' (online comment), Brisbane Times, 19 March 2010

The second reason is that new roads create new traffic. Thus, even the Vicroads figures above have actually proved to be too low. Indeed, VicRoads and other road lobby consultants have consistently underestimated the traffic consequences of new roads in their traffic studies, such as for the Mulgrave-South Eastern Freeway link in the 1980s, the Eastern Freeway extension and CityLink in the 1990s, and (as the Auditor-General confirmed in 2011) the Hallam and Pakenham Bypasses in the 2000s. This is because their computer models assume that improved roads don't generate any additional traffic.

This isn't through lack of understanding. Even car company executives back in the 1920s understood that new roads quickly fill up with new traffic.
Since the advent of the automobile.... the amount of traffic carried by a main thoroughfare seems to be dependent largely upon how many the thoroughfare can carry. Increasing the width of roadway and making possible an additional lane of travel each way will in many cases find the added capacity entirely taken up within a few months, either by diversion from other less favorable routes or by actual increase in the use of cars by those living in and passing through the city in question.
---Alvan Macauley (president, Packard Motor Car Company), in a pamphlet produced in 1925

Hit And Run, Gympie: Queensland Police Media [11/3/12]

On March 11, 2012, 3:22 pm A 31-year-old man will appear before the Gympie Magistrates Court following a hit and run on Monkland Street in Gympie at the weekend.

It will be alleged around 3am on Saturday March 10 the man drove his vehicle into a group of people standing on Monkland Street, knocking over a man and a woman and causing minor injuries before driving off. Police located the vehicle and offender a short time later.

The Gympie man has been charged with one count each of dangerous operation of a motor-vehicle, acts intended to caused grievous bodily harm and fail to comply with duties of driver involved in a crash and is due to appear in court on April 16, 2012.

The Homophobic Advertisement "Written And Authorised by Luke Shaw" Will Drive Voters Away From The KAP

The Majority Of Queenslanders Are Not Homophobic

Most Bigotry In This State Exists Within Pockets Of Privilege (And Their Sychopants), The Major Parties And The Media - Why Do You Reckon You're Hearing And Seeing The Advertisement Over And Over Today, With Bonus Commentary From The Australian Christian Lobby?

Doug Conway, Brisbane Times [8/3/12]:

Anna isn't using her surname, Bob went to court to make them use his, Campbell's doesn't appear in the list of sitting MPs, and they've all been arguing about Joh, who didn't need one. Queensland elections are rarely wanting for wackiness.

Anna Bligh possesses one of the most famous names in Australian history.

But this time she has ditched the moniker handed down from her seafaring ancestor William, of Bounty mutiny and rum rebellion fame.

In case voters have had enough of Bligh, the reasoning seems to be, the more user-friendly term "Anna" might prevent them metaphorically hanging her from the highest yardarm in Southport.

First the Labor logo fell off Labor advertisements, then the premier's surname. Labor argues the premier is so well known her surname is superfluous.

But opponents believe the strategy is an attempt to whitewash any association with a toxic brand, as polls predict an electoral whitewash for the opposition Liberal National Party.

Bligh, that is Anna, could always claim she is following the example of Queensland's longest-serving premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, who ruled with an iron fist and a metaphor-mangling mouth from the late 1960s to the late 80s.

One of the most effective political ads ever was a poster showing his familiar visage and just two words: "Joh" and "Queensland". The two terms were interchangeable, and that was the point.

Sir Joh died seven years ago but his ghost still haunts the place. A couple of years ago Anna accused Joh of being a "corrupt premier". Joh was not convicted of corruption, or anything else, though the Fitzgerald royal commission found Joh's Queensland was riddled with corruption, and that included the Joh-appointed police commissioner Terry Lewis.

Campbell Newman, Joh's modern conservative equivalent, raised eyebrows recently by openly admitting Joh led a corrupt administration, though he did not say Joh himself was corrupt.

Newman, incidentally, is attempting something of a novelty in becoming premier from outside parliament. He has never been an MP, and refuses to answer one burning question - who will be premier if the LNP wins on March 24 but he fails to carry the seat of Ashgrove?

To taunts that he hasn't done a day's work in parliament, he replies that's a "badge of pride". He argues he has run his own consulting firm, served as Brisbane lord mayor for seven years, had a 13-year career in the army and is better qualified to run Queensland than anyone in government.

But his pronouncement on Joh drew a stinging response from a man called Luke Shaw, who occupies a singularly remarkable place in Queensland politics. Mr Shaw, 40, is credited with saving Joh from jail. He was foreman of the jury that failed to reach a verdict in Joh's 1991 perjury trial.

He and another juror held out to prevent a unanimous guilty verdict. It was revealed later he was a member of the Young Nationals and a cousin of a secretary employed by Joh's wife Flo, who as a senator made her household the original Flo-Joh team.

And what is Shaw now? Campaign director for Bob Katter's start-up Australia Party.

Katter went to the Supreme Court seeking the destruction of ballot papers giving his fledgling group the abbreviated name of the Australian Party instead of Katter's Australian Party. If the name Katter is not on the ballot paper, he says, the consequences for his party are "not much short of diabolical".

The move could result in challenges to the outcomes in scores of seats, and even to a delay in the election itself. Katter, a federal MP these days, got his first real taste of political power as a Queensland minister.

And just to show that all things in Queensland are somehow related, guess which premier he served under for six years? The one who needed no surname, of course. Joh.

Joh's Jury

Should be available at your local library - it's definitely in the GCCC library catalogue.

All These For $15.50!

The Gold Coast Library Society (Railway Street, Southport) are holding another sale next Sunday [18/3/12]

Acehnese students write message on paper-made sakura or cherry blossom flowers during a solidarity prayer for the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, a day before the one-year anniversary of the disasters, in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia, on Saturday. Aceh was the area hardest hit by Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. (AP/Heri Juanda) Jakarta Post [10/3/12]
Let the Facts Speak
Senator Scott Ludlam:

"Everywhere this industry touches down it leaves an imprint of misery and injury, and everywhere it goes it is challenged and fought. If each of us is called on to choose a side in the contest over nuclear energy on a warming planet, then at the very least, let the facts speak. "

I am proud to launch the fourth edition of "Let the Facts Speak."

This is not a work of analysis or opinion, but a straightforward chronology of nuclear accidents, incompetence and disaster spanning seven decades.

The meltdowns at Fukushima have sharpened the debate over the future of nuclear energy in Australia and elsewhere. If a disaster that has created 150,000 radiation refugees and made 3% of Japan uninhabitable was not enough to end the debate, what kind of disaster will it take?

That's up to us. Download the new edition of Let the Facts Speak and join the campaign to end the nuclear age. ...

Breathe deeply on the day of Spring. You will know that you have survived.


Sunday Brunch Fresh From The Gold Coast Broadwater

No Cruise Ship Terminal! No Deep Dredging!

How Do We Respond To The Fact Of Refugees Drowning At Sea Trying To Get Here?

Julian Burnside QC:

... If you are an optimist with no sense of history, you would be forgiven for thinking that seeking asylum has, until now, been a safe and orderly process, and that we need to make sure it is nice and tidy from now on, for their protection.

Of course it is tragic when asylum seekers die in a desperate attempt to reach protection. It is also tragic when they stay behind and are slaughtered. The key difference is that, when they stay behind and become another statistic in the grim arithmetic of ethnic cleansing, we do not empathise with them; our conscience remains untouched. When we learn that they have perished in an attempt to seek safety here, it seems different.

Why is that? Is it because they have tried to engage us? Is it because the ethics of proximity has begun to operate, so that we feel a heightened sense of responsibility for them? Is it simply because, in the unhealthy environment of current domestic politics, their fate is automatically drawn to our attention by politicians trying to exploit the occasion for their own political advantage?

If you had been a Jew in Germany in 1939, would it have been better to chance your arm with a people smuggler (Schindler, Bonnhoeffer, Schroeder...) or stay put and avoid the risk? And which is more tragic: to die passively or die in an attempt to escape? One thing is certain: if the Taliban get you, you are just as dead as if you drown.

Most Australians have trouble understanding what it means to put your life in the hands of a people smuggler, or why anyone would do it. Try to imagine that you are a refugee: you are part of an ethnic minority in Afghanistan. Your people are the target of ethnic cleansing. You have friends and family members who have been killed by Taliban snipers and suicide bombers. You know children who were blown to bits when the Taliban used them as mine-sweepers. You know of the teenager who was forced back to Afghanistan from Nauru in 2002 and who was hunted down by the Taliban: when they found him in his village, they dragged him out of his house and threw him down the village well, and a hand grenade was dropped in after him.

You have borrowed enough money to get to Australia: it is cheaper than getting to Europe or America. With your family you make your way to Indonesia, passing through Muslim countries which allow free passage to Muslims, but they do not offer protection because they have not signed the Refugees’ Convention.

In Indonesia you can go to the UNHCR and get a card which vouches that you are a refugee, but it doesn’t mean much because the Indonesian government will jail you if they find you, and you aren’t allowed to work, and you can’t send your kids to school. You will wait in the shadows until some country offers to resettle you. It could take 10 or 20 years.

There is one line of escape: you can pay a people smuggler who will take you to Australia by boat. It is dangerous, but it is a chance for freedom and safety, for you and for your kids.

Imagine yourself there. What would you do?

What would most Australians do? What would our political leaders do, if they were in that position?

I know I would take the risk, and I suspect most Australians would do the same. You know that if your luck runs out you could die trying to reach safety.

It is tragic that people drown trying to get here to safety. It happens. It will keep happening. Our compassion for the drowned should be harnessed to a genuine rethink of our refugee policy. One thing is sure enough: if the risk of drowning is not a deterrent, then shipping them off to Malaysia or Nauru won’t be.

But there is a way of deterring them from getting on a boat in Indonesia: introduce a substantial annual quota of refugee resettlement of asylum seekers in Indonesia. If we took 10,000 refugees each year from Indonesia, and took them in order of them lodging an application in Indonesia for protection, their likely there would reduce dramatically; the incentive to get on a boat would disappear. We would save many lives. But we would have to accept a larger number of refugees than we do now.

We can do it. But we won’t do it unless we are fair dinkum about our concern about people drowning at sea.

How Big a Deal is H.R. 347, That “Criminalizing Protest” Bill?

American Civil Liberties Union [8/3/12]:

Recent days have seen significant concern about an unassuming bill with an unassuming name: the "Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011." The bill, H.R. 347, has been variously described as making the First Amendment illegal or criminalizing the Occupy protests.

The truth is more mundane, but the issues raised are still of major significance for the First Amendment.

It's important to note — contrary to some reports — that H.R. 347 doesn't create any new crimes, or directly apply to the Occupy protests. The bill slightly rewrites a short trespass law, originally passed in 1971 and amended a couple of times since, that covers areas subject to heightened Secret Service security measures.

These restricted areas include locations where individuals under Secret Service protection are temporarily located, and certain large special events like a presidential inauguration. They can also include large public events like the Super Bowl and the presidential nominating conventions (troublingly, the Department of Homeland Security has significant discretion in designating what qualifies as one of these special events).

The original statute, unchanged by H.R. 347,made certain conduct with respect to these restricted areas a crime, including simple trespass, actions in or near the restricted area that would "disrupt the orderly conduct of Government," and blocking the entrance or exit to the restricted area.

H.R. 347 did make one noteworthy change, which may make it easier for the Secret Service to overuse or misuse the statute to arrest lawful protesters.

Without getting too much into the weeds, most crimes require the government to prove a certain state of mind. Under the original language of the law, you had to act "willfully and knowingly" when committing the crime. In short, you had to know your conduct was illegal. Under H.R. 347, you will simply need to act "knowingly," which here would mean that you know you're in a restricted area, but not necessarily that you're committing a crime.

Any time the government lowers the intent requirement, it makes it easier for a prosecutor to prove her case, and it gives law enforcement more discretion when enforcing the law. To be sure, this is of concern to the ACLU. We will monitor the implementation of H.R. 347 for any abuse or misuse.

Also, while H.R. 347, on its own, is only of incremental importance, it could be misused as part of a larger move by the Secret Service and others to suppress lawful protest by relegating it to particular locations at a public event. These "free speech zones" are frequently used to target certain viewpoints or to keep protesters away from the cameras. Although H.R. 347 doesn't directly address free speech zones, it is part of the set of laws that make this conduct possible, and should be seen in this context. Rest assured we'll be keeping an eye on how this law will be interpreted and used by law enforcement — especially in light of the coming elections.

UPDATE: The headline has been changed to provide some description of the bill.

In this country if you have ANY health concern, you go to the doctor.
If necessary, the doctor will refer you to a specialist.
All Plibersek is saying, is that the government will subsidise an MRI if you have PIP implants. Big eeeffing woop!
Rather than do what the French have done, and offer immediate surgery, she makes this bogus announcement, and the media report it uncritically.
Why not point out to readers that they are already entitled to public screening services?
Women with PIP breast implants to receive subsidised MRI scans: Minister For Health Media Release [10/3/12]:
Women who know that they have PIP breast implants, or where clinical advice is that they might have, will from Monday be able to access Medicare rebates for MRI services to assess whether their implants are structurally sound, Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek said today.

“For 12 months, from Monday 12 March 2012, women with a PIP implant can access a Medicare rebate for an MRI to assess the state of their implant and whether it has ruptured or not,” said Ms Plibersek. The listing of this Medicare item follows independent, expert advice from the Medical Services Advisory Committee.

“Medical advice from the Chief Medical Officer and expert committee is that removal of PIP breast implants in the absence of evidence of rupture is not routinely required.

"We want women to get the best clinical care including access to a subsidised MRI scan if they choose.

"MRI is a key tool for the diagnosis of problem implants at a time when many women with PIP implants maybe fearful about the condition of their breast implants," Ms Plibersek said.

“I know that women who received these implants were shocked when they heard that the manufacturers of the PIP implants had been using unauthorised silicone.

“We want to ensure that women have access to comprehensive and up to date information and the best diagnostic testing available.

“The patient’s referring specialist or GP will need to identify in the referral that their patient is known or has a high probability of having a PIP-branded implant so they can be eligible for the Medicare rebate,” she said.

Ms Plibersek said the Government would continue to investigate any potential legal liability of the manufacturer and distributor.

"The Therapeutic Goods Administration will continue to monitor and work with therapeutic goods regulators from around the world to identify the latest information and channels of investigation," she said.

For more information regarding the TGA’s current advice, visit: or contact The Breast Implant Information Line which is available 24 hours a day to provide advice and support to people - 1800 945 476.

Noam Chomsky On Ron Paul [VIDEO]

Kutztown University Nov. 21, 2011

CHOMSKY: Ron Paul's a nice guy. If I had to have dinner with one of the Republican candidates, I'd prefer to have it with him -- but, his policies are off the wall.

I mean, sometimes I agree with him. I think we have to end the war in Afghanistan. But, if you look at the other policies, I mean, it's kind of shocking and principles that lie behind them (shakes head)....I don't know what to say about them.

In the Republican debates, at one point -- and this kind of brought out who he is --- he is against Federal involvement in health, in anything. He was aked something like, "Well, what if some guy's in a coma, and...uh...he's going to die and he never took out insurance. What should happen?"

Well, his first answer was something like, "It's a tribute to our liberty."So, if he dies, that's a tribute to how free we are?

He kinda backed off from that, actually. There was a huge applause for when he said that. But later, reactions were eleswhere. He backed up and said, "Well, the church will take care of him...or charities or something or, it's not a problem."

I mean, this is just savagery.

And it goes across the board. In fact, it goes through the whole so-called Libertarian ideology. It may sound nice on the surface but if you think it through, it's just a call for corporate tyranny. It takes away any barrier to corporate tyranny.

But, it's all academic. The business world would never permit it to happen because it would destroy the economy. They can't live without a powerful state, and they know it.

Fukushima Never Again
Anti-Nuclear Power Plant Rally on 19 September 2011 at Meiji Shrine Outer Garden
11 March 2012 marks one year since the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit the northern part of Japan.
The impact of that terrible event showed the full force of nature, but what continues to cause more harm to humans, other living creatures, the environment and the economy is the man-made nuclear disaster.
While much of the western media moves on from what occurred at Fukushima, for the people of Japan the challenge of containing the fallout from one of the worst nuclear accidents in history is far from over.
The release of radioactive materials into the air, water and food chain continues unabated. Some of these hazardous materials will remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years.
In recent months, there has been an unprecedented rise in civil protest across all sections of Japanese society. These protesters include mothers of young children living in the Fukushima district who are angry that the government has not taken appropriate measures.
The Australian Government has admitted that Australian uranium was present in at least five of the six nuclear reactors at Fukushima. Australian Indigenous elders, including Mirrar Elder Yvonne Margarula, have written to the UN expressing deep regret and sadness that uranium from their land has found its way into Japanese reactors.
Following the ALP National Conference, the Labor Party plans to open new uranium markets to India, a country that is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Such sales will add to nuclear insecurity in Asia, leading to the danger of another devastating nuclear accident and adding to weapons proliferation.
Australia has a massive responsibility, as it stands at the beginning of the nuclear fuel chain and could become the future repository of the world’s nuclear waste. The Australian Government must take the lead now to develop policies that do not rely on uranium sales, creating clean green jobs without leaving a poisonous legacy for future generations.
Stracciatella Gelato, Southport
Eataly [10/3/12]
For Sale!
Gold Coast Highway, Labrador [10/3/12]
Sunday Bargain Books
Gold Coast Library Society (Friends of the Library) Inc. 1/2 price book sale
Railway Street, Southport [9am - 3pm Sunday, 11/3/12]

Fatal Traffic Incident, Ingham: Queensland Police Media [10/3/12]

A man has died in hospital after being struck by a car in Ingham last night.

Preliminary information suggests that around 11.50pm, the 23-year-old Townsville man was attempting to cross Halifax Road, when he was struck by a car.

The man was initially taken to Ingham Hospital in a critical condition before being flown to Townsville Hospital, where he died this morning.

The driver of the car was not physically injured.

Police will prepare a report for the coroner.

The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.

Anyone with information which could assist police with their investigations should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or 24hrs a day.

Free West Papua Campaign

The former Papuan Presidium leader Theys Eluay was murdered in 2001 by officers from the infamous Kopassus death squads whom he had given a lift in his car on his way home from a meeting with Indonesian officials.

The Kopassus commander got a microphone and said a loud, sarcastic goodbye to Theys when he left. "Goodbye to the Great Leader of the Papuans. Have a safe journey home!"

In the end four soldiers were sentenced to a few years in jail. The Commander in Chief of the Indonesian army, General Endriartono Sutarto, however, publicly said that he disagreed with the sentence, as these soldiers should be considered "heroes" as they had killed in order to maintain the "national unity of the Republic."

Theys has been an inspiration for Papuans in life and in death. He was given a hero's funeral and on March 7, 2012, several thousand people crammed his grave site to hear resolutions from the launch in Canberra of IPWP.

He is just one of the 400,000 or more Papuans who died before they could see their country get its freedom. His and their deaths were not in vain.

One Day West Papua will be Free, One People, One Soul

Image: @Muzzray