Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Identifying the real terrorists?

One letter to the editor in The Sydney Morning Herald on 19 September 2018 slyly identifies those terrorizing Australia.........

Image found at 

Metgasco Limited circles the wagons and hopes forthcoming court case will order compensation?

Coal seam-tight gas exploration and wannabee production company Metgasgo Limited - having first failed to convince the NSW Government that it had fully lived up to the terms of its PEL16 exploration licence and then apparently failed to convince that same government to voluntarily hand over $120 million in go away money compensation because there was no possibility of it extracting any commercial gas from its Northern Rivers tenements in the foreseeable future - appears to be reordering its books to maximise the dollar potential with regard to hoped for court-ordered compensation once legal proceedings have wended their way through the state legal system.

Excerpt from Metgasco media release, 19 September 2014:

Asset update

Metgasco Limited (ASX: MEL) announces that in light of the uncertainty arising from the political environment in New South Wales and its impact on the business environment for energy exploration and production companies, the Board of Metgasco has:

      * formally assessed the amount of capitalised exploration and evaluation expenditure included as an asset on the Company’s balance sheet, and has determined as a matter of prudent judgement that this amount should be impaired to nil; and

      * decided to reclassify its gas reserves as resources.

Commenting on the asset impairment and reserves reclassification, Metgasco’s Managing Director, Mr Peter Henderson said: “The Board fully considered these accounting matters and considered that the changes are appropriate to properly reflect the state of Metgasco’s New South Wales business interests.  The Company’s current share price indicates that the financial market has already recognised the New South Wales political climate and its effects on Metgasco.  Despite the asset impairment and reserves reclassification, Metgasco remains committed to pursuing the significant gas potential in its New South Wales exploration licences.”……

Australia's pre-decimal currency

Backward Glances, which appears daily in Grafton's Daily Examiner, is a very popular column with the paper's readers. The column contains snippets of news that appeared in the Examiner 50 years ago.

However, Monday 22 September's Backward Glances had readers scratching their heads about the currency Australians used prior to 14 February 1966.

Perhaps The Examiner has an Austrian on the pay roll.

Images from the digital edition of The Daily Examiner, 22/09/14

Monday, 22 September 2014

How one group of regional newspapers rated Tony Abbott's performance since 18 September 2013

Image by John Graham / johngraham.alphalink.com.au
Independent Australia 19 January 2014

The Daily Examiner 18 September 2013:

How APN regional media rated Tony Abbott's performance in the past year out of 10:

The average score was 3 out of 10 across newspapers in New South Wales and Queensland published by APN Regional Media.

* Sunshine Coast Daily 3
* Coffs Coast Advocate 2
* The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton) 3
* Gympie Times 3
* Warwick Daily News 5
* Queensland Times (Ipswich) 1
* Toowoomba Chronicle 4
* Fraser Coast Chronicle 4
* Bundaberg News Mail 4
* Mackay Daily Mercury 4
* Gladstone Observer 2
* Northern Star (Lismore) 2
* Daily Examiner (Grafton) 4
* Tweed Daily News 3

Disposal problems with waste water from coal-bed methane wells in the U.S.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

David Marr's list of how our rights are faring under 'Freedom Abbott'

In this September’s issue of The Monthly David Marr discusses Values Abbott, Politics Abbott and Freedom Abbott and sets out this list of how basic rights are faring under Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott since 18 September 2014:

10 October 2013: The state and territory attorneys-general meet in Sydney without discussing shield laws. The issue was on the agenda. With the change of government it vanished. It hasn’t appeared since. Efforts begun under Gillard to introduce uniform national laws to give effective protection to journalists and their sources have ceased.
25 October: Scott Morrison first utters the phrase “on water operations” to justify the unprecedented secrecy that surrounds the Abbott government’s blockade of refugee boats. Morrison whittles away the few rights and freedoms left to those caught up in Operation Sovereign Borders.
2 December: Brandis authorises an ASIO raid on the Canberra office of Bernard Collaery, the lawyer representing East Timor in its dispute with Australia over the Timor Sea Treaty. In March this year, the International Court of Justice at The Hague orders Australia to seal the material seized and keep it from all officials involved in the dispute. The order is binding.
3 December: Abbott rages against the ABC and the “left-wing” Guardian for together reporting that Australian spy agencies had targeted the phones of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife. “The ABC seemed to delight in broadcasting allegations by a traitor,” he later told Ray Hadley of the Sydney radio station 2GB. “This gentleman Snowden, or this individual Snowden, who has betrayed his country and in the process has badly, badly damaged other countries that are friends of the United States, and of course the ABC didn’t just report what he said, they took the lead in advertising what he said.”

11 December: Brandis announces terms of reference for the Australian Law Reform Commission’s audit of Commonwealth laws that compromise freedom. The terms’ focus is not individual liberty but “commercial and corporate regulation; environmental regulation; and workplace relations”. Free speech barely makes the list. Brandis tells the Australian Financial Review he is most perturbed by the “reversal of the onus of proof, the creation of strict liability offences, the removal of lawyer–client privilege and removal of rights against self-incrimination”. It reads like a list of everything tax evaders loathe about the law.

17 December: Brandis appoints the policy director of the IPA, Tim Wilson, to the Australian Human Rights Commission. Wilson’s mission is to restore balance to a body which the attorney-general believes “has become increasingly narrow and selective in its view of human rights” under Labor. This is code for the culture war complaint that the left is manipulating anti-discrimination laws to impose its moral agenda on a reluctant society. The Bolt case is a particular focus of the fear that protecting blacks, gays, foreigners and cripples from discrimination is stripping the rest of us of our freedom.
29 January 2014: Abbott blasts the ABC for reporting claims that Australian military personnel have punished asylum seekers by burning their hands. “I think it dismays Australians when the national broadcaster appears to take everyone’s side but our own,” says the prime minister. “You shouldn’t leap to be critical of your own country.” News Ltd joins the attack. The ABC falters. Its managing director, Mark Scott, apologises for imprecise wording in the original report, but three days later, Fairfax’s man in Indonesia, Michael Bachelard, finds asylum seeker Yousif Ibrahim Fasher: “He says he has no doubt that what he saw at close quarters on about January 3 was three people’s hands being deliberately held to a hot exhaust pipe by Australian naval personnel to punish them for protesting, and to deter others from doing one simple thing: going to the toilet too often.”
6 March: Abbott threatens to cut the ABC’s budget if it doesn’t cave in to Chris Kenny. The Chaser team had crudely photoshopped the head of the News Ltd pundit onto a man with his pants down mounting a labradoodle. Kenny sued for $90,000. Missing in action is Abbott’s defence of lively debate where “offence will be given, facts will be misrepresented”. He tells 2GB’s Ben Fordham the ABC should settle the case or else: “Government money should be spent sensibly and defending the indefensible is not a very good way to spend government money. Next time the ABC comes to the government looking for more money, this is the kind of thing that we would want to ask questions about.” The ABC buckles. Kenny gets an apology and cash.
13 March: Brandis decrees artists who refuse private sponsorship on political grounds may be stripped of public funding. Troubled by Transfield’s links to offshore detention centres, a handful of artists had pressured the company to withdraw sponsorship from the Sydney Biennale. Brandis asks: “If the Sydney Biennale doesn’t need Transfield’s money, why should they be asking for ours?” He directs the Australia Council to find a formula for deciding when public funding will be withdrawn because private sponsorship has been “unreasonably” rejected. He does not rule out compelling arts organisations to take tobacco money. Months later, the council is still labouring over the words. However it’s done, Brandis wants artists to know they will pay a price for embarrassing the government. This threatens direct political intervention for the first time in the allocation of Australia Council funds.
24 March: Brandis tells Senator Nova Peris: “People do have a right to be bigots, you know.” The next day, he releases draft legislation to gut sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act. Abbott backs him. The proposal – drafted by Brandis himself – would allow almost unrestrained racist abuse in the name of freedom. Ethnic community leaders lobby for the act to be left as it is. Polls swiftly show nine out of ten Australians disapprove of the changes. Three-quarters of the 4100 submissions received by Brandis’ department are hostile. The department blocks their release.

23 May: Morrison strips the Refugee Council of Australia of half a million dollars allocated in the budget only ten days before. The minister explains: “It’s not my view, or the government’s view, that taxpayer funding should be there for what is effectively an advocacy group.” The CEO of the council, Paul Power, calls the cuts petty and vindictive. “This in many ways illustrates the state of the relationship between the non-government sector – particularly organisations working on asylum issues – and the government at the moment.”
1 July: Community legal centres across Australia are also forbidden to use Commonwealth money for advocacy or to campaign for law reform. During the Labor years, funding for NGOs had come with the guarantee that they were free “to enter into public debate or criticism of the Commonwealth, its agencies, employees, servants or agents”. Under Abbott, the guarantee disappears. So do many sources of independent advice. The budgets of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service, the Environmental Defender’s Offices and the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples are slashed. Axed are the Social Inclusion Board, the National Housing Supply Council, the National Policy Commission on Indigenous Housing, the National Children and Family Roundtable, the Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing, and the committee of independent medicos advising the refugee detention network, the Immigration Health Advisory Group.
16 July: Brandis threatens laws to double the sentence for reporting “special intelligence operations” by ASIO. Whistleblowers would not be protected, and journalists would not even need to know the operations were “special” to find themselves in prison for up to a decade. No public interest defence would be available. The shadow attorney-general, Mark Dreyfus, says: “We will not tolerate legislation which exposes journalists to criminal sanction for doing their important work, work that is vital to upholding the public’s right to know.”
4 August: Twenty-two-year-old student Freya Newman, a former part-time librarian at the Whitehouse Institute of Design, is charged with unauthorised access to restricted data following reports of Frances Abbott’s scholarship, after complaints to the police by the institute. The chair of the institute is Liberal Party donor and friend of the prime minister Les Taylor.
5 August: Abbott announces the metadata of all Australians is to be kept by internet service providers for two years and made available to ASIO and police. That trawl will, of course, include the metadata of whistleblowers and journalists. He abandons at the same time his two-year crusade to amend the Racial Discrimination Act. Both moves he justifies in the light of terrorist outrages by Australian nationals in Syria. “When it comes to counter-terrorism, everyone needs to be part of ‘Team Australia’,” he says, “and I have to say that the government’s proposals to change 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act have become a complication in that respect. I don’t want to do anything that puts our national unity at risk at this time, and so those proposals are now off the table.”

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Yamba's water woes continue but Clarence Valley Council management just shrugs its shoulders

Intermittent but persistent problems with the quality of drinking water in the Lower Clarence continue, with episodes of discoloured/dirty water becoming a characteristic of Yamba’s water supply in 2014.

Clarence Valley Council’s explanations for this state of affairs have been varied, however little appears to have been done to rectify the situation to date.

This was the colour of Yamba township’s drinking water in February 2014:

The Daily Examiner 5 February 2014:

Clarence Valley Council director for works and civil Troy Anderson said he did not know whether the discoloured water was here to stay, but claimed it was safe to consume.
"The issue is only associated with the aesthetics of the water, it does not affect the quality," Mr Anderson said.
He said the reason for the brown water was because the flow was coming from Shannon Creek Dam which had a "higher water colour" than Nymboida.
Also adding to the tinge is a high level of biofilm in the pipes.
"In December we had requirements from NSW Heath Department to increase the residual levels of chlorine (as a greater disinfectant)," Mr Anderson said.
As a result, the added chlorine has killed off the biofilms, meaning they are dissolved into the water, adding to the discolouration.
"It is having an impact on the water colour, but they are not harmful," Mr Anderson said.
"Once they build up resilience to the added chlorine, they will reform in the pipes."
He said the council was working to control the colour of the water, but could not confirm or deny whether the icky brown liquid was here to stay.

The Daily Examiner 23 February 2014:

CLARENCE Valley residents are about to find out if the prospect of a glass of crystal clear water straight from the region's water supply is a "false hope".
At Tuesday's Clarence Valley Council meeting a notice of motion from deputy mayor Craig Howe was passed, ordering council staff to look into the feasibility of installing a water filtration plant for the region's water supply.
Over the summer, residents on the Lower River in particular, have complained of dirty water coming out of their taps.
Cr Howe admitted the source of the discolouration occurred "downstream" of where a filtration plant would have any effect, but felt he owed it to ratepayers to do something about the colour of the water.
The lone voice on council against the proposal, Cr Andrew Baker, seized on this point.
He said any investigation of a filtration plant only offered "false hope" to residents and would not do what people wanted it to do: provide clear water from their taps, at some cost in increased water rates.
After some amendments council voted eight to one for staff to investigate the cost and efficiency of a water filtration plant, what water rate increases it would incur and other ongoing costs and whether the plant could guarantee a clear water supply.
This report should be available for the April council meeting.

The Daily Examiner 27 February 2014:

VALLEY residents alarmed by the sight of brown water running from their taps should start to see the problem clearing soon.
Clarence Valley Council is continuing to test the water weekly as it attempts to resolve the problem that emerged earlier this year.
Most of the complaints received have been from the Yamba area but the task of finding a solution has been made more difficult by the apparently random spread of properties affected.
Mayor Richie Williamson said yesterday the testing had shown the discoloured water presented no health risks but said he understood why people were unhappy with the colour of the water coming from their taps.
He said the problem had been caused by the combination of higher water temperatures and an increase in the amount of chlorine added to the water supply following a recommendation from NSW Health.
These events contributed to naturally occurring biofilm build-up in the water pipes coming loose and entering the water supply.
"We are confident flushing of pipes and temperatures receding should start to overcome the water discolouration," Cr Williamson said.
"The biofilm will also build increased resistance to the chlorine, which will lessen the amount in the water supply."
He said the council had 205 customer service requests relating to water quality since January 1, including four complaints last weekend.
"We have discussed the matter with NSW Health and the Office of Water and we will continue to work with them to achieve the best solution," Cr Williamson said.
"They have agreed with the rectification steps council has taken so far."….

The Daily Examiner 14 May 2014:

Last week The Daily Examiner reported on a spike in discoloured water, which was an ongoing issue for some people in the Valley in the past few months.
Mr Anderson said the latest influx of complaints began last week, with 24 complaints made between Monday and Tuesday.
On Wednesday there were two complaints, none on Thursday and three on Friday. One complaint was received at the weekend and three on Monday morning.
In most cases the council attributed the discolouration to last week's cold snap, which may have destroyed micro-organisms that live in water lines.
The discolouration is believed to be the result of them flushing through the system and Mr Anderson assured residents there were no health risks associated with using the water.

The Daily Examiner 30 May 2014:

Earlier this month, Clarence Valley residents voiced concerns about intermittent problems with discoloured, and at times smelly, tap water.
Council's works and civil director Troy Anderson assured the public there were no health risks associated with the water, but the majority of people told The Daily Examiner they would not be game to test it.
Mrs Beare-Bath went one step further and sent a sample of her discoloured tap water for independent tests at the Environmental Analysis Laboratory at Southern Cross University.
The results of the sample came back this week and showed certain elements did not meet the Australian Drinking Guidelines.
SCU lab manager Graham Lancaster said the water was relatively safe to drink but below expectations.
"It's not going to cause any major illnesses but it's not perfect," he said.
According to the results, the sample's acidic pH was below the drinking water guidelines and the bacteria was marginally above guidelines. The water had elevated total coliform bacteria but low faecal bacteria, and elevated levels of iron and manganese.
Mr Lancaster said higher iron and manganese levels were not a major issue for drinking, but said it could cause stains in clothing.
The results came with a recommendation for the council to get the lines flushed and arrange testing.
Treatment to remove the iron and manganese and also neutralise the pH was also recommended.
"It's important to note that it's just a one-off sample," Mr Lancaster said.
"It's likely due to dirty lines. Often in the end of certain areas, lines can be a little bit dirtier."

This was the colour of Yamba’s drinking water on 5-6 September 2014:

The Daily Examiner 10 September 2014:

Clarence Valley Council works and civil director Troy Anderson said if people had concerns about water quality or appearance in Yamba in recent weeks, they hadn't let the council know.
"The last dirty water report we received from Yamba was on August 1 - more than five weeks ago," he said.
"Because our water supply is not filtered, council has historically averaged three to four reports of dirty or discoloured water each week."
Mr Anderson said the council had received four reports of bad water quality in the past seven days, but none from Yamba.
"Council staff will respond to reports of dirty or discoloured water, and people can be assured there are no health risks associated with drinking the water," Mr Anderson said.

Online comments from Yamba residents:

* What I don't understand is the random nature of the "brown" water coming through my taps - one minute it's pure and clean and the next it's filthy. Also the problem seems to be far more prevalent in West Yamba than on the hill.
Bottom line is no way am I drinking it, this is NOT (yet) a 3rd world country! Surely council isn't that cash-strapped that they can't spend some money on finding and fixing whatever is the problem, if not can I suggest all the staff working on water quality/control be retrenched as they're doing nothing for their pay and ratepayers would love to see their rates reduced….
Show me another coastal city where random dirty water is delivered and considered acceptable? That's not a reasonable service to ratepayers IMO, would you happily pay for dirty wine (or water) in a restaurant, of course not, you'd vote with your feet. It's no different here except we have no real choice of supplier - we're getting a very inferior product and we're still paying top dollar. It's not good enough, if our very good (?) staff are unable to fix things find someone who can.

* I agree we had clean untainted water. So many visitors commented on how good it was to drink. Lately though it seems the water is either discoloured or tasting strongly of chemicals ? chlorine/bleach. CVC does need to look closely at this issue.

* Why has council not notified the public of this ? The statement of water coming from Shannon Creek Dam is the issue seems false as Coffs Harbours water is fine. Plenty of towns out west have dirty water supply however provide safe clean tap drinking water. Council has a duty of care to its rate payers and the public, which they have failed. Its not only dirty water but lots of sediment as well. Councilors and Council management the people of the Clarence Valley are not idiots so please dont treat us like one.

A September 2014 complaint by a Yamba resident about water quality elicited these responses from three of the nine Clarence Valley councillors:

* [I] note that the water this morning is discoloured.

* The problem needs to be fixed.  Water supply is one of Council’s core responsibilities.

* Please be aware of my personal embarrassment at association with the organisational inability to do whatever is required to correct the water failure. My embarrassment is even more acute when I know the secret decisions of this week demonstrating what is more important than your water failure.

Clarence Valley Council management’s position on discoloured or dirty water:

Council’s weekly water testing has indicated that, despite the dirty water reports, there has been no microbiological contamination and consequently the dirty water is not considered to pose a risk to health….Council has staff “on call” 24 hours, who can respond to complaints of dirty water by flushing water mains. However, some issues with dirty water can also occur on the customer’s side of the meter; particularly in houses with older galvanised pipes. Mains flushing will not address dirty water on the customer’s side of the water meter. [Clarence Valley Council media release, 26 February 2014]

The construction of a filtration plant cannot guarantee a clear water supply at the customer’s tap, although it would reduce the incidence of dirty and discoloured water occurring. As outlined in the report on water quality to the 18 February 2014 Council meeting, discoloured water is generally associated with decomposing natural organic matter and dirty water may be caused either by sediment in the water settling out, natural microorganisms in the pipes and corrosion of pipes and fittings. While a water filtration plant would address the issues of organic matter and sediment, natural microorganism growth (from organisms already in the reticulation system) and corrosion of pipes and fittings could still occur. Both organism growth and corrosion of pipes and fittings significantly increase during high water temperatures (above about 25 degrees), and during the 2013/14 summer Council has experienced several months where the water temperature has been above 25 degrees. The construction of a water filtration plant would not reduce water temperature. [Clarence Valley Council ordinary monthly meeting minutes, 15 April 2014]

Your “on going formal complaint” is noted but Council staff can only respond to specific reports of dirty water… [Clarence Valley Council Water Cycle Manager, 18 September 2014]

As of today I have only heard of one instance where council responded to a 2014 Yamba water complaint - by flushing a street water pipe in the vicinity of Cox and Golding streets.
If North Coast Voices readers know of any other times council has done something practical about a Lower Clarence resident's water complaint, please let me know via the comment button below.

Note: All photographs found at The Daily Examiner 


Photograph of a Yamba household water filter taken at 7.45pm on 18 September 2014:

On 22 September I was informed by a home-owner living on Yamba Road that council had also flushed water pipes in their vicinity in response to a water complaint.

A photograph begging for a meme

Tony Abbott sets off on an early morning ride in Brisbane, August 2013. © Alex Ellinghausen / Fairfax Syndication