Friday, 29 February 2008

Australian Yobbos

It is with great sorrow that I have to inform the general public that the Australian yobbo has extended its territory from pubs, football fields, backyard BBQ's and has invaded the field of politics.

This is evident in the behaviour of certain yobbo politicians during Question Time in federal parliament, where a cut-out cardboard replica of the Prime Minister was passed around the house.

The yobbos continued to rampage outside parliament by harassing members of the press, and so I'm told, any female they could see.

These non-repentant yobbos have vowed to continue their antics into the future.

Like the cane toads that have grown longer legs as they invaded more territory, so have the Australian yobbos changed their appearance.

They no longer are only found wearing singlets, stubbie shorts and thongs. Some of these wily beasts now wear suits, but their yobbo origins are plain for all to see when they open their mouths and talk.

I have included some statements that have been attributed to the members of this group:

  • "John Howard did more for indigenous people than any other prime minister,"
  • [On Wilson Tuckey] "He is a man who quite rightly fights for the things he believes in and if, from time to time, this minister goes over the top in a cause in which he believes, that is his nature, that is the nature of the man, that is the way this fine Australian operates,"
  • "We ... made a mistake in November 2006 when we introduced Work Choices and most Australians were not able to understand why we were doing it,''
  • Mr Turnbull said that giving up the allowance from tax payers would be a poor decision, and would put in question his position as an MP. "I cannot think of anything which would be worse for our democracy,"
  • [Tuckey on the 2008 Parliament opening ceremony] "I'm horrified and concerned that we're going to turn the Parliament of Australia into a dance parlour,"
  • "I will serve in whatever capacity I can make a positive contribution."

As we have been dealing with the invasion of cane toads, fire ants, equine flu we have taken our eyes of this home grown menace to peace and sanity. People of Australia we must act.

We must send a clear message to these yobbos and yobbettes (sometimes known as sheilas) that we are not pleased, and try to send them back to the jungle where they belong or at least devise some remedial help to try and rehabilitate these poor unfortunate creatures.

If that fails the only solution may be to use the same solution that this group has imposed on the indigenous people of Australia; "special treatment".
For more information on the habits and character of yobbos I refer you to the song in the Music from the North Coast sidebar, The Great Australian Yobbo.

North Coast Area Health Service background checks on medical practitioners need to be reviewed

When the Premier stood before the NSW Parliament yesterday and apologised for the abject failure to adequately check the background and credentials of one Bega medical practioner, he was speaking to a larger problem and one which affects rural/regional areas.

On the same day The Northern Star
reported that "FORMER Lismore obstetrician Roman Hasil has had his medical registration in NSW and Queensland suspended after claims of lies, violence and fraud.
Dr Hasil worked at Lismore Base Hospital from 2001 to 2005 but left under a cloud after an investigation found he fiddled the books to claim money he was not entitled to, something the Czech-born and trained doctor denies.
Now a New Zealand Government investigation has revealed Dr Hasil lied about a criminal conviction and jail term in Singapore for domestic violence; was forced from a hospital in Victoria and suspended in New Zealand for drinking while on call; and botched about a quarter of the sterilisation procedures he performed on women while working at New Zealand's Wanganui Hospital."

The NSW Minister for Health, the Dept. of Health and North Coast Area Health Service need to get their act together, and conduct an urgent review of the level of supporting documentation required from doctors applying for hospital positions or privileges and the parameters of background checks on these applicants.
North Coast residents deserve a tangible assurance that due diligence is in place to protect their health and wellbeing.

Iemma squibs it on political donations

Morris Iemma managed to look sincere yesterday as he solemnly averred that there was no point in banning developers from making political donations in New South Wales unless the ban was imposed nationally.
"It is impossible to look at campaign caps, or banning a specific type of donor, unless laws are consistent at a national level," he said.
Now run that by me again. There is no point in stopping a source of corruption here unless it is stopped everywhere?
Oh, Morrie - just how simple do you think we are mate! A child could point out the flaw in that argument.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

The BBC on New South Wales, Sydney, Wollongong and those 'Mezzo Sopranos'

This week the UK Beeb whaled into the international reputation of New South Wales and its government.
The serve was well-deserved. Especially in light of the Iemma Government's current push to legislate away local community input into development proposals and environmental and rezoning issues, as well as the blatant land grab on the NSW North Coast.
"Sleaze allegations
Certainly, there is the whiff of decay. Alarmed by the level of complacency, the Sydney Morning Herald noted recently: "No law says Sydney must be Australia's premier city. It will only retain its pre-eminent position if it is well planned, well managed and regularly upgraded. That is not happening now."
Now, the beleaguered Labor-controlled New South Wales government is wallowing in sleaze allegations, and stands accused of mendacity as well as mediocrity.
Much of the muck has been excavated from a made-for-the-tabloids sex scandal involving a town planner in Wollongong, a city to the south of Sydney which up until now has been better known for its seaside steelworks rather than its bedroom fireworks.
Were it not such a mouthful, it would be tempting to call it "Wollongongate". And yes, you did read that right: sex and town planning did just feature in the same sentence.------
The problem for the New South Wales government is that five ministers have links with key figures in this imbroglio, either directly or indirectly. Because some of them have Italian-sounding names, they have been dubbed "the Mezzo Sopranos".
The scandal has also shone a spotlight on the massive political donations from property developers to the two major parties.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, developers gave $A13,180,793 ($12m; £6m) to the New South Wales Labor party between 1998 and 2007, and $A8.2m ($7.6m; £3.8m) to the Liberal party over the same period.
Sydney has been disfigured over the past 20 years or so by some determinedly cheap and nasty developments. Many are naturally asking: is this the reason why?"

Aussie blogosphere typing and talking in 2008

Australia: Average Web Usage

Month of January 2008
Home Panel
Sessions/Visits Per Person
Domains Visited Per Person
PC Time Per Person
Duration of a Web Page Viewed
Active Digital Media Universe
Current Digital Media Universe Estimate
Goggle Trends result for 2008 using search terms "kevin rudd" and "rudd government"
At least 11 million Australians are regular internet users and it seems that, in comparison to the global internet, local users spend slightly more time online per month on average than the rest of the world, visit fewer domains but visit more often, and spend longer on each web page.
Some reports indicate that Australians have created around 2 million blog sites.
Many of us are also likely to look up Kevin Rudd on Google.
On the NSW North Coast there are conservatively at least 80,000 people who can access the internet each day at home, work or by a public access site. 

All of which will make it interesting to monitor the progress of that new wiki
Oz Ideas  (set up as an alternative forum to the Rudd Government's Australia 2020 Summit).

Sick to the back teeth: Iemma. Ditto: NSW voters

On the back of recent polling showing the lowest approval rating for a state leader in a decade, NSW Premier Morris Iemma is yelling about possible libel action and saying that he is sick to the back teeth with allegations of collusion between the development sector and government ministers.
Morrie isn't the only one who is fed up.
New South Wales voters feel much the same way about the feeble response to the problem over the years by both Labor and the Coalition.
Not since the Askin era have we seen such naked corruption at state and local government level.
Indeed, many of the development companies mentioned unfavourably in various commissions and inquiries from that period are still close to the NSW Government and some are operating on the NSW North Coast today.
Including one group which was repeatedly mentioned during investigations into the 1975 disappearance and murder of Juanita Neilsen during community resistance to the redevelopment of Victoria Street, Kings Cross. [Thanks to Clarencegirl for pointing me in the right direction here]
It's all there on the public record somewhere if you really want to look, Morrie.
No-one is looking after the interests of coastal towns anymore, least of all the NSW Government, and no hissy fit in front of the cameras will make this disgraceful state of affairs go away.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Pollies spend up big on travel before leaving office

The Canberra Times (27/02/2008) details the extent to which our federal politicians spent up on overseas travel in the first half of the 2007 election year.

The Times reported:

Pollies spend up big on travel before leaving office

They were on the way out but they went up, up and away at our expense first.

Retiring politicians fill nine of the top 11 places of backbenchers with the heaviest use of taxpayer-funded overseas travel for the first half of the 2007 election year, according to Department of Finance figures.

Those leaving Parliament (seven MPs and two senators, who do not go until June 30 this year) shared in a total of more than $2.5million spent by federal politicians on overseas travel between January 1 and June 30, 2007.

Leading the retirees' pack (five Coalition, three Labor and one Democrat) was the former Liberal minister Senator Kay Patterson at $37,082.24.

Then came Labor's Ann Corcoran, already rolled for preselection for the safe Melbourne seat of Isaacs when she racked up $30,659.12.

She was followed by Liberal Kay Elson, who retired from the Queensland seat of Forde, at $28,540.14, ahead of NSW National Ian Causley, at $28,382.24. Mr Causley was deputy speaker in the last parliament.

The 13 government front-benchers totalled $1,663,673.74, well over half the $2,568,277.31 spent by all 226 federal Members and senators.

The portfolios that commanded that their ministers travel led the way, with former foreign minister Alexander Downer at $380,853.64, followed by former trade minister Warren Truss at $305,773.66, former prime minister John Howard at $238,809.55 and former defence minister Brendan Nelson at $222,056.04.

Read the report at:

What do I say to Iemma's plan to privatise NSW electricity supplies?


That loud enough for you, Mr. Iemma? Get the picture yet?

Penny Wong rolls up her sleeves and gets on with the job

The new Federal Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong, is doing what the Howard Government failed to do over a decade. She has announced that the Commonwealth has begun a $50 million buy-back of water licenses in the Murray Darling Basin in order to return some environmental flow to this significant river system.
The move doesn't really go far enough but it's a good start.
Australia is going to have to face the fact that it needs to reduce the total number of irrigated farms, in order to ensure future national water security. Even if it means that the next couple of decades will see a reduced variety of vegetables and fruit on offer in the market place while the agricultural sector adjusts.
This new Federal Government can sometimes irritate and disappoint, but it's moments like these when it becomes clear exactly why the Australian electorate preferred Labor over the Coalition.
So Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt can say; "The defining failure of the first 100 days of the Rudd Government has been their inaction on the Murray," but he is patently whistling in the wind. 

I just know that the 2020 Summit will bomb - Rudd's invited Tim Costello!

For most of us regional 'mushrooms' the Australia 2020 Summit suddenly appeared on the horizon trailing wisps of the 2001 Australia 2020: Foresight for our Future research paper.
The summit sounded like a good idea when it was first announced, but its obvious elitism was troubling.
The death knell for summit credibility came at the beginning of the week for me, when Kevin Rudd announced the steering committee members who will issue invitations for the 10 topic discussions and also chair the working groups.
Yeah, there he was - Tim Costello of World Vision fame. The meister of self-promotion.
A man renown on the NSW North Coast for his verbosity and ego.
A man who in the early 2000s, acting as co-facilitator at a Maclean community meeting, alternatively insulted and patronised. 
A WASP who so dominated the meeting time that he left only 15 minutes for the entire community to put its views and discuss issues.
Then after milking the event for every drop of media coverage he b*ggered off back home, leaving a community asking why it had bothered to spend a night with Tim and Chris.
So strike off 2020 achieving anything except hot air and a plethora of buzz words when it comes to the topic on "strengthening communities, supporting families and social inclusion".
Oh and by the way, our Kev is allowing the unwashed masses 2 pages per topic in any not-so-eagerly-awaited submissions.
Why should we on the NSW North Coast bother? It's obvious we'd be talking to a corporatised brick wall surrounding a set of 'solutions' decided weeks, months or even years ago.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Kevin Andrews proves just how dumb the Libs are

In The Herald Sun yesterday Kevin Andrews opens his mouth to give us all these pearls in an effort to justify former Howard Government industrial relations law, WorkChoices.
Thereby demonstrating that he is politically out to lunch as well as out of government.
  • JOHN Howard wanted to limit unfair dismissal laws to businesses with more than 200 employees and abolish all minimum wage classifications.
  • Coalition MPs were also collectively blind to the political danger of a policy that potentially tore away entitlements.
  • On the day the package was presented to the joint party room meeting, Mr Andrews received a standing ovation.
  • Mr Andrews said he was not trying to blame the former PM. "(In the end) this was a cabinet decision and we discussed WorkChoices I suspect more than any other piece of legislation that I can recall," he said.
  • But other senior Liberals said Mr Howard was blind when it came to WorkChoices, and in the last few months of government would "erupt" if anyone tried to suggest there was still a problem.
  • Mr Andrews said some members of cabinet were more determined to push as far as possible on WorkChoices than others.
  • The revelations by Mr Andrews suggest Senator Minchin was reflecting the view of the cabinet when he apologised to the HR Nicholls society early in 2006 for the government not going far enough.  

Share in $1,000 by guessing the number of weeks until Brendan Nelson loses Liberal leadership

The Monthly joins the rest of the media scrum in wondering just how long Brendan Nelson can last as Liberal Party and Opposition leader. It currently has an online guessing competition worth up to $1,000.

"Can you rise to the challenge? The Monthly invites predictions on how long Brendan Nelson's leadership of the Opposition will last, before being ended by any event - such as his elevation to prime minister, his resignation, or a party decision. In the second part of the question, The Monthly asks who you think will be Nelson's successor as leader of the Opposition.

Respondents who correctly forecast the answers to both parts of the question will share in $1000 cash. (A note to those who presume that the public mood can't shift dramatically: consider the unlikely ascensions of Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Howard.)"

Enter the competition here.


A Crikey moment

Why should there be Higgins and Mayo by-elections this year?

Rumour is going strong (fuelled by comments from Andrew Robb) that the Liberal Party is pressuring Peter Costello and Alexander Downer to resign in the second half of 2008 so that by-elections for their seats can be called.
What a bl**dy hide. The Higgins and Mayo electorates voted these pollies in on a three-year implied contract and now the party machine wants their resignations.
Have a little decency fellas - at least wait until mid next year so we can all pretend that voters still decide federal election outcomes in Australia.

Monday, 25 February 2008

feral poodle

The feral poodle is getting on, I've had her for twelve years and she was at least two years old when she arrived into our family.

Her puppy-hood was not the best; she had suffered starvation and beatings, just skin, bones and mattered hair when she arrived here. This left a lasting legacy; she would flinch if anyone picked up a stick or yelled since she is not by nature a shy dog it is out of character.

She was a handy cattle dog till her blindness got the better of her two years ago, we discovery that her sight was failing when we were rounding up some Angus cows and calves. She stood in the paddock and kept barking at this black object in the grass, on closer inspection we found that it was a stump.

Her work ethic is great her eyesight terrible.

Since then she has steadily declined, she is now virtually blind, the arthritis is playing up and she has recurring bladder problems but this has not stopped her from patrolling the house yard, greeting visitors and general dog duties.

She can no long jump into the farm paddock basher so she waits patiently to be lifted in and sits in regal splendour on the front seat.

She was not a dog that I would have usually had on the farm, this woe begotten toy poodle but she has brought great joy to all the family over her many years.

We did the Australian thing and gave her a fair go sure there were problems, have you ever tried to clean a poodle that has rolled in some long dead animal and stinks to high heaven, but the benefits greatly outweighed the disadvantages.

We are all richer for having known her.

For the poodle's point of view see the song It's Hard To Be a Poodle with a Cowboy by Your Side in the Music from the North Coast sidebar.

power companies

I have just received a phone call from the company that provides the electricity to my home; it was a very interesting conversation.

They asked me if I would be interested in paying a premium to run the place on greenpower, sure it would cost me a little bit more in dollar but I would be saving in greenhouse terms.

This interested me so I asked how many kilowatt hours of greenpower do they produce and where are these green clean renewable power generators located. The person I was talking to couldn't answer this question, so I asked if there was some one in the office that could. Silence was the reply.

The next gentleman on the line I assume was the previous person's supervisor.

So I put the same question to him. The reply was rather vague. Some greenpower was being generated, but he gave no definite answer to the question of how much. There was also the inference that some of the money being collected in the greenpower scheme was being used to fund the development of this new generating plants.

So I said does this mean that if I pay the premium that only some of the power is from renewable sources and the rest is for future projects. I didn't receive a convincing answer.

The next question was obvious. If only x kilowatts of renewable are being generated (I still had not found out the figure) how many kilowatts of greenpower was being sold by his company?

He said he had no way of knowing that, so I pointed out that he would have a list of customers that had purchased greenpower and if they were receiving power bills their usage would also be know to the company. If not what sort of company were they running?

The reply was that that was private business information.

So how does the public know if their purchase of greenpower does come from sustainable sources? The company could be selling more greenpower than they produce.

I could see a way out of this dilemma so I asked the company representive how much would the company pay me if I spent around $30,000 to convert my whole enterprise to solar and sent the excess back on the grid. This would save me dollar since the batteries I would need would be far fewer and the company would have genuine greenpower to sell at the premium price.

It seems the company is not interested in these small scale solutions, which is a shame.

So why is the big end of town not interested in small investments like solar panels, backyard tanks or improvement to public rail services, urban rail networks? Is it because such investments can't be captured and controlled by private investors?

A decentralised power generation system would make sense since the more sources of power you have the more options you would have in time of power shortage and many small targets are tempting that a few large ones if you have terrorist leanings.

Anti-whaling Facebook group growing

The New Zealand-based Facebook anti-whaling group F*CK OFF JAPAN... LEAVE THE WHALES ALONE!!!! now has 145,306 members and 5,044 wall posts.
This is an open-membership group which can be found here.
This site lists the online petitions available.
Japan's whaling fleet remains in the Southern Ocean on its annual whale hunt.

Liberals rewriting history in an effort to gain distance from former policies

Bereft of any redeeming features and as politically effective as t*ts on a bull, the Liberals now overreach to 'discover' that John Howard was actually in favour of withdrawing troops from Iraq this year.
Pull the other one! Some in the Liberal Party might have privately favoured getting the h*ll out of Iraq, but Howard would probably have fought tooth and nail to keep Australia's combat troops in the Iraq War.
He was in love with the idea of himself as a 'war leader' - it made him feel oh so Churchillian.

Laurie Oakes defends Wayne Swann's economic credibility

Laurie Oakes writing in the Courier Mail comes to the defence of Federal Treasurer Wayne Swann after the halting start in his new portfolio.
"Swan has been very energetic and effective in spearing the Howard government over the build-up of inflationary pressures that are causing interest rates to rise.
But Swan has a more pressing concern than undermining the Howard legacy. His central aim is to get Australians to understand that there really is a serious inflationary problem.
He needs to explain the magnitude of the challenge so the community will accept the need for the tough medicine about to be prescribed.
Some of the Opposition's claims in response have been nothing short of ridiculous. We have had Nelson, for example, denying that rising interest rates are "all the fault of inflation". He should try telling the Reserve Bank that.
We have had both Nelson and Turnbull accusing Swan of "talking the economy down" with his warnings about inflation – as though voters should be kept in the dark, mushroom-like, and not informed of economic problems.
And we have had Turnbull's claim that "for a Treasurer to complain about economic challenges is like a fireman complaining about fires".
Firemen, of course, do complain about fires – as they should. They warn people about the danger of fires and conditions likely to lead to a flare-up. And they condemn people who start fires or fail to take proper precautions to prevent them. Swan is behaving like a sensible economic fireman."
It seems that Malcolm Turnbull is not as convincing as he would like, or that effective in his attempts to get enough bounce off his exchanges with Swann to see him gain credibility as the leadership contender.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Wealthy Aussie pollie's twisted view of the world

Millionaire former merchant banker and Federal Shadow-Treasurer, Malcolm Turnbull, is claiming that he is protecting Australian democracy by taking the parliamentary 'living away from home' allowance while staying at his own $2 million apartment in Canberra.
I kid you not - the media report is here today.

Stephen Conroy gets his ISP 'filtering' report

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, has just received the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) report on proposed censorship at ISP level. 
"This report investigates developments in internet filtering technologies and other safety initiatives to protect consumers, including minors, who access content on the internet. The report was prepared in response to a ministerial direction received in June 2007. ACMA will report annually on its findings for three years. This is the first report."
Not surprisingly the ACMA report points out that the mandatory ISP filtering that Senator Conroy, and his Coalition predecessor, wanted relies on a somewhat simplistic view of the Internet and goes on to list current Australian programs encouraging voluntary filtering by households and businesses.
In the end, this report is nothing more than busy work for bureaucrats, as legislated and regulatory mechanisms are already in place to deal with offensive content.
The Minister's own media release has more than a hint of embarrassment about it when he speaks of "no silver bullets".

It's all a bad dream! MPs who are loathe to let go

This last week Opposition MPs have shown by their behaviour in the parliament that they still see themselves as 'de guvmint'.
Member for Wentworth Malcolm Turnbull is one such, with his blog site still carrying the following at the end of the bio page yesterday;
"Malcolm was elected as the Federal Member for Wentworth at the general election on 9 October, 2004. Malcolm has had a long interest in water policy and water conservation in particular. Malcolm was appointed Minister for the Environment and Water Resources on 30 January 2007 having held the position of Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister since 27 January 2006. Prior to that Malcolm was a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade and the House of Representatives Standing Committees on Economics, Health and Ageing and Legal and Constitutional Affairs"
The Member for Warringah Tony Abbott is another, with his website still carrying this at the bottom of his bio page;
"In January 2001, Tony was promoted to Cabinet as Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business. Following the 2001 election he was appointed Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Leader of the House and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
Tony was appointed Minister for Health and Ageing on the 7 October 2003."
While the Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker is in such deep denial that his bio page stops before his elevation to the Opposition shadow ministry;
"He presently sits on the House of Representatives Standing committee on the Ageing and the House of Representatives Standing committee for Employment and Workplace Relations.
Additionally, he also sits on both the backbench committee for health and ageing and tourism."
Wakeup and smell the roses, gentlemen.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Parliamentary conventions may be neither rules nor law, but the authority of the Speaker is the lynch pin of Parliament

I listened with mouth agape in disbelief yesterday, as Coalition MPs on the Opposition benches deliberately colluded to disrupt a House of Representatives sitting day and openly, repeatedly defied the Speaker.
With not a thought for conventions, precedent, or the fact that over hundreds of years good men struggled and sometimes died so that the institution of Parliament could exist, former Howard Government ministers and frontbenchers brought their parliamentary parties into disrepute and the House into peril.
Having lost government with good reason in a democratic election, the Liberal and Nationals MPs chose to disregard this fact and attempted to bully the Speaker and Deputy-Speaker into bending to their will.
The demonstration that these neo-fascists put on for public consumption had an international as well as domestic audience.
The US Secretary of Defense and Deputy-Secretary of State arrived in Canberra yesterday for the annual AUSMIN talks.
For all their pretended outrage at the change to sitting days, I do not think that it is sheer coincidence that the Opposition brought the House to anarchy yesterday as these US officials arrived.
Coalition parties see a conservative, Republican US Administration as a natural ally that they have been able to spook in the past by talking up the idea of a Labour federal government as bogeyman.
A blatant attempt to create an impression of a destabilised government may have worked to their advantage in the 1970s, but this set of Opposition MPs will find that they can't try the same confidence trick twice.
I remind those wilful and arrogant Opposition members that parliamentary conventions may be neither rules nor law, but the authority of the Speaker is the lynch pin of Parliament no matter who holds government and attempts to weaken that authority lead the House down a dangerous path.
Institutions exist at the will and pleasure of the society.
Societies have been known to dismantle institutions in which they no longer have confidence.
Parliaments are no exception.

Will NSW North Coast Area Health Service cost-cutting put lives at risk?

The Iemma Government fiscal madness continues and it is not only the nurses' union that need answers.
It has been reported that six beds are being removed from daily use at both Grafton and Maclean hospitals. Less nurses will be on duty during each shift.
The NSW North Coast already sees specialist services concentrated in two of the larger hospitals with little or no specialist services or full-time medical staff available at the smaller hospitals.
Local communities often experience these hospitals trying to discharge elderly patients early, often to highly inappropriate home circumstances.
This new policy has the potential to see unnecessary deaths occurring at home, because criteria for admission is based on annual budgets rather than the community's need.
North Coast communities deserve an adequate health service and an honest explanation as to why a second-class service is being perpetuated.
The Daily Examiner yesterday reported the NSW Nurses Association as saying that North Coast Area Health Service documents show that this service expects to save an estimated $253,000 at every public hospital implementing the 'surge bed' regime.
It also reported the association as stating that no additional resources have been put into community health so it could cope with the extra demand created by those who were discharged from hospital early under this policy.

Memo to Luke Hartsuyker, Nationals Member for Cowper

Dear Luke,
On November 24 last year the Coalition lost federal government.
However on a two-party preferred basis, the majority of Cowper voters elected you to represent their interests.
Not the National Party's interests, not the Coalition's interests, Cowper's interests.
So stop being a horse's ar*e in Canberra and get on with it.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Maclean's 104th Highland Gathering

Readers, make sure these dates are marked on your calendars:

21st -22nd March 2008

Maclean's 104th Highland Gathering will be held on the Easter Weekend at the Maclean Showground.

Maclean is a very friendly town and it's very proud of its Scottish Heritage. The town has a population of only 3,254, which swells to around 6,500 over the Easter weekend, when people flock to the town to attend the annual Highland Games. This year the town will explode with colour, sight and sound to mark the 104th Highland Games. The games are contested on the Maclean Showground, known as one of the most spectacular venues in the world to hold such a Highland event. This picturesque ground overlooks the river and mountains beyond, creating a picture that reflects the beautiful lochs of Scotland.

Maclean is only a short 15 minute drive away from the popular beach resorts of Yamba and Angourie.

Read more details about this year's Gathering at

  • How's the form of Federal Opposition MPs?

    Today's sitting of the House of Representatives was disrupted and eventually suspended when a number of vocal and rowdy members of the Opposition ignored the calls of the Speaker and later the Deputy Speaker to adhere to their directions.

    The Opposition is obviously not happy with new sitting arrangement for the House of Reps which now sits on Fridays but does not have a period of Question Time. It seems the Opposition is not too keen on working a full week, instead they prefer to be part-timers.

    During the morning session of parliament a number of Opposition members were called to order by the Speaker, but they elected to do their "own thing" and ignore the Speaker.

    Not unexpectedly, the Speaker ordered the Liberal MP Steven Ciobo to leave the house. Ciobo was escorted from the house by the Sergeant-at-Arms.

    Later, the Deputy Speaker ordered Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker from the house after he held up a cut-out of Mr Rudd.

    Hartsuyker refused to leave the house and after a period of further dissent and unruly behaviour by Opposition MPs the house was suspended.

    What a fine example these MPs are setting! NOT!!!

    Read the Sydney Morning Herald's report at:

    Global warming impacts on the NSW North Coast

    Yesterday The Northern Star reported on expected coastline changes and innundation due to climate change. 
    The Federal Government has given $2 million towards assisting NSW North Coast councils to plan for negative impacts such as sea-level rises.
    "It is estimated that the sea will rise by at least one metre in the next 100 years, claiming about 100 metres of the shoreline.
    It would see the destruction of multi-million-dollar coastal real estate at places like Belongil and Lennox Head, more frequent severe floods, and land become swampy in low-lying places like Ballina. ----
    Dr Peter Cowell, senior lecturer at the University of Sydney, said hundreds of thousands of homes faced possible inundation resulting from climate change over the next 20 to 30 years.
    He said Byron Bay and Ballina were areas expected to be among the hardest hit, as well as Cairns in north Queensland, Wamberal on the NSW Central Coast and Narrabeen on Sydney's northern beaches.
    "With places like Belongil, it's not a matter of 'if', but 'when'," he said.
    "Existing hazards which happen occasionally will start to happen more often. As the sea level rises nuisance floods will happen so often they'll create dysfunction in the community."
    Unfortunately for North Coast residents, most elected councillors do not fully understand the processes or timelines involved in permanent seawater inundation or rises in the water table and salt levels.
    Throwing money at local councils will not result in adequate planning, because both State and local governments are in the thrall of coastal developers.
    If the Rudd Government truly wants to help the North Coast plan for climate change it needs to insist that the NSW Government (and other state governments) put in place legislation prohibiting further development in identified vulnerable areas and all coastal estuaries.
    It should do so, not just because of the high population numbers living on the coast, but because coastal economies significantly contribute to the nation's wealth and it would be foolish to allow continued public or business infrastructure growth in high risk areas.
    Local economic disruption from increased severe storms, flooding, and inundation would have a flow-on effect for the national economy.

    The sun never sets for the Attorney-General

    Attorney-General Robert McClelland wants to extend the sunset clause in the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (the TIA Act) by another 18 months.
    Call me stupid, but isn't a sunset clause often included by Parliament when there is some concern about the need for or ramifications of certain legislation.
    In this case it was probably the ability to monitor the phone or trawl the stored communications of anyone having even passing contact with a telephone number, internet connection or person named in a relevant warrant.
    However, this is not the only change contained in McClelland's bill. It seems the Attorney-General feels that provisions concerning warrants and telecommunication devices are too onerous and wants these provisions relaxed a bit.
    Thus making it easier for everyone from ASIO through to AFP to snoop past June this year.
    There was a change of government on 24 November wasn't there - or did I just dream it?
    Oh, I forgot, Robert McClelland and Labor supported this act and subsequent amendments during its passage through Parliament.

    The Speaker finally gets serious

    The new Speaker of the House of Reps Harry Jenkins spent a lot of time during the first parliamentary sitting days smiling and chortling at the words and antics of certain MPs.
    Predicably he found himself with a noisy, back chatting and often disrespectful House.
    Question Time yesterday saw him finally decide that enough was enough.
    However he didn't convince the Liberals Joe Hockey, who continued to abuse points of order with gay abandon.
    Perhaps the Speaker will have more success when the House resumes after its break.
    He can practice in the mirror at keeping the grin off his face while he waits.

    Thursday, 21 February 2008

    "The New York Times" defends Internet free speech

    It seems the battle for the Internet is hotting up with a San Francisco judge ordering the 'locking' of a website specialising in leaked information.

    The New York Times published this deliciously subversive article yesterday.

    "The site,, invites people to post leaked materials with the goal of discouraging "unethical behavior" by corporations and governments.---
    The case in San Francisco was brought by a Cayman Islands bank, Julius Baer Bank and Trust. In court papers, the bank said that "a disgruntled ex-employee who has engaged in a harassment and terror campaign" provided stolen documents to Wikileaks in violation of a confidentiality agreement and banking laws. According to Wikileaks, "the documents allegedly reveal secret Julius Baer trust structures used for asset hiding, money laundering and tax evasion." ---
    On Friday, Judge Jeffrey S. White of Federal District Court in San Francisco granted a permanent injunction ordering Dynadot, the site's domain name registrar, to disable the domain name. The order had the effect of locking the front door to the site — a largely ineffectual action that kept back doors to the site, and several copies of it, available to sophisticated Web users who knew where to look." also reports the current availability of this site.

    Perhaps Senator Conway should take note, and spare Federal Labor the negative perceptions it would attract if his pet plan to censor the Internet by stealth came before Parliament.

    The Great Cane Toad Roundup: Sunday 24 February 2008 at Yamba-Angourie

    It's that time of year again. The National Parks and Wildlife (NPWS) organised cane toad hunt, to reduce the population of these pests in Yamba and Angourie, has come around again.
    See you there....
    Day: Sunday 24 February
    Time: 6.30pm for free BBQ and cane toad talk
    Where: Yamba Golf and Country Club, River Street, Yamba
    Bring: Gloves and torch
    Wear: Covered shoes or boots
    Prizes: for biggest toad and most number of toads caught
    Kids: all children taking part in the hunt must be accompanied by an adult
    Info: NPWS Grafton on (02) 6641.1500

    Nine straight victories so far for presidential nominee Barack Obama

    The politics of the US presidential race continues to fascinate.
    Here is Barack Obama latest email dated 20 February.
    Like others in the race, he continues to be something of a policy cipher fixated on raising campaign contributions.
    "Today, the people of Wisconsin voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new kind of politics.
    They rejected an onslaught of negative attacks and attempts to distract them from the common concerns we all have about the direction of our country.
    No doubt we'll hear much more of these attacks and distractions in the days to come.
    But the noise of these tired, old political games will not drown out the voices of millions calling for change.
    Now is the time to join us -- add your voice to our movement by making your first donation right now. By giving through our matching program, your donation will be doubled by a previous donor who has promised to match your gift.
    We are very close to reaching our goal of 500,000 people giving to this campaign in 2008. Help push us over the top by making a matched donation right now:
    We won't know until late tonight the results of today's Hawaii caucus, but we'll let you know how that turns out tomorrow.
    If we win in Hawaii, it will be ten straight victories -- a streak no one thought possible, and the best position we can be in when Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island, and Vermont vote on March 4th.
    Thank you for making this possible,

    Turnbull cracks a joke

    Malcolm Turnbull turned into the Liberals court jester this week, when he had the hide to complain that the Rudd Government was subverting democracy, because it has decided to roll back the former Howard Government's political donations laws which made it almost impossible for voters to discover where a great deal of party funding was coming from.
    "What price democracy?" he asks to howls of laughter from across Australia.
    No wonder that some in the Liberal Party can't stand this pretender.

    Wednesday, 20 February 2008

    Nationals Chris Gulaptis 4 ever

    After his defeat at the 24 November 2007 federal election, the Nationals candidate for Page Chris Gulaptis removed his campaign website from view on the Internet.
    Presumably so that it would be unlikely that his words would be quoted back at him in the future.
    Which makes the following from the NSW State Library all the more enjoyable.
    The Gulaptis website was archived on 23 November 2007.

    Chris Gulaptis - Nationals candidate for Page

    This title is part of the "2007 Australian federal election campaign - House of Representatives election candidate web sites" collection.

    Chris Gulaptis - Nationals candidate for Page was selected for preservation by the State Library of New South Wales. This title is not scheduled for re-archiving. The publisher's site may provide more current information.
    Archived 23 Nov 2007 01:11

    North Coast website lands two in gaol

    Latest example of 'what not to do' on the Internet can be found here.
    The website mentioned is now initially unreachable - "No web site is configured at this address"
    However, the dynamic Internet wins again, because this is yet another website which can still be reached and read online courtesy of a large search engine's additional features.
    Thereby defeating the aim of those who brought the original legal action and only making more people aware of the website's allegations. 
    This rather strange and wayward website is now entering a conspiracy theorists Hall of Fame thanks to the court case.
    It probably has more site mentions relating to and quoting the allegedly defamatory material than ever before.
    It has always been better known on the NSW North Coast for being able to keep one serious allegation concerning a local politician up on Internet for years without being successfully challenged.

    Possum Comitatus and Google Trends on Mr. 9% Nelson

    The Leader of the Opposition Brendan Nelson just can't take a trick this week.
    He was outed as being interviewed by an ABC Four Corners journalist, but refusing to appear on camera. Thereby earning no points for bravery and a few for stupidity, as most will think he heartily concurred with Abbott, Hockey, Downer etc. and none can disagree with that position.
    He miserably failed to find any real dirt on the Prime Minister after repeatedly accusing him of irregularities and falsehoods.
    Mid-week Nelson had to accept direction from his shadow cabinet to reverse support for retaining AWAs in any new industrial relations legislation.
    Can things get any worse? Of course.
    Then he found himself with the worst polling results for preferred prime minister in the recent history of polling.

    According to
    Possum Comitatus at
    "Brendan Nelson has stormed into the worse Preferred Prime Minister result in the history of Newspoll with an astonishing 9%. Not 29%, not 19% -- there be no typos here, it really says 9%.So just how bad is 9%, I hear you ask?
    Think of every left handed person you know in the country, not of voting age, just in the country. You would, on average, know more left handed people than you would know people that preferred Brendan Nelson to be the Prime Minister. This is not so bad that you could actually list the names of Brendan Nelson supporters on a moderately sized pamphlet – but it’s getting awfully close."

    Surely the week must get better from now on? Don't bet on it.

    Today's Google Trends world-wide search terms comparison results for Kevin Rudd and Brendan Nelson over the last 30 days. Nelson is shown by the red line.

    Turnbull makes a goose of himself

    There's nothing like Question Time to bring out the snide side of pollies.
    This week Shadow-Treasurer Malcolm Turnbull, acting the smart-alec, was trotting out questions about obscure economic terms and asking nervous new Federal Treasurer Wayne Swann to explain.
    On reflection, all Turnbull's questions brought to mind in my house was the observation that it was Turnbull not Swann who is currently co-defendant in a court case allegedly involving creative economics and the loss of mum & dad savings.
    Swann has 'L' plates, Turnbull has history.

    Tuesday, 19 February 2008

    And their words will return to haunt them - transcript of Four Corners 'Howard's End' episode

    Like other North Coast Voices contributors, I switched on to the ABC Four Corners program which discussed Liberal Party views on last year's federal election defeat.
    If you missed the program or cannot bring up the video, the transcript of Howard's End can be found here.
    It is worth reading for a chance to revisit such self-serving gems as:
    "JOHN HOWARD: Mr Costello obviously would like to see a leadership change in his favour before the election. I have indicated to him that, as I've always indicated, that in the end it is the will of the party and the interests of the party that is paramount."
    "JOHN HOWARD: It is the very strong view of the Liberal Party, indeed the overwhelming view of the Liberal Party that the current leadership team with me as leader and Peter Costello as deputy leader should remain in place through to the next election."
    "JOHN HOWARD: Do we need to lower carbon emissions over time? Of course we do. But to say that climate change is the overwhelming moral challenge for this generation of Australians is misguided at best and misleading at worst…"
    "ARTHUR SINODINOS: I suspect the view within the Coalition at the time was, well, he's a new leader, he's a bit inexperienced, come out of left-field in one sense, and we'll wait and see what he's like. But I don't think there was a sense of panic when Kevin took over the leadership of the Labor Party."
    "TONY ABBOTT, MINISTER FOR HEALTH & AGEING 2003-2007: We didn't have the option of providing a fresh face. We could've provided a different face but not a face that was fresh in the sense that Kevin Rudd was fresh."
    "JOE HOCKEY: Quite frankly when I took over the job I don't think many ministers in Cabinet were aware that you could be worse off under WorkChoices and that you could actually have certain conditions taken away without compensation. And once I started to raise those issues with colleagues and they became more informed of the impact of WorkChoices we introduced the fairness test."
    "ALEXANDER DOWNER: We were doing very badly and we were, John Howard and I were of the view that we might lose the election and I was certainly pretty concerned about it. And after all the election had to be called within weeks, within a very few weeks. And it was a reasonable thing that he wanted to sound out the views of his colleagues as to whether we would be better off changing the leadership and I did that."

    "Howard's End": bovver boys put the boot in

    The Four Corners program on ABC1 last night, which detailed the Liberal Party response to the 2007 Coalition federal election loss, was a study of collective political denial.
    It exposed a folie a deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six...... Abbott, Costello, Downer, Hockey, Minchin, McFarlane.

    In Howard's End it is painfully obvious that the Liberals are still telling themselves that they lost the election because they had been in government for too long with the same leader and were not perceived as 'fresh'.
    Only Andrew Robb came close to understanding why they lost when he articulated some understanding of the party's failure to listen to the electorate and it's abuse of Senate processes.

    In their pathetic attempt to redeem themselves and distance the Liberal Party from its own failings, Abbott & Co. heaped blame on an intransigent John Howard as if he alone was responsible for loss of government.
    The plain fact of the matter is that the Howard Government lost power because of the collective weight of SEIV X, Children Overboard, successive ministerial improprieties, its part in the Coalition of the Willing and war in Iraq, Immigration Department unlawful imprisonment and deportation of Australian citizens, AWB Ltd scandal, WorkChoices, failure to ratify Kyoto, abuse of parliamentary processes, excessive government spending on 'political' advertising, new sedition laws, the removal of habeas corpus from certain parts of the C'wealth Criminal Code, suspension of racial discrimination law in relation to the NT Intervention, and the sheer arrogance and insensitivity of its leader and his ministers.
    This is by no means the entire list of the 'sins' which irked voters but it does cover those most mentioned in ordinary conversation.

    The Liberal Party's ongoing failure to understand why it lost the confidence of voters is reflected in its current boast that it will use its Senate numbers to thwart the repeal of WorkChoices legislation and the abolition of Australian Workplace Agreements.

    All in all, the bovver boys needn't have bothered - last night's foray into the media did nothing but confirm that the Liberal Party remains unfit for government.

    Hartsuyker's terrible timing on petrol prices

    The Nationals MP for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, attempted a clumsy piece of political theatre yesterday afternoon.
    He rose to his feet and requested that the House consider a urgent motion to debate government policy on petrol pricing.
    This appears to have been little more than an attempt to disrupt the order of government speakers.
    After all, in his first term and as part of the former Howard Government, he did little but ask dorothy-dixers of his own ministers.
    But what made this a quirky moment was the fact that, at the time he was being predicably gagged, the online news services were reporting that petrol prices at the pump were continuing to fall. With further falls predicted on the back of a strengthening Aussie dollar.
    Rather bad timing eh, Luke.

    Monday, 18 February 2008

    Ever wondered how the Oz print media is faring now we are all off surfing the Web?

    Oct-Dec 2007
    Oct-Dec 2006
    % variation
    12 mths to Dec 2007
    % variation
    Weekend Australian
    Aust Financial Review
    Aust Financial Review (Sat)
    – 13.87
    Daily Telegraph
    Daily Telegraph (Sat)
    Sunday Telegraph
    Sydney Morning Herald
    Sydney Morning Herald (Sat)
    Herald Sun
    Herald Sun (Sat)
    Sunday Herald Sun
    Age (Sat)
    Sunday Age
    Courier-Mail (Sat)
    Sunday Mail
    South Australia
    Advertiser (Sat)
    Sunday Mail
    Western Australia
    West Australian
    West Australian (Sat)
    Sunday Times
    Mercury (Sat)
    Sunday Tasmanian
    Sunday Examiner
    Northern Territory
    Northern Territory News
    NT News (Sat)
    Sunday Territorian
    Canberra Times
    Canberra Times (Sat)
    Canberra Times (Sun)
    Table in Australian Newspaper History Group Newsletter No. 46