Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Smoothing Stephen's career path

Word is that a ministerial staffer has been attempting to organise an 'offensive internet material' complaint-a-thon to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, in order to boost the Rudd Government's case for a national mandatory ISP filter policy.
Apparently when Labor came to power it discovered that the number of complaints received each month was less than impressive for a country with a population of over 21 million and over half of these clicking away on the world wide web.
Is the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy giving this attempt a wink and a nod or is someone being a little too zealous?

Fruit from a poisoned tree may be the death of the Rudd Government

With the latest news on America's treatment of Guantanamo detainees, prisoner abuse and politcal interference, it is time that the Rudd Government addressed the fact that much of the advice it receives on both domestic and international anti-terrorism measures is fruit from a poisoned tree.
The Prime Minister's failure to either rise above the politics of fear or rid the public service of the principal supporters of such fear will result in retention of legislation which breaches international law and erases the common law rights of Australian citizens. 
Federal Labor would do well to remember that, like a person who divorced their spouse, Australian voters having got rid of one government may fairly quickly rid themselves of another when next at the polling booth.
Mr. Rudd, we've broken the political marriage taboo - lift your game or pack your bag.
No-one's willing to tolerate an ersatz Howard Government, except diehard Liberal Party followers and those in the anti-terrorism 'industry'.
 
News.com.au yesterday.
 
AUSTRALIAN man David Hicks should never have been charged with terror offences, according to Guantanamo Bay's former chief prosecutor.
Colonel Moe Davis, who oversaw the prosecution of Hicks, quit the war court last year.
He testified overnight that evidence for the war crimes tribunals was obtained through prisoner abuse, and political appointees and higher-ranking officers pushed prosecutors to file charges before trial rules were even written.
Col Davis was giving evidence at a pre-trial hearing for Osama bin Laden's driver, Yemeni prisoner Salim Hamdan, in a courtroom at the remote Guantanamo naval base in Cuba.
Since the US began sending foreign captives to Guantanamo in 2002, only one case has been resolved - that of Hicks.

 
Tony Kevin writing in New Matilda has it right.
 
But are sections of the Australian foreign policy and national security bureaucracies still living, by force of habit, in a world mainly defined by fear? How much of the worldview so well analysed in Lawrence's lectures still lingers in Canberra? And do Labor Ministers have any idea how to re-jig their departmental executives' way of thinking towards the new direction Rudd is taking as Prime Minister?

It's a little like turning the Titanic around. If there is not a great deal of deliberate hard steering from the bridge, the ship will stay comfortably on its old course.

Take, for example, a recent speech by the Minister for Immigration, Senator Chris Evans. In an otherwise humanitarian speech, sensitive to the human rights of persons caught up in migration and refugee determination issues, he said this on border security:
"The Government is committed to strong border security, tough anti-people smuggling measures and the orderly processing of migration to our country... This Government will continue to look at ways to prevent, deter and enforce compliance to preserve the integrity of Australia's migration program, while treating individuals humanely."

Did Evans really understand what he was saying, or did he just uncritically accept a departmental draft? Does he understand that under Howard, terms like "strong border security" and "tough anti-people-smuggling measures" were policy cover under which the AFP and Immigration mounted questionable covert people smuggling disruption operations in Indonesia? Under which Defence intercepted boats and was in no hurry to rescue people at risk of drowning on crippled, sinking vessels?

Coming or going? Turnbull does the headline splits

Sometimes it is hard to decide if pollies actually lose track of the fine detail in their interviews or if they are merely cynical media pleasers of the moment.
Malcolm Turnbull provided a wry grin with these recent articles about teh economy, both published on the same day. 
Don't be scrooge-like. Don't spend up.
Because our economy will not really be affected by the American slowdown. Because the American slowdown affects the Australian economy.
Talk about having a bob each way!
 
Govt does need to cut spending: Turnbull
Sydney Morning Herald - Sydney,New South Wales,Australia
Opposition treasury spokesman Malcolm Turnbull said the government will be able to achieve that figure without really trying. "I think that is baked-in, ...
 
Turnbull warns on 'overdoing' Budget cuts
ABC Online - Australia
Treasury spokesman Malcolm Turnbull says any cuts may have a more dramatic effect than intended, because they could compound the effect of a slowdown in the ...

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Views on the Iraq War five years on

It seems forever since I stood with hundreds of others on a NSW North Coast beach and spelt out the message "NO WAR!", before a crusading Howard Government launched Australia into the war against Iraq.
Despite claims to the contrary, the Rudd Government is not completely withdrawing Australian defence forces from that country, so the nation is still exposed to the vagaries and ramifications of this continuing conflict. 
 
On Sunday 20 April The New York Times reminded us all on what dubious grounds the Coalition of the Willing attacked Iraq and maintains its presence there to date.
 
In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantánamo Bay. The detention center had just been branded "the gulag of our times" by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure.
The administration's communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantánamo.
To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as "military analysts" whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.
Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration's wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.
The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.
 
Yesterday San Antonio's Express News defended one of its journalists outed in The Times article.
 
Yesterday also the Labor View From Broome said:
 
I often wondered what credence we could give to the independence and objectivity of the regular war experts used by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and other Australian media during the Iraq invasion. Former SAS commanding officer Jim Wallace was frequently used by the 7.30 Report.

His
interview with Four Corners just before the invasion could have been scripted by Rumsfeld. Wallace is the Managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby. I wonder if he agreed with George W. Bush's initial metaphor for the war on terror as a "crusade". I do not recall any occasions on which Wallace's militant christianity was mentioned when explaining his credentials as an expert commentator on the war.
 
Theology Web contained a blog defending the Bush-Blair-Howard war on the principal ground that it is not a failure because it is not as bad as some wars in the past.
 
The Guardian ran this opinion piece on Nicolson Baker's book to dissect the myths surrounding going to war.

Rudders steps in steaming meadow cocktail

Well, we were all just waiting for it weren't we?
You can't cobble together a summit born out of a media sound byte without quickly throwing around money to smooth the way.
* $60,000 to the wife of a ministerial staffer for the family company to handle summit media relations
* $284,5000 to Melbourne University for the loan of Professor Glyn Davis as summit convenor
* $71,000 for Australia 2020 website design and development
Rudders is walking around Canberra with a load of manure adhering to his heels.
Good one, mate. Really let's us know that the economy is in good hands, and that transparency and accountability are still the order of the day.

And Ernie Bennett demonstrates why NSW Nationals should not gain government in the next decade

The Tweed Daily News shows that Nationals Ernie Bennett is on his pet hobby horse again - the abolition of the states and the creation of 20 NSW super councils, with his favorite scenario being one fiefdom which stretches from Clarence to the Tweed containing advisory boards mirroring existing local government boundries.
Enrie obviously hasn't done the maths on any annual revenue required to support a super council.
With all the pressing issues that face the coast it is a pity that he is wasting his time as president of the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils in this way.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Window on a Gillard/McClelland/Conroy IT daydream?

One possible scenario envisioned by Labor ministers supporting corporate spying on email content.
Cartoon found at http://xkcd.com/208/

Fully-wired catfish on the loose!

In an effort to conserve the Freshwater (eel-tailed) Catfish in the wild, the NSW Dept. of Primary Industries (Fisheries) will be releasing a number of radio-tagged catfish into the Clarence River system at Jackadgery.
If you are dropping a line in the water over the next 12 months and catch one of these fish, please carefully return it to the river, creek or stream in which you found it.
Do your bit for declining coastal fish stocks.

Morris Iemma demonstrates why NSW Labor will not gain government again in the next decade

Morris Iemma turned Sydney CBD into a concrete gulag for the 2007 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, lost his sense of humour when The Chaser team showed that all that expensive and intrusive so-called conference security meant nothing, went against party policy to push for the unpopular privatisation of state electricity supplies, rolled back planning laws protecting home-owners from being swamped by rapacious developers, ignored holes in the political donations policy until predictable scandal surfaced, is underwriting World Youth Day's pinch penny pilgrims to the tune of tens of millions while the public hospital system haemorrhages, and yesterday had the hide to ban the general public from dedication of the statue of a New Zealand soldier on Anzac Bridge during the Anzac Day weekend.
Little Morrie Iemma is clearly as out-of-touch with the average voter as John Howard was in his latter years.
I see the same fate awaiting him and Labor, as neither are passing the pub test and Bluey is not happy.
Morrie may be content to take his super and run when the time comes, but if he continues in this high-handed strain until the next election he is creating a gold-plated guarantee that NSW Labor will rot in the wilderness for at least the next decade after.
Babbo!

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Laurie Oakes and Clarencegirl have a little something in common

In The Daily Telegraph last Thursday.

"Laurie Oakes (1942- ) is a broadcast and print journalist known for achieving political scoops," his on-screen profile reads.
"She started at the Sydney Daily Mirror and then moved to the Melbourne Sun's Canberra bureau before moving to television."
Oakes told Sydney Confidential it was a common mistake made by Americans.
"In fact, I once received an email from a strange web company congratulating me on my inclusion in an American encyclopedia of prominent women," he said, laughing.
"I guess it just goes to show I'm in touch with my feminine side. Still it's a wonderful honour."
 
Laurie Oakes obviously experiences some benign gender mistakes because of the spelling of his first name.
I may live in obscurity when compared with Mr. Oakes, but there should be no confusion as to my gender with a blogger name like clarencegirl.
 
I have long been accustomed to the northern NSW attitude that females are always supposed to be seen but not heard, however last week I was amused to see a humorous idea floated in the wider Australian blogosphere that clarencegirl might possibly be a middle-aged man in drag.
Shift along the bench Laurie, I'll join you in bemusement - but I'm d*amned if I'll get in touch with my 'masculine' side!

UN strengthens Australia's right for say over Southern Ocean whaling?

Australia has become the first country to be granted exclusive property rights in Antarctica, experts say, raising questions about the exploitation of biological resources in this sensitive and disputed territory.
The expansion of Australia's seabed borders this week by the United Nations includes the Kerguelen Plateau around Heard and McDonald Islands, which extends southwards into Antarctica.
"This is the first property rights allocation for the area south of 60 degrees south and it will be contentious, but it has been sanctioned by the United Nations, it's unprecedented," Tasmania's Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre law expert Julia Jabour said.
 
Although this extension of jurisdiction does not appear to cover ocean fisheries, it does cover part of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary seabed area.
Surely now that Australia is the only country with officially recognised territory this close to the Antarctic land and ice mass, it may be thought to have additional leverage in relation to the problematic issue of Japan's 'scientific' whaling.
Over to you, Minister for Environment and the Arts Peter Garrett.
 
Map of Australian territorial waters here.

Closer and closer it crept, until......

No matter how swift is John Howard's patter or how quickly his ghostwriter types those autobiographical pages, history is inexorably writing a thread the former PM will never escape from.
 
 
"Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has called for Western leaders including Australia's former prime minister John Howard to be charged with war crimes over the war in Iraq.
In a speech at Imperial College in London, Mahathir called for an international tribunal to try US President George Bush plus former prime minister Tony Blair of Britain and Howard for their part in the conflict, said a spokesman for the Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim group that organised the event.
Spokesman Mohammed Shafiq told AFP that Mahathir, who was in office from 1981 to 2003, wanted to see the trio tried "in absence for war crimes committed in Iraq".
 
"On the war in Iraq, Mahathir spoke about "the thousands dying, the economic war, the power of oil and how we could utilise some of these tools to have a leverage against the people who commit countries to war", Shafiq said."

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Barak spins Pennsylvania and starts to work the Kentucky room

The emails from Obama for America just keep coming.
Barak Obama's field director in Kentucky now tells the world that Our campaign has already generated incredible enthusiasm throughout Kentucky -- in towns from Paducah to Pikeville, thousands of people have turned out for registration drives, office openings and festivals to show their support for Barack.

While the campaign website splash screen (see picture) is so sugar-laden it should come with its own health warning.

Here is last Thursday's cheer team effort after missing out in Pennsylvania, including the usual 'show me the money'.

Last night, Senator Clinton used up her last, best chance to cut appreciably into Barack Obama's elected delegate lead.
She came up short.
In fact, she barely made a dent. At most, she picked up a net gain of 12 delegates
-- less than our gain, for example, in Colorado (where we gained 17) or Kansas (where we gained 14). Her gain in Pennsylvania was less than half of our gain in Virginia, where we added to our lead by 25 delegates.
But there is one measure by which her campaign's gains are real.
The Clinton campaign claims they've raised $3.5 million dollars since the polls closed yesterday.
We can't afford to let that go unanswered.
Please make a donation of $25 today to support this campaign:
https://donate.barackobama.com/thefacts
Grassroots support from people like you has the Democratic nomination in our sights.
Here's how it breaks out:
After Pennsylvania, we have a lead of at least 159 elected delegates earned through all of the primaries and caucuses so far. We have a total of at least 1493 pledged delegates.
Meanwhile, we've been rapidly gaining ground among the so-called superdelegates (elected leaders and party officials who get a vote to choose our nominee), cutting Senator Clinton's lead from more than 100 early this year to less than 25. We have a total of 238 publicly committed superdelegates.
The total number of delegates needed to secure the nomination is 2,024. That means we are only 293 delegates away from securing the nomination.
In less than two weeks, we'll square off in the key battleground states of North Carolina and Indiana, when there will be as many delegates at stake as there were last night in Pennsylvania.
To grow our significant lead and close out this race, we must remain competitive in these contests and the 7 others that will follow.
Barack needs your support right now to finish this contest:
https://donate.barackobama.com/thefacts
Pennsylvania was considered a state tailor-made for Senator Clinton -- she was always expected to win, and we trailed by as much as 25 points in the weeks leading up to the election.
But thanks to people like you, Barack gained support among key voters in the face of long odds and unrelenting negativity from Senator Clinton, and kept the margin close enough that her delegate gain was insignificant.
Indeed, the only surprising result from Pennsylvania is how much Barack was able to improve his standing among key voter groups since the Ohio primary.
Among white voters, Obama narrowed the gap by 6 points. Among voters over 60, he nearly cut the gap in half, from 41 points to 24 points. Meanwhile, we continued to run strong where we have all along -- for example, winning voters ages 18-24 with over 65% of the vote.
Barack campaigned hard in Pennsylvania. He talked about his plans to stand up to the special interests and bring people together so that we can change Washington to turn our economy around, make sure that every American has quality health care, and bring this misguided war to an end.
Your donation of $25 can make sure we grow our lead and finish this race in the final 9 contests:
https://donate.barackobama.com/thefacts
Thank you,
David
David Plouffe
CampaignManager
Obama for America

When is it okay to plagiarise?

Answer: When you are a university vice-chancellor.

Well, that's what Professor Ian O'Connor of Queensland's Griffith University must think.

The Weekend Australian reports that O'Connor
lifted information straight from online encyclopedia Wikipedia and confused strands of Islam as he struggled to defend his institution's decision to ask the repressive Saudi Arabian Government for funding.

In September, The Australian revealed that the Queensland university had accepted a grant of $100,000 from the Saudi Government. Last week, it was revealed that Griffith had asked the Saudi embassy in Australia for a $1.37million grant for its Islamic Research Unit, telling the ambassador that certain elements of the controversial deal could be kept a secret.

Griffith - described by Professor O'Connor as the "university of choice" for Saudis - also offered the embassy a chance to "discuss" ways in which the money could be used.

Professor O'Connor denies that by lifting sentences from Wikipedia he has breached his university's guidelines on plagiarism. The Griffith University council, of which Professor O'Connor is an ex-officio member, considers plagiarism an example of academic misconduct.

It gives an example of plagiarism as "word for word copying of sentences or paragraphs from one or more sources which are the work or data of other persons (including books, articles, thesis, unpublished works, working papers, seminar and conference papers, internal reports, lecture notes or tapes) without clearly identifying their origin by appropriate referencing".

Professor O'Connor yesterday tried to distance himself from the university's standards. "It was not as a piece of academic scholarship, therefore did not follow normal citation methods used in academic publications," he said.

On Wednesday, Professor O'Connor published a full copy of his opinion piece on the Griffith website. Yesterday, the university added references to Wikipedia as footnotes.

Read The Weekend Australian article here.

Rocky Mountains see watermelons under the bed when it comes to climate change

Yesterday the US online Rocky Mountains News published the following article which reduces climate change to a pawn in that old Cold War debate.
Interestingly this news website did not inform its readers that the 500 mentioned were gathered for a conference sponsored by groups receiving fossil fuel and energy industry funding.
 
Even Jennifer Marohasy must cringe at this media distortion of her views on global warming.
Although it is possible that Tim Blair would embrace the disc jockey-style journalism of Colorado's Mike Rosen.
 
A growing contingent of scientists has been brave enough to stand athwart the politically fashionable global warming steamroller. More than 500 such skeptics convened in New York at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change last month. They argue factually and persuasively that what warming the world has seen in the last hundred years is at best minimal and at worst exaggerated.---

Global warming hysteria is steeped in politics and a strange collection of bedfellows. Along with sincere environmentalist true-believers are the camp followers who embrace this as a quasi-religious calling.

Then there are the watermelons: green on the outside, red on the inside. They embrace ecological arguments to achieve ideological goals, exploiting fears of enviro-Armageddon to regulate and control evil capitalists and redistribute world income and wealth. Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, recognizes the signs. "As someone who lived under communism for most of (my) life," he warned, "I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not communism. This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning."

As grocery prices bite one North Coast resident thinks it's time for price fixing to return

Each day we hear that the cost of food is getting out of control and it is beginning to develop into a bigger problem than global warning.
It is time to reintroduce price fixing to stop the greed of our large supermarkets and also the greed of our banks.

Up to 1000% mark up is just not on. After the war it was 331/3% and the country managed. People could budget and live comfortably. Now that things are getting out of hand it is time to get rid of the middle man as he is not needed and let the profits go to where they belong namely, the producer.

Economists will disagree but if the situation can't be corrected by present day practices new drastic measures must be undertaken to rectify the situation.

Fair go for all, not just the rich and the greedy.

APPSIE
Clarence Valley

* Guest Speak is a North Coast Voices segment allowing serious or satirical guest comment from Northern Rivers residents

Our Janelle brings home $2.2M in family support funding

After what seemed like an unending drought when Nationals Ian Causley was the Federal Member for Page, it feels good when Labor's Janelle Saffin announces that five family support programs have secured funding to continue running.
The reality of course was that Page did receive some Commonwealth money during the Howard era, but the Nats did not go out of their way to make sure the Clarence Valley got a decent slice of the cake.
Let's hope our Janelle can keep it up, because the NSW North Coast has a lot of catching up to do.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Finally Miranda Devine almost hits a nail squarely on the head

In The Sydney Morning Herald this week.
 
"In that way it was, as Rudd said, a uniquely Australian exercise in egalitarian conviviality, with captains of industry, media moguls, politicians, generals, film stars, doctors, teachers, journalists, prostitutes, public servants, scientists and lawyers (lots) munching chicken wraps from recycled cardboard boxes - and being bullied equally by the McKinsey-esque "facilitators" who ran the meetings, pro bono.

The mushy quality of the Big Ideas that came out of the summit - the cliches, vague motherhood statements and the bleeding obvious - was not the fault of the summiteers but these management consultants.

Of the 10 facilitators, seven were professional management consultants, at least three formerly with McKinsey & Company. It is their business to turn concrete ideas into gobbledygook, and they did not disappoint.

Amid a flurry of paper, whiteboards, marker pens and Blu-Tack, clear ideas were churned up in the management jargon-generator and spewed out as empty slogans, "priority themes" and concepts worthy of little more than a PowerPoint presentation. It took until mid-afternoon on Saturday for a woman in our group, the media "substream" of the governance "stream", to cry: "I'm sorry but I don't get the difference between a concept and a theme."

This prompted a storm of pent-up fury from exasperated summiteers.

As The Economist journalists John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge wrote in their book on the lucrative management guru industry, The Witch Doctors, such facilitators have infiltrated corporate life, and are the "new, unacknowledged legislators of mankind".

Their language is "remarkably flatulent … If you buy the argument that the lingo of management theory is the language by which … people run companies and governments run countries, then it's no small thing when that language doesn't make sense."

In Canberra, it was the journalists, creatives and doctors who were most peeved their good ideas had been "lost in translation". The business streams didn't seem to notice.

Exasperated with his recalcitrant mob on Sunday, the governance group facilitator, Tim Orton, a Rhodes Scholar, former McKinseyite and founder of The Nous Group management consulting firm, told them their Big Ideas needed to be reduced to a "slogan on a T-shirt by 4pm". It was close to the truth."

Dawn Services - where's ABC TV?

Although this morning's Anzac Day Dawn Services were very well attended many people (especially the aged, ill and infirm) were not able to to get to a service.

Hence, one has to ask why the national broadcaster, the ABC, did not see fit to provide a live television broadcast of a service.

Surely, it's not beyond the ABC's capacity to cover at least one of the services. Pay TV provided coverage of the service conducted in Sydney's Martin Place, but the vast majority of persons who may have been keen to watch a service don't have pay TV.

Gallipoli's Lone Pine Cemetery - floodlit as workers prepared for today's dawn service.

Photo: Penny Bradfield (The Age, 25 April 2008)

Anzac Day 25th April 2008


Corporal Athol Goodwin Kirkland
34th Battalion Australian Infantry A.I.F.
Aged 23 years and 2 months
Killed in action between 3rd and 5th of April 1918
Resting forever in an unknown grave, Villers-Bretonneux, France


Lest We Forget


NOTE:

On 27 April 2015 it was reported in The Sydney Morning Herald that Athol Goodwin Kirkland’s grave had been identified in Crucifix Corner Cemetery outside of Villers-Bretonneux and a headstone with his name, rank, battalion and the inscription “I once was lost but now am found” erected and unveiled in the same month.

The Figg Family descendants of May "Maisie" Webb nee Kirkland rejoice in the finding of a beloved brother of May Webb, an uncle to her children, grand-uncle to her grandchildren and, great-uncle and great-great-uncle to the younger generations alive today and one who has always been treasured in family memory.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

A sight for sore eyes - Kevin Rudd in his underwear

The Sydney Morning Herald's Anabel Crabb has sighted PM Kevin Rudd in his underwear.

Speaking at the Sydney University's Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Crabb said she was talking to Rudd in New York when he was Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson, and he went into a menswear store to buy some new clothes. She walked in at just the wrong moment, and nicknamed him ‘Calvin Rudd’.

This story has come to light thanks to Great Lakes College student Alisha King who attended the Academy.

Speaking to
The Great Lakes Advocate, King said she can’t keep a straight face when she sees the Prime Minister on TV, and she blames Sydney Morning Herald political writer Annabel Crabb.

The Advocate reports 16-year-old King was one of only 22 girls accepted from more than 1000 applicants statewide for last week’s Young Women’s Leadership Academy.

Crabb revealed she's seen the PM in his underwear after King asked if she had any funny stories.

Now, for the best part of
The Advocate's report:

The tale of the PM in his CKs rather turns the tables – he’s a better known observer of New York stripteases than practitioner – but the Leadership week was about more than gossip.

Leadership is a slippery thing to define, but Alisha discovered it can be simply knowing when to take a back seat.

“We learned leadership is about listening to everyone else and then making a decision,” she said.

“Most of the girls were really smart and worth listening to. They all had different talents like debating, drama and the piano.”

Alisha’s rap sheet suggests she’s also worth listening to.

The year 10 Great Lakes College student is a science prodigy, specialising in marine technology.

She tops history, geography and phys ed, plays A grade soccer, state touch football and stars in Les Miserables and Mr Zarbouvray in her spare time.

Of course, you’ve got to know how to walk.

“One of the sessions was about walking and making your presence felt,” Alisha said.

“The best way is chest out, shoulders back. It’s about symmetry, so if you dress and carry yourself in a symmetrical way you have presence.

“One of my tasks was to walk in and get everyone’s attention without saying anything, and I did it pretty well.”

It was a schedule crammed with pilates and yoga in the morning, courses with names like ‘Utilising the first ten seconds: Impact and Influence’ in the afternoon and treats like Tom Stoppard’s political comedy Rock ‘n’ Roll at night. There was a trip to the art gallery for the Archibalds exhibition. But the best part for Alisha was the diverse roll call of speakers like Crabb, academic luminary Catharine Lumby and 2007 Young Australian of the Year Tanya Major.

“Tanya was my favourite speaker,” Alisha said.

“She told us how we can achieve anything, and we should take every opportunity.”

The Academy was a chance to learn from talented women and weigh up future options; the business world didn’t impress Alisha with its 90 hour weeks, but Earth sciences did. And there might be some new friends.

“We all got each other’s emails, and everyone was crying at the graduation,” she said.

“It was amazing the bond we formed after just a week.”

What was that again, Malcolm?

Shadow Treasury spokesperson Malcolm Turnbull doesn't know where to turn now that inflation has risen to over 4 per cent.
 
Mr. Turnbull diddled about on inflation during an ABC 1 Insiders program last February when he was challenged about his view that inflation wasn't that important an issue.
Now he twists and turns over the latest inflation figures from the Reserve Bank.
 
The rise in inflation is awkward for Opposition Treasury spokesman Malcolm Turnbull, who has repeatedly accused Mr Swan of exaggerating the threat of inflation and criticised the Reserve Bank for raising rates.
Mr Turnbull said yesterday the world financial crisis would put more upward pressure on interest rates and slow economic growth.
"That is why I encouraged the Reserve Bank not to raise official rates earlier this year and to wait to see how the international situation developed," he said.
 
Perhaps Malcolm is now also reassessing his earlier opinion that The great risk to inflation now under Labor is a break out in wage inflation.

Lord Downer is blogging but is anyone reading?

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer is blogging at 
He allows moderated comments.
I have to hand it to the man - he just keeps on keeping on.
Alexander is getting few comments to his posts so far.
Make his day and tell him what you think!

2008 Olympic Torch Relay - Australia

Byron wins praise for environmental work

The Cape Byron Headland Trust's littoral rainforest restoration project, which re-established 15 hectares of degraded littoral rainforest vegetation at Cosy Corner (Cape Byron State Conservation Area), was featured in the 2006-07 NSW Environment Trust annual report.
Over 500 hours of professional regeneration work and 290 volunteers were involved in this successful outcome of a $21,700 funded project.
 
The Big Scrub Rainforest Landcare Group was also mentioned for its ongoing preservation and restoration of remnants of the Big Scrub which once covered a large tract of the NSW North Coast.
In 2006-07 the group was awarded a grant of $99,970 for rehabilitation work.

Those Labor media flirts are at it again

Fair go, Kev. Your mob are turning into bigger media flirts than the little leathered Goebbels you replaced.
Faced with a fair bit of media flack over 2020, what'd you do?
Why yesterday you pre-empt any findings of the current ACCC inquiry into grocery prices by announcing that you will make it easier for foreign-owned supermarkets to undertake start-ups in Australia.
 
Got news for you, mate - Walmart and the likes are not famous for delivering genuine competition or value to the customer either.
And new players on the retail scene are not going to benefit rural and regional towns, because we don't have the population numbers to support all the big players and small business dies off when one enters the main street.
 
The ACCC (which isn't due to delivery its findings until July) only started public hearings at the beginning of the month and only received around 116 points of view before its submissions deadline.
Aussie farmers haven't even finished giving evidence yet.
 
Here in regional New South Wales where prices are also upped by fuel and transport costs, I'm sure most of us would appreciate the Federal Government not jumping the gun just to grab a headline.
A fair dinkum stab at establishing competition and realistic pricing is what we're after.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Labor's Janelle Saffin standing up for the unemployed

The Labor MP for Page Janelle Saffin reported by ABC North Coast Radio.
 
The federal Member for Page, Janelle Saffin, says she supports plans to have Centrelink to take a more compassionate approach when assessing whether people should lose their unemployment benefits.
The Government's move comes in response to complaints from welfare groups that the number of people who have had their benefits cut has doubled since mid-2007.
It is understood as many as 1,000 people are losing their benefits each week, with about a third of those becoming homeless.
Ms Saffin says she has already tried to implement the new policy at a local level.
"My office liases with the department, with Centrelink, and that's the relationship that we've been developing with them - saying 'hey can you have a closer look at this'," she said.
"Look more carefully - we do that here, we get to know people's circumstances and then we make the representation on that basis."
 
It is refreshing to have a local MP who recognises the realities of life on the NSW North Coast, which has some of the most disadvantaged local government areas in Australia.

US08: Dear Jeremy Bird (or how to get Hillary in one easy lesson)

A preliminary search did not flag this as a hoax, so...
An American citizen's e-mail he cc'd on to North Coast Voices.
 
Dear Jeremy Bird: (Field Director for Senator Obama's Campaign for President in Pennsylvania)
 
I searched all over the Internet looking for an email address for Senator Obama as a Presidential candidate, but I could not find one. I chose ethics concerning this email because it was the closest topic to what I would like you to pass on to the Senator ASAP. Several months ago, I emailed Mr. Obama and gave him many suggestions concerning his approach and how I thought he should become more aggressive and passionate in his speeches about certain things. He may have received the email because he seemed to become more aggressive, but unfortunately, not more passionate. I listed a number of skeletons in Senator Clinton's closet and backed them up with facts and references. This will be my last email.
I have been a supporter of Senator Obama since he first announced his candidacy. I feel strongly that he has integrity and would by far the best President in the November elections, but I think he is still leaving himself wide open for Hillary Clinton's "throw the kitchen sink at him" as she has done throughout the campaign and which took its toll on him in the Ohio election, like it now will probably take its toll on him in the Pennsylvania primary next week. I tired of the media saying that both candidates are "slinging mud" while Mrs. Clinton has slung 95% of the mud. If she wins Pennsylvania big, it will give her momentum and I can just hearing her saying "I keep getting back up after I get knocked down, while the theme to "Rocky" plays in the background. I watched the debate last night on ABC (April 16th) and I was disgusted for several reasons. The moderators were terrible and brought up long forgotten issues about Mr. Obama and good old Hillary just kept piling on, especially when she spoke about his speech in San Francisco last Friday and she used his most damaging word "clinging" over & over again. At that point Senator Obama should have become passionate and fiery (like Martin Luther King-I suggested this before to Mr. Obama) and said with fire in his voice "O.K. Senator Clinton, enough is enough. You have been beating this same dead horse for six days now. Stop the mud-slinging and the distractions and the dirty politics that has been your strategy for the last 15 months and let's talk about the real issues." I think the audience would have given him a standing ovation and been amazed to see that he does have a backbone and is strong enough to stand up to Senator Clinton, and more importantly take on John McCain, who has so many liabilities, its hard to imagine that he is neck-to-neck with both Clinton and Obama. It is unthinkable that any Republican can win the White House in 2008 (even if former Republican President Regan was healthy and running for President, and he was a great President because he was not afraid to say the things he had to say in simple tough language). As an aside, Bill Clinton's Presidency was a disgrace not only with personal issues, but also with a number of law breaking irregularities. The man should have been impeached and disbarred for committing perjury. I was surprised that Mr. Obama brought up President Clinton's pardon of 2 criminals. It was the only time that he showed any strength all night. In general he was perceived to be a human punching bag who did not know how, or would not counter punch. He is not doing himself any favors.
Please pass along these suggestions to Mr. Obama ASAP if he wants to beat Mrs. Clinton and then Mr. McCain to become our next President. If he does not already know it, and I am sure he does, Senator Clinton, like her husband is unscrupulous, secretive, polarizing and she specializes in dirty politics. What the American people want is an honest person to run this country, and person who can bring about change and follow through on their campaign promises. Also, like in 1979 when the American people lost their pride in America, they desired a strong President (like President Regan who made me and all Americans proud of our country and of him.) Mr. Obama is an eloquent speaker, now he justs needs the passion and fire of Mr. Luther King when he speaks on certain issues, or about Mrs. Clinton. He should not be so quick to gracious when he speaks of her. Our country wants a President who is strong and tough enough to deal with all of the tough issues facing the next President, like the Iraq War, nuclear armament by Iran, ElQuida in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the tension in the Middle East, the constant threats to Israel, our strongest, and probably only ally in that region of the world, the housing and foreclosure crises and the crises in America's economy. I believe that Senator Obama is the person for the job, but he must show much more strength. He doesn't have to play dirty politics, like Mrs. Clinton. He can still be a gentleman and forcefully challenge her, which he has not done. When she says that she has 35 years of experience, he should strongly ask her to do the arithmetic for Americans. She doesn't have anywhere near 35 years experience. When she portrays herself as a common person who knows what the common Americans want. He should challenge her. The Clintons made 109 million dollars last year and their net worth is between 125-150 million dollars. When was the last time her and Bill (millionaires rubbed shoulders with the common people). When she says that she will be strong enough to stand up to rich interest groups, he should challenge her about her last campaign running for re-election as Senator for New York which was largely financed by millions of dollars in contributions by special interest groups such as the insurance and drug industry, part of which she then used to fund her Presidential campaign, or he should ask her about the approximately 100 million dollars that her and her husband had invested in Wal-Mart stock (which she accumulated as a Wal-Mart Board member), oil company stock, insurance company stock, drug industry stock, etc., that was held in a blind trust so their names could not be associated with their investments and which they divested themselves of shortly before she announces her run for Presidency. The next time she talks about how she is promising millions of new jobs for Americans and how a person can go to Hillary.com (she mentioned her website so much last night it made me nauseous), he should remind her of the promise she made to the people of upstate New York during his last campaign of 50,000 new jobs, with the net result of a loss of 20,000 jobs in that region. The people of upstate New York still have not forgiven her for that, especially when she was questioned about that unfulfilled promise, she flippantly and with that raucous laugh that she has (which she always uses when she lying) answered "Oh, I guess I was a little over-exuberant." It exactly the ways she reacts about her lie about sniper fire. The next time she says that she honest and her life is an open book, he should ask her why her husband, former President Bill Clinton still refuses to this day to release the names and the contribution amounts that he took in during his last campaign for President, or why of the 2 million pages of her daily journal as the First Lady, only a fraction of them were released (1,100 pages) and why in those 1,100 pages released there were numerous deletions. The next time she uses her extensive experience, he should again remind her of her vote for our entry into the IRAQ War, and suggest that they compare apples to apples, and even use John McCain in the comparison. This long 15 month campaign that the 3 of them have been involved with is by far the most complex process that any of the 3 of them were in charge of. Senator Obama has unequivocally done the most outstanding job of the three. He has run the most efficient campaign of all 3. There has been no in-fighting like in Mrs. Clinton's camp, he has raised by far the most in campaign contributions (none from special interest groups), Mrs. Clinton had to loan her campaign fund 5 million dollars from her own personal assets because her campaign funds had run dry, and the amount of money that Senator McCain has raised is unbelievably low. Mrs. Clinton says when she's President she is going to empower her staff, while according at the same time, hew own campaign staff says that she does not provide any leadership, nor does she empower them, rather she has abdicated her authority and left them to their own designs.
Senator Obama needs to create more space between himself and Mrs. Clinton in terms of delegates and the number of votes, so that the Democratic leadership will step in by June 3rd to drop out of the race because she is only being divisive and giving Senator a huge head start in the race for the Presidency.
Please pass along these suggestions to Senator Obama because no American wants to see Mrs. Clinton close the gap between them (even though it is almost mathematically impossible for her to catch him) and then leave the Super Delegates (whose votes should never have been part of any Presidential process) choose the candidate. That is damm near un-American. Tell Mr. Obama her can still be a gentlemen and be forceful and strong and use passionate and fiery language at the same time. America wants change, but it is also looking for a strong tough person to run this country. Assure Senator Obama that he will not be playing dirty politics or using smear tackics. Rather, he will be forcefully holding Senator Clinton "accountable for the truth" in what she is saying and in what she claims she has done. Also I just finished reading an article in the April 21, 2008 edition of US News and World Reports entitled "Obama's Finishing School" which was excellent and provided details about Mr. Obama's role as a community organizer, community leader and his many achievements during his early years in politics. I was extremely surprised, but Senator Obama should provide these details when dealing his experience issue that Senator Clinton keeps harping on. I am sure that most Obama supporters do not know these details. He has got to do a better job and provide these details to the American people each opportunity the he gets. If he does, he will attract even more voters to his side. Also, please ask Mr. Obama to start wearing the Presidential Flag pin. That has been a thorn in his side for 15 months and besides he should be proud to wear the American flag. And lastly, please ask Mr. Obama not to be so gracious, forgiving ("I'm sure she didn't mean that') and so quick to compliment her and her qualifications. When he does that, he portrays himself as a lap dog. I was very sorry to hear that he has decided not to participate in the April 19th debate in North Carolina against Mrs. Clinton, especially when he is the one who suggested it and she reluctantly agreed. It makes him look like he is afraid to debate her again because he did not handle himself well last night in the Philadelphia debate. Besides, it would have given him a chance to lick his wounds and then show Americans that he can be tough and can confront her. Again, please pass along these suggestions to Senator Obama and tell him I am in his corner and I will pray for him. Thank you.
Respectfully submitted,
Robert Kroner
 

Oi, Rudders! About that 2020 summit - told you so

It's not considered good form to say I told you so.
But if anyone deserved to have it said to him today it's our own PM.
The Australian has just published the inevitable this morning.
 
"THE unity and goodwill that radiated from Kevin Rudd's 2020 Summit last weekend have evaporated, with some participants saying they cannot recognise the "big ideas" attributed to them while others claim they were "systematically silenced".---
Special fury has been reserved for World Vision Australia chief Tim Costello, who co-chaired the Strengthening Communities stream with federal Housing Minister Tanya Plibersek.
Several delegates claim Mr Costello smuggled his personal agenda into the final document, which claims participants discussed "the damage inflicted on communities by problem gambling and binge drinking" and supported "reducing the number of poker machines or tighter regulation of alcohol".
"I didn't hear the words 'gambling' or 'poker machine' at any stage of my time there," Chris Riley, from the community organisation Youth Off the Streets, said yesterday.
"I don't know how that got in. I'm really concerned about leadership in this field. Tim Costello's got his own agenda, and it's just not appropriate." ----
A spokesman for Mr Rudd said last night the final text of the summit's initial report was "finalised by agreement between the co-chairs of the individual streams". "The co-chairs agreed on the text based on all of the discussions and submissions made in and to the 2020 Summit," he said."

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Earth Day, 22 April 2008


The Earth formed simultaneously with the other Solar System planets and the central Sun. Accretion of planetesimals produced a large body which assumed a spherical shape. Probably cool at the outset, this proto-Earth rapidly heated up, formed its metallic core within 100 million years, and was subjected to continuous impact bombardment by asteroids, comets, and meteorites. It may have had a molten exterior which quickly cooled to a crust. Very early in earth history, its Moon was produced from a glancing collision with another planetlike body. A second period of bombardment helped destroy the early crust. By about 3.8 billion years ago, rocks formed crusts of more silicic rocks embedded in a basaltic crustal layer that extended worldwide. Oceans were produced early, weathering attacked the crustal rocks to produce the first sedimentary rocks, and protocontinents began to form (from metamorphosis and melting of accumulated debris). These continental nuclei probably were moved about by processes akin to convection-driven plate tectonics. An early atmosphere consisted largely of nitrogen, with some carbon dioxide, ammonia, methane, and water. Those ingredients may have been converted to organic molecules which in turn organized into primitive one-celled bacteria about 3.85 b.y. ago. In time, living plant organisms developed the capability to photosynthesize solar energy, releasing oxygen as an end product, which gas gradually built up to present day levels, evolving more advanced life forms.
It's a small, small world...

Joshua Gans remains a 2020 optimist

Few second thoughts and a distinct after-glow for Professor Joshua Gans, as he briefly summarises his impressions of The Big Weekend and participation in Rudd's 2020 summit.
But then Joshua appears to be a fully-employed (probably tenured), professional male under 50 years of age and, so hasn't lived through as many societal and political cycles as most on the NSW North (Graying) Coast.

The fruits of our labour are now on the 2020 website in the
Initial Report produced at lightning speed. How could this be done? Well, by not really incorporating the final consensus of ideas (at least from our group). For instance, the goal of raising R&D enough to maintain international competitiveness was supposed to be something more specific such as raising private and public R&D to at least double its current level by 2020. And on the ideas our push for a revamp of the maths and science curriculum right from early learning was meant to be encompassed as an idea to hold a national level review of curriculum but got left as having one national curriculum (a very different and hardly consensus possibility that was never discussed). And then there was stuff that came out of nowhere such as "Innovation Australia" that we all did agree to strike in favour of promoting a National Innovation Agenda through COAG (thank you, John Brumby) and also exploring the ideas of having PhD Centres of Excellence along the German model (thank you, Bryan Gaensler). But I am going to leave to a future post how I think a consensus view of the Productivity Stream would look.

For me, the best experiences of the Summit were interacting with people outside of my own stream. I had breakfast with one of Australia's foremost climate change scientists, talked about governance with some folk, engaged in my usual arguments with Telstra on broadband, and discussed how we could make our health system work better with some doctors. It make me want to take part in what was going on in other streams but then again I had a job to do where I was.

And I wont lie to you, it was really great to be roaming Parliament House when so many famous faces were around. There is something unique about debating about where we were going to sit to eat our boxed lunch and decide the floor would do because Lachlan Murdoch was already down there. Mandawuy Yunupingu, the lead singer of Yothu Yindi, sat down next to me during one session. But, of course, rather than ask him about his ideas all I could think to do was revert to being star struck and tell him how I had imported his band's CDs to the US when I was studying because I missed Australian music. I got to see who I was taller than and fatter than. I caught a glimpse of Cate and the baby and decided not to bound over a bunch of chairs to introduce myself to the Prime Minister. And I was around when Hugh Jackman told the Summit of his 7 year old son's idea: "to speed up archaeological digs before they build all over them and it is too late." (On that score, thank goodness they invited the entertainers, it really livened up one of the main sessions).

In the end, for me I will get just what I expected, a bunch of new connections and hopefully friends who share a common interest in wanting to make things better. I think the Government will get some more ideas, but importantly, will be held to account by those who spent considerable energy in trying to make things better. In the relative disorganisation of the Summit agenda and process, they have formed a coalition of the "best, brightest and now restless" who will not want to let things just be. It will be up to them how they engage with that coalition.

I'm glad you enjoyed yourself, Joshua, and I wish you well.
I'll even forgive the fact that you saw nothing wrong with being blatantly used in a government attempt to form an elitist consensus with which to beat the electorate over the head - economists were never known for an understanding of the ordinary citizen.

It could only be the NSW North Coast Nationals

When a flyer arrives in the mail announcing that May 2008 is 'Report all Clarence Crime' Month and implying that 'car hoon' is an offence found in the Crimes Act, then it immediately becomes clear that this political blurb is from the North Coast Nationals.
In this case, Nationals MP for Clarence Steve Cansdell.
Now this so-called report all crime month does not appear to be part of the CVC 2008-2010 Crime Prevention Plan, so I have to assume this little beat up is pure Cansdell.
Perhaps he doesn't find local crime statistics between 2003-2007 give him enough scope and he hopes to find some anecdotal information with which to run a scare campaign or two in order to unsettle local communities and score against Country Labor.

Post-2020 media moments which would annoy

Now that Australia is in the post-2020 phase of a hopefully dying media cycle, here are one or two media moments I would prefer not to see.
 
An obviously overweight and out of condition Kevin Rudd announcing a 'healthy living' tax on meat pies or exhorting us all to run up the office firestairs to keep trim.
 
Rudd continuing to talk up a distracting and disruptive republic debate, while there is so much hard work and pain still ahead for us all if we are to implement meaningful responses to the environmental and social impacts of climate change.
 
Rudd, any Federal minister, Nelson or any Opposition MP ever fronting the cameras again and mentioning the phrases best and brightest, national consensus, think big or Australia 2020.

You are entering Dairy Farmers country, Wave (goodbye) to a cow today

Is nothing sacred! Another quiet little achiever looks set to pass from Aussie hands.
It is becoming harder and harder to Buy Australian.
 
"NATIONAL Foods, the Japanese company behind the Pura, Yoplait and King Island Dairy brands, has applied for regulatory approval to acquire NSW co-operative milk processor Dairy Farmers.
The application for clearance from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is the first official confirmation of NatFoods' interest in Dairy Farmers, which has demanded all potential bidders submit to strict confidentiality agreements.
Dairy Farmers, which is owned by about 2000 primary producers, yesterday described NatFoods as "the first of a number of parties interested in acquiring or merging with the business" to have commenced the official approval process.
The ACCC has called for submissions from interested parties by May 2.
It proposes to announce its decision by June 12."

Monday, 21 April 2008

Ghost writers causing 2020 summit initial report to grow and grow into a little bit of Kevin on Earth?

This morning News.com.au referred to the Australia 2020 summit initial report as being 85 pages long.
The copy I downloaded last night was 38 pages long in a 40 page PDF format.
So did the News journalist make a simple counting error 47 pages in length or is the Rudd Government supplying the media with a padded document containing ministerial spin?
Will the final version of the summit report due out next month bear any resemblance to the collective views of those little summit mouseketeer groups?

The Great 2020 Hoax

I watched the ABC1 Sunday afternoon showing of Vision 2020 Summit and, its participant speeches and summations. A fascinating spectacle, of motherhood statements and sector wish lists often at odds with each other, revealing a truth which cannot be spun or hidden. 
 
The Australia 2020 summit does not speak for Australia. In fact, by no disciplinary yardstick in existence can it be said to speak for the whole nation.
A badly-worded, one question, single issue online newspaper poll has more chance of being reliably considered representative of a majority national view.
Which means that 2020 is a hoax, a piece of political theatre designed to make voters think that government is doing more than running on the spot.
 
When Kevin Rudd first made that throw-away announcement, of a national ideas summit to help set the political agenda, I was mildly amused at his nonsense.
Then I became slightly irritated on realising that no thought had gone into how this would be achieved and, that invitations to chair workshops were based on the usual suspects known to those in power.
 
By the time it became obvious that dominant groups had hijacked both the summit's agenda and who would be chosen to attend, I have to say that irritation had turned to pronounced annoyance.
Particularly when Rudd decided to ginger things up by so obviously manouvering a republic onto the list.
 
This metamorphosed into definite anger when it could be seen that most of those attending had not even bothered to do the most preliminary homework on the their own stated aspirational goals, as opposed to their 'new' ideas of which there appeared to be none.
Even a trawl through the published 2020 written submissions revealed a dearth of proposed solutions to the problems which face us as a nation.
 
But what induced my almost incandescent rage has been the many assertions (made by smug elite spokespersons during this summit) that these little mouseketeers actually represent the views of all Australia.
The only views these people can possibly represent are the views of those attending over the course of the two-day summit. That is, those who were chosen and could afford to attend by paying all travel and accommodation costs, as well as buying most of their own food and drink.
 
However, because the final documents produced by this summit will have had to be massaged by bureaucrats to produce a least a few facesaving practical 'solutions' from that pile of well-worn aspirational goals, these may more properly be said to potentially reflect the views of ministers and their advisers.
If the televised ministerial speeches unconsciously foreshadowing this didn't give the hint, then the Prime Minister's shameless herding of the working groups would.
 
So Rudd and Co. let us be clear about what was achieved at the end of the 19-20 April exclusive Canberra weekend.
Your government presided over the biggest, collective manual self-gratification gathering ever held in Australia's long history.
I suggest you approach the Guinness Book of Records for inclusion, because that will be your sole enduring demonstrable outcome from this great hoax.

Telstra rewarded for its support of Labor during 2007 election?

During the 2007 federal election Telstra actively campaigned against the telecommunications policy and business decisions of the Howard Government.
 
Is this part of Labor's reward to Telstra for services rendered?
In The Australian this morning.
 
DETAILS about Australia's telecommunications infrastructure, crucial for bidders pitching for the $4.7 billion national broadband contract, are not available from the Government -- more than a week after the request for proposals (RFP) for the bid.
In the week since the release of the RFP on April 11, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has been trying to assure the telco industry that the process being used to award the lucrative contract is not biased towards Australia's dominant telecommunications player Telstra.
But in the battle to win the $4.7 billion national broadband bid, Telstra, which wants an after-tax return on the network north of 18 per cent for its shareholders, appeared to win the psychological advantage when its media man Phil Burgess said the day before the RFP was released that the former government-owned monopoly expected to get the nod.
The timing and tenor of his comments sent a murmur through the telco industry but the release of the RFP a day later had some convinced that a deal had been done.
The three main criticisms from Telstra's rivals of the RFP for the open access fibre network are that it lacks public scrutiny for such a large investment of public funds, that it could entrench a monopoly provider and that it disadvantages Telstra's rivals in the bidding process.
The Australian understands that a number of companies are currently crafting letters to the minister expressing their concerns about the deal, and the CEOs of the G9 group of Telstra's rivals are planning to meet within days to discuss how to respond to the RFP.
The federal Opposition has also raised concerns about the inclusion of a gag order in the broadband tender which prohibits bidders from discussing it publicly. Opposition communications spokesman Bruce Billson says that he has received legal advice describing the gag order as an "extraordinary" inclusion in a government RFP.
"Legal opinion I have sought is also contrary to the claims from the minister's office that the gag order is common. I am advised it is quite uncommon in both private sector and government contracts," he says.

Australia 2020 - thinking glib

The Australia 2020 summit logo - something else Rudders asserts he owns.

Words the 2020 summit initial report tries not to use

So quickly after the final session closed yesterday was the Australia 2020 summit initial report (with pictures) posted on its website that one has to wonder if some of the pages were typed in anticipation of workshop outcomes.
 
The 40-page initial report covering the official 10 topics is here.
 
Using Acrobat Find to count, it is remarkable for those words it seldom uses or uses not at all, across these forty pages which cover everything from the economy to an alleged call for a republic.
 
democracy used twice
democratic not used at all
equality    used once
equity       used once as a financial term
justice       used once as in 'justice system'
fairness     used once
fairgo        not used at all
rights        used seven times, but two of these as in 'property rights'
welfare      used three times
humanity   not used at all
freedom(s) used three times   
protection(s) used twice
share(ed/ing) used eleven times, but eight of these referred to data/information sharing or sharing priorities/topics/aspirations 
caring       used three times
disadvantage used seven times, but once was as a paragraph heading
regional     used twenty-four times, but seven of these were as international descriptions
 
The people who supposedly decided on the language are here.
Based on simple maths they are each responsible for about 0.04 parts of one page.

North Coast music industry Dolphin Awards to be held at Lismore on 30 April 2008

It's time for those Dolphin music awards again.
 
The Dolphin Awards, co-ordinated by the North Coast Entertainment Industry Association, will be staged at ONE nightclub, next door to Mary Gilhooley's Irish bar in Lismore on April 30.
The night will feature the best of North Coast talent and reward the efforts of artists and industry workers in numerous award categories.
There will also be live performances by Diana Anaid, Invisible Friend and Andy Holm, and a DJ.
Co-ordinator Rod Tyson described the event as the North Coast's answer to the ARIAs.
"It's a good starting off point for some of these bands," he said.
"The North Coast has the biggest concentration of music and artists in all of Australia."
This year, the event will be sponsored by Splendour in the Grass, and in the next 12 months the Dolphin Awards and Splendour are also joining to host a number of youth-focused events, including a proposed gig called Bands in the Park.
"We're happy to be on board to support the Dolphin awards which are a great showcase of North Coast talent," Splendour representative Darcy Condon said.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Spivs Inc (NSW) and Developers Unlimited are at it again

The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday.
 
THE State Government plans to give its agencies and councils power to compulsorily acquire private land to re-sell to developers at a profit - or, if they choose, at a reduced price so the developers make even more money.
Legal authorities describe as "quite remarkable" a section of new planning laws flagged by the Minister for Planning, Frank Sartor, to acquire land by force to onsell to private developers.
"A man's home may no longer be his castle, but it could well end up being somebody else's castle," said Anthony Whealy, a planning expert with Gadens Lawyers. "It will certainly be welcome news to many in the development game.
"Under the current law, the minister is not able to re-sell land which has been acquired or transfer it to another person. The new scheme expressly allows that, and makes it clear that it may be done as part of a profitable proposal by a private developer."
 
The last time New South Wales was perceived to be so thoroughly in the hands of big business interests (not all of these of spotless corporate character) was in the 1970s and 80s.
Some of the development companies operating in this state right now were unfavourably mentioned during government inquiries, royal commissions and even one coroner's inquest during that period.
Quite a few of the most generous political donors have business interests on the NSW North Coast.
Planning Minister Frank Sartor and the rest of the Iemma Government may protest about media beat ups, but they have done nothing to dispel the idea that NSW Labor is blatantly 'on the take' and just as susceptible to brown paper bag deliveries as that not so long ago Coalition Askin Government.

Indigenous delegation heads for UN to protest Rudd Government policy

ABC News reported on Friday.
 
The National Aboriginal Alliance is taking its concerns about the Northern Territory intervention to the United Nations.
A delegation leaves today for the annual UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.
Delegation Leader Les Malezer says parts of the intervention, like income management, breach United Nations charters on racial discrimination and human rights.
"What we hope to do is at least make people aware internationally of the extent of racial discrimination that occurs only against Aboriginal people in Australia and that continues despite changes of government," he said.
"Despite decades of supposed reforms in Australia, it's still the most discriminatory place in the world."
 
On the same day The Age published an article on Australian National University researchers.
 
A GROUP of academics predict it could take 2000 years to bridge the gap in the median household income of indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
Before the 2020 Summit, the Australian National University researchers have warned that the Rudd Government needs a "fundamentally new policy framework" if it is serious about closing gaps in social outcomes for Aborigines.
Jon Altman, Nicholas Biddle and Boyd Hunter, from the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, examined census data from 1971 to 2006 to chart trends. They found that most socio-economic outcomes for indigenous people have improved in the past 35 years.
The number of indigenous people getting qualifications after school and employment in the private sector has improved. And if current trends and policy persist, gaps in these areas could be bridged within 35 years.
But gaps are not closing in areas such as the unemployment rate, male and female life expectancy and median incomes. The latter is partly to do with the rise in incomes for non-indigenous workers.
 
Full copy of April 2008 ANU study here.
 
Kevin Rudd's Australia 2020 summit has a big job ahead of it and only two days to come up with a new way to approach the issue of inequality and racism.
This is an impossible task and may only increase general dissatisfaction with the Federal Government's handling of indigenous affairs.