Sunday, 25 December 2011

*****Happy Festive Season To All In 2011*****

North Coast Voices
wishes everyone
a happy festive season

Keep safe and well during the holidays

We will be back from our annual break
on 1 January 2012

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Is the Japanese whaling fleet overfishing the Antarctic?

On July 25, 2007 a The Sydney Morning Herald article stated :

In June 2011 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) REPORT OF THE SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE 2011 addressed the issue of declining Minke Whale stocks in the Antarctic:

Two different methods for estimating Antarctic minke whale abundance from these data have been developed in recent years (see below) and although they gave different estimates of abundance, both were consistent in showing an appreciable decline in estimated circumpolar abundance between CPII and CPIII……..
It is clear from Table 5 that while circumpolar Antarctic minke whale abundance estimates have declined during the period from CPII to CPIII, there are substantial differences in relative changes between Areas, with only relatively moderate increases or declines in some Areas, but appreciable declines in others (Table 6). No significant decline is seen in Areas III, IV and VI, whilst estimated abundance is substantially lower in CPIII for Areas I, II and V. Areas II and V encompass the Weddell and Ross Seas
As noted above, large declines in estimates of Antarctic minke whale abundance occurred in Areas I, II and V (there were no statistically significant changes in the other three Areas). The Committee agrees that these declines do indeed reflect genuine changes in abundance in the open-water areas surveyed that need to be explained. Such changes may be due to changes in distribution or reflect a true decline (or some combination of both)……
There are two classes of explanation for possible true declines in abundance. The first, quantitative approach involves the population dynamics statistical catch-at-age analyses (SCAA) from Area III East to VI West, which can potentially account for the changes in overall abundance in terms of variations over time in mortality and recruitment (note that this may explain how but not why changes occurred). The second, less quantitative approach involves attempts to identify mechanisms whereby mortality and recruitment may have changed (e.g. ecosystem effects, interspecies competition, climate changes, etc.).

It may be time to reflect on the fact that one of the management areas identified in the IWC report as experiencing an agreed marked decline in minke whale numbers is also one of those areas in which Japan’s whale fleet has actively hunted these whales, for at least twelve austral summer seasons during its approximately twenty-three year history of Antarctic commercial whaling conducted under the guise of scientific research.

During that time Japanese research documents show that the fleet has consistently taken both lactating and pregnant minke females.

Click on image to enlarge

The Government of Japan’s whaling fleet is heading towards its Southern Ocean killing grounds as I write.

During the 2011/12 season the inappropriately named Institute of Cetacean Research will sponsor so-called ‘lethal research’ on as many as 930 minke whales and possibly a handful of fin whales and even humpbacks according to Japan Times Online on 11 December 2011. The IWC's own documents clearly indicate that the whaling fleet again intends to operate in one of the management areas showing significant minke whale decline.

It's Christmas Eve and for a little while longer the world is a wonderful place

Let's try to keep in that way....

A recap of the Hon. Anthony John Abbott's year that was....

No no  no NO! no never no nay No nooooo  won’t no NO-NO-NO no not no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no No no no no nada no no no no no no no no no no no no Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah! no no no no no no no-go no no no no no no no no no no no no no nei no no no no no no no non no no no no no no  no no no no no nein no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no No no no no no-no no no no no not no no no no no nyet no no no no no no no no no neva eva eva eva eva eva NO.......................................................... quoth Tony

Friday, 23 December 2011

Why all the fuss about an eBay scam? Ask Australia's DoD what a real scam looks like

Is that a gun in your pocket?

The Sydney Morning Herald of 20 December 2011 made me quietly smile when Asher Moses breathlessly told readers that it was an Unhappy Christmas: $1120 for an empty box through eBay with Australian eBay customers lured by ultra-bargain priced TV sets and other electronics have shelled out thousands of dollars only to receive empty boxes in the mail.

Asher may be too young to remember that during the Viet Nam War Australian Defence Force personnel (were confidently rumoured at the time) to have opened carefully packaged boxes, which were supposed to contain an advanced weaponry component - only to find that each and every box merely contained a photocopied schematic of the very expensive item.

The Commonwealth Dept. of Defence, as procurer of these mythical components, was so embarrassed that its gullibility was hidden by creative internal accounting and never saw the light of day.

Now that was a $$$$$$$ scam!

One of the other perils of rock fishing - FEAR

Many a keen fisherman will sympathise with The Daily Examiner’s editor over this salty experience he shared with the world last Tuesday:
“FISHING is supposed to be a relaxing activity, one where you can forget about the stresses of life, simply absorb the surroundings and be taken to another place.
It normally is for me, but not so on Sunday.
A friend and I headed to Woody Head to do a spot of bream fishing off the rocks. With not much happening on the fishing front, I decided to try another spot, but in the process managed to slip and put a small cut on the back of my leg on some oysters. There was a steady trickle of blood for the rest of the morning as the salty water stopped the wound from drying out.
As the tide rose we moved again, this time well away from the surf zone but where there was a collection of serious rocks and hazards. I lost a good deal of bait as I made my way out. I placed myself on a rock that had about half a square metre of surface above the water line and cast out. Small waves gently rose above the rock and up my calf muscles, keeping the wound wet and a drop or two of blood entering the water.
After about five minutes on the rock I looked down to see a wobbegong shark more than a metre long swimming beneath my feet, within a minute there was another, then another, then another.
I'm not sure I saw them all, but there were at least four, probably five, sharks milling around my feet.
They were so keen on what I was doing, they kept putting their heads onto the rock from which I was fishing.
This was disturbing.
I thought that in time they would pass. They didn't.
My only passage back to the mainland was by wading through the rock-filled water that was sometimes chest deep.
It wasn't a pleasant thought.
I know they are protected, but I stomped on the heads of a couple as they came onto the rocks and hit another couple with the butt of my rod. They would swim away for a few metres, then return.
I eventually decided to try to scare as many away as possible and take my chances through the rocks. I did and grabbed a few more bumps and grazes on the rocks on the way back, but thankfully the sharks left me alone.
I've seen what they can do to people when they latch onto someone.
My daughter told me last week one of the things on her bucket list was to swim with sharks. I'm going to cross that one off mine.”

Thursday, 22 December 2011

'Steve' Gulaptis MP, fifth columnist?

Surfing the web I came across this little pearl from the mouth of the then Maclean Shire Mayor, now the NSW North Coast’s very own MP for Page, ‘Steve’ Gulaptis – which leads me to wonder if he joined the O’Farrell Coalition Government just so that he could help eradicate it?
ABC North Coast Radio live interview on 11th May 2002

Coal seam gas miners won't be putting any presents under the Chrissie tree

Royalties paid by coal seam gas miners in NSW are next to nothing so, as Janet Cavanaugh writes in today's Daily Examiner, don't hold your breath waiting for funds from those sources to amount to anything worth talking about.

Don't expect it any time soon
For those expecting Metgasco's royalties to fund the Pacific Highway upgrade, the second Grafton bridge or a 24-hour police station in Casino (DEX, December 17 "CSG could co-exist: Metgasco") - don't expect it any time soon.
The NSW Government's assistance to encourage the industry includes a five-year holiday on paying royalties for each and every well, and then discounted royalties for a further five years. In contrast, coal seam gas royalties in Queensland are a flat 10% each year.
Peak production of wells often occurs in the first few years of a well's life, with production dropping off significantly after that. In 2010, the total paid to the NSW Government in coal seam gas royalties was only $462,000.
Does Metgasco seriously think this can fund anything more than a fraction of the bureaucracy which is meant to regulate the industry?
Janet Cavanaugh, Whiporie

Source: Letters, The Daily Examiner, 22/12/11

Don't laugh, this is a true story

A 10-years-old sheep on a farm on the Isle of Wight has been fitted with false teeth. The plastic teeth were fitted last week and in seven days the sheep put on 20lb.

That gem appeared in today's Daily Examiner but it wasn't a recent news item. It happened 50 years ago. Regular Examiner readers appreciate the work of Chris Nield who compiles "Backward Glances: Extracts from The Daily Examiner 50 years ago today".

In other 'old' news reported in the Examiner today:

* Sir Earle Christmas Page, former Australian Prime Minister died in Sydney to-day. Lady Page and close relatives were at his bedside constantly as he fought for his life. [Well, truth be known, Sir Earle died on 20 December.]

Footnote: The Australian Dictionary of Biography states that Sir Earle's first wife, Ethel, predeceased him. Ethel died in 1958 and on 20 July 1959 Sir Earle married his secretary Jean Thomas at St Paul's Cathedral. Sir Earle fought his last election in December 1961. Suffering from cancer, he hardly appeared in the electorate and died in Sydney on 20 December, not knowing that he had lost his seat after forty-two year.

Before you get too comfortable.......

From Monash University’s Indigenous Human Rights and History Vol 1(1) [Occasional Papers Series Editors: Lynette Russell, Melissa Castan] comes Genocide in Australia: By Accident or Design? by Colin Tatz – giving us all something to think about as 2011 ends:

There was no pendulum before the 1970s. That there was no desire, let alone a need, to look was partly because Australians regard themselves as quintessential democrats and decent colonists, ‘genuinely benevolent’ as Hancock would say, convinced that Australian-ness [by birth or even by naturalisation] is a natural immunity to bad or homicidal, let alone genocidal, behaviour. When Australia reluctantly ratified the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (hereafter, Genocide Convention or GC)3 in June 1949, a bipartisan parliament was aghast that Australia should be associated with a Genocide Convention Bill. Liberal MP Archie Cameron declared that ‘no one in his right senses believes that the Commonwealth of Australia will be called before the bar of public opinion, if there is such a thing, and asked to answer for any of the things which are enumerated in this convention.’ Labor MP Leslie Haylen was adamant that ‘the horrible crime of genocide is unthinkable in Australia … that we detest all forms of genocide and desire to remove them arises from the fact that we are a moral people. The fact that we have a clean record allows us to take such an attitude...’ (Hansard 1949: 1871–6).

Their indignation and belief in an unblemished record notwithstanding, Australia’s behaviour is now before the bar of public opinion and inevitably on the international conference table; it is increasingly illustrated in museums and film documentaries; it is taught in a small but growing number of university courses and in most high school syllabuses; and published in newspapers, books, annotated bibliographies, genocide studies journals and websites abroad and at home. The Australian case now appears in anthologies like Century of Genocide: Eyewitness Accounts and Critical Views.4 Genocide in Australia is now thinkable and thought about — here and abroad.

That the Aboriginal experience doesn’t look like, sound like or feel like Auschwitz is a quite proper conclusion — but genocide is not restricted to that heinous chapter of the twentieth century. Despite the many differences between the Australian and other cases, the evidence on the destruction of Aboriginal societies is strong enough to fall clearly within the scope of the crime defined in international law……..

Jaysus Wept! Are we never to have a break from the Nomadic Noman?

Apparently Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott cannot stand the thought of ordinary Aussies having a Tony-free media over the Christmas break.

Read this and weep:
"Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is still in the office. He will stop for Christmas Day in Sydney with his family, but keep working in the week leading up to New Year's Eve."
What on earth is he going to tour, open or opine over for heaven's sake - some poor sod's assessment of presents given or received?
The man's clearly unbalanced, if the only time he'll give his family is one lousy day of the most important holidays of the year just so that he can keep his bluidy name in print.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

North Coast Nats trying to create a false impression they had a hand in getting federal funding?

If one undertook a vox pop on the streets of Coffs Harbour next week it would be likely that Luke Hartsuyker’s name rather than Rob Oakeshott’s name would be associated with $35 million in Gillard Government funding, after this North Coast Nationals shameless attempt to hijack the announcement.

Excerpt from Independent MP for Lyne Rob Oakeshott media release on 19 December 2011:

FOR the second time in a month, Independent Lyne MP Robert Oakeshott has announced a multi-million windfall for education on the Mid-North Coast.
The Commonwealth will invest $20 million in a health and medical education campus in Port Macquarie – the first of its kind in regional Australia.
Just two weeks ago, the MP announced $15 million towards a Port Macquarie campus for Charles Sturt University.
Today’s announcement involves a multi-partner medical education campus involving the University of New South Wales, the University of Newcastle and the North Coast Institute of TAFE.
“This has been a fantastic fortnight for higher education on the Mid-North Coast, with a record investment of $35 million in tertiary education infrastructure involving three leading universities and the North Coast Institute of TAFE,” Mr Oakeshott said.
“Even more significant than the dollars, is that this campus will be the first regional medical school in Australia where students can complete the entire six-year course, a remarkable outcome for our local students and the university and clinical specialists involved.
“I am absolutely serious about reversing the brain-drain from the Mid-North Coast, and making our region an education hub for the nation,” Mr Oakeshott said.
“The University of NSW will deliver a full six-year medical degree in Port Macquarie from 2014, which is a first for regional Australia, and an important game-changer in the way medical degrees are delivered nationally.

How The Coffs Coast Advocate reported these facts in an online article with photograph which was primarily National Party ‘spin’ on 20 December 2011:

LOCAL Federal member Luke Hartsuyker has welcomed the announcement that his parliamentary colleague Rob Oakeshott has helped to secure $20 million in funding to go toward a multi-partner medical campus in Port Macquarie.

Mr Hartsuyker said that the boost for Port Macquarie's economy should be seen as a pat on the back for all regional town centres not just the Hastings area.
"Everyone welcomes more medical facilities and more medical training in regional areas," Mr Hartsuyker said.
In the past fortnight Mr Oakeshott has announced $33 million in federal money going towards his constituents in the seat of Lyne after recently announcing $13 million that the independant MP helped to get granted to Charles Sturt University to help pay for a Regional University Centre at Port Macquarie.
The local member said that money had already been allocated to the Coffs Coast region when it became a trailblazer in rural medical training.

Overall Australians are going into the 2011 festive season still confident that the economy and home finances are faring well

From the last Essential Report for 2011:

Click on graphs to enlarge

Overall, respondents were optimistic that 2012 would be a good year for themselves overall (52%) and their workplace (45%). They tended to be less optimistic about their financial situation (33% good/27% bad) and somewhat pessimistic about the Australian economy (29%/35%).
Compared to expectations 12 months ago, respondents were much less optimistic about the Australian economy (48% good last year compared to 29% good this year) and also rather less optimistic about their own financial situation (39%/20% last year compared to 33%/27% this year).
When compared with last week’s questions on perceptions of 2011, these figures suggest that respondents expect 2012 to be better than 2011 for themselves and their family (net +36% for next year compared to net +24% for this year), a little better for their workplace (+25% next year, +20% last year) and their own financial situation (+6% next year, -2% this year). The Australian economy is expected to be a little worse in 2012 (-6% next year compared to +2% last year).


New York, December 21, 2011 -- Moody's maintains the following ratings on Australia, Government of:
Long Term Issuer (domestic and foreign currency) ratings of Aaa
Senior Unsecured (domestic and foreign currency) ratings of Aaa
Senior Unsecured Shelf (foreign currency) rating of (P)Aaa
Australia's Aaa ratings are based on the country's very high economic resiliency, very high government financial strength, and very low susceptibility to event risk. Economic resiliency is demonstrated by the country's very high per capita income, large size, and economic diversity. As one of the world's most advanced economies, the country has not only a significant natural resource sector--including minerals,hydrocarbons, and agriculture--but also well developed manufacturing and service sectors. It also demonstrates strong governance indicators. In particular, the framework for fiscal policy is transparent and has, until now, consistently kept government debt at low levels.
The government's debt rating of Aaa takes into account the aim of maintaining a balanced budget, on average, over the business cycle. It is supported by the very low level of public debt and the country's strong financial system. In comparison to most other Aaa-rated countries, Australia's government financial strength is very high, with very low gross debt that is easily affordable and provides a high degree of fiscal flexibility...... [my bolding]

Hatip to Latika Bourke for tweeting this information.

I'm shocked, Aunty ABC!

Yes, I’m well and truly shocked Aunty. Two of your radio interviewers have been found guilty of blatant bias a lack of impartiality.
What so flabbergasts me is that it doesn’t happen more often given the number of closet wing-nuts and bat-crazy evangelists that appear to be lurking in those darker regional corners of your media empire.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Kyogle Council directs CSG miners to far queue

Kyogle Council has followed Lismore Council and imposed a ban on any seismic testing, exploration drilling or other road reserve disturbance by the CSG Industry on Council owned infrastructure or infrastructure under Kyogle Council control.

Council's meeting on Monday night further resolved to inform the CSG industry and the NSW State Government that the moratorium will remain in place until its previous recommendations have been satisfactorily addressed.

On 18 April 2011 Council resolved:

That Council write to the State government to call for a moratorium on CSG drilling until such times as the impact of CSG on water supplies, the environment and personal property and amenity is understood through independent research, funded by government, is carried out.

On 12 September 2011 Council resolved:

That Council addresses the Parliamentary Inquiry taking the positions outlined below:
1. That Council re-confirms its request to the State Government for a moratorium on CSG drilling (not just the issue of licences) until such time as the impact of CSG on water supplies, the environment and personal property and amenity is understood through independent research, funded by government, is carried out.
2. That Council advises the Parliamentary Inquiry that it supports the many genuine concerns of a large proportion of its community with regards to the Coal Seam gas Industry and the proposed pipeline along the Lions Road and their potential impacts on our Council area. In particular we note the potential for adverse impact on the headwaters of the Richmond River from which a majority of our community depends upon for human use, irrigation and stock use.
3. That Council advises the Parliamentary Inquiry that the Coal Seam Gas Industry should be subject to the same process as any other development; that is via a comprehensive EIS which addresses all the issues, provides for Community input and places the onus on the industry to provide scientific proof of the safety aspects. Not the reverse as recently suggested by the Minister.
4. That Council provides a further written submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry which outlines in more detail the community concerns as expressed in resolution no. 2.

That Council write to Tony Windsor MP expressing concerns with Coal Seam Gas explorations, and advise that Council supports him in presenting his private members bill to the Federal Parliament.

On 28 November 2011 Council resolved:

That Council approaches NSW State Government in relation to the Environmental Impact Statement from Metgasco on the proposed pipeline over the Lions Road, seeking assurance that Council will be involved in the process and be allowed to have input.

Christmas brings out those water raiding crazies

Crazy can be the only way to describe those misguided individuals who, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, still maintain that damming and diverting the Clarence River will save the Murray Darling Basin from continued unsustainable water extraction, environmental degradation and, subsequent commercial agricultural decline.

Here is the latest person to raise the subject, the former West Australia Water Minister and self-proclaimed founder of the Watering Australia Foundation (WAF), Ernie Bridge who apparently wants to take all the major East Coast rivers and turn them inland.

Here is Ernie in 2004 speaking on the subject with George Negus.

Here is Ernie in December 2011 speaking with Farm Weekly:

The Grim Reaper's preferred walking speed while on the job is 3 km per hour. So walk faster this Christmas if you want to see New Year!

Aussie researchers with a typically morbid sense of humour produced this just in time for The British Medical Journal’s Christmas 2011 issue:
“How fast does the Grim Reaper walk? Receiver operating characteristics curve analysis in healthy men aged 70 and over.”

“The Grim Reaper, the personification of death, is a well known mythological and literary figure. Reported characteristics include a black cloak with cowl, a scythe, and cachexia. High quality scientific research linking the Grim Reaper to mortality has been scarce, despite extensive anecdotes
Walking speed is a commonly used objective measure of physical capability in older people, predicting survival in several cohort studies. A recent meta-analysis found that being in the lowest fourth of walking speed compared with the highest was associated with a threefold increased risk of mortality. Moreover, the association between slow walking speed and mortality seems consistent across several ethnic groups and shows a dose-response relation. Although the association between walking speed and mortality has been well documented, the plausible biological relation between the two remains unclear.
We assessed whether the relation between slow walking speed and mortality results from the increased likelihood of being caught by Death. By assessing this relation using receiver operating characteristics curve analysis, we hypothesised we would be able to determine the walking speed of the Grim Reaper—information of importance to public health.”

“Based on receiver operating characteristics analysis and estimation of the Youden index, a walking speed of 0.82 m/s (2 miles (about 3 km) per hour) was most predictive of mortality. Therefore, we predict that this is the likely speed at which the Grim Reaper prefers to ambulate under working conditions. Older men who walked at speeds greater than 0.82 m/s were 1.23 times less likely to encounter Death. In addition, no men walking at speeds of 1.36 m/s (3 miles (about 5 km) per hour) or above were caught by Death (n=22, 1.4%). This supports our hypothesis that faster speeds are protective against mortality because fast walkers can maintain a safe distance from the Grim Reaper. Interestingly, the predicted walking speed of Death estimated in the present study is virtually identical to the gait speed (0.80 m/s) associated with median life expectancy at most ages and for both sexes in a recent meta-analysis of gait speed and mortality using data from diverse populations. This indicates that the preferred walking speed of the Grim Reaper while collecting souls is relatively constant irrespective of people’s geographical location, sex, or ethnic background.”

“The Grim Reaper’s preferred walking speed is (2 miles (about 3 km) per hour) 0.82 m/s under working conditions. As none of the men in the study with walking speeds of 1.36 m/s (3 miles (about 5 km) per hour) or greater had contact with Death, this seems to be the Grim Reaper’s most likely maximum speed; for those wishing to avoid their allotted fate, this would be the advised walking speed.”

The bad news oozing out from this study is that the infamous lycra-clad fitness freak, Opposition Leader Tony Look at my Box Abbott, is bound to make it through to polling day in 2013.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Lismore Council blocks CSG testing and calls on other north coast councils to do the same

Today's Northern Star reports:

Lismore City Council has received unprecedented community support for its popular, though legally uncertain, moratorium on coal-seam gas activities on all council-controlled land.

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said she had been flooded with emails and phone calls from a wide range of community members who were "one-hundred per cent supportive" of the council's controversial decision.

At its final meeting for 2011 last week, the council rejected initial legal advice and voted six to five to reject a seismic testing application by Metgasco along up to 14 kilometres of council road reserves at Rock Valley, before imposing a full moratorium (nine to two) pending further legal, community and industry consultation.

"It is now up to Metgasco to decide if they want to override council's refusal of this application, and our decision to impose a moratorium on further applications," Cr Dowell said.

"If they choose to go to a higher authority, they do so in the knowledge that not only is council against their activities, but so is the community at large."

Metgasco chief Peter Henderson was fiercely critical of the council arguing it had no authority to block the company and the action threatened to deprive the Northern Rivers of "a significant and environmentally attractive source of gas (and) infrastructure needs".

"In opposing our activities and incurring additional legal costs in challenging its own staff's advice, Lismore Council might wish to question if it is spending rate-payers' money in a responsible manner," he said.

"We aim to be a long-term participant in the Northern Rivers region and would still prefer to have the support of council for our activities. As such, Metgasco is reviewing its position in regard to the proposed seismic activity in Lismore Council areas."

Lismore City Council's decision follows a similar moratorium at Moree Plains Shire Council and preceded another at Gloucester Shire Council last Thursday.
Cr Dowell said the pressure was now on other councils to act, particularly those on the Northern Rivers, in order to send a strong message to Macquarie Street.

Read the full report here.

Source: The Northern Star, 19/12/11

Another perspective on Anchor Resources' antimony mining proposal

The 101 year-old Don Dorrigo Gazette ran this letter to the editor by Jacqueline Williams on its front page in December 2011:

Mining in Dorrigo: another perspective

The article appearing in the Don Dorrigo Gazette 16/11/2011 under the heading ‘Mining in Dorrigo’ presents information that appears to be directly from an Anchor Resources brochure on the Bielsdown Project.  It would seem appropriate to question and challenge this article and highlight perhaps what we the community haven’t been told.

Anchor Resources is one of three companies holding mineral exploration licences on the Plateau and is currently the most active. Anchor Resources activities include drilling for gold at Dundurrabin, proposed drilling for antimony/gold at Wongwibinda (Fishington Mine) and further drilling at Bielsdown. This flurry of activity in our region reflects the rising price of antimony, gold and other metals and I question whether this is due to resource scarcity or market manipulation? China produces 90% of the worlds antimony, and we have seen the price of antimony skyrocket from $4K per tonne to $16K per tonne in the last two years.  This price increase has largely been associated with the closure of a number of large producing antimony mines in China due to human health/safety and environmental concerns. It is pertinent to add here that Anchor Resources is now at least 96% owned by the Chinese company Shandong Jinshunda Group as of mid 2011.

I note that Anchor Resources refer to the exploration licence process, however it is difficult to find the latest approval for their Bielsdown project with the Government gazette showing an application to renew the licence in February 2011, however this licence doesn’t appear to be granted as yet. Also of concern is that a Review of Environmental Factors (REF) has not been undertaken for any of the exploration licence applications submitted by Anchor for the Bielsdown project since 2007.  My understanding is that a REF is a requirement of all exploration licence applicants to undertake an environmental impact assessment of the proposed activities so that NSW DPI can make an assessment under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 prior to granting the licence. Given that the Bielsdown project location has state and national significance as habitat for threatened species I question the currency of the exploration licence and how the NSW government has overlooked an important part of the approval process. This is not to mention the requirements under the Commonwealth legislation that the location triggers. It is unclear whether Anchor Resources have notified the Commonwealth government to determine if their exploration activities are considered a ‘controlled action’ under the Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 requiring further environmental impact assessment and approval. Many farmers have shared with me their frustration about their efforts and sacrifices in conserving native vegetation and habitat for the public good only to see mining companies given open slather.

I don’t wish to dwell solely on the environmental issues surrounding the potential of mining on the Plateau, as there are other issues that need to be considered. It seems that Dorrigo is not immune to the unprecedented mining expansion in regional Australia where the potential social and economic impacts need to be considered by the communities faced with these challenges. As the current legislation has been identified as inadequate to accommodate the risks, new policies are being developed and proposals to change legislation under debate. In the meantime, mining activities continue to expand.  In considering the full impacts of mining, the concerns of landholders and rural communities should not be dismissed as simply ‘alarmist’.....

Read the full letter here.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

You want an apology? Think again, Mr. Mayor

One suspects that Coffs Harbour City Mayor Cr Keith Rhoades may be regretting his insistence on an initial apology from Cr. Mark Graham (in the latest mayoral manoeuvre in a distinctly Byzantine local government saga) on 15 December 2011 - followed by an ineffectual demand for a second apology.

One local wag went so far as to post a transcript of this 'apology' in the online comments section of The Coffs Coast Advocate, which is appreciated as at the time of writing Council still had not published the minutes of this meeting on its website.

By pedrowe from Corindi Beach on 16/12/2011 at 2:25PM
For those who haven't read or heard the apology, here it is.... brilliant…………………………………………
1. I am sorry that Council has used two Conduct Review procedures that are not prescribed within the Code of Conduct. Specifically they are:
a. appointing a Sole Conduct Reviewer who is not independent or unbiased as she has received significant remuneration from Council to provide advice on corporate governance failures surrounding the Rigby House refit prior to her appointment as a Sole Conduct Reviewer. The Code of Conduct is very clear in requiring that Conduct reviewers are independent and unbiased. None of the three members of the Conduct review committee appointed by this Council have an existing pecuniary relationship with Council.
b. appointing a “peer reviewer”. The Code of Conduct does not contain a procedure for appointing a “peer reviewer”.
2. I am sorry that Council has allowed a Sole Conduct Reviewer with multiple conflicts of interest to continue to investigate me. I am sorry that the General Manager has decided to waste ratepayers funds engaging both a Sole Conduct reviewer with multiple conflicts of interest and a “peer reviewer”, given that there is no procedure for appointing a “peer reviewer” within our adopted Code of Conduct.
3. I am sorry that Council has failed to learn from the corporate governance failures that led to the sacking of the former General Manager.
4. I am sorry that Council has used improper and politically motivated conduct review procedures in an attempt to prevent public disclosure of the ongoing involvement of the Mayor and two other Councillors in the corporate governance failures that led to the sacking of the former General Manager.
5. I am sorry that Council has improperly used the Code of Conduct against my open, transparent and perfectly legal handling of the Rigby House refit and the sacking of the former General Manager.
6. I am sorry that the Sole Conduct Reviewer has consistently misrepresented my conduct and published material that defames me. The Sole Conduct Reviewer has implied that my conduct has been dishonest and unlawful. I demand an immediate retraction of these defamatory statements and an apology from her for defaming me.
7. I am sorry that the Public Officer, a subject of complaints against me, has been involved in investigations into my conduct on behalf of the General Manager. This is a clear conflict of interest that the Public Officer has failed to disclose.
8. I do not apologise for any of my conduct as I have not breached the Code of Conduct. Reading the following statement from correspondence between the Mayor and the General Manager “Finally, this matter is only known by the three Councillors and the several staff involved. The matter will and, I repeat, will stay with these people” does not constitute a breach of the Code of Conduct. This statement is not confidential. Nor are the statements “Mayor has been kept informed of the progress of this investigation from the commencement. How can the work done be less than $150000 and not have gone out to tender” or “Probably the most important part of this correspondence is that in another dot point related to building refurbishment costs were confirmed in February 2010 as being $1million”.
9. I do not apologise for sending Council’s Acting Public Officer a written request for legal advice relating to the dismissal of the former General Manager. She did not respond to my correspondence. Leaving two voicemail messages with the Acting Public Officer requesting to be provided with this legal advice does not constitute a breach of Code of Conduct. At no stage have I spoken with the officer or made any improper requests of her. I required the legal advice to enable me to meet my obligations under the Local Government Act. The failure to provide me with this advice prevented me from meeting my obligations under the Act.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

How not to grow the worth of your .au domain name

Clarrie Rivers
sent me at link to which in turn was the starting point for this post.

Originally people on the NSW North Coast knew as a digital address associated with the free weekly community newspaper The Lower Clarence Review, until it broadened its horizons to become the Clarence Valley Review accompanied by an online presence at

This eventually left its original digital address an unclaimed orphan wandering out there in cyberspace.

It appears to have been snapped up by Publishing Australia Pty Ltd (formerly Netfleet Pty Ltd) - a buyer and seller of Australian domain names.

This company is reportedly owned by David Lye and his brother Mark.

Now the new owner of the domain name apparently decided to position it in such a way that it might take whatever advantage there maybe in developing site content to draw traffic numbers which in turn enhance the possibility of re-sale. The site collects as much information as possible about its visitors as well.

This is where the exercise becomes amusing for Northern Rivers residents.

Not only did the web designer not realise that Grafton is not in the Lower Clarence Valley and so is not a direct match for the domain name; the very generalised desciptions of this regional city and the Clarence River area (along with the links) leave one wondering if the website is speaking about Clarence Valley in New South Wales or some other valley in an alternate universe.

The air of unreality is made worse by two of the photographs used on the homepage as seen here:

These are clearly not images of Grafton, NSW Australia, but of Upper Grafton Street in Dublin, Ireland (pictured below) in the Northern Hemisphere.

This is one of the many images of the real NSW North Coast City of Grafton's main shopping street which can be easily found on the world wide web:

Is it any wonder that Alexa: The Web Information Company gives the site a global three-month traffic rank of 8,788,387 - a number which probably hasn't altered all that much since it was owned by local media.

Being kind, I personally rate the value of at $1.

Finally, the light begins to dawn.......

The New York Times 16 December 2011:
The National Institutes of Health on Thursday suspended all new grants for biomedical and behavioral research on chimpanzees and accepted the first uniform criteria for assessing the necessity of such research. Those guidelines require that the research be necessary for human health, and that there be no other way to accomplish it.
In making the announcement, Dr. Francis S. Collins, the director of the N.I.H., said that chimps, as the closest human relatives, deserve “special consideration and respect” and that the agency was accepting the recommendations released earlier in the day by an expert committee of the Institute of Medicine, which concluded that most research on chimpanzees was unnecessary.

Friday, 16 December 2011

One of the reasons why Japan thumbs its nose at Australia and continues to slaughter whales in the Southern Ocean?

A Japanese ship injures a whale with its first harpoon.
 It took three harpoon attempts to kill the mammal.
Photograph: Kate Davidson/EPA/Corbis,
The Guardian UK December 14, 2011

Perhaps this is the answer to the puzzle of why, in the face of ongoing Australian opposition, the Government of Japan (under the guise of research) continues to needlessly kill whales in Antarctica for a dwindling domestic whale meat market – it thinks it owns us.

According to the Australian Parliament’s About the House Magazine in December 2011:

Japan [is] ranked as Australia’s third largest source of merchandise imports in 2010 (after China and the United States), worth $18.2 billion. The automotive sector dominates this trade, with Australia constituting the third-biggest market for new passenger motor vehicles manufactured in Japan.
The economic relationship between Australia and Japan is not only about trade. Japan has been Australia’s third largest foreign investor for many years (after the United States and the United Kingdom). The total stock of Japanese investment in Australia at the end of 2010 was $117.6 billion, almost twice as large as that of China (including Hong Kong). When both trade and investment are included – and taking account of both the depth and breadth of that investment, which has been critical to the development of Australia’s most important industries – Japan could still be considered to be Australia’s most important economic partner overall.
Japanese demand for Australia’s resources – and the accompanying investment – has contributed enormously to the development of Australia’s mining industry. In the area of agriculture, over 40 per cent of ‘Aussie beef’ imported into Japan comes from Japanese-owned farms in Australia. Kirin Holdings now owns Australia’s largest dairy company, as well as some of Australia’s largest beer producers. In the field of manufacturing, Toyota not only exports passenger vehicles to Australia, but – through its in-country production facilities – is also the largest producer of these vehicles in Australia. Furthermore, Japanese investment is increasingly targeted at using Australia as a springboard into the emerging economies of Asia. Japanese investment has been remarkable for its breadth, continuity and steady expansion over time, regardless of fluctuations in the global economic situation.

Australians can noticeably alter this scenario if enough individuals refuse to purchase goods imported from Japan or goods produced by Japanese–owned companies operating in this country, for as long as Japan acts as an inhumane environmental vandal in the Southern Ocean.