Sunday, 11 February 2018

In the same week Wall Street was finally spooked by the sheer weight of Donald Trump's inadequacies as the 45th US President.....


.....and the Dow Jones Index indicated that financiers and big business might be seriously worried about possibly higher than expected interest ratesrising national debt and the size of the US federal budget deficit Trump created in his first twelve months in office - he also rather unwisely performed in front of the cameras on the subject of treason.

YouTube, Time, 5 February 2018:



CNN, 5 February 2018:

 (CNN)President Donald Trump wasn't -- and, apparently, still isn't -- happy that Democrats in Congress didn't stand to applaud him in his State of the Union address last week.

"They were like death and un-American. Un-American. Somebody said, 'treasonous.' I mean, Yeah, I guess why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean they certainly didn't seem to love our country that much."

So, here we are. Again.

Let's quickly define "treason," shall we?

"The offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign's family."

Trump loyalists will dismiss all of this as much ado over nothing. He was joking! He didn't even say that it was treasonous! He was just agreeing with people who said it was treasonous!

Fine. Also, wrong. And missing the point in a major way.

The point? It's this: Not standing during applause lines for the State of the Union isn't treasonous or un-American. Not even close.

If it was, all of the Republicans in that chamber are treasonous and un-American as well because when former President Barack Obama would tout his accomplishments in office -- as Trump was doing last Tuesday night -- lots and lots of Republican legislators would sit on their hands while the Democratic side of the aisle erupted in cheers. And so on and so forth for every president before him (and after).

The Washington Post, 6 February 2018:

This isn’t the first time Trump has used the T-word as president. Just last month, he accused FBI agent Peter Strzok of treason for sending negative text messages about him during the 2016 election to a lawyer at the FBI who he was having an affair with. “By the way, that’s a treasonous act,” the president told the Wall Street Journal. “What he tweeted to his lover is a treasonous act.”

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Friday, 9 February 2018

Falling biodiversity, degradation of productive rural land, intensification of coastal & city development, and the threat of climate change require Australia to produce blueprint for a new generation of environment laws


“The next generation of environmental laws will need to recognise explicitly the role of humanity as a trustee of the environment and its common resources, requiring both care and engagement on behalf of future generations.”  [APEEL, Blueprint for the Next Generation of Environmental Law, August 2017]

The Guardian, 6 February 2018:
Environmental lawyers and academics have called for a comprehensive rethink on how Australia's natural landscapes are protected, warning that short-term politics is infecting decision-making and suggesting that the public be given a greater say on development plans.
The Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law has launched a blueprint for a new generation of environment laws and the creation of independent agencies with the power and authority to ensure they are enforced. The panel of 14 senior legal figures says this is motivated by the need to systematically address ecological challenges including falling biodiversity, the degradation of productive rural land, the intensification of coastal and city development and the threat of climate change.
Murray Wilcox QC, a former federal court judge, said the blueprint was a serious attempt to improve a system that was shutting the public out of the decision-making process and failing to properly assess the impact of large-scale development proposals.
"We found the standard of management of the environment is poor because everything is made into a political issue," Wilcox said. "Nothing happens until it becomes desperate.
"We need a non-political body of significant prestige to report on what is happening and have the discretion to act."
The legal review, developed over several years and quietly released in 2017, resulted in 57 recommendations. It was suggested by the Places You Love alliance, a collection of about 40 environmental groups that was created to counter a failed bid to set up a "one-stop shop" for environmental approvals by leaving it to the states. The panel undertook the work on the understanding it would be independent and not a piece of activism.
Review report can be found here.

One of the reasons why local government, traditional owners and communities in the Clarence Valley should be very wary of home-grown and foreign lobbyists, investment consortiums and land developers – Part Two


Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council still attempting to resolve legal issues flowing from failed development proposals.

Newcastle Herald, 3 February 2018:

Companies belonging to Sydney-based businessman Tony Zong have agreed to discontinue legal action against the Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council, over a failed deal to buy $12.6 million worth of Aboriginal land across the city. 

However the complicated legal saga over the land at Warners Bay and Braye Park – that has entangled several parties and involves disgraced former assistant tax commissioner Nick Petroulias – has distance left to run.

A cross-claim launched by the land council against the other parties involved – including a Sydney law firm and a mysterious company known as Gows Heat – remains unresolved. 

In the Supreme Court on Friday, Justice Rowan Darke sent the cross-claim to mediation. 

He was also forced to strike “scandalous” material from the court’s file, contained in two affidavits of the solicitor acting for Gows Heat. 

The land council’s barrister, Jeremy Kirk SC, complained about “truly scandalous” material in at least one of the affidavits, and allegations targeting himself and his instructing solicitor.

Mr Kirk acknowledged he was a “big boy” but said the material had the potential to be “very hurtful” to people other than the litigants.

“Yes, we’re all big boys, but it’s not the sort of material that should find its way into solicitor’s correspondence or affidavits,” Justice Darke replied. 

One of the targets of the cross-claim is Despina Bakis, a solicitor with Knightsbridge North Lawyers, who has been accused of negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. 

The barrister acting on her behalf, Jeffrey Rose, argued there should not be mediation until the land council produced expert evidence demonstrating how his client had behaved negligently……..

Justice Darke agreed to mediation, but warned that if the land council did not rely on expert evidence, it would need to explain its case with “clarity and force”. 

A separate lawsuit against the land council, which has seen a caveat placed over the post office, was also sent to mediation on Friday. 

The plaintiffs – Knightsbridge North Lawyers and Advantage Property Experts Syndications – claim they are together owed a sum of more than $326,700 for their involvement in Awabakal land redevelopment. 

BACKGROUND


Thursday, 8 February 2018

The Liberal Party of Australia's inability to avoid adding more rigthwing hardliners to its ranks is disturbing



“Plus  ça  change, plus  c'est  la  même  chose”

John Howard's quasi military protégée during his prime ministershipformer "special envoy" for a later Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, 'speaker and entertainer' for hire, border control hardliner, retired major-general Andrew James "Jim" Molan formally took up a Senate seat on 5 February 2018 as Liberal Party Senator for New South Wales.
Having failed to be elected at the last federal election he came to the Senate after the High Court of Australia ruled Susan Nash was ineligible to continue sitting in the Senate due to holding dual citizenship.
The senator from Royalla near Queanbeyan NSW has created a new Facebook page now he has been sworn-in, however the original page still exists. As does his Twitter account where he has a tendency to retweet praise of himself.
A right-wing warrior with an imperfect understanding of human rights, a controversial war record and an apparent antipathy to est. 2.6 per cent of the Australian population is now a member of the Turnbull Coalition Government.

This is how the mainstream media saw him on the day........
ABC News, 5 February 2018:
Newly-elected Liberal senator and retired senior Army officer Jim Molan is defending his decision to share anti-Muslim videos posted by far-right UK group Britain First on Facebook.
In March last year Mr Molan, who was sworn in as a senator this morning, shared posts from the group on his personal, public Facebook page.
One of the Britain First videos purports to show Muslim men attacking a police car in France, while the other purports to show Muslim men harassing and assaulting young women in France and the Netherlands.
The second video has been discredited by online fact-checkers.
Today Senator Molan said he did not remember sharing the videos, but upon watching them again, was shocked by the violence within them.
He said the videos were not inflammatory, and not racist.
"I have no apologies, I have no regrets," he said.
Senator Molan said he rejected any suggestion he was racist……..

Britain First shot to global attention when US President Donald Trump shared anti-Muslim videos from the group in November last year.
It prompted outrage in Britain, and he was criticised by UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
Last week Mr Trump apologised for re-tweeting the posts, saying he knew nothing about the group.
Senator Molan has also shared posts made by far-right figure Milo Yiannopolous and controversial cartoonist Larry Pickering.
Those posts were not anti-Muslim in nature.
A spokesman for Senator Molan said the senator shared content online to provoke debate, and was not endorsing anything.
"The senator often posts material in order to generate debate," he said.
"The sharing of any post does not indicate endorsement."
Senator Molan has not posted commentary with the more controversial posts, and does not regularly respond to comments made on the posts.
But he did respond to a comment on one Britain First post, which read: "Charming. And we're meant to be tolerant, accepting and welcoming of this 'breed' in our country."
Senator Molan replied "Unbelievable".

Environmental disaster in NSW a herald of things to come given impacts of climate change are being felt in coastal communities and coastal waters



The Newscastle Herald, 1 February 2018:


THERE are fears thousands of “ravenous” kingfish that escaped a state-government jointly run fish farm off Port Stephens will devastate the marine park's wild fish population.
Up to 17,000 predatory yellowtail kingfish, used to being fed automatically, are now hunting in the marine park waters after 20,000 escaped last week from a fish-farm sea cage, described as a "fortress pen", that was destroyed in rough seas. About 3000 fish have been recaptured.
The future of the controversial joint NSW government and Tasmania-based Huon Aquaculture project, which is 18 months into a five-year research trial, is under a cloud following the loss of almost half its stock with a retail value of more than $2 million.
Conservation groups and local tourism operators described the multi-million dollar project as a “disaster” threatening the pristine marine park's delicate ecosystem.
Marine Parks’ Association chairman and whale watching tour operator Frank Future said fisheries staff “repeatedly assured” the community the pens could handle waves up to 15 metres.
According to Huon, the “fortress pens” were designed to withstand “high energy, exposed sites, frequently receiving storms swells and gale force winds”.
“The pen that had the release was mangled and now we have thousands of mature kingfish released into the wild, nothing will be safe from them,” Mr Future said.
“They are voracious feeders and from what I understand they are ravenous. Once they realise they won't get any food in the form of pellets they'll be eating anything they can find. I don't want to think about the impact on wild species.”
The commercial-scale kingfish trial at Providence Bay - the result of an existing offshore research lease being boosted to 62 hectares - includes five pens, each about 60 metres across, two that were stocked with 20,000 fish each. There is capacity for 12 sea pens in the trial......