Thursday, 25 June 2009

Holding and Brumby fail on consultation and dialogue: pass with flying colours on smear and denigration

Demonstration outside Water Minister Tom Holding's electorate office
at Springvale in February this year.
Read a report of this event here. Comment on it below.

What is civil protest? How are strong community voices to press home their case in modern civil society and be taken seriously? Why, in the 21st century, is there not meaningful consultation and dialogue by government with strong community stakeholders on matters affecting them?

These questions need to be asked in response to reports that the Victorian Government has spent more than $3 million on security on the state's two major water projects. Tim Holding says most Victorians would be angry to find out that the protests are having a "significant cost to the taxpayer".

It needs to be said bluntly that most Victorians would be angry to find out that their government is a serial offender when it comes to a lack of proper and meaningful consultation with Victorian communities on major government proposals which will impact adversely on those communities.

In fact, my view is that Victoria needs a companion document to its Charter of Rights and Responsibilities. This document would be titled the Charter of Consultation and Dialogue. Read bout my proposal (and other proposals relating to environment human rights) for the Right of Interactive Consultation and Dialogue with Governments and Corporations here. Set out below is what I propose:

  • Citizens and residents have the right to interactive consultation and dialogue – as individuals, groups or organisations - with governments, their agencies, agents and instrumentalities and corporations, whether public or private, which affect their interests.
  • A code of conduct will be drawn up by governments and corporations with widespread and representative community input to ensure a high standard of interactive consultation and dialogue. Such interactive consultation and dialogue will be based upon freedom of information with the same rights of discovery as exist judicially. This will be known as the Consultation and Dialogue (CaD) process.
All major environmental applications will be subject to the Consultation and Dialogue (CaD) process.
Sensational media reporting - the Springvale Dandeong Leader article does not give a true picture of what occurred outside Holding's office: the music, the speeches, the tanks, the placards, the peaceful approaches to people in the vicinity - is a mixed blessing. Reports can overstate or give a very limited word picture. On the other hand, voices can be unheard unless they can kick up a media storm. This means that media savvy community organisations will often include non-violent civil disobedience among the tools in their kitbag. Plug the Pipe has done this with multiple arrests of demonstrators deliberately seeking arrest for civil disobedience and also staging arrests for wrongful entry of Melbourne Water employees. Needless to say, there has been much publicity surrounding ensuing court proceedings.

Politicians like to look like "strong" leaders - and there is much political mileage in this. Large sections of the body politic respond to the "strong leadership" syndrome - one reason why the theatre of Parliamentary Question Time and the grandstanding of broadcast parliamentary committees and inquiries continues.

But let's ask ourselves - is this very mature, rational or grown-up? Is this the way to handle major issues - particularly the increasingly difficult and expected-to-continue environmental issues we face?

The fact is that Plug the Pipe has been proven right in relation to its major argument that there is and will be insufficient water to come through the pipeline to Melbourne. So there has been all this community and government energy absorbed in argument and confrontation when intelligent listening and dialogue might have benefitted the whole situation.

Meanwhile, the major water organisations concerned have spoken out strongly against Tim Holding's remarks.

Bass Coast Boardriders Club Po Box 289, Inverloch 3996
Urgent Media Release
Tim Holding – Smear Tactics
As President of the Bass Coast Boardriders I wish to express my absolute disgust at Water Minister Tim Holding’s craven attempt to smear the ongoing peaceful and lawful protest against the government’s proposed desalination plant on ABC 774 this morning. In no shape or form have we or will we ever support acts of violence against this increasingly secretive, authoritarian state government. In fact our responsible approach means that we now have backing from many well respected figures including :
Maude Barlow UN First advisor on water.

Peter Singer – World renowned Professor of Ethics

Tom Carroll – Two times World Champion Surfer and Big Wave Legend

Drew Ginn – Olympic Triple Gold Medallist

Nick Seymour – Musician with world famous rock band Crowded House

Like every other skyrocketing cost, mistake and time overrun that continues to plague this
train wreck in slow motion, Mr Holding and his ilk are desperately attempting to blame anyone but the true culprits for this debacle, themselves. If Mr Holding was really concerned to save money he would exercise some commonsense and start listening to those better informed and start adopting the raft of sustainable alternative options that could be rapidly deployed to secure Melbourne’s water supply. If he and Mr Brumby did this and stopped their dangerous and divisive obsession with simplistic silver bullet solutions to a complex problem, they could give Victorians, real security.

John Gemmill
President Bass Coast Boardriders Club 0409 425 133

Neil Rankin of Watershed Victoria says the minister is tainting all protesters as ratbags.

He said the government has never explained why they are constructing a desal plan and has not released any scientific or economic analysis that explains why it is being built.

He said there has been no violence at the desal plant protests.


Mike Dalmau - who with Jan Beer leads Plug the Pipe writes:

Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 1:54 PM
Subject: Personal attacks on me by Tim Holding on ABC Radio this morning.

Hi all,

Apparently, Tim Holding this morning on ABC Radio made a vicious attack on myself and tried to denigrate me.

Firstly, something I learned long ago, when an opponent starts attacking you personally you know you have won the debate and the ferocity of the attack demonstrates Tim Holding and John Brumby are in big trouble. Tim Holding’s actions are a big diversion tactic because his argument is in big trouble. It does not stack up as the truth is now coming out.

I challenge John Brumby and Tim Holding to release the Business Case Plan for the North-South Pipeline and the reports from D.S.E. that show that the water they claimed, is not there. This is something I and many Plug the Pipe supporters have claimed from the start and we have not deviated from this. Melissa Fyffe’s article in this week’s Sunday Age is saying the D.S.E. is at odds with what Brumby and Holding are saying. Who is telling the truth?

Consistently, there are four points I have always pushed in this debate:-

(i) The amount of water claimed is just not there.

(ii) The Murray Darling Basin is in crisis, making the North-South Pipeline Environmental Vandalism.

(iii) There are other sustainable solutions for Melbourne.

(iv) This whole process rolled out by the Brumby Government has denigrated our Democracy and the rights of individuals. Why won’t Brumby support the setting up of a Crime and Corruption Commission in Victoria like other States?

I am happy to debate these issues at any time in any public forum with John Brumby and Tim Holding.

With regard to Tim Holding’s personal attack on me; attached is my C.V.; after having lived in my country community with roles that have kept me in the public eye for over thirty years I am an open book; you can’t hide things in a country community. My C.V. will show that I have a strong long standing commitment to my community and have been prepared to advocate for my community many times.

Currently, I am employed as Bushfire Case Manager assisting people affected by the Black Saturday Bush Fires and as a Bar Manager for the Eildon Boat Club.

I do not have a Police Record (with the exception of a small number of minor traffic offences). I have never been associated with any violent actions and have always spoken against violence (refer to my work with the Safe & Caring Community Project which is part of the Police Community Consultative Committee). With regard to any protest actions that I have been associated with, with Plug the Pipe; I have developed a good, respectful and I believe trusting relationship with a Detective Senior Constable of the Security Intelligence Group of the Victorian Police and have had conversations with this Police Officer before any protest action that I have been associated with.

Back to the real issue; John Brumby and Tim Holding, the water claimed by you is just not there and you have wasted an extremely large amount of the people’s money on a pipe dream, when the money could have been spent much more effectively on sustainable solutions to solve Melbourne’s serious water issues. After ten years in power your actions stand condemned.


Mike Dalmau - High Country Management Enterprises

124 Acheron Road, Acheron, 3714

Ph/Fax: 03 5772 1207, Mob: 0417 588 455


Jan Beer says:

...the security at the project has been excessive. Opponents of the pipeline do not pose any threat. "We're country folk who are never ever going to be violent or do anything untoward," she said.


Water Minister Tim Holding and Premier John Brumby

need to remember that each of us are accountable for our decisions and actions.

That holds whether you are a Minister of the Crown

or the lowliest member of a community advocacy organisation.

Instead of indulging in the blame game,

Holding and Brumby need to ask themselves what

they could have done differently and better given

their level of responsibility and resources.

Let's try the CaD process

with a Charter for Consultation and Dialogue.


Monday, 22 June 2009

Global Peace Index announced: our Kiwi Cousins are tops

Global Peace Index - Click to enlarge

Thanks to Dale Hess for this.
If you would like to receive Dale's weekly email
which comprises a Melbourne calendar and three significant articles
please email me.

Giving Peace A Chance

Give Peace A Chance


The new Global Peace Index shows how countries gain huge benefits by promoting peace. Now we should be using the Index to shape economic and foreign policies, writes Stuart Rees

The third Global Peace Index (GPI) was launched at the United Nations in New York and in London last week. It ranks the orientation of 144 countries to peace — understood as an absence of war and violence — by 23 criteria such as the size of defence budgets, access to small arms and light weapons, rates of imprisonment and homicide, level of organised crime and battlefield deaths. Specific criteria were assembled in three broad categories: ongoing domestic and international conflicts; measures of safety and security; and measures of militarisation.

The creation of the GPI is due to the vision and generosity of Steve Killelea, a significant but low-key Australian businessman-philanthropist. The report's credibility owes much to Steve's selection of internationally respected research staff, including New York City's former chief economist. His Australian staff also work closely with the Economist Intelligence Unit, the research arm of the prestigious journal The Economist.

This year's league table of peaceful nations ranks New Zealand first, Denmark second and Norway third. Australia ranked 19th, up from 27th in 2008, the USA 83rd, up from 97th in 2008. The bottom four in descending order were Israel, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. As with the interest of sporting clubs in their performance, individual nations in this league table are likely to focus on such rankings, but it is the other findings which are compelling. These show how significant peace is for a country's economy and for the well-being of its citizens.

Qualities which contribute to the peacefulness of countries include functional governments, low levels of corruption, high participation rates in primary education, freedom of the press and good relations with neighbouring states. The social values which bolster such forms of governance include tolerance and an equitable distribution of a nation's wealth through education and health services. The public in the peaceful nations reject the use of torture, see their country as respecting human rights and believe that women and men make equally good political leaders. Gender equality as measured by the percentage of women in a parliament is also a modest driver for peace.

Citizens' rejection of violence, their support for the UN and their caution about the use of military force also indicate ways of supporting peace. The GPI study shows that the peaceful countries were more likely to want the elimination of all nuclear weapons, would only have supported military action in Iraq if it had been supported by the UN and would be more likely to disagree with the need to use military force to maintain order in the world.

Two particular facets of societies — firstly, the extent of nationalism and secondly, the close association of religion with politics — appear more likely to foster violence than peace. There is a lesson here for many countries, not least for the US. Nations where the public emphasises the special value of their own culture and morality tend to be classified as not peaceful. By contrast the public in the peace-oriented countries do not see their country as morally superior and are less likely to think that their way of life needs to be protected against foreign influence.

Attitudes to God and religion are also reported as likely to promote violence rather than peace. Where religion is intertwined with politics, where the state uses religion for its own ends, or where organised religion takes over the state, prospects for peace are seriously eroded. By contrast, nations are likely to be categorised as peaceful when citizens feel that politicians do not need to believe in God. They are also more likely to believe that good and evil are more contingent than absolute, and are more likely to believe that it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral.

An innovation in this year's GPI statistical analysis concerns the economics of peace. This analysis has been made possible by Killelea's encouragement of research at the University of Sydney on the impact of peace on economic growth. One of the principal conclusions of this investigation is that peaceful nations are better able to respond to economic crises due to the inherent qualities of peace. The peaceful, relatively affluent nations can also contribute to the peacefulness of poorer nations if overseas development assistance ensures that such funding facilitates structures for peace — like low corruption and high primary school enrolments.

This relationship between peace and economic prosperity has also been recently affirmed by the US Director of National Intelligence's statement to the US Congress in February, in which he said that the greatest near-term security threat to the US came from instability caused by the global economic crisis rather than terrorism.

Researchers in the economics of peace, like Ben Goldsmith at the University of Sydney, question the use of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the central measure of a nation's success. Instead the report's discussion paper emphasises other criteria to assess a country's well being: levels of debt, the well-being or happiness of a nation, the gap between rich and poor, and whether a country's natural resources are being depleted at an unsustainable rate.

There's a built-in irony in the respect now being paid to such quality-of-life criteria. They affect GDP by improving economic performance. How refreshing it would be if nightly news bulletins included social as well as stock market criteria, indications of peacefulness rather than reports on the swinging fortunes of big companies.

The commentary on the Global Peace Index shows that activities which contribute to peace should be central to all deliberations about social, economic and foreign policies. Economic stimulus packages, for example, are more likely to be effective if they help to build the structures and values inherent in the most peace-oriented societies. Peace, it seems, is not only good for business, it's a "pre-requisite for survival in the 21st century".

Source from NewMatilda:


Sunday, 21 June 2009

IACD, Brisbane:: Declaration of intent to work towards sommunity centred economies

I have been in Brisbane this week attending the Oceania conference of the International Association for Community Development. It has been a very rich experience with inspiring yet practical speakers by the dozen. At the close of the conference, the Declaration of Intent set out below was issued. This is in a 'not quite final' form. There may be a little tweaking yet and it will then be re-sent to the participants. When that occurs, I will re-post here the amended version. Until then, use this to your heart's content to work with, to plan with, to convince, to convert, whatever......


We offer this declaration as a ‘starting point’ in our shared commitment to foster Community Centred Economies.


Economies are for everyone, and are everyone’s responsibility.

They are valuable to the extent that they achieve genuine, equitable wealth in all its forms including cultural, economic, social, environmental and spiritual wealth.
The health and abundance of such things as relationships, spirit, happiness, food, housing, clean water and soil, biodiversity, and livelihoods
must be primary to, and served by our economies.

We call for a move to community centred economies to achieve such wealth.
These economies will nourish, and be nourished by, the people within them.
We envisage them, not as ‘alternative’ economies,
but as the essential building blocks of national and global economies.

1. Learn – Re-think – Lead
We want to open ourselves and others to different possibilities – to an understanding of the damage being done by existing systems, and the potential to transform them through community centred economies. We will be leaders, and learners, together. We will create time and space to foster our leadership and our learning.

We recognise the economic and environmental crises that face us, and will use these to foster our creativity, collaboration and growth.

It begins with ourselves, and grows through our relationships. We are powerful together.

2. Think Local : Community First

We will think, first, (but not only) of our community – as we understand, asking:
  • What are our needs and aspirations, and how an we resource them?
  • What are our strengths and assets, and how can we build on them?
  • What are the needs of the land we rely on, and how can we heal and sustain it?
  • How can we invest our wealth back into our community?
  • How can we support the genuine wealth of other communities?
We will begin by listening to the land, and its traditional custodians.

Community initiatives, not imposed ideas or programs, will be the starting point for community and economic development.

3. Foster and Structure Local Relationships

Any community or locality has knowledge, skills and assets and resources within it, which, when brought together, can create new possibilities. Indeed, there are many examples, past and present, of community centred economies at work.

Community centred economies rely on people within communities and the government and private sector joining together in relationship to identify and foster the potential that lies within. In turn, community centred economies foster these relationships.

4. Resource community centred economies

As there are many communities, so there will be many answers. No one answer will work for all communities. Outsiders can play a role in offering ideas and knowledge but they cannot know as well as local people what is right for that area. They should respond to and resource local agendas, rather than seeking to direct them.

Community initiatives may be funded from various sources within and beyond the community. Communities can be strategic in determining the best source for different purposes. Funding sources, as far as possible, should be responsible and flexible to community circumstances.

5. Commit to justice

As we build strong and just communities, we also strive to foster equity within and between communities. Particular attention must be given to the voiceless or powerless.

We will work to reduce inequality. Communities with greater resources will choose to support the economies of those with less.

6. Build a network of courage and support

We seek to build an ever-growing network of people who understand the importance and possibility of community centred economies, and who are striving toward it. We will learn from each other’s successes and challenges.

We want to create, indentify and/or join appropriate networks and alliances so that, together we can develop Community Centred Economies that provide genuine wealth and livelihood for all.


The horses keep on dying - so humans can make money

Animals Australia Insiders Update
Jumps racing kills again - new measures fail


Jumps horse Whatsourgo has become the first victim of jumps racing since Racing Victoria (RVL) lifted a suspension on jumps racing last month.

The death of Whatsourgo after breaking a leg at the last hurdle in a race at Moonee Valley today reveals that new measures imposed by RVL have failed to reduce the risks faced by jumps horse. Whatsourgo now becomes is the 6th horse to die in jumps racing in Victoria this year.

Peak animal welfare organisation Animals Australia today expressed its outrage at the latest horse death which occurred despite a strand start and reduced hurdles in the race.

Glenys Oogjes, Executive Director of Animals Australia said;

"The death of Whatsourgo is proof that the measures introduced just one month ago by Racing Victoria to make 'jumps racing less hazardous' have totally failed. Jumps racing is still a recipe for disaster - the hazards are inherent when you force horses to gallop and negotiate obstacles.

"Racing Victoria is placing the reputation of their entire industry at risk by continuing to support jumps racing. The community will not abide animals dying as part of a sport. They either take a stand and ban jumps racing to protect the image of racing, or face an ongoing PR disaster."


* RVL suspended jumps racing on 7 May 2009, and on 18 May announced it could restart but with new 'conditions' which include strand starts (not barriers), removal of the (previous) last hurdle, further jockey education to pull up tired horses and stricter qualifying conditions for horses before racing.

* 'Pride of Westbury' broke his neck, 'Hassle' broke a leg and 'Clearview Bay' broke his neck when he fell during the Warrnambool racing carnival in early May - all died. In April 'Hanging Rock' fell, broke his leg and was killed on the Yarra Valley track, and 'Shrogginet' died at the Cranbourne Training Centre.

* 12 horses died at official jumps races in Victoria during the 2008 season, and another died at a trial.

* Horses die in jumps racing at a rate 10 - 20 times the fatality rate to starters in flat racing.

* Jumps racing now only occurs in Victoria and South Australia

And Networker Roy has forwarded the following email:

I sadly write to you to inform you that yet another horse has been killed in the 2009 jumps racing season.
Whatsourgo was the 8th victim of jumps racing, who died over the last hurdle and broke its shoulder. CPR investigators captured the whole incident on camera which aired on news channels tonight.
Now it is the time for action.
We knew that it was only a matter of time before the next death. Racing Victoria and Minister Rob Hulls will be running for cover so we will be demonstrating this Monday.
Details are as follows:
Where: 1 Treasury Place, East Melbourne (See map)
When: Monday the 22nd of June at 12pm for one hour
RSVP: To (subject line: Attending Demonstration)
Other: Please dress smart casual as the media will be attending (overdress rather than underdress). Posters and banners will be provided.

From the incident that occurred today, it is important more than ever that we have investigators at the races to capture footage and photos when the horses fall and die. The racing industry has been able to hide this for too long but we will make sure the public sees these images. If you are interested please contact us at, subject line: Investigator.
Elio and Ward
Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses

Further reading:
Learn more about Horse Racing here.


Monday, 15 June 2009

Carol, Commons, Community and the Castlemaine Forest

Picture from here

Brisbane Dateline

Networker Carol McDonough of Castlemaine in Victoria drew this site to my attention. Carol and I, along with Mikael Smith and Elyse Rider are, on behalf of GreenFaith Australia, doing a panel presentation at the Oceania Conference of the International Association of Community Development in Brisbane.

Our presentation is titled Taking Down The Fences. We will be discussing communally held resources and their protection by bringing to them modern economic, community, and resource management techniques.

Carol was doing some local research about the Lodden River when she came across the Forestwatch site and Hancock's role in destroying our forest and making its own unique contribution to climate change.

Common Pool Resources (CPRs), to give The Commons a more up-to-date nomenclature, are land, water, air, roads and routes, oceans, fisheries, wildlife, beaches and coastlines, forests and - some people would add - mainframe computers and the internet. All can be easily lost if we, as communities, do not value them and manage them well for our communal benefit. Lost? Yes, lost to people like Hancock's: lost for privatised, corporate profit, lost from community enjoyment and benefit, lost from communal regulation.

It is the destruction of the forest which is at the heart of global warming and carbon emissions which we struggle to control without forests. Major de-forestation has taken place across the world - and particularly in the tropical rainfoests of the Amazon, Indonesia, Melanesia which are to the Earth as lungs and kidneys are to our bodies.

Re-afforestation and forest restoration are not high on humanity's agenda - and they need to be.
More on this later.

And if you want to to meet the GreenFaith Australia crew and hear about The Commons and Common Pool Resources, please be at the IACD Conference next Saturday afternoon 20 June at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

From the Kayak #2 - River interference and its effects

Picture from here.
Please click to enlarge.

From the kayak

We have had some wild weather on the coast this year which caused me to reflect on the movement of sand. Beaches come, beaches go, and for the board riders the shifting sands can mean the difference between fantastic waves and nothing. The sand moves up the coast from Bass Strait, finally spilling back off the continental shelf near Hervey Bay in Queensland. Sometimes it is piled up onto beaches and sometimes it gets dragged offshore, decreasing our beaches to narrow strips above high tide.

This is natural. This is the way it has always been. River mouths moved. Sometimes they were enormous, deep channels, sometimes almost blocked up. This didn’t suit us so around the middle of the last century we started to build walls to control the rivers. We needed them to stay where we wanted them, and to remain deep at all times so that we could get boats in and out. Huge blocks, thousands of them each weighing many tonnes, were placed on all our rivers where they met the sea.

It seemed a good plan at the time – another great demonstration of man’s mastery of nature. Let’s take the Tweed River on the border of NSW and Queensland and see what happened. The walls were constructed but after a time, what fishermen called the bar, started to build up just outside the ends of the walls. This deposit of sand made it dangerous to take a boat in and out of the river. So a dredge was used to deepen the channel.

Around the same time the walls were lengthened, but no matter how many times this happened, the sand seemed to keep coming back just outside the walls. Something else was happening too. Large amounts of sand were building up to the south of the river. The shoreline moved out hundreds of metres. This did not seem like a bad thing.

But wait, if sand built up there, where did it come from and where was it going? The inexorable movement north was being held back. Much smaller amounts were available to replenish Gold Coast beaches. Change was significant. The Kirra Caravan Park simple disappeared into the sea.

Dredging continued to keep the river mouth deep enough to allow boats in and out and a bold plan was conceived. The sand flow north would be facilitated by giant pumps that would pump sand from the south side, under the river, and deposit it north of the river. A huge jetty and pumping system was constructed and the sand started to appear again north of the river. Not everyone was happy. The beached changed. The sheltered bay that was a favourite of the oldies at Rainbow Beach disappeared, to become a “super bank” for the board riders. The waves at Kirra were so far away that you needed a cut lunch to get there.

Some say the contractor doing the pumping was being paid on the amount of electricity the pumps consumed so it was in their interests to pump as much sand as they could. This started to cause problems on the southern side and at least one oceanographer thinks we need another wall to protect that area.

Let’s think about all of this. We have spent vast sums to improve the navigation of our rivers. Lismore, Grafton, Kempsey, Taree, just to name a few, are all towns that were at the preferred location to bring a ship up the river. To get there they had to negotiate the bar, to get in from the sea and back out again. The towns are evidence that this was achieved. But there is no way that ships like that could get to those towns now.

So how clever were our engineers with their walls? Not very I would say. They spent vast sums for nil net benefit and probably made things worse. Sure, dredging would have been ongoing and costly, but nothing like what has been spent.

We built the walls, decided that they didn’t work, and added sand pumps at two entrances on the Gold Coast. At what environmental cost? The electricity used to run the pumps is all generated by burning coal. We tried to control nature and it didn’t work. We made thinks worse and we now keep chasing our tails trying ever more expensive options to fix what we have done. It would seem to me that the best thing we could do is to take all the walls out, but I can’t see that happening. Rather than admit that we might have got it wrong, we will continue looking to engineers to come up with something “better”.

Steve Posselt

Friday, 12 June 2009

Deer hunting ... the Game Council will take it any way they can get it

Picture from here

Dear Networker,

If you want to hear a good old hove-to, you should have listened to Bush Telegraph to-day. Michael Mackenzie was heroic. He had two guests on the program: Tim Low, a biologist with the Invasive Species Council and a speaker for the Game Council of New South Wales. They were talking about a proposal to have hunters cull feral deer in NSW.

Clearly the environmental logic of the Game Council is massively skewed.

As I write this, to-day's program is not listed on BT so there is no listen or download links. Please keep checking because the segment is well worth the listen.


Thursday, 11 June 2009 voices can be heard

From: WGAR News
Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 10:26 AM
Subject: IRAG - Urgent appeal for funds to travel to Darwin

URGENT, IT’S TIME…for the voices to be heard

Northern Territory intervention Prescribed Area People's major gathering in Darwin, 18-20 June 2009
Request for support forwarded from IRAG ...
PO Box 8488 Alice Springs NT 0871.
Barbara Shaw 0401 291 166
Marlene Hodder: 08 89525032

IT’S TIME…for the voices to be heard

IRAG is currently working to assist a group of Central Australian town camp and community residents to get to the major gathering of Prescribed Area People which is taking place in Darwin from 18-20 JUNE 2009.

The purpose of the gathering is to discuss the common issues concerning Aboriginal people and to put together, as one voice, a strong public statement.

We have booked a 22-seater bus which leaves Alice Springs on 16 June. Private vehicles from communities and from Alice Springs will also be making the journey, picking up people from Tennant Creek, Barrow Creek and Ali Curung along the way.

We estimate a shortfall in funds of $5,000 at this point in time which will be needed to cover accommodation and food costs, and contingencies (bus costs are covered).

Any donation you are able to make,
no matter how small,
would help greatly.

Cheques made out to “Intervention Rollback Action Group” should be sent to: PO Box 8488, Alice Springs, NT 0871
or direct debit to:
Bendigo Bank Alice Springs
BSB No: 633-000
A/c No: 134157049

Check out our art sale while you are there.
- - - - - - - - - end request for support - - - - - - - - -

Source of request for support:
Marlene Hodder, IRAG

This request for support was posted by Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (WGAR) as a community service, with the kind permission of Marlene Hodder. Please note, WGAR is not the author of this request for support.
- - -

WGAR website:

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

News from Neil #2: Networker Neil on the telly

Neil has been spreading the word again. This time on Channel 31's program Conflict of Interest with Greg Barnes and Sophie Black. So Networkers, Water Worriers and Warriors sit back and take note.

Here are the links:

Australia is dumb on solar

Picture from here.
Please read the accompanying story.
Another example of Australia's poor record in going solar.

Networker John Gemmill was in print in The Age to-day with this letter. Onya, John. When will we ever get up and really go solar. We don't seem to have a clue.

WHAT has gone wrong with the Labor Party? Here I am planning to get my application for solar panels in by the cut-off date so that I can get off the brown-coal-big-business industry teat. Now I find they've suddenly moved the cut-off date to yesterday to stop people from getting their full rebate.

You skunk, Penny Wong; you sell-out, Peter Garrett. I hope the fossil-fuel-big-business end of town gives you and your sell-out Labor mates jobs as "consultants" when you end your time in Parliament. You and your party have earned them.

John Gemmill, Inverloch


Cry Me A River

Wotsa bloke gotta do to get a message across?

Well, it seems that Steve Posselt is doing all he can - including towing a kayak on wheels across hot dry country when the river runs out. He travels, takes the pictures, has the website, and has written the book.





Peak Oil...then Peak Peak People?

From the kayak

Someone chastised me the other day for not talking about peak water. It was at a time that I was discussing transition towns and how peak oil relates to what they are all about.

Peak oil means the peak of the world’s output, after which production begins to decline. That time is about now. Is this similar to water? To start with, water does not decline. It just goes round and round as it has done for millennia. Some gets locked away for long periods in underground reservoirs but in the main there is about the same amount available as there has always been.

Of course there are a lot more humans on the planet than there were, and they all need water. We are also a lot more efficient at extracting it from rivers, from under the ground, and even from the sea. The question is whether we have enough to go around?

It seems to me that the answer is no – not with our current landuse practices. Queensland is enjoying plenty of water. Farmers are happy so shouldn’t we all rejoice? There is just one problem; this water should have made its way to the end of the Murray River. I struggle with calling it the mouth of the river as the Murray ends with a dam wall, and what is called the Murray Mouth is actually where a dying Coorong connects with the Southern Ocean.

While we have floods at the top end of the catchment we have a river drying out from the bottom up. Perhaps some of this is due to climate change but this is just one factor. On average the Darling River used to contribute 16% of the Murray River flow. The Darling and the upper Murray are governed by entirely different weather mechanisms. The Darling is dependent on the massive El Nino/La Nina cycles. The Murray is dependent on the frontal systems moving across from the west. So, when the Darling has a wet year and the upper Murray has a dry year it would be logical to expect that the contribution of the Darling would be higher. But none of the Queensland floods reached the Murray – none. Zip!

Now before you go blaming the farmers for taking the water, just remember that they did not extract one drop just for the fun of it. They are all efficient water users. The problem is that they need to survive. The towns dependent on them need to survive. We depend on them to provide food for us, exports so that our economy can survive. So we are all to blame.

But we were talking about peak water. Any mine has a limited life. Unfortunately we have been mining water for many decades and failed to realise it. The stuff under the ground can only be used until it runs out or it is replaced somehow. The basalt aquifer under the Lockyer Valley to the west of Brisbane enabled the valley to be the food bowl for the city. Now the aquifer is in serious decline. Its peak was decades ago. As we mined more and more water we reached a point where the amount of water that we could take started to decline. Certainly in the Lockyer Valley peak water was a long time ago.

Such a scenario is played out in many areas in Australia. We extracted water like there was no tomorrow. Take it, use it, create wealth and pat ourselves on the back because of our cleverness and superiority. But like all parties, it had to end sometime and maybe the hangover isn’t worth it. We now have salt problems, what we have planted needs more water than is available, farmers suicide and the towns that are dependent on these farms hang on tenuously. Environmentally we have destroyed much of what we love. In the worst places the acid is now stronger than the stuff in your car battery. That land is dead and it will take a very long time to recover. Certainly our grandchildren still to be born will not see it repaired.

Peak water? Let’s just hope we have reached peak greed.

Steve Posselt


Are you an ethical eater....

so many people are these days.

Or do you want Cruelty with that?

Supersize me you say when you go to McDonald's?
What the eye doesn't see the heart doesn't know about.
Chicken is all I can say...
...not brave enough to own up
to your own role in the food chain?

PS: The chickens don't click from this post.
Go to the sidebars for click throughs to videos.


I do give a dam - Aquadam

There is much unrest - but insufficient to change the politicians' minds - in Victoria over the building of a desalination plant at Wonthaggi. However, after seeing the video above of John Dobozy of Unique Planet Pty Ltd that I have put at the top of the blog I really if we are on the right technological track or whether we should be looking at the Aquadam.

I wonder if the Victorian Government - and other governments busy installing desal plants - are getting the best advice and most up to date and sustainable technology. Now if you know your science, dear Networker, and disagree with John Dobozy's concept please pass on your knowledge to me and The Network.

You see, while I don't dismiss desalination out of hand, my view is that we have a few other priorities to implement to the hilt such as
  • mandatory tanks
  • metering of all premises
  • provision of information on water savings and efficiencies by industrial and commercial enterprises
  • stormwater harvesting
  • recycling
When, and only when, all this has been fully implemented and there still exists an unmet need for water should desalination proceed. When desalination does proceed the community needs to be made fully aware of the cost, the environmental detriment and the energy consumption. Dobozy's AquaDam seems to take this into account. Read more from the link on this page.

Australia has the dubious reputation of not following up on its homegrown innovations and solutions while others snap them up and make their fortunes from them. Dr Shi Zhengrong is one of China's richest people. He had the foresight to do what Australia didn't - albeit in a much larger market. According to Forbes, he is worth $2.9 billion.

Professor Stuart Wenham (left) and Professor Martin Green
display some of their high efficiency solar cells

Australia, under the likes of Martin Green, is a world leader in solar energy - but would you know it? In this dry brown land full of sunshine, do we have widespread, cheaply available technology for harvesting our sunshine. In fact Peter Garrett has just axed a solar subsidy - and whether the next plan will be more encouraging remains to be see.

Related sites:
Watershed Victoria
Clean Ocean Foundation
Surfrider Foundation Australia
Friends of the Earth Melbourne


Saturday, 6 June 2009

King Coal and The Six Degrees - not a rock group

You will notice, dear Networker, reference to The Six Degrees.
Now, I've discovered - courtesy of some correspondence
passed on from Networker Denis in Robertson - a blog
called just that and you will find it here.

It is Queensland based and operates out of Friends of the Earth in Brisbane. Queensland has s-o-o much coal and coal mining practices are s-o-o-o destructive. Try doing some research on the human lives that are lost to King Coal. In Australia we are fearful of dangers incurred by the nuclear industry, but we like to be in a state of denial about deaths from coal, let alone its consumption of landscapes and livelihoods.

Sugar - don't rush

I am indebted to all-round Networker and Wise Woman, Jessiee for this graphic information.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
Get the message?


We were Animals at MBS Melbourne

Yesterday morning I walked across the Yarra River along this pathway, around the Melbourne Convention Centre which is in the background to the Melbourne Exhibition centre and....

...came to the Mind Body Spirit Festival to do my stint on...

...the Animals Australia stall...

...which was in a prime position right opposite the Speakers' Cafe.

Our leader was that well-known and experienced campaigner,
Jesse Marks, who is Team Leader for the Animals Australia Action Network

Viki was there to assist, as well.

The Animals Australia action of the month is to work on getting live animal exports banned. We got lots of signatures on our petitions; met lots of wonderful people who were so supportive - including some of our members; gave out lots of leaflets; sold a lot of our products; and - even better - got memberships.

If you would like to sign the petition and get other people' signatures as well, please go here to download the petition.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Inquiry into Melbourne's Future Water Supply #4

Networker Leonie Duncan of Environment Victoria has passed on the information below in relation to the report of the Inquiry into Melbourne's Future Water Supply.   Thank you, Leonie.


As you do work your way through the report, please note that – while Environment Victoria is generally quite supportive of the work and hopes that it has an impact on the government – in one section there is an inaccurate assertion about Environment Victoria's position and submission on forest thinning as a water supply measure. 

On page 289 of the report the report states that:

"Both the Environment Victoria and Institute for Public Affairs submissions87 noted work undertaken by Marsden Jacob Associates which illustrated that catchment thinning is one of the cheapest water augmentation options -between $0.22 and $0.25.88

While our submission references this work by Marsden Jacob Associates (MJA), the reference in no way implies that we support catchment thinning and if you read both our oral and written submission we very clearly recommend that logging be banned from Melbourne's water catchments by 2010 (see section 3.2 of our submission entitled 'Removing logging from Melbourne's water catchments by 2010' at Therefore we believe the way our submission has been presented is misleading and needs rectification. The fact that we have referenced the Marsden Jacob report does not imply that we support every assertion in that report, therefore the context in which we used that report is critical. As you will see in our submission the context in which we included the MJA table is in relation to "demand management and stormwater and wastewater reuse" (Environment Victoria submission, page 10), and there is no discussion of catchment thinning.

As you may be aware, we turned our submission to this Inquiry into this report, which we published last November:

If you are interested in government community consultation issues, I’d recommend you read the Auditor-General’s report from April 2008, if you haven’t done so as yet:


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