Sunday, 15 November 2009

In the Northern Territory: intervention but no prevention asserts Ros Pierce

Received through the Women for Wik and the Working Group on Aboriginal Rights (Australia) about the NT Intervention:
Hi my name is Ros Pierce. I am a Ngarrindjeri woman and my people are the traditional owners of the land around the Coorong in the upper south-east of South Australia. I am one of the Stolen Generation. I was removed at the age of 5 years and I returned to my people at the age of 18 years. I am now 58 years.

I have worked within Aboriginal communities most of my life at the grass root level. The areas I've worked in are drug and alcohol, family violence and Aboriginal family support worker. Later in my life, I received my degree in Nursing and continued work as a community nurse in the inner Adelaide area and remote nursing. For the past 10 years I've worked at SHine SA (formerly Family Planning SA) as the Coordinator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healthworker Sexual Health education for the female staff.

The point I wish to make is as follows:

The NT Intervention strategy is not focusing on prevention, it is addressing the issues after they have occurred, such as diagnosis of rape and child abuse. The strategy needs to be focusing on early intervention and prevention with the use of an education strategy.

All Australian children and young people, especially Aboriginal children and young people should have access to comprehensive, age appropriate, relationships and sexual health programs, commencing with personal rights and safety in primary schools and before young people become sexually active.

Since colonisation, Aboriginal children, young people and women have been denied information about their rights including their sexual health rights, this has been a major cause of "ignorance" that has been a major factor in silencing the rape and sexual abuse of our women and our children.

I am an advocate for all Aboriginal children, young people and women in having access to comprehensive, age appropriate, relationships and sexual health education program.

Ros Pierce

ATSI Women’s Educator

Workforce Development Team

Sexual Health information networking & education SA Inc (SHine SA)

64c Woodville Road Woodville (PO Box 76 Woodville 5011)

Tel: +61 8300 5324 Email: Fax: +61 8 8300 5399 Website: email:

Friday, 13 November 2009

Thrills and spills: communities winning and losing their battles

The Coal Ash Spill into the Clinch River under the governance of the Tennessee Valley Authority is one of the greatest environmental disasters ever.  The spill is nearly 50 times as big as the famous 1989 Exxon-Valdez spill in Alaska. It occurred around 1am on December 22nd when a wall holding back 80 acres of sludge from the TVA’s Fossil Plant gave way. Eight days later, the TVA has yet to release sampling data from the ash pile, and they’re actually trying to claim that the fly ash is not toxic.

Now as if all this was not bad enough,

It makes me wonder, firstly,  how much can human communities bear and how much can our planet bear.  Then, secondly, I wonder about Australia. 

We have been fortunate in not having disasters of quite the same magnitude as the USA manages to produce.  Is it their larger population - more than ten times the number of Australians?  If so, this has consequences for us as our Prime Minister seems to optimistically encourage and imagine a much larger population for Australia.  His projections are still a long way from the population figures for the USA - but on the driest inhabited continent on earth with scarce arable soils what are the conseqneunces of unchecked population increase for Australia and its people?  Then again is all this part of the USA's weddedness to capitalism, even laissez-fare capitalism as demonstrated by their determination to be the only country in the developed world without a national system of medical insurance?  I doubt that,  The responsible authority is a publicly owned utility.

What does concern me is the attitudes abroad in Australia from corporate and political and bureaucratic big-wigs to the person in the street.  The Top End of Town likes to be inclusive of its own and often acts to exclude wider interests and the well-being of whole communities.  Although, communities have triumphed twice this week: on the matters of the Traveston Dam in Queensland and poker machines in Romsey, Victoria. Congratulations!  These Australians cared about their communities and their well-being - and they won through.

Communities and the electorate-at-large have to remain aware and vigilant.  If they don't, they can suffer the same fate as the Clinch River residents - overcome by poor decision making and corporate, political, and bureaucratic complacency.  Better to remain on watch than to be faced with messes that can't be cleaned up and corrected.

All my sympathies go out to the affected communities and citizens of the Clinch River.  Please God, save Australians from themselves and show them how to emulate the determined citizens who stopped the Traveston Dam and the pokies at Romsey.


Thursday, 12 November 2009


A couple of missives have landed in Miss Eagle's mailbox which make her wonder if there's something rotten in the state of Denmark or, to be more precise, the land of privatised utility corporations.

The first one, dear Networkers, to come across the desk was from those avid Networkers doing their best to save Solar Systems.  Here 'tis:

From: Chris Breen

To: Philip Sutton ;;
Sent: Mon, 9 November, 2009 10:18:01 AM
Subject: Re: [GRCO] Plans for two new big gas fired power stations for Vic and NSW = continuation or increase of CO2 emissions
Its also worth pointing out that TRUenergy parent CLP group decided to write off its investment in Solar Systems (they had invested $53 million & decided to write that off as a loss, rather than put more money in without finding co-investors). So they can find $2 billion for a new gas fired power plant, but cant find $200 million or so to build a solar power plant in Mildura.

The gas plant is also dependent on near tripling of compensation to coal-fired generators from $3 billion to $10 billion. Regardless of the specifics of the gas proposal, this also seems to be part of a play for more compensation under the CPRS.
The government should ditch all compensation and just directly build renewables - $10 billion could build a lot of renewables.

Renewables are more expensive than gas, but on the figures below not by a whole lot
1000 megawatt gas plant costs approx $2 billion
154 megawatt solar plant costs approx $420 million

Assuming no efficiencies of scale that would make 1000 megawatt of solar cost $2.7 billion, not out of the ball park compared with gas (& solar can be modular, it doesn't have to be all in the same place or built all at once)

Next protest for Solar Systems & to build the Mildura solar power plant will be Monday November 16, 12.30pm, 280 King St, City. Protest is at Lindsay Tanner's office (he is minister for Finance & Deregulation & MP in area where Abbosttsford solar factory is), but I think we should march to TRUenergy offices, which are just around the corner in Bourke St and finish our protest there.
more info here

Then next came a Media Release from the Australian Conservation Foundation:

Investigation urged on blackout threat
Date: 11-Nov-2009

Environment groups have asked the national energy watchdog to investigate claims by TRUenergy that suggest the company may be about to default on electricity supply contracts.
Over the past year TRUenergy has repeatedly claimed there was a risk of blackouts if it did not receive more compensation under a national emissions trading scheme.
Environment Victoria and the Australian Conservation Foundation have today written to the Australian Energy Regulator, asking the regulator to examine the accuracy of TRUenergy’s claims that the company may be about to default on contracts.
Environment Victoria Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham said: “TRUenergy’s 1.3 million customers deserve to know whether they can rely on TRUenergy to deliver on its contracts and whether the company is crying wolf in an attempt to line its own pockets.
“Claims that the electricity supply is at risk and that the company has reduced maintenance spending at Yallourn power station should be thoroughly investigated.
TRUenergy is 100 per cent foreign owned by CLP Power International (formerly China Light and Power). ACF climate campaigner Phil Freeman said he was concerned about windfall profits going offshore with no benefit to Australian households or taxpayers.
“TRUenergy is already set to receive $738 million worth of free permits in the first five years of the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.[1] There is no case for the company to get more handouts from the public purse,” Mr Freeman said.
“The Government should reject these scare tactics because giving more handouts to big polluters will slow down the transition to a low carbon economy and lessen the environmental effectiveness of the emissions trading scheme.”
The letter has also been sent to the Australian Energy Market Operator, the Essential Services Commission, the Australian Energy Market Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

[1] Innovest Research note: The impact of industry assistance measures under the CPRS White Paper update, 16/10/200
Seems to me, that TRUenergy is not a TRUE friend and that institutional reform in respect of public - not privatised - utilities is called for.
Don't miss Denis Wilson's comment below.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Australia allows Islamic ritual slaughter of animals without stunning. Shame!

I posted recently on the animal cruelty mindset in Australia that has allowed ministers in Australian governments to permit, for Islamic religious reasons, the slaughter of animals for export without the usual pre-slaughter stunning which has been traditional to the Australian slaughter of animals.

Clearly, there is no shame among governments in Australia and their officials.  They care not a fig for the animals. 

Further reading:
Ritual slaughter ruling condemned


Aboriginal dispossession and the eleventh hour of the eleventh month

To-day is Armistice Day. This is a memory embedded in the history of European nations and their allies who participated in World War 1.  There are other memories, which Richard Frankland and Peter Lewis of ANTaR point out here.


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

NO CORRUPTION: UN Convention Against Corruption

Corruption is evil in more ways than one.  It diverts money away from the well-being of individuals, societies, nations.  It interferes with good and sound trading relationships.  It also corrupts the hearts and spirits of individuals and nations driving out compassion, fellow feeling, and worthy ambition.  The United Nations is trying to do something about it. Transparency International is the non-government organisation which acts as a watchdog.

Australia long thought it was one of the good guys with only minimal, if any, corruption.  We know differently now - and have found that it reaches into even the most central of national institutions.  Corruption and the mentality that encourages is alive and well and living in Australia - and in high places.

From Greg Neumann of Transparency International:

The coming week will be fundamental for the fight against corruption around the world.

141 governments, party to the United Nations Convention against Corruption — the only global initiative to tackle corruption — are invited to Doha, Qatar. The core agenda item at the meeting is the adoption of a monitoring mechanism that will be used to verify whether governments’ actions match their commitments. A commitment they gave to their citizens by ratifying the convention.

To be effective, any review must be public and transparent, as well as inclusive of civil society and other parties.  That is why civil society is in Doha to monitor the negotiations and raise pressure for an effective, transparent and inclusive review mechanism.

Stay up-to-date on next week's negotiations through
Get the background on the web pages of a civil society coalition monitoring the implementation of the UNCAC at:

Keep in touch.
Best wishes from Doha,


All the best from The Network, Georg.


Monday, 2 November 2009

Miss Eagle is winging her way to the Northern Territory

The McDonnells: a stunning backdrop to The Alice

Miss Eagle is spreading her wings to-morrow and is off to the Northern Territory for three weeks.  Will be having a couple of days in Alice Springs and then off to my old stomping ground of Tennant Creek which is situated on the western fringe of my spirit country, the Barkly Tableland.  There is a vital element missing from the map:  the Tropic of Capricorn which is about one hour driving time north of Alice Springs.  Tennant Creek is 504 kilometres (5 hours driving time north of Alice).  However, while both are Arid Zone towns they are vastly different.  I recall once leaving Alice at a particularly dry time when one could not see one natural blade of green grass.  One got to Tennant and, by comparison, it was a tropical oasis.

Sunset from the Gold Stamp Battery, Tennant Creek

I have included a map, dear Networker, so that you can get an idea of of distance.  From Tennant Creek to Darwin is approximaely 1000 kilometres; depending on how heavy your foot is travel time is anything from 7 to 10 hours.  There used to be no speed limits in the NT outside the towns.  However, a few years ago  highway speeds were given 130kph limits.  Now, how well these are enforced is open to conjecture.  The long straight Stuart Highway from Mataranka south to the NT/SA border is ideal for cruise control!  Population is sparse in the NT and a significant proportion is Aboriginal - meaning there is regular contact with the most ancient culture on the whole planet: languages, nations, attitudes, and - sadly - socio-economic differences of major proportions.

Currently, there are many undercurrents in the NT due to the abhorrent Intervention.  I will be keeping my eyes open and trying to be sensitive to views, black and white, around me.  But please remember I am kicking off my sojourn in the place where Samson and Delilah was filmed - and that was realistic.

If you can keep an eye on the platypus, it will be a big help....

Bridget Clarke of Upper Goulburn Landcare has written to say:

The people at the Australian Platypus Conservancy are trying to find local people to monitor the Upper Goulburn rivers for platypus.  It takes very little time, especially if you are a walker, or someone interested in going for regular walks along a waterway - maybe four or five minutes. 

The Australian Platypus Conservancy is especially keen for people to monitor upstream and downstream of the pipe-inlet.  There is an information night being held at the Flowerdale Hall on Wednesday the 18th at 7.30pm for all interested.  These sessions are really informative, even if you don't want to do the monitoring.

If you are interested, 
please contact the Australian Platypus Conservancy Tel: 03 5157 5568 
or email cheers


Food waste? Food gluttony

Came across this article about a speech by the distinguished Vandana Shiva.  It brought to mind a recent experience with what I would describe as food waste.

I went with a group of Quakers from our local meeting to an outlet of a well-known chain of "family restaurants" here in Melbourne to lunch together.  I had never been to this restaurant before.  What an eye-opener.  Veritable food mountains are served here!

From Drop Box
The photo above is of my meal which is small or entree size.  I couldn't manage the salad.  It took me quite a while to get through the seven prawns and the rice and sauce.  We asked for "doggy bags" and you can see from the picture above  we put the remains in foil containers.    One is left to wonder how much is left on plates to go back to the kitchen and into waste.

I probably will not return to this restaurant, in spite of enjoying the food.  I just don't like their food attitude.  In fact, it was reported at table that one of our number refused to come when she heard which restaurant had been chosen.  She refused to come because of the food attitude.
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Are Australians cruel - or just plain bloody careless?

I was pleased to see this article in to-day's news which describes Princess Alia's  plea to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to stop the ritual slaughter of conscious animals for halal meat in Australia.  Here is Princess Alia's op-ed piece. She outlines Islam's clear concept of respect for animals.

For those of us concerned about the welfare of animals and who want to stamp out cruelty, particularly in food production, this practice and its allowance by governments has been an absolute scandal.  

Australians tend to take it for granted that animals are stunned before being slaughtered so that there is no pain to the animal.  Well, read this with your morning cornflakes and be ashamed.  This is what bend-over-backwards governments do for special interest groups unbeknown to the rest of the electorate.

Mr Burke, our supine Federal Minister for Agriculture, is quoted as saying:
''There are a variety of views within Islam as to what constitutes halal food, and a similar range of views in Judaism as to what constitutes kosher food,'' he said. ''It's not for government to adjudicate over these differences, but it is our role within the spectrum of faiths in Australia to promote the most humane practices.''

This is absolute and unmitigated garbage.  Not only does Princess Alia give the lie to what constitutes humane practice under Islam, the Minister himself is there to uphold Australia's humane practices not concede dubious religious concessions.  "Within the spectrum of faiths in Australia" the Minister has NOT promoted humane practice at all.  Vote buying and electoral pandering has been put above and beyond animal suffering. Thanks Mr Burke.

But can I give true thanks and acknowledgment to the good folk at Animals Australia.  I am taking a wild guess that they have had a finger in the pie of getting this disgraceful practice into the mainstream media.  The indefatigible Lyn White has built up a friendship with Princess Alia over the years as she has researched and backgrounded the inhumane pratices surrounding live sheep exports to the Middle East.  Both Lyn and Princess Alia have form - prize-winning form - in eradicating animal cruelty in the Middle East.  

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