Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Plug the Pipe is pulling the plug on itself...Let's hope we learn from the experience

Word has come through (download the file below)
that Plug the Pipe looks like disbanding.
Upcountry there's rejoicing
because they believe their job is done.
Good on 'em -
but I do hope that through all this people 
have learned a lot about water beyond their own bailiwick.
Defeat of politicians is a temporary thing -
and how often we can be mistaken about
who is for or against what in politics.
Still the water keeps on coming and going.
It has seen politicians and communities off, that's for sure.
So let's hope through all this we have grasped the bigger picture.
Let's hope that we have learned something about sustainability.
Let's hope it has sunk in where our food comes from,
how it's grown and the need for food availability and security.
Let's hope.....

Sack Macklin Protest @ Readings, to-nite, 5.30pm, 309 Lygon Street, Carlton

It seems that when one protests and acts collectively, the wins can come in all shapes and sizes - even absences.

I have promoted the following action on The Network.  As you can see, the focus has been very much on Jenny Macklin,  Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in the Gillard Ministry.  Word has now come that Macklin has withdrawn from the event.  My personal experience with Macklin is that she will not respond (other than with tightened lips clamped shut) to discussion or questions regarding The Intervention. Now it seems that she is prepared to withdraw from a widely publicised Melbourne literary event at which the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective will hold its own parallel event as outlined below.  Please be there as we seek to promote and distribute information on The Intervention and its adverse impact on the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory.  

Please note, Networkers, the name of the action has now changed to:


Forthcoming protest action
Protest Jenny Macklin @Readings

'Counter Book Launch' Protest
Tuesday, 5.30pm, 30 November 2010

Readings Bookstore, 309 Lygon St, Carlton 

Join Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective as we hold a 'counter book launch' outside Readings Bookstore in Carlton. While Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin will be inside promoting Russell Skelton's book 'King Brown Country', no doubt continuing her lies and deception surrounding the NT Intervention, join people outside who want to stand up for the rights of Aboriginal people. 

MAIC will be launching our new publication
and distributing information that Minister Macklin does not want you to see--
the real testimonies and opinions of Aboriginal people living under the NT Intervention.

Bring your placards and loud voices. 
Demand that the racist 
NT Intervention must stop!

Willliam Cooper Walk, 5 December, Federation Square: an Aboriginal and Jewish celebration

Thank you, Avraham, for keeping The Network updated on this.....

1) There will be a new feature on William Cooper on the "7.30 Report" one night this week on ABC-TV, probably this Wednesday 1st December.
Watch out for it - also it will be archived on 7.30 Report's website!

2) On Sunday 5th December, Uncle William's Great-Grandson, Kevin Russell, will retrace Uncle William's famous 1938 Protest Walk from Footscray to the City. Kevin will personally walk the entire route, with invitees joining him for certain parts – 
However, ALL are WELCOME to join in from the
“William Cooper Footbridge” (Footscray Station), at 9.00am approximately.

The Walk is culminating in a 
huge Jewish/Aboriginal celebration at Federation Square from 11.30am - 2.00pm
NB: Aunty Joy Murphy-Wandin will WELCOME to COUNTRY 

BYO instruments, celebrate Jewish Chanukah and enjoy Aboriginal musos and dancers!
All details on the flier above - and background info from this website:

Please, please!... spread the word -EVERYWHERE!
Place this Event on blogs, in Newsletters, print out and distribute, and of course through Facebook - let us know your RSVP by saying "I'm attending!"  
Teachers/Youth Leaders - bring the whole group!

3) William Cooper entourage joining Kevin Rudd and Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on the following Sunday 12th and Monday 13th December - when the main Holocaust Museum in the world, Yad Vashemin Jerusalem, hosts a tribute to its first ever Indigenous Australian. 
(Fundraising for this trip continues - please see Facebook of Kevin Milstein for details). 

Looking forward to seeing you as this amazing journey continues 
of Uncle William being honoured far-and-wide... 
"when you see evil, even 1 person can make a difference..."

 - if only the Federal Government of Australia 
would show the interest shown by other Governments...

Please reply-email with any requests for further details, etc. 
Thank you, 
Further Info - 0413 962 037

Monday, 29 November 2010

Livestreaming a conference - Australian Science Media Centre

Kate McGrath - CoS, Ch Ten
Click to enlarge

One of the great benefits of the digital universe is live streaming.  How wonderful not to have to travel – even from the suburbs – to a conference.  I am writing this as I am participating in a conference and my TweetDeck twitters away in the bottom corner of the screen as you can see above. 

This conference is one called An intro to the news media.  It is aimed at scientists in mid-career and tells them how to get their message through to the media.  It is designed to give people who are expert in their field some good information, straight from the horse’s mouth.  It is organised by the Australian Science Media Centre.

This section is giving an insight into the way the news media works. It gives a whistle-stop tour of some of the key issues, hearing from journalists, press officers and other scientists about:
• the deadlines that journalists work to
• the role of the editor
• how journalists find stories
• top tips for dealing with the media
• the role of the media manager
• what scientists can get out of working with the media

Further into this afternoon’s conference, there will be a line-up of distinguished scientists discussing their media experience:
- Prof David Karoly - University of Melbourne
- Prof Richard Boyd- Monash University
- Prof Mark Febbraio - Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute
- Dr Amanda Barnard – CSIRO

And, Networkers, all this information is for free. I registered for it through the centre. And here it is.  I don’t know how difficult it is or what expense is involved in livestreaming such a conference – but I would love a lot of meetings further down the foodchain to be organised like this. Skip the traffic, forget the weather. Participate – in comfort – saving time and minimising effort.

The litmus seat of Mitcham changes hands: no apologies for poor policy: getting the message to the politicians

It is out with the old - 
Tony Robinson, (Australian Labor Party)
Minister for Gaming, 
Minister for Consumer Affairs
Minister Assisting the Premier on Veterans’ Affairs
Member for Mitcham District since 1997.
and in with the new -
Dee Ryall (Liberal Party of Australia)
in the litmus seat of Mitcham in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
Click picture to enlarge.

The Victorian election is almost done and dusted.  Counting still goes on.  Concession and accession speeches are yet to be made by John Brumby and Ted Baillieu, respectively.  

On Saturday night, the ABC broadcast from the tally room and the most unattractive Daniel Andrews was there speaking for Labor.  How this man came to hold one of the most important portfolios in the state, Health, I will never know.  And there he was - I think he got an F in debating and public speaking - blaming Labor's electoral loss on the length of time that it had been in power.  No humility, no admission of mistakes let alone apologies for them: 
But, according to Andrews and Brumby, it was a time factor - not a policy factor - that is to blame for the loss. One thing you can say for politicians these days: they only want you to put them into power.  They don't want to listen to their electorates, and they don't want you, the voters, to chuck them out when they have failed to listen to their electorates.

I was part of a small group of people in the Mitcham electorate who took time to speak to Tony Robinson and to Dee Ryall on environmental matters.  We did appreciate the time they gave us.  We discussed local environmental issues as well as those on a city and statewide scale.  We didn't expect either Tony or Dee to acquiesce to our wish list.  But I believe it was important that we were there to try to put the environment on their individual agendas and note that there were people in their electorate who cared about what happened.  And, I might add, we were no starry eyed hippy-greenies: we were middle-aged to elderly citizens from quite diverse backgrounds - as is appropriate to the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. (Tongue embeds in cheek here!)

When we brought up the matter of forests, it was clear that Tony had more than a superficial knowledge of the subject - but why did it come out sounding like a paid advertisement for what the forest products industry talks about.  

Dee, it seemed to me, was keen to make known her local environmental interest and told us about her work for the proposed Junction Road Parklands.

One thing we were rather sure about.  Mitcham would be represented by someone from the major parties: Liberal or Labor.  We felt that we came away from our meetings with a sense that - whichever person was elected - we had the beginnings of a working relationship with them.

And we have a way of renewing acquaintance which I shan't reveal just yet - but we will wait until the new Member for Mitcham District recovers and everyone comes back from the summer holidays and then we will be making an appointment to see Dee Ryall once again.

I am not starry eyed about legislators these days - although there was a time..... Some difficult policy areas have few options and hard decisions have to be taken.  I find that the politic processes of Australia - as I suppose it is with other Western-style democracies - are such a turn-off that only a certain sort of person can succeed to have any influence.  Many, many of these have never been involved with their community - not even to running a cake stall at the school fete.  Quite a few have just gone from university or unions or both to politics without having to mix it in a world of differing ambition and views.  Many are parachuted in to their electorates and - as shown in this recent election - many don't live in their safe Labor seats

Don't you think it wonderful, Networkers, when a politician represents a safe western suburbs working class seat but lives across the bay in the nice middle-class/upper middle-class suburbs of nayce people?  I hope someone can find some co-relation between Labor losses and the people who do not believe in truly representative government.  

Add to this the fact that local ALP branch members don't get much of a look in (oh, did I mention the blatant, corrupt and widespread branch-stacking?) and you have risk-factors for getting dunderheads, dishonesty, and self-serving people into electorates who sit there for a very long time.  I found it refreshing the other day to hear The Green, Colleen Hartland - when speaking about the damage that poker machines and gambling were doing to her electorate - she spoke of "my community" - and you just know she was talking about a place in which she had lived for quite a while and a community of which she was an active and integral member.  

And the remedy? A broad and active community with lots of community organisations doing their special interest stuff.  I would like to be able to say strong membership of political parties in local branches.  That would be good too - except for the fact that they can be blind-sided by bias, and shut up and prevented from active policy debate but all tied up with pretty ribbons to be delivered as votes and free labor whenever needed.  We need to be able to have our say, say it in a way that gets the message to our local representative, and be persistent, consistent, and strong in saying it.  Your vote might only be exercised every four years but ensure, ever so politely, that your local representatives understands that- in the end - it is local votes that make the decision.

Picture from here
John Brumby with family at the concession speech 
Monday 29 November 2010
Tony Robinson, former MLA for Mitcham, applauding on the right.
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Lifetime Affordable Housing Forum - 16 December 2010

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Victorians vote this Saturday: give water a high priority

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women: and a First Person Account

Please go here to find out about and join
The White Ribbon Campaign

I know there are more pertinent stories of violence towards women that can be brought to memory to-day.  I want to tell you this one - because it is about the fear or perception of possible violence.

I was a guest speaker at the Women's Committee of a particular trade union here in Melbourne this week.  This was the regular Women's Committee meeting and my presentation was the last item on the agenda.  This was great because it gave me an opportunity to listen to the voices of these women as they outlined their workplace difficulties and how they might be addressed.  

Sadly, some of these items were hardy perennials.  It is almost three decades since Australia ratified CEDAW, the Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women.  When a country ratifies a United Nations instrument such as CEDAW, it undertakes to give force to such ratification by enacting legislation nationally.  Australia did this with the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.  Since then there has been legislation relating to the Affirmative Action Agency which then morphed into the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency and specific legislation governing that organisation.  

Women's workplace rights are guaranteed by all of this - and still I heard the hardy perennials.  Women having difficulty because they don't have pockets and can't carry handbags to keep sanitary articles.  Women having difficulty in getting to an appropriate place to attend to their personal hygiene.  Women having to campaign to get maternity-style uniforms.  Mmmm....how long have women been menstruating, how long have women been working through their pregnancy, how long has this legislation been in place?  Some of this is being sorted out through the Women's Committee and a recent, more enlightened management. 

The latest thing which the Women's Committee and their Trade Union are working on is this horrible addition to social media. Now, I know women are not being singled out on in this "cause".  Men are included too.  But at the Women's Committee fear was expressed - fear of people photographing people at work; fear of having details of persons published; fear if someone were to come to one's home.  For women (and for anyone), it is not only the actual violence - it is the expectant fear of violence.

Ticket inspectors may not be welcome - but usually they are only a trouble to those who are without a ticket, don't you think, Networkers?  And if there are problems with the way Ticket inspectors - proper name is Authorised Officer - do their job, there are ways of addressing such matters.  

Authorised Officers have a role in making public transport travel safer.  The training is thorough and they have some entitlements similar to those of Police Officers.  If an Authorised Officer has acted improperly, customers do have recourse.  It may be possible that you can speak to a Senior Station Officer at the railway station nearest you.  However, here is how a complaint can be registered:
To register a complaint contact

  • Metro- 1800 69 63876
  • Yarra Trams - 1800 800 166
  • V/Line - 1800 800 120.
If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from the operator, you can

The Facebook campaign is certainly not an effective and equitable way to go.  I will be approaching Facebook to take down this website.  I hope people reading this will add their voices and take time to go to Facebook as well.  To do this, I will be using this Facebook facility.  I hope you will too, Networkers.

Please see the second post below
relating to what the Gillard Govt
says it will do in reducing violence against women

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women: Julia Gillard's Election Promise

Networkers, I thought it might be appropriate to publish from  Labor's 2010 election policy, Equality for Women,an extract with the heading, Reducing Violence Against Women.

A Gillard Labor Government will implement the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. The National Plan will be a 12 year strategy to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault, deliver greater justice for victims, and improve support services. The National Plan brings together the efforts of all governments and the community on an agreed set of common goals.

A re-elected Gillard Labor Government will support the implementation of the National Plan by increasing the Women’s Safety Agenda to over $100 million, a funding boost of $44.5 million over four years. This is on top of the $1.9 billion spent every four years on addressing domestic violence and sexual assault through payments, programs and services – including the additional $730 million in new funding invested by Labor since 2007.

New initiatives include:
 $3.75 million for local community programs to prevent domestic violence and encourage respectful relationships including funding for sporting codes to establish zero tolerance programs in local sporting clubs.
 $8.8 million for telephone support for frontline workers such as allied health professionals, child care and paramedics to better assist clients who have experienced violence.
 $4.8 million for projects to improve services for victims of violence focusing on the health sector and on services provided to children, Indigenous women and women with disabilities.
 $4.6 million for programs to develop effective ways to stop perpetrators committing acts of violence in the future.
 $6.9 million for a new National Centre of Excellence to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies to reduce violence against women, improve best practice and support workforce development.
 $14.9 million to conduct the Personal Safety Survey and National Community Attitudes Survey every four years to track the impact of the action plans.

A re-elected Gillard Labor Government will also improve sexual assault victims’ access to justice and develop a media code of practice on the reporting of sexual assault and domestic violence.

All funding will be fully offset, consistent with the Gillard Labor Government’s commitment to return the budget to surplus in 2013, three years ahead of schedule. $17.4 million of this funding will be drawn from existing uncommitted funds.

A re-elected Gillard Labor Government will move to secure agreement to this plan from all States and Territories through the Council of Australian Governments.

The full policy document can be downloaded
from below:

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Melbourne Free University: last 2010 discussion and party-time

It has been an interesting year and a learning curve for
Melbourne Free University.
They have attracted some formidable talent to this excellent project.
They are looking for more.
And they want to be more out there in their web presence
and marketing
so that every more interested people can join the project.

If you haven't yet tasted from  MFU's honeypot of intellectual treats,
please come along and join the conversation
on Cultural Diversity next
Wednesday, 1 December
at Dexter's in Clifton Hill.
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Aboriginal school demolition: Ballerrt Mooroop College going, going, nearly gone

Thanks to Networkers have just caught up with the campaign to save the only Aboriginal school in Melbourne, the Ballerrt Mooroop College.

Report from The Frontline

Date: Wed, Nov 24, 2010 at 2:55 PM
Subject: Ballurt Murrup Koori school struggles on - sit-in at Hilton Street, Glenroy
Ballurt Murrup Aboriginal College in Hilton Street Glenroy. 

The govt sent bulldozers in and fenced off site for demolition but the community rallied.
There is a sit-in at the school to stop the bulldozers. 

This is the only Aboriginal school in Melbourne. 

Koori education is being bulldozed in the Premier Brumby’s own electorate! 

Protest was held today 24 Nov at 10am outside John  Brumby's office, 145A Wheatsheaf Rd, Glenroy.

Gathering was great, lively speakers some live music.... 
made waves in Glenroy which does not see many community protests. 
The community then returned to the school gymnasium which is is a sit-in occupied 24 hours by them to prevent demolition.

Mourning for the Pike River miners

The New Zealand flag flies at half-mast

Hearts full of sympathy and love go out to the relatives.
Gratitude and sympathy goes to those involved in the
planning for rescue and those who will be involved in finding and telling
the true story of what happened below ground at Pike River.
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Wednesday, 24 November 2010

PILCH priorities for pollies: access to justice, legal rights for homeless, better deal for community organisations, strengthening human rights

PILCH is the Public Interest Law Clearing House (Vic) Inc.  PILCH is a valuable resource and integral part of civil society in Victoria.  With the Victorian State Election take place on this coming Saturday, 27 November, 2010, PILCH has let us know their priorities which can be found here.  It well behoves Victorian politicians to take note and do their best to implement the PILCH priorities. These priorities include challenges to all political parties to:
  • Improve access to the justice system
    • Extend the provision of free interpreter services
    • Improve access to free legal assistance by removing regulatory barriers to pro bono work
    • Reduce costs associated with accessing the courts in public interest and pro bono cases
  • Take steps to assist people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to assert their legal rights
    • Improve housing options and services
    • Improve the infringements system
    • Repeal public space offences
  • Support better regulated community organisations
    • Support compliance and best practice governance by funding PilchConnect
    • Simplify the Associations Incorporation Act 1981 (Vic)
    • Reduce red tape and modernise and harmonise the charitable fundraising, governance and taxation regime by supporting nationally cohesive, federal regulation
  • Strengthen frameworks for the protection of human rights in Victoria
    • Strengthen the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities
    • Expand protections against discrimination
    • Strengthen the protection of rights of people with diminished capacity

For more information:

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Pike River Mine diagram: public briefing continuing : situation bleak and frustrating say NZ police

From here.

It is looking bleak.
Families hope against irrational hope.
Our boys, Kiwis and Aussies, need to be home
with those that love and care for them.
Whatever is the outcome,
may love, grace, blessing, peace and providence
prevail in the lives of all.

More photos have now been published of the miners.
Please go here.
Further reading:
(above link includes video with CEO explaining explosion)
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ALP gambling policy: straight from 1984 or Animal farm: will Robinson hold his seat?

I dips me lid to the Deakin University researchers who interviewed more than 200 staff at Melbourne's Crown Casino, without the company's knowledge.  Now that's what I call good research.  

Couple of questions though?  Did this go through Deakin's Ethics Committee and get the OK for methodology?  If the Ethics Committee has not heard about this research method, I'll bet London to a brick on that they will have by now.  Phone calls, emails, and no Twitters from Crown management!

Anyway, I love it because there is an authenticity about what has been reported here ever so briefly as some of the research findings.  

Some of the workers said they would not intervene if a patron was distressed, and failed to recognise the signs of problem gambling.
Other staff have reported poker players urinating and defecating on the gaming floor because they did not want to stop playing poker machines.
The report claims the casino would call taxis instead of ambulances for injured patrons and staff in an effort to cover up the number of incidents at the venue.
I find Casinos and pokies palaces charmless places.  And I have waxed lyrical on previous occasions:-

Can we have a Royal Commission into the Spirit of Australia...

There is no doubt.  So many citizens keep shovelling it up to the government, cartloads to the door: research, public opinion, stuffed ballot boxes, broken lives, broken footballers.  Still there is little done.  And when we take some moves forward against this pernicious invasion of our lives and our spirits, there are always the legislators and their friends in the gambling and licensing industry to take things backward.
I live in the electorate of the current Minister for Gaming. Don't ya love it! He's the minister for Consumer Affairs as well. I find that an irony.  So electors of Mitcham just remember.

Back in August the Victorian Government was telling us this about ATMs and EFTPOS.  Yesterday we were told this:
A device that could be used to sidestep a new ban on automatic teller machines in poker machine venues has been given the all clear by Gaming Minister Tony Robinson. 

Honesty? Deceit? Transparency? Truth-telling? Responding to the electorate?  Responding to corporate heavies? Responding to political donors? Responding to gamblers?  Responding to consumers? And, now for the hardest bit, would the Liberal/National Parties be any different?

Related reading:
In the Pursuit of Winning: Problem Gambling Theory, Research and Treatment

The Biology of Gambling (The Gambling Theory and Research Series, V. 3)

The Psychodynamics and Psychology of Gambling: The Gambler's Mind (Gambling Theory and Research Series, V. 1)

Further reading:

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Monday, 22 November 2010

Vale, Frank Fenner. May Australia produce more like you.

The Australian sector of the Twitterverse is buzzing this afternoon with the announcement of the death of Frank Fenner, one of Australia's greatest sons.  Frank Fenner, among his family and friends, will be remembered for many things.  For the rest of us there are some major stand-outs:

  1. The eradication of small pox
  2. The introduction of the myxoma virus to control Australia's rabbit plague.
  3. The Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University, Canberra.
  4. An interview earlier this year, published in The Australian, in which he said in relation to global warming - "We're going to become extinct," the eminent scientist says. "Whatever we do now is too late."
Frank Fenner came to prominence in a period where so many brilliant men - and some women - contributed to Australia's health and wealth.  These days, increasing numbers of parents plan and save to send their children to private schools so that their children can have brilliant careers. In Frank Fenner's time, so many of Australia's brilliant people came through the public school system to careers which distinguished themselves internationally and are still well regarded and remembered in 21st century Australia.  

Money can not buy a real education or a good brain.  However, paucity of money can destroy public education and put limits on human beings every bit as much as tethers limit horses.  What brilliant minds are our politicians short-circuiting to-day?
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