Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Flood reflections : Qld's Commission of Inquiry : Articles : Donate #qldfloods #ozfloods


It is time for reflection about floods.  In Queensland, Anna Bligh has announced a Commission of Inquiry to forensically examine Queensland's unprecedented flood disaster. Download the Terms of Reference below.

It is not only Queensland who is reflecting. Over at On Line Opinion they are in reflective mood too with the offering of articles below:

Sunday, 16 January 2011

#Govts hate the prefix Public...but this library is loved. #publicinstitutions


Two disclaimers:
  1. I love the people of Stony Stratford, the Jewel of Milton Keynes, and their efforts to keep their library doors open and the books borrowed.
  2.   I am a former Public Librarian and I am an almost lifelong information junkie.
I am of the firm belief that modern liberal democratic governments hate, loath, detest anything which has a budget line and whose title begins with the word Public i.e. Public School, Public Hospital, Public Transport, Public Housing, AND Public Libraries.

Dear borrowers of Stony Stratford, please keep up the good borrowing.  This project has to be sustainable you know. There must be no slacking off.  You may not be able to clear the entire library of its material as you have now done, but you will need to continue to rotate those books regularly - say a minimum of 40% off the shelves.  

As well, you will need to ensure that your library keeps up to date technologically - so ensure that up to date IT stuff is installed and, please, don't forget to use it.  And don't forget the storytelling sessions for the kids.  Libraries have to have a family flavour.  And where is the local Toy Library situated? It would be great if it could be on your premises but if this is not considered the way to go, please ensure that Public Library and Toy Library have a close relationship.

It also pays to have on your local council, elected representatives who are keen borrowers.  You can check this out and focus on the antis and the not-so-literate.  

This article says that 400 libraries from the Isle of Wight to South Wales and Yorkshire are for the chop.  Britain is in a bad way economically and high priority for chop is a significant part of the nation's knowledge base.  Mmmm....that seems to make a great deal of sense. Sounds to me like digging your grave deeper. And not only is the government interfering with the distribution of knowledge. It is interfering with a key recreational hub.  So we really want an up and coming generation which is dumbing down and one thing less for them to do in their spare time?  

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Thursday, 13 January 2011

Queensland Floods leave lives & property in ruins. Qld - like the Maroons - gets up & goes for it. #qldfloods #recovery


I want us to remember who we are. 
We are Queenslanders. 
We're the people that they breed tough, 
north of the border. 
We're the ones that they knock down, 
and we get up again.
Anna Bligh,
Premier of Queensland.
She said this on the morning
of 13 January 2011
as she held back tears.

Queensland floods : #reconstruction : local govt #qldfloods #localgovt


Map from here

Anna Bligh, Premier of Queensland has announced that Queensland's post-flood reconstruction will be of post-war proportions.

In the Australian context, I am reminded of the Department of Post-War Reconstruction which was established during World War II and which undergirded post-war prosperity and innovation.  This led me to consider that such widespread and diverse reconstruction demands a sound organisational basis.  In short, from the base at the bottom to the highest levels of command and leadership people have to be able to act and administer in an organised and straightforward way.

where you will be able to adjust resolution

And what is the very basis of community organisation in Australia? Local Government.  

I have worked in local government in each of the three eastern states and have worked close to local government in the Northern Territory.  I consider local government to be at its strongest in Queensland.  This has been the case for a long, long time.  However, a few years ago the then Premier of Queensland, Peter Beattie, controversially decided to amalgamate local councils.  Such changes are rarely achieved smoothly and caused a great deal of angst locally. I believe that Queensland is about to see the benefit of these amalgamations.

When one sees Queensland mayors speaking for their cities and regions, these mayors are speaking for large areas.

Most significant of these, of course, is the Brisbane City Council. It is unlike no other local authority in Australia.  When I was growing up, Brisbane was the largest city in the world - because of its system of governance.  I watch Can Do Campbell speaking for Brisbane and I wonder who would speak for all of Sydney or all of Melbourne in such circumstances.  The mayors of Sydney and Melbourne speak for the central parts of the greater areas of what is known as Sydney and Melbourne.  Outside these central parts are all sorts of tiny councils.  Some of these councils have themselves come about through amalgamations of even smaller councils - but amalgamations have not occurred in the metropolitan areas in any ways that match what Brisbane did long ago in 1925.  

In fact, my view is that local government in New South Wales and Victoria is markedly weaker than Queensland. State Governments can sack local councils but, at times, it seems like NSW and Victoria keep their councils on a roller blind. I believe the reason for stronger local government in Queensland is the example of local government and its operation in Brisbane.  

Mayors are directly elected in Queensland and the Northern Territory - compared to Victoria where councillors are elected for one year terms by other councillors which, in those local councils of which I have experience, means that councillors tend to "take turns" at being mayor.  My suspicion is that this is a device that suits the powers-that-be in Spring Street because it makes it difficult for a capable mayor with power and community respect in his or her own right to become established and thus any political threat in the suburbs is diminished.

In the weeks ahead, I think it will be easier for Queensland to organise its reconstruction than it otherwise might have been prior to local government amalgamations. Peter Beattie's controversial amalgamation could well prove to be a prophetic move.
Further reading:
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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Queensland is going under: and this blog too, for a while.


I have been quiet - but can't help it.
This picture says it all.
Queensland is my home state - and I am far from it.
But my rellies and friends are there.
And I am sad for them and for Queensland.
Can't blog at the moment.
Blogging seems to be a pointless pursuit
while people are dying, homes are destroyed,
and people and animals are being evacuated.
When its all over will be time enough to start again.
Meanwhile, my heart is too sad.
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Monday, 10 January 2011

Stop grazing in the Alpine National Park : write a letter to-day #environment #nationalparks


Alpine grazing action alert

Cattle were removed from the Alpine National Park in 2005 by the government of Steve Bracks. This was an important step forward for good land management in our state.

Since then, some of the long term damage caused by decades of grazing have started to heal.

However, the Victorian Coalition announced in the build up to the November election that it would return cattle grazing to Victoria's alpine national parks as a tool to reduce fire risk.

It probably made sense to summer graze cows in the alps when the practise started in the 1800's. Given what we now know – of the ecological damage they cause – it made sense to remove them from the precious alpine areas.

Putting them back into the Park – in the very headwaters of our most significant river systems in a time of climate change - would mean turning our backs on common sense land management and scientific evidence. Grazing greatly damages the alpine systems, including the peat beds, that release high quality water into our river systems across the north east of the state.

Research on alpine grazing has consistently shown that the pro grazing mantra 'grazing reduces blazing' simply isn't true.

The Victorian National Parks Association has substantial information on the question of grazing and fires which is available here.

We need to send a strong message to the new government that the majority of Victorians do not support the re-introduction of grazing into the Alps and other protected areas like the Barmah forest.


Please write to the Premier and Environment minister, explaining that you are opposed to the reintroduction of cattle grazing into Victoria's alpine environment.

You could mention that the grazing of cattle in a national park is inconsistent with conservation management, which is the main purpose of national parks protection. It will not help reduce fire risk. Our alps are at great risk from climate change and do not need that degradation that will come with grazing.

Simply send a brief and polite email outlining your concerns, with your name and address to:

The Hon Ted Baillieu MP
Premier of Victoria

The Hon Ryan Smith MP
Minister for Environment and Climate Change

It would be great if you could cc us a copy so we know how many letters have gone in:foe@foe.org.au
Please send this alert on to your friends. Thanks!

Australia Day and Sam Kekovich does Europe #comedy #ozday

First of all, I must apologise for appearing to be marketing lamb. However, I find Sam Kekovich amusing and that's why I am posting this video of the 2011 Lambassador campaign. I hope you find it amusing too. Just remember, you can eat other things besides meat on Australia Day - and at a barbecue as well.
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Sarah Palin starring in Crikey’s Crosshairs Cartoon by First Dog on the Moon #cartoons #palin #assassination #Giffords

Crosshairs - Sarah Palin cartoon

From Crikey by First Dog on the Moon

A passionate plea for repudiation of Palin & her pals #giffords #assassination #guns #hate


Keith Olbermann's "Special Comment" on the political shooting 
in Tucson, Arizona, telecast on MSNBC

Gungho graziers want free grazing in our iconic national park

Keep your powder dry folks. It looks like this battle will have to be revisited.

Gazing into grazing future marks low point for high-country greenies

Stephanie Bunbury
January 9, 2011
Environmentalist Phil Ingamelis (above) says he has never seen the park flourishing like it is now, and he worries that the return of cattle grazing will affect the flora, including wildflowers growing near Falls Creek.

Environmentalist Phil Ingamelis (above) says he has never seen the park flourishing like it is now, and he worries that the return of cattle grazing will affect the flora, including wildflowers growing near Falls Creek (below).
''I haven't seen it looking like this in my lifetime,'' says Phil Ingamells, gazing at the field of Alpine daisies and emerging Billy Buttons and buttercups on a slope of Pretty Valley.

Ingamells, who runs the Victorian National Parks Association's project on park protection, is keen to show what the alpine plains look like without cattle grazing on them, picking bits from the spongy sphagnum moss beds to show how it holds water and pointing out the way new bog pools are forming within it. He laughs as he confesses how excited he is by peat beds.
Read more at www.theage.com.au

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Sunday, 9 January 2011

@howespaul Language: how it hurts democracy, encourages the bigotted & discourages compassion. #words #indigenous #democracy #bigotry #racism


Picture from here

Language is an important gift - a gift of expression, communication.  Do we value it or do we abuse it?  In some places wars, rebellion, strife are about language. Language is used to convince, convert and persuade. It is used to give pleasure. It also stirs up hatred, jealousy, enmity. It is also used to lie, distract and divert.

To-day, there has been a grave and serious shooting in Arizona involving a member of the US Congress who worked hard for health reform and mental health provision.  You can see my previous posts to-day on this subject in which I have also highlighted the role of language both in the United States and in Australia.  

Paul Howes (@howespaul) writes regularly for The Sunday Telegraph in Sydney.  To-day it is as if he is Paul the Prophet because he has chosen to write about language in his article titled Tsunami of words that hurt democracy.  

Paul writes about language in relation to human rights violations, refugees, and racism.  He takes to task specific Australian politicians and their use/abuse of language to implant images and do a rhetorical whip-up of the body politic.

Sarah Palin and her Tea Party cronies stand accused of this in the USA.  To-day, may on the Twitterverse, hint, suggest, or just plain come out and blame her language, advertisements, debate and that of her like-minded colleagues (or people she is 'in league' with if I want to use language in a highly negative way) for providing the setting for to-day's shooting and the deaths of five people so far.  

Not only have Sarah and Co been guilty of using destructive language.  They have given it an image as well.  Here is the most clear and controversial example:

This is known as the 'cross-hair' advertisement because proponents of health reform were listed and their geographic locations marked with graphic gun-sight style cross-hairs.  True, the ad said "Let's take back the 20." It could so easily have said "Let's take out the 20" in classic gunslinger parlance.  But perhaps she didn't need too. We are familiar in this country, as the Americans are in theirs, with the term dog-whistling.   So it is likely that when Palin supporters read "take back", the message that entered their 'brains' was "take out". And someone tried to take out Representative Giffords to-day and succeeded in taking out a few others besides including a tiny child.

In Western countries, there are still many, many prosperous people.  They are not always the rich and powerful.  There are significant, enriched middle classes in western countries. But, in this time of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), many people are suffering.  The rising tide which has benefitted many has NOT lifted all boats. 

This is particularly the case for many countries which, like Australia, have significant indigenous populations.  Large segments of the population in the USA, for instance, are jobless, debt-ridden, without health benefits, receiving poor educational opportunities, and moving closer and closer to the outer limits of society.  

The situation is not so extreme in Australia but the stories coming from our helping agencies are not good. Things are gloomy for a lot of people.  Where once the welfare agencies helped people who, for one reason or another, were not in employment. To-day they are helping significant numbers of people who are in employment.  Australia is arguably the country to come out best from the GFC - and yet this is the best we can do?  Turn workers into the working poor and ensure they visit Vinnies or the Salvos at the tail end of every pay period?

Racism has come to the fore in Germany and France in the wake of the GFC.  Our politicians in Australia seem bent on turning a minor refugee molehill into a Mount Everest of isolationist and insular rhetoric which tugs at the hidden heartstrings of racism and ethnic bigotry while providing a paucity of progressive process and an excess of inflammatory language.  

My advice to Palin & Co who profess to follow Christ is to take a good look at themselves and really ask what Jesus would do.  In fact, they might actually like to think about what Jesus actually did and demonstrated - and he didn't do it within a military lexicon.

Here in Australia we have governments acquiescing to corporations and the minority-supported Australian Christian Lobby.  Politicians of both sides play nicely with the bigotted hosts of talk-back radio in Sydney and Melbourne - instead of challenging them and calling them to order - and the politicians run to please and pacify any outpouring of bigotry and Alf Garnett-isms even if it comes from only a minority of people. 

Australia has always had, until recently, a secular Public Square.  Until about 40 to 50 years ago, there was still religious bigotry and the White Australia policy.  These unedifying features of Australian life can be found only in isolated pockets to-day.  No one believes that these attitudes have the support of the bulk of the Australian population.  Yet we have people in our midst from various points on the political spectrum who would drag us back into bigotry, who would cast our governments headlong into the support of policies which are not supported by the majority of Australians.  And while these negative actions are going on we are distracted - distracted from doing the real, clever, compassionate and useful things that would serve our nation and its people well.

So let's mind our language shall we?  Let's put the emphasis on think.  Let's think, and speak, and act with compassion and inclusivity.  Let's try to do the best - not for just some for us - for all of us.  

#Arizona #shootings- Krugman on shooting -Klein on scary health debate -Statements from Obama & Palin


Meanwhile, pop over to the White House site to see President Obama's statement.  Hat tip for this to @mfarnsworth.

Again, hat tip to @mfarnsworth for directing me to 
the audio of President Obama speaking about the event.

And of course, as well as political blame there is the gun question which will always dog America until it comes to its senses.  In this regard, following up news links, I decided to use a search term with the words Arizona and shooting. And look where it led me.  Right into the den of those who promote life with a gun. Charming! And hat tip to @allinthemind for this:

...and for US citizens, @hyperlocavore says
gone dark for the victims... join me?

And here's Sarah Palin's statement.

Hat Tip to @mikestuchbery for re-posting a tweet of Ms Palin's from some time back. Violent language begets violent actions?

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@hyperlocavore comments following #Giffords #shooting


Click to enlarge

#Assassination of Gabrielle Giffords : lessons to be learned


The American congresswoman pictured above is dead.
This is a sad day for her family and for democracy in the USA.
My thoughts and sympathies go out to all concerned.

Australia is fortunate.
No politician has been assassinated, ever.

Gabrielle Giffords is the first woman in America to be assassinated.
As my Twitter friend @hyperlocavore says, we've come a long way.

A question has been raised about whether 
the Sara Palin ad below will be buried.

Please note: Gabrielle Giffords name is there.
The Tea Party were unashamedly out to get her -
and to stop the USA getting equitable health care
similar to that of every other developed nation in the world.
Giffords particularly worked on getting better mental health care.
For all that is known at this stage, mental health or lack of it
could be the root cause of Giffords' death.

I think all politicians, political operatives, and media people everywhere
need to take note.
Excessive and violent political language
can result in excessive and violent political deeds.
When there is civil unrest and disruption arising from 
widespread inequity and injustice,
violence can raise its ugly and damaging head.

We could say - Only in America - but hatred of the heart
is not limited by geographical boundaries nor by cultural idiosyncracies.
Hatred can spring from very deep wells anywhere.

In Australia, we have people in politics and the media
who thrive on division, sectionalism, self-aggrandisement.
We have people in politics and the media
who care nothing for others, understand nothing of how others live.

We have division over water, over Coal Seam Gas mining,
over the privatisation of utilities,
and of being ripped off by such policies.
We know our government, our political parties are not listening.
Our national government hangs on a delicate thread.
The electorate has tried its best to send a message.
Politicians say they are listening - but are they?

Let's build a strong base - a just civil society.
Otherwise, there is this - the crazy, violent American way.

Postscript 7.10am
Reports coming in that Giffords is alive.

Desert Women's Business @ Umutja 25 to 29 March 2011 #Aboriginal #Indigenous #Spirituality #Desert #Women



25-29 March 2011

Nellie Patterson and the Pitjantjatjara elders 
in Central Australia 
invite you to share in Women's Business 
at a very sacred healing area 
approximately 150 kms from Uluru
(This is a long drive on a desert track).

Cost:    $1500.00
Pickup:  The Outback Pioneer Motel, Yulara.  Tel:  (08) 8957 7888
Deposit:   $500 by 31st January, 2011  
Balance:  $1000 by 28th February, 2011

 Fee covers transport to and from Yulara 
(also there is a free shuttle bus from Yulara Airport to the Outback Pioneer), 
all meals, swag and cultural fees.

We are travelling to very powerful land and we are asked to come with deep respect for the law and culture of this area bringing only an open attitude and willingness to be guided by the elders.
  • We meet at the Outback Pioneer at around 12 noon on 25 March. Please be ready to load up into the Troopies by then so that we can reach our destination early. We will return to the Yulara Ceremonial site as usual for rest and integration of our experience at Umutja and then return to the Outback Pioneer around Noon on 29 March but earlier times can be arranged for flights if necessary.
  • We travel in 4x4 Troopies. Space is very limited so luggage must be kept to an absolute minimum (additional items for before and after the event can be stored at the Outback)
  • You will need to bring 10 litres water for personal use - can be purchased at Yulara when you arrive.
  • We provide swags but please let us know if you are bringing your own so that we do not double up.


  • warm sleeping bag, small pillow and sheet
  • large tarp for over and under swag  approx 3 metre x 4 metre
  • soft bag for clothes etc - keep it very small for transport
  • water and drinking bottle
  • torch – headlights are easier and best
  • black skirt, knee length or longer. You will spend most of your time in this and will need very little additional clothing for the site other than some warm covering clothes for the evenings and early mornings and maybe socks and beanie for bed if nights get cool.  A sarong or two comes in handy too.
  • wipes like wet-ones, for washing
  • toilet paper and small trowel
  • zip lock bags for your own rubbish (incl. used toilet paper!!)
  • small towel
  • sunscreen and hat
  • insect repellent
  • Gastrolyte or other electrolyte drink
  • additional food for snacking on if you need it.  MEALS ARE SIMPLE, VEGETARIAN, AND NUTRICIOUS.  (Let us know if you have special dietary needs and we will see what we can do, e.g. gluten free).
  • willingness to assist in the kitchen for preparation & clean-up at meal times (a roster will be available for you to sign up on)
  • willingness to assist with serving our Aboriginal sisters at meal times.
  • we are asked not to bring any recreational drugs, alcohol, drums and other instruments, jewellery, healing items like crystals, etc. as they interfere with the way the women work with the land in ceremony.  Photography is not allowed and we are asked to keep our writing, artwork for later. 
  • it is important for you to know that you will be responsible for yourself and your experience at this event as it is not covered by insurance.


  • the ladies love and need black skirts - mostly large size
  • wool - red, white, black and yellow
  • white feathers
  • paints, brushes
  • canvas

Please email Lorraine at lorrainemoses1(at)bigpond(dot)com to book, also for more information.

Please send deposit or full fee to:
 St George Bank
Account Name:  Lorraine Moses
BSB:                112-879
Acct No.          473807023

Or:  Mail a cheque/money order to:
Lorraine Moses
PO Box 88,
Alice Springs NT 0871


Please feel free to phone me if you have any questions 0428 406009.

Love and blessings,  Lorraine

Further reading:

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