Friday, 30 November 2012

Member for Page rejects Metgasco's claim it has a social license

Commonwealth Hansard House of Representatives 26 November 2012:
Coal Seam Gas
Ms SAFFIN (Page) (22:26): I want to speak about three aspects of the coal seam gas debate. It is a vexed issue in my seat of Page. Overwhelmingly the community is saying no. State government legislation says yes, and one local company, Metgasco, says this gives them a social licence because they have the approval of the state government. But they do not have community acceptance and therefore they do not have the social licence.
The key issue is water. In 2010, the National Water Commission produced a position statement on coal seam gas called 'The coal seam gas and water challenge'. Under the heading 'Potential risks to sustainable water management,' it says:
Extracting large volumes of low-quality water will impact on connected surface and groundwater systems, some of which may already be fully or over allocated, including the Great Artesian Basin and the Murray-Darling Basin.
Impacts on other water users and the environment may occur due to the dramatic depressurisation of the coal seam, including:
Changes in pressures of adjacent aquifers with consequential changes in water availability
Reductions in surface water flows in connected systems
Land subsidence over large areas, affecting surface water systems, ecosystems, irrigation and grazing lands.
The production of large volume of treated wastewater, if released to surface water systems, could alter natural flow patterns and have significant impacts on water quality, and river and wetland health. There is an associated risk that, if the water is overly treated, 'clean water' pollution of naturally turbid systems may occur.
The practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fraccing, to increase gas output, has the potential to induce connection and cross-contamination between aquifers, with impacts on groundwater quality.
The reinjection of treated wastewater into other aquifers has the potential to change the beneficial use characteristics of those aquifers.
The position statement goes on to say:
The Commission is concerned that CSG development represents a substantial risk to sustainable water management given the combination of material uncertainty about water impacts, the significance of potential impacts, and the long time period over which they may emerge and continue to have effect. Therefore, an adaptive and precautionary management approach will be essential to allow for progressive improvement in the understanding of impacts, including cumulative effects, and to support timely implementation of 'make good' arrangements.
It goes on to detail 11 principles:
Specifically, the Commission proposes the following principles be applied by state and territory jurisdictions to managing the cumulative impacts of CSG water:
The interception of water by CSG extraction should be licensed to ensure it is integrated into water sharing processes from their inception.
In the conclusion, it says:
The consequences of not managing the water risks and uncertainties associated with the economic benefits of CSG are substantial.
In 2012 the commission updated that statement, and in essence it says that the framework outlined in 2010 is still the framework that applies today.
The second issue is that the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development has been established as a statutory committee—that was a national partnership agreement with states and territories—and in essence the independent expert scientific committee in certain areas will conduct bioregional assessments that look at particularly the impact on water with mining and coal seam gas mining, and until we know the result of that process my view is there should be no coal seam gas mining activity at all on the land. The third issue is fugitive emissions. People have been asking me whether fugitive emissions arising from coal seam gas are part of the whole carbon scheme, meaning the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory. Yes, they are, and the methods for coal seam gas are currently being reviewed by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency as part of the annual review of emissions estimation methods. (Time expired)

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Case Of The Disappearing Documents - please explain, Ms. Bishop

On 18 November 2012 Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop publicly demanded an investigation into the disappearance of documents relating to the Australian Workers Union.

Ms. Bishop was quoted in ABC TV Lateline program on 28 November 2012 in relation to the same union matter:
I'm the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and I happen to be a lawyer with 20 years experience - as a practising lawyer at this relevant time but obviously in another firm.
As Ms. Bishop is obviously happy to refer to her West Australia employment history between 1983 and 1998, perhaps she might like to explain what she knew of another case of disappearing documents as set out below.
A situation whose genesis appears to be within the time frame she was reputedly a solicitor/ associate with Robinson Cox and later a managing partner in Clayton Utz (West Australia) and, during a time when these law firms undertook work on behalf of the owner/operators of the Wittenoom blue asbestos mine (including CSR Limited) and on behalf of W.D. & H.O. Wills (Australia) Limited  in the matter of Gallagher v CSR Limited, Supreme Court of Western Australia, 31 March 1994.
With Ms. Bishop most notably appearing for CSR in matters relating to Barrow & Heys v CSR Ltd & Midalco Pty Ltd, Supreme Court of Western Australia, Rowland J, 4 August 1988.  
  1. I have no doubt that the Document Retention Policy which was put in place did have some quite legitimate management and administrative purposes and benefits, and the documents contained much material relevant to such functions. I am, however, entirely satisfied that the primary purpose of the development of the new policy in 1985 and subsequently was to provide a means of destroying damaging documents under the cover of an apparently innocent house-keeping arrangement. When regard is had to the background material relating to the origins of the new policy, and the critical role played by litigation lawyers in its development and implementation, it is clear that the post-1985 policy documents reflect the acute consciousness of their authors (and explain their attempts to disguise the fact) that the Document Retention Policy was primarily directed towards the risks of litigation.
  1. In 1985 the defendant turned attention to the prospects of litigation in Australia, and to the potential for the defence of any such litigation to be prejudiced by the disclosure of embarrassing documents. The firm of Clayton Utz was engaged to advise the company as to that issue and on 30 December 1985 a written Document Retention Policy came into effect. Mr Eggleton of Clayton Utz, who gave evidence before me, denied that his firm had drafted that policy, and it seems that a draft was first written by one Mr R. N. Paton, the in-house solicitor for Amatil Limited, but there is no doubt that the draft was considered and approved by Clayton Utz prior to its implementation. The firm also gave advice as to other strategies, including the enhancement and expansion of claims of legal professional privilege, with the same objective of minimising the prospect of any plaintiff gaining the benefit of damaging documents. As I will shortly discuss, a solicitor, Andrew Foyle, from the English firm Lovell White Durrant, was engaged by BATCO for purposes of addressing policy on document handling. He produced a memorandum setting out the development of the Document Retention Policy, which expressed the clear understanding that it was Clayton Utz that was responsible for the critical terms of the policy formulation.
  1. I have not been shown a document which is agreed to comprise the 1985 written policy, but in legal advice written by Brian Wilson, a partner of Clayton Utz, dated 29 March 1990 (to which I will shortly refer), he noted that at page one there were a series of statements inserted into the document which asserted innocent purposes for the destruction of documents, under broad headings of cost efficiency, litigation support and sabotage prevention.
ABC TV Four Corners 10 June 2002:
But Justice Eames ruled that the 1990 strategy devised by Wilson PROPOSED destruction of documents.

While Clayton Utz did not act for British American Tobacco for some years after 1990, the judge went on to say: "That strategy has been pursued since that advice was given".

The fate of documents considered by the judge is an intriguing 12-year tale involving people not heard by the court.

Four Corners believes it begins at Wittenoom, in north-west Australia, just five months after Brian Wilson's
[of law firm Clayton Utz] advice to get rid of documents.

C The Document Retention Policy

The defendant stated that it destroyed documents pursuant to a company policy, which it referred to as a ‘Document Retention Policy’. The judge found that, notwithstanding the policy’s title, its purpose was destruction, not retention. He was ‘entirely satisfied’ that the purpose of the policy, in 1985 and subsequently, ‘was to provide a means of destroying damaging documents under the cover of an apparently innocent house-keeping arrangement.’ Clayton Utz, one of the law firms advising the defendant, had ensured that words were inserted into the written policy document which could be relied on to assert an innocent motive for document destruction. That firm also advised the defendant that documents destroyed in Australia should be held offshore so that they could be used by BAT Australia in the defence of any future claims.

Bazza O’Farrell and CSG miners out of control

7 News 23rd November 2012:
“Residents of Sydney's southwest who thought they were safe from coal seam gas exploration are in for a rude shock.
7News can reveal gas company AGL is planning to drive new wells sideways under their homes.
Campbelltown seems like an unlikely place for mining, but under homes there is gas.
If it's approved, new rigs will burrow sideways to seek and extract.”
Apparently 66 wells are planned between Campbelltown and Liverpool and of course these will be changing rock integrity and water tables under houses. Does nobody remember the problems mining caused in the Newcastle area? Or how hard it is for homeowners to get compensation when things go wrong?
And it’s not ancient history.
This began last August:
Now when miners first dug under or close to houses none of them ever thought there would be a problem – after all conventional underground coal mining had been going on for hundreds of years – but there was.
So why on earth is Bazza and his fatherless cronies even considering allowing unconventional coal seam gas mining under NSW homes?

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Giving BOF a biff on behalf of the Clarence Valley

It wasn’t only the Queensland Premier who came under fire when Australian House of Representatives MPs spoke to a motion by the Member for Capricornia.
Here is Federal Labor’s Janelle Saffin in Hansard on 26 November 2012:
Ms SAFFIN (Page) (11:40): In listening to the honourable member for Flynn speaking—can I say I like the honourable member for Flynn and he seems like a good fellow—how can it be a good idea to cut jobs in your own electorates? It is never a good idea no matter who does it. People can claim all sorts of mandates, but the fact is there is no mandate for the Queensland Premier to do it. I am speaking in support of this motion for a number of reasons. I live in New South Wales, not in Queensland. I live in the Northern Rivers.
Mr Neumann: She comes from Ipswich.
Ms SAFFIN: Yes, I grew up in Ipswich as the honourable member for Blair said. I am in an area where I see all this happening just over the border. I have been watching all the things that Premier Campbell Newman has been doing by taking the axe to the public service, to services, to the community and to projects and programs that matter in the community. What can matter more than recreational fishing? Recreational fishing is huge Australia-wide. It is huge in my seat of Page. We have recreational fishers everywhere. Even if you were not able to make a decision on policy grounds, why would you go and put the axe through recreational fishing programs on political grounds alone? Equally, it is also an industry. It is a huge industry with a huge economic base in regional areas. That is an important point to focus on and remember. By cutting their programs, cutting money to them, it has an impact at a regional economic level and it does not make sense to do it.
In watching what is going on in Queensland, some of it was going on in New South Wales with Premier O'Farrell. But Premier Newman seems to have emboldened Premier O'Farrell even more. He has taken the axe to programs left, right and centre. Anything that is not bolted down is up for the axe. In my area alone we have had the issue of Grafton jail. It was to close and then they wound it down and nearly 100 jobs would go. Jobs are going in TAFE. There are billions of dollars going out of TAFE.
Honourable members interjecting
Ms SAFFIN: Well, there is a jail and it provides a lot of jobs to local people. You cannot replicate those jobs easily and they have gone. There is the whole spin-off effect in the local area. Also the slasher is going through TAFE.
Government members interjecting
Ms SAFFIN: It is a shame. People can say, 'We want smaller government.' But this is ridiculous. These are front line people who deliver services. The ambos have been affected too as well as the firies.
Honourable members interjecting
Ms SAFFIN: Yes, the rural fire brigade as well as the fire service are all being affected. On Friday night in Lismore I opened a fine art exhibition at Lismore TAFE which was called 'Last Draw'. It was actually the last of its kind because the program that they run is also being axed. There were over 100 students there and some of them were from a whole range of backgrounds, and a lot of them end up with work. We have a huge creative industry in my area. It is an industry in its own right and it provides enormous economic benefits to the community. It is really short-sighted to put the axe through programs like this. There were over 100 students there from a whole range of diverse backgrounds. It has given some of them a whole new life. Some of them were in recovery. They have done this course. It has given them a place to belong; it has also given them skills that they can go out into the community and earn money with.
When I look at what is happening to recreational fishing in Queensland I look with alarm, and I realise what it has done to Sunfish Queensland Inc. I have read all of their statements and they say:
The Queensland Government fully supports recreational fishing in Queensland.
Then why is its first act to cut funding to voluntary community recreational projects?
[my red bolding]

Reminder: Indian Myna workshop in Yamba on Friday

One of the delights in living on the Northern Rivers is our wonderful bird life.
Unfortunately this is threatened by an introduced pest.
 The Indian myna is an aggressive territorial bird.
 They breed several times a year and nest in hollows, driving out our birds and even possums and sugar gliders, killing chicks and ejecting parents.
In urban areas they nest under roofs, sheds and gutters and often bring bird mite which can cause serious skin rashes.
There are ways of limiting this parasite and to this end the Clarence Conservation in Action group are holding a workshop on Friday at 10am at the Old Kirk, Yamba Museum, River St.
All are welcome and refreshments are included.

Paul Stephen, Yamba

Credit: Letters, The Daily Examiner, 28/11/12

Menzies House and Young Libs discuss repealing child labour laws for working class young attending public schools

one should also understand that education is not for everyone
The need to create a Third World underclass in Australia according to one of the Abbott-Bernardi heirs being hot housed by Menzies House, 15 November 2010:
It is an unfortunate reality that our bureaucratic education system is trapping the poorest Australians into a cycle of dependency. Children born into poverty are maliciously trapped into a spider web of economic hardship and social unrest which they cannot escape because of a bureaucratic school system which fails to give them the only chance they possibly have of creating a better life for themselves.
As they have no prospects for work in an increasingly white-collar workforce, these young Australians are forced onto the welfare rolls from which they never leave, establishing a cycle of dependency that is both economically and morally irresponsible…..
In a country with a high level of economic mobility, even the poorest among us can strive for brilliant things, but unfortunately that can’t happen if one is trapped in failing schools that only entrench poverty. Whilst the need for a world-class education is paramount, one should also understand that education is not for everyone. For children who are trapped in schools that entrench poverty and add no educational value, they would clearly be better served by working from a young age and earning money that might help them reach a better tomorrow.
If a poor child were able to work from the age of 8 to 16 years old, they would accumulate enough money to take a family out of poverty. But not only does working solve the financial problems of poor children, it engenders a work ethic that has the potential to transform them into productive members of the workforce who contribute to society as opposed to the social outcasts they would have been had they remained at school.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

One picture explodes the myth that Julie Bishop is asking her own questions


Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's Chief of Staff Peta Credin conferring with his Deputy Leader Julie Bishop at the end of Question Time in the House of Representatives on 26 November 2012 at approximately 3.19pm - courtesy of Alex Ellinghausen and The Age.

Note that Ms. Credlin is holding the files "GILLARD/AWA" which Ms. Bishop drew on for her questioning of the Prime Minister.

Tony Abbott is extremely foolish to think that having someone else ask the questions he frames actually distances him from the political attack. 

Let's run an online poll for our readers.....

Poll: What's your favourite part of Thursday's DEX?
Occasionally The Daily Examiner runs a poll on its website and if a reader has signed in his or her vote will be recorded against their name/pseudonym.
Here is the voting history of one such reader:

Voted in a poll 3:10pm Oct 31st
Do you use your mobile phone when driving?

Voted in a poll 5:03pm Oct 30th
Choose your top 10 rules that should be applied to Jaca Thursday and we’ll print them in Thursday’s DEX.

Voted in a poll 12:30pm Jul 27th
What's your favourite day of the week?
Voted in a poll 5:25pm Jul 25th
What's your favourite part of Thursday's DEX?
Voted in a poll 11:32am Jun 26th
What should we put on the cover of our On Track magazine?

Voted in a poll 9:09am May 25th
How do you spell it:
Ooops! Did I say reader? I meant the voting history of the editor of the newspaper conducting these polls.

The editor is not alone. A senior journalist at The Daily Examiner has voted in a number of the same polls, another has a penchant for the political when it comes to the polls he adds his mite to, yet one more has voted only twice and one other three times. However, the journalist who wins hands down has voted 33 times.

Just how many polls in this newspaper are being padded out by staff?

Things are bad when even Van Olsen abandons you

Onetime apologist for all things Lib Peter Van Olsen in the Sunday Telegraph on 17th November 2012:

Monday, 26 November 2012

Singing for her supper - a little blogger light relief

Cardinal Pell's smear claim doesn't stand up to scrutiny

Cardinal George Pell in The Australian 13 November 2012
However, his statements do not sit easily with the historical record.
Brisbane Times 16 November 2012:
THE Catholic Church has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees to defend priests and brothers who have already been tried and convicted of serious sexual assaults against children in their care.
A Fairfax Media investigation has revealed that at least two Catholic orders have continued to fund the legal defences of some of their religious members as they went to trial for the second, third and even fourth time for the sexual abuse of children.
This includes the funding of multiple appeals, hiring top barristers who charge thousands of dollars a day, and hiring private investigators.
In some cases the result has been that criminal prosecutions and the victims of abuse are dragged through the courts for many years.
This is the opening paragraph of a 1998 appeal judgement in R v Best in which the court directed that a new trial of the applicant be had:
CALLAWAY, J.A.: The applicant, who is now aged 57, pleaded not guilty in the County Court at Melbourne to a presentment containing 18 counts of indecent assault on a male person under the age of 16 contrary to s.68(3A) of the Crimes Act 1958 as it stood at the time of the alleged offences. They related to five boys, who were pupils at a Christian Brothers primary school of which the applicant was the principal. I shall call them "M", "K", "D", "W" and "B". After a trial occupying 13 days the jury returned verdicts of guilty on counts 4 to 7, which related to K, and counts 12 and 13, which related to D. The applicant was acquitted on the remaining counts. The verdicts of not guilty on counts 8 (one of several counts relating to M) and 16 to 18 (three of four counts relating to B) were unanimous. All the other verdicts were by majority. On 27th March 1998 the learned trial judge heard a plea for leniency, following which the applicant was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment on each count. His Honour directed that three months of each of the sentences imposed on counts 5 to 7, 12 and 13 be served cumulatively upon each other and upon the sentence imposed on count 4, making a total effective sentence of 24 months' imprisonment. The return of prisoners does not include the words "upon each other and", but the sense is clear from the specification of the total effective sentence. Twelve months of that sentence were suspended for an operational period of three years. The applicant seeks leave to appeal against both conviction and sentence.

Geelong Advertiser June 2011:

The Christian Brothers yesterday also confirmed it had forked out millions of dollars for Best's long and drawn out trials where top barristers, that included Queen's Counsel and Senior Counsel, were hired to get him off dozens of charges.
It can now be revealed Best, who has close links to Cardinal George Pell, pleaded guilty this week to six sex abuse-related charges of three boys aged between 11 and 12.
According to The Age in August 2011:
Best has admitted 27 indecent assaults on 11 boys who attended schools at which he taught as a Christian Brother in Ballarat, at Box Hill in Melbourne and in Geelong.
He is already in jail serving four separate terms for indecent assaults against boys at his schools….
Detective Sergeant Carson is somewhat constrained in what he can say about the Best case by the law and the rules of his job.
But sometimes his sense of right and wrong combined with the tragedy of what has happened in a church he once respected, make it too difficult to stay within those bounds.
"Best got convicted for earlier crimes last December and the church knew that," he said.
"Yet the Catholic Church spent millions of dollars on this bloke's defence in his latest trials and did nothing for the victims."
Excerpt from a 2008 Supreme Court judgment in Tasmania v Ferguson:

79 Although C1 does not claim it, evidence is available from Father Jago that upon an indecent assault by the accused being reported to him by C1, Father Jago reported it to the school principal. However, prosecuting authorities were not informed. C1 says that he has been deeply affected by the sexual assaults he believes were committed on him by two of the teachers at the school and by the caretaker of the nearby oval. I conclude that it is in his interests and in the interests of the public, that his allegations, which are charged in count 1, should go to trial.
80 There is available evidence from C2 and Christopher Bartlett that C2, who was aged 13 at the time, complained to a prefect who in turn reported the matter to the school principal. Although the report, along with all the other similar reports Father Hosie appears to have received, may have resulted in the accused being quickly transferred in his employment to another place, with the protection of the school's reputation seemingly gaining prominence, the alleged conduct was not reported to the police as it should have been at the time. There is no evidence that C2 was permanently and adversely affected by the one indecent assault that he alleges took place. Nevertheless, he reported it at the time to a responsible person and it was in no way his fault that his report was not passed on to the police. It is in the interests of the public that his allegations should go to trial.
81 Although C3 says that he did not report to the school's principal the sexual assaults he says were committed against him by the accused, he reported to the principal on the following morning the incident he witnessed that involved the accused sexually misbehaving in the presence of boys in his room. He says that for his pains the principal accused him of lying. He was deterred from reporting the sexual assaults upon himself. Even his father was reluctant to listen to him. His explanation for not reporting the matters to the police until 2004 was that he had spent 30 years being upset by it but he had not been game enough to do so. It was only as a result of the police contacting him that he eventually told them about what he says occurred. It is in the interests of the public and in his interests that his allegations should go to trial.
82 C5 says that he made no report of the crimes committed by the accused against him, either to the school, his parents or anyone else for over 30 years. He believes that many of his life problems, such as alcohol and drugs, and his offending, stemmed from the accused's sexual assaults upon him. It was not until 2002 that he told anyone about them. Subsequently, the police approached him, it would seem as a result of his opening up to others. It is in the interests of the public and in his own interests that his allegations should be allowed to go to trial.
83 C6's allegations are extremely serious ones. They include oral sex, attempted anal sex and urinating on him. He says that he was also the subject of sexual assaults by another teacher. He says that after the first occasion of being assaulted by the accused he was crying in the dormitory and the teacher-in-charge told him to stop blubbering. He was 12 years old at the time. Thereafter the assaults continued for a time and he felt unable to tell anyone of what had happened. It is an all too typical account of child sexual abuse. It appears that his report to the police only came about following his breaking down earlier this year and telling his wife about what had occurred. It is in the public interest and in his interests that his allegations should be allowed to go to trial.
ABC News December 2007:
70 year old former priest convicted of maintaining a sexual relationship with a person under the age of 17 has been jailed in the Launceston Criminal Court.
Gregory Laurence Ferguson was sentenced today to three years imprisonment with an 18 month non-parole period.
Ferguson sexually abused a 12 year old boarder at Burnie's Marist College in 1970, when he was a teacher and priest there.
Ferguson was convicted on two other sexual abuse charges earlier this year, and was jailed for two years.
He now has a total of five years imprisonment, with a minimum non-parole period of two and half years.
ABC News February 2008:
72-year-old Roger Michael Bellemore has been sentenced to four years imprisonment, with a two-year non-parole period.
Bellemore sexually abused three male students when he was a teacher, priest and football coach at Marist.
Justice Ewan Crawford said Bellemore had used his superiority to have his way with the boys.
One of Bellemore's victims was 11 at the time he was assaulted in 1966.
The Age July 2004:
In his first interview since allegations against the Salesians surfaced worldwide, Father Murdoch revealed that he made two trips to Rome to persuade the Vatican to expel David Rapson, who had been sentenced to two years' jail in 1992 for sex abuse of a 15-year-old student at the Salesian school Rupertswood, near Sunbury.
Father Murdoch also revealed that he had prevented a former head of the order, Father Julian Fox, from returning from Rome to Australia unless he agreed to face his accusers in a case of alleged sexual assault.
The Salesians also paid $35,600 compensation following sex abuse allegations against Father Fox.

The New Zealand Herald April 2006:

With the 21 guilty verdicts in a four-week trial that ended in Christchurch last month, and one guilty plea by McGrath as the trial began, it was now clear that he had not made full admissions in 1993.
McGrath was being sentenced on 13 charges of indecent assault, eight charges of inducing an indecent act, and one charge of doing an indecent act.
The offending related to nine victims at Marylands School where McGrath was a brother, teacher and housemaster. The victims were aged between 7 and 15 at the time.

The New Zealand Herald November 2012:

One was Brother Bernard McGrath, a New Zealander who has been convicted in both countries…….
McGrath was trained in Australia and sexually assaulted boys at the Kendall Grange boarding institution for the intellectually disabled, near Lake Macquarie, south of Newcastle. In 1986 he moved back to Christchurch, working at Marylands and the Hebron trust. In 1993 he was sentenced to three years' jail for abusing children at the two institutions.
Later, in Sydney, he was sentenced to nine months for abusing a pre-teen boy and in 2006 he was sentenced again in Christchurch to five years' jail on eight charges involving indecent assault.  November 2012:

 “There was one priest in Victoria who admitted when caught that he had confessed 200 times and nobody had reported him, because priests are not allowed to report anyone who confesses in a confessional."
Priests are not subject to mandatory reporting laws so they don't have to report child abusers who confess to them.

The Sun Herald November 2012:
A FORMER priest charged with sexually abusing seven boys over an 18-year period blamed God for making him do it, a court has been told.
David Rapson, 59, is charged with abusing the boys while teaching at Salesian College Rupertswood, in Sunbury, between 1973 and 1990.
The former college vice-principal is charged with one count each of rape and gross indecency and a string of indecent assault charges.

Simply Handmade Market at Raymond Laurie Sports Centre in Yamba on 2 December 2012


The first Simply Handmade Market will be held at the Raymond Laurie Sports Centre, Yamba on Sunday, December 2 2012 between 9am-2pm.
To book a stall call 6646 3388.
Visit the Facebook page for more information

Sunday, 25 November 2012

White Ribbon Day 2012 in New South Wales

Monumental FAIL
In New South Wales one of those ‘ambassadors’ on 25 November is:
The Hon Tony Abbot MP
Leader of the Opposition, Federal Member for Warringah, Australian Parliament

What on earth were the organizers thinking?

Black-necked Stalkers Twitchathon Report (part 3 - final)

On to the wetlands in the Tullymorgan area picking up those elusive White-winged Choughs on the way and a nearby immature White-bellied Sea-Eagle soaring overhead.  A Wonga Pigeon was at its expected location and then four adult Brolgas were first heard and then seen on a property near the Clarence Broadwater.  An adult and three nestling Black-necked Storks were on the nest in that area and an Azure Kingfisher was observed partly obscured by creek side vegetation.  They can be difficult to find on a Twitch in our area even though we have a few possible locations for them.  A stop at some eucalypt forest produced a Jacky Winter and then three raptors were seen firstly by Russell.  One was an adult Pacific Baza (you beauty!!!) and the other two were Wedge-tailed Eagles (which had been listed the day before).  The Pacific Baza had eluded us on a number of Twitchathons, one year being seen 20 minutes before the start time but not in the ensuing 24 hours so we were very happy to tick this beautiful raptor species.  We did see one in 2011 though.  Glossy Ibis were at the wetland where I had seen them the previous Thursday and although already recorded the sight of over 200 Whiskered Terns at this location was very impressive.  A wetland at Lawrence produced the first Red-kneed Dotterels seen in the Valley since the big wet inland and Pink-eared Ducks were present and had ducklings in tow.   A pair of Yellow-billed Spoonbills was present amongst the hundreds of Royal Spoonbills and Australian White Ibis.  A group of seven Yellow-billed Spoonbills was later seen on Woodford Island and nearby a Pallid Cuckoo flew over the road.  The cuckoo was our first for the season and made species number 201 at 1239 pm.  The ‘chuk chuck’  call of the Cicadabird was heard at Tyndale and Gary wondered if Russell and I were delusional until it did its more typical cicada-like call.  Russell spotted a kingfisher on the top of a dead tree and said that it looked like a Forest Kingfisher.  We had checked out a number of kingfishers during the day hoping to tick off the Forest but they had all been Sacred Kingfishers.  This one however was a Forest Kingfisher - great.  A stop at Glenugie State Forest with its wonderful Large-leaved Spotted Gums and Grey Box trees produced the Fuscous Honeyeater, Brown Treecreeper and an adult female Brown Goshawk sitting on a nest.  The Brown Falcon that I had seen at a wetland near Coutts Crossing a few days earlier was still present and made bird number 209.  The location where we usually get Weebill and Speckled Warbler produced only a few species that we had already tallied as these two species were absent.  No new birds were added during the last 30 minutes at this site so our final total was 209, putting us in fourth place out of 17 teams.  Where were the Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos, the three Bronze-Cuckoos, Varied and White-winged Trillers, Collared Sparrowhawk, Weebill and Speckled Warbler and all of those other certainties that we missed? Oh of course it was Twitchathon weekend and the birds knew it!   A flock of 30+ Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos flew over South Grafton on Monday and an adult male Collared Sparrowhawk was perched in a eucalypt in our backyard on the same day.  Anyway it is no good dwelling on those birds that we missed as we really enjoyed those that we saw or heard including the following threatened species: Coastal Emu, Black-necked Stork, Eastern Osprey, Brolga, Sanderling, Comb-crested Jacana, Bush Stone-curlew, Australian Pied Oystercatcher, Sooty Oystercatcher, Lesser Sand Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Little Tern, Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Glossy Black-Cockatoo, Little Lorikeet, Ground Parrot, Masked Owl, Rufous Scrub-bird, Brown Treecreeper, Grey-crowned Babbler, White-eared Monarch and Paradise Riflebird as well as four threatened mammals – the Parma Wallaby, Long-nosed Potoroo, Rufous Bettong and Humpback Whale.

Greg Clancy
Head Stalker
Black-necked Stalkers Twitchathon Team 

* GuestSpeak is a feature of North Coast Voices allowing Northern Rivers residents to make satirical or serious comment on issues that concern them. Posts of 250-300 words or less can be submitted to ncvguestspeak AT for consideration.

Road Roulette: airborne asbestos fibres still float over Ewingar area

overall evidence suggests there is no safe level of asbestos exposure
US National Cancer Institute

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage has ordered the creation of a Remedial Action Plan in relation to gravel roads containing chrysotile asbestos (a Class1 human carcinogen) in the Ewingir area -  indicated in red on the map above.
Chrysotile and tremolite asbestos naturally occur in a number of areas of regional New South Wales. A number of former mine sites extracted asbestos deposits at Baryulgil (chrysotile), Barraba/Woods Reef (chrysotile), Orange district (tremolite asbestos), Gundagai district (actinolite asbestos) and Broken Hill district (chrysotile) between 1880 and 1976. [WorkCover Asbestos Blueprint November 2011]
In this recent instance, Clarence Valley Council’s problem stems from road fill material excavated from its own Taylor’s Quarry. Asbestos fibres taken from rock at this site average 0.22mm in length.
Council used contaminated gravel on public roads and, in the role of private contractor, deposited this gravel on private property.
Once asbestos was discovered in gravel road works in 2009 Council promptly sealed approximately 4 kilometres of road/road shoulder area. Tests carried out in this period on a number of roads (some of which were heavily compacted in preparation for sealing) showed airborne asbestos levels between less than 0.01 fibres/ml to 0.01 fibres/ml.
In 2010-11 Council went on to seal approximately 6 kilometres of similarly affected road.
So far this year it has sealed only 1.7 kilometres and states it intends to seal another 4.3 kilometres by the end of the 2012-13 financial year.
That appears to leave somewhere between 34-44 kilometres of gravel road still potentially raising fine airborne asbestos particles on any given day.
Council apparently does not intend to complete road sealing until sometime within the next five years.

However in November 2012 council management does not appear to have made elected members of Clarence Valley Council aware that the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission, whose figures it quoted, is careful to point out that its first Control Level for Asbestos set at 0.01 fibres/mL of air is not a health-based standard.
I’m not so sure that the good people of Ewingar will continue to agree with the slow pace of remedial road works, once the full implication of the recent ABC TV program Devil’s Dust sinks in.
To date no safe level of asbestos exposure for lung cancer or mesothelioma has been identified [NSW Work Cover 2008].

It can be caused by very brief intense exposures whether occupational, domestic or recreational, and by lower-level environmental exposures – sometimes after exposures which are very short – a day – or very slight……..any of the groups of asbestos fibres to which the plaintiff was exposed either alone or in combination with others could have caused his disease.
[High Court of Australia, Heydon J in Amaca Pty Ltd v Booth; Amaba Pty Ltd v Booth [2011] HCA 53 ]

Most instances of non-occupational asbestos exposure occur during home renovations and car maintenance [The Australian Mesothelioma Registry Newsletter 1st Edition - October 2012].
According to the NSW Workers' Compensation Dust Diseases Board, the Asbestos Education Campaign 2012 will be launched at Customs House Square, opposite Circular Quay, in Sydney today at 11:45 am to mark the commencement of National Asbestos Awareness Week.

Clarence Valley Council Investigation report - asbestos contaminated gravel

Asbestos poses a risk to health by inhalation whenever asbestos fibres become airborne and people are exposed to these fibres. Accordingly, exposure should be prevented. [NOHSC Australia 2005]
By 2030 the number of asbestos deaths
in Australia is predicted to reach 60,000,
equalling the number of Australians
killed in the First World War
[ABC TV Devil's Dust, November 2012]

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Gulaptis knew full details of Grafton Gaol closure by 20 June 2012

Excerpt from evidence given by National Party MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis before the Select Committee On The Closure Or Downsizing Of Corrective Services NSW Facilities’ hearing of 23 November 2012:
On Wednesday 20 June, I was asked to go to the Minister's  [Greg Smith] office. This was my second meeting with the Minister and his chief of staff. I was advised that the restructure would be somewhat more severe than initially suggested and that Grafton jail would be downsized to a remand centre. When I asked what that meant with regard to job losses I was told that it would mean the loss of about 90 jobs at the facility. I asked how many jobs would remain and I was advised that there would be about 30 jobs.
I was shell-shocked at the news and wanted to know how we could go from 30 job losses to 90 job losses and what recourse was available to change this drastic proposal.
According to his own evidence Chris Gulaptis had been discussing the “restructuring” of Grafton Gaol since 2 May 2012 and by 20 June he knew that the gaol would go and only a remand centre would remain in its place.
However this is what he told his electorate and The Daily Examiner  seven days later on 27 June:
STATE MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis has denied a rumour there will be an announcement on Monday that Grafton Jail will close.
Closure of Grafton Gaol was announced on 29 June 2012 by Corrective Services Commissioner Ron Woodham.
Gulaptis responded in the local media:
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis has defended the decision and blamed the previous Labor Government for allowing the jail to reach such a low point.
This is what Gulaptis was saying by 4 July:
GRAFTON Jail's role in the economy of the city is exaggerated, claims State Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis.
His spin firmed on 5 July 2012 with this:
“I didn’t know about the closure of the gaol as it was happening….I was not involved in the process. I was not consulted about it”