Monday, December 27, 2010

TH!NK5: Water - Blogging Competition

Please join us at the TH!NK5: Water Blogging Competition, sponsored by the European Journalism Centre.

My BRAINSTORM in progress:



Click the bottom right to pop out. Please make suggestions in comments for topics, sub-topics and links.

Register for Th!nk5 here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oprah Down Under: Not Everybody's Cup of McCafe

Cross post from Global Voices: Oprah Down Under: Not Everybody’s Cup of McCafe
Oprah Winfrey’s fans seem to have lapped up her Australian tour which finished with taping of her show at the Sydney Opera House. However her trip also has had its fair share of criticism.

... an indigenous woman has sent a video message to Oprah:

A video prepared for Oprah Winfrey by Chairwoman of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, Bev Manton, …shines a light on the living conditions of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, in particular those living under the NT intervention, an Australian Government program which the United Nations has branded racially discriminatory.
YouTube: A PERSONAL JOURNEY by Bev Manton



More

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Australian Cablegate November 1975 Style

The question in my post WikiWobbles: What is Julia Gillard Thinking? about what US cables might have revealed about the dismissal of the Whitlam government prodded me to troll/trawl the web for documents from the time.

All I’ve found so far are some declassified State Department communications from 1973 -75. They are kept by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). They are mostly bland rehashes of the news of the day. Many are extracts from the Financial Review or The Australian newspapers.

Somewhat unexpectedly Malcolm Fraser’s handling of the Blocking of Supply crisis receives strong criticism from the embassy. Their author did not seem to be a fan of Fraser's, relaying negative comments on his tactics of the time.

The documents include:

Gough Whitlam’s linking of Country Party Leader Doug Anthony with the CIA

From Secretary of State Henry Kissinger:

4 NOV 1975

SUBJECT: WHITLAM ACCUSES ANTHONY OF RECEIVING CIA MONEY

1. YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO APPROACH THE GOA TODAY AT THE HIGHEST AVAILABLE LEVEL, CATEGORICALLY DENYING ON BEHALF OF THE USG THAT THE CIA PAID MONEY TO THE NATIONAL COUNTRY PARTY OR ITS LEADER DOUGLAS ANTHONY. NEITHER THE CIA NOR ANY OTHER US AGENCY HAS GIVEN OR PASSED FUNDS TO ANY AUSTRALIAN POLITICAL PARTY OR CANDIDATE FOR AUSTRALIAN POLITICAL OFFICE.

2. YOU SHOULD ADD THAT, AS A MATTER OF STANDING PRACTICE, THE USG NEITHER CONFIRMS NOR DENIES PUBLICLY ALLEGATIONS OF THE TYPE REPORTED TO HAVE BEEN MADE BY THE PRIME MINISTER. THE USG REGRETS, HOWEVER, THAT SUCH A CHARGE AGAINST NCP LEADER ANTHONY, IF CORRECTLY REPORTED, COULD HAVE DAMAGING FALLOUT ON OTHER ASPECTS OF US-AUSTRALIAN RELATIONS.

4 NOV 1975

CALL FOR US REBUTTAL OF WHITLAM'S ACCUSATIONS

EMBASSY CANBERRA HAS BEEN RELIABLY INFORMED THAT THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEFENSE SECRETARIES WOULD WELCOME A FORMAL USG STATEMENT DENYING ANY CIA FINANCIAL INVOLVEMENT WITH AUSTRALIAN POLITICAL PARTIES. THE EMBASSY RECOMMENDS A STATEMENT BE ISSUED PROMPTLY, SINCE A DELAY WOULD ENCOURAG PRIME MINISTER WHITLAM TO CONTINUE IMPUGNING THE US THROUGH CHEAP POLITICAL SHOTS AT HIS OPPONENTS.

Comment on the blocking of Supply in the Senate by Fraser’s Coalition opposition

From Percival, US Embassy Canberra:

7 NOV 1975

SUBJECT: AUSTRALIAN POLITICAL CRISIS

6. OPPOSITION LEADER FRASER'S DECISION TO WITHHOLD THE GOVERNMENT'S SUPPLY BILLS IN THE SENATE HAS BACKFIRED BADLY. THE LONGER HE REFUSES TO BUDGE THE MORE LIKELY IT IS THAT HIS PERSONAL POPULARITY AS WELL AS THE POPULARITY OF THE OPPOSITION PARTIES WILL CONTINUE TO FALL. FRASER IS ALSO HAVING INCREASING DIFFICULTY HOLDING OPPOSITION SENATORS TOGETHER. A SENIOR SHADOW MINISTER SAID THAT FRASER WAS RELYING EXCLUSIVELY ON THE ADVICE OF COUNTRY PARTY LEADERS; ANTHONY, NIXON, AND SINCLAIR, ALONG WITH A FEW HARDLINE LIBERALS LIKE SENATOR WITHERS AND DEPUTY LEADER LYNCH AND HARDLY CONFERRING AT ALL WITH OTHER IMPORTANT LIBERAL MEMBERS OF THE SHADOW CABINET. THIS SHADOW MINISTER SAID THAT FRASER WAS QTE ONLY CONSULTING WITH FELLOW GRAZIERS END QTE AND SAID POINTEDLY QTE WHEN SNEDDEN WENT TOO FAR WE HAD TO GET RID OF HIM END QTE HE ALSO STATED FLATLY THAT AT LEAST TWO LIBERAL SENATORS WOULD REFUSE TO REJECT RATHER THAN DEFER THE GOVERNMENT'S SUPPLY BILLS IF THEY WERE ASKED TO DO SO.

8. IN OUR VIEW, WHAT FRASER HAS DONE IS TO RESCUE THE WHITLAM GOVERNMENT FROM AN ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE POSITION AND TO GIVE IT A FIGHTING CHANGE TO SURVIVE UNTIL THE END OF ITS ELECTED TERM IN 1977. IN THE PROCESS HE REVEALED POOR JUDGMENT IN WITHHOLDING SUPPLY AND SHOWED THAT HE IS UNABLE TO BEST WHITLAM IN PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE. FRASER HAS A NUMBER OF POTENTIAL RIVALS WITHIN THE LIBERAL PARTY WHO MIGHT WELL BE TEMPTED TO TRY TO REPLACE HIM AS LEADER AS A RESULT OF HIS PERFORMANCE TO DATE. GIVEN THE PRESENT SORRY STATE OF THE OPPOSITION, WHITLAM MAY WELL INSIST THAT THE OPPOSITION BACK DOWN COMPLETELY AND PASS THE SUPPLY BILLS IN THE SENATE.

This is not the stuff of deep intrigue, though the reported role of the Secretaries of the Foreign Affairs and Defence departments certainly seems at odds with their own government. If the conspiracy theories about the dismissal are correct and evidence is online, it’s hard to find. I wonder how long materials held by the Intelligence organisations are kept under wraps.

Also came across this reference to the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975 and the murder of the Balibo 5. The Timor cable may be of interest to Shirley Shackleton, widow of Greg Shackleton who was one of the Australian murdered journalists, though I’m sure she will have seen it.

Comment on the Missing Balibo 5 in East Timor

From Percival, US Embassy Canberra:

31 OCT 1975

SUBJECT: TIMOR

1. IN A SPEECH TO THE SENATE ON OCTOBER 3, FOREIGN MINISTER WILLESEE REVERSED THE GOA'S POLICY OF NON-INVOLVEMENT IN THE TIMOR CRISIS BY OFFERING TO HELP ARRANGE DECOLONIZATION TALKS IN AUSTRALIA. THE STATEMENT WAS IN REPLY TO LEFTIST ALP SEN. GEITZELDT'S CALL FOR THE GOA TO RECOGNIZE FRETELIN AS THE DE FACTO GOVERNMENT IN EAST TIMOR.

2. SENATOR WILLESEE SAID THAT THE GOA DEPLORED THE FIGHTING IN THE BORDER AREAS AND BELIEVED QTE THE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEMS IN PORTUGUESE TIMOR SHOULD BE SOUGHT THROUGH PEACEFUL MEANS FREE OF INTERNATIONAL INTERVENTION. END QTE. THE GOA WAS PREPARED TO PROVIDE THE LOCALE FOR TALKS TO DETERMINE JUST WHAT THE PEOPLE OF EAST TIMOR WANT. IN A CAUTIOUS REBUKE OF INDONESIA, VIEWS IN THIS REGARD AND URGED TO PURSUE HER INTERESTS THROUGH DIPLOMATIC MEANS. END QTE.

3. COMMENT: THE FOREIGN MINISTER'S STATEMENT MARKS A RELUCTANT CHANGE IN THE GOA'S PREVIOUS POLICY OF NON-INTERVENTION IN TIMOR WITH TACIT GOA SUPPORT FOR A GOI TAKE-OVER. AS NOTED IN REFTEL, THE ALP LEFT HAS BECOME INCREASINGLY CRITICAL OF THE GOA'S TIMOR POLICY. PRESS REPORTS WIICH INDICATE THE POSSIBILITY THAT FIVE AUSTRALIAN JOURNALISTS WERE FIRST SHOT AND THEN BURNED BY INDONESIAN SUPPORTED FORCES IN TIMOR HAVE HEIGHTENED THIS CRITICISM. THE ALLEGED REFUSAL OF ANTI-FRETELIN FORCES TO PERMIT AN AUSTRALIAN OFFICER INTO THE AREA TO EXAMINE THE BODIES FURTHER AROUSED SUSPICIONS AND PUBLIC REACTION. THE GOA'S ACTION OFFERING AUSTRALIA AS POSSIBLE SITE FOR TALKS ON THE TIMOR PROBLEM WAS PROBABLY THE MINIMUM THE GOVERNMENT COULD TAKE TO PLACATE THE ALP LEFT. PROTESTS AND OPPOSITION WILL BECOME GREATER AS THE EXTENT OF GOI MILITARY INVOLVEMENT IN EAST TIMOR BECOMES KNOWN. THIS WILL PRESENT THE WHITLAM GOVERNMENT WITH A MOST UNWELCOME, POTENTIALLY DEVISIVE ISSUE DURING A PERIOD OF DOMESTIC POLITICAL CRISIS.

Shirley was awarded the Best Book Award for The Circle of Silence at the 2010 Walkley Awards on 9 Dec. In her acceptance speech she says that , “our democracy is under threat because of WikiLeaks …”. The video of her speech is below.


There are lots of other documents from those years. But it’s more a job for post-grad Politics or History students than a busy citizen journalist.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

WikiWobbles: What is Julia Gillard Thinking?

Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard must be wondering why cyber history is repeating itself, as her government’s reaction to WikiLeaks stirs widespread and vocal resentment.

The Rudd government stubbornly pursued Senator Stephen Conroy's Internet filter proposal. Arguments about its potential misuse or its ineffectiveness aside, this policy has been a political debacle. It was not a vote winner. Its unpopularity united people from diverse backgrounds, ages and political leanings and alienated many in the party's base. It was also a major distraction from the ready vote catcher of the National Broadband Network.

For the Labor Party itself, it underscored and hastened the growing loss of faith among traditional supporters. This was especially true of those who have embraced the online world. The abandonment of the Emissions Trading Scheme following Copenhagen was the clincher for many. The ranks of the Greens swelled with former ALP members who were campaigning against the so-called clean feed and for immediate climate action.

Many party activists would have recognised familiar faces standing behind the new Greens MHR for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, during his victory speech. Ironically the retiring Member, Lindsay Tanner, was one of the few Rudd Ministers who seemed to understand the importance of the Web and he advocated its use for more open government. Another was Senator John Faulkner who is one of the three panel members on the Party review of the 2010 election.

Now we have Web Blunder 2.0.

Perhaps the Prime Minister and her Attorney General Robert McClelland have based their strident attacks on Julian Assange on genuinely held matters of principle.

Perhaps they hold a genuine belief that the leaks were a real threat to national security or endangered people’s lives.

We should expect more from experienced lawyers. If these are the motivation, they have not argued their case effectively or ethically. Moreover, they have shown scant regard for freedom of expression or the rights of Australian citizens. My posts about the Melbourne WikiLeaks Forum cover these aspects in greater depth.

Perhaps there has been some kind of political strategy behind their statements. Some possibilities are:
  • an attempt to neutralise leaks that may touch on Australian politicians by discrediting the source;
  • muddying of the waters until the United States silences Julia Assange and WikiLeaks in some way;
  • a desire to be seen as sticking up for our strongest ally;
  • a populist stance based on woeful misreading of public opinion.
As we left the WikiLeaks Forum on Thursday, I joked that Labor Party heavies believe that getting the Australian voters offside on an issue like Cablegate may not necessarily result in electoral defeat. However, it is certain that the US government can and will destroy our government if they feel antagonsied.

The Whitlam years are an ever present bogey for the ALP. The cables between Marshall Green, US Ambassador in Canberra during his government, and the State Department would make interesting reading. If anyone knows if any secret communications have been published, please let us know.

Melbourne WikiLeaks Forum Update

The Age newspaper has two items today that follow up Thursday's Melbourne WikiLeaks Forum.
A MELBOURNE lawyer and former boss of Prime Minister Julia Gillard has criticised her government for its handling of WikiLeaks and its Australian founder, Julian Assange.

Peter Gordon, whose legal firm made Ms Gillard the first female partner of Slater and Gordon, said her comment that Mr Assange had broken the law was baseless.

He said the fact that people such as Ms Gillard and Attorney-General Robert McClelland - both of whom he knew to be good lawyers and decent people - could be driven to behave in this way was a sobering reminder of ''the seductive and compulsive draw of power''.
Click here to find out more!
Legal fury at 'war on free speech' (The Age 11 Sep 2010)
There is also an opinion piece by Peter Gordon:
If the WikiLeaks disclosures tell us anything, it is that no political leader, whatever their colour, is going to hesitate for a nanosecond to conflate the notion of ''national security'' with ''my own career security''. It's time to provide genuine protection for people who take the bold step of coming forward with important information. It's time to make the process cheaper and speedier.

...I always admired John Brumby. To hear him say that he needed to know certain information about the desalination plant, but we didn't, was a disappointment. Likewise Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Prime Minister Julia Gillard. I have worked with both of them and know them to be decent people. It is disappointing to me that their approaches to the WikiLeaks disclosures have seemingly lost sight of three of our democracy's real ''foundation stones'': the presumption of innocence, the right to free speech and the protection of the rights of Australian citizens abroad.
Insidious attack on free speech (The Age 11 Sep 2010)
The political implications of the Australian government's response may be far reaching. Watch this space for some reflections.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Melbourne WikiLeaks Forum Condemns Politicians


Julian Burnside, well known and respected human rights lawyer, has condemned calls by United States politicians and media commentators for the assassination of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He spoke at a forum hosted by the Law Institute Victoria in Melbourne on Thursday 9 December.

He also attacked the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and Attorney General Robert Mcclelland, for their responses to Cablegate:
It is extraordinary that our government can so lightly abandon one of our citizens.

...It is the primary obligation of any country to protect its citizens.
According to Julian Burnside, WikiLeaks has:
...cast a light into some dark corners of what governments get up to when they think no one is watching.

...if they want to avoid being embarrassed by that maybe they need to learn to stop doing embarrassing things.
Julian Assange's Australian lawyer Robert Stary chaired the crowded meeting. Jon Faine of ABC 774 radio's Mornings (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), solicitor Peter Gordon, and Liberty Victoria President Spencer Zifcak also spoke in defence of WikiLeaks.

They focused on freedom of speech, freedom of the media, and the rights of Australian citizens.
Last night Mr Stary convened a meeting of lawyers, human rights activists and criminal law advocates in Melbourne to discuss the legal issues surrounding Mr Assange and his arrest - and particularly relating to the presumption of innocence.
Lawyers demand protection for Assange (The Age 10 Dec 2010)
This newspaper report by Nick McKenzie and Paul Millar has the usual inaccuracies, naming Peter Gordon as President of Liberty Victoria. It also refers to a "small group of protesters outside". In fact a couple of people were handing out leaflets about a WikiLeaks rally in Melbourne and selling a political paper. The rally is at State Library Lawns on Friday December 10 - 4:30pm - 7:30pm.

Peter Gordon has been a legal colleague of both Gillard and McClelland and a political supporter of the PM. He expressed astonishment that power can change "good, decent people" so much.

Julian Burnside's complete speech is contained in the video above. (A link if you're not sure of the references to Philip Ruddock) Liberty Victoria has issued a media release condemning the Australian PM and Attorney General:
The civil liberties organization, Liberty Victoria, today criticized the Prime Minster and the Attorney-General regarding statements that each have made about the legal situation of the Director of Wikileaks, Julian Assange.

...The President of Liberty, Professor Spencer Zifcak, said today that it was wrong for the Prime Minister in effect to declare Mr Assange's guilt before any law he may have broken had even been identified.
Liberty Victoria Criticizes PM and AG over Julian Assange comments

Thursday, December 9, 2010

One Story from Madagascar

"Just one story to represent over 1.4 billion poor rural people who live on less than $1.25 a day. This is the story of Séraphine and her daughter Maria who live in rural Madagascar."



For more from the International Fund for Agricultural Development: IFAD

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cancún COP16 Live

For Cancún COP16 Live, follow the OneClimate Channel:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Julian Assange: Outlaw in His Own Country

Julian Assange is being treated like an outlaw, even by his own country. Melbourne's Sunday Age newspaper reports:

AS THE net closes around WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the notorious whistleblower has accused Prime Minister Julia Gillard of betraying him as an Australian citizen in her eagerness to help the United States attack him and his organisation.
PM has betrayed me: Assange

It's interesting that the journalist Josh Gordon doesn't seem to know the difference between the whistleblower (the person with access to the documants who leaked them) and the publisher (WikiLeaks). Media outlets such as The Guardian, the New York Times and online sites such as this one have presumably broken the same laws, if any, as Assange. And The Age!


My crosspost at Th!nk4: Climate Change and Global Voices: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange: Oz Hero or Villain looks at the Oz blogosphere's reaction:
WikiLeaks' Julian Assange is either a hero or a villain in his home country of Australia. Many people, both here and abroad, are demanding the head of the WikiLeaks founder. Others see him as a peoples' champion.

Local bloggers have focused less on the content of the cablegate disclosures and more on ethical issues and possible consequences for effective governance.

More

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Global Voices WikiLeaks Special Coverage

Wikileaks logo Global Voices Special Coverage of WikiLeaks
State secrets exposed this year by whistle-blower website Wikileaks keep causing the world to shudder. A video showing Iraqi civilians killed by U.S forces; a compilation of tens of thousands of documents about the war in Afghanistan; hundreds of thousands of documents about the war in Iraq; and now 251,287 leaked United States embassy cables.


On Global Voices, we have looked at worldwide online citizen media reactions. The leaked documents contain so much information, both journalists and bloggers have struggled to make sense of them. The initial excitement is huge. What happens next?

Selected posts about WikiLeaks on Global Voices



03 Dec - Brazil: blogosphere reacts to WikiLeaks
02 Dec - Azerbaijan: First Lady responds to Cablegate criticism?
01 Dec - Latin America & Cablegate: Analysis, Reactions & Questions

30 Nov - Africa: Cablegate: Does the US care about Africa this much?
30 Nov - Caucasus: Revelations & Confusion over Cablegate
30 Nov - Central & Eastern Europe: Initial Reactions to WikiLeaks' Cablegate
29 Nov - South Asia: The Morality Of Exposing Others' Secrets
29 Nov - Jordan: Wikileaks' “Cablegate” Raises Questions
29 Nov - Middle East: The Not-So-Secret US Embassy Secret Cables

12 Aug - Afghan Bloggers on Wikileaks War Logs
26 Jul - Liveblog of global reactions to Wikileaks Afghanistan war logs

This will be updated here: WikiLeaks and the World 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Climate Cablegate: Lowering Expectations at Copenhagen

Climate Cablegate

Benno Hansen and myself are blogging about Cancun at Th!nk4: Climate Change. We are working together on climate change revelations in Wikileaks’ Cablegate. Benno has an introductory blog in Danish: Hvad Wikileaks lægger til COP15-skandalen

I’ve been looking at some of the cables and will post in detail later. Below are 3 cables sent in the lead up to COP15 at Copenhagen. Numbering refers to cable order. It's quite clear that the backroom game was 'lowering expectations' at Copenhagen.

More

It is just a sample of the behind-the-scenes geo-politics of climate change action. There is plenty more in the pipeline.

Friday, November 26, 2010

COP16 Cancun: Message from Christiana Figueres

COP16 Climate Change Conference in Cancun: Message from UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

World Blogging: Global Voices' Onnik Krikorian

Onnik Krikorian, Global Voices' Regional Editor for Caucasus talks about old and new media at the World Blogging Forum Vienna 2010 (November 13th in Vienna, Austria).


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Global Voices Covers Korean Crisis

Immediate coverage of the Korean crisis by Global Voices:
North Korea has fired more than a hundred artillery rockets at a populated South Korean island near its western border. Two South Korean Marines were killed by the skirmish, at least a dozen more were injured and buildings were set on fire. South Korea returned fire and scrambled fighter jets.

Photos taken by Twitterer @givenjoy shows traces of South Korean fighter jets in the air as they flew over to the West Sea where the skirmish had taken place.

Just seconds after the news broke, South Koreans tweeted madly regarding possible future scenarios and evacuation plans, as well as re-tweeting news updates. Many scoured for accurate sources, as some unconfirmed rumors, such as North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had died, circulated online. Twitterers, quoting friends in the army, said the Korean peninsula was in a near-war situation.
North Korea/South Korea: Deadly Skirmish, Live On Twitter
It is already available in Korean, Italian, Dutch and Spanish as well as English.

Not bad for a bunch of volunteers!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Kesho Leo: Building Tomorrow Today

This is a cross-post for Th!nk3: Developing World and Th!nk4: Climate Change
This story about an Australian/Tanzanian project presents a development initiative that incorporates eco-friendly and sustainable building design.


Food Water Shelter’s Kesho Leo children’s village, (Swahili for ‘tomorrow today’) recently won the National Award for International Architecture from the Australian Institute of Architects for Robert Watson. Rob’s architecture firm is Watson Architecture + Design.

fws
...builds and manages eco-friendly children's villages with education, social and health facilities for vulnerable women and children in developing countries.
Who we are
(Photos: fws)

More

Monday, November 15, 2010

Countdown to Cancun: The Temperatures Rising

If knowledge is power, then here are a couple of links to empower us all.

Firstly, via The Stump, Richard Farmer’s blog on Oz website Crikey, the latest NASA temperature data:


This post also has a link to the Intrade prediction market for temperatures.

Secondly, a must-read is The Mulch, The Media Consortium’s roundup of environmental coverage: ‘the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment from members of The Media Consortium’.

This week focuses on Cancun and bottom-up action, clean coal technology, plus China and the US.

More

Victorian Election: Party Climate Policies

There are less than 2 weeks to the Victorian State election on 27 November. With all the hype about green issues, some links to the main party policies and plans for climate change:

(Photo: Vic Greens)

Australian Labor Party: 20by2020

Liberal/National coalition: Liberal Victoria policies. The word 'Climate' is hard to find. There is a media release from September here.

The Greens: Climate You can download their 2 page policy PDF at this page.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pixel: the Carbon-Neutral Office Building

Th!nk4 post:

On her whirlwind visit to Melbourne this week, US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, dropped in on what is supposed to be Australia's first carbon-neutral office building, the Pixel Building.

This promotional video is on their website:


More

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Climate Elephant Treads Softly

(Photo: AYCC flickr photostream)

Even though the elephant in the room is a well worn political cliché, it worked for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition during the Australian federal election in August 2010:


Elephants have followed Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott from Hobart to Geelong, Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney.

Today the elephant showed up at the National Press Club in Canberra to greet the Opposition Leader and even scored an interview with Sky News.

Eighteen-year-old Amy Hall did the honours on Friday, donning the grey suit and trailing the Prime Minister from the Blacktown RSL club in the marginal western Sydney seat of Greenway to a social housing project in Lilyfield.
Elephant protesters follow leaders on campaign trail
Following the big swing to the Greens, the outsider is becoming an insider in Canberra:
The "climate elephant" which followed the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader during the election campaign, is holding talks with politicians at Parliament House.

More

Take the Ultimate Roller Coaster Ride

An animation from Post Carbon Institute's Richard Heinberg



Thanks to Tod Brilliant for the link.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hillary Clinton's Little Ray of Solar Sunshine

My latest Th!nk4: Climate Change post:

Hillary Clinton's Little Ray of Solar Sunshine

Solar Research

(Photo: The Australian newspaper online)
Hillary Clinton has come to Australia for talks about foreign relations, defence and security. However, the new Republican dominated U.S. House of Representatives makes top-down legislation nigh on impossible, so climate change action demands other strategies:
Australia and the United States will embark on a joint solar power research program in a bid to drive down the cost of the technology.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the announcement in Melbourne on Sunday, with the Australian government set to commit up to $50 million towards the program.

Science Wars

If the threatened House committee to investigate climate science 'fraud' eventuates, then there should be more science to demonise:
Ms Clinton also announced up to 15 additional Fulbright Scholarships would be awarded over the next three years for studies into climate change and energy.
Australia-US in solar research pact


More

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mango Madness Threatened by Global Warming

Mango lovers beware! The juicy end of the food crisis will certainly be facing troubled times if predictions about global warming are correct.

There have been 2 news stories about this year's mango harvest in Australia's top end in as many days:

First Queensland, where they aren't exactly sure what caused the poor season. La Niña is one of the culprits because it means moderate weather with higher temperatures. Mangoes need cold nights to produce flowers and fruit.



In the Northern Territory, climate change is being blamed as one of the possible culprits:



When we lived in Katherine in the NT, a warm dry season brought frowns all round from the local mango growers.

Mangoes are are big business as well as a seasonal fruit for private consumption. This promotional fundraiser gives a indication of its iconic status in Oz:
The first tray of mangoes of the season has been bought for a cool $30,000 at Sydney Markets' annual charity auction.
First tray of mangoes sells for $30,000

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bloggers Stir the Globe

From Th!nk4: Climate Change:

This article was written as a request from Social Education Victoria for the October edition of their journal Ethos, during the Th!nk3: Developing World blogging competition. SEV (formerly VASST) was my first teacher subject association in the 1970s when I taught Social Studies and senior secondary Politics. Headings and links have been included for easier use online.

As one Australian Labor leader used to say, "It's the journey not the destination".

Bloggers Stir the Globe

(or Blog is not a Four-letter Word)

Blogging on a global stage

What do the World Cup and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals have in common? Search the Th!nk3: Developing World blogging competition website or blog search ‘world cup poverty’ and you’ll find countless connections.

Bloggers pounced on the opportunity of a global event staged in the developing world to raise awareness of the UN targets and the issues faced in meeting them. This was helped by a plethora of websites linking the two. African Progress’ ‘Alternative Guide to the World Cup’ typified sites that focused on the host continent. Former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan and United Nations Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador and football star Didier Drogba made, ‘a call for the spirit of fairness embodied by the World Cup to be applied broadly to continent’s relations with the rest of the world’.

It hasn’t just been feel good stuff. For example, 1Goal was campaigning to bring education to 72 million children who don’t have access now by 2015.

People blog about everything: weaving class, nappy changes, kitchen cuisine, the paranormal, taxi driving, magic, to name just a few. For most regulars, it’s harmless fun or a chance to follow a passion. Most never mention the dreaded p-word but politics is ubiquitous. Even blogs with totally unrelated themes will stray into the political arena once in a while. It was certainly true when Barack Obama and Julia Gillard became leaders of their respective countries.

Onliners who debate social and political issues are not always mere armchair warriors or casual commentators. Bloggers face harassment, imprisonment and even death in repressive regimes around the world. Inevitably there is a website, ‘The March 18 Movement’, that commemorates the first blogger to die in prison in 2009 in Iran. ‘Reporters Without Borders’ also document persecution of what they call ‘netizens’. Their last count was 111 in prison.

Citizen journalist

My only intimidating moment as a citizen journalist happened in the National Tallyroom on election night as part of an online citizen journalism project, YouDecide2007. John Howard had just conceded defeat. My request, to his close friend Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan for a video comment, brought a less than civil reply. At least he didn’t push me as he had done to the Chaser’s Craig Reucassel earlier that evening. Perhaps Hefferan suspected that my personal blog was called ‘Labor View from Broome’. Objectivity is an ongoing issue.

Many people doubt the veracity of so-called citizen journalism because of the possible bias of the author. It is a thin line between reporting and opinion but one that is more likely to be overlooked in the mainstream media.

Since then my blogs have expanded to three, including a cinema site. Their scope has widened to a global one through involvement as an author with Global Voices, the international community of bloggers who report on blogs and citizen media from around the world.

Th!nk3: Developing World

Much of my recent online time has been taken up with a blogging competition, Th!nk3: Developing World, run through the European Journalism Centre. Its role is to promote the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and their targets for 2015. Winners will be attending the UN General Assembly Review Summit in September in New York. By early July 100 bloggers had generated 850+ posts and 4800+ comments so far. There have been over 3 million page visits since the end of March.

As a retired English and Studies Of Society and Environment teacher I really enjoy the writing part. Full time teachers rarely get the time to reflect in depth on the world around them or share their personal interests and ideas. But for me the best part of citizen media is making videos. Have Sony, Will Travel. In fact I use two cameras now, as the larger one and a Mac laptop are too bulky together. The downside of being retired is affording the hardware and software. There are no tax deductions – ‘citizen’ is a euphemism for ‘unpaid’. An upside is the occasional paid trip. Youdecide2007 flew me from Broome to Canberra for the weekend of the election and even organised a media pass. In addition, I’ve been to Brussels for the Th!nk3 launch and Santiago Chile for the GV Citizen Media Summit 2010 in May. Next stop Kuala Lumpur in August and then hopefully the Big Apple.

Global Voices

Global Voices is one of the most exciting cyber places. Its community of mostly unpaid authors document the work of bloggers from their home country or region. Translators bring these posts to much of the non-English speaking world. It also supports projects such as Rising Voices and Advocacy. Its Citizen Media Summit in Santiago Chile earlier this ear was an inspiring gathering.

HiperBarrio

One stirring Rising Voices project is called ‘HiperBarrio’. The following is brief introduction to this amazing community.

Teenage gangs and Internet social media are two very popular tabloid targets. It is even better when these bogeys intersect through bullying, violence or racism. It’s boyz in the ‘hood, off their facebooks, organising rumbles via tweets.

A South American project is challenging these shallow depictions. A combination of youth, libraries and the blogosphere has shown that there can be alternative storylines. It’s an unlikely setting. The city of Medillin in Columbia has been better known for drugs, theft, intimidation, kidnapping and murder, with lashings of political and police corruption thrown in. A group of young people in the La Loma de Javier neighbourhood are confronting this bleak picture.

Their blogging collective HiperBarrio aims ‘to promote community use of the Web by the responsible exercise of citizen journalism and the recovery of historical memory’.

They are not only documenting their history and preserving their culture. They face the fear that permeates their communities by telling their stories. More importantly they are focused on building a better society where paramilitaries do not rule and violence does not draw “invisible borders” between local neighbourhoods. They are working for a participatory, free, open democracy.

They are defending their culture and their future with ideas, with words. Their weapons include multi-media tools such as blogs, video, audio and podcasts. As a result, training is a crucial part of their mission. I was chuffed to see an article ‘On Grammar’ on their central blog ‘ConVerGentes’. It explores the need for precision and accuracy in online journalism.

Their virtual pens generate both stark prose and impassioned poetry. Try to fit that into the usual stereotype.One of the key bloggers, Yesenia Corrales, writes at ‘Angelgoth’. Her presentation to a packed auditorium at the recent Global Voices Citizen Media Summit, was a stirring experience. Fittingly it took place in the Santiago Public Library. The original collective has more than twenty individual blogs with names like ‘Lunatico’ and ‘Mental Product’ whose gaol is to reach out to the community.

These are original voices, dare I say authentic at a time when the word has been hijacked for political spin in Australia. They think before they write, despite the heat of their daily moments. Their prose and poetry broil with urgent purpose for very real audiences. Their youthful idealism defies the ever-present reality of their lives with energy and hope.
The Medillin Pilot Public Library is both the oasis where young people can access computers and the centre for citizen media training. This amazing initiative has recently spread to three other libraries in the city. In the good old days this would have been called the beginnings of a movement.

Global Voices is unique. Its authors do not present their own ideas. Their posts present a roundup of what bloggers from a particular country have been writing about a topical issue. The Lingua people choose the English language articles that they translate. There are currently nearly twenty languages including many European, Asian and African languages. It is a real buzz to be translated into Swahili, Bangla, Chinese and many more.

Local Goes Global

Immediately after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, the Global Voices editor asked me to write a post. I was surprised as I thought that our disaster would not be of interest to the rest of the world which experiences floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis that kill thousands or tens of thousands. Much to my surprise ‘Australia: Bushfires devastate Victoria’ was one of the more popular posts of the year.

Another topic that generated a lot of interest was ‘Australia: Indian Homicide Reignites Racism Ruckus’ following the death of Nitin Garg in Melbourne in January this year. The sometimes heated debate generated 39 comments from a broad range of people.

The future

The challenge by the Web to the traditional print and electronic media has grown exponentially. The initial response of the mainstream media was to publish blogs by their professional journalists on their websites. This has exploded in the last couple of years, partly because ‘new media’ organisations like ‘Huffington Post’ gave voices to a broad range of non-journalists. In Australia, News Limited’s ‘Punch’ and the ABC’s ‘Drum’ are very healthy examples where a wide cross-section of opinion is aired everyday.

Essentially, blogs are just web pages but they have many advantages for teachers and their classes. Firstly, they are usually free. Secondly, their use and access can be restricted to registered members, plus posts and comments can be moderated. A lot of the blogosphere use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to share their blog posts and to maintain contact with their online networks. Organisations and others are making increasing use of Facebook pages to get the message out and to recruit for their causes. Most Non-Government Organisations now have blogs on their websites as well. Oxfam Australia is a good example.

Before retirement in 2007 at 60, people used to ask me if it would be difficult to fill in the time. Now there is never a spare minute, except when we jump in the 4WD and head bush and enjoy the pleasures of reading. There the only net is for mozzies.


Greens Plot Pragmatic Political Path

My latest post for Th!nk4: Climate Change:

As my early post Australia Revisits Carbon Tax indicated, green politics have become the flavour of the year in Australia. With a State election in Victoria due on 27 November, environmental politics have taken on an engrossing importance.

Swings away from the ruling Australian Labor Party are now the order of the day. Tasmania has a minority Labor government backed by the Greens who have two Cabinet ministers. (I’m tickled by the fact that the Greens leader Nick McKim is Attorney General, making him the Minister for prisons amongst other things).

Opinion polls in Victoria show a large swing with the Greens on 16-19% this week. They received 10% at the election 4 years ago. This time they may win Assembly seats and hold the balance of power. Just as interesting is their current politicking:
Federal Greens leader Bob Brown has left open the possibility of his party entering into a power-sharing alliance with the Victorian Coalition if the election produces a hung parliament.

He said in Melbourne yesterday that the Greens had every right to negotiate with either side of politics if it meant getting a better deal for their supporters.
Greens put heat on ALP
Long gone are the days when The Greens were seen as idealistic purists.

More

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Climate Caravans to Cancún Circus

My latest post for Th!nk4: Climate Change:

This is third in a series of posts exploring the challenges facing climate activism. Some questions from my earlier post:

We’ve been looking for new or different ways of working. Do we make community education and awareness the priority? How do we reach out to a broader audience?
Should we become more involved in mainstream politics through political parties and elections? Is direct action a better route?

How do we raise awareness and influence the decision-making processes?

The debate about strategies and tactics has intensified since Copenhagen.

More

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cancún Bottom-up: Shaping Global Climate Action

My latest post for Th!nk4: Climate Change:

Focus on Cancún


So how do we re-focus climate change action? Can Cancún play a positive part?
One of the issues raised in my previous post was: Do we sideline the struggle for a global agreement in favour of more achievable goals?

At Inside Story, Stephen Howes looks at three challenges resulting from the US Congress’ failure to pass climate legislation:
On the domestic front, in a more bottom-up world countries will have both more freedom and more responsibility to define the mitigation problem as suits them.

On the international front, a strategy is needed to deal with America’s intransigence on climate change. It isn’t easy to think of one. No country will probably have more impact on US action than China, but China will only act decisively if it is not acting alone.

Finally, in a bottom-up world it will be more difficult for each country to judge what others are doing, since countries will tend to pursue different policies and measure impacts with different metrics.
Climate change negotiations: unravelling or shifting gear?

More

Our Generation: Melbourne Launch

The Melbourne launch of Our Generation on 22 October 2010, a documentary on aboriginal rights in Australia, by filmmakers Sinem Saban and Damien Curtis.

Our Generation - Melbourne Launch from Kevin Rennie on Vimeo.


for more information please visit their website Our Generation

Copenhagen to Cancún: Re-imagining Climate Action

My latest post for Th!nk4: Climate Change:

There has been lots of soul searching since Copenhagen. We have all questioned the direction that climate activism should take. This is the first of a series of posts exploring this challenge.

We’ve been re-evaluating our goals and strategies. Do we sideline the struggle for a global agreement in favour of more achievable goals? Do we focus our energies at the National, State or local level?

We’ve been looking for new or different ways of working. Do we make community education and awareness the priority? How do we reach out to a broader audience?

Should we become more involved in mainstream politics through political parties and elections?

Is direct action a better route?

More.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tracking Our Cancún Climate Negotiators

My latest post for Th!nk4: Climate Change:

There is a rich online world that doesn’t exist in the mainstream media. A classic climate change example is the Adopt A Negotiator project.

Adopt A Negotiator will be at COP16 in Cancún. They have blogger/trackers from 13 countries who follow ‘international efforts to confront climate change in the race to a better future’:

Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy Russia, Spain, South Africa, United Kingdom, USA.

The emphasis is on youth:


Australia’s tracker is Phillip Ireland. He’s originally from Newcastle so he should know about the latest solar project there.

Phil has a report on the pre-Cancún negotiations that is not all bad news:
In the end, progress at the China climate negotiations was mixed. There was good progress in some sections of the talks, however, other key components were stalled. A colleague commented to me “oh dear, it seems we’ve ended with a question mark”.
Stocktaking Progress on a Global Climate Agreement
His posts give both an international and an Australia perspective on recent developments. He also blogs at A Climate for Change.

It seems like a great idea. Anyone can do it. Start with the relevant national or state minister. Make sure you let them know you're watching and reporting.

Super Solar Hard Sell

My latest post for Th!nk4: Climate Change:

Renewable energy technology is not the sole answer to global warming but it’s probably the number one. Carbon taxes or cap and trade schemes will fail if they do not stimulate research and development of alternatives such as solar.

Australia is currently trumpeting a breakthrough in solar research:
Researchers in Newcastle north of Sydney are constructing the largest solar field of its type in the world, using entirely locally produced materials and attracting international interest potentially worth billions of dollars.
Solar project shines light on Australian potential



It’s supposed to be perfect for desert areas unlike conventional solar technology because it does not use water, only sun and air. We can only hope that it's not a case of smoke and mirrors and that this hard sell promotion reaps the kind of benefits it promises.

 Photos courtesy of CSIRO

http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2010/10/26/3048983.htm

http://www.scienceimage.csiro.au/mediarelease/images/mr10-124/0052_heliostat_photo_shoot_th.jpg


http://www.scienceimage.csiro.au/mediarelease/images/mr10-124/0059_heliostat_photo_shoot_th.jpg

http://www.scienceimage.csiro.au/mediarelease/images/mr10-124/0054_heliostat_photo_shoot_th.jpg

We can only hope that this hard sell promotion reaps the kind of benefits it promises.

Australia Revisits Carbon Tax

My latest post for Th!nk4: Climate Change:

Australia has broken both a climatic and a political drought this year. In the aftermath of Copenhagen, we saw the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Leader of the Opposition Malcolm Turnbull lose their positions because of the politics of emissions trading.

Turnbull was unable to bring off a negotiated deal for the government’s Emissions Trading Scheme legislation and was dumped by a Liberal Party backlash by sceptics, deniers and opportunists. His replacement as Opposition leader, Tony Abbott, has famously called climate change science “absolute crap”.

Rudd was perceived as backing away from his commitment to the “greatest moral challenge of our times” Any ETS was postponed till 2013.

For more on his removal by his own party, please see: Australia: Dramatic Fall of Prime Minister

After a large swing to the Greens in the August Federal elections, Labor formed a minority government promising to reinvigorate its climate change strategy. The Greens won their first House of Representatives seat at a general election and gained the balance of power in the Senate from July next year.

Julia Gillard signs agreement with Greens leader Bob Brown
(Picture: Ray Strange Source: The Australian)
The electorate had rejected Gillard's insipid election proposal for a Citizens Assembly to help re-establish a consensus. The new PM Julia Gillard was forced to beef up the party’s position and established a multi-party parliamentary committee. Its terms of reference include:
1.1. consult, negotiate, and report to the Cabinet, through the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, on agreed options for the implementation of a carbon price in Australia; and

1.2. provide advice on, and participate in, building community
consensus for action on climate change.
Prime Minister establishes Climate Change Committee
The inclusion of a price for carbon was a major change from their election stance. In recent weeks the support a carbon price has gained momentum with this call from the world’s largest miner:
THE boss of Australia's biggest mining company has urged the Federal Government to introduce a carbon tax before the rest of the world.

BHP Billiton chief Marius Kloppers conceded a global move on carbon would come in the future, and Australia needed to move ahead of the curve to stay competitive.
BHP calls for carbon tax
In other political developments, Australia has a new Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, and a new Parliamentary Secretary, Mark Dreyfus. This dynamic duo will hopefully get the government back on track.

Perhaps there is some cause for optimism.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Copenhagen Accord Targets

My latest post for Th!nk4: Climate Change:

As we approach the Cancún COP16 December meeting of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, it is worth looking at what came out of Copenhagen.

USCAN (Climate Action Network) maintain an interactive map, tracking how countries have responded to their Copenhagen Accord commitments:

Countries Engaged with Copenhagen Accord
This graphic automatically updates as countries respond.


A detailed table is available on their website.


This week Frank Jotzo, Director of the Centre for Climate Economics & Policy and Senior Lecturer at the Australian National University's Crawford School, has published an analysis of progress, 'Copenhagen targets and Australia’s climate commitment':

An analysis that puts the different pledges on a common footing and compares them across the different metrics (Jotzo 2010) shows that the pledges given by both major developed and developing countries imply significant effort, and that on the whole they are broadly comparable across important metrics. This allows a cautiously optimistic assessment of the prospect for countries actually following through with their pledges.

He argues for 15% target for Australia compared with the current 5% and advocates a carbon price:

Cutting Australia’s emissions cost-effectively will require carbon pricing, possibly starting with a fixed price permit scheme. Investments in emission reductions in developing countries are also likely to be part of a cost-effective approach.

The full article can be downloaded here.

Australia's Gillard minority Labor government is committed to a carbon price but more on that later.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nudist Bathers Reject CCTV Live Streaming

My latest post for Th!nk4: Climate Change:

CCTV cameras are not nudists’ favourite technology. Even when the CC stands for Climate Change or Cyclone Conditions. A proposal to use camera surveillance on unpatrolled surf beaches in Queensland has offended nudist bathing groups. Video would stream live online so that surf lifesavers could monitor conditions and hazardous situations.

There are no legal nudist beaches in Queensland but some optional clothing beaches are popular. Alexandria Bay beach (A Bay) at the Sunshine Coast’s Noosa Heads is one.

Free Beach Australia, who promote nudists beaches, argue that we don’t know what might happen with the video footage.

Now what does all this have to do with climate change? According to the Bureau of Meteorology the coming summer has a heightened risk of above average cyclones in Northern Australia:
Seasonal Outlook for Tropical Cyclones

The outlook suggests that the coming tropical cyclone season is likely to have

* a higher than average number of tropical cyclones over the full Australian region,
* a higher than average number of tropical cyclones in the Western region,
* an average to above average number of tropical cyclones in the Northern region,
* a higher than average number of tropical cyclones in the Eastern region.
2010/11 Australian Tropical Cyclone season outlook

BOM’s forecast for ‘Queensland Temperature change 2030 Summer’ based on different levels of emissions:

The predited storm activity will cause large surf along Queensland coasts. The extreme weather patterns are attributed by many to climate change resulting from global warming. The naked truth?

For the full audio from ABC Radio National’s Breakfast program:

Listen to MP3 of this story

Alexandria Bay is the only nudist beach I’ve ever visited. It was 1977. Wearing bathers certainly made me standout from the rest of the sun lovers. I was shamed by peer pressure to shed my budgie smugglers. I don’t recommend body-surfing in your birthday suit.

PS: I logged onto Free Beach Australia’s website (http://www.freebeach.com.au/) only to find this message: This Account Has Been Suspended

Strange indeed! Self-censorship perhaps? Some other form of censorship? A cover up?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Saving Australia's River Red Gums

On our recent visit to Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, we came across a cemetery at Lake Mournpall. Perhaps one hundred mature trees stood dead on the flood plain, a stark reminder of the impact of severe drought and competing demands for water in recent years. My earlier post Australia’s Not-So-Civil Water War has some background on these issues.

River Red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) are iconic trees in Australia. Of the 800 eucalyptus species, they hold a very special place in our national psyche. They grow to 45 metres and can live for 500 years or more. They live beside rivers, lakes and on flood plains and rely on regular flooding for their survival.

The good news is that governments have taken action in recent years to allocate ‘environmental water’ to areas such as Hattah Lakes and the Barmah forest on the Murray River:
The Commonwealth allocated 7,300ML of environmental water to the Hattah Lakes in Winter 2010. This water will help ensure the long term sustainability of this iconic site, provide refuge for waterbirds and benefit fringing river red gums and will fill a number of lakes that have not been full since 1996.
Environmental watering: Murray catchment

The following slideshow, River Reds, shows some of the benefits of this policy. Thanks to Heather Milton for the photographs taken at Hattah.


This is a cross post from Th!nk4: Climate Change.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Our Not-So-Civil Water War

Th!nk About It has a new blogging competition: Th!nk4: Climate Change. It is an extension of Th!nk2.

My first post:

Australia’s Not-So-Civil Water War

We’ve just returned from three weeks in North Western Victoria and parts of New South Wales. It was unwitting research for Th!nk4: Climate Change. Our plan was to visit a number of national parks on or near the Murray-Darling river system. It’s an area that has been under extreme environmental pressures because of the harsh drought that devastated Australia for much of this century and the competing demands for water.

We started well, staying at the Wyperfeld and Hattah-Kulkyne National Parks in Victoria. By the second week, heavy rain at Lake Mungo NP not only closed the unsealed road after our swift retreat but also heralded a dose of wet weather that finally brought an end to official drought conditions in New South Wales. Even Melbourne’s dams were half-full after hovering at 25% most of last year. Floods have become common headlines this year across eastern Australia.

These climate extremes are not new. “Droughts and flooding rains” are an Aussie cliché. But the severity of the drought, record high temperatures and horrific bushfires have focussed national attention on the vexed issues surrounding changing climate.

You’d think the rain would bring optimism but that is not the case in Australia’s food bowl. During our trip a consultation document (actually a Guide to a Draft Basin Plan) was released by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. The Authority is charged by legislation with developing a plan that returns the river basin to environmental health while maximising “economic returns to the Australian community from the use and management of the Basin water resources”. It is also required to “tackle climate change”.



The Guide recommends reductions in water allocations of between 27% and 37%. The big loser would be agriculture, especially irrigators.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has an online explanation of and ongoing updates. One of its ABC TV news reports captured the ‘tea party’ mood communities have shown at consultation meetings.



As the Authority has attempted visited rural towns, the Guide has been burned. Farmers have worn black armbands. Personal abuse has substituted for dialogue.

Lower rainfall is predicted for the basin as a result of climate change. If these warnings prove correct, the battles for a share of the diminishing water resources can only hot up.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Save James Price Point: A Special Place

James Price Point is a very special place. It is also the centre of a major dispute about where to put a LNG Gas Hub in North Western Australia.

Some background at: The fight over Kimberley gas

Also: Hands Off Country

We took these photos while camping at the point in 2007.



When it's gone, it's gone forever!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mashable & 92Y Social Good Summit: Livestream

The Mashable & 92Y Social Good Summit

Mashable and 92Y present a summit of today’s most inspirational and promising leaders discussing effective ways in which new media can help address the world’s challenges. By focusing on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — being addressed in high-level plenary sessions at UN Week in September 2010 — the Mashable/92Y Social Good Summit celebrates the power and potential of new media to effect change. The Summit is presented in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, a public charity that advocates for the UN and provides a platform for connecting people, ideas and resources to help the UN solve global problems.

Watch live streaming video from mashable at livestream.com

You wouldn’t miss a St Kilda Grand Final for quids!

You wouldn’t miss a St Kilda Grand Final for quids!

The St Kilda crowd on the Sandringham train was subdued on the way home from the Preliminary final win over Footscray last Saturday. Going by his age, the bloke opposite me was almost certainly at the ’66 grand final win. He didn’t smile once. If you’re not sure why, then please read my 2009 post 1966 is a long time for this Saints supporter.

He alighted at Hampton station. Saints fans are an overwhelming majority on our line. Hardly a red, white and blue Bulldog scarf clashed with our red, white and black last week. In the days of the Victorian Football League, footy supporters were essentially suburb-based tribes. Collingwood were the most infamous and dangerous. If they won at their Victoria Park home ground, their exuberant youths would attack anyone wearing the opposing club colours. If they lost they’d fight one another as well. We used to put any livery in our bags on the journey home. The Saturday evening Sporting Globe newspaper was either a sell-out or a no-sale that night in the woodlands.

Times have certainly changed. Apparently their coach, Mick Malthouse, lives in Hampton.

There were many difficult times in the Collingwood outer. In 1972 I was late for the round 14 match but many of my family watched as magpie John Greening (and Brownlow medal favourite) was felled behind the play by saint Jim O’Dea. Greening suffered a cerebral concussion that virtually finished his VFL career. It was a dark day all round.

In 1993 I missed the iconic moment when Nicky Winmar lifted his jumper and pointed to his aboriginal skin. It followed racist abuse from the crowd during the game. In earlier years the racism was usually anti-semitism targeted at St Kilda’s large Jewish supporter base. It was and still is part of the local suburb’s demographic. One of the few Jewish players, Ian Syman, played in the ’66 premiership team after receiving a dispensation from synagogue attendance for Yom Kippur.

As inner suburbs both St Kilda and Collingwood have become gentrified. Their homogeneous team loyalty has been diluted as a consequence.

During the bleak days of the early ‘80s, I stood alone watching the dying minutes of a disastrous loss. Most other Saints followers had left. One of our young players came on, marked on the wing, took two bounces, evaded three Collingwood players, bounced again and kicked a sixty-metre goal from the boundary. None of the triumphant magpie supporters joined in my applause. They’ll be just as tough and unforgiving next Saturday. (This memory could well be apocryphal.)

Last Saturday was one of those rare moments when the Prime Minister Julia Gillard and I were on opposite sides. Julia is just one of sports tragic PMs. As a Labor pollie, Footscray fits her role, her western suburbs work class electorate and her bulldog birth in Wales.

Usually politicians, journalists and commentators squeeze every clichéd metaphor out of sport. Especially football, whatever the code: line ball, offside, scrums, free kick, own goal. Pollies often appeals to the umpire. Political parties have loyal supporters, their true believers, just like footy clubs. New members of parliament are rookies.

There were no rookies in ’66. We hadn’t imported the term yet. Veteran sports-caller Bruce McEvaney has a generic vocab. It’s very bland commentary, enabling an all-seasons dumbed-down approach for both Bruce and his viewers. I’m still looking for left field at the MCG, whether it’s cricket or AFL. His pinch hitters rarely carry bats. If it’s a draw (or should it be a tie) this week, we’re bound to have a hung game.

Collingwood has 14 Premiership Cups. St.Kilda has just its one-point victory against them in 1966. Something we have let them forget. Let’s halve that ratio this year! It’ll be better than winning an election.

I’ll be sitting on the flank opposite my 1966 seat. As I penned last year: “Saints fans have had to be stoic. We’ve snatched the proverbial cliché from the jaws of victory too often. It’s been along time carrying the flag.” But you wouldn’t miss it for quids!

MDG Summit Lying Low Down Under

Cross post, Global Voices/Th!nk3:
The Australian media seem distracted from this week’s UN Millennium Development Goals Summit. Our Federal election with its hung parliament and the football finals season are among the causes. Nevertheless, deposed Kevin Rudd has received a lot of attention for his current overseas trip. Unfortunately it has been mainly for local political reason.

Thankfully the Oz blogosphere has plenty of MDG traffic, though most of it is confined to NGOs and church groups.
More: Australia: MDG Summit Lying Low Down Under

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

UN Millennium Development Goals: Global Voices Special Coverage

Global Voices has special coverage of the
UN Millennium Development Goals Summit:
Ten years ago, world leaders developed a blueprint for improving the social and economic situation in the world's poorest countries. To ensure progress, United Nations member states agreed to adopt a set of targets called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The deadline for achieving these eight goals is 2015.
With only five years to go, world leaders are currently attending a United Nations Summit in New York on 20-22 September 2010 to discuss how to accelerate global poverty reduction. On Twitter, you can follow these Global Voices bloggers who are there in person: @SonamOngmo @bhumikaghimire @andrea_arzaba and @lastoadri

Together with our friends at the UNFPA blog Conversations for a Better World (On Twitter, @_conversations_) we would love to hear more examples and ideas from bloggers worldwide.

UN MDG Summit: Poverty On Target

Some encouraging news from the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York:
This week, as nations gather to assess the goals, the UN announced that the world was on track to halve the percentage of people on the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Even with the global recession, the ranks of the world's desperately poor are likely to shrink to 15 per cent of the population by 2015, less than half of the original 42 per cent, according to a recent UN report.
UN says world on track to halve severe poverty

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

When Ignorance Equals Racism

An event involving religion, sport and gender. The Oz media were certain to get it very wrong!

We definitely live in parallel universes. Last week we only had the choice of Seven Sunrise or the Today Show for morning News/Weather. We had had the same problem the previous week. I gave up on the Today Show the morning after the two independent MPs announced their support for a Gillard minority government. Everyone on the set except the boom operator, shared their anti-labor venom about this decision. Laying claim to be the Fox Television Network of the antipodes perhaps?

At 7 David Koch's panel 'Kochie's Angels' discussed a restrictive dress code for a Ramadan event at a swimming pool in Melbourne next year. When one angel wondered if Australia is " a bit of a racist nation", Koch shared his expertise on our region:
"Every nation is racist. Every nation has an element of racism. We live in a region surrounded by mono-cultures. Talk about racism. Go to Japan. Go to Malaysia. Go to the Philippines. No comparison. We're pretty tolerant."
The video of the discussion is online:


Mono-cultures?! Indonesia? Papua New Guinea? China? Malaysia? Singapore? India? The Philippines?

Koch should visit the CIA World Factbook. Even Singapore, with its authoritarian government, has the following mix: Chinese 76.8%, Malay 13.9%, Indian 7.9%, other 1.4%.

Which brings me to "tolerance". My Global Voices post Australia: Muslim Dress Code Backlash has a roundup of some of the online comment on this issue. The 773 comments on the Herald Sun 'news' story might just test this self-image. I'm in full agreement with one of the bloggers:
Rather than smoothing the waters between different religious groups, yet another wave of discontent has been created through media misinformation.
Some light was shed on the facts by Matt Feutrill, Chief Operating Officer of the YMCA, a co-sponsor of the event:
"We've been working with the women's only swim group for the past two years in the city of Dandenong. It is a multi-faith group, multi-nationalities, multi-disabilities who feel comfortable swimming together. This Ramadan, because there are members of the Muslim community, the members felt it was such a rewards experience to share the celebration of Ramadan together that they would like to extend next year, that session, as a one-off to their broader family to join in, to join with this group of people of mixed faiths, mixed nationality, to enjoy the celebration of Ramadan."
The full post with links to these items is also available in French.

Is it too much to expect the mainstream media to find out the facts before they share their prejudices?