Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Blind Freddy could see it coming - wind farms are a good idea as long as you don't live near one. Yesterday Victoria’s tough new guidelines on wind farms came into effect - they give residents the right to veto the turbines if they are within 2 kms of their home and are banned within 5 kms of major regional towns and some scenic areas.
At least three proposed wind farms that have taken years to develop have now been dumped and others are in limbo. I’m happy for the people of Victoria, they are now safe from these ugly monsters but what about the rest of us - that investment will be redirected to other states, like mine. Before they went ahead with these multi-million dollar projects, they should have asked us what we thought about them and the answer is clear - we don’t want a bar of them – not now, not ever!
Last week, Moyne Shire Council, in Victoria’s westwest, voted to block wind giant Fenosa from receiving permit extensions for two wind farms and Hawkesdale and Ryan Corner developments are now in serious doubt. Spanish company Acciona Energy announced in May that it would drop its plan to develop a wind farm with up to 40 turbines near Evansford, 158km northwest of Melbourne. It cited unspecified environmental reasons and lack of wind as making the project unviable, but local opponent Robyn Brew said it would have been impossible under the new laws anyway.
In June this year, Ruth Corrigan who lives near Capital Wind Farm near Bungendore, just outside of Canberra, says wind farms are bad for your health. Experts have recently discovered something they call “lower frequency vibration.” She can’t sleep and it’s slowly driving her crazy. Further turbines are being erected every week and she has had no help from Infigen Energy who are very proud of their Capital Wind Farm.
Robin and Glenn Brew, organic farmers who live near the Waubra wind farm in Victoria were originally in favour of wind energy until they reported similar health problems. The 128 turbine development triggered a Senate inquiry that recommended firmer noise limits and urgent research into damaging health effects on nearby residents.
Clean Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren said yesterday the new policy signaled future wind development was "closed for business" in Victoria.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Gypsies have branched out from Britain and Europe to North America and Australia and according to police, these people are due back from overseas holidays any minute, ready to cause havoc with another spate of cheating elderly people out of their life savings.
They are the modern gypsies, described by the NSW government as organised criminals about to be targeted. The “gypsy season” is about to start in NSW, they operate from September to April every year. Thirty families with 1000 members have been under scrutiny by police as they carried out multi-million dollar scams picking on the most vulnerable – the elderly – promising to fix their roof, concrete their driveway or exterminate pests around their home. They insist on being paid in cash and drive their elderly victim to their bank to get it.
They pay cash for everything, including their custom-built, triple axle caravans and Range Rovers. Because their caravans are so big, they can only go to certain caravan parks and police know most of them. They use parks as a base in country or coastal towns and work a perimeter of about four weeks. They know how long they can stay before complaints start filtering in and in the dead of night, they suddenly vanish.
Investigators have records of 770 vehicles and 450 mobile phones they can link to the gypsies. They know who their family members are, where they live and how they operate. They use false names and addresses, swapping these names among themselves. And money is no object. English gypsies have incredible wealth and spend holidays in Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast and travel to weddings and holidays around the world. They enjoy the Calgary Stampede in Canada and when our investigators told Canadian border police about three gypsies going from Sydney to the Stampede festival, they were stopped and had $55,000 in cash seized and denied entry.
Many are now Australian citizens and growing numbers are applying for permanent status. Officials say the gypsies they know about would earn at least $30 million a year from their Australian operations and this is a very conservative estimate.
Alex Johan, 69, a self-confessed thief and gypsy, appeared in a Sydney court last week to plead guilty to stealing from a number of old women after scamming his way into their homes with a female accomplice. Johan uses the name Sterio which is a member of a gypsy clan well known around Sydney. "They prey on the vulnerable and are cunning thieves," said Detective-Sergeant Trent Atkins, who arrested him. "They may be illiterate but they are rat cunning and it gets handed down from generation to generation."
The UK TV show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding gives us an insight into Gypsy life. Although the women and young girls dress rather provocatively, because the women are very religious, their daughters are virgins when they get married, usually very young. The boys know very well that the only way to get into bed with their favorite girl, is to put a wedding ring on her finger.
But something here doesn't add up, surely scams involving elderly people alone didn't produce wealth such as this, there has to be something else we don't know about. Whatever it is, it's working very well.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Placing a dirt-covered shovel on whistle-blower Kathy Jackson’s front door at 3.30 am in the morning gives us an insight into union mentality - it means ‘We are going to bury you”. But Kathy Jackson is talking tough and has vowed to take on the “scumbags” who left it there.
If a female union boss is being offered police protection from her own union, it says a lot about that union. They are obviously unhappy with her decision to refer allegations that Craig Thomson spent $150,000 plus of union funds on prostitutes and other personal items to police.
But she has refused police protection and said she won’t lock herself away. “If they think this is going to stop us, then they have picked the wrong girl.”
Friday, August 26, 2011
The Craig Thomson scandal continues to torture the Labor party and now the union he once represented is tearing itself apart. The last thing National President of the Health Workers Union, Michael Williamson wanted was to refer this sordid matter to Police but when he was away in Newcastle last Wednesday, National Secretary Kathy Jackson got together with a few other rebels and successfully pushed the motion through. Mr Williamson, a former ALP President, had no plan to get the police involved and intended to reiterate what Labor spokespeople have been saying all week - that the matter is before Fair Work Australia, and leave it at that.
I wouldn’t like to be in Ms Jackson’s shoes right now, and hope she is up to the job of coping with Mr Williamson’s wrath. He is a major figure in the dominant NSW right faction of the Labor Party and rumour has it that crucial ALP members thought he had the Thomson matter “in hand”. On the other hand Ms Jackson is a junior figure who is now viewed by the heavyweights of her party, as a person who gave ammunition to the Opposition. Yesterday she was still standing and said “I am responsible and have a fiduciary duty to each and every member of this union in ensuring that their funds are used correctly.”
It sounds so simple, it’s obviously the right thing to do, yet the Gillard government is hell bent on trying to cover it up. Their only logical way out of this mess is to bite the bullet and throw him to the wolves. If they don’t, with every day that passes, the Labor Party and the union movement’s reputation only gets worse. Hang in there Kathy Jackson and hold your nerve, don’t let Mr Williamson bully you, the workers you represent need you now, like never before.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
From now on Australia won’t be exporting any more steel, the high Aussie dollar, high iron ore and coking coal costs, low steel prices and more efficient Asian steel mills have virtually put us out of business. From now on, all steel produced in Australia will be for local use only, which includes the well-known Colorbond fencing and roofing.
BlueScope Steel will close its No 6 blast furnace at Port Kembla and the Western Port hot strip mill at Hastings east of Melbourne which will mean the loss of around 800 jobs in NSW and 200 in Victoria. Raw material prices have impacted heavily and BlueScope who have experienced a difficult year and a $1 billion loss. This puts an end to Australian steel exports and industry leaders are saying that we now have a major crisis in manufacturing.
The people of Wollongong, the home of BHP, have been suffering the decline of the manufacturing industry for years. Like Newcastle, the Illawarra has been dying a slow, painful death and its future looks grim. BlueScope exports about half of the five million tonnes of steel a year it produces at its two Port Kembla blast furnaces - No 5 and No 6. The other four furnaces were retired as newer models were built.
Australian companies have had to sack 7000 people since June, many of them in the manufacturing sector but Trade Minister Craig Emerson refused to say if the government was working on policies to support manufacturers.
When Union leaders start criticizing the Labor government, you know we’re in trouble. Dave Oliver from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union said "We need government intervention to guarantee that we've got a viable manufacturing industry in this country". Union leader Paul Howes was critical of Treasury for allowing it to happen and said “I don’t accept that Australia can’t have a viable manufacturing industry, even with a high dollar.”
I wonder if John Howard should have seen this coming and somehow headed it off, it doesn't just suddenly happen out of the blue. It looks like both governments have fallen down badly on this one. The Germans, the Swiss and a few other clever countries haven't sat back and watched their manufacturing industry go down the drain, they were clever enough to develop things that people want and need. Looks like we haven't been that clever.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
MP Craig Thomson is still denying everything. His claim that another union official repaid $15,000 for prostitute services is now in serious doubt because a former senior Health Services Union official has come forward and says the only person who paid back $15,000 to the union in recent years was former Victorian state secretary Jeff Jackson, and it had nothing to do with prostitutes.
Thomson told 2UE : "The union reached a settlement with another gentleman who paid back $15,000 in relation to the use of credit cards at an escort agency. I don't know whether he forged my signature or who did."
Now the opposition want the police to get involved, saying that if Thomson’s claims are true - that someone else used his credit card - then a crime has been committed by someone else.
This sordid affair is not going away and the Honourable Member of Parliament Craig Thomson could possibly go into the history books as the man who brought down the minority Labor government.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
They say we get the government we deserve but should we tolerate a Member of Parliament authorizing credit card payments for prostitutes? Incredible as it may sound, it actually happened in 2005 when Labor backbencher Craig Thomson was secretary of the Health Services Union. He’s admitted he authorized the payments but denies it was him who visited the escort agency. He insists his signature had been forged on credit card receipts and that another man (who he refused to name) had repaid $15,000 to the union.
If that isn’t bad enough Mr Thomson decided to sue Fairfax newspapers for defamation after they published these shocking allegations against him but he needed $90,000 to save him from bankruptcy. As a bankrupt, he would automatically lose his central NSW seat of Dobell and if that happened, the Gillard government would fall. So the Labor Party paid the debt for him.
But his troubles don't end there, he’s also been accused of using the union credit card to bankroll his election campaign to the tune of $100,000. And finally, last weekend he was accused of being a bully and reducing a female charity worker to tears at a rally on the central coast. Tony Abbott surely got it right when he said “This has got trouble written all over it.”
But the Opposition Leader refused to agree that Thomson should be sacked when asked if he would sack a Liberal MP facing similar allegations. Asked why the issue was even being tolerated, Mr Abbott said it was a question for the Prime Minister who has said on two occasions that he has her full confidence. It seems that even this disgraceful behaviour will be tolerated simply because she needs him to survive.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Airline unions are getting ready to fight Qantas after they announced that they will have to sack 1,000 employees because they intend to launch a new airline based in Asia and a new budget airline in Japan.
It’s the same old story, more and more jobs going off shore where labour is cheap, just like Telstra. How can Qantas possibly keep it’s Australian theme if the pilots and cabin crew aren’t Australian? You won’t hear that familiar Aussie accent anymore and that ‘Spirit of Australia’ will be gone forever.
The Pilots Association says somewhere between 100 and 200 pilots will be sacked and safety excellence will be “flushed down the toilet”. Management and admin jobs will also be cut and the aircraft engineers union is seriously thinking of taking Qantas to the Federal court. This interference of an airline that we consider our very own is a terrible shock and airline unions are so upset they have accused Qantas of “betraying” the nation.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Friday, August 5, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
There was a heated row at Leichhardt Town Hall last night. Dart Energy own the exploration licence to drill for coal seam gas in Sydney and their Chief Executive Officer, Robbert de Weijer, faced the angry crowd and said he believed coal seam gas mining could co-exist with communities. He must be insane to think we are that stupid. He kept saying that the company would not use fracking “unless it is deemed acceptable and approved by the authorities and there has been adequate community dialogue”.
Hey Mr CEO, we already know all about fracking, we've seen it on the television, we know about the nasty chemicals you use, how it poisons underground water and how it poisons the land. You would have to be mentally deficient to want a bar of this – where’s Greenpeace when you need them?
There were calls of “bullshit” as his words fell on deaf ears. Moira Williams from Sydney Residents against Coal Seam Gas told him the community held him personally responsible for the decision to mine in Sydney. “How long do we have to shout ‘no’ to make sure you listen?” Ms Williams said to roars of approval.
The idea is an abomination and it’s shonky. The water needs extensive treatment before it can be released back into the environment but there are no formal requirements in place in NSW to ensure this will happen. And I can’t believe I’m siding with a Green - Jeremy Buckingham has introduced a bill that puts it on hold for 12 months while the whole thing is investigated properly.
To be fair, Ross Dunn of the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association, said there was a lot of misinformation about the chemicals used in coal seam gas mining. "These are chemicals that are found in food, in cosmetics, in your swimming pool, in your laundry cupboard," he said. Pull the other one.
In America, one of Chesapeake’s wells blew out and thousands of gallons of salt water, mixed with quantities of chemicals spilled out into a stream near Canton, Pennsylvania. The suspected cause of the incident was a cracked well casing. Seven families were evacuated and a farmer was urged to prevent his cows from drinking the water in the creek. Oh yes, fracking is safe alright.
Some people are natural born heroes but don't realize it until something terrible happens. They call it 'fight or flight'. Most of us don't know how we would react if our lives are threatened and hope we never get to find out. On 22nd July when the madman in Norway went on a shooting spree, some brave people stepped forward.
Marcel Gleffe, a 32 year old German roofer was camping with his parents directly across from Utoya Island when he heard shooting and people shouting for help. He jumped in his boat and risked his life several times by returning to the scene of the massacre and picked up terrified teenagers from the water and took them back to the safety of the mainland.
There were other heroes there on that terrible day, including two married lesbian women, Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen. They were eating at their campsite when they heard the shooting and people screaming. But instead of running away and hiding, they immediately jumped in their boat and rushed to the scene, pulling people on board, all the while under fire from the gunman, whose bullets shot through their vessel. After four trips, they saved forty people.
There were others with boats who helped out but didn’t get any recognition at all but they have the satisfaction of knowing who they are and that what they did on that terrible day was courageous and wonderful. Bravehearts every one.
Monday, August 1, 2011
When Ameneh Bahrami rejected Majid Movahedi's marriage proposal, he threw a jar of acid in her face. Blinded and horribly disfigured, she sought retribution for seven years and finally the eye for an eye pay-back date arrived. The court had ruled in her favour - that she could have a doctor pour a few drops of acid into one of Movahedi's eyes based on the Islamic law of "gisas" or eye-for-an-eye retribution. Although he had blinded her in both eyes, she was only entitled to blind him in one.
In a hospital operating room her attacker waited but as a doctor was about to put several drops of acid into one of his eyes, she called it off and forgave him. The whole dramatic scene was broadcast on Iran’s state television.
Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi said Movahedi would remain in jail until a court decides on an alternative punishment and said Bahrami has sought financial compensation from her attacker for the cost of treating her injuries.
Bahrami said that international attention to her case was also a factor in her decision to pardon him. She said "It seemed like the entire world was waiting to see what would happen". Amnesty International had urged Bahrami to pardon him but are appalled that a member of the medical profession would deliberately blind another in the name of the law.
Bahrami, who has an electronics degree and worked in a medical engineering company before the attack, moved to Spain with the help of the Iranian government where she has undergone a series of unsuccessful operations. She has recently published a book in Germany Eye for an Eye, based on her personal life and her suffering since she was blinded.
There have been several other acid attacks of women in Iran. Last week, a young woman died when a man poured acid on her face after she rejected his marriage proposal. As yet, her attacker has still not been found.