Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Disorder over the Border.

There's a battle going on over the Queensland border at the moment, at issue are things like right to free association, right to due process, right to fair trail and all sorts of other things. Premier Campbell Newman and his chief attack puppy Attorney-General, Jarrod Bleijie, have decided to declare war on "the bikies". "Bikies", "One Percenters", "Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs" (it's only police and politicians that call them "gangs") are a good high profile target because they're big, and scary and tattooed and ride loud motorcycles. Allegedly. Now, just for the record here, I'm not denying that some members get involved in nefarious activities and really are scary but despite all the millions of dollars spent around the world I've yet to see any proof the main purpose, or even minor purpose, of these clubs is as a conduit for organised crime (and personally, having ridden bikes for well over 30 years "organised" is not a description I'd apply to many motorcyclists). There has been quite a few successful cases against individual members but not against the clubs as an entity (either they're criminal masterminds smarter than the Mafia and Triads or they really aren't that organised). But despite that the Newman Government rushed through a number of bills ostensibly to ban the bikie menace, now without going too much into it (as I've only glanced through the legislation and there are others better qualified at law than I am currently sifting through it), is that "bikies" and their "associates" pretty much lose their right to free association, will find it much harder to get bail, if found guilty of an offence (including ones which don't apply to non "bikies"), will be thrown into virtual solitary confinement in a dedicated "bikie" gaol and be forced to serve extra time just because they are a "bikie" or an "associate". The "associate" thing is a very broad and catch all concept which means that if you have attended more than one "bikie" organised event (as I have, I've been to bike shows and concerts) you can then be classified as an "associate". Wonderful huh? I'm now apparently an enemy of the state of Queensland. Middle aged bloke, paying off a house, one cat, one car, a few bikes, member of his local fire brigade, one court appearance for a traffic matter 30 years ago (thrown out due to lack of evidence from the police - I fell off the bike in the wet on a notoriously diesel slicked corner and went to hospital to get checked out, that was it, big crim). Now, having rushed through this essential legislation, lets see what the current Attorney-General said in 2009. Queensland - Parliamentary Debates – Wednesday, 25 November 2009 Comments from the current Attorney-General, Mr Jarrod Bleijie, on the proposed Criminal Association Bill proposed by the Labor Government. In light of his draconian anti-bikie laws passed early today, 16 October 2013, these quotes make hilarious reading and display this hypocritical man in his true light – keen on misleading the public and back-flipping on fundamental values at a whim and squeeze of his balls. "70 per cent of LNP members are on the list to speak." – AGAINST anti-bikie laws (Page 3619) "The fact that there have been so many arrests indicates that existing laws are sufficient without the need to enact laws aimed directly at bikie gangs. We do not need to enact laws aimed directly at bikie gangs or other groups, but we do need to give more resources, more funding and more support to our police officers." (Page 3621) "While I agree that people need to be protected from organised crime, there must also be the protection of personal liberties such as the freedom of association. The Premier and the Minister for Police, Corrective Services and Emergency Services have stated that people who do the right thing have nothing to fear. I will repeat that: people who do the right thing have nothing to fear. I say to the people of Queensland that, with this government, they do have something to fear. This bill encroaches on their personal freedoms and liberties. A government that tries to remove these freedoms and liberties is a government that is to be feared." (Page 3621) "This bill is an attack on the right of freedom of association. While it is currently intended for motorcycle gangs, once again this bill does not mention the term ‘bikie’ or ‘motorcycle gangs’, and this piece of legislation could be used against any group that may fall into disfavour regardless of the purpose of their gathering." (Page 3621) "Another essential freedom and one that goes to the heart of our legal system is the right to a fair trial. Every person in Queensland, regardless of whether they are part of organised crime, has the right to a fair trial. In effect, this bill removes that right. It removes the rule of evidence. It lowers the standard of the burden of proof that is ordinarily required in criminal proceedings from being beyond reasonable doubt to the standard that is required in civil proceedings. It allows for the employment of people in certain occupations to be refused merely on the reliance of criminal intelligence without them even having a conviction of a criminal offence. This bill denies the rules of natural justice. It introduces anti-association laws." (Page 3621) "We are talking about tampering with people’s rights to associate. That could be broadly interpreted. How can we place control orders on someone who may be innocently associating with others who may be conspiring in a criminal activity and they have no idea, but we are going to punish them?" (Page 3622) "Here we have the Labor government trying to enact a bill that will erode the right of freedom of association that could result in the prosecution of people based on race, ethnicity or membership of a social group and that seeks to be a one-size-fits-all, knee-jerk response. That is not the answer to the complex problem of organised crime." (Page 3622) "The issue here should not be about the associations of individuals, it should be about the crimes committed. If I look at all those people I have just mentioned and look across the table here, one could potentially argue that the Queensland Labor Party is a serious criminal organisation because five of its members are in jail, have served jail or are currently before the CMC and there are certainly those on that side of the House who have associated with them." (Page 3623) "I challenge the members opposite to not simply toe the party line but to come on this side and support the right to freedom of association in this state." (Page 3623) Either he was wrong then or he's wrong now. And just in case you don't think it can affect you the list of "criminal" organisations is contained in the regulations rather than the legislation which means they are declared by the Minister rather than by an act of parliament. How long before "The Wildeness Society" or the "Lock the Gate Alliance" or the "Cunnamulla Country Womens Association" get declared. Can't happen? Wouldn't bet on it.

Friday, January 11, 2013

It's started again!

What's started again?

The blame game of course, where "Greenies" get blamed for fires, floods, pestilence, etc etc all without offering any evidence it being enough just to yell out "Greenie".

Now, I've been involved with the rural Fire Service/Bush Fire Brigades for around 25 years altogether (and did an overnighter just 2 nights ago dealing with a hay fire)and have been employed in the Natural Resources/Environment field for the past 18, I have been to conferences put on by environmental groups discussing fire and have spent a shitload of my time chasing fires lit by some numbnuts that thought they were doing a hazard reduction.

I have yet to see any environmental group oppose the need for hazard reduction burning (and it is hazard reduction not fucking "backburning", two completely different concepts), yeah, sure there's individuals that reckon all burning is bad but we have a name for them "nutters", if anything at these conferences many of the "greenies" at these conferences seemed too keen to burn.

This is what the NCC has to say about fires:

The Australian landscape has evolved under a natural and cultural regime of fire. Bushfire continues to be a natural disturbance which is critical for the survival of many of our plants and animals. It is when bushfire interacts with society that disasters can result. From a human perspective, bushfire is one of Australia's most frequent and devastating natural hazards.

The Bushfire Program arose to "ensure that all Bushfire Management activity is ecologically sustainable while protecting life and property". The program has been actively involved in fire management, bushfire education and advocacy for sustainable land policy since 1979.

Yeah, real anti fire conspiracy.

So what is the cause of these big fires? It's quite simple, extreme fire events are associated with extreme temperature events, always have been, always will be. Yeah, sure people make mistakes and there are ways we can reduce the hazard and impact but on a 40 degree day with humidity in the single figures, a hot westerly and bugger all rain for the past couple of months unless you've done a hazard reduction burn in the past couple of weeks any fire will be difficult to put out.

Hazard reductions are called that for a reason, they reduce the hazard but they don't eliminate it once you get to extreme conditions any reduction is going to be minor.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Go on, Do it!

Federal Families Minister Jenny Macklin says she could live on the dole or about $35 a day. Yeah, right, it is possible but I think a few weeks of noodles would change Macklin's attitude. I've been on the dole a few times and it is an utterly soul destroying existence. Last time I was on it (2006) I got $520 a fortnight complete with rental assistance, $320 would go on rent, gas, electricity, phone, internet another $80 or so, vehicle rego, servicing, fuel etc another $60, leaving about $60 for food for the fortnight. I was getting three days a week casual work in, which after losing dole payments for earning money gave me, maybe, another $40 a week. If it weren't for the vegie garden things would have been dire. The first couple of weeks back at work I could barely afford the fuel to get there and it was jam sandwiches for lunch. So, I can honestly say "Fuck you, Macklin".

Saturday, December 8, 2012

From the rumor mill.

The rumour mill tells me the Federal Government is not happy with the way the Local Land Services process is going, ministerial correspondence being sent and all, particularly with the make up of of the reference panel. Given that a lot of money to run the CMAs and undertake natural resources projects has come from the Federal Government (this arrangement was set up back when the Coalition was in power Federally and Labor in NSW) I would think they would be quite concerned at how their funds are spent. I expect ot hear a lot more fom the feds before this is over.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

But wait, there's more.....

Remember yesterdays post? Here's a little more on the same subject.....

The man charged with consulting stakeholders about the new Local Land Services model says he knows nothing about a draft organisational structure that has already been circulated to DPI and CMA staff.

Mick Keogh has been commissioned by the State Government to assess what changes stakeholders would like to see when their local CMA, DPI and LHPA amalgamate to become Local Land Services.
"Commissioned"? How can he be commissioned and on the reference panel? Surely there's a conflict of interest here? I wonder if Katrina Hodgkinson's comments still apply, after all this is what she said about funds going to CMA staff and board members.

''This is a questionable outcome,'' she said. ''The appropriate management of public funding is a public interest priority and an absolute for good government.''
And the consultation doesn't seem to be going all that well.

Less than 20 farmers have turned out in Tamworth to discuss the amalgamation of a number of organisations into the state government's new Local Land Services (LLS) organisation......  
Liverpool Plains farmer, Hugh Price, says, despite claims to the contrary, the meetings weren't adequately advertised. "I received an electronic invitation from the Namoi CMA, and I was quite pleased to receive it, because I thought somebody was recognising that I could have a contribution to make," he said. "But it would appear, from what we've been told, the publication of the meeting wasn't well advertised and, sadly, it's not been well attended and I think that's something the organisers need to review." Mr Price says he was also disappointed in with the content of the workshops and what he claims was a lack of information offered on the future structure of Local Land Services. "I think the facilitator himself used the term 'to put the flesh on the bones'," he said. "Well, we haven't actually been told about the bones, but the skeleton's already been designed
My little whiskers tell me there'll be much much more to come out of this before it's over.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Leak this!

It's quite interesting, the more you look the more you find. Remember a couple of days ago (surely you can remember that far back) when I posted about the leaking of an internal investigation into CMA funding that looked suspiciously like an attempt to smear CMAs and their staff? Well, I saw today that Mick Keogh of the Australian Farm Institute has been engaged to undertake some public consultation:
Mick Keogh, Director Australian Farm Institute, has undertaken independent targeted consultation during November in Armidale, Tamworth, Griffith and Wagga Wagga, and with LHPA State Council and Policy Council, NSW Farmers Western Division (including Council and CMA) and CMA Chairs.

Now, is this part of his official duties as a member of the reference panel or has it been contracted and if so what was the process? So I dug a little further, finding the immediate past chair of the AFI is none other than the current chair of the Natural Resources Commission, Dr John Keniry (something absent from his profile on the NRC website, though mentioned in the annual report) and with a fair whack of the AFI's income (p21 annual report) coming from corporate membership (NSW Farmers, MLA, Westpac Agribusiness, Pfizer, Landmark, Commonwealth Bank, Monsanto etc) it could hardly be described as independent nor representative of most of the landholders CMA, DPI and LHPA staff deal with.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

More on the Local Land Services plans

Last week the State Government released a draft map showing proposed boundaries of the new LLS areas, one look shows that it's based on Local Government Areas rather than catchment boundaries which both State and Federal Governments have been using for years and which people actually have got a good idea of. The curious among you may wonder how the proposed boundaries line up with the current ones, well wonder no more, over the past couple of days this little map has been bouncing around the state (and luckily for us found it's way into my inbox).

Blue lines current CMA boundaries, orange lines current LHPA boundaries.

In short it doesn't fit either the current Catchment Management Authority or Livestock Health and Pest Authority boundaries at all, what it will mean is that the new Catchment Action Plans, the drafts of which have just been released will, in many areas, be either completely useless or need drastic overhauls. From where I sit the whole thing looks like a shambles, and you should hear what they have planned for the staff....