Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bushfoods magazine relaunched

An old favourite for bushfoodies - Bushfoods magazine - has been relaunched online.
Catch it here.

Finding news close to home

Maleny's small local paper, the Range News, has been bought by a multinational. There goes local news.
We've compensated by starting an online local paper -
find it here

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Down Boy!

July 8 2006
You’d think Howard would get a ‘fixer’ with a bit of nouse…
What can you say about thump-em Bill Heffernan and his latest ham-fisted attempts at Rovian politics?
It’s been alleged this week that Heffernan was behind the dirty tricks campaign that not only led to the political downfall of NSW Opposition leader John Brogden but, in all likelihood, pushed the man to the point of attempted suicide.
The allegations come from a pretty good source - Denise McTaggart, wife of Alex McTaggart, the independent candidate who went on to win Brogden’s vacant seat.
According to Denise, Heffernan turned up at one of their campaign events in Sydney's northern beaches and struck up a conversation with her.
'I am John Howard's right hand man', he said 'I do John Howard's dirty work'.
She claims he then went on to make some allegations about Mr Brogden that were ‘so horrific I wouldn't like to repeat it."
Of course, Heffernan has denied all of this, utilizing a good all-purpose Aussie expletive to describe the allegations – “That's bullshit."
But the problem is, he didn’t restrict his glad-handing to Mrs McTaggart that day. He also spoke to Peter Jones, an accountant who worked for the McTaggart campaign team.
"Bill talked to me about having a file on the previous Liberal member. He also talked about the fact that Alex could just bide his time, and after a decent period of time could actually join the Liberal Party and he'd be guaranteed a seat for as long as he wanted."
Not too subtle, Bill-boy.
But then, subtlety’s never been his favourite suit.
Back in 2002, huffing Heff did his level best to ruin the career – and the life - of Justice Michael Kirby.
In an extraordinary speech in the Senate, Howard’s enforcer stated that a High Court judge had used a government car to pick up male prostitutes.
He also alleged that the judge "regularly trawled for rough trade" at this pick-up spot. And he had Comcar documents to prove it.
Now, by the curious rules of our Parliament, had Heffernan named the member of the judiciary he was smearing, he would have to sit down. So he made the disclosure the last five words of his speech: "The Honourable Justice Michael Kirby."
In the immediate aftermath of his speech, Howard backed his boy – even tabling a letter in Parliament that Heffernan had sent to NSW Police asking for an investigation.
The Prime Minister went on to make the strange suggestion that "proved misbehaviour," not just criminal behaviour, would be enough to remove a High Court judge.
Kirby was looking done like a dinner, but there was a small problem – the Comcar driver record was a fake.
Heff had to do the full, humiliating public apology and lost his place as Parliamentary secretary.
But not as Howard’s ‘go-get’ boy it seems.

And there’s a poignant post-script to this whole sordid affair. Fast-back to March 2002. John Brogden talking to Tony Jones on ABC TV about the Kirby debacle:

TONY JONES: Okay. Should Bill Heffernan get out of politics?

JOHN BROGDEN: No. Look, I think Bill's paid a pretty hefty price for his actions and I think he will continue to serve in the Parliament up until his next election,. And, as I say, I think he's paid a really heavy price.

TONY JONES: He doesn't only serve in the Senate. He serves in the Senate on behalf of NSW.


TONY JONES: Are you happy with that?

JOHN BROGDEN: Well, that's the decision of the Liberal Party. I've known Bill for a long time and I know how passionately he felt about these issues. He tragically miscalculated in terms of the decision that he made, and I don't think anybody watching could imagine a more sincere and humble apology than the one that Bill Heffernan gave to Michael Kirby…Look, everyone's entitled to have view and have a role in the party, and Bill will probably continue to do that.
He sure did.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Let us Count the Ways

Costello orders an independent review of the tax system – and then has his own Treasury officials draft it – even going so far as omitting sections written by the two people commissioned to 'write' the report.
The Government promises 'full and transparent' investigation of the AWB scandal – and then hobbles the man appointed to find the truth ('Cole won't be given further powers to investigate Government ministers.')
Helen Coonan orders an independent audit of the ABC by KPMG and then refuses to release the report.
The government undertakes an internal review of the impacts of the new IR legislation – and then refuses to release it.
Australia leaves one of its own citizens to rot in Guantanamo Bay, facing the prospect of a kangaroo court by the US military. When questioned on this, honest John responds
"Well, those allegations in America have been investigated, and a two month investigation has concluded that they're without foundation. The Government is satisfied on what we have been told by the American authorities, that the military commission process will be fair."

In 2004 a Senate Enquiry into poverty released a report with 95 recommendations - the government rejected every one of them.
In 2002 and 2003, three senate motions called for a full independent enquiry into the sinking of the SIEVX. The government is still ignoring it.
In 2004 it became obvious that Australia knew about abuses in Abu Ghraib prison - Australian military lawyer, Major George O'Kane, had not only visited the prison on five separate occasions, but was involved in providing legal advice on the prison's interrogation program. This key witness was barred by the government from giving evidence to the Senate.
When the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission issued report after report decrying the conditions in our detention centres, the Government brushed this criticism aside, implying the reports were 'emotional'or perhaps based on some political agenda. It then set about curtailing the powers of HREOC, just to be sure it didn't happen again.
Two senate enquiries have concluded the live export trade has few economic advantages – both have been ignored by the government.
Now the Government wants to close electoral rolls at 8pm on the day election writs are issued, ending the practice of giving people seven days to lodge details. They also want new rules banning prisoners from voting.
The changes they'll push through go against recommendations from a report they commissioned.
Jeebus love us, we'll be using Diebold machines to vote next.

Howard's Secret Weapon (2004)

Funny what you find when you're looking for something else.
One of Howard's supporters in the 2004 election was none other than international celebrity Gabrielle Reilly.
The Gabrielle Reilly.
You don't know her? I'm shocked. Go to her website and you'll find she's a self confessed 'swimsuit model, political commentator and international celebrity.' And she was born in that hot bed of wannabe celebrities, Alice Springs - though she long ago moved to the celebrity capital of the US - Kansas.
During the 204 election, Gabrielle launched an eye-catching ad campaign online in which she deftly delivered the message "Re-elect John Howard" while sporting a fetching Hawaiian-print bikini. And lambasting Latham. Of course. Funny that Howard didn't snap up the chance for a few photo ops with Gabrielle - maybe something to do with her habit of wearing very little.
But there's more - back in 1997, Richard Lim,, nominated Gabrielle for Young Australian of the Year. Go to her web site and you'll find she modestly admits as much - but the punch line lies in caption - 'Dr Richard Lim, NT Country Libersl Party (Australia's Republican Party)'
So now we know.
Bizarre. Is it Alice Springs' loss and Kansas' gain or...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Are we surprised? Sudden Compassion from DIMIA

From ABC News online:

African athletes granted bridging visas

You silly, silly boat people - instead of fleeing persecution and famine with the clothes you stood up in, you should have donned your Nikes, grabbed a cricket bat (or soccer ball, or anything vaguely sporty) and come to Australia as athletes. Would have saved you years in Woomera.
What can I say? That I'm disgusted? (nothing DIMIA does can disgust me anymore).
That I'm angry? (not really - these people may actually have a case).
That I'm not surprised?(got it in one).
I just hope somebody - anybody - sees the total irony in this litte episode.
Australia deported an Iranian and a Columbian back to their death. Australia drove one detaineee to suicide in detention. Australia, with smirking Ruddock righteousness, has ground the lives of young children into the dust. But oh - if you're an athlete...
Photo op for Honest John.
But what about our relationship with Sierra Leone? Oops - not a big trading partner. Don't worry about it.

"The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs has granted bridging visas to six Sierra Leonean athletes found this morning in Sydney's north.
The bridging visas will allow the athletes time to apply for long term visas.
Another eight Sierra Leoneans are still listed as missing and are in breach of their special purposes visas after their athlete accreditations, provided for the Commonwealth Games, were withdrawn yesterday.
Team officials asked yesterday for their accreditation to be withdrawn.
Police are also searching for nine Cameroon athletes, a Tanzanian boxer and a Bangladeshi runner."

Damn, they're all heart.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Why do we keep courting these people?

Time and again, our pollies (with the exception of Bob Brown) tell us how close our relationship with Indonesia is and how important it is that we suck up to them at every possible opporunity. Jeebus - it must be the money...

'Human rights watchdogs in Papua are investigating reports that up to 16 students have been murdered by Indonesian security forces.
The reports come amid rising tensions between Indonesia and Australia, after Canberra granted protection visas to 42 Papuan asylum seekers who claim genocide by Indonesian security forces.
Australian Democrats Senator Natasha Stott Despoja said yesterday she had information from activists that 16 bodies had been found in forests near the scene of recent student riots in which four police and an Indonesian air force officer were stoned to death by protesters. Indonesia has bolstered paramilitary police numbers in the separatist-minded province since the riots against a US-owned gold mine, raising fears of more bloodshed as security forces launch reprisals.'

Meanwhile, Indonesia's Djoko Susilo is having a hissy fit and threatening tit for tat in a particularly disgusting fashion:

'Djoko Susilo, a member of Indonesia's influential Foreign Affairs
Commission, blasted the Australian Government's decision and ruled out any
prisoner exchange program for now. "We will stop the governments [of Indonesia and Australia] trying to swap the prisoners," the nationalist MP said.
"We are trying not to hurt the Australian people, but this is the lowest level
[between] Indonesia and Australia and we want more action taken by our
Government against yours. "The prisoners will stay in Indonesia - they won't
do their prison time in Australia now." he said'

Why don't we just find trading partners that aren't blood thirsty, hypocritical, murderous thugs and tell Indonesia to take a flying leap? Surely we can do better than this. If I remember rightly, we went to war to oust a 'murderous regime'...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Keep the Mafia, Deport the Sick

From the 7.340 report, Broadcast: 21/03/2006

Wait a minute, the government can deport a permanent resident at the blink of an eye but ---
An Italian police operation to disrupt mafia drug smuggling to countries, including Australia, has been frustrated by a decision here not to extradite four Australians who are allegedly members of the mafia. The Italians are seeking the extraditions of the four who are allegedly prominent local members of organised crime. Arrest warrants for the four men were issued in Italy two years ago but so far, the Australian Government has made no move to extradite them because it says there's insufficient evidence. Italian investigators disagree. And according to some Australian crime experts, law enforcement agencies here have become so pre-occupied with the threat of terrorism that they've taken their eye off organised crime.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bang! You're - uh - sort of dead...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006
New shoot to kill powers
Citizen Journalist Dale Mills specialises in police powers, especially in NSW but also, as in this piece, in the Commonwealth. His last piece for Webdiary was Australian police to use tasers. There doesn't seem any real time to make a public fuss about it, but I think the mainstream media has failed us in not informing us at all about the Defence Legislation Amendment (Aid to Civilian Authorities) Bill 2005, with its very serious implications. Thanks Dale, and please keep up the good work.
by Dale Mills
Receiving almost no corporate media coverage, a Senate committee recommended on January 31 the passage of a bill that will make it easier for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to police and shoot civilians. The powers go well beyond dealing with a terrorist threat and in important respects put the military above state criminal laws.
Some powers were given to the ADF to intervene in public order management in the lead-up to the 2000 Sydney Olympics, however, the new Defence Legislation Amendment (Aid to Civilian Authorities) Bill 2005 proposes:
a.. to make it easier for the ADF to be called out where there is a threat to any “designated infrastructure”;
b.. expanded “shoot-to-kill” powers such that civilians could be shot for the protection of property from “damage or disruption”;
c.. a “following orders” defence for soldiers who shoot civilians;
d.. to give the prime minister alone the power to authorise troop call-outs where a “sudden and extraordinary emergency exists”;
e.. that individual soldiers be given the power to police civilians, including requiring people to answer questions or produce documents;
f.. no need to notify the public that troops have been called out; and
g.. that soldiers may operate without the need to wear a name tag.
Under the proposed legislation, the federal government may use the ADF to protect “Commonwealth interests” even if the state or territory concerned opposes it. The new powers operate where there is “domestic violence”, as vague as that phrase is.
Furthermore, the ADF may:
a.. shoot fleeing civilians evading detention (something not available to the ordinary police);
b.. detain people without arresting them; and
c.. search premises, people and vehicles without warrants (thus avoiding judicial scrutiny).
A particular concern is that the proposed laws do not require the public release of army manuals in relation to ADF rules of engagement with civilians. One submission to the parliamentary committee reviewing the laws pointed out that Greens Senator Bob Brown had previously read out extracts from the 1983 Australian Army Manual of Land Warfare, leaked to the press in 1993, with particular reference to section 543.
This section instructs military personnel to adopt courses of conduct that seem designed to cover up the killing or wounding of “dissidents”. It states, in part: “Dead and wounded dissidents, if identifiable, must be removed immediately by the police ... When being reported, dissident and own casualties are categorised merely as dead or wounded. To inhibit propaganda exploitation by the dissidents the cause of the casualties (for example, 'shot’) is not reported. A follow-up operation should be carried out to maintain the momentum of the dispersing crowd.”
The Bill is expected to become law in late February.
The bill can be found at the Parliament of Australia website.