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november 17 2006



2006-10-04 1:01 AM +0800
October 04, 2006: Prime Minister John Howard has fired a tirade attack on Australia’s lefties, questioning their loyalty to the nation. Howard named Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II as the “three towering figures” of the late 20th century.He said their moral clarity “punctured the nonsense” of left-wing apologists. Howard attacked Australia’s “intelligensia”, which he says has a past of denigrating the nation and the West and is now doing the same with the war in Iraq.

Mr Howard gave a foaming speech last night in praise of the 50th anniversary of ultra-conservative right-wing magazine – Quadrant of which writer Paddy McGuinness is the editor. Quadrant was set up with funding from the CIA…

Mr Howard blamed the left for “the incomprehensible sludge” in school curriculums and “the black armband view of Australian history” – his offensive term for those who pushed for white Australia to apologise to Aborigines over past wrongs. He said the left had a history of denigrating the nation and was now doing the same with the war in Iraq.

He said Australian universities were still breeding leftists and described pro-communists of decades past as “opposed to Australia and its interests”.

Mr Howard praised Quadrant – a journal “dedicated to opposing political correctness”, for countering “stultifying orthodoxies and dangerous utopias that have, at times, gripped the Western intelligentsia”.

He linked the great historical battle of ideas between communism and capitalist democracies to the modern-day struggle with Islamist terrorism, arguing that both clashes demanded “clear and unambiguous statements of belief and purpose”.

Seeing a sinister threat in the left activism of the 1950s in Australia, Mr Howard said it was anything but an innocent ideological gambol.

He said publications such as Quadrant, which was set up with funding from the CIA, countered such views in “a noble and moral cause”.

By contrast, Ronald Reagan branded the Soviet Union “the evil empire”, the sort of talk “that sends diplomats the world over into panicked meltdown”.

Margaret Thatcher “as well as anyone grasped and articulated the essential connection of personal, political and economic freedom”. And the late pope “inspired millions” behind the Iron Curtain to dream.

Rejecting charges that the West was anti-Muslim, he said it was not the Arab League that went to war in the 1990s on behalf of Muslim minorities in the Balkans, and the person who probably killed more Muslims in history was Saddam Hussein.

An unapologetic and defiant Mr Howard praised his Government’s successes over the “posses of the politically correct”.

Quadrant, a magazine of small circulation and a conservative ranter rag, had been “Australia’s home to all that is worth preserving in the Western cultural tradition”, said the PM.

“Of the causes that Quadrant has taken up that are close to my heart, none is more important to me than the role it has played as counterforce to the black armband view of Australian history,” Mr Howard said.

About 230 conservative intellectuals, judges, politicians, businessmen, churchmen and commentators arrived to pay homage at Sydney’s Four Seasons hotel in The Rocks.

He sat at a power table that included his wife Janette, Catholic Archbishop George Pell, NSW Chief Justice Jim Spiegelman, revisionist historian and ABC board member Keith Windschuttle and former Liberal MP and Quadrant’s longest-serving editor Peter Coleman.

Health Minister Tony Abbott was an enthusiastic wellwisher. Mr Howard’s chief speech writer, John Kunkel.

So did senior staffer Brian Loughnane. Former head of the Australian Broadcasting Authority and arch-monarchist David Flint soaked up the atmosphere along with fellow traveller Kerry Jones.

So did High Court judge Ian Callinan, former Howard minister Jim Carlton, former Treasury chief and Nationals MP John Stone, academic John Paul and former ABC board member Maurice Newman. Think-tank chief John Roskam, who heads the Institute of Public Affairs, was in good spirits, as was Greg Lindsay, executive director of the Centre for Independent Studies. Attendees from the Labor camp included former NSW Supreme Court judge Jeff Shaw, former NSW Labor Council secretary Michael Easson and former Keating minister Gary Johns.

There was an impressive line-up of media commentators, including Piers Akerman, Christopher Pearson, Frank Devine, Miranda Devine and Sam Lipski.

[Quadrant Magazine was the brainchild of Richard Krygier, the founding secretary of the Australian branch of the Congress for Cultural Freedom which was established by the CIA in 1950 as a key element in their strategy to combat Soviet propaganda. In its first year the CIA outlay on the Congress for Cultural Freedom was $200,000.]

John Howard: Standard bearer in liberal culture
Howard names his three towering heroes – The Age
Howard attacks left intelligentsia – News Ltd
Howard rallies Right in culture war assault – The Australian
PM puts boot into left as soft on tyranny
CIA as Culture Vultures – Jacket
Black Armband History – ANTaR


2006-10-04 2:08 AM +0800
October 3, 2006: Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has welcomed the report by the Australian Heritage Council proposing to protect the Burrup Peninsula Rock Art Province. Environment Minister Ian Campbell has announced he will delay his decision on whether to grant heritage status to the ancient rock art.Burrup is home to countless ancient Aboriginal rock art but also the site of several industrial plants and a proposed new natural gas processing plant…
The Australian Heritage Council recommended yesterday that 874sqkm of the North-West, including 100sqkm of the Burrup, be put on the national heritage list.Woodside Petroleum, which is planning a $5 billion onshore LNG terminal on the Burrup Peninsula to exploit its Pluto gas discoveries, last week expressed concern at Senator Campbell’s announcement that he was seeking further comment on the Aboriginal Heritage Council’s recommendation.Rock art on the Burrup has become controversial in recent years, with some saying moving the work to accommodate industrial activity is akin to moving Stonehenge.

The boundaries of the proposed Australian Heritage Council area cover most of the Burrup and offshore islands, which contain the $20 billion NW Shelf gas project, BHP Billiton’s multi-billion dollar iron ore shipping facilities and an fertiliser plant.

Ian Campbell says it could be many months before he decides whether to add rock art in WA’s north to the heritage list.

Senator Campbell said last week that the vast array of Aboriginal rock art on the Burrup Peninsula, under threat from further developments in the area, met requirements for National Heritage listing but he would wait before deciding their fate.

Senator Siewart said the Heritage Minister “now has in his hands the clearest indication yet that the Burrup deserves full protection. This is a turning point in the campaign to save this remarkable part of the world. (Campbell) should add the Burrup to the National Heritage List without further delay,” Senator Siewert said.

The Heritage Council documents can be found here.
The site, consisting of hundreds of thousands of petroglyphs, (Rock Art) is several thousands of years old, dating back to the last Ice Age. Developers of the north-west gas field off WA want to build an onshore facility on the peninsula.

Senator Campbell said it could be “many, many months” before he made a final decision on heritage listing. “I think it could be well into next year,” he said in Perth. “I believe very strongly that the economic benefits of development at the Burrup are in synergy.”

However, Liberal MP Colin Barnett hammered his Federal party colleagues yesterday, saying they had contributed nothing to WA’s industrial development and were guilty of failing to protect the ancient Aboriginal rock art in the North-West.

Mr Barnett said Campbell was neglecting his portfolio through his failure to heritage-list the Burrup Peninsula. He said both the State and Federal governments had handled the situation badly.

Mr Campbell says “we have got to ensure that we do nothing to hamper the development of that resource because of the massive economic benefit. People who say ‘stop it or slow it down’, are actually contributing to the problem of climate change.”

Woodside is concerned a National Heritage listing could result in costs and delays for industry that would have significant economic implications for WA, but not deliver any significantly improved heritage protection.

“The Heritage Council has spent a year investigating the issue and has compiled decades worth of research. Their position is very clear – it is not acceptable for Senator Campbell to stand by and watch as Woodside sends in the bulldozers for the Pluto Project. I don’t understand why Senator Campbell doesn’t just list the Burrup now, when he has such unequivocal evidence in front of him,” Senator Siewert said.

Campbell signals Burrup wait – Sunday Times
Campbell to take time on Burrup Peninsula decision – ABC
Search Perth Indymedia for “Burrup” stories
Decision on Burrup rock artmonths away – The Australian
EPA defends Burrup gas project go-ahead – ABC
Federal Libs failing rock art, industry: Barnett – The West
Burrup Peninsula


PERTH INDYMEDIA – Tuesday, 19 September 2006:

The Western Australian Nyoongar people have successfully claimed native title over metropolitan Perth in a landmark court decision.

The indigenous owners of Perth WA and much of its surrounding area, have been granted traditional ownership of their lands by Perth Federal Court judge Justice Murray Wilcox.

A group of eighty Nyoongar people represented by the South-West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC), lodged the Single Noongar native title claim in the federal court in September 2003.

The decision makes them the first Aboriginal group to successfully claim Native Title over a capital city. Supporters say the decision is a long overdue recognition of the Nyoongar people’s identity.

Justice Wilcox says the determination will not affect freehold or leasehold land or people’s backyards.

However the state government rejects the Federal Court’s decision…

The Nyoongar claim is one of the Australia’s largest and covers 193,956 square kilometres, from Hopetoun in the south to north of Jurien Bay — an area three times the size of Tasmania. Federal Court judge Justice Murray Wilcox today said the Noongar people were the traditional owners of the whole claim area, excluding offshore islands.

In his findings, Justice Wilcox emphasised that “the vast majority” of private landholders in Perth would be unaffected by the determination, as native title did not affect freehold or most leasehold land.

“I have reached the conclusion that the Single Noongar applicants are correct in claiming that, in 1829, the laws and customs governing land throughout the whole claim area were those of a single community,” Justice Wilcox told the court.

Justice Wilcox ruled the Noongar people continue to have native title of more than 6000 square kilometres, covering Perth and its surrounds.

The ruling means Nyoongar people can now exercise native title rights over land where native title has not been extinguished by “legislative or executive acts” such as freehold land. He says they will be able to maintain and protect significant sites in the area, and hunt, fish and gather food. They will also be able to use the land to teach traditional laws and customs.

The ruling would also give Nyoongars rights to access and carry out traditional activities such as fishing, hunting and maintaining sacred sites. Justice Wilcox urged the West Australian Government to avoid “expensive and time-consuming” litigation over individual parcels of land and instead discuss native title matters with indigenous claimants.

Nyoongar spokesman Robert Isaacs says the ruling is an important step forward. “We’ll work in harmony with people, we’ll work in harmony like we’ve always done,” he said. “We’re a very placid people, we’re dignified in our approach to Aboriginal culture and our laws and our ways. That’s what it’s all about, give us an opportunity, give us a go.”

Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson described the court’s decision as “absolutely extraordinary”, saying it completed the native title trilogy of “Mabo, Wik, and now Nyoongar” and demonstrated that native title was no longer confined to Aborigines in remote Australia.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert also welcomed the announcement. “The Nyoongar community has faced an uphill battle to maintain their law and culture in the face of European settlement,” she said. “It is a tribute to their strength and determination that they have survived policies that sought to remove their children, their language and their culture.”

“Nyoongar language and culture are strong and experiencing a renewed resurgence. Now with their native title claim recognised they are in a much stronger position to continue their role as custodians of this land,” said Senator Siewert.

More than 100 Noongar people and their supporters cheered and clapped as Justice Wilcox gave the ruling. The metropolitan area is part of a wider claim covering 200,000 square kilometres of the state’s south-west, including major centres such as Bunbury, Margaret River and Albany.

But only hours after the judgment was handed down, WA Treasurer and Deputy Premier Eric Ripper told parliament “the state government does not accept today’s ruling”. The state Government is considering an appeal – which has disappointed the claimants. Mr Ripper says the decision is inconsistent with rulings in the High Court.

“It is only by appealing these inconsistent Federal Court decisions that we can achieve the necessary clarity at law,” he said. “The State Government now has 21 days to consider its options, one of which is to appeal the decision.”

The Chief Executive of the South-west Land Council, Glen Kelly, says native title has already been defined as a “bundle of rights”. “It’s a right to hunt, a right to camp, and a right to fish, a right to take care of sites, a right to care for country, these sorts of things, the sort of access to land and undertaking what people generally, intuitively know what traditional activities are.”

Mr Kelly says members of the Noongar community would seek a role in the management of national parks or state forests. He says the Federal Court ruling should not have major implications.

“The judge said, look, this doesn’t affect everyone’s backyards. And he said that, I think, because we had some massive scare campaigns in the 80s and in the 90s in Western Australia, and the judge was very careful to say look, backyards are freehold land, and freehold title extinguishes Native Title. And, look, this has always been the case, since the Mabo decision,” said Mr Kelly.

Glen Kelly says the state response is “really disappointing… We are of the opinion that, in particular Mr Ripper, who’s the minister responsible for Native Title, has been receiving some poor advice …the judge very clearly stated he finds that Native Title exists except where it has been extinguished. And in a capital city and the areas surrounding a capital city, that there’s a large amount of extinguishment, and that in general life will go on as it currently is.”

Liberal Senator Alan Eggleston has described the Federal Court’s decision as “regrettable”. He says the release of land for housing could be affected and encourages any moves by the WA Government to lodge an appeal.

Eric Ripper said there had been too much disruption to Nyoongar society for it to have survived in any meaningful way, and therefore their native title claim was not valid. He said the ruling was totally “inconsistent” with the fundamental native title.

SWALSC chief executive Glen Kelly said he was “astonished” by Mr Ripper’s response. “I am absolutely shocked that he would react in such a way,” Mr Kelly said. “We have no idea why the state is so vociferously opposed to Noongar people.” He called on the WA government to now join the Nyoongar people in negotiating native title over the rest of the claim area, rather than continuing with litigation.

Between the 1870s and the 1940s the destruction of Nyoongar culture was almost complete through the enforced relocation of traditional landowners as required by government legislation.

Justice Wilcox warned that a determination of native title was “neither the pot of gold for the indigenous claimants nor the disaster for the remainder of the community that is sometimes painted”.

Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson said the ruling restored native rights to Aborigines who lived in the cities and southern regions of Australia. “The Yorta Yorta decision was a complete bastardisation of the Native Title Act and Mabo,” Mr Pearson said. “This decision brings native title absolutely back on track. Native title is not the preserve of the most traditional groups in northern and remote Australia, it is also the legal right of people in urban and southern Australia.”

The judge dismissed an application by the state Government to strike out the claim, and ordered them to pay court costs. Glen Kelly says the decision was a breakthrough for Nyoongar people, but would not lead to any royalty payments or claims over prominent Perth landmarks such as St Georges Terrace or Kings Park.

“Freehold title covers most of Perth and the southwest and extinguishes native title but in remaining lands we will be able to conduct traditional activities and maintain customs,” Mr Kelly said. “There is nothing to fear – this decision enables Nyoongar people and the state Government to begin talking to each other in a more constructive manner.”

The Nyoongar decision is in stark contrast to a Federal Court ruling in April that rejected a claim over the Darwin metropolitan area by the Larrakia people on the grounds that they could not prove a traditional connection to the area. Another native title claim over the Yulara township at Uluru in central Australia also failed.

The Perth Federal Court decision has dramatically increased the bargaining power of native title claimants and cleared the way for claims over other capital cities. Now that native title has been found to exist in Perth, the onus falls to the Government to prove where native title has been extinguished.

Native title lawyer Christine Lovitt, said there was no doubt that all freehold and most leasehold land would be unaffected by yesterday’s ruling. But without a compromise, the Government would have the massive burden of showing that native title had been extinguished on thousands of other parcels of land.

“It would be an absolute nightmare,” said Ms Lovitt. She warned that even with all the resources of the state Government, it could take years to resolve doubts about each parcel of land.”

The problem confronting the state Government has come about because the Federal Court dealt with the Nyoongar claim using a technique that has never before been successfully applied over a metropolitan area.

The court split the claim in two and dealt only with the threshold question of whether native title did, in fact, continue to exist in Perth.

—–

Kwodjungut nidja Wadjalla koorl ngalar Nyoongar balaba
Before this whiteman come our people they

kaaree wangkiny. Maarlukal iddiny balaba waangk – ngyne yung
spirit talk. In wild forest walking they talk – give me

yongka daartj ka ngyne yung noonaar walbrinniny. Nguluk kudidjiny
grey kangaroo meat or give me your healing. We understanding

ngalar moorital-kaarny koor-iddiny yukkininy nidja yongka ka
our family’s spirit returning (and) driving this grey kangaroo or

ngalar demangar kaarny walbrinniny ngalakut. Yay balaba Wadjalla
our grandparents spirit healing us. Now they (the) whiteman

maarlukal barminy – beean dukaniny ka kalunginy. Windjarl ngalar
(the) wild forest knocks down – destroys – breaks or burns. Where (does) our

kaarny koorl yay ? Kenyak !! Moen Nyoongar kudidjiny nidja waangk
spirit go now ? Finished !! Few people understand this talk

ka kaaree wangkiny. Balaba Wadjalla ngalar koolunga borl barunginy
or spirit talking. They (the) whiteman our children stole (and) grab,

yay balaba borl barunginy ngalar kaarny. Boordoo nidja ngalar
now they steal grab our spirit. Later this our

nookert djinninginy kudidjiny ngalar deman kenyak balaba
sleep seeing – understanding our grannies finished – they

barminy ngalar maarluk ngalar kaarny koorl minditj.
knock down our wild forest our spirit goes sick.

=======================================

SOURCES:

Noongar native title claim upheld by fed court
http://www.nit.com.au/breakingNews/story.aspx?id=7792

Noongar people win Native Title over Perth
http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2006/s1745134.htm

NATIVE TITLE RULING REJECTED
http://www9.sbs.com.au/theworldnews/region.php?id=131399&region=7

WA NATIVE TITLE CLAIM UPHELD
http://www9.sbs.com.au/theworldnews/region.php?id=131391&region=7

Perth area native title claimed
http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,20442751-421,00.html

Way open for other city claims
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20443390-601,00.html

Nyoongar people win native title over Perth
http://perth.indymedia.org/?action=newswire&parentview=31102

NOONGAR LAND – NOONGAR SPIRIT
http://www.schools.wafa.org.au/nyoongar.htm

The Nyoongar people of South Western Australia
http://www.multicultural.online.wa.gov.au/wppuser/owamc/march03news/noongar.html



Perth Indymedia – September 4, 2006 – Coca Cola says fizzy drinks not responsible for obesity

COCA-COLA is directly targeting mothers in a campaign to combat perceptions that it makes only sugary soft drinks. The company has launched a website devoted to raising awareness of its 80 product lines, which include diet soft drinks.

Nutritionist Rosemary Stanton said: “this is just clutching at straws.”

Advertisements for the website will appear in women’s magazines this week. It is the first time the company — rather than its brands — has directly addressed consumers. The move is widely seen as a reaction to negative publicity over the role of soft drinks in rising obesity levels. Similar campaigns are taking place in Europe and America.

Coca-Cola says media coverage in Australia of the obesity crisis has surged 70 per cent in the past three months.

Nutritionists and marketers are questioning the tone of the website, running under the slogans “make every drop count” and “make every drop matter”, especially its focus on promoting the need for people to “hydrate” constantly with Coke products

3,000 experts on the world’s epidemic of fat have descended on Sydney today to discuss the latest research on obesity. With breakfast brought to you by the Coca Cola corporation. Coca Cola scientist Doctor John Foreyt, says that fizzy drinks have been “victimised.”

The spiralling consumption of high-sugar, high-energy soft drinks has been a hot topic in the world of obesity research, and particularly regarding the spread of weight gain among teenagers.

But now the soft drink industry is hitting back with its own science.

Chaperoned by Coca Cola company representatives as the conference opened, Dr Foreyt says soft drinks have copped too much criticism in the war on fat. Dr Foreyt is dismissive of research suggesting that as much as half the 300 excess calories Americans consume every day come from sweetened drinks. “Well, calories are calories are calories, so you want to look at balance, and if people are getting their calories from one source, too many calories, people can get in trouble, but that caloric source can be anything.”

Dr Foreyt has links to the Beverage Institute – funded by Coca Cola. He laughs off suggestions his presence at the conference could be likened to a tobacco industry representative at a lung cancer meeting.

Susie Burrel from the Dieticians Association of Australia says sugary drinks are a major problem in the battle against the bulge.

The Director of the Australasian Society for the study of obesity, Tim Gill, says industry-sponsored research is becoming far too common. He says companies are using it to “muddy the waters on obesity debates.”

“when you’ve got a lot of money and you’re able to get together the right sort of panel and, more importantly, promote the information they’re presenting, what it tends to do is confuse a picture where there is generally a degree of consensus… soft drinks have been a major contributor to the increased calorie intake, particularly amongst teenagers, and that there’s a huge potential to address this problem by reducing soft drink intake.”

Said Dr Gill, at the week-long obesity congress, along with scientists funded by Coca Cola.

Similar campaigns are under way in Europe and the United States as part of a global public relations campaign.

Students in some British universities are banning the sale of Coke on campuses and a number of Indian states have banned the sale of the drink on the ground that it contains pesticides, a charge Coca-Cola vigorously denies.



Perth Indymedia PILBARA – 4 September, 2006.

“The gradual destruction since 1964 of the Dampier Cultural Precinct, Australia’s largest cultural monument, is unquestionably the planet’s most serious case of state vandalism in recent history. It exceeds the extent of cultural heritage destruction caused by the former Taliban regime of Afghanistan.” Robert G. Bednarik, CEO of the International Federation of Rock Art Organisations.

From the newswire:
PILBARA – 4 September, 2006. The Burrup Peninsula in the north-west of Western Australia is home to some of the oldest rock carvings on the planet, dating back tens of thousands of years. But corporate energy giant Woodside Petroleum wants to destroy much of the ancient rock artworks to build a fossil fuel plant as part of its Pluto gas project.

The Burrup (Murujuga or Puratha) is the largest of the islands that make up the Dampier Archipelago. The Burrup is an area of extreme heritage value and contains the largest and most significant collections of petroglyph (rock art) galleries in the world. [Burrup Peninsula – Discussion Forum]

For more than 10,000 years, Aboriginal peoples of the region carved petroglyphs into the area’s numerous rock faces and outcroppings. Collectively, these ancient renderings constitute the largest corpus of rock art in the world, with thousands of images of animals and people etched in stone. [The Dampier Rock Art Precinct – PDF]

Murujuga was listed on the National Trust Endangered Places 2002 Register. The Dampier Rock Art Precinct has been listed as one of 100 most endangered heritage sites on earth by the World Monuments Fund. Although the rock art complex has been listed as an endangered site by the National Trust, the art has been subjected to 40 years of disturbance, exposure to greenhouse gases and dust from a major industrial complex within the perimeter of the rock art site.

After inspecting Dampier rock art this August, the WA Heritage Council decided unanimously that it had the highest cultural significance. The International Rock Art Federation and Australia’s National Trust nominated the site for inclusion on the National Heritage List earlier this year. The National Trust said heritage listing was needed to prevent the engravings from being “blown up” during construction or damaged later by the plant’s emissions.

However it’s widely expected the State Government will greenlight the resource development at the expense of the artworks.

Wilfred Hicks, elder of the Wong-Goo-Tt-Oo West Ngarluma, has lived in the Pilbarra since he was born. He remembers walking on the Peninsula as a child, listening to his grandfather telling the history of the rock art on the Burrup.

“It breaks our heart to see all the destroyed art, rocks and that getting ripped up all the time and blown. It is a heartbreaking feeling. It makes us older generation cry about what they’re seeing happen. That is our bible. The Minghella gave that to us, and that’s Lord Jesus Christ. We’ve got it in our mind and on sand and on rocks,” said Mr Hicks.

The Environmental Protection Authority in Western Australia has defended its decision to approve the development of the Pluto Liquefied Natural Gas project on the Burrup Peninsula.

The Burrup alone possibly contains a million petroglyphs of which possibly 10,000 have already been destroyed.[Murdoch]

READ MORE/Comment…

 



September 4, 2006: A conservation group has taken a stand against whaling at a festival in Broome, in the north of Western Australia.

Meanwhile the battle for the worlds oldest rock art continues…

“If Stonehenge were in the Pilbara, it would no longer exist… The Government has now assumed the role of covert vandal in order to ride high on the resources boom.”

The event was designed to celebrate the links between the pearling town and the whale slaughtering nation of Japan. Thousands lined the street’s of Broome’s Chinatown for the start of the 10-day festival of pearls, Shinju Matsuri.

The festival focused on the sister city relationship between Broome and Taiji in Japan. Local green group Environs Kimberley made the most of the occasion, holding up a five-metre model whale and anti-whaling banners during the festival’s float parade, which was attended by Japanese dignitaries.

The group’s spokeswoman, Maria Mann, has denied it was a provocative move.
“We’re not doing it to offend anybody – we’re doing it to make a simple statement,” she said.

This year’s festivities are being sponsored by the Japanese company Inpex, the firm behind a $6 billion liquefied natural gas project off the Kimberley coast.

Meanwhile the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in Western Australia defends its approval of the development of the Pluto Liquefied Natural Gas project on the Burrup Peninsula.

Major oil and gas producer Woodside wants to build a processing facility on the north-west peninsula, which houses what is believed to be the world’s biggest collection of aboriginal rock art.

The Greens are outraged at the EPA’s decision, and are calling on the state and federal governments to block the development. But EPA chairman Wally Cox says the project is unlikely to compromise environmental or cultural objectives.

But Federal Minister for the Environment Ian Campbell will consider a heritage request for Burrup peninsula. Indigenous claimants, the International Rock Art Federation and the National Trust nominated the site for inclusion on the National Heritage List earlier this year.

Their recommendations aim to protect the peninsula’s vast collection of ancient rock art.

Member for the state seat of Burrup Fred Riebeling fears the federal Minister, Senator Ian Campbell, will rule in favour of a heritage listing. He says: “The Commonwealth, if they do it, should be condemned as the biggest economic vandals in the history of Australia,” he said.

Robin Chapple, from the National Trust of Western Australia, says heritage listing of rock art on the peninsula would not hamper the state’s booming resources industry. “I mean, currently industry is citing the fact that the Burrup is a world heritage area and are choosing to go to Onslow and the Maitland Industrial Estate,” he said.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said she was also concerned that while the Minister is considering this listing, the Government of Western Australia is about to sign off on the destruction of even more rock art,” she said. “Ian Campbell has already spoken out in support of the extraordinary cultural heritage precinct of the Burrup.”

Ian Campbell said in June: “I see the value here, I see something quite remarkable, something unique, something that is important for generations to come.”

Yet destruction and relocation is still planned by Woodside Energy for one of the most densely carved areas of the Burrup. Trust spokesman Robin Chapple said the proposed site was one of the most concentrated areas, with over 1000 artefacts, some of which will be preserved.

“It’s almost obscene that the federal minister is deliberating on heritage values on this place, while the state minister is about to grant approval that would allow industry to build on what is one of the most significant archaeological sites on the Burrup,” Mr Chapple said.

The remote Pilbara peninsula has the biggest concentration of ancient rock art in the world, some of which is 30,000 years old, or seven times older than Britain’s Stonehenge. A preliminary Australian Heritage Council report, sent to Senator Campbell in May last year, said the entire peninsula qualified for both national and world heritage listing.

Burrup’s traditional owners told a July meeting of the state Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee, which oversees site protection, that they opposed any further industrial disturbance of rock art. They called for new industries to move away from the artefacts.

Indigenous author Sally Morgan, who is a claimant on rock art sites near the Burrup, has called for federal intervention to save artefacts.

“If Stonehenge were in the Pilbara, it would no longer exist,” she said. “The Government has now assumed the role of covert vandal in order to ride high on the resources boom.”

The federal Environment Minister has 20 days to decide whether the Burrup Peninsula should be listed or he may seek further public comment.

Despite the presence of the world’s oldest rock art in the area, federal Cabinet is expected to agree to work with the West Australian Government on a new development strategy for the peninsula.

This would allow companies such as Woodside Petroleum, which operates the $19 billion North West Shelf gas project, to press ahead with developments.

SOURCES

Shinju Matsuri Fest 2006
abc news
environs kimberley
EPA defends Burrup
Campbell considers Burrup
Campbell can stop rock art destruction
Deterioration of rock art
Dampier Rock Art Complex
World’s oldest rock art loses out to mine projects



 August 20, 2006 – WA metalworkers: $28,600 fines for 15 minutes…

Western Australian-based Total Corrosion Control (TCC), one of the contractors engaged by ALCOA in Pinjarra to erect scaffolding has served writs on the 40 metalworkers it employs.

The workers face $28,600 in fines plus unspecified damages — for a union meeting that allegedly went 15 minutes over time.

The workers’ union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), also faces fines, totalling $220,000 plus unspecified damages…

This is the radical new front of industrial relations. The first time Australian workers have been individually charged with taking illegal strike action.

SUPPORT THE 107 – AUGUST 29TH – MARCH & RALLY

The individual charging of 107 workers from a Perth building site for going on strike in February is shaping up as a seismic shift in industrial relations in Australia.

The men were charged for refusing an order to return to work and although they could be fined up to $28,000 each, they maintain they’d rather go to jail than pay.

The Office of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner warns more charges will be laid, a move that has drawn an angry response from the union movement.

The Australian Building and Construction Commission has issued writs against 107 of a possible 430 workers who took strike action in February while working on the troubled $1.5 billion Perth railway project.

WA metalworkers: $28,600 fines for 15 minutes: On July 28, all 40 workers and the union were served with applications to the federal court for fines under both the Building and Construction Industry Improvement (BCII) legislation and the Workplace Relations Act (WRA), plus unspecified damages for the loss of production.

The employer’s application also says that money paid to cover any fines imposed will be passed directly on to them.

The 40 workers and the WA branch of the AMWU appear in court on August 29, the same day as the 107 WA construction workers facing similar fines…

Support The 107: http://www.cfmeuwa.com/cfmeuwa/supportthe107

Demonstrate Solidarity on Court Day August 29th

The 107 face their first appearance before the Federal Court in Perth on August 29th at 10:15am.

Together with their families, they need to know that across the country, concerned unionists, workers and community members stand beside them.They welcome any expressions of solidarity undertaken on their behalf. If you have anything planned, please let us know.

In WA, an alliance of unions and community will March and Rally on August 29th in defence of The 107 and their civil rights. READ MORE…

Striking workers face new reality This landmark dispute was sparked when the contractor Leighton Kumgai sacked a shop steward for refusing to follow management directions. Despite warnings from the employer, the State Government, the union and the Building Commission that any action would be illegal and could result in penalties, the workers went on strike.

The 107 Construction site workmates are being summonsed to appear in Federal Court after they went on strike on the Perth Mandurah railway site in February.

The charges under section 127 of the Industrial Relations Act are for breaching an order to return to work.

The new workplace laws mean the workers face up to $28,000 each in fines if convicted.

Court Day August 29th

From: PERTH INDYMEDIA 



The walk-off in the Northern Territory 40 years ago by a staunch mob of Aboriginal stockmen and their families became one of the most protracted industrial and political disputes in Australian history – resulting in the enactment of the 1976 NT Land Rights Act.

This weekend, at the township of Kalkarinjee, hundreds gathered to mark the anniversary of the walk-off 40 years ago by Gurindji stockmen from Wave Hill Station.

Meanwhile, controversial amendments to the NT Land Rights Act passed in the Federal Senate, with little consultation – virtually dismantling the laws, enabling corporations to lease Indigenous land from the Federal Government…

Annual Wave Hill walk-off at Kalkaringi, Northern Territory – It’s 40 years since Gurindji elder Vincent Lingiari led his people off Wave Hill station in a fight for fair pay and better working conditions.

The walk-off began as a campaign against the British beef baron Lord Vesty for better wages. Lingiari took his people to the banks of the Wattie Creek and the fight developed into a major push for land rights.

The Gurindji struggle led to the 1976 Land Rights Act which has since enabled Aboriginal people to regain ownership of half the land mass of the Northern Territory. This weekend, at the township of Kalkarinjee, hundreds gathered to mark the anniversary of the walk-off 40 years ago by Gurindji stockmen from Wave Hill Station.

Following this week’s passing of radical amendments to the NT’s Aboriginal Land Rights Act – the very piece of legislation their forefather pioneered all those years ago – Aboriginal land rights have been eroded.

The Federal Government’s controversial changes to the Land Rights Act passed just last week – virtually disabling the NT Land Rights Act. The amendments will diminish the power of the four land councils which cover the Northern Territory.

The Land Rights Act will be effectively extinguished by the the Federal Government to allow for 99-year leases of townships on Aboriginal land.

Many at the walk-off anniversary learnt for the first time of the Prime Minister’s new amendments, with critics saying: “It’s a real irony to know that in the preceding days to this celebration we’ve had phenomenal amendments to the Aboriginal land rights legislation, that it could have a fairly significant and disastrous impact on Indigenous people and our rights into the future…”

The Senate’s rush to pass the amendments to the Land Rights Act has rung alarms beyond the Aboriginal population. The public interest group GETUP! gathered 25,000 signatures over just one weekend for a Web-based campaign. “What we’re seeing is an unravelling of the rights and interests of Aboriginal people in relation to their country, without negotiation, without consultation, without their agreement,” said the GetUp guy.

There are certain elements of the bill where there has not been any consultation at all. If you look at the traditional owners’ submission to the Senate inquiry, it says, “We only knew about this Senate inquiry by chance”.

The Senates Community Affairs Legislation Committee heard submissions on the bill over one day in July and new and contentious measures were later introduced to the Senate at very short notice.

The Senate committee dominated by Government members, lamented that the time available for its inquiry was totally inadequate to do justice to the complex nature of the issues.

“It is unfair, it’s unjust and it’s totally unprecedented that Australians who have won their cases after a full hearing before a judge should have their case terminated by the Commonwealth Government. It’s un-Australian.”

n May 1975, Gurindji people were successful in having an area of their own land excised from the Vestey pastoral lease at Wattie Creek in the Northern Territory. In 1986 a claim for recognition of traditional rights made under the 1976 Land Rights Act was successful and 3000 sq km of their land was transferred to Gurindji people.

Yet amid the celebrations, there were concerns that any gains resulting from the strike 40 years ago, and its benefits – have now being eroded.

An academic specialising in Indigenous land issues says changes to the Northern Territory Land Rights Act attack the principle of social justice for Aboriginal people. Professor John Altman says the changes are a blow for Indigenous rights.

“To the whole notion of social justice for Indigenous people through land rights,” Professor Altman said. “I think the Federal Government has dressed these amendments up as a way to deliver industry and commerce to Aboriginal land, but I think there’s absolutely no evidence base that suggests that’s going to happen.”

The Northern Territory Government has declared the route of the Wave Hill walk-off a heritage site. But the Central Land Council says the strike will be better remembered if all levels of government respect Aboriginal land rights.
The chief executive of the Central Land Council, David Ross, says he will fight amendments to the Aboriginal Lands Rights Act passed by Federal Parliament this week.

The amendments diminish the power of the land councils and allow for 99-year leases on Aboriginal land, clearing the way for private home ownership. But Mr Ross says not all Aboriginal people want to own their own home and change should not come at the expense of people’s cultural links to their land.

Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTAR) spokesman Gary Highland says the introduction of 99-year leases on traditional land threatens Aboriginal self-determination. “It’s a day that will go down in history as when the high-water mark of land rights in Australia receded,” he said.

“It significantly weakens the ability of Indigenous people to control what happens on their land. We think it’s a bleak day for Indigenous people and for land rights in Australia.”

It’s a serious problem for our nation.

We have major changes to one of the most fundamental pieces of legislation affecting the first peoples of this land and it’s being rushed through as though they and their views don’t matter…

Related Meme Pool:
http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2006/s1720400.htm
http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2006/s1718859.htm
http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200608/s1717592.htm
http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200608/s1718810.htm
http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200608/s1718239.htm
http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200608/s1716656.htm
http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2006/s1709952.htm
http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200608/s1716256.htm
http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2006/s1718126.htm



 
Monday, August 21, 2006: An international oil expert believes the soaring price of fuel may lead to a change in the motoring industry.London-based Chris Skrebowski arrived in Perth yesterday for a series of industry talks and meetings with state and federal politicians over the rising cost of fuel…

The price of oil would continue to rise until world oil production peaks in 2010 with any weather or political disruption able to cause a spike in price, an oil expert said today.

The London-based editor of Petroleum Review, published by the UK’s Energy Institute, Chris Skrebowski said in Perth that world production would peak about 94 million barrels of oil per day, up from present levels of between 85 million barrels and 86 million barrels per day.

Mr Skrebowski predicts the price of unleaded petrol in Western Australia could reach $2 a litre by Christmas. He believes oil production will not be able to match supply within the next five years.

Mr Skrebowski says although high fuel prices have many flow-on effects to the average consumer, the situation is forcing people to think outside the square.

“If you go to Japan where the fuel is even higher, a third of the market’s now really tiny cars under 700cc,” he said. “So in that sense, putting the price up does start to change behaviour.”

However, Mr Skrebowski concedes solutions that work in other countries may not be suitable to the vast distances travelled in Australia. Mr Skrebowski is encouraging people to start planning for the future.

“We don’t have a chance of doing that unless we get on with it, face up to it now and start getting on with it,” he said. “Any investment takes a number of years, any change-over in social behaviour or technical instruction always takes a lot of time and that’s really what I’m here to say.”

The global community needed to develop new fuels or technologies by the time production peaks or there could be a disruption, he said. “The sooner we can start mitigating the effect the better,” he said. “We have left it pretty late already.”

He said while the disruption would not be on the same scale as the oil crises of the 1970s, the decline in oil could have uncomfortable side effects. The rising oil price has translated to escalating petrol prices, but he said for petrol to reach $2 a litre in Australia, the oil price (now trading about $US71 a barrel) would need to soar up to $US120 a barrel.

“It’s pretty improbable it will get that high,” Mr Skrebowski said. “What we can say is the chance of petrol going down is very slight.” He predicted the oil price could reach up to $US90 a barrel by the end of the year, but this could be pushed higher on supply concerns, including if the conflict in the Middle East flared up again. “I don’t think it will go below $US70 (a barrel) and could test up to $US90,” he said.

The northern hemisphere would soon be heading into winter and this traditionally pushed prices higher, he said, but a severe winter would see prices spike as energy consumption for heating soared. All the risks are on the downside in terms of supply, which means all the risks are on the upside in terms of price,” he said.

Mr Skrebowski predicts the price of unleaded petrol in WA will crash through the $2 mark this summer. He said WA motorists’ pain at the bowser would worsen. “It’s certainly going to go through $2 in the not-too-distant future,” Mr Skrebowski said. “You could see it as early as Christmas, or the beginning of next year. In most of Europe, they’re paying rather more than that now.”

He said in the long term Australians could expect to pay a lot more than $2 a litre. There was worldwide complacency about the looming oil crisis, but he praised the WA and Federal governments’ offering LPG conversion subsidies.

“At the moment, by denying or minimising the problem, we are simply not tapping into all the solutions that could be generated once you make people really think about it,” he said. His advice to the WA Government is: Be prepared.

“Look in a clear-eyed way at the problem, don’t be hoping that it’s all going to sort itself out,” he said. “See how you’re vulnerable, what is actually the threat _ and what you can actually do about it. Forewarned is forearmed. With a fairly low population density and people travelling a great deal, of course, you are vulnerable to the cost of fuel.”

By 2010, WA drivers would have to cut down on unneccessary trips.

“It won’t be drastic straight away,” he said. “It’s after that it starts getting a bit more difficult. We have to start examining the way people live and where they’re living, physically, in relation to where they’re working.” People working from home or commuting to work on some days only would become a part of life.

Mr Skrebowski, a world expert on oil depletion, will speak at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia conference in Perth on Wednesday.

Oil prices on rise till 2010: expert
Petrol $2 by Christmas
Petrol prices force motoring innovation: expert

 


August 21, 2006 – Wikinews


International Space Station. Photo taken from shuttle Discovery in August 2005

NASA has announced that rockets will be launched from Woomera in outback South Australia to service the International Space Station (ISS) – starting in 2008. NASA has selected two American companies to launch rockets from the Woomera base. Rocket Plane Kistler and Space-X will conduct orbital flight tests and commercial operations. The Woomera site would also be used to launch cargo such as fuel and food to the ISS as often as every two weeks.

Woomera, named for an Aboriginal spear-throwing tool, was originally involved in testing of long-range missiles and rockets for Britian during the Cold War. The site was also recently used by the Australian government to incarcerate asylum-seeking refugees.

SpaceX based in California, and Rocketplane-Kistler of Oklahoma City, will share up to $US500 million in NASA seed money to develop their launch vehicles. NASA has stated it wants commercial firms to take over ISS transportation services after the space shuttle fleet is retired in 2010.

SpaceX, owned by Internet entrepreneur and PayPal founder Elon Musk, made its launch debut in March with the Falcon 1 rocket but the vehicle failed shortly after lift-off. The two companies secured the NASA contract to demonstrate its “commercial orbital transportation services”. Kistler has scheduled the first launch of its K-1 rocket from Woomera in late 2008.

Woomera, South Australia

Kistler said work on a $100 million launch site at Woomera was expected to start in October. The site should be completed by the end of next year. Kistler Woomera chairman Alan Evans said the contract meant “hundreds of jobs” would be created within the aerospace industry in South Australia. “The jobs will be within the high-level end of the spectrum of the space industry, which is great news for the state,” he said.

K-1 will have crew transportation capabilities, meaning the Woomera site could see astronauts leave from Australia. The site may also be used to transport satellites into space for telecom companies and defence organisations. The K-1 launch vehicle is designed to be re-used 100 times. It is powered by liquid-propellant engines and lands back on Earth with the help of parachutes and airbags.

“Woomera was chosen because it can be used for polar and equatorial launches and because of its clean land areas,” Mr Evans said. “Kistler has already spent US$700 million developing this idea.”

Rocketplane Kistler say their K-1 launch system will also provide low cost space access for satellites and research payloads. Their sub-orbital XP Spaceplane is 50% complete, and scheduled for first flight in late 2008. The K-1’s hardware is 75% complete – and is scheduled for first flight in 2008.

Sources



Wikinews August 21, 2006

Experts say water needs to be better managed

A report by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) says rising demand for irrigation to produce food and biofuels will aggravate scarcities of water. “One in three people is enduring one form or another of water scarcity,” states the report compiled by 700 experts.

IWMI warns there has to be a radical transformation in the management of water resources – citing as examples Australia, south-central China, and last year’s devastating drought in India. Report authors claim that the price of water could double or triple over the next two decades. The report, backed by the United Nations and farm research groups, shows that globally, water usage had increased by six times in the past 100 years and would double again by 2050 – driven mainly by irrigation and demands by agriculture.

Record oil prices and concerns about rapid onset climate change are driving more countries to produce biofuels – from sugarcane, corn or wood – as an alternative to fossil fuel. “If people are growing biofuels and food it will put another new stress,” says David Molden, who led the study at the Sri Lanka-based IWMI. “The big solution is to find ways to grow more food with less water. Basically, more crop per drop,” Molden said. “The number one recommendation… is to look to improve rain-fed systems in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.”

The report says conquering hunger and coping with an estimated 3 billion more humans by 2050 will result in an 80 percent increase in water use for agriculture. Irrigation absorbs around 74 percent and is likely to surge by 2050.

“We will have to change business as usual in order to deal with growing scarcity,” said Frank Rijsberman, director general of the IWMI, of the report released at the 2006 “World Water Week” conference in Stockholm. Solutions included helping poor countries to grow more food with available fresh water via simple, low-cost measures in a shift from past policies that favoured expensive dams or canals, the report said.

According to Rijsberman, there are two types of shortages: those observed in regions where water is over-exploited, causing a lowering of groundwater levels and rivers to dry up; and those in countries lacking the technical and financial resources to capture water – despite its abundance.

Billions of people in Asia and Africa already faced water shortages because of poor water management, he said. “We will not run out of bottled water any time soon, but some countries have already run out of water to produce their own food,” he said.

Experts say the price of water may double or triple over the next two decades

The report said that a calorie of food took roughly 1 litre of water to produce. But a kilo of grain needed only 500-4,000 litres – while a kilo of industrially produced meat took 10,000 litres.

“Without improvements in water productivity the consequences of this will be even more widespread water scarcity and rapidly increasing water prices.” Rijsberman said water scarcity in Africa was caused by a lack of infrastructure to get the water to the people who needed it. “The water is there, the rainfall is there, but the infrastructure isn’t there,” Rijsberman told reporters.

Other recommendations for certain regions include the extension and the improvement of agriculture using rainwater, the introduction of cereal varieties that need less water as well as the development of irrigation systems.

But the priority, Rijsberman stresses, is to change mentalities and often outdated government policies. “Government policies and their approach to water are probably the most urgent that need changing in the short term,” he said.

There is, he says, enough land, water and human capacity to produce enough food for a growing population over the next 50 years, but one of the challenges is to provide enough water for agriculture without damaging the environment. “Agriculture is driving water scarcity and water scarcity is driving environmental degradation and destruction,” he said.

In Australia last week, Rijsberman said he would “not be surprised to see the price of water double or triple over the next two decades.”

Sources



From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
August 20, 2006

Victorian Supreme Court, Melbourne

Melbourne man Jack Thomas has been aquitted of terrorism offences in Victoria’s Court of Appeal. His convictions for receiving funds from a terror group and using a false passport were quashed on Friday. Mr Thomas was earlier sentenced to five years in jail.

Jack Thomas, 33, known as “Jihad Jack” was convicted under new Australian anti-terror laws. He was found guilty in February of accepting cash and a plane ticket from an al-Qaeda agent in Pakistan. But was cleared of ‘intentionally providing resources for al-Qaeda’. The former taxi driver was sentenced to five years in prison in March.

The Court of Appeal ruled Thomas’s interview with Australian Federal Police (AFP) in Pakistan was inadmissible. Thomas appealed his conviction on the grounds that interviews conducted in Pakistan after his arrest in 2003 breached Australian law and should not have been allowed as evidence at his trial.

He was interviewed without access to a lawyer, having already been interrogated during two months in custody in Pakistan. Mr Thomas’ lawyers argued that he was earlier threatened with torture from foreign security agencies.

His lawyer said Mr Thomas, who is married and has three children, accepted the money and plane ticket because he wanted to return home. Mr Thomas said he never had any intention of becoming an al-Qaeda operative.

Lawyer Rob Stary said Thomas wanted to thank his legal team and staff at a hospital he had spent the past several months in psychiatric care. “He’s in a debilitated condition as a result of what’s transpired,” Mr Stary said.

Liberty Victoria president Brian Walters, SC, welcomed the decision, saying: “We believe that the Court of Appeal has righted a great injustice.”

Prosecutor Nick Robinson is calling for a retrial based on a television interview with the ABC. The defence counsel has labelled the submission “bloody-minded.” Rob Stary said the defence team would counter with arguments that prosecutors withheld a statement from a prisoner now held overseas. “The AFP has withheld important information that would have contradicted other evidence,” he said.

More “terrorism” claims

Thomas’ brother, Les, who took part in a protest rally outside Barwon Prison this weekend in support of 13 detainees facing charges of “terrorism”, said the 13 Melbourne men faced a similar predicament to his brother.

Les Thomas said the 13 were victims of a government “scare campaign” and “media demonisation” and were being held in solitary confinement in Barwon’s high security Acacia Unit, despite not being convicted of any crime. He said the men faced greater “persecution” than he claimed his brother had faced because most were of Middle Eastern background. “These people have not been convicted of any crime, but they’re already being punished in extremely punitive circumstances,” said Les Thomas.

Ten of the 13 were arrested in pre-dawn police raids in Melbourne and Sydney last November, and another three were arrested in March this year.

Jack Thomas was the first person to be convicted under the controversial new Australian anti-terror legislation.

Sources



August 20, 2006 From Wikinews

Australian Special Forces Task Group soldiers during a training activity in Afghanistan, 2003

400 Australian soldiers have been officially farewelled at parade in Darwin, NT, ahead of their deployment to Afghanistan on Tuesday. Wishing the soldiers well, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson says there is a high risk associated with the mission.

“We know that this is a dangerous mission but it’s also an extremely important one,” he said. “They will go beginning this week and be deployed over the next few weeks.”

The group will work around the southern Oruzgan Province. Rising violence in the Taliban heartland province earlier this month prompted Australian Prime Minister John Howard to further strengthen the capability of the Reconstruction Task Force (RTF). Approximately 150 personnel will be added to the 240-strong force announced in May.

Defence says the RTF will form part of the Netherlands-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in the Oruzgan province under NATO.

More than 1800 people have been killed in fighting in Afghanistan this year, 92 of them foreign soldiers. A contingent of 190 Australian special forces, supported by a 110-member helicopter detachment, has suffered a steady flow of casualties since September year, with 11 wounded — a rate of one a month. The Age reports the Howard Government has “kept secret” how soldiers suffered the wounds, or the extent or nature of the wounds.

Dr Nelson said the soldiers would perform command, construction, communications intelligence, protection and logistics support. “We must stick with our allies and stand up for our values,” he said. He told the troops they would be “dealing with people who are fanatically opposed to our way of life and everything we stand for”.

Dr Nelson says the Australian contribution will also include skills training for the local population to “ensure the benefits of the deployment continue long after our personnel have returned home.”

Sources



August 21, 2006 Source: Wikinews

Location of remote island of Nauru, where Australia is sending 8 Burmese refugees

Eight Burmese boatpeople, who arrived off Western Australia‘s Ashmore Reef last week, say they wish to claim refugee status. The group of 8 men, aged between 24 and 40, are being held in detention on Christmas Island by the Australian Federal Government. They will be sent to Nauru after identity interviews and medical checks are completed.

According to The Age newspaper, the men are from a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border, and may be from the Karen tribe, who are battling Burma’s brutal military Government. Karen rebels have been at war with the central Government for 57 years.

An Immigration department spokesman confirmed that the eight men claimed to be from Burma. Two of the men have contacted immigration lawyers seeking assistance with asylum claims. David Manne, from Melbourne-based Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre, said the other six were likely to do the same. “There’s a very strong likelihood that they are genuine refugees,” he said.

The men were first spotted by the Australian Customs Service at Ashmore Reef, 610km north of Broome, WA on August 13. They were sent by Navy vessel to Christmas Island – 2,400 km northwest of Perth, WA. The men have been held since Friday as part of the Howard Government’s Pacific Solution to keep asylum seekers out of the country.

In 2005, the Department of Immigration began construction of an Immigration Reception and Processing Centre on Christmas Island, due for completion late in 2006. The facility is estimated to cost $210 million, and will contain 800 beds.

No Legal Recourse for Burmese

The news of the boatpeople’s arrival became public last week as Prime Minister John Howard scrapped controversial new migration laws. The proposed laws would have excised the Australian mainland for immigration purposes.

BurmaAshmore Reef, already excised from Australia’s migration zone, means the men have no legal entitlement to be brought to Australia for processing. They have no access to the Australian court system to argue their claims or contest the rulings of the Immigration Department.

Mr Manne said he was concerned that the circumstances of the men’s confinement could hamper their attempts to communicate with lawyers. He said the Burmese men should be afforded the same rights as the West Papuans or Vietnamese asylum-seekers who recently made it to Australian shores. “It’s absolutely crucial these people be given a fair go, so that they can actually speak with us properly about the issues,” he said. Mr Manne says he has made several requests of the Department of Immigration in Canberra.

“They’re asylum seekers… they believe that they’d be persecuted if sent to Burma, and we have agreed to act on their behalf,”. He was unable to say whether the group was dropped off by people smugglers, as Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone claims.

“What we do know is they’re seeking refugee status, that is, protection from brutal human rights abuse,” he said. The Burmese regime has recently waged an aggressive attack on Karen insurgents – forcing thousands of villagers to hide in the jungle or seek refuge in Thailand. There are 140,000 refugee camps in seven camps along the Thai-Burma border.

Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle says the government must allow the Burmese group to be brought to Australia to process the asylum-seeker’s claims. “The government needs to ensure that all asylum seekers are offered legal support,” she said. “The best way to ensure the Burmese asylum seekers have full access to their lawyer is to bring them to Australia while their asylum claims are assessed.”

Nauru

Nauru

Meanwhile the near-bankrupt Nauru Government has urged Aust to “speed up asylum seeker processing” in their country. Nauru says Australia is taking far too long to process asylum seekers. Currently two refugees remain on Nauru – both Iraqi men. The men have been held in detention on the remote tiny island for five years.

According to The Age, the Nauru Government has approved a plan to impose financial penalties on Australia if asylum seekers are forced to languish on the near-bankrupt island. The report says if they have not been processed and either returned or resettled within three months, their visas will have to be renewed each month, with the cost increasing by $500 for each renewal.

Nauru’s Foreign Minister David Adeang raised serious concerns about the mental state of the detainees. He says Muhammad Faisal’s condition worsened sharply after he was re-interviewed by ASIO. Mr Adeang has asked for the Government to evacuate the Mr Faisal immediately, he says he is also concerned about the mental health of the other Iraqi man left on Nauru. The Australian Government claims advice from ASIO that the man may be a “security threat.”

Nauru is the world’s smallest island nation, covering just 21 km². Since 2001 it has accepted aid from the Australian government. In exchange for this aid, Nauru houses an ‘offshore’ detention centre for Australia.

Sources



Source: Wikinews, the free news source you can write! August 20, 2006

 

$380 milllion winfarm in Ausralia announced

 

The Victorian government has announced plans to build what it says will be Australia’s “most powerful wind farm.” Rob Hulls has has given the go ahead to a new $380 million wind farm at Mount Gellibrand in the state’s south-west.”I’m pleased to announce that I have approved Australia’s most powerful and Victoria’s largest wind farm to date,” Mr Hulls said. “This project is expected to create anywhere between 110 and 120 jobs during construction and up to 25 full time positions during the life of the wind farm,” he said.

The massive windfarm will be located 120 km west of Melbourne, close to the regional centre of Colac. The windfarm comprises 116 turbines of the 2 MW class – with an overall capacity of 232 MW. The windfarm will produce over 700,000 MWh of clean energy which is enough to supply approximately 132,000 Victorian households. German company Pro Ventum International is undertaking the project

Minister Hulls said only nine objections had been lodged against the project. Local landowner Tim Gore, who plans to have 32 turbines on his property, said he was not concerned about potential noise from the turbines. Pro Ventum International say they will commence work on an Environmental Management report the next few weeks.

Wind farm critic Tim Le Roy said there was no environmental benefit from the project at all and the Victorian government would better spend its money on geo-thermal energy.

The turbines, each 125 metres tall, will produce 232 megawatts of power and would be visible from the Princes Highway between Geelong and Colac, sited at the foot of Mount Gellibrand.

In October last year, Colac Otway council‘s chief executive officer, Tracey Slatter, said the proposal would benefit the shire: “…we’re looking at reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and with the demand of energy set to increase it is important that we do consider these renewable energy sources,” she said.

[edit]

Sources



“they’re seeking refugee status, that is, protection from brutal human rights abuse…”

Perth: 19 August 2006 – The eight Burmese asylum seekers who were found off WA’s Ashmore Reef last week, have made a request for legal assistance. The group are asking the Australian government to stop them from being sent to Nauru. Two of the eight Burmese nationals have issued a plea to refugee lawyer David Manne.

The group will ask Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone to allow them to stay in Australia rather than be detained on Nauru as part of John Howard’s “Pacific Solution”.

Meanwhile the Nauru Government, concerned for the mental health of current detainees, has urged Aust to speed up asylum seeker processing in their country… NAURU

Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre co-ordinator David Manne, represented the 43 West Papuan asylum seekers. He told media this week that if the new asylum seekers were from an ethnic Burmese minority group, such as the Karen, there was a very strong likelihood they were refugees.

“Independent country evidence clearly indicates Burma has an extremely poor human rights record,” he said. “It’s notorious for brutally persecuting its own citizens, including religious and ethnic minorities such as the Karen.

“We can confirm that there are eight Burmese asylum seekers who have been taken to Christmas Island, and two of them have managed to fax us and have requested that we act as legal representatives for them,” said Mr Manne.

“They’re asylum seekers; we understand that they’re seeking refugee status… they believe that they’d be persecuted if sent to Burma, and we have agreed to act on their behalf,” Mr Manne told the ABC. He said he knows few details of the case and is unable to say whether the group was dropped off by people smugglers as Senator Vanstone has said.

“What we do know is they’re seeking refugee status, that is, protection from brutal human rights abuse.” He said it was crucial that the group are “urgently provided with the ability to seek independent legal assistance, and other support – and not be taken to Nauru…”

Mr Manne says he is asking Senator Vanstone to use her ministerial discretion and not send the group to bre detained on Nauru.

Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle agrees. She says the government must allow the Burmese group to be brought to Australia while their claims are processed. “The government needs to ensure that all asylum seekers are offered legal support,” she said. “The best way to ensure the Burmese asylum seekers have full access to their lawyer is to bring them to Australia while their asylum claims are assessed.

“These asylum seekers must not be taken to Nauru. A major problem with off-shore processing is that asylum seekers are isolated from legal assistance. In the past, lawyers have been denied visas to Nauru and have not been able to take instructions from their clients,” said Senator Nettle in a media release.

“Why should these Burmese asylum seekers be treated worse than the West Papuans? The Australian government has recognized the horrendous human rights abuses that continue to occur in Burma.”

The eight Burmese men are believed to be aged between 24 and 40. According to The Age newspaper, the men are from a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border, and were suspected to be from the Karen tribe, an ethnic minority that battle Burma’s brutal military Government. Karen rebels have been at war with the central Government for 57 years.

The Burmese regime has recently waged an aggressive attack on Karen insurgents – forcing thousands of villagers to hide in the jungle or seek refuge in Thailand. There are 140,000 refugee camps in seven camps along the Thai-Burma border.

Meanwhile the Nauru Government has urged Aust to speed up asylum seeker processing in their country. Nauru says Australia is taking far too long to process asylum seekers. Currently two asylum seekers remain on Nauru, both Iraqi men. The men have been held in detention on the remote tiny island for five years.

Nauru is the world’s smallest island nation, covering just 21 km². Since 2001 it has accepted aid from the Australian government. In exchange for this aid, Nauru houses an ‘offshore’ detention centre for Australia.

Nauru’s Foreign Minister David Adeang raised serious concerns about the mental state of the detainees. He says Muhammad Faisal’s condition worsened sharply after he was re-interviewed by ASIO. Mr Adeang has asked for the Government to evacuate the Mr Faisal immediately.

He also says processing should take months not years. Mr Adeang says he is concerned about the mental health of the other Iraqi man, Mohammed Sagar, remaining on Nauru. The Australian Government claims advice from ASIO that the man may be a “security threat.”

Psychiatry Professor Ian Hickie, a member of the Federal Government’s detention health advisory group, recently flew to Nauru to visit the two asylum seekers.

He warns ASIO’s repeated interviewing of the men will only exacerbate their medical problems. “If a person is in a situation where they cannot receive adequate care in Nauru or in any other detention centre then it is the responsibility of the Australian Government… to provide appropriate care,” Professor Hickie said.

Muhammad Faisal has been placed on 24-hour watch because of suicide fears. “Anyone who finds themself in a position of not knowing their status over a long period of time is at risk of developing a mental health problem… If there’s no certainty about your future then it is easy for people to slide into a situation of hopelessness and despair.”

The government of Nauru says Australia has sought authority to land a special chartered plane on Sunday, carrying 25 people.

SOURCES:
Nauru urges Aust to speed up asylum seeker processing – ABC
Burmese asylum seekers appeal to Minister – ABC
Greens Media Release
Mentally ill refugee may leave Nauru after five years – The Age
Australia to accept ill Iraqi refugee held on Nauru – Radio NZ 



From the newswire: The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has purchased a bigger, faster and more powerful boat in its campaign to assert international law and stop Japanese commercial whaling. The ‘ice class’ vessel, ‘Leviathan’, is undergoing will join the ‘Farley Mowat’ in Melbourne ahead of the next Japanese whale hunting season in the Southern Ocean in December. President of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Captain Paul Watson, said “We will be bringing two ships, a helicopter and about 60 volunteers to the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary. Quite a few of the crew will be Australian,”

“…the bottom line is that Sea Shepherd is not a protest organisation. We intervene against illegal activities…

Farley Mowat Last whaling season the Japanese whaling fleet fled at high speed when the slower Farley Mowat intercepted them. The Greenpeace ships were able to keep pace and their protests hindered whaling efforts and brought graphic coverage to the world of the illegal commercial whale slaughter, done under the name of scientific research.

The 2006/2007 whaling season will see the whaling fleet chased by two Greenpeace vessels and by two Sea Shepherd vessels. Japan will be targeting 850 Antarctic piked (Minke) whales, 50 endangered humpbacks and 50 endangered fin whales. Ninety percent of the whales that are targeted will be in the Australian Whale Sanctuary.

It has been reported that the Japanese fleet will be increasing its defences. “I am unconcerned about whatever plans Japan has to defend their illegal activities,” Captain Watson said. “We are quite willing to instigate an international incident over this.”

The Japanese ‘scientific’ whaling program has been repeatedly attacked for its poor science. The campaign to stop Japanese Whaling has widespread support in Australia…

READ MORE/Comment…

[ See also: Sea Shepherd – Perth Crew ] :: [ Sea Shepherd Previous Features: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | Sea Shepherd stories Perth Indymedia ]

SOURCE



Aid agency Oxfam is warning that generations of Aboriginal people could lose control of their land if contraversial changes to NT land rights laws are passed this week in the Senate.

The amendments severely weaken Indigenous people’s control of their land in the NT and have been dubbed the most significant attack on Indigenous rights in decades.

The amendments, forced to a vote in the Senate on Wednesday, will alter the 1976 Northern Territory Land Rights Act, which gives Aboriginal Australians control and communal ownership over their land in the NT…

Under the new regime, NT Aboriginal people will be offered loans and leases on their land in an effort to force private ownership and economic development.

The proposed lease provisions will effectively take away the rights of the traditional owners to decide who and what takes place on their ancestral lands for 99 years.

Companies, services and non-traditional owners will be able to lease land from the government rather than obtaining consent from the land owners on a case-by-case basis.

In what has increasingly become a Howard legacy, the federal government has again been criticised for failing to consult indigenous communities.

Oxfam Australia’s public policy director James Ensor described the legislation as deeply unpleasant. Oxfam worries that the Government may tie certain basic services, such as education, to the 99-year leases. “This could pressure traditional land owners to hand over their land,” Mr Ensor said. Oxfam is concerned the legislation is being rammed through Parliament with no consultation and little scrutiny, he said.

The NT Land Rights Act was the first Australian law under which land title could be claimed by Indigenous people. The law allowed control over mining and development on that land. The act also established four land councils to represent Indigenous people in the NT.

The Howard coalition argues that the amendments are designed to encourage an “enterprising” culture in Indigenous communities by giving them the power to lease their land to business. It also states that breaking up communal land titles will encourage individual homemaking and that giving the federal government the power to break the NT land councils.

The National Indigenous Times has described the amendments as “a white grab for black land, pure and simple. They are not in the interests of Aboriginal people, they are in the interests of government, developers and mining companies.” (NIT, July 27)

Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (antar) state on their website: “Under the guise of promoting economic development, the legislation could see Indigenous people lease back their land for 99 years in exchange for securing basic services — such as housing and schools… this has the potential to lock generations of Aboriginal people out of effective control over their land.” ANTaR say a getup.org online petition to stop the bill was signed by more than 25,000 people in four days.

Labor’s Chris Evans has said: “the government’s actions… represent another paternalistic attempt to tell Aboriginal people what’s good for them” – (The Age, August 8).

The Greens, Democrats, many human rights organisations and individuals have also criticised the bill. The HREOC’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma says: “My concern about the amendments is that they will do the opposite of what they intend. They have the potential to create poverty rather than lead to its alleviation…”

The current attack coincides with the Coalition’s push for expanded uranium mining. Such an expansion would be facilitated by giving mining corporations greater access to resources on Indigenous land without the need for negotiations with or compensation to Indigenous owners.

Sean Brennan, the Director of the Indigenous Rights, Land and Governance Project at the University of NSW, highlights the importance of the Land Rights Act:

“This is Australia’s high water mark in land rights legislation. Whitlam introduced it in 1975 and Fraser ensured it went through the following year. For a long time it enjoyed bipartisan support and both sides of politics are rightly proud of what the law has achieved, including the return of half the Territory to traditional ownership.

“The Howard Government wants to make some of the most dramatic changes to that law in its 30-year life. Some of the amendments reflect the public policy process at its best. Some show a government using parliament like a doormat. It is ignoring advice on all sides to slow down and bring people on board over issues that everyone can agree on.

“The terms of the leasing deal are stacked against traditional owners, in favour of the government… other restrictions on the ability of traditional owners to get a fair deal remain. Why tie the hands of traditional owners in lease negotiations…?

“The NT Government, which is central to the whole plan, had only three days to comment on the legislation. Like all cases of policy on the run you have to wonder what the rush is really about.

“The Government used the guillotine procedure to cut off debate in the lower house, after less than three hours. A Senate committee had a one day hearing and a few days to write a report.

Government Senators said the process was “totally inadequate” and “such fundamentally important legislation should have bipartisan support with broad consensus among stakeholders affected.”

A parliamentary committee says the time it has been given to scrutinise laws overhauling land rights in the Northern Territory is “totally inadequate”.

The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2006 was introduced to federal parliament in May. The government-dominated committee lent its guarded support to the bill, designed to usher in individual home ownership on communal land and change the way land councils operate.

Separate dissenting reports by Labor, the Australian Greens and the Australian Democrats recommended the bill be rejected. All reports made mention of the lack of time available to the committee to scrutinise the legislation.

The Democrats said the inquiry was a “grossly inadequate, truncated” examination of the proposed changes. According to the committee every non-government submission had opposed the changes.

Indigenous Affairs minister Mal Bough has denied the bill drastically changed the land rights of top end Aborigines. “There is nothing in the bill that alters the inalienable title rights of indigenous communities in the Northern Territory,” he said.

Get Up has a campaign:
http://www.getup.org.au/campaign.asp?campaign_id=36

Source: perth.indymedia.org



August 24, 2006: Japan has allegedly been over-fishing its bluefin tuna quota for the last 20 years. Australian officials say Japan has overfished its quota to the tune of more than $2 billion.

But Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton says Australia has also been caught catching more bluefin tuna than it is allowed to.

Greens leader Bob Brown has called on the Prime Minister to take up the issue of Japan’s illegal fishing of ‘threatened’ southern blue fin.

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority says Japan has a 6,000-tonne national quota and illegally catches between 12,000 and 20,000 tonnes per season and hides it. They say it is largely because the Japanese only ever allow Japanese observers on their boats…

In the 1980s, Australia, Japan and New Zealand set up the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) to manage the fishery. The nations agreed on a quota system to prevent further depletion of overfished tuna stocks. But the CCSBT says Japan never stood by the deal.

Senator Brown is also calling for Australian observers to be placed on Japanese fishing ships. “The Australian Government should insist that Australian observers be on the Japanese ships and that we get an independent observation going on here.”

Greens Senator Rachel Siewart agrees. She took the issue to the Senate today.

“After questioning in the Senate today on illegal tuna fishing, it is obvious that all we will see is one of the Environment Minister’s talkfests, the same as he has given us with whaling,” she said. “This species is facing extinction before our eyes. The Minister’s obligations are crystal clear. Instead of platitudes about ‘win-win’ situations, it’s about time we saw action from this Minister, not words.”

Senator Siewert has urged Environment Minister Ian Campbell to do his job – list the species as ‘threatened’ under Australia’s EPBC Act, and nominate the species to be listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

In September 2005, the Minister’s ‘Threatened Species Scientific Committee’ recommended the species be listed under the EPBC Act. The Minister ignored this advice.

The revelations that the true Japanese catch was between two and three times higher than reported is grounds for a review of this decision, according to Senator Siewert.

In the Senate, Senator Siewert proposed some simple measures for the Government to protect rapidly depleting stocks of Southern Bluefin Tuna. “This is one of the rare cases where we have the means at our disposal, nationally and internationally, to take action to arrest the slide toward extinction,” she said in a media release.

Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton says new monitoring systems are working well, and that is how the issue of overfishing has come to a head. But he says that it is not just Japan.

Despite blowing the whistle on Japan, Mr Anderton says Australia has also been caught catching more bluefin tuna than it is allowed to.

Mr Anderton says now those countries know they have been caught, they must make sure the overfishing stops now. He says he will be pushing hard for the offending countries’ quotas to be lowered as punishment. He says he will be making his opinion clear at a regional meeting on the issue in Tokyo at the end of the year.

But Tuna Boat Owners Association president Brian Jeffriess says there is no hard evidence for overfishing. “That’s a huge amount of fish and a huge amount of money – it’s a bit hard to believe frankly,” he said. “Think again – people need to be careful to check some of that facts if they know them before they speculate.

“Pick on Japan happens to be flavour of the month and people need to be very careful about it.”

Source: perth.indymedia.org



et cetera