Monday Madness..

There’s so much going on at the moment, I thought I’d throw up an open thread for general discussion..

This story is particularly disturbing but not all that surprising…

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129 Responses

  1. Here’s another suicide story a “creative” 18 year old male..

    “Whether creative people are at higher risk is a matter of debate, Professor Ian Hickie from the Brain and Mind Research Institute says, but their loss hits us particularly hard.” writes the author Joel Gibson.

    “Creative?”

    FFS, obviously the stigma of ‘being gay’ or perceived as being gay, is still so f**king self-evident, that even the author of the news story uses the euphamisim “creative”..

    No wonder gay and lesbian teens are attempting suicide in droves..

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/wellbeing/boy-who-brought-house-down/2008/11/09/1226165386588.html

  2. Singapore Airline economy is so much better than Qantas. I actually had a decent flight. The inflight entertainment system is excellent, the food OK (even if I did manage to spill some sauce on my white shirt) and the wine kept flowing and flowing.

    The staff at Starbucks in the building remembered me from two months ago – even remembering my order. Make me fell at home.

    And typically for Singapore – there is a thunderstorm which keeps making me jump with the thunder – which provides lots of entertainment for the locals.

    🙂

  3. Another example of how the system in general fails targets of hostility. It’s all related simply because it’s no taken seriously by the government.

    I think Elizabeth Farrelly is close to the mark: We constantly Band-Aid bullying – in schools and workplaces, nursing homes and churches, government departments, ministerial offices and even in the army (uh, isn’t that what armies are for?) But in truth we now have a system based on bullying; run by bullies, for bullies. A system that not only rewards and promotes bullies, but covers up when they’re caught.

    Lets hope that justice is more forthcoming for victims

    Bully victim sues for $2m
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/bully-victim-sues-for-2m/2008/11/10/1226165448721.html
    “David Gregory went to his teachers in tears during six years of “consistent and systematic bullying” at the hands of his classmates and the school did nothing, the NSW Supreme Court has heard.

    Mr Gregory, now 30, from Mollymook on the state’s south coast, now suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and agoraphobia and is unable to work, which he blames on the years of humiliation and isolation he endured at Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School in Tamworth in the state’s north.”

  4. If you care about classical music, then you won’t be pleased that the Federal Labor Government is ceasing all funding to the Australian National Academy of Music. This academy is esential for the future of bright and gifted young classical musicians. It costs around $2.5 million a year to fund. To put that in perspective, the Australian Institute of Sport costs over $600 million a year to fund.

    The Minister, Peter Garrett, issued a statement a couple of weeks ago saying that the government would cease all funding to ANAM effective next year. He would not and has not since, to the best of my knowledge, given any real explanation for this decision. Students have been left out in the lurch for next year as a result of the timing of this decsion.

    This is not the only cut to classical music that the new government has made. Earlier in the year the new Federal Government cut funding to the Melbourne International Chamber Music festival. It seems that they don’t truly value classical music.

    If you are interested in this matter you can follow this link, which can take you to many other articles and blogs on this matter, and an online petition.

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=40621992847

    If you feel strongly about this matter, i’d urge you to consider contacting the minister and/or your local member to let them know your feelings on the matter.

  5. By the way, it’s nice to see a blog with all the ex-Blogocracy commenters. Interesting times in politics with Obama being elected president of the United States. I think that Rudd is doing a reasonable job of managing the economy at the moment. It’s a great shame, in my view, that he doesn’t seem to care much for the arts.

  6. What a day…been run off my feet finishing one job and starting the next, not in that order.

    Lost my mobile and was late picking scapette up from school…the principal looked after her until I got there with the Rodeo overloaded with the bricks that were demolished as a late variation…I have to learn to say no now and then but the clients are new settlers from South Africa.

    Oh well, the beast has been fed and it’s only Monday…five weeks to go before I take a big break.

  7. I blame the Libs/ALP and the religious right. Their collective refusal to grant gay couples the right to marry sends a (not so subtle) message the homosexuality is still ‘wrong’ somehow.

    Ditto all the angst and handwringing over ‘Playschool’.. You know I never thought about sexuality as a child and never connected the Noddy storie I read to homosexuality. It is only the suspicious minds of adults.

    Sort of cancels out their rhetoric about equality for gay people.

    To be equal gay children should be able to attend school without this sort on stumpjumper behaviour being visited upon them. Having two mums, or two dads shouldn’t be an issue either.

  8. Alastair what a disgrace. 3.4 bilion to prop up a dinosaur of a car industry but nothing for the arts. Actually the two may be related.

  9. Alastair,

    I reckon Peter Garrett is a very poor excuse of a man.

    In ALL of his areas of responsibilty, whether it be Arts or the Environment, all he does is go about explaining why the Government isn’t doing anything, or worse still actually acting against the best interests of those porfolios.

    I mean, minister for the Environment SUPPORTING an environmentally unfriendly pulp mill in Tasmania?

    Puleaze!!

  10. And another thing.

    I’d hate to be a young teenager growing up today.

    It seems like everyone regards them with suspicion.

    Why is this so?

    As I asked in another post a while back, why are we so afraid of our kids??

  11. Reb, the example of Peter Garrett illustrates the lie of individuals being able to make a difference if they join a main party.

    He can’t say anything against the party line or risk pre-selection, and he is probably getting used the privileges of being a Govt minister.

    So many are willing to act immorally or close their eyes when the price is right. In this case percieved power, I’m sure Garrett is doing reasonably well in the financial stakes unless he blew all the money he made from ‘Oil’.

  12. As I asked in another post a while back, why are we so afraid of our kids??

    Maybe the fear isn’t of ones own kids but everyone else’s.

    I see the youth as the future, providing we don’t stuff everything up for them now.

  13. Reb, Garrett’s behaviour concerning the pulp mill is somewhat puzzling…but there is method to his madness.

    He gave Gunns an extension due to their unsuccessful attempts to secure finance…now if this does not come about then the mill will not be built.

    Now if his decision went the other way there would be possible litigation against the Commonwealth…on the arts, I have no idea and could not be bothered to find out at this point.

  14. Yeah, I meant “our kids” in a societal sense Tracie.

    It seems that generally we (as a society) regard them with suspicion these days. And I really don’t know why that is…

  15. “In ALL of his areas of responsibilty, whether it be Arts or the Environment, all he does is go about explaining why the Government isn’t doing anything, or worse still actually acting against the best interests of those porfolios.”

    Sadly that appears to be the case. It doesn’t seem like he’s actually doing much to improve the country in his areas of interest and responsibility.

    Tracy, #9 – I agree it is a disgrace. I think your comment at #12 is spot on the money.

  16. Here we go again – I told ya PG was a dummy during the election and you buggers jumped all over me – BTW Alastair, I reckon PG couldn’t identify a viola in a string section, so how could the “dick” support any classical training – the man is a moron – period!

    While we are on the subject of discrimination, I’m sure many of you know that I, and The Minister, are agnostics (eg niether believe nor disbelieve any religious concepts) – so – when our children were growing up (at school) they were told to attend any religious education class they wanted – they were asked to leave most, because – when asked, they said they didn’t go to any church and nor did their parents…duh! (Education dummies!)

    …our g/children go to state schools – no religious education at all – which I think is a shame…

    …maybe all discriminitaion goes this way in the end – ie just disappears…

    …and my 10 year old g/son has discovered John Wayne! He watched Rooster Cogburn with us on Saturday (sleepover with his sister) and he was off school with us today (bit under the weather)…

    …I hired The Cowboys for him (we all enjoyed!) told him there is about another 140 movies to go! Proves that if the product is good it will stretch across that generation gap everytime!

  17. Reb, I don’t notice it where I’m living. Must be a city thing.

  18. Scaper, if there are real environmental concerns and it certainly appears that there are Garrett would have a legitimate excuse to backflip on the Gunns papermill.

    As for being sued, I would rather the Govt paid compensation due to a gross error in judgement by the previous Govt, than continued to back an unpopular project which will be detrimental to the environment.

    Garrett has sold out. Plain and simple IMO.

  19. “Garrett has sold out. Plain and simple IMO”

    I STRONGLY agree.

    What happened to the power and the passion?

    I guess ‘the power’ won out.

    The guy is a total cop out. I’m amazed he can say what he does with a straight face.

    Shame on you Peter Garrett…SHAME!

  20. Tracie, I think the present government is just about out of “compensation” money used to cover the stupidity of the previous government…

    …and the wingnuts still don’t understand the mess that all Lib/Nat governments leave always cost the taxpayers a packet to put right…

  21. I’m amazed he can say what he does with a straight face.

    😆

  22. And another thing!

    Interest rates are tipped to decrease to record lows…

    But I thought interest rates would always be lower under a Liberal government…….???????????????????

  23. I’m amazed he can say what he does with a straight face.

    Coz that’s all he’s got, sreb!!!!!!!!

  24. You believed ’em???

  25. Probably are Reb. Still not really a reason to perpetuate the previous Govts error.

    Or were there bags given and palms slicked? Besides didn’t Garrett (and the ALP) support the mill before they were elected?

    Not fair to lay all the blame on the previous Govt for this one.

  26. Of course not TB, just calling them up on their propoganda..

    Where’s Neil of Sydney to declare that we’ve got it all wrong…

  27. Sorry Reb, that last comment should have been directed at TB.

    Also TB (24) LOL.

  28. I’ve had a chat or two with the person and I stand by my previous comment!

  29. scaper

    ..so what you are saying is that PG is a methodical madman?

  30. Scaper, it sounds like Garrett is hoping the mill won’t go ahead due to lack of financing and the public will be so pleased it has failed they will forget the ALP were all for it.

    That may be pragmatic, but hardly ethical or responsible.

    I really do expect more from our ‘leaders’ and ‘representatives’.

  31. Peter G. what is it that this guy wants that can hurt the government?
    He is keep at a distance from the public.
    When he speaks it seems like someone elses words

    I use to believe what Garret said but i now think money has overtaken his passion.

  32. I forgot to add my wife calls him remote control garret.

  33. Oh boy…I stand by my original comment…

  34. Where’s Neil of Sydney to declare that we’ve got it all wrong…
    27. reb | November 10, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    I am here but why should I repeat the obvious???

    Garrets main purpose in life is to come out and say how much Labor supports , The Arts, Science, the environment etc, etc .

    After having stated this, he then proceeds to announce a cut in government spending compared to the level that John Howard funded , arts, environment, science etc etc.

    All the leftoid deadbeats nod in agreement to the wonderful Garret. However some wonder how can less funding be better than what Howard funded things.

  35. Neil not sure what blog you are reading. A lot of us are actually critical of Garrett.

    Not all people blindly heap praise on a Govt simply because they are their preferred Govt…unlike some Lib supporters.

  36. Must resist urge to make comment after imbibing ….

  37. Nah D55…. let it rip. We all do it.

  38. … failed!!

    OK folks, this could go anywhere and everywhere …

    Re the Arts funding – I make no comment. I suspect that a lot of this money has been thrown around in the past with little regard for how it is being spent – money to something in the for for the sake of saying that money has been given to the arts is not a good way to spend our money. While you may criticise Garrett for this, the current Labor Government has actually done quite a lot for the Arts and I reckon the ledger is well an truly in the black even after this cut – the royalty payments to aboriginal artists still hasn’t received the credit it deserves and if he cuts music to people playing foreign classics in favour of supporting home grown artistic endeavours then I’m giving it a thumbs up.

    On scapers point about the pulp mill – I’ve commented over at Blogocracy about this in the past and defended Turnbull’s decision to approve it based on the narrow issues that he was restricted to considering (and yes, I did read the Chief Scientist’s report and many of the other studies into the Mill). The reality is that the Mill is unpopular but that doesn’t mean it is an environmental disaster. And the extensions that Garrett is giving are for arbitrary time lines anyway – the mill can’t proceed until the approvals are given so what does it matter that a particular report about something that will; happen in the future is given an extra few months to be provided. If the report had related to impacts from the plant then it would be a different matter but to complain about this extension is absurd; to insist on compliance with this time line and deny a multi-million dollar investment from proceeding would be bureaucracy at it worst. There are far worse industries in the Tamar valley at the moment and no-one gives a shit about them but a pulp mill … in Tassie … ooooh we can’t have that … 🙄

    I actually feel sorry for Garrett. People align him with every enviro issue but in reality, his heart was always in the anti-nuclear and pro aboriginal rights issues. On both of these, with the exception of the scrapping of the 3 mines policy (which he opposed), he has been solid and he has actually performed his role as enviro-minister pretty well and consistent with administrative law principles regarding decision makers. I feel Garrett is another example of people expecting Labor to deliver on all of their grievances with the Libs when no such promises were ever given. If the environment and the arts turn to shit while Labor is in power, you can give Garrett a bollocking and I’ll probably be along side you doing the same, but until then – please, reserve your judgment and stop acting like spoiled children expecting Christmas every time a Labor Minister opens their mouth.

    BTW – this is not a pro Garrett or pro Labor comment. Quite frankly, I’m pissed off with people expecting the world to change and every thing that pissed them off while Howard was in power to be fixed under Rudd – immediately. Well face reality folks – this was never promised and politics pretty much dictates that someone will be pissed off by a decision almost all of the time. That a decision doesn’t mesh with a utopian view of the word is not surprising – I’m sure that Neil is pissed off with a lot more of the current Government’s decisions than the rest of us. And with this perspective, I’ll sign off now. Nite all.

    ( how did I do? I told you it could be interesting. Lots of red in the Google spell check but I’m hoping that’s the US spelling).

  39. Hmmm – I wonder how that will read in the morning …

  40. “BTW – this is not a pro Garrett or pro Labor comment.
    9. Dave55 | November 10, 2008 at 11:35 pm”

    Is that so!!! You could have fooled me.

    “I actually feel sorry for Garrett.”

    I do not!!!!

    “Re the Arts funding – I make no comment”

    But you just went and did. You suggested that lots of money had been wasted by the Howard govt and that the Garret cut in spending was just cutting wasteful spending. Very wise of Garret!!! No problems with the cut says Dave 55. All wonderful funding cuts by the all wise and wonderful Dudd government.

    Ant more perverted comments by the relevant leftoids????

  41. Dave55 your right i just asked myself why i expect more from Garrett and I’m more relaxed with Rudd, if that makes sense. I guess my hopes were high when P.Garrett joined the party.

    *please, reserve your judgment and stop acting like spoiled children expecting Christmas every time a Labor Minister opens their mouth.

    Oh, I’m an Easter person myself.

  42. Dave55,

    “I suspect that a lot of this money has been thrown around in the past with little regard for how it is being spent”

    Do you have any factual basis for that suspicion?

    His cutoff of funding to ANAM means that the Academy will close at the beginning of next year. I’m not sure I made that clear before. At this late stage in the year it leaves students out in the lurch in terms of study arrangements for next year. And as I said before, he has not even explained why this funding was cut. Why can’t he at least give an explanation?

    “money to something in the for for the sake of saying that money has been given to the arts is not a good way to spend our money.”

    That does not accurately represent the nature of the funding to ANAM at all!

    ANAM is unique and is the top classical music training institution in Australia. It’s closure will mean a lowering of standards in classical music training in this country.

    “if he cuts music to people playing foreign classics in favour of supporting home grown artistic endeavours then I’m giving it a thumbs up.”

    Why does it have to be one or the other? Classical musicians also play Australian classical music. We are talking $2.5 million. What percentage is that of the entire budget? Miniscule. The money made a large and invaluably positive contribution. Saving $2.5 million does nothing for the budget’s bottom line.

    “I feel Garrett is another example of people expecting Labor to deliver on all of their grievances with the Libs when no such promises were ever given.”

    Not at all for me. I was never expecting anything from him. His actions have aggressively attacked classical music training in this country. I feel I have every right to strongly criticise his ill-conceived, misguided actions that I believe are tantamount to cultural vandalism.

    Of course classical music is not to everyone’s taste. That’s fine. I’m not a fan of heavy metal. However, I’m not going to go around and say I support a funding cutoff to the training of heavy metal musicians.

  43. But Dave, I thought the role of “The Minister for the Environment” is to protect and maintain the best interests of The Environment NOT the commercial interests of a particular company.

    Likewise as “Minister for the The Arts” shouldn’t the role be responsible for protecting and maintaining the best interests of Arts & Culture NOT diminishing it??

  44. Dave55 I never really expected anything better from Garrett after he joined the ALP. I have little faith that joining a main party actually enables anybody to do anything other than promote the party agenda.

    From my understanding the wood chip agreement between Forestry Tasmania gives Gunns access to state forests (both native and plantation) until 2027.

    ‘Initially’ timber for the mill will be sourced 80% from native forests. Native forest timber is cheaper for Gunns to purchase than plantatation timber. Gunns will sell the woodchips to Japan. I imagine to make as much profit as possible or even to be viable they may be more reliant on native timber than they are letting on.

    At the very time we are discouraging others from logging forests due to climate change, we are encouraging logging of our own forests. Unbelievable.

    Even the ANZ who have provided funding to Gunns for 15 years, have washed their hands of this project.

    So it’s not a case of ‘acting like spoiled children expecting Christmas every time a Labor Minister opens their mouth’, rather expecting consistency from a Govt who claims to be concerned about climate change.

    I have been appalled at the ALP’s stance on this since before they were elected.

    On the funding for the Australian National Acadamy of Music, or rather withdrawal of said funding, I agree with Alastair.

    $2.5 mill is not a huge amount in the big scheme of things. This Academy may close, and classical music in Australia will suffer. As Alastair said, given the context of the amount spent on the Australian Institute of Sport, this is cultural vandalism.

  45. Wow – that did get a bite, and you all missed my point.

    I didn’t say the Gunns mill was a good project, I simply said the decision to extend the time to produce plans was sensible. The project can’t proceed until the plans are approved so what is the problem with an extension that simply delays the project. Insisting on compliance with an arbitrary deadline to stop a project on grounds unrelated to the plans is just opportunistic and would be symbolic of poor governance. Most of the objections to the Gunns Mill, as evidenced by Tracie’s comments are based on objections to logging native forests. Apart from the potential impact on a couple of threatened species this aspect of the Gunns Mill was outside the approval role of the Commonwealth. I have been and am critical of the assessment and approval of the Mill and the poor impact assessment on native forests by the State Government who approved the development. Take out your anger at them – not Garrett.

    And reb – the Minister’s role is to administer the legislation he is responsible for and to do so in an informed way – knee jerk reactions based on community pressure alone is not a sensible way to do this.. Garrett has commissioned a review of the EPBC Act to strengthen these powers and I look forward to commenting on it.

  46. On the ANAM funding issue – I said I wasn’t commenting on the individual decision regarding the ANAM and I didn’t, rather I was critical of people saying Garrett and Labor had done nothing for the Arts based on this decision alone and overlook things they have done (like the royalty program).

    I don’t know enough about the ANAM, nor the reasons for the funding cut to make an informed comment.

    My comment: “I suspect that a lot of this money has been thrown around in the past with little regard for how it is being spent”. was not directed at the ANAM but funding to arts (and other) organisations generally. The funding figure is usually an arbitrary one that is not tied to any specific project or outcome, nor is the figure determined (in many cases) by the organisation . Just looking at the ANAM website website they appear to be primarily an education institution. In this case, they should be funded similarly to a fine arts course at Uni and possibly even come under the HECCs model.

    The comment about ‘it’s only $2.5 million” is just dumb. I agree that it is only a small fraction of the budget but ultimately, the money needs to be spent where it is put to the best use. The ANAM isn’t the only music training school in Australia after all and there has to be potential for it to raise more revenue through tuition, sponsorship and concert fees.

    Oh, and for the record, I think the funding for the AIS needs to be seriously looked at as well.

  47. Tracie,

    At the very time we are discouraging others from logging forests due to climate change, we are encouraging logging of our own forests. Unbelievable

    Actually, we are encouraging other Countries to log more sustainably and to reduce clearing. We are not trying to stop other countries from logging. Logging is reasonably greenhouse neutral provided the forest is allowed to regrow or is replanted. Your comment also overlooks the fact that the pulp either has to come from here or OS to make the paper so the argument that stopping the Gunns Mill somehow reduces the amount of logging in the World is misguided. This is NIMBYism at its best. I would much prefer forests to be logged and managed as a timber resource in accordance Australian environmental regulations and standards than in many (if not all) other countries.

  48. Without wishing to hijack a discussion about arts funding, I always advocate a significantly greater level of expenditure for indigenous art programs.

    Very briefly, my rationale is that

    – It is the only truly unique Australian art.
    – It can foster a great sense of worth for a unique culture.
    – It can create role models for indigenous youth beyond sporting heroes.
    – It is rich in history and culture.
    – Most other forms of art are simply imitations of a European heritage.

    I’d happily support a reduction in funding for existing arts programs, if all the money (and more was directed to promotion of indigenous artistic programs.

    People should get on board, and support uniquely Australian artistic heritage.

  49. Tom – Agree.

    I’ll add that if you feel strongly about the ANAM thing, there is a petition available on their website (link above).

  50. “The ANAM isn’t the only music training school in Australia after all”

    I never claimed that it was. It is the top training classical music institution in this country and it is the only classical music training institution in this country that is independent of a university and the restrictive regulations (that hurt the quality of music training) that go with universities. I don’t believe $2.5 million is a lot of money to fund a top-flight classical music training institution.

    No other classical music institution in Australia has the same high level of students and staff. ANAM also provides the most intensive training for performing classical musicians. A considerably higher rate of ANAM students obtain full-time professional jobs in top quality orchestras than from any other music institution in Australia. It’s closure will result in a declining standard of classical musical training in this country and more quality teachers and students will be forced overseas.

    I would always agree that taxpayers money should be well-spent. If the government had issues with how the money was used, then why didn’t they work with the institution to come to an agreement? This cutoff of funding was sudden and out of the blue, not to mention very poor timing. To allow closure of this important institution would be, in my view, outrageous.

  51. “The project can’t proceed until the plans are approved so what is the problem with an extension that simply delays the project. ”

    The problem is that Gunns withdrew from the RPDC process citing unnacceptable delays as the reason. Paul Lennon then railroaded the ‘approval’ through Parliament.

    The RPDC stated that it was Gunns who were delaying the whole process by failing to deliver essential information including accurate forecasts of toxc emmissions.

    At the time Gunns claimed that they were losing one million dollars a day, for every day that the approval was delayed. Obviously this is BS.

    It is not an issue about ‘logging old growth forests,’ it is the complete abandonment of normal democratic process and the way in which Gunns has succesfully, in collusion with Paul Lennon, rammed this pulp mill down everyone’s throats in Tasmania and divided the entire State.

  52. Tom,

    That sounds like a perfectly reasonable view. However, I’d just like to emphasis that the cut to ANAM is not just a reduction but a complete cessation of funding that will result in the institution’s closure . I find this completely intolerable.

    Dave55, indeed there is an online petition (which I signed a while back). I’d encourage anyone who feels strongly about the matter to consder signing it.

  53. Dave55 you seem to miss the point that I see Garretts decision in the context of the ALP’s unmitigated support for this project beginning when they were in opposition.

    If the Commonwealth’s role is as negligable as you say, why not make a moral stand and opppose? I think it is because they were frightened off by the last logging issue involving Latham.

    Maybe they misread public feeling on this one.

    I mentioned mainly logging objections , but for the residents of the Tamar Valley there are many more.

    I really don’t have the time or the inclination to list them all here but you are welcome to read their objections here .

    I see Garrett/the Fed ALP as being complicit in all of this, so will criticise them as I see appropriate.

  54. “Just looking at the ANAM website website they appear to be primarily an education institution. In this case, they should be funded similarly to a fine arts course at Uni and possibly even come under the HECCs model. ”

    I don’t disagree with this idea and consistency could be achieved by making the same applicable to the AIS.

    In time these institutions may become less reliant on Govt funding.

    Just on that topic I wonder how much revenue Australian classical musicians put into the economy? I am sure it would negate the $2.5 mill p/a spent on training the future.

    As for money being put to it’s best use, I would not agree that this is the case with the latest financial injection into the floundering and IMO doomed Australian car industry.

    How much benefit did we get out of the Howard Govt handouts to Mitsubishi?

  55. “Just on that topic I wonder how much revenue Australian classical musicians put into the economy? I am sure it would negate the $2.5 mill p/a spent on training the future.”

    That’s a very good point Tracie. I don’t have the figures but it would definitely be overwhelmingly above the amount that the Federal Government spends on classical music in Australia. I also belive it is not just an economic issue but also a cultural one.

    I

  56. Tracie

    I see Garrett/the Fed ALP as being complicit in all of this, so will criticise them as I see appropriate.

    Clearly! But what was Federal Labor to do – suddenly revoke an approval that had gone through an appropriate Commonwealth process? Such an approach would increase the sovereign risk of doing business in Australia. Furthermore, any such decision, without a change in the legislation, would have almost certainly been overturned in Court.

    As reb has pointed out – the State Government process was appalling and should be criticised accordingly. It was this process that should have dealt with the issues you are raising not the Commonwealth process. This is what annoys me about your comments. I have no problem with criticism where it is warranted but you are criticising an assessment process that, within its legislative constraints, was pretty robust.

    We live in a Democracy that operates on the rule of law. The Commonwealth assessment process has been in accordance with this law. What you are suggesting is decision making based on something outside that legal framework; for a whole host of reasons (sovereign risk, certainty of approval, consistency etc), such an arbitrary approach is undesirable and prone to the type of influence from developers or other interests that the rule of law attempts to eliminate. If you don’t like the law, lobby for it to be changed.

    I agree that Federal Labor didn’t take an active stance against the Mill but circumstances saved them from having to take a view one way or another (the Approval was granted by the last Government after all). Labor were badly stung by the Latham experience in Tas and I don’t blame them for deferring to the Chief Scientist’s views and allowing the past Government to make the tough decision

  57. Dave how can logging be greenhouse neutral. We cannot realistically replace the forests as fast as they are cut down. Saplings do not absorb the same amount of carbon as a fully grown tree.

    Also cabon is released when they are cut down and woodchipped.

    How is this neutral? We would be better off leaving native forests especially where they are. You may not be concerned about “a couple of threatened species”, but when you destroy a forest you destroy an ecosystem.

    I haven’t ignored the fact that Gunns wil be competing with o/s companies. This is the reason I believe Gunns will be more reliant on native forest than they are letting on.

    Despite saying, you weren’t saying Gunns mill was a good project, you seem to be making a robust effort to defend them.

    But I’m not going to spend all day arguing about this. I’m not happy with Garrett and the ALP on this, and amount of spin will make a bad idea into a good one.

  58. *ahem*

    May I draw everyone’s attention to the fact that the blog is about to reach 40,000 hits..

    Party poppers at the ready…

    Joni: Woohoo! Just amazing blogocrats… and what is also incredible is that we have had over 4600 comments. So over 10% of our hits are resulting in comments.

  59. Alastair and Tracie

    While it may not be clear from my comments above, I am actually a big believer in the Arts and don’t believe that the funding of Arts generally should be contingent upon it delivering financial returns. Society is enriched by the arts and other ‘arts’ type areas of study like philosophy which provide massive intangible benefits.

    That said, the ANAM is effectively providing high end private tuition to talented musicians. The economist in me says that such an institution should be significantly funded through those benefiting from it, particularly when there are other very high quality publicly funded institutions available. I do agree with Alastair though that the ANAM should have been given greater warning of this because it puts a massive hole in the budget and affects peoples study plans for the following year. This could perhaps be one of those cases for continuing the funding for the next 12 months with a view to reassessing it during the next 12 months in consultation with the ANAM.

  60. If only arts and culture organisations received the same amount of corporate sponsorship support as ARL and NRL…

    *sigh*

  61. Alastair I agree the issue is cultural as well. I don’t understand this rejection of culture just because it is percieved as European.

    Classical music belongs to everyone. Where would the ballet be without classical music?

    Those who don’t appreciate the cultural aspect are sometimes pragmatic enough to appreciate the economic aspect.

  62. I’m not sure Reb. Corporate funding could lead to politicisation of the arts, and a lot of voices could be silenced.

  63. It can work Tracie, as long as there are clear guidelines and a mutual understanding and agreement about the scope and nature of the sponsorship.

  64. Tracie
    Dave how can logging be greenhouse neutral. We cannot realistically replace the forests as fast as they are cut down. Saplings do not absorb the same amount of carbon as a fully grown tree.

    Mature forests don’t actually adsorb a lot of CO2 in a net sense – most sequestration is done during the growing phase of the tree so saplings do actually suck up more CO2 than a mature tree. And yes, carbon is released when the trees are cut down and chipped but it is readsorbed again by the young growing trees. There is a LOT of research on this.

    Of course the transport of the chips and paper and the paper manufacturing process will also produce CO2 which is not offset by plantation timber (unless the plantations go on cleared land).

    On the Gunns Mill, I have no firm view either way. I think that Turnbull made the right decision based on the material he had before him and the narrow scope of assessment he was limited to by the legislation. Unfortunately the material regarding impacts for matters outside the Cth assessment was, in many respects, woefully inadequate and a proper assessment of the development cannot be made on the basis of that assessment material. I believe that a paper mill in Tasmania is probably a pretty good development but whether or not the Gunns proposal in the Tamar Valley was the best option I honestly can’t say.

    BTW, the ‘couple of threatened species” comment was intended to dismiss this as irrelevant, rather, it just stated the facts. Impacts on ecosystems is very important and was considered by the Chief Scientist in some detail when assessing the impacts on these Cth listed threatened species.

  65. “comment was intended” should read “comment wasn’t intended” 😳

  66. I’m not sure Reb. Corporate funding could lead to politicisation of the arts, and a lot of voices could be silenced.

    Dave55:
    “Clearly! But what was Federal Labor to do – suddenly revoke an approval that had gone through an appropriate Commonwealth process?”

    They shouldn’t have supported it in the first place. They did so and IMO deserve criticism.

  67. Dave55,

    I am glad to hear you believe in the Arts and the benefits they provide to society.

    “That said, the ANAM is effectively providing high end private tuition to talented musicians. The economist in me says that such an institution should be significantly funded through those benefiting from it, particularly when there are other very high quality publicly funded institutions available.”

    I can’t agree with this. I believe that people should have opportunity based on their abilities and hard work not on the depth of their wallets. The financial background of classical musicians range from poor to rich (and in between) just like any other profession. The expenses for musicians are quite hefty outside of any tution expenses. However, I am not opposed to students contributing to the cost of their education but I believe that the amount should be affordable for people of all financial backgrounds (perhaps a cost no more than standard Arts HECS rates with the possibly of deferring payment like HECS).

    There are other decent classical music training institutions in the country. However, their degrees generally have a major compulsory written component involved to provide a rounded music education, often for the purpose of becoming a music teacher. ANAM is a different institution whose focus is solely on performing – which for performers is ideal. I also believe the standard of performing tution is higher than any other music institution in the country. The performance opportunities the students receive at ANAM are more frequent and involve working with a much greater range (and in many cases greater standard) of top calibre professional musicians.

    “This could perhaps be one of those cases for continuing the funding for the next 12 months with a view to reassessing it during the next 12 months in consultation with the ANAM.”

    I believe that this would be a reasonable outcome to the
    current situation.

  68. Tracie and Reb,

    The classical music industry is having to rely more and more on corporate funding as each year passes. The Howard Government made considerable cuts whilst it was in Government. It seems the Rudd Labor Government is continuing that tradition. The Howard Government allowed an orchestra (the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra) to die. It seems now that the Rudd Government is happy to let the Australian National Academy of Music die. Given that Queensland had two Orchestras and the uniqueness of ANAM, I’d say that ANAM is far more important than the QPO ever was (although i can’t say I like the fact that it no longer exists).

  69. I should also mention that there are other impending closures of classical music training institutions in Australia. The Victorian College of the Arts will be gone starting next year and the Canberra School of Music (ANU) is on the verge of collapse. This makes the timing of the decision by the Federal Government on the cessation of ANAM funding all the more damaging and bewildering.

  70. Alastair,

    Oh all right, you’ve convinced me – I’ll sign the petition.

  71. Dave the Cheif Scientist appears to be relying on Gunns inherent honesty, to factually report environmental impact.

    Is is just me or is that like asking a fox to guard the chicken house?

    The ANZ conducted their own independent environmental review, and decided NOT to fund the project. Hmmm.

  72. Alastair thank you for all the information. I am appalled that something like this is happening in this country.

    Aren’t we one of the enlightened ones? It appears not if the Rudd Govt allows this sort of cultural vandalism to continue. I will be signing the petition.

  73. Tracie

    All environmental assessments are commissioned by the developers. It’s not a perfect approach but the idea is that the environmental assessment will feed into the design of the development and the environment be better off because of it. I’ve done a fair bit of study and thinking about this and, other than change the focus of the assessment to better look at long term impacts and broader social impacts, the model works pretty well. Ultimately, all the Government Assessment process does is assess the adequacy of the private assessment. Most approval authorities are pretty good at this and engage good people to do this assessment. If the assessment done by the developer is crap, the development should either be knocked back or more info requested (the latter is a common occurence). This should have happened in the case of the Tas State assessment.

    I understand that more information was provided for the Cth assessment and this, and additional research, was used by the Chief Scientist. AGAIN I stress that the Cth approval process is much narrower in its scope than the State one – it is restricted to assessing the impact of the development on identified matters of significance – not the project as a whole.

    I don’t know anything about the ANZ assessment. I can’t imagine that they went out and re-did all the fauna and flora studies or emissions modelling; this would have cost millions. My bet is they just commissioned someone to review the material already prepared by Gunns and other people (inc the Chief Scientist probably) and arrived at the decision that it was iffy (as the Tas State Government prob should have done). I’m also suspicious of ANZ pulling out simply because of the community backlash rather than a full environmental assessment. I’m not saying that their environmental assessment wasn’t robust (it may have been), but commercial factors may also have played a large role. Lets just say that I question their stated motives for pulling funding.

  74. 40, 029 HIts. Congratulations to Reb/Joni and all Blogocrats.

  75. Dave55, if I’ve convinced you then I’m happy.

    Tracie, i’m glad to have been informative on this matter. As you can tell, I’m very passionate about classical music and feel that it has an important role to play in society. The decision to cut all funding to ANAM (and in the way it was done) just beggers belief. I still hold hope that the volume of people voicing their concerns to the government over this issue may get them to change their mind about ANAM. The more people who voice their concerns the more likely they will truly listen. The closure of ANAM would be a great loss to classical music in this country.

  76. Tracie – art of course is already a private endeavour. In history arts patronage has supported most of the major works we now value. Whether or not this was an appropriate use of resources at that time, or whether the funds should have been allocated to alleviating some of the privation of that period is a separate question.

    Reb – If my memory serves me correctly, the one of the private funding organisations coordinated the contribution of over $170mill to sponsorship of arts programs last year.

    Tracie should ask the recipients of this funding whether or not they feel compromised or politicised by this.

  77. “All environmental assessments are commissioned by the developers. It’s not a perfect approach…”

    LOL Dave. That must be in the running for understatement of the year.

    The problem with just taking Gunn’s (and any other developers) word for it, is that later on if serious problems do occur large amounts of money will need to be spent (some of it taxpayers) on rectifying the problem.

    Given Gunn honesty in respects to other self assessments it has done during this fiasco one would be excused for not trusting them.

    Garrett apears to behaving a Red Queen moment, except it is “approval first, assessment later”. .

  78. Greens’ Senator Christine Milne had this to say:

    “Everyone knows that the Achilles heel of the Gunns pulp mill project is the impact of its toxic effluent on Bass Strait. The hydrodynamic modelling has always been critical and it is why Gunns has gone to such lengths to prevent the release of the Herzfeld Report, which I expect will show that it cannot meet the dilution and dispersion conditions set down by the Commonwealth.

    “I have been trying to get access to the Herzfeld report since April. After I secured its release under appeal, Gunns has now delayed release at least into next year by appealing to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. It remains to be seen whether they also try to block my being joined as a party to this appeal.

    For Prime Minister Rudd and Minister Garrett to now say that they are prepared to approve the pulp mill before the hydrodynamic modelling is done is tantamount to saying that Gunns can proceed regardless of where the effluent goes or the damage it does.

    “Does Minister Garrett expect anyone to believe him if he says that he will close down an operational pulp mill, if the hydrodynamic modelling demonstrates environmental damage?”

    Indeed Christine. The Govt are looking very shabby on this. I think ‘environmental conservative’ means being conservative about conserving the environment. The circumstantial evidence is compelling.

    The last thing we need is another Howard who says one thing while giving ecologically damaging, likely unsustainable development the thumbs up.

  79. “All environmental assessments are commissioned by the developers. It’s not a perfect approach…”

    Indeed it’s far from perfect. Wouldn’t a better solution be that the government comission the environmental assessments and invoice the developers for the cost of the assessment?

  80. Dear oh dear. A government ought not to approve a development unless it knows the full environmental impacts of the development and it is satisfied it meets appropriate environmental guidelines, and of course other development guidlines. It doesn’t sound like they are doing their job properly on this.

  81. Even the ANZ who have provided funding to Gunns for 15 years, have washed their hands of this project.

    So what guarantee is there that any bank will fund them…GUARANTEE…get it yet?

  82. Wouldn’t a better solution be that the government comission the environmental assessments and invoice the developers for the cost of the assessment?

    The problem with this approach is that environmental assessments require background monitoring and extensive studies done prior to the lodging of the3 application. The reason for these studies is to scope out the constraints on the development and then design the development accordingly. It wouldn’t make sense for the Government to undertake these studies and be involved in the development of the project design (although Government generally does get involved in development proposal stage prior to the development application being submitted to make sure that appropriate environmental assessments are included in the assessment process).

    Government’s do review the environmental assessments provided by developers and draw on other information available to assess the adequacy of those assessments. In New South Wales, experts in different areas are often engaged by the Government to independently review the proposals, similar to the Chief Scientist’s role in the Cth approval of the Gunn’s proposal.

    It is no surprise that environmental assessments support the design of developments submitted for approval – indeed, these assessments should be the reason the development is designed as it is. The vast majority of environmental assessments are very comprehensive and the experts involved stake their reputation on the quality of the assessments. Failures in the process due to bias in the environmental assessment process are limited by the Government review of the assessment. To have the Government do a further study funded by the developer after the application is submitted would significantly prolong the development approval process and significantly increase the cost without any real environmental gains. The best way to minimise harm is to condition the approvals to require monitoring of key impacts with independent auditing of this monitoring. Projects should be halted or modified if set impact thresholds are exceeded. These thresholds should be set at a level which prevents serious or irreversible harm (this is the Precautionary Principle in action). The identification of these thresholds is where I believe the assessment process requires further work and thought – at the moment, a lot of this is guess work and poorly implemented and enforced.

  83. I think the pulp mill is “fundamentally sound”.

  84. Alastair yes that is the way it should be done. Some wonder why the Govt are taking flak on this.

    For anyone who is interested in more information on the pulp mill, visit Tasmanians Against the Pulp mill (TAP).

  85. Dave55, sounds like you know a lot about development applications and the processes that go with them. Thanks for your detailed and informative response.

  86. Alastair

    I’m currently doing a PhD on it – busy procrastinating at the moment.

    I understand the desire to have a truly independent assessment process but it would be incredibly difficult to implement and administer, it would also add considerable expense to the development approval process for everyone without any real improvements in environmental outcomes. Even if the assessment was independent, it would still be subject to politicisation in the decision making process.

    In reality, we have very transparent development assessment processes in Australia which improves the overall performance of the assessment process. The Gunns proposal is actually an excellent example of this with much of the upfront assessment material publicly available for scrutiny. While the public may not have the input into the actual decision that some would like, the outcome of the process can be reviewed objectively and challenged in court if contrary to law or political pressure exerted if the outcome so justifies. This discussion is evidence of this occurring in practice.

    As I said, the system can be improved and this is what I am researching, in particular, how to objectively establish sustainable development criteria against which to assess development proposals. I also think that Government policy generally needs to have greater regard to inter and intragenerational equity considerations and planning instruments/ environmental controls reviewed regularly to take into account recently approved developments. But there is a PhD in this (I hope) so I won’t go into too much detail. Hopefully though there are threads similar to this where I can chime in and bounce ideas off people in the discussion.

  87. reb

    I think the pulp mill is “fundamentally sound”.

    LOL – I doubt you think any such thing 😉

    As I said, I think ‘a’ Pulp Mill in Tassie or the mainland is probably “fundamentally sound” but there simply isn’t enough good assessment information available on the Gunns Tamar project to make an informed decision on whether or not it is such. The reason for this lies in the F**d up approval process performed by the Tassie Government. The project was way too politicised (by both major parties) and should have been referred to a well run independent assessment process. I don’t Blame Gunns for getting the s**ts with RPDC process because of the delays it was causing and simply pressure the Government to make a decision one way or the other. Had I been the decision maker, I could have told Gunns to provide more and better information months earlier and resubmit when they have them. Even the multitude of plans now being produced is a joke – most of these should have been included in the project proposal.

  88. Dave

    I couldn’t disagree more.

    The Gunns proposal was in no way an “excellent example”

    Gunns deliberately witheld information from the RPDC, and then spat the dummy and walked away from the RPDC when they realised that the mill was not going to be “world’s best practice” as they had originally claimed.

    World’s best practice is a “closed loop” mill – ie no toxic emissions or discharge into the ocean.

    Gunns proposed pulp mill is not.

    World’s best practice is a totally chlorine-free pulp mill.

    Gunns proposed pulp mill is not.

    The reality is that this pulp mill was never going to be economically viable (without substantial government – read taxpaper funded subsidies) and the fact that they haven’t been able to secure any funding is testament to that fact.

    Even Gunns own attempt at raising funds only generated $1m when they had a target of $90m!!

  89. Hemp is the answer!

    Music break.

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=1QV_HacITGA&feature=related

    I like the guitar that he’s sporting…exactly the same as mine.

  90. Gee, it’s quiet around here.

    This one is dedicated to my wife.

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=69RXBQe5RYg

  91. Hello saper,

    I’m lurking, but just a bit busy at the moment…

  92. reb
    I couldn’t disagree more.
    The Gunns proposal was in no way an “excellent example”
    Gunns deliberately witheld information from the RPDC, and then spat the dummy and walked away from the RPDC when they realised that the mill was not going to be “world’s best practice” as they had originally claimed.

    I don’t think I expressed my point very well. I wasn’t saying that the Tassie process was an example of how it should be done, rather the fact that the assessment information is publicly available made the flaws in the process apparent and thus allowed informed criticism of the final decision. I wasn’t in any way supporting the Tas Govt decision to approve the Mill. My example of Gunns was to use it as demonstrating that the transparency of the approval process allows us to know exactly what information is before the decision maker and be critical of it if it falls short. ie – Gunns provided poor assessment data and yet the development was approved. We therefor have good reason to be critical of the Tasmanian Government and evidence of why we should be critical.

    My criticisms of Tracie’s criticisms of Garrett and Federal Labor (and Turnbull) are also based on this same transparency. All the material before Turnbull when he made his decision is available for public viewing. Presented with this information (and particularly the report of the Chief Scientist), Turnbull really had no legal option but to grant to the Cth Approval. This information also highlighted the deficiencies in the material before the Tasmanian Government when it made it’s decision. Informed and objective criticism is much more powerful than emotive arguments generally used by objectors to developments. Using a companies own material (or lack of material) against them will generally be more illustrative of a deficiency in the approval process than any number of ‘independent’ expert reports commissioned to debunk findings in those assessment reports.

  93. I see where you’re coming from now Dave..

    The way in which the whole pulp mill approval process was handled was a complete travesty.

    The fact that it is even called an “approval” process rather than an “evaluation” illustrates how much it was considered a fait accompli by Gunns and the Lennon Government.

    In their minds it was never in doubt, and if they couldn’t get their way by going through the proper RPDC process, they were hell bent on ramming it through parliament and using public funds to promote the government’s decision with a TV campaign. This sort of thing is nothing less than a pure scandal, but is the way in which Government conducts itself in Tasmania.

    The pulp mill debate has created deep divisions in Tasmania, as well as greater Australia, and now with the likelihood, nay certainty, that it won’t go ahead, it has been an incredible waste of taxpayers’ funds and marks a dark stain on the history of Tasmania.

    Even John Gay’s own family are ashamed of him, and have joined protests against the way in which he has tarnished the family name and brought due process in Tasmania into disrepute.

  94. Bugger – just opened a 2006 Bordeaux and it was corked. That’s 2 corked wines in under a week 😦

    Oh well, at least the second bottle was OK 😉

  95. Sorry this may run over a couple of posts and be a bit long, but there is alot to address:

    I didn’t say the Gunns mill was a good project, I simply said the decision to extend the time to produce plans was sensible. The project can’t proceed until the plans are approved so what is the problem with an extension that simply delays the project.

    This is simply not true Dave55. It appears the Govt are set to approve the project without the hydrodynamic modelling being completed. This is why some are suspicious of the ‘process’.

    Clearly! But what was Federal Labor to do – suddenly revoke an approval that had gone through an appropriate Commonwealth process? Such an approach would increase the sovereign risk of doing business in Australia. Furthermore, any such decision, without a change in the legislation, would have almost certainly been overturned in Court.

    So you think that ‘having completed the approval ‘process’ a company should automatically receive approval for the projects. I disagree, approvals for proposals which may have extremely adverse environmental outcomes should be be based on qualified and independent evaluation of the assessments provided by the developer. Govt approval should not simply be a rubber stamp for developers. Development is not always good, yet that is the false premise being peddled by such arguments as you propose.

    This may have been acceptable 20-30 years ago, but in these new environmentally aware times such are way past their use by date. Most of us realise that the environment itself has a value which must be considered at least equally (if not paramount) to financial consideration.

    We live in a Democracy that operates on the rule of law. The Commonwealth assessment process has been in accordance with this law. What you are suggesting is decision making based on something outside that legal framework;

    I am not suggesting anything of the kind. I disagree that the Commonweath Assessment process has been done in accordance with the law. I think it is abundantly clear from the info on the links I posted above that the Commonwealth process has been just as abysmal and toadying to Gunns as the Tasmanian debacle. Particulary check media reports for Sept 07 Claarly there was politcal pressure on Govt (and Opposition) to support this mill WITHOUT the hydrodynamic modelling being completed. Given this modelling still has not been completed, yet the ALP has said this will not be required before approval is given, it is clear that everything is NOT above board.

    The ALP Govt is just as happy as the former Govt to approve this mill regardless of environmental consequences.

    (to be continued)

  96. (continued)

    I think that Turnbull made the right decision based on the material he had before him and the narrow scope of assessment he was limited to by the legislation. Unfortunately the material regarding impacts for matters outside the Cth assessment was, in many respects, woefully inadequate and a proper assessment of the development cannot be made on the basis of that assessment material.

    How can you say you think Turnbull made the ‘right decision’ when you acknowledge the Commonweath Assessment was ‘inadequate and a proper assessment of the development cannot be made on the basis of that assessment material? Given that Turnbull could not have adequately assessed the proposal, yet did so before having all the information hardly inspires confidence in the process or our political system.

    Failures in the process due to bias in the environmental assessment process are limited by the Government review of the assessment. To have the Government do a further study funded by the developer after the application is submitted would significantly prolong the development approval process and significantly increase the cost without any real environmental gains.

    I would question the Govts ability to adequately evaluate the assessment without informed advice from experts. Costs to the developer should not be the issue. The issue should be environmentally sound development. Why should we endanger the environment (which is irreplaceable) to save the developer a bit of money? Will the developer bear the full cost of any rehabilitation that may be required, or compensation for what cannot be rehabilitated?

    I understand the desire to have a truly independent assessment process but it would be incredibly difficult to implement and administer, it would also add considerable expense to the development approval process for everyone without any real improvements in environmental outcomes. Even if the assessment was independent, it would still be subject to politicisation in the decision making process.

    It is quite an assertion to make that an independant assessment process would NOT result in improvements in environmental outcomes. Do you have any proof of this or is this one of those unquestionable ‘truths’.

    I also take issue with the idea that the environment is of so little value compared to the interests of develpment. We only have one earth, and one Australia (people are becoming more aware of this because of Climate Change). No cost or inconvenience should excuse complacency or expediency where adverse affects are a high probability.

    As I said, I think ‘a’ Pulp Mill in Tassie or the mainland is probably “fundamentally sound” but there simply isn’t enough good assessment information available on the Gunns Tamar project to make an informed decision on whether or not it is such. The reason for this lies in the F**d up approval process performed by the Tassie Government. The project was way too politicised (by both major parties) and should have been referred to a well run independent assessment process. I don’t Blame Gunns for getting the s**ts with RPDC process because of the delays it was causing and simply pressure the Government to make a decision one way or the other.

    I agree that there is not enough information to make an informed decision, but you persist in defending what you admit is an inadequate process. I think it is rich to lay all the blame at the feet of the Tassie Govt, as Gunns did a fair amount of politicising the issue themselves with continuous ultimatums. Lennon’s Govt appears to be guilty of corrupton to say the least, but this only makes more questionable the wiilingness of both the Liberal and Labor Govt to be as accommodating as possible.

    (to be continued)

  97. (continued…last page)

    I don’t think I expressed my point very well. I wasn’t saying that the Tassie process was an example of how it should be done, rather the fact that the assessment information is publicly available made the flaws in the process apparent and thus allowed informed criticism of the final decision. I wasn’t in any way supporting the Tas Govt decision to approve the Mill.

    But you do appear to approve of Gunns actions in pressuring the Tasmanian Govt to approve the mill. What other outcome could you want but for them to approve the mill. If Gunns were unprepared to follow the process in place (which they clearly were being caught out in lies and misrepresentation) they were quite welcome to walk away from the project.

    It was the very process which allowed for the public debate and ‘holdups’ caused Gunns frustration. The obvious conclusion here is that you do not in fact support the process.

    My criticisms of Tracie’s criticisms of Garrett and Federal Labor (and Turnbull) are also based on this same transparency. All the material before Turnbull when he made his decision is available for public viewing. Presented with this information (and particularly the report of the Chief Scientist), Turnbull really had no legal option but to grant to the Cth Approval.

    But Turnbull made his decision without the hydrodynamic assessment being completed. The Chief Scientist had and expressed reservations about the project, you appear to have ignored this. Given also that Howard was PM at the time, and had a habit of pressuring people to produce outcomes favourable to what he wanted, I wonder whether Jim Peacock had other reservations that were not expressed.

    Peacock acknowledged that the mill had been allowed ‘a maximum dioxin limit well above dioxin levels produced by similar mills overseas.’ Gunns Dossier Page 9. Section: Water Pollution 3.3: 95.

    If you are not convinced this was a flawed process, read the Dossier it is only 16 pages.

    I stand by my assertion that Rudd and Garrett have a lot to answer for. By indicating they will approve the project without the hydrodynamic assessment being completed they have shown their desire for this project to proceed.

    Clearly there is concern that if there is any independant assessment of Gunns modelling, it may well be proven to be just as unsound and fallacious as previous assessments provided by Gunns.

    Why else would you approve on this basis, unless you wanted to seal the deal, probably in the hope that it will be near impossible to stop the mill once approval has been given.

    They are not even saying that approval will be conditional on a favourable assessment of the hydrodynamic modelling. Sheesh

  98. Whoa Tracie, That’s a lot to digest.

    Firstly – when it comes to development assessment processes by councils and Government agencies, they do employ experts who review the applications. The decisions makers receive assessment reports from these people and then make their decision. Political issues can come into play at this stage but the internal assessment process is usually pretty good (Woolongong Council aside).
    I never said the material before Turnbull when he made his assessment was deficient. The material provided on behalf of Gunns clearly was but the additional material from Environment Australia and the Chief Scientist filled in (most of) these gaps. Some operational issues remained outstanding and these are addressed in the conditions of approval requiring the preparation of, and approval of management plans. This is very common (although, IMO overused) approval mechanism. As I understand it, aspects of the development contingent on these management plans cannot proceed until the relevant plan is approved. The effluent disposal plan will apply when the Mill is operational and will need to be prepared before then. At this stage, the Mill is still in early construction phase and no effluent is being released. If Garrett approves the operation of the Mill without this Plan being assessed and approved, I’ll be protesting along side you. But seeing as this plan has no management role in construction, I see it as being unnecessarily bureaucratic to require it now. That said, Gunns knows that this plan needs to be approved before it can operate and by proceedings with construction without this plan being approved runs a financial risk that money is being spent for nothing.

    to be continued

  99. C’mon guys, do you really think anyone will read posts like those above – this is a blog not a bloody book club!

    …and you are not doing your “cause” any good…and I thought John McPhilbin was bad!

  100. Your comment about the Chief Scientist’s reservations related largely to matters outside the Cth approval role. I agree wholeheartedly with these reservations. His other reservations required the approval of the management plans in order to be satisfied that the development could proceed without adversely affecting matters of national significance – I’ve addressed this above.

    On your general comments about my position of environmental assessment, as I stated, this is my bread and butter. I have worked in the assessment role for Government and Industry,in the approval role and have studied extensively both the practical and academic literature on this. At the end of the day, the development assessment process has to be one based on environmental assessment commensurate with the risks presented by the development. Whether you like it or not, environmental science is not an exact science – it is frightening the level of accuracy in most assessments and models relied on. Environmental management, and rehabilitation in particular, is as much an art form guided by science than it is a scientific or engineering endeavour – I’m sure scaper will back me up on that). Whith these points in mind, and the history of the development assessment and regulation process in Australia over the past 30 years, I can safely say that Australia is pretty clean when it comes to its developments. The bad examples (and Gunns may well prove to be an example of this) are ones where there has been excessive political influence in the approval process or Government has given a development lattitude during operation to extend the life of the project to avoid adverse social impacts such as massive regional unemployment. I stress that in both cases, such actions are generally politically motivated and divorced from the assessment process. This is not a fault of the assessment process but rather the political process associated with the actual approval. This clearly occured in the case of the Tas Government approval of the Gunn’s Mill. What I like about the planning approval processes in Australian jurisdictions is that most, if not all, of the environmental assessment information available to decision makers can be publicly scrutinised after the event, and in a lot of cases, a significant amount of this can be viewed and commented on before the approval is granted. In some cases, people can appeal against the development approval on the merits of the decision and have this heard by Courts. In other cases, the decisions can still be challenged on judicial review grounds. The point I am making is that the process is clear enough to know when the decision has been made contrary to advice or consistent with it.

    I stand by my Comment that Turnbull’s decision to conditionally approve the Mill was correct based on the narrow scope of his approval role and the information before him. I am not denying that his decision was, in part, politically motivated and probably pressured by the influence of Gunns and possibly the timber/ paper industry in Tas; but this does not take away from the merits of the decision.

    further continued

  101. you lot..

    wot TB said @ 101…!!!

  102. Final post, I promise…

    My comments on the actions taken by Gunns in pulling out of the RPDC process are more complicated to explain and your take on them (that I supported them pressuring the Lennon Government to approve the Project) demonstrates that either I didn’t explain it well enough or you missed my point (or combination of the two).

    I have repeatedly said (including over at Blogocracy) that I do not support the Lennon’s Government decision to approve the Mil based on the information they had before them. The environmental assessment was woefully inadequate for such a complex proposal with wide reaching impacts. What I have also said is that Gunns had every right to pressure the Tasmanian Government to make A decision. This decision could have been to approve OR refuse. The Government had had the application for a long pertiod of time and the delays were costing Gunns significantly. Now many of these delays were due to the inadequacy of the information provided by Gunns. Some was also due to the process set up the the Lennon Government. Gunns could have gone to court and sought an order of mandamus forcing a decision to be made. Any person has such a right when they lodge an application for approval. Alternatively, and this is the course Gunn’s took, they placed pressure on the Government to make the decision rather than resort to court proceedings – there is nothing wrong with doing this provided there is no corruption – they were really only insisting on their legal rights to have their application determined rather than being dicked around and lose money. When confronted with this situation the Lennon Government determined the application by granting approval. I disagree with that decision. Unfortunately, the means by which the approval was untimately granted (through legislative intervention) limits the opportunity for people to challenge the legal correctness of that decision. This is contrary to good planning policy.

    Had the Lennon Government refused the application like I believe they would have, Turnbull (and now Garrett and Rudd) wouldn’t have been in a position where they had to grant an approval for a development that they considered should not have been approved for reasons outside their purview. Had Turnbull refused for those reasons, that decision probably could have been successfully challenged in the Federal Court. The correctness of the Turnbull decision is still available to be challenged although, even given the controversial nature of the development, I doubt it will be.

    All of the above is an extreme simplification of a very complex area of law and policy. We could probably debate it here for much longer and still not reach agreement. I would like to refer you to a simple summary of planning law and decision making but unfortunately no such beast exists (although the environmental defender’s office produce, or at least used to, info on this sort of stuff which may help). At any rate, this sort of thing is probably best discussed over a beer or glass of wine (or WT).

  103. Sorry Mum, Dad won’t do it again 🙂 I only made the post as long as I did to highlight the inconsistencies in Dave’s defence of Rudd, Garrett and all things pulp mill. I find the ALP’s behaviour inexcusable on this matter.

    Dave55 despite your assertions that you are neither for nor against the mill, you have made it pretty clear that you are not impartial by any means. Neither am I, but then I never pretended to be.

    The fact the Govt is letting this go ahead before the hydrodynamic madelling is out makes it clear they want the mill to proceed despite any environmental degradation.

    It may not concern you that the Govt are circumventing the process to accommodate Gunns, but others may disagree. If this is as common as you say (giving approvals, before assessment is complete) then we really are ‘through the looking glass’.

    How you can condone the ALP’s conduct in this is totally beyond my understanding. I expected no better from the Libs & Howard, but I had hoped for more responsible governance from the party who claims to be concerned about the environment.

  104. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FRIGGIN JOKING, DAVE!

    I can guarantee you that no-one will read ALL of your post (except maybe Tracie)

    …apart from that, these sorts of posts deter others from coming to the blog or posting – very inconsiderate IMHO…

    The nonsense between Tom and Adrian over unions was bad enough and we all know that JMc can get carried away but this is just plain silly – if it continues it will eventually destroy what we are trying to build here.

    This is pure, personal, idealogical indulgence at the expense of the blogocrats!

    Do I sound angry enough!

    EDITOR: Steady TB, watch your blood pressure! 🙂

  105. …and I just saw the tail end of your post, Dave – don’t you dare involve my favourite drop!

  106. Hey our spat over unions might have been long running and pig headed but the posts were relatively short.

  107. Dave55, I think some may be trying to make it more complex than it is to ah…confuse people.

    Nothing complex about rushing through questionable development, despite environmental damage.

    The idea that ‘development is always good’, deserves to be in the same trashcan as ‘the public sector does it better, cheaper etc’.

    …my last word. Corruption.

  108. Sorry guys 😳

    And Tracie, given what I wrote was just for you, I hope you do read it and please think about what I have written – it’s not quite as simple as you make it out to be.

  109. ….hopefully my very, very last word…

    Dave I did read it but it doesn’t particularly sway me. You can claim overwhelming complexity, but once you take all the bureaucratic guff out of it, it really is simple.

    Corruption based on slavish adherrance to old and outdated economic vs environmental values. Totally out of touch in a world concerned about Climate Change. 😦

  110. …apart from that, these sorts of posts deter others from coming to the blog or posting – very inconsiderate IMHO…

    TB, I think that may be a slight over reaction. Many posts on Blogocracy were long and did not interest me. I simply scrolled past them and went on.

    People do have a tendency to get passionate about an issue, and sometimes a short post is not enough to fully convey ones message.

    As long as people don’t make a habit of it, it should not be such a big deal. Just because this topic doesn’t interest some here, there may be others lurking who it does interest – how you can ‘guarantee’ what any individuals interests may be is beyond me.

    However I do find it a bit insulting that you and Reb are basically saying “You are boring us so shut up”, Didn’t think this was that kind of blog. Tim’s didn’t appear to be. If others aren’t interested the thread will die a natural death – no need to be rude.

  111. However I do find it a bit insulting that you and Reb are basically saying “You are boring us so shut up”

    No, that’s not the case at all tracie.

    Please don’t think that.

    You can publish lengthy posts – it’s just that people will tend to scroll past them if they are too long.

    Which means that you may miss out on getting your point across to a wider audience than just engaging with one other individual.

    I think that was the main thing that TB was trying to say – albeit in his inimitable style!

    Both me and TB tend to give each other (and others) a bit of a ribbing). Please don’t take it the wrong way.

    No offence intended!

    🙂

  112. And TB Can be a miserable sod…

    (just something to keep in mind)

    🙂

  113. Gee guys…it is better to do something than to be seen to do something that is really nothing!

    I don’t give no quarter when it comes to our environment…I’m quietly confident…do I need a spoon???

  114. Do I need to use a spoon?

  115. are you asking me to spoon?

    🙂

  116. reb – No NO NO NO NO!!!

  117. At least he didnt offer to fork you

  118. hi joni,

    I’m going to watch some tv now…..tired …*yawn*

    T’was a very busy day today..

  119. you telling me about busy days… and these bloody bogocrats writing so many comments it is hard for me to read them all.

    and I must admit – everyone is playing nice and not attacking the person – just their ideas.

    I am off for free drinkypoos now…..

  120. free drinkypoos? The executive level?

    Tough life……

  121. Tracie
    but once you take all the bureaucratic guff out of it, it really is simple.

    Sorry, But I can’t let that stand. I didn’t say it was overwhelmingly complex, simply that it was too hard to explain the complexities in posts – as it was the posts were way too long. You seemed to suggest that the decision was as simple as the Minister saying yes or no (preferably no it seems). Well Ministers generally have no f*#k’n idea and rely on the advice generated through that ‘bureaucratic guff’. How do you expect decisions to be made without that ‘bureaucratic guff’? If you remove that (independent) layer, you get the type of ad hoc decisions and increase the potential for corruption that you seem so keen to keep out.

    All I was trying to do in my posts above was explain why those processes were in place and how they operated. Sorry for trying to help explain how things actually work in reality.

  122. Enjoy your drinks joni – dying for one myself at the moment.

  123. Just a follow up…I’ve had a chat today with someone from Garrett’s office and we will all know in January when the extension of the approval expires.

    I’m confident.

  124. Dave what do you mean to hard to explain the ‘complexities’ in posts. I can’t see where you have attempted to do this.

    There are many if, buts, maybes, could haves, may haves etc in your argument, and you make many assumptions. How could Gunns have mounted a successful legal challenge against the Tasmanian Govt when they spat the dummy and walked away from the RPDC process?

    Apparently Gunns were not so confident which is why they pressured the State and Fed Govt for the outcome they wanted. Environmental standards have been compromised to appease a corporation who refused to follow the rules.

    So yes all this stuff about process and complexity really is just bureaucratic guff IMO. The process has been hijacked, but you are still supporting the hijackers.

    You admitted yourself the advantage of the current process was that it was less costly for developers, and any ‘independant’ assessment would incur unreasonable expense. Then you do an about turn and say:

    If you remove that (independent) layer, you get the type of ad hoc decisions and increase the potential for corruption that you seem so keen to keep out.

    I agree, but you are the one arguing against the ‘independent layer’ remember – too expensive for business. Contrary to what you claim I do not think it should be as simple as the Minister giving a yes or no answer. I expect them to make an informed answer and consider the impact on the environment above commercial concerns.

    Until they do it is hard to believe thay are serious about addressing Climate Change in any meaningful way.

  125. Tracie
    Bureaucratic guff = independent layer.

  126. But the independant layer is too costly and time consuming for business according to you.

  127. I give up

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