Sunday, 30 December 2012

Hitler, Parncutt and Extermination

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Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born Dictator whose supremacist and racially motivated policies resulted in the deaths of an estimated 50 million people during World War II, including 6 million Jews and 5 million "non-Aryans" whose systematic extermination was ordered by him or by his close subordinates. (Wikipedia)

Professor Parncutt is an Australian-born neo-nazi who, in an article published on the University of Graz's website has called for the death of Pope Benedict. From Graz to Hitler's birthplace of Braunau am Inn (see right) is less than three hours. (If Professor Parncutt wants to kill something, please let it be the al in his country of birth.)
Karl-Franzens-University officials who were bombarded with complaints have now taken the article off-line and confirmed that the article represented the private opinion of Music Professor Richard Parncutt, and not that of the University.

In the article the professor argues that the refusal of the Vatican to advocate contraception made Pope Benedict responsible for the future death through aides of millions of people. The only reasonable reaction that was the death sentence for mass murder – he argued. (Link)
Professor Parncutt
(digitally enhanced)
He had previously called for the death of man-made global warming realists; people he called by the term deniers which is understood to be a not-so-subtle reference to Holocaust deniers. He has since made a retraction (27-28 December 2012) : (link)
"I have always been opposed to the death penalty in all cases..."
Oh well, that should make it OK, shouldn't it?

Except that, the retraction was on the 27-28 December 2012 , whilst the call for the death of the Pope was on the 29th December.

Stay tuned for another retraction.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

IPA : Anti-Discrimination Bill

There has been some worrying comment about the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill that the Federal Gillard Labor government wishes bring into effect. A series of articles in The Australian newspaper and elsewhere has given a number of reasons to be concerned.
Today the Institute of Public Affairs has released its submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee. Printed below is the Executive Summary from IPA’s submission. To read the entire submission go to the following web address 

The exposure draft of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 [“the draft Bill”] represents a dramatic and radical attack on Australians’ fundamental freedoms under the guise of reforming anti-discrimination law.
The draft Bill makes government the arbiter of behaviour within a substantial range of private political and personal activities. The draft Bill would politicise and regulate private interpersonal relationships in a way they never have been in Australia.
In a very real sense, these laws are not anti-discrimination laws. They are laws designed to give the government authority over our lives in completely new and unjustifiable arenas. This is an excessive and indefensible increase in state power.
The proposed laws give the government explicit power to interfere in almost all facets of human interaction including eighteen areas of public and private life, such as political opinion, religion and social origin. The government is also required to decide what falls into these categories, making the state the total and final arbiter on our most fundamental liberties.
By redefining discrimination to be anything which “offends, insults or humiliates” the proposed law will extend the infamous provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act that led to the Andrew Bolt case to almost every area of public and private life. By expanding the grounds on which people can claim to be discriminated against to include areas such as “political opinion” the law will stifle genuine discussion on almost every topic for fear of legal consequences.
This draft Bill has deservedly been criticised from across the political spectrum as a massive overreach and an unjustified curtailment of individual freedoms.
Democratic governments rely on the free exchange of opinion for their legitimacy. This draft Bill, if enacted, would dramatically limit freedom of speech in Australia.
This submission also raises other concerning elements of the draft Bill. The draft Bill substantially reverses the burden of proof onto the defendant. It introduces a large amount of uncertainty and ambiguity into anti-discrimination law.
The draft Bill introduces a subjective test for decisions about whether the law has been breached. Subjective tests are impossible to comply with and should never be used by the courts.

There is no justification for such a dramatic overhaul of anti-discrimination law, and no place for such extraordinary limits on freedom of speech.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Cold heart response to Gulf fires

“I love mankind, he said, "but I find to my amazement that the more I love mankind as a whole, the less I love man in particular.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

It may be unfair to say that animal rights activists love animals as a whole but could not love a single animal however from observation I do believe that animal rights organisations have no love for the people who actually do care for animals. Rather than just talk about animal welfare, those that walk the walk placing time, finance and emotional commitment into the direct care of animals are the farmers of this country; not only domestic animals raised for food for all Australians but also by cohabitation, native wildlife found on farms and especially through active rangeland management of larger cattle & sheep stations.

A measure of the love for another person, ideal or in this case animals can be the response to a single event especially one of some urgency. There is unfolding now an event of much urgency that has a high probability of a dire outcome. In the gulf area of north Queensland there have been fires of an epic scale. In the image below developed from the NAFI website compare the size of the shaded areas of fire events to the 100km scale on the lower left hand corner.

The Townsville Bulletin reported in its 22nd December issue, Hope fades for Gulf Country miracle
CATTLE are dying slow deaths in the Gulf Country after bushfires of unprecedented ferocity reduced more than two million hectares of grazing land to scorched earth.

With no grass left, cattle are surviving on leaves and ash. On Kutchera Station 90 kilometres north-west of Georgetown at least 500 head have died, most of them from starvation. Weak cattle are bogging at the edges of waterholes where they become easy prey for the dingoes and pigs which have been quick to take advantage of this on-going calamity.

Rural Press reporter, Troy Rowling has written a comprehensive report complete with photos, Hard work up in smoke.
Seasonal rain, at least 2-4 inches (50-100mm), is needed to extinguish the last of the fires and begin the healing process.
However, the heavens are yet to respond.
At time of print, the seven day forecast saw no rain, the 28 day forecast saw no rain and the latest Bureau of Meteorology modelling does not indicate when the monsoon will move down.
If there is no seasonal rain, it is predicted the Etheridge Shire will require at least $500,000 every fortnight until there is rain to provide enough fodder to keep cattle on affected properties alive.
Queensland Country Life accompanied State Agriculture Minister John McVeigh as he took to a helicopter to visit affected properties last Thursday.
While in Georgetown he announced the Newman Government would immediately donate $100,000 to the Bendigo Bank Far North Queensland Bushfire Appeal to help affected Gulf Producers, which was also launched at Georgetown on Thursday.

Try putting yourself in the shoes of the owners and managers of stations burnt out in these areas; a fire that has left a bare blackened landscape horizon to horizon; of surviving cattle weak, staving and bogging at waterholes; of the despair of the situation and no short term outlook for rain. Then have a kick in the guts while you are down when yesterday PETA issued a media release of such jaw dropping ignorance and heartlessness that was published very widely including the Courier Mail and The Australian; this from the Townsville Bulletin, Prosecute farmers for cattle deaths: PETA.

Others have said it better than I could such as in this blog post, Ethical treatment of animals = unethical treatment of people

PETA’s response to this urgent circumstance is just so, so wrong. PETA’s action is that devoid of any humanity or love that it leaves in its wake a soul destroying carcass of cold empty despair.  

The human race is better than that, both in our treatment of each other and for animals under our care. To give credit where credit is due individual animal rights activists are raising awareness of the disaster in north Queensland on Animal Australia’s facebook page. These individuals are showing that even though they have a fundamental disagreement with the principle market for cattle from this area, live export, they are prepared to do what they can for the livestock in these areas.

 However to date the organisation Animals Australia has shown its alignment with PETA’s position by its stony silence to the unfolding events. Any funds spent by Animals Australia directly on animals for their welfare is very nominal as revealed by their own campaign material. Another organisation that professes love for animals in general but cannot transfer that to practical aid to an animal in need especially if it may indirectly help the real caregivers, farmers.  

If you are able to help here are the links to BendigoBank Far North Queensland Bushfire Appeal and to Aussie Helpers

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Lock the Gate activitist has conviction overturned

The LNG/ CSG industry remains highly controversial because of environmental, health and property rights issues. Lock the Gate is at the centre of protests in the gas fields and chief activist Drew Hutton, who was arrested last year during a protest, has had his conviction overturned, as the Sydney Morning Herald reported recently:

A QUEENSLAND judge has overturned the conviction of Drew Hutton, co-founder of the Greens and president of the anti-coal seam gas group Lock the Gate.
Mr Hutton was arrested on March 29 last year while protesting on QGC's gas fields near Tara on Queensland's western Darling Downs.
Last December Mr Hutton was convicted in the Dalby Magistrates Court under section 805 of Queensland's Petroleum and Gas Act, which provides for fines of up to $50,000 against anyone who obstructs an oil and gas company from entering, crossing or carrying out any other authorised activity on land covered by an exploration or production licence, on condition that they have been properly warned by the company.
But District Court judge Fleur Kingham acquitted Mr Hutton - the only person so far to have been convicted under the law - on the basis that he was not properly warned by QGC. Her judgment criticised the ''awkward and ambiguous drafting of s805''.

Mr Hutton said it would be a ''brave or foolish policeman'' who arrested anyone under the Queensland law.
''It's been the main bluff the government and companies have been using against landowners from day one. The other one is that landowners would be taken to court.
''We've called [their bluff],'' he said.''This makes it a lot easier for people to lock the gate.''
Mr Hutton, a long-time environment campaigner who has been arrested while protesting before, spent a night in Toowoomba jail last year after being arrested at Tara, after he refused to sign a bail agreement that required him to avoid QGC sites.

Read more:

Monday, 24 December 2012

The cartoonist Christmas mirth

To everyone and we do mean everyone, who had not only has joined this little exodus blog but also reads it we wish you all a very merry Christmas and may the New Year be happy, healthy and prosperous for you all.

With blogging there is the odd gold moment, a lot of frankness in comment but below is the gift of mirth from the talent and insight of the cartoonist.

Cartoon by Glenn McCoy                                                                                       Cartoonist unknown

Cartoon by Christopher Downes
Cartoon by Paul Zanetti


The life of Bruce


Now my knowledge of aquarium fish could be written on the back of a postage stamp which is about the size of the little fellow (if you trimmed some very fancy fins) that was given to my daughter at a family Christmas get together. Turns out he (we were assured it was a male) was a Siamese fighting fish. My daughter took to him straight away and promptly gave the fish the handle of Bruce after one of the sharks on the Finding Nemo movie.
Bruce was purchased from a coastal pet shop made the trip many hours west in the small fish equivalent of a cat cage. Became the centre of attention at a noisy family gathering when presented to Bruce’s new owner, a scene of less trepidation than when Nemo found who his new owner was to be in the dentist surgery. There was some more travelling in store for Bruce in his little container positioned inside a big ice-cream dish as the rough road tended to decrease the amount of water in which he had access, to reach his final destination.

Also in the Christmas present was Bruce’s new home, an attractive glass aquarium that was shaped tall like a rather oversized flower vase. In goes the fake rocks, fake weed, more importantly water before Bruce was set free to explore his new territory. Apparently territory is the right word because these little fellows stake out their area and vigorously defend it, hence their name. That was alright but on the following day Bruce just hung around in a listless state that I wondered if in the life of the now well-travelled Bruce there had been a bit too much going on, but no, on that very day Bruce was to experience a little too much excitement.    

Just as well my daughter was nearby because the shapely glass home for Bruce sitting on the bench top unexpectedly shattered; exploded into many pieces leaving Bruce stranded on the floor. Bruce was hurriedly plonked back into his travelling cat cage with some essential water following. My better half was away doing some more Christmas shopping at a larger regional centre so a phone call was made for the purchase of more suitable digs for a feisty fighting fish. That evening Bruce was in a new territory and next door was a second vessel, home to another Nemo shark, Chum. Turns out that these little sods when nothing is going down just hang about not doing much but when another male turns up then they will really burr up. It’s interesting to watch the two as when they get close through the double thickness of aquarium wall how the show begins, the fins flare out. It’s just like two bulls siding up to each other snorting and carrying on making out that they are the bigger animal than the other.

The life of Bruce has been interesting and it looks like he will be a survivor. Not only has the receiver of this gift but the whole family enjoy having these new additions to the household.

This isn’t always the case we are reminded every year that often on a whim a Christmas present pet is given only to be unwanted by its new owner, neglected, abandoned or handed into some pet shelter. RSPCA have been on about this message for years and its one worth broadcasting. However as this long established, once highly respected organisation changes its focus away from its core business and descends further into the depths of radical activism, now days I find RSPCA has very little credibility. To learn why please read this article by NT cattle producer, Jo Bloomfield, who has explained it very well in, I used to support RSPCA.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Climate Policies create Costly Electricity by Viv Forbes

The Carbon Sense Coalition accused politicians of crying crocodile tears about rising electricity prices. 

The Chairman of Carbon Sense, Mr Viv Forbes, said that current policies are designed to make coal fired electricity more expensive and they also force people to pay for more expensive options such as wind and solar power. 

Climate alarmists want to ration carbon fuels such as coal, oil and gas to reduce the production of the harmless invisible gas, carbon dioxide. This is supposed to make the climate cooler, stabilise sea levels, prevent bad weather, save polar bears and win the election.  

Coal produces 75% of Australia’s electricity. Another 15% comes from gas & oil/diesel – a total of 90% from demonised carbon fuels. To force people to use less carbon fuels, politicians have passed a mess of laws whose purpose is to make carbon-fuelled electricity prohibitively expensive 
Cartoon by Paul Zanetti

These policies have succeeded dramatically. Carbon taxes, renewable targets, market mandates, cross subsidies and costly red tape have made all electricity more expensive. They even legislated higher feed-in prices for electricity from domestic solar panels. And they now push smart meters so they can charge consumers even more for electricity when they need it most – during peak hours. 

But there has been no effect on global emissions – we pay more for nothing. 

Now politicians weep crocodile tears. They caused the high electricity prices but now discover that consumers don’t like it. When they are forced to admit it was another ghastly mistake, the solution is obvious: scrap all the costly and pointless laws that are increasing the price of our electricity. 

That would be a great Christmas present to help consumers balance their budgets.

Viv Forbes, BScApp, FAusIMM

Rosewood    Qld   Australia

Friday, 21 December 2012

Lenders Mortgage Insurance - The Ned Kelly of the Insurance Industry

Most of you would know that if you wish to take out a housing loan from a bank or lending institution, where you have less than 20% of the value of the property, you will be required to pay a premium for Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI), that is usually offered by a third party insurer, not the financial institution.

The amount of this premium will depend on how much less than 20% deposit you have.

LMI insurance protects the lender from any losses that they may incur as a result of you defaulting on the loan or ceasing to make payments etc.

Even though the lending institution has a first mortgage and is able to sell your property, the LMI protects them against any short fall in sale price against the outstanding loan balance.

You may, or may not know, that LMI only protects the lender and does not offer any protection to the borrower. The LMI provider may then also take legal action against the borrower to recoup their payment to the lender.

Now, here is the “Ned Kelly” bit. Your Lenders Mortgage Insurance is taken out for the term of the loan and in many instances this is 30 years. However, through a change in work location, or for other reasons, you may decide to sell the property and purchase a home in another town, or need to purchase a larger home for an increasing family.

In this situation, you payment of premium for LMI, ostensibly for 30 years cover, is simply forfeited and your new home proposal is regarded as a new proposal subject to a new premium altogether – is this double dipping or not?

The key word is of course that the term of the policy is equal to the term of the loan, so when you pay out your loan, the term of the agreement has effectively ended.

There is some relief possibly available, depending on the wording of the policy, and you may get a partial refund of premium if you sell you home within 12 to 24 months and repay the loan. However, if you have held the property for longer than this then the premium paid, ostensibly for 30 years, is simply forfeited to “Ned” (the insurer)

You may also be able to get a partial refund within the first couple of years of you get a new valuation (rising market) that effectively reduces your Loan Value Ratio (LVR)

If you wish to substitute the security offered (your home) there may be no refund but no additional premium payable but the valuation must support the same quality of property.

If on the other hand you substitute security and there is an increase in the LVR or insured amount, then this will be deemed to be a new risk and a new proposal and a new premium payable on the new risk. A refund on the cancelled policy may be payable, but unlikely after one to two years.

So it is therefore preferable to have an ongoing loan of the same value with substituted security rather than just sell up and pay out the first loan and then identify and purchased another property with a new loan.

I doubt that many people actually get to keep their home for the full loan term of 30 years covered by Lenders Mortgage insurance and so these insurers, even though they have assessed the risk over the full term of 30 years, in a lot of cases, simply get away with your money after just a few years – just like “Ned Kelly”!

Government by NGO by Walter Starck

First published by Quadrant Online December 18, 2012
The dictionary defines stakeholder as a person or group that has a financial investment, share, or other significant personal interest in some thing or activity. In law such status is recognised by the concept of legal standing (locus standi) and it requires the ability to demonstrate sufficient connection to a matter to be potentially harmed by the legal outcome. There is a well-established body of law which recognises a right to have a voice in affairs which affect us personally; but, we have no right to interfere in matters remote from ourselves which are, in effect, none of our business
However, almost without notice, environmentalism has redefined the fundamental concept of being a stakeholder. Despite having nothing invested and with no risk to themselves, environmental Non-government organisations (NGOs) have managed to claim the status of stakeholders in remote matters and be accorded an equal voice to those whose entire lives, livelihood and assets are being affected.
In addition to the stakeholder caper, the NGOs also have managed to insert themselves as regulators collecting healthy fees as well. This takes the form of a protection racket offering environmental “certification” to businesses which cooperate and pay substantial sums to become environmentally certified. This has worked like a treat in the food and timber industries, where the market is dominated by a few large retailers.
It works like this: the eco-mob set up an environmental certification entity, then besiege the retailers with a PR campaign designed to simulate and stimulate a public demand for environmental certification of the target product. For the retailers it’s a no brainer. The public seems to want it. It makes them look good and has no apparent cost to themselves. The primary producers then find themselves having to sign up for certification and toe the eco-line if they want to sell their products.
In circumstances where there are diverse retailers who are too difficult to coerce or where it is obvious the customers really don’t care, the eco-mob have found another way to stand over the producers by teaming up with the bureaucracy. Eco certification costs the bureaucrats nothing and it makes their own management look good, so they are prone to cooperate. In addition, they already have a structure in place to provide a sham appearance of industry “consultation” and agreement with whatever they want to do, so foisting eco-certification onto the producers is only a routine doddle for them.
Any troublesome farmers, fishermen or graziers are simply ignored. The deal is done with a few handbags from an industry “peak body” which the bureaucrats effectively own and control through a grant that funds the cost of an office and a few full-time staff.
Certification is a sweet racket. It not only provides substantial management control, but also collects fat fees and provides ongoing free advertising about the great job the self- appointed eco-saviours are doing to “save” the environment for the rest of us.
That the environmental NGOs have managed to usurp such influence and outright power with so little objection, even questioning, is remarkable. Even more so is the fact that the most influential groups (e.g. WWF, Pew, Greenpeace) are not even Australian organizations but foreign entities controlled by distant and largely unknown persons accountable to no one. Are they caring and competent or fundamentalist fanatics, perhaps even minions of forces with darker agendas? We don’t have a clue but are simply going along like sheep to wherever they want and whatever awaits us.
.............................Continue to read at Quadrant Online [click here]

Walter Starck is one of Australia’s most experienced marine biologists, with a professional career of studying coral reef and marine fishery ecosystems
Copyright ©2012 Quadrant Magazine Ltd. All rights reserved

Thursday, 20 December 2012


The drought, which commenced in '37, stayed the unhealthy conditions caused by the wet seasons, but it brought its own troubles with it. One of the first of these was the breaking up of the Bathurst Carrying Company, an association of citizens and settlers who had purchased their own horses and drays, and organised a better system of carriage of goods from Sydney. At first the "Conveyance Company" thought to weather the drought, but the price and carriage of fodder, and the losses among the horses, necessitated its selling out. This was done, and the shareholders had to meet a considerable deficit. Many of them paid up with reluctance, looking upon the call as not only burdensome but unjust--ample evidence of their ignorance as to the responsibilities of public companies. The effect of the drought was to reduce the price of stock to almost nothing. Sheep went down from £2 to 4s. a head, and a number of settlers in the district, who had borrowed the money to buy large quantities at the former price, suffered greatly, may of them never being able to recover from the loss. Later, when most of the stock had died, prices rose--milch cows could not be had for money, and a resident gave £5 for a goat to provide milk for a young child. Food became scarce, and prices for all food stuffs went up to famine rates. Many of the settlers sought to send back their servants to the authorities, but were told that they had them in the times of plenty, and must keep them through the period of scarcity. Children suffered perhaps most of all, and it was the custom of people, visiting with their children, to carry their children's bread with them, knowing how small might be their friend's store. Most of the flour to be had was almost unfit for human use, and could not be baked into palatable bread. It was made from American wheat, which, thrown loosely into ship's holds, malted on the voyage, and at the end had to be washed before being sent to the mill. For three years not a shower of rain fell in Bathurst. Early in the '40s, however, the clouds, which had often gathered, but always dispersed without rain, brought copious torrents, which flooded the river, and turned the wilderness into a garden. From Bathurst Times 11/1/1902 – by an anonymous widow

How is Your Water Footprint?

Not a reference to the human ability to maybe walk on water in times of flooding, but a concept currently being dreamed up by possibly unfunded academics looking for research grants.

This follows along the lines of our now familiar carbon footprint in that it seeks to expose how much water we use to produce our food and to include it in labelling at the supermarket.

From a Farm Online article in January 2011 by Colin Bettles: 

“If a leading a soil and environmental scientist gets his way, consumers will soon be able to identify how much water is involved in production of their favourite goods with ease at the point of sale and identify what region the water comes from.

Its all part of a push to bring about greater understanding and awareness of the water volumes used to make food and fibre products, especially on-farm and irrigated items, through the introduction of a new water labelling footprint”.
UWA Adjunct Professor, Dr Brent Clothier, urged the introduction of a water labelling footprint, while presenting at an agronomy conference in New Zealand in mid-November, titled “Food Security from Sustainable Agriculture”.

One commentator wondered how many millions of litres would be labelled on fish.

The link below provides and interesting insight into the scientific brain that believes that water is a finite resource and that as it is used up it goes POOF and disappears.

It completely overlooks the fact that there is a precipitation cycle.

The world’s total rain precipitation in a year is about one meter and about 200 metres have fallen on the Earth since the Industrial Revolution.

Since the Ice Age ended, enough rain has fallen to fill all the oceans four times.

Since the Dinosaurs died, rainfall has been sufficient to fill the oceans 20,000 times.

So one has to wonder, where the overflow runs to, and where is earths great spillway.

It seems the amount of water on Earth probably hasn’t changed significantly over geological time.

Gladstone fishers unimpressed by compensation offer

Gladstone commercial fishers are unimpressed by a new compensation offer from Gladstone Ports Corporation announced yesterday.
The scheme explained by GPC chief executive Leo Zussino basically offers eligible fishers the equivalent of 1.5 years earnings based on their best production figures in recent years for loss of access to fishing grounds as a result of the massive Western Basin Dredging Project, but does not take into account any compensation for the ongoing fish disease. It also makes no mention of seafood businesses affected, and applications from fishers will be considered on an individual basis.
Mr Zussino maintains that the diseased seafood is linked to the floods two years ago, a theory which was recently soundly refuted by aquatic disease expert Dr Matt Landos following extensive investigations in Gladstone Harbour. He found that the disease problem was most likely linked to the dredging.
Commercial fisher Trevor Falzon has described the GPC offer as a slap in the face, and owner of the Gladstone Seafood Markets, Ted Whittingham, said it was a token offer, given the volume of diseased seafood still being caught in the harbour.
The GPC's clumisly worded media release can be read in full here

 but the ABC's PM program had this comprehensive report yesterday:

SALLY SARA: Gladstone's commercial fishing industry has rejected millions of dollars in compensation for a dredging project in central Queensland. Gladstone Harbour is being transformed to make way for the growing liquefied natural gas industry. 

The local fishing industry is being compensated for reduced access in parts of the harbour as the project develops. But fishermen say they should also be compensated for an outbreak of diseased fish which they blame on the dredging.

Stephanie Smail reports. 

STEPHANIE SMAIL: The port of Gladstone is shaping up to be one of Australia's busiest liquefied natural gas hubs. To make way for the new industry, the harbour is undergoing one of the biggest dredging operations ever attempted inshore from the Great Barrier Reef.

The project was only given approval if fishermen were promised compensation for reduced access to the area.

The Gladstone Ports Corporation's chief executive, Leo Zussino, announced the package today.

LEO ZUSSINO: For those fishers who have fished in the affected areas around the Western Basin, they will effectively receive one and a half years of their gross revenue as compensation for this temporary loss of access because of the dredging project.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: But Mr Zussino stresses the compensation has nothing to do with the outbreak of sick fish in Gladstone Harbour last year.

Local fishermen blamed dredging and development in the harbour when fish with sores, rashes and infected eyes were found in the region. More than 60 affected fishermen and business operators lodged a multimillion dollar compensation claim, but it was rejected by the courts.

Leo Zussino says there is no scientific evidence linking the dredging and the diseased fish.

LEO ZUSSINO: We will put all of our weight on that scientific evidence, and very clearly there were diseased fish in Gladstone Harbour. From all the information we have been given, it all related to the barramundi that came over the Awoonga Dam and the lack of food and the stressed conditions and the lack of salinity in Gladstone Harbour. And so we accept that, but it wasn't caused by the dredging project.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: Gladstone's commercial fishing industry has rejected the Ports Corporation's compensation package.

Local fisherman Trevor Falzon says it's not enough money and he won't bother applying for it.

TREVOR FALZON: It's just not worth it in its form now. If GCP (Gladstone Ports Corporation) come up with a better offer, we're willing to negotiate.

But the thing is, GCP have released it today just before Christmas, thinking it was a merry Christmas for all the commercial fisherman - in fact, it was just a slap in the face.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: He insists there is evidence linking the dredging to the diseased fish and says ultimately, the Gladstone Ports Corporation is to blame. 

TREVOR FALZON: They've just got their heads in the sand and don't want to know anything about it because they do realise what they're up against as far as compensation for not only commercial fishermen but anybody who has anything to do with this development, who worked on the harbour. They know they're liable for that.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: Applications for compensation will be assessed from early next year. But many in Gladstone's commercial fishing industry have vowed to keep fighting to prove the diseased fish outbreak was linked to the dredging. They're determined to win the compensation package they say they deserve.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

“Duchessing” of Industry Organisations?

I read a comment, the other day, that one of the problems facing industry bodies was the “duchessing” of their representatives by governments.

Being part of a democracy and not an aristocracy, I was not sure what this meant, so had to go to Google.

For the interest of members, I have posted some of the definitions below:

“To court or curry favour for political or business advantage”
 “Heaped with insincere praise”
“Overwhelm with flattering attention”
“Flatter or obsequiously (servile, compliant) fawning”

To curry  favour?

Apparently this has nothing to do with Indian food. It comes instead from an Old French verb conraier - 'to prepare', 'to put in order'. This is the same source as the name for the rubbing down and dressing of horses - curry-combing.

Then, the second word was originally not 'favour' but 'favel'.
John Palsgrave's Lesclarcissement de la langue françoyse [The clarification of
the French language], 1530, records a curryfavell as 'a flatterar'.

Favel comes from the 1310 poem by the French royal clerk Gervais du Bus - Roman de Fauvel [The Romance of Fauvel]. That morality tale relates the story of Fauvel, an ambitious and vain donkey, who deceives and corrupts the greedy leaders of church and state. The name Fauvel or Favvel, which is formed from 'fau-vel' (in English 'veiled lie'), is an acrostic made from the initial letters of a version of the seven deadly sins: flaterie (flattery/pride), avarice (greed/gluttony), vilanie (wrath), variété (inconstancy), envie (envy), and lacheté (cowardice).
In the poem, the rich and powerful humiliate themselves by bowing down and stroking the coat of the false leader, i.e. by 'currying Fauvel'.
So to Curry Favour is to try to make someone like you or support you by doing things to please them.

Now, getting back to the Duchessing and Aristocrats caused me to recall Peter Spencer’s comment whilst on the Tower of Hope, that we “are in a democracy not an aristocracy”, although this is becoming much harder to believe, given the decisions that are being made by the Government without any “real” consultation.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Home on the Sheep’s Back - Home on Ponzi Finance - or Home & Away?

IAustralia is experiencing an unsustainable housing bubble?

Is the growth in house values based upon sound fundamentals or are Australian house prices severely overvalued and due for a correction?

The property industry and industry experts and real estate “spruikers” would have you believe that Australia is different to the rest of the world and that our housing market is underpinned by a strong economy, high population growth and housing shortages as well as a strong banking system.
So who is correct?

Australia’s housing market is being underpinned by, what could be called, “Ponzi finance”, whereby the rental income from a property does not cover the debt expense incurred to purchase the asset, therefore, requiring perpetual capital growth, a supply of “greater fools” or subsequent investors to eventually purchase and ever-increasing levels of debt to perpetuate it?

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, real rents have increased by around 15 per cent since 1987 whilst real house prices have risen by around 165 per cent over the same period. It is no surprise, then, that yields on rental houses have plummeted from around 8 per cent in 1987 to 3.5 per cent currently.

Could our housing market then be a debt-fuelled time bomb or a bubble in search of a prick?

Prices of productive rural properties such as cattle and grain farms have, historically,   always enjoyed capital gain regardless of the return to capital being generated and over decades, prices rose and then levelled out but never dropped – until now where we have seen reductions in market value of around 20% common.

Rural valuers HTW report that “Throughout the year (2010) we have seen varying stages of value corrections, with most areas back a minimum of 10%, and up to 30% or more in some cases. Values may continue to decrease until they are at a level where purchasers can acquire these assets and achieve a reasonable rate of return….”

So back to the housing market and the “Ponzi finance” theory, where investors and owner occupiers have been leveraging up, and “negative gearing”  to buy property in the hope of achieving continued rapid capital growth  or ‘getting in’ before prices increase further.

With the significant low or negative income returns from holding residential property, the only way that house prices can continue to increase faster than incomes is if buyers believe that prices will continue rising and that large capital gains can be made by selling the same asset to other buyers (the ‘greater fool’ theory). Such a scenario requiring ever-increasing debt levels, could well be unsustainable.

Just Terms Compensation and Foreign Investment

In a recent Senate Enquiry into the effects of the Vegetation Management Acts, farmers and graziers sought Just Terms compensation for any new law, restriction or activity on their property that restricted their production or potential production.

Although historically never offered, it was felt that compensation should include the loss of market value of the land as well as annualised value of the loss of production $’s from that land over a reasonable term say 10 years as well as the devaluation of any capital infrastructure that was previously required to support the production from that land. ie: water improvements, fencing, stock yards, employee quarters. For example yards may have been constructed to handle 500 head but now only required to handle 300 head; fencing and waters were constructed to serve the land and are no longer required; the property may not longer need to employ as many workers.

Failing any adequate “Just Terms” compensation it was felt that the only effective outcome would be for whoever places a blot (encumbrance) on a property then they should buy it (not just offer compensation) and the purchase price should include a premium above market value to allow for re-location.

We are now seeing this type of outcome as mining companies purchase properties over which they have leases and the prices they are paying are in excess of reasonable market value within the rural industry.

The flip side to this is the subsequent loss of prime farming land to mining and the difficulty for the displaced farmer in finding a suitable replacement property.

The other disturbing outcome is the purchase of farming country by mining companies that are foreign owned. Recently a Chinese mining company purchased 43 properties in the Liverpool Plains area, near Gunnedah in NSW at individual values that came under the criteria for approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

Legal challenge over LNG funding launched in US

The following article was published recently in The Great Barrier Reef Blog. Anyone who thinks the Gladstone developments are of local interest only is deluded at best. UNESCO is also being kept informed of events unfolding, including the damning reports by aquatic disease expert Dr Matt Landos who points to the massive dredging project associated with the developments as the most likely cause of the continuing diseases affecting marine life :
Lawsuit Launched Against Multi-billion-dollar U.S. Subsidy of Fossil Fuel Projects in
Australia‘s Great Barrier Reef
Facilities Would Threaten Sea Turtles, Other Endangered Species
Sarah Uhlemann, Center for Biological Diversity, (206) 327-2344
Doug NorlenPacific Environment, (202) 465-1650
Teri ShoreTurtle Island Restoration Network, (707) 934-7081
SAN FRANCISCO— Three conservation groups initiated a legal challenge today to the U.S. Export-Import Bank’s nearly $3 billion in financing for two massive fossil-fuel facilities in Australia’sGreat Barrier Reef. Construction and operation of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities will threaten dugongs, sea turtles, saltwater crocodiles and numerous other protected marine species within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area..
“The U.S. really shouldn’t be subsidizing new fossil fuel projects anywhere on the planet, but for the Obama administration to fund a project that will despoil a fantastic World Heritage Area like theGreat Barrier Reef is unforgivable,” said Sarah Uhlemann, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Dirty fossil fuel projects don’t belong in this world-famous marine sanctuary.”
The Export-Import Bank, a federal agency that funds international projects to promote U.S. exports, is currently approving financing — including direct loans — for the two LNG projects in Queensland, northeast Australia. The Australia Pacific LNG and Queensland Curtis LNG projects will involve drilling up to 16,000 gas wells in the Surat Basin, west of Brisbane, using controversial “fracking” techniques, construction of hundreds of miles of gas pipelines and two massive LNGprocessing and export facilities. The Bank is also reportedly considering financing a coal-export facility in the Great Barrier Reef as well.
“The Export-Import Bank has a sad history of funding environmental destruction around the world,” said Doug Norlen, policy director of Pacific Environment. “Ex-Im Bank should focus on renewable energy rather than projects that further the world’s addiction to fossil fuels.”
The LNG processing and export plants will be located within the boundaries of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The Great Barrier Reef gained World Heritage status for its remarkable natural beauty, coral reefs and rare dugong and sea turtle habitat.  UNESCO, the international body charged with overseeing implementation of the World Heritage Convention, issued a report in June expressing “extreme concern” over the LNG projects’ impacts to the reef, noting that the reef may soon be listed as “in Danger,” a designation made when activities of the host country or outside entities threaten a World Heritage Area.
The LNG projects will also affect several species protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act, including endangered dugongs and threatened green and loggerhead sea turtles.
“Sea turtles and dugongs are already imperiled due to the fossil fuel frenzy now underway acrossAustralia,” said Teri Shore, program director of Turtle Island Restoration Network. “To allow oil companies to industrialize this critical nesting and feeding haven in the Great Barrier Reef will push these vulnerable marine animals ever closer to the brink.”
The formal notice of intent to challenge Export-Import Bank’s funding of the LNG projects asserts violations of the U.S. Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act, which implements U.S. obligations under the World Heritage Convention. The formal notice is a legal prerequisite before a case can be brought under theEndangered Species Act.