Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hays Paddock Plan and Pavilion - please conduct proper community consultation

Open letter to Boroondara Councillors

Boroondara Councillors,

I provided input to the Hays Paddock Plan that open space should be maintained and development of the pavilion should comply with Council's Sustainable Building Policy and retain its current footprint. 
The pavilion should cater for all park users rather than being focused on sporting clubs.  I also support improved cycling access to and through the park to make it easier for residents to visit without using a car.
Boroondara Council has ignored the community input to the plan and that of the Steering Committee and is proceeding with expanding the pavilion to accommodate only the interests of the Old Xaverians soccer club.  This will reduce the open space in the park and is quite inappropriate.  Any development of the Pavilion must surely also comply with the Sustainable Building Policy.
I ask the Council to conduct proper community consultation and establish an Advisory Committee that represents all park users, noting that Hays Paddock is not a sports reserve and the majority of usage is walking, dog walking, enjoying the quiet bushland setting, visiting the playground with children and meeting with and relaxing with friends.

I received an information leaflet and feedback form today from Council on the Draft Boroondara Open Space Strategy.  My preliminary and immediate feedback is "please preserve the open space in Hays Paddock that is currently mostly used for nature conservation and passive outdoor enjoyment".

Yours faithfully,

Peter Campbell
Maling Ward resident

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Tarkine wilderness deserves World Heritage Protection now

Dear Minister Burke,

I am writing to ask you to immediately place the Tarkine on the National Heritage List, to ensure that any impacts to national heritage values from the mining proposals currently are properly assessed.

I visited the Tarkine for an extended bushwalk in 2003.  The natural heritage values were obvious and very signficant, including remote coast line, aboriginal relics and massive sand dunes.  Unfortunately, degradation was occuring right in front of our with four wheel drive and all terrain vehicles and trail bikes traversing the highest sand dunes and frequently driving over aboriginal middens.  Cattle grazing was having a signficant impact too.  Their excrement was contaminating creeks, they were causing severe erosion along much of the coast line and they were spreading noxious weeds such as thistles.

You can view photos of our trip here: http://bit.ly/sdnCIc

As you know, the Tarkine has been under consideration for heritage listing since 2004, and while the Australian Heritage Council is finalising its advice to you, the priceless values of the Tarkine may be lost forever unless you grant it an emergency heritage listing.

If you do not list the Tarkine, only potential impacts to federally listed threatened species will be considered, and there will be no assessment or protection for the Tarkine’s renowned wilderness, geological, cultural, flora and fauna diversity and natural history values. None of these matters will be assessed by the state government.

The Tarkine is the last disease-free refuge for the endangered Tasmanian Devil. Because the Tarkine is not on the National Heritage List, damage as a result of mining exploration, including extensive roading and clearing for test drill sites has not been subject to any environmental impact assessment - yet your government has previously recognized that roading poses a significant threat to the Tasmanian Devil, and granted emergency heritage listing for this reason. Why won’t you do so now?

I call upon you as Environment Minister to use the powers available to you to ensure that the Tarkine and the Tasmanian Devil are afforded the highest level of protection. Please place the Tarkine on the National Heritage List, or provide me with the reasons why you as Environment Minister are placing the interests of mining ahead of conservation.

Peter Campbell

Tarkine photos

Victoria must keep the 20% emissions reduction target

Dear Premier Baillieu and Dr Lynne Williams,

CC: Hon Michael O’Brien, Minister for Energy and Resources
Hon Ryan Smith, Minister for Environment and Climate Change
Hon Peter Ryan, Deputy Premier
Hon Kim Wells, Treasurer

Re: Review of Climate Change Act

I support the Victorian Climate Change Act and would be deeply disappointed if Victoria’s target to reduce greenhouse emissions by 20 percent by 2020 was abandoned.

I note that the Climate Change Act 2010 passed both Parliamentary chambers unopposed. The Coalition participated in the Parliamentary debates at length and stated publicly on numerous occasions that it accepted the 20 percent emissions reduction target.

I understand that the current review is a legislative requirement as outlined in the Climate Change Act due to the introduction of a price on carbon. I’m calling on your government to ensure this review strengthens, rather than weakens our state government action on climate change.

I support the Act, and encourage the Baillieu Government to ensure Victoria takes leading action on climate change in addition to the national price on carbon because:

  • The 20 percent target will attract investment in clean energy jobs and industries in Victoria;
  • There will still be market failures under a price on carbon. We will still need to support energy efficiency measures, remove fossil fuel subsidies, support public good research and development and overcome barriers to clean energy deployment. 
  • The price on carbon does not cover all sectors of the economy. In particular we need state policies to address emissions from transport and agriculture;
  • Victoria’s 20 percent target is stronger than Australia’s national target and therefore   represents a bridge between where we are now on emissions nationally and where the science tells us we need to be;

I am deeply disappointed by the series of actions the Baillieu Government has taken to dismantle Victorian climate policy since being elected. I call on the Government to take this opportunity to change direction on the environment and climate change. I trust that this review is about developing a policy agenda that faces up to the challenge of climate change and this government’s responsibility to act, rather than shirking our responsibilities to current and future generations.

I have previously provided submissions to the Victorian Government about the urgent need for strong emission reduction targets and am very disappointed to see Victoria is now moving backwards on this.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Campbell

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A network of safe cycling routes is needed across Melbourne.

The tragic death of James Cross while cycling (Age 26/11) highlights the urgent need for a safe cycling network across Melbourne.

Improved driver education and a statutory one-metre distance between cars and bikes would help reduce "dooring" and other car-bicycle impacts.

However, many people don't use bikes for local trips and travelling to the city because they don't feel safe on our roads, even if they have rudimentary bike lanes on them.

Building dedicated cycling routes and separating bicycle lanes from cars would encourage many people to cycle who otherwise wouldn't and would greatly improve safety for those who already do.

We need a network of bicycle routes across Melbourne with safe separation between bicycles and cars.

We also need "strict liability" - an automatic assumption in law that responsibility rests with the less vulnerable road user. This is widely implemented in Europe, and means that responsibility for road accidents cascades down the chain from trucks to pedestrians. E.g. trucks -> cars -> bicyles -> pedestrians.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Peter Slipper "sinks the slipper"

Today was an interesting day in Australian politics.  I was out and about when I noticed some tweets coming through about Harry Jenkins resigning as the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Australia's national parliament.

He made an interesting speech which you can read here:  Harry Jenkins' resignation speech

He started with a heartfelt acknowledgement of the Ngunnawal people as the indigenous traditional owners of the land where Canberra is located.

He cited a desire to be able to participate in policy and parliamentary debate as his main reason for resigning. He thanked his staff, his wife and his family for their support.  Finishing with:

I go placidly with my humour intact. I wish you all well.

The political interest came about when Peter Slipper, a Liberal MP, was voted in as his replacement, thereby increasing the numbers of the Labor Government by one (with Harry Jenkins rejoining active duties) and the Coalition losing one (with Peter Slipper leaving the Coalition and not having a vote as Speaker).

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott apparently didn't see this coming and proceeded to do what he always does - attack the Labor Government and Prime Minister Julia Gillard.   I don't agree his interpretation of his role "to provide an alternative government and to criticise the current government".  He and all his fellow opposition member's primary role is to represent their electorates, not keep endlessly carping about the government.

It will be interesting to see how this pans outs.  The Labor government cannot now be held over a barrel by any one of the cross benchers - Windsor, Wilkie, Oakeshott, Katter or Bandt.  They can still collectively influence voting on legislation, but individually they now can't.

Personally, I would like to poker machine restrictions proceed - either mandatory pre-commitment or a $1 maximum bet - as problem gambling is a major concern that government and the gambling industry has been unwilling to address properly to date.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The entire First World financial system is a ponzy scheme

Today, "contagion fears sliced $23b off the Australian stock market".  Australian shares have been up and down tens of billions numerous times over the last year, in fact since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

Why should debt concerns in Greece, Italy, Spain or Portugal have such effect on Australia when we are in the middle of a resources boom supplying China's economic growth?

It seems to be all about perception.  If some nations default in Europe then the first world's tangled web of loans and dodgy investments begins to unravel.  Then we get a run on banks and mass "withdrawal of participation" in the financial system, with trust broken.  This could end up in a 1930s style depression.

So the First World's financial system is a giant interconnected ponzy scheme teetering on the brink of collapse.  Last ones out lose all their money.  Banks close their doors.  Countries go broke.  Currencies collapse.

After largesse by various governments and politicians over decades, with unregulated dodgy financial trickery rampant, the solution is "austerity measures" on the hapless populations that pay the taxes.

Another solution is "Quantitative Easing" - which the United States is doing - which effectively means printing more money without producing, making or growing anything.

It seems to we need to redesign our financial system to eliminate speculation, waste, corruption and the endless fixation on endless growth.

In essence, this is a core concern of the Occupy Movement.

Here is a good video from The Guardian that explains some details about wealth and income distribution changes in the United States

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Jon Faine vs Robert Doyle on Radio 774 8 Nov

I listened to Lord Mayor Robert Doyle’s interview with Jon Faine on Radio 774 this morning and was very surprised to hear that Robert Doyle does not support an independent inquiry into the Occupy Melbourne eviction and the methods used.

He seemed to get quite angry at Jon Faine’s observations about the eviction of Occupy Melbourne protesters from the Melbourne City Square and was evasive when asked about the violence that occurred.

He was strongly opposed to an independent inquiry into the decisions and events surrounding the the eviction yet he stated that the correct actions were taken by him and the Police and that were “issues of public safety, malcontents, people looking for trouble, elements of professional protest, and people posing a risk to public safety”.

If that is the case, then what does Robert Doyle have to fear from an independent inquiry?  I am left wondering if he has something to hide.   The information I have seen to date does not back Robert Doyle claims.

Doyle even cautioned Jon Faine that he “must be careful about what he says and not over react”

I have seen many images and videos of violence during the eviction.  I think an independent inquiry is essential to determine exactly what happened. Violence against passive protesters is not acceptable in our society.

External links

Australia's carbon price arrives

Today, the Australian Senate voted on and passed the suite of Clean Energy Bills that have been a long time coming, and are primarily the work of the Multiparty Climate Change Committee.

This is wonderful news.  It is a shame it has taken so long for us to finally price pollution and provide leadership and and incentives for a clean energy future.

Well done Julia Gillard, The Labor Government, the MPCCC, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakshott, all the Greens in the senate - particularly Christine Milne and Bob Brown and their advisors - and Adam Bandt in the House of Representatives.

Hard work by all concerned, and a proud and momentous day for Australia.

It was interesting that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott chose to be absent from Australia on this day, despite his vocal and trenchant opposition to pricing pollution.  It was also interesting that Malcolm Turnbull chose to vote against the legislation in the House of Representatives, despite his support of emissions trading and putting a price on carbon.

What our parliamentarians say doesn't matter nearly as much as how they vote.