Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Kimberley is a wonderful and unique place

The Kimberley is a fantastic place. It must not be destroyed by industrial development.  I have visited there twice; once on a road trip then again in 1998 on an aerial safari.

John Taylor, a good friend, was our pilot.

The recent proposals to put a gas processing plant at James Price Point would destroy the natural quality of this section of the Kimberley coast.  It is unnecessary too.

Here our some photos of our trip


Monday, December 03, 2012

Forests and wildlife are not negotiable

Monday 3 December 2012
Emergency demonstrations in logging-affected communities around the country are taking place today, with conservationists calling on the Prime Minister not to abandon environment and wildlife protection by finalising a closed-door deal with big business at a COAG meeting this week.

Cleafelled forest destroyed in SE NSW for woochips
Community groups are holding banners in clearfells and forests devastated by logging in WA, NSW, Tasmania and Victoria, to show Prime Minister Gillard what environmental management by state governments looks like.

From her Observer Tree perch 60 metres up in the canopy of Tasmania's beleaguered old growth forests, where she has spent nearly twelve months during a time of intense negotiations and ongoing forest destruction, Tasmanian activist Miranda Gibson has a personal message to Gillard: 'Don't abandon environmental protection'

COAG and the Business Council of Australia (BCA) both meet in Canberra this week to push through their plan to weaken federal environment protection laws and hand powers to assess and approve development in environmentally significant areas to state governments.

The proposed devolution of responsibilities under national environmental laws to state governments is similar to what we already have in place under Regional Forests Agreements, where the Commonwealth has entrusted state governments with protecting biodiversity.

This would leave Australia without any federal oversight of damaging activity in these iconic areas.

Lauren Caulfield. Not Negotiable' campaign spokesperson: 
  • "Anyone who thinks that the Commonwealth should be able to transfer its responsibility for environmental protection to state governments and supervise at a distance need only have a look at the wholesale failure of the Regional Forests Agreements for an example of how disastrous this approach has been.” 
  • "In Victoria we are facing an extinction crisis – including that of our own wildlife emblem, the endangered Leadbeaters Possum, as Premier Baillieu continues to allow the logging of its last forest strongholds". 
Jenny Weber, Huon Valley Environment Centre:
  • "Putting the states in charge of forest management has led to the devastation of forests around the country for export woodchips, the ongoing decline of threatened species, and a legacy of community conflict" 
Miranda Gibson, in the Observer Tree.
  • "These moves are a rampant attack on environment to protection and will take us 40 years backwards, leaving our iconic wildlife and wild places at the mercy of state governments with an appalling track record on environmental protection"
Jess Beckerling, WA Forest Alliance
  • "The Prime Minister’s responsibility is to Australians as a whole, not to the Business Council. She should take this issue off the COAG agenda for Friday and off the government’s agenda for good.”

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Obama wins. Politics is the new religion

I watch the final weeks of the U.S. presidential campaign with interest.  Many called it to be a close race, with Obama's chances reduced to high unemployment and having a hostile Republic-dominated Congress blocking many of his initiatives and much of his legislation.

The Mitt Romney suffered from the secret video recording of him declaring that "47% of Americans are sponging off the welfare system".  He couldn't really refute it as those were his words.  I really wonder if he and most Republicans believe this to be the case.  Many people in the United States do it very hard if they don't have a job.  When the "unemployment insurance" they have banked while employed runs out, that's it, they get no more money.

Then Romney won the first presidential debate with Obama looking ill-prepared and flat footed.  Romney's campaign had good momentum.

When Hurricane Sandy hit everything changed.  Obama paid close attention to emergency and relief efforts.  He also put significant funding into the Federal Emergency Management Agency - the main government agency that provided emergency services to the tens of thousands of affected people.  Romney was on record stating that this funding should be reduced.

Climate change was the elephant in the room during the presidential campaign.  Neither Romney nor Obama spoke about during their debates or elsewhere.  Yet climate scientists have clearly attributed the increased ferocity of Hurricane Sandy to climate change.  The other topic not mentioned during the campaign was forest protection, despite ongoing logging of old growth forests in the United States.  In general, policies for environment protection were not really covered at all.

When the election results came in, a strong result for Obama was obvious fairly early on, despite the shrill protestations of Karl Rove on Fox, who had something resembling a meltdown when the trend showed clearly towards Obama.

Obama claimed victory on Twitter - a first for a Presidential campaign.

Watching the campaign, it seems that politics is now the new religion.

Many people follow a political party and its leader as a matter of faith.  For example, many Republicans believe in their policy positions as a matter of doctrine, such as no abortions (the "right to life"), small government and reduced taxes (despite George W Bush as president increasing both) and undertones of "white superiority" with mutterings about "getting tough on immigration".

On the other hand, many Democrats would believe they have progressive policies on climate change (despite the emissions trading or a carbon tax being abandoned), foreign affairs (despite the ongoing un-winnable war in Afghanistan and ongoing drone attacks that kill civilians) the environment (despite ongoing forest destruction and Americans still driving around millions of massive cars) and human rights (despite Guantanomo Bay still not being closed).

Many people polarise around these two positions - and both sides believe they are "right" and the others are "wrong".

Obama won the big majority of Electoral College votes that mattered (in the Swing States) and therefore comfortably won the presidency.

The Democrats won the Senate again, assisted by a couple of Republican Senators that made telling remarks during the campaign:
  • Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said pregnancies resulting from rape are part of God's plan, tearfully explaining that he only supports abortions when a mother's life is in danger.
  • Missouri the incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill defeated Republican candidate Todd Akin to win a second Senate term after Mr Akin said in a television interview on August 19 that "legitimate rape" rarely results in pregnancy.
The comments indicate how beliefs and dogma are entrenched within political ideology - akin to or even linked to religious beliefs.

The Republicans however retained control of Congress.  So the end result of the election was a situation identical to how it was before - Obama as President, a Democrat controlled Senate and a Republican controlled Congress.  So it seems more political deadlocks and bickering will ensue.

After the election, partly lost by the Tea Party dragging Republican policy to the far right, Tea Party people insisted that they lost "because Romney didn't stay true to their hard right fixed policy positions on taxation and strayed too far to the left".  The opposite appears to be the case.

Obama ran a more inclusive campaign and picked up strong support among the Latino, Black and Gay communities.

However, in the final result Obama won 50.8% of the primary vote against Romney's 47.5%

So it really is a divided country, with both sides holding positions, much of which are grounded in dogma, that are somewhat opposed to each other.

Obama's team ran a very good on the ground campaign and mobilised lots of people.  But these same people have little or no influence on how political policies and legislation will not proceed.

Democracy is now all about the prize (winning the Presidency and the Government) rather than the process of representing people and consulting with them to shape and implement policies.

Australia's dumb Internet filter dropped

The Australian Government has dropped its ill-fated attempt to implement a "mandatory Internet filter" or  "clean feed".

It is not really clear where the intention to do this came from.  It seems to be an initiative conjured up during Kevin Rudd's time as Prime Minister, perhaps resulting from some background influence of the Australian Christian Lobby.

Stephen Conroy, the Communications Minister, continued to try and sell the initiative even though it was clear he didn't really know what he was talking about.  He was unable to address simple questions like:

  • Who would decide who would be added to the "black list" of sites
  • What scrutiny would be applied to such decisions
  • How the filter would actually fulfill its stated objective "to stop the distribution of child abuse pornography material" - when it could have been easily bypassed by those who wanted to

This half-baked and ineffective measure would have resulted in censorship of the Internet, somewhat like the Great Firewall of China that the Communist Party administers.

Instead, an Interpol process will be used that will have a more rigorous process for deciding what sites are to be blocked.

Its good to see that some sense has prevailed with the outcome here.


Julia Gillard please protect the places we love

Open letter to Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia

Dear Prime Minister, Environmental laws safeguard our way of life. They protect our land and wildlife, and ensure that our air and water are not polluted by destructive development.

I am deeply concerned that under pressure from industry, federal and state governments have recently announced an aggressive plan to wind back critical environmental protection laws that protect our land, water and wildlife.

History has shown us that the Federal government has a critical role in protecting matters of national environmental significance, which it must not abdicate.

Short-sighted development proposals, supported by the states, have threatened Australia’s natural heritage many times in the past. The federal government has had to step in to prevent irreversible harm to our iconic landscapes and wildlife.

A healthy environment is essential to the Australian way of life. Due to unrestrained development our environmental assets are in a state of decline, we need stronger environmental laws not weaker ones.

I call on you to reject the proposals laid out in the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agenda that would fast-track the transfer of federal approval powers to state governments, wind back the Environmental Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act and allow states and territories to fast-track major development projects.

Peter Campbell


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Halt coal seam gas expansion

Open letter to Minister Greg Combet. 

I am writing to urgently draw your attention to research which has just been release by Southern Cross University. The research shows massive leakages from the ground occurring around Tara in Queensland where coal seam gas mining is underway.

If these results are verified it could mean that coal seam gas is worse for climate change than coal.

Please take the following urgent actions in the interests of Australia's farms, environment and climate:
  1. Put in place an immediate moratorium on coal seam gas exports from Australia until further study has been done to verify the results of this research.
  2. Commission a thorough independent study of the scale of fugitive emissions from coal seam gas mining, including emissions directly from the ground.
  3. Implement a revised greenhouse gas accounting method to ensure that these 'fugitive' emissions from coal seam gas mining are accounted and paid for.
Your Sincerely,

Peter Campbell

Monday, October 15, 2012

Its time to stop logging natural forests

Much of the world's natural forests have been lost due to clearing for agriculture - or just for their logs.  Natural forests are ecosystems that harbour plant and animal biodiversity, capture and sequester carbon dioxide and produce clean water.

Unfortunately, we are still destroying the world's remaining natural forests around the world, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Indonesia, Brazil, Thailand, Papua New Guinea to name a few countries.

Yalmy Forest, East Gippsland. Author: Peter Campbell Source.

The "logging industry" is a misnomer now, as most of the "product" created from destroying natural forests is woodchips that are used to make cardboard and paper products.

Plantations and fibre crops such as hemp can supply the world's needs for pulp and timber.

However, voracious logging companies are still allowed by governments to keep logging and destroying native forest.   They are often given free access to the forests as a "resource" or they pay a token amount in "royalties".

Sometimes the logging is even subsided by taxpayers, as is the case with VicForests in Victoria, Australia and Forestry Tasmania in Tasmania, Australia.  In these cases the state governments of Victoria and Tasmania actually own logging companies.

Independent polls indicate that the majority of people now want their remaining native forest protected.  However, industry and governments collude to allow logging of natural forests to proceed.  Some conservation groups such as the Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund (all NGOs) still support ongoing logging of natural forests under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification.

There is no way a natural forest can be logged without degrading it, and often this degradation is catastrophic to the forest.  Trees are felled, undergrowth is trampled by machinery, and the residue is burnt to "create a seedbed" for more trees to grow.  Biodiversity and the natural forest's ecosystem is degraded.  If this is repeated as a cycle, the forests are effectively converted in plantations.

It is time for logging of the world's remaining natural forests to cease.  They must be protected, not logged.

We have the power to make this happen.  Contact your local government and state and federal members of parliament and ask them to protect our remaining natural forests now.  Tell your friends to contact them too.

This post is written as a contribution to the 2012 Blog Action Day on the "power of we".

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

I running for Maling Ward in Boroondara

I am running for Maling Ward in Boroondara in the upcoming Council elections.  It is a postal ballot - residents receive candidate statements and a ballot paper that they complete and post back.

Voting closes 6pm on Friday 26 October and the ballot will be counted on Saturday 27 October.

You can read about my campaign, why I am running on my campaign blog and the election [here]

I am running as an independent candidate as I with to represent Maling Residents directly.  I am not a member of a political party.

The Liberal, Labor and Green parties all field candidates in local government elections.  The Greens endorse candidates, while Labor and Liberal candidates run undeclared, often pretending that they are "independent".

Our democratic system is based on Councillors representing all the residents in their ward, not just the interests of a particular political party and its supporters.

I think we need to implement optional preferential voting. People should be able to control where their preference does or doesn't go.  If they only support one candidate in a single member ward, then just "1" on the ballot paper should be valid vote.  I think this would reduce all the undemocratic deals and manoeuvering that goes on behind the scenes when candidates decide who they are going to direct preferences to.

Of course voters actually choose where their preference goes, but candidate recommendations often influence many people, who often don't know much about who they are voting for (other than by a photo and a 150 word statement).

I am looking forward to serving the people of Maling Ward should I be elected.  It will be a tight race however so every vote will count.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Premier Baillieu please protect our environment rather than trashing it

Open letter to Premier Ted Baillieu.

Dear Premier Baillieu,

Like most Victorians, I’m proud of our environment. I’m proud of our clean air and water, our beautiful National Parks, and the ecosystems and amazing destinations that set our state apart.

Yet since coming into power your government has taken a wrecking ball to our environment, taking our environment and our state backwards by decades. I’m appalled by this behaviour from my government, and I’m calling on you to do better.

Instead of expanding brown coal mining and slashing support for clean energy, you should be investing in clean renewable energy like wind and solar.

Instead of cutting forest protections and trampling the Murray River you should be protecting our special places and returning water to our rivers.

Instead of looking out for your big business mates, you should be supporting households and small businesses to be more energy and water efficient to reduce costs and the impact on our environment.

Please stand up for our environment and for all Victorians.  After all, that’s the job of the Premier of Victoria.

Specifically - please stop logging in Victoria's native forests, including our water catchments.

Please scrap VicForests -the Victorian government should exit the native forest logging business that runs at a serious loss and destroys our native forests, including habitat of endangered species such as Leadbeaters Possum and the Long Footed Potoroo.

Please reverse your regressive legislation that is blocking wind farm development and favouring further investment in polluting fossil fuel power.

Please re-instate a feed in tariff that recognises the true value of solar power and renewable energy.

Please allocated $50m for cycling infrastructure across Victoria, and develop a plan and program to implement it.


Peter Campbell

External links

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Joe Ludwig please stop the Supertrawler

An open letter to Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig

Dear Joe,

I believe that the proposed operation of the super trawler in Tasmania is not appropriate.  I understand it is certain that seals and dolphins (up to 10 per day) and turtles will be killed as "bycatch". This is completely unacceptable.

I also understand that the sheer volume of fish it could and would catch will seriously deplete Tasmania's fish stocks and impact both recreational and existing smaller-scale local professional fishermen.

I ask that this Super Trawler be banned from operating in Australian waters.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Campbell

External links

Monday, August 27, 2012

R.I.P. Neil Armstrong, and extraordinary person

I remember my entire class at primary school captivated by the black and white television coverage of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon. It was a day I will never forget, and one of the great achievements of our time.

I had the pleasure of meeting Neil Armstong at a dinner several years ago.  He was very humble for one who has achieved so much. He was inspiring as an explorer, a leader, a pilot, an astronout and a remarkable person.

Rest In Peace Neil Armstrong.

Your tributes: Neil Armstrong - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Onshore treatment of asylum seekers is the only option

Open letter to Josh Frydenberg, Member for Kooyong.


A quick note to let you know that I completely disagree with government policy - which I note that you support - for offshore treatment of asylum seekers.

This will not deter asylum seekers from getting on boats to get to Australia.

In addition, offshore processing:
- is not consistent with human rights standards and UN treaty obligations
- will not provide appropriate accommodation;
- will not provide access to education, and to mental and physical health services;
- will make asylum applications much more difficult to process
- restricts merit-based application review by senior officials and NGO representatives
- has no oversight and/or monitoring of conditions by civil society.

I ask you to reconsider your position on this reprehensible policy.  Onshore processing is the only human and effective option.


Peter Campbell

See also

Friday, July 27, 2012

Premier Baillieu please support the NDIS

Dear Premier Baillieu,

I believe that you should support the National Disability Insurance Scheme and commit appropriate funds to it. Thousands of people with disabilities are in urgent need of assistance and protection as a basic human right.

Please don't play politics with this.

I encourage to persuade your colleagues in New South Wales and  Queensland to support the NDIS too.

Regards, Peter Campbell


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Signs of Myki failing - don't tap, wave or swipe

Photos taken at Flinders Street station provide more evidence that the Myki system is a failure.

Don't wave, don't swipe, don't tap!

Touch and hold but then wait for 1 second or more!

When that doesn't work, step out of the queue and talk to the gate attendant. When this happened to me last week, I was informed that "there is a software bug that causes the reader to go to sleep for your card, step out of the queue, let someone else through, then try again"

See also: Huge demand for public transport in Melbourne and poor service

Friday, July 20, 2012

Another earthquake in Victoria

There was another earthquake near Moe in Gippsland, Victoria today at about 19:11.  

I didn't feel this one, but many people in Melbourne and elsewhere across the state did.

It registed M4.3, and occurred very close to the location of the earthquake that occurred on 19 June 2012.

Earthquake near Moe. Source:


  • M4.3
  • Sydney time: 20 July 19:11
  • UTC time: 20 July 09:11

Full data

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Earth tremor in Victoria tonight

I was watching television tonight.  Just be 9:00pm the house shook for about 10 seconds. We have a solid suspended slab and it was moving!  No damage done though in Surrey Hills.  My wine cellar survived.

Reports came in immediately on social media (Twitter and Facebook) from friends across the state.

The handy Earthquake app (Android) showed the epicentre just south of Moe, Victoria. Here are the screenshots from the app.

The Australian Geoscience website apparently crashed when everyone attempted to visit it.  Just as well it was not a bigger one with more damage!

The size is reported as 5.2 (by the app)

No reports yet of major damage, but lots of houses shaken.


Monday, June 04, 2012

Natural beekeeping to help save the world's bees

I did a fascinating course last weekend on natural beekeeping presented by a friend, Tony Hodgson.

Honey bees entering hive.  Author:   Bj√∂rn Appel 

I learnt that the world's honey bee population is now at great risk due to a combination of factors - including Varroa mites, commercial "over production" and problems with pesticides and herbicides.

The Varroa mite was spread from Asian Honey bees (which are resistant to it) to European and North Amercan bees in recent times.  This has resulted in deaths of 70% or more bee hives (colonies), and the use of chemical to try and "manage" the mite.  Bee colonies now only last 3 years in countries afflicted by the mite.

Australia is the last major honey producing country to be free of the mite - but it may eventually arrive here too.

70 percent of the world's food results from bee pollination of plants, so huge reductions in bee numbers puts the world's food supplies at great risk!

The good news is that natural bee keeping can result in bee hives (colonies) that are not subjected to the same stress that commercial bees are.  Less honey is harvested, the hives are not moved around to follow flowering periods and a more bee-friendly hive design such as a Kenyan or Warre hives.  These hives can be made out of timber for a reasonable cost.

You can also get equipment required for beekeeping - such as a bee suit and hive tool - for a reasonable cost.

Some I am getting ready to have a go at starting beekeeping this spring!


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Qantas cuts staff and compromises their service

We just flew from Melbourne to Paris via Heathrow using Qantas.  Never again.

Our Airbus A380 was delayed 1.5 hours in Singapore when the auxillary jet engine that provides electricity to the aircraft and starts the main engine failed.  This is clearly a maintenance issue.

We then missed our connection at Heathrow to Paris.  We waited 5 hours for an Air France flight.

Our 2 ski bags and one luggage bag did not arrive with us at Charles de Gaulle Airport.

2 days later, waiting in Paris, we still don't have the bags or an ETA for their arrival.  This means we cannot proceed to Chamonix and do our ski trip on the Haute Route.

The Air France lost baggage call centre is unable to provide any more information than what we can find on the Internet.  Two bags are supposed to have been sent to Paris on 29 April but their arrival is "not confirmed".  The other bag is still missing.

This is extremely frustrating.  The systems for transferring baggage at Heathrow, and the systems for tracking lost baggage, are dysfunctional.

If you want to ski in the French Alps, fly direct to Geneva via Singapore Airlines or Emirates.  Avoid Heathrow if at all possible.

Our entire 10 day ski trip to Europe could well be completely ruined.  Qantas cost cutting will destroy their service and their business.

Update 6pm Tuesday 1 May

We went to Charles de Gaulle airport to ask about our missing bags.  We were informed that Mark's 2 bags had arrived and been sent on to Geneva (!).  We were not notified of this.  Apparently they will be delivered to the hotel in Chamonix, despitte our instructions to pick them up in Paris.  Mark's "missing missing" bag has now magically appeared and is enroute.

My bag is apparently still at Heathrow, despite the note that British Airways would fly it to Paris yesterday - they did not apparently.  We checked with British Airways - they said they had not received it here so it was most likely still at Heathrow.  They may not have been able to fit it on fully loaded planes - which I find hard to believe.

Tomorrow we go to Chamonix. Hopefully our bags arrive there too, and we can finally do some skiing.

Nobody seems accountable for following up and resolving issues with missing baggage, and nobody seems to really care.  Their is little or no status information provided, and some of it is incorrect.  The entire system needs an overhaul.

Update 10pm Tuesday 1 May
Simon rang to say Mark's two bags had been delivered to the hotel in Chamonix, which is great news.  Geneva also called and advised my ski bag was there and would be sent to Chamonix tomorrow morning.  However, the lost baggage system on the Internet still shows my bag at Heathrow!  The system is crap.

But its great news that our bags have finally been located and sent to Chamonix.  150km/h winds there over the last couple of days meant we would have not been skiing.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Our house won Sustainable Homes Gold Award in Boroondara

I entered our Surrey Hills house and Lena's Permaculture Garden in the 2011 Boroondara Sustainability Awards.  Our house won the Sustainable Homes Gold Awards, and the garden got a Special Commendation.

Boroondara Sustainable House Gold Award for Surrey Hills house

My daughter Chloe and I accepted the awards from Mayor Heinz Kreutz at the Boroondara Council meeting tonight.

It was great to see so many inspiring house and garden projects in Boroondara.

Thanks Boroondara.

Boroondara Mayor Heinz Kreutz (r) speaking to Sustainability Awards  gathering

Lena, Chloe and Peter at home

Special Commendation for the Sanci Permaculture Garden

Friday, April 20, 2012

SUBMISSION to Car Dooring Bill Inquiry

This is my submission to the Car Dooring Bill Inquiry.

You can find out more about the Car Dooring Bill and make a submission via [this link] courtesy of Greg Barber and the Greens.

Road Safety Amendment (Car Doors) 2012

Dear Mr McDonald,

In this submission "Car dooring" refers to the situation where a motorist opens their car door and a cyclist is forced to take evasive action or collides with the car door.

I am a regular commuting and recreational cyclist.

I have personally witnessed a "car dooring" in Auburn Road Hawthorn as a cyclist was approaching Riversdale Road travelling south. A motorist opened their car door without looking and a cyclist collided with it, just after the section where the on road bicycle lane finishes.

A colleague was also badly injured when his arm was severed by a car window after a car door was opened and he collided with it while riding his bicycle just outside Flinders Street station.

I recommend the following relating to "car dooring" incidents:

1. "Car dooring" should be an offence.

2. Liability for car dooring incidents should be assumed for the motorist opening the car door.

3. An on the spot fine of $500.00 should be levied, increased to $2000.00 if the cyclist is injured

4. Mandatory reporting for all car dooring incidents should be brought in

5. Police should not have discretion to not charge motorists for car dooring offences

6. Bicycle lanes should not be implemented within the range that car doors can reach when opened. Safe bicycle lanes should commence outside the range of car doors, or preferably, bicycle routes should be physically separated from other vehicle traffic such as cars, trucks and buses.

7. A car dooring incident should attract at least 6 demerit points for the licence holder.

The Victorian Government has a duty of care for the people of Victoria. It is important that strong measures be taken to reduce the incidence of "car dooring" by increasing penalties, more driver education about avoiding "car dooring" and by provision of bicycle routes and paths physically separated from other vehicle traffic.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Campbell
(home address supplied)

Marriage equality is a basic human right

This is my submission to the parliamentary inquiry into marriage equality.  You can access their online survey from [here]. Submissions close 20 April 2012


Marriage equality is a basic human right.  Discrimination against same sex couples should end. Same sex marriages should be allowed and have the same status as opposite sec marriages.

It is important to create the opportunity for marriage equality for people regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Discrimination against people on the basis of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity should be remove from the Marriage Act 1961.  Freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity are fundamental human rights.

External links

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Minister Burke please protect the Tarkine

An open letter to Tony Burke, Federal Environment Minister

Minister Burke,

I visited the Tarkine for a 4 day bushwalk and was astounded by the regions natural and wilderness qualities.  I believe it should be protected by a National Park.

The coastal region of the Tarkine is one of the world’s great archaeological regions due to the richness and diversity of Aboriginal sites – many of which date back thousands of years.  I viewed hut sites, middens, petroglyphs and pebble causeways during my visit.

With respect to two iron ore mines proposed by Venture Minerals (project reference numbers 2012/6342 and 2012/6339), I draw your attention to the following concerns:

The two mines are proposed in areas that have been assessed by the Australian Heritage Council as being worthy of National Heritage listing. This listing should urgently be reinstated, and the proposals assessed accordingly.

The Tarkine is the second largest cool temperate rainforest left in the world and is home to more than 60 species of rare, threatened and endangered species, including the Tasmanian Devil and the largest freshwater lobster in the world.

These are two iron ore mines that would only operate for two years, but in that short time the values of the Tarkine could be irreversibly damaged.

Please take action to protect the Tarkine region as a National Park and prevent its destruction from mining.

Peter Campbell
home address supplied

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fletcher Jones, Larvatus Prodeo and my local newsagent close

I was surprised to discover that a closing down sale at Fletcher Jones 2 weeks ago - an iconic Australian clothing company - was for the entire company.  My grandfather treasured his Fletcher Jones Covedene trousers.  I have an FJ suit and some work trousers I purchased two years ago.

I bought a jacket.  The last of its kind.

Fletcher Jones was a staff owned company that used to manufacture clothing locally in Warrnmabool and elsewhere in Victoria.  With companies and brands like this going down I wonder about the future of retail and manufacturing in Australia.

My local newsagent in Middle Camberwell shut its doors too.  Local shops such as this used to be part of the fabric of local communities.  Buy your paper and magazines, stop and have a chat, and buy some pencils and paper for your children.  Not any more.  The owner said he was working 80 hours a week and making no money from the shop.  "Everyone is paying bills and buying on the Internet" he said.  He is keeping the paper distribution round going though.

The Newsagency did not sell.  It just closed.  They used to be valuable businesses due to restrictions on licences.  Not any more.

Then a more recent arrival, the Larvatus Prodeo blog announced it was closing. I was quite active posting on this blog a couple of years ago and often found the interchanges interesting.   There were Labor acolytes and "defenders of the faith".  There were a few Wingnuts intent on flaming everbody and everything.  There were some very eloquent and sensible people.  There were some insufferable tedentious people carping on about trivia.  There were even a few hacks (government?) defending the indefensible - the logging of our native forests - and the use of phosphor weapons against civilians by Israel in Gaza.

I met some great people via the blog.  I think some discourse on the blog had major impacts during the 2007 and 2010 federal elections.   But it seems, all good things must come to an end.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Remembering Peter Hay Campbell, my father's uncle

My father Douglas Campbell and his brother John both mentioned they had an uncle named Peter Campbell who was a pilot who died in World War 2.   There is some talk that I was named after him.

I have had some difficulty tracking down information about him, but I have now had some success.

Here is his photo.  There is some resemblance to early photos of my father Douglas.

I located his death certificate from Colin Campbell, one of my father's cousins.  This specifies he died on 26 July 1942.  His RAF Sergeant number was 1100642.

The details were that he was "Accidentally killed when the glider of which he was the pilot under instruction crashed out of control own to structural failure."

He buried at Seafield Cemetary in Edinburgh, Scotland. Plot: Sec. E. Grave 119. [link]

His death had a major impact in my family.  Seventy years later, his descendants still remember it.  This single death highlights to me the long ramifications that war and associated deaths have.

Rest In Peace, Peter Hay Campbell.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Huge demand for public transport in Melbourne and poor service

I have started work again in Melbourne's CBD.  The trains during "peak hours" are much busier than when I previously commuted regularly about 6 months ago.  It is great to see so many people using public transport, but the system is performing poorly.

The "stopping all station" trains along the Box Hill line used to go direct to Flinders Street, now all trains on the line go through the loop.  There are hundreds of people swapping trains (from Loop train to Flinder St and vice versa) for every train that arrives at Richmond.  This delays trains departing and obviously inconveniences many people.  There has to be a better way.

The Myki ticketing system is a debacle.  After costing around $1.2b (way over budget), and possibly up to $1.5b, it has critical performance issues that are impacting commuters, lots of bugs in the billing, and serious problems with the card readers.  The review commissioned by the Baillieu government has not been made public, but they have decided to throw good money after bad and try and make it work.

They are now decommissioning the Metcard readers and many stations and forcing commuters to use Myki, so the real issues and failings are becoming very obvious.

Here is a summary of issues I have encountered:
  • Some card readers don't read my card, but the one next to it does (malfunction, slows passengers)
  • I was charged a Zone 1-2 trip even though I only travelled in Zone 1 (I got a refund)
  • I was charged a penalty fare for "not touching off" at Surrey Hills, when I carefully did.  I contacted the Myki Call Centre - they told me a faulty reader had immediately touched me on (twice!) when I touched off at it (I got a refund).
  • The Myki Call Centre cannot see transactions for the current day and they are not visible via the Myki website.  You have to wait for an overnight computer batch run to see them!
  • The refunds did not appear in my account.  The Call Centre informed me that "they send the refund to every card reader in the system (store and forward!?) because they don't know where I will touch on.  When I touch on I then get the credit.  So it seems the card stores the value, not they central system.  If this is true it is a bizarre and very complex IT architecture.
  • The card readers are far too slow.  Huge queues form at all exits of busy stations such as Flinders Street and Southern Cross while everyone waits around 1 second (or more) for the device to touch off.  This should take milliseconds.  The sensitivity of the card readers and the response time is woeful.
  • The system would not have passed basic performance and load testing (if this was done) and is now failing user acceptance testing.
  • The cause of the very slow response of the card readers is not certain.  They may be just substandard, or the network latency might be causing it.  There is also a "rumour" that the sensitivity of the readers has been "turned down" to get them to work in close proximity with the existing Metcard readers.  There may  be some validity to this as it has been announced that many of the Metcard/Myki readers and gates are about to be replaced by new gates with Myki readers only.  This will be very expensive. If it fixes the poor read response and high bad read problems, this should have been done BEFORE commuters were forced to use the Myki system
  • There is still no Myki solution for tourists or country people who visit Melbourne.  This is a basic requirement that should have been met BEFORE any roll out.
So how did this disaster happen?  It seems that Transport Minister Peter Batchelor in the previous Labor Government decided they would "develop a world class ticketing system that they could sell all around the world" and ignored the option of buying a system that was already available and working well (such as Brisbane's, or London's Oyster Card or Hong Kong's Octupus card).  

Then the government awarded the contract to the lowest tender and the Kamco consortium that knew very little about ticketing systems. 

Then Kamco bought cheap and inferior "end of life" reading devices and designed a system that has serious architectural points of failure.

Many of the problems with Myki were evident over a year ago, as I wrote in this post about Myki in February 2010.  I still think that the Myki experiment should be canned.  We should start again with a system that is proven and works, or stop issuing tickets or employ conductors again.  Governments should not engage in research and development for this type of infrastructure.  They should select systems that are proven, and conduct due diligence on companies and consortiums before awarding them contracts.   

There is a whiff about this whole debacle that I just don't like. 

Let's have the "open and transparent government" that you promised Premier Baillieu.  Please release the Myki review report, and tell me which of the issues I list are fixable.

To top matters off, the Auditor general calls for annual spending of $3 billion to cope with growing demand and fix problems due to chronic under funding.  Then Ian Dobbs, the new head of newly formed Public Transport Victoria, rejects the call for $30 billion and states that "The biggest opportunities are in making best use of what we've got at the moment, rather than believing that all the solutions are building, or buying new kit".

He, and members of our government, have obviously not traveled by public transport recently.  They probably never do.

I am riding by bike to and from work.  It is faster, more reliable and much more pleasant, even taking into account the traffic I have to negotiate.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Google stuffs up Picasa upgrade by removing integration with Picasa Web Albums

BEWARE: The Google Picasa Windows client upgrade from 3.8 to 3.9 REMOVES integration with Picasa Web Albums and replaces this with the inferior Google+ photos. 

I recommend you DO NOT upgrade until they sort this mess out.

Otherwise, if you "upgrade" you will lose the easy ability to:
  • embed photos and slideshows from Picasa Web Albums in a blog or Google site etc.
  • easily create Picasa Web Albums and upload smaller sized photos
This is a REALLY BAD upgrade as it downgrades your functionality.  Google, please reconsider this.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rudd on the rampage and its all about him

Honesty in politics is a rare thing.  We don't get to hear about what happens in Cabinet, the Labor Caucus or the Liberal-National Party Room, or the Greens Party Room for that matter.

So it is refreshing that we are now hearing some honest and candidate stories from several Labor MPs and Ministers about what life was really like under Kevin Rudd when he was Prime Minister.

These include:
  • Nicola Roxon, Attorney-General "said working with Mr Rudd as Prime Minister could be “a complete joke” [link]
  • Craig Emerson, Minister for Trade  "There has been attack on the Prime Minister going back to the last election. There was destabilisation and leaking then; it's been going on since." "Well these things matter, don't they? I mean, whether you run an organised or a dysfunctional government." [link] [link]
  • Wayne Swan, Treasurer.  "However for too long, Kevin Rudd has been putting his own self-interest ahead of the interests of the broader Labor movement and the country as a whole, and that needs to stop" "  "He sought to tear down the 2010 campaign, deliberately risking an Abbott Prime Ministership, and now he undermines the Government at every turn."  [link] [link]
  • Julia Gillard, Prime Minister. "She said that while Mr Rudd had been an excellent campaigner in 2007, the government had descended into paralysis because of his “chaotic” and dysfunctional” work patterns." [link]
  • Stephen Conroy, Communications Minister On poker machine reform: "Well let's be very clear about this. What's been revealed last night on television and over the weekend with Andrew Wilkie is a complete and utter fraud by Kevin Rudd." " He has been pretending that he supported the pre-commitment technology, pretending he supported reform in this area, but his key numbers man just happened to have two meetings and tell Clubs Australia that he would kill it."  [link]
  • Stephen Smith, Defence Minister  "I'm articulating it to you from my perspective, and my perspective is that by the time we came to the end of Kevin's term as prime minister, the cabinet, the caucus, the overwhelming majority of the cabinet and caucus had lost confidence in the ability to work through difficult policy or political issues with him."  [link] [link]
On the other side, supporters of Kevin Rudd include:

  • Kim Carr, Manufacturing Minister, who was demoted in a Cabinet reshuffle in December, says Mr Rudd is the victim of a "campaign of vilification" by senior members of the Government.  "It's my opinion that the man has a great breadth of vision and a commitment to the future of this country that stands us in good stead."  [link]
  • Chris Bowen, Immigration Minister "There's no doubt there's a lot of support in the community for Mr Rudd" [link]
  • Martin Ferguson, Resources Minister "Kevin Rudd is best placed to take on Tony Abbott and potentially best position us to win the next election,"   [link] [link] 
  • Alan Griffin MP, "I think that should there be a change of leadership what we need to do is get over it and start working together. And that's what the people want, that's what the party wants and that's what we should be doing."  [link]
  • Daryl Cheeseman, MP.  "Kevin Rudd is the most popular politician in Australia as opinion polls show. "Kevin is the right person to lead Australia. "I like Julia Gillard, I have a lot of respect for her, but that's the reality. It's important I reflect the views of my community." [link]
  • Doug Cameron, Senator "We have to make sure that we stop running these character attacks on Kevin Rudd,'' ''Because it's unfair, it's unprincipled and its not deserved.'' [link]
  • Maxine McKew, former MP for Bennelong, "Kevin Rudd is best placed to beat Tony Abbott," "He delivered a 23-seat majority and I think that should be noted," she said. "His appeal is broad and the breadth of his victory in 2007 shouldn't be overlooked." [link]
  • Anthony Albanese "called Gillard and informed her I would be voting for Rudd and resigned as leader of the house" [link]
Kevin Rudd (and Doug Cameron) have claimed that the "faceless men" are after Rudd again, but both are  unwilling to say who they are.  So we have "faceless and nameless men" apparently running the country!

As an aside, it is interesting to note that Kim Carr and Alan Griffin were two of the "faceless men", along with Tim Gartrell, that did the preference deal with Family First that resulted in Steven Fielding being elected to the Senate in 2004 at the expense of the Greens. [link]

Some other interesting commentary has emerged, including:
  • We need to talk about Kevin, "Kevin Rudd was ultimately responsible for his own downfall, writes his former speechwriter"
  • Resurrection of Saint Kevin "No one does victimhood like Kevin Rudd. Forget the fact he's the bloke who calls the Prime Minister "the bitch" - or worse - behind her back, to senior figures in industry, to newspaper editors and to members of the Press Gallery" 
  • Labor’s rotten core needs the leadership implosion " This is a party imploding. The word is used carefully: Labor’s internal weaknesses, its ideological drift, its lack of core values, the devolution of the factions in mechanisms for distributing patronage, its reluctance to publicly argue over important issues — the hollowing out of a once vibrant, reformist institution, is causing Labor to cave in on itself."
  • Independent MP Tony Windsor "Should Mr Rudd become prime minister again, it would most likely lead to an early election.  And if Mr Rudd did try to command a majority on the floor of Parliament, he could not rely on Mr Windsor's support. "If the Labor Party suddenly want to change arrangements in the middle of the stream all bets are off," [link]
In conclusion

Julia Gillard as Prime Minister was able to from government after the 2010 federal election with support from three independent MPs and the Greens.  Her government has legislation for several import reforms such as the Clean Energy Bill (with a carbon price), the Mining Tax (albiet compromised) to name a few. 

However, she has been unable to garner much support from the Australian public with her wooden style of speaking and continued utterance of media lines.  She has also avoided direct questions about her exact role in the demotion of Kevin Rudd as PM.  Opinion polls indicate that Gillard is on track to lose the next federal election to Tony Abbott.

It has now become clear that Kevin Rudd has been actively destabilising the Gillard government over several months, so she has not been able to get "clean air" to get her message across and demonstrate leadership.

Gillard and her supporters have portrayed Kevin Rudd as a Prime Minister who was almost impossible to work with.  He lost his mojo and backflipped on important initiatives such as the Mining Tax (Resources Super Profits Tax) and his much vaunted but highly compromised Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

Kevin Rudd and his supporters say that only he has the personal popularity with and support from the Australian public to beat Tony Abbott at the next election.  Polls indicate he has more support from the public than Julia Gillard (and Tony Abbott).  Rudd has also given assurances that he has "learned from his past mistakes" and is a "change person" with respect to his leadership style.

However, Rudd has also just flagged a review of the Clean Energy Bill, even though it has just been through and exhaustive process with the Multi Party Climate Change Committee and will be legislated in July this year. 

So the choice before the Labor Party is a capable PM who has Cabinet and party support, but looks like losing the next election due to her poor public profile, or perhaps winning the election and a return to Kevin Rudd's autocratic leadership.

It is also likely that Rudd will not be able to form a minority government if Labor doesn't win a majority of seats under his leadership (if he gets it).

Rudd might also spit the dummy completely and resign from his seat.  This would force a by election, and possibly then a general election.

If Rudd loses the leadership ballot, as appears likely, all indications are he will continue to destablise the government.

I don't envy them.

It looks like Tony Abbott will sail into office whatever happens now.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rudd the wrecker will kill action on climate change and forests

Where there is smoke there is fire.

I have wondering about media reports over the last several months about "Kevin Rudd agitating to be Prime Minister again".  Initially I thought these were a beat up. There seems to nothing some sections of the media like more than political conspiracies and plots to oust political leaders.  It is s a form of virtual blood sport.

With recent reports and comments from Kevin Rudd, and now Daryl Cheeseman (MP for Corangamite) we can see there is some substance to all this speculation.

Rudd wants his old job as Prime Minister back, at any cost.  I think he also wants revenge on those who orchestrated his sacking.

He, assisted by a secret (small?) band of followers, has been systematically undermining Julia Gillard as PM. His "campaign" includes:

  • Leaks at strategic times to derail the Gillard Goverment's momentum (including during the last election campaign)
  • Making "Presidential" statements and assuming a high profile as Foreign Minister
  • Not ruling out contesting for PM if there is a leadership ballot - even though he says he doesn't want on and there won't be one.
  • Saying he has "learnt from his mistakes" and is "more humble etc" - when by his current actions clearly this is not true.
So the Labor is in a death spiral.  Gillard cannot lead effectively with all the attention on leadership intrigue. 

Look at the Gonsky report on education - a core issue for Australia.  There has been virtually no coverage of it.  Our public education system is being denied adequate funding and is being run down.  Middle and high income earners are deserting it in droves.  It appears there is more public money going to private and "independent" schools per student than there is going to public schools.  Yet this issue is hardly getting any attention.

I can only speculate on Rudd's motives.  It would seem revenge and ambition are outweighing all other considerations.  If there was a leadership spill and Rudd got to be PM again, all the bad publicity, and his past skeletons in the closet, would mean Labor would lose the election.

Those who think Rudd can be Labor's salvation have short memories. He lost his mojo just before he was deposed. There was the complete stuff up on pink batts - this should have been done by the States, not Peter Garrett. The Australia 2020 talkfest delivered virtually nothing. Then he abandoned his compromised CPRS and adopted Brendan Nelson's policy on climate change! 

Rudd was also operating as a cell within Labor (as Latham did 2004) - this was the real reason he was shafted. However, now some nervous Labor poll-watching MPs think he might win the next election. He won't as he is shitting in his own nest in public. 

The real issue is that 19C (Labor) and 20C (Liberals) institutions are not well equipped to handle the big challenges and transitions we face in 21C as we run out fossil fuel, forests, water and degrade agricultural land. Both parties have their own right and left and are floundering about what to do. Labor has stepped in the right direction under Gillard by supporting a transition to a clean energy economy but they are having trouble selling this (Rudd's antics are not helping) while the Liberals under Abbott have stepped back in time.

If Rudd was more sensible, smart and strategic he would let Gillard lose the next election (as current polls indicate she is on track to do, if you believe them) then sail back in as the "knight in shining armour" with no bad blood and a clean(er) slate.

If Rudd and his followers keep de-stabilising the government, then Gillard will lose the next election.  One of the few things John Howard said that I agree with was "division is death".   While I am not in favour of autocratic rule by an single political party, this axiom is quite true for the game as they play it.

Unfortunately, the consequence of the current Labor-Greens-Indepedant government falling is that Tony Abbott can just sit back, keep pointing out that Labor has lost the plot, is paralysed and can't be trusted, then sail into government.

Once in government he will ditch the price on carbon and just about every other reform and piece of legislation that the current government has achieved.  Abbot would also axe National Disability Insurance, plain packaging for cigarettes, the NBN, education reform, the mining tax (weak though it is).

The Gillard government might just finalise the Intergovernmental Agreement to protection another 400,000 hectares of Tasmania's government.  They might also recognise and act on the opportunity to protect the rest of Australia's native forests subject to logging and reduce Australia's emissions by a further 5%.  An Abbott government would certainly do neither.  

Game on Kevin.  Its a lose-lose scenario.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rob Oakeshott: native forest biomass is bad for koalas and bad for the climate

An open letter to Rob Oakeshott; federal MP for Lyne (NSW)
via email

Dear Rob,

I have liked your contributions to the Australian parliament to date.

However, I do not support your recent attempts to re-instate burning native forests under the MRET. This is unacceptable. I strongly oppose it.

Our native forests are still being destroyed in NSW, WA, TAS and VIC mostly for woodchips. The export markets for woodchip has collapsed so this destructive industry is about to halt.

But allowing the burning of native forest woodchips in forest furnaces will create a new and perverse "market" for the woodchips, and encourage ongoing destruction of our forests.
The are huge net carbon emissions from logging our native forests. Burning the woodchips m for electricity generation would be also result in significant carbon emissions.

Our native forests, and the carbon they store, should be protected, not turned into woodchips and burnt.


Peter Campbell

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Greens senate preselection for the next federal election in Australia

The Victorian Greens are preselecting the person who will lead their lead Senate candidate for the next Australian Federal election, that likely to be held in 2013.

It interesting that only about 30% of Greens party members actually get around to voting (via postal ballot that have just been sent to members) in this type of preselection.

If you are reading this and you are a Victorian Greens member, I encourage you to vote!

I am supporting Brian Walters as I believe he has the experience, knowledge and personal attributes to be an excellent Senator for the Greens and the people of Victoria.  He has an excellent understanding of greens policies and the challenges, opportunities and issues for Victoria.   Brian also has considerable experience with environmental campaigns dating back to the flooding of Lake Pedder in Tasmania.

Brian is a founding member of the Greens in Victoria and has made a huge contribution on important issues both in Victoria and nationally, including protection of native forests, providing legal support for environmental protesters over the years and humane treatment of asylum seekers.

Brian also has good recent campaign experience from when he contested the state seat of Melbourne in the 2010 Victorian State election and was unlucky not to win it.

You can view more information about Brian, including some recent videos, on his blog here.

Here is the strong field of people seeking pre-selection that reflects how far the Greens have come in recent years.  There is good mix of people here who have been involved in previous election, party administration and issues-based campaigns.

Tony Kelly

Brian Walters

Jenny O'Connor
Website TBA

Cyndi Dawes

Josh Fergeus

Alex Bhathal

David Collis

Janet Rice

Kathleen Maltzahn

Trent McCarthy

David Risstrom

Sue Plowright