The $2 million dollar rail study into this region is a failure because its terms of reference do not mention peak oil, climate change, food security or the intelligent design that rail offers.
And MP Don Page obviously carries little weight in parliament – he told ABC radio last year that he would ask for a broader environmental scope but somehow that was ignored.
The study provides answers the government was looking for: more roads. It’s a rail study that looks like it was written for the fossil fuel dependent freight industry.
So while the fossil fuel dependent freight industry move almost everything about, including food, why did this report not mention any of the environmental and social benefits of rail?
Wilfully concentrating transport options could perhaps be considered treasonous in more informed and engaged societies.
Interestingly, the government report alluded to this region as being home to a bunch of welfare dependent moochers.
It says accessibility and mobility needs, ‘are not primarily driven by economic growth, but by a large and increasing dependent population needing regular access to services.’
Perhaps we should instead blame ourselves for not breeding enough to create a consumer economic need. Or for not developing this region as fast as Queensland.
Light commuter rail between towns is in the best interests of this Shire, not ‘tourist trails’. It would create instant economic stimulation, and apart from easing traffic burdens, the greatest gains from trains would be in ensuring food security, self dependence and resilience.
Where are the vision and balls in current political governance? Was it ever there? Maybe the last future vision was when then- premier of NSW Sir Henry Parkes arrived by train to make his famous federation speech in Tenterfield. It was a speech that set in motion the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia.
I honestly can’t tell the difference between Fairfax and News Ltd any more, especially after the Herald went tabloid and Gina Rinehart’s toxic influence infected it.
Evidence could be found in a recent Chinese junket shared by both the PM’s department and mining magnate Andrew Forrest.
Crikey’s Matthew Knott revealed last week that both Fairfax and News Ltd’s expenses were paid by Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group and that payment wasn’t disclosed. And both Fairfax and News Ltd didn’t think it was a problem. Presumably Forrest innocently wanted to make a few new friends while hoping no one would mention Tibet or the Falun Gong. And it worked – having your own media tag along ensures those awkward questions are never asked.
Knott says that Mark Pearson, an expert in media law and ethics at Griffith University, told Crikey media outlets should disclose paid travel and accommodation within their stories or in a footnote at the end. ‘The mainstream media needs points of difference from the new media,’ he said. ‘They don’t do it at their peril. It’s what distinguishes them from the riff-raff.’
But why bother with a point of difference when you both control almost everything? According to The Australian Collaboration’s Democracy in Australia – Media concentration and media laws document (found at www.australiancollaboration.com. au), ‘Currently two newspaper groups (News Limited and John Fairfax Holdings) account for over 90 per cent of the circulation of daily newspapers, and Australia has only three commercial television networks.’
So Woolies and Coles own the food and if it wasn’t for the ABC, News Ltd and Fairfax would own the information.
A misconception about big media is that it behaves like any corporate organisation. It simply doesn’t. In addition to customer relationships and shareholder obligations, it has a unique role in democratic societies. The fourth estate, as it was once called, provided societies with critical analysis of those in charge.
Not any more. Given the current climate of sucking up to mining, would more media diversity just mean that Mr Forrest and the PM would have to charter more planes for overseas junkets?
As I expected he’s up front with a wide smile. ‘Ah you’re from the paper that keeps bagging me.’
‘Oh no,’ I enthuse, ‘I have never published anything about you.’
I am sitting at a table with federal Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce in the food hall at the South Tweed mall.
We huddle to escape the noise of eaters while a flock of nervous Young Nationals hover nearby in outrageously loud yellow t-shirts.
Thankfully veteran Echo photographer Eve Jeffery is with me.
Sitting casually to one side, she holds the camera at waist level and clicks away as we chat.
He’s listening intently as I explain last week’s Echo lead story on a renewables company that went bust.
In conclusion I asked, ‘Is it a conflict of interest that a board, comprising partly the fossil fuel industry, regulates the renewables industry’s?’
Barnaby wouldn’t bite and it became clear I was onto something.
Despite being well known for giving an opinion on anything he gives me nothing.
We move on and Barnaby volleys a straight political ball.
‘You know, it’s important that we have this opportunity to speak,’ he says, ‘being that your paper is not particularly aligned with us, it’s a good thing that we reach your readership. ‘Real politics lies in differing views,’ he says with a sparkle in his eye. At that point he opens last week’s Echo, lands straight on the lead story and his jaw drops.
The camera clicks. In disbelief he points at subheadings ‘Little To No Support From Nats’, ‘MP Hartsuyker: No Political Weight’ and ‘Glazed Abbott.’
Who killed the electric micro-hydro industry? With no doubt it was successive duopoly governments and the Clean Energy Council (CEC). The real story is that by amending the Environmental Planning And Assessment Act 1979 and overhauling the CEC, micro-hydro company Pelena Energy might have been saved from bankruptcy.
And given the opportunity to operate under a free market unhindered by regulation, that business could have been the envy of the renewables sector. After all, the north coast’s plateaus have enough small streams to supply free energy.
But as it stands, the fifteen year old Dorrigo based company will soon close its doors and lose five staff due to incomprehensible laws that govern its industry.
It’s perhaps too simplistic to write off the NSW coalition as ‘anti-free energy’; after all, research funding was awarded in 2011 to hydro company Waratah Power. But it’s been two years since $300,000 of our tax money was splashed at Waratah Power, and its website does not indicate tangible outcomes and appears to be still in a‘research stage’.
Meanwhile Mr Lynch’s Pelena Energy was manufacturing and exporting his technology overseas because he couldn’t do it here. The only government assistance he received was a grant of $2500 to fund half his website costs while he received no subsidies – claims Mr Lynch – unlike fossil fuel corporations.
Perhaps Waratah Power has more lobbying power and inside connections than Pelena Energy?
Another main factor in Pelena Energy’s failure is the Clean Energy Council’s policy to squeeze hydro and promote solar. Thankfully legislation can be amended, and all it would take is political courage and a change in CEC policy.
Or even better, the abolition of the CEC.But courage certainly isn’t coming from the National Party which preside over his electorate.
So much for representing regional Australia: Liberal toxicity has clearly infected the Nats. Incidentally, hyrdo power is nothing new and even provided Mullum’s electricity at one point. It’s all common knowledge.
Why isn’t it national news that a company offering sustainable energy solutions has been railroaded by bad regulation?
The survival of micro-hydro companies like Pelena Energy is certainly in the public interest. Maybe its demise is not so much a political failure but a failure of collective knowledge and interest.