Immoral govts plan Ag-gag laws
While a murder of lawyers – under the direction of federal attorney-general-bigot Brandis – combs over legislation in an effort to limit personal freedoms and extend corporate ones, our own coalition state government is joining in the fun.
According to Fairfax, NSW primary industries minister Katrina Hodgkinson (Nationals), has instigated a joint federal/state crack- down on ‘agri-terrorists’, or those who trespass onto intensive animal farm industries and film the activity.
As such, the NSW Primary Industries Legislation Amendment (Biosecurity) Bill 2012 is up for amendment.
Barnaby Joyce (federal Nationals) is also keen to help keep people ill-informed and dumbed down about what they eat and is joining the fray at the national level.
Clearly the effort by activists is to stop or reduce the appalling way in which some animals are farmed. If better legislation were enacted to improve the conditions of animals subjected to inten- sive farming, would there be a need for these laws?
It’s like introducing a bad law to prop up bad behaviour.
Regardless, the 2008 US doco Food, Inc. is a good place to start if you want to be informed about intensive large-scale ani- mal farming. It posits that corporate agribusiness produces food that is unhealthy, environmentally harmful and abusive of both animals and employees.
While free speech works in mysterious ways, it gener- ally only favours those who write the legislation. Thankfully there’s still public submissions. The state legislation is open for public comment until June 27 and is available at www. dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/legislative-review.
The devil’s urine
Coca-Cola must surely represent the ultimate in corporate hypocrisy. It’s an addictive toxic substance which rewarded its makers with $48 billion in revenue in 2012. And while it sounds like the ultimate US enterprise success story, it’s only known positive use is as a degreaser.
Unsurprisingly, the Coca-Cola honchos believe they are entitled to waste without responsibility. With their mates Schweppes and Lion, they recently took the Northern Territory – ie the people – to court over an environmental incentive that reduced the amount of empty bottles ending up in landfill, drains or oceans.
The effect of sugar and caffeine addiction can be extreme: a thirty- year-old New Zealand mother of eight, Natasha Harris, died from drinking too much Coke, The Age reported on February 12. ‘Evidence at her inquest showed she drank up to 10 litres of “classic” Coke every day – equal to more than twice the recommended safe daily limit of caffeine,andalmostonekilogramofsugar.’ Thecoronerfoundthatshe died from cardiac arrhythmia, most likely caused from the high levels of caffeine. ‘She suffered from a myriad of medical conditions, including a racing heart and “absent teeth”, which her family says had rotted out from Coke consumption.’
Additionally, controversial artificial sweetener aspartame is found in Diet Coke and Coke Zero, as well as many other soft drinks.
Lastly, the India Resource Center has kept a spotlight on Coke’s groundwater extraction and heavy metal polluting practices that affects surrounding villages. Such as Mehdiganj in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
On March 7 the centre claimed that Coca-Cola ‘applied to the central and state government to increase its groundwater usage from the current 50,000 cubic metres annually to 250,000 cubic metres annually’.
It’s no wonder the Coke corporate record leaves a sour taste in the mouth, driving protesters to leave ‘out of order’ signs on the company’s vending machines. Sugar addiction, as with oil, is part of a diet which is making the planet sick.
We’re a bureaucrat nation
The NSW Nurses Association rightly prevented health district chief executive Chris Crawford from replacing Mullum’s night doctor with teleconferencing technology.
But instead of an apology to the community for the anxiety caused, Mr Crawford instead explained to The Echo that ‘Mullum is not ready at the moment to do it on a doctor-to- nurses basis.’
And while Mullum Hospital nurse Shauna Boyle told The Echo that nurses were not against telehealth per say, they were opposed to having to operate the video-link system without a doctor.
Here’s where the message was lost: she also added that staff at other hospitals using the system told them it was never meant to replace a doctor. So – was the rollout of this technology meant to complement existing staffing levels or replace them?
Clearly in Mullum’s case it was to replace, while other hospitals that didn’t have a night doctor, it was a complement to existing staffing levels. Cost-cutting under the guise of ‘new technology’ is austerity by stealth, and while Mr Crawford may have been given the hatchet job to try to skim a budget, The Echo suggests he could start with his own salary.
According to www.abc.net.au on November 24 this year, the latest salary increases granted to top bureaucrats in New South Wales rose by nearly $12,000.
‘The [bureaucrat] heads of the premier’s department, Trade and Infrastructure NSW are now all being paid well in excess of $500,000,’ claims the article.
Labor’s Walt Secord told the ABC reporter, ‘A 2.5 per cent increase to a nurse or a teacher does not compare to a bureaucrat on $400,000 a year. You cannot compare them,’ he said. ‘That is coming at a time when the state government’s cutting 5,000 public sector jobs and slashing $1.7 billion from education.’ Mr Secord also said that the director-general of Premier and Cabinet will now earn $545,000. ‘That’s substantially more than the premier,’ he said.
Fortunately this outcome was not decided by bureaucrats but by nurses, who are paid much much less.
Seeds of corporatism
Mention Monsanto and most would be aware of the chemical company’s flagship product Roundup, and its pushing of genetically engineered (GE) seeds onto farmers and big agriculture.
But the company has its supporters, such as Bill Gates, who claim that seed engineering can address food, land and water shortages while the global population keeps on booming.
Former head of the United Nations World Food Programme, Josette Sheeran, is also a fan, says www.economist.com. Is it really a potential saviour in the climate-change age?
Unlikely. Something to be suspicious of is its push, via the US government, of its GE seed onto countries that don’t want or need it. According to www.guardian.co.uk, ‘The US embassy in Paris advised Washington to start a military-style trade war against any European Union country which opposed genetically modified (GM) crops, newly released WikiLeaks cables show.’
The report in January 2011 adds that in other released WikiLeaks cables, ‘US diplomats around the world are found to have pushed GM crops as a strategic government and commercial imperative.’
The extent to which Monsanto pursues unethical behaviour demonstrates that it does not act in the interest of the human species. This is shown in its poisoning of the entire town of Nitro in West Virginia, where it produced Agent Orange. Like all corporations devoid of social responsibility it only exists to maximise profits.
The poisonous 40-year legacy of Monsanto will be getting an airing in Mullumbimby, and this co-incides with events being held internationally.
Activities will be held in four different venues around town, and kick off with a sign-making day on Tuesday September 11 at the Mullumbimby Community Garden from 10am.
Documentaries, organic food and talks are all planned, ending with a street march on Saturday, September 15.
For more visit www.occupymonsanto360.org or email email@example.com.
Death by a thousand cuts
If there’s one essential service that communities can’t do without, it’s hospitals and their staff.
Generally we are born there, it’s there for us in life-threatening situations and it’s also a drop-off point when we expire.
The long-term erosion of our local services is well known and Mullumbimby is now experiencing a premature wind-down at the hands of a bureaucrat who won’t even answer basic cost analysis questions.
The Byron Central Hospital is still years off, yet cutting the Mullum night doctor is being considered in October in favour of video-conferencing.
This insane decision comes as our region experiences population growth, along with the state government’s recent approval of Splendour In The Grass, which will add more visitors.
Both of these issues were raised with our local minister Don Page and minister for health and medical research Jillian Skinner, but they didn’t elicit a response.
While health boss Chris Crawford – who lives in the region – defends his vision for the region in the letters pages, it is clear he has a PR problem. Who would regard his 12 years of service in local health bureaucracy as inspiring?
Imagine what a six-figure salary could provide to the residents of Mullumbimby instead of ambiguously worded press releases.
It’s also interesting what being in government does to one’s integrity too. Thankfully Byron Council supports the community’s efforts to retain our essential services, but Minister Page’s response to this matter is a major concern. Mr Page spent many years in
the political wilderness but now he’s in government he sees it appropriate to support bureaucratic decisions without question.
It’s not only a cop-out but a slap in the face to our health professionals. This region needs better representation as these people are clearly not succeeding in their efforts towards our interests or wellbeing.
A while back I made dinner for myself and friends and unintentionally poisoned the lot of us, albeit only as a ho- meopathic dose. The custard I made as dessert had a list of ingredients that included cornflour, sugar, salt and a few numbers: 102 (Tartrazine) and 110 (Sunset Yellow).
I consulted the The Chemical Maze, a reference book about numbers in food, and it revealed that these are considered potentially harmful to humans. Ingesting these synthetic colours, upon further investigation, not only pointed to a health hazard, but were in fact potentially carcinogenic.
When asked of the health implications, the custard company responded with waffle about its consumer concerns, corporate responsibilities and meeting Australian food standards. Regardless of my unanswered questions, this lesson has taught me that we as consumers are mostly oblivious of being sold poison.
Custard, after all, is just egg, sugar and milk. That’s it. The numbers are there to poison us and to make it yellow.
If you really want yellow custard, tumeric or saffron could be the answer. Why would you add a nasty colour additive when a natural one would suffice? Is it because it’s cheaper to unload excess chemical residue onto the public, rather than use a natural colour?
The supermarket I bought the custard from stocks at least three brands of custard powder, and they all included those same additives.
I now have the Chemical Maze book as an application on my iPhone, which is handy in a supermarket. It would be great to see labelling where the additive – and its effects – are by law designed to stand out on the packet in a huge bold font. Just like a cigarette warning, it would scream at us that we are potentially buying and eating chemical garbage.