Thursday, 19 March 2009

Sewing up a Blockade of Newcastle Harbour

Newcastle Greens
19 March 2009

A circle of climate change activists are sewing up a heap of flags to dress Horseshoe Beach during the 4th annual People's Blockade of Newcastle Harbour on Saturday 21 March.

"It's will be beautiful day to be at the Beach, with lots of fellow climate change activist and their families, lots of kayaks and lots of colour, " said sewing circle organiser Graeme Dunstan of

"The sewing circle will be adding to the colour," he said. "We aim to make up 40 blue, orange and yellow flags to array on Horseshoe Beach."

Sewing circles are the most convivial form of creativity, Graeme said and he invites interested sewers to join the circle for an hour or two or a day or too, Wednesday 18 through Friday 20 March at the The Wilderness Society studio, 90 Hunter Street, Newcastle.

"We aim to make the Blockade beautiful and memorable and we want it to grow and grow as an annual event," he said.

"The time will come when there are so many people on the Harbour calling for an end to coal exports that the coal ships will be stopped," said Greens Councillor Michael Osborne, sewing circle backer.

"Not long after that we will be standing at Horseshoe Beach watching the last coal ship leave. What a great day that will be!"

"May that day be celebrated forever in Newcastle with an annual gathering of happy citizens, lots of flags and maybe water sports between kayaks and police jet skis," he said.

Photo Opportunity

11 am Thursday 19 March, TWS Studio 50 Hunter Street Newcastle

The Beach Flag Sewing Circle has been supported by a variety of Newcastle environment groups.

Cr Michael Osborne will be at the Sewing circle.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Reaction at link to nuke load

In the Newcastle Herald today (page 3)...
18/03/2009 1:00:00 AM
A SHIP on its way to pick up nuclear waste in Wollongong stopped at Newcastle Port for seven days to load tanks, the port has confirmed.

Questions have been asked about the role of the tanks, fitted in Newcastle, in carrying the nuclear waste.

Newcastle councillor Michael Osborne said Newcastle had been declared a nuclear-free city and he would be concerned if it had helped a ship transport nuclear waste.

"It's worth questioning the port corporation; they should know what is coming into the port and if they don't, that's a problem," he said.

Newcastle Port Corporation records show the MV Lynx arrived on March 8 and departed on March 14, last Saturday.

A spokesman said the ship had been at the general cargo wharf.

"She was in Newcastle loading tanks, whatever that is," he said.

He suggested talking to the agent, Wilhelmsen Ships Service in Hamilton, but it said it could not comment.

The ship is bound for the United States.

Newcastle's future is no longer with coal

Councillor John Tate is probably quite pleased with the stunt he kicked off yesterday in The Australian. For a moment he was on the national stage linking Newcastle's fortunes to the Queensland mining towns of Mount Isa and Gladstone. The mayors of these three towns were complaining that a carbon trading scheme would damage the industrial viability of their mining communities at a time it could least be afforded.

Why is John Tate misleading Australians about Newcastle's economic prospects, and clinging to a bygone era when Newcastle relied on the coal industry for jobs growth?

Our local economy has shifted away from coal since BHP closed down. Newcastle's economic growth is driven by new jobs in retail and service industries like education, health, tourism and the arts, not coal.

Across the Hunter employment in the mining industry fell from 4% in 1996 to 3% in 2006. At the same time the Hunter recorded sizeable job increases in the retail and service sectors.

Coal industry jobs are in a steady decline and are proving vulnerable to the economic downturn sweeping the world. As the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, John Tate is way off the mark to be evoking the tired old coal equals jobs mantra.

His bit part in this stunt with two Labor mayors who staunchly defend the future prospects of the coal industry shows that he is outdated and bereft of fresh ideas for growing Newcastle's economy.

The world is restructuring into a new low carbon economy. John Tate's retro thinking is out of step with what the Hunter requires.

Local businesses need fresh investment in Newcastle's growth markets such as education and training and tourism.

Newcastle Council should be lobbying the NSW Government for a just transition package to retrain coal industry workers to take up new green jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency, jobs that are secure, well paid and environmentally friendly.

These new green manufacturing jobs will be a reality for some lucky country, but not here in Australia if politicians like John Tate get their way.

For example, we have world leaders in wind power right here in our own backyard. A highly successful research project run by Newcastle University's Faculty of Engineering has led to the development of world-class wind turbine technologies.

A team of engineers are working to commercialise their innovations, forging business links with China to manufacture these new renewable energy products. The project has received extensive research grants in past years and is widely acclaimed.

Newcastle Council should be leading the push to create new manufacturing industries here in the Hunter to produce renewable energy products such as these new wind turbines, exploiting our local expertise and creating new opportunities for employment and training right here in Newcastle.

The potential for Hunter based jobs in renewable energy and public transport is massive, and jobs created would last for many decades, unlike coal mining jobs.

Newcastle City Council needs a Mayor with vision for the future, not the clapped out mining and jobs rhetoric that John Tate has dished up.

Newcastle's future lies in the growth of services, culture and new technology, not coal.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Tate clinging to bygone era

Newcastle Greens
17 March 2009

Greens MP Lee Rhiannon and Newcastle Greens Councillor Michael Osborne have slammed Newcastle Mayor John Tate's stunt in The Australian today, saying he is selling out future jobs growth for Newcastle by clinging to a bygone era when the coal industry delivered jobs growth for the Hunter.

"It is foolish for John Tate to lump Newcastle in with Mount Isa and Gladstone as a mining town, when only 3% of the Hunter's employment comes from the mining industry," Ms Rhiannon said.

"Employment figures show that Hunter based mining jobs have fallen from 4% in 1996 to only 3% in 2006.

"The coal industry jobs market has been steadily shrinking and has proven extremely vulnerable to the economic downturn sweeping the world.

"Newcastle Mayor John Tate should be lobbying Premier Nathan Rees to invest in Hunter- based renewable energy industries to create long term local jobs growth.

"The potential for Hunter based jobs in renewable energy and public transport is massive, and jobs created would last for many decades, unlike coal mining jobs.

"Multinational mining companies don't consider the future needs of local communities. They will only operate in the Hunter while the company is making a profit," said Ms Rhiannon.

Newcastle Greens Councillor Michael Osborne said:

"Newcastle's economic growth is driven by new jobs in retail and service industries like education, health, tourism and the arts. Our economy has shifted since BHP closed down.

"Newcastle's future is culture, not coal.

"John Tate should be lobbying for local green jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency – jobs that are secure, well-paid and environmentally friendly.

"Newcastle City Council needs vision for the future and that means continuing the shift away from mining towards sustainable industries," Councillor Osborne said.

John Tate going it alone, in The Australian

Without any consultation with fellow Councillors, Cr John Tate talks down Newcastle's new economy in the national media.

At a time, when the Lord Mayor should be showing leadership and lobbying for well-paid, long-term, sustainable jobs for Newcastle he sits on the fence and ties in Newcastle as "a mining town".

Newcastle is not a mining town and the coal industry in the Hunter has been in decline (in terms of jobs) for years. The Lord Mayor is seriously out of step with his constituency and is speaking contrary to Council's adopted policies.

Now is not the time for delay! On the contrary, it is time for real action and Newcastle should be leading the way.

Here's what was said in The Australian.

THE mayors of three of the nation's biggest mining cities have demanded Kevin Rudd delay introducing carbon emissions trading, warning it will smash jobs and seriously damage key regional areas.

The mayors of the traditional Labor strongholds of Newcastle, Gladstone and Mount Isa have called for the emissions trading scheme to be put off.

And the managing director of Frontier Economics, Danny Price, who conducted still-secret modelling for the NSW Treasury on the Rudd Government's plan, said the impact of the scheme across industrial regions, including central Queensland, the Hunter and Illawarra in NSW and Victoria's Gippsland, would be "very high" and "very severe".

"In those regions, the effect on regional GDP would be many, many times more than the national effect forecast by the Treasury, which predicted an ETS would cut 0.1 per cent of average annual growth," Mr Price said.

The growing opposition to the Rudd Government's ETS came as the Opposition intensified its attack on the scheme as a job destroyer, with Malcolm Turnbull declaring the Coalition would not vote for the ETS in its current form.

After the Opposition Leader's weekend declaration that the Coalition would not support a 2010 start-up date or the current design of the Rudd plan, the Government has become increasingly isolated on its support for the scheme.

Newcastle Lord Mayor John Tate said any sensible person had to be concerned about climate change, but he saw no harm in delaying the introduction of the ETS while also pursuing alternative energy sources and developing technologies to reduce emissions from coal.

"I just can't understand why you would put that sort of impost on Australian industry and agriculture at a time when we are trying to compete with the world," Mr Tate said.

"I would urge the Government to consider the economic future and the job future of our citizens. Don't bring an impost on business large or small that's going to affect the viability of those businesses. It's just like another tax."

Mr Tate said Newcastle was faring reasonably well in the current economic climate because the federal and state governments were funding massive infrastructure spending, including a new coal loader at the city's port, works to deepen the south arm of the Hunter River and more than $580million on rail improvements. The spending was designed to boost the city's capacity to export coal.

Mount Isa Mayor John Molony said mines in his community employed 4000 people, including 300 apprentices.

"I believe the ETS should be held in abeyance until the economic downturn is over," Mr Molony said.

Mr Molony said copper and lead smelting and copper refining in Mt Isa and Townsville added major value to the nation's exports and would be severely hindered by emissions trading.

Stressing that the problem of climate change required global action, he said it made sense to delay Australia's contribution to reducing emissions until it was clear what action other nations would take.

Gladstone Mayor George Creed, whose city's port is the exit point for massive coal exports from central Queensland, said the ETS would damage his community's industrial viability at a time it could least be afforded.

Mr Creed said mines and heavy industry in Gladstone were already shedding jobs, and Australia's total carbon emissions accounted for a fraction of the world's output.

"We are not going to hurt anything in the world if we wait for another year or two," Mr Creed said.

Latrobe Mayor Lisa Price, who represents an area that includes three open-cut brown coal mines, said her community was sitting on 500 years' worth of coal supplies and would not accept emissions trading without clear undertakings on structural adjustments to replace the jobs lost in mining.

The mayors spoke out as independent senator Nick Xenophon said the Government's legislation was doomed in the Senate, given that all parties on the cross benches believed it to be fundamentally flawed.

During a sustained question-time attack on the claimed job-destroying consequences of the ETS, Mr Turnbull suggested the scheme should be shelved until the outcome of the UN climate change negotiations in Copenhagen later this year were known.

The Opposition Leader said the Government should not commit itself before the administration of US President Barack Obama clarified the details of its proposed emissions scheme.

Mr Turnbull cited a confidential briefing from coalmining giant Xstrata predicting that the scheme would force the closure of up to four mines and cost 1000 jobs, most of them in Queensland.

But Mr Rudd said the Government was determined to act on climate change, saying the economic costs of inaction would be far greater than the costs of action, particularly for a hot and dry nation such as Australia.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Plan for Newcastle’s future

Expand rail services, don’t cut the line!

The Labor Government needs to fast track a Hunter rail expansion program. Work must start before the 2011 state election.

  • More park and ride facilities
  • Full accessibility at all Hunter stations
  • Re-open closed lines
Developers and sections of the NSW Government back removing sections of the Hunter rail line.

The people of Newcastle lose out if the Newcastle rail line is cut - working people, parents with children and prams, young people with their surfboards and bikes.

Big property developers want more land. They are behind the push to cut the Newcastle rail line. In the last decade developers donated over $15 million to NSW Labor.

Tell Labor not to cut the rail line!

Tell Labor you support more rail services in the Hunter:

  • Landscape the rail line between Broadmeadow and Newcastle
  • Provide safe, easy pedestrian access across the rail line between the harbour and the city
  • Coordinate rail transport with buses and ferries
  • Provide bicycle and park and ride facilities at train stations
Tell Jodi McKay MP and Premier Nathan Rees — reinvigorate Hunter rail services.

Write to:

  • Ms Jodi McKay, PO Box 1816, NEWCASTLE NSW 2300

  • Premier Nathan Rees, GPO BOX 5341, SYDNEY NSW 2000

Friday, 13 March 2009

Hugh Mackay Climate Lecture

Advance Australia ... Where?

Hugh Mackay, Australia's foremost social commentator, will be in Newcastle next Monday 16th March 2009 to talk about climate change Climate Change: what we say and what we do.

The talk will be in the Concert Hall, Newcastle City Hall, 6.30 pm for 7.00 pm. Admission by donation

RSVP by 14 March to phone 8588 1260 (message) or email

Copies of the second edition of Advance Australia ... Where? will be available for purchase and signing by Hugh Mackay.

This is organised by Climate Action Newcastle and is supported by Newcastle City Council.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Local Government overburdened by State Govt

When the State Government passed the Local Government Act back in 1993, they included an interesting section 22 titled "Other functions":

A council has the functions conferred or imposed on it by or under any other Act or law.

Well the burden imposed by the State Government has increased and increased since 1993. Here's the current list of pieces of legislation (more than 130) that Local Government is required to be complied with (let me know if I've left one out!).

  • Administrative Decisions Tribunal Act 1997
  • Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth)
  • Airports Act 1996 (Cth)
  • Annual Holiday Act 1994
  • Anti-Discrimination Act 1977
  • Australian Land Transport Development Act 1988 (Cth)
  • Cabramatta Park Act 1992
  • Charitable Fundraising Act 1991
  • Children (Care and Protection) Act 1987
  • Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998
  • Civil Liability Act 2002
  • Coastal Protection Act 1979
  • Commercial Arbitration Act 1984
  • Commons Management Act 1989
  • Community Land Development Act 1989
  • Community Land Management Act 1989
  • Community Welfare Act 1987
  • Companion Animals Act 1998
  • Constitution Act 1902
  • Contaminated Land Management Act 1997
  • Contracts Review Act 1980
  • Conversion of Cemeteries Act 1974
  • Conveyancing Act 1919
  • Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)
  • Crimes Act 1900
  • Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999
  • Criminal Procedures Act 1986
  • Crown Lands Act 1989
  • Defamation Act 2005
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
  • Dividing Fences Act 1991
  • Duties Act 1997
  • Election Funding & Disclosures Act 1981
  • Electricity Supply Act 1995
  • Electronic Transactions Act 1999 (Cth)
  • Energy, and Utilities Administration Act 1987
  • Environmental Hazardous Chemicals Act 1985
  • Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
  • Essential Services Act 1988
  • Evidence Act 1995
  • Fair Trading Act 1987
  • Fire Brigades Act 1989
  • Fisheries Management Act 1994
  • Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1957
  • Food Act 2003
  • Freedom of Information Act 1989
  • Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act 1986 (Cth)
  • Gas Supply Act 1996
  • Geographical Names Act 1966
  • Growth Centres (Development Corporation) Act 1974
  • Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002
  • Heritage Act 1977
  • Home Building Act 1989
  • Housing Act 2001
  • Housing Assistance Act 1996 (Cth)
  • Impounding Act 1993
  • Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (Cth)
  • Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988
  • Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal Act 1992
  • Industrial Relations Act 1996
  • Interpretation Act 1987
  • Land Acquisition (Just Terms) Compensation Act 1991
  • Land Development Contribution Management Act 1970
  • Land and Environment Court Act 1979
  • Law Enforcement (Powers & Responsibility) Act 2002
  • Library Act 1939
  • Liquor Act 2007
  • Local Government Act 1993
  • Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995 (Cth)
  • Local Government and Other Authorities (Superannuation) Act 1927
  • Local Government and Planning Legislation Amendment (Political Donations) Act 2008
  • Long Service Leave Act 1955
  • National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974
  • Native Vegetation Act 2003
  • Noxious Weeds Act 1993
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000
  • Ombudsman Act 1974
  • Parliamentary Electorates and Elections Act 1912
  • Payroll Tax Act 2007
  • Pesticides Act 1978
  • Pipelines Act 1967
  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979
  • Plantations and Reafforestation Act 1999
  • Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)
  • Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998
  • Protected Disclosures Act 1994
  • Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991
  • Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997
  • Public Health Act 1991
  • Public Works Act 1912
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)
  • Real Property Act 1900
  • Recreation Vehicles Act 1983
  • Registered Clubs Act 1976
  • Residential Parks Act 1998
  • Restraint of Trade Act 1976
  • Roads Act 1993
  • Road Transport (General) Act 2005
  • Rural Fires Act 1997
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
  • Security Industry Act 1997
  • Shops and Industries Act 1972
  • Smoke Free Environment Act 2007
  • Soil Conservation Act 1938
  • Spam Act (Cth)
  • State Emergency and Rescue Management Act 1989
  • State Emergency Service Act 1989
  • State Records Act 1998
  • Strata Schemes (Freehold Development) Act 1986
  • Strata Schemes (Leasehold Development) Act 1986
  • Statutory and Other Offices Remuneration Act 1975
  • Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 (Cth)
  • Surveying Act 2002
  • Swimming Pools Act 1992
  • Sydney Water Act 1994
  • Sydney Water Catchment Management Act 1998
  • Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995
  • Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth)
  • Training Guarantee (Administration) Act 1990 (Cth)
  • Transport Administration Act 1988
  • Trees (Dispute Between Neighbours) Act 2006
  • Unclaimed Money Act 1995
  • Valuation of Land Act 1916
  • Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001
  • Water Act 1912
  • Water Management Act 2000
  • Workers Compensation Act 1987
  • Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth)
  • Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998
  • Workplace Surveillance Act 2005

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The damn dam

Next Thursday 19th March 2009, Steve Posselt, a water engineer from Queensland, will be talking at The Lock up at 90 Hunter St, Newcastle.

Steve has been travelling up and down the coast to raise awareness about the devastating impact of on-river dams, especially the proposed dam on the Mary River in Queensland and the proposed Tillegra Dam on the Williams.

Come along and here what Steve has to say.

Steve was last in Newcastle back in October 2008, arriving on a wet and drizzling day.

My previous comments about the expensive, unnecessary dam are here:

From the Dalai Lama

Statement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet on 50th Anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the Tibetan people's peaceful uprising against Communist China's repression in Tibet. Since last March, widespread peaceful protests have erupted across the whole of Tibet. Most of the participants were youths born and brought up after 1959, who have not seen or experienced a free Tibet. However, the fact that they were driven by a firm conviction to serve the cause of Tibet that has continued from generation to generation is indeed a matter of pride. It will serve as a source of inspiration for those in the international community who take keen interest in the issue of Tibet. We pay tribute and offer our prayers for all those who died, were tortured and suffered tremendous hardships including during the crisis last year, for the cause of Tibet since our struggle began.

Around 1949, Communist forces began to enter north-eastern and eastern Tibet (Kham and Amdo) and by 1950, more than 5000 Tibetan soldiers had been killed. Taking the prevailing situation into account, the Chinese government chose a policy of peaceful liberation, which in 1951 led to the signing of the 17-Point Agreement and its annexure. Since then, Tibet has come under the control of the People's Republic of China. However, the Agreement clearly mentions that Tibet's distinct religion, culture and traditional values would be protected.

Between 1954 and 1955, I met with most of the senior Chinese leaders in the Communist Party, government and military, led by Chairman Mao Zedong, in Beijing. When we discussed ways of achieving the social and economic development of Tibet, as well as maintaining Tibet's religious and cultural heritage, Mao Zedong and all the other leaders agreed to establish a preparatory committee to pave the way for the implementation of the autonomous region, as stipulated in the Agreement, rather than establishing a military administrative commission. From about 1956 onwards, however, the situation took a turn for the worse with the imposition of ultra-leftist policies in Tibet. Consequently, the assurances given by higher authorities were not implemented on the ground. The forceful implementation of the so-called “democratic reform” in the Kham and Amdo regions of Tibet, which did not accord with prevailing conditions, resulted in immense chaos and destruction. In Central Tibet, Chinese officials forcibly and deliberately violated the terms of the 17-Point Agreement, and their heavy-handed tactics increased day by day. These desperate developments left the Tibetan people with no alternative but to launch a peaceful uprising on 10 March 1959. The Chinese authorities responded with unprecedented force that led to the killing, arrests and imprisonment of tens of thousands of Tibetans in the following months. Consequently, accompanied by a small party of Tibetan government officials including some Kalons (Cabinet Ministers), I escaped into exile in India. Thereafter, nearly a hundred thousand Tibetans fled into exile in India, Nepal and Bhutan. During the escape and the months that followed they faced unimaginable hardship, which is still fresh in Tibetan memory.

Having occupied Tibet, the Chinese Communist government carried out a series of repressive and violent campaigns that have included “democratic reform”, class struggle, communes, the Cultural Revolution, the imposition of martial law, and more recently the patriotic re-education and the strike hard campaigns. These thrust Tibetans into such depths of suffering and hardship that they literally experienced hell on earth. The immediate result of these campaigns was the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Tibetans. The lineage of the Buddha Dharma was severed. Thousands of religious and cultural centres such as monasteries, nunneries and temples were razed to the ground. Historical buildings and monuments were demolished. Natural resources have been indiscriminately exploited. Today, Tibet's fragile environment has been polluted, massive deforestation has been carried out and wildlife, such as wild yaks and Tibetan antelopes, are being driven to extinction.

These 50 years have brought untold suffering and destruction to the land and people of Tibet. Even today, Tibetans in Tibet live in constant fear and the Chinese authorities remain constantly suspicious of them. Today, the religion, culture, language and identity, which successive generations of Tibetans have considered more precious than their lives, are nearing extinction; in short, the Tibetan people are regarded like criminals deserving to be put to death. The Tibetan people's tragedy was set out in the late Panchen Rinpoche's 70,000-character petition to the Chinese government in 1962. He raised it again in his speech in Shigatse in 1989 shortly before he died, when he said that what we have lost under Chinese communist rule far outweighs what we have gained. Many concerned and unbiased Tibetans have also spoken out about the hardships of the Tibetan people. Even Hu Yaobang, the Communist Party Secretary, when he arrived in Lhasa in 1980, clearly acknowledged these mistakes and asked the Tibetans for their forgiveness. Many infrastructural developments such as roads, airports, railways, and so forth, which seem to have brought progress to Tibetan areas, were really done with the political objective of sinicising Tibet at the huge cost of devastating the Tibetan environment and way of life.

As for the Tibetan refugees, although we initially faced many problems such as great differences of climate and language and difficulties earning our livelihood, we have been successful in re-establishing ourselves in exile. Due to the great generosity of our host countries, especially India, Tibetans have been able to live in freedom without fear. We have been able to earn a livelihood and uphold our religion and culture. We have been able to provide our children with both traditional and modern education, as well as engaging in efforts to resolve the Tibet issue. There have been other positive results too. Greater understanding of Tibetan Buddhism with its emphasis on compassion has made a positive contribution in many parts of the world.

Immediately after our arrival in exile I began to work on the promotion of democracy in the Tibetan community with the establishment of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile in 1960. Since then, we have taken gradual steps on the path to democracy and today our exile administration has evolved into a fully functioning democracy with a written charter of its own and a legislative body. This is indeed something we can all be proud of.

Since 2001, we have instituted a system by which the political leadership of Tibetan exiles is directly elected through procedures similar to those in other democratic systems. Currently, the directly-elected Kalon Tripa's (Cabinet Chairperson) second term is underway. Consequently, my daily administrative responsibilities have reduced and today I am in a state of semi-retirement. However, to work for the just cause of Tibet is the responsibility of every Tibetan, and as long as I live I will uphold this responsibility.

As a human being, my main commitment is in the promotion of human values; this is what I consider the key factor for a happy life at the individual, family and community level. As a religious practitioner, my second commitment is the promotion of inter-religious harmony. My third commitment is of course the issue of Tibet. This is firstly due to my being a Tibetan with the name of 'Dalai Lama'; more importantly, it is due to the trust that Tibetans both inside and outside Tibet have placed in me. These are the three important commitments, which I always keep in mind.

In addition to looking after the well being of the exiled Tibetan community, which they have done quite well, the principal task of the Central Tibetan Administration has been to work towards the resolution of the issue of Tibet. Having laid out the mutually beneficial Middle-Way policy in 1974, we were ready to respond to Deng Xiaoping when he proposed talks in 1979. Many talks were conducted and fact-finding delegations dispatched. These however, did not bear any concrete results and formal contacts eventually broke off in 1993.

Subsequently, in 1996-97, we conducted an opinion poll of the Tibetans in exile, and collected suggestions from Tibet wherever possible, on a proposed referendum, by which the Tibetan people were to determine the future course of our freedom struggle to their full satisfaction. Based on the outcome of the poll and the suggestions from Tibet, we decided to continue the policy of the Middle-Way.

Since the re-establishment of contacts in 2002, we have followed a policy of one official channel and one agenda and have held eight rounds of talks with the Chinese authorities. As a consequence, we presented a Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People, explaining how the conditions for national regional autonomy as set forth in the Chinese constitution would be met by the full implementation of its laws on autonomy. The Chinese insistence that we accept Tibet as having been a part of China since ancient times is not only inaccurate, but also unreasonable. We cannot change the past no matter whether it was good or bad. Distorting history for political purposes is incorrect.

We need to look to the future and work for our mutual benefit. We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People's Republic of China. Fulfilling the aspirations of the Tibetan people will enable China to achieve stability and unity. From our side, we are not making any demands based on history. Looking back at history, there is no country in the world today, including China, whose territorial status has remained forever unchanged, nor can it remain unchanged.

Our aspiration that all Tibetans be brought under a single autonomous administration is in keeping with the very objective of the principle of national regional autonomy. It also fulfils the fundamental requirements of the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. The Chinese constitution and other related laws and regulations do not pose any obstacle to this and many leaders of the Chinese Central Government have accepted this genuine aspiration. When signing the 17-Point Agreement, Premier Zhou Enlai acknowledged it as a reasonable demand. In 1956, when establishing the Preparatory Committee for the “Tibet Autonomous Region”, Vice-Premier Chen Yi pointing at a map said, if Lhasa could be made the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, which included the Tibetan areas within the other provinces, it would contribute to the development of Tibet and friendship between the Tibetan and Chinese nationalities, a view shared by the Panchen Rinpoche and many Tibetan cadres and scholars. If Chinese leaders had any objections to our proposals, they could have provided reasons for them and suggested alternatives for our consideration, but they did not. I am disappointed that the Chinese authorities have not responded appropriately to our sincere efforts to implement the principle of meaningful national regional autonomy for all Tibetans, as set forth in the constitution of the People's Republic of China.

Quite apart from the current process of Sino-Tibetan dialogue having achieved no concrete results, there has been a brutal crackdown on the Tibetan protests that have shaken the whole of Tibet since March last year. Therefore, in order to solicit public opinion as to what future course of action we should take, the Special Meeting of Tibetan exiles was convened in November 2008. Efforts were made to collect suggestions, as far as possible, from the Tibetans in Tibet as well. The outcome of this whole process was that a majority of Tibetans strongly supported the continuation of the Middle-Way policy. Therefore, we are now pursuing this policy with greater confidence and will continue our efforts towards achieving a meaningful national regional autonomy for all Tibetans.

From time immemorial, the Tibetan and Chinese peoples have been neighbours. In future too, we will have to live together. Therefore, it is most important for us to co-exist in friendship with each other.

Since the occupation of Tibet, the Communist China has been publishing distorted propaganda about Tibet and its people. Consequently, there are, among the Chinese populace, very few people who have a true understanding about Tibet. It is, in fact, very difficult for them to find the truth. There are also ultra-leftist Chinese leaders who have, since last March, been undertaking a huge propaganda effort with the intention of setting the Tibetan and Chinese peoples apart and creating animosity between them. Sadly, as a result, a negative impression of Tibetans has arisen in the minds of some of our Chinese brothers and sisters. Therefore, as I have repeatedly appealed before, I would like once again to urge our Chinese brothers and sisters not to be swayed by such propaganda, but, instead, to try to discover the facts about Tibet impartially, so as to prevent divisions among us. Tibetans should also continue to work for friendship with the Chinese people.

Looking back on 50 years in exile, we have witnessed many ups and downs. However, the fact that the Tibet issue is alive and the international community is taking growing interest in it is indeed an achievement. Seen from this perspective, I have no doubt that the justice of Tibet's cause will prevail, if we continue to tread the path of truth and non-violence.

As we commemorate 50 years in exile, it is most important that we express our deep gratitude to the governments and peoples of the various host countries in which we live. Not only do we abide by the laws of these host countries, but we also conduct ourselves in a way that we become an asset to these countries. Similarly, in our efforts to realise the cause of Tibet and uphold its religion and culture, we should craft our future vision and strategy by learning from our past experience.

I always say that we should hope for the best, and prepare for the worst. Whether we look at it from the global perspective or in the context of events in China, there are reasons for us to hope for a quick resolution of the issue of Tibet. However, we must also prepare ourselves well in case the Tibetan struggle goes on for a long time. For this, we must focus primarily on the education of our children and the nurturing of professionals in various fields. We should also raise awareness about the environment and health, and improve understanding and practice of non-violent methods among the general Tibetan population.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to the leaders and people of India, as well as its Central and State Governments, who despite whatever problems and obstacles they face, have provided invaluable support and assistance over the past 50 years to Tibetans in exile. Their kindness and generosity are immeasurable. I would also like to express my gratitude to the leaders, governments and people of the international community, as well as the various Tibet Support Groups, for their unstinting support.

May all sentient beings live in peace and happiness.

The Dalai Lama
10 March 2009

Monday, 9 March 2009


From the Newcastle Herald a week or so ago...

Manager to exit Newcastle council
28/02/2009 4:00:00 AM

CITY Hall is in for a major shake-up, with the contract of one of Newcastle's most senior bureaucrats set to be severed and a staff freeze while the organisation reviews its entire operation.

Speculation about dissent within the ranks of Newcastle City Council was rife in the King Street roundhouse this week with the absence of city services group manager Janice Walsh.

Ms Walsh is not expected to return to her $186,200-a-year post, despite having a year left on her contract.

Council general manager Lindy Hyam confirmed Ms Walsh was on leave but declined to comment further.

Ms Walsh said she was on leave and would not comment.

Council memos obtained by The Herald indicate negotiations to end Ms Walsh's employment have been under way for the past week.

One of the memos, from Ms Hyam, states "negotiations are continuing for settlement of contractual arrangements with Janice Walsh".

Another, also from Ms Hyam, notes receipt of an email from Ms Walsh's lawyers and states Ms Walsh would be on personal leave this week.

City services group manager is one of the council's top five executive positions, with responsibility for managing hundreds of staff and overseeing operations including waste collection and major projects such as the Newcastle Ocean Baths restoration.

Ms Walsh was appointed to the position in late 2000.

Her previous experience, as listed on Newcastle City Council's website, includes a chief executive officer post in Victorian local government, and senior executive roles in the private sector in telecommunications, vehicle and airline industries.

More staffing changes are expected as part of the organisational review under way at City Hall.

Ms Hyam initiated the review in December, just three months after joining the council.

External consultants are carrying out the project, which has been described as the biggest overhaul of council operations for many years.

In the meantime, recruitment has been frozen at the roundhouse.

Ms Hyam said in a letter to staff members, obtained by The Herald, that positions vacant will remain open during the review period.

She also seeks to reassure her "anxious" workforce.

"Any form of change can be difficult and create uncertainty," Ms Hyam writes.

"I take my responsibilities as your general manager seriously and will make every effort to provide ongoing employment."

Friday, 6 March 2009

Let's improve our waste services

I have today submitted, with Cr Mike King and Cr Mike Jackson, the following Notice of Motion to Newcastle Council...




That Newcastle City Council requests the General Manager to investigate the following options as part of the Sustainability Review of waste services

a) Introducing an organic waste collection service

b) Increasing the frequency of the recycling collection service

c) Reducing the frequency of the landfill waste collection service and/or reducing the size of the bin

d) Increasing the waste budget share for waste minimisation strategies

e) Improvements to the bulky waste collection service

That Newcastle City Council requests the General Manager to bring a report back to Council on the options.


Late last year, the State Government announced that it is increasing the waste levy it imposes on Councils (see Attachment 1). From 1 July 2009, Newcastle will have to pay the State Government $50.50 for every tonne that goes to landfill at Summerhill. So any reduction in the amount of waste that goes to landfill will reduce the amount of money Newcastle Council has to pay the State Government.

Newcastle residents have been very good at increasing the amount of material that they recycle, to the point that the recycling bins of many households are often totally full whereas the landfill bins are half empty. The recycling collection could be increased from fortnightly to weekly and the landfill waste collection service reduced from weekly to fortnightly (or even monthly?).

At the same time, Newcastle Council could commence an organic waste collection service, to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill, reduce the amount of money Newcastle Council has to pay the State Government and produce a compost that could be used on public parks and the like. The methane from the composting process could also be captured to produce electricity.

If Newcastle Council were to establish an organic waste collection service, then it should be investigated whether Newcastle Council could partner with other Lower Hunter councils to collect their organic waste. This would reduce some of the cost of the service for everyone.

According to the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change, in 2005 70% of the Sydney Councils provide some type of scheduled kerbside collection service for garden organic material. According to information tabled in the NSW Parliament last year, the following Councils provide separate kerbside collection bins for green waste:

Albury City Council, Manly Council, Armidale Dumaresq Council, Marrickville Council, The Council of the Municipality of Ashfield, Mosman Municipal Council, Auburn Council, Muswellbrook Shire Council, Bankstown City Council, Nambucca Shire Council, Bega Valley Shire Council, North Sydney Council, Bellingen Shire Council, Parramatta City Council, The Council of the City of Botany Bay, Pittwater Council, Broken Hill City Council, Port Macquarie–Hastings Council, Burwood Council, Queanbeyan City Council, Camden Council, Randwick City Council, Campbelltown City Council, Ryde City Council, City of Canada Bay Council, Shellharbour City Council, City of Canterbury, Shoalhaven City Council, Clarence Valley Council, Strathfield Municipal Council, Coffs Harbour City Council, Sutherland Shire Council, Eurobodalla Shire Council, Council of the City of Sydney, Gosford City Council, Tamworth Regional Council, Gunnedah Shire Council, Tweed Shire Council, The Council of the Shire of Hornsby, Wagga Wagga City Council, The Council of the Municipality of Hunters Hill, Warringah Council, Hurstville City Council, Waverley Council, The Council of the Municipality of Kiama, Willoughby City Council, Kogarah Municipal Council, Wollondilly Shire Council, Ku-ring-gai Council, Wollongong City Council, Lane Cove Municipal Council, Woollahra Municipal Council, Leichhardt Municipal Council, Wyong Shire Council and Lismore City Council.

The information tabled in the NSW Parliament also noted that in 2006-07, 98.26% of the green waste collected was recycled and beneficially reused, saving almost 300,000 tonnes in that year from going to landfill.

A brief survey of the waste services that some other Councils provide is shown at Attachment 2.

Many in the community have concerns about the unsightliness of the bulky waste collection service, when rubbish is left for weeks on the kerbside and not picked up. There are also health and safety issues for workers and local residents.



Time to strengthen our Code of Conduct

I have today submitted the following Notice of Motion to Newcastle Council...




That Newcastle City Council hold a workshop to strengthen its Code of Conduct generally and specifically by incorporating relevant provisions from the "Good practice suggestions" in the Department of Local Government's Guidelines for the Model Code of Conduct – October 2008 but particularly including clarification:

1. That Political or campaign donations referred to in the Code, are to be taken to include contributions that directly benefit an election campaign, whether it be for a Local, State or Federal election.

2. That the appropriate management of any conflict of interest applies to meetings, including Council meetings, committee meetings, Council workshops, Council briefings, advisory committee meetings and closed Council and committee meetings, as well as interactions between Councillors.


In the report on Code of Conduct complaint against the Lord Mayor Councillor Tate and Councillors Luke, Buman, Connell and King, the Conduct Review Committee Sole Reviewer noted that, according to verbal advice from the Department of Local Government, the provisions of the Conflict of Interests - Political Donations section (7.21 to 7.25) of the Newcastle City Council Code of Conduct as currently written, applies only to political donations received through Local Government Elections.

The Sole Reviewer did note that:

Donations received through other election campaigns, be they State or Federal, may apply to the provisions of the Conflict of Interests sections (7.1 to 7.3 & 7.10 to 7.20) of the Code of Conduct.

A reasonable and informed person would not make the distinction that a political donation for a Local Government election may give rise to a non-pecuniary conflict of interest whereas a political donation for a State Government election or a Federal Government election would not.

This motions aims to remove the ambiguity, to close the loophole and to strengthen the Newcastle City Council Code of Conduct.

References in the Code to Election Funding Act 1981 should be changed to refer to Election Funding and Disclosures Act 1981 as that is the correct name of the Act.

More background can be found at these posts:

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

More on SLAPP-ing

Thank you to a Newcastle resident who passed on this interesting legal case...

In the case of Ballina Shire Council v Ringland (1994) 33 NSWLR 680, Gleeson CJ was moved to comment (at 691):

The idea of a democracy is that people are encouraged to express their criticisms, even their wrong-headed criticisms, of elected governmental institutions, in the expectation that this process will improve the quality of the government. The fact that the institutions are democratically elected is supposed to mean that, through a process of political debate and decision, the citizens in a community govern themselves...

My previous comments about intimidatory legal actions can be found here:

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Clean Up Australia Day

I joined a motivated group of local people (including lots of young people) down at the mangroves on Throsby Creek on Sunday afternoon to pick up the rubbish that had come from the 3,000 hectare catchment.

The Wilderness Society organised the "low-tide" clean up from about 4pm to 6pm. Earlier in the day, the good people of the Newcastle Rowers and Trees in Newcastle did the good work.

We collected bags and bags of rubbish, as well as bags and bags of recycling. The catchment above the mangroves covers all the way to Adamstown Heights, Mayfield and Hamilton and includes 67,500 people. When people drop litter in this area, there's a good chance it will end up in the mangroves.

To reduce the amount of recycling ending up in our environemnt we need a Container Deposit Scheme like South Australia. Newcastle Council supported my motion to lobby the State Government for such a scheme back in December 2008.