Thursday, 20 August 2009
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
19 August 2009
Newcastle Council last night unanimously supported a suite of revitalisation projects for the Newcastle CBD that did not include cutting the Newcastle rail line.
Cr Osborne said that – in moving the motion – he had deliberately removed references to the contentious rail line issue in order to achieve a consensus position.
“This should make it clear to the state and federal governments that the council and the community want action to revitalise the Newcastle CBD, and that further divisive debate over cutting the Newcastle rail line was unproductive.
“The rail issue contaminated council’s previous vote on the HDC report, resulting in misunderstanding of what the vote meant, a highly divisive process, and several votes that split the council.
“In contrast, councillors were entirely united around last night’s vote.
“The message from this couldn’t be clearer: take the proposal to cut the rail line out of the equation, and the Newcastle community can approach state and federal governments for revitalisation funding with an entirely united voice.
“Even the Hunter Development Corporation has now conceded that – as the Greens have long argued - their cost benefit assessment that supposedly supported cutting the rail line was fundamentally flawed, since it was based on a false assumption about Newcastle University’s position.
“Despite the massive resources that have been put into a misinformation campaign on the rail line by vested interests, the recent Hunter Valley Research Foundation survey shows that opposition to cutting the Newcastle rail line is still very strong.
“In these circumstances, governments would be ill-advised to spend the estimated $600million of public money to rip up the rail line, when the cost-benefit for doing it doesn’t stack up, and there are so many worthy revitalisation projects that are overwhelmingly favoured by the community.
“Newcastle needs federal revitalisation funding to help with projects such as developing a university CBD campus, a refurbished legal precinct, cultural and tourism facilities, and public domain improvements.
“Last night’s unanimous vote on these projects clearly demonstrates this, and I hope the message is heard loud and clear in the halls of both Macquarie St and Canberra,” Cr Osborne said.
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Here's the motion that I moved at tonight's Newcastle Council meeting and received unanimous support.
Pursuant to council’s unanimous Motion on 2 December 2008 affirming our commitment to the revitalisation of the City centre as a key strategic priority, Council now resolves:
1. to support in principle the key catalyst projects outlined in the Hunter Development Corporation Report “Newcastle City Centre Renewal – March 2009”, namely
• A retail precinct, primarily through the development proposal put forward by GPT for land around Hunter Street.
• An education precinct consisting of the consolidation of creative and performing arts faculties and the relocation of social sciences to the city centre
• A justice precinct bringing together state and federal court facilities
• A tourism precinct building on the existing conferencing and cruise ship markets
• A cultural precinct consistent with the Civic and Cultural Precinct Master Plan 2003
• Development and implementation of a Public Domain Plan for the City Centre subject to confirmation of the viability of these projects from other key players;
2. to receive a report from the General Manager detailing the items contained in the Corporation’s report which can be implemented or assisted by Council forthwith subject to this resolution and availability of funding;
3. to apply to the Major Cities Unit of the Australian Government for funding assistance to implement the recommendations of the Corporation’s report that are consistent with council's position;
4. to reaffirm its commitment to an integrated public transport system as advocated in the Lower Hunter Integrated Transport Strategy 2007, including enhanced transport links to and from the city and the development of a modern transport interchange for future growth.
Joint Regional Planning Panels
At tonight's meeting we also considered the state government's undemocratic planning panels.
MOTION: (COUNCILLORS M OSBORNE/A BUMAN)
Newcastle City Council not nominate anyone to the Joint Regional Planning Panels on the basis they are undemocratic and unreliable.
Councillor Luke then gave notice of a foreshadowed motion to call for nominations.
Councillor Claydon also gave notice of a foreshadowed motion to nominate one Councillor and one independent person with expertise in the areas stated.
Following the mover's right of reply the motion was put to the meeting and The Lord Mayor called for a division which resulted as follows:
For the Motion: The Lord Mayor, Councillors A Buman, B Cook, M Osborne
Against the Motion: Councillors G Boyd, S Claydon, T Crakanthorp, S Connell, M Jackson, M King, B Luke, N Nelmes and S Sharpe
The Lord Mayor declared the motion defeated on the division of four votes to nine votes.
Councillor Luke was then asked to move his foreshadowed motion.
MOTION: (COUNCILLORS B LUKE/S CONNELL)
Council nominates Councillor Luke and Councillor Jackson to be appointed as council members of the Hunter and Central Coast Joint Regional Planning Panels (and Councillor Sharpe as an alternate member) for the consideration of ‘regional development’ proposals and other matters within the Newcastle Local Government Area. The appointment be for 12 months from the time of appointment.
Following there being 2 speakers for and 2 against, Councillor King moved the motion be put.
MOTION: (COUNCILLOR M KING)
The motion be put.
The motion to put the motion was put to the meeting and The Lord Mayor called for a division which resulted as follows:
For the Motion: Councillors A Buman, G Boyd, B Cook, M King, B Luke, S Connell and S Sharpe
Against the Motion: The Lord Mayor, Councillors S Claydon, T Crakanthorp, M Jackson, N Nelmes and M Osborne
The Lord Mayor declared the motion carried on the division of seven votes to six votes.
The motion was then put to the meeting and The Lord Mayor called for a division which resulted as follows:
For the Motion: Councillors A Buman, G Boyd, S Connell, B Cook, B Luke, M King and S Sharpe
Against the Motion: The Lord Mayor, Councillors S Claydon, T Crakanthorp, M Jackson, N Nelmes and M Osborne
The Lord Mayor declared the motion carried on the division of seven votes to six votes.
RESOLVED: (COUNCILLORS B LUKE/S CONNELL)
Council nominates Councillor Luke and Councillor Jackson to be appointed as council members of the Hunter and Central Coast Joint Regional Planning Panel (and Councillor Sharpe as an alternate member) for the consideration of ‘regional development’ proposals and other matters within the Newcastle LGA. The appointment be for 12 months from the time of appointment.
Friday, 14 August 2009
NOTICE OF MOTION RE COUNCIL WORKSHOPS
I hereby give notice that at the next ordinary meeting of Newcastle Council I intend to move that:
1. Council incorporate appropriate protocols, procedures and guidelines in its Code of Meeting Practice covering the role and conduct of workshops or other similar gatherings of councillors that draw on council resources but that occur outside the provisions of sections 9 and 10 of the Local Government Act.
2. That these protocols, procedures and guidelines include provisions that inter alia:
a. outline the nature and purpose of such gatherings, and the circumstances in which they will be used,
b. specify that – unless otherwise determined in accordance with adopted council policies and procedures – such workshops or gatherings will normally be open to the public and the media (as observers), and will be publicly notified on the council’s website,
c. duly recognise and give appropriate priority to the public interest, the public right to know, the responsibilities of councillors to the community, and council’s commitment to openness and accountability,
d. state and reflect this council’s commitment to openness and transparency, and
e. incorporate relevant components of Part 13 (Workshops) of the Department of Local Government’s Meetings Practice Note (No.16) of November 2005, and any other relevant advice from the Department.
Council has been using workshops and briefings involving councillors and council staff held outside the provisions of sections 9 and 10 of the Local Government Act for some time. Use of these workshops has intensified significantly during the term of the current council, with a corresponding reduction in public briefings. It is important that council’s use of these briefings does not circumvent the Open Meetings provisions of the Local Government Act, or compromise the right of the public and the media to observe the deliberations of elected councillors, and this council’s commitment to transparency and accountability.
The Department of Local Government Meetings Practice Note (No.16, November 2005) contains a specific section on Workshops (Part 13), which is excerpted in its entirety below.
Among other things, the Practice Note outlines some of the limitations on such gatherings, and emphasises that:
· Workshops should not be used for detailed or advanced discussions where agreement is reached and/or a (de-facto) decision is made. Any detailed discussion or exchange of views on an issue, and any policy decision from the options, should be left to the open forum of a formal council or committee meeting.
· The meeting procedures in the Act and the Regulation do not apply to these gatherings.
· Meeting procedures for council workshops is a decision for the council.
· Where briefing sessions are held in relation to development applications or business enterprises, council needs to remember its obligations and responsibilities under the Model Code, and community perceptions in terms of unfair advantage and transparency of process.
· When conducting workshops, a council needs to think about its obligations and responsibilities under the Model Code, and of community perceptions in terms of unfair advantage and transparency of process. There may be a belief that workshops are a means of transacting council business and coming to council decisions in secret.
The Practice Note also suggests that councils may wish to introduce protocols for workshops or information sessions in its Meeting Code, and that the development of clear guidelines for such gatherings might assist councils in avoiding a belief that workshops are a means of transacting council business and coming to council decisions in secret.
This Notice of Motion is designed to give effect to that statement.
Excerpt from the Department of Local Government Meetings Practice Note (No.16, November 2005)
Part 13: Workshops
Can a council set up workshops? Are there any limitations on their use?
A council can hold a workshop (sometimes called a briefing session) under its general powers as a body corporate. Workshops are informal committees and can provide useful background information to councillors on issues. A workshop may involve councillors, council staff and invited participants.
Workshops should not be used for detailed or advanced discussions where agreement is reached and/or a (de-facto) decision is made. Any detailed discussion or exchange of views on an issue, and any policy decision from the options, should be left to the open forum of a formal council or committee meeting.
The Department recognises the value of workshops or information sessions in developing councillor knowledge and expertise, and in assisting their role as public officials. However, where briefing sessions are held in relation to development applications or business enterprises, council needs to remember its obligations and responsibilities under the Model Code, and community perceptions in terms of unfair advantage and transparency of process. Council may wish to introduce protocols for workshops or information sessions in its Meeting Code.
Who can attend council workshops?
Attendance entitlements in the Act and the Regulation apply only to meetings of the council and its formal committees (made up of councillors only). As workshops are not meetings of the council or its formal committees, the attendance entitlements of councillors and the public do not apply.
Part 9.2 of the Model Code states that “any information given to a particular councillor in the performing of their civic duties must also be available to any other councillor who requests it”. Equity in access to information (in the form of workshops) is a matter for each council to decide in the context of its policies and resources. While it is usual for all councillors to be entitled to attend workshops, attendance is a decision for the council or, failing that, the workshop convenor.
There is no obligation on councillors to attend workshops.
What are the meeting procedures for council workshops?
The meeting procedures in the Act and the Regulation apply only to meetings of the council and its formal committees made up of councillors only. As workshops are not meetings of the council or its formal committees, the meeting procedures in the Act and the Regulation do not apply. Meeting procedures for council workshops is a decision for the council or, failing that, the workshop convenor. Council may wish to introduce protocols for the conduct of workshops in its Meeting Code.
The non-disclosure provisions of sections 664(1) and 664(2) of the Act apply to workshops but, because they cannot be closed under section 10A of the Act, the confidentiality provisions of sections 664(1A) and 664(1B) do not apply.
Can the public inspect workshop documents?
Any document produced in relation to a workshop would be a document of the council. This means that these documents could be inspected and copied in accordance with sections 12 to 12B of the Act or the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 1989 (NSW), subject to any exemptions or copyright restrictions. A person refused access to a document under the Freedom of Information Act 1989 (NSW) can apply for a review of the determination by the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal.
What about public perception?
When conducting workshops, a council needs to think about its obligations and responsibilities under the Model Code, and of community perceptions in terms of unfair advantage and transparency of process. There may be a belief that workshops are a means of transacting council business and coming to council decisions in secret.
Negative public views of workshops could be changed by community education on the purpose of workshops, and by making sure that council decisions are not made at workshops. Establishing clear guidelines for workshops and information sessions in council’s Meeting Code would assist this. Guidelines could include requirements that, for example, workshop briefing papers contain information but no recommendations; or directions that no recommendations are to be put to, and no agreement sought from, the councillors or other workshop participants in the course of the workshop.
Can a council hold community access sessions separate from its meetings?
Community access sessions are not discussed in the Act or the Regulation. A council can hold these sessions under conditions set by the council. Again, guidelines for running community access sessions could be included in council’s Meeting Code.
Thursday, 13 August 2009
The letter calls on the Minister and Prime Minister to commence discussions with the Greens on a suite of measures to begin reducing Australia's emissions immediately. This includes bringing on the Renewable Energy Target legislation on Monday and moving towards a renewable energy feed-in tariff, forest protection, clean transport and comprehensive energy efficiency upgrades.
"The collapse of the Continue Polluting Regardless Scheme provides Australia with a great opportunity to move ahead with ambitious action on the climate crisis," Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.
"The CPRS would have locked in failure on the climate crisis with its inexcusably weak emissions target and its $16 billion handout to polluters. Three in four Australians support the Greens' decision to reject the bill if the Government refused to toughen it up.
"The collapse of the CPRS opens the door to a suite of other measures that can be implemented immediately, before an amended CPRS returns to the Parliament, in order to begin reducing Australia's emissions without delay.
"Now is the time to move ahead, re-powering Australia with renewable energy, upgrading our energy efficiency, shifting to sustainable transport and protecting our vast and wonderful forest carbon stores.
"We Greens are calling on the Government to immediately bring on the Renewable Energy Target legislation, to unleash the tremendous potential of renewable energy to repower Australia and create tens of thousands of jobs.
"Both the big old parties have been using Australia's clever and clean renewable energy industry as a political football. Both old parties bend over backwards to sandbag the old polluters, but neither is willing to give priority to the renewable energy powerhouse that the Australian community wants."
The letter, from Senators Brown and Milne to Prime Minister Rudd and Minister Wong, sets out the Greens' proposals for an amended emissions trading scheme, as well as complementary measures on forest protection, renewable energy, sustainable transport and energy efficiency.
"We invite the Government to immediately engage in constructive discussions with the Greens on this proposal, so we can together create meaningful action on the climate crisis."
See original here.
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Tuesday, 4 August 2009
ITEM-17 NOM 25/06/09 - RESCISSION MOTION - BULLOCK ISLAND RAIL CORRIDOR MOTION: (COUNCILLORS M OSBORNE/T CRAKANTHORP)
Council rescind Part B of its decision of 16 June 2009 in respect of Notice of Motion Item 13 - Bullock Island Rail Corridor ie:
Pursuant to Council's unanimous motion on 2 December 2008 affirming our commitment to the revitalisation of the city centre as a key strategic priority, we now resolved:
1 That Council endorse the city revitalisation recommendations of the Hunter Development Corporation Report "Newcastle City Centre Renewal - March 2009".
2 That the General Manager bring to Council a report detailing the items contained in the Corporation's report which can be implemented by council forthwith subject to funding provision;
3 That the General Manager apply to the Major Cities Unit of the Australian Government for funding assistance to implement the recommendations of the Corporation's report;
4 That Council reaffirms its commitment to an integrated public transport system, including enhanced transport links to and from the City and the development of a modern transport interchange for future growth, and strongly advocates that the New South Wales Government endorses, plans for and funds the preferred transport options in the Corporation's report in conjunction with the outcomes of Council's Traffic and Transport Study including options for the Wickham Future Transport Corridor.
Following discussion, there being two speakers for and two against the Rescission Motion, Councillor Connell moved that the motion be put.
The motion to put the motion was put to the meeting and the Lord Mayor called for a show of hands which resulted as follows:
For the motion 8
Against the motion 5
The motion to put the motion was declared carried on the result of eight votes to five votes.
Councillor Osborne was then asked to take his right of reply.
The motion to rescind Council's decision of 16 June 2009 in respect of Notice of Motion Item 13 - Bullock Island Rail Corridor was put to the meeting and the Lord Mayor called for a division which resulted as follows:
For the motion: Councillors S Claydon, T Crakanthorp, N Nelmes, M Jackson, M King and M Osborne
Against the motion: The Lord Mayor, Councillors G Boyd, A Buman, S Connell, B Cook, B Luke and S Sharpe.
The motion was declared defeated on the division of six votes to seven votes.
Note: Council's decision of 16 June 2009 stands as resolved on that date.
PROCEEDINGS IN BRIEF
Councillor King indicated that when this matter was last debated he made comments that implied hypocrisy on behalf of Councillor Osborne. Councillor King advised that he had checked his notes and the minutes and Councillor Osborne had been 100% correct and he had been 100% wrong.
Given that Councillor King had made the statements in this forum he considered it appropriate to apologise to Councillor Osborne. He also apologised to the other Councillors who he implied but didn't publicly name.
The meeting concluded at 9.30pm.
Saturday, 1 August 2009
Climate change poised to feed on itself
Fifteen of Australia's top climate experts explain how we know humans are altering the atmosphere and why we must act now.
Around the world, thousands of scientists have devoted their professional lives to studying the climate. Not centrally organised, they sometimes build temporary affiliations but they remain scientists throughout – that is, they are independent, constantly challenge each other and are committed to searching for truth through objective, independently verifiable evidence.
Overwhelmingly, this evidence has led to four conclusions. The first is that the world is warming. The global average temperature has increased by about 0.8 degrees since 1850, with most of the increase occurring since 1950. The warming varies among decades because of natural fluctuations but the overall trend has been inexorably upward.
Warming is evident in other indicators, such as rising sea levels and reduced sea-ice and snow cover. Of these, the most important measure is the extra heat in the oceans, which is steadily rising. Claims that climate change has reversed since 1998 are misrepresentations of the full data.
The second conclusion is that the dominant cause of the warming since about 1950 is the increase in the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases released by human activities, of which carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important.
This critical conclusion is based on several independent lines of evidence, including basic physics, studies of climate changes in both in the geological past and in the industrial era, and finally – but far from solely – from the predictions of climate models. Together, these provide an overwhelming case that increasing greenhouse gas concentrations cause warming, and that CO2 is the largest contributor to the current warming trend.
Other contributors include changes in the sun’s output associated with sunspots and solar flares, and volcanic dust. However, if these were solely responsible for temperature changes since 1850, the world should have cooled over the past half-century rather than warming at an increasing rate.
The third conclusion is that warming will increase in future, if emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases maintain their present paths. "Business as usual" scenarios for future emissions lead to likely global temperature increases of up to six degrees above present temperatures by 2100.
These are dramatic temperature increases, which would be accompanied by major disruptions to food supplies, river flows and water availability, significant and ongoing rises in sea level (of up to about a metre by 2100 and potentially metres over longer times), disease threats, disruptions to ecosystems including the extinction of many species, and social and geopolitical destabilisation.
The fourth conclusion is that climate change cannot be reversed for many centuries, because of the massive heat stores in the world’s oceans. Even if CO2 and other greenhouse gas concentrations were stabilised today at their present levels, a further warming of at least 0.6 degrees would inevitably follow (on top of the 0.8 degrees observed since 1850) and sea-level rise would continue for centuries to millenniums.
These four conclusions have been known and agreed among thousands of independent climate scientists for more than a decade. However, new findings suggest that the situation is, if anything, more serious than the assessment of just a few years ago.
The heightened concern among climate scientists arises from a growing realisation that climate change can be accelerated beyond current predictions by reinforcing "climate feedbacks", which contribute to climate change and are accelerated as it occurs, thus causing climate change to feed on itself. When these feedbacks are sufficiently strong they become "climate tipping points" which can flip the climate into a new state with essentially no way to recover.
Several feedbacks are of immediate concern. Interactions between climate and the earth’s carbon cycle (the exchange of carbon between the atmosphere, the land and the oceans) will act to accelerate climate change if sinks do not keep pace with emissions (as is already happening) and/or if previously stable carbon stores are released to the atmosphere under climate change, for example by the thawing of carbon-rich frozen soils.
Accelerated polar warming will cause loss of ice and a consequent darkening of the surface, leading to more heat absorption and faster warming. Atmospheric concentrations of aerosols (tiny particulates) are likely to decrease in future as nations improve air quality, leading to accelerated warming as the cooling effect of aerosols is reduced.
Oceans are becoming more acidic as a consequence of increased CO2 in the atmosphere. When CO2 concentrations exceed levels to be reached by 2035 under business-as-usual emissions scenarios, there will be severe disruptions to marine ecosystems (including the Great Barrier Reef and ocean food chains), which will endanger fisheries and weaken the uptake of CO2 by oceans.
Temperature rises of two to three degrees (or higher) carry a high risk of irreversible decay of the Greenland ice sheet from surface warming alone, leading to a sea level rise of up to about seven metres. Destabilisation of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet would cause a further few metres of sea-level rise.
A climate conference in Copenhagen in March concluded that societies were highly vulnerable to even modest levels of climate change, with poor nations and communities particularly at risk. Temperature rises above two degrees will be very difficult for contemporary societies to cope with and will increase the level of climate disruption through the rest of the century.
All of these concerns are firmly grounded in science. They have led the great majority of climate scientists to conclude (paraphrasing the summary of the Copenhagen conference) that rapid, sustained and effective emissions reductions are required to avoid ‘‘dangerous climate change’’, regardless of how it is defined.
Higher future emissions increase the risk of crossing climate tipping points and they increase the likelihood that the long-term social and economic costs of both adaptation and mitigation will be higher.
This article was written by Michael Raupach and John Church, CSIRO; David Griggs, Amanda Lynch and Neville Nicholls, Monash University; Nathan Bindoff, Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre; Matthew England and Andy Pitman, University of NSW; Ann Henderson-Sellers and Lesley Hughes, Macquarie University; Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, University of Queensland; Roger Jones, Victoria University; David Karoly, University of Melbourne; and Tony McMichael and Will Steffen, Australian National University.
The Federal Government through the Department of Climate Change are running a competition titled "Think Climate Think Change".
The Think Climate, Think Change Schools Competition ran from 28 April to 24 June 2009 and invited students to use their creative talents to answer the question - "What does climate change mean to me?"
The finalists for Primary and Secondary students, chosen from over 7600 entrants from across Australia, are shown on the Australian Education Resources website.
Well worth a peek. Some are shown below...