Tuesday, 30 September 2008

New Mayor and Deputy Mayor in Wingecarribee

The new Mayor of Wingecarribee Shire Council will be Clr Duncan Gair. The Deputy Mayor will be Clr. Ken Halstead. Congratulations to the new officeholders.

As I mentioned on this post a few days ago, I was sure there would be some wheeling and dealing going on, behind the scenes. I got it wrong, about who might win. I thought the Paul Tuddenham might get up, as previous Deputy Mayor, but he decided not to stand for the position. He was the last Councillor to scrape in. But, then again he was not the only one to be scrabbling for last preference votes.

Seemingly, Juliet Arkwright has not been "trusted" by the Business Leaders of the Shire. This is despite the fact that she and her Liberal Party team won more than twice as many votes as Duncan Gair and his group received (his group got only 44% of the Liberals' vote). Whoever actually decides the Mayoral candidate clearly regarded Duncan Gair as a "safe pair of hands" (event though the voters were less convinced). See the election results for yourself.

I know the Election is not a popular vote for the Mayor (it is in some Councils, but clearly the old Council did not trust the voters to make a sensible choice, and so the by-laws which determine the election procedures in our Shire were designed to not permit a popular vote for Mayor). It is interesting, isn't it? Democracy is not what you might think it is.


I was told the outcome of yesterday's Council vote for Mayor and Deputy Mayor by the helpful person on the Council's switchboard, this morning. There is still nothing about any of this on the Council's Website, which is still in its normal dormant state.

The ABC local station still does not have a word about this on its website, (as of Tuesday 30/9.08 - 12:24pm) - but that's because the Southern Highlands News will not be published until Wednesday. The Journalists down there in ABC Illawarra at Wollongong tomorrow morning will simply read the "news" from the front pages of the local Newspapers, as they always do, and pretend that they have sourced it themselves. Try picking up the telephone, folks. The Council's phone number is on their website. That's how to provide a real news service to your audience - instead of news on delay ("Yesterday's News Tomorrow")

As I write this, (12 noon 30 September) the latest information they have is the Agenda papers for yesterday's Council meeting. I assume that the people who ought be writing the Minutes and publishing this information are too busy "getting to know" the new Mayor and Deputy Mayor, or even more likely, are locked into a room trying to decide how to deal with the new faces on Council, and working out how to avoid scrutiny over the now infamous Lehman Brothers debacle.
  • "Wingecarribee Shire Council will have to apply to administrators of Lehman Brothers Australia for money owed by the failed investment banking group, according to legal firm Clayton Utz. A year after Lehman Brothers ventured into Australia by buying Grange Securities for $120 million, the Australian arm went into administration on Friday, owing creditors $800 million." Source Southern Highlands News - 29/9/08
The procedure of claiming not to be able to make any statements, in order not to damage their case in pending legal action has always been a smokescreen, behind which the Council management and former Councillors were equally happy to hide behind.

Let us please have some openness in Government.

If looking for some guiding principles for how the new Council ought be governed, this would be a good place to start, folks. It is from your own website:
Our Values
EQUITY, JUSTICE and CONSULTATION in our obligations;

PRIDE in our lifestyle and environment;

EXCELLENCE in the provision of services;


INTEGRITY, skill and DEDICATION in the achievement of our objectives;

LEADERSHIP in the growth and prosperity of our community.

Interestingly, the word "Openness" does not appear, but the rest of the statement of Council's values is reasonable - provided they live up to it. And by that I mean, especially, the Council's Administration, as well as the persons who have just been elected.

For the record, I repeat my call made last week to all the new Councillors, and Senior Staff.

We need a change in attitude from day one of the new Council.

Let us have government for the people of the Wingecarribee, by the people of the Wingecarribee - for a change.

By the way, I think senior members of the Council staff ought live in the Shire - for starters - to show some confidence in their own Administration, and to show some solidarity with the people they are meant to serve.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Wall Street Bail out is a fraud on the ordinary people.

The "Wall Street Bail Out" being proposed by the head of the US Treasury is a fraud on the people - in my opinion.

For the life of me I cannot see the point - let alone the moral justification of this vast expenditure.

Firstly, people who ought to know say that the US$700 Billion "rescue plan" will go nowhere towards covering the funds which have been lost. So, the US$700 billion will be gratefully received by the bankers, who will use it to comfort themselves, as they cry about how much more they have lost. Then they will ask for more, to cover their real losses.

But losses is the correct term. These people are NOT INVESTORS, they are SPECULATORS, or put more prosaically, GAMBLERS.

Therefore, I ask, why bail them out? - with taxpayers money?

When they won big - and trust me, they did, over the last 30 years - did they offer to give that money away to anyone else? I don't think so. Certainly not to the taxpayers, or the Government. These people led the way in covering their profits inside tax havens, and by accounting ruses. They invented the phrase: "Paying taxes is optional" - and by and large, it has never been an attractive option to the mega-wealthy.


In biological terms, I am an evolutionist, and to me it seems that these people are like dinosaurs, objecting to a cloud of dust blocking out the sun - because it will lead to their extinction. However, they have ignored the fact that the huge comet, or asteroid, has already hit the earth. The process has already started.

The analogy breaks down, however, because these people brought this disaster upon themselves, unlike the dinosaurs, who did not ask for the asteroid or comet to hit the earth.

I am not the only "crazy" arguing against the "bail-out" of the Bankers. (source: Mike Adams - of the suspiciously named "Truth Publishing")

  • "The key tipping point here will be when foreign banks stop buying U.S. debt or, just as dangerously, when foreign banks start SELLING OFF U.S. debt.
  • "Either one will trigger a landslide rush to dump U.S. debt, flooding the market with useless paper that no one wants to buy.
  • "Germany, China and many other countries are already calling for an end to the American Empire. And sadly, China actually has a way to accomplish that end. All they have to do, right now, is start a fire sale of U.S. debt, and the American empire crumbles within days."
DJW Comment: The only thing which may save the Americans is the fact that China needs the Americans to keep buying the cheap consumer goods which China is producing.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Lets Bail Out the US Bankers ..... What a great idea!

When it comes to the mega-wealthy, its worth thinking about the poor suffering souls of Wall Street, New York. Apparently the Australian Government feels sufficiently sorry for them that it is giving them $10 million of your money. Remember, this is the Rudd Labor Government which you voted for, less than a year ago. This is not Malcolm Turnbull's Government, but I sense it might as well be.

You probably don't recall voting on that idea, or even reading much about it in the commercial press. But it is happening.

The ABC News website tells us this: "Australia's Reserve Bank has now agreed to join forces with the central banks of Denmark, Sweden and Norway to add an extra $US30 billion to the system through a swap facility, designed to improve liquidity conditions in global financial markets. The RBA is contributing $US10 billion to the facility."

The ABC report continues with: "Westpac senior economist Justin Smirk*** says the move will allow global funding markets to operate. "It's allowing the system time to settle down and find its new balance" he said.

*** DJW comment: Nominative determinism at its finest. Only a Banker could say that without falling over laughing.

"The Mother of all Rip-offs" - from the SMH Business column yesterday contains some staggering revelations about the salaries, bonuses, etc that US Bankers paid themselves - sometimes while walking away from failed Banks. Extraordinary stuff.

It even says that of US Treasury Secretary who is proposing the US $700 bailout of Wall Street:
  • "Paulson himself has shares in Goldman whose value was estimated at $US700 million. He is a direct beneficiary of his own bail-out proposal blind trust or no blind trust."
DJW Comment: Heads Down, Piggies ......... Snuffle, Snuffle, Snuffle.

As I was still feeling ever so slightly guilty about my earlier post about the Wall Street crisis, especially the cartoon) I decided to look for a totally different perspective on the Wall Street crisis. I checked out "christianitytoday.com"

Pretty amazing duality in their view of things there - just a hint of religious/racial bigotry (it is pretty obvious that they feel Christians are in the minority on Wall Street), mixed with the knowledge that the Christian Churches have vast financial resources - no doubt much of it invested in these Institutions, and stand to lose a huge amount if Wall Street goes down the gurgler.
  • "Other Christian money people also refer to working on Wall Street as working on "the dark side," with an environment that is "absurdly secular," "out of balance," and "egoistic." One trader says, "Some of the times when I get on the train, it's like I go to the dark side." Nowadays the trips are especially bleak. One chief operating officer says that maybe Christian faith can stand out as a light of compassion and truth."
and elsewhere it says - somewhat bizarrely:
  • "How Christians respond to the crisis will be a test of their wisdom, courage, integrity, and compassion for the mighty as well as for the humble. One executive told CT, "Our response will answer the question, "Who is Jesus on Wall Street?' "
I wonder if they will find him?

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Wingecarribee Shire Council election - a business dream ticket

The NSW Electoral Commission has not yet declared the results of the recent Wingecarribee Shire Council Election. The following comments are my own interpretation of the likely results.

In the 65th round of counting (recounts) Geraldine Turner (leader of the "Save the Highlands" team) was excluded. She appears to have been the last Candidate to be excluded.

As I read it, there are 5 candidates elected already and 4 candidates not yet declared to be elected, but with 9 vacancies to be filled, it seems the following 9 persons will get elected in the end:
  • The quota is 2476 votes to get elected.
Candidates Elected so far are shown in bold blue:
  • Jim Clark (Greens),
  • Juliet Arkwright (Liberal) (her No 2 David Stranger is still in the hunt, with 2135 transferred preference votes)
  • Paul Tuddenham is still in the chase, with 2006 preference votes
  • Ken Halstead (Independent) is in.
  • Graham McLaughlin (Labor) is in.
  • Jim Mauger is still in the running with 2235 preference votes.
  • Duncan Gair is still hopeful, on 2205 preference votes.
As I read the process, with Geraldine Turner having been excluded, her accumulated preference votes (1826) will now be redistributed. That process will determine who out of the remaining 4 candidates is next to get over the line.

But they will all probably make it (don't ask me quite how it all works - in fine detail). I don't know what happens with any votes which didn't award preferences all the way down the list. I suppose the system relies on people mostly voting above the line and "tickets" distributing those preferences all the way down the line.

There are 1826 votes to be distributed from Geraldine's vote, and only 1323 votes required to be redistributed to all those 4 candidates - enough to get each one of them elected. Remember that "excess votes" (over the quota of 2476) also get distributed. So, if Geraldine's votes favour Jim Mauger (for example) he would get over the line, then his spare preference votes (he only needs 241 more votes) would then get redistributed.

But as the list of "live candidates" is now so reduced, the "spare votes" have to go to one of the remaining three, then 2, then last person standing. That's how I think it works from this point onwards.

So, as I read it, the big change from the last Council is the demise of the former Murray/Campbell-Jones Team, (Malcolm Murray and May King and Penny George). Nick C-J and Penny George did not stand for re-election. New Councillors (in this iteration) will be Ken Halstead (Independent) and the Liberals (Juliet Arkwright). David Stranger, the No. 2 on the Liberal Ticket will almost certainly be elected.

Jim Mauger, Paul Tuddenham and Duncan Gair will continue to function much as they have done in the past - except without the "leadership" of Malcolm Murray (and Nick C-J of course).

I imagine that Terry Oakes-Ash,
President of the Southern Highlands Business Chamber Inc. will be moderately content with this arrangement. (Photo from SHBC website).
Larry Whipper and Jim Clark could still be sidelined easily enough by the 2 Liberals, Paul Tuddenham, Duncan Gair and Jim Mauger (on occasions) acting together to freeze out the "so-called Greenies". Remember it is a Council of 9 now, so a group of 5 is a simple majority.

Who will be Mayor of Wingecarribee Shire?

Despite his optimistic reading of the early poll results, Larry Whipper is not likely to get support to stand as Mayor.

Paul Tuddenham as former Deputy Mayor might make a strong claim for the top job, despite his relatively poor polling. Here is Paul, photographed at the Robertson Chamber of Commerce AGM in 2008.
On the basis of the Liberal Party's strong polling, Juliet Arkwright ought be able to make a bid for the position, with a No 2 Liberal to back her, and any combination of the others.

Its time for the new Councillors to get serious about doing deals - if they have not already done so!

I am sure the business community will already have worked out their preferred nominee for Mayor of Wingecarribee Shire Council, from September 2008 onwards.

My money is in Paul Tuddenham - but that is just an outsider's guess.


POSTSCRIPT Wednesday morning, 24 September 2008.

This morning's ABC news carried the announcement of the new list of Councillors for the Wingecarribee Shire - just exactly as I predicted in yesterday's post.

Accordingly I will now publish a message I sent to all the elected candidates whose emails were published in the Candidates declarations to the NSW Electoral Commission.

I wish all the new Councillors and likely Councillors well.

As a citizen, I simply ask that they do their very best for the people of the Shire, and do not allow perceived business interests to drive the entire agenda for the next Council. I hope that you will give priority to services for the citizens.

The General Manager and those Councillors in the new Council who were members of the last Council ought hang their collective heads in shame, especially over the loss of vast cash reserves in speculative investments, and their push for the disastrously ill-advised "Leisure Centre" proposal (a white elephant which the people have fortunately rejected with scorn). Just imaging if the Poll result had come out Yes:Yes, on September 13. How on earth would the cowboys who were proposing it have looked us in the eyes, in the light of the collapse of the world economy since that date.

We need a change in attitude from day one of the new Council.

Let us have government for the people of the Wingecarribee, by the people of the Wingecarribee - for a change.

By the way, I think senior members of the Council staff ought live in the Shire - for starters - to show some confidence in their own Administration, and to show some solidarity with the people they are meant to serve.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Wingecarribee Election - the fall-out is not yet clear

This came to me tonight from Cam Ford, well known campaigner against the sale of public lands in the Shire, to pay for the madness of the intended "leisure centre".

I am publishing this here under Cam's policy of asking that it be forwarded to other interested residents.

Denis Wilson

Dear Concerned Residents;

Driving in to Moss vale from the north these days, it would be hard to miss the large sign advertising Lennon Brothers Circus. From a distance it could quite easily read “Lehman Brothers Circus”, which rather neatly sums up the whole disastrous legacy that our outgoing Council’s Financial Committee has left us; in particular the foolish “Parks for Pools” Leisure Centre scheme; which has now fortunately been decisively rejected in the recent Poll.

In itself, I don’t think the idea of a Leisure Centre was necessarily a bad one; it was the ham-fisted handling of the funding model which was a disaster. The high-handed proposal to cut up and sell off vast parcels of our public pools, parks, reserves and other green spaces put the general public offside immediately, as they were never even allowed to have a say on the sale of almost half of the properties on the list.

No matter how the proponents of the scheme tried to bulldoze it through by subsequently fiddling with the formula, their arrogant “all-or-nothing” attitude did little to help their cause and was ultimately to be the cause of their defeat.

Now, I admit I’m no economic genius. But If, say, the Financial Committee could have found a way to partially fund the Leisure Centre from Council’s original $30 million investment fund, combined with the sale of the old Mittagong Sewage Treatment Plant, developer contributions, added fund-raising programs etc. - perhaps even a modest loan - instead of throwing the whole $30 million down the Lehman Brothers black hole, then perhaps we might have had the Leisure Centre, retained all our parks and reserves, still had money in the bank, and kept the ratepayers relatively happy.

Of course, 20-20 hindsight is a wonderful thing, and the incoming Council will now have to deal with severe economic restraints and a suspicious electorate. Perhaps the first step in regaining public confidence would be for Council to immediately re-zone all the parks, reserves and larger open green spaces on the Leisure Centre hit-list as dedicated public recreation spaces in perpetuity, so that they would be safe from any further threat. Smaller spaces; say single building block sized lots - little patches of green in an otherwise monotonous suburban streetscape - could then be rezoned on their merits and with regard to community wishes. Perhaps neighbourhood mowing rosters could help save maintenance expenses on these small blocks.

This would leave perhaps three or four properties out of the twenty on the final Leisure Centre hit list – including the Mittagong Sewage Treatment Plant – which could be sold; an idea to which one would imagine very few people would object, and those funds put towards upgrading and covering Bowral Pool. It may not be the ideal solution but it is time to put aside past differences and move on.


Cam Ford

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Where are the missing voters of the Wingecarribee Shire?

Where are the missing voters of the Wingecarribee Shire?

The NSW Electoral Commission tells us that there are 31094 enrolled voters in the Wingecarribee Shire. They then tell us that the first round of voting has been completed, and that 21459 votes have been counted.

That means there are 9635 voters whose votes have not been counted, yet. That would be 30.9% of the population.

Are there that many people from the Wingecarribee Shire on holidays or Italy, or other "nice" places or even in caravans in Queensland? I doubt it. It suggests to me that there might be some interesting questions to be asked about the conduct of this election. But that might not occur until after the vote is declared. Certainly it vastly alters the calculations of a "quota" required to get elected.

I am genuinely puzzled by the gap between enrolled voters and votes counted. It would seem to require there to be an extraordinarily high number of Pre-poll or Postal Votes.

I think this is what happened.

Apparently I was seen there (after taking a series of hormone treatments, it seems).And Celeste - that well-known devourer of grapes - (click on image to see more clearly) and Greg were apparently being given a canal tour by a gondolier who looks remarkably like Vincent (from Music Nights fame). I would like to think that Vincent would look where he was going, more carefully, instead of striking a handsome pose, like this. Greg, who did not want to miss anything was wearing his glasses, and apparently had a spare set around his neck - all the better for checking out the "Babes" in Venice, presumably. Relax, folks, the photos are all a bit of photo tomfoolery. But the missing voters are real.

Broncos claim toilet se*x was "consensual"

The Page 1 headline in the Sydney Morning Herald Sports section - 17 September 2008 - reads: "Broncos claim toilet se*x was consensual" Fairfax media (Sydney Morning Herald and Brisbane Times).

I doubt most Rugby league players would even know the meaning of the word "consensual". This is media "spin" pure and simple.

Read the on-line article here.

Believe it if you wish.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Lehman Brothers goes bust after WSC Elections.

The news of the Wingecarribee Shire Council election results spread fast. The "Old Guard" have failed to be re-elected. The first reaction to this news was seen on Wall Street, the financial sector of New York.

Over there, the news that one of their favourite clients, the Wingecarribee Shire Council "Old Guard" had been thrown out of office sent brokers from Lehman Brothers into a spin.

Is this the world-wide repercussion from
former Councillor Murray's electoral defeat?
(a satirical view)

Lehman Brothers is apparently the 4th largest investment house ("bank") in the world. It is regarded as an "Institution" in the world of finance - and nobody seems to really know how costly their collapse will be for others. The world of finance literally does not know how much money is tied up, and where. It is a catastrophe too large for the US Government to rescue them from, unlike the previous bail-out of Bear Stearns.

But the directors of Lehman Brothers have sought the protection of Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy laws.

We in the Wingecarribee Shire know that thanks to some ill-advised investments, we the people stand to lose money.

We already knew that we were going to lose those Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs). Now we will probably lose the entire tranch of funds invested with Lehman Brothers - some $57 million.

It makes the loss of $2.55 million on the first "deal" with Lehman Brothers whereby they bought back our $3 million investment in one group of their CDOs for $450, 000 seem trivial in comparison.

Who is responsible? In truth it must surely be all the Councillors of the former Council, and the General Manager.

Lets hope the new bunch do a better job. They could hardly do worse.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Early Election results - Wingecarribee Shire

Early results are as follows:
(note - as the figures keep changing - these are only preliminary figures.

Readers my check the latest figures for themselves by visiting the following URL:


Group Votes 15% 326 Group votes ARKWRIGHT, Juliet. Liberals 2% 43 personal votes

Group Votes 10% 354 Group votes CLARK, Jim. Greens 2 % 68 personal votes

Group Votes 10% 376 Group votes McLAUGHLIN, Graham ALP 1 personal votes 47 (later votes indicate Labor is slipping below the magic quote figure - but they are still looking strong.

Group Votes 6% 205 Group votes WHIPPER, Larry IND 2% personal votes 85 (Larry is being preferenced by Theo, so he is OK). So much for running a "principled campaign", when he is prepared to cross to the "dark side" to spoil Malcolm Murray and Duncan Gair's positions.

Group Votes 6% 201 Group votes TURNER, Geraldine Save the Highlands 2% 57 personal votes (her position is weakening as votes trickle in).

Group Votes 5% 233 Group votes MAUGER, Jim IND 2% personal votes 72

Group Votes 5% 224 Group votes HALSTEAD, Ken 3% personal votes 145

Group Votes 4% 172 Group votes TUDDENHAM, Paul IND 2% personal votes 70

Group Votes 4% 171 Group votes GAIR, Duncan IND 3% personal votes 121

Group Votes 3% 151 Group votes MURRAY, Malcolm IND 1% personal votes 28

Ungrouped ONISFOROU, Theo IND 4% personal votes 162

  • With 9 candidates to be elected, my understanding is that a "quota" is 10% plus 1 vote (of formal votes cast on the day). So, roughly speaking 10% is the magic figure for candidates to aim for.
  • Liberals, Greens and Labor are looking assured of a first round seat (without distribution of preferences). Labor's position is weakening, but they got a strong early start, and are still looking pretty good.
  • There will be a scramble for trickle down preferences from smaller groups for the remaining 6 positions on Council.
  • 7596 Total Formal Votes counted (at about 10:30 pm)
  • Residential and Non-residential Electors enrolled on 4 August 2008: 31,094

These are early figures only, but on this basis, it is clearly a strong showing for the Liberal Party, led by Juliet Arkwright. Indeed I would be so bold as to suggest that she might well be positioned to assume the position of Mayor of Wingecarribee Shire, with such a strong vote for her group. But of course, such a position is determined by collectives of the Councillors, and who owes whom a favour, etc. So, my guess is that the next most likely candidate would be Larry Whipper.

As far as individual polling is concerned, to my eyes, the stand out is Ken Halstead, who has gathered 5% for his team, but a very strong 3% for himself individually.

Theo, who was really only running as a spoiler against Malcolm Murray and Duncan Gair, is probably content with their relatively poor showings, and his own reasonable 4% personal vote. His votes are expected to transfer to Larry Whipper, which is somewhat ironic.

Larry's Whipper's group will be preferenced by Theo, so he looks assured of getting elected.

The Save the Highlands group (led by Geraldine Turner) might pick up some preferences from any spare votes of the Greens, as, both groups were strongly against land sales and the uncontrolled push for development favoured by the last Council's pro-development groups.

I expect a tight exchange of preferences between previous Councillors Malcolm Murray and Paul Tuddenham, Duncan Gair, and on that basis, I would expect that one of those three will get elected (i.e., one will just scrape in). It is even possible that as they were all in Council previously, their names will attract lower-order preference votes, or flow-on preferences from groups, two could possibly get in on their name recognition. Of the three Malcolm Murray's position is weakest.

Jim Mauger is looking shaky, I would say, although he was the very last member elected last time, so a flow-through to him is still possible. He has a high profile, especially on anti-corruption issues (which is pretty popular right now.

I would say that Ken Halstead is looking a reasonable chance, but whether his aggressive style will mean that he has not secured enough 2nd, 3rd or 4th preference votes, or flow-on votes from other groups remains to be seen.

To my eyes, the big loser on the night looks to be Malcolm Murray, as he has been backed by a very strong advertising campaign, and seemingly is the preferred candidate of certain business groups. May King ran a relatively low key campaign and has seemingly disappeared out of sight.

As with all polling results, on needs to know where the count comes from, so it is possible that the early votes come from small rural booths, which would be expected to favour Greens and the Larry Whipper team. Whether they can hold that popularity in Mittagong and Bowral remains to be seen.

NSW Council Elections

NSW Council Elections are being held in most New South Wales (State) Local Government areas today. However, if you live in Wollongong, (and I believe Shellharbour, and Coffs Harbour - don't take my word for these latter ones, but in Wollongong it is certainly the case) then you cannot vote today. That is because your previous Council was sacked by the NSW Government for corrupt behaviour and/or incompetence.

Why should that decision (to sack a Council) disenfranchise the community - for another 4 years?

Anyway, in happy little Wingecarribee Shire, our Council escaped the verdict of incompetence or corruption (because Sydney had bigger fish to fry), and our Council survived to the bitter end of its life. So today we got to vote for a new Council.

At least the weather was nice, this morning in Robertson, when I lined up to take the "How to Vote" cards from the hander-outerers at the front gate of the Robertson School of Arts.

And who did I vote for?
We have secret ballots, fortunately. But I will tell you who I did NOT vote for.
  • Malcolm Murray and his team.
  • Duncan Gair and his team.
  • May King and her team, and the
  • Liberal Party team.

And I voted No and No on the so-called Poll regarding the Leisure Centre.

Geraldine Turner (of the Save the Highlands team), Larry Whipper, Jim Clark and the Greens team, Graham McLaughlin and the Labor Team, Jim Mauger and his team, and Ken Halstead can all take some comfort from that information. As an individual voter I can only choose my preferences, but if there are not enough voters of like minds to get a particular candidate over the "Quota" line, then sorry, but I have done my best.

I only have a single vote, after all.

If you do not like that situation, then perhaps you ought talk to a local political wheeler and dealer (a particularly lucky boy). He might possibly have some ideas as how to overcome that hurdle. Personally, I am content to stick with the old "One Vote, One Value" concept.

We shall see over the ensuing days who has been elected, and whether the Leisure Centre has been rejected in the Poll.

The Southern Highlands News has done an excellent job of covering the Election Candidates opinions on a range of subjects. However, they have let themselves down with this last minute word of advice: "Dismiss the theatrics of the past few weeks, disregard your loyalties, and vote with your head!" That is a cop out, in my opinion. We have many candidates who were Councillors last time who frankly do not deserve to be re-elected.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Rooster One Day, Feather Duster The Next.

Matt Brown, Member for Kiama has been sacked (or has resigned) as Police Minister, after the leaking of a story about a party he supposedly held in his Parliament House Office on Budget night. In fact, he was apparently sacked for being less than frank with the Premier, when first questioned about the incident. He supposedly denied the details about inappropriate behaviour, but Mr Rees checked with other sources, then fronted Mr Brown again, who then confessed (supposedly). At that point, he was supposedly sacked by Mr Rees for not coming clean in the first place.
"It appears the leaking of the story was timed to either discredit the Minister who was promoted on Monday to the police portfolio or to destabilise Mr Rees." (Source: Sydney Daily Telegraph website.)

The Age website was more direct - allowing you to join the dots, as it were:
  • "Mr Rees .... refused to speculate who may have leaked the story, and rebuffed suggestions it could have been Frank Sartor, whom Mr Rees dumped from the cabinet. "It would disappoint me, but I don't believe that's Frank Sartor's style. He's a more direct person than that."
  • "Mr Rees said he was not aware of a meeting yesterday between Mr Sartor and News Ltd journalist Imre Salusinszky, who broke the story. "It would disappoint me [if Mr Sartor had leaked the story], but I have got no idea what Frank was talking about to Imre [Salusinszky]."

Well, Mr Rees, The Body Politic's resident graphic artist can show you his conclusion.

Frank Sartor, a proverbial Feather Duster himself, after being sacked last week, is showing Matt the tricks of the trade.

Aaah, such is the way of NSW Politics.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Fw: Is fascism is coming to America?

The following story comes to me via email.
As such I automatically believe it to be a true account, and unbiased. (NOT!)
None-the-less it tells me something very interesting about the US Presidential campaign.
Even if Sarah Palin is not as bad as they say, the Democrats see her as a demonic creature (ironically a Ultra-Right Religious Demon). In other words, the Democrats are panicking.
"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross".
Sinclair Lewis, 1935

Sarah Palin's list of banned books:

Below is a list of the books Sarah Palin tried to have banned from the Wasilla, Alaska Library. When I was in Anchorage two years ago, residents of Wasilla I met described the place as a growing, more-and-more suburban community north of Anchorage. In her speech, Palin called the area "the valley." Mayor Palin would seem to be a strong force in the suburbanization of the village of Wasilla. When the Wasilla librarian refused to trash these books, Mayor Palin tried to have her fired. This caused a stir in Wasilla which then turned into a drive to protect the librarian. Some of my favorite examples of American literature are on this list.

This is the act of a patriotic American? No, this is the act of a religious fundamentalist trying to squeeze herself into the role of a mythic frontier American. The attempt to ban American literary masterpieces like Catcher In The Rye, Grapes Of Wrath, To Kill A Mockingbird, Death Of A Salesman, Leaves Of Grass, As I Lay Dying, Huckleberry Finn, Catch 22 and Tarzan indicates, flags and Bible citations aside, her ascendance to national power would be downright un-American.

In the realm of Rovian political marketing and the unfolding effort to win the Presidency not with ideas but with a cult of personality, McCain is the humiliated warrior ready to "go to the gates of hell" to preserve American exceptionalism and Sarah Palin is his fascist "bride," a mythic frontier mom able to shoot, gut and cook a moose while nurturing her family who has said publicly our war in Iraq is supported by God and people should pray to God to get the Alaska gas pipeline approved.

This is a pivotal moment in American history, and we all need to expose this cult of personality for what it is, a cynical sham. John Grant

  • *This list is taken from the official minutes of the Wasilla Library
    Board. (I have highlighted some of the more striking selections for banning - in my mind - DJW).

    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Eng le
    Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
    As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
    Blubber by Judy Blume
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
    Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
    Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
    Carrie by Stephen King
    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
    Christine by Stephen King
    Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    Cujo by Stephen King
    Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
    Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
    Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
    Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
    Decameron by Boccaccio
    East of Eden by John Steinbeck
    Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
    Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
    Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
    Forever by Judy Blume
    Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
    Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
    Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. R owling
    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
    Have to Go by Robert Munsch
    Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
    How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
    Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
    Impressions edited by Jack Booth
    In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
    It's Okay if You Don't Love Me by Norma Klein
    James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
    Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
    Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
    Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
    Lysistrata by Aristophanes
    More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
    My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
    My House by Nikki Giovanni
    My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
    Night Chills by Dean Koontz
    Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
    One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
    One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    Ordinary People by Judith Guest
    Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women's Health Collective
    Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
    Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
    Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
    Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
    Separate Peace by John Knowles
    Silas Marner by George Eliot
    Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
    Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
    The Bastard by John Jakes
    The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
    The Color Purple by Alice Walker
    The Devil's Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
    The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
    The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
    The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
    The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
    The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
    The Living Bible by William C. Bower
    The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
    The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
    The Pigman by Paul Zindel
    The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
    The Shining by Stephen King
    The Witches by Roald Dahl
    The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
    Then Again, Maybe I Won't by Judy Blume
    To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
    Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
    Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols by Edna Barth

    VFP31 Annual Banquet Speaker Chris Hedges wrote the book on people
    like Sarah Palin. It's called American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On

    When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag
    and carrying a cross.
    Sinclair Lewis, 1935

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Left, Right, Left, Right - NSW Labor marching to its death.

Further to my post of yesterday, here is an extract from an email to one of my brothers, in Canberra, who had asked for my impressions of our new "left wing" Labor leadership in NSW.

I confess to not having known that Rees was supposedly "of the left" (before he was appointed Premier). I can now tell you that the labels "left" and "right"  mean little or nothing in NSW Politics - it means the label of the group you hang around with (who your political "Mates" are), rather than signifying anything about what you believe in. None of these people believe in anything.  

Forget Socialism, or Ben Chifley's Light on the Hill.

I had a meeting with my local Member when I first got involved in the Kangaloon Aquifer campaign. His opening statements to us were like this:

  • NSW's economy is the engine of the Australian Economy (which is palpably false, by the way)
  • Sydney is the growth centre of the NSW economy
  • We need to ensure Sydney's water supply is secure, in order to maintain confidence of the International Market in Sydney (and therefore in NSW, and therefore in the Australian economy).

For the record, I wanted to discuss the environmental impacts of the draining of the Kangaloon Aquifer, and to a lesser extent, the likely social impacts of the pumping program on the local rural community. 

I may as well have been talking to a Merchant Banker, not a Labor Member of Parliament. From an old-fashioned Labor Party supporter, I can think of no greater criticism. But to the new Labor politicians, they would not even see the problem.

This is symptomatic of the dire state of NSW politics.


Monday, 8 September 2008

NSW Portfolios

Hi Folks
Amazingly Kristina Keneally, previously a very junior Minister, last seen dancing with Benedict xvi, is suddenly the NSW Minister for Planning. At least nobody would say she has a history of corruption. But will she stand up to the Carpetbaggers from the Development Lobby, and the Mining Industry?
Full list of Ministry is at the end of this Daily Telegraph report.
The Tele has beaten the NSW Parliament website, which shows Rees as the Premier, but all the other old portfolios, as before.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Palin: Iraq war 'a task that is from God'

Read this and weep, my friends.


Palin: Iraq war 'a task that is from God'

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told ministry students at her former church that the United States sent troops to fight in the Iraq war on a "task that is from God."

In an address last June, the Republican vice presidential candidate also urged ministry students to pray for a plan to build a $30 billion natural gas pipeline in the state, calling it "God's will."

Palin asked the students to pray for the troops in Iraq, and noted that her eldest son, Track, was expected to be deployed there.

"Our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God," she said. "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God's plan."

A video of the speech was posted at the Wasilla Assembly of God's Web site before finding its way on to other sites on the Internet.

Palin told graduating students of the church's School of Ministry, "What I need to do is strike a deal with you guys." As they preached the love of Jesus throughout Alaska, she said, she'd work to implement God's will from the governor's office, including creating jobs by building a pipeline to bring North Slope natural gas to North American markets.

"God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that," she said.

"I can do my job there in developing our natural resources and doing things like getting the roads paved and making sure our troopers have their cop cars and their uniforms and their guns, and making sure our public schools are funded," she added. "But really all of that stuff doesn't do any good if the people of Alaska's heart isn't right with God."

Palin attended the evangelical church from the time she was a teenager until 2002, the church said in a statement posted on its Web site. She has continued to attend special conferences and meetings there. Religious conservatives have welcomed her selection as John McCain's running mate.

The Assemblies of God, which claims nearly 3 million members, is one of the biggest Pentecostal groups in the U.S. Unlike most other Christians — including most evangelicals — Pentecostals believe in "baptism in the Holy Spirit." That can manifest itself through speaking in tongues, modern-day prophesy and faith healing. The Assemblies of God teaches that spirit baptism must be accompanied by speaking in tongues. Still, some churchgoers never have the experience.

Rob Boston, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, lamented Palin's comments.

"I miss the days when pastors delivered sermons and politicians delivered political speeches," he said. "The United States is increasingly diverse religiously. The job of a president is to unify all those different people and bring them together around policy goals, not to act as a kind of national pastor and bring people to God."

The section of the church's Web site where videos of past sermons were posted was shut down Wednesday, and a message was posted saying that the site "was never intended to handle the traffic it has received in the last few days."