Iain Hall's SANDPIT

Home » Australian Politics » Local government (Page 3)

Category Archives: Local government

We should not have a bar of this offence to good sense and the dignity of our citizens

PIPE WOES: The new "seats" in bus shelters on Anzac Ave, Petrie, cause commuters such as Harrison Beck, 12, some discomfort. Pic: Campbell Scott

I could write a gloating post about how unpopular our beloved premier Anna Bligh(t) is at present but instead I am going to write about the rather disturbing Punish everyone but the cause of the problem approach to seating design for use in public places and how it has this writer vowing to never use public transport  if this is the attitude of its Tsars to the travelling public.

What kind of moron comes up with this answer to the question of what to do about people sleeping rough in our bus shelters or on the benches in our parks?

In the first instance there are  not that many people who are actually likely to sleep on the bus shelter benches and those that  do can be dealt with by the police if they are causing a bother by doing so. Frankly if some one down on their luck wants to have a kip in a bus shelter where is the harm in it? This idea is actually punishing everyone who travels on the buses and trains for the acts of necessity from our society’s most down at heal. As the article says this is most distressing for the more elderly travellers who actually need a place to sit down while they wait for the omnibus to arrive.

This is a moronic idea and I fully endorse this comment posted to the news article :

If this is such a good concept it should be placed as seating for all public servants in their offices. Then we would really be making a saving in many ways. Looks more like an idea taken from a bird cage. There you go would suit galahs.
Posted by: Rob of Brisbane 7:38am today

Sadly unsurprised Comrades


Australia Day 2010

Australian News

My brother asked me yesterday about my thoughts on changing the flag, naturally I told him that I thought the current flag is fine, and I am proud to see it flying from the houses and cars of so many Aussies in the lead up to Australia day.

There are lots of self loathing progressives who think that changing the flag  should be a priority along with making this country a republic,  personally I  am of the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it ” school of thought on both issues and I think that what is at the heart of our “Aussieness ” is more important than the symbol that we have in our flag or the title we give the entity that is Australia.

Its Australia Day, so lets all raise a beverage of our choice and give thanks for the privilege of being part of the best nation on the planet.

Cheers Comrades


Anna Bligh(t) damned by Dam denial

No Dam makes its opponents very happy indeed. (click for the story)

I was rather interested to hear that the Traveston Dam has been knocked on the head by the Federal Government  because one of my good friends here on the mountain is actaully a refugee from this  now aborted project.  Even more amazing is the bullshit talk from Anna Bligh(t) that the only alternative that must now be pursued is to built two more desalination plants, at great expense and an even greater cost in energy for their operation.  Labor in Queensland is now on the nose and looking very stupid indeed.

My personal view has always been that the best way to address the water needs of south east Queensland is not through huge and expensive centralised water projects like this dam but by insisting that all new houses are equipped with tanks capable of storing a minimum of 100,000 litres of water  and that unit and town house developments have proportionate storages  as well . There is more than enough rainfall over the urban areas of this part of the state to meet the needs of the people if only it were harvested and stored properly  and maintaining storages in the most diversified manner possible will reduce the needs for extensive additions to the water distribution networks  as new residential areas are developed .

The people of this part of the state amply demonstrated, during the drought, that they are more than capable of embracing sensible frugality with the precious potable water that was available and I think that they are also capable of moving beyond the rather staid notion that they have to just be a customer to the water supplier and they should have very little trouble embracing the notion that they can accept responsibility for their own supply with a little encouragement and education. But then again despite all of their rhetoric the Labor party has never had much faith in the capabilities of the people to look after them selves, I suppose that comes from their desire for control and a centralised water distribution  system makes them the masters of everyone’s lives.

Cheers Comrades


Keyser Trad playing the race card, again sigh

How is that , finding a picture of the famous, in his own imagination , Keyser Trad heading a post at my humble blog?
This post is not about his most recent ravings in favour of polygamy, you can go here for an excellent critique of that little foot in mouth cavort, no this is about the way that people like Trad are so willing to play the race card whenever they face the slightest resistance from the council about the religious infrastructure that they want to build.

COMPLAINT LODGED: Muslim leader Keysar Trad.

COMPLAINT LODGED: Muslim leader Keysar Trad.

The council has already given preliminary approval to the school, but officials are unhappy at some of the demands, including road setbacks, the construction of a footpath and having to apply 30 days in advance before staging any weekend activities on-site.

School trustee Keysar Trad said he could not see how the council could justify some of its demands.

“We believe we are only being discriminated against because we are the friendly neighbourhood Muslims,” he said.

“We are at the mercy of someone at council. No other school has to meet these requirements.”

Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke said any notions of religious discrimination were ridiculous.

“It doesn’t matter what sort of school it is,” he said.

“The terms are the same for anyone. We had meeting after meeting with them to resolve this and we are not the ones who delayed it. They are.”

Despite the latest controversy over the school, Cr Clarke said he doubted it would spark a fresh wave of anger in the community.

Personally I don’t have much time for overtly religious schools,  but I concede that it is the right of any parent to educate their children as they see fit.  So of course I have no objection in principle to any religion setting up a school  to teach the children of the faithful. However you have to worry about any institution that begins with a “culture of complaint” mindset and trys to ride that particular pony  roughshod over the planning processes  that everyone one has to get through in establishing  this sort of development.

Cheers Comrades


Smells a bit dodgy to this little black duck…

Yesterday Damian asked me this:

As a follower of Qld politics, Iain, have you written about this “smell of corruption” in the past?’

Well to be perfectly honest I’m not sure if I have written a previous post about corruption here in the Sunshine State. I have written about the former member of the government convicted of sexual abuse of under-age girls , and I am sure that I have mentioned , in passing, the Nuttal case (which was pending at the time so not a proper topic for discussion  at all). This story however is typical of the opportunism that is so often exploited by government members and it smells just a little dodgy to me.

THE wife and electorate officer of Labor backbencher Bernie Ripoll – a man who counts the Prime Minister and the Treasurer as friends and is a frequent traveller to China – has established a development company that stands to profit from Chinese mining interests in Queensland.

The company, FFR Developments, last year purchased two tracts of vacant land in Bowen, just weeks before the state government designated the city an industrial hub and the Chinese government-owned mining giant Chalco declared it the likely site for a $2.2 billion refinery.

Chalco’s parent company, Chinalco, is at the centre of the diplomatic stand-off between Australia and China over the detention in China of Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu.

FFR Developments’ co-founder Margaret Ripoll is employed by her husband in his Ipswich office, west of Brisbane, and is so vital to his political affairs that she handled the correspondence when local car dealer John Grant was making inquiries of the government’s OzCar scheme.

The company purchased the two residential blocks a week after it was registered in March last year: a 1133sqm site in Gregory Street for $269,000 and a 1012sqm site in Gordon Street for $230,000.

The date of sale and settlement for the blocks is listed as April 1, 2008, in transaction records.

The company has since pushed a development application through council for the Gordon Street property, which has approval for the construction of six residential units and is back on the market for $395,000.

Of course anyone who has been following the development bandwagon my have seen this same opportunity to profit from changes in the development potential of the dirt in question but as an MP was Bernie Ripoll privy to the upcoming changes? If he was then he has a case to answer and he should be judged harshly for seeking to line his pockets in what is essentially “insider trading”.

Hmm the “eau de corruption” has clearly not been purged from the Labor party with the conviction of Gordon Nuttal maybe Anna Bligh(t) is engaging in that  favourite Labor pastime of” spinning”  the truth when she suggests that the conviction of her former pal  has removed the “bad apples” from the Labor barrel…

Cheers Comrades


The Devine Miranda

Got a busy day today so not much by way of posting here, but please check out the piece I quote below by Miranda Divine she very nicely points out that the newly found support by Greenies for hazard reduction burning is actually far from being backed up by their action and advocacy in the past.

Miranda Divine

Miranda Divine

On the other side of the country, one Peter Robertson, the West Australian co-ordinator of the Wilderness Society, was singing from a different song sheet.

His letter last week to The West Australian stated: “Experience and risk analysis show that repeatedly burning tens of thousands of hectares of remote bushland and forest will do little to address the threat of bushfires to human communities … It would be a huge mistake if the community was led to believe that a massive, expensive and environmentally destructive prescribed burning program was going to protect them when it could make matters worse.” Robertson is no lone ranger among greens in opposition to prescribed burning.

The WA Forest Alliance, for instance, lodged a submission to the NSW parliamentary inquiry into the 2001-02 bushfires, claiming: “Frequent fires have a disastrous effect on many species of flora and fauna and their habitat structure.”

WWF Australia’s submission claimed: “Inappropriate fire hazard regimes can damage biodiversity leading to the loss of native species, communities and ecosystems.”

The NSW Greens state on their website as part of their bushfire risk management policy: “There is an urgent need to correct the common misconception that responsible fire management always involves burning or clearing to reduce moderate and high fuel loads…”

With respect Comrades


Some thoughts about Victoria while I listen to the rain.

Firstly I can’t help wishing that they were getting this downpour rather than us up here in Queensland , the Good Lord knows that they need it more than we do right now,

Nation to mourn bushfire victims

Jason South

The burnt remains of a one-time rural Victorian family home at Flowerdale. Photo: Jason South

A national memorial service will give Australians an opportunity to grieve as the nation comes to terms with its worst natural disaster, the prime minister says.

Kevin Rudd has announced a national memorial service and day of mourning to remember the victims of Victoria’s horrific bushfires.

“It is very important that the nation grieves,” Mr Rudd told parliament on Thursday, adding a date would be announced soon.

The Victorian government is consulting with churches on the details of the national service, and the federal government will help organise it and the national day of mourning.

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull says the nation needs to channel its grief into a national day.

This just so necessary and it is something that everyone, no matter what their faith position may be will benefit from . As well as the heroic volunteers in the CFA there are the ordinary blokes like Peter Thorneycrof who saved lives by saving his local pub.

Peter Thorneycroft hits the roof to save fire victims

Tanya Cadman

HEROIC effort ... Peter Thorneycroft fights rooftop fires to protect the National Park Hotel at Kinglake. Picture: Tanya Cadman

TRADIE Peter Thorneycroft is being hailed a hero after almost single-handedly saving Kinglake’s National Park Hotel in shorts and thongs as a dozen children sheltered in its coolroom.

Despite pain from a serious arm injury, Mr Thorneycroft, 43, climbed on to the roof as the blaze dropped deadly embers.

He spent at least an hour dousing them with buckets of water handed up by locals from a semi-trailer and wetting vents and drains.

Up to 400 others who had piled into 200 cars around the hotel were also at risk if the pub had gone up.

“It was like a cyclone, like a tornado,” Mr Thorneycroft said.

“The ground was constantly shaking. It was absolutely deafening.

“I was using my torch to get up on the roof. It was just complete darkness.”

Addressing parliament, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd hailed him as a “genuine Australian hero”.

Just for once I am happy to agree with something that has been said by our Prime Minister because what all of the very many “Peter Thorneycrofs” out there represent is the epitome of mateship that sees so many ordinary Aussies go the extra mile for their fellows.

As we begin to unwind a little from the shock of this disaster some decisions and prevarications made by government (at all levels) are beginning to emerge under the “if only we had done this then” category.

Cover-up exposed of early warning system that could have reduced Victoria bushfire death

CANBERRA and the states baulked at the $20 million cost of a telephone-based alert system that would have given early warning of the deadly Black Saturday bushfires, a secret report shows.

The confidential review for Victoria’s State Emergency Service in December 2007, obtained by The Australian, reveals that the technology to bombard mobile and fixed phones with danger messages had been trialled successfully for the agency.

While the test run of Telstra’s Community Information and Warning System was for flooding, the Victorian SES found it would work “for all types of hazard”, including bushfire.

Despite this, the system was not introduced because the Howard government and the states bickered over the expense.

The internal report for the Victorian SES concluded: “Apparently governments are baulking at … their contribution to the $20 million cost.”

The Australian revealed yesterday that the federal Government was fast-tracking legislative changes to give emergency services in the states access to a national database of phone numbers so people could be warned on mobile and fixed phones of bushfires and other natural disaster threats.

The Issue of preventative fuel reduction on an ongoing basis is one that I do not think will very quickly disappear. And I have noticed more than one blog of shall we say a more Latteish  flavour, has  been rife with ardent Greenies keen to say that they too support  hazard reduction burning or that such burning would not have made any difference, or that it was the fault of government accountants who put the brakes on the fuel reduction strategies not them, anything so that they do not have to own their previous advocacy. The clear sensitivity of many urban Greenies on this issue is most revealing. There are sites that have used this disaster as a stick to beat their favourite (most hated) conservative commentators with.  They just look childish and churlish in their efforts.

Writing about a disaster of this sort of magnitude is bloody hard. If the emotion does not get to you there is something seriously wrong with your humanity but  as a writer you feel the need to say something, after all writers write and blogger blog, but we all just hope that in putting our thoughts down that we don’t say the “wrong” thing  that may cause offence. Apart from words and good wishes (or prayers from the believers ) something compels all people who care to do something and just as it was when we had previous natural disasters the way the Australian  people have rallied to do what they can by donating goods or money has shown  me what a wonderful nation we live in and that when it matters all of our differences will melt away like the trivialities that they are.

With respect Comrades


Warning ignored in “green wedge shire”

To the inner urban lefties who sought a “tree change” having gum trees out side your windows was the epitome of natural beauty, and there is no doubt that there is something undeniably beautiful about our Eucalypt trees. What is not so beautiful is the way that its leaves and branches are loaded with oils that both prevent the leaves breaking down when they inevitably fall from the tree, and make them so highly flammable.

Kelly Barnes

Police search a home in Marysville destroyed by Saturday's bushfires. Pictures: Kelly Barnes

THE shire council covering some of the areas hit hardest by the bushfires was warned five years ago that its policy of encouraging people to grow trees near their homes to give the appearance of a forest would lead to disaster.

One of Australia’s leading bushfire experts, Rod Incoll, warned Nillumbik Shire Council in a 2003 report that it risked devastation if it went ahead with changes to planning laws proposed by green groups that restricted the removal of vegetation.
Mr Incoll, the Victorian fire chief from 1990 to 1996, and David Packham, a former CSIRO bushfire scientist and academic who also produced a report on the issue, argued against the regulations, which actively encouraged the builders of new homes to plant trees around the houses for aesthetic reasons.

Mr Incoll told The Australian yesterday the proposed planning rules were “foolhardy and dangerous and ought not to be proceeded with”.

“But they were nevertheless instituted,” he said. “That is certainly one of the things that people will be looking at as an aftermath of this tragic event.”

Mr Packham, now an honorary senior research fellow at Monash University’s school of geography and environmental science, wrote in his report, after inspecting the Kinglake to Heidelberg Road: “The mix of fuel, unsafe roadsides and embedded houses, some with zero protection and no hope of survival, will all ensure that when a large fire impinges upon the area a major disaster will result.”

Mr Incoll said that in 2003, green groups were pushing for changes to planning laws that included restrictions on the removal of vegetation, “and worse still, the requirement for planting vegetation around and almost over houses, as part of any planning permit to build a house in the shire of Nillumbik, so it gave the appearance from the outside of being a forest“.

In 2003, the Nillumbik Ratepayers Group asked Mr Incoll to assess the bushfire risk, and the proposed planning rules.

Council elections were looming, and planning was a major issue. “The green group carried the day in council and the rules came to pass,” he said.

Nillumbik Shire councillors, many of whom were last night attending community meetings across the region, declined to comment.

The councillors said it would be inappropriate to speak about a six-year-old report when bushfires were still raging in the area and a royal commission had been announced.

Nillumbik shire calls itself the “green wedge shire”. It extends from the Yarra River, on the northwest outskirts of Melbourne to Kinglake National Park. Its villages include Eltham, Hurstbridge, St Andrews, Strathewen and the outskirts of Kinglake.

Mr Incoll and Mr Packham both produced reports for the group. “There was a planning process under the auspices of the state planning authority, and David (Packham) and I gave lengthy evidence,” Mr Incoll said.

They took no notice whatsoever of what we said.

The reports on Nillumbik shire were not the first to warn of the increased bushfire risk associated with failing to manage vegetation around towns.

Victoria’s auditor-general warned 17 years ago that a failure to carry out controlled burn-offs placed the state at risk of bushfires. In a 1992 report to parliament, the auditor-general criticised the Department of Conservation and Environment for letting combustible material build up on the forest floor.

“The failure of the department to achieve its planned fuel reduction burns each year has resulted in an increasing accumulation of fuel on forest floors,” the report stated. “This makes Victoria’s forests and protected lands more susceptible to the occurrence offires.”


Mr Incoll said the CSIRO had put out excellent plain-English publications on building safety standards for bushfire-prone areas and that the Country Fire Authority was doing a good job of public education. After the Ash Wednesday fires, fire researcher Andrew Wilson had produced the CSIRO House Survival Meter, a simple calculator to determine the chances of a house surviving a bushfire.

“That, plus the CSIRO information, plus the CFA information, should have and would have been sufficient to prevent most of these unfortunate deaths. It falls down somewhere around the implementation,” Mr Incoll said.

He said one of the common sense rules was not having a tree within a tree height and a half from the house – about 50m.

“People had vegetation growing up in their eves. Vegetation clearance wasn’t observed. People didn’t understand the threat or believe the threat.”

When I was in the the local fire brigade here the old hands like our long time fire warden, Neville Juffs, tried his darnedest to convince us that living “among the gumtrees” was in fact a most fool hardy thing to do and I am glad to say that most people around here have  got his message loud and clear . We are all very happy to see our local brigade burning off at every opportunity when it is safe to do so. Personally I even have an affection for the lantena weed because it creates a micro climate that does not sustain fire very well at all; it will certainly burn at a pinch but compared to the dried grass and gum leaves cocktail that it will supplant it is positively non-flammable.

Clearly building and landscape design have been major contributing factors to the size and scope of this disaster and we need to take a long hard look at how we build our houses and how we place them in the landscape. Practices like building in highly flammable materials ( like pine framing used even on brick veneer houses), having gutters that act as ember traps, and decorative but dangerous  trees right up against our dwellings have proved fatal on this occasion and will be so again unless we abandon the well intentioned nonsense  preached by the Greenies.

With respect Comrades

%d bloggers like this: