Monday, December 29, 2008

Protest massacre in Gaza at Hamilton Clocktower Wens 31st @ 4pm

Speakout against the massacre being conducted in Gaza by the IDF
Join the world in condemning this hideous crime

At Hamilton Clocktower, Beaumont St
4 pm, Wednesday, 31st December

Here are some links:

Slaughter In Gaza

The BBC Video Report

Israeli F-16 bombers have pounded targets across the Gaza Strip, killing more than 200 people, according to local medical workers. Click to view

Eyewitness: Chaos in Gaza
We can see from our office here in Gaza, in the middle of Gaza City, ambulances are still evacuating the injured from buildings and school kids are trying to find secure places. 

Enquiries: Niko Leka, 0406296141
Newcastle NoWAR Collective

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sixty people occupy Sharon Grierson's office

Sixty people marched into and occupied Sharon Grierson's office on Tuesday, in an immediate and angry reaction to the failure of the Rudd government to deal with climate change.

The protest, organised by Climate Action Newcastle, was organised after Ms. Grierson had repeatedly ignored requests to meet with the group in the lead-up to what spokesperson Duncan Jinks called the most important white paper in Australia's history.

Australian climate scientist, Professor Barry Brook, said in his blog on Monday that "the scientific reality of the physics, chemistry and biology of climate change and climate feedbacks [is] a process which cares nothing for these bold ambitions or how hard we might be trying."

Australia has received international condemnation for the weakest 2020 target in the developed world, which amounts to a 13% increase on 1990 levels, worse than the US 0% increase on 1990 levels, and far worse than the 25-40% on 1990 levels recommended by scientists.

Churches in the Pacific Islands, some of which nations are already looking for evacuation plans due to rising sea levels and crop salinity, immediately lashed out at the government, saying that "Australia has just outdone the minimum!"

South Africa, India and China also criticised Australia in Poznan for its expected failure to meet the 25-40% commitment generally agreed to at Bali. 49 of the world's Least Developed Countries (LDCs), called on the world to aim for greenhouse concentrations of 350ppm, which would commit developed countries to much higher reductions.

The sit-in at Sharon Grierson's office, which coincided with 10 other office occupations around the country and rallies of hundreds of people in every major Australian city, demonstrated that Australians would act on climate change even if the government did not, and even if it meant breaking the law.

A small hope for the planet.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rudd gives up on climate

The Rudd government has officially given up on an effective climate action strategy in an announcement at the National Press club today.

The Prime Minister announced that Australia would emit 95% of its current emissions in 2020, and would only go down to 85% if pressured by the rest of the world.

In either scenario, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would rise indefinitely, making the complete melting of the Arctic ice cap very likely.

As Mr. Rudd made the announcement, three Newcastle women interrupted him, yelling "No! You have given up on the Great Barrier Reef. We will never walk away from climate change!"

The gallery, filled with senior journalists, cabinet members and Greens parliamentarians, appeared stunned as they heard the news.

It is unclear what science Rudd is using to back up his targets.

Five minutes after the announcement, 15 people occupied Rudd's Brisbane office and 50 people converged on Wong's Adelaide office, calling on the government to halve carbon emissions by 2020 and indicating that they would continue to take direct action if the Government failed to address the science.

It is expected that waves of people from community climate action groups will stage similar protests over the next week.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

World to Australia - don't wreck negotiations again

China and South Africa are among countries at the international climate talk-fest in Poznan pleading with the Australian government not to block consensus on binding short-term emissions reduction targets yet again.

Although it is widely known that Australia helped to wreck climate negotiations all through the denialist Howard years, it is less widely known that at the UNFCC in Bali, one month after the Rudd government's election, Australia yet again teamed up with the US, Canada and Japan to block consensus on binding short-term targets.

Instead, Australia committed to an aspirational target of 25-40% by 2020, a promise which they are expected to break when Penny Wong announces Australia's target next Monday.

China, whom Rudd and Wong routinely blame for climate change, has now called on Australia to keep its promise and not to pull a Bali again.

Scientists are unsure that a 40% reduction by 2020, if implemented universally, will be enough to prevent humanity from completely melting the Arctic ice cap and tipping us into a dangerous runaway climate zone.

However, new hopes emerged at Stansted airport this morning, where 57 people from the action group Plane Stupid have put their freedom on the line by blockading the runaway and leading to the cancellation of 50 flights, saving 2300 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The activists were protesting against the hypocritical approval of an airport expansion intended largely to service short-haul "love mile" flights, even as the UK has adopted a stricter 80% by 2050 emissions reduction target.

"We're afraid of what the police might do to us, we're afraid of going to jail but nothing scares us as much as the threat of runaway climate change. We've thought through the consequences of what we're doing here but we're determined to stop as many tonnes of CO2 as we can," said spokesperson Lily Kember.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Support Oz's progressive independent paper, Green Left Weeky

David Rovics (USA) and Alistair Hulett (Scotland) will be playing  for our major Green Left Weekly fundraiser at the Croatian Club, Wickham, from 8:30pm on Wednesday 17th December.

It will be a night of revolutionary political music opening with local political songwriter Paul Spencer, and closing by dancing to Newcastle chunky hip hop underground band DHOPEC.

David Rovics is called the musical voice of the progressive movement in the US. He spends most of his time on the road,. playing with musicians like Billy Bragg and the Indigo Girls. He will make you laugh, he will make you cry, and he will make the revolution irresistible.

Alistair Hulett founded the Oz folk punk band, Roaring Jack in the 90s. He’s played with the likes of Billy Bragg, The Pogues and lately with Dave Swarbick (Fairport Convention). Although he presents his material in a relaxed way, his hard edged social and political commentary will grab you. 

So grab your friends 'n family 'n party animals and come along. $15/$13, licensed venue and food available. Contact Niko 0406296141.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Coal-fired power station blockade on the eve of international climate negotiations

This morning, four people entered the Munmorah Coal-Fired Power Station on the NSW Central Coast, attaching themselves to conveyor belts carrying coal. It is the fifth time that people have shut down a coal-fired power station in Australia this month.

Spokesperson Ann-Marie Rohlfs says "In two days, the Rudd Government will go to the United Nations climate change meeting in Poland. Instead of showing leadership, they are set to announce weak and ineffective domestic emissions reduction targets.

"With the upcoming release of the Climate White Paper, the Rudd Government will hand tens of billions of dollars in compensation and free permits to polluting industries. Public money would be better spent investing in a green renewable future for Australia."

Spokesperson Nicky Ison says, "This week we witnessed the closure of the BP solar plant in Homebush Bay. Australia is missing out on tens of thousands of new jobs by continuing to prop up the coal industry and preventing the transition to a renewable energy economy.

"In September, Nobel Prize Winner Al Gore said 'I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants.' We are taking him at his word. Today's blockade at the Munmorah Power Station is part of a huge community effort to kick Australia's coal habit.

"We are facing a climate emergency, but our emissions are still rising. We call on the Rudd Government to ensure 2010 is the year Australia's greenhouse emissions peak and begin to rapidly decline.

"If half of the homes in NSW had solar hot water systems, there would be no need for Munmorah Power Station. We would save 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 annually. As the oldest power station in NSW, Munmorah Power station must be the first to go in the new green economy."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Hunter Business Chamber CEO Peter Shinnick (H, 8,11) argued that “The Newcastle rail line was built to service industries now vanished” and “the development of rail in the Hunter is linked to the growth of the coal industry” to imply that the passenger service was a minor sideshow.I believe he is wrong. Many of the vanished colliery lines into the city were never part of the Broadmeadow to Newcastle line he wants removed.For example the Burwood line to the coal staiths east of Honeysuckle.

The first passenger line (the birth of the Great Northern Railway) ran on this line from Newcastle (Honeysuckle) to Maitland (Victoria Street) and celebrated its 150th anniversary last year. It was commemorated with great fanfare, including the presence of the NSW Governor, Professor Bashir.

The passenger service from Newcastle was extended to Singleton in 1863; Murrurundi in 1872; Tamworth 1878;Armidale 1883, Wallangara (Qld) 1888 and south to Gosford 1887

Newcastle Railway Station, one of the great and historic passenger stations in the state, indeed Australia, was constructed in 1874-78 (although it existed in a primitive form from the late 1850s).It was extended in the 1890s, with overnight accommodation for passengers. It wasn’t built to service a minor branch line. Broadmeadow Station was only completed in 1887

The Great Northern hotel, built in the 1860s was constructed partly to service rail passengers and continued to do so until the 1970s-80s decline of the CBD.

I recall the marshalling yards at the east End in the 1950s-70s with many coal vans, most of which serviced Zaara Street Power Station, but just as many passenger carriages. The carriage shed preserved at Foreshore Park was a passenger carriage cleaning shed.

As an aside,Mr. Shinnick claimed Zaara Street Power station ceased operating in 1959 but it continued to brought on line for emergencies until the 1970s.

The great significance of the Newcastle heavy rail passenger line cannot be diminished by using red herring arguments about our industrial past.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Habib speech & book available

About 40 people heard Mamdouh Habib explain his story- it is an incredible tale of deception by Australian government so-called 'security' agencies. It shocked me to find out just how disgraceful and unprincipled the behaviour of these agencies, and the extent of their influence over the process and execution of law is.

Download Habib's main speech from here: link
Details of his book can be found by here
Photograph and link to Newcastle Herald story here

Click here to download full audio (1 hr) with
  • Introduction- Niko Leka, Socialist Alliance
  • Julia Collingwood- Habib's co-author, gave an excellent crisp speech beginning with the particulars of how she came to meet and work with Habib less than a year ago, and ending with drawing some chilling generalizations.
  • Habib's talk (available separately as well)
  • Question and Answer session.

Habib also brought a copies of the pamphlet produced by Australian-Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network in Arabic as well as English outlining the provisions of the anti-terror legislation and citizen's rights, it also can also be downloaded from the link

Habib explained the key issue is humanity, asking what is the meaning of the law when you can no longer even prove in court what the truth is. He is not allowed to identify ASIO officers in court, so how can he prove his story is true? He emphasised the point of the law is to keep you scared. He went into the details of how he had been asked by Australian security agenices to work for them on the basis of his extensive contacts overseas and linguistic abilities. He always refused these offers. What is stunning is that these security agencies had records of his phone conversations with his wife, dating back to 1993. It goes to show, that anyone can become a "person of interest" in Ruddocks dry phrase... at any time, and well before they know it.

But buy his book. Copies are available at the Resistance Centre, 472 Hunter St Newcastle.- and, think, how can we force an inquiry into the role the Australian Government played in this disgraceful affair?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Third power station shut down in five days

A third power station has been shut down by protesters in Victoria, one day after a similar action in Western Australia, and five days after a similar action in the Hunter Valley.

Two people have stopped and attached themselves to conveyors at the Hazelwood power station in the La Trobe Valley, and a large group of people walked onto the site early this morning.

Spokesperson for the group, Emma Russell said that the government has shown neither the will nor the ability to make the decisions necessary to prevent a climate disaster.

“We need to move on from coal, leaving no one behind. We offer our support to the workers of the Hazelwood power station. We believe it is critical that clean, renewable based industries are set up to provide new livelihoods after coal, such as renewable energy co-operatives and re-localised economies.”

In a public blog dedicated to the action, Ms. Russell linked the group's action to similar actions around the country.

“With direct action against coal infrastructure we wish to break the illusion of corporate control of our environments, creating space for community solutions for change. As this last week has shown with similar actions at Collie and Bayswater power stations, this sentiment is shared right across the country.”

Ms. Russell did not indicate whether she knew of other actions around the country but encouraged others to take similar action.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that electricity production is run by those who are interested in long-term sustainability, not those driven by short-term profits. We need to take our power back from privatised industry. This is our future, this is our responsibility; together, we should take action.”

Hunter residents have planned a vigil at Eraring power station on November 22, office occupations in December to occur simultaneously around the country, and a flotilla of kayaks to prevent coal from leaving Newcastle harbour next March.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

29 arrests at Bayswater power station

Around thirty protesters from climate action group Rising Tide walked onto the site of the Bayswater power station yesterday, preventing the delivery of coal to the station for six hours.

Bayswater power station is New South Wales' equal biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, along with Eraring power station.

29 people were arrested on the coal piles while four were arrested inside the power station. The group inside had chained themselves to both conveyors with a lock-on pipe and had to be cut off.

Spokesperson for the group, Georgina Woods said that Australia's greenhouse gas emissions were continuing to increase as a result of Australia's dependence on coal-fired power, leading to the slow death of the Great Barrier Reef.

“Where is the plan to phase out facilities like these? Why are we twiddling our thumbs?” Ms Wood asked.

“The nation and the world are watching and we will not get another chance. The people that are here today are parents and grandparents, professionals and tradespeople. We are demanding a commitment from the Government today: Australia’s greenhouse emissions must start dropping from 2010, we must do whatever it takes to save the Barrier Reef from wipe-out and the world from devastating runaway climate change.”

Workers onsite reacted in an overall positive manner to the protest, with some taking photographs and thanking the activists.

The large group had offered to leave the site without fuss once they had made their point, but police insisted upon processing all of them for trespass. A recent report has suggested that the effects of climate change will lead to an increase in crimes such as carbon accounting fraud and domestic violence, tying up resources for police.

The group inside have been charged with both entering enclosed lands and refusing to leave enclosed lands.

Ms. Woods said that more and more people would take action if the Government continued to allow greenhouse gas emissions to increase.
Photos by Conor Ashleigh (top) and Damien Baker (bottom)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Milk of Human Kindness

dear editor,
I am dissapointed that in the bastion of free speach the public forum my letter was changed to the point that the words were not my own but an editors personal opinion of what he or she though i said.wether it was an idividuals opinion or a collective opinion that is for each and everyone to decide their own opinion on this matter, this is what is called free will.
to make light of this point the statement i made "apparently that only works for american whales"was sarcasim, the statement"i believe there have been some successes overseas in this regard" implies something different.The statement"I argee"when i did not make such a statement.Sandra appeared to be of the opinion that their was worse.The point i was making i think it is a statement of fact that we witnessed the worst.for outcome focused burecrats, well the whales dead. If they tried their best i would have applauded but since it appears to me that that they didn't i am appalled that they call it their best.You slipped in " no doubt" infront of my statement about np and gov doing their best, i think that by all the other letters in the press sandra included have doubts as well. using the word "our people"implied i was somehow part of the effort to save the whale.i used the words "those people"pointing to the individuals whose names i did not know, who tried to do changed the word i wrote "usurp"to undermining thus taking away peoples freedom to form their own opinion of the word.the addition of "baby" whale although a fact is also an emotive word and my letter was a statement of fact from the point of veiw that np and gov have lost sight of one of humanitys best traits to have a go.the original letter was because of my love of gods creatures great and small.
i have written in all honesty i have done this to make my thoughts clear to the public to the best of my ability on this matter.
what was done is the true meaning of subversion of free speech and will.
i would appreciate printing this letter in full unedited,with my original letter and saturdays printing of the letter so people can form their own individual opinions.
vocatus atque non vocatus, deus aderit .
terry ford

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Billion Dollar Bailout

Dear Prime Minister,

Thank you for your fast action on the world financial crisis, and we do not want to begrudge any one an increase in pensions or extra cash to spend. But this evening we are worried that we might be missing an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone here.

This world crisis might be a blessing in disguise. The billions that are being spent on bailing out our 'old' economy should be directed to laying foundations to the 'new' one, that will deliver us from our collective climate change peril.

Why not invest this money in renewable energy innovation and kick start a new economy based upon a clean world? These billions could put a water tank in every yard, and solar panels on every roof, reducing our water and power bills during the tough times ahead.

The old world economy is in collapse because it has been based upon corruption, war mongering and enslaving the world for our energy and power. We have acted like fossil fuel junkies. It has to change.

Let's nation build for a new cleaner greener world that is free of this anguish.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Newcastle’s Convict Lumberyard and Enterprise Park were wrongly zoned for mixed commercial and residential use in the Newcastle City Centre LEP 2008.

The Parks and Playgrounds Movement has written a welcome letter to the newly elected Newcastle City Councillors wishing them well and indicating that they believe that probity and good management are the hallmarks of a successful Local Government.

The Convict Lumberyard provides a unique openspace setting for important historic buildings and is an especially important part of Newcastle’s convict past. It is of National significance and was Gazetted as 7(d) Environmental Protection Heritage Site Zone by the Minister for Planning in 1992. Under the modern planning scheme the Convict Lumberyard and Enterprise Park should be zoned 6(a)Openspace the same as Fort Scratchley.

They have also brought their attention to the Convict Lumberyard and Enterprise Park at Scott Street in Newcastle. The historic Convict Lumberyard was vested in the Newcastle Council by the Honourable Nick Greiner in 1989 and Enterprise Park is a Crown Reserve R97943 with the Council appointed Trustee notified in the NSW Government Gazette 23/11/90.

The last Newcastle Council unintentionally initiated the wrong zoning of these two properties when drafting the City Centre Local Environmental Plan 2008. This error was only discovered at the end of their term and it is now the new council’s problem to rectify. This may be done by an amendment to the City Centre LEP 2008 and we therefore have asked Councillors to resolve “that Council prepare an amendment to the City Centre LEP 2008 that will restore the openspace zonings that reflect the land use that these properties perform for the community”.

The most appropriate zone to comply with the current zoning template is Open Space 6(a) the same as Fort Scratchley.

The Convict Lumberyard and Enterprise Park are landscaped as public parklands and provide a setting for important historic buildings and the protection of archaeological relics. The Convict Lumberyard is a State Heritage Listed site and is managed by a Plan of Management.

Enterprise Park was the first part of the Newcastle Harbour Foreshore Park completed in 1986 to mark the Centenary of service to the Newcastle Region by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry 1886 - 1986. It was zoned for open space in 1960 and the Open Space 6 (a) Zone should be restored as the appropriate zone for the Park.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Climate activists disrupt Senate

A dozen activists from Newcastle climate action group Rising Tide disrupted Question Time in the Senate on Monday, unfurling a banner and calling on Climate Change Minister Penny Wong to peak carbon emissions by 2010.

Shortly after 2pm, the group unfurled the large banner that they had smuggled into the public gallery, which showed pictures of reefs, forests and ecosystem and the word "UNLESS". A Rising Tide member jumped onto the barrier separating the chamber from the public gallery and began an impassioned plea to Penny Wong.

"Senator Wong, we need urgent action against climate change," he said. "Greenhouse pollution must stop rising, and start falling; you must peak carbon emissions by 2010; you must stop the expansion of the coal industry." The protester continued this refrain from the ledge until dragged out by Parliamentary security officers.

The activists were led out of Parliament House and banned from re-entry for 24 hours.
Commentary from Bob Brown:

Monday, September 8, 2008

Against Marohasy on Climate Change

Originally posted by Dr. Glenn Albrecht at his personal blog.

We need to take a good hard look at the type of ‘facts’ Jennifer Marohasy (JM) presents before signing on to her view of the world. Also, take a good hard look at the above photo supporting the article. It shows a river with many dead trees (river red gums?) on its edges. The caption says “Salinity levels in the Murray have halved, but you won’t hear that from global warming zealots”. Is Marohasy and her paymaster (The Australian) actually suggesting that the landscape in the photograph shows a system in recovery? It looks more like a catastrophe to me.

Click here for the complete pdf version of A Case of Fuzzy Thinking?

Glenn Albrecht 07/09/2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

Panoramic Visions of Newcastle on the Coquun Hunter

Sophia Campbell's 1818 Panorama from NobbysSophia Campbell 1818 Panorama from Nobbys

Newcastle Gerald readers are invited to view a beautiful display of early panoramas of Newcastle recently installed at the Maritime Centre at Honeysuckle.

Entitled "Newcastle on the Edge: Panoramic Visions of Newcastle on the Coquun Hunter", the outdoor exhibit is The University of Newcastle's contribution to History Week, whose theme this year is ‘At the Water’s Edge’.

The exhibition is sponsored by the University of Newcastle’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences and is a collaborative event involving the University, the Maritime Centre and the History Council of New South Wales.

The beautiful panoramas of early Newcastle will be officially launched tomorrow September 6th 2008 by Phil Ashley-Brown Head of 1233 Radio at 10am at the Maritime Centre Honeysuckle.

Two of the panoramas have been re-photographed by Associate Professor Allan Chawner from today's perspectives to give viewers a clear view of how the Port has been transformed over time.

Newcastle on the Edge will be run at the Maritime Centre during History Week from Saturday 6 - Sunday 14 September 2008.

For more information consult the "Newcastle on the Edge" Blog:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Universe implosion to avert election

Next weekend's council elections could be overshadowed by the end of the universe next Wednesday morning, in a move likely to work to the advantage of Greens candidates.

So far, pundits have identified two possible outcomes for the Newcastle local government elections: an increase in power of the Labor and centre-right Buman independent blocs, or a protest vote to work in the favour of the Greens and possibly the Socialist Alliance, whose star candidate Zane Alcorn could pick up votes for the left.

What few commentators have considered is the one in a million possibility that the Large Hadron Collider, a particle accelerator designed to emulate conditions at the beginning of the universe, could suck all of the universe into a tiny space and end life as we know it, thereby avoiding the need for an election at all. There is a small risk that the LHC could produce micro black holes, strangelets, and vacuum bubbles.

While there is considerable uncertainty as to what these things are, let alone what cosmological and electoral effects they may have, there is little doubt that, should the universe come to an end, the chances of outright Labor control of the council would considerably diminish.

Neither Greens candidate Michael Osborne nor Socialist Alliance candidate Zane Alcorn were available for comment at the time of publication.

However environmental advocates were said to be pleased by the news, stating that if local councils failed to make the social shifts necessary to address peak oil and climate change (such as local food production, independence from the grid, fast, frequent and free public transport and smart housing design), the implosion of the universe would avert the need to address these twin crises.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Arctic sea melt

Picture published by Ansgar Walk under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.5 license. May be reproduced with attribution and under same license only
For the first time in human history, it is now possible to sail a ship all the way around the Arctic ice cap, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The melting of the ice caps is expected to have significant impacts on climate change, including the loss of oceanic insulation, the loss of the albedo effect, and the acidification and algification of the oceans. If the Arctic ice cap melts by 2013 as predicted, it could produce runaway climate effects which are impossible to control and endanger human life on Earth.

Shipping companies have already announced plans to run their ships through the newly opened North-East passage.

Former Premier of NSW Nick Greiner has just completed a report to Ports minister Joe Tripodi recommending that the world's largest coal export port in Newcastle be doubled by 2013 and ultimately tripled, in a move set to be disastrous for the Earth's climate.

Picture by Ansgar Walk 2004. May be reproduced or altered only with attribution and under the same license.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Costa and Iemma Must Go

The Gerald suspects that the reason Messrs Costa and Iemma are in such a diabolical rush to sell our power industry is because they have in effect backrupted the State of New South Wales.

The litany of unsustainable planning decisions and their arrogant refusal to 'serve' and abide by the will the people that elected them to power has created a tyrannical shambles that is obvious for all to see. Our land is being screwed over, our roads are crammed with cars and our future is full of empty craters.

And as Michael Costa becomes eligible for his Parliamentary Superannuation pension next month he will certainly aim to privatise himself right out of Government at our continued ongoing expense. He doesn't give a damn.

And neither should we give a damn for the fossil fuel dictatorship they both preside over that will certainly soon fall.

Exclusive:Fairfax strike over

Striking journalists from the Newcastle Herald have told the Gerald that they will be returning to work tomorrow.

"It looks like we may have won," one of the workers told the Gerald, before the workers broke into applause.

Workers from the Newcastle Herald, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Illawarra Mercury, the Financial Review and others have been on strike since Friday after a Fairfax plan to axe 550 jobs, including that of popular reporter Mike Carlton.

Their union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, have set up a website for supporters of the journalists, arguing that the cuts will lead to a decline in the quality of the newspapers.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard spoke in support of the journalists.

"I am someone who is concerned about the quality and diversity of our media market," she told the Australian.

The meeting in Newcastle, on the corner of King and Newcomen Streets, followed a banner protest in Hunter Street Mall.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Media Release: Let’s get Newcastle off the grid

Socialist Alliance candidate for Lord Mayor Zane Alcorn, and fellow Ward Three candidates Laura Ealing and Thomas Cameron are advocating the implementation of a radical new scheme to cut Newcastle’s carbon emissions and make the city completely energy self-sufficient.

At a recent candidates forum organised by the Newcastle Alliance, Alcorn argued that with the Arctic likely to melt by 2013, council couldn’t afford to ignore climate change. But current Lord Mayor John Tate’s response was to deny any responsibility, arguing that the onus is on individuals to make changes at a household level.

To prove that council can and should be leading on climate action, the Socialist Alliance candidates have proposed that Newcastle use Woking, a town in the UK, as a blueprint to get Newcastle off the electricity grid altogether.

“Woking has reduced its carbon emissions by 77% since 1990. There’s no reason why Newcastle council can’t do the same thing here,” Alcorn argues.

“We can cut Newcastle’s emissions dramatically by utilising solar and wind power and supplementing this with combined heat and power plants (CHPs). About 70% of the energy from coal-fired power stations is lost in heat or transmission. CHPs are highly efficient as they capture this heat and can exist within city centres, minimising energy wastage.” says Alcorn.

“We can choose whether we want to take the initiative and do something to safeguard the future of our planet, or we can sit back and watch passively as things disintegrate,” warns Cameron. Cameron noted that London council also plans to cut its emissions by 60% over the next 20 years.

And claims that council can’t afford to implement the proposal won’t wash with the candidates either. Ealing stresses that “If anything the transition that Woking has made has strengthened their local economy - Woking council has reduced its annual energy bills by almost a million pounds, and the energy bills for council residents are lower too.

“Newcastle council can afford to do this, and what’s more, it can’t afford not to. Climate change is happening at a speed that no one predicted, and anyone who tries to claim that it’s not their responsibility is simply unfit for leadership”.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Newcastle's Going Solar

Climate Action Newcastle have acted while government dithers: read edited email received from them below.


We have a fanstastic 1kW solar offer for you!

Newcastle's Going Solar! - project information. This gives you information on the offer and what to do next. We are holding a meeting on Friday 5 September** to explain the offer in more detail and to complete paperwork. You will need to bring a number of things to this meeting, so please read this document carefully.

--- and---

Solar PV FAQ's

Please RSVP to by 3rd September.

Kind regards

Vicki Brooke
for Ian Wilcox and all of us at the Newcastle's Going Solar! team

Friday, August 22, 2008

Alcorn to address Getup Climate Torch Relay today

Socialist Alliance candidate for Newcastle Mayor, Zane Alcorn will be addressing the Newcastle leg of GetUp’s ‘climate torch relay’ at Newcastle's Civic Park Friday 22nd August at noon.

Zane will also be attending a Mayoral Forum at City Hall on Monday August 25 commencing at 5:30pm.

The Socialist Alliance is running a youth team in Ward Three for the Newcastle City Council Election. They are (L to R) Tom Cameron, Laura Ealing and Zane Alcorn. Click here to read more. Photo courtesy of J. Trainor.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Climate Action Now: national climate torch relay

The GetUp crew are inviting you to take part in the National Climate Torch Relay. GetUp is also urging all Mayoral candidates to join.

The latest research shows that Arctic sea ice could disappear by 2013. The incoming council will have to deal with emergency conversion to clean energy and transport. Do we want a Council who will stick their head in the sand or do we want a Council who will work with us- because now is the time, to GetUp

Newcastle and the Climate Relay
Due to its unique climate significance, Newcastle has been selected as one of the Relay’s major stops. The Torch will arrive at:
Civic Park (in front of Newcastle Town Hall)
Midday - Friday the 22nd of August

For more info, click here to go to our Climate Action Council blog.

- Zane Alcorn, Mayoral Candidate, Councillor Candidate (Ward 3)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

For a Climate Action Council...

People and planet before profits

Socialist Alliance is running three candidates in Newcastle Council – Ward 3*.

The Socialist Alliance says that the planet and future generations are more important than profits. What we have outlined will need to be fought for by an informed and active community that can challenge the interests of polluting industries and big developers. We need a council that takes climate change seriously and supports community campaigns for real action.

Click here to read more.

*Ward 3 includes Waratah, Jesmond, Lambton, New Lambton and Kotara.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Youth candidates for council: Save the skate park

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

12th August 2008

Open-air press conference at South Newcastle Beach skate park

10.30am Wednesday 13th August

Three candidates running in the September 13 Newcastle council elections, aged 19-24, are outraged at proposals to close down the South Newcastle Beach skate park and graffiti wall. The candidates say attacks on the skate park by Lord Mayor John Tate and state member for Newcastle Jodie McKay show their disregard for young people.

Youth candidate for Lord Mayor, Zane Alcorn, 24, and a member of Socialist Alliance, said: "Rather than demonising young people and cracking down on graffiti the council should be tackling the real issues for us in Newcastle, like youth unemployment, affordable housing and climate change."

"We're not going sit back and watch the skate park pushed out to make way for another eyesore of a development that young people can't afford to live in"

"Tate and McKay are totally out of touch. They stand at Newcastle Beach and only see the supposedly hideous skate park. We see the world's biggest coal port and that's what we think is ugly – climate vandalism."

Alcorn is a local hip-hop artist and climate change activist and a graduate of Newcastle University where he studied architecture.

"As someone who has studied both architecture and hip hop culture - which includes graffiti - I am actually more offended by a lot of the crass air conditioned boxes that get built in this city than a bit of graffiti."

Alcorn is also running for the Socialist Alliance in Ward 3 alongside Laura Ealing, 21, and Tom Cameron, 19.

All three will be available for interview and photos on Wednesday. Graffiti artists will be doing a piece at the site to defend the skate park.

Contact Zane Alcorn on 0401 466 831.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hirsohima: never again

George Burchett, artist, translator, editor, author and son of famous Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett will speak on his father’s experiences in being the first westerner to visit Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped on August 6 1945.
Also screening of Public Enemy Number One David Bradbury’s documentary of Wilfred Burchett’s life and work as a peace activist and anti war journalist.
Joy Cummings Community Centre, Scott St, Newcastle East Saturday 9 August 2pm.

Organized by Newcastle No War Collective. Ph: Niko 0406296141.

Christians for Peace Hiroshima Day Ecumenical Service, 6.45am Wed 6 August, Outside Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle
Download leaflet PDF Format
Download leaflet JPG Format

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Monbiot's film on Lunar Rockism

Reposted from the Guardian.

A proposal to Hamish Mykura, head of documentaries, Channel 4

Dear Hamish,

Until I read your response to my article yesterday, I had decided not to make any more programmes for Channel 4: I did not want to work for people whose editorial standards were so lax that they were prepared to broadcast 90 minutes of total bollocks. But now that you have exonerated yourself of all charges of inaccuracy, I have changed my mind. I have a proposal that's just up your street.

The lunar conspiracy
1 x 90 minutes
Presenter: George Monbiot
Producer/director: Martin Durkin

They told you it was made of rock.
They faked a voyage to prove it.
They "lost" the samples they took.
And buried the real data.
They covered up the truth they don't want YOU to hear.
The whole thing stinks. Why? Because it is made of blue cheese.

Lunar rockism is no longer just a theory about the moon; it has become a belief system so rigid that it can no longer be challenged. Scientists say the time for debate is over, that any criticism of rockism, however rigorous, is illegitimate, even dangerous. But this film will show that the evidence does not support the theory that the moon is made of rock. The rock theory is dressed up as science. But it's not science. It's propaganda. You are being told lies, and I can redraw the graphs to prove it.

I can bring together a group of the world's leading astronomers who, through creative editing, will confirm that the moon is made of blue cheese, probably stilton or possibly gorgonzola. I have also lined up Piers Corbyn, Philip Stott, Nigel Calder and others who, though they know nothing about this subject, are prepared to talk about it. I hope they will say that lunar rockism is the result of scientific fraud cooked up by terrestrial cheese monopolists. Big Cheese has such a tight grip on science funding that astronomers who question the theory are terrified of stepping out of line, in case they have their stipends cut off.

Worst of all, the rockists are deliberately keeping people hungry. All we need to do to solve the global food crisis is to set up a number of lunar cheese mines, but Big Cheese and the astronomers it funds have been lobbying against it, and spreading lies and disinformation to create the impression that the mines would produce only rock.

I know that Channel 4 will love this idea, as it is edgy, noisy and provocative, and it will get right up the noses of the scientists trying to kill debate on a matter of vital public interest. I am sure that, like Martin and me, you have devoted a good deal of time to scrutinising Ofcom's guidelines, and have worked out that it cannot and will not rule against films like this, because it has no provision for assessing the accuracy of factual programmes. This, as you have pointed out, means that everything we say is correct, even though we have just made it up.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope that this can be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

With my best wishes, George

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Is Newcastle Council Selling Out Our Open Space?

It emerged this week that Newcastle City Council recently rezoned Enterprise Park, the Foreshore and the Convict Lumberyard in the City Centre Local Environment Plan 2008. In addition, areas of heritage significance such as the Convict Lumber Yard were classified as 'Operational' instead of 'Community' land as required under the NSW Local Government Act.

The people of Newcastle expect their Council to act in their best interests, and not be part and parcel of selling out the community's open space and public domain areas of cultural and heritage significance. Why do we pay our rates?

The Gerald hopes that this has been an error, rather than a concerted effort to undermine our community's public domain areas.

Councillor Keith Parsons yesterday requested Council for a detailed briefing outlining the reasons for:

1. The classification of the Convict Lumberyard site as Operational,
rather than Community Land, as required under the NSW Local Government Act
(1993) in c1994.

2. The classification of the Lynches Prawns site as operational in c1994.

3. The zoning as B4 (Mixed Use) in the City Centre LEP in February, 2008 of:
(a) The Foreshore
(b) The Convict Lumberyard
(c) Enterprise Park

Monday, July 14, 2008

Coal... and Costa

On Sunday 13 July community rally of some 500 in Newcastle halted coal shipments to the Port Waratah Coal Loader. See photos of the protest here.

Click here to view pics taken by The Newcastle Herald presented as fantastic slideshow .

Protestors marched from the Climate Camp in Wickham, along the railway track, to the entrance to the coal loader. A number of people were arrested when they entered the rail line, some locked themselves onto the coal wagons while others stood aloft the fully laden coal wagons. A huge banner, saying 'Danger Climate change ahead' was dopped onto the tracks. No trains moved during the protest.

Today Monday 14 July protestors rallied outside Michael Costa's office. The rally was jointly chaired by Zane Alcorn of Soclaist Alliance and Jasmine of Solidarity. With over 200 people attending there was a good representation of unionists and the broader community. The rally decided to march through Newcastle city centre. Later that afternoon the Climate Camp’s Resistance team banner got yet another drop, this time on Nobby’s beach. Photos here.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Climate change actions on Saturday, Sunday, Monday

On: Saturday, 12th July, 9.00 am
At: WickhamPark, Albert St, Wickham
As many people as possible are needed to help create a giant ticking clock, and the words:


... then ...
Sunday, 13th July, 10.00 am
Begin at IslingtonPark (off Maitland Rd, Islington) - and
March to Carrington Coal Terminal

The protest begins with a colourful rally and march, and you don't need to be willing to be arrested to come along. We will march to Carrington coal terminal where members of the community will walk onto the coal rail line to stop coal exports in their tracks.
This protest is your chance to take direct action against the reckless coal export industry and to call for Australia to move away from coal reliance and begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the next two years.

Monday July 14th at 1pm: protest at Costa's office!

Stop Electricity Privatisation Green Jobs Now Expand Renewables not Coal

Where: 26 Honeysuckle Drive Newcastle

Speakers include:
John Kaye, Greens MLC
Graeme McNeill, PSA anti-privatisation rep Liddell Power Station
Graham Brown, ex-coal miner and climate activist
Joan Dawson, Hunter Power to the people, Vice Pres. Ncsle ALP State Electorate Council
Michael Osborne, Newcastle City Council
Scott Ludlum, Greens Federal Senator (WA)
Representative from the Camp for Climate Action

Contact: Jasmine 0405317787 Simon 0438297552

Friday, July 4, 2008

Anti-coal forum held in Singleton

Over 150 people attended a public meeting organised by the Rivers SOS Alliance in Singleton yesterday to learn about the negative health and environmental effects of open-cut and longwall mining.
After a screening of the Rivers of Shame 2 DVD, which features ex-coal miner Graham Brown, the residents shared personal stories of asthma, heavy metal poisoning, thyroid diseases and cancers.
Two local doctors presented anecdotal evidence about the disproportionate number of health problems in the Region which could be attributed to the poisoning of rivers and soils from mining dust.
The residents expressed anger at the failed promises of the NSW Government to commence comprehensive health and environmental studies of the region, and indicated that they would be submitting their children to blood tests to determine whether they had been poisoned by lead and other heavy metals.
The doctors expressed their support for the proposal after several residents revealed that they had been victims of lead poisoning.
Graham Brown, who was arrested that morning at a Greenpeace action shutting down the Eraring power station, was not in attendance. Several councillors from Singleton and Maitland councils attended the event.
The meeting unanimously passed a motion calling for comprehensive health and environmental studies in the region.
The meeting came several days after a report from the University of Newcastle's Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE) revealed that thousands of jobs could be created by shifting to a renewable energy economy.
About a dozen Upper Hunter residents indicated that they would be attending next week's Camp for Climate Action.

Nobbys privatisation back on the cards

A local newspaper has revealed that developer Neil Slater's failed attempt to privatise Nobbys Lighthouse could be reconsidered after a meeting with the Department of Environment and Heritage.

The Gerald reported in May that Environment Minister Peter Garrett had decided to preserve the heritage icon after widespread community opposition to the development.

The local newspaper has been running front-page advertorials for the developer, with heavily emotive language, ever since the privatisation was proposed last year.

Nobbys supporter Doug Lithgow, from the Parks and Playgrounds Movement, was not available for comment today.

The local newspaper also included a biased reference to the Nobbys development in an article about a reconsideration of the controversial Anvil Hill coal mine.

After Garnaut, the big questions will remain unanswered

This is an extract from an opinion piece republished with permission of the author, David Spratt, and ABC online.

Read the full article here.

David Spratt is the co-author of Climate Code Red: the case for emergency action, published by Scribe in July.

The Garnaut Review's deliberations have been frustrated by an incapacity of the government's computer models to even deal with the sort of emission reductions Garnaut thinks are necessary, an indication of the bureaucratic timewarp in which climate policy in Australia is trapped. And constrained by frustratingly narrow terms of reference, the review has been asked to recommend only an appropriate market-based means of reducing emissions, but not on the broader questions of substance.

Garnaut knows that climate science is demanding emissions reduction much faster than the government appears willing to contemplate, noting "the diabolical nature of the policy challenge", and the "widespread view, based on the science, that the risks of 'dangerous' climate change and the risk of abrupt climate change, are already at unacceptably high levels at this point".

In contrast to Garnaut's acute observations that the issue may be "too hard for rational policy-making in Australia" because "the vested interests surrounding it [are] too numerous and intense, the relevant time-frames too long", the government is caught in a policy fog, unable to find its way out of a bureaucratic framework that is now out of date. The Rudd government's current policy target of a 3-degree rise would destroy the Barrier Reef, the tropical rainforests, cause widespread desertification, a mass extinction, and a sea-level rise of perhaps 25 metres, amongst many impacts. Most worrying, the government seems unaware that this would be the consequence of a 3-degree target.

There is little indication that governments understand what is now being said by the world's leading climate researchers: significant climate "tipping points" have already been crossed, and our world is already at the point of failing to cope. Sir John Holmes, the UN relief coordinator, warned that 12 of the 13 major relief operations in 2007 were climate related, and that this amounted to a climate-change "mega disaster".

Take the Arctic, for example. The north pole has until recently been covered by an area of sea-ice in summer as large as Australia. Now it is disappearing fast, likely to be gone entirely within five years. Scientists' well-founded fear is that rapid heating as a consequence of the sea-ice loss will trigger the unstoppable melting of most or all of the Greenland ice sheet, an event which would raise sea levels by five to seven metres, in as little as a century.

When he was a young man, Jay Zwally hauled coal for work. Now a NASA climate scientist, he told a gathering of fellow climate experts at the end of 2007: "The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coalmine for climate warming ... and now as a sign of climate warming, the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

WIckham Park to host Climate Camp

Camp for Climate Action has announced that the site has now changed to Wickham Park, on the corner of Maitland Road and Albert Streets.

The Gerald reported last week that organisers had decided to select a site after delays from authorities.

Authorities have now allowed the Camp to take place at Wickham Park, from July 10-15.

Further information at

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Puppy rescuer jailed

Yesterday prolific British author and activist Sarah Whitehead was sentenced to two years jail for rescuing a puppy.
The beagle had been kept muzzled in a wooden cage and regularly beaten by its owner before being moved to a safe home by Ms. Whitehead.
The puppy is reportedly living happily in hiding from the police.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mayfield East Public School win National Trust Competition

At a ceremony held on the 30 June at Ervin Gallery Sydney the Mayfield East Public School won the National Trust Schools Competition 2008.

With over 400 entrants including those from private and church schools, this award is quite an outstanding achievement for the children of Class 3/4 P and their teachers Ms Sue Pryor and aide Vicki Robertson.

The annual competition inspires students to celebrate their local heritage, along the theme of ‘Our Place’, and encourages students to explore their suburbs and towns, getting to know the people and places that make them unique.

Mayfield East Public School, who are celebrating their 150th anniversary of the birth of their school, invited local identities to be interviewed. The interviewees were each asked around 10-15 questions relating to the early history of the school and environs including Aboriginal history. Then the children drew their subjects as part of their drawing class. The guests included former student Mrs Vera Deacon and University Archivist Gionni Di Gravio.

The children created a replica of their original school house from the 1850s, and explored historical identities such as the late Daniel F. Cooksey, who reported on some finding of aboriginal artefacts on the site of the school in 1925. The University of Newcastle's website relating to the Cooksey Collection is located here:

The kids were very excited and chased down the original artefacts held in the Australian Museum and invited Dr Stan Florek to bring them along to their school for 'Show and Tell'.

They even tracked down two of his grandsons and invited one, Mr Ian Cooksey, to speak to them as well, along with a former academic in the French Department, Col Whitehead, who has a great interest in Aboriginal stone implements and had made copies of Cooksey's reports in the 1980s.

The web blog for the school's history is located here:

The Gerald congratulates Mayfield East Public School for this great success and in particular the staff and students of Class 3/4P for their great achievement.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Link to Convict Settlement – James Fletcher Hospital

Demolition has already begun, with all roofing removed from Reception House, Kirkwood House and some outbuildings behind Reception House, at James Fletcher Hospital. Kirkwood House is a direct and tangible link to the convict-built Parsonage and nearby Anglican Church buildings, while Reception House is significant as a purpose-designed mental health facility which marked an innovation in mental health care. As Kirkwood House was built as a 1880s extension to the 1820s Anglican Parsonage before the Parsonage was demolished
It is thought that some fabric from the Parsonage is incorporated in the structure of Reception House. A full archaeological assessment should be undertaken.
The precinct of James Fletcher Hospital is a significant historic site relating to early European and settlement and convict history, and part of the Hill Heritage Conservation Area.
The site falls within the Archaeology Zoning Plan detailed in the James Fletcher Hospital Conservation Management Plan. The Conservation Management Plan assesses that the site has High Archaeological Potential to discover remains from the 1819-1820 Parsonage and its outbuildings. Such remains might reach the threshold for state significance as items relating to the convict period (pre-1830) are rare in NSW, noting the potential to find remains of high significance. The assessment should include a program of archaeological test excavations and geo-sensing scans.
Any archeological remains should be properly assessed and if possible conserved.
Further, there would be high archaeological potential to find deposits relating to the convict era below the current footprint of Kirkwood House (and Reception House) perhaps evidence of paths or gardens or outbuildings pertaining to the Parsonage - or simply occupational debris such as discarded bottles (altar wine of course), broken ceramics,etc.
If convict-era fabric is discovered, it would be rare in Newcastle. The earliest visible fabric in Newcastle dates from 1839 or 1840 (a single courthouse column in Parnell Place, and the medical superintendent's cottage at James Fletcher.) Sub-surface examples of convict era fabric are also rare with the only known examples limited to footings well beneath the convict lumberyard surface. Examples of convict Newcastle outside the Coal River Precinct would be highly significant and rare. Further, the whole complex sits in a corner of the James Fletcher Hospital Complex (SHR), close to the former Officer's Mess and Barracks, dating from 1839. The site also formed a corner of the Commandant's farm from 1804 to about 1820.

Notwithstanding the failure of Hunter New England Health to incorporate Kirkwood and Reception Houses into the new facility, the potential disturbance of state-significant archaeology should be of great concern.
An Interim Heritage Order is unlikely to be attained because this can only be initiated by Minister Sartor, who intervened in the process to order the demolition.
(Courtesy of the Archives of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle held in the University of Newcastle Cultural Collections)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Site announced for Camp for Climate Action

After weeks of stalling from local police and council authorities, the logistics working group of the Camp for Climate Action has announced that the camp will be held on public land on the corner of Mangrove Road and River Road, in Sandgate.

The working group had requested several different sites, and at various stages over the past month, authorities had given and withdrawn permission for all of the proposed sites.

With less than three weeks to go until the site, the working group realised that they could not wait any longer and decided to pick a site and promote it.

Up to 1000 people are expected to participate in the Camp for Climate Action. In late May, the actions working group announced that the highlight of the camp would be a mass blockade of the rail line which delivers coal to the world's biggest coal port.

According to the Gerald's sources, authorities are now tripping over themselves to find a different site for the camp.

The camp was promoted yesterday at a flash mob at Westfield Kotara, where up to 60 people who met each other via the social networking site Facebook froze for five minutes to demand a freeze in the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.

It was also promoted in Parliament by NSW Treasurer Michael Costa on Wednesday and Thursday, in response to questions by Greens MLC John Kaye. The Treasurer misled Parliament into believing that the camp was organised by the NSW Greens in order to divert attention from a question asked by John Kaye. Mr. Kaye asked the Treasurer whether failure to privatise the electricity industry would lead to his resignation, as he promised in early February.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Crude coal mining: Mountain Top Removal

The local Herald run a story 'How mining is taking its toll on the Hunter' last Friday. It reports on a secret NSW Government document which admits that coalmining in the Hunter causes massive environmental damage. The
Government, of course, won't endorse the document.

To mark World Environment Day this Thursday (June 5) Socialist Alliance and Green Left Weekly supporters will screen "Mountain Top Removal".

"Mountain top removal" literally means the removal of the mountain tops to get at the coal below. It is the crudest form of environmental violence. Even after strip mining, some trees might grow back. But you can't grow back
a mountain.

It will be the first screening in Australia of this new documentary from the US. The film won this year's Reel Current award selected and was presented by Al Gore at the Nashville Film Festival.

Screening Thursday June 5
Resistance Centre
472 Hunter St Newcastle
Info: 49265328 or 0406296141

Friday, May 30, 2008

Newcastle Post Office - Our Queen Victoria Building

Newcastle Post Office is one of many heritage significant buildings in Newcastle CBD that have been the subject of development approval and subsequently left to rot by their owners.

Other examples include the Terminus Hotel-Castlemaine Bondstore group (Scott/Bolton Sts), former ES &A Drive-in Bank (Scott/Bolton Sts), Great Northern Hotel and Empire Hotel group (Hunter St west). Others have left to decay without approval, such as the Theatre Royal, Coutts Sailors Home complex and former Victoria Theatre.

While Council is often unfairly judged to be inadequate in its endeavours to protect and encourage sympathetic redevelopment of these buildings, we have little power to prevent such occurrences.

In reality the CBD has much of its building stock in the ownership of people and companies (often absentee landlords) who are content to see their buildings lie vacant and in decay.

Others seek and gain Council development approval, simply to on-sell to other speculators at a higher price. Newcastle CBD is an attractive target for property development industry “carpet baggers”.

In the case of Newcastle Post Office, the building should have been listed in the State Heritage Register before now, to recognise its high status and to be under the heritage planning controls of the State Government who (theoretically) have greater powers to act to protect the building.

I believe most of the community is in dismay and appalled at the willful neglect of and lack of action regarding this much-loved and favourite heritage icon.


1. Council notes that the former Newcastle Post Office building is listed as “State significant” in schedule 6 (Heritage) of Newcastle Local Environmental Plan (LEP) and that the State government made a commitment to Council, about 2 years ago to urgently assess all of Newcastle LEP’s state significant heritage items for listing on the State Heritage Register.

2. Council calls on the NSW Heritage Council to urgently recommend to the Minister for Planning, the listing of the former Newcastle Post Office, 96-100 Hunter St, Newcastle, on the State Heritage Register, using s.32(2) of the NSW Heritage Act.

3. Council calls on the Minister, on receipt of any such request, to urgently direct the listing of the former Newcastle Post Office building on the State Heritage Register, and to direct the owners (using Division 5 of the Act) to take immediate steps to secure the building from further damage by vandalism.


Council urgently write to the owners of the building to express its dissatisfaction on behalf of the community, about the lack of action with respect to any redevelopment of the building since approval was given in 2006; and our strong concerns about the continuing and accelerating degradation to the building’s fabric.


Council regards it disgraceful that the owners’ have failed to implement a regime of high level security and maintenance; and failed to act to sympathetically adaptively recycle Newcastle Post Office which,
(i) is regarded by the community as one Newcastle’s heritage icons, and
(ii) has been empty since it was sold by the Commonwealth in 2002.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Minister affirms Nobbys Lighthouse decision

I have today informed the applicants for a proposed development next to the historic Nobbys
Lighthouse in Newcastle of my decision not to allow this particular project because of the
impacts it would have on the heritage values of the lighthouse.

My decision is made under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act
1999 and follows wide consultation with the developers, business groups, heritage experts
and the community, as well as a visit to the site earlier this year.

I have given full and thorough consideration to all of the information I have received through
this process as well as the more than 450 written submissions made by the Newcastle
community during a recent public consultation period.

On balance, I believe this particular development proposal would significantly damage the
heritage values of this Newcastle icon and the oldest surviving lighthouse in New South

Sensitive developments around historic places can and do draw thousands of tourists to
heritage sites around Australia.

However, it is important that any such development does not compromise what is so special
about these historic and iconic places.

My decision is therefore based on the concerns I have for this particular proposal to impact
on the heritage values of the lighthouse.

This decision does not mean there cannot be development of the site in the future.
I would like to thank all those who have contributed to this process and note that a common
theme of the public submissions on the proposal was the desire of the people of Newcastle
to have to access to Nobbys Lighthouse.

I support this sentiment but it is important in finding a way for the site to be more accessible
that we do not do it in a way that damages the precious historical and heritage values of the
lighthouse itself.

My Department will therefore be available to provide advice to ensure the heritage values of
the lighthouse are fully considered in any future application or proposal to improve access to
the site.

The Hon Peter Garrett MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts
19 May 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008


A new NASA-led study shows that human-caused climate change has impacted a wide range of Earth's natural systems, from permafrost thawing to plants blooming earlier across Europe to lakes declining in productivity in Africa.

Cynthia Rosenzweig of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Science in New York and scientists at 10 other institutions have linked physical and biological impacts since 1970 with rises in temperatures during that period. The study, published May 15 in the journal Nature, concludes that human-caused warming is resulting in a broad range of impacts across the globe.

"This is the first study to link global temperature data sets, climate model results, and observed changes in a broad range of physical and biological systems to show the link between humans, climate, and impacts," said Rosenzweig, lead author of the study.

Rosenzweig and colleagues also found that the link between human-caused climate change and observed impacts on Earth holds true at the scale of individual continents, particularly in North America, Europe, and Asia.

To arrive at the link, the authors built and analyzed a database of more than 29,000 data series pertaining to observed impacts on Earth's natural systems, collected from about 80 studies each with at least 20 years of records between 1970 and 2004. Observed impacts included changes to physical systems, such as glaciers shrinking, permafrost melting, and lakes and rivers warming. Impacts also included changes to biological systems, such as leaves unfolding and flowers blooming earlier in the spring, birds arriving earlier during migration periods, and ranges of plant and animal species moving toward the poles and higher in elevation. In aquatic environments such as oceans, lakes, and rivers, plankton and fish are shifting from cold-adapted to warm-adapted communities.

The team conducted a "joint attribution" study in which they showed, first, that at the global scale, about 90 percent of observed changes in diverse physical and biological systems are consistent with warming. Other driving forces, such as land use change from forest to agriculture, were ruled out as having significant influence on the observed impacts.

Next, the scientists conducted statistical tests and found that the spatial patterns of observed impacts closely match temperature trends across the globe, to a degree beyond what can be attributed to natural variability. So, the team concluded that observed global-scale impacts are very likely due to human-caused warming.

"Humans are influencing climate through increasing greenhouse gas emissions and the warming is causing impacts on physical and biological systems that are now attributable at the global scale and in North America, Europe, and Asia," said Rosenzweig.

On other continents, including Africa, South America, and Australia, documentation of observed changes in physical and biological systems is still sparse despite warming trends attributable to human causes. The authors concluded that environmental systems on these continents need additional research, especially in tropical and subtropical areas where there is a lack of impact data and published studies.


Steve Cole
Headquarters, Washington

Leslie McCarthy
Goddard Institute for Space Studies, N.Y.

This text is derived from: