Saturday, March 31, 2007
Today I re-visited a damp, swampy patch of forest where I had previously found some Greenhood orchids. Today I could not see any Greenhoods, but I did find some Corybas species ("Helmet Orchids"). I had previously observed the leaves of these plants, but today was the first time I found them flowering.
The flowers are tiny - a mere 5.5 mm from front to back, and 8 mm high (stem and "hood"). They are particularly narrow, being just 2mm wide. My fingernail dwarfs the flower. These plants do not match any species described in David Jones's "A complete guide to the Native Orchids of Australia". He had other larger species described, but none as small as these plants, with the predominant green colour of these flowers. Most of the members of this genus are reddish purple, but some have a greenish tinge. These flowers are green, with a silvery tinge, but with reddish-purple venation.
I shall speak with David Jones on Monday (hopefully) and ask him if he has this group of plants as an as yet undescribed species. This is not an unusual situation with native Orchids, as it applies to at least two other species which I have found in the local area - a Leek Orchid, and a rust and brown coloured "Tiny Greenhood" which I found last week.
The second Orchid I found today is the Waterfall (or Escarpment) Greenhood, which was growing in the Belmore Falls district too. Its name has been revised, from the more familiar Pterostylis to the unfamiliar Diplodium pulchellum. The specific name is very appropriate (it means "beautiful").
It is classed as "Vulnerable" on the NSW Threatened Species list (under its old name as Pterostylis pulchella). It is said to occur only at Belmore Falls, Fitzroy Falls, Minnamurra Falls, and Bundanoon Creek (Meryla). From memory, it was on a list I have seen of plants at the Barren Grounds, and I have seen non-flowering Greenhoods at a suitable habitat at Carrington Falls, which would make sense (if it is the same species). Pterostylis pulchella is also listed as "vulnerable" under the Federal EPBC Act listings.
I also found Epacris calvertiana var versicolor flowering at Belmore Falls today. This is a pink and white form of the species, which has white flowers. I have seen this form growing at the Barren Grounds. Interestingly, according to the book "Seldom Seen - rare plants of Greater Sydney", the "type" specimen was collected by Forsyth at Belmore Falls, in September 1900. So, it is good to find this plant growing at the same place, some 100 years after it was first collected there.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
This Blog congratulates Pru for the victory, and I look forward to working with Pru, in opposing further pumping of the Kangaloon Aquifer.
Pru was a fast learner, on issues of water policy. We first met at Jonathan and Liz Bell's property in mid-January, and frankly, Pru was pretty "green" on "water". She subsequently spoke at the Robertson anti-pumping Meeting, when she appeared to have been briefed by people who did not know very much about the issues. Clearly they thought the issue was sending water to Sydney, and Pru promised not to allow the water to go to Sydney. It sounded good, but questioning revealed that she did not know much beyond that. That was understandable, as she was new.
However, by the time it came to the CanWin environmental issues debate, Pru had a water policy. She understood the issues, and she was up and running.
Ok, she was sparring with Paul Stephenson about pipelines to Goulburn, from Googong Dam, not Wingecarribee Reservoir, etc, but still she knew a lot more than she had earlier. And she was prepared to argue her case.
Personally, I acknowedge that I supported Paul Stephenson, as he had the clearest policy on the Kangaloon Aquifer, and to have supported some else, with a less-clear water policy would have been political opportunism on my part. So, I stuck to my principles, and assisted Maureen Vanevsky in handing out "How to Vote" cards for Paul at Bowral Memorial Hall, in the afternoon of polling day. Regular readers will be aware that I had spent the morning in Robertson (in the Kiama Electorate) handing out "How to Vote" cards for the Greens - for the same reason - they simply had the best policy on the Kangaloon Aquifer, in that electorate.
What I can also acknowledge now is that I had sent a few briefing papers to Pru, to assist her in getting across the issues of the Kangaloon Aquifer. No matter who won, I judged that it is better to have candidates who knew the ins and outs of what they were speaking about.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Many people criticise others who vote informally, or "spoil their ballot papers", but there were only 890 of them. A far greater proportion of people cast votes which are equally meaningless, and futile. But I suspect that most of them do not realise that they may as well have stayed at home - for the way in which they voted counted for nothing. The situation as at Wednesday evening, 29 March is that, in the Seat of Goulburn, 5345 people who voted formally (legitimately) for a candidate, did not bother to vote "down the ticket" to tick a second or a third preference. Their votes are officially worthless, and discarded - in the name of democracy.
The Greens Party had recommended to their supporters that they give their second preference to Paul Stephenson. The Labor party did the same. If all the voters for those parties had followed that suggestion, then Paul Stephenson would be the new Member for Goulburn today. Instead, Pru Goward is ahead by a very slender margin. Now that is a legitimate result (although it is not yet a "final result") - but is it the result intended by the voters?
My point is, that it is not the outcome which would have occurred, if people had understood the desirability of completing their ballot papers at least to the extent of a second, or a third preference, in order for their votes to mean anything. In other words, if people, having bothered to turn up to vote, had completed their ballot papers to the extend of ticking two or three boxes, not just the bare minimum of one box, then their votes would mean something. As it is, these 5345 voters wasted their time and effort. How hard is it to tick two or even three boxes?
Those 5345 people might as well not have voted - for their votes for minor parties have been wasted, discarded, in the name of democracy.
As this cartoon suggests, this process is so good we kill people to demonstrate how good it is to have the right to vote. The caption is in French, but it is easy to work out.
Examine the drawing in detail and you will get the point.
(Click on the image to enlarge it).
Vive la démocratie.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
There was no sadness that she did not make it to that milestone - she was not really "with us" any more, and such arbitrary events become meaningless, when there is little awareness - just pain.
I miss the woman she was.
Not the poor, suffering creature she became, at the end. She served her God, and her husband and family to the best of her ability.
Requiescat in Pace.
Monday, March 26, 2007
I am reliably informed that Matt Brown has pledged to continue to support the Kangaloon Aquifer issue. (Apparently this is reported in the Southern Highland News of 26 March 2007, but the story does not appear on their website, so I cannot quote it, or link to it.)
Quite what that "continue" means, I am not quite sure, but I do welcome Matt's recognition that it is still a big issue in the electorate. We do look forward to his support in fighting to protect the Aquifer.
The Kangaloon Aquifer needs protection - from the NSW Government, Matt, so you are well placed to look after it.
Incidentally, the "Bowral.Your Guide" website (the SHN website) is truly hopeless, by the way. There is not a single local story for today up on that website, under the Local News category. It is an insult to the local community. Haven't we just had an election, which will determine the future for this district for the next 4 years? Not a word about the battle between Pru Goward or Paul Stephenson makes it to their web. It is a disgraceful service to the people of the Southern Highlands.
I know there is a story in the "paper" paper, but they might as well close down the "pretend website" if they do not bother to file their stories on the web server. How hard is it to do that, after all? The story was presumably written on Sunday, for printing by Monday morning, and it is still not up on the Website by Monday night.
It is a problem through out the entire Rural Press network of papers, by the way. They might as well stop pretending to have a web site, then, perhaps they will revert to quill pens.
Friday, March 23, 2007
If you go to the Save Water Alliance website on this hot-link, you will see who has said what. Several candidates, including our Local Member Matt Brown (in Kiama), did not respond to this survey. Draw your own conclusions.
The full address of the link to the candidates' statements is:
Thursday, March 22, 2007
The scary thing is that while tests were supposedly conducted for poison, back in January, when the birds were first found, further tests now appear to show high concentrations of lead and nickel. It seems that there has been an export industry going on, through the port of Esperance for the last 18 months. Lead carbonate appears to be the mineral which is being exported, and is suspected as the source of the lead. It is being found in water supplies, including rain water tanks.
White-rumped Miners - Photo: DJW
The local Environment Officer has been issuing soothing statements, about how people need not worry unduly, but it looks to me a lot like the old syndrone of the "Canary in the Mine". I would be very concerned indeed if I lived there, and especially if I had kids at the local schools which have reported a high concentration of these bird deaths.
The Esperance Port Authority has suspended further Lead carbonate shipments, until the source of the lead poisoning has been identified. Sounds like it isn't rocket science, to me.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
This wonderful cartoon was published by Nicholson, on 9 May 2005.
If Howard and Costello feel this way, imagine how Caroline Graham must feel.
Nicholson of "The Australian" newspaper: www.nicholsoncartoons.com.au
"A community activist resigned last night from BHP Billiton’s community consultative committee in the Southern Coalfield. Management of the local subsidiary, Illawarra Coal, were angered because Caroline Graham, Secretary of Rivers SOS, had passed on information about recent mine damage to the Upper Cataract River to a metropolitan daily.
"Management last night attempted to insert a clause into the committee’s constitution forbidding members from using operational information “to generate adverse publicity for the company.”
Ms Graham has been a member of the committee, based in the company’s Appin shopfront, for over two years. She says that if she is not able to inform the community of mine damage then there is no point in continuing as a member."Caroline has been one of the leading figures behind publicising subsidence caused by Longwall Mining, and the resultant damage to rivers.
Talking to people from Appin, at the Robertson Show, it seems that whole streets in that settlement have been condemned (for housing) due to subsidence, and that people just accept that two storey houses are not suitable, and that if you want a swimming pool, it has to be a fibeglass one (because concrete ones crack). How people put up with that level of abuse from the "Big Australian" is quite bewildering.
It is time to stand up and be counted.
I support Caroline Graham's courage in taking this stand.
BHP Billton won the 2003 "Dirty Digger Award" Macchiavelli Award for Corporate Deception.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
TO SETTLE THE WATER
PUMPED FROM THE BORES.
Last week, the water being pumped from the Kangaloon Aquifer had turned brown, from iron. That there is a high iron content in the water is completely normal, and was expected by the Engineering Report commissioned by the SCA.
What is not normal, and not correct procedure, is that the iron ought be dumped onto the soil.
The Engineering Report proposed an aeration tank, with a sludge collection system, to prevent contamination of the local area.
I asked Mr John Ross, the SCA's Project Manager, after the Bowral Meeting, why they were not using the aeration/settlement tank system. Hs reply was: "No iron in that water".
You can now judge for yourself how good Mr Ross's technical expertise is.
If he is wrong on this issue. What else is he wrong on?
SANDBAGS ON TOP EDGE OF THE SETTLEMENT POND.
CLEAN ONES ARE ABOVE THE WATER LEVEL.
LOWER ONES ARE STAINED BY THE IRON.
Unfortunately, in their sloppiness (or indecent haste) the SCA have not bothered to install this proposed aeration tank, but just spill the water out over a metal tray, and allow it to spill onto the ground, then to run over the ground, through some Lomandra (rushes), and through another pipe, into the creek.
What is happening is that the iron, when "aerated" forms a form of iron oxide (a rust-like precipitate), and settles out into the ground. The question is, what will the SCA do to prevent this contamination spreading, or, indeed to remediate the area, after they have finished the "trial pumping"?
Site on Day 1 of pumping.
After the heavy rain,
the first water pumped was clean.
I emailed Mr Graeme Head, Chief Executive of the SCA, last week, (15 March) about this issue, but have had no reply, as yet.
So, I am now turning this into an "Open Letter" to Mr Head - in the hope that it might provoke an answer from him.
I will copy my original email to the local ALP Member for Kiama, Mr Matt Brown, and to Ann Sudmalis, Liberal Candidate, to see if either of them can get a reply for me.
Monday, March 19, 2007
George is not a politician, he is 11 years old.
He just happens to live directly opposite the SCA's proposed borefield - but that is not his fault, is it?
What more can I say?
Ben van der Wijngaart (Greens, Kiama) said: "... it establishes a mind-set in the public that they can’t win the argument fair and square and have to resort to crudely destroying the opposing messages."
Ann Sudmalis (Liberal Party candidate for Kiama) issued a Press Release in which she said:
"These were legitimate protest signs, erected by a local
community group, that wanted to protect their community, and someone has ordered the destruction of any sign of protest."
"This was a planned and premeditated act that must be condemned for what it is - political bastardry".
The stupid thing is that by removing our signs, the two men*** who did this (*** as per eye witness reports) have given us more free publicity.
It was the same when Bob Debus, NSW Labor Party Minister for the Environment, (and Attorney General, by-the-way) labelled the residents of the Southern Highlands as "Vandals" (not even "alleged vandals", but straight out "vandals").
It was a wrong story to start with, but that didn't matter - after a long lunch, Mr Debus thought nothing of abusing all of the
residents of the Southern Highlands.
We could save them the bother, if we elected a new Local Member for Kiama, this coming Saturday, 24 March.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
For several months now, large signs, small signs, fancy professionally screen-printed signs and home-made signs have all proudly proclaimed opposition to the pumping of water from the Kangaloon Aquifer.
Sheepwash Road, Kangaloon
Sign removed from tree
Anyone who has driven around the roads of the district, from Glenquarry, Kangaloon and Robertson will have seen such signs.
There was a particularly good set of signs along Sheepwash Road, the main road to Robertson from Bowral.
This weekend, large numbers of these signs have been removed.
Since when has it been unacceptable to express one's objection to an engineering program being conducted by a Government agency?
Nails still showing the
remains of signs
These signs did not infringe the Electoral Act (we have checked it out).
They were not telling people who to vote for, or who to not vote for. As such, they did not require "authorisation".
They are just stating the commonly held belief of local people that the pumping of water from the Southern Highlands Aquifer is potentially damaging to the environment and to the farmers.
Some signs did attribute blame to the Iemma Government, but that is a purely factual statement.
It is the Iemma Government which his doing this.
(The only place where these signs have been removed from is in the Kiama Electorate). Similar signs are still proudly being displayed in the Goulburn Electorate.
Firstly, whoever is removing these signs is IRRESPONSIBLE.
Secondly, who stands to benefit from this repression of freedom of speech?
We are one week out from an Election.
There is only one political party in this Electorate which supports pumping from the Southern Highlands Aquifer - that is the Labor Party.
The Member for Kiama, Mr Matt Brown, represents the Labor Party in Kiama.
May I suggest that you draw your own conclusions?
If so, then surely I am entitled to turn their local representative's image on its head.
May I suggest that the Sign-Nazis just go back to their Bunkers?
Leave our signs alone. We are entitled to political freedom of expression.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
As a country show, it lacked the authenticity of the Robbo Show, the week before. Hardly any bucolic odours. Lots of stalls, but not many people.
We met up with local candidates for the NSW seat of Goulburn, Pru Goward (Liberal) and Paul Stephenson (Independent), seen here when he was still Mayor of Goulburn.
He was inspecting the nearly empty Pejar Dam, at the time.
Paul understands about water shortages, as you can see.
I was pleased to note that Pru arrived at the show, wearing one of our "cow" T-shirts (as modelled at left by David Thompson's daughter).
It soon started pouring with rain, and Pru donned a protective raincoat - fair enough. We were all ducking for cover, moving leaflets out of the rain, etc.
Can the Save Water Alliance claim credit for making it rain?
The low light of the day was some guy who tried to con Bernie out of one of our "Show bags", with our hat (or a T-shirt). When Bernie said we were actualy selling them, to raise funds for our campaign, this guy got very disgruntled.
A lady from Bundanoon came past, and had a look at our stall, then announced she could not possibly help us, as they had their own water issue, in Bundanoon, (you know)!
Well, yes, we do know. As a matter of fact, we have already offered to help the Bundanoon people; we have spoken with the local people organising their campaign; and I even attended a Committee meeting over there last week. Some people are very off-putting with their attitudes, I would have to say.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
They have failed to take any notice of their own Engineering Report.
Instead of fitting a proper "aeration tank" which would collect and remove the slurry of oxidised iron particles in the water - they have allowed the iron to contaminate the bush, adjacent to the Nepean River.
In this little levee bank, which forms an informal "pool" the existing Lomandra rush plants are all coated in iron particulate matter, as is the ground underneath.
I have personally reported this matter to the Chief Executive of the SCA, Mr Graeme Head. I await his response, with interest.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
"Get your own water, Morris".
Naimh Schofield holds up the sign she wrote herself.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what Morrie Iemma is doing. Trouble is - he is stealing it from the Kangaloon kids.
Is this proof?
Could this be a souvenir left behind after Morrie's visit to the borefield?
One of the littlies, Malaika, a Fairy, cast a spell with her magic wand to make the pipeline disappear.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
We are trying desperately to find out more, as fast as we can.
The NSW Dept of Primary Industries Website (Minerals and Petroleum - New mines and projects page) states:
"In the Southern Coalfield, the Bellpac No. 1 mine was sold in early December 2004 to large Indian coke maker, Gujarat NRE Coke Ltd. Gujarat officially opened the mine, renamed Gujarat NRE No. 1, in March 2005.
"In July 2005 Gujarat also announced that it had entered into an agreement to purchase the former Avondale Colliery and part of the Huntley Colliery leases. Subject to necessary Government approvals, Gujarat proposes to reopen the mine as NRE Avondale. In February 2006 Gujarat lodged a major projects application with the NSW Government for Stage 2 of the proposal." (Souce NSW DPI website).
Saturday, March 10, 2007
This little Church community has a shared administration with the Uniting Church in Moss Vale, Robertson and Bundanoon. When their water rates bill came in, fortunately, someone noticed that the water usage had suddenly soared, over previous months and years. "What's going on?" - they thought.
A quick check of the Baptismal records confirmed what everybody knew - No there had not been a sudden rush on full-immersion Baptisms in Bundanoon.
It turns out that the Bundanoon Uniting Church has a tap close to a side fence, which is adjacent to an area where a truck might draw up close by, and fill it's Water Tank. Indeed there were obvious signs of just that having happened.
So, what's been going on?
It seems likely that Water Tankers in the district have been stealing water from unsuspecting communities. We know of the Kangaloon School incident, where their tank water was stolen over the summer holidays. Now here is another case, it seems.
How many other cases have there been of significant water theft, which have not been reported, one wonders?
I understand that the tap has now been locked off. But it surely serves as a warning to the rest of us - watch out for suspicious looking activities of water tankers in your area. It must take quite a long time to fill a water tanker from a suburban-sized garden pipe, so I would urge people to "be alert and be alarmed".
Water thieves seem to be active in the Southern Highlands.
And they are targetting the most innocent an least suspecting in the community - firstly local country primary schools, and now small country town Church communities.
As Derrin Hinch would have said, SHAME, SHAME, SHAME.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Today, I was back at the Robbo Show manning an information
booth for the Save Water Alliance. We are explaining to people what is happening with the SCA's pumping of water from the Kangaloon Aquifer.
Cow Sign T-Shirts
For people coming to the Robbo Show, you can find the Save Water Alliance booth beside the large orange (and ugly) Dagwood Dogs stall. We are just beyond the main Pavillion, and behind the bar.
For the record, we are providing information about the pumping, and gathering information from local people.
For the sake of those amongst you who might be legally inclined, the Save Water Alliance, as an organisation, is not providing "electoral advice" to people (in the run up to the NSW Elections).
Pipe leakage point,
at Fire Trail entrance
One of the snippets of information which came our way today was that at the entrance to one of the fire trails, just off Tourist Road, Kangaloon, the pipeline had sprung a further leak. At this point, the pipe has an underground (buried) T-Junction, feeding a branch line to the 3rd pump in the line.
Sure enough, when I went there to check it out, there were obvious signs of an underground leak having been fixed. There was mud everywhere, signs of excavation, and re-levelling of the ground, following the fixing of the pipe junction. Truck tyre prints were everywhere.
At least, on this occasion, Bob Debus did not accuse any of the locals of having "sabotaged" the pipes. It's almost a shame, really. We got a lot of free publicity last time.
Of course, Butler's Swamp is totally flooded, and continues to get topped up every time we have another thunderstorm. One month's testing (in February and March) will tell the SCA absolutely nothing. The "trial" is a complete farce.
It is absolutely clear that he has the power (it is black letter law). It is a question of political will power.
As for the State political situation, it appears possible that the political cause is lost already (at the State level). However, in the case of the Kiama and the Goulburn Electorates, the issue is still wide open. I first spoke with Matt Brown, privately, about this matter, on 13 November. Matt has been absolutely loyal to the Party line, (the "Sussex Street Party Line" - that is).