Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Open letter to Mike Baird: Our beautiful trees, why?

Dear Premier,
If you're reading this on your laptop, push & play Connor O'Brien's beautiful song - maybe you might weep a little. As for the rest of us, we're sobbing and we cannot stop.

We are at a loss to understand why you are ravaging Sydney.

Why this onslaught?

Why this war against the environment, animals, your voters, our children?

No-one can understand why you have embarked upon such vandalism and it had led many of us to think that you actually do not care if you are re-elected or not in three years time, which in turn has led many of us to think that perhaps you are in fact part of the 'Big Corpa' push which has infiltrated our parliaments and public institutions at all levels ... and with such catastrophic consequences.

Why else would you carry on the way you are carrying on?

Tell me, Premier, how do you explain the Anzac Parade tree issue to your children? How do they weigh up your argument for the destruction of heritage listed trees coupled with desires of stadium merchants and private infrastructure companies and a 4-legged casino versus the desires of Sydneysiders and the city?

Personally I feel as though you have been beating me with a savage weapon - your assault on the trees affects me bodily and psychologically. I want to run away but there's nowhere to run, there's no safe place, everywhere is polluted by you and developers.

I live in the Hunter Valley, and my beautiful valley has been destroyed by successive NSW governments and their cavalier approvals of mining applications. Notwithstanding the extensive environmental massacre to date, my town Scone is on the brink of extermination with a further slew of mining projects waiting for approval from you.

And so you carry on in Sydney too with your motorway building, your refusal to invest significantly in effective public transport and your continued infatuation with fossil fuels and the private car. You did not see the environmental benefits those trees brought to the city of Sydney, did you?

Did you not realise that the magnificent trees on Anzac Parade operated as essential carbon sinks and as essential environmental coolers - do you have any inkling of the havoc that you have wreaked upon Sydney now that those beautiful effective and efficient climate controllers have been decimated?

You have created an inversion cloud of despair that has enveloped so many of us far and wide, young and old, urban and rural. The various groups of us who have assembled for tree meetings, tree vigils and tree protection blockades have been diverse and from many political persuasions, but now having borne witness to your execrable tree destruction, many who once did vote for you, have vocalised that they will never be voting liberal or national again ...

But you do not care do you, because maybe your 'after-political' life is all sorted. Why else would you carry on as you are, flying in the face of the expert advice which has consistently cautioned you against the state-sanctioned razing of our grand boulevards.

Your obsession with infrastructure and empire building has left you completely incapable of valuing what we actually have.

Your obsession with infrastructure and empire building has enabled you to oversee the wanton obliteration of Sydney.

In terms of us and our short time on this planet, the trees you slaughtered were 'ancients' and were here long before us, and without your annihilation of them, would definitely have outlasted us.

What gives you the right to destroy such beautiful living beings which tragically and inevitably has translated into the deaths of the beautiful living creatures that used to call those trees home?

Distressed protestors have borne witness to the fact that many animals went into the wood chippers on Monday night. This is abhorrent; you have blood on your hands, Premier, and the planet will not forget.

Australia's violence towards women and 'cultures-other-than-anglo-saxon' goes hand in hand with its violence to the environment.

The white male christian philosophy continues to lay claim to a perceived entitlement over everything living and breathing and otherwise.

You and your government are part of that 'paternalistic emperor' mentality ... but you are not representative of Sydney nor of New South Wales, and none of you can be trusted with your leadership roles.

There are rumblings afoot and we will not be contained. We cannot continue to watch you liquidate our city any longer - the time for civil disobedience is upon us.

We have responsibilities in our participation of democracy, and those responsibilities do not stop at the ballot box.

To protect our future and our children's future and their children's future it is looking like a spot of civil disobedience is the order of the day.

You have lost control, and this is not a good look for any of us ... you included, Premier.

Oh and this smug chap, does he not realise that his electorate of Wentworth is the battleground that is causing us all so much grief? Does he truly believe that if he looks away this whole business will just vanish, and everything will be fine? Oh chortle chortle, I think not.

A call to arms has gone out, and families, individuals, the wider Sydney community and even the wider New South Wales community are answering the call. I urge you, Premier, to cease and desist this reprehensible execution of our magnificent trees, of our diggers' trees. After all, lest we forget, many of the trees were there in place to commemorate the felling of our young men and women during the first world war, yet it has become all too apparent that the trees, like the young soldiers one hundred years ago, were politically and commercially expedient ... cannon fodder.

Shame on you, Mike Baird, ... there is no Planet B.

Kind regards,
Sue Abbott

(with thanks to everyone whose internet images I sourced and used ... including my own which were up there too!)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Court cases coming out of my ears

(Image: Logo from District court penalty notice)

(Image: list of monies owing ... sigh)

I've been a busy little curial bee already this April what with the pre-pre-trial via telephone, linking me to proceedings in the Adelaide Magistrates Court followed by the Waverley call-over for my AFP bicycle matter.

As a result of all that I have two new dates for two new court appearances:

$$$ 21st June 2016 - Adelaide Magistrates Court
$$$ 15th August 2016 - Sydney (somewhere)

... but what I'm still really smarting over is last month's experience in the Newcastle District Court.

Apart from being dismissed out of hand by the judge (only to be expected I suppose - this is Australia after all) it was the 'pre' bit before the judge made her entrance into the court that has left me particularly cold.

Once the court-room doors had been opened that morning of my matter, I had gone in and sat down in the public-seating area of the court. Shuffling my papers in an attempt to get psychologically and physically prepared, I was aware of another would-be criminal alongside me (we tend to flock together us 'crims') going through the same sort of pre-match process.

It appeared that we might be the only two to be heard that morning, and we were completely outnumbered by lawyers sitting at their exclusive table just in front of us. These officers of the court were utterly oblivious to our presence, and once I was neatly folded and sorted along with my papers, I couldn't help but tune into their conversation, and it crossed my mind that doctors have been sued for less.

It was astounding - with nary a care that two of us in the tiny court were not part of their circle and really ought not to be privvy to their gossip, colleagues and clients were discussed at great length and in great detail.

After a while the bewigged one got up and left the court leaving the suited ones to continue. One of the legal-suits asked one of the DPP solicitors if she had much on that morning to which she replied not really except for a bicycle helmet matter.

Well that got them all excited and there was a lot of 'loose-lips-sink-ships' chat like 'not that woman who ...' and then suddenly another of the DPP solicitors had a 'there's-a-boom-up-there' moment, and employing glorious elocution techniques pronounced slowly and carefully that:

'Mrs - Abbott - is - in - the - court' ... ahhh lovely

... and then watching them all scurry to try and find some semblance of professionalism was nauseatingly pathetic ... sigh.

There is no access to justice via law courts, and there is no access to good manners via lawyers. I would get a better hearing if I was a 'wife-basher.'

Everyone paid by the legal system that day was annoyed with me - as far as they were all concerned, my quest in petitioning for a redress of a grievance was just an exercise in wasting court time.

Careless chatter, arrogance, entitlement, insensitivity, obliviousness to surroundings and other people, I'm sorry but I expect more from my justice system.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

No-one hates cyclists like Australian politicians

(Photo: Me & Dr Pete McInerney, Torbole, Italy taken by Enid McInerney)

It is no exaggeration to say that Australia is an outlier when it comes to sharing the roads with vulnerable road users. Now make that vulnerable road user a cyclist, and the nation fairly quivers with apoplexy especially our politicians.

In the state of New South Wales (NSW) where I live, the NSW Roads minister is a former truckie and it shows.

His approach to road safety for vulnerable roads users has completely missed the necessary point of providing actual road safety, and his new expanded Road Rules which entail whopping great fines for cyclists and future ID requirements have placed these cyclists on an equal footing with motorists in terms of culpability. Cyclists have been ‘frogmarched’ as equal partners into a road law of oppression and privilege notwithstanding that they are the vulnerable the road users. Cyclists have never been so at risk on Australian roads.

Now to spice up this very toxic mix of bicycle-demonisation let’s add a little mandatory bicycle helmet law, a veritable corporate cul-de-sac if ever there was one.

Through industry acrobatics and academic false promises, the framing of our very Australian mandatory helmet laws has become the dominant ideology in Australian bicycle culture over the past 25 years since they were ushered in.

Our comforting helmet-safety myth, in which all Australians are fully subscribed, is received wisdom and embedded in the Australian psyche across our entire sun-burnt country ... BUT ... by prescribing cycling safety through mandatory plastic-hat wearing, bicycle helmet laws have failed to articulate the actual and inherent danger of cycling which is the direct contact with motorised vehicles.

As a result the progressive erasure of everyday ordinary bicycles from Australian roads has been evident - oh yes, Big Oil, beloved by Australian politicians and their super accounts, rules here.

Now it gets personal because I am one of the unusual ones; female and middle-aged and still out there on my everyday ordinary bicycle … but not in their prescribed plastic headwear designed for sporty types and velodromes. No the hats I wear are big-brimmed ones for our rather steamy summers and woolly berets for our rather chilly winters.

As you can imagine this behaviour has not gone unnoticed by the authorities.

After 20 plus court appearances (with two more pending) I now have three criminal convictions for the Australian crime of riding a bicycle without a helmet - why heck with my criminal record I can’t even visit the United States!

Disillusioned yet determined to use my implied Australian right to participate in democracy and avail myself of the responsibility to petition for a redress of a grievance, I make it my business to contact the NSW Roads Department on a regular basis. The last communication I received from them informed me that 30% of cyclists who die on NSW roads are not wearing helmets. Employing their binary programme mentality and flipping their statistic, I assume they are also informing me that 70% of cyclists who die on NSW roads are wearing helmets which prima facie looks like cycling without a helmet is considerably safer.

But I digress … let’s check out emergency departments (EDs) in Sydney hospitals, where some eager-beaver doctors have widened the definition of brain injury to encompass unreported brain injuries … yes I am ‘fair dinkum’ … we now have this ‘silent majority’ noted in ED data and used to support mandatory helmet laws, one so silent as to be undetected by actual statistics or evidence!

To add to our miserable transport dilemma, our politicians are also aided and abetted by unelected yet ambitious middle-aged-men-in-lycra (mamils) running bicycle kingdoms, and let me tell you they adore that ‘silent majority’ paradigm.

The whole ‘bicycle safety via helmet compulsion’ issue in Australia is poisonous. Bullying prevails and kills off dissent in a most anti-intellectual manner. You only have to look back a couple of years when the eminent British neurosurgeon, Dr Henry Marsh, gave his expert opinion at the Hay Literary Festival that bicycle helmets were a waste of time. Holy moley, Australia fainted, and our media went into a frenzied melt-down, permitting evangelical-helmet opinions from non-expert bicycle bureaucrats to trump Dr Marsh’s expert one every time.

As a nation, we have truly embraced collective stupidity. We have allowed a boys’ locker room mentality to pedal the incoherence of helmet law safety concepts, and none of the elected or unelected folk involved in running NSW roads speak for cyclists like me, nor do they want to.

This is Australia, and we get what we’re prepared to put up with … sigh.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Newcastle Court: Appeal dismissed

The Australian helmet road continues.
In a nutshell the judge said that she was not going to indulge me in my crusade to change the law from her court (or words to that effect).
That was the 'conviction' part of the appeal, and with the 'severity' part I decided to stick with what I'd been dished up at the court of first instance ... ('things could get worse,' I thought!)
And there we have it; criminal conviction no. 3 still stands and I'm no further along that fanciful road of riding a bicycle like the rest of the world than ever before.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Heigh ho! Heigh ho! It's off to court I go!

(Film: Bicycle Dutch)

The other day I watched this beautiful clip showcasing the Dutch and their babies doing their 'everyday bicycle stuff' and it made me feel happy, and mad, and sad ... all at once.

Now I can't stop thinking about how crazy we are in Australia with our 'everyday bicycle stuff'!

And yes it confirms my opinion that it all comes back to an inate sexism so deeply engrained here in Australia.

This is a nation that continues to sacrifice women, and children, and trees, and Mother Nature on an altar of white male insecurity even though we have the evidence and data to say we should do none of these things.

This is a nation that continues to elect an array of self-serving predominantly male politicians who continue to trash our nation by their own limitations and deficiences.

This is a nation that gets who they vote for ... sigh

Tomorrow, Wednesday, I am to appear in the NSW District Court in Newcastle (first of a trifecta of helmet court matters over the next two weeks, next one in Adelaide followed by the third one in Sydney). I am appearing to appeal against the criminal conviction I received in the Scone Local Court last year.

Yet again I will be protesting our mandatory bicycle helmet law made against evidence and science, and in contempt of the environment.

Yet again I will be protesting the craven hubris of the influential uninformed.

Yet again I will be protesting the 'unquestioning endorsement of the necessity of helmet compulsion which has conferred undeserved credibility on our useless helmet law.'

Yet again I will be protesting the very Australian triumph of general ignorance and its miscarriage of science.

But this time I am going to revisit Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Politica Rights whereby it states:

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.

... and section 41BD of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 whereby it states that a medical device is an:
1(a)(iii) investigation, replacement or modification of the anatomy or of a physiological process

... then diverting off to here

... where bicycle helmets are effectively delisted - (oooh but are they?!)

... and where I am then going to argue that because I don't use my bicycle at home, or for occucupational use or for recreational use, a bicycle helmet cannot be excluded by this table in my instance and therefore does fit after all the definition of a medical device as set down by the provisions in the Therapeutic Goods Act!

Oh, it's worth a burl don't you think!

I'll keep you posted

Monday, March 21, 2016

NSW Government and the Trojan Horse Brigade

At a recent tree rally on Anzac Parade earlier this month many of us felt we had been sold out by those who ought to be protecting our beautiful heritage listed trees on Anzac Parade and Alison Road.

Where was the outraged commentary from Centennial Parklands, or Royal Randwick, or even the City of Sydney, and why had the RSL been so nasty?

And where was the covereage in the Sydney Morning Herald?

Why hadn't this issue been on every front page since the tree felling process had commenced?

On reflection I guess the SMH were never going to get too involved given that they are so ridiculously propped up by both the horse-racing industry:

... and the oil industry:

Still notwithstanding the campaign to save the trees was gathering momentum on social media, there was a genuine sense of abandonement.

But the ever-growing revulsion of our New South Wales representatives was totally justified today by Background Briefing's explosive expose of our dodgy government and 'vested' interests.

Acording to Background Briefing's report, that curly scrolly bridge in the above image (the massively controversial Tibby Cotter Cycling and Pedestrian Bridge) turns out to be suitable for vehicles up to 10 tons.

Why, you ask, when to all intents and purposes the bridge was built for pedestrians and cylists?

Well as Background Briefing informed us, it is considered to be highly likely that this massive structure is the early beginnings of a massive underground carpark

The NSW government plans to completely commandeer our public lands and trees to build new stadiums and to create sporting precincts even for tennis which is so on the nose at the moment and may never recover.

The government has been eagerly aided and abetted by the pathetic Centennial Parklands Trust and its trustees who have got completely confused as to what their brief actually is ... namely protecting the parklands and keeping them safely in trust for people now and in future to enjoy and use freely and naturally.

Goodbye Anzac Parade and Kippax Lake as we know it ...

(screen capture: Fourfourtwo, Sydney Stadium Stuff)

... as we watch this out-of-control-government trash this unique memorial and get ready to clutch their hearts on Anzac Day to feign sorrow and gratitude.

For the benefit of NSW politicians, Background Briefing reminded us that the Anzacs marched down Randwick Road (later renamed to Anzac Parade in their memory) to Circular Quay and were bundled on to ships and off to war some of them never to return to Australia again ...

A sandstone obelisk designed and constructed by the city architect, RH Brodrick, was placed on Anzac Parade in 1917 to serve as a memorial to Diggers who did not return and as a meeting placed for those who did.

Yet even that poignant memorial was not safe from the machinations of a development-addicted government which under the premise of rennovation removed it indefinitely to some back lot of the Roads Department in order to build ...

... an entrance to a car-park, leaving just a stump of yet another Anzac memory ... so very disrepectful.

(Image: 1961 last day of Sydney trams on Anzac Parade, reservation Moore Park; Lindsay Bridge, Flickr)

And to think that if we hadn't got rid of Sydney's trams 55 years ago, which we're putting back now at great cost and angst, maybe this whole sorry saga might not have taken place ...

Oh, we have not been well served by our state representatives ...

... is it time to dispense with such a silly tier of government?

(cross posted to Scone Blogger's Blog)