Friday, August 21, 2020

MOTHERLOAD (Official Trailer)


These are crazy times. 

It's hard to imagine how everything's going to play out, and I have to admit to feeling more than a little glum quite a lot of the time what with precious family members and friends scattered all around the world and wondering when I'm going to see them again. 

So when I read about 'Motherload' on Treehugger I knew immediately it was going to be a film for me - and boy was I right! 

I got myself all set up with my laptop and headphones, 'rented' the movie, made a cuppa and was basically swept away on a magical carpet ride of emotions and plans and pure joy. 

It was heaven! 

I wept, I smiled, I even took notes!!!!! 

It was so beautiful and it made me feel really alive, and also incredibly lucky that I have a beautiful bicycle which I get to hop on a lot notwithstanding Australia's ridiculousness with its insane devotion to its insane helmet law. 

Essentially anything to do with bicycles always makes me feel happy, alive and about six years old ... basically right in the moment. 

Liz Canning's moving and insightful documentary has reminded me that I love bicycles way more than cars, and truly no matter the weather I need to be on one (ok, if it's 37 °C and upwards I'll probably give myself a leave pass!).

So I'm back on my push-bike big time, completely head over heels in love with it again, and ...

... really looking forward to my other bike (my Christiannia) undergoing an e-bike conversion with the fabulous folk at Sydney Electric Bikes in two weeks time ... then I may have to just ride no matter how hot it is!!!! No kidding, there'll be no more excuses as I'll have two bikes to choose from with respect to Australian weather.

Thank you, Liz Canning, your documentary was a tonic and utterly inspiring, and I'm recharged and ready to take on the world again one revolution at a time!

Monday, April 6, 2020

So that’s that

Yours truly with gorgeous granddaughter
The second half of March 2020 has been like a whole decade and now here we are in April.

To keep you up to speed with my matters helmet, which right now seem so incredibly pointless, I attended Scone Local Court on Thursday 19th March 2020.

However because of all the new social distancing measures in place as a result of covid19, none of us (apart from lawyers, police and magistrate) were allowed into the courtroom.

I did actually have a lawyer this time, so he was permitted to step into court, and from what he has told me I understand that my matter of riding a bicycle without a helmet was withdrawn and dismissed.

So there we have it!

And with the lovely weather we're having right now in the Upper Hunter, I'll be back on my bike (my most favourite of wheels) in next to no time!

... and needless to mention, minus the helmet!

Oop la here we go again no doubt!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

National Parks, 1080 and indiscriminate cruelty

Why is the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) joining in with the Department of Planning Industry & Environment to be part of this reckless destruction of animals? How does such a poisoning programme fit with their brief? And done from the air too? How can an aerial programme be carefully targeted and administered?

What about protection for dingoes?
What about protection for wedge tail eagles?
What about protection for quolls?

How does National Parks plan on protecting them during this deadly two weeks?

Why are we still obsessed with protecting sheep farming to the lethal cost of Australia's native animals?

I am so sad about this unnecessary indiscriminate killing and I worry about the dreadful effects on both the targeted and non-targeted animal species.

Furthermore 1080 (sodium fluroacetate) taints water supplies, food chains and the general local environment, and death from 1080 is slow and painful and torturous.

But let's just think about the unintended lethal effects on non-targeted native reptiles, birds and insects? Between 2008 and 2015 New Zealand recorded 24 kea deaths caused by 1080 from a population of 199 that were radio tagged.

Surely there are alternatives?

I called that number on the poster and I expressed my dismay, and I was informed someone would ring me but that has not happened. No-one has called me.

If National Parks actually did an audit on all the 1080 they have chucked around our national parks how would it stack up? Has the 1080 programme been successful over the decades? Biodiversity still flourishing? Forests any better for it?

So cynically done as a 'post fire pest relief program' as though that will make our forests safer. I have never seen foxes or wild dogs here in Mount Royal, but I have seen dingoes and quolls and eagles and I feel sick with worry about their safety.

We do not deserve our beautiful country

Sheep - it's time we only counted them to get to sleep - I cannot see the justification in destroying dingoes, eagles, quolls and all the other Australian carnivores. 1080 is so old school, and such a hammer with no finesse, and just a lot of toxic poison that takes out so many animals.

I am so disappointed with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Monday, March 30, 2020

In Scone we've been given the proverbial hospital pass

Scone, NSW, one of many Australian towns with no ICU

We are ill prepared for covid19 yet we really ought not to be in this position when you consider that our state and federal governments have known this was coming since January this year. 
The message from China could not have been clearer.
In fact early on in the covid19 crisis, the federal government even called the “pandemic” for what it is today but then they all went off for a nap. 
Essentially, our political leaders wasted February despite the fact that they knew that this disease  came with a high mortality rate.
March saw a complete breakdown in both border-security and bio-security with the Ruby Princess docking in Sydney, then being permitted to allow all passengers to disembark and melt into communities across Australia, unbelievably underpinned by the arrival of many air travellers doing much the same with vague promises that they would ‘self-isolate’ … oh yes of course.
And so today we suffer unintended consequences 
(a) because of the rising rate of covid19 cases, and,
(b) because our leaders did not order in ample amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE) for nurses, doctors, ambulance personnel and police, nor vast amounts of testing kits so crucial in flattening the dreaded curve. 
Our governments should have been ready but they were not and many deaths that were arguably preventable may inevitably eventuate. 
So now we have been informed that it is up to us to do our bit to socially distance ourselves in order to minimise transmission, and that we need to be deadly serious about this strategy given that it is really the only one left in the box now. 
We need to quarantine and self-isolate ourselves as though our lives depend upon it because they do … and if we do need to go to the shops or the doctors or the hospital, we need to maintain a 1.5 metre distance from people we meet at those places, we must not sneeze or cough on them, and we must keep on washing our hands and wiping down supermarket trolley handles. 
Basically, we need to drastically curtail outings and stay home.
It is worth bearing in mind that Scone hospital does not have its own doctors per se but is staffed by doctors from Scone Medical Practice. There are no intensive care beds at the hospital and there are no facilities to care for ventilated patients for more than a few hours.
If the system is overwhelmed people will die in our hospital because we do not have the resources to look after them. 
Prior to the covid19 pandemic, patients who required further treatment other than treatment Scone Hospital could provide, would be transferred down the valley but if hospitals in Maitland and Newcastle are at capacity because of the covid19 crisis, access to their units will be blocked because they will be full.
Wondering how our public health system, which is already stretched to capacity, will respond to the covid19 pandemic has left me 100% certain that we need to quarantine (or self-isolate) ourselves as dedicatedly as possible … because if we do not do our bit we are on track for our hospitals to be completely sunk.

Please stay home.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

We Are On Fire

(Photo: Jimmy Abbott @mostlymountains)

Yet again my ‘Shire Notes were blocked by Upper Hunter Shire Council management - apparently not up-beat enough and apparently the Scone Advocate would not approve ... sigh. Sometimes I truly despair - anyway Council Comms were wrong about the Scone Advocate because the editor ended up publishing them in letter format! (see below post)

Australia is on fire. Millions and millions of hectares have burnt, at least 25 people have died, more than a billion animals have perished, and we have lost our homes, our trees, our grasses and our unique bees and so much more. The losses from these fires are unfathomable and have plunged the nation into the depths of despair. Communities have been ravaged and will never be the same again.

Yet our leaders remain disconnected from the Australian people and the natural world, and they continue to refuse to listen to our fire chiefs who between them all have decades of experience and wisdom and knowledge. Instead ridiculous conspiracy theories are being pedalled as to where the fault lies in an attempt to distract from the complete lack of political action in relation to climate change adaptation and our desiccated continent. Despite three hundred and fifty million metric tonnes of CO2 having been belched into the atmosphere by these Australian bushfires (the worst bushfires ever), water is being carted to coal mines to keep them operating.

Without trees we cannot breathe; without soil we cannot eat; without water we cannot drink or fight fires ... and yet none of these have been considered important enough to protect and cherish. Instead we have a backbencher remark that 'footpaths don't burn' as though that kernel of an idea might shed some light onto where to now.

Many fear that these unprecedented catastrophic fires are indeed our new normal yet

Australian rural fire-fighters on the frontline are an ageing unpaid 'permanently on-call' voluntary workforce with meagre government support. Unquestionably these women and men are the nation's heroines and heroes; but they are exhausted, and they are injured and too many of them have died defending us.

Right now all levels of government in Australia need to park the politics, and roll up their sleeves and work alongside each other because if we are going to have half a chance we need policies that protect and respect the natural environment more than ever.

Australia as we know it depends on it; our very existence depends on it.

Shire notes initially prepared by me for Shire Notes in Scone Advocate, then blocked by Upper Hunter Shire Council then published anyway by Scone Advocate as a letter ... such silly and unnecessary shenanigans

Saturday, November 30, 2019

We need a Royal Commission into Lack of State Pollution Control

Bayswater Power Station, Hunter Valley

Bayswater and Liddel Power Stations, Hunter Valley

Coal mines and coal fired power stations, Hunter Valley
We are dying in the Upper Hunter from the toxic air we breathe and the process is being comprehensively monitored by the New South Wales Government.
Yet what is the government actually doing about it apart from collecting data and sending out endless air quality alerts informing us that PM10 and PM2.5 levels for Aberdeen, Merriwa, Muswellbrook and Singleton have exceeded national air quality standards?
From what I have observed, absolutely nothing, apart from additionally giving us advice about ‘staying indoors’.
And all our local member (aka Michael Johnsen MP) has to say on the topic (and he was an apology for Tuesday night’s air quality meeting hosted by Friends of the Upper Hunter in Muswellbrook with the EPA in attendance) is that there are many “unsubstantiated claims out there” and that the government “wants everyone to be healthy” and that “this is not a political issue, it’s a weather issue.”
Despite his uninformed opinion, everyone who actually did turn up to last Tuesday night’s meeting, and that included Dr Richard Abbott from Doctors for the Environment Australia, Kirsty O’Connell from Friends of the Upper Hunter, Adam Gillegan from the EPA and approximately 50 worried community members from across the Upper Hunter, all fully accepted that air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. 

Moreover, they all fully accepted that there is no safe level of pollution and that if we stopped emissions from coal fired power stations and coal mines, our health would immediately improve with fewer deaths, fewer incidences of cardiovascular disease, fewer low birth weight babies, fewer premature babies and fewer new cases of diabetes.
They also all fully appreciated that even though the law says that prescribed standards of air impurities are not to be exceeded, the standards are routinely exceeded, and no polluter is ever satisfactorily prosecuted.
Hence why I now think that there is nothing else for it but to hold a ‘Royal Commission into Lack of State Pollution Control.’
We cannot keep on dying with the NSW Government watching on doing nothing.
We need protection – enough is enough.

Monday, October 28, 2019

I'm back and I'm still fighting helmet laws (naturally)

Blurb from Daily Telegraph (I'm not a subscriber!)

 Finally the hearing to solve our bicycle helmet matter has happened and been decided.

After waiting since Saturday 17th March 2018 when approx 40 of us joined the 'Freestyle Cyclists' Helmet Freedom' ride around Centennial Park and two of us received tickets for our pains followed by legal assistance and mentions in court, and notwithstanding two lots of counsel and instructing solicitors and expert witnesses plus us in Waverley Court on Thursday 24th October 2019, it was all over in 15 minutes!?

... and no mention of our freedom to political communication ... sigh.

The Magistrate entered the court room and read out his decision right at the beginning of proceedings whereby he held that the Crown was not able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the two of us (the defendants) had breached s 18 of the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust Regulation 2014 (NSW)
 Therefore the case was dismissed without the need to address the constitutional questions!
Noooooooooooo - I wanted to address the constitutional questions!
Anyway a win I suppose, in that there were no court costs or convictions, but really, a win like a 'forfeit' - very empty.
So we all packed up our things and went our merry ways, with me chatting to a NewsCorp journalist on the way out of the courtroom (see photo and caption above), and then with me the next day chatting to 'Wendy and Robbie' on ABC Sydney (which you can listen to at the 2:53:56 mark if you like)!
The next bicycle helmet chapter in my life (a completely different 'me-being-non-compliant' bicycle helmet matter) is to be heard in Scone Local Court, next March 2020 ... I'll keep you posted!