Wednesday, April 6, 2022

“Anyone else noticing Local Governments systematically being dumbed down?” asks Greens councillor Sue Abbott

Upper Hunter sunset


Greens councillor Sue Abbott is calling out Upper Hunter Shire Council’s recent move at ending most of its community committees.

“At the beginning of this new council term, council resolved to get rid of its former community committees and to replace them with three new district committees, which are yet to meet,” said Sue Abbott.

“That means the old library, community services, heritage, and sustainability committees along with many others have all been axed. The business of those former committees is now to be subsumed into councils’ new district committee structure and its renamed standing committees.”

“In my opinion it is very disappointing that the old community committees have gone, and that the new district committees have not even met yet despite the fact that council is going through its community strategic planning process right now.”

“The ‘closing-down-of-community-committees’ is a gagging of the community’s voice, and that translates into a general dumbing-down of Local Government.”

“There used to be a broad amount of participation from the local community in council’s affairs, but with the insidious corporatisation of councils across the board, community voices are being silenced.”

Sue Abbott is available for interview. Phone: 0418 237 021

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Multi-national coal and their playbook are never about community

Full page attack, Friday 5th November 2021

 A couple of weeks ago, a friend showed me this page from the Hunter River Times published Friday 5th November 2021.

 I could not believe what I was reading. 

I was appalled at this vicious attack made by one of the world's largest most destructive mines, Glencore, and that here they were taking out a full page of goodness knows what in a ‘community newspaper,’ outright attacking two individual traditional owners for following a legal process.

But this paper, the Hunter River Times, is no ordinary independent community paper. It is the NSW Minerals Council's rag, and it brooks no criticism to do with mining from any quarter.

As chance would have it, I am running for the Upper Hunter Shire Council for a second term, and all 'councillor-candidates' were invited by the Hunter River Times to write fluffy 'vote-for-me' 100 word pieces for the Friday 19th November 2021 issue.

I chose my 100 words very carefully and precisely, and they were as follows:

"My name is Sue Abbott and I am appalled at the extraordinary attack recently launched by Glencore, the world's largest mining company, against two individual traditional owners for trying to preserve Ravensworth massacre site. I am also appalled that it was published in this paper."

"That Glencore resorts to bullying and intimidation so that it can extend the life of its open cut mine near Ravensworth demonstrates the Swiss giant is lacking any corporate responsibility. That the the Hunter River Times would run the piece on the mine's behalf demonstrates how missed truly independent media really are."

Admittedly I did think there was a good chance that my words would not be published but what I did not think was that words I had not supplied Hunter River Times would be inserted looking as though a contribution from me.

Words I did not write for Hunter River Times, Friday 19th November 2021

 This layout is misleading and deceptive.

I immediately contacted the Hunter River Times via text with the following words:

"I did not write those words on page 8 of the Hunter River Times (Friday 19th November 2021). Please retract them and please issue an apology in your next issue as they seem to be 'passing off' as me and those words are certainly not what I wrote."

In response, the Hunter River Times justified their action by informing me that the words they used in their column, purporting to be mine, were from my statement on the NSW Electoral Commission's website. 

Cherry-picking and cobbling together words from my nomination form do not qualify as words from me in the capacity readers think that they are reading, and basically just shows a complete lack of respect for me and for the paper’s very own readers.

I remain appalled by Glencore's actions towards the two individual traditional owners and also by everything to do with the Hunter River Times ... 

 ... and I still expect a retraction and an apology in the next issue of the Hunter River Times.

Furthermore I miss and will always miss ‘real’ independent community media so very much.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

IPCC tells world nowhere's safe

Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their sixth report, and it makes for salutary reading.

Everything in the report we already know, but this time the scientists have made it crystal clear that unless we do something urgently about the unprecedented human-induced global warming, we are on course for an unlivable planet by the end of this century.

Highlighting irrefutable evidence that global warming is driven by humans’ use of fossil fuels and resulting emissions, the report grimly states that the scale and pace we are changing the earth’s climate system have almost no precedent and have already led to catastrophic events which are predicted to only get worse if we carry on as we are. In fact, even if countries start taking climate change seriously and start meaningfully doing something about it, worsening impacts are already ‘baked in’ to the climate system for the next two decades at least.

Australian trends show that heatwaves will be more frequent and intense across land and sea, and that marine heatwaves will see a rise in ocean acidity. The intensity, frequency and duration of fire weather is projected to increase, and we will lose the Great Barrier Reef and other reefs. There will be an increase in heavy rainfall across the northern, central and eastern parts of Australia, with increase in droughts across the southern and eastern parts of Australia. Australian sea levels are predicted to rise faster than the global average leading to an increase in coastal flooding and shoreline retreat. Storms will also increase including sand storms.

This may be our final warning that the natural system cannot cope with our lifestyle and that we just cannot continue with business as usual if we are to have any chance of a future compatible with life.

We are at a fork in the road and we must act now.

So, what can we do?

First up we need to urgently reduce our emissions and to do so, that means:

1.      * No new coal, oil or gas development, or any new fossil fuel development of any kind, and for us to get out of existing ones pretty smartly.

2.      * We need to focus on reducing our emissions by 2030 because leaving this task until 2050 will be too late and essentially is akin to climate denial.

3.      * We need to reduce our emissions by 75% by 2030 (on 2005 baseline).

4.      * We need to be net-zero by 2035


… in a nutshell we must stop expanding all fossil fuel industries and stop the much-touted gas-led recovery immediately which means we need the right politicians and political representatives at all levels of government to see this happen.

So really the most important action anyone can do to halt climate change is to vote for the right representative. Climate change denialists have had their day and it is time for political renewal.

We just don’t have time for local, state and federal politicians who are not going to take the IPCC’s warning seriously because honestly, when it sinks in the current rates of climate change are unprecedented in the planet’s entire ‘4.5 billion years’ geological past, that is terrifying.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Can Upper Hunter Shire afford another year of climate inaction?

Do we care about intergenerational equity?

At the June 2021 Upper Hunter Shire Council Ordinary Meeting I could not and did not support the 2021/2022 budget.

Its lack of meaningful action to halt climate change and to mitigate the already damaging impacts we are seeing all around us as a result of climate change only goes to show that the Upper Hunter Shire Council plans to continue ignoring the signs of climate change already impacting our lives.

The 2021/2022 budget reveals that the Upper Hunter Shire Council is able to find funding for all kinds of projects including climate wrecking ones but is unable to adequately fund a climate emergency response.

Unquestionably a climate emergency response should be embedded in all of council's decision making processes: putting climate first in every single decision of council is essential and needs to be implemented.

Speaking to the world on World Environment Day 5 June 2021, Antonio Guterres (UN Secretary General) said:

"We are rapidly reaching the point of no return for the planet. We face a triple emergency:

  1. biodiversity loss; 
  2. climate disruption
  3. escalating pollution

Science tells us the next 10 years are our final chance to avert a climate catastrophe, turn back the deadly tide of pollution and end species loss."

... yet here in the Upper Hunter Shire we are 'picking the colour scheme for the family room' rather than doing anything about 'our house on fire' and the real emergencies steadily enveloping us.

We don't have time to be carrying on with the business as usual approach. 

Extreme heatwaves, wildfires, seas on fire from gas pipeline leaks, couldn't be clearer in demonstrating that business as usual is no longer ok.

We need a climate emergency response and we needed it last month.

Monday, May 17, 2021

A voice for children & nature - a voice for you

With my granddaughter at the SGS fete

 Quick update on me since I last posted ... I am running as the Greens candidate for the Upper Hunter by-election which is to be held in five days time (Saturday 22nd May 2021). I have been 'beatleling' around the electorate meeting up with people and participating in Meet-The-Candidates for the past three weeks. On Thursday 13th May 2021, I attended the Dungog Meet-The-Candidates forum at the Dungog RSL, and the following is the speech I gave to crowd in the allocated 10 minutes candidates were given.

Good evening, I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land where we meet tonight and I pay my respects to their elders past and present.

I am a first generation Australian because of "Love"! 

But let me go right back to my beginning. I was born in Germany, and for the first 18 years of my life I grew up in Germany, Holland, Cyprus and England. 

Then at 18, I started my registered nurse training at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London. And it was there at the back of the Barts' Hospital bicycle shed that I met this gorgeous young Australian doctor. Upon being asked whether it was 'Susie or Sue,' with me thinking it's neither but I might run with Sue, there followed a whirlwind romance with us getting married in England and then heading out to Australia at the end of 1982. 

I arrived in this beautiful land I was to call home for the rest of my life like a GI bride having never seen Australia before! I fell in love immediately with this beautiful country, and we came to Scone in August 1983. Our four children were all born at Scone Hospital, and all four did all their primary and secondary schooling in Scone too.

But now I am here before you as the Greens candidate for the Upper Hunter by-election, and the most pressing issue for me is Climate Change.

Climate Change is here in the Upper Hunter whether we like to admit it or not. We see the impacts all around us with droughts, bushfires, floods and the increase in their severity.

We are facing an existential threat to nature which includes us too because we are nature.

Our children's future is bleak. In fact our children have reached a tipping point where they are eschewing their education and leaving the classrooms to take to the streets to protest about the inaction on climate action. Our children do not feel that they have a future so they are wondering what is the point of even getting an education.

It is imperative that we transition to 100% renewables quickly and eliminate our emissions in an emergency capacity.

But there is no political will to tackle climate change and undertake necessary climate action.

Recently it was reported that as a result of massive glacier melting across the world due to global warming, there has been a shift in the earth's axis of rotation. This is huge, yet still are leaders are not moved to do anything.

Biodiversity is plummeting, and this breaks my heart. Here in Australia we have the biggest mammalian extinction rate in the world - that is not a good record to have.

But right now I want to transport you to another state ... I want to take you to Tasmania where I follow the cutest little Instagram account, the "Hobart Rivulet Platypus ... you should too! A post was popped up on this account just recently detailing that we (that's us humans) are the biggest threat to the iconic platypus, and that the continuous concreting over of rivulets and tributaries in Hobart is causing platypus deep distress, and platypus numbers are starting to decline.

Now let me bring you back to Dungog, and your own concrete spectre of more dams being built in this area again. I met with some of you from Hunter Healthy Rivers a couple of weeks ago and you shared with me your concerns about the growing dam-building talk. 

With Dungog residents

We know that dams are hugely destructive of nature and the natural environment, and we know that they completely destroy wildlife corridors and key areas for wildlife potentially impacting your own iconic koalas which you have here in the Dungog Shire. 

The proposed Tillegra Dam was chased off a few years ago because of environmental reasons, and I must acknowledge the 'marvelousness' of Tracey Norman (independent candidate for Upper Hunter and former Dungog mayor) who successfully championed that cause to make sure the Tillegra Dam did not go ahead. Dams are dinosaur technology as you told me, and they destroy wildlife corridors, and rivers, and even pose a threat to the Ramsar-listed Kooragang Wetlands. 

We know that there are other ways to conserve water such as user education, behaviour-change, recycling, water conservation itself, demand management and yet dams remain the popular choice for ill-informed politicians.

Let's talk about your koalas and their core habitats. You have breeding koala mothers here in the Dungog shire with the necessary primary and secondary feeding trees - basically you have koala heaven yet this is under threat with all the dam proposal talk. We cannot let dam building go ahead here at the expense of Australia's biodiversity yet again.

With respect to transition, it is already underway in the Upper Hunter. But what worries me is that it will not be just and we'll get left behind or abandoned if we do not get on board now.

Three disruptions are converging:
1. energy; 2. transport; 3. food and agriculture

With respect to energy; wind, solar, pumped hydro and battery storage have won the race and the market is running with its wallet. 

All sectors across our electorate must de-carbonise from fossil fuels, to health and hospitals, from tourism and travel, to farming and transport.

Regarding transport, it took only 13 years for the last major disruption in transport in 1,000 years to totally shift how we got around. In 1900 city transport was all about horses yet by 1913 it was all about cars (what happened to the horses? ... we ate them). So it only took just over a decade for transport to be completely disrupted and upended, and no-one saw that coming.

And with food and agriculture, it is projected that the dairy and beef industries will be totally disrupted by 2030. Precision fermentation and food-as-software are changing existing food paradigms, and quickly.

If I were to be elected I would advocate for a just transition to 100% renewables so that we are not left behind or abandoned, and I would insist on emergency elimination of our emissions.

I would be a voice for children who don't have the vote, yet who are terrified, frustrated, scared, and suffering from climate anxiety because they think they may not have a future.

I would be a voice for community organisations and neighbourhood-centres which all too often get overlooked when big money is being splashed around for the big ticket items.

I would be a voice for nature who now more than ever needs a voice and an advocate at the ready.

And I would be a voice for you.

Thank you

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!