16 November, 2009

Australian Sustainable Business Group

The Australian Sustainable Business Group (ASBG) is a business representative body helping organisations deal with the substantial and rapidly changing environmental, and greenhouse laws and helping them to become more sustainable.

The new website is now up and running at www.asbg.net.au please have a look and check out its new features.

Formerly known as the Australian Environment Business Network, (AEBN), the name change reflects the broader scope of environmental issues to encompass sustainability issues. A key additional focus of the ASBG will now include a heavier focus on climate change and energy efficiency issues.

ASBG has a Brisbane office, headed by Rowan Barber, State Manager Queensland –
ph (07) 3040 2270.

ASBG Seminars

View the workshop flyer and agenda


12 November, 2009

thank you Peter Garrett MP - Federal Minister for the Environment

I TAKE my duty as Environment Minister very seriously. To protect Australia's environment on the basis of the best available scientific evidence and after considering the Traveston Dam proposal and the best available scientific evidence and other material that is in front of me, it's my intention to say "no" to Traveston Dam.

My proposed decision is based on science. It's clear to me that the Traveston Dam cannot go ahead without unacceptable impacts on matters of national environment significance.
In particular, the project would have irreversible, adverse affects on nationally listed species such as the Australian lung fish, the Mary River turtle and the Mary River cod - both of those endangered - and that these adverse effects would contribute to the further decline of the species.
In making my decision - a proposed decision - I've also considered the social and economic impacts of the proposal. I've determined that any possible economic or social benefits are likely to be outweighed by the unacceptable impacts on listed threatened species.

Now I know that there's been massive public interest in this proposal and I'm aware of many, many submissions that have been made to the Government.
I've looked very closely at the material provided to me by my department. I visited the site. I have a robust record for making sound decisions under the national environment legislation.
This has been a difficult decision. I've considered it carefully, thoroughly and comprehensively.

It's important to note that I have made - already - decisions in favour of the construction of dams; the Wyaralong Dam here in southeast Queensland and additions to a dam in the ACT at Cotter.
But I've come to the view, after considering very closely all the relevant matters that I'm required to under the national environment legislation, including social and economic matters, that this dam in my view should not proceed.
There are specific and additional matters that I've taken advice and received advice on.

They are that the areas to be flooded and the affected river system will impact on important and critical habitat of important populations of the Mary River cod, the Mary River turtle and the lung fish.

There's likely to be significant disruption to critical ecological processes for these species; breeding, recruitment and the connection between populations.
I'm not satisfied that the impacts on the long-term survival of these species would be adequately addressed by the mitigation and offset measures proposed.
The measures proposed, such as fish passage devices and the proposed turtle ramp, haven't been proven and they can't be verified until after the dam is built and operating, and sufficient time passes so monitoring can be done.
And the Mary River turtle was likely to be impacted to the extent that there could be a future decline in the species.

Additional relevant matters that have informed my proposed decision include our international obligations to protect listed threatened species; that the economic benefits of this proposal were uncertain; and that under the (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation) Act, I must consider the precautionary principle when making any decision of this kind and I've done that.

The fact is that this proposal in my view will have unacceptable impacts on threatened species that are nationally protected, and as a consequence I don't consider that the dam should proceed.
Our precautionary principle, our international requirements and considering broader social and economic interests as well, confirm that proposed decision for me.
I conclude by making a simple point: Australia's environment is of importance to all Australians. And those nationally listed species we need to protect to the best possible extent that we can.

It's my duty as Environment Minister and my proposed decision that I'm making today is made in that context. And finally saying that, I recognise that the overall threats to freshwater species in our country are great.
I take my duty as Environmental Minister very, very seriously and on that basis I've made this proposed decision about the Traveston Dam proposal today.

11 November, 2009


Campbell Newman
Lord Mayor

the Honourable Rachel Nolan,
Minister for Transport,

Councillor David Hinchliffe
Central Ward

Dear Lord Mayor,

The following story is a work in progress. Perhaps you can assist me by telling me and my 8 week old daughter how the story might end!!

How will historians (and poets) remember you?


Rowan Barber
Normanby Q 4059

Now the car addicts of Brisbane were dependent on cars.
The cyclists of Brisbane clung to their handle bars.
The roads were quite wide; there was plenty of room.
So you think the cyclists & car drivers would be happy to zoom.
But those in their cars, would yell out in vain,
"Hey you, you cyclists, get out of our lane."

With the soot in the air, cyclists would cough and they'd snort,
For some space on the road a fight would be fought.
And as for pedestrians who resorted to walking,
the car addicts zipped past them without even baulking.

When the car addict's children were dropped off at school,
those who rode bikes or walked were considered un-cool,
Yet they lined up for blocks in the school traffic jams,
you’d think it would be better if they all caught a tram

When the car addicts of Brisbane drove their cars to the coasts,
the traffic was grid locked, while the trains carried ghosts,
they never considered the gases emitted.
Along side the roads was the stuff that they littered.
They commuted to work, they parked there all day,
and didn't think twice of the price that they paid.

Then one day, it seems, while the car addicts
were static, just static grid locked in the traffic,
sitting there, wishing the congestion would ease,
up popped a stranger who was aiming to please.

"My friends, " he announced in a voice almost human,
"I want to be Lord Mayor ‘can-do’ Campbell Newman”.
“I've heard of your traffic; and I have a suggestion
I can fix that; I am the ‘can-do’ of congestion.

I've come here to help you; I’ve seen your dismay,
My tolls will low, and I’ll show the way,
and my public private partnership will be user-pay."

Then quickly, the Lord Mayor ‘can-do’ Campbell Newman,
Proposed a truly remarkable solution.
Then he said, "You want to drive freely from A to B?
I’ll build you a tunnel for a billion dollars or three.
You know you can trust me, I am a man of my word,
Just keep me in office and call me “my Lord"

They elected him Mayor with a nod and a wink.
The Coro Drive bus lanes disappeared in a blink
He dug North-South bypass, he built Hale Street Link .

When the car addicts drove he would charge them a toll!
They actually paid to go down through his hole!
Then as time went by more cars filled the tunnel,
they closed surface roads so the traffic would funnel.
then grid lock returned, and traffic it queued.
the Emperor in new clothes now appeared to be nude!"

"Good grief!" groaned the ones who had been gridlocked before.
"We're no better off, perhaps worse off, we’re not sure.
We are stuck on a freeway in a tunnel they all frowned,
We just took the same problem and moved it underground

Then up stepped Can-do with a nudge and a wink, and he said,
"Things are not quite as bad as you think.
We’ll just make them wider and longer and deeper”.
Their addiction to cars was not going to get cheaper.

So they dug more tunnels and added more lanes
and then had to build wider, longer, deeper storm drains
“we need more bridges & tunnels, " said Can-do.
When you build a new sewer people don’t do more poo,
but when you make the roads wider more people will drive,
Like swarms of angry bees when you mess with their hive.

....to be continued

Anna the Premier

In the far-away place known as the State of Queensland,
Anna the Bligh was Premier in command.
A quiet little place. There were jobs & low debt.
The weather was warm. The water was wet.
Queenslanders had everything Queenslanders might need.
And they were all happy. Quite happy indeed.

They were... until Anna, Premier Anna the Bligh,
She decided the State that she ruled was too dry.
"Water", said Anna, "is needed to keep us all fine.
But we don't have enough. We'll build desal, a new dam and a massive pipeline".

I can dam the poor Mary,
I can suck the coast dry,
To hell with the turtles & lung fish that die.
"If we have more water, how much greater I'd be!
What a Premier! I'd be, much better than Premier Beattie, you see!"

So Anna, the Premier, lifted her hand
And Anna, the Premier, gave a command.
She ordered a desal for Tugan
CMF RO at Bundamba
And, a dodgy impact assessment for Traveston Dam, ha.
She connected a grid of pipes hundreds of miles long.
And she built pipelines to pump purified sewage to Tarong.
And then Anna was pleased that her State could be wet.
What a wonderful water grid but she was not finished yet.

For then Premier Anna, she still wanted more,
She decided the State that she ruled was too poor.
"Cash", said Anna, "is needed to run our economy.
But we don't have enough. Global Financial crisis stole it from me".

I can sell off the rail,
I can sell off the ports,
The royalties from more coal,
Should add some more noughts.
"If we sell more coal, how much greater I'd be!
What a Premier! I'd be, much better than Premier Beattie, you see!"

So Anna, the Premier, lifted her hand
And Anna, the Premier, gave a command.
She sold the rail and the ports and more coal mine leases.
Instead of golden eggs she had sold off the geeses.
She made Stanwell, Tarong & Swanbank Callide burn coal.
The rest went to Asia, leaving behind lots of holes.
And then Anna the Premier was pleased with the collection.
What a wonderful war chest, let's hold an election!

Another Letter to Premier Anna Bligh & Treasurer Andrew FraserShare

Premier and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Anna Bligh

Treasurer and Minister for Employment and Economic Development
The Honourable Andrew Fraser

Dear Premier Bligh & Treasurer Fraser,

What will it take for you to make the connection between coal & catastrophic climate change?


Rowan Barber

Joint Statement:
Premier and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Anna Bligh

Treasurer and Minister for Employment and Economic Development
The Honourable Andrew Fraser

Premier drops in on new developments set to unlock Galilee Basin's potential

More than 100 million extra tonnes of coal could be exported every year from Queensland with $25 billion of new projects in the Galilee Basin under consideration by the State Government.

Premier Anna Bligh and Treasurer Andrew Fraser visited the area to the North of Alpha today with Waratah Coal officials on their way to the Premier's 19th Community Cabinet as leader of the state in Barcaldine and Longreach.

"The Coordinator-General is currently conducting whole-of-government environmental assessments into three significant projects that have the potential to create up to 13,000 new construction jobs and around 4,400 operational jobs," said the Premier.

"There are three new mines proposed near the town of Alpha with the potential to add another 100 million tonnes of coal to the state's leading export industry.

"Waratah Coal proposes to spend $7 billion to kick-start this region with the establishment of a 40 million tonne per annum coal mining operation.

"Waratah's proposals alone could create 7000 construction jobs and more than 1500 ongoing jobs."

The Premier said the massive level of investment was exactly what the region needs to be a success.

"We're talking about potential economic and social benefits in this region and also far beyond the towns in the west. Taxes and royalties from projects like these support new jobs and services around the state," said the Premier.

Treasurer Andrew Fraser said that Hancock Prospecting is the other major player in the region and plans to spend $16.5 billion on development of its Alpha and Kevin's Corner mines.

"Coal would be transported more than 400 km by rail to a new Abbot Port terminal for export and the mines could begin shipping their product by 2013," he said.

"Although these projects must still satisfy all approvals and receive company sign-off there is reason to be excited about this largely untapped region. "

As well as the mines, the project proponents are also planning to provide new rail lines, port infrastructure, water supplies and airport facilities worth billions of dollars.

The Premier said that to help the region's development the State Government has established a group to examine how proponents could align their plans, particularly for infrastructure.

Ms Bligh said the Galilee Basin Common Issues Forum (GCIF) was already identifying common goals among stakeholders and opportunities for cooperation, including on a common rail corridor and port facilities.

"The first meeting, chaired by the Department of Infrastructure and Planning, was held in September with representatives from Hancock, Waratah, Vale, AMCI, Bandana Energy, Queensland Coal Corporation, QER and Linc Energy," she said.

"Officers from several state agencies attended, along with Barcaldine Regional Council, Whitsunday Regional Council and the Queensland Resources Council.

"They discussed the planning and infrastructure task including power, water, roads, air transport, service industries, worker accommodation and regional housing implications, skills and training, regional benefits/impacts and community liaison.

"We will continue to work with these companies and do everything we can to facilitate them to get these projects off the ground."

Contacts 07 32244500

Waratah Coal

Galilee Coal Project (northern export facility)

Production up to 40 million tonnes of coal per annum with capacity for expansion
Expected capital cost in the order of $7 billion
Proponent is preparing its EIS
Involves construction of an open-cut coal mine and attendant infrastructure to the northwest of Alpha, approximately 450 kilometres west of Rockhampton
A new rail line is proposed to link the mine to the Abbot Point State Development Area (APSDA) near Bowen and the proposed port of Abbot Point for export
Total employment 6000 people during construction and 760 permanent positions
Initial exports are targeted for the second half of 2013
Hancock Prospecting

Alpha Coal Project

The proposed open-cut mine is expected to be developed in stages and have an initial export capacity of 30 million tonnes per annum
Expected capital cost of $7.5 billion
Proponent is preparing its EIS
Proposal includes a mine and construction of a railway to an expanded facility at Abbot Point or new export terminal to be established at Dudgeon Point
New major water and power supply infrastructure would be necessary to service the mine and port
Initial exports are targeted for 2013
Project could create employment for 2500 people during construction and 1600 permanent positions during operations
Hancock Prospecting

Kevin's Corner

Forecast export capacity of 30 million tonnes per annum
Expected capital cost of $9 billion
Draft Terms of Reference for the project now released by the Coordinator-General for public feedback
Proposal includes an open-cut and underground coal mine at Kevin's Corner, 56km north of Alpha in the Galilee Basin
Mine could create more than 2500 construction jobs and 2000 ongoing jobs
First coal could be exported in 2013

Here's Sara Svensson's speech from the press conference in Barcelona:

My name is Sara Svensson, and I'm from Sweden. Tomorrow is my 25th birthday,
but I won't be eating birthday cake this year.

I’ve been involved in different kinds of climate activism for most of my
life. I studied International Project Management for Social Movements and
NGOs, combined with environmental science. *
I have committed to participate in Climate Justice Fast, an international
hunger strike for climate justice. From today and until we meet again in
Copenhagen, I will be eating nothing and drinking only water.

The end date of the fast is still open. When I break the fast depends on
what happens in the climate negotiations and in the world. The only thing I
can guarantee is that I will end the fast if our demands are met.

Climate change is the defining issue for my generation. Previous generations
did not understand the problem, and for future generations it will be too
late to do something about it. It is up to us.

I'm undertaking this fast out of love. Love for life, for our beautiful
planet with all its species and future generations. There's nothing more
important I can do in my life than to contribute in the strongest possible
way, with full devotion, to set an end to climate change and injustice and
be part of the movement that will lead us to a sustainable future.

I'm showing how much I care. How much I'm willing to risk, how much I'm
prepared to offer. How deeply devoted I am to this cause. I hope that it
will inspire others and help the necessary shift to happen.

I love life and health, but I'm willing to risk it to secure the survival of
others. Food is good, chewing is fun and I will miss jumping around full of
energy. It will not be easy to abstain from something as essential as food.

Still, my personal sacrifice is nothing compared to the suffering of the
hundreds of thousands of people who already die from climate change each
year, and the many millions of people who would be suffering in the years to
come if we would fail to solve climate change. Voluntarily abstaining from
food is not easy, but it's possible. Solving climate change is also not an
easy task, but it's possible, and we will.

This is the right thing to do at the right time. Turn to essentials, turn to
emotions. The pure, the true, the real. Touch hearts. Push the limits, move
on to the next level.

I will enjoy this peaceful time to reflect while others are busy. We will
focus on the big picture while COP15 gets lost and stuck in a thousand

Now is the time to mobilise the movement for change.

We call on all people to get involved in the climate movement. We know the
science. Educate yourself. Think about what's most important? Change your
mindset. Your goal in life can't be a comfortable life where you consume
everything you want. Widen your perspective. Think of the invisible
consequences behind your actions. Challenge yourself.

No specific person is to blame. There's no single enemy responsible for
causing the problem. Yet climate change is happening, and it’s deeply unjust
and immoral. With knowledge comes responsibility. We ask every single person
on this planet to seek for solutions within themselves, and find the courage
to act with global consciousness.

Hunger striking is a positive act of humble nonviolence that we are
undertaking as extremely concerned citizens. Judging from the support we are
getting, a lot of people feel the same way.

We're not only in a climate crisis, but also a democracy crisis. We must
highlight the failure of our democracies to reflect the best interests and
opinions of their population.

Many species throughout history have polluted, consumed or overpopulated
themselves into extinction. But if we as humanity fail to solve the climate
crisis, we may well become the first species who has done so in full
knowledge and awareness of its own actions. I believe in humanity, we can't
be that stupid.

Climate change is an opportunity to redefine our common values, and to
create the just and sustainable world that most people everywhere want. The
world is ready for change. This is the start of the sustainability era.

To move into that era, we have to do all what we can, right now, when
there's still the smallest amount of time left. We must be able to look back
and know that we did all what we could do. Maybe I’ll have children one day,
and I must be able to look them in the eye.

Sara Svensson