31 March, 2011

boys light up

The following is written to the tune of "Boys Light Up" by Australian Crawl

David Reyne's original lyrics were unintelligible anyway.....

I cycled past my neighbour’s homes
In Ashgrove, the seat of Kate Jones
Where Campbell campaigns day & night.
His hopes are up for Premier
but Ms Jones is putting up a fight.

Torak tractors sit in every drive
The grass is green, the streets are wide
The candidates pork barrelling
The electorate is carolling
They’ve got one point eight billion reasons
To oppose LegacyWay

CanDo thinks he's Joh incarnate
But that Kate Jones
She will not wait
She’s out on the campaign trail
will she oppose LegacyWay?

It’s all de ja vu
This is nothing new
Campbell is channelling Joh
Oh no, no, no, no, no,... then...
Queensland votes

Begrudgingly they go to the polls
Brisbane & its budget
Are now tunnelled full of holes
Campbell’s nominating
to reap what he didn't sow
With a legacy of debt
but no regret
Now he’ll give George Street a go

Out west & north they drill for gas,
Prime ag land salinated,
Just to bring in short term cash.
Kate’s going through the motions
Adaptive management to sell,
That great artesian basin,
will be full of holes as well.

26 March, 2011

Quirk of Nature

I have a tendency to re-write the lyrics of popular songs....

The following was written when Campbell Newman stepped down as Lord Mayor of Brisbane City Council.

[to the tune of "Freak" by SilverChair]

No more Campbell
Captain Quirk’s got City Hall
Sitting in a star ship
In the middle of a tunnel

Yeah, I'm a Quirk of nature
Yeah, I'm a Quirk

If only I could be cool as Can-Do
Cool as Can-Do

Can-Do you are soul
I'm a Quirk, I'm a Quirk
Can-Do you are soul
I'm a Quirk, I'm a Quirk

The same but different
Without a different outcome
I cut parks & libraries
To get a tunnel done.

Yeah, I'm a Quirk of nature
Yeah, I'm a Quirk

I don't really choose
How to be like a Can-Do

Standing against Ray Smith
Only Brisbane can lose.

If only I could be cool as Can-Do
Cool as Can-Do
Cool as Can-Do

Cool as Can-Do

Can-Do you are soul
I'm a Quirk, I'm a Quirk
Can-Do you are soul
I'm a Quirk, I'm a Quirk (x2)

the sustainable business weekly QLD Edition [Environment Protection Penalties, Enviro Politics]

It has been a huge week in Queensland Environmental politics.

The Queensland Parliament has passed a bill overhauling the penalties in the Environment Protection Laws.

One of the drivers of this change was to ensure that the cost of the fines exceeded the costs of proper disposal.

The Environmental Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Act allows courts to issue a range of new sanctions, including "monetary benefit orders" that require polluters to pay fines equivalent to any financial gain they obtained as a result of their illegal activity.

NortonRose will help ASBG unpack & examine the implications of these changes for businesses in the Environmental Management Workshop in May. We shall also examine the best ways to “stay out of trouble” with the environmental regulator.

The Campaign

As New South Wales goes to the polls this weekend, Queensland has suddenly found itself in an election campaign.

The Queensland State Elections are not actually due until mid/late 2012. The Queensland Government has been assuring us that the reconstruction of Queensland is a priority and there will not be an early election.

Brisbane’s current Lord Mayor, Campbell Newman, stood on a soap box outside Suncorp Stadium and announced that he was standing for pre-selection for the State seat of Ashgrove.

If Campbell Newman wins pre-selection for Ashgrove (in a one horse race), he will resign as Brisbane City Council Lord Mayor and the Brisbane City Council will be forced to appoint a new Lord Mayor from among the current batch of Councillors. Councillor Graham Quirk is the nominee for replacement Lord Mayor.

Mr Newman is not moving from Ann Street to George Street for the wood chop. He wants the top job. However, while there are still a few hurdles in his way, the Liberal National Party has already started an election campaign based on the premise that Campbell Newman will be Premier.

The likelihood of Campbell Newman NOT winning the Seat of Ashgrove is not only possible, it is probable.

The incumbent member for Ashgrove is the Honourable Kate Jones, a Government Minister for Environment and Resource Management. The margin of the seat of Ashgrove is 7.1%.

So until the next election Environment and Resource Management policy are going to be front & centre in the election campaign we have (even without a election announcement).

Landfill Levy

The first shot fired by the Campbell Newman at Kate Jones has been about the State Government’s proposed Landfill Levy.

The irony is that Council of Mayors in South East Queensland (led by Campbell Newman) have been intrinsically involved in the design of the Levy and fought tooth and nail to have Municipal Authorities exempt from the levy.

The levy will be cumbersome to manage, trying to determine the difference between Municipal & Commercial Waste.

Campbell Newman has attacked Ashgrove MP Kate Jones over her proposed landfill levy and said he had aspirations to “go down and sort out George Street”.

Water Wars

There is no doubt that Campbell Newman will escalate the blame game for the price of water.

Coal Seam Gas

Some believe the next point of differentiation between Campbell Newman & Kate Jones will be over the Coal Seam Gas Industry.

There is a lot of political mileage to be made if Campbell is seen to be advocating on behalf of landholders.

To date the Queensland Government has been opening doors for the Coals Seam Gas Industry, adopting an adaptive management regime. This means that approvals can be modified to ensure the environment is protected if strict monitoring requirements detect any unexpected or unacceptable impacts.

There is speculation that Campbell Newman will take a more prescriptive approach with managing the industry. Up until now, there has been very little opposition from the Queensland State Opposition to Coal Seam Gas.
The breakaway conservative QLD party and the Queensland Greens are pushing for a moratorium on any more Coal Sean Gas Development.

Stradbroke Island

For better or for worse, the Queensland State Government has brought forward the timetable for the cessation of sand mining on Stradbroke Island.

The Carbon Price Debate

In Canberra this week, there has been very little progress towards gaining any details of the proposed Carbon Price.

Question time in Parliament & the Senate was more like a “Rock & Roll” wrestling match, with mixed messages about the Government & the Opposition’s actual positions on pricing carbon.

Bryan Dawe and John Clarke have provided an elegant summary of the current state of play.

19 March, 2011

tunnel vision


Deep, deeper than you’d think
You’re building Northern Link
One point eight billion dollars dear
A sneech with belly stars
A tunnel built for cars
Campbell, you are soul

I'm missing Kevin Rudd
Been lying in the mud
Trying to stop the excavation
Sow and you shall reap
You make me feel like I could weep
So deep, tunnel vision

A road, Toowong to Kelvin Grove
Ratepayer debt now owed
Leaving us a Legacy of debt
Explain all these road tolls
I can't drive but you dig holes
Your goal is tunnel vision

Pay a toll on another hole
Campbell you are soul
Lying down, excavation
Sow and you shall reap
You make me feel like I could weep
So deep, tunnel vision

Blind, tunnel vision is all you see
Debt is the Legacy
Nothing in life is free

Pay a toll on another hole
Campbell you are soul
Lying down, excavation
Sow and you shall reap
You make me feel like I could weep
So deep, tunnel vision

Tunnel Vision….
Tunnel Vision….
Tunnel Vision….
Tunnel Vision….
Tunnel Vision….
Tunnel Vision….

18 March, 2011

Sustainable Business Weekly QLD Edition [Risk management capability in a changing climate]

ASBG QLD met with staff from NortonRose’s Brisbane Office this week and are closer to announcing a series of half day workshops throughout May, June & July 2011.

Topics will interest Environment Practitioners, Safety Managers and those whose responsibilities cut across Environment, Health & Safety.

ASBG is still planning a number of FREE public evening forums on Sustainability, with moderated panel discussions.

The first QnA forum will start with a presentation on Electric Vehicles (EV’s), followed by a Panel discussion on roads, rail, rates, rides etc…

A subsequent QnA forum will consider the vulnerability and sustainability of our industrial food system.


This edition of ASBG’s Sustainable Business weekly considers the question posed by Prof Andrew “Wilf” Wilford from Bond University:
Is our risk management capability maturity adequate to deal with such issues as accelerating climate instability, energy security and resource depletion? If not, why not. and what needs to change?

Risk Management Capability

In light of recent natural disasters, it appears that it is the low frequency high impact incidents - fire, flood, earthquake, tsunami, melt-down - that capture our collective attention and response, at almost any cost.

Meanwhile the high frequency low impact events (in terms of death and injury at least) cumulatively have a far greater impact on society and our environment, but to these many people are largely oblivious.

High frequency low impact events
One of the most dangerous activities that we face is getting to and from our workplace and business related travel.

The Australian Financial Review reports that occupational health and safety covers more than just office or factory premises and includes transport too.

A draft of the national heavy vehicle laws and the questions of maximum & minimum driving hours are part of the changing regulatory environment.

The question of fatigue also has implications for those of us who commute.

It is time to reconsider the risks and occupational health, safety & environmental impacts of commuting and business travel.

In the hierarchy of control, eliminating a hazard is the first step. Advances in Information technology are providing more opportunities to allow staff to tele-commute instead of commuting or travelling. One has to seriously consider the possible consequences of tele-commuting in terms of exposure to risks and emissions reductions.

Building Risk Management Capability

One of the half day workshops being proposed by ASBG QLD is a crash course in AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009.

After 5 years of development, the Risk Management Standard, AS/NZS 4360:2004 has been superseded by AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009, Risk management - Principles and guidelines.

ASBG intends to unpack AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 and explain the relevance for Environment, Health &/or Safety Practitioners.

Accelerating Climate Instability

The Federal Government's key climate adviser Professor Ross Garnaut says the scientific case for climate change has been strengthened.

He has released the fifth update to his 2008 report on climate change - specifically tackling climate science.

The sixth paper considers the price of carbon & emissions reductions.

The Carbon Price Debate & Coal Seam Gas

The majority of Australia's greenhouse gas emission cuts this decade are meant to come by switching from coal-fired power to gas.

In Queensland, a switch to gas means coal seam gas. There are concerns about groundwater contamination and depletion, fugitive emissions and other environmental impacts including on food production.

The Australian Financial Review reported that JP Morgan had serious concerns about Queensland's significant water risks and a potential risk to public safety.

There is also a risk that if the price of pollution is set to low by the Gillard Government, that it will simply become an incentive scheme for investment in transitional technologies (like gas) rather than renewable energy (such as baseload solar thermal with storage or wind turbines).

Reframing the climate change debate

One of the take home messages from EcoForum last week is that the doom & gloom messages are not helping the climate debate. There is an emerging school of thought that focuses on the benefits to society of cleaner technologies and reduced consumption.

14 March, 2011

let's talk about poo

Apologies to Salt 'n' Pepa for theft of their melody:

(Punch it, Jack
Yo, I don't think we should talk about this
Come on, why not?
People might misunderstand what we're tryin' to say, you know?
No, but that's a part of life)

Come on


Let's talk about toilets, baby
Let's talk about poo and wee
Let's talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let's talk about toilets
Let's talk about toilets
Let's talk about toilets
Let's talk about toilets

Let's talk about toilets for now to the people at home or in the crowd
It keeps coming up anyhow
Don't decoy, avoid, or make void the topic
Cuz that ain't gonna stop it
Now we talk about toilets on the radio and video shows
Many will know anything goes
Let's tell it how it is, and how it could be
How it was, and of course, how it should be
Those who think it's dirty have a choice
Pick up the needle, press pause, or turn the radio off
Will that stop us, Nora? I doubt it
All right then, come on, Spin


Its hard to believe but I know its true
Girls stops going to school ‘cause there’s nowhere to poo
Fellas poo like fools, but then again they're only human
Pooing on the street or in the creek, the smell is fumin’
Poo, wee, pads, sanitary napkins
Lying on the street or out in the open
Flies and vermin spread the disease
People can’t work when their on their knees
Don’t even mess with central sewers, when pit latrines will do
2.6 billion people with no designated place to poo
We are blessed with loos to do our poos,
We have it all on tap so we should be wrapped,
But we take the flush and toilet paper for granted,
Think about wasted water and the trees not planted!
No sense, just waste, followed next by pollution,
Ecosanitation is a better solution.

Let's talk about toilets, baby (sing it)
Let's talk about you and me (sing it, sing it)
Let's talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let's talk about toilets (come on)
Let's talk about toilets (do it)
Let's talk about toilets (uh-huh)
Let's talk about toilets

Ladies, all the ladies, louder now, help me out
Come on, all the ladies - let's talk about toilets, all right

(Yo, Nora, I don't think they're gonna play this on the radio
And why not? Everybody does poo
I mean, everybody should be pooing in a toilet
Come on, there’s 2.6 billion people without a toilet?)


Surfin Poo & Wee

"Well everybody did a motion,
Across the U.S.E*....
And it all ends up in the ocean,
We're surfing poo & wee,
You’d see em flushing the toliet
mixing their ones & twos
flushin with potable water,
Surfin wee & poo

Sewage has primary treatment,
To remove the chunks that stink,
By the time its tertiary treated,
It could be fit to drink....
All that embodied energy,
Embodied water too...
Would it not be better to separate our ones & twos?

You see the deep outfalls at Bondi
& discharged at Potter Point
Sepia Depression & Bolivar
Sandgate and Luggage Point
All over Port Phillip Bay
And Gunnamatta Beach

Everybodys gone surfin
Surfin wee & poo

We all mix our wee & poo,
We’re gonna flush real soon
We’re flushing down our faeces
We just waste our poo
We could be growing our veges
We could be growing a tree
Tell Jack Sim were surfin
Surfin poo & wee

Gibson Island desal plant
is keeping Incitec cool
they waste the Nitrogen & phosphorus
then burn the fossil fuel
All over Australia
We mix our ones & twos
Everybodys gone surfin
Surfin wee & poo

Everybodys gone surfin
Surfin wee & poo.

Everybodys gone surfin
Surfin wee & poo

*United States of emergency

13 March, 2011

Baked Development

Danielle Crismani inspires me.

"My name is Rowan and I am a petroleum industry process engineer, it has been 6 years since I last drove a car."

This is my petroleum anonymous statement of affirmation.

I have been pondering the difference between "relief" and "development"

Elizabeth Webb Brown - the CEO of EWB wrote recently:

These events remind us of the critical importance of disaster preparedness and the subsequent humanitarian response. EWB continues its work to support long-term community development projects. In doing so, we aim to build the technical capacity of disadvantaged communities. In time, we believe this process will also improve their resilience to events like these ones we’ve witnessed over the past two months. EWB is also working in close partnership with RedR, as they work to support communities in the wake of natural disasters and conflict – www.redr.org.au.

My ambition is to work in international development but this is unlikely while I raise infants. So, the best thing I can do for the international community is encourage sustainable living in my own community.

I would love to see Baked Relief move beyond relief and work to subvert the dominant paradigms of the industrial food system. Food Connect is halfway there but we need to learn to cook again.

12 March, 2011

Ecoforum, Minchin Vs Garnaut, NZ's ETS, Pork Barrels

The Australian Sustainable Business Group (ASBG) are still in discussions with NortonRose on the best ways to deliver some workshops on the ever changing Carbon market. Public Holidays, school Holidays and other time constraints are making it difficult.

Stay tuned for a series of half day workshops in May, June & July as more detail is revealed by the Federal Government. ASBG is working with NortonRose to provide up to the moment information on the implications for business of the Carbon Price Architecture announcements.

In another half day workshop a representative from DERM will discuss "how to stay out of trouble with the regulator."

Yet another half day workshop will follow, for those with an interest in Safety. Particularly, changes to Dangerous goods regulation and the new chemical classification and labelling systems.

ASBG is also planning a number of FREE public evening forums on Sustainability, with moderated panel discussions.

ASBG at Ecoforum

This week ASBG participated in an Ecoforum Workshop. The stated objective of the workshop was to encourage “business” to interact with community groups to increase understanding and bring about cooperation between industry and community.

I think it is an important objective to engage Community Groups with Technical Specialists. It is essential to raise the technical knowledge of community groups. They appear to lack the very basics of water chemistry, biology, ecology and the associated institutional arrangements.

We achieved a great deal and had the opportunity to discuss future strategies with David Bates – one of the convenors of EcoForum.

Senator Nick Minchin vs Professor Ross Garnaut

Senior Liberal Nick Minchin says the earth is more likely to be cooling than warming. The Senator has criticised Professor Ross Garnaut for being "on the Government's payroll".

While the debate about the Gillard Government's carbon tax plan, continues to rage, Professor Garnaut warned that the scientific case for climate change had strengthened the position that the Earth is warming and that human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause.

Senator Minchin - who led the Liberal Party's move to dump leader Malcolm Turnbull over his support for action over climate change - says Professor Garnaut, an economist, "knows nothing about the climate".

One can contact to Senator Minchin via his website or by snail mail:

PO BOX 2141
Kent Town SA 5071

One can also find Professor Garnaut review updates online.

New Zealand steps closer to an Emission Trading Scheme

A panel reviewing New Zealand's emissions trading scheme has issued a discussion paper summarising the impacts and soliciting for feedback.
The NZ scheme starts with a very soft start. The current NZ discussion paper solicits views on ramping up the scheme. NZ’s ETS only requires liable parties to surrender one unit for every two tonnes of emissions until the end of 2012.
Liable parties can currently also opt to pay a fixed price of $25 per emissions unit. About 50% of New Zealand's emissions come from agriculture, and agricultural processors are due to enter the scheme in 2015.
The paper says the average dairy farmer currently incurs working expenses of about $494,000 and the entry of agricultural processors into the scheme will increase these costs by about $10,000.
Sheep and beef farms currently incur average working expenses of $180,000 a year and these will rise by $5,500 a year.

Ray Smith’s Barrel of pork

Labor Candidate for Lord Mayor of Brisbane (2012) Ray Smith wants to hand out $100 in water rebates (barrels of pork), while billions of dollars of water recycling infrastructure at Bundamba, Gibson Island & Luggage Point sits idle.

Councillor Adrian Schrinner (Brisbane City Council’s Finance committee chair) suggested that Ray Smith's proposed water rebate would result in cuts to Parks and Libraries. Ironically (and/or hypocritically) the Lord Mayor Campbell Newman has already cut funds to roads, parks, libraries and community grants to fund flood reconstruction & his beloved Northern Link Road tunnel

Brisbane, Ipswich and the Scenic rims sewers are now operated and (poorly) maintained by Queensland Urban Utilities.

QUU is the water and wastewater business servicing the five local authorities of Brisbane, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and Somerset. QUU is jointly owned by the five councils and operates as a statutory authority. The sewers & water distribution networks are suffering from years of neglect & every second week another water main erupts under a sink hole.

Brisbane’s Lord Mayor – Campbell Newman, Ray Smith and Premier Anna Bligh appear to be too focused on election cycles.

Water & sanitation infrastructure is too critical to be neglected & milked for cash by short term thinking.

06 March, 2011

some love to cook, I cook to love

I am inspired by passionate people.

I am inspired by people who are actually making a difference.

I am way impressed with the work of Danielle Crismani (also known as DigellaBakes) the founder of Baked Relief

According to Digella:
On Monday 10 Jan 2011 I hashtagged #bakedrelief to rally support for volunteers working on Brisbane floods. It got BiG!

As the water recedes and the mud is washed away from South East Queensland & when the dust settles over Christchurch, I wonder if BakedRelief could ever become BakedDevelopment.

Let me explain.

In the circles that I mix in international development we distinguish between emergency relief and development assistance.

Emergency Relief is often the essential but short term band aid solutions, in response to an immediate crisis.

I believe Development Assistance (when done properly & effectively) is about bringing communities out of poverty, whilst promoting ecological sustainability, resilience and self reliance.

In my short terms exposure to working in international development assistance, I have come to believe that many developing communities have more to offer me, than I have to offer them.

For the time being, I am limited geographically to working in my own community, whilst I raise infant/s. I spend a lot of my time at the moment as a part-time, stay-at-home Dad.

One of my duties is to cook for both my baby and my beloved wife.

Some people love to cook. I hate it. I am not very skilled at it. I understand a great deal of the theory but I am really quite hopeless in the kitchen.

I have no attention to detail.

I have a tendency to short-cut, leave out essential ingredients or substitute ingredients.

I have no appetite. I often forget to eat. For me, eating is a chore and cooking more so.

However, my attitudes are changing.

I am trying to learn to cook. I cook to demonstrate my love for my beloved wife & child in a tangible way.

If I say that I love them, but feed them pig slop, then there is no proof of the pudding in the eating.

I love my wife. I love my child. I love my planet.

I am taking the time to think about the food that I buy, the meals that I prepare as a demonstration of that love.

It is alleged that Jesus said words to the effect:
"What father among you, if his son asks for bread, would give him a stone, or if he asks for a fish, would give him a snake instead of the fish?

My daughter has not asked me for bread yet. She just screams when she is hungry or points at things and says "mummy, mummy, mummy".

My wife does not ask me for bread either. She just expects that, after a twelve hour day of vocational pursuits, I would be considerate enough to have a meal on the table, when she walks in the door.

If the food I prepare is an act of love. Then I am challenged to think about where it has come from. Who are farmers who grow the food? Do I love them?

Do I show my appreciation to those who grow, process and deliver my food? Do I even know where my food comes from?

Do I love the land? Do I love my country?

In a democratic society, every purchasing decision is a vote. Everything I buy is an exertion of my political will.

Do I support the trans-national companies or do I support family businesses? Do I support sustainable farming practices? Do I believe in fair trade?

For over a year, I have been buying a box of mixed fruit & vegetables from Food Connect, every second week. .......but Food Connect is only half the picture. I need to learn to cook.

That is where I see a need for BakedDevelopment.

By way of allegory, BakedRelief might give a man a fish so he can eat for a day.

BakedDevelopment might teach a man how to cook a fish, to demonstrate his love for his wife & child. BakedDevelopment might help a man choose a fish that is not an endangered species, so that there are still fish to eat when his daughter grows up.