Australian Politics - some Man’s Bitch

There are a few questions I’d like to ask Mr. Rudd that I know are unlikely to be asked by Aussie media. One is: ‘Is your wife a lesbian?’  The answer obviously has such far reaching consequences for the economy that it was ok to ask the then PM, Julia Gillard if her husband was gay. Such fun! 

I could ask him about policy but then that would radically change the nature of the last two years of vitriol and drivel that has substituted genuine public political discourse in Australian media.

The sexist assumption that raw courage and a ballsy insistence on shaking up the status quo – were not ‘womanly’ characteristics is laughable.

 Even here in local politics – women who reach positions of power often end up playing geisha to powerful men. Julia’s refusal to do this has cost her dearly.

A ring around of friends in Australia found; their families were better off after the carbon tax, the education and health sectors were better and they were genuinely happy with the job she’s done. But this was never about the policy. Rudd’s gutless undermining of government was forgotten as he simpered that he was simply answering the call of the wily and desperate and had come to – tahdah- save the party from oblivion in the next election. I guess he’s forgotten that he couldn’t do that last time round.

I hope Tony Abbot – PM in waiting and serial offender against public decency, kicks off his ‘Flick the Dick’ campaign. What fun! Or at least it was when he was organising placards with Bad Jelly flying through the skies that read ‘Ditch the Witch’ aimed at Julia. Similarly, Rudd would be amused if Abbot was seen on state television next to a sign that read; ‘Kev; Some Poor Woman’s Bastard.’ After all it was hilarious when he stood beside one reading ‘Julia; Some Man’s Bitch.’

Media coverage of Tony Abbot has been kind although he sounds increasingly like the mining industry’s bum boy each day – but then a mining magnate like Gina Reinhart would buy a media empire because she cares deeply about free and independent press. I know she didn’t do it for the cash flow. The Aussie media have allowed conversations over hair, backsides and clothing to overshadow any real discussion on policy or allow Ms. Gillard to shine in the areas she excelled; competent leadership, clever oratory and visionary policy. The level of misogyny she endured in her term as PM was, frankly, juvenile and repulsive.

They’ve exchanged a feisty red head for a dickhead and seem comfortable with that because at least he’s a bloke. And then there’s Abbot’s answer, when he was minister, to a woman who said ‘I just want my daughter to have the same opportunities as my son.’ “ (Yes but…)…. what if men are by physiology and temperament more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command?” The sentiments of a Taleban fundamentalist could hardly be described more succinctly.

Take a good look at yourselves Australia. You’ve made your bed and now you’re going to have to wake up with either Kev’s or Tony’s bed hair.

To the rest of Australian women; you had your chance now dust off your burkas and get back to where these men think you really belong.

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A Tale of Three Towns - Catamarca and Esquel and Puhipuhi

Last month far away in a village not unlike Whangarei,– something extraordinary happened. The Argentine town of Esquel celebrated 10 years of community solidarity, sustainability and true democracy. Thousands of people came out onto the streets to remember an unlikely victory for a town of only 30,000 people, against toxic mining that had threatened their town water supply.

To understand what is so remarkable about this is to know that Argentina was in economic meltdown and unemployment was three times as high as what Northland’s is today.

In 2003 the massive open pit mine in Catamarca - the Alumbrera-in the North was still being hailed as the gold bullet which would save the economy (it took until this February for a massive uprising of illiterate small holding farmers there to rebel against contamination in the air and waterways). Esquel is also at the other end of the country from where decisions get made.

But Esquel proved problematic for the mining PR men mainly because unlike their countrymen to the north, the residents are the educated middle class escaping the capital to establish environmentally sustainable businesses around the natural resources there.

Instead of taking the Environmental Impact Report from the mining company at face value the residents hired scientists from the University of Patagonia and found that the original EIR was deeply flawed. They formed an apolitical ‘Neighbourhood Association’ to better inform the community of the true costs of the mine as well as looking at a hard business case for it.

Consultation with the company broke down over a lack of integrity in the discussions. Namely; the mine sued residents over a leaked tape of PR and mining execs discussing ‘hiring community leaders to sway opinion and persuade hard liners’ to accept the mine and it’s proximity to the waterways despite the environmental risks.

This upset more than a few and over 8000 people turned out to protest. The Mayor – sensing a tide change– called for a referendum to decide whether or not the mine would go ahead. 81% of the people of Esquel voted against the mine and eventually passed a local bill banning all toxic mining in the province.

Esquel’s solidarity inspired other small communities throughout Latin America but it also became a case study for mining companies to ensure that it didn’t happen again. There was too much lead time for the community to get informed – they were educated and organised. Esquel and her fishing, skiing and National parks are today a thriving centre of sustainable business based on the vision of the genuine community leaders from 10 years ago.

De Grey has exploration rights now in two areas – the sparsely populated, arid and impoverished province of Santa Cruz in Argentina, and rights to 6000 hectares 30kms north of Whangarei, in Puhipuhi.

There has been no clear public information on whether this area is in the catchment for the town water supply.

The Ngati Hau report on behalf of Fonterra states that the Waiariki Stream in Puhipuhi is already high in mercury ‘to a level that indicates that adverse effects of mercury on the biota living within the sediments could potentially occur frequently’.

Ironic that De Grey’s info pack on Puhipuhi has dairy cows on the cover.

There is no mention in Stephen Joyce’s Economic Activity Report on how toxic mining could affect the production of Northland’s real white gold; milk powder. Or that it regularly floods there.

Instead – local politicians and PR men tell those who ask to ‘trust us – we know what we’re doing’.

They told the residents of Catamarca and Esquel the same.

About De Greys:

Ngati Hau report on behalf of Fonterra:





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