Sunday, December 31, 2006

More complaints from the country

Again from the Border Mail, this time from Lucyvale:

SINCE the fire holocaust, Premier Bracks has promised to provide more firefighters by sending them to university for four years to learn how to fight fires, but a better idea is to fully compensate the CFA volunteers, the real firefighters, as other states do.

Let the cattlemen back on the high plains; farmers are the greatest conservationists, keeping growth down, destroying weeds and getting rid of feral animals.

If too stubborn to do this, employ a great many more Department of Sustainability and Environment workers to work in national parks full-time, keeping rubbish down and tracks clear, not just two or three clearing walking tracks, as happens now.

The neighbour from hell fines landowners if all weeds are not obliterated, which are then re-sown by seed from locked-up land in national parks.

Why should it always be rural communities that suffer because of Premier Bracks’ city-centric government?


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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Watershed submerges Bracks

From the murky depths has emerged a story that developed prior to the November State Election. Bracks secretly considered building a dam over the Mitchell River, despite publicly announcing his opposition to any form of investment in dams. A report predicted ecological harm to the river.

The double speak does not end there. Bracks also made moves to establish a desalination plant at Westernport Bay, despite criticising the plan on environmental damage grounds. The plant, used to generate political capital, has been hijacked by the Premier, and is now at the feasibility study stage with the Department of Sustainability and Environment.

"The Government is proceeding with investigations into desalination despite dire environmental warnings in the study, including: damage to seagrass in UNESCO-listed Westernport Bay; damage to fish stocks in the bay; and problems disposing of salty brine."
Independent MP Craig Ingram comments:

"It's a shock to me that they would be considering the comparison when up to now they have used it politically and ruled it out. My view is that it's not negotiable and environmental damage would be disastrous."

P.S. The Premier of Victoria does not have an official residence.

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Federalising Water Flows? Bracks says no

The Australian reports today that Steve Bracks has refused to discuss handing over cross-border water flows to the Federal Government, despite Victoria entering Stage 3 water restrictions from Jan 1 2007. “The states have patently failed over the years despite all of the warnings to institute practices and to build engineering works which would secure their long-term future" said Peter McGauran.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bracks must fix gambling sector

Ellen Whinnett comments on the history of the gambling shambles that has beset the Bracks government, reminding us it is not a problem that has emerged recently.

As previously noted, the extension of the Tattersalls license features large, and the potential legal action originating from Intralot for due process failure is also noted. An extended corporate law case, bringing sensitive documents into the public domain will be avoided at all costs by the Bracks government. Even if this means dealing Intralot in for a larger percentage than previously assumed.

A second action of note has been brought by a director of Tattersalls, Julien Playoust, who is claiming that former trustees (and now shareholders) who helped package the company for its float should be due a share of $35 million. There are damaging revelations emerging from this case, such as the lunch Steve Bracks had with David White, a former ALP health minister and consultant for Tattersalls through Hawker-Britton. Indeed, he apparently informed a meeting of Tatts representatives that the wheels of government could be greased in their favour.

This is above and beyond the issue of poker machine operations, separate from the lotteries monopoly discussed above, yet also involving Tattersalls, with Tabcorp joining in a cosy duopoly. Obviously involving other companies erodes profits, so the Tabcorp lobbyists will no doubt be working overtime to see things stay the way they are.

An Upper House enquiry would be a good starting point so that the entire process can be reviewed.

Have also included Blogger Labels for the most recent fifty posts to assist in navigating. So, if you want to read about a subject area, click on the corresponding word and the relevant posts will be displayed.

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Bracks should listen to country people on fires

A letter from Beechworth

HERE we go again, another summer another terrifying round of bushfires.

What will it take for governments to realise that ordinary country folk know what they are talking about when they say, if you insist on having all public land tied up in irrational parks this is what will happen.

Will someone tell Premier Steve Bracks that if you don’t have enough resources to keep hazards down in and around inhabited areas, stop creating more national parks.

We must insist that larger zones around private land abutting the “neighbours from hell” be of sufficient size (100m) to get bulldozers in to at least allow private owners to have a chance to save fences and assets.

The other advice would be to stop shutting up fire tracks; I have been told by firefighters that this is a great hindrance when trying to access fires.

The resources used to close fire tracks and put in huge humps and logs should be used for hazard reduction.

How much of our private land must be destroyed before the powers that be wake up that we can help save more assets by larger divisions between private and public land?

Perhaps if the surrounds of the Thompson Dam were to burn and the resultant silt were to invade the Melbourne water people would wake up and realise what country people go through after such huge fires and be a bit more wary of what and who they vote for.


UPDATE- Mark Webster, also from Beechworth, writes about the changes that have occured over time with regards to fighting the fires.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Jackpot= Bracks mishandles gaming tender

In this festive season, Bracks blunders may sneak under the radar of most. Not us, we're all eyes and ears.

News reports today confirm that the Victorian Lotteries licence granted to Tattersall's (operating games such as Tattslotto, Powerball and Oz Lotto) has been extended for a further year, following a botched review process, and the arrival on the scene of Intralot. This will represent an additional $1.2billion ($1,200,000,000) of income to the shareholders and trustees of "the man in the hat"from Victorian gamblers.

This is the second time that the Premier has asked the process of opening up the lotteries sector to competition. The committte appointed to review the who should be granted licences after the expiry of the Tattersall's one was given extra time to make a decision after "undisclosed probity concerns" emerged.

To compensate for the inconvenience, and the embarassment of a legal challenge into the license granting process, Bracks has apparently offered to give the Intralot a share of the state's gaming market, as well as allowing it to expand into Coles and Safeway supermarkets.

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Goldfields waterlink just a Bracks pipe-dream

The Country News reports that Steve Bracks is attempting to blame Canberra for his own mistakes in water infrastructure, demanding the Commonwealth pay out on its project, which links the water supplies of Ballarat and Bendigo, as soon as possible. Malcolm Turnbull is not having a bar of it, explaining that financial documents detailing the projects have not yet been lodged.

"Mr Bracks should reserve the sharp edge of his tongue for his own bureaucrats and get them to hurry up," Mr Turnbull said. "Victoria is dragging the chain. "The delay makes me wonder whether they have committed to this project without any detailed financial analysis at all."

Turnbull also explored the options that exist for Victoria, and each of the other States and Territories have in respect to future water planning:

  • build more dams
  • buy water from Goulburn/Murray irrigators
  • build desalination plants
  • recycle more water.

A belated Merry Christmas to our readers.

UPDATE The Sydney Morning Herald also has the story here, although with less colourful quoting.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Parliament, we hardly knew ye

The Bracks government has opened the new parliamentary session by announcing that it will sit for "at least 50 days". As Paul Austin opines, this is subject to the Legislative Council sitting a number of Fridays "as required", and at a minimum will be 48 days, in the Legislative Assembly. The reforms make it very difficult for a Government to answer questions about its policies, behaviour and progress.

The other incident relates to the failure to release a report, detailing plans for a water exchange between the Latrobe Valley power stations and Melbourne. Although John Thwaites had proclaimed it released on the Stateline episode on the 11th November 2006, just over a month later the Deputy Premier admitted releasing only details:

At the time we released our central region strategy we released details of that project — details from the feasibility report. We indicated at the time that certain matters were commercial in confidence and were not appropriate to be released. This is a very positive proposal that deserves proper investigation, and that is what we will do.
Assembly Hansard 19/12/06 P.10
Team Brackswatch is very happy with the efforts of parliamentarians keeping the Government accountable, going as far as using their Maiden Speeches to attach Bracks Government policies. These include the Bernie Finn, former member for Tullamarine and now representing the Western Metropolitan Region, and Matthew Guy, representing the Northern Metropolitan Region. Greg Barber from the Greens is also worth watching, attacking a Bracks government on different issues.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A transport review post-election?

Announced today is an investigation into Transport Infrastructure to be headed by Sir Rod Eddington (former BA CEO), so that the Bracks government can find the "correct mix" of public transport, acknowledging long term planning is needed for public transport.
In that case, why was this not a central part of election policy, and indeed, why has this report been started so late, when much of the development in the outer reaches of Melbourne, has already occurred?


Guest Post- Anon

Just wonderful – Another four years for this do nothing government. Unbelievable. We desperately need more dams and roads but all this pathetic lot do is talk about it. I notice the government paid advertising is back on the radio full bore again. Last year they spent something like $290 million on that crap. I guess the high country people really appreciate Brack’s banning the maintain cattle men now. The extra fuel load in the bush the cattle would have eaten is helping them keep there mind off not having much water or the fact Brack’s lot are releasing lots of it into rivers to keep the greenies happy.Still there is one ray of sun shine in all of this I can say “Don’t blame me I voted for Ted for the next four years” assuming I don’t move North and escape. :-)

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Lower House Swing

When results are released for the lower house, Steve Bracks is expected to have lost six seats, five to the Liberals and one to the Nationals, after a 4.6% swing against the government. Ferntree Gully is the closest, with Nick Wakeling getting over the line by 27 votes. Although the increase in primary vote for the Liberal Party was minimal, the preference votes of Family First have come into play, especially in those outer eastern Melbourne suburbs where seats have changed hands.

Steve Bracks must be prepared to face more scrutiny from all parties for his decisions from now on. It Begins.



Days after the election, Steve Bracks announced a rejuvinated Cabinet, which included the number two candidate for the Southern Metropolitan Region; Evan Thornley.
So confidant of Thornley's eventual election (which has been validated only today) Bracks made him a Parliamentary Secretary, with special responsibility for National Reform Agenda.
If this is how overconfident the Premier is now, we can only until next year to see how he turns out, for the worse no doubt.

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Guest Post- John Modra

Don Quixote’s cabinet

“His Ministers love nothing more challenging than chasing after something you can’t see.

Mr Bracks has every reason to feel nervous --as he was on ABC Friday night ; He’s done nothing to ensure his advisors are driving vehicles with an actual working history . He ‘s got plenty of cars, horses and jousting poles, but the cars are all in bits and the horses are only as willing as the tight reigns and the touting at windmills allows. More on"


Guest Post- Lori McLean

Why is this Bracks Government spending so much money on the Health system in the Eastern suburbs when the West are crying out for funding and not getting their share. Even the safest seat will fall in time . People in the West are sick of the neglect. One Hospital from Altona to Geelong. No Childrens Hospital in one of the largest growing areas in Victoria and the third Largest growth area in Australia.Where are the Dental Facilities not everyone has been born with a silver spoon in their mouth to afford to go to the Dentist. I see young men and women in the district with really bad teeth I feel for them as they can not afford dental health for themselves when they have young families. These young families are our future.Also they must be suffering terrible pain.

It is disgusting when we have politians on huge salaries and benefits for life when the backbone of the country is suffering.

Yes you going to but millions into fixing the mistake of the Geelong Ring road but I am sure people would rather have a better health system in the West. More Doctors. The one Hospital we have on many occasions has one doctor on in Emergency. This has been a problem for a long time . We were told it was fixed. Bull. Why are the ambulance continually on BY Pass. They must think we love travelling on the poor public transport to go to other suburbs to see Specialists who we cannot get in Werribee.WE have one diabetic Specialist here. He is so snowed under its incredible, To see a rheumotoligist you have to go to Footscray.or East Melbourne. Why haven"t we got these facilities here. This is were your 2030 plan is to build High density housing well what about some bloody services.
Lori McLean

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An Upper House to Watch Bracks

Reports in newspapers today suggest that the Victorian Legislative Council will not be controlled by a Bracks Labor Government. Instead, the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) and the Greens will hold the balance of power in the upper chamber, something that can only be good news for those wanting to see scrutiny of government. In addition to a revitalised Opposition, we can only hope that Steve Bracks is exposed for what he has done, or more likely, failed to do for Victoria despite having served as Premier long enough to have a Bronze statue outside Treasury Place, with John Cain jnr, Rupert Hamer, Henry Bolte and Albert Dunstan .

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