My grumble!

Carbon Dioxide

I have not made this announcement so public yet, but I am pregnant with baby no.3! My son and daughter are excited about the impending arrival of a baby sister. I too am happy, but I have to say this pregnancy has been a lot more difficult and more grumbly. Grumbly at a lot of things, but also grumbly at the state of politics in Australia.
Before leaving to live the in the UAE, John Howard was in power. I was very happy to get away from the negativity of that era. I returned to Julia Gillard in power and all the insane PM hating stuff that went with that.
Last year’s election failed to excite. Not only because I am very busy and most of the time too busy to care, but because the choices on offer were so terrible. Tony Abbot was elected PM.
I have said previously that before I moved to the UAE, I was very active and vocal about politics. While living abroad that all changed and once I had children, I found myself with too little time to feel much for the people running Australia.
That is all, until Tony Abbot was elected who seems hell bent on taking Australia backwards. Since he came into power with the promise of ‘not lying’ nor going back on ‘promises’, Australia has witnessed the exact opposite of that. One by one, terrible policies are being announced and either people agree, or are two dumbfounded with the speed with which they are being trundled out that they are in a state of shock and don’t know how to respond. I am one of those in the latter category. Over the last 6 months I have found myself just standing there with my mouth hanging open saying ‘what, wh…how…huh?!’
I am not going to go through all of these bad policies in this blog (like the refugee ‘solution’, the cuts to health, employee rights…). I have however found another blogger who is keeping a detailed and up to date list and I really recommend everyone check this link out: . The policies that I am going to grumble about in the next few blog entries are: climate change, the shark cull (though this is a Western Australian thing, the federal government does have a role to play), the campaign to have the World Heritage listing of Tasmania’s forests removed and the approval of a coal port in the Great Barrier Reef.
Climate Change
This is a big one. The Liberal government has been very vocal about this issue for a long time. From the time of John Howard when the government refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, to now and their zeal to undo any of the good work done on climate change in Australia over the last 10 years. A central part of their campaign for election was the ‘carbon tax’. The Carbon tax was introduced by Julia Gillard much to the horror of many people as she was apparently on record for saying she would never introduce it. This was seized upon as a reason to loathe her, as she was seen to be a slippery liar…..The carbon tax was about putting a price on carbon with the idea being that if you released carbon, that you should pay (polluter pays principle). The price of carbon intensive industries and goods was set to increase while others were not to be affected. The issue was that energy providers increased the cost of electricity over this period, partly due to the carbon tax, but partly for other reasons. People were angry as their energy bills went up – so the average ‘mums and dads’ were affected. I have also written an earlier post with my experiences with increased energy bills: and
Tony Abbott

This was seized by the Liberal government, as they set out to undo all the positive work done in the climate change policy area once they came into power. At the moment, they are in the process of trying to reverse this ‘tax’ and replace it with their own climate change policy called ‘Direct Action’. The Direct Action policy is set to come into effect as soon as the carbon tax gets repealed (1 July 2014). It works by giving manufacturers and businesses financial assistance for efficiency measures ( One of the many problems with this policy is that there is no penalty for projects that fail to achieve their predicted reduction targets, so they get money for possibly doing something without any recourse if they do nothing! I don’t see how this is the answer.
To ensure there is confusion amongst the public so as to reduce opposition to the new policies to be released, one of the first things the government did was to get rid of the Climate Commission. The Climate Commission was set up to be an independent body whose role was to communicate and explain the science of climate change to the public. With the body gone, obviously the government is counting on confusion to get its policies through without questioning from the media or the Australian public.
Now where my grumble really starts is that in addition to this change, the government is looking at changing the renewable energy target (RET) established by previous governments. The target is 20% of energy sources to come from renewable sources. Tony Abbott wants to reduce this and is going about it by banging on about how renewable energy projects are making electricity more expensive. Now in my mind, I keep thinking about how this could be true….as well as energy efficiency, renewable energy is one of the most effective ways of addressing climate change. Australia with its abundance of sunshine should be taking advantage of that by becoming a world leader, rather than discouraging it. I honestly don’t see how having solar and wind energy in the mix should be damned, rather than celebrated. To top it off, the head of the review panel into the RET is headed by a climate skeptic, so its recommendations should probably not be surprising at all!
I could go on and on about the negativity that is being trumpeted up and the lies and misconceptions that the government is spreading, but I’ll stop my grumble for now. While it is easy to feel helpless during this debate, but there are things that we can all do to ensure the voices of those that question the sanity of these policies are heard:
• Write to the Environment Minister, Greg Hunt and make your opposition to these policies known:
Shop 4/184 Salmon Street
Hastings VIC 3915
Phone: 03 5979 3188
Fax: 03 5979 3034
• Check out what actions are happening to address climate change at
• Keep your eye on for actions they are working on:
• Participate in events like ‘Earth Hour’:
• Make changes in your own life to reduce your impact on climate change.

Speak up for better planning!


Since moving back to Sydney, I have been taking my children to ‘Bush Kids’ events. As well as introducing my children to the wonderful nature of Australia, these events give me the opportunity to meet other like minded parents and carers.
One of the people that I’ve met has been Corrine Fisher a passionate environmental advocate and mother of two. Because of this personal connection, I’ve come to know about the Bette Planning Network and their important work in light of changes to legislation being introduced in NSW. These legislative changes may have gone unnoticed if it wasn’t for people like Corrine and her colleagues at the Better Planning Network who have been working to highlight what these changes will mean.
In essence, the change being introduced in two bills is to remove your right as a citizen to comment on developments in your local area. Currently all developments must undergo a ‘neighbourhood notification’ period, whereby all affected residents have an opportunity to view plans and put forward comments or objections.
In some instances this notification is given to neighbours for purely process reasons (as I recently found out when I put in a fence application) and it has been attributed to the ‘NIMBY (not in my backyard) syndrome where people feel the need to object to everything, and therefore any development is likely to get tangled in ongoing consultation and ultimately never go ahead.
Despite this however, providing the people of a community the opportunity to have a say in developments that have a direct impact on them is a very important way of creating a sense of cohesion within a community. Who better to provide developers and local government with knowledge than the locals?
When I lived in the UAE, there was pretty much no community consultation on developments. Some strategic plans would have very high level and minimal consultation, but on the whole it was certainly my observation that developments were government sanctioned and as a result the UAE has grown considerably in the last 30 years. When I moved back to Sydney, I recalled how things seem to take so long to get off the ground and this is largely due to the political processes that are in place and well…democracy.


While the model of the UAE may work for it as a country, I am concerned with removing the right to comment on developments altogether. My local area for example is going through considerable change at the moment. There are apartment buildings being developed left right and centre. While as a concept I believe in urban renewal and building in already developed areas, I am concerned about a few things like traffic and services. In none of these plans were there any commercial shops – not even a corner store, so everyone will be forced to drive to Lane Cove.
The beauty of Lane Cove and one of the big reasons that I bough here is the community village feel. It is on most days already at full capacity and I cannot imagine how horrible the trip to the local shops will be once all of these apartments come on line. I’m certainly hoping by that stage to be less car dependent and cycle and walk more with the kids when needing to do some shopping. But in the context of these bills, at least with these apartment developments, the local community action group was able to comment on the scale of the apartments and to negotiate a design that is more in keeping with the surrounding environment and bush setting.
The removal of this local voice altogether will give a green light to developments to be fast tracked with reduced consideration to the environment and the heritage and character of an area.
Since the campaign by the Better Planning Network the government has highlighted that residents will be given an opportunity to comment at the strategic planning level. However I wonder how informed people will be when they are commenting in a 10 year strategic plan and to what level these consideration will inform that strategic document. Additionally, the government has said that even if these strategic plans include resident concerns, they have the right to amend them without any further consultation. Now I may not be an expert, but that doesn’t sound particularly democratic to me and I believe more and more that local action is a very important form of democracy.
What can you do?
So if you a NSW resident and concerned about these changes, there are a few things that you can do to have your voice heard before the bills are put to parliament:
• Tell your friends and colleagues about it;
• Go to the Better Planning Network site and send an email to your local member (it’s easy, it takes like 10 seconds as they give you a template to follow!). The site also gives you other tips on how to get your message to the politicians in power;
• Sign the petition for exhibiting the Draft Metro Plan for Sydney which calls for great community participation;
• Like the Better Planning Network’s facebook page; and
• Attend the rally on Wednesday 26 June 12:15 – 1:30 pm at 1 Farrer Place, Sydney- next to Governor Macquarie and Governor Phillip Towers and not far from the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure.