Bob Brown’s legal costs

10 June, 2009

This is going to be almost completely two pastes from other sites as I think they explain it better than I can. I find it bizarre that someone can win a legal case on solid legal grounds, then see it undermined by legislative change and then have to pay the costs for it!

From yesterday’s Crikey:

The possible bankruptcy of Greens Senator Bob Brown as a consequence of Forestry Tasmania’s demand for legal fees would be a victory from beyond the political grave for Paul Lennon and John Howard and a big win for the Tasmanian Government’s efforts to stymie scrutiny of its forestry practices.

Brown needs to find over $239,000 by 29 June or face bankruptcy proceedings initiated by Forestry Tasmania’s lawyers Page Seager. Under the Constitution, Brown would be forced to give up his Senate seat if declared bankrupt, leaving the choice of a replacement in the hands of the Tasmanian Government.

The legal saga surrounding logging in the Wielangta Forest is lengthy and complicated (the Senate Environment committee has an excellent summary) but revolves around a simple fact: John Howard and Paul Lennon changed the rules after Brown won in court to nullify his Federal Court win over Forestry Tasmania.

Brown took Federal Court action in 2005 to prevent logging in the Wielangta Forest north-east of Hobart. Brown’s case centred on the interaction of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and Regional Forestry Agreements which allowed states and logging companies to avoid the impact of the EPBC if the Agreement provided for protection for significant species.

Brown argued that logging in the Wielangta Forest was not in accordance with the protection measures described in the relevant RFA and therefore the protections of the EPBC — in essence, that logging needed Commonwealth approval — applied. In December 2006, Federal Court Justice Marshall awarded a comprehensive victory to Brown, declaring that there was evidence the logging was harming three major protected species (the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle, the broad-toothed stag beetle and the swift parrot) and that the relevant protective measures, based around a reserve system, did not comply with the RFA clause.

Forestry Tasmania immediately appealed and nearly a year later, three Federal Court justices rules that the mere existence of a reserve system was sufficient to meet the requirements of the RFA, regardless of whether the reserve system actually protected any species or not. Marshall’s findings that the logging had damaged the three protected species still stood (and stand).

Brown appealed to the High Court, but by then John Howard and Paul Lennon had conspired to remove the basis for the legal action. On 23 February 2007, Howard and Lennon had agreed to amend the relevant RFA so that the clause.

The State agrees to protect the Priority Species listed in Attachment 2 (Part A) through the CAR Reserve System or by applying relevant management prescriptions was removed and replaced with a simple statement that the reserve system protected threatened species. In effect, Lennon and Howard were agreeing that black was white. There was no Parliamentary scrutiny in either the Commonwealth or Tasmania of the amendment.

The High Court refused to grant Brown special leave to appeal because the new clause meant he had little chance of success. It refused to award costs against him, but Brown was still left the bill from the Federal Court appeal hearing.

Forestry Tasmania is owned by the Tasmanian Government and has close links with logging company Gunns. Gunns unsuccessfully tried to litigate Brown and other environmentalists out of the forestry debate with a punitive lawsuit that has progressively collapsed, although the company is still pursuing seven individuals.

The Forestry Tasmania action, however, is a different matter. This is the Tasmania Government pursuing Brown for daring to beat it in court to such an extent that it changed the rules to ensure victory.

And from Dr Brown himself:

I and Margaret Blakers and all who have taken and persisted with the Wielangta Forest case these last four years, are extremely thankful to all of you who have donated or otherwise contributed to make this landmark case, right to the High Court, possible.


I have now received a demand from Forestry Tasmania for $239,368.53 court costs, as awarded by the Federal Court, to be paid by 29th June (see attached). Be assured we will borrow or raise the money to pay this bill (the reference to bankruptcy in the letter is because this would forfeit my seat in the Senate).


This is the last appeal for Wielangta and, as the 29th June deadline mandates, is quite urgent. If you can contribute, I thank you once again, for your generosity to Wielangta and Australia’s other threatened species habitats.

The link for donations is here. For me this is not about politics but about ensuring honesty of process. If companies are allowed to behave this way and get what they want, then God help us all.


A thought on climate

3 June, 2009

I don’t tend to wax on much about the environment mainly because others are more interested and do it so much better. I’m an odd mix anyway, because I get the distinct feeling “climate change” as postulated essentially represents more a faith or belief than a reliance on science, but I am also a strong environmentalist and I think anything that gets people talking about how to make less of a footprint on our earth, helping our endangered species, reducing deforestation and local climate impacts is a good thing. Back in the days when Bunnings/Wesfarmers was putting out these bizarre statements about reforestation and regeneration, my family managed to get lost somewhere near Northcliffe and ended up on a logging road where, after kilometres of driving through some of the most beautiful forest ever, the scenery looked like Mars.

Along that line I heard a National in Question Time point out (in opposing the ETS) that “Australia only contributes 1.4% to global emissions”. My maths brain got thinking and realised with 6 billion (approx) in the world and 20 million (approx) in Australia, we represent 0.3% of the world’s population. Are we really setting a good example to other countries by contributing 5 times our population’s share to emissions?


Andrew, enjoying the great British summer?

30 August, 2007

Rather random for a comeback, I guess, but the title of this post originates from a delightful email I received from a bus company. Clearly unable to recognise from the .au in my email address (given I’m fairly sure no human being ever saw this email prior to my receipt of it) that I am, short of secret possession of either a lot of stowed away cash or a teleporter, completely unable at present to enjoy the great British summer (who said it was great anyway? this site suggests it’s not exactly balmy…)

Which brings me to the entire question of how they got my email address – I once enquired about one of their fares. Note – enquired. Not bought. 3½ years ago. Unless an hour in Heathrow Airport trying to find my way around and buying a copy of the Guardian (which I suppose is a somewhat British thing to do) counts as visiting England, I’ve never been in the country long enough to use their bus service.

I think the thing that always kept international junk mail from getting preposterous was the cost. Mind you, it took me 4 years to stop Canada Post (known in our household as “Mail Poste” as that was what was written on the front of their garishly coloured stamp bulletins) from sending us stuff after we once ticked “yes” on an Australia Post offer to send us information about stamps back in the early 90s. Unfortunately with the advent of mass email, it’s entirely possible to spam one’s customers endlessly with offers of things they couldn’t buy even if they wanted to, no matter how cheap they are, for reasons like being 14,582 kilometres from their base of operations through no fault of their own.

This, for the record, is the same company who nearly brought Melbourne’s public transport to its knees when they decided that running away and paying fines for defaulting was better for their international business plans than running the train/tram service as they were contracted to do (I’ll leave the merits of radical privatisation of public transport services to another rant post). So I’m not absolutely sure I can trust them with my £2 fare to start with.

If, however, you are enjoying the great British summer (balmy or otherwise) and reading this, I wish you the best. For the rest of you, I’m hoping to get this blog going again, it’s been in hiatus for far too long as I’ve had so many things to occupy my time. I’ve been asked by a few people what I think of Rudd and various polls indicating at different times precisely opposite things for no good reason, as well as goings on in Western Australia, the daylight saving debate, and other such things.


Sense has prevailed.

4 December, 2006

It appears we have a new Opposition Leader.

It also appears that for the second time I’ve been right well in advance about the Labor leadership – in late 2001 I forecast at a time when he was not even in contention that Latham would be the next Labor leader (we’ll conveniently let that bit slide about me predicting he’d be the next Labor PM – I can’t be right all the time!) I’ve been predicting a Beazley->Rudd shift for most of this year, although I was starting to think it would never happen. My predictive abilities once won me a Hungry Jacks whopper for foreseeing the short-term end of One.Tel in Sep 2000 when it was still (publicly) doing well.

Anyway, enough of my semi-serious grandstanding. The party was getting stale and didn’t know where it was going under Beazley. He’s tried and failed twice before, and to be honest, I found myself only reluctantly supporting Labor after Beazley regained the leadership. The only inspired comments I have heard coming from Labor in recent months have been from the backbench and from Kevin Rudd and Lindsay Tanner, and I hope that with the new leadership team they establish both leadership and policy direction.

People who think they can’t make it should read the back cover of Dean Jaensch’s “The Liberals” (1994) – I don’t have it on me right now, but let’s say the cover text had written off the Liberals as a political force divided by factionalism and lack of leadership – just 18 months before they won back office. I think with a less radical leader than Latham, who is clear and level-headed in stating his stances on a range of issues with support from a solid team that the party can pick on Thursday, this country has a chance of moving forward in 2007.


An update – Web Extortion Part II

31 October, 2006

In an entry some three years ago, I mentioned that at the time my domain name, terranullius.com, had been stolen after a year of use by my own hosting provider, “hostonce”, which turned out to have registered my domain to a White Power group with the rather odd name of “White Crusaders of the Rahowa” (ref Fightdemback). On that site, you can see a pretty picture which any mum would love of the guy who ended up with my domain days after the year anniversary passed, Colin A. Campbell. Hostonce (who are still trading under the .com.au) refused to return correspondence or allow me to renew my domain name, but left it unattended for several years.

As an interesting relic of those days, one of my then-validated email addresses is still my MSN address today, as some of you would indeed have recognised.

From my entry at that time:

For non tech savvy people, this is like going to Fair Trading to register your business name, only to find a year later that the staff of the Department have opened a shop in that name next to the local train station that doesn’t actually sell anything, but its presence means that you can’t reregister the name.

Anyway, it seems he passed it onto a company called NameGiant, as can be seen here. After several failed attempts (including phoning the international number, which I understand is like the UK equivalent of a 1900 number, twice) to get in touch with these people, I made a generic inquiry on obtaining the domain name last week. Here’s what I got back today:

Hi Andrew,

Thank you for your enquiry.

[…]

If you consider that just recently Fish.com sold for $1,020,000, MyPremierCard.com for $135,250, JMM.com for $55,000 and HorseSupplies.com $52,500 etc there have been many other 5 figure sales – I’m sure that our asking price could be considered an investment for a domain of this quality.

The price of this domain is £7,000 Great British Pounds or US$13,280 (close offers may be considered). This is a one off payment for the rights to the domain, however you will be responsible for paying the yearly registration (approx $30).

The email then diverges into a range (nearly a page in fact) of payment options.

A$17,300 for a domain name from NameGiant seems a bit steep, especially when it is stolen property to begin with. Last I checked, trading in stolen property is an offence in most countries, including the United Kingdom, where the Theft Act 1968 s.22 and Criminal Attempts Act 1981 s.1(1) (as amended) refer in part to “obtaining property by deception and handling stolen goods”.

I have written to them with a somewhat more reasonable offer. I will keep you posted with any developments.


Remember September

24 October, 2006

I do, and thankfully I remember what I was going to write then. Every time I go to put virtual pen to paper, however, something has gone wrong – be it downtime on the server, illness or just simply being busy or away. I intend to keep this blog up to date from now on, having just returned from Bunbury yesterday.


Update post – Where have I been?

8 October, 2006

Firstly sorry for the lack of updates, and thanks to all who have commented on my entries thus far and emailed me!

I am sadly laid up with a flu at the moment, and up until taking sick on Friday, was working on some local history stuff for both expanding my own knowledge about Western Australia and also getting fit taking photos for the project (2kg down, 14 to go … I’m slowly winning the battle of the bulge!). Some of the results are already on Wikipedia, but the plan is to get a massive snapshot of Perth in 2006. I’ve lived through a lot of the development and wish I had have kept something from those now-long-gone past times when my school bus used to roll past service station after service station down Wanneroo Road, back when there was no Reid Highway, no tunnel, no Central Park, no railway (anyone remember the 396 or the 727 “Fastworker”? :))

The results of my research have been interesting and eerily current – the most recent example, I stood on a block and took a number of photographs, and 6 days later saw Alannah McTiernan standing on the same spot on Channel 7. There’s a lot to write about Perth, but boy, you have to be diligent to even find it! Don’t even try to find it in the media – it’s just not there at all. I’ll also be submitting some of the more currentish stuff to PerthNorg, and may look into what options exist for hosting a server in Perth, which I can do once serious income comes my way in 2008.

I will update right away soon with two opinion pieces on two issues I consider vital. It seems while the rather public coup took place in Thailand we’ve got a silent one going on right now from our federal government of a kind never before seen in Australia. (Update: flu = evil)