State of the Capital – Weekly Political Wrap 20/11/14

John Hope 22 November 2014 2


Burch on her literary perch

Minister for the Arts Joy Burch announced the 2014 ACT Book of the Year shortlist with four of the five shortlisted authors at Civic Library this week. Five books, ranging from a non-fiction exploration of the Al Jazeera English news network to a verse novel covering the Petrov defection, have been shortlisted for the 2014 ACT Book of the Year Award.

‘We had a record field of 48 nominations across a range of genres this year and the selection panel had a tough job narrowing the field down to just five’, Ms Burch said. ‘This highlights the depth of local writing talent and I would like to congratulate all our authors whose works were considered for this shortlist’.

Following a contentious debate earlier this year over whether regional NSW writers should be eligible for the ACT Book of the Year Award, a budging Burch backed down from her ACT protectionist position. But, alas, out of the 48 nomination only ACT natives were nominated.

The shortlisted works for the $10,000 prize are:

  • 18 Days: Al Jazeera English and the Egyptian Revolution by Scott Bridges
  • Earthmasters by Clive Hamilton
  • The Petrov Poems by Lesley Lebkowicz
  • Who We Were by Lucy Neave, and
  • Beloved Land: stories, struggles and secrets from Timor-Leste by Gordon Peake.

Canberrans will be able to vote on a dedicated page on the artsACT website, and the People’s Choice winner will be announced along with the judges’ choice early next year. My bet is on Lucy Neave whose deeply theatrical language shines so lightly.

Coe’s Current Concerns

Deputy Opposition Leader Alistair Coe has his knickers in a knot after nit-picking the ACT Government’s water management strategy. Considering that the Googong Dam’s storage levels are at a record high, and that more than 36,000 megalitres has flowed over the spillway in the past year, Coe contends that the excess water should be used for consumption. Coe’s reasoning being that instead of using water from the Cotter Dam, which is at 85% of its capacity, water should be sourced from the Googong in order to allow the Cotter to fill at a faster rate.

ACTEW Water has rebuffed Coe’s claims contending that the total water catchment for the ACT is better than ever, and that it would have cost the government more than $3.8 million dollars to extract water exclusively from the Googong Dam over the past year.

But it should be noted that Alistair has not suggested that the government should extract water exclusively from the Googong Dam. He is making the salient point that some water could have been saved in the lead up to what may be one of Australia’s driest summers. It seems like a perfectly reasonable suggestion to me. Though, it is comforting to know that the ACT is better prepared for a dry spell than ever before.

A Green and some bad eggs

Minister Shane Rattenbury is the Green, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and certain industry groups are the bad eggs. Recently, at an agricultural forum in Melbourne, Chairman of the ACCC Rod Sims proclaimed that there is ‘no need’ for a national free range egg standard, and that producers should just ‘use common-sense’ or rely on court rulings to avoid misleading consumers with egg food labelling. The announcement has dealt a blow not only to consumers but also some egg producers and advocates who have been negotiating on a new national standard of definitions with state and territory ministers.

Earlier this year, the federal court determined that the company Pirovic misled consumers by attempting to sell eggs as ‘free range’ when their hens were contained in crowded barns. The court fined Pirovic $300,000. The court ruled that the definition of ‘free range’ is that birds are free to go outside on more days than not…

In 2010 the Greens introduced egg-labelling laws in the ACT to compel retailers to identify ‘free range’, ‘barn’ and ‘battery caged’ eggs. But without clearly defined national standards of egg farming, the definitions are largely meaningless – except that some eggs cost more than others. Food labelling laws in Australia are notoriously and stubbornly misleading.

Shane, I know that you’re a pacifist but if you want to go and egg the ACCC, I’d be more than happy to come and help you – I once worked with a politician who egged The Beetles!

On a federal note…

A new senatorial coalition of ‘common sense’ has formed on the hill. Lead by independent teetotaller Nick Xenophon (who actually has some common sense), the team comprises of schoolboy Sam Dastyari, Aussie battler John Madigan, the wishful Greens Peter Whish-Wilson, car driver Ricky Muir, and the hog-squeling, rip-snorting, belly-aching Jacqui Lambie.

The group threatens to roll the Coalition (of vested interest) in their plans to further weaken consumer protections, whilst strengthening the protections of scandal ridden corporations such as Storm Financial, TimberCorp, the Commonwealth Bank, Trio, and Westpoint.

Perhaps the soft-power of Xenophon may seduce Lambie from the hard paws of PUP… Xenophon, you cheeky devil – hope you’re well hung!

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2 Responses to State of the Capital – Weekly Political Wrap 20/11/14
Masquara Masquara 8:17 pm 21 Nov 14

I think rather than “but”, given the “contention”, it would be “AND out of the 48 nomination only ACT natives were nominated”. What fool committee would nominate regional NSW authors if they want their stipend & lunchies next year?

Masquara Masquara 5:54 pm 21 Nov 14

Shane Rattenbury has squibbed the question of what defines free range in every conversation so far. I think it was on this site that someone described what the 10,000 birds per hectare that Shane would apparently be happy to describe as free range looks like: picture two birds on a single A4 sheet of paper, then picture that density across a hectare. Then picture attempting to walk around if you were one of said hens. Go on – ask Shane again – how many eggs per hectare constitutes free range? (He won’t answer).

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