Not in my name

This haiku by Murakami Koji was shared by Naviar Records and was an opportunity to record a song I'd been thinking about since Easter.

The lyrics reflect on a sort of paternalism, linking the personal to the political:

When you see injustice
when you feel pain
when conflicted in a way
with feelings of shame

Don’t steal for me
Don’t kill for me
Not in my name

All it takes to acknowledge
and to step away
make it clear you are not at fault
take a step to clear your name

Don’t steal for me
Don’t kill for me
Not in my name

When your country claims a right
when your friend starts a fight
can not stand by unmoved
support inaction proves

Trans-Pacific Partnership favours US corporations

After years of secrecy Australians are now able to read the text for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. One of the key concerns for our democracy is the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms, which allow our country to be sued for policies that harm foreign business interests.

Despite the claims of Andrew Robb, Minister for Trade and Investment, there is no exemption for public health from ISDS litigation. Article 9.15 of the investment chapter explicitly makes such matters dependent on their conformity with the TPP itself:
"Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to prevent a Party from adopting, maintaining or enforcing any measure otherwise consistent with this Chapter that it considers appropriate to ensure that investment activity in its territory is undertaken in a manner sensitive to environmental, health or other regulatory objectives."
That is, unless Australian health regulations are consistent with the TPP, they can be subject to a lawsuit brought about by a multinational corporation under ISDS.

The result will be that corporations will pursue litigation and add to their statement of claims that the policy change they are seeking compensation for is inconsistent with the TPP.

Australian policy will be further limited by the annex on expropriation, meant as a guide to what can be the subject of ISDS processes:
"Non-discriminatory regulatory actions by a Party that are designed and applied to protect legitimate public welfare objectives, such as public health, safety and the environment, do not constitute indirect expropriations, except in rare circumstances."
The TPP is an assault on Australian democracy. Once again I ask that our local member Michael McCormack ensures that the Productivity Commission are able to review and report on the text of this agreement in advance of it becoming law.

Scenic view in Griffith

Griffith’s Scenic Hill is a patch of bushland elevated above the city.

On my first visit I saw the Hermit’s Cave where Valerio Ricetti retreated from a society that had left him disillusioned. Not much remains of his solitary settlement but a cave that smells faintly of urine and a view of acres of citrus as well as encroaching suburbia.

The next time I saw Scenic Hill was from the air. A myriad of reddish dirt tracks cut through dark, sparse bushland.

More recently I’ve begun to drive up the Hill a few times a week to my new workplace at Pioneer Park Museum. After driving much of the way between Leeton and Griffith at 100 kilometres an hour, the winding roads through Griffith feel sluggish at 50.

While the distance between the last house on the Hill and the Park near the top is short, it’s not uncommon to see a kangaroo.

After parking my car under a Grey Box tree, I walk through the large iron gates and past the various historic and recreated buildings I can see more Box and Cyprus Pine. My arrival at 8am means I am usually alone in the car park. It allows me to remain in my own thoughts but also to look around and appreciate the landscape.

A month or so ago there was a complex fragrance on the soft breeze. The sweet of the geraniums in the Park gardens but a spice like anise too. I was excited to find native flowers, a Chocolate Lily and an Austral Bluebell as well as many Sticky Everlasting Daisies. There were also many feral Poppies adding a different shade of green, contrasting on the red dirt.

At present the rains of a wet winter and a wetter than usual spring have given the understory of weeds below these native trees a similar shade of green to the kikuya grass on the lawn outside Myall Park Hall, where many local festive occasions are celebrated — including the popular salami festival.

Last Monday there was a beautiful mist hanging in the trees, either low cloud or evaporation as the sun beamed onto the soaked Box bark. The rains this week revealed new stones in the unsealed road around the Park, as well as shifting red dirt down them toward drainage points.

One of the joys of arriving to work is hearing the local birds singing their morning songs. As Griffith is about as far west as I’ve travelled in New South Wales, these songs are often unfamiliar. There’s one that rings one note like an old telephone, the usual excited chirps of Sparrows and the bullying chatter of Apostle Birds.

The other sound is the wind-powered water pump groaning with each rotation. It’s a sound heard in my dreams soon after starting work here a couple of months ago. Some days I hear it long after I’ve driven down the Hill and through Griffith toward the turn to Leeton. I catch the drawn-out squeak echoing in my subconscious and force myself to listen to the sound of the car until it disappears.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is undemocratic

Seeing our local federal member promoting the value of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) raises the question why the text isn't available to the Australian public?

If it's so good for Australia, why has it been negotiated in secrecy -- unless you're a US corporation?

Australian politicians have only had access to a draft of the text if they sign a non-disclosure agreement. This is undemocratic in my opinion.

If Michael McCormack is so sure it's a good deal, how about he ensures the Productivity Commission are able to review the document in advance of it being voted on?

Those who watched as the US Free Trade Agreement was pushed through Parliament with undue haste will be watching to ensure the same process is not repeated. That agreement has been shown to have offered very little benefit to Australia.