Time to act, Premier: our koalas, and farmers, deserve better
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Opinion

Time to act, Premier: our koalas, and farmers, deserve better

Sorry, what, Premier?

“Our farmers deserve certainty,” you and your Deputy Premier John Barilaro said in statement after one of your own, Catherine Cusack, crossed the floor on Thursday afternoon to thwart what would have been yet more devastating land-clearing legislation hastening the extinction of koalas.

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And what, pray tell, do our koalas deserve, Premier? Who speaks up for them? Premier, as you know better than most, for 240 years since colonisation this continent has wiped out habitat after habitat, eco-system after eco-system, species after species. In recent years – even as the consequences of environmental devastation have been realised – the ongoing land-clearing has been justified on the reckoning that we just need a few more developments, a few more swathes of trees gone, another election or two won, and then we can stop. But we are getting near the end of the line. If it is not our generation that stops the endless clearing to protect the koalas and other species, which generation is it? If it is not a Premier with your smarts and former reputation for integrity that will stand up for what you know is right, then which one? For you know how bad this legislation is! When two-thirds of NSW koalas live on private property, you seriously want to defend legislation that allows owners to wipe them out at will? But you still backed down anyway to John Barilaro who refers to koalas as “tree rats” and put out a press release with him blathering about how the farmers deserve better.

The hero of the piece is Lib Catherine Cusack who crossed the floor to stop the legislation, and she makes the point to me that you and yours do the NSW farmers a serious disservice.

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“The claim that farmers want this,” she told me, “is overwhelmingly false. They love koalas and do not defend the minority cowboys and corporations. I really believe farmers share community values and wielding them as an excuse defames farmers. I live on NSW North Coast, and our whole community is in uproar and distress. The councils up here asked for greater power to protect habitat and the bill removes them.”

That bill is a disgrace, and you know it, Premier. This time Ms Cusack has stopped it, but it needs more Libs and Nats of integrity to also speak out and say what needs to be said, to support her – or at least kill it off in the back rooms. We are looking at you, Rob Stokes and Matt Kean for starters.

Poignant farewell to TV history

It was more than passing poignant for your humble correspondent to head into the Channel Nine studios at Willoughby last Sunday morning to do our last Sports Sunday show there for the year, and the second-last show there ever, before all future shows come from the new North Sydney premises.

Look, I don’t say there were tumble weeds, but I could distinctly hear the sound of roaring bulldozers approaching in the near distance, and the fence was plastered with demolition signs. Sad, really. So many iconic Australian TV moments have taken place there, from Bruce Gyngell famously launching the medium in Australia on September 16, 1956, saying “Good evening, and welcome to television,” to so many of the iconic stories involving Kerry Packer, Mike Willesee, Bert Newton, Don Lane, Jana Wendt, Alan Bond, Peter Meakin and Tracy Grimshaw to name but a few.

Don Lane with guest Kerry Packer and Bert Newton on the Don Lane Show.

Don Lane with guest Kerry Packer and Bert Newton on the Don Lane Show.Credit:

Within days, those stories will be but wisps in the wind with no firm resting place for where they occurred, as the bulldozers turn it to rubble. I have twice tried to convince Hugh Marks, CEO of Nine (which owns this masthead), that such a place deserved a send-off with Channel Nine people gathered on site for one last riotous farewell, but COVID cruelled any chance of it happening. Bugger. Farewell, Willoughby. You generated a million stories, public and private and I for one will always be grateful to have met my wife in the makeup room that’s gone unchanged for all those decades, just before we were both about to appear on the Today Show. It will soon be a pile of rubble like all the rest.

Sigh. I think you and I must be getting older. Or at least you are.

Home wanted for #milliondollarteddybear

Epilepsy? I lost my brother Martin to it when he was just eight years old, a couple of years before I was born – and my parents grieved for him for the rest of their lives. All these years on, despite great strides having being made to limit its lethality, much research remains to be done. A mob I am ambassador for, Epilepsy Action Australia, has launched a fundraising quest called Million Dollar Teddy Bear. Broadly, its aim is to find one amazing philanthropist or corporation hero with a heart of gold, to buy the bear for $1,000,000. Yes, a long-shot, but a hell of a cause for a great organisation that, like so many charities in these tough times, has struggled for funds. Details here: milliondollarteddybear.com. The hope is that thousands of Aussies will tag as many rich people and businesses as possible using the hashtag #milliondollarteddybear to “give the Million Dollar Teddy Bear the loving home it deserves”.

Joke of the week

Sitting by the window of her convent, Sister Barbara opens a letter from home. Inside the letter is a $100 bill sent by her elderly parents. Smiling warmly at their generosity despite their straitened circumstances, she is about to tuck it into her purse when, through the window, she notices a shabbily dressed stranger leaning against the lamp post below.

Quickly, she writes, “Don't despair, Sister Barbara,” on a piece of paper, wraps the $100 bill in it, gets the man's attention, and tosses it out the window to him. The stranger picks it up, and with a puzzled expression and a tip of his hat, trots off. The next day, Sister Barbara is told that a man is at the convent door, and he insists on seeing her. She goes down to find the stranger waiting.

Without a word, he hands her a huge wad of $100 bills.

“What's this?” she asks.

“That's the $8000 you have coming Sister,” he replies, “less my small commission.”

“Don't Despair paid 80-to-1 at Randwick.”

Tweet of the week

Sure, sex is great, but have you ever watched Donald lose Georgia TWICE? Randi Mayem Singer @rmayemsinger

What they said

“My faith in the processes has been shattered.” Hero of the Upper House, Catherine Cusack, after being obliged to cross the floor against her Liberal colleagues, to stop the disgraceful legislation that would have further destroyed the habitat of koalas.

“Everyone with self-respect, a career, morals, respect for democracy, or who doesn’t want their friends to shame them both in private and public, will steer clear.” An unidentified former friend of Ivanka Trump, tells Vanity Fair of the reception that the President’s daughter and husband Jared Whatsit will get, as they try to re-enter New York high society.

“Well, I already made remarks about on that in the parliament early this year.” Scott Morrison refusing to apologise for the robo-debt fiasco after the government caved in to pay $1.2 billion of taxpayers’ money to victims rather than face a class-action fight.

“The Commonwealth has not accepted or admitted any liability in the matter.” Stuart Robert, Government Services Minister, also about the robo-debt fiasco.

“What’s happening in South Australia only further reinforces the importance of having a good understanding of how Australia intends to manage their internal borders when there are outbreaks. If they have an outbreak but they are instituting strong border controls, then it’s manageable. But if they have a tolerance level for community transmission that’s higher than ours, then it is problematic. What this underscores is why it’s so important that New Zealand has not rushed into this.” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern conceding there is very little chance of an operational trans-Tasman travel bubble by Christmas.

“I was chased across my front lawn with a camera and a mic shoved in my face, asking if I was a slut and if I was Sharon Stone. The toll it has taken has been immense ... I'm certainly not wishing that on those men, but [I am] certainly asking what the hell is this? We can't put a woman out there and hang her out to dry on rumour and innuendo when we have got behaviour that is clearly outside at least some standard of basic integrity going on [by men].” Emma Husar, the Labor MP who lost party endorsement for her seat amid unproven allegations of sexualised workplace misconduct, about what she views as a double standard that has resulted in less pressure on two senior government ministers accused of inappropriate relationships.

“There is no second chance to stop a second wave [of COVID-19]. We are at a critical point but we will get through this.” South Australian Premier Steve Marshall on Wednesday afternoon announcing an immediate lockdown to stop the latest outbreak from spreading.

“It’s time!” The theme song that helped to bring the ALP to power in 1972, now being entered in the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

“At 6.30am the call came through from [Channel 10 executive] Bev McGarvie to ITV the production house. She said, 'he’s out, do not let him go into the jungle [for I’m a Celebrity]'. He is now packing up his bags and returning to Byron Bay and he is apparently furious.” Rob McKnight ofTV Blackbox, on Nova's Fitzy & Wippa, details the fall of Pete Evans after posting his latest outrage – this one a seeming nod to the virtues of Nazism.

“The President, who has never shown much interest in governing, has finally dropped all pretense to focus on the core tenets of the Trump Doctrine: himself, cable news, Twitter, self-pity, and caterwauling about perceived slights.” The inestimable Maureen Dowd in theNew York Times.

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

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