On Gillard and sexism

James Burke writes: Re. “A womb with a bird’s-eye view: what Gillard gets wrong about sexism” (yesterday). Since it’s the season to offer Hillary Clinton free advice, here’s mine: don’t listen to a word Julia Gillard says, unless you’re secretly hoping Ted Cruz becomes President. (It happened to us.) Of course, Helen Razer’s warning not to “conflate political battles with gender warfare” is something Clinton has understood for decades, some 2008 argy-bargy notwithstanding. She’ll do fine.

As for the notion shopped by ALP revisionists that Gillard is some sort of feminist martyr, remember that martyrs sacrifice themselves for a greater cause. However inspiring she may have been to other women, Gillard’s tardy response to sexist media attacks — including the famous misogyny speech — was all about herself. She never stuck her neck out for Larissa Behrendt, or Julie Posetti, or Margaret Simons, or Clover Moore, or any other woman monstered during her premiership by News Corp and its fans in the online neo-fascist netherworld. They wouldn’t have asked her to, but she should have anyway, because leadership and courage and doing what’s right, etc. More recently Sarah Hanson-Young has been stalked, literally, by security guards who likely included ex-soldiers. Kinda puts the histrionics about obscure internet cartoons into perspective.

Labor is doing whatever it takes … but not in a good way

Gil May writes: Re. “We need a real opposition” (Wednesday). “It’s not about me, it’s about what the country looks like in 20 years,” says Bill Shorten. PM Abbott talks about the need for future planning. What will future generations have left, their combined policies is to export our oil, gas, and minerals, short term expediency for a few years employment and millions for industry leaves a future devoid of energy and mineral reserves.  What happens when nothing is left, how do future generations survive, what are the future plans for energy reserves for the next generations?

John Gleeson writes: Re. “Only the impotent are pure” (yesterday). The polls may well suggest Shorten and Labor have the balance right-no compassion, utter amorality, and to echo Graham Richardson’s famous line “Whatever it Takes”. I would like you to pause and remember Malcolm Fraser, who in the teeth of opposition from even his own side, allowed Vietnamese refugees into Australia. He saw the issue as a humanitarian one, and is remembered for it.

No John, Shorten and Labor have not got it right at all. They betray the party values of a Fair Go, and will go down to deserved defeat as Abbott continually ratchets up the ante, leading to a snap election on Sovereign Borders and any other soundbite drivel, happy in the knowledge that Shorten is a walkover.  Bernard Keane’s piece is a timely warning of the coming rout.

Keeping independent media alive

Bob Holland writes: Re. “Independent regional paper in peril as council yanks its ads” (Wednesday). Where did you get your information that prompted you to say “one of a few remaining regional independent newspapers” in your Clarence River story? Trust me there’s more than a few, so please be more accurate with your claims in future.

On SMEC

Geraldine Quinlan, General Manager Corporate Services for SMEC writes: Re. “Orient express: is a big Aussie company greasing palms to get ahead in Asia?

Mong Ton Hydropower Project:

The proposed Mong Ton Hydropower Project is located in Myanmar. The objective of the Project is to improve both the capacity and reliability of electricity throughout Myanmar. If the Project proceeds, the hydropower plant will produce more than 34 billion KW hours of electricity annually. Electricity generated will first meet local demands, and surplus electricity will be sold to neighbouring countries, providing a revenue stream for the Government to invest in the local economy.

SMEC’s role on the project:

SMEC has been engaged as an Independent Technical Consultant responsible for undertaking an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA) for the Project. SMEC is collecting and reporting the facts, both positive and negative, from a neutral perspective. It is not SMEC’s role to provide recommendations as to whether the Project should proceed. The findings of the EIA/SIA will be presented to the Government of Myanmar, who will decide (with other sources of information) whether to proceed with the Project.

SMEC’s aim is to conduct an EIA/SIA process that is inclusive, constructive and transparent. Stakeholder consultation is an essential element of the process, and the objective of our team is to provide a balanced perspective of the Project and encourage stakeholders to actively participate in the consultation process. Disruption to the EIA/SIA process has the potential to adversely affect local communities, as their genuine concerns may not be able to be documented. Contrary to media reports, SMEC has tried to engage with local Civil Society Organisations on numerous occasions, with limited success. Our EIA/SIA team will continue to present invitations to stakeholder groups to discuss the details of the Project at a mutually convenient time and place.

As the EIA / SIA consultation process for this project is one of the first to be conducted to international standards in Myanmar, the Project is attracting a great deal of scrutiny. SMEC has invested in the skills development of local employees to ensure they understand the basis of an objective EIA/SIA process and are carrying it out in line with best-practice.

SMEC’s position on bribery and corruption:

SMEC’s policies expressly prohibit bribery in all of our business dealings, which we define as giving or receiving an undue benefit (including payments and gifts) to influence behaviour and obtain commercial advantage. This prohibition applies to parties who deal with others on behalf of SMEC. There has been no breach of these policies on the Mong Ton Hydropower Project.

SMEC is working with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) who recently commenced an investigation into allegations relating to a small number of projects that SMEC had been involved in over the past 15 years. While the nature of the investigation is confidential, it is not related to any projects in Myanmar.

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