Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Popular walking track that leads to an extinct volcano visited by thousands of hikers every year is set to be closed to protect the sacred Aboriginal site

Why should primitive superstitions govern what ordinary Australians do?

A popular walking track visited by more than 100,000 hikers every year is set to permanently close due to issues surrounding the cultural significance of the Aboriginal site as well as safety concerns.

The Mount Warning trail in the Tweed Valley in northern New South Wales could be shut to tourists as early as next November, state government documents have revealed.

The national park which is traditionally known as Wollumbin, leads to a breathtaking extinct volcano and welcomes hikers from across the country and around the world.

But documents shared by a pro-climbing blog, Right To Climb, have revealed the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) have planned a 'Final Wollumbin Closure Event' for the end of November next year.

The track has been closed since March last year due to Covid-19.

It was supposed to open up again to sightseers in May, 2021, but this is now under review.

A document titled, the 'Wollumbin National park Closure - Communications and Engagement Plan', suggested the trail needed to be shut due to an 'extreme risk of failure' from the chain that climbers cling onto in the last 100m of the summit.

An engineer who examined the chain in August, 2020, insisted the climb be closed in six months 'as the risk of further accidents or fatalities from a catastrophe failure is very high'.

The document also described the track as a 'sacred place of the highest significance' to the Indigenous community.

For years Aboriginal elders have called for the walking track to be scrapped, similar to the recent closure of the rock climb at Uluru.

'Current generations of Aboriginal Elders and community representatives see it as their responsibility to ensure sacred sites are protected and the traditional Lore and associated cultural protocols are upheld by all people,' the document says.

'Desecration, litter and toileting, particularly around the Summit is causing unacceptable physical and cultural impacts and damage.'

Mount Warning quickly become a track to tick off the bucket list for keen hikers because the peak's summit is the first place to see the sun in Australia.

For this reason the attraction is especially popular on New Year's Day and has sprouted a bustling mini-tourism industry in the Tweed Valley area.

But the influx of visitors hasn't sat well with many who have called the area home for centuries.

Bundjalung Elder Robert Corowa earlier said the closure of Uluru gave him hope the same thing would be seen at Mount Warning.

'I am very motivated by what I've seen at Uluru … we've been trying to pull the chains down and stop people climbing it for years,' Mr Corowa told The Courier-Mail in 2019.

'I'm ashamed to go there … it makes me really sad to watch people climbing it. I don't want to let people think they've got the right.'

The document said an interim closure would 'allow NPWS to consult with the Aboriginal community and key visitor economy stakeholders to deliver alternative experiences and plan a permanent closure due to ongoing safety risks and visitor impacts on Aboriginal cultural values'.

Marc Hendrickx, who runs the blog Right To Climb, has been left outraged by the 'bombshell' documents which he believes misleads the public over the safety issues of the track.

'Mt Warning/Wollumbin National Park is one of our Nation's true natural jewels and it is being treated as a political football by bureaucrats and Aboriginal groups,' the geologist and seasoned climber said.

The potential closure of yet another popular walking track comes after the world famous rock climb at Uluru was scrapped.

In October 2019 thousands of tourists flocked to Uluru to climb the monolith before a ban on climbing was introduced on October 25.


If net zero emissions cost one job, then I’m out

By James McGrath (a Liberal Party Senator for Queensland)

As a senator I will not vote for any policy, target, or “measure” that comes at a cost of Queensland jobs. Likewise, I won’t vote for anything that hurts businesses in Queensland which is why I am sceptical about the rush to net zero emissions by 2050.

The Prime Minister’s recent statement that he would “prefer” to reach net zero emissions by 2050 kicked off discussion about climate change, international politics and our economy.

While these conversations leave some breathlessly tapping away on Twitter like semi-house trained woodpeckers, as a regional senator, I left home in January and I haven’t yet returned as I’ve been on the road listening to workers. Workers who know that zero emissions by 2050 is part of some bumper sticker strategy of the left who want to virtue signal rather than bring forward solutions.

I have seen these discussions play out around the patios and the local pubs and bowls clubs in regional Queensland. The message is loud and clear.

At the heart of the un-costed 2050 target should be a focus on jobs. Particularly jobs in regional Queensland. If we lose one job or one business then we should not support the targets. I won’t and neither should you.

The green left continue to drool on about “shutting down” coal mining as though it will provide an silver bullet to a long-term global problem. Any long-term plan for emission reduction should focus on opening up greater opportunities for Australians, particularly in regional areas.

If we are to make a plan for the next 30 years, the best way for us to have reliable and cheap energy in Australia while reducing our emissions is with a mix of coal, gas, renewables and nuclear power. This offers strong opportunities for us to take advantage of our resources, supercharge regional economies and build a more sustainable future for all Australians.

Jobs and businesses are more important than lefty claptrap bumper stickers about unrealistic targets.


Google, Nine agree commercial terms for news content

Google has agreed to pay Nine Entertainment Co more than $30 million in cash annually for the use of its news content, in a major breakthrough for the search giant and media company ahead of the introduction of new bargaining laws.

Industry sources familiar with the talks, who spoke anonymously because of non-disclosure agreements, said Nine had signed a letter of intent with Google overnight for a deal worth more than $30 million in cash annually for five years. A final commercial agreement could be struck in the next fortnight and is expected to be larger than the deal Kerry Stokes’ Seven West Media struck with Google earlier this week.

Nine is the owner of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

The sources said the five-year deal is for use of news articles on a variety of different products such as Google News Showcase and Subscribe with Google, a product that helps news outlets engage with subscribers, but a revenue sharing deal for use of content on YouTube is not part of Nine’s arrangement.

The agreement is significant because it covers content from Nine’s major newspapers, television, radio and digital assets, and will provide enough funding to support the newsrooms for the company. It will also mean Google will not be forced into a risky arbitration process with Nine under the government’s new media bargaining code, which will be debated in Parliament today. Google had previously threatened to turn off its search engine in Australia if the government did not revise aspects of the code.

Nine is the largest domestic media company to date to sign a letter of intent with the $1.8 trillion search engine giant. Kerry Stokes’ Seven West Media announced at its financial results it has signed a letter of understanding with the tech giant for use of its content, a deal which Seven sources say is valued at more than $30 million. The terms of the arrangement were not disclosed, but industry sources have indicated a proportion of the money is in advertising credits and a revenue sharing agreement for use of content on YouTube.

The deals that Google will strike with companies such as Nine and Seven are not for use of content in search. However, organisations have been willing to accept them in principle because the amount of money on the table is worth the same, or a similar amount, to what a company would have received for appearance of content in Google search.

Industry sources said on Monday that letters of intent between Guardian Australia, Nine and the ABC were imminent. Guardian Australia and the ABC could both sign deals for their content as early as today. Talks with other outlets such as Daily Mail Australia and News Corp Australia are ongoing. News Corp, which owns a string of papers in Australia as well as The Wall Street Journal and The Times of London, is expected to sign a global deal for its content.

Any agreements struck by Google are crucial for the tech giant as it waits on the Federal Parliament to debate the media bargaining code legislation this week, which would force it and Facebook into mandatory arbitration with news outlets for payment for value they obtain from having news content in newsfeeds and search results.

If the letters signed by Nine and Seven turn into commercial agreements, they will allow Google to avoid a risky arbitration process, but media executives still believe the legislation is crucial to ensure tech companies pay for news content and contribute to funding public-interest journalism. It will also prevent Google from backing out of the arrangements.

“We continue to have constructive discussions with the digital platforms and when we have anything to announce we will do so to the ASX as is appropriate,” a Nine spokesperson said.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed the federal government had agreed to make some technical amendments to the bill on Monday following discussions with Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and Google boss Sundar Pichai last weekend.

He has also said he is waiting for deals to be signed before deciding whether to make the code applicable to Google’s search engine and Facebook’s main newsfeed, or through news licensing products Google News Showcase and Facebook News.

News Showcase is a newly launched product available through Google’s news app. Google pays publishers for certain behind-the-paywall articles that then appear on the platform. The deals with Nine and Seven are in addition to already struck commercial deals with local publishers for its Showcase product, including Crikey, The Saturday Paper and Australian Community Media, publisher of The Canberra Times.

Google’s ability to agree to terms with Seven and Nine will shift the focus to Facebook, which is yet to sign an agreement for the value it gains for news content on its platform. Scrolling through Facebook’s main newsfeed and looking up articles on Google search are the main ways people find news content online.


A Melbourne bookstore recently suffered a sudden if somewhat retrospective infection with the dreaded “wokeness” virus

This occurred when it announced that it regretted promoting an appearance by controversial feminist author Julie Bindel three years ago.

In a statement, Readings bookshop said it apologised for “any hurt caused by highlighting the work of an author whose current stance is to divide our community.” Bindel does not believe transgender women are “real women” or that trans women who have not had surgery should be allowed in female spaces in places like hospitals, prisons and refuges.

You might think that she had a valid point but it was not one that the left wished to hear so Bindel was uninvited, three years after she spoke.

“Readings have cowardly capitulated to bullies,” Bindel said.

Someone who might agree with this summation would be Israel Folau who for one brief moment in time last week was a chance to take to the rugby league paddock in the colours of St George-Illawarra. Folau, of course, committed the grievous sin of voicing his conservative Christian views on homosexuality and then compounded it by quoting the Bible.

The St George-Illawarra opportunity vanished as quickly as it had appeared. It seems those who practise freedom of speech are not part of the “inclusiveness” of which the NRL is so ready to boast.

If only Folau had followed the fine example set by “included” rugby league players and gone to a nightclub, got drunk, groped a few women and started a fight, then all may have been forgiven.

The real shame of it all is that weakness has become a virtue.




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