Little battlers have a big win

The decision by the City Council of Ballarat to refuse a cashed-up developer permission to demolish the old school on the Ballarat Orphanage site is a victory for those former residents who fought a long and energy-sapping campaign against the odds.

These old institutions have long-since closed – thankfully. These places shaped the lives of so many Australians.  For some they were the sites of brutality, sexual abuse and neglect.  Many were forever separated from their families and even from their siblings.  Some have never been able to reconnect. They had no love as children and struggle with their demons to this day.

For these and other reasons, many former residents – the survivors – feel a strong  need to be able to show their children and their grandchildren the place where they grew up, even when the old place was a site of cruelty, humiliation and lovelessness.

Unfortunately,  in too many cases the sites (almost all of them originally grants of crown land) have been sold off, rezoned and redeveloped commercially, enabling the big end of town to make a killing That was the case with the old farm at the Ballarat Orphanage – and would have been the case with the remaining buildings had it not been for a determined group of survivors who plugged away for years to get the City of Ballarat to have an effective heritage overlay placed on the two remaining buildings from the 1920s and the weeping wall  for the 1880s.

The struggle of these former residents against powerful proponents represents a wonderful case study of right over might. It demonstrates yet again that, against the odds, it is possible to marshall the right evidence and the best arguments and to galvanise community support for a just cause.





Mining billionaire Clive Palmer sides with Triumphal Tony Abbott (“Climate change is crap!”) to axe Australia’s so-called carbon tax.  There is no meaningful plan to put in place an alternative policy on climate change. Already conflicting stories are coming from the political parties that voted to axe the tax about an agreement to work towards an alternative.

A tragic day for everyone except the big end of town and those who think policy on climate change is just another opportunity to win a cynical  political victory.

The polluting industries and the miners  crack open the Grange Hermitage (at $3000 a bottle). Clive Palmer whose Queensland Nickel company carbon pollution bill was over $8 million last year, now won’t pay a cent. Victoria’s five coal-fired power stations – the dirtiest in the country – can now pollute at will, and get a $2 billion windfall profit ‘compensation’ for their trouble.

How did they get away with it?  A study of 10 major newspapers in a six-month period in 2010-11 found 82 per cent of Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited’s articles on the carbon tax were negative. To paraphrase Julia Gillard: It doesn’t explain everything, but it sure explains a lot of it.

Paedophilia and Celibacy

In a report of an interview, the Pope acknowledged that paedophilia was common and widespread in the Catholic Church – even at the level of bishop and cardinal –  and called the requirement for celibacy among priests  ‘a problem’ for which he is ‘finding the solution’.  The Vatican denied that he said this.   Cardinal George Pell made reference to celibacy as an issue when questioned by the Victorian Parliamentary Committee in 2013.  Read more:  here