6/8/01
(1) Nick Bolkus to visit Desert Uplands 14 th Aug
(2) WA water protection zones
(3) Meat & Livestock communications strategy
(4) Agforce video on TV
(5) Greenhouse info
(6) GMO News
(7)Farms Dams policy development - Vic
(8) Federal Govt got it wrong - Anderson
(9) Qld Premiers trees
(10) SA Water Resources Minister granted extended powers over water use
(11) Land values crashing - Qld
(12) Koalas in decline
(13) Discussion Point - Land Ownership Questioned
G`Day again,
                   We have some interesting & mostly good news this week.
(#)Our third e-magazine has been sent out with Richard Makim`s interview,
James & Louise Foster`s story, comments on Gidgee thickening, Fiveways
landcare views on Veg management, and an article on fire management in it.

(1) Shadow Federal Minister for the Environment Nick Bolkus will be visiting
Central Qld and Aramac in particular on the 14th August. Member for
Capricornia,  Kirsten Livermore has organised this visit for us.
Aramac Landcare Chairman Mike Price (ph 46510555) is the main contact for
people who want to travel around with Nick Bolkus and discuss landscape
issues. Otherwise we suggest a visit to either of the Aramac watering holes
(the pub or bowls club) in the arvo is the best time to meet Nick and Kirsten.
Remember, for any one in the Aramac area, this is a great time to mention any
environmental issue that might impact you if Labor wins the next election.

(2) Craig Underwood (WA) represented the PGA and has met with WA  Water &
Rivers commission and most WA  banks discussing risks for banks when they are
lending finances for properties with water rights and then those rights
disappear. Things like water protection zones and other government
proclamations over water resources have the banks looking nervous.
They are starting to wonder how they will get their money back if an asset
(water license or right) disappears.

(3) Meat & Livestock  are making plans for a multi million dollar communications
strategy which will put the bush perspective on the environment and property
rights to the Australian people. Paul Fordyce (Clermont, Qld) has indicated a
decent slice of farmers livestock levies will involved because this is a
battle landholders have to win. Paul says the best people will be involved in
this communications strategy and no shortcuts will be taken.

(4) Agforce have produced a video which will be broadcast on Channel seven`s
"World Around Us" program in October.

Now to some broader  topics

(5) Here are some interesting Quotes on Greenhouse issues From the Sydney Morning
herald

   It should be remembered that established forests do little, if anything,
to reduce carbon dioxide levels; they rot, releasing carbon dioxide, at the
same rate as they are renewing themselves and absorbing it. (* This is true
for mature forests, but not young forests)
  I suggest that instead of recycling paper and other high-carbon-containing
waste, we should be devising ways of burying it in, say, abandoned mines.

            We should then use paper produced from fast-growing plants - for
instance, some types of hibiscus - thus drawing in more carbon from the air.
- Michael Foulsham, Vaucluse, July 25.

            Professor Ross Buckley states, "A small minority of scientists
see global warming as part of the ordinary climatic cycle" ("What if global
warming was just so much hot air?", Herald, July 27).

            There are nearly 18,000 signatures from scientists worldwide on a
petition called The Oregon Petition which says that there is no evidence for
man-made global warming theory, nor for any impact from mankind's activities
on climate.

            As H.L. Mencken said, "The fundamental aim of practical politics
is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by
menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." The
desire to save the world usually fronts a desire to rule it.

            The only no-brainers here are the individuals who have a vested
financial interest in seeing implementation of the geo-political scam that is
the Kyoto protocol.

            Robert Mort, Byron Bay, July 27.

            Eons ago there was an ice age. Then the ice cap melted. Why?
There was then no pollution in the air. Suppose global warming is a natural
phenomenon.

            Elly Byrne, Wentworth Falls, July 27.

            In 1990, the Australian Government said it would voluntarily
reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2005. In 1992, it was one
of the many countries that agreed to voluntarily reduce its greenhouse
emissions back to 1990 levels by 2000. Australia's emissions are currently 9
per cent above that target.

            In 1997, having forgotten his opposition to targets, Senator Hill
signed the Kyoto treaty which gave Australia an 8 per cent increase for 2010
but said he would not ratify it unless the US did first.

            History shows voluntary targets do not work. Come on, Australia,
ratify the Kyoto protocol and give it some teeth. The global climate is too
important to be treated like a Balkans ceasefire.

            Noel Ryan, Cromer Heights, July 26.

            Recent letters concerning the island of Tuvalu have run with the
assumption that it is being swamped by rising sea levels.

            Despite dire forecasts over the past 20 years, I am not aware of
any variations in excess of a few millimetres.

            Were there significant rises, I would expect Venice, the
Netherlands and Bangladesh to have at least noticed something.

            Tony Buckley, Denistone, July 26.

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          (6)  GMO news

The UN food & Agriculture Organisation says the world can produce enough food
to meet global demand up to the year 2030 without GMO`s. the world`s
population is estimated to be 2 billion more (8 billion ) than now (6
Billion).

==================================================
(7)Farm dams policy changes development - VIC

The farm dams legislation will change the development of agriculture in
Victoria, and according to some it already has. The legislation will be drawn
up for the Spring session of parliament putting a figure on the amount of
water everyone uses. In the meantime upper catchment irrigators claim they
have already lost out, some have been forced to pay for water from their own
dams already. Dam builders such as Trevor Jackson in the north east says
there has been a halving of business in the last year or two.
With a generally favourable reaction to the government's stance on farm dams
many are tipping a reduction in irrigated agriculture in the upper
catchments. One of them is Lindsay Jarvis who farms in the north east of the
state. In fact, a large proportion of the complaints appear to come from the
upper regions of catchments. Amongst the talkback callers were farmers from
around Mansfield and Bright who believed their private rights to use the
water that landed on their property had gone.
Professor Russell Mein, director Co-operative Research Centre for Catchment
Hydrology says water use must be monitored in a better way and all users must
be accountable. Water trader Peter Leahy says he believes upper catchment
irrigation developments will be stifled a little from the legislation and
says if anything it does favor the lower catchment users.
Jarvis says the day Victoria signed the Murray Darling cap the use of water
became accountable, he says water must be able to be traded freely towards
the most efficient users. He says this is something currently impeded by
those that are conservative in their thinking, "zoned" irrigation areas and
physical impediments such as the Barmah choke on the Murray river.
Some landholders are upset that in dry years, farmers have to pay high prices
for water and authorities act as though the resource is owned by them, whilst
in very wet years, authorities want nothing to do with excess water ie.
flooding. Others wish to know why, in a very dry year, money is not paid for
a lack of water, when it has been paid for.

=============================================================

(8) Federal Government got it wrong - Anderson

The Deputy Prime Minister has told Agforce delegates, the government got it
wrong when it listed hundreds of thousands of hectares of blue grass,
brigalow and vine scrub country as threatened, under the federal Environment
Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Mr Anderson says the three key
principles of good science, consultation with stakeholders and acknowledgment
of property rights weren't followed. He says it will be hard to rectify but
they are working on it. Under the act, when ecosystems are listed as
threatened any activity that has a significant impact on the ecosystem must
be approved by the Environment Minister. Breaches of the provisions of the
act can incur a $550,000 fine for individuals or $5.5million for companies.
 (* We also noted a passing comment in the "Acres" newspaper that tree
clearing could become listed as a threatening process under the EPBC act and
therefore become  outlawed in all of Australia)

============================================================

(9) The Qld Premier's trees

Prime Minister John Howard has been told if he wants to impose further tree
clearing restrictions on Queensland farmers, he must come and meet with them
himself. Mr Howard sent a letter to the Queensland Premier saying it's in the
national interest to reduce Queensland's very high rate of tree clearing, to
achieve a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In return the
Commonwealth will provide compensation for affected farmers on a dollar for
dollar funding basis with the State.
Premier Beattie says if the Prime Minister wants further reductions he must
come and talk to the farmers himself and must pay for it. Landholders say
they would want to see the details of any compensation package before
agreeing to further reductions in tree clearing rates.

(* Many of us Landholders do not like the word "Compensation" because it
sounds like we are being bought off rather than there is justice involved.
Something like "Just Terms" or  something similar would be more accurate)

=============================================================

(10) SA Water Resources Minister granted extended powers over water use

In an extraordinary development, the South Australian Minister for Water
Resources has been granted extended powers and now has full discretion over
the use of water in this state. A meeting of the mid south east irrigators
group was addressed by the Minister for Water Resources Mark Brindal. He was
speaking to them about their concerns about this issue of land use change and
a number of other curly questions about the possibility of them being metered
in terms of water consumption. During the course of that meeting and
discussion he made an unexpected statement about an extraordinary extension
of his powers as Water Resources Minister. This effectively enables him to
reserve any and all water in any region across the state. Minister Brindal
says bill gives to the Minister of Water Resources the right to reserve any
amount of water from an underground reservoir, or a stream that the Minister
sees fit. It means that any water remaining can become property of the state,
it doesn't have to be allocated, it can be held by the Minister and held on
15 year leases. He says the trigger for that at present is a decision of the
minister and there is simply an allowable act in law, which is two days old,
the law itself gives discretion to the Minister.

(* Isn`t it wonderful when laws can be tinkered with without any public
debate - This idea of control, control, control, rather than community
decision making, cuts deep against democracy  and will probably  result in
more support for independant politicians - when will they learn?)

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(11) Land Values Crashing - Qld

This is from Paul Bidwell (Agforce)

I was discussing this with Graham Core from "Lowesby" near Rolleston. Graham
owns a 4866 hectare perpetual lease, of which 1080 hectares is virgin scrub
(classed as endangered under Queensland's Vegetation Management Act) and 780
hectares is regrowth (20 years old) which may be caught under the VMA, or
perhaps the Commonwealth's EPBC Act! (By the recent listing of brigalow
scrub.)

Graham engaged Herron Todd White valuers to provide an independent and
expert opinion of the impact of the tree clearing restrictions. The results
are appalling. The market value of the land under the original lease
conditions (he had to clear the land!) is $1.4 million. But that value is
slashed to $1 million taking account of the loss of development potential
for the 1080 hectares of remnant scrub and the 780 hectares of regrowth.
$400,000 has evaporated. Graham is expected to wear a 29% reduction in the
value of his property.

Regards
Paul Bidwell

(*How long before Banks become aware of this sort of situation and start to
force those with low equity to sell up?)
============================================================
(12) Koalas in Decline  - NSW

Despite koala numbers in the south east forest areas being in the order of
1500 three years ago, it is estimated that only 30 koalas are alive in the
area today.  The claim was made by Mr Robert Bertram of the Murrabunga Koala
Recovery Project.

Shadow Environment Minister Peta Seaton said that koalas are vulnerable to
eye diseases and chlamydia, but these are usually associated with stresses
such as habitat loss, and attack by feral animals such as wild dogs, pigs,
and other introduced species.
"I met with farmers and trappers in the Cooma area this week who showed me
photos of wild dogs which are twice the size of most domestic dogs, and are
decimating both native animals and farm livestock.

"As an example, only $120,000 per year is being spent in the vast Cooma based
area which goes no-where near the levels needed to deal with pest species
pressures on native animals. It's a similar story in the south east forest
areas."

============================================================
And Finally
(13) Discussion Point - Land Ownership Questioned
Greg Burrows (WA) writes

Its interesting to draw a comparison between farmers land rights &
Aboriginal land rights, both parties get emotional  when told what they can
& cant do on "their" land.
 Aboriginals have a few hundred more generations attachment to
their"block"but Im sure farmers know how they really must feel.
The most important part about this sustainable thing is to realize that no
one really "owns the land" Some of us (maybe lucky ones) get to use it for a
while (ecologically a very very short while) Sure us white fellas have
imported & come up with laws to state different titles of ownership but
that's only on a bit of paper, it really is about the condition it goes on
to the next"owner"
If or when we do loose 20% of arable land to salinity then who should go to
jail and for how long or doesn't it matter?

Greg Burrows

Replying comments from Leon Ashby
Private Ownership is a cornerstone
The Idea of "ownership" or "a bundle of rights" which reflect ownership is
indeed an invention of western society, but it is a cornerstone of how our
society works. Contracts involving money, jobs, security, investments, all
involve trust and some risks, but when the basic part of a capitalist system,
private ownership is undermined, then everything can begin to unravel.
Dwight Eisenhower said this "Our basic Freedoms have become almost the very
reason we exist, so that we may enjoy them and pass them, unalloyed, to our
grandchildren. It has been said that we must uphold property rights in the
free enterprise system against human rights. I say that is a false
statemenrt. The right to property is only one of the human rights, and when
that falls, all else falls with it. The abolition of property rights means
dictatorship."

Private Versus Public ownership
A visit to other countries or cultures without property rights upheld by a
justice system, should make anyone appreciate what Australia has had up to
now.
How big is the environment movement in these non western countries ?  -  Not
very big at all - Which countries lead the world in environmental advances? -
The western world - Why is that?  - Could it be the personal pride in
something you own gives you a natural incentive to look after it.
If you look at the difference between publicly owned and privately owned
toilets, there is a vast difference in their appearance, health risks,  
performance, and costs.  
Do you ever see people voluntarily put air freshener in a public toilet, or
scrub out a dirty bowl out of the goodness of their heart? If not why not? I
suggest the reasons are out of self interest. There has to be some personal
benefit involved other wise we are not likely to do it.

In the same way, I maintain that the best way to pass on "our bit of land" in
good condition to the next owner is via
(1) secure private ownership supported by
(2) a safety net based on "just terms"
(3) with incentives for achieved environmental outcomes. (Jock Douglas`s EMS
idea)
These three things have a degree of self interest in them, and whether we
like it or not it seems to be the best way to achieve something positive.

A Green perspective?
I suspect that the green groups that advocate a lessening of property rights
do so only because it is assumed it will cost less.  For example Felicity
Wishart from the Queensland Conservation Council said this on ABC radio:
"This is a very disturbing trend that weâre starting to see emerging.
Suggesting that farmers should have property rights really means that any
future government would not be able to bring in any legislation to control
activities on that land without having to pay compensation upfront. It would
mean that we wouldnât be able to control clearing, that we wouldnât
necessarily be able to stop any sorts of activities without having to pay a
big compensation bill, and thatâs simply not a sustainable way to be moving
forward in the new millennium."

 But I would question whether  Ms Wishart has considered the long term
implications of environmental outcomes without ownership of the land and
therefore ownership of it`s needs.
Do the majority of people who support the QCC agree with her and have they
got a better way to motivate ownership of the lands needs than by secure
property rights?
And that is besides any justice issues arising in future court cases?

Incentives
Having been involved in the dairy industry which has been very good at
bringing about many changes by paying fair incentives, I can see an
environmental incentive system working very well.
The Dairy industry has given bonuses for things like
(1) milk to be produced out of season,
(2) milk produced with more valuable components (protein vs fat)
(3) Milk of a high quality (no impurities, low bacteria, low mastitis etc)
and is now beginning to pay a bonus for those people with a Quality assurance
system.

Dairy vs wool industry
It uses a carrot and a stick approach, ie a bonus for the top performance,
and a deduction for lower than a minimum standard. It all relates back to a
worthwhile amount of dollars.
The wool industry in sharp contrast had companies try things such as a
voluntary quality assurance schemes like  "clipcare" or "primeaction" but no
dollars materialised for the extra efforts people went to and as a result
these systems failed.

SA Rock Lobster Industry
The other industry that has done something worthy of recognition is the South
Australian Rock Lobster industry.
When my father and uncles began fishing rock lobsters in the 50`s & 60`s
there were plenty of crays about, but by the 70`s the  numbers were
declining. Several schemes were tried and nothing was working to either govt
or industry satisfaction and frustration was very high.
Fishermen took full control
Then 7 years ago the SA govt decided to go for the "user pays" approach and
the fishermen said "if we pay for everything we want no govt officials voting
on our committees, they can give us information and advice but they have no
voting rights. They also took full control of the cheque book as well. Since
then they have brought in a Quota system and the rock lobster numbers have
rebounded amazingly. Overseas countries now come to see what the SA fishermen
have done.
My view is this has worked because the fishermen now have ownership of their
industry and have worked out their own system that works.

Land Degradation Punishment
My final comment is on who should go to gaol for land degradation, I say to
those who do not purchase food or goods and can also guarantee they have not
caused harm to the environment or pollute the atmosphere in any way, then
they are the only ones who can condemn others for land degradation.

Anyone else want to Comment?