(1) Peta Seaton (NSW Shadow Env Ministert) comments
(2) Bill Sims (SA) & public good conservation enquiry
(3) QFF & EPBC act
(4) Bill Soko - Land management
(5) David Chambers & salinity model
(6) Water tables in SA & Qld - Leon Ashby
(7) Bood Hickson questions Veg Management
(8) Environment needs incentives
(9) Land act discussion - Qld
(10) SA Timber & water issues
(11) Native plants exaccerbate smog
(12) Landholders property rights lobbying position.
Things are progressing steadily as far as contacting
politicians and people in green groups is concerned. There has been a lot of
correspondance this week so you may get another News & views in 3 days time
so you can see what others are writing.
(1) This is from Peta Seaton (NSW MP)
Thanks for telling me about your group. I am keen to hear what you have to
say, and am exploring the idea of stewardship payments and other financial
incentives to assist landowners retain native vegetation.
I would be keen to hear from any NSW landowners in your group on this
subject. I have also attached a copy of my speech to the Sydney Institute
which canvasses some of these issues. (*This will be in the next News &
I will add you to my media release list, which will keep you up to date on a
variety of environment issues from a NSW Opposition perspective.
Peta Seaton MP
Member for Southern Highlands
(2) This is From Bill Sims (SA)
I have today been in contact with Andrew Brian who is working with the House
of Representatives inquiry into the effects of "Public Good Conservation
measures and their effect on Farmers" or an inquiry to that effect which
follows on from the inquiry of that name which I contributed to when the
inquiry headed by Ian Causley was in Adelaide in February (?) 2001.
Andrew Brian appeared not to know of the existence of "Landholders for the
environment",so I undertook to send him the emails which you have been
circulating. I am not sure that he really does not know of the Group's
existence, so perhaps
you can include him in the list for circulation. This particular inquiry is
due to report in September.
Keep up the good work
(3) This is from the QFF
Brianna Casey attended a meeting hosted by the Local Government Association
of Queensland Thursday 5 July 2001 on the Environment Protection and
Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EBPC Act) and in particular, progress on
a Bilateral Agreement between the Commonwealth and the State. ( *This act is
supposed to have "just terms" in it for landholders unjustly affected by it`s
implementation - Will the just terms become actual? )
Stakeholder groups met with the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines in
Toowoomba last Thursday to present their final submissions on the cap for the
Queensland Murray Darling catchments.
In the next few weeks the Government is to make a decision on volumetric cap
for all water diversions to Condamine Balonne, Border Rivers, Moonie, Warrego
and Paroo catchments.
Irrigator groups that made submissions to the Minister highlighted the
*The draft Condamine Balonne WAMP released in 1999 failed to accurately
reflect the current level of development, conditions of licence and farming
practices in the basin.
*There is still a great deal of uncertainty in all catchments about the flow
modelling and environmental assessments conducted for each plan.
* There was a great deal of concern that water entitlements established by a
water resource plan would not be as secure as promised under the new
*All groups submitted that existing licences should be allowed to develop
within the cap to be imposed by the Government.
*The economic and community impacts of a cap must be outlined and addressed
as part of the cap decision. These issues cannot be left to a later stage.
*Some groups indicated that if a cap decision did not allow existing licences
to develop, then consideration should be given in implementing the cap not to
impact adversely on investment made by property owners in purchasing and
developing their licences.
*The cap decision would do little to ensure better environmental outcomes in
all catchments. Detailed planning to address flow and other environmental
issues would be more important.
*Flows from Queensland catchments into the Murray Darling system have very
little impact on the environmental flow conditions in NSW and Victoria. What
impacts there are from these Queensland flows are felt locally and not
*There is concern about how water will be obtained in the future for
development in many areas.
*Implementation of the plans could still take a considerable time in most
catchments. Consequently uncertainty regarding the outcomes of the plans
will continue for some time.
*There is a risk that different licences will not be treated equitably
particularly in the light of the proposed staged introduction of the plans.
(4) This is from Bill Soko (Daintree rainforest foundation)
thanks for your letter from LE's
Big subject........land management. Its very hard to have blanket
broad areas, you hit on solutions for specific situatuions. To get a
on the biodiversity problem, its good to realise that most people who
study ecology/biodiversity find we are actually past the "safe buffer" of
ecosystems managing themselves, most systems are in decline measured by loss
species and producitivity. Ecosystems are being broken up so much that
ability to regenerate even if left alone is doubtful.............and since
still being simplified or removed that chance of natural regeneration is less
likely. With ecology we measure a systems resiliance to bounce back if left
and when threating vectors are removed. If it is not likely to return to its
former state then its "vunerable", "threatened", "endangered" or finially
imperaled = lost. Sometimes it may take decades for the final loss of a
community. And sometimes we can see it going down with no chance of recovery,
like in acute salinity situations.
Its so late in the game that all landowners are being asked to save a bit of
left..................you are right that many average people are caught up in
is a crisis of land management disasters or the ending of the acceptablity of
vastly unsustainable land pratices which threaten everbodys future. You are
correct that much of the land should not have been sold freehold or even
regards for your efforts.......are you funded to
write your emails?
(*No funding via membership or anything else Bill, - it`s all voluntary)
(5) This is from David Chambers (Land Management Society - WA)
A reply to Christine Jones. Re salinity.
Many experts, farmers etc will agree that perennial pastures can be a very
effective tool in salinity/watertable management.
It does seem that Christine is working from an Eastern Australian
In Western Australia were the salinity problem has been the severest for a
long time the natural landscape did not conform to the grassland vision
described as the original landscape. There was heavy forest in the south west
and low scrub to mini trees over the vast semi arid areas of today's
Yes there were plenty of perennials, mainly of the woody variety.
The standard salinity model appears to hold up better for the change of
environment in the West. It has been demonstrated that water managing the
upper areas of a catchment will significantly improve the lower portion. An
example that comes to mind.
A property owner tried the simple solution. Plant trees along the creek line
at the bottom of the catchment. As these trees established salt scalds broke
out above them, so more trees were planted up slope, again salt scalds broke
out up slope. This process was repeated until about a million trees was
planted with salt outbreaks constantly moving up slope. This example was
cited as a demonstration that starting at the top of the catchment is better.
(* David, was this water from the water table or from an impervious layer
just below the surface? - Leon)
It is agreed and our concern that far too much emphasis has been placed on
planting trees. It is easy to promote and produces a readily visible
landscape feature attractive to the city people and politicians. Trees are
only a part of a multifaceted solution. Particularly if agriculture must
co-exist in the landscape.
The solution must be based on plants/trees, water and soil management (no
expansion at this time)in essence farming in tune with the Australian
The belief that a salt scald is a response to recharge at the same point is
not our experience. Many if not all scalds in the west are the result of
recharge elsewhere raising the water table most often at depth, building
pressure and forcing saline water flow up through a fracture or fault in an
impervious layer. Other scalds do result from the exit of water as an
impervious layer exits a slope.
Christine is to be complemented for her effort. No doubt there will be other
Direct Farm Monitoring
Land Management society
(6) From Leon Ashby (SA & QLD) Re water tables & pasture water use
Almost all Qld Landholders I have discussed salinity with believe the inland
Queensland landscape would appear to fit Christine Jone`s model very well.
The lack of fire use resulting in tree thickening, the higher run off rates
and the loss of plant density with past grazing management, and less water
infiltrating the soil in higher parts of the catchments are very common
In the lower south east of South Australia there is a much different land
geology to inland Qld and WA again.
There is a lot of limestone directly under the soil (from 1cm to several
metres soil depth) and a substantial unconfined aquifer is the result of
rainfall infiltration. (There are also confined aquifers lower down, but they
are another issue).
The lakes and sink holes in the area have fluctuating water levels. There is
very little run off. Occassionally swamps and drains fill and run into the
sea, but this has occurred very few times in recent years. Local stories
since settlement indicate that when water ran out of the ground, this was the
result of large rainfall events in the relatively immediate area infiltrating
a little way onto a slightly impervious layer and running out the side of a
rise or hill. It was not hydraulic pressure ( infiltrated water going down
and forcing water up elsewhere) No dryland salinity problems exist in the
lower southeast of SA.
I was part of the latest irrigation water use trial that PIRSA conducted
last summer and noticed that their information says the usual water use on
pasture over the summer period is 450mm . Our irrigated pastures used 900mm
and next to none was measured going into the lower aquifer. This seems to
suggest that perennial pastures can use / hold lots of water without it going
into aquifers. What the pre settlement grass situation was is unsure but the
local native grasses do not seem to have been as effective at water holding
as irrigated perennial pastures.
(*As with what David Chambers has written. It is obvious that it would be a
good thing if each region could determine it`s own scientific research and
management methods, and not assume results from elsewhere.)
(7) Bood Hickson (QLD) has written a Vegetation Management Discussion Paper
and is asking for comments
Jock Douglas (former Qld Landcare chairman ) and Dr Bill Burrows (Qld Tree
Scientist) have sent replies. Here is Bood`s introduction . We will put
everyones comments in full on the next "News & views".
This discussion paper has been written to try and address concerns that I
and other members of the Southern Highlands Brigalow Belt Regional
Vegetation Management Committee (SHBB-RVMC) have about the Vegetation
Management Act and the regional consultative process currently being
It appears to me that we are 'planning to fail'. The RVMC process appears
to shift the blame from government for conflict over vegetation management,
and disguise pathetic legislation which barely begins to address the
concerns of either landholders or conservationists. This criticism is not
directed at the regional bureaucracy, who are between a rock and a hard
place trying to implement this unintelligent legislation. I am hearing
similar concerns from other RVMCs around the state and believe that if
these concerns are not addressed as a matter of urgency, that the goodwill
displayed by many of the volunteers on RVMCs will soon be exhausted.
These excerpts are from ABC radio
(8) Environment needs incentives - Julie Doyle
A new report has found excessive government regulations are deterring farmers
from conserving native vegetation and wildlife. The report released this
morning by the Productivity Commission has examined the constraints to
private investment in the environment. And it's identified complex tax laws,
native wildlife regulations and pastoral lease arrangements as real problems
when it comes to farmers protecting the environment. Commissioner Neil Byron
says native wildlife regulations, pastoral lease arrangements and in
particular, taxation laws are holding back conservation work. He says "if you
put in a dam to provide water for stock, that is tax deductible but if you
put in the same dam, in the same place to provide water for native animals
it's not deductible. So there are these sort of anomalies, we haven't
necessarily got answers for them, but we're just highlighting that these sort
of anomalies exist in tax treatment".
(* A Holistic framework concerning rights, compensation, incentives etc
across all land tenures, legislation & regulations is one of the things we
are beginning to lobby for - see our initial ideas further down on this email)
(9) Two way Land Act discussion - Nicol - Brisbane
Hundreds of primary producers are today digesting the news that the State
Government is making the Land Act more flexible to allow rural leaseholders
to diversify their land use and income, on pastoral leases and grazing
homestead perpetual leases. Agforce has welcomed the announcement saying it
will allow producers to diversify into compatable land uses such as tourism
and aquaculture. But conservationists are concerned that it will weaken tree
cleaing controls on leasehold land, a suggestion rebutted by AgForce who says
all the other regulations still apply. The Country Hour had representatives
from both sides debating the issue, both sides agreed in the end that giving
leaseholders more flexibility in how they use their land is good.
(10)Timber plantation woes in the south east of SA lead to criticism of the Water
Resources Minister - David Claughton
Last year we saw a rush towards the establishment of blue gum plantations
around the greater green triangle in the South Australia`s South East. One
contractor alone put in 24000 hectares of plantations, but the industry has
run into problems. On top of tax issues and a loss of investor confidence,
criticism is now being levelled at the Minister for Water Resources Mark
Brindal. Mark Brindal's announcement that new plantations may require a water
allocation in the future is said to have created uncertainity in the
plantation industry, and sent whatever development there is across to the
Victorian side of the border. Many people associated with the industry, like
nursery owners and contractors who clear the land, are decidely unhappy with
the State government. Tim Altschweger invested millions in heavy earth moving
equipment, only to find the rug pulled from under his feet. Agrow is now
working in the wine industry and is also working on a forestry project on the
Tiwi Islands. Simon Cox is also critical of the state government. He runs the
Penola Tree Nursery, which sold millions of seedlings to the plantation
sector last year. He says Brindals announcement, together with a loss of
investor confidence and federal government tax policy, has shut down the
plantation sector in this region. Simon Cox also says the region is slipping
behind in the race to establish a pulp mill. Minister Brindal says he does
acknowledge that there is a problem in the plantation industry. Meanwhile the
Select Committee investigating the issue has also been considerably delayed,
and its report isn't expected now until late Spring or even as late as
Christmas. Despite the delays the Minister disputes Simon Cox's view that we
are losing ground in the race to establish a pulp mill.
From Land Management Society`s Newsletter
(11)NATIVE PLANTS EXACERBATE SMOG FORMATIONS
Research conducted by the CSIRO Energy Technology & Atmospheric Research has
shown that our native plants exacerbate smog formations by interacting with
other air pollutants. Trees emit up to 25% of smog seen over cities.
Understanding the contribution of natural sources will help predict when and
where pollution will occur.
(12) And Finally here is our first draft of our Property Rights lobbying position
which we will be sending to politicians soon - Let us know if you can help
us improve on it
Property Rights are crucial
Our lobby group "Landholders for the environment" has formed to promote
better understanding of environmental processes and more awareness to the
conflicts between greater environmental regulations and property rights.
Governments are pursuing two different philosophies at the same time.
One is the deregulation of markets with price incentives for quality
Another is the increasing regulation of farm environments with no
This displays political schizophrenia at it`s best.
Why we need Property Rights clarification
The erosion of property rights has emerged as the greatest threat to
landholders rights and confidence in continuing to farm. The threats come
from a range of legislation, including
* vegetation management,
* water management,
* conservation legislation,
* biodiversity legislation,
* greenhouse legislation,
* zoning laws,
* native title determinations
* and misguided scientific assumptions behind some laws
The fact that 3000 people turned up to John Howard`s native title address at
Longreach several years ago and the two biggest protest marches in Qld last
year (Winton - 1,000 people & Roma 2,000 people) which were about property
rights and native vegetation should be enough evidence of this fact.
Landholders do not have clear guidelines about where their rights begin and
end, and many law suits are landholders only just recourse as a result. Some
of the rights we are losing include
* Pulling timber
* Cutting posts
* Putting in new fencelines
* Diversifying into new industries
* Having stock in concentrated herds
* Even driving across a paddock
The way that regulatory processes now work sees Government departments and
green groups often having defacto proprietary rights over our properties. On
what grounds are they allowed to do this? How did they come by those rights?
Without a change of policy direction, landholders are coming under
environmental license and those determining the conditions have no practical
experience, a sure recipe for disaster that constipates progress and the
orderly advancement of innovative agriculture. Not dissimilar to the
situation in the former USSR.
A property rights bill should also include city owned private property so our
city cousins can be also included in the determination of their property
Other suggestions are to extend such a bill to include
* "Right to farm" issues, e.g. smells, noises, etc so these cannot be
reasons to close down farms
* 3rd part interest not included e.g. a third party cannot take someone to
court to sue against a farming practice. (Health problems due to dust /
pollen / noise / smell / tractor exhaust etc, as long as standard farming
practices are observed)
Comments from the "institute for public affairs"
This is what the institute of public affairs said in part of it`s submission
to the House of Representatives cost of "Public Good" conservation inquiry
The Australian Constitution, like the American, incorporates the view that
individual freedom should prevail alongside a limited role for government.
Section 5 l(xxxi) requires that if the government acquires property from any
State or person, it does so on just terms. Just terms have been defined by
the High Court as 'full and adequate compensation' where the acquisition is a
However, section 51 (xxxi) only applies to the Commonwealth. It does not bind
the States nor do the States have 'just compensation' clauses in their own
Declining Support for Property Rights
There has been a substantial decline in support for upholding the security of
private property rights by the courts and by governments of all levels over
the last 50 years.This decline has not led to ignoring these property rights
altogether. Rather, it has led to the narrowing of the definition of property
rights, a widening of the definition of 'public use' and the limiting of the
grounds for compensation.When governments expropriate property outright,
taking title from the owner, courts relying on Section 5 l(xxxi) generally
require governments, at least the commonwealth government, to compensate
owners for their losses. The modern problem does not lie there. The problem
lies with governments taking part of the use of the property while leaving
title with the owner.
Courts have been reluctant to award compensation in such cases because they
have failed to grasp the principle of the matter---due, in part, to an
unwarranted deference to the regulatory state.The central principle is that
property is not a singular concept. Property is a bundle of rights and
different owners can co-exist by owning different services on the same piece
of land the normal case in Australia for mining rights and is also found with
But if any of these rights is taken away the owner is deprived of
something.Contrary to this reality, takings law has clung to the idea that
only if the entire bundle is taken does the government have to pay
compensation. This all-or-nothing view enables government to extinguish
nearly all uses through regulation---and hence to regulate nearly all value
out of the property---yet escape the compensation requirement because the
all-but-empty title remains with owner.This is clearly wrong.
Compensation should be required when government takes any right---whether
partial or full title.
When Is Compensation Required?
It is preferable to answer the question when is compensation not required?
Rather than the question when is compensation required?Compensation is not
required· First, when government acts to secure rights---when, for
example, it stops someone from polluting his neighbours land---it is acting
under its police powers and no compensation is due to the owner, whatever his
financial loss, because the use---pollution---was wrong in the first place.
Since there is no right to pollute, we do not have to pay polluters not to
pollute. The relevant question is not whether value has been taken by
regulation but whether a right has been taken.·
Second, if governments act to provide the public with some good and
that act does not take a right, then even if it results in a financial loss,
no compensation is due. For example, if a government builds a public housing
estate and neighbouring property values decline, no compensation is due
because the action took nothing that they owned. The neighbours own their
property and its uses. They do not own the value in their property.
Compensation is required when governments act not to secure rights but to
provide the public with some good---for example, a wildlife habitat or the
preservation of historic buildings---and in doing so take away some otherwise
legitimate use.The principle is quite simple: the public has to pay for the
goods it wants and takes, just like any private person would have to.
Just Terms - Property Rights Bill
As there is a requirement of "Just Terms" in the constitution, we are asking
for a Federal property rights bill which will be a framework for spelling out
landholders rights and responsibilities, and where compensation is necessary.
The primary aim is to state when any legislation or regulation, takes away a
right that the landholder previously had that reduces either his
* asset values,
* opportunity, or
* management options
then those things can be determined and payment or arrangements made to
Options for Just Terms
We believe a range of options should be given and the landholder can nominate
which option suits him best. These include
(1) Subdivision of land and the lost part paid at twice the pre
conservation commercial price paid for the land in dispute (Mining companies
pay twice the current valuation price and we believe this should be the
(2) Govt purchase of the land (at twice the valuation), putting a
conservation covenant on it and reselling the land to someone who will keep
the terms of the covenant.
(3) A yearly payment (e.g. commercial lease at 7% of valuation) made to keep
land in a conserved state
(4) Repayment for (water) licenses and entitlements taken away, at twice the
Aim of the Options
The aim will be to get the landholder into a position equivalent to his
position before his property and managerial right(s) were taken away. That
is, for the landholder to be able to either relocate or buy more land for a
similar enterprise with a similar potential.
As we all know relocation costs time and money and family members have to
establish new friendships in a new area. Family farms also have sentimental
value. Sometimes new investments have been made recently, but the returns
have not been fully realised.
In these cases, simply paying for the land at the current value would not be
The above compensation options should be adequate to cover those costs and
Landholder responsibilities will be spelled out such as the amount of
vegetation to be retained to keep a sustainable landscape. Most green groups
worldwide say 10% is the minimum. We believe a 15% retention rate would be
acceptable and fair, but we would also support a thorough research project
across Australia to determine the minimum retention rate (which could vary in
Real estate responsibilities should also be spelled out to ensure open and
honest land transactions take place. E.g. residential properties that are for
sale within close proximity of a farm have to be notified of the right to
An appeal process also needs to be set out , so landholders can appeal what
they believe are bad decisions.
Also a process to challenge what is believed to be misguided scientific
assumptions should also be put in place. E.g. a scientific tribunal.
For example, the supposed recharge area of the Great Artesian Basin was
defined and restrictions brought in under the Cooper Creek water management
plan last year in Qld. Restrictions about stock numbers and enterprise
options now apply in this supposed "recharge area". Landholders believe there
is no recharge area in Qld. Now a university professor (Lance Endersbee) and
research being conducted by Qld DNR is also concluding the same thing. Will
landholders get their rights back? If not why not? How can the scientific
assumptions be challenged so the truth can be known?
Funds for Landholder research
One suggestion is to set aside NHT or similar funds for landholder initiated
research of environmental assumptions that landholders believe are incorrect
* The current salinity discharge recharge model
* The Great artesian basin recharge model,
* What level of tree and vegetation retention is necessary to keep the
landscape sustainable (some say 10% others 30% - what is the truth?)
* What amounts of sediment comes off various types of farming enterprises and
Most Green groups get taxpayer funding to do much of their activities.
Landholder groups get no govt funds to do environmental research along the
line of enquiry we want.
Some environmental coordinators such as Rachel Seigwert (WA) are funded in
part by the Water And Rivers commission. How widespread is this practice of
government departments being in cohorts with green lobbyists? This is surely
a conflict of interest.
We are therefore asking for matching funding arrangements to give balance to
environmental decision making.
Email and internet conferencing Regional Discussion Forums
One final issue that could be easily done to help the bush is for all
regional groups (vegetation, catchment, etc) to be able to form recognised
email / videoing discussion forums to conduct most of their business with.
In conjunction with better telecommunications outcomes, why not also
subsidise regional people wanting internet connection, so almost everyone
will be able to participate in these regional discussions / video
conferencing without leaving their property.
The present method of regional groups being made up of small numbers of
people making all the decisions means these groups can get out of touch
easily because the "battlers", those with young children, elderly and busy
people have no time or means of participating in these groups. E.g. the
Cooper Creek catchment is 1,000 kms long and very few people in the north
have the time or are economically well off enough to be away from their
properties for 2 day meetings.
In summary. Only by giving certainty to landholders about their rights, will
confidence and goodwill towards governments return and a greater degree of
cooperation be achieved to solve our many environmental difficulties. We hope
you will seriously consider our views.
(Convenor for Landholders for the environment)