12/6/01
(1) Nick Bolkus to visit Desert Uplands in Aug?
(2) Copying information
(3) Quantum Leap in Natural Resourse Management
(4) Mulga Feeding & treeclearing confusion
(5) Biodiversity act (EPBC act) & bluegrass & brigalow
(6) Excerpts from Insitute of Public Affairs submission to
Cost of public good conservation enquiry

Hello Folks,
>                   A bit of news for you on several fronts,
>
> Nick Bolkus (Shadow Environment Minister) to visit Aramac on 14th, 15th
> August?
> Kirsten Livermore (member for Capricornia)has indicated a tentative date
for
> Nick Bolkus` visit and will confirm more details later. Anyone in the
Aramac
> , Barcaldine, Longreach area is welcome to come and discuss environmental
> issues as Senator Bolkus travels around looking at a couple of properties.
> Aramac Landcare  Group will organise the trip around.
>
> Marylou Gittins (Kilcoy Landcare Qld) has asked this
>
> Hi Guys
> You really have some great info. Is it possible for me to use some of it
in
> our landcare newsletter or pass it onto other members on email? I really
am
> a bit concerned now days on passing on info from other areas so please
could
> you let me know ASAP if I can use this info or not in this way.
> Thanks it really is great reading.
> MaryLou Gittins
> 'Yatala Downs'
> 5424 D'Aguilar Hw
> Woolmar
> Kilcoy Qld 4515
>
> (* we sent Marylou a reply saying go ahead and use what you like -
everything
> we have used from books and magazines has permission - i.e. we have
contacted
> Dr Bill Burrows, Dr Christine Jones, Jim Noble, Tim Flannery`s publisher,
> and others. The remaining material comes from web sites which is being
copied
> by millions of people without copyright controls, but we still contact
anyone
> who either specifically asks or may not know about us using their material
> (e.g. The Institute of Public Affairs for their article at the end of this
> email.)
>
> Ian Mott (Aust Forest Growers) sent in this press release
>
>  QUANTUM LEAP IN NATURAL RESOURCE  MANAGEMENT
>  A pilot program announced today by the NSW State Government to pay
> farmers for the environmental services they provide the community has been
> warmly
> welcomed by the NSW Farmers' Association.
>
> Mr Peters said the pilot program recognised for the first time that
actions
> by farmers above and beyond their normal duty of care resulted in a broad
> public benefit, and should therefore be paid for by the general public.
>
>  "The pilot program is recognition of the fact that the harsh regulatory
> approach of the past few years simply doesn't work. That approach places
an
> inequitable cost on an individual landholder, and generates a benefit the
> entire community," Mr. Peters said
>
> "The trial will allow up to twenty farmers to volunteer to change their
land
> management in a way that benefits the entire community, and in return
receive
> a payment for the services they provide for the environment.
>
>  "We need to ensure the standard duty of care for owners of land is
> defined in a sensible way, so that a proper 'credit and debit' system can
> develop. Those farmers who do more than is required and generate benefits
for
> the entire community should be paid for the services they provide.
>
>  "However, the Government must understand that this program will do
> nothing for the many farmers across the State who are currently trapped by
> legislation such as the Native Vegetation Conservation Act and the
Threatened
> Species Act.
>
>  "The Association will redouble its efforts to get these regulations
changed
> so that they are more sensible and equitable. Many farmers can't afford to
> wait for the outcome of a three year trial before they can start to plan
> their future," Mr Peters said.
>
> And from the AGFORCE web site, two situations where property rights are
> unclear and need to be defined fairly.
>
> Tree clearing restrictions limit mulga fodder feeding in dry South West
>
> AgForce Sheep and Wool vice president Kathy Schmidt said the condition of
> stock in the area was deteriorating while graziers waited for the
bureaucrats
> to okay the use of mulga as feed for their sheep and cattle.
>
> "Current guidelines are too restrictive - they do not recognise mulga as a
> renewable fodder source and don't take account of the urgency required to
> turn around a permit in dry times," she said.
>
> "After selectively pushing, mulga very quickly regenerates with the right
> seasonal conditions which is ideal for graziers in that, like a crop, it
can
> be harvested over and over again. Mulga is a renewable source and one that
is
> in the interests of graziers to protect," she said.
>
> Earlier this week, Mrs Schmidt chaired a meeting of about 30 graziers in
> Cunnamulla concerned and frustrated by the current arrangements.
>
> "We've been told by the Department of Natural Resource staff that after
> applying for an emergency permit under the current legislation it'd be
about
> a month before graziers can harvest mulga as drought fodder - a month is
far
> too long when stock are hungry," she said.
>
> Mrs Schmidt said mulga should be treated differently to other vegetation
> covered under the Vegetation Management Act, with its management in dry
times
> overseen by a regional committee and in line with a Code of Practice drawn
up
> by the SWSNRM.
>
> "It's hopeless having the use of mulga as drought fodder treated as
> broadscale clearing," she said.
>
> AgForce is hoping to secure an urgent meeting with the Natural Resources
> Minister to resolve the issue.
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
----
>
> ----------------------------------------------
>  AgForce, has called on the Commonwealth Government to immediately
withdraw
> new listings in the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity
> Conservation Act because of "conflicting scientific data" and a total lack
of
> consultation with affected landholders.
>
> The listings approved by Federal Environment Minister Senator Robert Hill
> will see hundreds of thousands of hectares of bluegrass grasslands,
brigalow
> and vine scrubs in the Brigalow region of Queensland virtually
"untouchable"
> without the express approval of the Minister.
>
> AgForce president Larry Acton questioned how the Federal Government could
> lock up people's lands and affect their livelihoods with absolutely no
> consultation.
> (* This could be similar to the WA situation where a govt body goes ahead
and
> does somerthing that technically it does not have a clear legal position
to
> do . If no big fuss is made and/or the bulk of landholders go along with
it,
> the process sticks, - for a while at least)
>
> Under the new listings which are set to take effect in mid-June, if a
> landholder carries out planned development like ploughing - which could be
> deemed under the Act to have a "significant impact" on the designated
land -
> he/she faces a fine of up to $550,000 for an individual, $5.5 million for
a
> corporation or up to seven years in jail if they do not have approval from
> the Minister.
>
>
> A number of officers from Environment Australia (from Senator Hill's
> department), Federal Agriculture Minister Warren Truss's office and the
> Queensland Department of Natural Resources met with AgForce and Cotton
> representatives at our office last Friday (June 1) to discuss the listing
> process and answer questions about the potential implications for
landholders.
>
> Larry Acton said "It is clear to me that there has been an almost total
lack
> of communication within the Federal departments, between the Federal and
> State Governments and certainly with industry groups and landholders.
>
> It is clear after Friday's meeting that there are no maps that are useful
for
> individual property assessment.
>
> We do know, however, that the four bluegrass ecosystems that were listed
are
> in the brigalow bio-region and if there is an intention to change land use
> that may affect bluegrass ecosystems then further advice should be sought.
>
> AgForce's Resource Management Committee has been particularly concerned by
> the mention of brigalow in the listings and the lack of clarification
> regarding regrowth.
>
> The answers on Friday provided little comfort, though they did indicate
that
> normal maintenance is unlikely to require approval, however, we could not
get
> a clear understanding of what constitutes "normal".
>
> Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act,
> any action that might cause a significant impact requires an approval from
> the Environment Minister and change of land use is also a trigger.
>
> Environment Australia were keen to pursue the development of guidelines to
> use as a benchmark for assessment of an approval by the Minister or his
agent
> .
> (* Any dictatorial type management decisions rather than regional
decisions,
> are going against the so called "consultative resource decision making
> process" that governments claim to adhere to nowadays.)
>
> We have endeavoured to discuss this appalling situation with a number of
> ministers and government officials and I will be meeting Prime Minister
John
> Howard on June 18, along with the other state presidents in the National
> Farmers' Federation.
>
> (* in the interests of conservation, there is no recognition by
governments  yet that good grazing management can reverse grass decline.  For Example -
> Richard Makim has now got bluegrass coming up everywhere on his property,
> when just a few years ago there was very little about and he didn`t even
know
> what it looked like. - see  "grazing" on the web site)
>
> And finally  parts of an article to go on our web site soon - Cheers
>
> Institute of Public Affairs
> Submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on
Environment
> and Heritage Inquiry into Public Good Conservation -Impact of
Environmental
> Measures Imposed on Landholders
>
>  The notion of public goods conservation with respect to land can be
divided
> into two categories; maintaining the productivity of the land by measures
> that will automatically affect all landholdings in a particular area; and
> preserving native flora and fauna which may compete with normal concepts
of
> land productivity.The first of these is a long-established issue. The
general
> success over many centuries in maintaining the productivity of the land is
> due to ownership of land having been vested in individuals, thus creating
> powerful incentives to maintain and enhance its productivity.
>
>
>  The Rule of Law Based on Property Rights
> The Need for Exclusive Property rights
> Individuals will seek to make intensive use of free inputs whilst
economising
> on inputs for which they have to pay. As a result, where the free input
has a
> value, society will not be making the best use of its factor endowments
such
> as land. Property which is unowned will lead each individual to maximise
his
> own benefit with little regard to the ongoing value of the resource.
Failure
> of the individual to take the value for himself will simply mean others
will
> do so. Baden and Stroup1 liken the process to five young boys sucking soda
> from a glass - the law of capture prevails and no conservation control or
> temporal allocation of the depletable resource is possible.
>
> Beneficial Outcomes from Property Rights Protection
> Legal definitions of rights and responsibilities based on firmly
understood
> property rights have been major forces for economic progress while
ensuring
> the sustainability of production. Faith in this process has often been
shaky.
> Thus, Theodore Roosevelt in 1911 said," .................the time has come
to
> enquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the
coal,
> the iron, the oil and gas are exhausted, when the soils have been further
> impoverished and washed into streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the
> fields and obstructing navigation."Yet not one of Roosevelt`s anxieties
have
> proved well founded. Economies have become increasingly, not decreasingly
> productive. World development has clearly proven sustainable.
> Over the past 100 years income of OECD countries as measured by Gross
> Domestic Product has increased more than 20-fold and income per head has
> quintupledIf we look at agricultural output, we find even more encouraging
> signs. In the past forty years, Australia's farm production has increased
by
> 130 per cent. Performance in other countries has been comparable. Table 1
> offers some quantification of this in Australia.
> TABLE 1
> Average % Increase in Volume of Farm Output
> 1951-1962   1962-1972          1972-1982      1977/8-1998/9
> 4.0               3.5                      1.0                     2.6
>      Source: ABARE
>
> Even though many claim we are approaching the limits to increased
> productivity, and a downturn is imminent, in recent years, output has
> continued to increase faster than inputs
> 2.These facts suggest scepticism is warranted with regard to a recent
report
> published by the ACF and NFF. The report calls for annually an additional
> $3.7 billion of government spending and a total $6.5 billion.The report
> claims that, currently, degradation costs at least $2 billion each year,
and
> is increasing at an accelerating rate. It estimates the investment
> expenditure it advocates has the potential to generate a 6.5% annual
return,
> for the next 100 years. The bulk of the benefits are in forestry and the
> report envisages a 20 fold growth in that industry.
>
> Secure Property Rights: the Key to Prosperity
> The reasons behind the generally satisfactory out-turn are well known.
> Property rights offer individuals an unparalleled incentive to gauge
> immediate and longer term costs and benefits against their own
preferences.
> Having these costs and benefits self-contained with the property owner has
> proven far superior to any other forrn of ownership. Its supremacy over
its
> main rival, government determination of use, has been unambiguously
> demonstrated with the collapse of socialism over the past decade or
so.Indeed
> the overwhelming cause of England leading the world`s economic take-off of
> recent centuries was painstakingly documented by Tom Bethell
> 4. Bethell showed this was due to the security over property rights that
the
> English and, to a lesser extent, other Europeans enjoyed. Secure property
> rights allow basic human goals to be pursued by allowing those who are
> successful, frugal or hard-working to enjoy the benefits without having to
> share them, giving them much greater incentive to create wealth and
preserve
> the value of assets.Codifying the English implied property rights, the US
> Constitution under the Bill of Rights (Amendment 5, 179 1) established the
> inviolability of property fights (called takings) from government seizure.
> This was adopted in the Australian Constitution (s 51 xxxi), although in a
> form that required an activist High Court shortly after the turn of the
last
> century to fully define. In Australia, the provisions do not extend to
State
> constitutions (and the Lucas case in the US demonstrates, in some people's
> eyes, that property rights are imperfectly protected in that country
> 5).De facto takings occur where governments adopt zoning laws to prevent
> certain crops being grown, thereby denying the landowner of the best
possible
> use of the land.The High Court's "discovery" of native title in Mabo 2
also
> led to a considerable attenuation of property rights as they were
previously
> understood, Nonetheless, Australian property rights have largely retained
> their value and certainty notwithstanding the various assaults on them by
> governments and a politically active judiciary.
> Any departure from a property-rights approach to ensure a more sustainable
> productivity needs to be carefully founded on sound principles. The
> experiences of countries that have emasculated individual property rights
> (e.g. the former Soviet Union) or whose governments have not had the
capacity
> to ensure the upholding of the owners' rights (e.g. much of Africa) does
not
> offer hope of finding promising approaches that do not include a
pre-eminent
> role for property rights.The foregoing suggests that financial
compensation
> is essential for any property rights that are taken. This accords with
> several sound principles, including:·   placing a direct impost on
budgets,
> thus avoiding the misapprehension that a taking is costless and injecting
a
> discipline into government to select priorities regarding goods that
warrant
> such a taking. This also allows an accurate measure to be made of the
costs
> of conservation measures;·   providing compensation conforms with equity;·
> in the absence of conservation, perverse outcomes are likely; thus it is
said
> in the US that the Endangered Species Act which often paralyses income
> producing activity on private land once such a species is discovered leads
to
> the three SSS's; Shoot, Shovel and Shut-up.
>
> In Australia, environmental organisations have generally eschewed such
> approaches, preferring instead to use the funds at their disposal for
> advocacy purposes. This is a pity. Advocacy generally means seeking
others -
> the private owner or the taxpayer - to fund their goals.
>
> A timely reminder of the disadvantages of regulatory solutions to
> conservation is offered by the recent fires in the forests enclosing the
Los
> Alamos nuclear research facility has illustrated some of the deficiencies
in
> having government agencies seek to preserve areas in a "natural" state.
The
> fire, although due to a controlled burn that went wrong, was a consequence
of
> attempting to preserve forests in a way that is no longer possible. As
Robert
> Nelson, Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies at the Competitive
Enterprise
> Institute  has said,Unless it is removed mechanically, most of the wood
will
> have to burn eventually.
>  Consequently, an abundance of dead and dying trees due to the long time
> absence of fire results in fire intensities that cause enormous damage to
> soils, watersheds, fisheries, and other ecosystem components.Some parallel
> deficiencies of government-controlled Australian national parks are well
> documented. These include lack of care and infestation by feral cats, pigs
> and vegetation like blackberries. Where the forest service is able to
combat
> fire, this often stores up greater problems for the future.
> Totally private forests with recreation as the main income earning feature
> are not a ready option in Austallia, since the abundance of "free"
government
> national parks crowds out most private provision. Nonetheless, a number of
> "exclosure"-based parks, particularly those operated by Dr Walmsley,
appear
> to have been successful.
>
> Species Protection
> The previously mentioned ACF/NFF report National investment in Rural
> Landscapes calls for expenditure of $8.3 billion ($7.1 billion in public
> money) for non-commercial or biodiversity plantings and $722 million (all
of
> it public money) for rangeland retirement for biodiversity. While the
report
> has the merit of apparenfly fully compensating land owners for foregoing
> their income levels in the pursuit of these public goods, it can be
> criticised in two respects: first the level of urgency may be exaggerated;
> and secondly, it makes no efforts to explore private means of pursing the
> target.The Extent of the ProblemIn terms of extinctions, the report notes
> that since European settlement some 20 mammals have become extinct and
> suggests that 97 plant species are also known to be extinct. While any
> species loss is a matter of regret, two factors need to be considered in
> addressing these sorts of numbers.First, the extent of the loss comprises
> about 7 per cent of the pre-European mammals and a tiny fraction of the
> 25,000 plant and 40,000 plus other vegetation species identified in
Australia
> The loss was not caused by deliberate extirpation but as a consequence of
new
> species. The previous isolation of Australia made it inevitable that
native
> species would be vulnerable to competition of new strains. Other isolated
> areas like Hawaii and the south west of the US suffered comparable species
> loss.Secondly, species loss largely occurred in the period prior to 1920.
In
> that period, the premium on species preservation was much weaker than it
is
> today. If it has not been  arrested, species loss has certainly been
> considerably reduced in recent decades.
> This casts doubt on the estimates of future loss ("3329 plant categories
> threatened" and an estimated "50% of Australia's woodland birds will
become
> extinct') in the ACF/NFF report.
> Such figures also seem to be considerably higher than those in the OECD
> Environmental Data Compendium, 1999, which records 1,085 plant species as
> threatened out of 25,000 (or 4 per cent) and 50 threatened bird species
out
> of 777 (or 6 per cent).
>
> Making Use of Market Mechanisms to Preserve Species
> Owned species with market value are not in danger of extinction. Vesting
of
> ownership of species presents a potentially useful way of recruiting the
> market system to promote environmental goals. At present many Australian
> fauna are devalued because they have no market value, hence they are often
> considered vermin.
> Outcomes overseas present pointers to a more hopeful win-win approach.
With
> Kenyan elephants, protection in national parks under government ownership
has
> resulted in the excessive hunting of creatures that have valued properties
> but are also a nuisance; by contrast, southern Africa's herds are vested
with
> villages who ensure their protection to take advantage of tourism and the
> outcome has been far superior in terms of preservation.
> Those with the property right or its franchise equivalent will assume an
> automatic role of policing against poachers (who would be seizing their
> property).Such experiences present useful indicators for Australian
policy.
> Overseas demand for Australian birds and wildlife is high and "harvesting"
> the wildlife could promote its sustainability while:·
> *ensuring against excessive taking·
> *ensuring humane collection and transport
>
> Such solutions are inhibited by current ideological attitudes against
> commercialising wild life and these need to be combated. There is scope
for
> gain (including gain in rural employment levels) by deregulating and
> franchising. This scope should be explored, especially since such measures
> could contribute to species preservation and protection without
impositions
> on the taxpayer.
>
> 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
> compulsory taking.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 constitutions.
>
> 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 Cornrnonwealth 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 water rights. 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.