21/2/02
Hi again everyone,
                           Every now and again, there are new NRM ideas
getting suggested to us, so to include more people in these discussions, we
are presenting one of these ideas to you. One is about using sattelite TV for
NRM and other group meetings for groups that cover large areas of Australia.
More details are on the end of this email

But first some news & views

(1) Some news in brief
(2) Potato Farmers to Supreme Court
(3) Salt friendly eucalyptus
(4) WIN - WIN  on stormwater
(5) Greenhouse - not so hot - Larry Mounser
(6) Federal RFA Hots Up
(7) GM allergy report
(8) South Australian Farmers Federation says some rural issues not being
addressed
(9) Former Earth Sanctuaries Director says 'the dream' is still alive
(10) Far West NSW landholders concerned about water licenses
(11) Parrots, Dogmeat & FOE discussion - Ian Mott
(12) Theoretical qualifications versus practical experience - Judith McGeorge
(13) Communicating with each other and to the community - Sattelite TV? -
Leon Ashby
================================
(1) News in brief

 A Parliamentary Inquiry into feral animal control, has been told of the
enormous burden local communities are bearing, both economically and
socially. 150 people attended the hearings at Cooma, which is located at the
doorstep of Mount Kosciusko National Park.
--------------------------------
Plains wanderer restricts farmers
A small quail-like bird, called the Plains Wanderer, is creating a fair
degree of fuss in the Western Riverina. Landholders claim their ability to
develop their land is being compromised while conservationists are calling
for more measures to protect the bird.
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  An independent report, conducted by the University of New England, has
found concrete evidence that legislation is crippling incomes and land
values. A study of fifty-one landholders in the Moree Plains Shire, found
land-values have dropped by twenty-one percent, while farm incomes have
fallen by up to ten percent, annually.That equates to an annual loss of
20-million dollars, across the shire..

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Multi Million $ Wind Power Expansion
Hydro Tasmania announced plans to increase the number of wind turbines in the
far north west from 6 to 37, making the Woolnorth farm one of Australia's
largest wind farms.
---------------------------------------
 Lands Council says SA is setting the standard for native title agreements
Australia wide, according to the Adnyamathanha Lands Council. The Council has
just signed an agreement with Canadian company Southern Cross Resources which
has cleared the way for the government to issue a mining leased for the
Honeymoon Uranium Mine.
-------------------
Australia`s third richest man, Richard Pratt has offered to spend up to $100
million on an inland watering scheme which diverts excess water from Qld &
NSW rivers to agricultural areas where water is a constraint. Jeff Kennett
has been co-opted to progress the idea to various govts.
-----------------------------
Another Computer Virus warning, this time with "WTC Survivor" as the subject.
It will erase your whole "C" drive. It comes in the form of an E-Mail from a
familiar person.
==========================
(2) Potato Farmers to Supreme Court
In a landmark case, the potato farmers are hoping the Supreme Court will
overturn a permit granted by the Victorian planning minister, to connect the
township of Clunes to groundwater.The potato farmers say the decision
threatens the future of the large potato crops they say there isn't enough
water to go around and irrigators should have priority access.  David Glen
says there's evidence that bores are already drying up.

========================
(3) Salt friendly eucalyptus

A new salt friendly eucalyptus tree is being heralded as the answer to
Australia's salinity problems and there are claims planting trees for the
environment is viable as well... because the tree can also be harvested
commercially.
The Saltgrow tree is a salt tolerant tree that could be used in forestry,
producing hardwood logs. The first trees were planted four years ago and have
been growing successfully in water that's 20% sea water. Over 100 trials
around the country have been conducted and they're all performing well
according to Saltgrow General Manager Robert Prince. The Saltgrow tree has
been developed by the Yeats company.

=================================
(4) WIN - WIN  on stormwater - Garry Reynolds viewpoint on ABC radio

At Hervey Bay Stormwater and wastewater will travel in the same pipes, be
treated together and then stored in the same dam ready for irrigation onto
crops of sugarcane and tea trees.

How do they do it without having to spend millions enlarging the pipeline
network in the current sewage recycling scheme?

Well, when the good people of Hervey Bay are curled up asleep at night letís
just say there is a low flow in the sewer pipes. Now the spare capacity will
be used to recycle stormwater captured in artificial ponds around the City.

 The stormwater will also fill empty space in the pipes where smelly fumes
accumulate Ė so less odour.
Wide Bay Waterís new approach will redirect polluted stormwater from pouring
into the coastal waterways. Now it will be filtered and injected into the
established sewage recycling system. It will increase production for farmers
and make them secure from drought at minimum cost for rural and townsfolk.

======================================
(5) Greenhouse - not so hot

From the Syney Morning Herald  

(Larry Mounser teaches physics and lectures in mass communications at the
University of NSW, where he is a visiting research fellow.)

At the risk of raising a handful of temperatures, Larry suggests
that greenhouse effect doomsayers are often just full of hot air.

He says science is not democratic, and neither the cry of true
believers nor the smell of burning heretics affects truth. Facts must
speak for themselves.

In the late 1800s, the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius predicted
jungles on Venus. He also predicted the greenhouse effect on Earth.
Temperature should have risen 3.5C by now if his second hypothesis was
correct. But worst-case estimates put the rise at just 0.6C.

This is well within the range of past, natural variations; temperatures
and sea levels are always rising and falling. As Arthur C. Clarke
predicted, our biggest concern will soon be the next ice age. As it
should.

But stock footage of floods, droughts, eroded beaches and collapsing
glaciers (all common natural events) are easily spliced with images of
chimney stacks. The viewer then forges a chain, and many then say they
can now "feel" Earth getting warmer. If, however, you ask them to tell
you the temperature of the room in which they sit, they can usually only
judge it within a couple of degrees, let alone "feel" a proposed change
of 0.3C since their childhood.

The process supposedly driving the greenhouse effect is called
"radiative forcing". When heat leaving Earth hits a CO2 molecule it
vibrates more rapidly, holding the energy for a time before radiating
the heat out again, some of it back towards us. To test the effect of
CO2 increases, however, you can't sample the whole atmosphere and then
change the CO2 level and resample. So, in place of reproducible
experimentation, estimates of the heating are used.

And they vary, but are about two watts per square metre of Earth's
surface. This is tiny. Holding one small bar radiator over an
Olympic-sized pool would cause much more heating. Heat from the sun is
equal to about 500 bar radiators.

So, the real conclusion is that the CO2 has nowhere near the devastating
impact originally hypothesised.

Whenever facts don't back them up, however, modern proponents of the
greenhouse effect come up with new models, trying to explain the fact
that the predicted warming did not occur.

And many respond with suspiciously hysterical overreactions whenever
their greenhouse-of-cards is threatened by the cooling breeze of logic.

The flaws in the greenhouse hypothesis can be grasped by anyone. Science
in general is not the fiendish, arcane art some - with obvious "control"
issues - would have us believe.

"Of the few innocent pleasures left to men past middle life - the jamming of
commonsense down the throats of fools is perhaps the keenest."

================================
(6) Federal RFA Hots Up

 For the fourth time, the Liberal Party is to present the Federal Regional
Forest Agreement to the Senate for approval. The future of the legislation
lies with the Labor party, and which way it decides to vote. The RFA
agreement was first put up in 1998, and sets out compensation provisions if
the Federal government elects to change state based rfa's. In Tasmania for
instance, if the Federal government decided to put further forests into
reserves or parks, the forest companies under the legislation would be
compensated. Tasmanian Senator Paul Calvert says with Tasmania's own RFA
about to be reviewed, its crucial that the federal legislation gets through.

================================
(7) GM allergy report

There is a warning today from a prestigious UK science journal that
genetically modified foods have the potential to cause allergies in the
future. In its updated report on GM foods, the Royal Society claims that no
one really knows what impact continually modifying the genes of plants will
have on human health.
Professor Jim Smith from Cambridge University, says more research needs to be
done, and food regulations should be tightened up. He says while the risks
are low, we should set up laws that keep ahead of the science.

===============================
(8) South Australian Farmers Federation says some rural issues not being
addressed

 SAFF president Dale Perkins wants to see an incentive-driven environmental
approach, and research and development for sustainable farm management
practices and right to farm issues addressed.
 On the topic of water resources, Mr Perkins says irrigators have been losing
out and SAFF has come out with a clear policy on this such as the current
impact on water resources must be accounted for in future planning. Simple
and transparent management of the systems and support of the whole community
for changes. Mr Perkins says SAFF wants property rights in water protected
and compensation if they are eroded and both the Liberal and Labor parties
have come out with detailed and excellent policy.

===========================
Democrats & Right to farm

SA Democrats and Primary Industries Spokesperson, Ian Gilfillan says the
"Right to Farm" is a focus of the Democrats' rural policy. "The impetus from
capital city/Adelaide politics goes 'she's right, anything goes in the bush',
well we've got the encroaching of residential or the changing of regulations
that traditional farming practices are threatened and we believe that should
not be a cost on the farming community,

=====================================
(9) Former Earth Sanctuaries Director says 'the dream' is still alive

The "for sale" signs may be up on Earth Sanctuaries around Australia, but
according to Dr John Wamsley their distinctive style has helped to change the
direction of conservation in this country. We've gone from having the worst
global record for extinctions to now quite the reverse. The business may be
in trouble, but the dream to save Australian wildlife is alive and well. So
far 50 expressions of interest have been received for Earth Sanctuaries,
ranging from those wanting to buy the whole business to those interested in
buying some of the parts.

 =============================================
(10) Far West NSW landholders concerned about water licenses

Future water use is a big concern for river licence holders in farwest New
South Wales, with increased restrictions on the Barwon-Darling River Cap. But
not all licence holders will be considered equally under a proposed system of
differential treatment. Despite the push to reduce water use on the
Barwon-Darling, diversions like irrigation has increased almost 10% in the
last seven years. This means that further cutbacks are needed to contain what
is considered a healthy river flow and landholders along the river could be
expected to reduce future water use by up to 40% while those who haven't
developed their water use could face even further restrictions.

===========================
(11) Parrots, Dogmeat & FOE discussion - Ian Mott

Hi Leon,

On Parrots.

The stopping of a wind farm over the possible death of one Orange Bellied
Parrot every 16 years highlights the pressing need for common sense. But
this cannot be downloaded from a web site or acquired at a workshop. So one
must then rely on a statutory "test of significance" of the type embodied
within the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment 1992 and poorly
codified in the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act.

If Environment Australia cared to refer to it's own web site it would note
that measures, agreed to by all states and the commonwealth must not be
dis-proportionate to the nature of the threat and must also be cost
effective.

And to do this effectively we must rely on probability and ask;
What is the life expectancy of the parrot?
What proportion of eggs grow to successfully breed?
What is the probability that the parrot is an old one who has ceased
breeding?
How many of them will die of natural causes during that 16 years?
What are the mating habits of the parrot?
Are they monogamous or polygamous?
Will the death of a male parrot every 32 years impact on the breeding habits
of all other females?
How will the death of a female parrot every 32 years, or a breeding female
every 64 years, impact on the total population.
And, last, but not least, what remedial options are available?

HOW COME A DEPARTMENT WITH THE BUDGET OF ENVIRONMENT AUSTRALIA CAN'T MANAGE
TO ENSURE THAT ONE EXTRA EGG GROWS TO MATURITY OUT OF ALL THE PARROT EGGS
LAID OVER 16 YEARS?


On Dogmeat,

The widely held belief that oriental restaurants might substitute dogmeat
for beef in their meals (to cut costs?) has no basis in fact. Dog meat is
generally more expensive than more industrialised meats and no-one would
waste a good delicacy on "Gweilo".  Dog meat is particularly prized in north
Asia for its capacity to help the consumer withstand the cold. Indeed, much
of the success of the Red Army's Manchurian campaign against the Japanese in
WWII has been attributed to the capacity of dog nourished Chinese troops to
fight in extreme cold.

Having sought out and sampled this product during a Chinese winter I can
confirm that this does appear to be the case.

The question for environmental managers in Australia is, given that there is
a high value export  market for the product, why are we not making money
while solving our feral dog problem?  Is ten eighty a more noble death?

The answer, once again, is the bureaucrats and the law. Like Roo meat once
was, it is unlawful to have dog meat on any premises for sale.

On FOE discussion

The discussion with Steve Baker of Friends of the Earth is interesting but
avoids the fact that there is, and has been for some time, a widespread and
systematic campaign by media, greens and others to demonise farmers in the
eyes of the urban public.

We have government departments building 8 lane freeways through forests and
entire farms disappearing under a concrete desert within a few months. Yet,
the people who then live in (and legitimise) that new concrete desert buy
their fluffy toys from the local environment group and think the guy down
the road who has kept his forest, needs tougher controls.

We have benefited from the importation of a number of new cultures but along
with those benefits has come a large number of people who believe that
particular products that farmers sell are an abomination, carried out by the
lowest of the low.

Pork and Beef are obvious examples but I recently read a letter to a local
paper describing the sugar industry as an international conspiracy that
deals in an evil white powder that despoils the bodies of young women. (it
sounded so cool I nearly planted cane)

In many of those cultures, and independent of racial origin, farmers are
relegated to diminished educational, economic and social status. With the
exception of the immediate post war migration, we have sourced most of our
migrants from the worlds urban elites.

It supplied a large number of people who are completely ignorant (in
non-derogatory sense) of farm life and entirely dependent on urban media and
green hearsay for any progress up the learning curve.

It also supplied a critical mass of people who have minimal understanding of
the elements of the social contracts that have ensured the survival of rural
communities. It is no surprise then that our foremost contemporary poet, Les
Murray, should publish "Sub-human Redneck Poems".

The situation was not helped by the rural protest vote that, in the absence
of a better alternative, went to One Nation. For this was interpreted by the
multicultural urban residents as some sort of "original sin", a fundamental
racism on the part of farmers that could only be responded to in kind.

But like all protest votes it was a protest about equity. The city got the
multicultural benefits while farmers saw the collective community paper on
which their social contract was written get thinner and thinner until it
simply wasn't there any more.

History has shown us that people of all cultures are basically good and
decent folk. It also shows us that good and decent folk can only carry out
acts of dispossession or barbarism after the target has first been
demonised.  Call them Cannibals, Kulaks, Juden, Revisionists or Hutus, they
were all linked to a number of original sins that rationalised actions that
were outside the perpetrators belief systems.

In the 21st century the new "original sin" is perceived environmental harm.
The mere accusation is sufficient for conviction without any expectation of
substantiation. So the farmer today is responsible for clearing "the big
scrub" in the 1890's.

Most active greens that I have met are good and decent folk. And in the next
week or so I will report on a case that demonstrates that, for the owners of
trees in Queensland, the social contract has been completely shredded by
good and decent folk.

Ian Mott
(Sub-human Redneck Forest Owner)


(12) Theoretical qualifications versus practical experience - Judith McGeorge
Hi Leon,
             Having  read your article and the correlations you wish to draw
from anecdotal evidence and dubious scientific research I concur.
Nature can clear fell a whole island with massive cyclones hurricanes etc-
but it does regenerate- I remember one of the first media grab greenies in
the early 1970"s drought CATERGORICALLY stating the land was stuffed and
would never regenerate- ho hum- and when it rained and the grasses grew! He
had then changed jobs and was working for private enterprise and his story
had changed!! How much credence can we place on science when they cannot
agree with differing factions?
Two of the questions I asked a scientist with whom I was disputing the
antithesis of anectdotal evidence was

"If you have a car with an elusive mechanical problem- would you find a
mechanic with a  mass of theoretical experience ( that is highly qualified)
or would you find one whose reputation for problem solving ( that is highly
practical) to fix it? Invariably the one with a reputation of skilled
practical ability was chosen

"If you have a serious surgical requirement- do you find a surgeon whose
reputation for this type of surgical success is
greatest- or a surgeon whose academic qualifications are highest- because
often the academically gifted are not always
the practically gifted?"The choice of course was the practical skills. Many
of our older leading surgeons claim they would find it difficult to gain
entry to uni today due to the entrance score system- tho they are highly
dedicated and highly skilled.

I think this applies to most landholders ( you will always have those who
don't try to improve their operation ) But rightly you have previously
pointed out that land types per property differ from holding to holding- and
that blanket management
rules cannot be applied.

If 85% of the population on 25% of this continent are creating 80% of the
emissions- then what are they doing to control their emissions? Why is this
debate centred on cattle and sheep dispersed over 75% of the landscape? Is it
because we are considered an easy target? Consumer concerns on meat
"contamination" from rumen modifying drugs is an issue they are also ignoring
- But I cannot accept that cattle and sheep should in any way be targeted in
a world that is short on protein sources, when the urban areas responsible
for the greatest proportion are not massively being forced to reduce
emissions.

Are these same environmentalists going to choose who should starve in the
world and who should survive?

I heard an environmentalist state farm practises were causing climate
phenomena - in violent storms with no data to support this claim. Ever since
history has been recorded violent climatic events have been recorded from the
biblical floods etc- it is arrogant of man to assume that human activity
rivals volcanic eruptions! Whilst we are all still learning we will all die
before any conclusive evidence can ever be written.

As one strand of science says they are right and another says"What if you are
wrong?" they will have caused immeasurable suffering of humanity through
starvation.

We cannot ignore the evidence of the advance and retreat of glaciers which
clearly indicate with hard and fast evidence in the landscape that climatic
changes occur over historical periods- quite obviously unrelated to human
activity- I agree we should always operate with a conservative approach and
be open to new ideas- but it is arrogant in the extreme to suggest man can
stop or mitigate a cloudburst that can change the landscape .

Regards Judith McGeorge ( definitely a sceptic!)

==========================================
(13) Communicating with each other and to the community - Sattelite TV? -
Leon Ashby

When "Landholders for the environment" began, we aimed to do things that
complemented other lobby groups with similar aims and bring a national
perspective to issues affecting landholders and the environment.

Our first concern was to get a property rights safety net set up nationally.

Other issues a number of landholders are working on are a funded national
body which can compile  research on our behalf and put a public landholder
view to environmental issues, along with a communications strategy to educate
the community.

As well as this, a number of people have raised the matter of changing the
NRM decision making process across Australia from the present system (where
governments either dictate or pull the strings) to a situation where the
people who will be affected have an equal say, and government(s) can then
make decisions which reflect what the community has decided.

This issue of getting quicker decisions, and more grass roots input into
policies and views, affects not only NRM but our lobby groups, community
groups and industry groups as well

The problems

As we all know, our communities need bodies representing us, but with more
groups being formed, and less landholders being on the land and bigger
distances to travel, very few of us can afford the time and cost committment
to get to meetings let alone be on a committe. Some of us choose one group to
be involved in and thats it, while others burn out being on two or three
committees. Membership to many groups is waning in part due to burnout or
frustration.  By this process, we landholders are kept in a situation where
we are reacting to issues rather than being proactive and leading the way.

What are the options

* We can deny the problem exists or
* We can keep fudging along and hope someone will always be there to speak up
for us or
* We can think about some new options and maybe trial some.

What better options are there?

So far we have three basic suggestions
(1) Using new technology  
(2) Using new decision making processes (e.g. flat rather than hierarchial)
or
(3) Combining both

But before I go into the options and costs, lets consider the comments of VFF
president Peter Walsh who has called for the NFF to be disbanded and all
farmer lobby groups to unite as "Australian Farmers". It seems like Peter wants
(1) Less duplication between groups
(2) Australia wide consideration & unity on many issues and
(3) A FLATTER, QUICKER DECISION MAKING PROCESS

Now I`m not arguing for or against Peter`s Idea, but I will say he is not the
only one looking at the overall situation of improving the effectiveness of
rural NRM & lobby groups.

What I want to look at is options for not only our state farmer groups but
catchment groups, education groups (ICPA), industry bodies (Dairy, beef,
wool, timber, horticultiure etc) vegetation management groups, irrigator
groups, regional groups, disability groups, conservation groups and so on

So looking at technology, my view is that the internet is too unreliable for
this task as lines fall out too often
That leaves video conferencing where we use a television channel that is
available to  everyone with either Austar or sattelite TV (ABC, SBS etc) and
meetings are conducted from a studio with everyone watching and being able to
participate via phone, fax or email to the studio.

I have talked to Optus, Austar, Sky channel and Westlink (WA education
channel), and after finding some people who actually know what the technology
can do, here are the details

All satellite decoders can recieve any TV frequency, it is just a case of
each organisation being happy to allow your TV frequency to be accessed by
their customers

Austar and free to air sattelite TV (ABC, SBS, Win and Westlink) already have
tens of thousands of home and property viewers with decoders.
Westlink (channel 23) and sky channel have airtime available  which we could
use at about $1,000 per hour broadcasting time.

Sky channel & Optus could only offer us studios (at a price) in capital
cities to transmit from.  Sydney being their preferred place.
Westlink will allow us to send a signal from a conference unit anywhere in
Australia via telephone lines (128 k band width) to West Perth, which is then
sent to the sattelite   with 4 megabytes signal strength.

While using a conference unit with 128K band width will not be the same
quality as using a capital city studio, it will still give adequate (approx
home video) quality pictures sufficient for meeting purposes.

OR for about $1Million per year, we could have our own 24 hour a day
sattelite TV channel

What are the possibilities for conducting meetings?

Lets say the Cooper Creek catchment committee wanted to open it`s meetings to
everyone in the catchment
First they find a conference unit that is central to area (e.g. Longreach)
and set up a meeting there with telephone, fax and email facilities

 Then once the meeting begins, the video signal is sent from Longreach to
West Perth (via phone lines) and then to the sattelite and into viewers
homes. (It could be organised to limit viewers  to catchment members i.e. the
decoders who recieve the signal) - but that will cost more and is not
necessary

The meeting could be compered by a presenter to keep things smooth while the
issues are raised by the committe members, catchment people in the studio or
catchment people who communicate via the phone, fax or email.

Voting on motions could be done via fax or email with the people`s names or  
ID number given to verify their eligibility.  

People could meet in each others homes to view a meeting and have a bit of
social interaction at the same time.
Participants do not have to travel long distances (up to 1,000 kms each way)
and waste time (and money).

The regularity and time of day of the meetings would depend on the people
involved and once people get used to the technology, I believe a true grass
roots influence would drive each group.

Groups like the Cooper creek catchment committee could become more democratic
(everyone having an individual vote, rather than a small number of
representatives making decisions behind closed doors)

This system would also give the opportunity for everyone involved with NRM to
trial new decision making ideas such as "Holistic Decision Making" which
Allan Savory and others have been developing. (more on this another time)

But just for the moment, what we are asking is

(1) Assuming costs were next to nothing, do you think the landholder and
rural community should use a TV channel along with phone, fax, or email for
interaction to conduct meetings where participants have to travel long
distances?

(2) What are the advantages and disadvantages you see with such an idea?

(3) Are you involved in a group (e.g. Rural womens network, ICPA or Agforce
etc) that might be interested in using this sort of facility?

(4) If there was widespread support for this idea, would you prefer the govt
to set up such a facility or would you like to see the rural community
organise it and therefore keep independant control of the idea?

(5) Do you have a preference about how such an idea could be funded? - govt
grants, private donations, lobby and industry group sponsorship, commercial
sponsorship , other ways?

(6) Should we have our own TV crew(s) investigating rural issues (reporting
on land management rights and other NRM issues e.g. Jock Douglas`s ALMS
proposal) -  Issues that are overlooked by other media. These could then be
transmitted on our sattelite channel.

Remember this is mainly an idea for us (the rural community) to communicate
with each other better, but it could also help communicate our issues and
views to urban Australia and politicians etc as well. It will not replace
(but could complement) a proper communications strategy.

Comments Anyone?

Cheers
Leon & Jane