25/6/02
(1) Sustainable Grazing System's success
(2) Bedford Ground Water Interception Project fights salinity
(3) Qld Native Title case settled
(4) SBS puts on a vegetation management / property rights debate
(5) Craig Underwood (WA) on water Allocations
(6) Property Rights & "The Last Straw" - Michelle Ward
(7) Property Rights / Protests etc - Alan Mackey
(8) Anti - Democratic Green Groups - Dan McLuskey
(9) Bill Soko (Daintree Rainforest Foundation) replies to Patrick Moores eco-extremist views
(10) David Chambers (Land Management Society) Retires    
(11) Talk Back Radio - Jock Douglas
(12) Greenhouse - an anonymous column in a SA land management publication
(13) Free Telephone Directory Assistance
(14) HOW TO PREVENT SPREADING A VIRUS TO YOUR ADDRESS BOOK CONTACTS.
(15) Money for telling your positive land management story?
(16) More people joining rural satellite TV planning
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(1) Sustainable Grazing System's success


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eat and Livestock Australia claims their Sustainable Grazing Systems program has been a major success. The system aims to increase productivity at the same time as improving the environment. Established in 1996, the $24 million SGS program assists graziers in high rainfall zones around the country, including SA. Itís officially coming to an end later this month. Chairman of Meat and Livestock Australia, David Crombie says the SGS program dispels the myth that solving major environmental problems doesn't put money in the bank. Mr Crombie says the system provides graziers with new ways to remain profitable. "Salinity is probably the one that is most talked about but also the issues of biodiversity and erosion. To address environmental issues as an independent issue and to expect people to actually take up technologies to address those alone is unrealistic. Farmers will take up technologies and do things when they're also more profitable."
Douglas Lithgow runs a 1,090 hectare Angus and Angus Hereford cross cattle property 20 kilometres from Benalla in Victoria and he's been involved in the program for the past five years. He says he has a lot of confidence in the principles of SGS, turning his entire property over to rotational grazing. "I got involved through the beef check group and through that I've pushed the stocking rate up to levels I would never have attempted to before - I'm also a lot more profitable."


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   (2)

Bedford Ground Water Interception Project fights salinity

At Cooke Plains, 20 kilometres south of Tailem Bend, the Coorong District Council is trying to combat salinity by growing fish! In an attempt to lower the water table in that area, water is being pumped out of the rising salt-water aquifer. That salty water is then used in an onshore aquaculture venture.


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(3) Qld Native Title case settled


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three year battle over native title on a Western Queensland property has come to an end.The Federal Court has ruled native title doesn't exist over Noel Kennedy's 24-thousand hectare pastoral lease, Castle Hill near Winton.It's the first time a pastoralist has had a win like this setting an important precedent for other leaseholders with native title claims over their properties.



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(4) SBS puts on a vegetation management / property rights debate

Bob Brown, Larry Acton & John Anderson went through some of the basics of the property rights debate last Thursday night, in what was perhaps the best TV show on the subject so far - but in effect, it only began to scratch the surface of what needs to be grappled with.

Jane & I later discussed how almost all the media tend to report on a subject, but never pursue it with more helpful presentations that could bring a resolution to an issue.
This is where rural satellite TV could do a much better job and help get progress on these sort of contentious issues rather than to just leave the debate hanging like SBS has.
For example if we had rural satellite TV operating,  then after a debate like the SBS one. rural satellite TV could look at a different aspect each fortnight such as
* tree thickening,
* regrowth,
* how much "public good" conservation actually costs landholders
* how a variety of compensation / adjustment / stewardship payments could operate
* whether Bob Brown`s comments that permitted tree clearing is harming the survival of species is true. (There is legislation which protects endangered species, their habitat and endangered ecosytems - so It sounds like Bob Brown does not have a grip on the issue)

While Larry Acton & John Anderson did a fairly good job of explaining things, there were two questions I thought they could have answered better
(1) When Larry was asked if Landholders should be paid for doing the right thing - He could have answered along the lines of  "Well should policemen, nurses, wildlife rangers & social workers etc get paid for the work they do on behalf of the community?-  it`s the same principle"
(2) When it was asked who should pay for the public good performed by farmers - I thought the answer should be "if it`s "public good" conservation that is being performed, then the public should pay - and If it`s conservation on behalf  of ALL the people of Australia, then everyone in Australia should pay for it - As equally as possible

Leon

Anyone else want to comment?

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(5) Craig Underwood (WA) on water Allocations

Craig has made these comments on underground water allocations
- If an automatic water allocation of say 25% (of the amount which is deemed to be able to be used sustainably) is to be allocated to the environment, Surely the same area of title (land) is part of that environment. and the same Automatic allocation should be made to that title and the rest made tradeable - In other words if the environment gets 25%, then Landholders land should also get 25% and the rest made tradeable.

(* In the SE of SA, there have been a number of attempts to sort out underground water allocations, but none are truly satisfactory. The current method has deemed that those who already had allocations can keep them, and that new allocations are only available in areas which have not reached the total allocation.
This has meant that some land has more than it`s share of allocation while other and  has none.
While the rules are now in place, they annoy people who could not afford to get an allocation before all the allocations were taken. (Those who applied had to put up an irrigation system within two years - and not everyone could afford to). The rules also frustrate people because some have water a few metres below the surface, but they cannot use any of it and no water allocations are being traded.

Jane & I believe this system could move to an equitable base via adjustments of 2-5% each year. This would allow over allocated land to transfer water allocation to under allocated land gradually over 20 years or so, until all land was equally allocated.
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(6) Property Rights & "The Last Straw" - Michelle Ward

Hi Leon and Jane,

I work for the irrigators in the Macquarie Valley of NSW - largely focussed on water policy, water sharing plans and property rights these days - though vegetation plans and floodplain plans are there as well.

Interesting perspective from Dr Patrick Moore .  
Also wanted to comment on the Plans by Craig Underwood.  You may have seen the media on the Gunnedah Water Rally on 12th June.  I think the concept of expanding the activity across states, across water and vegetation issues is essential.  I also think there needs to be lots of groundwork to ensure all stakeholder groups agree on the fundamental 'demands' as a consequence of rallies etc.  It is a great shame to have achieved media attention, the ear of politicians etc and not have our 'must gets' clearly annunciated to recieve the same focus.  Strategic timing will also be important -

Some thoughts I had on must gets, which are consistent with the thinking on water in NSW, are following.  These must gets are either 'framework - big picture, long term' based or immediate symptom / impact issues

1: Separate to the property rights debate and as a matter of urgency, individuals, communities and industries that 'are adversely impacted' as a result of legislative change, must be assisted (you could call this compensation for loss of property rights, but it may be better received as "structural adjustment", or assistance etc and can be achieved without setting a property rights precedent).  

2:  Incorporating the above point into a framework - there must be a Public Benefit Test - where costs and benefits of a reform or policy change are fully identified, understood and it can be demonstrated that costs will be managed by Governments, before the change is made.

3: property rights:  the resistance to property rights from Government is budgetary - so if we can get points 1 & 2 and effectively address water overallocations and vegetation clearing restrictions here, then establishing property rights doesn't have to cost a cent.  We have to be able to present a workable solution to governments at the same time as making our demands - maybe a 3 way split of funding into a property rights regime between State, Fed and local communities / industries would be palatable to all parties.

Anyway - I would suggest assembling the lists of all the peakbodies, key stakeholder groups at the State level and trying to coordinate the rallies through them.  NSW Farmers provided a lot of support to the Gunnedah rally and there is an alliance in NSW now of NSW Irrigators Council, NSW Farmers, Cotton Australia, Ricegrowers, Australian Bankers, Local Governments and it is constantly building.  I am happy to provide contact details of NSW Groups if needed.  There is also a Murray Darling Basin wide group of irrigators formed, called Irrigators Inc, with representation through State irrigator peak bodies for QLD, Vic, NSW and SA at this stage - the group will move towards going National possibly in the future.  So at least, we are slowly moving to a much more coordinated - all in the same boat approach -

keep up the momentum!

cheers
Michelle Ward


*Hi Michelle, I agree that the issue for govts is budgetary. My thoughts with getting a unified approach would be to first have some unified principles.

One principle I would expect, would be to have true science & justice in dealing with any property rights issue - e.g. one such situation is defining where the "public benefit / private benefit" line is to be drawn (how much biodiversity conservation is duty of care & how much is public good conservation).

On the money side of things, most landholders can only see two basic solutions - either
(1) lessen the rights being removed (& therefore the costs ) or
(2) Introduce an environmental tax

Or even a combination of both

Leon

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(7) Property Rights / Protests etc - Alan Mackey

Leon

Hello there. Good to see the newsletters rolling again & your progress re
previous discussions.

Am a bit worried about "the last straw" campaign ... I understand the
frustration but, in my humble opinion, I think it would attract far more
negative feeling than any positive results in the city areas. Folks in the
big smoke wouldn't warm very well at all to more traffic congestion and
DEFINITELY not airport protests/holdups !!!  The last "timber workers"
attempt in Melbourne , which I discussed with you previously, was a classic
case of how not to achieve anything and had some similar tactics.

* Hi Alan - I agree that to conduct a protest without educating the public about the issues prior to the event is liable to backfire and thats why I believe we need to have our own TV media to assist . Of course, something might hasten the issue and property rights might get dealt with very soon and we may not need "the last straw" protest, but nothing is for certain when public support and politics is involved

Not everyone would realise, I have been involved in a couple of public opinion changing exercises in the past. One that you may remember was the change in public attitudes to wool growers in 1993.

At that time, Qld wool producers were in the second year of drought AND  wool prices had crashed to half the cost of production, but despite industry pleas, there was no likelyhood of adequate govt assistance while the difficulties were on us. The Federal govt (& NFF) were saying 30% of producers had to go bust. We wool producers were very angry. No woolgrower could survive continued drought AND continued Low prices, especially if they had a debt. Many such as myself, were told by our banks that we would be sold up if our debt went one dollar over the limit we had.

A wool grower meeting was held at Longreach

After the meeting Jane & I discussed with Margaret & Tom Greer how ineffective the meeting was because the public still knew nothing about the real struggles of  wool producers,  and we agreed some true stories had to get into city homes so the public could understand what was going on.
The next week Margaret went to Charleville and made a desperate plea in front of some television cameras demanding Simon Crean (the Federal Minister) come out and see our plight. That plea went on National TV.
Within a few weeks Margaret & Tom had a television story done on them. It went all over Australia (and overseas as well) Soon after, Jane & I were also on TV - also  Australia wide, because the media were intrigued that we were shearing our 7000 sheep by ourselves, while homeschooling our  5 young kids - just to try to avoid being sold up.

All of a sudden public sympathy changed, Simon Crean visited the bush, then even more drought stories were publicised and several drought appeals started.  

The drought & low wool prices continued for 5 more years for us, but in that time, State & Federal govts had introduced a new drought relief payment, improved interest subsidies for wool growers, free rail fodder transport, and more, all because television had brought the lives of many of us into the public`s lounge rooms so they could experience the heartache for a brief moment.

That`s what I believe we need to do with property rights.

Leon

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(8) Anti - Democratic Green Groups - Dan McLuskey

It was interesting to read the comments made by Dr Patrick Moore about eco-extremism being anti-democratic. It is worth noting that our own organisations, including the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Wilderness Society are not democratic organisations. Try joining one or the other and then expect to vote in elections for office bearers.

Dan McLuskey


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(9) Bill Soko (Daintree Rainforest Foundation) replies to Patrick Moores eco-extremist views  

A few comments in reply to Dr. Pats concern over eco-extremists

It is anti-human

It has been recognised that homo sapains are over-running other species (burying them in large scale concrete creations (cities) and eating up their habitat (i.e. deforestation, marine resources), and actually threatening themselves and the planet with nuclear war.   There is an easy case to make that human society / government policy are both anti human and suicidal at the top.

It is anti-technology and anti-science

There is an easy case to make that most of technology has served military domination / threats first and humanity second.  Technology has aided the plunder of many resources including forests.   But of coarse its just the "gun" argument.  Guns and dozers don't kill -- people do.   Some people would like to ban guns -- others bulldozers ----

· It is anti-organisation

This is a natural response to big corporate bodies like big Banks, chemical companies or "intelligence agencies" ,   who are secretive, devious, and don't very often seem to work "in the public interest" but their own self interest.   They often spread massive amounts of dis-information about themselves or their products.   Many people fear them including farmers.

It is anti-trade

Anti colonial type plunder masked as "free trade".   Countries like Australia see the hypocrisy of US ag subsidies.  Countries like Indonesia feel the brunt  of slave labour wage policy set by multinationals and export of natural resources at rock bottom prices.

It is anti-free enterprise

Actually we don't have a "free enterprise" system in the west.  What we have is corporate socialism with governments largely hoping to regulate the anti social excesses out of corporations or in other cases protecting anti competitive behaviour.  Small business has largely given way to "franchises" which are anything but free.  The farm stall by the side of the road is the last of the so called free enterprise -- other than the black market.

It is anti-democratic

Remember that corporations democratic principle is one share - one vote.  In our modern society the real voting power is the dollar.  We vote and have more power in how we spend that who we vote for.   In the USA something like 25% (?) of the population don't bother to vote so the ruling party is voted in by about 30% of the population.    One main reason is that Huge numbers have lost faith in the party system and thus their form of "demarche".   They also know that secret political and agency organisations are truly running their own race and acting against the expresses will of the Congress and the Laws.   See the story on communication intercepting re:  Eshalon.   Thats just for starters.

It is basically anti-civilisation

Really -- anyone with half a brain would realise that nuclear weapons and the huge continuation of terror weapons is the threat and is basically not just Anti-Civilisation but Anti-Life in all forms.

Not too long ago someone looked at a beautiful coral lagoon in the northern Pacific (Spanish for peaceful),  in fact one of the largest coral atolls in the world.   The lagoon was filled with myriads of fish, coral, clams, etc --- every bit as good and better than the Great Barrier Reef.    It was somehow decided -- by popular vote? -- that this masterpiece of nature would be vaporised by a hydrogen bomb.   And that's just what happened.  The entire lagoon with all its life was destroyed by a wanton act of -- really insanity.   To prove that we are really tough guys.   So the message to DR. Pat and all is:  don't worry too much about the eco-nuts or extreme nature lovers --  WORRY ABOUT THE EXTREME ENERGY "CIVILISATION" IS STILL PUTTING INTO ARTEFACTS OF MASS DESTRUCTION AND SUICIDE.  THERE IS YOUR THREAT -- too hard is it?

Bill Soko

* Thanks for your comments Bill. You make some good points with much of what you say, but that does not let eco-extremist attitudes off the hook.

Your comment to landholders  to "not worry about eco - nuts & nature lovers"  is just not possible now that these extreme views are being forced on us via various bits of legislation.
Although I would like to keep the nuclear disarmament debate at arms length, I will say that (in my view) there are more complexities to the world`s issues than can be solved by simply banning guns, bulldozers and nuclear devices.
The issue to me is "the motivation within each person" - in other words why do some people build bridges and others destroy them.

There is one question I would like to put up for debate - "Is the best form of "social stability"  one where there is a constant push and pull between  selfishness and social responsibility (e.g. the system of capitalism (greed) which also provides safety nets)  If so - why? and if not, what works better and where is it happening? - Leon

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(10) David Chambers (Land Management Society) Retires    

Hi Leon,

My wife and I have been working as the operations management team for 10 years plus in support of the Land Management Society (1983). We thought supporting the farmer sustainability goals and ideas a worthwhile cause. It is time for us to leave, family pressures etc. plus a need for a break to enjoy our retirement years.

Over recent years the scene has changed dramatically with all sorts of new folk and organisations interested in sustainable farming. This is great to see. Sadly there are still not enough people really working with restructured Australian farm ecosystems that have a higher long term sustainability prospect. We still see that farm land that gets washed away by rain deluge, we still see too much emphasis on economics and simplistic views of sustainability with narrow focus issues eg salinity and tree planting. Slowly farmers will need to change their farming within the landscape, improving biodiversity, working with nature (not poisoning it), recycling more nutrients and reducing inputs and so on. An adjustmentment of the economic system. A problem seems to be a lot of funding going to the visible, sexy stuff such as tree planting, saving the bush etc. Seemingly avoiding the impact of the massive farming areas. We have constantly heard the community and government say that this is the farmer's problem. It is taking a very long time for the Australian community to Accept that it is everybodies problem.

We find that the government focus on farm management and community groups a little off beam for us and this has dried up funding and resource support, also everybody seems to be doing their own thing. It has been disturbing to see FarmBis become so focused on financial management that they have withdrawn their support from anything they categorise as "technical" this includes the course we have been running to help farmers MANAGE their soil biology, this seems absurd. This had been a strong factor in us deciding to give it all away and enjoy our retirement.

It is shame that all the Society effort; web site, publications, our one day courses, farm monitoring program ($1 million invested), research validating the effectiveness of Farming within the Ecosystem etc. has the probability of being wasted.

We have resources that include quite a large stock of monitoring components available. Perhaps someone might be interested in utilising our stock, work and contacts, even restructuring the Society. We need to break away on the 30/6/02, not long now. Without others coming forward this will most like mean the demise of the Society.

Our web site: www.lmsinfo.com

We found Ian Mott's comments about paying volunteers interesting,  we have willingly given, we are sure others are able to do so.

Would be interested in the reaction of the community to whom you reach out .

Best wishes,  David Chambers. Land Management Society Inc.

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(11) Talk Back Radio - Jock Douglas

Leon
It is interesting to see the reaction to your proposed PR exercise "The Real Rural Australia Story" (??) and incoming suggestions ranging from how to best 'go it alone', to advice on changing paradigms.

The value I found in your Barcoorah newsletter was that it allowed an open exchange of views. This is what kept it interesting.  Information and articles which support a single point of view are quickly dismissed as biased or propaganda (even by children) so the format of the exercise will be vital. There is a huge amount of information around and it's growing. Making your rural information interesting, amusing and/or enthusing for the target audience will be the key.

Talk-back radio has become part of the communication/information system which influences today's public opinion and political process. This may well be the medium for the exercise you have in mind but it does have drawbacks. Current talk-back radio tends to reinforce popular prejudices rather than create positive paradigms. This notwithstanding, your group might usefully explore how talk-back radio could serve your interests.

Regards
Jock


(* Hi Jock, Thanks for your comments. I have thought about talkback radio and as I get to speak on radio a bit, there are some possibilities.

I see a few  other problems with it too
(1) some issues (e.g. tree thickening) needs images, graphs, or maps etc that radio cannot provide
(2) It needs to cover large areas, of which abc radio is the only choice
(3) It needs to be on at a time when most people are free to join in (e.g. the evenings) and most people watch TV at that time.

My thoughts are that if we use satellite TV we will get plenty of talkback opportunities as a consequence anyway.

Your comments about forums with an open exchange of views being a way to keep things interesting - I totally agree with.
My hope is that we can develope new ways to get people interacting with programs via email, fax and phone as a program is being transmitted. This could allow debates to progress rather than be stagnant  and boring.

If we can try a few new things occassionally then I believe rural satellite television would  get a lot of viewer involvement, gain respect and attract a lot of "thinking" viewers.

The  PR campaign - which would be conducted on commercial television, radio & newspapers etc.is another thing entirely.

That campaign would be done similar to the way BP, the ARMY, Dunlop tyres and others promote themselves, but we would blend images of the outback, Akubras, snippets of bush poems, true bush stories, bush characters, stirring music and important facts about Australia and the environment and the achievements of landholders.

The RMG guys are not talking about a 3 month campaign either, but a sustained year after year promotion strategy that presents things like -  
* monitored, flexible land management from private landowners, works best.  
* the best land management asset Australia has - is it`s landholders,
* Landholders should be rewarded for any substantial  "public good" they perform the same as policemen, nurses and park rangers do.
* Highlight the vast differences between "Dark Green" extremist views & "Light Green" practical views on the environment.
and so on - Leon

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(12) Greenhouse - an anonymous column in a SA land management publication

It seems the Australian Grazier has been handed a guilty verdict without any kind of considered or remotely fair trial when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. Yes it is true that Australian livestock do emit a significant amount of greenhouse gas and there is potential for a reduction.  Unfortunately the judges / jurors have chosen to overlook that the emissions held under the spotlight are a small fragment of a greater brilliant cycle, resulting in a significant number of soaks. Once again Australian Agriculture has to invest it`s resources just to prove to those looking for a quick fix solution for reducing the nations greenhouse emissions.

If the concern we hold for excessive emissions is justified we will soon see variations in the way we trade. Therefore it is vital that all aspects of each cycle is recognised and viewed as a piece of the whole.  It seems those who fail to look beyond the obvious in this cycle have the answer to the problem, reduce the livestock and plant trees.

If it is true that a wheat crop fixes carbon at 8 times the rate of forest and pasture at 3 times, those who choose to look at the more trees solution choose to overlook the purifying role agriculture plays in our society. At the same time they choose to take for granted the wealth of good food Australia enjoys. After all at the end of the day trees also die and break down reintroducing themselves into the cycle.

There is also an arguement saying increased soil temperaturealong with higher humidity will lead to increased producion, which will satisfythe requirements of an increasing population.

Is global warming merely a part of a natural cycle created to meet the demands on nature, placed by the human population.

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(13) Free Telephone Directory Assistance

It is 1223 (as opposed to 12 455 where this is charged at 25 cents) and is
exactly the same service.

Apparently Telstra under Government law is supposed to provide a free
operator service - hence the number 1223. They are trying to make as much
money as possible with the number 12455.

- Alan Mackey

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(14) HOW TO PREVENT SPREADING A VIRUS TO YOUR ADDRESS BOOK CONTACTS.

To avoid spreading computer viruses, create a Contact in your e-mail Address Book with the name:  10000 with NO e-mail address.
This contact will then show up as your first contact in your Address Book.
If a virus attemps to do a "send all" on your contact list, your PC will put up an error message saying that "The message could not be sent".

You click on OK and the offending (virus) message would not have been sent to anyone.  The offending (virus) message may then be automatically stored in your "Drafts" or "Outbox" folder.
Problem is solved and the virus is not spread.  
- Richard Makim
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(15) Money for telling your positive land management story?

With support from a private philanthropist, Land & Water Australia, is funding Community Fellowships of between $5,000 and $15,000, to provide inspirational people with the opportunity to share their practical natural resource management skills. These non-academic awards will enable you - or someone you nominate - to share your experiences through writing, travel, presentations and other forms of communication.

Find out more from Karen Donovan (phone (02) 6263 6026, email: public@lwa.gov.au).   by Friday 19th July, 2002 to: The Community Fellowship Fund, Land & Water Australia, GPO Box 2182, CANBERRA  ACT  2601.

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(16) More people joining rural satellite TV planning

* There are a number of people hearing about the rural satellite TV idea and phoning, or emailing us. Here are Don Turner`s comments
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Hello Leon,

I heard you on World at Noon (ABC RADIO) and have finally tracked you down through
this email.

I just wanted to express my interest in your national rural TV project.
I produce four one-hour long videos each year for cotton producers
incorporating news and views, as well as the type of farm and area
profiles you mentioned on the radio.

You will find some of these video clips on my web site:
http://www.cottonworld.com.au

I would like to be involved in your project, as I feel the bush needs
its own voice.
--
Regards

Donald Turner
Cotton Communications Pty Ltd

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That`s all for now
Cheers
Leon & Jane