3/8/02
(1) Australian Salinity Action Network (ASAN) will be formerly launched
(2) QLD SALINITY - THE REAL FACTS - Howard Hobbs, Qld MP
(3) New Qld salinity map released -
(4)
Salinity maps need more work

(5) TREE`s & SALINITY- Bernie Masters WA MP Comments
(6) Leon Ashby Comments on Trees / water use
(7) Weekend farmers should have a plan – landcare consultant
(8) Ian Mott, - Koalas & native trees
(9) Poll on Cubbie Station
(10) Gippsland native title claim
(11) Who owns the rain in Vic
(12) Australia not getting drier
(13)
Wild Dogs at Tumbarumba
(14)NSW Farmers agree to Telstra sale "but only if"
(15) Scientists tell farmers to improve environmental performance
(16) QLD forest grazing restrictions concerning

(17) NSW Independent Scientific Group TwistIng facts and opinions?
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(1) Australian Salinity Action Network (ASAN) will be formerly launched at a one day Forum to be held on 20 August 2002

Salinity devastates both urban and rural communities with costs from damage to infrastructure estimated to be $100 million annually in urban areas such as Western Sydney, Wagga Wagga and Dubbo.

A further $200 million in lost income is estimated in rural areas.

The purpose of this one day forum is to provide a broad cross section of activity undertaken by the Australian Community to combat salinity. Its aim is to: a) create awareness of the salinity problem, b) show how salinity is a social problem and how it impacts everyone in our community, c) demonstrate ways various community sectors are developing and providing solutions d) provide a vehicle for better communication between stakeholders, e) show how the problem of salinity can become an opportunity for business development and investment, and f) provide recognition that there is a unique set of solutions for each unique landscape and regional community when addressing the issue of salinity.

The underlying philosophy of the Australian Salinity Action Network (ASAN) is that salinity will not be dealt with adequately unless there is a major paradigm shift in the psyche of all sectors of the Australian Community. Albert Einstein expressed the view that problems cannot be solved unless we think beyond the level that created the problem. This no less applies to addressing the problem of salinity. In this forum we will show just how close salinity is linked to each one of us and the many new opportunities arising for businesses and all sectors of the community. We all need to take responsibility and play a role from a new paradigm that will transform our society and consequently our environment.

The mission of ASAN is to facilitate and draw together resources throughout Australia to develop, advise and implement the most practical and beneficial solutions to salinity on a case-by-case basis. ASAN represents a concerned, willing and able community across Australia from both private and public sectors, commercial and non-commercial.
Our intention is to draw together the people, resources and tools used to solve salinity issues at the local scale within a nationally accepted framework. There is an enormous amount of data, information, and resources available to the community but many are unaware of it and how to obtain it. ASAN will help facilitate information processing and networking of people and resources as a service to the community. Our goal will be to identify and recommend to local communities the most unique set of solutions for a given landscape taking into account the physical, social and economic character of the region.

ASAN believes there are many opportunities for, businesses and investors arising from salinity. The agri-business sector has a major role in salinity management by linking production processes to sustainability. There are many market-based instruments emerging. Many technologies and innovative business tools are flourishing with potential for significant wealth generation for not only the individual, but also for regional communities. The finance and investment sector needs to stay informed of all these developments.

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(2) QLD SALINITY - THE REAL FACTS - Howard Hobbs, Qld MP

“Everyone in the Queensland Murray Darling Basin catchment is keen to obtain the best scientific and practical knowledge on salinity,” Member for Warrego, Howard Hobbs said today.

“Most landholders are already aware of the importance of salt soils and have been dealing with it for many years particularly with underground saline water, fencing designs, general management plans and tree clearing applications,” Mr Hobbs said.

“Modern salinity testing, ground truthing with test drilling and future monitoring will be a valuable tool to further knowledge on salinity and is welcome,” he said.

“The political agenda of the Beattie Labor Government on salinity needs to be fully understood,” Mr Hobbs said.

The Premier said when referring the salinity hazard maps, mailed out to all landholders, “It will eat away at our roads, railway lines, bridges, pipes, drains and even the foundations of our buildings. Our water quality will be a thing of the past.”

“THE FACTS ARE - the salinity hazard maps produced are hypothetical assumptions of potential salt soils based on soil and vegetation type. They are not indicators of where salinity will necessarily occur. Had these maps been done 150 years ago, they would be the same,” Mr Hobbs said.

The Premier said the purchase of Cubbie is a life or death issue for towns like Dirranbandi and St George which have uncertain futures with this hazard hanging over their heads.

“THE FACTS ARE - Cubbie is downstream of Dirranbandi / St George, and the Premiers proposal to take the water now used for irrigation and divert it into another river and then into the Narran Lake to enhance birdlife habitat, will not prevent salinity in the Murray Darling Basin nor help Dirranbandi or St George,” Mr Hobbs said.

The Premier said the Queensland Murray Darling Basin Salinity Hazard maps are as close to a crystal ball as science can get.

“THE FACTS ARE - other salinity maps exist developed by Australian Geophysics that use aircraft that fly grid patterns to monitor salt which is followed up with ground truthing techniques using test drilling to prove the existence of salinity or not,” Mr Hobbs said.

“These maps are available but the Queensland Government refused to let them be released because they may embarrass the Premier,” Mr Hobbs said.

The Premier said he has to take this course of action on the Condamine Balonne to obtain Federal National Competition Council (NCC) payments of $128 million.

“THE FACTS ARE - there is no special allocation for water in the next tranche for the NCC payment to Queensland. This payment is for all types of competition reform throughout Queensland not just water reform and further the Condamine Balonne is only one catchment of the Queensland Murray Darling Basin,” Mr Hobbs said.

The Premier said he was sick of the argument over the science on the catchment, however is prepared to have a six month review.

“THE FACTS ARE - he had little choice. In a landmark court case involving the Condamine Balonne the Government scientific assessments were totally discredited. Data that was favorable to the river was generally not used in the scientific assessment, insufficient testing that would be due process anywhere else was not done. It was clear the Government was caught out trying to make the science fit their political agenda,” Mr Hobbs said.

The Premier states we have to cut water consumption by 30 per cent in the Lower Balonne.

“THE FACTS ARE - This is not the case. The scientific, hydrological data provided to the Murray Darling Basin Commission, The Federal Government, and the National Competition Council (NCC) by the Queensland Government is the flawed data that was discredited in court and further the independent auditor of the Murray Darling Basin Commission denied a request to review the new data. Queensland takes less than 6 per cent of the total water extractions in the Murray Darling Basin, and the end of valley flows at the New South Border are presently among the highest of most catchments in the Murray Darling Basin system,” Mr Hobbs said.

The Premier stated on ABC Radio that you would have to be a moron not to be concerned with salinity after looking at the mailed out Salinity Hazard maps.

“THE FACTS ARE - you would have to be a moron to believe the Premier was genuinely sincere on this whole issue, once you become aware of the facts,” Mr Hobbs said.
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(3) New Qld salinity map released -




T
he issue of dry land salinity in Queensland has taken another turn with the release of a new map showing levels in the Saint George/ Dirranbandi region. It's in stark contrast to an existing hazard map, which is coloured in alarming reds and yellows and according to Premier Peter Beattie predicts a "salinity time bomb". The new map, compiled with aerial technology developed for the mining industry, shows much smaller areas of red, or high salinity, with the majority coloured blue for low salinity. But is it accurate science and does it add to the debate or simply add to the confusion? State Opposition leader Mike Horan claims the new data is what's needed to move the salinity issue forward.

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(4)
Salinity maps need more work




S
cientists working on the airborne electro-magnetic salinity maps say the map complements rather than contradicts the salinity hazard map previously released.
Senior land resources officer with Natural Resources and Mines, Ian Heiner, says neither map shows the need for immediate action. But he says a lot more work is still needed before the picture becomes clear



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(5) TREE`s & SALINITY- Bernie Masters WA MP Comments


In WA, the link between trees and salinity control has been clearly demonstrated for many years. What the research has shown is that, in an area where trees have been removed, the water table rises because groundwater recharge from rainfall increases from about 10% to about 30% of the annual rainfall. When trees (or any other deep-rooted vegetation) are re-established at high density, the young trees use a lot of water in their most active growing stages, lowering the groundwater beneath them. Eventually, as the trees grow older, they reach an equilibium with the groundwater, so that they groundwater table stays at approximately the same depth below the surface for as long as the trees are there.
In some places, as was discovered in WA a few years ago, you can plant too many trees over an area with a thin groundwater horizon, so that the trees eventually use up all of the available water and then start to die because there's no water left. Eventually, after an appropriate number of trees have died, annual rainfall then supplies enough water to the groundwater layer to support a smaller number of trees, so the equilibrium is reached and everyone is happy.
Bernie Masters
Member for Vasse (WA MP)

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(6) Leon Comments on Trees / Water use

* Hi Bernie, thanks for the comments.
The more we observe our land, the more we find different things happening in different places. E.g. in Central Qld, there are places where 5,000 trees per ha grow, and this is in places where there is no apparent underground aquifers (at least not until you reach the great artesian basin, 400 plus ft down),

The surprising thing is rather than any trees die, they all seem to survive, (although at this density they grow slowly). The reason there is no (or at least very little underground water) is due to some soils sealing when they are fully saturated (black clay type soils) or capping (hard red soils) These trees survive even though only a few inches of rainfall moisture might get past the grass root zone.each year ( i.e. the upper metre of soil)

In the SE of SA, my Great Uncle grew the first pine trees on the very steep side of the extinct volcanoe "Mt Schank" 80 years ago.
It was half way up the volcanoe cone, 150 feet above the water table, in hard granite, where there was a lot of runoff. Everyone told him it couldn`t be done - but he did it.

What I think all this shows is that the whole tree / vegetation water use debate is far from being fully comprehended, due to the many differences there are between such things as
* the root depths of different tree / vegetation species,
* the water use rates between different tree / vegetation species,
* the different effect different soil types / horizons have on water use.
* the different water use rates of vegetation when stressed or old versus when healthy or stimulated (regrowing)
* The different water aquifers within reach of trees / deep rooted vegetation

In my view, the whole issue needs LOCAL UNDERSTANDING and CAREFUL CONSIDERATIONS by managers, rather than pannicky reactions from lobbyists that may waste more money with quick uninformed action than slower informed action.

-Leon

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(7) Weekend farmers should have a plan – landcare consultant

Landcare consultant Chris Ferreira believes many lifestyle property owners were unprepared for the realities of farm life - dealing with issues like weeds, water logging and wind erosion, when they decided to buy some rural land

He says to be succesful, hobby farmers need to adopt the basic strategy of succesful farm managers and prepare whole of farm plans. He also says they should be ready to hang in there for the long haul. “They just give up on it, they just say ‘ah, you know, that area's too hard for us to manage. We perhaps just keep a smaller area that we can manage around a house and the rest of it we leave.’

“The vision that they probably were driven by when they first purchased the property may have evaporated because they just feel they can't keep on top of everything.”
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* There is very little acknowledgement that many landholders (such as in Central Qld) spend several months a year working in 40 degree heat trying to keep on top of their weed infestations which may cover thousands of acres.

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(8) Ian Mott, - Koalas & native trees (ABC viewpoint)

Just fifteen minutes by freeway from Brisbane CBD is a 500 acre private native forest that is Glen Shailer's garden. A former Mayor of Logan City with suburb, schools and streets that bear his name but it’s the forest of his own creation that has kept the twinkle in this spritely octogenarian's eye.

Glen bought a patch of burned out degraded farmland in 1937 and has turned it into one of the finest forests on the east coast, and he didn't plant a single tree.

You see, after a bushfire came through in the late 20's, the whole site was so thick with regrowth the cattle could barely pass through it let alone find grass. And for sixty years Glen's two main gardening tools have been a ringbarking axe and a box of matches.

He has regularly burned the understorey, culled the bent stems and harvested those that were competing with others. All up he would have killed off over 10 million trees but the ones he’s kept have all thrived.

And it is not just the encroaching suburbanites who build on his boundary to enjoy the fruits of his work, for free.

For Glenn's place sits between a newly reserved state forest and a former private reserve that was bequeathed to National Parks. And these three properties provide a perfect opportunity to get the wildlife's own opinion on our efforts to help them.

The koalas in particular have voted with their feet. The state forest has only a medium distribution of koalas despite supplementary feeding from a koala visitor centre. The national park has had no koalas for decades.

But Glenn's place is full of them. Animal carers bring wounded koalas to his place because they know they will survive. But none of them ask, why is this so?

The reason would have been self evident to any country lad with a primary school education 50 years ago. But with no web site for common sense, the experts struggle.

Koalas prefer fresh green leaves and these only grow when the tree is growing. So old growth trees don't provide much tucker. And young trees struggling to compete with each other stop growing and switch to survival mode, using their limited supplies of water, nutrients and sunlight on just staying alive. Under stress, they release chemicals to make their older leaves less digestible.

And this is what the koalas can smell from some distance the so called nature reserves and why they don't go there. Instead, they munch away, noisily procreate and contentedly doze in the succulent, perfumed garden that’s Glen Shailer's well tended regrowth forest.

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(9) Poll on Cubbie Station

The ABC web site has a poll on whether you believe Cubbie Station should be bought by the Qld Govt. When I last looked the voting was 37 % for the buyout and 62% against.

http://abc.net.au/brisbane/vote/


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(10) Gippsland native title claim

The largest native title claim in VIC has been made on areas of crown land in Gippsland. The claim by the Gunai Kurnai people affects crown land and waters between Wilson's Promontory and Point Hicks in far east Gippsland and does not affect private land. The Victorian Farmer's Federation has offered legal representation to the thousand farmers it believes will be affected by the claim. Sean Beasley is a wool producer at Bairnsdale, he's also the VFF's Gippsland regional councillor and pastoral group councillor for the area. He says he has long term leases on his own farm such as government roads and creek and water frontages and it's his understanding that the Gunai Kurnai people will be looking to access these areas.

He says the claim has only been recently lodged and he's not exactly sure what the traditional owners want. Albert Mullett is an elder with the Gunai Kurnai people and says one of the key issues is proper management of crown land which he says has been mismanaged for the last 214 years. He says the claim will bring the parties together to sit around the table to discuss the issues and rights of all. He says there has been concern that cattle have damaged waterways and native title will give some rights to the traditional owners to try to address this. He says if it can be kept out of the courts and resolved through discussion it will be better.

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(11) Who owns the rain in Vic




T
he fight to prevent upper catchment farmers from having to pay for rain that falls on their land has stepped up a notch. The Farmers Water Rights Federation has asked the Bracks Government to release details on how the legislation will be implemented, as it prepares to mount a legal challenge. Chairman of the Federation Bill Hill says he thinks they have a strong case and a strong following.

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(12) Australia not getting drier



T
he Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting an El Nino for the next 12 months.
Australia will suffer from drier than usual weather during spring and summer, caused by the El Nino effect.
However State director of the Bureau, Mark Williams says long term records show that despite what we think, Australia is not becoming a drier continent


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(13)
Wild Dogs at Tumbarumba



W
ild dog control in Vic has turned something of a corner in the past 12 months, with greater co-operation between key stakeholders. Management plans are being put in place, which share the costs and responsibility between Rural Lands Protection Boards, State Forests and National Parks. This is giving some hope to landholders in the Riverina highlands.


* Meanwhile SA farmers are now calling for a Fox tail bounty similar to Victoria`s with one grazier near Millicent losing 2,000 lambs to foxes in the last 12 months

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(14) NSW Farmers agree to Telstra sale "but only if"


T
he NSW Farmers Assocaition has agreed to the full privatisation of Telstra but only if a number of provisos are met and those provisos are numerous and significant. meg Strang report some of the hurdles that must be agreed to include; a slice of 10% of the proceeds of the sale, comparable costs between rural and city services, timely and affordable technology to be legislated for by Universal Service Obligation and the list goes on!

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(15) Scientists tell farmers to improve environmental performance

Farmers are being called on to stop tinkering at the edges of environmental programs and start radically changing their agricultural practices. That's one of the key messages coming from a three-day conference in Canberra The Australian Academy of Sciences Conference on the Environment has brought together academics and farmers in a bid to address the country's major environmental problems.
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* In my view, these conferences seem to say the same big picture things, but miss addressing the many small detail factors needed in bringing about positive changes on properties, which includes govt owned land.

As a Landcare secretary, I discussed this with a number of people and these points were often mentioned.

(a) The need for reliable local data (local example of a successful rehabilitation)
(b) Finding sufficient funds to do the works
(c) Finding the motivation to do the works (e.g. when a droughts on, or a family member dies, or a market collapses, or your property management rights have been removed, then motivation to achieve more than economic and / or mental survival is not easy to find)

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(16)
QLD forest grazing restrictions concerning




S
tate Development Minister, Tom Barton, has called for Agforce and others to take a "cold shower" over state forest grazing leases in the Western Hardwoods Zone. Agforce fears graziers will be locked-out of 1.1 million hectares in the zone, which stretches from Townsville down through Biloela, Monto, and Mundubbera to the New South Wales border and west to Charleville and Dirranbandi.But the minister says a final decision won't be made until June 30th next year and that all stakeholders will be involved in the consultation process.


One Cattle producer who'll be glad to have his say on the issue is Tex
Burnham, from "Boogalgopal" near Monto. He says his operation will be hurt if grazing restrictions are introduced over the leases he currently holds on 15,000 hectares of State Forest. Tex is also Chairman of the Monto Agforce branch and says there has been little communication so far from the Government and producers in the region are worried.

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(17) NSW Independent Scientific Group TwistIng facts and opinions?

Recently Ian Mott (president of The Regrowth Foresters Association) wrote a letter to John Aquilina NSW Minister for Land and Water Conservation stating grave concerns over the conduct of the Independent Scientific Group - about an apparent breach of discipline under Section 66(1)(e) of The Public Sector Management Act 1988.

Background

The original clearing controls under State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) 46 (NSW) were implemented without consultation on the assumption that advanced warning would produce "panic clearing" of such magnitude that serious environmental harm would occur. The policy was implemented to address an assumed clearing rate of 150,000 hectares per annum

Clearing became "Development" under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EPA) 1977 but no attempt was made to ensure that the definition of clearing was consistent with the legal concept of development.

Development in both United Kingdom and Australian law is essentially a new use of premises or a material change to an existing use.

Yet, the definition of this new form of development called clearing covered the destroying of any tree, encompassing any change in native vegetation.

In short there were claims that minimal clearing exemptions of 2 ha per year could
produce a cumulative adverse outcome (ie a material change) that cannot be stopped because each annual activity is a lawful one.

The latest ISG report makes no reference to the actual incidence of clearing under those exemptions despite the fact that over the eight years since SEPP 46 up to 17.4% of central NSW could have been cleared without any approval being required.

The Landsat data indicates that actual clearing in the state is in the order of 8,000 ha to 16,000 ha per annum. And given the area of formal approvals granted each year by DLWC, most of this clearing would appear to be done through the consent process, not the exemptions.

Conclusions

The Minister's Review of Exemptions by the Independent Scientific Group has presented hypothetical extremes as if they were facts and has omitted facts that have a critical bearing on the matters under consideration.

The variation between the hypothetical extremes and the facts are of such magnitude that the review amounts to a sequence of gross misrepresentations by omission.

The circumstances in which ISG was held out to be experts are capable of establishing that these misrepresentations are of fact rather than of opinion.

The circumstances appear capable of establishing that the Independent Scientific Group has carried out it's duties in a manner that constitutes a Breach of Discipline under Section 66.(1)(e) of the Public Sector Management Act 1988.

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And just to keep you informed, here are a few comments from readers

From: Lee.Rhiannon@parliament.nsw.gov.au (Lee Rhiannon)
To: Barcoorah@aol.com

thanks for forwarding this to our office. it is very useful. could you please send it regularly

thanks
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I have found it (landholders News & views updates) very informative, especially in my role.

Cheers

Lindsay Mullin
Research Officer
Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation