Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Economy

Cry, my beautiful country: Barnaby’s shameful legacy to the lifeblood of Australia

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Pic: Murrumbidgee, Murray – Darling Basin. Public Domain photography

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Pedro Szekely’s Flickr pic of an Australian coastline … as Lyndall says: ‘I know the article is about destruction; but it is also about our (still) beautiful country which we need to appreciate and care for’

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Pic: of Barnaby Joyce. Sustainable Australia: http://www.sustainableaustralia.org.au/tas

First published November 24

This. Is. Serious. Part of our great and beautiful country is being plundered and crying out for help, but hardly anyone is stopping to listen, let alone act accordingly.

Did anyone else see Lateline on ABC TV last (Wednesday) night1? I watched it, with incredulity, and was angered by the apparent level of wanton over-exploitation of the river that is causing these terrible and even life-threatening effects downstream.

In this case, many farming families and their farm businesses, as well as small communities, along the Darling River, are bearing the impacts caused by just a few. More disturbingly this exploitation seems to be widespread, with a former Murray Darling Basin Authority senior manager stating she had to quit after working there for twelve years “because of what she describes as the wholesale ‘perversion’ of the scheme’s intent”.

With breathtaking irony, this story aired on the same day as news broke about Barnaby Joyce, the federal ex-Minister for Water, who had just been awarded $40K for his exemplary work, presumably whilst in government: “Mrs Rinehart personally handed him the inaugural National Agricultural and Related Industries prize, calling him a “champion of farming.”2

(On a side note: At least he has handed the cheque back. He really had no choice. But, even so, I think the perception created by this prize, and its similarities with a well-known potentially corrupting influence, won’t go away; i.e. political donations causing a potential conflict of interest in government).

But, how could Barnaby justifiably win an award for his excellent work while Minister for Water (as well as agriculture), given the troubles emerging about Murray-Darling water management? (Or am I missing a potential technical loophole here? Was he awarded $40K in his current capacity as a private citizen for his own excellent farming work?).

Earlier this year a corruption scandal aired on Four Corners3 which involved the most senior water bureaucrat in NSW4. The episode was full of damning evidence to show that the Murray-Darling system was being used and effectively abused by a favoured few for their own purposes.

So there was already well-publicised knowledge of major management and oversight failures, which effectively brought an operating threat to the sustainable use of water in NSW as well as to the integrity of the Murray Darling Basin Plan. Also well-known were the NSW ICAC and a departmental review that are still underway. Despite all of this – and completely regardless it would seem – Barnaby still got awarded first prize from his industry peers … ?

But there’s more; it gets worse (in my book). This is all happening under Barnaby’s ministry and, you’d think, would be of extreme interest to him in his federal water management role, and goes to his responsibility for the proper implementation of the portfolio, albeit at a state level in this instance.

Yet, in response to the Four Corners’ expose of appalling exploitation and possible involvement of criminality, Barnaby Joyce, the then Minister for Water, Minister for Agriculture, Deputy PM, sometimes Acting PM and leader of the National Party, arrogantly spruiked his ‘I’m one of you’ farmers’ credentials in a pub, saying:

“We have taken water, put it back into agriculture, so we could look after you and make sure we don’t have the greenies running the show basically sending you out the back door, and that was a hard ask”. ” And: “A couple of nights ago on Four Corners, you know what that’s all about? It’s about them trying to take more water off you, trying to create a calamity. A calamity for which the solution is to take more water off you, shut more of your towns down.”5

… Yeah, right. The greenies did it. What a load of old codswallop. Does he really think this matter is so trivial, of such little consequence, and actually sees it as a greedy greenie-inspired plot of blown-out proportions designed to rob essential water from farmers and rural townships?

This, propaganda and misinformation, from the mind and the man who has been Australia’s Acting Prime Minister and held the powerful position of the then-but not now-but will be again Minister for Water. Really?

The Murray Darling Basin Plan is the first genuine attempt of its kind and a critically important plan for the sustainable use of water. Its development was a massive task, using the rigour of science and the knowledge and experience of numerous contributors (private citizens and public institutions), to determine total capacity; set targets and limitations; and find an overall balance between and amongst usage, social and environmental needs.

This was a very long, bumpy and painful process; and during the Gillard years, I recall the Coalition fought hard against it; but the task needed to be done because the Murray-Darling river system was dying. Granted, the plan isn’t perfect – nothing ever can be when dealing with nature and people, (double whammy), let alone the difficulties dealing with the large landscape scale and variety of needs – so over time, on occasion, it may need some tweaking or even review. But it is nevertheless a grand and visionary plan to share the water fairly and sustainably amongst all users (i.e. human and other living things) that rely upon the continued ecological health of the entire system. That is, if it is implemented fully, competently and with the best intent from all involved.

Sadly though, in practice we see something else; and it is at odds with the “greenies running the show” conspiracy theory eagerly spread around by Barnaby. To the contrary, it would appear to be the farming sector that has spawned this very select but powerful few that have been robbing their fellow farmers dry and are culpable, greedy, and the ones running the show.

On TV we have just watched ordinary farmers desperately crying out for help in NSW, with their children getting sick from contact with the putrid river water, and many more farmers running out of water – for irrigation, stock or even domestic use – for months on end.

We’ve also just heard today that the positionally unfortunate South Australians who, being last in line and only getting the dregs, are now considering their own state royal commission into matters upstream. Lastly, in NSW, the current ICAC and departmental review will likely reveal the dirty truth about the current water management operating under the Plan.

In parallel with this complete mess and shameful (even negligent) water management, we have the in-waiting Minister for Water (et al.), Barnaby Joyce, who is temporarily unshackled from his former employment and free to do some heavy-duty campaigning for his seat. Snippets on the news catch him boasting about his own wonderful achievements (and what he could do more of) – all with the smug and confident certainty that he will return to be the Minister in charge of Australia’s water (and agriculture) again.

Are you kidding me?

For some time now, I’ve felt a sadness and defeat about the state of the environment; I fear for the future, going by the pattern of the present; and I’m angered by what I see is being done to our country (and the whole planet, for that matter). The careless treatment of our precious water is only part of the overall decline, and all this – on our watch – is ultimately facilitated and enabled by our elected governments and its politicians.

I can’t properly express the way I feel at the moment, so to help convey my mood, I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes instead (they’ll do!):

“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that’s the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing. Nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him if he gives too much.”

“The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that things are not mended again.”

(Both quotes from ‘Cry, the Beloved Country’ by Alan Paton).

Refs …

1. http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/children-made-sick-by-toxic-water-in-murray/9182126

2. http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2017-11-22/gina-rinehart-awards-barnaby-joyce-40-thousand-dollars/9178612

3. http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/pumped/8727826

4. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-15/murray-darling-basin-nsw-top-water-bureaucrat-resigns/8951258

5. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jul/27/barnaby-joyce-says-he-gave-water-back-to-irrigators-to-stop-greenies

EARLIER on Tasmanian Times by Lyndall Rowley …

Is the King Island Scrubtit Tasmania’s canary in the coal mine?

*Lyndall Rowley. Lost soul and drifting in slight despair (Adani-Chinese investor partnership prospect bodes for a looming planetary-scale disaster) – but still hoping change will come. 23/11/17.

• Ted Mead in Comments: This is a heart-breaking reminder of what is inherently wrong with this country, if not the world. Unquestionably, water is our most valuable resource, yet we have passively stood by and let the influential manipulate this resource to the benefit of the minority whilst the majority, and the environment, suffers. We are so out of touch with reality these days that only a broad-scale environmental catastrophe will ensure a different view, though by then it will be too late. A comprehensive ecological collapse is inevitable! The American Navajo have a word for this dire scenario – ‘Koyaanisqatsi’

• Ivo Edwards in Comments: Good morning Geoffrey (#6) – it looks like it is not just Tasmania where corruption is rife and the little people are trampled underfoot. Thank you Lyndall, for describing the shameful situation regarding water rights in the Murray-Darling river systems. As far as our own personal problem with the Derwent Valley Council is concerned, we have heard absolutely nothing from them since they issued the pending eviction order early in September. They long ago stopped replying to my emails, have not even acknowledged receiving our appeal against the pending eviction order, and have given no indication if they now acknowledge our legal residence status or not …

ABC: Murray-Darling Basin: SA launches royal commission into alleged water theft

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]
14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Robin Charles Halton

    November 29, 2017 at 2:15 am

    I doubt if Barnaby will be reelected without too much fanfare, he has been missing at many of the country meetings in the New England area as there are believed to be up to 17 new recruits who are keen to be heard for election in the region.
    Wont hurt him to get the message at all!

    Funny bird our Barnaby, I’ve stood by him, well should say have tolerated him for too long up till recently but Gina Reinhart made him look like a complete fool and they are supposed to be good mates, honestly what is the country coming to!

    Federal politics is looking pretty low at present and what is this proposed move by the Nationals to bring on a banks enquiry, what so Barnaby can save his skin!

  2. john hayward

    November 24, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    Forget about Barnaby. He’ll regain his seat and return his rubicund snout to the trough before you know it.

    The big threat to the Tassie kleptocracy is the case currently in the Federal Court which could see all the nations’ RFAs revoked for an alleged abject failure to enforce federal environmental regulations.

    Do you really want to see Peter Gutwein reduced to flogging public housing to keep body and soul together?

    John Hayward

  3. Russell

    November 24, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    Re #10
    Little Johnny knocked back a 100 million dollar offer from billionaire Richard Pratt to fund the piping off the Murray open irrigation system which would have saved upto 80% of the riverflow which is lost to seepage and evaporation in the channels.

    Re #11
    “Smith” in teh film Matrix correctly describes the human race as “a virus which consumes everything in its path and then moves on.”

  4. max

    November 24, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    The human race is like a plague, to exist it expands and to expand it is an avarice consumer of ever thing that nature or God put upon the earth. When we have totally consumed and destroyed the environment we will then look to space for another world do destroy. Perhaps the reason why of all the billions of planets that exist and we haven’t heard from any them, they all consumed to the end and there was nothing left to build a life raft from.

  5. William Boeder

    November 24, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Thank-you Lyndal your article has been very informative also that it confirms in my own mind that this Murray-Darling disaster affecting 3 of Australia’s State’s.
    Given that Peter Gutwein is ruthlessly intent on pushing along the sale of Taswater selling off the present water system and its controls to an overseas investor, that now tallies 4 State’s Water systems that have been negatively exploited by this current leadership political party.
    I find it incomprehensible that this political party greed and its overall failure to provide anything of merit or indeed benefits to the people of Australia.
    I recall during the John “Fibber” Howard era the water rights that sold off to any and all MIS enhanced irrigation schemes was later found to be found almost in excess of the annual water flows of the Murray Darling and Snowy Rivers.

    https://www.mdba.gov.au/discover-basin/water/discover-surface-water

    This is just another illustration of “the ongoing selling off of Liberal government coalition favor” that has become so rampant across this nation of Australia.

  6. Ivo Edwards

    November 24, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Good morning Geoffrey (#6) – it looks like it is not just Tasmania where corruption is rife and the little people are trampled underfoot. Thank you Lyndall, for describing the shameful situation regarding water rights in the Murray-Darling river systems.

    As far as our own personal problem with the Derwent Valley Council is concerned, we have heard absolutely nothing from them since they issued the pending eviction order early in September. They long ago stopped replying to my emails, have not even acknowledged receiving our appeal against the pending eviction order, and have given no indication if they now acknowledge our legal residence status or not.

    I don’t really want to kick the hornets’ nest at this stage, to provoke them again. It seems we are all just waiting for the quarry to commence operations and then see how much noise comes our way. If it exceeds 45 decibels then we will have to formally complain which might seriously bring our legal residence status to a head.

  7. Ted Mead

    November 24, 2017 at 8:36 am

    This is a heart-breaking reminder of what is inherently wrong with this country, if not the world.

    Unquestionably, water is our most valuable resource, yet we have passively stood by and let the influential manipulate this resource to the benefit of the minority whilst the majority, and the environment, suffers.

    We are so out of touch with reality these days that only a broad-scale environmental catastrophe will ensure a different view, though by then it will be too late.

    A comprehensive ecological collapse is inevitable!

    The American Navajo have a word for this dire scenario – ‘Koyaanisqatsi’

  8. TGC

    November 23, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    The more ongoing corruption the greater the possible benefits to the legal profession when a percentage of the ‘corruptions’ lead to an inquiry
    One essential inquiry should be into ICACs wherever they have been established in order to ensure they are free from corruption.

  9. Geoffrey Swan

    November 23, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    #2 … Good to hear from you, Ivo…

    Since this article is talking about possible ongoing corruption … how is your personal battle with GCC progressing?

  10. Stu

    November 23, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Lyndall, this has been going on for decades.

    I recall doing some studies of the Maquarie Marshes in NSW over 20 years ago. Water allocation for downstream users and the environment is all about politics.

  11. Russell

    November 23, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    What an absolute disgrace!

    ICAC now!!!

  12. John Wade

    November 23, 2017 at 10:46 am

    You will find Barnaby is right in the middle of this mess because he recently purchased two properties in the Pilliga:-

    NOVEMBER 15, 2017 BY THE COONAMBLE TIMES

    IT HAS been more than five years since people from Coonamble, Baradine, Pilliga and other areas first began to band together to voice their objections to the proposal for Coal Seam Gas (CSG) mining in the region.
    Last weekend, the battle-weary volunteers were bolstered by a show of support from people across NSW, Queensland and Victoria.
    On Friday, people began to gather at Pilliga Pottery north of Coonabarabran.
    They spent their time exploring the forest and learning from each other.
    Representatives of the Gamilaraay traditional owners spoke about the cultural impacts of CSG mining.
    Coonamble’s David Chadwick spoke to the crowd about his views on the economic environment around coal seam gas, the threat to artesian water and the problem of by-products like “toxic salt”. Malcolm Donaldson spoke about his family’s experiences living close to the drill site and the risks he sees with Santos’ proposed Pilliga CSG Project. The event was organised by the North West Alliance, involving local groups concerned about the impacts of Coal Seam Gas mining and supported by non-government agencies including Lock the Gate and the Wilderness Society.
    “We know that local people have been fighting this for years,” Ms Hodgson said. “And there is a level of fatigue.”
    A planning forum was held to continue the campaign to protect the Great Artesian Basin, the Pilliga Forest and the surrounding communities and farmland from the potential impacts of CSG.
    “Sunday was our big day of action,” said Ms Naomi Hodgson, an active member of the North West Alliance.
    “More than 350 people travelled from around the local area and long distances to spell out No CSG.”
    The action was covered by NBN, Prime 7 News and the regional ABC.
    The message also went out online through a flurry of social media.
    Labor’s MLC for the Barwon electorate, Daniel Mookhey, extended his ‘listening tour’ of the region to spend time on Saturday with those involved.
    The determination on Santos’ application to extract CSG from the Pilliga is due in 2018.
    Santos has reported that its determination to pursue the project has increased with rising oil prices and other economic factors.
    The company is currently preparing its responses to a record-breaking number of submissions made to the project’s Environmental Impact Statement.
    Almost 23,000 submissions were received with 98% of those reported to be against the project.
    Submissions outlined areas of concern from members of the general public and issues raised from a “range of experts”.
    Local anti-CSG activist, Pam Goldsmith says that the weekend’s action “has fired everybody up.”
    “I think now is the time that we’ve got to up the ante,” she said.
    “With the pipeline planning underway there are locals that have been sitting on the fence who are now becoming active.”
    She also believes that the protest on the weekend delivered a clear message that has been picked up by the wider media.
    Organisers were buoyed by the response and hope that the event will keep the spark in the campaign opposing CSG as it “heats up” over the next 12 months.

    There is information available that allows Santos to enter onto private property, through locked gates … for those with access to Facebook (I don’t have) have a good read of this and please share the actual saga – https://www.facebook.com/coonamble.times64/

    Does Barnaby care? Of course not, he benefits from Gas extraction at the expense of those he pretends to represent, the western dry-lands farming community.

  13. Ivo Edwards

    November 23, 2017 at 9:57 am

    That was surely pretty dumb of Gina to blatantly offer Barnaby $40,000 just because he is a good bloke and will obviously look after her interests more enthusiastically with extra money in his pocket!

    Why didn’t they show a bit more innovation in the way they went about it though, to make it appear less blatantly a bribe? For example giving a scholarship to one of his children or grandchildren, as worked a treat to give Tony Abbott money a few years ago?

  14. Mark Temby

    November 23, 2017 at 8:57 am

    No comfort from this quarter but, perhaps, a tinge of motivation.

    Barnaby Joyce was an accountant in St George, Queensland, prior to being a politician. St George is arguably the capital of the cotton growing industry across the border region between Queensland and NSW. The NP representatives at state and federal levels serve this and similar regions by delivering water to their most powerful and generous constituents. Barnaby’s inebriated boast in a Victorian pub aimed at the same types of irrigators except the crop.

    This time it’s rice, not cotton. Both crops are highly unsuited to Australia’s limited water assets. Both crops spread water thinly across the landscape thus maximising rates of evaporation. Both crops exist where past practices revolved around wheat and wool.

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