The trust envelope – a view

Warning: There’s been changes to the wording of different parts of the contract. Sound familiar, whether is it a Chemist, a Bank, Telco, or any transaction you may have experienced it before. The reality is you not asking hard questions means you have lost something. Let us quote Dr Sandy Donald responding to concessions given by the Queensland Health Minister reported on 15 April 2014: “There were a lot of areas that gave the doctors almost no power to influence decisions and also a lot of areas we felt were open to misinterpretation.” What is the point you say?

The point is it is modus operandi for most dealings today to exploit trust. A Prime Minister might say ‘I am confident’ rather than ‘I confirm’. However, we might expect the weasel word language from that profession. But what happens when a Chemist says: Will you accept a cheaper brand? Think about that question: Did the Chemist say I would pass on a price advantage to you? Well in all likelihood no, the contract is I will give you a cheaper brand, it makes no guarantee you will pay less. You need to ask that question: Will I pay less if I take a cheaper brand? You may find the answer is no!

Without a Bank example we are low end of the Scale, A major telco has used very similar language and supplementary information in a very similar way too. Namely, you received an offer to upgrade. On the surface you are much better off for a reasonable rise in administration fees. You receive a supplementary advice, including: ‘With approval bank, will transfer any promotional rates to the new account’. Feeling good, hey! The welcome pack arrives and the Letter of Offer contains the words: Acceptance will transfer the promotional rate for x period at xx%. Then in the second sentence it says: Upon Expiry, the rate will revert xxxx balance xxxx. Look carefully at this phrasing and supplementary information, as it is as the Dr in the opening part of this post said ‘open to misinterpretation’. Learn to ask the hard question: Did you or will you transfer the promotion rate to the updated card? Most likely answer is no. You might also be taken back to hear ‘If you did not ask the question we had no obligation to tell you’. It follows that once you accepted you have no power to influence the decision to expire the offer.

CO2Land org can hear you say, but we have rights. Not anymore, unless you ask the questions. Em, trust – that may be an error.

 

 

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Friends by degrees – the ACT story

Reported is the NSW government is at war with itself, as is some Federal politicians, as is some local government people. The canny troublemaker is the ACT Government. For accepting that showing example is better than doing nothing to support climate science.   For doing what the NSW Government made allowance to do in addressing the future.

It is all a bit odd if you take into account that in war you might say 2 degrees of separation is sufficient to warrant attention. In finance it would take up to 5 degrees to lose sight of the target. A canny businessperson might think there are opportunities at 3 degrees of separation. In terms of climate we have evidence that 4 degree of temperature difference is on track under climate change scenarios and may in all likelihood accelerate into tipping points of no return in a very short time frame. So if we talk of degrees of separation and degrees temperature as similar measures it all becomes most worrisome.

Looking at what is being said (to keep you informed currently NSW and Federal Government is coalition parties):

The Federal Member for Hume – said ‘green policy gone mad. Wholesale prices will triple’. Then states the NSW Government will contribute to that increase by applying to take baseload power out of the system when the wind does not blow. Interesting when you consider the NSW Government is the approving power for its own considerable wind farm precinct building exercise.

The Chief Minister of the ACT and the ACT Minister of Environment and a thousand other things (in a colloquial sense) have said small increases will occur in energy prices, but business confidence will pick up, as the programs will excite business development. Co2Land org has to admit any attempt to encourage a larger private sector in ACT has to be constructive.

The State Member for Monaro’s best was reserved for his own, the NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy were he challenged that NSW had become the ACT’s junkyard! Claiming little or no support from NSW landholders during consultation processes. Co2Land org finds this interesting as the evidence is only or mostly the Landholders that object are the ones that missed out on a financial benefit. We are happy to be proven wrong on that statement.

The State Member for Burrinjuck (also Minister of Department of Primary Industry, and in a stoush over redistribution of her boundary with the State Member for Goulburn) is to have said to ‘be opposed to inappropriately sited windfarms’. This sounds like a parochial comment of who can and who cannot by the tone.

The State Member for Goulburn is quoted as saying ‘opposes wind farms, but is leaving the door open for other renewables’. Does this mean negotiations are possible?

The Yass Valley Mayor claims communities are really angry about these projects.  The Goulburn Mayor was merely concerned at the methods used and took the opportunity to encourage more settlement in the region. The Palerang Mayor said adequate precautions have been taken to ensure appropriate site and location positioning for developments. CO2Land org too agrees that where impacts on local residents are correctly accessed it is more likely that when incentives are offered the local will accept the arrangements. So is that the real issue, who pork barrels who for what?

But the absolute ‘corker’ (Aussie slang for taking the mickey out of things) is recently the question was asked: “Can you explain to me what a Solar wind farm is”!

What are they all talking about? The ACT Government aiming at 90% renewables by 2020 and the initiatives to make it happen at minimal costs.

Where was it being talked about? Reported by John Mitchell in the Bungendore Mirror 2 April 2014. Had it been 1 April it could have been considered a joke!

To Promote – Expertise – Resilience

Sitting in Wodonga VIC, with friends of course, the discussion was about enabling to promote resource opportunities. Then joining the table was an impressive thinker, in fact a scientist that could add she was part of a group focused toward the development of sustainable, resilient regional communities. Part of the aim of that group is to build on the region’s competitive attributes – Now sitting with us was an inspiration, someone to be seen as a critical enabling agent.

CO2Land org is familiar with computer terms and if you carry over that same meaning you could describe that agent as: Part of an enabling proxy of the objective that is to allow this agent on other management packs.

Therefore a group like the Regional Centre of Expertise – Murray-Darling, RCE-MD) through this enabling proxy could import their management pack, and that management pack would discover like minded entities and assign them to other organizations.

The down side of this thinking is that some wanting to be influencers have the potential to dupe you into running a framework with a less safe agenda. With that agenda they could introduce a subtle internal social engineering attack that is counter to your stated intention. Such distractions are then not easy to skip over, and take up much of your valuable time to get around this problem and getting the priority message delivered.

In the realization that now, at this time, the political environment encourages such counter tactics: WINTELBOFF (www.wintelboff.com), Carbon Training International (www.co2ti.com), Y ME Solutions (www.ymesolutions.com) are likely to form an agreement to promote and project environmental health. In this context and in recognition the future will not function adequately or at all if we fail to counter the increasingly sophisticated ways less safe solutions are promoted, they propose they will share the need to inform, educate sustainable systems and engage the community – if not a fail could cost the earth! We can only wait to see if this management pact creates a roll-up of the uptake of being much more responsible and enable trust with absolute certainty.

What is the Regional Centre of Expertise? For a start it is acknowledged by the United Nations University. The complete name is the Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development.  This discussion started around the consortium of the Murray- Darling region (www.rcemurraydarling.com.au), and it is noteworthy that the wording of who they are is ‘a creative re-combination’ in enabling activities and initiatives through collaborative partnerships, networks and resource-sharing as well as the obvious – opportunities.

CO2Land org as a general rule does not promote membership to company entities. However, there is always room for an exception where it is formed solely for being a centre of expertise with a purpose to add meaning to sustainable outcomes and being resilient.  Looking at the members the lead organisations are: Charles Sturt University, Wodonga Institute of TAFE, La Trobe University. Others are with research, schools, business, community, and government in each of the tiers. The suggestion is if you need a contact try Dr Alison Mitchell amitchell@csu.edu.au .

And, there is more – other centres – it is spreading organically.

 

 

Our democracy – the need to educate, to influence better environmental outcomes

Increasingly you might hear the comment – we don’t have a democracy anymore and all that we get is push marketing and the pedaling of misinformation. We are told what to think, act and what we feel in order to react ‘appropriately’. Scenario the phone rings – hello, its Adrian mate and if you don’t want to let the community down you will adopt our stance, you don’t want to let the sky fall do you?  You react and say hang on I am a good upstanding community member….you are hooked and steered into a psychological twist.

Whatever scenario you want to paint on the issue a properly functioning democracy requires an educated, well-informed and proactive community. Backing this thread up is a quote from the Executive Director at Liana Downey & Associates – Strategic Advisors to Governments and Nonprofits – contributing to the discussion about the morality of government and some leaders on action on climate change – “I think it just strengthens the impetus to keep educating, and keep moving forward, particularly for those of us with a good understanding of the science. I have had plenty conversations with reasonable, educated professionals who admitted they just weren’t sure if “all this climate change stuff” was really an issue. We have to take the time to acknowledge doubts, and respond to concerns in an informed way that doesn’t patronize people but allows for conversation and progress. Who says there isn’t scope to address the concerns of the cynics? 

This would be an easy time to fall into despair – it’s certainly tempting. But it’s also the most important time to step up, be clear about the facts, and help lead. Government are obviously important players, but not the only decision makers or leaders in our society. There is still plenty of scope to help shape thoughtful sustainable investments, shift consumer and corporate behavior, and keep doing what we know to be right to protect future generations”.

Then we have the comment by Michael O’Flynn – Sustainability and Financial Risk Consultant: “The real culprits are the politicians with their lack of accountability, aspects of the media who cherry-pick “evidence” to push their backer’s agenda, large immoral corporations and their executives who simply care about profits, rates of return and $$$bonuses and some of the mega-rich. We are basically facing a fight between the gung-ho capitalist model who call for less regulation and as happens, have the big bucks and consider all resources as simply a means to derive a profit first and foremost, versus the people. 

It wasn’t so long ago that the god-Father of the current Libs, John Howard and supposedly the Libs too, were keen on an ETS. Exhibit A for long-term culpability for any inaction.”

CO2Land org finds this potent stuff, maybe a little emotive, but puts the point across vey well – we are influenced as opposed led. So is the real problem that we have ourselves to blame, that we are followers and not leaders – short answer is not everyone can be the leader. But, we need to stay focused and committed and advocate for what we believe is right. The Adrian example at the beginning of this post was and example of an advocate that recognized that public opinion and political policies are never static and will ebb and flow. Even from within governments positions on issues are not necessarily entrenched within the Party’s or even its voters. It is a case of reacting from the popularity base both within and outside the party and will influence those that make the hard decisions. A documented illustration of this is in Australia where a newly elected Government is already facing rough times over the party’s previous support of climate change policies such as the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). With the current Prime Minister saying his party does not support the view that climate change is real, and then others within, such as the popular Malcolm Turnbull, openly being supportive of an ETS. This suggests we will be in for more push polling efforts and misinformation peddling is in the wings. Sadly it will also auger well for those that will react with ‘we will review this matter’ and behind the scenes say – no further action required it will go away! He recipe for ‘seeing to be doing and not doing at all’!

CO2Land org will argue that until the opposition parties start acting professionally we can expect nothing more than talk on what is needed on meaningful climate change policies. But either way, neither the government nor the opposition parties can exempt themselves from being detrimental to the obvious environmental dangers we are facing now, and merely taking the arguments to the next election will just be too late.

Thank you to those that contributed to this thread – it shows the potential that there is still some really positive discussion going on. It also put into focus, what recently happened when the Australian Climate Council was established as a privately funded model after the government of the day chose to abandon public funding for its predecessor. We speculate that the thinking behind the funding denial was that it would put aside the issues the entity has uncovered. It might actually come back to bite the climate change deniers and we might even see better outcomes for the betterment of how society views the working of our democracy.

Confident with no confidence – QLD style CID

Asking a cursory ‘Trust you are having a good and Happy Easter up in Queensland’. The reply was a shocker: “We are stuffed, I suppose the next thing we will get is a letter in the mail, stating we have to walk off our property so they can push every thing over for Ergon and the mines – Love Sharron”.  What was referred to is an alleged flawed process for the duplication of the 63 klm long 110kV power line from Warwick to Stanthorpe in Queensland, and the mounting speculation a public announcement has been held back from that process.

Ergon Energy is sponsoring the Community Infrastructure Designation (CID) process, under the Section 200 of the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (SPA). The SPA details the process required for CID, providing an emphasis on ensuring that adequate environmental assessment and public consultation occurs prior to Queensland Government approval.

But it is suspected Ergon Energy has not been fully consultative with landowners and the community on the proposed corridor and cracks are appearing in the approval tactics under the Queensland Government’s CID process. According to the ‘grape vine’ what is held back is announcing mining is coming to Warwick, which is backing off Cherribar Resort owned by Chinese investors (a Resort set up to supply 400 homes for dignified living of people of Chinese origin), and the facilities includes the operating of their own airstrip. The timeframe is said to be in about 18 months, and soon after Cecil Plains coal seam gas and open cut mining has started.

CO2Land org then felt compelled to research this story further and then noted the Southern Free Times has been running stories on the progress of the proposal by Ergon Energy to build an additional power line to supply the Stanthorpe area. A quick check indicated this means 3 supply lines to cater for the area. (Stanthorpe – translated as old English meaning ‘tin town’ – is a town situated in south east Queensland, Australia. The town lies on the New England Highway near the New South Wales border 223 km from Brisbane via Warwick, 56 km north of Tenterfield and 811 m above sea level. The area surrounding the town is known as the Granite Belt. At the 2011 census, Stanthorpe had a population of 5,385.)

According to the local government council, the population of the Southern Downs Region has increased over the past 5 years at an annual average rate of 1.4%.  They say this rate is above the national average for inland regions not affected by the current resources boom. They also say the population increase has been brought about partly by the “tree change” phenomenon, and partly by the affordability of high quality housing – currently averaging 40% less than Brisbane prices. That said it would be hard for Ergon Energy to argue population growth numbers justifying such a large expenditure on an underutilized power line – at a community expense, certainly not justified for at least another 10 years without a resources boom planned!

However, the headline of Southern Free Times of 28 March 2013 read “Stanthorpe needs Power Reliability Says Springborg” – the opening paragraph included “The State Member said he remains confident in the decision making process of a Stanthorpe Power Line Community Reference Group, despite rifts in the group and a loss of community support”. Looking deeper into the story we find 6 of the 11 member CRG have resigned!    This sounds a bit odd – the State Member (also the Qld Gov Minister of Health) ‘remains confident’ and the CRG has no confidence in the CID process? So what is really going on here?

On reading the entire story it is noted a number of good points are raised in the Southern Free Times and the expected well scripted responses come from Ergon Energy.  But what was not covered were some big burning matters such as: Fair compensation for the loss of use or abandoning the use of your homes and property to make way for a duplication of the 110kV power line (it seem Qld in cutting the red tape for approvals also avoids the option of owners selling land affected at market price, or even accept a fair rent for the use of the land). Next, the line will be redundant unless significant growth for the need for power increases above the expected planned growth scenario. This is something the regulators must test for who benefits and whether the abandoning of the need in the lifetime of the line will result in undue costs to the community. Especially if the ‘grape vine’ is correct as to the actual need for such a large duplication.

The big issue in all this is not even remotely covered. That is the case for smearing the costs with the community when it may be a benefit for say a new mine or foreign investment interests, and that user might pull out of the area before the economic life of the line is reached.  We can think of numerous examples where this happens and one ripper is Cobar in NSW – the lines were put in and the mine shut down leaving the community to pay the costs. Costs that we now know could be avoided.

What evidence is there that financial and lifestyle costs could be avoided? The answer is actually in the responses from Ergon Energy to the Southern Free Times. A absolute major give away and indicator of the real agenda  – Ergon did not say that all alternatives had been evaluated, they said proposals to met expected demand for alternatives had not been included in time. They also said two lines currently serve the area including an 110kV and a 33kV line. They argued the 33kV line can only supply half of the current peak load. Extrapolate that to peak loads and the capacity of the current 110kv line is fine and allows for load growth of the predicted 18% over the next ten years. It also means demand response measures, if taken, will cater for peak load without new infrastructure. It also means a duplicate 110kV power line will at best be utilized 5% of the time – if you research the Power of Choice submissions with AEMO you will find similar analysis.

Also noted in Springborg’s response is he said new infrastructure was required and without detail other than a general statement the community is entitled to reliable power. Maybe the CRG should ask a few more questions, like:

  1. Why do you need more than what is stated as the need in growth scenarios (reference to published planning and forecasts from other than Ergon)?
  2. Why do you think technology will not provide solutions at a least cost other than conventional distribution of power? and,
  3. If a new industry development other than what is required by a community in growth were introduced would that industry pay a fair and reasonable rent for the infrastructure?
  4. Would a fair and reasonable rent be returned to the community?

Of course these questions are very likely to elicit more the well scripted replies to the questions, but then you could just ask them again only at a different level. For instance, if the state said the means is more important than the ends, it should be tested thoroughly.

Co2Land org now asks: If we consider the four primary schools of thought in general jurisprudence :

  •   Natural law is the idea that there are rational objective limits to the power of legislative rulers.
  •  Legal positivism, by contrast to natural law, holds that there is no necessary connection between law and morality and that the force of law comes from some basic social facts although positivists differ on what those facts are.
  •  Legal realism is a third theory of jurisprudence which argues that the real world practice of law is what determines what law is; the law has the force that it does because of what legislators, judges, and executives do with it. Similar approaches have been developed in many different ways in sociology of law.
  • Critical legal studies is a younger theory of jurisprudence that has developed since the 1970s which is primarily a negative thesis that the law is largely contradictory and can be best analyzed as an expression of the policy goals of the dominant social group.

Has the Queensland Government and Ergon (a government entity) set the theme of better practice or has the quest for the means of the market overtaken good policy for the ends to look after the community?  If the means is more important can we say the community consultation businesses that influence, is only in the interest of making a market other than setting up community representative groups with limited knowledge of the true agenda? Therefore are these groups only to give comfort to the Minister of state that all is well on a certain issue?

the trends with small business and on the farm

Wishing to better understand the trends with small business and on the farm, Caring for our Country demonstrates it continues to actively solicit what is happening and is active in keeping our interest. The following is a part of the outreach activity known as BizQuotes and what follows is part of some of information from that unit:

Australian small businesses are among the least optimistic in the Asia-Pacific region – research by accounting firm, CPA Australia, found 60% of Australian companies expect to grow their business in 2013 – Indonesia was leading the way, with 94% of firms expecting their businesses to grow – 14% of the Australian businesses increased their staff numbers in 2012, compared with 61% in Indonesia – 47% of the Australian firms were forced to use a personal credit card to pay for business activities, compared with only 12% – Source: Indonesia Herald Sun 11 Dec 2012.

Recently a group of criminal hackers was successful in 93% of its attempts overseas to infect personal computers – they froze 18,941 PCs with a message demanding over $100 to unlock them – 15% of the victims paid – the group took about $400,000 in the day – even when payment was made, the hackers didn’t unlock the computers. Source: HBR 11 Nov 2012.

Australia is a nation of entrepreneurs, with 1 actively trading business for every 10 people – but small businesses are growing more than 3 times slower than the economy – almost 40% have collapsed in the last 4 years. Source: SmartCompany 13 Dec 2012.

This year’s Australian Innovation System Report suggests innovative firms of all sizes are almost twice as likely to report an increase in productivity compared to those that do not innovate – innovative firms are also 42% more likely to increase profitability, 3 times more likely to export, and 4 times more likely to increase the range of goods or services offered. But the percentage of Australian businesses seeking finance for innovation has declined by 40% since 2006-07 – venture capital and later-stage private equity investment has also declined substantially over the same period. Sourced: SmartCompany 12 Dec 2012.

The ageing agrifood workforce of 880,000 people involved in 180,000 small to medium-sized enterprises also has the potential to benefit from rapid innovations in remote access technology with 57% living in rural areas. Source: SmartCompany 12 Dec 2012.

The Australian wine industry exports around 65% of its production worth about $1.9 billion. Source: PSNews 11 Dec 2012.

Tourism contributed nearly $34 billion (nearly 10% of total export earnings) to Australia’s GDP – it directly employs over 500,000 people. Source: PSNews 11 Dec 2012.

There are 157,000 farmers in Australia – nearly 300 farmers have left the land each month over the past 30 years, partly because young people have been reluctant to take over the family farm – farmer numbers have shrunk by 40% (by 106,000). Source: The Australian and AFR 12 Dec 2012.

But the smaller number of farmers who remain produce $32.5 billion in food exports today compared to $8.2 billion 30 years ago – the proportion that have a university education has increased by 600% since 1981. Source: The Australian 12 Dec 2012.

More than 25% of farmers are older than 65 compared with 3% in other occupations – the median age is 53, compared with 40 for other occupations – and the farmer age of 44 in 1981. Source: The Australian and AFR 12 Dec 2012.

More than 50% of farmers work for more than 49 hours per week compared with only 17% of people in other occupations – but farmers only earn an average disposable income of $568 a week, nearly 40% less than the average of all other jobs. Source: The Australian and AFR 12 Dec 2012.

55% of agricultural operations are estimated to turn over less than $100,000 a year – only 6% have operations turn over more than $1 million. Source: The Australian and AFR 12 Dec 2012.

Over the past 50 years improved farming techniques and technologies have helped to significantly increase crop yields along with a 12% expansion of farmed land use – however, with global food production already uses nearly half of the usable land surface, a further increase in land surface may severely impact on the world’s natural ecosystems. The challenge is that an increase in animal-based production will require much greater land – 1 hectare of land can produce enough rice or potatoes to feed 19-22 people per annum – the same area will only produce enough lamb or beef for 1 or 2 people. Source: The Institution of Mechanical Engineers – Jan 2013.

An average of 7-10 calories of energy input is required to produce 1 calorie of food – varying from 3 calories for plant crops to 35 calories for the production of beef. 78% of the world’s agricultural land is already used for animal production and meat consumption is rising per person in many developing nations – only about 3% of the energy consumed by livestock remains in edible animal tissue. Source: The Institution of Mechanical Engineers – Jan 2013.

For every cubic metre of water applied the potato produces 5.60kcal of dietary energy – maize 3.86kcal – wheat 2.3 kcal – rice only 2 kcal. For the same cubic metre of water, the potato yields 150g of protein (double that of wheat and maize) and 540 mg of calcium (double that of wheat and four times that of rice) – overall, 2 kcal is produced per cubic metres of water used on plant-based food and 0.25kcal is produced for meat-based food. About 40% of the world’s food is produced on irrigated land – taking up 17% of agricultural land. A study in the USA on the amount of water used in processing vegetables found that it ranged from 13 – 64 tonnes of water for each tonne of vegetables – in the case of fruits it ranged from 3.5 – 32 tonnes of water. Source: The Institution of Mechanical Engineers – Jan 2013.

Many thanks to Garry Reynolds of Caring for Our Country in Canberra for providing the sourced material

the notion of “cool” patch burning

January 2013, has been very distracting and the extreme fire conditions have woken us from our usual persistence to stay in holiday mode a little longer. Traditionally it is a less than optimum time for putting forward ideas and getting anything done. Friends schooled in adult education training warned us NOT to try and run courses in January because people retain their school holiday mindset well into their senior years, and even if you can get them to turn up they will be distracted and inattentive.

Fire has been often characterized as the best servant and the worst master (you may have heard this expressed in many different ways). Last evening at a local rural firefighting service get together, as expected, the politics of fire was in the forefront of casual discussion. Yet, some very important debate happened of interest: We talked of fire management and the attitudes of each of us towards, and the implications for, landscape management.

Introduced into the discussion was how the government measured success of their many programs. We at this point input our interest to expand the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) methodology on savanna burning to a more focused area of controlled burning as was practiced by the indigenous in times past and the difference being in those traditional ways the management was to avoid total incineration and encourage regeneration and improve soil fertility.

In relation to the traditional burning practices cited, the various land managers, both government & private, agreed the need to stimulate considerable discussion was evident. Those that opposed said they were having some trouble accepting the notion of “cool” patch burning. They don’t like it because it leaves too much charcoal on the ground which they think will fuel the next fire, and the only answer is to ensure hotter more complete burns to reduce the fuel back to mineral ash. One even went so far as to say, ‘do you think the indigenous knew what they were doing, they had no intention of managing the landscape, fire was an accident that just got away from them and the benefits were accidental’. Our reply, does it matter that they planned the benefit, what matters was they learned something and have knowledge from the experience, and the issue must be effective communication is needed for a better understanding and to ensure that knowledge is not lost. To have the attitude that all that we need to do to manage the risk for the environment is indulge in recursive behavior is nonsense.

Saying there was a communication problem was the catalyst for a more rational response and the group was then more open to accept they needed to engage in more than polite conversation and to actually open themselves to the thought our indigenous colleagues deserve an audience for what they say is a solution to our degrading rural scape.

Further background material can be followed up as Posted on January 20, 2013 by co2land

CFI – ‘black swan event’ treatments

EPBC Powers – COAG passing the ball?

A seemingly disjointed argument: Commonwealth devolving EPBC powers to States and Territories and the Founder-CEO of GIST Advisory, a specialist consulting firm which helps governments and corporations discover, measure, value and manage their impacts on natural and human capital held a seminar at the Australian National University (ANU), 5 December 2012. In essence, both argue over the move from federalism models of influence to enterprise models.

As an analogy, and as we in all likelihood, need the technology to research effectively, our IT systems giants can be brought into the highlights: Apple is a Federalism model and Microsoft an Enterprise model.  Co2Land org puts forward the difference is the application of standards and accreditation. One is a moderator and influencer, and he other is a executive lobbyist and controller. Another way of putting it – Apple makes devices that influence the development of things that make it work and manage the introductions of the applications that can be framed fro the devices. Microsoft makes thing work for the information flows that fit the enterprise and its vested interests, and strictly controls the infrastructure platforms they will work to within the select enterprise. If you translate that to Federal and State and Territory government workings, you might see the possibility of a run away train through select enterprise if the influence is replaced by vested interest other than the good of society, or our long term future.

If we go back to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999 (EPBC) concerns:

  • We notice that Andrew Campbell, Director, Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, headlines ‘Commonwealth handballs environmental protection to States and Territories’, and talks of the COAG proposal to devolve EPBC powers to States and Territories, “even for matters of national significance, may be OK in principle but seems sure to end in tears. States & Territories are dis-investing in environmental capacity and are often proponents or at least key stakeholders in big development projects. Existing S/T legal frameworks are patchy. Hard to imagine that the Commonwealth will invest sufficiently in monitoring or compliance to ensure that other jurisdictions adhere rigorously to the COAG agreement”. He then said “when inevitable controversy occurs, the Commonwealth Minister will be blamed anyway”.
  •  Preceding Campbell, 0n 5 December 2012, http://theconversation.edu.au ,the Conversation printed, ‘Commonwealth should keep final say on environment protection’. This creditable account even offered what interests the authors may have to declare including:  Lee Godden has received funding from the Australian Research Council for a project on environmental governance and climate change. Jacqueline Peel receives funding from the Australian Research Council under grants relating to climate change regulation and litigation. Lisa Caripis has volunteered with a number of climate change advocacy groups including the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC).
  •  The ‘Conversation’ story is compelling and to quote “Almost 30 years ago, the  Australian High Court gave the Commonwealth Government constitutional authority to make laws protecting the national environment. Now, a Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) agreement will severely limit the practical scope of that Commonwealth power. CoAG has initiated a fast-tracked process to effectively devolve Commonwealth development approval powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (EPBC Act) to the states. This could see a return to a highly decentralised system of environmental management in Australia, which means nationally significant areas and problems could receive inadequate attention”.

At the ANU scheduled seminar for GIST – Pavan Sukhdev, he defines an economy as one that improves human well-being and social equity while also reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. While focused on an economy: It is an urgent need to build a green economy as was the primary theme of the ‘Rio+20’ conference in June this year. Mr Sukhdev suggests that micro-level rather than macro-level changes are required to bring about a green economy, and that corporations have an important role to play in this regard.

Co2Land org asks what can be achieved by short term solutions being put to long term problems? An economy – is it an accounting function or a heritage action?  Why write about this? We must address this and other issues, and posts like this might help tackle, and influence us to avoid looming catastrophic damage to the environment, and at the very least mitigate trends in climate change. The word here is ‘responsible’ as in held accountable for bad actions, and praise for good ones. Ball passing, as described by Campbell, then becomes irresponsible!

Transistion to LLS – NSW

Some confusion exists of the changes in NSW, and how safeguarding agriculture will continue. The November 2012 issue of the Tablelands Landholder Newsletter features John Seaman the Chairman from the Livestock Health and Pest Authorities (LHPA).  The central message is LHPA will continue to service agriculture stakeholders until LHPA, Catchment Management Authorities (CMA) and some of the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) responsible units are amalgamated into the new body in NSW called Local Land Services (LLS). The complete handover to LLS is expected to be January 2014.

CO2Land org is compelled to help clarify what is happening in the transition after we broke a story Major shake-up for DPI: Posted on October 10, 2012 by co2land. In that post as quoted “It is goodbye to Catchment Management and the Livestock Health and Pest Authorities. They are to be eliminated in a major shake-up in the provision of agricultural and catchment management services in NSW. This means a Major shake-up for the Department of Primary Industries. It is understood the new structure would be responsible for:  Agricultural advice, plant and animal pest control and biosecurity, natural resource management; and, emergency and disaster assessment and response.

The Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson was quoted as saying “agricultural advisory services provided by Agriculture NSW (part of the Department of Primary Industries) would also be incorporated in a single new body, Local Land Services”.

The theme of the transition is ‘let’s work together’ and it is said that ‘business as usual’ will continue in terms of maintaining commitment to the landholders.

On the theme of lets work together highlighted is:

  • Reduce Rural Crime, and unfortunately opportunist crime is common and organized crime continues. Good neighbours is as important as is effective policing and it could be time for a sensible Christmas present suggestion – motion sensing cameras around and at the entrance of the property.  Maybe everything that goes moo though the night might be a real mover?
  • Fox control has resulted in a 10-15% lamb marking increase – serious effort required to continue with eliminating this introduced pest.
  • It is a legal requirement for all landholders in NSW to control declared pest animals. Wild Rabbits are part of that requirement.
  • From 1 September 2012, in NSW, anyone who keeps livestock will be required to have a Property Identification Code (PIC). This code is for the parcel of land in which the livestock are kept. You should be aware this requirement says the land parcel owns the Livestock and the carer (Landholder/Manager) needs permission to move the livestock to other areas or parcels of land. You should also be aware that the previous requirement for the PIC has been expanded to deer, bison, buffalo, alpacas, llama, donkeys, and horses, keeping more than 100 poultry, more than 10 emu or ostriches in addition to cattle, sheep, goats and pigs need to have a PIC number.

Looking at the model of Local Land Services you might notice the emphasis is on a better relationship for regional areas, and making it less prescriptive in dealing with the landholders. While it is welcome that the work of community-based natural resource management organisations like Landcare NSW and Greening Australia will be more closely attuned to the administration it remains to be seen if harmony will prevail over funding distributions and cooperation with other co-funded organisations including the Rural Research and Development Corporations. That said, both federal and state bodies are on record as being supportive of volunteers that work in the communities and in return they can receive stewardship payments to offset some of the program costs.

It follows that most landholders are part of a community group and would be happy if the benefits of the changes included biodiversity reintroduction, carbon sequestration and salinity and erosion control. And, little or no additional cost being levied on landholders to achieve the benefit.

Co2Land org  encourages any question to be directed to admin.tablelands@lhpa.org.au

Farm related posts – Production, Landcare, Investments

Farmers make up less than 1% of the Australian population today and feeds 600 people – in 1950, an Australian farmer fed 20 people – in 1970, the farmer fed 200 people. Source: Lynne Strong, Bega ABARES Regional Outlook Conference 30 Aug 2012.

Artificial fertilizer costs too much and the dairy industry is returning to the use of nitrogen fixing perennial clovers in its pasture mix to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint. Source: Joanne Bills, Bega ABARES Regional Outlook Conference 30 Aug 2012.

The global dairy trade is increasing every year by between 9-10 billion litres of milk – equivalent to the size of the entire Australian industry each year. Source: BRW 12 July 2012.

A Tasmanian dairy farm has Australia’s first rotation platform that milks 24 cows without human involvement – separate robots prepare and clean the teats, attach the suction cups and disinfect the teats after milking. Source: BRW 12 July 2012.

Warrnambool Cheese & Butter operates the largest and most efficient dairy processing site in Australia – Bega Cheese owns 17% of the company. Source: AFR 03 Nov 2012.

Research in the UK has found that organic farms are less energy intensive than conventional farming – but they are also less productive – that means organic livestock have higher greenhouse gas emissions per unit of milk or meat. Source: NRM on Farms 04 Sept 2012. 

Dr Carole Hungerford of Bathurst links the health of the population to the health of its food – she says that you can’t get healthy animals from unhealthy land – she relates disease and illness to deficiencies in soils – in turn creating deficiencies in foods – she notes that 1 Australian dies every 2 hours from bowel cancer. Source: National Landcare 04 Sept 2012.

Asa Walquist, writer on rural affairs, says that animal products supply one third of the world’s protein – if livestock were eliminated, half as much again of vegetable protein crops would have to be produced to replace meat – but the shift from pasture to cropping would lead to a reduction in soil carbon – increasing soil carbon will be critical to Australia’s future carbon balance – Walquist says that the most effective way to increase carbon levels in soil used for agriculture is to return some crop land to well-managed pasture, preferably native pasture. Source: NRM on Farms 04 Sept 2012.

In the Western Sydney Parklands of over 5,000 hectares, 500 hectares have been reserved for urban farming – small plots are being leased to farmers to keep a food basin close to the capital city. Source: SMH 27 Oct 2012.

Financial losses from events related to weather in Australia have risen 4 fold over the past 30 years according to reinsurance corporation Munich. Source: SMH 27 Oct 2012.

60% of Australia’s researchers work in universities – the highest percentage of any modern economy. Source: AFR 03 Nov 2012.

The driver of the growth will come from improvements in productivity – labour productivity per person in China is only 20% of that of the US – in India and Indonesia it is about 10%. Source: AFR 29 Oct 2012.

Over the next 20 years almost 9 out of 10 new middle-class consumers worldwide will emerge in the Asian region. Source: AFR 29 Oct 2012.

Asia will be home to 4 of the 10 biggest economies within 13 years according to the Asian Century White Paper – China, India, Japan and Indonesia. Source: AFR 29 Oct 2012.

Between 2005 and 2011, US-based corporations invested $550 billion in Australia compared with $20 billion from China-based companies. Source: The Australian 16 Aug 2012.

Chinese consumers have developed a liking for Starbucks, pizza, Haagen-Dazseven and even Santa – they prefer western brands to domestic competitors. Source: The Deal Aug 2012.

95% of Chinese investment in Australia over the past 6 years was made by state-owned enterprises – nearly $50 billion over the last 5 years and mainly in mining and energy. Source: SMH 25 Aug 2012.

Chinese investment in Australia dropped by 51% last year to $19 billion – Australian investment in China grew by 278% to $17 billion. Source: The Australian 26 Oct 2012.

Unilever’s CEO, Paul Polman, thinks that for the next few years the US will be more internally focused – and that China and India won’t be willing to step up and assume the responsibility that comes with size – he believes that this creates a major opportunity for responsible companies to step up to be a force for good. Source: AFR Boss July 2012.

Unilever’s targets for 2020 are: to help more than 1 billion people improve their hygiene habits and bring safe drinking water to 500 million people – and halve the greenhouse gas impact of the company’s products across their lifecycle, from sourcing to consumer use and disposal – also to halve the water consumption associated with the consumer, particularly in countries that are populous and water-scarce – plus halve the waste associated with the disposal of products. Source: AFR Boss July 2012.

Unilever currently sources 10% of agricultural raw materials sustainably – by the end of this year it aims to source 30% – by 2015 50% – and by 2020 100% – by 2020 it also aims to link 500,000 smallholder farmers and small-scale distributors into its supply chain. Source: AFR Boss July 2012.

The Indigenous Land Corporation has gained approval under the Carbon Farming Initiative to earn up to $500,000 a year by selling carbon credits from projects combating savannah wildfires on its Fish River property south of Darwin. Source: The Age 02 Nov 2012.

  • CO2Land org queries the Fish River story and asks where this number comes from as it is unlikely in free trade the price will be higher than $AU10 for some time, and the Government itself in a media release said the number of credits generated from the exercise is 20,000 per annum – simple arithmetic = $200,000. It is most likely the number of $500,000 is a Carbon Tax transitional number and not a continuing expectation.  You might notice we posted Unfinished business, The EU ETS continues (Posted on July 17, 2012 by co2land). The story is about the need of the managers to artificially prop up the price after falling values. “To counter this the European Commission proposes to withhold permits and boost prices by “backloading” auctioning. That is delaying sales due next year until later in the 2013-2020 trading phase. This strategy is designed to maintain the EU carbon prices at no lower than €8.” It follows that Australia has elected to follow the EU ETS and make a transition from the Carbon Price (Carbon Tax) to the market.

Co2Land org thanks Garry Reynolds Caring for our Country National Coordinator, Business and Industry – for the inputs.