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!

Transition to LLS – the failure to connect

In Australia the voting turnout was lower than Zimbabwe for the recent LLS elections. When you consider the build up to the elections was enthusiastically promoted by the NSW Government and the DPI you can understand the embarrassment of the turnout. What is difficult to understand the refusal to release the figure and facts of what went wrong?

On two previous occasions CO2Land org posted positive expectations for the process. On December 21, 2013, the story – Transition to LLS – NSW, 1 year on: “From 1 January 2014, the new Local Land Services (LLS) organisation will commence operating under the Local Land Service Act 2013” Source www.lls.nsw.gov.au . Notice of election – LLS Board Members to be conducted early 2014 and mooted to be ballot to close 12 March 2014. Prior to that Transition to LLS – NSW, December 2, 2012: “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”. So what went wrong, why is the Shadow Minister for Primary Industries (DPI), Steve Whan, calling for an inquiry into the low voter turnout?

To use what Whan is quoted as saying in a press release is, and published in the Bungendore Mirror 26 March 2014: “From my discussions with land owners, though, the main reason for low voter turnout was they had no confidence whatsoever in the LLS model nor that their voices would matter”, and “These boards are unrepresentative of NSW landowners and importantly they are appallingly unrepresentative of the vital role women play in rural communities”.

So it seem that the model is the issue for up to 90% of the eligible voters. The other matter was the voter registration process was botched. It might not be appropriate to comment any further on that matter, or at least until it is clarified by the DPI, or through any inquiry that might follow.

Is there any other information that might be relevant for the story? Well, yes get ready for this: The call for new Landcare action, a press release on the 25th anniversary of Landcare’s formation, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), and the National Farmers Federation (NFF) have joined forces. This is not the first time they have teamed up for activities to reverse the degradation of farmland, public land and waterways. What is significant is that this alliance is meant to build relationships, not dictate or prescribe political edicts.

We could also draw the long bow here and say it is an ominous sign for the Green Army policy hopes for the Federal Government. Recently seen is a placard saying it had the answer to our rural woes – a Abbott proof fence! For those readers outside Australia, to help with controlling rabbits a rabbit proof fence was built in the outback. This reference to Abbott Proofing is part of the Australian form of humour. If you don’t get it – that’s OK it will come to you one day!

 

 

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

Major shake-up for DPI

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,……Farmers and landowners will be able to easily access natural resource management, agricultural advice and biosecurity functions from one organization,….The structure will free up staff to work more closely with their communities, encourage innovation and integration across the landscape and be more accountable to ratepayers”.

The Minister is also credited with saying Local Land Services would be regionally-based, semi-autonomous, statutory organisations governed by locally-elected and skills-based board members. For more information on the new structure, follow the link, as outlined by Ms Hodgkinson: media/pdf/20121004_FINAL_Local_Land_Services_fact_sheet.pdf

CO2Land org has always encouraged better practices and notes the new Local Land Services will be set up to promote innovation, improve productivity and let farmers and landholders to get on with being able to manage their land.

This news should comfort organisations looking for a better relationship with levels of government without the prescriptive styles of the former authorities. 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.

CO2Land org notes there is concerned over job cutting and the effects on the bush funding models. The main criticism being the election promises and moves to decentralisation is in fact becoming centralisation of DPI.  We spoke to a recent DPI employee that accepted a package from the body, and it was said – now more good than bad will follow, everyone was too comfortable before and whether the remaining staffing is permanent Government employees or contractors or just made up of volunteers it will be better than the way it was delivering. Only one real issue remains: What will be the sources of the funding for vital work?