Monday, October 25, 2021

Politics & Opinion


Allocation celebration

NSW Murray, Victorian Murray and Goulburn have both hit 100% allocations. The news is a welcome relief to farmers. Despite the increase in allocation, water prices remain firm. Victorian Resource Manager, Dr Mark Bailey, said, “The sustained flows into the Murray system have provided enough resource to repay all of the borrowed Barmah-Millewa Forest environmental water allocation and announce the 100% allocation. 

Labor Party

NSW Labor moves to deregister Country Labor

Nicholas Rupolo. The NSW Labor party has moved to deregister Country Labor from the NSW Electoral Commission with new rules designed to boost representation of voices in the bush on policy and in parliament ... “For me the biggest change was the rule change where we now reserve 30 per cent of winnable seats in upper house ticket to people who live in regional NSW. That’s a substantial change from the way it currently stands:” Shadow Agriculture and Regional NSW Minister Mick Veitch.


Telstra fails … again

Mobile phone services went down in Coen, Laura and Lakeland last week, prompting criticism of Telstra ahead of the wet season, when telecommunications struggle to cope with the heavy rainfall. Travellers were left with no mobile reception between Cooktown and Weipa as a result of the outage, which Telstra said lasted around 30 hours.

Submission to the Regional Telecommunications Review 2021

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) published its submission to the Regional Telecommunications Review 2021. The submission highlighted the concerns of telco consumers living outside Australia’s metropolitan centres and provides insight into phone and internet complaint trends.


Diving into water research to make a splash for the Top End

A new project to bolster water sustainability in northern Australia is about to start, gathering the insights Northern Territory producers need for greater crop yields while reducing water usage ... Minister for Northern Australia David Littleproud said the water productivity trial will set the scene for future water planning and decision-making.

Council elections

New law safeguards December elections

Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock welcomed the successful passage of legislation through Parliament to prevent emerging COVID-19 challenges from interrupting local government elections on December 4.


A Way Forward

The Northern Australia Committee has tabled the final report of its Inquiry into the destruction of 46,000 year old caves at the Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The report follows on from the work of the Committee’s interim report Never Again tabled on the 9 December 2020.


The great koala scam continues: Vic Jurskis

There was nothing new or unexpected about the recently announced NSW Natural Resources Commission research on timber harvesting and koalas ... There’s nothing in the NRC report that actually deserves a tick. It’s a well-established historical and scientific fact that koalas are an irruptive species which responds positively to soft new growth ... Declining trees continuously resprout soft young growth until they eventually run out of resources. Koalas breed up in declining forests.


Traditional Owners granted first Cape York Heritage Area water licences

Traditional owners in the Cape York Peninsula Heritage Area have been granted water licences under the region’s water plan for the first time ... Minister Butcher said two water licences, accounting for more than 5000 megalitres, had been granted to a Traditional Owner group in the Coleman and Normanby catchments.

Regional development

Beach plans in disarray

Andrew Gill. The future of the Ocean to Channel Recreation Precinct development planned for Ocean Beach is in doubt with the Denmark Shire’s application for $4 million from the Building Better Regions Fund rejected ... The blow comes as the shire and surf club battle to save beach assets in the wake of erosion caused by a series of wild winter storms.

Covid-19 response

Segregation week

Any person who is over 16 years of age and who is not fully vaccinated with the provisionally approved COVID-19 vaccine has been excluded from many NSW businesses this week. Despite our regional areas having limited to no COVID-19 cases and willing uptakes exceeding 80% in LGAs like Murray River Council, the state government pushed forward to rip the last shreds of medical sovereignty from people living in our supposed democracy. The mandates have turned friends into enforcers and loyal customers into the unclean, and in turn, the unwelcome.


Climate, inequality, integrity in politics top Cowper care list

Cowper locals care about climate change, inequality,  integrity in politics initial findings from a Voices4Cowper (V4C) report has found. V4C convenor Gillian Anderson said: “We want local MP Pat Conaghan to understand the level of concern in his community about climate change and the environment."

Farmers want Kyoto ledger squared

National Farmers Federation President Fiona Simson says while Australian farmers continue to lead the world in improved sustainability and emissions reduction it is time to address the inequities of the past. "Farmers have been at the forefront of Australia’s efforts to meet climate change targets for decades, although not always knowingly." Ms Simson said in the 1990s and early 2000s, Queensland and NSW farmers were victims of land clearing legislation that removed their property rights, without compensation.


Farmers demand government repay carbon theft

The state’s leading agricultural organisation is calling on the federal government to repay billions owed to farmers. Costly emissions reduction action taken by farmers to help Australia meet its Kyoto commitments resulted in a surplus of 431 million tonnes of carbon captured – worth more than $30 billion* today. NSW Farmers President James Jackson said the balance sheet must be squared before the federal government signs up to any deals at Glasgow.


Two new councillors elected to Gingin council

Retiring Shire of Gingin councillors Jacqui Lobb and James Morton have been replaced by Robert Kestel and Erik Sorensen. Sitting councillors Kim Rule and Frank Johnson were returned for another four-year term.


55 per cent of “regional” grants went to the cities

Analysis released by the Australian National Audit Office has revealed that 55 per cent of all "regional" grants announced by the Morrison-Joyce Government since 2018 have gone to projects located in the major cities. Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain said this was another blow for regional areas that had to deal with so much during this time.


Mayor pulls no punches on parliament visit – housing issue is a priority

South Burnett Regional Council Mayor Brett Otto has hit the ground running on his visit to George Street in Brisbane to meet with Cabinet Ministers ... “Minister Enoch is fully aware of our housing situation here in the South Burnett, as a result of high property demand and a lack of available affordable housing,” Mayor Otto said.


Calling on young Barkly champions to step up to Youth Round Table

Young Territorians who champion their community are encouraged to apply for a seat at the NT Youth Round Table 2022. Up to 16 positions are available for Territorians, ages 15 to 25. The Round Table gives young people a direct line of communication with the Northern Territory Government and provides a platform to share their views about issues and interests relevant to their peers.


Government introduces population growth factor to raise infrastructure funds for growing councils and communities

Shelly Hancock, NSW Minister for Local Government, announces that the NSW government will introduce a population growth factor in the annual rate peg from July 2022 to raise additional revenue for councils to fund key infrastructure in growing communities.

New rate peg methodology includes population growth

Geoff Helisma. NSW Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock has “endorsed the new rate peg methodology and has asked IPART to give effect to it in setting the rate peg from the 2022-23 financial year” ... Clarence Valley Council’s (CVC) general manager, Ashley Lindsay, said he didn’t foresee any “significant increase in its revenue”, because of the changes.


Whether Australia’s regions rise, or fall, depends on the stories we tell

Professor Andrew Beer. Across Australia, one in five regions is struggling, but the one-dimensional solutions we commonly look for don’t work ... the future prosperity of regions lies with those who live there, rather than those who govern, especially when they do so from a distance. Mobilizing regions is a matter of empowering regional leaders – making sure they have the tools needed to bring about change while enabling them to both listen to others and be heard across communities.


Community led monitoring

The Murray Regional Strategy Group (MRSG), which represents eight organisations across the NSW Murray, is conducting a monitoring program to clearly communicate the risks and benefits of water delivery through our region ... In order to help stop repeating the meaningless destruction that we have witnessed on the Murray, MRSG has developed the NSW Murray Valley Adaptive Road Map, which aims to deliver solutions to existing problems with water flows and management.


Fabricated myths and politics are causing the mismanagement of water in the Murray-Darling Basin

Robert Onfray. Before I started our travels, I recall hearing and reading stories about the parlous state of the Murray River and its basin. These calls are always louder when there is a drought. On our trip, I have spent a lot of time on the Murray, the Lachlan and Edward Rivers, as well as the Murrumbidgee Irrigation area. We also stopped at Wentworth to observe the mouth of the Darling into the Murray River.


Working with communities to find solutions to the sand slug: Dr Ben Dyer

Something we're often asked at the Murray–Darling Basin Authority is if we've found a solution to the 'sand slug' impacting the River Murray Barmah Choke. We haven't found a solution but we're working with the community, seeking expert advice, and finding a way forward.


MDBA loses appeal on limiting class action liability

A judgement handed down on Tuesday in the NSW Court of Appeal has left the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) without its defence of claiming it is a ‘public or other authority’ to limit liability in the class action brought over alleged negligent water management.

Parliamentary inquiry

Evidence of environmental damage from floodplain harvesting disallowance: Pavey

Evidence presented this week at the NSW Upper House Select Committee on Floodplain Harvesting has shown without licencing, floodplain harvesting will increase across the state, having negative impacts on the environment. Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said evidence presented at the inquiry demonstrates the importance of regulating this activity.


Innovation at heart of NSW water strategy: Pavey

The NSW Government has launched the NSW Water Strategy, a 20-year blueprint to deliver resilient and sustainable water resources to communities across the state ... The strategy coincides with the launch of the Water Project Map, a new tool for people to access information about all water infrastructure projects across NSW.


Murky water stirred by politics

The NSW Upper House inquiry into floodplain harvesting hadn’t even finished hearing evidence when a barrage of media releases came from the Victorian and NSW National Parties ... What caused this great flurry of excitement by the Nationals? It appears the excitement was generated by how floodplain harvesting sits as an offence under s60A of the Water Management Act. This does not mean floodplain harvesting is lawful, it just means that provision doesn’t catch it.

Covid-19 - FNQ

Fighting on our own

Deaths and high hospitalisation rates from COVID-19 will be the harsh reality for Cape residents if the state and federal governments do not act immediately to improve vaccination rates. The numbers in some communities are frighteningly low. Yet the state and federal leaders have been absent ... The Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service has tried its best to service the vast region in a timely manner, however they are working in a flawed system. Some communities – Coen, for example – have only been able to access the vaccine on a handful of days this year.


North coast MPs seek protection from ‘70 percenters’

Geoff Helisma. Five north coast MPs – Janelle Saffin, Chris Gulaptis, Geoff Provest, Ben Franklin and Tamara Smith – have jointly written to Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Deputy Premier John Barilaro, expressing their fears that the government’s Covid 19 policy is a threat to the health of their constituents. “We are really concerned that, without policy changes, our region will suddenly become deeply vulnerable to a major influx of newly freed Sydneysiders, while we are still short of the 70 per cent safety target,” the MPs write.

Covid-19 petition

Patient’s express anger at Iluka doctor’s suspension

Geoff Helisma. Many people have reacted angrily to the news that the Medical Council of NSW has temporarily suspended the registration of Iluka doctor David Alan Richards (Iluka Wellness Centre) following a decision by a Council s.150 (immediate action) panel ... “Sad day for Iluka,” one person posted. “We miss you Doc. It was so good to go to a doctor that was brave and honest and truly believed in the Hippocratic Oath ... “There is conclusive evidence (sighted on Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency documents) that AHPRA has silenced health practitioners from raising concerns about the Covid-19 vaccine ...": Petition EN3375.

Covid-19 petition

Petition against mandatory vaccination

Member for Mallee, Anne Webster, this week has released a petition calling for the reversal of the vaccine mandate. “Mr Andrews has crossed an important line. Where the Victorian government should be encouraging vaccinations, he has begun coercing the public with an economic exclusion notice. “The premier needs to explain how this mandate is proportionate to the risk of COVID-19, especially given the pace of the voluntary roll-out in Victoria. One of the founding principles of our democracy is the freedom to choose.  Although, some laws limit our right to choose, this is done based on risk, necessity and proportionality." 


Afghani locals in “limbo”

Gabrielle Duykers. Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Migrant Resource Centre (MRC), Eugenia Tsoulis spoke to Naracoorte Lucindale Council at its latest meeting, emphasising the need to continue support for Afghan residents ... Following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, many local Afghan migrants are trying to safely bring their family members to Australia.  However, many are unable to do so due to being on temporary “bridging” visas or without citizenship.


Wild horse draft plan for Kosciuszko National Park

The draft plan for the management of wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park has been released for public comment. Environment Minister Matt Kean said the draft plan strikes the right balance between protecting the fragile alpine ecosystems and recognising the cultural heritage values of the wild horses ... The draft plan is open for public comment until Tuesday, 2 November 2021.

Energy NT

Cleaner, reliable and affordable secure energy system by 2030

As part of the transition to affordable, reliable, cleaner and secure energy, the Territory Labor Government has released the Darwin-Katherine Electricity System Plan. The System Plan provides a comprehensive and credible pathway to generate 50% renewable energy by 2030 in the Darwin-Katherine Electricity System - cutting emissions in half. 

Hydrogen NSW

NSW Hydrogen Strategy to drive investment, create jobs and power prosperity

NSW is set to attract more than $80 billion of investment, drive deep decarbonisation and establish itself as an energy and economic superpower with the launch of the NSW Hydrogen Strategy ... Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said hydrogen was a huge opportunity for regional NSW. “We know that regional economies are diversifying, and the NSW government’s Hydrogen Strategy is bringing that to life,” Mr Toole said.

Net Zero

NSW set to halve emissions by 2030

NSW is set to attract more than $37 billion in investment while slashing emissions by 50 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, under updated projections and objectives released as part of the Net Zero: Stage 1 Implementation Update.  Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state’s new objective of halving emissions by 2030 – up from 35 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 – shows that NSW is serious about setting itself up for the future while helping the world decarbonise.


Southgate residents oppose location of solar proposal

Geoff Helisma. A group of Southgate residents is opposing a proposal to develop a solar plant in an area they say is “visible to residents all around”. Tasmanian-based company, Infinergy Pacific, wrote to residents who live near the proposal on August 5, advising that it is “currently investigating the feasibility of developing a solar farm on neighbouring land at 58 Boorman’s Lane, Lower Southgate” ... Spokesperson for the residents, Steve Grimes, said, “We’re not anti-solar, we’re against the location they are currently proposing.”

Net Zero

Call for protection of farmland in race to Net Zero

NSW Farmers has called for the clear protection of agricultural land as the state moves to slash emissions by 2030. While moves to increase private sector investment, grow the economy and lower power prices were welcomed, NSW Farmers Vice President Xavier Martin said the protection of prime agricultural land had to be a fundamental part of the plan. “As they say, they’re not making any more dirt, and we need to ensure that prime agricultural land is protected because once you dig it up or pave over it, it’s gone forever ... We remain concerned about regional renewable energy zones – there is clearly scope for this sort of infrastructure, but we must ensure it does not displace food and fibre from quality land."


Final draft of NSW voluntary assisted dying bill triggers community consultation

Community consultation has begun on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 after Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson received the final draft from Independent Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich.

VAD - Qld

Cook MP votes in favour of controversial VAD bill

New laws allowing voluntary assisted dying in Queensland were passed by parliament last week. Member for Cook Cynthia Lui was one of the supporters of the legislation, which was a conscience vote for Labor and LNP politicians.

Child care - SA

Lack of childcare an ‘equity’ issue

Eliza Berlage. The struggle to secure childcare services in rural and regional areas has led some parents to sacrifice their careers or move to bigger cities, according to a new study ... It found regional and rural areas lacked childcare services and staff to work at the centres, and that childcare was often not seen as profitable enough to attract new operators to the sector.

Child care - FNQ

Child care solution?

Parents forced to leave town or quit their jobs. Frustrated parents in Weipa are hoping that a survey could lead to a solution for the town’s growing child care issues ... Rio Tinto has lost some of its own employers as a result of the child care shortage and the mining company’s recent call to employ more local women was met with the complaint about the lack of options for care.

Covid-19 response - harvest

State lockdowns pull handbrake on bumper harvest

Continuing COVID border restrictions are making life difficult for farmers and harvest workers at the start of a bumper season. For the second year in a row, farmers are scratching their heads on how to harvest fields full of crops with limited access to workers and COVID testing facilities that have limited hours of operation. NSW Farmers Grains Committee Chair Justin Everitt said there needed to be a coordinated effort from governments to make sure the season wasn’t wasted. 

Public servants to hit the paddocks for harvest

More than 4,500 staff from the Department of Regional NSW, including Local Land Services and the NSW Department of Primary Industries, will be able to access five days’ special leave to assist farmers for an expected bumper harvest season in 2021.