Australian news, and some related international items

We ignore the wipeout of insects at our peril

Honey, we shrunk the bee and insect species that feed us,Canberra Times, By Elizabeth Farrelly, March 9, 2019  Insects or mortgage brokers, which to lose? Hmm. Tricky choice.

After the banking royal commission targeted mortgage brokers’ secret kickbacks last month, the industry retaliated. Its Grim Reaper-style advert showed an anxious family facing an endless corridor without choice or deviation. Imagine a world without mortgage brokers, the voiceover exhorted, as though that were inconceivable. Yet – such is our species’ self-absorption – no one wasted advertising dollars on a possible extinction, revealed days earlier, that’s exponentially more worrisome: the end of insects.

Insects are often held by the eco-minded (including the UN) as a solution to world hunger. There are insect cookbooks and insect-eating Ted talks. The catch, of course, is that mass insectivorism presumes precisely the kind of destructive, industrial monoculture that has turned food-production into the planetary eco-crisis we have. But there’s also this. On current trends there may not be any bugs, period – depriving us not only of crunchy six-legged comestibles but of virtually all food except (perhaps) the synthetic.

The new report, Worldwide Decline of the Entomofauna, by Australian biologists Sanches-Bayo and Wyckhuys, collated 73 longitudinal insect population studies to identify a single downward trend: continuing decline in many insect species globally over decades. “Over 40 per cent of insect species are threatened with extinction,” it says. The worst affected are those upon which world agriculture most relies yet which it also most mistreats: butterflies, moths, bees and dung-beetles.

Factors include habitat loss, industrial agriculture, urbanisation, chemicals, pollution, disease, stress and climate change, all driven or exacerbated by humanity.
We’re like the classic bad parent; relentlessly interventionist – imposing gifts, rules and expectations – but strictly in our own interest, not the child’s……..
Bee disappearance should be a wake-up call. Honeybees are wild creatures that, although occasionally domiciled with humans, travel up to 13km for nectar, covering some 53,000 hectares …
This gives the honeybee, Apis mellifera, a unique role as wild-to-human environmental indicator. When massive bee loss showed across Europe, Asia and America (which has lost over half its bee population), scientists found pollen samples containing over a hundred different chemical contaminants. But the most obvious culprit was pesticide; in particular neonicitinoids……..

It’s an old, old story, this prioritising of profit or convenience over nature, usually cloaked by “demand”. But in the choice between insects and mortgage brokers? Reckon I’ll follow the honey.


March 9, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment | Leave a comment

Traditional owners and Western Australia’s Conservation Council continue legal action, to uphold environmental law  

Battle against Yeelirrie uranium mine continues for traditional owners and Conservation Council 5 March 2019  Traditional owners and the Conservation Council of WA are continuing their fight against a proposed uranium mine, fearing unique subterranean fauna in the project area will be made extinct if it proceeds.
Former State environment minister Albert Jacob gave the green light to Cameco’s Yeelirrie mine proposal in January 2017, just 16 days before the pre-election caretaker mode began. Yeelirrie is 70km southwest of Wiluna in the Mid West region.Together with members of the Tjiwarl native title group, CCWA challenged the approval in the Supreme Court but lost, and have now taken their   battle to the Court of Appeal.  CCWA director Piers Verstegen said the previous government was desperate to lock-in a uranium project before it lost power, going against the advice of the Environmental Protection Authority, which was concerned about the impact of mining on subterranean fauna.

“Stygofauna might be a relatively obscure species. In fact, these particular species of stygofauna were not known to science until the proponent started exploring for uranium in that area,” Mr Verstegen said on Tuesday.

“But the legal precedent here has much broader implications.

“We’re certainly very keen to be upholding environmental laws … which were never intended to be used by a minister or a government to approve the extinction of species.”

The matter was heard on Tuesday and a decision will be handed down at a later date.

March 7, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, legal, opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

A climate-changed future – Australia’s marine heatwave disrupting ocean life

Australia’s marine heatwaves provide a glimpse of the new ecological order, Guardian, Joanna Khan, Tue 5 Mar 2019  Receding kelp forests, jellyfish blooms and disruption to fisheries are just some of climate change’s impacts on the ocean, s bushfires raged across Tasmania, Victoria and New Zealand, and north Queensland faced a massive cleanup after unexpected flooding, a different extreme weather event was silently forming in the Tasman Sea over summer.For the second year in a row, a stubborn high-pressure system over the Tasman Sea was warming the surface of the ocean to above-average temperatures, forming a marine heatwave, wreaking destruction and providing a glimpse of the new ecological order in the marine Anthropocene. Globally marine heatwaves are becoming more frequent and prolonged and affecting biodiversity, according to new research published in Nature Climate Change this week.

In the summer of 2017-18, the intense marine heatwave was combined with a land-based heatwave, together covering four million sq km. Scientists foundthe extreme weather event caused unprecedented loss of glacial ice in the New Zealand Southern Alps, changes to wine-grape harvests, and major disruption of marine ecosystems including kelp habitat loss, new species invasions and fisheries season changes.

This year the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand reported that sea surface temperatures in the Tasman were again above average.

Like coral reefs and tropical rainforests, the ocean suffers the slow torture of climate change peppered with high-intensity hits from extreme weather.

A window into the future

Marine heatwaves are generally out of sight and out of mind until one gets so bad it becomes impossible to ignore, says CSIRO research scientist Alistair Hobday.

A marine heatwave happens when the ocean temperature is much warmer than usual for the time of year from sunlight heating the surface water or warm water being brought via ocean currents – or both.

Climate change is causing marine heatwaves to happen more frequently and with more intensity. There may not be scorched earth or destroyed homes left in its wake, but a marine heatwave impacts our future in different ways – and serves as a warning. ………

March 5, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment | Leave a comment

New South Wales election – an opportunity to vote in politicians who care about our health and environment

NSW election: our chance to vote 1 for climate and health, Croakey,  Editor: Mark Ragg Author: John Van Der KallenJohn Van Der Kallen is a rheumatologist and the NSW Chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia. February 21, 2019 The Lancet has described tackling climate change as the ‘greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.’ The upcoming NSW election is one of those opportunities to improve our health, but we need to vote for politicians who will take climate change seriously.

February 25, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, environment, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Australia’s Minister for Coal, Melissa Price, – but supposed to be Minister for Environment

The invisible minister’: Melissa Price accused of going missing on the environment, Guardian, Lisa Cox, 16 Feb 2019

The criticism comes during a summer of disasters, including the mass fish kill, Townsville floods and fires in Tasmania

She is being called the “invisible minister”, the cabinet member responsible for the environment who is accused of “disinterest” during Australia’s summer of natural disasters and record-breaking heatwaves.

Melissa Price has been criticised by three of the country’s biggest environment groups who say they have been unable to meet with her since her appointment last year. A fourth is accusing her office of being in breach of its responsibilities on threatened species.

The criticism comes during a summer that has brought numerous environmental catastrophes, including the mass fish kill in Menindee in far-west New South Wales, fires in Tasmania’s world heritage area, a record-breaking January heatwave, and floods in Townsville that Queensland’s premier Annastacia Palaszczuk described as unprecedented.

While the prime minister Scott Morrison and other senior members of the government including Michael McCormack and David Littleproud have made public appearances in towns affected by the disasters, Price has been absent…….

The government’s key independent committee for the assessment of threatened species, the threatened species scientific committee, also currently has five vacancies including its chair. ……

February 17, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

A fearful future for Australia’s one big river system – the Murray-Darling basin

Murray-Darling Basin’s outlook is grim unless it rains, authority’s report warns, Guardian, Anne Davies

Focus for year ahead will be on ‘providing drought refuges and avoiding irreversible loss of species 
The outlook for the environment in the Murray-Darling Basin, particularly in the north, is extremely challenging and there will be almost no scope for environmental flows for the remainder of the 2018-19 year unless it rains, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has warned.It says the focus will be “on providing drought refuges and avoiding irreversible loss of species”.

Releasing its environmental watering outlook for 2019-20 the authority warns that there are almost no reserves of environmental water in the northern basin and that, as a result of above-average temperatures and low inflows over successive years, some important wetlands and floodplain forests have not received water for long periods.

It says conditions in the Coorong, a Ramsar-listed wetland in South Australia, are deteriorating, as are conditions in the Narran Lakes, despite the federal government paying $80m for water rights aimed at restoring them. The Macquarie Marshes and floodplains along the Murray are also deteriorating.

The report says the conditions in the lower Darling are particularly severe and the length and duration of cease-to-flow events in the lower Darling has skyrocketed since 2000. It acknowledges this is due to extraction by irrigators upstream as well as climate.

“The hydrology in this area has changed in recent years … an effect which can be tied to both the volume of water extracted from the river and climate across the northern basin,” it says.

“This trend has also affected water availability in Menindee Lakes and the flow characteristics downstream through the lower Darling,” it says……..

February 16, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment | Leave a comment

Queensland government rebukes Adani over endangered finch 

Guardian, Ben Smee, @BenSmee, 15 Feb 2019  Indian miner playing politics instead of participating in scientific process, says deputy premier Jackie Trad  The Adani mining group has chosen to “run a political campaign” rather than engage with the Queensland government about its plans to protect the endangered black-throated finch, the state’s deputy premier has said.

On Friday, Adani launched a pre-emptive attack on the findings of an independent review of its conservation plans to protect the finch at the Carmichael mine site…….

Speaking in Townsville on Friday afternoon, the Queensland deputy premier and treasurer, Jackie Trad, said Adani should raise any concerns it had about the draft report with the Department of Environment and Scienc e……….

The Australian Conservation Foundation said the government must “stay the course” and not cave in to corporate bullying.

“The black-throated finch is now found in only 12% of its historical range and Adani’s mine would devastate its best remaining habitat,” campaigner Christian Slattery said.

“Adani’s tantrum at the Queensland government is a clear demonstration of the company’s contempt for science and our native wildlife. If Adani’s management plans for the black-throated finch aren’t scientifically robust, they should not get approved. It’s that simple.”

February 16, 2019 Posted by | environment, Queensland | Leave a comment

In New South Wales, government lets mining companies dodge costs for site rehabilitation.

NSW ‘accounting trick’ lets miners dodge appropriate rehabilitation costs, Guardian, Ben Smee

Lock the Gate accuses state government of placing interests of mining sector over those of taxpayers   New South Wales taxpayers could be shortchanged up to $500m by a state government “accounting trick” that allows mining companies to dodge paying appropriate contingency costs for site rehabilitation.A 2017 report by the NSW auditor general found that security deposits paid by miners for future rehabilitation were inadequate and made several recommendations, including that the “contingency” costs be increased.

Though not part of the formal recommendation, the report said contingency costs should range from 25% to 50% (of the estimated total rehabilitation cost).

The environmental group Lock the Gate has obtained a letter, through Freedom of Information, that shows the NSW Department of Planning and the Environment told a parliamentary committee last year it had accepted all of the auditor general’s recommendations, and that it had already increased contingency costs.

The department told Guardian Australia this week it had increased “contingencies” to 30%. But it later clarified that figure included “contingency” and two other metrics – project management costs and post-project environmental monitoring – which were dealt with separately by the audit.

The amount for “contingency” remains at the previous level of 10%.

Rick Humphries, the mine rehabilitation coordinator at Lock the Gate, said the new arrangements were “an accounting sleight of hand” that had the effect of not forcing mining companies to meet the standards outlined by the audit…..

February 14, 2019 Posted by | environment, New South Wales, uranium | Leave a comment

Australia and water: the driest inhabited continent in the age of climate change

Australia is the canary, and the coalmine, for the world when it comes to water stress, Guardian,  R Keller Kopf  , 11 Feb 19,

As extreme climate events happen around the world, Australian communities are running out of water

The skies are brass and the plains are bare,

Death and ruin are everywhere—

And all that is left of the last year’s flood

Is a sickly stream on the grey-black mud;

The salt-springs bubble and the quagmires quiver,

And this is the dirge of the Darling River.”

— Henry Lawson (1891)

The northern hemisphere faced a polar vortex, while Australia during December and January was the hottest on record. People and the environment are suffering at both ends of the planet because of the extreme events.

Australia’s heatwave has exposed cracks in our unsustainable water, land-use and climate policies.

Fish kills in the Darling River, followed by more in other waterways, are being blamed on drought. More than one million fish died following multiple events in December and January.

The public has been aghast. The catalyst for outrage has been viral videos of hundreds of Murray cod floating dead and being displayed by angry locals. Murray cod is an icon of Australian waterways and one of the world’s largest species of freshwater fish. The biggest Murray cod – allegedly 114kg – was caught in 1902, during the federation drought in a tributary of the Darling, near Walgett.

But extreme conditions and fish kills are natural here in the “land of drought and flooding rains”, right?

The Darling is the longest river on the driest inhabited continent – prone to harsh and variable conditions. Lawson’s 1891 poem, which followed one year after the largest flood, is used often to depict the naturally occurring extreme conditions of our rivers. Indeed, European explorers who set off to chart flows to the “great inland sea” were surprised instead to discover a drought-stricken river – the Darling. Though the water was too salty to drink, it abounded with pelicans, swans, ducks and leaping fish.

Heatwaves and drought have always occurred here but unsustainable levels of water extraction and climate change are much more recent. Vast quantities of water are now extracted and used, during drought and flood, to irrigate crops including rice and cotton.

The amount of water used for irrigated agriculture varies, but ranged from about 50% of all flows in the Murray during the 1980s and 90s, to more than 76% during the Millennium Drought. Standards for healthy rivers are debated, but extraction of more than 20% of flows typically results in adverse changes to biodiversity and the benefits people derive from clean water.

Worldwide the demand for fresh water is expected to increase by 55% by 2050.

Australia is experiencing this water stress now. We are thus a canary, and the coalmine, for the rest of the world………..

There is plenty of water to go around for people and the environment, but not enough to simultaneously sustain the current irrigation entitlements.

Banning cotton and rice and degrading farmers will not solve the problem.

What will solve it is reducing total water entitlements for irrigation and increasing flows for rivers and wetlands.

Environmental flows have expanded in many regions, but the Darling and northern-basin still seem to be a wild west of water extraction. Minimum environmental flow standards have either not been in place or have been insufficient to sustain dry-land rivers. Minimum flow standards and policies around land use and run-off must be sufficiently robust to prevent further large-scale blue-green algae events, which are the proximate causes of the current hypoxia and fish kills.

The best available science reviewed by the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists has recommend an increase in environmental flows, to a minimum of 3,200 GL per year to maintain healthy freshwater ecosystems.

So, what can the world learn from our experience on the driest inhabited continent?……….

Subsidies that perpetuate the – hydro-illogical – cycle of unsustainable irrigation around the world should stop being funded. Instead, funding for communities must be targeted at helping farmers adapt and growing industries that will be viable during water scarcity, climate change and extreme conditions. Regional communities and freshwater ecosystems are much more than irrigation ditches and will thrive if presented with new opportunities.

If global carbon emissions remain high, the 48.3C record temperature in Bourke, situated near the Darling River, a few weeks ago should be expected to become 50C or 51C by 2090. Temperatures in Death Valley are sometimes that hot, but then again no one is growing cotton or cod there.

This does not have to be the dirge of the Darling, regional communities or farming. But it is time for change.


February 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment | Leave a comment

This New South Wales court ruling will shake the coal industry to its core

Paparc  People Against Political and Religious Corruption, 8 Feb 19, 

In an Australian first, and a decision that will no doubt set a precedent in this country, and shake the coal industry to its core, a proposed coal mine in Gloucester has been denied and rejected by the Chief Justice of the Land and Environment Court.

“Wrong place because an open-cut coal mine in this scenic and cultural landscape, proximate to many people’s homes and farms, will cause significant planning, amenity, visual and social impacts.

“Wrong time because the [greenhouse gas] emissions of the coal mine and its coal product will increase global total concentrations of [greenhouse gases] at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in emissions.”

‘Dire consequences’: NSW court quashes plans for new coal mine…/rocky-hill-mine-plans-qaus…/10792902


February 8, 2019 Posted by | environment, legal, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Mark Parnell calls on South Australian government to stop its plans to diminish environmental department

Mark Parnell MLC, 2 Feb 19, The Marshall Liberal Government is planning more cuts to staff and programs in the SA Department of Environment and Water and will transform the Department into an “economic development agency”.

This is outrageous! This Government’s wilful abandonment of the environment will send species extinct and further degrade struggling eco-systems.

The hypocrisy of the Liberals knows no bounds.  In opposition, they criticised Labor’s annual budget cuts to the environment, but as soon as they were elected they did the same, with 100 jobs axed last year and more to come.  And now they’re going one step further!

The clear message is that if the environment doesn’t make money for someone, it’s not worth protecting.  Heaven help our endangered wildlife.  If creatures like the Glossy Black Cockatoo or Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby don’t start earning their keep, the Government has made it clear that they are a lower priority.  This is not a good time to be a Hooded Plover or an Orange-bellied Parrot in South Australia.

The Marshall Liberal Government’s honeymoon period is now well and truly over.  The Government has shown its true anti-environment colours.  Any notion that they might care about species, eco-systems, sustainability and the climate, has all but disappeared.  Now, they have left us in no doubt that, in their eyes, only those parts of the environment that make money deserve protection.

The Greens are calling on the Liberals to stop the cuts and retain a Department that is focussed on protecting our environment and waterways.  They need to stand up for South Australia’s environment and River Murray.  The Government should heed the warning of the Royal Commissioner into the management of the River Murray that kow-towing to economic interests upstream only results in further degradation of the environment.

Declaring war on the environment pits this government against everyone who cares about our natural heritage. We must protect the environment for its own sake as well as for future generations.

Our environment and all the species that depend upon it for their survival, deserve better.  South Australians deserve better!

Let the Marshall Liberal Government know that you expect the Environment Minister to stand up for South Australia’s environment at all times – not just when there is an economic advantage.  Sign our petition and share your concern with family and friends.



February 2, 2019 Posted by | environment, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Australian government changing Environment Dept, and cutting its budget

REVEALED: Staff, budget cuts as Environment Dept becomes “new agency” , In Daily,  Tom Richardson@tomrichardson, 1 Feb 19,  The state’s Department of Environment and Water will become primarily an “economic development agency” that will be forced to operate with “less staff and smaller budgets” under a major restructure announced to staff yesterday.

The timing of the shift is ironic, with today’s release of a scathing Royal Commission report into the management of the River Murray, itself critical of Environment and Water Minister David Speirs.

Chief executive John Schutz – who replaced former boss Sandy Pitcher, one of four top bureaucrats axed by the incoming Marshall Government last March – yesterday wrote to staff telling them they would be “transitioning to a new agency”……….

“We balance environmental protection with economic development – this means we contribute to our state’s economy by driving sustainable economic development, and unlocking the potential of our natural and heritage resources.” …..

The department will be split into five divisions – Boards and Councils; Strategy, Science and Corporate Services; National Parks and Wildlife; Water and River Murray; and Sustainable Economic Development.

February 2, 2019 Posted by | environment, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

“Don’t leave Dracula – Murray Darling Basin Authority Water management – in charge of the Blood Bank”

Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations, 21 Jan 19 MDBA Water management: “Don’t leave Dracula in charge of the Blood bank”

  1. Support for a Royal Commission
  2. Representation at the decision making table of MDBA
  3. Acknowledge Legal Rights of First Nations as determined in Mabo (2)
  4. Explain why different standards are set for First Nations’ Organisations
  5. Demand Criminal Prosecutions be an integral part of Royal Commission findings

Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN) Deputy Chair, Ghillar Michael Anderson and NBAN Director Cheryl Buchanan announce NBAN’s support for Sarah Hanson-Young’s call for a Royal Commission into the mismanagement and over extraction of the waters of the Murray Darling Basin. [The Guardian, 16 January 2019]

NBAN has now learnt that the disaster that we are experiencing in the Murray/Darling Basin is a perfect electric dry storm of massive fish kills and drying riverbeds.

It is NOT caused just by the drought but is also a culmination of man-made mismanagement; corruption at the highest levels; and major development without scientific evidence-based planning in the formative years of the MDBA.

NBAN has great difficulty in understanding why the so-called experts water planners would attempt to normalise our current circumstances. First Nations now demand urgent answers and to be included in all future top-level water planning within the Murray Darling Basin……..

NBAN is critical of the fact that NSW Water planners admit that from 2012 to 2018 they did nothing to properly prepare for evidence-based planning in relation to water management in the northern basin, and that their assessments in terms of quantities of water are based on hypothetical values and assumptions. Now there is a mad rush to review water planning on the basis of A, B and C water licencing in the Barwon/Darling and there is a suggestion to amalgamate these water licences into two or one licence. NBAN’s problem with this is that there are too many vested interests in the process calling for this to happen. Water planning from NBAN’s point of view needs to be reviewed so as to plan on the basis of what real volumes of water are in each valley catchment. With all the science and technology we have in today’s society there is no excuse for hypotheticals and assumptions.

From NBAN’s perspective these admissions clearly demonstrate that there are failures by the Water Ministers responsible for due diligence in their portfolios and departments.

Playing the blame game and shirking responsibility will not help our dying rivers. Clearly, corporate water users, irrigators and mining companies are driving the agenda. For example, the Broken Hill pipeline is for the mining interests rather than the community. Then we need to take into account the Proposed Uranium Mining near Menindee.

The Board of the MDBA is made up of members who have vested interests. A clear example of this is the Chairman, Brian Andrews, (former Speaker of the House of Representatives under PM John Howard) who is an orchardist dependant on irrigation waters from the Murray River in South Australia.

NBAN further expresses deep concern for the integrity of politicians and MDBA authority members. Clearly, there is an inference in recent media reporting that what is currently going on in the MDBA is a major defrauding of the public purse, which can never be condoned. This is in tandem with water theft by irrigators who were never investigated and escape prosecution for their criminal acts. As the Sydney Morning Heraldreported on 8 March 2018:……….

Also there was the warning of water theft by irrigators in the northern basin by a former MDBA staffer Maryanne Slattery, who now works for the Australia Institute, testified to this effect at the South Australian Royal Commission, based on satellite imagery tracking the fate of environmental water flows. This experimental project called Data Cube was rudely interrupted and shut down by MDBA, because Ms Slattery was exposing the theft of environmental water by illegal diversion. It was also reported MDBA staff were denied by the MDBA Board the right to give evidence to the Royal Commission and Minister Littleproud refused to co-operate with the Commissioner, Brett Walker QC,

The greens Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, is correct to call for a Commonwealth Government Royal Commission into the water management and expenditure of public funds in the MDB. The question that is on everybody’s lips right now is: What have they done with the $13B. Clearly, cotton growers and irrigators are getting money for nothing and continue to live on their lands drawing on other Commonwealth funds under Works and measures programs through ‘Toolkit’ measures for water efficiency.

NBAN is seriously concerned about what was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on 9 March 2018 in . In this article it was reported that:Cry me a river: Mismanagement and corruption have left the Darling dry.

Surely, what Barnaby Joyce has done is criminal. When the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) bought Yulara village, the Commonwealth financial regulators questioned why the ILC acquired the village resort for $60M above market price. To this end the Commonwealth government chastised the ILC and lowered the market price to its correct value, thereby denying the right ILC to sell their interest at the price they paid for it, which denied them millions of dollars.

This demonstrates that there continues to be two standards: one for First Nations Peoples and one for non-First Nations Peoples. What makes this worse is the fact that sitting politicians are involved in a major profiteering scam on a scale never seen before in this country.

Clearly having people like the Minister David Littleproud being given the portfolio of Agriculture and Water and coming from the same location where Barnaby Joyce first gained his start in Politics at the Commonwealth level does raise serious concerns about the integrity of portfolio allocations in the Commonwealth government. People like Barnaby Joyce and David Littleproud can be accused of not disclosing their full interest in farming and irrigation. There is much to be desired in these appointments as Barnaby Joyce and Littleproud are sitting members of the national party. They are elected to look after the interests of their constituents and in the case of the appointment of Barnaby Joyce and Littleproud to the Water portfolio is likened to the appointment of Dracula being appointed to be in charge of the Blood Bank.

This demonstrates that there continues to be two standards: one for First Nations Peoples and one for non-First Nations Peoples. What makes this worse is the fact that sitting politicians are involved in a major profiteering scam on a scale never seen before in this country.

Clearly having people like the Minister David Littleproud being given the portfolio of Agriculture and Water and coming from the same location where Barnaby Joyce first gained his start in Politics at the Commonwealth level does raise serious concerns about the integrity of portfolio allocations in the Commonwealth government. People like Barnaby Joyce and David Littleproud can be accused of not disclosing their full interest in farming and irrigation. There is much to be desired in these appointments as Barnaby Joyce and Littleproud are sitting members of the national party. They are elected to look after the interests of their constituents and in the case of the appointment of Barnaby Joyce and Littleproud to the Water portfolio is likened to the appointment of Dracula being appointed to be in charge of the Blood Bank.

On the 16th, the NBAN Delegation then met Dr Lindsay White, Director Northern Basin Section, Lindsay White is also responsible for Wetlands, Policy and Northern Water Use Branch Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, and Hilary Johnson, Director, Southern Basin Section, Southern Water Use, Aquatic Science and Community Engagement Branch Commonwealth Environmental Water Office.

NBAN advised the CEWO that within the river systems we have sacred waterholes where our creative water spirits live. These culturally significant water spirits are dependent on regular flows. For First nations Peoples these flows are what we call cultural flows. Without the modern development pre-Christmas rainfalls would have replenished these waterholes and they would have sufficient water to take them through the current drought or until a new rain event within the northern regions. But, with modern development and mis-management these water holes are under serious threat and our Native Fish will lose their refuges. Past river recordings prior to development demonstrate that this is the case with these waterholes. It is important to understand that these Waterholes are critical fish refuges and serve to protect species diversity and are responsible for repopulating rivers in recovery after flooding.

The Delegation sought clarification of the role of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holders. What shocked the delegation was the limitation of the CEWO, because the First Nation held the view that CEWO were responsible for not just managing environmental water flows, but also were responsible for the actual purchasing of any water requirements. Instead we were advised that the purchasing responsibilities lay with the Minister and the Department of Agriculture. Under the Current circumstances much of the responsibilities associated with managing environmental water needs lay at the feet of the Ministers responsible.

The NBAN delegation now demand that First Nations People’s must be at the table in all future water and environmental planning at all levels of government.

In calling for the royal Commission, NBAN demand that criminal prosecution be part of the terms of reference to hold those responsible, accountable, and to bring transparency into the murky process that has persisted to this day.

NBAN Sources:

January 21, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment | Leave a comment

Australia’s environment – a winner at National Labor Party Conference

Labor will strengthen the law to protect Australia’s Environment and Heritage – TONY BURKE

Environmental wins at the National Labor Conference, Independent Australia By Stephen Williams | 13 January 2019 Stephen Williams questions national co-convenor Felicity Wade of the Labor Environment Action Network (LEAN) about new Labor policy.

“………Our goal was to ensure climate action was no longer an issue to be used tactically, becoming instead an article of faith. We believe a deep-rooted response to the environmental challenges of the 21st Century is essential to the long-term survival of a modern social-democratic party.

At the 2015 Labor National Conference, LEAN won the commitments to 50% renewable energy and 45% emission reductions by 2030. But it was just a few days ago, at the 2018 National Conference, that our real goal was won. Watching the debate on the floor, there was confidence and enthusiasm. Labor not only believes climate change is real, but that it is core business.

Party heavyweights lined up to affirm their commitment to turning around the “climate emergency”, as one of the motions described it. The continued challenge of the proposed Adani coal mine in Queensland is still outstanding. LEAN believes that while Labor will continue to support existing coal operations for some time, allowing a new, huge coal basin to be opened up is both risky and undermines perceptions of our commitment to climate change.

LEAN’s next task is to rebuild commitment to the natural environment in the same way. On issues of the natural environment, it is more about remembering something lost, rather than embracing something new. Visionary environmental policy has a Labor history and this week’s commitment to a new environment Act and an independent Environment Protection Authority are the first steps in reclaiming this.

The current environmental legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC), is from the Howard era. It is primarily a tool to facilitate development, not to protect the environment. What’s more, it annoys business, and costs money by creating delays and confusion, little of which translates into good environmental outcomes. The only proactive aspects of the Act create lists of environmental threats with no power to protect anything or make a difference to real-world outcomes.

Since the EPBC Act was legislated in 1999, the number of threatened species and ecosystems has increased by 30%, with three animals going extinct. About 7.4 million hectares of threatened-species habitat (more than the size of Tasmania) has been cleared. Only 0.3% (21 of 6,100 developments assessed by the Act) have been rejected for unacceptable risks to the environment.

Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinctions in the world and is the only developed nation in the world’s top ten land-clearers. About 3,000 Australians die each year due to air pollution, plastics clog our waterways, while the community’s efforts to recycle are not matched by government-led national responses to ensure the waste is re-used.

We need more power at the federal level to stem these losses.  ……..

When asked by our campaigners how they felt about climate change policy, the message they sent back to the party was unequivocal: 370 local ALP branches endorsed our call for 50% renewables by 2030 and credible emission-reduction targets.

Having achieved the policy outcome at the 2015 National Conference, we applied the same methodology to our call for a complete overhaul of Australia’s environmental laws and institutions. And thanks to Bill Shorten, who personally advocated for the reforms, Labor committed to these outcomes at the 2018 National Conference………,12270

January 14, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

From uranium mining to nature conservation – Kakadu National Park to get $216 million boost,

Kakadu National Park to get $216 million boost, SBS News, 13 Jan 19,     The federal government will invest $216 million in the Northern Territory’s Kakadu National Park to improve road access and tourist facilities. The World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park will receive at least $216 million in funding to improve to improve roads and tourist facilities no matter who wins this year’s federal election.

Labor has pledged $220 million for Kakadu if it wins government.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday announced the coalition’s $216 million package for the Northern Territory site during a visit to the town of Jabiru in Kakadu……

January 14, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment | Leave a comment