Monday, 25 July 2016

Iluka hall packed for information night on the risks of large scale port dredging

No-one moved as they listened to Dr. Matt Landos

The community hall in Iluka filled quickly and it was standing room only when around 162 people gathered on the night of 21 July 2016 to hear Dr. Matt Landos give a talk on the effects of large scale port dredging on marine environments using Port of Gladstone, within the boundaries of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area as an example** and, explain what the as yet unrealised proposal to industrialise the Clarence River estuary might mean for the environment, local communities, tourism and the commercial fishing fleet.

Aboriginal elder Elizabeth Smith gave the Welcome to County and briefly spoke of how the elders were against this mega port plan.

Residents from Iluka, Yamba, Harwood, Grafton and elsewhere along the river sat intently listening for almost two hours as the potential risks were laid before them.

The response to this information predominately ranged from increased concern though to shock and outrage.

Here are some quotes from the Facebook page No Yamba Mega Port:

People talking in groups as organisers pack up the chairs at the end of the night
Photograph: Debrah Novak 

Further information:


The Daily Examiner, 25 July 2016:

STORM OVER PORT: The crowd at the Iluka Community Hall meeting listens to concerns about plans for a major port development at Yamba.

ANY attempt to build a mega port on the Clarence River estuary will meet a similar show of community strength to the one that stopped CSG mining here, says community activist Ian Gaillard.

Mr Gaillard was among a crowd of 162 who packed into the Community Hall at Iluka to hear an address from marine scientist Dr Matt Landos about what they can expect if a development of that size goes ahead in the Clarence estuary…..

Mr Gaillard said sedimentation, acid sulphate and heavy metals disturbed by dredging were key contributing factors to the loss of water quality, sea grass beds and mangroves.

Dr Landos said if the port development went ahead the dredging would be ongoing and that movements of massive ships in the port would also create major problems.

These would include pollution from paints and anti-foul, fuel and oil contamination as well as the introduction of pests from other parts of the world.

Mr Gaillard said people needed to be alert to the possibilities, although he did gain some comfort from statements from political figures who have dismissed the project.

"But I think that if they can get their project up as something of state significance it could appeal to the government we've got in Sydney at the moment," Mr Gaillard said.

"They've had one attempt and failed but they're not going away."

Meetings are planned for Yamba and other communities along the Clarence this year.

Clarence Valley pouring cold water on wanabee dam builders

"Water in the Clarence catchment area river systems does not belong to Australia as you assert and, only nominally belongs to New South Wales.
It more truly belongs to the land through which it flows and, is held in trust by local communities for future generations." [A Clarence Valley Protest, It'sWar, June 2007]

ABC North Coast Radio, 22 July 2016:

A council in the south of New South Wales is lobbying to have water piped inland from the Clarence River.

The Griffith City Council has submitted a 30-year-old proposal to divert water from the Clarence River into the Murray Darling Basin via a tunnel through the Great Dividing Range.

The submission has been made to an NSW Upper House inquiry into dams, flooding and water management.

Councillor Dino Zappacosta said it could be done without any adverse effects to the Clarence Valley.

"Our preliminary studies have shown that the amount of water which we'd be looking at diverting would be around about 25 per cent of the water that currently flows into the seaboard," he said.

"That would not affect any activities currently going on along the Clarence at the moment.

"A few engineers have looked at the scheme and by using only gravitational methods through tunnels, the cost would be reduced," Cr Zappacosta said.

"At the same time we would be able to use that flow of water for hydro-generation as well, so it has an extra benefit.

"If we're going to look at Australia developing, particularly west of the ranges where there is so much fertile area all over the place, and if we're going to be the food bowl of the world we must be looking at ways to have more water in our region."

Proposal 'unlikely' to get support: Clarence Valley Mayor

Director of the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of New South Wales, Professor Richard Kingsford, is not a fan of the idea.

"The water that comes down rivers and goes out to sea is not wasted water," he said.

"We're learning that our estuaries, our fisheries, are so dependent on not just the water that comes down but the nutrients and the sediment."

The Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson said the idea was floated every five or six years.

He said it would cost billions of dollars and was unlikely to get much support at a state or federal level.

"I've previously raised this with the Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, when this was part of his ministerial responsibility," Cr Williamson said.

"He told me absolutely that any proposal was not certainly on the Federal Government's radar.

"My understanding is it's also not on the State Government's radar in any way shape or form."

Save his breath to cool his porridge


What is it with many of the local councils and councillors in the Murray-Darling Basin?

They seem to be firmly of the belief that the Clarence Valley catchment is an est. 22,700 sq. km supermarket whose shelves can be browsed at will.

Where they can pile their trollies high with items which will enhance their own regional economies and, when they get to the checkout pay for the natural resources they take not with dollars but with degradation, destruction and death.

Approximately once every twenty years these councils lobby state and federal governments to industrialise the Port of Yamba so they can export minerals, ore, grain, cattle etc., through the Clarence River estuary and, at least twice a decade they want to dam and divert water from the Clarence River catchment so that they can grow their own regions at the expense of Clarence Valley communities.

Each and every time these local government raiders appear on the horizon the people of the Clarence Valley point out the limitations and risks of these grand plans for an ancient floodplain and river system that began its life at least 23 million years ago and, which due in part to happy historical accident and good management remains a relatively health system to this day.

They politely point out the fact that like north-west NSW they too suffer from the same droughts and rely on this particular river system to see us through them. They tell them the limits of safe water sharing have been reached because the catchment already supplies drinking water to the growing Coffs Harbour region further south.

They remind them that river system flows in the catchment are highly variable and natural freshwater flows are vital to keep a highly productive main river (which is saline for almost half its length) healthy and biodiverse in order to sustain our own agricultural, commercial fishing and tourism industries into the future.

Locals also point to the environmental studies done down the years by various governments which are not in favour of altering the rate or volume of river flows, that the native title holders are very protective of these waters and, when these councils won’t listen they stop being polite and put their foot down.

If Cr. Zappacosta of Griffith (The Area News, 11 June 2016) doesn’t remember the last time that happened I’m sure Bourke Shire Council will, because that was the time that it proposed a Clarence River water diversion plan which relied on the estimated $1.5 billion dollar cost being “financed by the private sector against sales of water licences and long-term operation and management rights” and was actively seeking to identify sources of diversion funding [A Clarence Valley Protest, 23 August 2007].

That was the time the Clarence Valley declared “Not A Drop”, successfully lobbied a NSW Coalition government, gave evidence before a Senate inquiry and saw off a federal government in late 2007.

Cr. Zappacosta would be wise to save his breath to cool his porridge because he can talk to each and every politician in Canberra and Macquarie Street but it will get him nowhere if the people of the Clarence don’t agree with his current plan to divert 1,000 gigalitres of fresh water annually – and I strongly suspect that they won’t.

Judith M. Melville, Yamba

Sunday, 24 July 2016

New Australian Resources Minister Matthew Canavan thinks mine approvals are just a matter of ticking boxes?

After sitting in the Senate for barely two years, Queensland Liberal National Party Senator Matthew Canavan is now Australian Minister for Resources.

No academic training directly relevant to this portfolio, an economist for hire flitting from job to job - Productivity Commission 2003-08, KPMG 2008, Productivity Commission 2009-10 and, then Chief of Staff to Senator Barnaby Joyce 2010-13 (now Deputy Prime Minister) until he also stood for the Senate in September of that last year.

A member of the Coalition ‘Catholic mafia’, an acknowledged supporter of coal, coal seam gas and uranium mining as well as someone perilously flirting with coming out as a climate change denier.

Since entering the Senate he has voted against granting landowners the right to say “No” to coal seam gas exploration on their land; against an audit of the human impacts of coal seam gas mining; against properly funding the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA); said no to increasing investment in renewable energy; didn’t support ending fossil fuel industry donations to political parties; was strongly against treating government action on climate change as a matter of urgency; and, put a motion to the Senate asking the Labor Party to support Coalition legislative amendments stopping environmental groups from challenging government decisions.

In his maiden speech he made his position abundantly clear:

I want to put on record my admiration and support for our fossil fuel industry and the thousands of jobs it supports – including my brother’s. 

The resources lobby return the compliment this month.

My Sunshine Coast, 18 July 2016:

Statement by Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Chief Executive Michael Roche.

I wish to congratulate Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on his ministerial choices today.

The sector has won the trifecta with the appointment of new Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan, the new Industry, Science and Innovation Minister Greg Hunt and the new portfolio of Environment and Energy, going to former resources minister Josh Frydenberg.

The resources sector requires steady safe hands to ride through the commodities downturn and in the face of a relentless green activist campaign.

Senator Canavan has already proven to be a champion for the sector in Queensland, in his role as Minister for Northern Australia, and I am confident he will be a strong voice for resources around the cabinet table.

I hope that the three ministers will work together to ensure that barriers to investment in the sector be removed wherever possible to ensure that the significant revenue and jobs from the sector continue to flow.

The resources sector should be an integral part of rolling out the Turnbull Government’s jobs and growth election platform. In Queensland alone, the resources sector indirectly and directly accounts for one in every five dollars in the economy and one in every six jobs.

Regional Queensland families who are relying on resources projects to keep shirts on the backs of their families will be very happy indeed that Senator Canavan will continue the federal government’s support of the sector.

The Guardian took a more measured approach to the new minister on 19 July 2016:
The new resources minister, Matthew Canavan, has warned there is still a level of uncertainty about the impact of carbon emissions on global warming and described the Adani Carmichael coalmine as an “incredibly exciting project” for Australia.
Canavan, who has previously called for funding for climate change sceptic scientists, is also responsible for the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, which will decide whether to recommend the Queensland government’s application for a federal loan for the Adani railway link.
He said while he had the final decision on projects recommended by the NAIF, the body had only come into being on 1 July and had yet to make any recommendations to him as minister.
Canavan is the biggest winner of the ministry reshuffle, elevated to cabinet and given the resources portfolio to add to his northern Australia outer ministry position. He said he accepted the warming impact of carbon dioxide, notwithstanding a level of uncertainty. He accused “certain interest groups” of exaggerating the effects of carbon emissions.
“There is a level of uncertainty about the impact of carbon emissions,” Canavan told Sky News. “Indeed, in the last IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report, the level of confidence reduced in the forcing effect of carbon emissions.
“There is a lot about the climate system we don’t understand, a lot of assumptions we have to make with projections of course. I just feel we should all be a little more humble about our climate and our system.
“To think that we know it all and exactly how to fine tune the temperature, to talk of half a degree of temperature that we could somehow manage that and hit that target, we don’t understand all the impacts.”
Canavan said climate policy changes impacted “real people’s lives” and moving to 100% renewables was naive.
“We do understand that making some policy changes have real world impacts on real people’s lives, it would cause people to be very poor if we completely cut fossil fuels out of the world economy,” Canavan said.
“There is still more than a billion people without access to electricity in our world and these are real world issues we need to be adult about.”
Canavan said there were “great advances” in the coal industry, including ultra-critical and supercritical power plants, which produce less emissions but are more expensive.
“Talk of moving to 100% renewables is not only quite naive at the moment – maybe that is something that can happen but we can’t bank on it,” Canavan said. “It is also something that will imperil our prosperity and welfare.”
He described the Adani project, which has been delayed by financing issues, a global coal slump and legal challenges by traditional owners and environmental groups, as “an incredibly exciting project for our country”.
He said as minister he saw his primary job as facilitating the project to “make it easy as possible” while ticking the boxes on environmental, health and safety and community impacts.
Canavan, who lives within a few hundred kilometres of the mine, said the project was an opportunity for Australia to improve its relationship with India.

Domestic Violence - it can happen to anyone

Destroy the Joint, 4 July 2016

Domestic violence takes many forms. It involves violent, abusive or intimidating behaviour carried out by a partner, carer, friend or family member, boyfriend or girlfriend, to control, dominate, humiliate or instil fear.

A person does not need to be married for it to be considered ‘domestic and family violence’.

A person does not need to experience all of these types of abuse for it to be considered domestic or family violence.

Domestic and family violence can include (but is not limited to) the following types of abuse:


» driving dangerously » destruction of property
» abuse of pets in front of family members
» making threats regarding custody of any children » asserting that the police and justice system will not assist, support or believe the victim
» threatening to ‘out’ the person. Emotional
» blaming the victim for all problems in the relationship
» constantly comparing the victim with others to undermine self-esteem and self-worth
» sporadic sulking
» withdrawing all interest and engagement (for example weeks of silence)
» emotional blackmail and suicidal threats.


» systematic isolation from family and friends through techniques such as ongoing rudeness to family and friends to alienate them
» instigating and controlling the move to a location where the victim has no established social circle or employment opportunities
» restricting use of the car or telephone
» forbidding or physically preventing the victim from going out and meeting people.


» forbidding access to bank accounts
» providing only an inadequate ‘allowance’
» not allowing the victim to seek or hold employment
» coercing to sign documents or make false declarations
» using all wages earned by the victim for household expenses
» controlling the victim’s pension
» denying that the victim has an entitlement to joint property.


» direct assault on the body (strangulation or choking, shaking, eye injuries, biting, slapping, pushing, spitting, punching, or kicking)
» use of weapons including objects
» assault of children
» locking the victim in or out of the house
» forcing the victim to take drugs, withholding medication, food or medical care
» sleep deprivation.


» swearing and continual humiliation, either in private or in public
» attacks following clear themes that focus on intelligence, sexuality, body image and capacity as a parent and spouse.


» any form of pressured/unwanted sex or sexual degradation by an intimate partner or ex-partner, such as sexual activity without consent
» causing pain during sex
» assaulting genitals
» coercive sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease
» making the victim perform sexual acts unwillingly (including taking or distributing explicit photos without their consent)
» criticising or using sexually degrading insults.

Harassment and stalking

» following and watching
» telephone and online harassment
» tracking with Global Positioning Systems (GPS)
» being intimidating.

Read the full booklet here.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

New Politics in the Pub, Court House Hotel in Mullumbimby, Wednesday 27 July 2016 from 6.30pm

Echo NetDaily, 20 July 2016:

NSW Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) president will be guest speaker at New Politics in the Pub on Wednesday July 27 from 6.30pm at the Court House Hotel in Mullumbimby.

The topic of discussion by president Stephen Blanks will be the recently introduced anti-protest laws by the Baird Liberal/Nationals government that radically extends police powers against opponents of mining projects and heavily fines those who ‘lock on’ to mining equipment.

It’s called Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Legislation Amendment (Interference) Act 2016 and only passed with votes from two crossbench parties: the Shooters and Fishers Party and Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party.

The law immediately sparked protests in front of parliament house, and has reverberated throughout the state.

It is also considered the result of the close relationship that exists between Liberal and National Party politicians, their staff and the mining industry.

If this law existed at the Bentley Blockade near Lismore in 2014, neighbouring farmers and residents could have been arrested as they ‘locked on’ to the equipment.

This was owing to the government’s inaction to intervene over the known toxicity that accompanies CSG mining, and its potential to poison aquifers. Land values are also known to plummet.

The laws have been described by lawyers and as an assault on democracy and a civil society.

According to The Law Society, the law would, ‘seriously interfere with the liberties of NSW residents.’…..


Online Petitions of the Month

Friday, 22 July 2016

There's no excuse for unprofessional venting on Facebook - someone should tell A.I.D. Australia Pty Ltd.'s Des Euen

There’s no excuse for unprofessional venting on Facebook writes Eve Ash in Smart Company on 18 July 2016.

Something the CEO of Australian Infrastructure Developments Pty Ltd should perhaps bear in mind when he comments on the company’s Facebook page and elsewhere.

In response to one of the company’s shareholders, bagging the very political party and federal MP he needs on his side…..

In response to the community whose goodwill he needs to progress his grand plan……

NSW households with feed-in tariffs on their rooftop solar power can expect no help with bill shock from the Baird or Turnbull governments

State of Play for NSW domestic solar power…….

REneweconomy, 1 September 2015:

The New South Wales pricing regulator has slashed the value of solar feed-in tariffs in the state in what appears to be a deliberate move to push consumers to adopt battery storage, and to lock in long-term deals with major retailers.
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) on Monday announced in a draft determination that the recommended average tariff – which is voluntary anyway for electricity retailers  in NSW – had been cut by 14 per cent to an average 4.8c/kWh, the lowest in Australia.
The move will affect the more than 3,000 homes that add rooftop solar in NSW each month, and gives some indication of the tariffs awaiting the 160,000 homes on premium feed-in tariffs when those tariffs come to an end at the end of 2016.
IPART justified the cut – from an average 5.6c/kWh in the past year – on the basis that wholesale electricity prices had fallen because of a decline in expensive peak pricing events.
One of the principal reasons for this fall in wholesale prices is the proliferation of rooftop solar PV. IPART says solar PV has helped reduce the number of daytime peak pricing events in NSW and helped lower the average level of peak demand by 8 per cent….
But while solar households are having their tariffs cut because of falling wholesale prices, there is no sign that lower wholesale prices have been passed on to the general consumer. Retailers simply increase their margins on the “retail” component of the business to offset the lower revenue they get from their coal plant and other generators. All major retailers have increased their margins significantly in the past year.

ABC News, 19 July 2016:

Thousands of Australians will be hit by electricity bill shock of about $1,500 when generous solar feed-in tariffs are rolled back in coming months, consumer advocates have warned.

The tariffs were introduced for a set period to kickstart Australia's uptake of rooftop solar by offering money to solar users who fed energy back into the grid.

More than 275,000 households will be affected when the tariffs are unwound from September to January in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.

new report that crunches the numbers on the financial impact shows 146,000 NSW customers will be the hardest hit…..

In NSW, the tariff will be wound back from 60 cents for all solar generation to 5.5-7.2 cents per kilowatt hour.

In Victoria, consumers who were paid 25 cents per kilowatt hour for excess solar fed into the grid will have that reduced to five cents and in South Australia the 16 cent tariff will fall to 6.8 cents.

The current NSW 60 cents tariff for all solar generation - 20 cents feed-in tariff (FiT) - gives a discount of est. 7 per cent on domestic electricity costs.

Current solar FiTs are ending for 275,902 households in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.

The change occurs for households with FiT contracts which commenced in :

2011 (standard tariff) South Australia the change occurs on 30 September 2016 – new minimum tariff 6.8 cents per kWh;
2010 (“Solar Scheme Tariff”) New South Wales the change occurs on 31 December 2016 – up to retailer to decide the offer which is unlikely to exceed 5 cents kWh ; and
2011 (transitional tariff) & 2012 (standard tariff) Victoria the change occurs on 31 December 2016  - new tariff 5 cents per kWh. “Premium FiT” contracts do not expire until 2024.

According to the Independent Pricing And Regulatory Tribunal an average two-person household in NSW uses approximately 1,400 kWh of electricity per quarter (90 days) or 15.55kWh per day.

If a North Coast residence is lucky enough to receive a full 6 hours of sunlight daily on its rooftop solar panel and has installed a 3.0kw or 4.0 kw model it could produce between 11.7 to 16.8kWh of electricity per day.

Even the most basic maths indicates that from 1 January 2017 for many of these coastal households the dollar margin between output and consumption will fall and at the end of each billing period there will be less income to compensate for their actual energy use plus the usual energy retailer’s service fees and charges.

As both the Baird and Turnbull governments appear to be captives of the coal and gas industries, 2017 is going to be a year of unexpected adjustment for many of those older residents in the Northern Rivers who fondly imagined that they were future proofing their retirement by entering solar feed-in tariff schemes in 2010.

The Total Environment Centre explains Life after FiTs.

Remedial Maintenance of Yamba Breakwater Wall from end July to Christmas 2016

NSW Dept. of Industry - Lands, fact sheet, July 2016:

Remedial Maintenance: Yamba Breakwater

NSW Department of Industry- Lands

The NSW Department of Industry - Lands (DoI Lands) is responsible for maritime assets along the NSW coast including 21 river entrance breakwaters.

The Yamba (Clarence South) Breakwater

The Yamba Breakwater situated on the Southern side of the Clarence River entrance was constructed between 1950 and 1971.The structure was built to protect the Clarence river entrance (largest river entrance in NSW) from the effects of waves and sand transport to allow safe navigability of the Clarence River channel extensively used for commercial fishing and recreational boating.

Purpose of the Works

The Yamba Breakwater undergoes routine condition assessments to identify the state of the asset. DoI Lands have identified the Breakwater as an at-risk structure due to the dilapidated state of the head section, a result of significant storm damage. In its current state, the structure is at risk of failure during a major coastal storm and poses threat to the public.
The proposed repair work will ensure the integrity of the structure remains, maintaining the navigability of the Clarence River channel. The work will also improve access along the crest for the general public after completion.

Description of the Works

The upgrade works are being undertaken by Haslin Constructions, who specialise in construction projects of all manners and size. The specifics of the works are:
1. Total estimated quantity of rock armour used for the repair is in excess of 50,000 tonnes.
2. Repair works cover the eastern most 750m of the Breakwater, addressing in particular the damaged areas of eastern most 100m of the Breakwater including the head.
3. All works will be undertaken from land, with the rock delivered by truck and placed by an excavator.

Timing of Works and Access

The offsite manufacturing of rock armour began in mid-July. Establishment on site is set to begin at the end of July.
The works on site including the preparation of breakwater access and laying of rock armour are proposed to begin in August with a completion date before Christmas 2016, weather permitting.
During construction works, various parts of the breakwater will be closed to public access. Outside of construction hours some sections of the breakwater may be open to the public unless there is safety or other issues requiring closure.

More Information

For more information contact Andy Hartley, DoI Lands Coastal Engineer, on 0417 639 305 or visit: