Wednesday, 23 October 2019

The utltra-absurd among the many politically absurd One Nation members is at it again.......

The Canberra Times, 21 October 2019:

The Bureau of Meteorology has again been accused by a One Nation senator of changing its data so it fits in with the narrative of climate change extremists.

The head of Australia's weather agency has fended off questions from One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts suggesting the bureau has changed data to fit a climate change narrative.
Senator Roberts has taken issue with a graph which he says can no longer be accessed on the Bureau of Meteorology's website, which had outlined the number of "very hot days" from 1920 to 2015.
"Firstly, I reject the premise of your overarching question," he said.

"The Bureau of Meteorology simply reports on the data which it observes.

"Integrity of our data is of the highest order and I stand absolutely, 100 per cent behind it."
It is possible Mr. Roberts has seen a graph based on BOM data but created by another agency or individual. A number of these graphs do exist on the Internet.

Locals to have their say regarding a key plan for the future management of the Tweed River

Echo NetDaily, 22 October 2019:

Tweed Shire Council is encouraging locals to have their say regarding a key plan for the future management of the Tweed River.

The Tweed River Estuary Management Plan provides recommendations for the future management of the waterway from 2020 to 2030.

More than 35 submissions have been received to date.

‘There are 90 separate actions within the plan that address identi ed threats to the Tweed River estuary,’ the council’s Waterways Program Leader Tom Alletson said.

‘Council is hoping people will take the time to read the plan or the summary, get a good understanding for what is proposed and share their thoughts with us.’
Some of the actions include plans to work with landholders to increase awareness of the impacts of both soil and river bank erosion, to work with the sugar industry and floodplain landholders to reduce acid sulfate soil runoff, and to assess the vulnerability of Council assets to increasing tidal inundation due to sea level rise.

The community is invited to make a submission on the Tweed Estuary Management Plan until 31 October.

For more information, to view the plan or to provide your feedback, visit the project page.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

"Over my dead body": Nationals MP Hogan rejects Clarence River water diversion proposals

The Daily Examiner, 21 October 2019, p.3:

Page MP Kevin Hogan has weighed into the water debate, saying any diversion inland would be “over my dead body”.
With the long-debated issue of diversion has been gathering interest, the Nationals MP said he did not support any plans to put dams on the headwaters of the Clarence River system.
“Every study on a dam and diversion of waters from the Clarence River inland, has shown it to be economically and environmentally unfeasible,” Mr Hogan said.
“In fact, a diversion of water from the Clarence River inland would be over my dead body.”
Water shortages in northern NSW and southern Queensland have led a number of councils to call for an investigation into redirecting water from the Clarence as their dams come close to running empty.
Mr Hogan’s comments came as an increasing number of farmers call for long-term strategies to deal with the effects of drought and his National Party colleague Barnaby Joyce told those struggling to consider leaving the land.
Mr Joyce said those who had failed to make a profit in 10 years should consider their position after 200 farmers lost the $36,000 annual Farm Household Allowance.
While Mr Hogan would not be drawn on whether he agreed with the comments expressed by Mr Joyce, he said “we need to remain flexible” and pointed out how the Federal Government had been altering the allowance since its inception....
He said the changes to the allowance, introduced to Parliament last week, would help provide drought relief to those who had exhausted their four years on the FHA. “We have announced a lump sum payment as people roll off the Farm Household Allowance; $13,000 for couples and $7500 for singles,” he said. “The Bill will also make it easier for more farmers to access the payment by lifting the amount families can earn off-farm to $100,000 a year; and allow farmers to count income from agistment against their losses.”

A perfect example of the interconnection between river and groundwater in time of climate change and drought

In times of water scaricity in New South Wales, right after the call for dams and more dams, comes the call to sink more bores to supply additional water.

Here is a clear example of why sinking more bores is not the answer to either drought or climate change, as rivers and grounwater are an interconnected system in which no water is 'additional' water.

It is only the same water constanting re-looping from the clouds to the surface to the aquifer to the surface to the clouds and back round again.

When we deplete river and groundwater through overuse not all of the water taken from streams,  rivers and underground aquifers is recoverable by those natural processes which produce rainfall.

Water NSW, media release18 October 2019:

Restrictions imposed on Maules Creek groundwater use

The NSW government has issued a temporary restriction on groundwater usage in the Maules Creek Groundwater Water Source upstream of Elfin Crossing.
The Temporary Water Restriction has been issued under section 324 of the Water Management Act and means that holders of an Aquifer Access Licence must not take water under that licence from the Upper Namoi Zone 11 Maules Creek Groundwater Source, upstream of Elfin Crossing.
This restriction will be in place from 18 October 2019 to 30 June 2020.
The restriction does not apply to;
  • bores accessing groundwater under basic landholder rights, or
  • for the purposes of testing metering equipment.
Due to the severe drought conditions, there has been no river flows at the Maules Creek Avoca East Gauge since March 2018 and the groundwater observation bore levels near Elfin Crossing for 2019 have been the lowest on record.
These low groundwater levels have impacted the ability to access groundwater for stock, domestic and basic landholder rights.
A series of pools adjacent to Elfin Crossing that support local habitat and maintain the natural ecosystem are also being impacted. The continued depletion of these pools has also led to a deterioration of water quality in Maules Creek, which is currently not fit for human consumption.
This temporary restriction will help to maintain the perennial pool levels in Maules Creek and the groundwater levels in the Maules Creek Groundwater Water Source upstream of Elfin Crossing.
For more information on the temporary restriction visit the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment announcement. 

Monday, 21 October 2019

The Queensland white shoe brigade's fascination with destroying pristine land in the NSW Northern Rivers region continues

Echo Net Daily image of the site found at NSW EDO

In 1981 Richmond Valley Council gave consent to DA111/1988 for a four stage subdivision by Iron Gates Developments Pty Limited on environmentally sensitive land bordering the Evans River and Bundjalung National Park near Evans Head in the NSW Northern River region.

In 1991 the consent for those 610 lots was challenged in the NSW Land & Environment Court by Richmond-Evans Environmental Society Inc.

Development did not proceed that year.

In 1993 Al Oslack began litigation in the NSW Land & Environment Court seeking to overturn a Richmond Valley Council consent for Iron Gates Developments Pty Limited's 110 lot development application on the same parcel of land.

This challenge went all the way to the High Court of Australia before the consent would be successfully overturned in 1998 and site remediation ordered.

Remediation remains unrealised to date.

Allegedly unlawful land clearing occured on the site at some point before June 2014.

In 2014, Graeme Angus Ingles, former company director of the now defunct Iron Gates Pty Ltd (deregistered November 2008), lodged a fresh application to develop the site under the name of a company registered in Queensland, Goldcoral Pty Ltd trading under the business name Iron Gates Estate Evans Head.

Shares in Goldcoral are fully owned by Portcount Pty Ltd, previous to this shares were owned by Portcorp Land Pty Ltd

In 2014 Planning NSW would not consent to the development proceeding without a master plan and the application documents had to be amended.

The development application was registered with Northern Regional Planning Panel on 29 October 2014 as an 186 lot development.

This time it was Dr. David Ashley who applied to the Land & Environment Court in 2015 or 2016 seeking records of council meetings with the developer in the public interest.

Now in 2019 DA2015/0096-amended dated 23 July 2019 is before Richmond Valley Council.

This amended development application made on behalf of Goldcoral Pty Ltd by Graeme Ingles of the Ingles Group is for a 184 lot subdivision which includes 175 residential lots, 3 residue lots, 4 public reserves, 1 drainage reserve, and 1 sewer pump station lot.

The developmen is estimated to cost over $12 millionn and impacts on Lot 163 DP 831052, Lots 276 and 277 DP 755624, Crown Road Reserve between Lots 163 DP 831052 and Lot 276 DP 755724, Crown Foreshore Reserve and Iron Gates Drive, Evans Head NSW; 240 Iron Gates Drive, Evans Head.

The Queensland 'white shoe brigade' is nothing if not persistent.


The Northern Star, 2 October 2019:

A revised proposal for the subdivision of land at the controversial Iron Gates Drive in Evans Head has been lodged.
The proposal from three lots to 175 residential lots, three residue lots, four public reserves, a drainage reserve and a sewer pump station will be publicly exhibited from todayfor community feedback.
The development application was lodged by Goldcoral Pty Ltd and includes clearing work, road works, drainage, and landscaping.
The application will be on exhibition until Monday, November 18. Consent authority for the application is the Northern Regional Planning Panel.
Richmond Valley Council general manager Vaughan Macdonald said council would wait for the assessment of a master plan by NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment before they finalised the development assessment process.
He said all enquiries regarding the master plan process should be directed to the department’s regional office in Grafton.
Mr Macdonald said the proposal also required approvals from relevant State Government agencies such as the National Parks and Wildlife Service and NSW Rural Fire Service.
“As with all development applications received by council, the Iron Gates proposal will undergo a full professional and technical assessment to ensure it meets relevant NSW Government legislation and planning controls,” he said.
“Following council’s assessment, a report will be compiled and forwarded to the Northern Regional Planning Panel for final determination.”
Mr Macdonald said the planning panel met on an as-needs-basis, and was unable to confirm a final determination date.
Public submissions
He said those interested in the proposal could inspect the application and support documents at council’s customer service centres in Casino and Evans Head, and on council’s website.
He said anyone could formally submit comments to support or oppose the development application during the exhibition period.
However, he said council would not consider anonymous submissions.
“For feedback on a development application to be valid, a submission must be properly made in accordance with the requirements of the Planning Act,” Mr Macdonald said.
Mr Macdonald said those providing feedback should be clear on why they were supporting or opposing the development.
State your reasons
He said council needed to understand the reasons behind your submission.
For example, if you think the type of development proposed for your area is unsuitable, you need to say why it is unsuitable – not simply that you don't like it.
It is important to focus on:
Whether the proposed use is consistent with the intent for the area
Whether the scale and design of the proposed development is compatible with surrounding development
How the development addresses the street and interfaces with adjoining properties
Any potential traffic and car parking issues associated with the development
How the development may impact on drainage patterns in the area
How the development fits with the natural environment.
Echo NetDaily, 2 February 2016:

The department of planning and environment (DoPE) has given permission for a proposed development at Evans Heads’ controversial Iron Gates site to go on public exhibition, despite a previous development on the same site being overturned by the Land and Environment Court at the eleventh hour.
The draft master plan for the subdivision would allow for 176 residential lots and four public reserves with fire trails.
DoPE says the land to be developed for residential purposes is ‘already zoned as general residential land by the Richmond Valley LEP’ and that ‘no additional residential land is proposed on the site’.
A DoPE spokesperson said the department recognised ‘the environmental and cultural value of the Evans Head site, including its location on the Evans River, its native vegetation, wetlands and rainforest, as well as the places of Aboriginal cultural significance present on the land.’
The spokesperson added that, ‘if approved, the proponent’s draft master plan would provide a guide against which future development applications can be assessed by the local council or other consent authority.’

Illegally installed infrastructure

But that’s not the view of Al Oshlack, the man who defeated an earlier proposal for the site in the Land and Environment Court 20 years ago.
As a result of that defeat, the court ordered the removal of infrastructure that it viewed had been illegally installed on the land but that was never done.
Mr Oshlack believes that may constitute contempt of court and is preparing to again fight development of the fragile coastal ecosystem.
‘In 1996 the court made orders for land remediation and then they had a special hearing with the chief justice in which they made an extensive remediation order,’ he told Echonetdaily.
‘It never happened. The developer put the company into liquidation and he held out for about 18 years – and the statute of limitations to carry out the court orders lapsed.
‘Part of the development proposal is to test the viability of the various infrastructures: the plan is to utilise as much as they can of the illegally installed infrastructure, plus the illegal access road.
Mr Oschlack said that far from being a ‘guide against which future development applications could be assessed’, the history of the site suggested it was anything but.
‘I think the whole thing should be referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. I mean, it’s just a total outrage and contemptuous of the whole legal process and environmental law.
‘And with the alleged illegal clearing that took place in 2014, there has been an investigation going on for two years by the EPA and they have yet to give an answer as to whether they managed to prosecute or not – even though I provided evidence from expert witnesses of the damage that occurred without any development consent,’ Mr Oshlack said.
The department says it is encouraging community feedback on the plan.
Sekuir Migration, 18 April 2018:
Ingles Group, which is known for its wide-scale property developments and well established accountancy firm, Ingles Accounting, is now offering inbound migration services on the Gold Coast.
Graeme Ingles, who heads up Ingles Group, says that migration services are crucial to the ongoing growth of the Gold Coast and that he launched Sekuir Migration in response to growing demand from his customer base.
Many business owners on the Gold Coast are in need of skilled workers, particularly food trades workers who can meet the needs of the thriving tourism and night economy of the region.

ABC North Coast Radio, 25 January 2015:
The Richmond Valley Council has received 62 submissions objecting to the Iron Gates development - the latest comes from the Royal Australian Air Force.
In a two-page letter, the Assistant Director of Estate Planning for the Defence Department, Marc McGowan said: 'Air weapons training at Evans Head is expected to increase in scale and density over time, towards the maximum rate of use of 70 days per year. Aircraft will be conducting bombing during day and night.
'The results of aircraft noise modelling indicate that the aircraft noise exposures from the Super Hornet compare with noise generated by busy road traffic and construction work.
'While Defence makes every effort to minimise the effects of noise on the community, aircraft noise will never be eliminated... and residents in close proximity to Evans Head are likely to be exposed to greater amounts of aircraft noise than experienced in the last few years.'
The statement goes on to read that 'glare from reflective surfaces can affect the visibility of pilots during daylight hours, and artificial water bodies can attract additional birdlife and may expose RAAF aircraft to birdstrike, posing a risk to personnel.
'Based on the above concerns, defence does not support the proposed application.'
Financial Review, 30 March 2011:

Receivers for companies of struggling Gold Coast property developer Graeme Ingles have forced the sale of three major land holdings that could fetch up to $20 million.
The new batch of offerings adds to the bloated stock of Gold Coast land parcels on offer through receivers.
St George Bank has appointed receivers John Shanahan and Ginette Muller of KordaMentha to sell Mr Ingles’s two high-rise development sites at Southport, which could fetch up to $15 million.
The sites total more than 11,000 square metres and both have development approvals for up to 44 levels, including more than 700 apartments.

Smart Company, 20 October 2008:
The Federal Court has found a property developer made misleading claims about the progress of construction of a golf course that was the centerpiece of a Gold Coast property development.
The Federal Court has found a property developer made misleading claims about the progress of construction of a golf course that was the centerpiece of a Gold Coast property development.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took action against Queensland developer Ingles Group and its managing director, Graeme Ingles, over the Tee Trees Residential Golf Community estate at Arundel.
A major selling feature was that it would include a golf course, but there were significant delays in construction of the course.
In 2003, the Ingles Group distributed a letter to potential buyers, providing an update on the golf course construction and a purported explanation for the delays.
But the Federal Court found that by sending the letter to potential buyers, the Ingles Group engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), 17 October 2008:

Justice Spender declared that, by sending the letter to potential buyers, the Ingles Group engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.  It had breached section 52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 by:

  • representing that it had approval from the Gold Coast City Council to construct the golf course when in fact the approval granted was only preliminary and required that various further steps be taken before final approval could be granted
  • representing that the sole or primary cause of delay in construction was the drought when the primary cause was failure to obtain final council approval 
  • representing that it had called for tenders for bulk earthworks for the completion of the course and was awaiting the tender results when it had not yet called for tenders
  • representing that bulk earthworks for completion of the golf course would begin once tenders were received, when it did not have reasonable grounds for making such a claim, and
  • representing, by implication, that the course's construction would soon be well under way and would not be subject to any significant delays when it did not have reasonable grounds for such a claim, and when there were likely to be further significant delays.
According to Democracy 4 Sale from 2003 through to 2006 the Ingles Group made politcal donations to whichever of the two main poiltical parties held government in Queensland during those years.

You might have found Juice Media's Honest Government Ad on the Cashless Debit Card humorous - the interview is deadly serious

EPISODE SUMMARY Welcome to Episode 5, in which we go into more depth on the topic of our latest Honest Government Ad: the Cashless Welfare Card - aka Class Warfare Card. We speak with two members of the Say No Seven group, which has been spearheading the fight against this bullshit.

Interview with Say No Seven group members starts at 5:09mins.

The Video


Sunday, 20 October 2019

Too little or no water in pivotal NSW state dams? Who do you blame?

So who should NSW voters blame for the fact that state dams were not prepared for the current severe drought? It appears the finger points straight to then NSW Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water & Nationals MP for Barwon Kevin Humphries.

Now in comfortable retirement he can no longer be held to account for the damage he did by aiding and abetting the irrigator lobby in 2014.

In this he was assisted by then NSW Minister for Primary Industries & Nationals MP for Burrinjuck Katrina Hodgkinson who has also retired from the NSW Parliament. 

The Guardian, excerpt, 15 October 2019: 

In New South Wales, where the current drought is centred, water is allocated to towns, irrigators and other users based on how much water is expected to flow into dams in the coming year. Prior to 2014, NSW allocated water based on calculations around the “worst drought on record” and ensuring that high security water licence holders would still have water during the driest years. 

The worst drought on record for NSW was the millennium drought..... Planning for such a long drought and holding sufficient water in the state’s dams was opposed by former NSW water minister, Kevin Humphries, who claimed: 

"[Water allocation calculations] currently require water to be set aside within a dam, to ensure full or near full allocations for high security licences can be maintained through the worst drought on record. This water-sharing rule was developed prior to the recent millennial drought. When the millennium drought is taken into account, implementation would result in significant quantities of water being taken out of production, and held in reserve just in case an equally severe drought occurs again." 

 Read that again if you have to. Keeping water in dams “just in case” of severe drought is not good for business. Water in dams is water that isn’t being used for irrigation. 

Humphries introduced legislation that removed the millennium drought from water allocation calculations, meaning more water came out of dams for irrigation which would otherwise be available for towns through the drought.

And the weridness that is American politics continues.......

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Quotes of the Week

"We pursue the most vulnerable people with more energy than we pursue corporations."  [Christine Craik , Australian Association of Social Workers, The Canberra Times, 9 October 2019]

"WaterNSW has responsibility for water licensing, approvals, trading and establishing priorities for water management in the Murray Darling Basin and yet not one of the Ministerial appointed board, has any background or experience in rural NSW or represents the interests of rural water suppliers. Clearly there is a need for change and those who are in charge of WaterNSW need to be more attuned to the needs of river communities and the importance of rules for water management that reflect the importance of maintaining town and country water supplies.” Brewarrina Shire Council, at NSW Local Government Conference, October 2019]

In Australia, the only thing as certain as drought is the subsequent calls by politicians to build new dams.” [ The Australia Institute Senior Water Researcher Maryanne Slattery, writing in The Guardian, 15 October 2019]

Cartoons of the Week

Mark David


Friday, 18 October 2019

Seems Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's personal war on the poor and vulnerable may have its roots in the right-wing American culture he so admires

Stricter eligibility requirements when applying for Centrelink benefits, allowances and pensions. Reducing the scope of human intervention in decision making. Automated assessment of ongoing eligibility. Automatic suspension of cash transfers.

Sound familiar? Well it seems that the U.S.A. refined applying punitive measures to the poor and vulnerable long before Australia's right-wing warriors in the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government began their all out class war.

American began limiting eligibility and applying algorithms in the 1970s and 1980s

The Guardian, 14 October 2019: 

All around the world, from small-town Illinois in the US to Rochdale in England, from Perth, Australia, to Dumka in northern India, a revolution is under way in how governments treat the poor. 

You can’t see it happening, and may have heard nothing about it. It’s being planned by engineers and coders behind closed doors, in secure government locations far from public view. 

Only mathematicians and computer scientists fully understand the sea change, powered as it is by artificial intelligence (AI), predictive algorithms, risk modeling and biometrics. But if you are one of the millions of vulnerable people at the receiving end of the radical reshaping of welfare benefits, you know it is real and that its consequences can be serious – even deadly. 

The Guardian has spent the past three months investigating how billions are being poured into AI innovations that are explosively recasting how low-income people interact with the state. Together, our reporters in the US, Britain, India and Australia have explored what amounts to the birth of the digital welfare state. 

Their dispatches reveal how unemployment benefits, child support, housing and food subsidies and much more are being scrambled online. Vast sums are being spent by governments across the industrialized and developing worlds on automating poverty and in the process, turning the needs of vulnerable citizens into numbers, replacing the judgment of human caseworkers with the cold, bloodless decision-making of machines. 

At its most forbidding, Guardian reporters paint a picture of a 21st-century Dickensian dystopia that is taking shape with breakneck speed. The American political scientist Virginia Eubanks has a phrase for it: “The digital poorhouse.” 

As one recipient described it: “You owe what you have eaten.” 

In the UK, we investigate the secure government site outside Newcastle where millions are being spent developing a new generation of welfare robots to replace humans. Private companies including a New York outfit led by the world’s first bot billionaire, are supercharging a process which has spawned a whole new jargon: “virtual workforce”, “augmented decision-making”, “robot process automation”. 

The government is rushing forward with its digital mission despite the pain already being inflicted on millions of low-income Britons by the country’s “digital by default” agenda. Claimants spoke of the hunger, filth, fear and panic that they are enduring.

In Australia, where the Guardian has reported extensively on robodebt, the scheme that has been accused of wrongly clawing back historic debts through a flawed algorithm, we now disclose that the government has opened a new digital front: using automation to suspend millions of welfare payments. Recipients are finding their money cut off without notice.

Read the full article here.

It is not hard to draw a line between Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's admiration for all things Republican and religiously conservative in America and his apparent desire to place all welfare recipients on the Indue Limited cashless debit card before the next federal election in 2022.

Scott Morrison's war on the poor is being expanded under the Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Income Management to Cashless Debit Card Transition) Bill 2019 which is currently before the Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs which will report to the Australian Parliament on 7 November 2019.

To date no welfare recipients have made submissions to the Senate standing committee on this bill. I suspect that this is due in large measure to the fact that Centrelink in particular has released personal information about welfare recipients who have gone public in the past and, there is anecdotal information that certain recipients who have spoken out publicly about life on the cashless welfare card have been sanctioned in some manner.

Morrison Government accidentally tells us more than it intended about its future plans for more dams?

Eighteen pages of 'talking points' compiled by the Prime Minister's Office were accidentally released to Australian journalists on Monday 14 October 2019.

These talking points predictably blame Labor in a look-over-there-not here manner, continue Scott Morrison's personal war on the poor and vulnerable and refuse to look climate change in the eye.

Interestingly for folks in the NSW Northern Rivers region, these points confirm federal government support for abandoning certain federal/state provisions contained in legislation covering water, environment and biodiversity when it comes to building new dams.

The document also lets the cat of the bag when it reveals a wider purpose behind building a Mole River dam in Tenterfield Shire.

Google Earth snapshot of a section of the Mole River, NSW

The current proposal according the PMO is for a 100,000 megalites dam (basically the size of Karangi Dam in Coffs Habour LGA) which Morrison & Co see as assisting not just Tenterfield Shire but also as potentially useful to southern Queensland (See P.4). Morrison expects this dam to be 'shovel ready' two years from now, in 2021.

Water NSW released an Upper Mole River Dam fact sheet at the same time those errant talking points escaped inot the wild. This has the proposed Mole River dam as between 100 and 200 gigalites (ie., between 100,000 to 200,000 megalitres) and costing est. $355 billion. However, Water NSW does not see this proposed dam being 'shovel ready' until 2024 with dam construction completed sometime between 2026 and 2028.

Morrison's 100,000 megalitre dam would be ample to supply the needs of a NSW shire whose total population is yet to reach 7,000 residents, but is perhaps not entirely adequate to cover the needs of local irrigators into a future which is rapidly heating up and drying out.

So why would this such dam be thought capable of supplying water to southern Queensland and where would the potential additional 100,000 come from?

Water NSW data shows that Mole River catchment annual rainfall was less than 600mm in 13 of the last 18 years and, as Professor Quentin Grafton, water economist, ANU and UNESCO Chair in Water Economics and Transboundary Water Governance tells us, at 600mm or less annual precipitation a dam will not fill.

Perhaps the Mole River dam is only meant as a water storage staging post as much of the water capacity is intended to travel elsewhere?

Perhaps Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Water Resources David Littleproud are paving the way for a raid on a headwater tributary, the Maryland River, or on the Upper Clarence River itself - in order to forever pipe bulk water to Littleproud's electorate of Maranoa in southern Queensland?

Two local governments in Littleproud's electorate are lobbying hard for permission to pipe Clarence River water to their areas and, after all the Mole River is approximately 79kms as the crow flies from the headwaters of the Clarence River as well as less than 57kms in a direct line from Stanthorpe in Maranoa.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

The real reasons behind the push to dam and divert water from the Clarence River catchment

Whenever local government areas within the Murray-Darling Basin decide to renew their almost perpetual lobbying of federal and state governments for consent to dam and divert one or more rivers within the Clarence River catchment they usually have a hidden agenda accompanying their public call for fresh water for inland towns during times of water scarcity.
It has never been about needing water for towns which might run out of water by late 2020. Any new dam couldn’t even be ‘shovel ready’ in less than two to three years, while rushing construction would take a similar time period to complete and filling a dam would take more than three years on top of that – if it could be achieved at all in an Australian climate which has been drying for the last sixty years.
What these councils are really seeking is the means to grow their own local businesses and expand their own regional economies at the expense of Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City current and future businesses and regional economies.
One of the mayors openly states that “water is the new currency” - echoing that other sentiment doing the rounds, ‘water is the new gold’.
Take these latest water raiding schemes……….
According to Daily News in Warwick Qld, Southern Downs Council has a wish list for growth; Councillor Marika McNichol said the council had a wish list of significant infrastructure projects that would shape, steer and secure the region’s future.“This is an ambitious list of projects, but also a list of essential infrastructure projects that will benefit our region and build a sustainable future for the Southern Downs,” Cr McNichol said.“Council has a strong long-term vision for the region which involves major infrastructure projects.”
On its own website this council stated; “Southern Downs Regional Mayor, Tracy Dobie said a number of exciting projects in the Southern Downs were due to commence or be completed, creating employment opportunities, encouraging population growth and stimulating strong economic activity,”
One of those proposed major infrastructure projects to allow economic expansion in this particular local government areas is a “Pipeline diversion of water from the Clarence River in NSW to Tenterfield, Southern Downs, Western Downs and Toowoomba”. This proposal is being submitted to Infrastruture Australia seeking funding to progress the interbasin-interstate water transfer scheme.

Access to water is seen as a key economic driver by Western Downs Regional Council. This includes being a driver of industry and business development as well as optimising tourism growth in the local government area.

Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor Paul Antonio told a journalist that; water is the limiting factor in population growth and food production in this area”. His letter of support for the application to Infrastructure Australia for a dam in the Clarence River catchment reads in part; As chair of Darling Downs South West Queensland Council of Mayors … I write to give the strongest of support to your council’s submission to the Australian Infrastructure Audit regarding long-term water security on the Darling Downs and NSW Border Ranges.”

Tenterfield Shire Council’s mayor told The Daily Examiner in Grafton NSW; “I have no problem supporting populations to support industry, but you cannot do it without infrastructure to secure water. These towns need to be supported, and especially where they are looking to expand. (Towns like) Warwick and Toowoomba should have had adequate water supply years ago and now we are playing catch up.” [my yellow highlighting]

Tenterfield Shire Council as part of the Northern New England High Country Regional Economic Development Strategy 2018-2022 supports the position that; “There is potential to dam both the Mole River in the western part of the Region and possibly one or more of the headwater tributaries of the Clarence River for irrigation water and the generation of hydroelectricity.”

Tenterfield’s Mole River proposal was tentatively costed sometime in the 1990s on the basis that private capital would build this dam and lease it back to either local or state government. The current proposal for a Mole River dam (20-40 per cent smaller than the original proposed water storage) is an initial 50/50 split between state and federal government.


The NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government’s State Infrastructure Strategy 2018-2038 points to a need to Identify investment options in the priority catchments of Gwydir and Macquarie”.

Gwydir Shire Council in its Gwydir Shire Economic Development Strategy 2017-2020 states an aim to; Manage water resources for a growing economy and environmental sustainability” as well as to improve/expand the Shire’s product base which includes the tourism potential of the Gwydir River and Copeton Dam.

The river and dam are seen as part of providing a Strong basis for growing the tourism sector and building visitation to the Shire’s towns and villages” - as well as being seen as “lifestyle advantages of the Shire.”

The development strategy also sees “access to plentiful water” as a prerequisite to growing local businesses and establishing new ones.

Seeing water as a mere commodity these Murray-Darling Basin councils and the federal government are pressuring the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government to such a degree that it is now considering altering planning and water legislation to allow NSW Water to have planning control over dam building and also allowing environmental safeguards to be overridden – in particular removing environmental/biodiversity assessments of proposed dam sites and potentially commencing construction before a cost-benefit analysis has been completed.