Tuesday 30 April 2019

"Liar liar, political pants engulfed by inferno" - Mungo MacCallum

Echo NetDaily, 23 April 2019:

A short week of campaigning and an even shorter one to come – which is perhaps why the temperature has ramped up to almost febrile levels.

There was a heap of colour and movement, lots of smoke and mirrors. But whether it actually achieved anything substantial is at best dubious.

There were the usual distractions – dual citizenships, damaging Tweets from the past, gaffes and miss-steps, a dilemma over the kids stuck in Syria, craziness from the frotting wanker Advance Australia’s Captain GetUp, more embarrassment from George Christensen and the usual unhelpful intervention from Tony Abbott.

And bigger than all of them the disaster of Notre Dame, already the subject of demented conspiracy theories involving Islamic Jihadists. There were even a few hasty extra promises aimed at a public well and truly promised out – and there are four weeks to go. But mainly there was noise – if anyone could be bothered to listen.

The loudest, most belligerent, the most repetitive and of course the shoutiest was Scott Morrison, screaming liar about the policies of Bill Shorten – or rather his interpretation of them, which was not the same thing. Somewhat reluctantly Shorten responded, calling ScoMo a liar in return.

Either or both may be at least partly right, but the problem is that that the argument, to flatter the brawl, is going way over the heads of the hardworking taxpayers at whom it was aimed. The figures of the cost of the various agendas have now escalated from the hundreds of millions to hundreds of billions – fantasy numbers incomprehensible to normal workers.

And as a result, they have turned off; most don’t believe them, especially when they have been projected beyond two or more elections, but in any case they have been dismissed as simply noise – increasingly extravagant claims and counterclaims,  assertions and contradictions, a blur of incomprehensible statistics,  page after page of tables  about who wins and who loses in one, five or ten years time, endless pots of gold at end of ephemeral  rainbows.

This is not just ordinary noise – it is more properly white noise, a background buzz whose only purpose may be to induce sleep. And it is unlikely to let up, which in the end will not be good news for ScoMo’s marketing strategy.

However, he has no real choice – the economy is his only hope, the coalition’s chosen battleground, and if he cannot defeat Shorten in that field, he effectively has nothing left.

He has tried to broaden the attack, bellowing that everything depends a strong economy – it is only through his diligence that Australia can provide schools, hospitals, roads, the environment – the whole shebang.

And in one sense that is true, but in the other – the perception that the economy is not being used to benefit the broad commonwealth, but is being  subverted to give concessions, lurks, perks and rorts to favour the fat cats who fund Liberal Party coffers – is utterly counterproductive, and Shorten appears to be getting some traction for this heresy.

Big issues discerned by a war-weary electorate – climate change, obviously, but also health, education and welfare he is celebrating – are all largely under Labor’s control
And Morrison can only try and shout him down, because the other big issues discerned by a war-weary electorate – climate change, obviously, but also health, education and welfare he is celebrating – are all largely under Labor’s control…..

Read the full article here.

Morrison Government signed off on a controversial uranium mine one day before calling the federal election

ABC News, 26 April 2019:

The Morrison Government signed off on a controversial uranium mine one day before calling the federal election, and did not publicly announce the move until the environment department uploaded the approval document the day before Anzac Day.

The Yeelirrie Uranium mine, located 500 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, requires both federal and state approval.

The state approval of the proposed mine is still being fought in the state's Supreme Court by members of the Tjiwarl traditional owners.

In 2016, the West Australian Environment Protection Agency advised the mine not be approved, concluding it posed too great a risk of extinction to some native animals.

The former Liberal Barnett government controversially approved the mine in 2017, just weeks before it lost the West Australian election.

Canadian company Cameco, the world's largest uranium producer, is seeking to develop the uranium mine, which would cover an area 9km long and 1.5km wide.

It would involve the clearing of up to 2,422 hectares of native vegetation.

It is also approved to cause groundwater levels to drop by 50cm, and they would not completely recover for 200 years, according to Cameco's environmental reports.

A spokesperson for Environment Minister Melissa Price said the approval was subject to 32 strict conditions to avoid and mitigate potential environmental impacts.

Traditional owner of the area, Tjiwarl woman Vicky Abdullah, said she was surprised by the announcement, and was hoping for the project to be rejected.

"It's a very precious place for all of us. For me and my two aunties, who have been walking on country," she said.

Mine approval a controversial move ahead of caretaker mode
Simon Williamson, General Manager of Cameco Australia, told the ABC he was pleased Ms Price had approved the mine before calling the election.

"Yeah, that's likely to raise questions about rushed decision and all that stuff, but the state [government] made their decision in January 2017," he said.

"The timing was such that all of [the assessment] was completed to allow her to sign off before the election. I think it's quite appropriate and I think the minster would want to sign off on projects on her plate before she goes to an election……

Dave Sweeney, an anti-nuclear campaigner at the Australian Conservation Foundation said the timing suggested the decision was political.

"We need decisions that are based on evidence and the national interest, not a company's interest or not a particular senator's or a particular government's interest," he said.

"This reeks of political interference rather than a legal consideration or due process."

The approval is one of several controversial moves the Government made before entering caretaker mode, where such decisions would be impossible, including approving Adani's two groundwater management plans for it's proposed Carmichael coal mine.....

The Guardian, 27 April 2019:

A multinational uranium miner persuaded the federal government to drop a requirement forcing it to show that a mine in outback Western Australia would not make any species extinct before it could go ahead.

Canadian-based Cameco argued in November 2017 the condition proposed by the government for the Yeelirrie uranium mine, in goldfields north of Kalgoorlie, would be too difficult to meet.

The mine was approved on 10 April, the day before the federal election was called, with a different set of conditions relating to protecting species.

Environmental groups say the approval was politically timed and at odds with a 2016 recommendation by the WA Environmental Protection Authoritythat the mine be blocked due to the risk to about 140 subterranean stygofauna and troglofauna species – tiny animals that live in groundwater and air pockets above the water table.

A Cameco presentation to the department, released to the Greens through Senate estimates, shows the government proposed approving the mine with a condition the company must first demonstrate that no species would be made extinct during the works.

Cameco Australia said this did not recognise “inherent difficulties associated with sampling for and describing species”, including the inadequacy of techniques to sample microscopic species that live underground and challenges in determining whether animals were of the same species. It said the condition was “not realistic and unlikely to be achieved – ever”.

The condition did not appear in the final approval signed by the environment minister, Melissa Price, which was made public after being posted on the environment department’s website on 24 April…..

Monday 29 April 2019

Only 19 days out from the 2019 federal election and Newspoll results tighten

Only 19 days out from the 2019 federal election and the losing streak is not yet over for the Morrison Government.

The last time the Coalition were ahead on a Newspoll Two Party Preferred (TPP) basis was on 2 July 2016 when the Turnbull Government stood at 50.5 per cent on the day of the 2016 federal election.

Which means the losing streak has now stretched to just under 34 months.

53rd Newpoll results – published 29 April 2019:

Primary Vote – Labor 37 percent (down 2 points) to Liberal-Nationals 38 per cent (down 1 point), The Greens 9 per cent (unchanged), One Nation 4 per cent (unchanged).

Two Party Preferred (TPP) - Labor 51 per cent (down 1 point) to Liberal-Nationals Coalition 49 per cent (up 1 point).

Voter Net Satisfaction With Leaders’ Performance – Prime Minister Scott Morrison -1 point (down 1 point) and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten -12 points (up 2 points).

If a federal election had been held on 29 April 2019 based of the preference flow in July 2016, then Labor would have won government with a majority 77 seats (down 5 seats since 16 April poll ) to the Coalition's 68 seats (up 5 seats since 16 April poll) in the House of Representatives.

According to Antony Green's
 Swing Calculator the 27-28 April 2019 Newspoll results will see the Nationals retain the Page and Cowper electorates and Labor retain the Richmond electorate.
In other words the status quo is predicted to remain for another three years – the Nationals having held Page since 2013 and Cowper since 2001. Labor has held Richmond since 2004.

Candidates standing in Richmond electorate at the 18 May 2019 federal election

Echo NetDaily, 26 April 2019:

There are eight candidates for the federal electorate of Richmond, which covers the Byron, Ballina and Tweed shires.

The seat has been held since 2004 by Labor’s Justine Elliot, and like the state seat of Ballina (Byron and Ballina Shires), the strong Byron Green vote has helped Labor’s Elliot maintain power. 

ABC election guru Antony Green describes the electorate of Richmond: “The Green victory in the state seat of Ballina was overwhelmingly owing to Green support in Byron Shire, where rich retirees and alternative lifestylers have flooded into a former rural shire. The Nationals still won Ballina itself, while Green support in the state seat of Tweed, making up the northern half of Richmond, was only 13.3 per cent. A Green victory in Richmond probably requires the Greens to pass Labor with then hope of then defeating the National Party on preferences. Given the increasing urbanisation of Richmond, it may be the Liberal Party will eventually return to contesting Richmond, further complicating the contest”.

Candidates in Ballot Paper Order

1. Ronald McDonald, Sustainable Australia 
2. Hamish Mitchell, United Australia Party
3. Morgan Cox, Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) 
4. Justine Elliot, Labor
5. Ray Karam, Independent
6. Tom Barnett, Involuntary Medication Objectors (Vaccination/Fluoride) 
7. Matthew Fraser, The Nationals
8. Michael Lyon, The Greens

Early voting starts on Monday 29 April 2019 at 8.30am. 

Early voting centres for the Ricmond & Tweed valleys and elsewhere can be found at:

Scott Morrison and News Corp need fact checking - again!

The Australian Labor Party released its dividend imputation policy in 2018 and began to come under sustained political attack by the Morrison Government and News Corp with claims that there was a $10 billion dollar hole in Labor’s costing of its policy.

On 18 June 2018 the Parliamentary Budget Office issued a media release:

Imputation credits policy costing

Earlier today, comments have been made about the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) estimates of the gains to revenue that may flow from the Australian Labor Party’s (ALP’s) policy to make imputation credits non-refundable.

“The PBO brings our best professional judgement to the independent policy costing advice we provide.  We have access to the same data and economic parameters as The Treasury and draw upon similar information in forming our judgements,” Parliamentary Budget Officer Jenny Wilkinson stated today.

“We stand behind the PBO estimates that have been published by the ALP in relation to this policy, noting that all policy costings, no matter who they are prepared by, are subject to uncertainty.”  In its advice, the PBO is explicit about the judgements and uncertainties associated with individual policy costings.

The PBO confirms that it always takes into account current and future policy commitments, as well as behavioural changes, in its policy costings.  In this case, as outlined at the recent Senate Estimates hearings, these included the superannuation changes announced in the 2016–17 Budget and the scheduled company tax cuts.  In addition, the PBO explicitly assumed that there would be significant behavioural changes that would flow from this policy, particularly for trustees of self-managed superannuation funds. 

The PBO was established as an independent institution in 2012 with broad support from the Parliament.  A key rationale for the formation of the PBO was to develop a more level playing field, by providing independent and unbiased advice to all parliamentarians about the estimated fiscal cost of policy proposals.  The purpose of establishing the PBO was to improve the public’s understanding of, and confidence in, policy costings and enable policy debates to focus on the merits of alternative policy proposals. 

Ten months later on 25 April 2019 News Corp’s The Daily Examiner ran an article on page 8 concerning Labor’s dividend imputation policy which stated:

The independent Parliamentary Budget Office has estimated Labor’s plan would save $7 billion less over a decade than the party expects and that it would affect 840,000 individuals, 210,000 self-managed super funds (SMSFs) plus some bigger funds.

Now the Parliamentary Budget Office publishes the requests for information it receives, including requests for policy implications and costings, however there appears to be no new request for information and costings on Labor’s dividend imputation policy on its website.

Morrison & Co have been caught out misrepresenting the source of their costings before and even flat out lying on occasion, so one has to suspect the veracity of their latest attack on this particular policy.

It's just as likely costings and other figures were done on the back of an envelope by Morrison or Frydenberg.

Sunday 28 April 2019

Page Electorate candidates ballot paper positions and early voting centre information

This is what the Page electorate ballot paper will look like on 18 May 2019:

Early voting starts on Monday 29 April 2019 at 8.30am.

Early voting centres for the Clarence Valley and elsewhere can be found at: 


Climate Change: It is time to panic

Saturday 27 April 2019

Tweet of the Week

Quotes of the Week

The ABC's Vote Compass has been harvesting the opinions of Australians for three elections now……The vast majority of respondents — 78 per cent — think that the decision to remove Malcolm Turnbull in August last year was the wrong call. That conclusion is drawn from 153,354 responses to Vote Compass between April 10 and April 16……Among One Nation voters, 59 per cent approved of Mr Turnbull's removal, while 41 per cent disapproved.   [Journalist  Annabelle Crabb writing for ABC News online, 19 Aptil 2019]

“Pentecostalism is in fact the perfect faith for a conviction politician without convictions.”  [Writer & historian James Boyce writing in The Monthly, Februart 2019]

Friday 26 April 2019

"Stop Adani" convoy gets good reception as it passes through the NSW Northern Rivers region

Supporters at Ferry Park, Maclean, on Pacific Highway heading north
Photo: The Daily Examiner online

The Daily Examiner
, 22 April 2019, p.4:

Protesters came out in support of the anti-Adani convoy as it made its way through the Clarence Valley yesterday.

Up to 180 cars, many of them electric, decorated in “Stop Adani” paraphernalia made their way along the Pacific Highway as part of a two-week campaign, organised by conservationist Bob Brown, to stop the proposed Carmichael coal mine.

Karen von Ahlefeldt said many in the convoy stopped for a chat and were “boosted” by the show of support.

“A lot of people standing there wished they could be on the convoy, this was a good chance for them to be part of it,” Ms von Ahlefeldt said.

Clarence Valley Councillor and Greens party member Greg Clancy stood at South Grafton waving on the cars as they made their way north.

“Politicians are not listening, and some of the public don’t understand,” Cr Clancy said.

“They think it is jobs, we need coal, but we don’t, we are phasing it out. Coal is not the future, it is the past.”

He said it was unthinkable to “dig up more of the Galilee Basin” and the proposed coal mine would be “contributing to climate change”.

Cr Clancy said movements such as the convoy were important steps to making change.

“Bob Brown has said this is going to be another Franklin River issue,” he said.
“People are not going to stand by. There will be protests, there will be arrests, it will be big.”

“You just have to look at how many vehicles have gone past today to know it’s going to be big.”

Mr Clancy called on politicians to commit to oppose the Queensland mine ahead of the federal election next month.

Thursday 25 April 2019

The claims by Coalition candidates grow even more absurd

Voters have been treated to the absurd spectacle of the Liberal Prime Minister and his ministers accusing Labor of wanting to steal tradies utesof wanting to end weekends as well as lying about how quickly electic cars could be charged (in fact in Australia right now an EV can be charged in 8 minutes by JET Charge) and of conspiring with the Greens to introduce death taxes.

Now we have a Queensland Llberal-Nationals candidate, Gerard Rennick, stating that helping families send three-year-olds to pre-school is a Labor Party conspiracy to strengthen government control over child raising.

Then we had this from the Liberal-Nationals arch conspirator.....

ABC News, 23 April 2019:

The weather bureau has been tampering with temperature data in order to "perpetuate global warming hysteria", according to an under-fire Coalition candidate.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has strongly rejected the conspiracy theory being peddled by Queensland Senate hopeful Gerard Rennick.

Shades of that hard right lobby group, the Institute of Public Affairs!

What will be the next desperate, far-fetched claim?

When old political enemies go two rounds on social media

The fighting is getting dirty during this federal election campaign.

I think that the former Member for New England Tony Windsor managed to floor the current Member for New England Barnaby Joyce in this round......

Joyce up off the canvas for another round.....

Oh dear. Jab went home and Joyce now sporting a cut lip.

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Punters still expect Labor to win on 18 May 2019

The Trouble With Water: 'ghost' water begins to haunt the Liberal-Nationals election campaign

It is well understood and agreed that water in the Murray-Darling Basin has been overallocated and extracted at rates that are unsustainable.” [The Australia Institute, February 2018]

"Kia Ora" reportedly totals 18,841 hectares and has water entitlements of 36,705 megalitres, while "Clyde" is said to total 18,743 hectares with water entitlements of 30,289 megalitres.

EAA also appears to hold Queensland water licences which allows it to harvest overland flows/flood waters from both properties.

Questions have arisen with regard to the sale of some of this water.......

At various times prior to entering federal parliament in September 2013 Liberal MP for Hume and Australian Minister for Energy Angus Taylor was reportedly a co-founder and director of Eastern Australia Irrigation, a director of and company secretary for Eastern Australia Agriculture and was also a paid consultant for EAA.

The Minister for Energy Angus Taylor, former deputy-prime minister and federal agriculture and water resources minister, the current National Party MP for New England Barnaby Joyce, and the federal Dept. of Agriculture and Water Resources have all issued statements taking issue with concerns being expressed over this particular water sale and denying any wrong doing. Both ministers have threatened legal action for defamation.

The Queensland Government denies being party to this water sale.

The Morrison Government is now facing calls for an inquiry into the Murray-Darling plan water contracts signed off by former minister Joyce.


Ghost Water – licences for unreliable/unverifiable amounts of temporary water sold to government for use as environmental flow water.

Overland flow is “water that runs across the land after rainfall, either before it enters a watercourse, after it leaves a watercourse as floodwater, or after it rises to the surface naturally from underground…..You can take overland flow for any purpose unless there is a moratorium notice or a water plan that limits what can be taken.”  [Qld Government, Business Queensland. January 2019]

Applications can be made for a water licence for the capture of overland flow water.

A water licence is an entitlement to take water which is attached to land therefore, unlike a water allocation, it is not an asset in its own right. Water licences cannot normally be sold independent of land unless there are management rules in place which allow permanent transfers (relocations) to occur…..The relocation of a water licence enables a licensee to transfer ownership of the entitlement, permanently moving the licence from the land to which it is attached, to another parcel of land within the confines of the rules. This process differs from permanent water allocation trading whereby water allocations are traded independently of land titles and have their own registrable title (i.e. water can be held by someone who does not own land). [Qld Government, Business Queensland. February 2019]

At the time of the water sales EAA has 7 harvesting licences, of which 4 were for water extraction from the Balonne and Narran rivers, 2 were for collection of overland flow waters and 1 was for irrigation water draw on the Beardmore Dam.

Unsolicited offer by EAA to sell overflow water at 

Austender records of three EAA water sales to the Dept. of Agriculture and Water Resources - the first by transparent open tender and the remaining to by non-transparent limited tender:

At the time of the first water sale (1,980ML at est. $2,175 per megalitre) Barnaby Joyce was an elected senator on the Opposition benchs and Labor's Tony Burke was federal water minister, at the time of the second and third sales (totalling 27,960ML at $2,745 per megalitre) Joyce was the Australian Deputy Prime Minister as well as Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. 

The first sale under the Labour Government was a result of an open competitive tender, the second and third sales were by unadvertised limited tender which excluded a competitive tender process.

NOTE: In 2008 it appears that EAA sold 10,433ML from its water storage to the Murray-Darling Basin Commission for an unknown amount.

The Australia Institute, March 2018, "That's not how you haggle....Commonwealth water purchasing in the Condamine Balonne", excerpt:

EAAs original asking price was $2,200 per megalitre. DAWR displayed Pythonesque haggling skills and paid a final price of $2,745 per megalitre. DAWR paid 25% more per megalitre than originally requested by EAA, 139% higher than the Commonwealth had previously paid for the same type of licence and 85% higher than the average price for a more reliable type of water licence. The megalitre price was inflated because it included the cost of a storage that the vendor originally offered to transfer to the Commonwealth, but that offer was later withdrawn, without adjusting the price. The storage was used as a justification of the sale, but not as a condition of the sale.

The water purchased was for Over Land Flow (OLF) licences, which cannot be traded between irrigators, because they are attached to land. They have no legal status or any recognition at a location other than where they were originally purchased. That is, there appears to be no legal basis for the Commonwealth to ensure it gets to the places it is intended to be used.

 Austaxpolicy, 28 September 2018, excerpt:

First, tax havens siphon taxable profits away from jurisdictions like Australia. This means either increasing the tax burden on individuals and businesses, taking on more debt, or cutting social services.

These shenanigans are not always illegal. But what is legal is not always moral or economically sound. Australia’s fiscal foundations are threatened by the erosion of the tax base by tricky tax tactics.

Aggressive tax planning can erode public confidence in the tax system itself. After all, one reason most of us pay the taxes we owe is that we believe we live in a society where our fellow citizens do the same.

A fascinating new dataset released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics helps shed light on this problem. Across multinational firms operating in Australia, the bureau reports their operating profit and their taxable profit. What is unique about these data is that they are reported for firms with majority owners in different countries. So it is possible to compare across countries, and ask the question: which nation’s firms have the biggest gap between operating profits and taxable profits?

For the typical Australian firm, the gap between operating profits and taxable profits is 30 percent. The figure is pretty similar for multinationals whose owners reside in the United States (28.4 percent), United Kingdom (26.6 percent) and Japan (28.5 percent).

But for some nations, it’s a different story. If you’re a Bermuda-owned multinational operating in Australia, then on average the gap between operating profit and taxable profit is 88 percent. If you’re a British Virgin Islands owned multinational, the reduction is 92 percent.[3]

So if you start with ten dollars of operating profit, then Australian firms report about seven dollars of taxable profits. The same is true for American, British and Japanese-based multinationals – ten dollars of operating profit produces seven dollars of taxable profit.

But for firms based in Bermuda or the Virgin Islands, and operating in Australia, ten dollars of operating profit produces just one dollar of taxable profit. That’s a startling difference……..

Second, tax havens are the hiding ground..... 

Gabriel Zucman, an economist at University of California, Berkley, estimates that around four-fifths of money in offshore bank accounts is there in breach of other countries’ tax laws.[4] .......

A recent study in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution found there are even egregious environmental vandals there too. Following the Panama Papers, the study found seventy percent of fishing vessels implicated in illegal, unreported and unregulated catches had been registered in Belize, Panama, or other tax havens at some point. [5]

Third, tax havens increase inequality. Offshore wealth held by Australians in tax havens was approximately 6 per cent of GDP, according to Zucman’s work in 2013. In today’s prices, that would mean over $100 billion in assets held offshore by wealthy Australians. [6]..........

Cayman Islands corporate tax rates appears to be zero.

Michaelwest.com.au, 21 April 2019:

During December 2016, the Tax Office required Eastern Australia Agriculture to enter into a Settlement Deed to reduce the interest charged by EAI on convertible notes issued by EAA.

The interest charges were required to be reduced from June 2011 when Taylor was still a director of EAI. The total amount of excessive interest charges was $14 million.

This from EAA’s 2016 annual report:

“Forgiveness of interest expense – parent entity

“Following a review by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the company entered into a Settlement Deed with the ATO on 9 December 2016 and the parent entity agreed to reduce the interest rate on the convertible note from 12 per cent to an average interest rate of 7.97 per cent effective from 29 June 2011, resulting in a forgiveness of interest expense accrued in 2016 and prior years."

The higher the interest rate charged by the parent, the more money flows from Australia to the Caribbean. In the parlance of the tax fraternity, this practice of charging excessive interest rates, in order to maximise the interest payments out of Australia to a tax haven, is called “debt-loading”.

By 2016, Angus Taylor was no longer a director of EAI. He had stepped down from the board of the Cayman Islands company in 2013, the year he entered Parliament. He was a director however when the financing arrangement was established.

London Stock Exchange, EF Realisation Company Limited (EFR) Annual Financial Report, released 22 January 2018, excerpt:

Compulsory Redemption Mechanism

EF Realisation monetised various portfolio assets between February and August 2017 which, in aggregate,  comprised approximately 24% of the NAV as at 30 September 2017. The total net proceeds raised were approximately £4.36 million, made up of £4.26 million in realised proceeds (including £0.1 million from a corporate action involving the Company's holding in Energy Future Holdings) and £0.1 million of investment income (net of expenses). The Company realised its investment in Menhaden Capital plc in February 2017 which raised £1.2 million, equal to 2.3p per Ordinary Share. EF Realisation sold a bond holding in Integradoro de Servicios Petroleros Oro Negro SAPI de CV ("Oro Negro") which raised approximately £0.5m, and it received approximately £2.5 million from Eastern Australia Irrigation Limited which had sold certain of its water entitlements to the Australian Government and distributed a majority of the proceeds to its shareholders, including EF Realisation. On 4 September 2017, the Company announced its intention to implement the Company's first capital distribution, returning £3.0 million to Shareholders of the approximately £4.36 million in total net proceeds; the balance of the net proceeds from asset realisations was retained for working capital purposes…..
All the other investments in EF Realisation are unlisted and valued by the Directors at their estimated realisation values and, with one exception, changes in these valuations have been small. The exception is an upgrade to the valuation of the Company's minority shareholding in Eastern Australia Irrigation Limited following that company's sale of water rights to the Australian Government authorities in August 2017 and the expectations for the amount of proceeds that can now be realised from the sale of its farms…..

Eastern Australia Irrigation Limited ("EAI") is an Australian based company which owns and operates two farms in Queensland, whose main crop is cotton, along with various water extraction rights from the Murray Darling River Basin. During the summer of 2017, Australian Government authorities approached EAI with an offer to acquire some of its water entitlements. EAI was able to negotiate the price for the water entitlements to the highest level ever paid, and in August 2017 it completed the largest ever sale of water entitlements in the Murray Darling River Basin. EF Realisation owns 9.6% of EAI's shares and, along with other holders, supported the sale of the water rights. EAI used the majority of the sale proceeds to return capital to its shareholders, and passed £2.5 million to EF Realisation. This represented a gain on that part of the EAI holding of £0.34 million or 16.0%. We comment below on the plans to dispose of EAI's farms……

EAI was in the process of selling its farms prior to the sale of water rights. Proceeds received for the sale of water rights were attractive compared to the offers received in the farm sale process so the farm sale process was suspended in order to complete negotiations with the Australian Government authorities over the sale of water rights.  EAI has now resumed the farm sale process with the intention of using sale proceeds to repay debt and redeem its shares. Having sold some of the water rights, the effective size of the irrigable land that can be used for cotton farming has been reduced by approximately one-third and it is expected that this, and the decision to sell the farms separately rather than as a package as last summer, will make the farms attractive to a broader range of potential buyers. Cotton prices are supported by low crop harvests in cotton growing regions outside Australia and, at the time of writing, local rainfall on EAI's farms has prevented a return of drought conditions. However, until binding bids are received for the farms, the timing for EF Realisation to redeem or sell its shareholding in EAI and the proceeds from such a redemption or sale are uncertain.

EF Realisation carries its remaining investment in EAI at a conservative estimate of the proceeds that would be received assuming EAI's farms are sold and its shares are redeemed. In particular, the implied valuation of the farms is less than the value of the farms used to secure EAI's loan from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, a valuation point that has been a floor for proceeds in farm sales. [my yellow highlighting]

In the 2012-13 financial year Eastern Australia Agriculture Pty Limited made a political donation of $20,000 to the Liberal Party of Australia (NSW) and on 29 August 2013 the company made a second political donation of $35,000.

After the September 2013 federal election Barnaby Joyce became the Minister for Agriculture and in September 2015 Water Resources was added to his ministerial portfolio.