Monday 30 November 2020

Meet John Barilaro - Deputy-Premier, Minister for Regional News South Wales and property developer


ABC News, 11 September 2020

The NSW Deputy-Premier, Minister for Regional New South Wales and National Party MP for Monaro since 2011 (shown left) - who formerly worked in the family business manufacturing timber products and who went on to become a property developer in his own right - has some questions to answer.

Starting with this……..

The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 November 2020:

The controversy centres on the demise of the Marco Polo Social Club, which for decades was a thriving social hub for Queanbeyan’s large Italian community.

John Barilaro joined the board of the Social Club in 1995, seven years after his father, Domenico Barilaro, who died earlier this year.

The Barilaros were both directors of the Social Club in 1996 when it sold its clubhouse for $300,000 to Monaro Properties Pty Ltd.

John Barilaro was Monaro Properties’ secretary and Domenico Barilaro was one of its directors at the time. The pair also purchased shares in Monaro Properties six months after it acquired the clubhouse.

The Social Club went broke in the early 2000s.

According to the minutes of a creditors’ meeting in February 2003, the social club’s administrator commented that he was “concerned that a number of company directors may have a conflict of interest in that they are also actively involved in the management of the company that owns the company’s trading premises”.

The club’s demise was publicly blamed on mounting debts, an “unforgiving fiscal market” and infighting among board members.

With the clubhouse no longer needed, Monaro Properties on-sold it for $1.025 million in mid 2004, securing the company a $700,000 windfall.

There is no evidence John Barilaro directly financially benefited, as he was no longer a shareholder or director of Monaro Properties at the time.

However Domenico Barilaro was still a director of Monaro Properties at the time

It is unclear whether Domenico Barilaro still held his shares because the company did not lodge a financial return that year.

However ASIC records show Domenico Barilaro held shares before the transaction in 2002 and afterwards in 2005 and there was no publicly available record of any change to his shareholdings.

On 26 March 2001 Giovanni (John) Domenic Barilaro MLA entered the NSW Parliament as a backbencher.

It took him a little over 5 years and 7 months to work his way up to being Leader of the Nationals in the NSW Parliament, a position which automatically made him Deputy-Premier of New South Wales, and another 1 year & 15 weeks to add Minister for Regional New South Wales to his current titles.

Like many other parliamentarians John Barilaro comes with a backstory he created and elaborated for the benefit of parliament, telling the Legislative Assembly that he had stood for election because; “I have had a gutful of a Government, led by the vocal minority, selling out our hopes and dreams; a Government that was infected by a corrupt culture, which was attacking and abandoning the virtues and qualities of this once-great State.”

Again like many other parliamentarians, Barilaro’s backstory does not quite match up with what both mainstream media articles and his voting record reveal about him.

Although he probably came closest to uttering one particular unvarnished truth when he spoke with a Fairfax-Nine journalist recently: "Barilaro has defended pork barrelling for regional seats, even dubbing himself "Pork Barilaro"...."that's what people would expect from me"

Nor are many parliamentarians quick to publicly and loudly inform the electorate of exactly what they they disclosed to Parliament concerning their financial affairs.

So voters in NSW disturbed about the Nationals push for more logging on private rural land and increased vegetation clearing on agricultural land – seen by many concerned regional residents as a crafted backdoor to increased residential development on the fringes of existing towns and villages – never realise that the Nationals Leader insisting on this landowner 'right' is himself a property developer.

This is a basic outline of his business background since entering state politics......

At the present time John Barilaro appears to jointly own five properties, including Dungowan” a 94ha rural estate he & wife purchased for est. 2 million about six years ago & industrial land he owns with his brother on which the family had operated three companies.

"Dungowan" and its very extensive grounds have been operating as a 13-bed Airbnb villa since at least August 2014. Currently it charges $1,850.00/per night per person. A fact that to date is not yet attached to Barilaro's last publicly available online Register of Disclosures by Members of the Legislative Assembly 

The 'Estate' as a business is being managed by Barilaro's wife who seems to also act as official greeter for Airbnb guests and, this property would potentially generate est. $160,000 per year for Barialaro and his wife.

Previously Barilaro was joint owner of Ryleho Pty Ltd (presumed voluntarily deregistered in January 2019) & Ryleho Home Solutions Pty Ltd (voluntarily deregistered in September 2019). The third company on site Ryleho Group Pty Ltd now owned by his brother was sent into receivership by the Australian Tax Office - presumably for non-payment of taxes - in October 2019.

All three companies were involved in manufacturing timber products.

According to the last Register of Disclosures by Members of the Legislative Assembly form he lodged for 2018-19 Barilaro also has a beneficial interests in three trusts: the J & D Barilaro Family Trust, JJDA Trust and Kotsobola Group Unit Trust.

J & D Barilaro Family Trust conducted business at a location in NSW 2620 between August 2002 and the end of December 2019 according to the Australian Business Register (ABN) website. Presumably this trust was associated with Barilaro’s 50 per cent share in Ryleho Pty Ltd.

The JJDA Trust is associated with Domale Pty Ltd in which Barilaro’s wife has been sole director and company secretary since May 2010.

The Kotsobola Group Unit Trust is associated with Kotsobola Group Pty Ltd in which John Barilaro was one of four founding directors until March 2012 when his wife became a director in his place. This company’s purpose Barilaro described in 2014 as “Property Development”.

Another “Property Development” company Barilaro and his wife were at different time directors of was Euro Partners Pty Ltd. They appear to have been shareholders along with three other individuals up to the company’s reregistration in July 2016.

Barilaro’s Member’s Disclosure forms since entering state parliament also record he had held shares in at least five racehorses of which only two were currently listed in 2019.

Scotty and Josh are riding the superannuation wrecking ball in 2020


Josh and Scotty a double act since 2018
IMAGE: The Guardian

Employers are required to fulfil their obligations under the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 (or under industrial agreements in many cases) to make superannuation contributions on behalf of their employees.

The current statutory rate of employer compulsory superannuation contributions is scheduled to rise incrementally by 10 per cent in 2021 and reach 12 per cent in 2024.

According to the Financial Review on 15 July 2019; Politicians, public servants and academics are among the est. 2 million workers or 18 per cent of all employees who would be unaffected if a scheduled rise in the compulsory Super Guarantee from 9.5 per cent to 10 per cent to 12 per cent did not occur as their existing employer superannuation contribution is already above 12 per cent.

Another est. 300,000 people, or 3 per cent of all employees are not included in the Super Guarantee as they earn less than $450 a month before tax and est. 63 per cent of these workers are female.

Add to this the reportedly 2.2 million employees who do not receive their full super entitlements because their employers unlawfully do not pay all or any employer contributions to eligible workers and, the size of the workforce who might receive a benefit from a 0.5 per cent increase in the Super Guarantee next year has shrunk to est. 8.2 million workers.

Based on full-time average adult weekly earnings in October 2020 an employer’s compulsory superannuation contribution per worker would be est. $651 per month at 9.5% in 2020 and $681 per month at 10% in 2021.

That’s an increase of $30 a month or $7.50 a week next year.

A dollar a day is not going to break either the employer or the worker and, at the end of the 2021-22 financial year there would be an extra $415 in interest payments in that worker's superannuation account – and if that worker has another 30 years before retirement that $415 dollars in interest could represent up to $29,000 more in his/her superannuation account at the end of that time period.

When one considers that an est. 98 per cent of all businesses in Australia employ 20 or less people and as that would only mean an employer contribution increase of $20 or less a day for the vast majority of employers, it is hard to see this as an unreasonable move.

After all, even the Morrison Government admits that superannuation assists middle income earners to smooth their income over their lives, and Without compulsory superannuation, middle income earners would not save enough for retirement.

However, the Abbott-Trunbull- Morrison Government does not fancy 8.2 million workers receiving an extra $30 a month in their super accounts next year.

So Josh Frydenberg is doing a good imitation of Chicken Little and screeching the sky will fall if $1 a day is added to a worker’s superannuation account in 2021. 

He bespoke a study from Treasury to back him up when it comes to not increasing the Super Guarantee this year and moving towards a policy of forcing homeowners on age pensions or retirees with little super to either sell their house or borrow against it in order to fund retirement, so that Scott Morrison can happily continue his personal war on the poor and vulnerable.

Put simply the Morrison Government is arguing that neither workers, their bosses nor the national economy can afford an increase in the amount of money which enters a worker’s superannuation for his/her financial benefit on retirement.

Quite frankly I see no real justification for that stance.

A stance that is also incredibly hypocritical given that by 2007 the Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Scheme saw newly elected federal parliamentarians receiving government compulsory contributions into their own superannuation accounts at a rate of 15.4 per cent in order to bring superannuation arrangements for parliamentarians in line with current community standards.

The lack of congruence between what federal politicians see as community standards applicable to themselves and community standards as applicable to ordinary workers is so marked that the ordinary voter has begun to notice......


Sunday 29 November 2020

Australian Society: because there are some things about ourselves we should never forget


Inquiry in accordance with section 27(3) of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Regulation 2016, into incidents rumoured to have occurred between 2005 to 2016 and recommendations for referral to the Australian Federal Police for criminal investigation.

IGADF Afghanistan Inquiry P... by clarencegirl

The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 November 2020:

In the wake of devastating allegations about members of Australia’s SAS force serving in Afghanistan – with soldiers accused on “credible information” of unlawfully killing 39 unarmed Afghans – a predictable schism has emerged in the commentary.

On one side are those who reel in horror, shocked at the number and authoritative detail of the allegations leveled at soldiers who – as heirs of the Anzac tradition – we are culturally conditioned to think are beyond reproach.

On the other are those who either deny outright that anything appalling could have occurred or – a la the famous speech by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men – insist that things happen on the far front-lines and the rest of us have no right to criticise. It is as seductive a defence as it is outrageous – for it is following the rules of engagement which separates soldiers from a mob of murderers. But in the case of the SAS allegations, a frequent historical episode invoked to urge caution in condemnation is the court-martial and execution of Harry "Breaker" Morant 120 years ago, near the end of the Boer War…..

The line is that Morant was honourable, doing no more than following orders, and that his own trial was a travesty of justice. Now, while I pretend to no expertise in the matter of the SAS, on the matter of Morant, I write as one who recently released a book on the subject, deeply bolstered by the work of four researchers, two of whom have PhDs in history, one in military history.

And the evidence is overwhelming. Morant was indeed responsible for the worst British atrocities of the Boer War, including the shooting of an unarmed prisoner; the gunning down of four Afrikaan fighters and four Dutch commandos who had surrendered, and the shooting of a Boer farmer and his two teenage sons.

The man was a monster, but this has not prevented, particularly in recent times, an entire movement springing to life calling on Morant to receive a, get this, pardon. A pardon, for the man who didn't bother to deny murdering surrendered prisoners? Who cared so little for the law or the rules that in his famous speech in the court-martial, boasted that he “got them and shot them under Rule .303” …..

Saturday 28 November 2020

Before and After Scummo


As of 23 November 2020 Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had accrued 62 derogatory nicknames - most on social media but some travelled over to mainstream media.

After Morrison became prime minister in 2018 he employed a personal photographer at taxpayer expense and equipped his little media team with so many cameras, video recorders etc. that they almost became an expense item in the Office of Prime Minister budget.

Still his little propaganda machine cannot always protect his chosen image.

This was Morrison's latest self-promotion effort:

Morrison in COVID-19 quarantine in The Lodge
November 2020
IMAGE: Adam Taylor

And this was Scott Morrison as the global Twitter network saw him:

Morrison in COVID-19 quarantine in The Lodge
November 2020
IMAGE: @PrinPeta

Quote of the Week


“ I don’t want to believe our government is using the pandemic to shove women, especially mothers, back into the kitchen and back into financial dependence of their husbands, I really don’t. But when you put it all together, it’s hard not to reach that conclusion. Whether this is part of an ideological belief that women should be at home, looking after the kids, or just an inability to see or care about the fate of 51% of the population, the long-term consequences for the current generation of women are dire. Whether they want to think about it or not, younger women are now facing at least as high a risk of a desperately poor old age as their mothers and grandmothers did. Not thanks to Covid, but thanks to government policy.”  [Jane Caro, writing in The Guardian, 123 November 2020]

Friday 27 November 2020

Lismore electorate community groups receive $300,000 to keep bringing people together in their towns and villages


Office of the Labor Member for Lismore, 23 November 2020:

TABLE TENNIS ANYONE?: Lismore MP Janelle Saffin recently visited the Far North Coast Table Tennis Club’s Jim Armstrong Centre where she was hosted by President Peter McGrath, Manager-Coach Graeme Townsend and other active members. The club is one of this year’s grant recipients.

Local communities will benefit from 25 worthy projects worth $300,000 announced by State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin under the NSW Government’s 2020 Community Building Partnership Program today (Monday, 23 November 2020).

Ms Saffin said phoning representatives of community groups to notify them of their success in this extremely popular small grants program was one of the more pleasurable tasks she had to perform each year.

However, Ms Saffin repeated her calls for the NSW Government to at least double the CBPP allocation for each electorate from $300,000 to $600,000 or $1 million to fund more community infrastructure projects as the Northern Rivers and Northern Tablelands recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’m sure all MPs struggle with the assessment process when they have to rank a large number of very worthwhile projects for an available funding pool which is over-subscribed. An independent panel also assesses all applications against strict criteria.

I am looking forward to inspecting all of the 2020 projects as they are completed across my electorate and I will publicise the 2021 program when applications open early next year.”

Successful projects for 2020 include:

  • Gungyah Ngallingnee Aboriginal Corporation, near Tabulam – Jubullum Jarjums children’s and family play area, $37,124.

  • Lismore Tennis Club Incorporated – Court lighting and electrical upgrade, $20,999.

  • Police Citizens Youth Club (PCYC) Lismore – Sports hall lighting replacement/upgrade, $20,072.

  • Murwillumbah Showground Land Manager – Refurbish 100-year-old main food venue at Murwillumbah Showground, $20,000.

  • Lismore Basketball Association Incorporated – Retaining wall to secure stadium, $16,257.

  • Sunnyside Hall Management Committee Incorporated, Tenterfield Shire – Amenities upgrade, $15,000.

  • Murwillumbah Rural Fire Brigade – Electronic sign for bushfire warnings and other essential information, $15,000.

  • Murwillumbah Community Centre Incorporated – Repair and expansion of the Murwillumbah Community Food HUB, $14,241.

  • Mallanganee Memorial Hall – Provide trades services for completion of kitchen renovation, $14,000.

  • Murwillumbah Theatre Company Incorporated – Painting; electrical work; construction/installation of workbenches and props/costume storage, $14,000.

  • Murwillumbah Rowing Club Incorporated – Renovate club bathroom facilities, $12,400.

  • Urbenville & District Bowling Club Limited – Cool comfort for everyone, $11,750.

  • St John Ambulance Australia (NSW) – St John Ambulance Lismore stretcher, $11,499.

  • Tyalgum District Community Association Incorporated – Enhancement of Tyalgum’s social tennis court to support community participation, $11,284.

  • Northern NSW Helicopter Rescue Service Limited – Engineering work stands, $10,249.

  • Far North Coast NSW Table Tennis Association Incorporated – Facility enhancement for aged and disabled participants, $10,108.

  • Tenterfield Poultry Club Incorporated – Replace damaged building stumps, $10,000.

  • Tweed Valley Mountain Bike Riders – Towards establishing a mountain bike facility, $7500.

  • Kyogle Bowling Club Limited – Install new electricity board, $6463.

  • Uki Sport and Recreation Club Incorporated – Storage area, $5000.

  • The Corporate Trustees of the Diocese of Armidale for Tenterfield Shire project – Torrington All Saints Church restoration, $4582.

  • St Vincent de Paul Society NSW – Solar panels for Gunellabah clothes sorting centre, $4255.

  • Jiggi School of Arts Incorporated – Refurbishment of hall toilets to NSW and Australian standards, $3100.

  • Friends of the Pound (Tweed) Incorporated – Air-conditioning installation at its Murwillumbah South facility, $2617.

  • Riding for the Disabled Association NSW – Defibrillator for Riding for the Disabled Tweed Valley, $2500.

The Community Building Partnership Program has funded more than 15,000 community projects since it was established by the then Labor State Government in 2009.

Applications for the 2021 Program open in early 2021.

For more information about the NSW Government’s Community Building Partnership Program, visit

Thursday 26 November 2020

KOALA FACING EXTINCTION IN NSW: “I live on NSW North Coast, and our whole community is in uproar and distress.”


No trees, no me
IMAGE: Koala at Iluka in Clarence Valley, supplied

The Sydney Morning Herald, opinion piece, 22 November 2020:

Sorry, what, Premier?

Our farmers deserve certainty,” you and your Deputy Premier John Barilaro said in statement after one of your own, Catherine Cusack, crossed the floor on Thursday afternoon to thwart what would have been yet more devastating land-clearing legislation hastening the extinction of koalas.

And what, pray tell, do our koalas deserve, Premier? Who speaks up for them? Premier, as you know better than most, for 240 years since colonisation this continent has wiped out habitat after habitat, eco-system after eco-system, species after species. In recent years – even as the consequences of environmental devastation have been realised – the ongoing land-clearing has been justified on the reckoning that we just need a few more developments, a few more swathes of trees gone, another election or two won, and then we can stop. But we are getting near the end of the line. If it is not our generation that stops the endless clearing to protect the koalas and other species, which generation is it? If it is not a Premier with your smarts and former reputation for integrity that will stand up for what you know is right, then which one? For you know how bad this legislation is! When two-thirds of NSW koalas live on private property, you seriously want to defend legislation that allows owners to wipe them out at will? But you still backed down anyway to John Barilaro who refers to koalas as “tree rats” and put out a press release with him blathering about how the farmers deserve better.

The hero of the piece is Lib Catherine Cusack who crossed the floor to stop the legislation, and she makes the point to me that you and yours do the NSW farmers a serious disservice.

The claim that farmers want this,” she told me, “is overwhelmingly false. They love koalas and do not defend the minority cowboys and corporations. I really believe farmers share community values and wielding them as an excuse defames farmers. I live on NSW North Coast, and our whole community is in uproar and distress. The councils up here asked for greater power to protect habitat and the bill removes them.”

That bill is a disgrace, and you know it, Premier. This time Ms Cusack has stopped it, but it needs more Libs and Nats of integrity to also speak out and say what needs to be said, to support her – or at least kill it off in the back rooms. We are looking at you, Rob Stokes and Matt Kean for starters.

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Berejiklian Government paying Perth-based mining exploration corporation to drill in the Clarence Valley

It puzzled me at first as to why there was a sudden rash of mining exploration applications and licences granted in the Clarence River catchment.

IMAGE: supplied

After all, over the last twenty or so years there had always been the odd speculative chancer who, after doing damage to the land inside an exploration license area, had moved on to pastures new or run out of funds to proceed.

However, that was before I realised just how toxic was the mix of a federal Morrison Coalition Government and a state Berejiklian Coalition Government -  when combined with the mindless beserker ambitions of the NSW Nationals and their environmental-vandal-in-chief, the current regional csar, NSW Deputy-Premier, Minister for Regional New South Wales, Industry and Trade and MLC for Monaro, The Hon. (John) Giovanni Domenic Barilaro.

A man intent on overseeing the: logging of every harvestable native tree in Clarence Valley forests and open timbered land until the koala and other unique wildlife has gone from the valley never to return; chocking of our hinterland streams and creeks with mining waste or land slippage so that even our larger rivers become compromised; and, clear felling of as much coastal land as possible for the benefit of rapacious property developers.

We are not alone in facing this explosion of exploitative culture - the entire North Coast and the remainder of regional NSW are also in the firing line, as the Nationals minority partner plays the game of mates and a cowed Liberal majority partner in the Coalition looks the other way because it is afraid of being a minority government.

The Berejiklian Government is subsiding exploration. Currently it has granted Perth-based Corazon Mining Limited (the corporation mentioned in the video), a reimbursement of 50 per cent of per-metre drilling costs, up to a maximum of $200,000 with regard to its cobalt-copper-gold exploration lease near Mt. Gilmore approximately 25km northwest of Grafton, as part of the state's New Frontiers Cooperative Drilling program. 

The Mt. Gilmore area is only one of seven areas on the North Coast within which the Berejiklian Government has indicated that it may be willing to subsidise mineral exploration for 'high tech metals'.

If North Coast Voices readers from elsewhere in the regions think that their area is safe from the threat of mining, look closely at the Dept. of Primary Industries MinView mapping of mineral exploration, assessment, mining applications and licenses as of 22 November 2020:

Coal and petroleum are not included in this state-wide mapping.

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Erosion continues along Byron Bay coastline in 2020


Byron Bay storm erosion 31 July 2020 from BluecoastConsultingEngineers on Vimeo.

Echo NetDaily, 18 November 2020:

The state government is set to install sand bags at Clarkes Beach to protect the Beach Byron Bay cafe and Whites Cottage from the coastal erosion that has decimated the popular strip.

But it says the bags are just a temporary measure to give the building owners time to ‘reconfigure’ their premises, and that the cafe owner has been told to prepare for ‘future retreat’.

Management strategies were discussed at an urgent meeting held last month by the various state and local agencies who have responsibility for the Clarkes Beach area, including Council, Crown Lands and the Environment Department.

Clarkes has been severely affected by erosion over the past 12 to 18 months, with tonnes of sand stripped away exposing a rock shelf beneath. The beach is littered with uprooted pandanus trees, and the eroded dune line is now within metres of the Beach Byron Bay cafe.

There has also been further exposure of Aboriginal middens……

Representatives from a number of the agencies also expressed their views about the causes of the erosion; most were generally in agreement. This included an expert from the NSW Environment Department’s Sciences Group, who said the erosion was owing to a general reduction in the frequency of southerly swells, which played an important role in bringing sand to Clarkes Beach and Main Beach.

At the same time, there was an increase in the frequency of east and/or north east swells – patterns that have the effect of taking sand away from the beaches.

The net result over time is that the shoreline is undergoing a long-term trend of landward recession…’ the expert reportedly told the meeting.

Shoreline recession will also be influenced by sea level rise. An erosion period is occurring at the moment with no way to estimate when it will end. History tells us that the shorelines will eventually accrete [gather more sand]; however, when this will occur there is no way to know’.

[my yellow highlighting]

The Guardian, 20 October 2020:

Australia’s famous Byron Bay beach has been closed to swimmers and surfers as authorities carry out emergency sandbagging to prevent further damaging erosion.

Escalating erosion at Main Beach and Clarkes Beach in the northern New South Wales town has left a drop of several metres from the top of crumbling dunes down to the beach.

Max Pendergast, a 77-year-old local who has lived and surfed at Byron Bay his whole life, told Guardian Australia he had never seen the beaches in a worse condition.

I’ve been through quite a few big cyclones, I’ve seen the sea come over the six-metre high dunes, but what’s happening now is an etching away of the beach,” he said.

It looks pretty ugly right now, because a lot of the beach is just gone. It’s very bad.”

Pendergast said he noticed the beach deteriorate significantly over the past six months, and said he was concerned that if erosion continued waves would threaten units and the road along the beachfront.

Not that long ago it was beautiful white sand all the way down to the water, but now it’s just rock, it really has eaten it away......

Monday 23 November 2020

How the scandal plagued Berejiklian Government bill to extinguish the protection of koalas and their shelter & food trees in NSW went down


At 3pm on Thursday 19 November 2020 the NSW Legislative Council considered the second reading of Local Land Sevices Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill 2020.

Thirty-seven members of the Legislative Council attended the Chamber for the passage of this bill, although not all participated in the debate.

The debate on the bill itself went for 5 hours and 24 minutes before the bells rang for a vote.

Here are excerpts drawn from the Hansard record of this debate:

The Hon. SARAH MITCHELL (Liberal Party): 

With the endorsement of the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, I make this statement now in this second reading speech: There will be no ministerial direction requiring any local council to zone core koala habitat as an environmental zone—period. The Local Land Services Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill 2020 will help to ensure that primary production is regulated consistently and fairly right across New South Wales, making it easier for the agriculture and forestry sectors to invest in the future. Government action now is essential to reduce regulatory burden and simplify the interaction between areas requiring additional environmental protection on rural land.

A slow undermining of farmers' rights and the Local Land Services Act, which is such a critical reform for farmers and this Government, will not be allowed to happen on our watch. The last time I introduced a bill into this House I stood in defence of a farmer's right to farm and their right to go about their business without being subject to on-farm invasions. I was proud to introduce the toughest raft of penalties anywhere in the country for this highly dangerous and disgusting trespass activity to which farmers were being subjected. I said then that I would be back with further reforms. This bill is one piece of the puzzle. It is a significant next step forward for farmers today by unscrambling some of the issues about how we regulate on-farm activities.

Ms CATE FAEHRMANN (The Greens Party): 

Up and down the mid North Coast and the North Coast hundreds of thousands of hectares of private native forestry plans have been approved within which there is a lot of core koala habitat. The timber industry has been consulted on the bill and loves it because, lo and behold, if core koala habitat is not already mapped it ends up for grabs…..

In his second reading speech the agriculture Minister said that the bill amending the Local Land Services Act has come about after years of consultation with farmers. Basically he said that the bill will make farmers very happy and that the key people with whom he consulted were the NSW Farmers Association and the timber industry. I will talk briefly about what the new koala SEPP was going to do. After speaking with the environment Minister, the planning Minister and various people in this place about what on earth this bill was about, we were assured that it is okay because it tightens the definition of "koala habitat". That it is what we had been after for some time because it puts in 123 feed trees and that it is a great step because more koala habitat will be protected and expanded. But a new definition of "core koala habitat" is useless if it cannot be applied to where it is needed most. The bill expressly prohibits that. Every time we heard something else about the bill, you could almost hear the committee members who sat on the koala inquiry asking, "What? They have done what?"

After the year we have had, after the bushfires, after the inquiry finding that koalas will become extinct in New South Wales before 2050 without urgent Government intervention to prevent ongoing loss and fragmentation of koala habitat, the National Party has the gall to try to get away with this absolutely disgraceful bill. Perhaps that is fair enough, given The National Party's strong track record of being anti-environment. I would welcome any National Party member coming forward to explain how this bill is not an anti-environment bill. In fact, we heard a lot of that in the lower House and not a single member of the Liberals spoke in favour of this incredible compromise that the National Party came up with. To hear the agriculture Minister say in his second reading speech that he worked collaboratively with the Premier's office and with the planning Minister's office makes one wonder what the hell was going on with this legislation. After all of the fanfare and all of the promises, they booted out the environment Minister Matt Kean for having the gall to talk about doubling koala numbers. For goodness sake! They boot him out and say, "We will take over, there's nothing to see here. Go away, let's do this bill…..

During debate in this place on the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party bill—which tried to do something similar but went a little further—on the day that the Minister's bill was second read in the other place, the Hon. Ben Franklin quoted the Hon. Mark Banasiak. He basically said that Sydney-based greenies should keep their noses out of any affairs in the bush. Pretty much everybody cares about koalas. Maybe a few people in The Nationals call them and think of them as "tree rats", but pretty much everybody I speak to right across New South Wales cares. In fact, people call my office and every office from across the country and, indeed, the world. More than 10,000 emails were sent on a single day, crashing the server. I do not think I have seen more emails on an issue. It is koalas, for goodness sake; we are talking about koalas. It is not a city-based greenie issue; this is an Australian issue. This is our national icon and the most loved animal not just in Australia but also the world. It wins so many contests and surveys as the most loved animal…..

Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE (Christian Democrats Party): 

Like other members of this House I have a great love and attraction for our koalas. I will do all that I can to ensure—as we are doing in this legislation—that we protect particularly those major areas of habitat in Ballina, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Lismore and Port Stephens.

The Hon. CATHERINE CUSACK (Liberal Party)

A hundred years ago the New South Wales Government supported a thriving primary industry in the name of jobs, property rights, economic growth and revenues to the public purse. The industry operated across all States and involved the slaughter of well over 8 million koalas and the export of their furs, mainly to the United Kingdom. At least 4 million koala pelts were sent to the USA, and trade only ceased when the American Secretary of Commerce signed an order prohibiting further imports. How embarrassing. The koalas were hunted to functional extinction in South Australia. Well-intentioned conservationists alarmed by the losses relocated several koalas to Kangaroo Island, which had never before had koalas. This created a new environmental disaster on the fragile environment of that island that is still being mitigated today. In Victoria it is estimated that hunting continued until barely 1,000 koalas were left, and the Australia Koala Foundation estimates that fewer than 500 were left alive in New South Wales.

After that the slaughter moved north to Queensland, where a month-long event known as "Black August" in 1927 saw more than 800,000 koalas killed. We have made so many mistakes. The koala fur traders that profited from their pelts are all dead and gone, but the impacts of what they did are with us today. One day all of us here in this Chamber will be dead and gone, but the impacts of what we decide today will last forever. I do not want this Government or this Parliament to be remembered for a massive policy error, added to the very long list of errors that we have already been making for more than a century—particularly when everyone from scientists to councils to passionate communities are telling us so clearly that this is not what they want.

It is safe to say that in my own North Coast region, fragile koala numbers have declined significantly. We know that the region lost an estimated 71 per cent of its already endangered koalas during the Black Summer fires. Our koalas are in so much trouble. The plight of koalas is really well understood by my community, and indeed by the whole world, which donated tens of millions of dollars in a stunning act of generosity to funds established specifically help koalas. My community is incredibly distressed by this legislation. In all of the communications sent to me on this issue, I have not had a single person ask me to vote for this bill—not one. I cannot find a constituency for this legislation. All I can find is enormous distress and mistrust. The Minister's second reading speech referring to a promise by the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces not to proclaim any more environmental lands was a huge shock to me personally. It was really hard for me to process as a lifelong Liberal…..

I admit that this bill brings to the surface many disappointments. Nine years ago I thought that there was a lot of hope and promise for the environment. But this has brought me to a tipping point because of the reframing of policy that began with catchment management authorities being removed from the Environment portfolio and handed to the primary industries Minister by former Premier Barry O'Farrell. Those disappointments have of course had to be endured for the sake of loyalty. But as members are aware, the shock of what happened to the portfolio and the incremental stripping away of protections from Environment and Planning and into a Primary Industry framework have been very difficult to swallow—particularly since the models that we have been dismantling were set up by the Liberal Party and The Nationals during the Greiner years. It is our own good work that we have been undoing…..

I have received assurances that the bill is not as bad as it looks and that it will be amended and improved, but the problem is that I have to deal with what is on the table before me, and the risk is too high to rely on those assurances. I have done that in the past and I have felt foolish for doing so. Mention has been made of the departure of the bill from the Cabinet decision, which I find shocking. I feel for my colleagues, including Ministers, who voted for the bill in the other place, believing incorrectly it had been approved by Cabinet. Truly, I have not encountered such poor integrity of processes, which all members have no choice but to trust and rely upon. My faith in those processes has been shattered. I have friends in Cabinet, and they are great Liberals with whom I have worked for decades. My position on the bill today inflicts enormous harm on those relationships. I cannot say how sad and sorry I am for that.

I apologise to the Premier, to my party and to our Coalition partners. I believe they are all good people. The damage that is inflicted by the bill is not what they wanted or intended, but the flawed processes means that that is what has been delivered. I believe in my heart that what I am doing today will assist the Government. The Premier, the planning Minister and the environment Minister could not have tried harder to ask me to support the bill. They should not be blamed for the fallout from today. I hope we can stop yelling at each other, work like adults for our communities and listen to each other and create consensus where there is chaos. I do not think that is a fairytale; I believe it is achievable if we leave ourselves out of the policy and go with the science and the facts.

I will make mention of Glen Turner, an inspector who lost his life in a shocking event. All members have a responsibility to honour him and to respect the sacrifice that he made. One person's humble career on the floor of Parliament is insignificant compared with what occurred in that incident. I acknowledge Glen and I thank him and his family. I will move an amendment to the bill in the earnest belief that a more transparent process will assist the bill, the Government and the community to come together in the great cause of saving our koalas. There is nothing to fear from an all-party inquiry, and there is much to be gained from inspiring confidence in the community. I thank the House for the opportunity to put my thoughts on record. I move:

That the question be amended by omitting "be now read a second time" and inserting instead "be referred to Portfolio Committee No. 7 - Planning and Environment for inquiry and report".

The Hon. JOHN GRAHAM (Labor Party)

We are so far from that with the bill. We are so far from that world, which is possible. The bill heads in the opposite direction. I am concerned that that is the case because of the culture of the Government: the developers are out in force, the tipsy developers wandering through the Premier's office, the developers housed in the pub at Taree are part of the fundraiser and the walking ATM back on the typewriter. That is the culture of the Government. Our concern, and the planning Minister's concern, is that that culture is driving the bill. Secondly, members have been critical about the maps and how some of the aerial surveillance is regulated. There are real concerns with how that is working. My concern there is that the system has not been resourced properly to settle those questions. Of course, the way to settle questions is with science, but the science to proof the maps is not there if the money is not there or to ground-truth what is going on. That is what is falling over: the decline in the funding for the regulatory agencies. The loss of skills as people lose hope and leave the regulatory agencies is killing our ability to be settle those issues through science. That is bad for everyone. That is bad for anyone who wants to see a result in the area. The best bit of the Hon. Catherine Cusack's speech was when she described to koala plans of management as a little bit complicated—not a truer word could have been spoken. It is complicated if we are going to regulate it properly.

Finally, I want to talk about the consequences. Members have been clear that the situation is very bad for koalas. Koalas will be extinct by 2050 if we do not get it right. We are heading in the wrong direction, but my concern about the past few years—but more than anything, about this bill—is that we are heading back to the forest wars. That is bad for everyone. That is not where members of the Government want to go because it is drawing the attention of environmental activists across the State and country who, frankly, were concerned about climate change and tackling that issue. They are being drawn back to New South Wales and the natural resource policies of the Government because of what is going on. The Government is drawing the attention of those activists and legislators. It is drawing the attention of this House, the Opposition and the crossbench. The issue is becoming more and more controversial. It is drawing the attention of the community, not only in Australia but also around the world, and that attention is not going to go away.

As the Hon. Catherine Cusack said, the bill is dragging us back to a time before the Greiner years. We had been moving towards consensus on some of those issues over Labor and Liberal governments, but the conflict is gearing up because of the approach. It is not just this bill; it is the other context I talked about. The bill is clearly drawing the attention. That is bad for farmers, forestry workers, environmentalists and regional communities. That is the problem if we gear up that conflict. Those issues rely on trust, faith and an understanding that we can work together. There is an optimistic path but the bill is so far from it. That is the Opposition's concern. I am glad that the Hon. Catherine Cusack mentioned Glen Turner and his family. He paid the price for one of those conflicts, which is what happens when we let loose those conflicts across the State. We should act very carefully and the Opposition will try to do that. The real fear is that the forest wars that the State has suffered over decades will really set us all back.

The Hon. MARK BANASIAK (Shooter, Fishers and Farmers Party): 

The Local Land Services Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill 2020 is a good example of the National Party's inability to negotiate outcomes for the bush with the Liberal Party. We sincerely appreciate the effort of Minister Adam Marshall, despite him being undermined by the pretend Nationals Deputy Premier John Barilaro in what can be described as his Winston Churchill moment, appeasing his Liberal masters.…..

As I have said already, Minister Adam Marshall has proven, once again, that he is one of the few sharp tools in the shed of the National Party in this Parliament. The Hon. Wes Fang is another. We achieved a lot together with Minister Marshall during debate on the Right to Farm Bill 2019. We are looking forward to achieve similar outcomes on this important Local Land Services Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill. However, that may not happen because the Hon. Catherine Cusack has gone a bit rogue. Either she will vote against the bill or she will refer it to a portfolio committee controlled by The Greens or an inquiry. Either way, The Nationals have been bent over the barrel unceremoniously. Who is the winner in all of this? It is definitely not the National Party.

The Hon. MATTHEW MASON-COX (The National Party): 

Those people sit in their offices in their ivory towers pretending that they know what is best for the people who, for generations, have been looking after the lands which they have held in trust. They are very conscious of environmental issues, yet their stewardship and responsibility to their land and the environment is not recognised. Instead, we have another set of regulations and a number of maps that have been put through a local government process that, over time—particularly on the North Coast—have been taken over by people with a one-eyed view about what the environment means to them.

That is the problem. We cannot continue down this pathway of undermining the paradigm and framework that was carefully put in place in 2016. The codes under those Acts have embedded the protections so far as the environment is concerned, as well as biodiversity, land clearing and private native forestry. It is all there. Let us not pretend that this system is going to make it any better. It confuses everything right down the line. Let us go back to the simple processes that the Coalition Government carefully put in place at that time and enhance them where we need to through that Local Land Services framework. We should be doing that and not get caught up in State environment planning instruments. My view is that those types of SEPPs should be disallowed by this House of Parliament, because we are basically giving all those powers for those planning instruments to local governments, which are undermining the absolute basis of planning in this State, particularly in rural lands outside the cities.

The Hon. MARK PEARSON (Animal Justice Party): 

There are times in my political life when I step back in amazement at the terrible cruelty so casually inflicted upon the animals with whom we share this island continent. Reading the provisions of the Local Land Services (Amendment) Miscellaneous Bill 2020 and understanding its implications for koalas in particular is one of those occasions. Combined with the recent changes to the State Environment Planning Policy No. 44 (Koala Habitat Protection)—the koala SEPP— the effect of the bill has a diabolical impact on the survival of koalas in New South Wales. This is neither histrionics nor an overstatement. My concern is shared by every reputable conservation and environmental organisation in this country and the world. The ink is barely dry on the report of this House after its 12-month inquiry into New South Wales koala populations, which found that koala numbers were down to 15,000 to 20,000 and that koalas were at risk of extinction by 2050.

The bill will bring forward that estimated date of extinction. The bill and the revised SEPP make an absolute mockery of the Government's very recent promises to prevent the extinction of koalas on their watch. Senior Ministers such as the planning Minister, Rob Stokes, and the environment Minister, Matt Kean, have made very public statements about increasing protections for koalas. As recently as 21 September, Minister Stokes stated that, "The fact is you can't save the koala and remove koala habitat at the same time.” Minister Kean told The Sydney Morning Herald on 26 July:

I don't want to see the koala extinct by 2050, I want to see their population doubled by 2050 … Koalas are the most iconic example of our mismanagement of the environment and we've got to say 'enough is enough'.

That is not the Opposition, The Greens or the Animal Justice Party stating that. That is Minister Kean saying that he will ask the Chief Scientist to assemble an expert panel to develop a 30-year plan.

Yet, instead of a properly considered plan made by the environmental experts, there is this hastily put together bill, which completely abrogates any responsibility that the Government owes to the protection of koalas. The only thing missing to finish off koalas is to issue free chainsaws to every landholder and tell them to go for it.

The Hon. MARK LATHAM (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation: 

The green ideology on this is all about control….

You are not interested so much in the koalas as the trees. If the wombat or the echidna could climb trees, they would have a SEPP as well. They are the forgotten marsupials. Menzies had his forgotten people; I have the forgotten marsupials in this debate and I want them to be considered just as much. This is ableist discrimination. The Greens discriminate against them because they are disabled in the sense that they cannot climb a tree. It is ableism, as they term it in their mad, politically correct world of language. Let us get back to the basics of the parameters I have outlined in the speech. The history does not reflect well on Federal and State Government, but the Minister is doing the right thing. The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party has magnificent amendments that One Nation supports. Hopefully that package will go through and we will forget the nonsense going off to The Greens committee.

Mr JUSTIN FIELD (Independent): 

If this legislation passes it will represent a total capitulation by the majority of the Liberal Party to the tantrums of Deputy Premier John Barilaro and The Nationals. Far from being a koala hero that stared down John Barilaro, if the bill becomes law the Premier will have buckled in the face of that tantrum by a political party that has absolutely no credibility when it comes to natural resource management in this State—never mind our shared natural environment. We have seen the papers. We have seen the tantrum, the showdown, the stare‑down, the peace deal and the breakdown of the peace deal. Now we are somehow expected to believe tantrummer-in-chief Deputy Premier John Barilaro has stepped in to save the day. We have had pushback today from the Hon. Catherine Cusack. About an hour ago the next phase started when Channel 7 reporter Alex Hart tweeted:

It's understood Nats have called an urgent partyroom meeting for 630pm, with their land rights (koala) bill about to be voted down in Upper House given Lib Cusack is opposed. When asked what this means, one Nat Minister replied "war".

That is the maturity that we are dealing with here. None of that makes sense based on the bill in front of us. Either the bill goes significantly further than the deal apparently struck and represented in the media by planning Minister Rob Stokes, acting Nationals leader Paul Toole and agriculture Minister Adam Marshall, or the spin around the deal did not reflect the actual agreement or the Cabinet decision. If a new peace deal has been negotiated by the Deputy Premier and the subject of yesterday'sThe Sydney Morning Herald story, then where are the amendments from the Government to implement it?

Where we are with this piece of legislation has become farcical. The reality is that the legislation will strip away significant protections for koalas and koala habitat. I will address something that has not been covered much today and that is the impact the bill will have on areas like wetlands and other critically important habitat on private land. It will do what The Nationals have always said they want to do; I am not surprised by this move. They do not want anyone other than their Minister and his legislation overseeing what happens on private land because they come at the debate from the perspective that rural landholders should have the right to manage their land as they see fit. I can understand how someone would arrive at that conclusion, but the consequences of that position are now apparent to us.

Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE (The Greens Party): 

Why is it happening? Because the Coalition is in some kind of meltdown and its internal ructions mean that it is introducing this legislation not because it thinks it is good policy, or fairly balances the environment and forestry and agricultural practices, but because there is a small group of National Party MPs—and some of their supporters in the Liberal Party—who are committed to sacrificing environmental and social values for short-term political gains, regardless of the damage it does to the environment, and even regardless of the damage it does to their own party and the Coalition.

The idea that development consent conditions differ between council areas seems to be one of the primary justifications for removing them when it comes to private native forestry practices. Because council A might impose a set of conditions on private native forestry operations and council B might impose a different set of conditions, the response in the bill is to abolish them entirely. The argument presented is that that is inefficient and creates red tape or green tape. Why does that happen in practice? Councils create land planning rules and put conditions on private native forestry operations based on the environmental and social issues that they are addressing in their local areas. It is a fact that councils can be responsive to the local area on that granular level, which makes it appropriate for different conditions to apply in different parts of the State.

The Hon. ADAM SEARLE (Labor Party): 

When the legislation we are now debating surfaced it was quite clear to a number of observers, including the Opposition, that The Nationals had essentially won their tussle with the Liberals, who had essentially capitulated in terms of protecting koala populations and what was in this bill. I will not canvass the details. Different members of this House—including my deputy, the Hon. Penny Sharpe—have done so eloquently. I will not repeat those arguments, but it is clear that the legislation is a complete sellout. We have also seen it transpire that, as people have examined the legislation more carefully, at least a big part of the Government or a large proportion of the Liberal Party has identified or believes the legislation that we are debating is not the legislation approved by the Coalition Cabinet. It contains elements that go well beyond what was understood to be agreed.

This is the fundamental basis upon which the Hon. Catherine Cusack rests her position and her proposed course of action. If that is in fact what has happened, there has been a breakdown in decision-making at the most senior levels in the Government. One wonders where the version or quality control is. Small wonder do we learn late this afternoon—probably a few minutes ago—that apparently the National Party is having a partyroom meeting to discuss this very problem. One wonders whether the koala crisis will engulf the Government once more. Is the National Party about to announce pulling out of the Government again? Time will tell. But it is quite clear that this legislation is fatally flawed, should be dispatched or sent to an inquiry. We will be supporting one or other of those courses of action.

The House divided a little after 8:38 pm and voted by 19 votes to 18 to amend the question being put to the House from the bill “be now be read a second time” to "be referred to Portfolio Committee No. 7 - Planning and Environment for inquiry and report".

This in effect means that the bill cannot come back before the Legislative Council until sometime in 2021.

It also means that there is a possibility that the Berejiklian Government will abandon this particular bill and begin writing its amendments to existing legislation all over again.

Later on the night of 19 November NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Deputy-Premier John Barilaro issued a joint media release which stated:

Today the Legislative Council resolved to send the Local Land Services (Miscellaneous) Bill 2020 to Parliamentary Committee 7 – Planning and Environment.

Our farmers deserve certainty and they do not deserve to be held to ransom by a Greens-controlled inquiry.

The Premier and the Deputy Premier have agreed the NSW Government will revert to operations under the former SEPP 44 by the end of the month and in the new year we will develop a policy to protect koalas and the interests of farmers.

Shortly thereafter the Premier issued this in another media release:

Media statement from Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Following her decision today to move a non-government amendment to a government bill, I have made the decision to immediately remove Ms Catherine Cusack as a Parliamentary Secretary.

On the morning of Friday 20 November 2020 concerned people around Australia responded on social media with the hashtag

I Stand With Catherine Cusack.


Those 18 MLCs who were not at all interested is supporting anything but their own political interests and who refused to support Ms. Cusack’s amendment were:

Lou Amato (Liberal)

Ben Franklin (Nationals)

Matthew Mason-Cox (Nationals)

Mark Banasiak (Shooter, Fishers and Farmers)

Trevor Khan (Nationals)

Sarah Mitchell (Nationals)

Robert Borsak (Shooter, Fishers and Farmers)

Mark Latham (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation)

Fred Nile (Christian Democrats)

Wes Fang (Nationals)

Natasha Maclaren-Jones (Liberal)

Rod Roberts (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation)

Scott Farlow (Liberal)

Shayne Mallard (Liberal)

Bronnie Taylor (Nationals)

Sam Farraway (Nationals)

Taylor Martin (Liberal)

Damien Tudehope (Liberal)