Monday 28 February 2022

ACOSS calls on Morrison Government to act on the 30 recommendations of the Senate Inquiry into Purpose, Intent and Adequacy of the Disability Support Pension


An est. 4.4 million Australians have a recognised disability and, included in this number are est. 1.4 million are considered to have a profound disability.

The majority of people with a disability live in private homes. Of these: 1 in 3 people need help with health care;  1 in 4 need help with property maintenance and/or household  chores; and 1 in 2 aged 5 and over have a schooling or employment restriction.

About 340,000 people living with a disability are on an approved plan with the National Disability Insurance Scheme. An est. 53% of people living with a disability are participating in paid employment and 43% rely on a government payments as their sole source of income. Approximately 64% of people with a disability who are not dependents are home owners. [AIHW, "People Living With A Disability 2020"]

Based on the last published Census in 2016, there are est. 19,840 living with a disability and, who require assistance with daily living, residing in the seven local government areas of Northern NSW from the Clarence Valley to Tweed Shire on the NSW-Qld border. That represents 5% of all people in NSW with a disability who require assistance.  

On 13 May 2021, the Senate referred an inquiry into the purpose, intent and adequacy of the Disability Support Pension to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 30 November 2021. That date was extended twice and the full report was tabled on 18 February 2022.

The full 145 page report can be found at:,intentandadequacyoftheDisabilitySupportPension.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf

Below is the response to this report by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS). 

Key disability advocacy groups join with ACOSS to urge the Australian Government to act on the Disability S... by clarencegirl on Scribd


Help Slow The Rate of Mindless Land Clearing in NSW: there is an open e-Petition on the NSW Parliament website to End Public Native Forest Logging. If you are a NSW resident, please consider signing


Logging truck in the Brooman State Forest less than a year after NSW 2019-20 bushfires destroyed more than 80 per cent of the Shoalhaven's bush. IMAGE: The Bush Telegraph, 12 October 2020.

NSW PARLIAMENT, retrieved 25 February 2022:

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY - Signing ePetition - End Public Native Forest Logging

To sign the ePetition, confirm you are a resident of New South Wales and enter your title, first name and last name. Once you click ‘submit’ you will have signed the ePetition and will be re-directed to the Legislative Assembly’s ‘ePetitions open for signature’ page

End Public Native Forest Logging

To the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly,

Public native forest logging is pushing iconic species like the koala, swift parrot and greater glider towards extinction.

The 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires burnt over 5 million hectares of forest and have left them more vulnerable to the impacts of logging. The Natural Resources Commission (NRC) and the Environmental Protection Agency have recommended that in bushfire affected areas logging should cease entirely or face tighter restrictions, as current logging practices may cause irreversible damage to ecosystems and wildlife.

Logging of public native forests is tax-payer subsidised. Forestry Corporation’s Hardwood Division has been operating at a significant loss for the past decade. In 2020/21 it ran at a loss of $20 million, with predictions that it will face losses of $15 million until 2024.

Reports also show our state forests can generate far more income through their protection than from logging, through recreation, tourism and carbon abatement.

The Western Australian and Victorian Governments have already committed to ending this industry and have developed transition plans to support affected workers and businesses.

The petitioners ask the Legislative Assembly to:

1. Develop a plan to transition the native forestry industry to 100% sustainable plantations by 2024.

2. In the interim, place a moratorium on public native forest logging until the regulatory framework reflects the recommendations of the leaked NRC report.

3. Immediately protect high-conservation value forests through gazettal in the National Parks estate.

4. Ban use of native forest materials as biomass fuel.

The petitioner of record is Ms Takesa Frank.

To sign the petition go to

This petition closes on 2 August 2022.

Please consider signing if you are a NSW resident.

Sunday 27 February 2022

In an election year all incumbent governments tend to paint rosy pictures of their tenures to date. Here are a few matters to consider whenever Prime Minister Morrison or any of his Cabinet Ministers talk up their own record


On 21 February North Coast Voices took a brief look at some aspects of daily life that get an airing in an election year - jobs, unemployment, underemployment, cost of living and level of consumer confidence - those basic building blocks by which we often understand how the economy is treating ordinary Australians.

Today the focus is on how governments and industries are treating the environments in which we live. This brief outline primarily looks at the eastern half of the country and only covers gasfields & pipelines, land clearing and the looming extinction crisis.

The Guardian, 23 February 2022:

Australia is spending billions to build thousands of kilometres of new gas pipelines that may end up worthless stranded assets as the world moves to deal with climate change. 

The warning comes in a new report by Global Energy Monitor tracking 600km of pipelines currently under construction and 12,200km of proposed new infrastructure across Australia, with the total value of this work amounting to $25.8bn (USD$18.6bn). 

According to the report, these projects include “substantial capacity expansions planned along the existing national network”, which “highlights the Australian government’s unbridled enthusiasm” for the gas industry despite the risk of creating stranded assets. 

Should they all go ahead, these pipelines would lock in decades of new production in several basins on the east coast including Beetaloo and Narrabri, and the Scarborough gas field in the north-west, by connecting them to export terminals. 

The location of existing and potential future supply and infrastructure options across Australia in the 2021 National Gas Plan. Photograph: Commonwealth of Australia 

While the projects tracked in the report are consistent with what appears in the 2021 National Gas Plan, it also includes the west-east pipeline proposed by former Dow Chemical Global chairman Andrew Liveris. Liveris, the deputy chair of oil and gas engineering consultancy Worley and director of the world’s largest oil company, Saudi Aramco, revived the idea of a $6bn trans-continental pipeline in 2020 as an architect of the Australian government’s gas-fired recovery in response to the global pandemic

The proposal – first suggested in the mid-1970s – has long been considered unviable for a range of reasons and the most recent iteration has faced opposition even from within the fossil fuel sector.....

The burning of fossil fuels such as gas is a key driver of global heating. Last year the International Energy Agency said limiting global heating to 1.5C, a goal set out in the Paris agreement, meant exploration and exploitation of new fossil fuel basins had to stop in 2021. 

Dan Gocher, Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility’s director of climate and the environment, said the scale of construction in Australia showed the “toxic level of influence” fossil fuel companies had on government. 

“We don’t need the gas,” Gocher said. “Gas demand on the east coast is forecast to flatline or decline.

Read the full article here


The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 September 2020:

....Santos' proposed $3.6 billion Narrabri gasfield...

...evidence that a neighbouring coal mine will cause a larger drop in groundwater levels....

Leaks of highly saline groundwater produced from test wells caused localised pollution, killing parts of the Pilliga state forest. 

The long-standing concerns include the gasfield sits within a major recharge zone for the Great Artesian Basin, its greenhouse gas emissions include potent methane, and the as-yet unresolved disposal of salt brought to the surface by the 850 proposed wells. 

 Stuart Khan, a water expert at the University of NSW, noted in his submission that at the low end of estimates the gasfield will produce 430,000 tonnes of salt over its 25-year life – or as much as 850,000 at the high end. 

The Guardian, 2 August 2021: 

Traditional owners opposed to fracking in the Beetaloo Basin have condemned the Morrison government for handing tens of millions of dollars to gas companies while Indigenous communities lack basic housing and health infrastructure. 

 A Senate inquiry on Monday heard from a series of traditional owners in the Northern Territory about plans to open up the Beetaloo Basin to gas exploration and fracking. 

The plan is part of the so-called “gas-led recovery” for stimulating economic growth following the pandemic and the federal government has already handed $21m in grants to Empire Energy, a firm with some links to the Liberal party, for exploratory drilling.  

Two other companies with exploration permits, Falcon Oil and Gas and Sweetpea Petroleum, share links with tax secrecy jurisdictions, a previous hearing of the Senate inquiry has heard. 

Traditional owners from Borroloola and Minyerri told the inquiry they feared fracking would poison their water and destroy the land. 

The traditional owners criticised a poor consultation and consent process, saying they had been given no information about the plans or told of any risks posed to the land by the fracking process.

GetUp!, 20 February 2022:

Just hours ago, the Morrison Government confirmed it was "getting on with the job of gas exploration" by granting almost $20 million to Empire Energy to frack to the Northern Territory's Beetaloo Basin. 

It comes just days after the NT was confirmed as a key election battleground, with Morrison parachuting in to kick off his unofficial election campaign on the ground. 

But while Morrison invited media to watch him sink beers in a top end pub, his policies — including fracking and racist housing cuts — show Morrison only thinks of the NT and its First Nations communities as a political football ripe for exploitation.

The Guardian, 17 February 2022:

The New South Wales government has admitted that land clearing has increased threefold over the past decade, woodlands and grasslands are deteriorating, and 62% of vegetation in the state is now under pressure from too much fire. 

The NSW State of the Environment 2021 report, released every three years, paints a grim picture for land and freshwater ecosystems, which are under increasing threat from habitat destruction, invasive species and the climate crisis. 

The report provides an overview of the environmental issues facing the state including for biodiversity, waterways and the climate. 

The number of species in NSW threatened with extinction has grown by 18 (to 1,043) since the previous report in 2018 and 64% of mammals are now considered to have suffered long-term reductions in their habitat range. 

Clearing of woody vegetation increased to an annual average of 35,000 hectares between 2017 and 2019, up from 13,000 hectares between 2009 and 2015. The rate of clearing for non-woody vegetation such as shrubs and grasses was even higher. 

Bird populations are declining, so too are freshwater fish populations, which were singled out as being in “very poor condition” across the state. 

More than 70% of endangered plants, animals and habitats in the state are threatened by invasive species, with pest animals and weeds costing the state’s economy $170m and $1.8bn respectively each year. 

The report, released on Wednesday by the NSW Environment Protection Authority, notes that although 62% of land-based species in the state are not considered to be threatened, the number of endangered species is expected to continue to grow. 

Although habitat restoration and revegetation programs are in place, these are “not restoring native vegetation at the rate of permanent clearing”, the report states. 

“Management and conservation efforts will not be enough to save many species without addressing key threats such as habitat removal and climate change.” 

The report highlights the devastating effects of the 2019-20 bushfires disaster, which affected 62% of the state’s vegetation communities, which are now under pressure from too much burning. 

It finds that although native vegetation covers 69% of NSW, the ecological carrying capacity of this vegetation is estimated to be just 31% of natural levels in the aftermath of fires..... 

The full article can be read here.

On 29 January 2022 Australian Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison in an election-focussed media release announced: "The Morrison Government will invest a record $50 million to boost the long-term protection and recovery efforts for Australia’s koalas". [my yellow highlighting]

Not one of the five aims this 'investment' involved stopping the barely regulated clearing of koala habitat including the felling of vital shelter & feed trees by the forestry industry, urban fringe developers and broad scale farming.

This was the response from the North East Forest Alliance

Scott Morrison announcement of $50 million for Koalas is a smokescreen to cover-up his Government’s approval for increased logging and clearing of Koala habitat, while allowing climate heating to run amok, threatening the future of both Koalas and the Great Barrier Reef, according to the North East Forest Alliance. 

“Without good policies on habitat protection and climate change no amount of money will save Koalas, said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh. 

“If Scott Morrison was fair dinkum about protecting Koala habitat the first thing he would do is to stop their feed and roost trees being logged and cleared. Money is no good for Koalas if they have nowhere to live. 

“The second is to take urgent and meaningful action on climate heating, as Koalas and their feed trees have already been decimated by intensifying droughts and heatwaves in western NSW, and bushfires in coastal areas. 

“If the Morrison Government doesn’t take urgent action on climate heating then neither Koalas nor the Great Barrier Reef will have a future. 

“When the Morrison Government issued an indefinite extension to the north-east NSW Regional Forest Agreement in 2018 they agreed to remove the need for Forestry Corporation to thoroughly search for Koalas ahead of logging and protect all identified Koala High Use Areas from logging. 

“They also agreed to overriding the NSW Governments own expert’s panel recommendations, supported by the EPA, to retain 25 Koala feed trees per hectare in modelled high quality habitat, by reducing retention down to just 10 smaller trees. 

“Thanks to the Morrison Government we now have a shoddy process where a few small trees are protected in inaccurately modelled habitat, while loggers rampage through Koala’s homes, and if a Koala is seen in a tree then all they need to do is wait until it leaves before cutting its tree down. 

“Now Scott Morrison is allowing the Forestry Corporation to log identified refuges in burnt forests where Koalas survived the fires

“The situation on private lands is just as dire. Morrison did nothing to save Koala habitat when his State National Party colleagues declared war on Koalas in mid 2020 and forced his Liberal colleagues to agree to remove protection for mapped core Koala habitat and to open up protected environmental zones for logging. This too is covered by Morrison’s Regional Forest Agreement. 

“If he really cared about the future of Koalas the first thing Morrison needs to do is amend the Regional Forest Agreement to ensure there are surveys by independent experts to identify core Koala habitat for protection before clearing or logging. 

“Paying for the surveys and providing assistance to affected landholders would be a good use of taxpayers money. 

“The second thing is to stop new coal and gas projects, because to have any chance of saving Koalas and the Great Barrier Reef we must act urgently to reduce our CO2 emissions, rather than increasing them. 

With the assistance of the Environmental Defenders Office, NEFA is challenging the validity of the North East NSW Regional Forest Agreement on the grounds that the Commonwealth has not duly considered climate change, threatened species and old growth forest. The case is listed for hearing by the Federal Court on 28 March. 

“For the future of Koalas, and our growing lists of threatened species, I hope we are successful” Mr. Pugh said. 


NRC Advice – Coastal IFOA remake (November 2016) p41 

NEFA letter to NSW Environment Minister Griffin 10/1/22 

[my yellow highlighting]

There is a sad list on Wikipedia containing the names of unique Australian fauna that is thought to have been driven to extinction since 1788. It includes the names of 24 birds, 4 frogs. 2 reptiles, 6 invertebrates and 26 mammals, with another 3 mammals thought to be extinct. The last extinction was listed as occurring just six years ago in 2016.

Under Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, effective July 2000, the list of fauna species driven to extinction include 22 birds, 4 frogs, 1 reptile, 1 invertebrate, 39 mammals with the last mammal extinction occurring in 2016 and, 1 fish listed as extinct in the wild since 2005.

There are another 470 birds, frogs, reptiles, mammals and fish on the EP&BC Act list which are considered Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable and another 8 fish which are considered Conservation Dependent. The last mammal classified as Endangered was the Koala in February 2022.

If one looks closely at this long list of disappeared and disappearing fauna, an uncomfortable fact presents itself – since 2014 the number of species which are another step closer to becoming functionally extinct at state, regional or local levels has increased and, some may be fully and irreversibly extinct in our lifetimes.

The plight of Australia's fauna is not an accident of history. It is the result of ignorance, greed, neglect and environmental vandalism, often ignored or condoned over centuries. For the first 113 years this occurred under Colonial and Dominion governments, however for the last 121 years this has occurred in an independent Federation under the by-laws, regulations and laws of the three tiers of government - local, state and federal. 

It is worth remembering it is federal legislation and regulations which have precedence. A fact Prime Minister Morrison is inclined to play down whenever he finds this politically inconvenient to acknowledge.

As for climate change mitigation.....

Crikey, 24 February 2022:

Australia’s largest fossil fuel companies systematically underestimate the amount of greenhouse gas emissions they will produce, according to new analysis.

What we know:

  • A report by the Australian Conservation Foundation found a fifth emit significantly more greenhouse gases than originally estimated in government approval processes (The Guardian);

  • Some fossil fuel operations emit more than 20 times what was predicted before they were approved;

  • Gas giant Chevron was the worst offender, with its Gorgon LNG plant producing an additional 16m tonnes of emissions;

  • Whitehaven’s Maules Creek coalmine was another major offender, emitting three to four times more greenhouse gas emissions than initially estimated;

  • ACF lead environmental investigator Annica Schoo said it proved the federal government’s safeguard mechanism was ineffective;

  • It comes as the Morrison government reissues almost $20m in grants to gas drilling projects in the Beetaloo Basin after the federal court thwarted its first attempt (Renew Economy);

  • A new study meanwhile finds climate change has intensified the water cycle and shifted at least twice the amount of freshwater away from warm regions than previously thought (The Guardian).



“….I find that the Contracts Decision was legally unreasonable. No question arises as to the materiality of that error so as to avoid it being characterised as a jurisdictional error. Applying the approach in Project Blue Sky at [91] per McHugh, Gummow, Kirby and Hayne JJ, I accept the applicant’s submission that, where jurisdictional error is established in the exercise of the power under s 34 of the IRD Act, the Contracts Decision is invalid and, consequently, the Imperial Contracts themselves are void.”


Wednesday 23 February 2022

Due to illness North Coast Voices will not be 

posting again until Saturday, 26 February 2022.


Tuesday 22 February 2022

And the tale of Rous County Council decision making under new pro-dam majority continues......

Echo, 21 February 2022: 

During last week’s Rous County Council (RCC) meeting, Cr Big Rob spoke of contact he had with Professor Stuart White regarding the proposed Dunoon Dam. 

 Professor White is the Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS in Sydney where he leads a team of researchers who create change towards sustainable futures through independent, project-based research. 

 With over twenty years experience in sustainability research, Professor White’s work focuses on achieving sustainability outcomes at least cost for a range of government, industry and community clients across Australia and internationally. 

The Echo spoke to Professor White who made a late video submission to Rous that missed the deadline. A representative of Rous said it was too late to be screened in public access and was ‘forwarded to all Councillors on the morning of the Council meeting for their info’. The rep also mistakingly thought the video was a submission from the Northern Rivers Water Alliance who already had a space in Public Access

Rous County Council meeting 

During the meeting Cr Rob did not give Councillors all of the information he received from Professor White. 

At the meeting, Cr Rob said: ‘I circulated an email overnight relating to the experts that have been relied on – Professor Stuart White for example. You know, his position was the cost and when I made inquiries with Professor White, he finally agreed that yes, that dam should be considered. So if you take the cost out of it, then his position [is] all options on the table, the dam must be considered because that is one of the options.’ 

The Echo asked Professor White about his conversation with Cr Rob because Cr Rob’s comments seemed to be at odds with the information Professor White has been giving other interested parties. 

‘I have not spoken to Cr Big Rob,’ said Professor White. ‘I only had email correspondence. 

‘My position on the Dunoon Dam is clear and I’ve been public about it: it is too expensive, too risky, not useful for the purpose it is intended for, and not needed within the planning horizon. This is before considering the environmental and Aboriginal heritage risks.’ 

Time to rule out dam 

Professor White said that this does not mean the Dunoon Dam, or any supply option should not be considered and investigated alongside other options. ‘It is just that under any reasonable analysis it would be rejected. The proponents have already had a chance to make their case, at great public expense, and my view is that this case has not been made, so it is now reasonable to rule the Dunoon Dam option out.’ 

‘My understanding of the decision by Rous last year was to reject it primarily due to the Aboriginal heritage considerations, which are of course very important and remain very important.’ 

The Echo does not know if any Rous Councillors saw this submission before they voted 6 to 2 to put the dam back on the table.  [my yellow highlighting]



AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL ELECTION 2022: #ScottyFromPhotoOps strikes again



Monday 21 February 2022

In an election year all incumbent governments tend to casually toss around figures which paint rosy pictures. Given the growing reputation of the Morrison Government, perhaps it is wise to at least start off with reliable labor force, cost of living, consumer confidence & job numbers for the first month of 2022 in Australia & New South Wales


The first labor force and household economy breakdowns of 2022.

Based on Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), LABOR FORCE: Headline estimates of employment, unemployment, underemployment, participation and hours worked from the monthly Labour Force Survey, January 2022 – released 17 February 2022:

Key statistics

Seasonally adjusted estimates for January 2022:

  • Unemployment rate stood at 4.2%

580,000 unemployed - up from 574,400 in December 2021.

  • Participation rate increased to 66.2%

Up from 66.1% in December 2021. However, participation decreased by 0.4 pts for men to 70.4% and increased by 0.6 pts to 62.1% for women

  • Employment increased to 13,255,000

An increase of 12,900 people or 0.1% since December 2021.

Full-time employment decreased by 17,000 to 9,077,300 people, and part-time employment increased by 30,000 to 4,177,600 people. Part time employed made up 31.5% of all employment.

  • Employment to population ratio increased to 63.4%

Up 0.3% since December 2021.

  • Underemployment rate increased to 6.7%

Up from 6.6% in December 2021.

  • Monthly hours worked decreased by 159 million hours

A decrease of 8.8% (in seasonally adjusted terms) between December 2021 and January 2022.

In New South Wales in January 2022

  • Unemployment rate stood at 4.2%

Up 0.2% from December 2021

  • Participation rate stood at 64.8%

A 0.2% fall since December 2021.

  • Employment stood at 4,137,200

A 0.2% fall since December 2021.

Full time employment fell by 27,100 people and part time employment fell by 42,100 people. Part time employment made up est. 29% of all employment.

  • Employment to population ratio fell to 58.2%

Down from 58.4% since December 2021.

  • Underemployment rate increased to 6.4%

Up from 6.2% in December 2021.

  • Monthly hours worked deceased by est. 78.18 million hours.

Going from 578,333.6 hours in December 2021 to 500,148.7 hours in January 2022.

ANZ Job Ads report, 7 February 2022:

ANZ Australian Job Ads fell 0.3 per cent in January following a downwardly revised 5.8 per cent drop in December. Despite the surge in Omicron cases, Job Ads remained 9.6 per cent above the Delta-lockdown lows. 

Based on ABSCost Price Index - Weighted average of eight capital cities, All groups - going into January 2022:

In December Quarter 2021 the Cost Price Index totalled 121.3 - a rise of 1.3% on the September Quarter. The 5 Selected Living Cost Indexes (LCIs) having risen for all 5 household types. 

In the period 1 January to 31 December 2022 the LCI rise across all categories was between 2.6% and 3.4%:

  • Transport was the main contributor for all five population sub-groups, with the price of Automotive fuel rising 32%.

  • The Age pensioner household sub-group had the highest annual increase (+3.4%). Food makes up a higher proportion of this sub-group compared to the others. This household group also had the highest annual increase in housing costs.

  • The Employee household sub-group had the lowest annual increase (+2.6%) due to Mortgage interest charges falling over the year. Excluding Mortgage interest charges, this household group would have risen 3.1%.

Based on ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence: 

17-23 January 2022

 Australia - 101.1 up 2.2%, rising above the neutral level of 100 but dropping in NSW by -2.4%.

14-30 January 2022

Australia - 101.8 up 1.7% and, after three weeks of decline in NSW state consumer confidence rose to 6.2%.

Sunday 20 February 2022

The ePetition 'Critical Koala Habitat in Port Macquarie' was formally debated in the NSW Legislative Assembly on 17 February 2022.

NSW Parliament, YouTube: "On Thursday 17 February 2022, the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales debated an ePetition presented to the Parliament by Tamara Smith, Member for Ballina, on critical koala habitat in Port Macquarie. The petition called on the Legislative Assembly to direct the Government to purchase critical koala habitat in Port Macquarie. If an ePetition gains 20,000 signatures, it is debated in the Chamber. Debates feature members who speak to the petition including the relevant Minister." 

The e-petition Purchase Critical Koala Habitat in Port Macquarie closed on 23 November 2021. It was only open to signatures of New South Wales residents and 24,970 people responded.

As a result the NSW Government purchased 194 hectares of prime koala habitat located adjacent to the Lake Innes Nature Reserve, south-west of Port Macquarie.

However, the state government's record on protecting New South Wales koala populations is a poor one, heavily influenced by the demands of property developers as well as those of forestry & mining industries and agricultural land clearing.  The Koala remains in danger of extinction by 2050.

Saturday 19 February 2022

Riposte of the Week


Australian Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison, to the cameras in Alice Springs, 18 February 2022: 

“I'm the son of a police officer. I understand law and order issues.”

In response, 

Mr. Bailey OAM to the Twitterverse, 18 February 2022:

Two Legs is the daughter of a boilermaker/ farmer. She knows how to weld sugar cane.”

Quote of the Week


“It's a rare thing for the boss of ASIO to publicly push back at the government's political line of attack. It's rarer still for the spy chief to intervene twice in the space of 48 hours. Yet this is where we've arrived, leaving the Prime Minister's "reds under the beds" scare campaign against his opponent look, well, desperate.” [“Insiders” host David Speers, writing in ABC News online, 17 February 2022]

Official Statement of the Year


via @thejimmalo


Friday 18 February 2022

Rous County Council and that Dunoon Dam proposal now risen from the dead


In 2014 Rous County Council (RCC) adopted its Future Water Strategy which recommended detailed investigations to assess the suitability of increased use of groundwater as a new water source, and if groundwater was not suitable, investigate complementary options such as water reuse and desalination.

After completion of this investigation Rous produced the original Future Water Project 2060 which did not prioritise groundwater use, reuse of already available water or building a desalination plant/s.

Instead it chose another option – the 50 gigalitre Dunoon Dam, with the concept design indicating an initial capital cost of approx. $220 million.

In considering options for the future, Rous County Council conducted extensive assessments to weigh up environment, social and economic impacts. The result of these assessments indicate the Dunoon Dam is the preferred long-term water supply option when compared to demand management and water conservation, groundwater sources and water re-use”.

It is worth noting that the proposed Dunoon Dam would be the second dam on Rocky Creek thus further fragmenting this watercourse. The first water storage is Rocky Creek Dam which will continue to operate if the Dunoon Dam was built. Rocky Creek Dam does not have an outlet structure so it does not provide releases for downstream flows. [NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, 2020]

By 2020 this incredibly flawed second dam plan still relied on the widely discredited ‘offset’ scheme as a workaround for the widespread level of environmental destruction, significant biodiversity & species local population loss and, for the drowning of land sacred to the Widjabul Wia-bal People and the desecration of highly significant cultural sites.

Rous authorized preliminary investigation of the Dunoon Dam project in mid-2020 allocating a $100,000 operating budget.

However, the Widjabul Wia-bal, local residents in Lismore Shire and many people in the three other shires within Rous County Council (Byron, Ballina & Richmond Valley) remained concerned with Rous’ choice – the Future Water Project 2060 Public Exhibition Outcomes revealed that 90% of the 1,298 submissions received by 9 September 2020 expressed concerns about the Dunoon Dam proposal.

In March 2021 Rous was reconsidering its earlier Dunoon Dam decision and by 21 July it had voted 5 to 3 to remove the Dunoon Dam from its Future Water Project 2060. At that time a second public exhibition from 1 April to 24 May 2021, this time of the revised Future Water Project 2060, was put in place which resulted in an RCC digital file of supporting submissions 1,754 pages long and confirmed that voiced public opinion was still against building the Dunoon Dam.

By 16 December 2021 Rous County Council had authorised “the General Manager to cease all work on the Dunoon Dam and provide a report on the orderly exit from Dunoon Dam as an option in the future water project, including revocation of zoning entitlements and disposal of land held for the purpose of the proposed Dunoon Dam”.

There the matter should have rested, but after the December 2021 local government elections there was a changing of the guard at Rous Water and six of the eight current sitting RCC councillors are pro-dam.

This led to the unedifying sight on 16 February 2022, of Rous County Council by a vote of 6 to 2 vote reinserting the Dunoon Dam proposal into the revised Future Water Project 2060. No genuine forewarning of what that first RCC meeting of 2022 would contain, no prior consultation with Widjabul Wia-ba elders on the Item 12.1 motion, no community consultation.

The community scrambled to respond. So on the day RCC did hear objections to Item 12.1 from Hugh Nicholson, a previous Chair of Rous Country Council and Friends of the Koala representative Ros Irwin.

A young Widjabul Wia-ba woman, Skye Robertsaddressed the councillors as a “custodian” of the land. She spoke with conviction, determination and, clearly informed all present that: the proposed dam was sited within the large tract of land between three ancient mountains and that land was “sacred land” to all the Widjabul Wia-ba; this included Channon Gorge, the waters that ran through it and the wider dam site; the stone burial mounds which would be submerged by dam waters were part of the circle of cultural connection between land and people; men’s places & women’s places were on land to be flooded; and that land connects to living culture.

The message she carried for her grandmother and mother fell on predominately deaf ears and it was ‘ugly Australia’ which voted the dam back into future planning on that Wednesday in February.

Rous County Council already has before it the Ainsworth Heritage Dunoon Dam: Preliminary Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment for Rous Water, May 2013” which can be read in digital form or downloaded from:

It also has before it the SMEC “Dunoon Dam Terrestrial Ecology Impact Assessment, Prepared for Rous Water November 2011”. An assessment of which can be found at:

For a brief summary of some of the technical flaws in the Dunoon Dam preliminary investigation:

Dunoon Dam: 4 Risks & Considerations by Water Expert Professor Stuart White - Feb 2022