Thursday, 19 September 2019

At last, a class action to be mounted against Morrison Government's error-prone 'robodebt'

If any of the following applies to you and you are considering joining this class action challenge on behalf of Centrelink clients who were served with a debt notice, the following are first contact details for the law firm which may act for you if you are eligible:

Gordon Legal

Ph: 1300 55 50 16

Informaton at Online contact form at


The Guardian, 17 September 2019:

Gordon Legal has put out its official statement on the class action: 

"The law firm will challenge, on behalf of affected persons, the government’s use of a flawed calculation system by Centrelink to unlawfully take back tens of millions of dollars from many thousands of Centrelink recipients, including pensioners. 

The money for pensioners, carers, widows, students, farmers and unemployed people was taken from them due to a one-size-fits-all online compliance system. 

The robodebt scheme has been in place since mid-2016, its legality was first raised with us by the new shadow minister for government services, Bill Shorten. 

The basis for the challenge is that that the federal government financially benefited when it wrongfully took and banked money that legitimately belonged to recipients. 

Gordon Legal Senior Partner Peter Gordon says ‘investigations reveal between two to three hundred million dollars have been wrongly taken from people, and making it even worse was many were hit with penalties of 10% on those amounts.’ 

‘These people are the least able groups to afford the heavy-handed actions which are based on a system that used ATO averages that didn’t take into account individual circumstances.’ 

‘The unfair and incorrect assumptions had a devastating financial impact on people’s lives. The emotional distress for people who have done nothing wrong has been high.’ 

‘The robodebt system put debt collectors onto innocent people to chase unlawful debts.’ 

‘They have been unfairly financially disadvantaged and must be repaid with interest, penalties dropped and damages paid.’ 

‘The amounts owed will vary from case to case but the average repayments could be a few thousand dollars which is vital from a financial and wellbeing perspective for these people who are least able to afford it.’

Peter Gordon says ‘The people in this class action were not gaming the system. They had honest claims to payments and allowances that Robodebt wrongly assessed, penalised and pursued with harsh consequences.’ 

‘If you have been unfairly affected by Robodebt, you should register your details on the Gordon Legal website and we will be in touch.’ 

Gordon Legal considers a class action is likely to be the best way to deliver redress for people unfairly impacted by Robodebt." [my yellow highlighting]

Peter Gordon: 

"The class action element of the claim is reasonably straightforward. What is innovative about this is to bring a claim against the government for damages for unjust enrichment that will require the high court to recognise legal principles, which I hardly recognised in other common law countries, particularly the United Kingdom. It may break new ground. We think there … is a strong legal basis for it. 

In order for a class action to proceed, either in a state court or the federal jurisdiction, you need to demonstrate that there appear to be several more people who have claims with similar or the same common issues in the fact of law, and there are clearly a large number of people who have similar issues of fact and of law. 

So the question of its status as a class action is not particularly controversial. Under class-action law, not every case needs to be exactly the same. They only have to be roughly similar. Not every case needs to be bound to succeed. You simply need to demonstrate that there are cases that have similar issues that the court can resolve for the benefit of everybody. 

Everyone who believes they are aggrieved is entitled to bring their own actions, whether they are in the ART or as appropriately advised. We are working with the legal aid agencies, but it doesn’t take, I think, a lot of consideration of what has happened to understand that if a template approach has been applied across 800,000 people, and there are admittedly, on the part of the government, 150,000 errors that have been made, that’s a very large number of mistakes which have been made. If they’ve been made, there is a limit to the ability of any court system and indeed bureaucracy to take them off one by one. 

We think it’s appropriate that if there are common issues that have been got wrong by the Commonwealth, that they be addressed in a way that gives everyone release, not just those who are able to access lawyers and legal aid or have the wherewithal all the records to be able to do it themselves."

Bill Shorten: 

" Let’s be clear, we’ve asked the government to fix this, but they’ve got it wrong. If the government through parliament won’t fix the problem, I think giving justice to victims through class action is a legitimate political approach to take. 

Question: Should the program then in your view be suspended while this class action is even being looked at? 

That would be smart for them to suspend it. The question you have to ask is why is the government looking at a blanket scheme looking at annual wages data against people getting fortnightly payments? 

They are hoping they can shake down people into paying up. This is a government building their government position based on this faulty, immoral and quite possibly illegal scheme, but they should suspend it and rule out extending it to anyone else, and in fact they should revisit their own files and perhaps sit down and work out why this is wrong and stop it. 

The government keeps reaching for blaming Labor pre-2013. Robodebt, this online compliance system, was introduced by the current government. 

The current government announced compliance campaigns in 2015, 2016, and they started introducing robodebt, their use of an algorithm to data match. 

It was born under this government and the pathology of robodebt is sick, it has caused countless harm. I give a shoutout to the media, you’ve all covered the problems of robodebt, but at what point in Australia do you say once you’ve seen individual case after individual case it is called a pattern, and the pattern shows robodebt is immoral itself. 

What we and Gordon Legal is going to do is testing the legal foundations of robodebt, because my own research in the last couple of months has led me to believe it is almost certainly illegal and I just have to do research through the stories you’ve covered to say there is a sickness at the heart of robodebt which needs to be cured."

Publishing video footage of animal cruelty could now incur penalties of up to one year in an Australian prison.

The Northern Star, 16 September 2019, p.6:

Animal rights charity Aussie Farms have slammed the passing of a new ‘ag-gag’ law that introduces a criminal charge for “inciting trespass onto agricultural land”.
Several Northern Rivers agricultural businesses were targeted, including Northern Co-operative Meat Company, when Aussie Farms published a map online and called for activists to collect and upload evidence of animal abuse.
But the new law includes simply publishing footage of animal cruelty, or publishing a map of factory farms and slaughterhouses where such cruelty is known to occur, regardless of whether incitement to trespass was intended by the publisher, and regardless of whether the cruelty was legal or illegal.
It follows years of covertly-obtained footage being broadcast to the public by Aussie Farms and other animal protection organisations, revealing widespread practices such as the use of gas chambers in pig slaughterhouses, the live shredding of male baby chicks in the egg industry, and most recently, the slaughter of male baby goats at a high profile Victorian dairy farm.
Publishing such footage now could incur penalties of up to one year in prison.
Executive director Chris Delforce said “consumers had a right to know about the cruelty occurring ... within Australian animal agriculture” and the new law was “designed to limit the public’s ability to see what’s happening inside farms and slaughterhouses”......
On 12 September 2019 the Australian House of Representatives and the Senate passed the Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019.

It passed the lower house by a majority of just 8 votes, with Labor, Independent, Greens and Center Alliance MPs voting against the bill becoming law.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Australian PM Scott 'Liar from the Shire' Morrison caught manipulating and misleading the electorate yet again - this time over the cashless welfare card

"In these trials, we have seen 48% of drug takers using fewer drugs, 41% of drinkers drinking less, and 48% of gamblers gambling less." [Liberal Party of Australia, Our Plan, April 2019]

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party are living up to their reputations as a politician and party who rarely speak the truth.

One social media user called Morrison out over his misuse of statistics, as he pushes forward with his plan to control and penalise all wefare recipients by restricting access to Centrelink cash transfer payments (pensions, benefits, allowances etc) by placing these payments on the Indue Limited Cashless Debit Card.

Turns out that hidden in his misuse of statistics is the fact that of those Ceduna and Kununurra cashless debit card trial participants surveyed in 2017 only est. 8 people self-reported a reduction in the use of alcohol.


The 2017 final trial evaluation report itself notes that there was a risk that participants may only have reported lower alcohol consumption, illicit drug use or gambling because they believed that: a) to claim a reduction in use was the more socially acceptable answer; and/or b) this is what the questioner wanted to hear.

It noted that some existing data sets relied on were for broader areas than the trial sites and could not be reliably narrowed to those sites and, that there was no adequate time series data available to perform robust preTrial and post-Trial comparisons.

The final report also notes that survey did not necessarily gain a statistically representative random sample of the underlying population due to unequal selection probabilities.

Eight Byron Bay businesses closing shop for 20 September 2019 global climate strike

Echo NetDaily, 13 September 2019:

There are few better ways to prove you’re serious about taking action on climate change than putting your money where your mouth is.
And a handful of Byron business owners are doing just that, electing to forego their profits so their staff can take part in next Friday’s global climate strike.

The March School strike for climate change Byron. Photo Aslan Shand.
Bella Rosa, Endless Summer, Baskin Robbins, Tasa Jara, Retrospect Gallery, Etnix, Beyond Oil electric transport, and Sustainable Futures Australia will all shut up shop between 10am and midday on September 20 for the global day of action.
One of the local organisers of the strike, Emma Briggs, said volunteers would be speaking to other local businesses in the coming days to encourage them to get on board.
‘I understand this is a significant sacrifice for business owners in a busy period, but the sacrifices we’ll all have to make if we fail to turn around the climate crisis will be far greater,’ Ms Briggs said.
‘It is the young people who will have the most to lose if we continue with business as usual.’
‘We would like to thank all our supporters very much, and hope that consumers will consider patronising the participating businesses who have shown they care about more than just short-term profit.’
Following the success of previous school climate strikes in Byron Bay, students are organising buses to bring in hundreds of strikers from around the shire to rally at the Rec Grounds at 10am and march to Main Beach.
There will also be a screening of the film Inferno at the Beach Hotel at 8.30am, with the march to kick off at 10am.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

How long have charity fraudsters been recruiting 'scammers' using Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government's Jobactive program?

The Guardian, 15 September 2019:

Anonymous, 32, South Australia

My strange experience with a Jobactive provider happened back in November 2015. It was a week of pure, concentrated weirdness.
The provider found me a job with a charity. They handled everything. My case manager even took the picture for the photo ID.
There was a man who handled what limited training there was by phone. The day after, I had a trial shift. I had to collect money door-to-door with no information about what the charity actually did, who ran it or what the money we were raising was for – only that it was for children in the Philippines.
The leaflets they gave us to hand out were about cancer, copied and pasted from Wikipedia, even though the charity was supposedly about education. When I spoke to people I couldn’t even answer basic questions. And people were still generous. A blind man gave me $20. It was absurd and awful.
When I asked my point of contact questions, he grew frustrated and aggressive with me. He told me to look on the website but it was just pictures of kids with vague descriptions; no programs, no initiatives. It’s been taken down since, but the mission statement was just a copy of the tax definition of a charity.
I looked up as much as I could about the company. I found the names associated with it had run similar charities that had been exposed as frauds by the ABC. These names weren’t on the website or any training materials. [This charity] didn’t have anything a normal charity had.
I didn’t know what to do, so I reported this to the ACCC and even made a police report. When I told my caseworker, they tried to make me keep doing the job. They told me they’d had their office look it up and that the charity was properly registered, but anyone can register for a business name. I read charities have a year before they’re audited.
When my questions about how the collected money was spent still weren’t answered, the case manager called my point of contact. That’s when they agreed that something wasn’t right and that I didn’t have to do it any more. They joked nervously about ending up on A Current Affair.
A few weeks later I had another appointment and my case manager casually mentioned that another client was still collecting money for [the charity]. She knew they were shonky and still nothing had been done.

Insecticide poisoning caused the death of 15 Satin Bowerbirds found at Modanville, near Lismore in recent weeks

Echo NetDaily,  September 2019:

Insecticide poisoning caused the death of 15 satin bowerbirds found at Modanville, near Lismore in recent weeks, investigators have revealed.
A Satin Bowerbird. Source: Wikipedia
Investigations conducted by North Coast Local Land Services have confirmed that the bird deaths were caused by the banned insecticide Fenthion.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is now seeking assistance from members of the public in a bid to determine how the poisoning occurred.
As the responsible regulator for pesticide use, the EPA is exploring the possibility that the birds, which are a protected native species, may have been deliberately targeted.
No other bird species is known to have been impacted.
EPA Manager Regional Operations North Coast Benjamin Lewin said the killing of native birds, whether through intentional or reckless pesticide misuse, was a serious offence.
‘We are encouraging anyone with information on these deaths, or anyone who may have seen some activity that could be related to this illegal baiting, to contact the EPA as soon as possible,’ Mr Lewin said.
Fenthion, which was banned from use in 2014 with a phase out period of one year, is a broad-spectrum organophosphorus insecticide.
It is extremely toxic to birds and substantial penalties exist for its possession and use.
The chemical was widely used in the past for insect control on a broad range of fruit crops and for external parasite control on livestock.

Monday, 16 September 2019

NSW land clearing for agriculture now thought to exceed 27,100 hectares annually

The Guardian, 13 September 2019:

A highly secret government-commissioned review into skyrocketing rates of clearing of native vegetation for farming in New South Wales has been completed and is likely to add to simmering tensions between the Liberals and Nationals within cabinet.
The review, which was triggered when land clearing exceeded 20,000 hectares in less than a year, has been undertaken by the NSW Natural Resources Commission, an independent body, and is soon to be considered by cabinet.
It is investigating clearing rates since the new Biodiversity Conservation Act began in August 2017 and whether the Act is working to preserve biodiversity.
The NRC’s chief executive, Bryce Wilde, confirmed his agency had been asked by the premier to do the review on 14 January, just before the state election, and had handed the findings to the government six weeks ago.
It did not seek any public or industry submissions, although Wilde said the NRC had sought expert input from consultants, who signed confidentiality agreements.But the mention in an estimates committee on Friday was the first time it had become public. The NRC said the review was “cabinet in confidence” and had sought information from departments only.
The review – and what to do about the escalation of land clearing in NSW – will add to the tensions between the Liberals and Nationals over stewardship of the environment.
The Coalition partners are already at loggerheads over key policies including management of wild brumbies in national parks, water policy and calls by the Nationals to allow logging in the River Red Gum national park on the Murray.
This week the agriculture minister, Adam Marshall, whose seat covers much of northern NSW where the land clearing is occurring, flagged introducing a “regional code” for clearing in the north-west of NSW, saying the current laws were not working well for large-scale farming enterprises.
This was interpreted as a plan to further relax the rules for when farmers can clear without a permit – at least in this region.
Regional codes were foreshadowed in the Biodiversity Conservation Act and a pilot is being run near Walgett.
But the secret NRC review is likely to bolster the arguments of the environment minister, Matt Kean, and the senior portfolio minister, Rob Stokes, who are known to be deeply concerned about the rapid escalation of land clearing and its impact on biodiversity......

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has toned down hollow bragging lately

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has toned down his bragging about economic recovery lately, with the Financial Review on 3 September 2019 reporting that:

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg concedes the nation's economic growth for last financial year will be poor but believes activity will pick up in the September quarter because of cuts to income taxes and interest rates.

Fearing a growth number as low as 1.4 per cent for year ending June when GDP figures are released tomorrow, the Treasurer blamed several factors for what will be a sluggish quarter, including the election campaign.

He blames everyone but the federal government of which he is a senior cabinet minister for the following........

On 4 September 2019 the Australian Bureau of Statistics released its 5206.0 - Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, Jun 2019.

The opening lines of its media release stated: 

The Australian economy grew 0.5 per cent in seasonally adjusted chain volume terms in the June quarter 2019 and 1.4 per cent through the year, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

Chief Economist for the ABS, Bruce Hockman, said: “The external sector drove GDP growth this quarter, while growth in the domestic economy remains steady”.

The National Accounts release was accompanied by this graph which shows that, despite this June quarter 2019 growth, GDP growth is the lowest it has been in the last eleven June quarters:

And the decline in GDP growth between June 2018 and June 2019 looked like this:

Interactive graph from

It is hardly a coincidence that GDP growth  has a sharp downward trajectory, given that once Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison became prime minister he spent most of his time between August 2018 & May 2019 in continuous election mode whilst presiding over a virtual policy vacuum.

In June quarter 2019 new and used dwelling investment continued to decline, the household saving ratio fell to the lowest its been since 2008, while the small growth in household consumption was the second lowest its been in the last eleven June quarters. 

Although mining activity picked up, mining gross value added as a percentage of  GDP was almost half of what it was in 2014 and mining investment in dollar terms was the lowest it had been since the June 2011 quarter.

If it wasn't for government expenditure between April and June 2019 then GDP growth would be even slimmer. Even then, neither Prime Minister Morrison nor Treasurer can claim expenditure figures as entirely the result of federal spending because it was state and local governments which did most of the heavy lifting. 

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Over 110 brands walked away from advertising on 2GB radio due to Alan Jones' misogynistic and violent language

The Guardian, 13 September 2019:

Faced with an advertiser exodus of more than 110 brands, Macquarie Media has written to advertisers promising a review of Alan Jones’ program, which it says failed to meet community standards.
Jones apologised last month to the New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, for his comments that Scott Morrison should shove a sock down her throat, but this failed to stem the flow of advertisers, and 2GB and 4BC have continued to haemorrhage revenue.
The chairman of Macquarie Media, Russell Tate, wrote to advertisers on Friday to apologise for the comments about Ardern and “any disruption caused to your company as a result of remarks made by him”.
Alan and I are happy to talk and meet with as many of our advertisers as possible over the next two months to hear your views on how we can best serve your business, but in the meantime, I would be very interested to hear any comments or thoughts which can help us do that.
Jones is already on a final warning after Tate took the unprecedented step of scolding him publicly last month.“This incident has brought into sharp focus the need for all Macquarie Media broadcasters to ensure that the debate they bring to the microphone and the words they use are, at all times, respectful and reflect the standards expected today by our listeners, our clients, and the wider community,” he said......

Good grief! Its 2002 meets 2007 in the Northern Rivers region during 2019

Clarence Valley Independent, letter to the Editor,11 September 2019:

Good grief! Its 2002 meets 2007 in the Northern Rivers region right now.
This month we learned that there was an approx. 40 degree Celsius sudden warming in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica which will extend the current eastern Australia drought into the foreseeable future. With the Bureau of Meteorology stating that the last time a similar event occurred was in 2002 when the country experienced one of its driest years on record.
Readers might recall that 2002 was smack bang in the middle of the millennium drought. A drought which at one point saw the Orara River cease to run and at another, the Nymboida Weir unable to do more than supply two weeks of drinking water for the Clarence Valley before the pumps would no longer be able to draw any water up at all.
Last month we discovered that wannabee water raiders from the Murray-Darling Basin were back with another bid to divert water from the Clarence River system so that they could get a larger, less expensive dam built to order and, these four local councils – one in NSW and three in Queensland – can then undertake the intended expansion of their their urban and industry footprints.
Just as in 2007 they come at a time when the Clarence Valley is in drought and water flow in the upper reaches of the Clarence River is low, demanding we supply irrigation and drinking water – this time for an additional est. 236,984 people.
And just as in 2007 the media reports that at least one of the councils has already been talking with the federal Minister for Water Resources about their cross-border water diversion scheme and is pursuing a meeting in Canberra [The Chronicle, 3 September 2019, p.5 ].
The only difference between 2002, 2007 and 2019 is that the Clarence Valley acted on the lessons learnt between 1996 and 2010. Something Tenterfield, Toowoomba, Southern Downs and Western Downs failed to do.
Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City expanded their original water sharing arrangement by building the Shannon Creek Dam to future proof as much as is possible the water supply for a est. combined total population of 128,198 people.
Now these four Murray-Darling Basin councils want the Clarence River system to supply water for a new total combined population of 365,182 people.
I wonder if now is the time to remind those politicians who may be thinking of supporting this push to build a 20,000 to 30,000 megalitre dam and pipeline that, the last time an attempt was made to grab Clarence water willy nilly, Clarence Valley communities helped bring down a federal government.
Judith M. Melville, Yamba

Friday, 13 September 2019

Water raiders want Clarence Valley communities to be "grown-up" and just let them go ahead and degrade the upper Clarence River water flow

This was Toowooba Regional Council in 2018 and the Clarence Valley's response.......

The Daily Examiner, 24 April 2018

This is Toowoomba Regional Council in 2019......

The Chronicle, 10 September 2019:

TOOWOOMBA Mayor Paul Antonio has called on his New South Wales colleagues to be part of a “grown-up discussion” over long-term water strategies, including a pipeline from the Clarence River.
Cr Antonio’s comments come amid a push-back from the Grafton community over discussions to connect the bountiful Clarence system to struggling areas in the Southern and Western Downs to combat the effects of drought.
Clarence Valley Mayor Jim Simmons said last week he was adamant no headwaters would be leaving the system in the near future, even as the multi-council water allocation plan collects speed.
But Cr Antonio said it was important that all options were explored to ensure the east coast of Australia was well-supplied.
“I think we’ve got to be grown up and have a discussion around that,” he said.
“The Maryland river system has a 21,000ML yield, would take a fraction of water from the Clarence, but make a profound difference.
“We need the state governments in Queensland and New South Wales to facilitate a conversation around water strategies, and I’m having some robust discussions with the mayor of Tenterfield (Peter Petty) at the moment about it.”
The council endorsed a motion early last year to investigate a pipeline from the Clarence River, and the Southern Downs Regional Council made a similar commitment late last week.
Cr Antonio said continuous consultations over water would become the reality for councils and state governments in the near future.
“Water is the new currency, water is the limiting factor in population growth and food production in this area and many other areas,” he said.
“Now is the time to reflect on where we are and put strategies in place and it will lift this nation and make it more productive.”

Clarence Valley Independent, 4 September 2019:

In a video on SDRC’s Facebook site, the [Southern Downs Regional Council] mayor says “we have letters of support from Toowoomba regional Council and Paul Antonio, mayor of Toowoomba, [who is] also the chair of the Darling Downs South West Queensland Council of Mayors”.
Mr Antonio said in his letter: “As chair of Darling Downs South West Queensland Council of Mayors … I write to give the strongest of support to your council’s submission to the Australian Infrastructure Audit regarding long-term water security on the Darling Downs and NSW Border Ranges.”
Mr Antonio referred to a “crisis meeting” held among each of the councils on May 16.
“It was agreed we will work together to spread resources through planning to interconnect our [water] supplies….” he writes.
“New sources of water can include diversion from the headwaters of the Clarence River basin, via the Maryland River, and access to recycled water from Brisbane.
“Both these options require major investment well beyond the means of the councils involved.
“They also will take a merging of political wills across all three levels of government.
“Nothing short of a visionary, nation-building initiative led by the Commonwealth will solve the problem.
This is a Clarence Valley resident's response in 2019.....

The Mayor of Toowoomba, Paul Antonio, claims to want "grown-up discussions" concerning a proposal to dam and divert Clarence River system water across the border into southern Queensland.

Yet strangely he has not been adult enough himself to notify Clarence Valley Council of this proposal or enter into dialogue with this council which represents the majority of people and communities living along the length of this NSW river system.

What Cr. Antonio also forgets or just chooses to ignore when touting his "nation building initiative" is that there in a legislated, carefully considered water sharing plan already in place - the Water Sharing Plan for the Clarence River Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources 2016.

This plan covers the Maryland River and specifies the limits to granting water access licences, as well as limits to the maximum amount of water which can be drawn off this river which is set out as 995 ML/yr.

It also specifies when extraction should cease due to low flows; "Water must not be taken when the height of the water in Maryland River passing through the culvert pipes over the Rivertree Road near the southern boundary of portion 33, Parish of Reid, County of Buller, is less than or equal to 50 mm."

The plan defines the constraints on harvestable water rights as those set out in Water Management Act 2000 - Sect 53 & 54. This state act blocks supplying "any other land" with water that has been captured by landholders on the Maryland River.

Additionally, the plan limits the water extraction licence pool to an upper limit of 990 share components.

This water sharing plan was not something that was created without "grown-up discussions". Because NSW stakeholders recognized that our rivers are markedly variable and there is significant competition for water (especially in dry times). So there had to be an evidence-based balance between the needs of users and the need for a sustainable environmental flow in this particular Clarence River tributary.

Because without a genuine environmental flow entering the Clarence River at the confluence of the Maryland and Clarence Rivers, the upper Clarence River would overtime become a degraded waterway.

Cr. Antonio is talking of building an in-river dam and, as the proposed amount of water to be held back from entering the Clarence River under this water raiding scheme is actually 55.5% of the average annual flow of the Maryland River and an est. 57% of its unallocated annual flow, it is hard to see how environmental flows below this proposed dam wall can be reliably met.

Especially given there are existing landholder water entitlements in the Rivertree region on which local farmers depend as they come to grips with changing rainfall patterns.

This Queensland local government councillor is yet to demonstrate that he has any understanding of the interconnective nature of hydrological processes at work along the more than 380 km length of the Clarence River from its headwaters to coastal estuary mouth.

Cr. Antonio appears to see the Clarence River system in terms of the potential for economic growth in his own region -  failing to see the very real aesthetic, cultural, social, environmental and economic values it holds for the people of the Clarence Valley.

He does not take into consideration that the Clarence River system already supplies the water needs of 128,198 residents in the Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City local government areas and, that this river underpins two regional economies which together were worth an estimated $5.58 billion in 2018. [See Clarence Valley Council Economic Profile and Coffs Harbour City Council Economic Profile]

One might suspect that Cr. Antonio (who will presumably be seeking re-election in a little over five months) views this water diversion proposal solely through the narrow lens of his own political and personal financial ambitions.


2. ABC News, 7 December 2018:

A southern Queensland Mayor has been fined nearly $15,000 after he was found to have engaged in misconduct in his dealings with the Melbourne-to-Brisbane Inland Railway project.
In an interview with the ABC in 2017, Councillor Paul Antonio, who owns a gravel quarry near Millmerran on the route chosen by the Federal Government, conceded he stood to benefit from the inland rail project.
The ABC revealed, Cr Antonio personally paid $4,900 to have an alternate route for the project investigated, which took the line to the very edge of his quarry.
Cr Antonio told the ABC he paid for the map to find an alternative that did not go through prime agricultural land in Millmerran, to help affected farmers.
After initially telling the ABC he gave the map only to one Millmerran farmer, he later conceded he provided the map to former industry minister Ian MacFarlane, who is now the chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council, and the Federal Member for Groom, John McVeigh.
The matter was referred to the Local Government Regional Conduct Review Panel in April 2018 after a complaint was made by a fellow councillor and a member of the public.
The panel decided the complaint of misconduct was sustained.....
Cr Antonio was fined $14.360.50, ordered to undergo counselling, make an admission of error, and apologise at the next council meeting.
The panel also recommended the Local Government Department's chief executive officer monitor Cr Antonio for compliance with the Local Government Act.....