Showing posts with label Berejiklian Government. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Berejiklian Government. Show all posts

Friday, 21 February 2020

A NSW Government independent expert inquiry into the 2019-20 bushfire season providing input to NSW ahead of the next bushfire season is underway - how to make a submission


NSW Government, 3-10 February 2020: 

Dave Owens APM, former Deputy Commissioner of NSW Police, and Professor Mary O’Kane AC, Independent Planning Commission Chair and former NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, are leading the six-month inquiry, which is reviewing the causes of, preparation for and response to the 2019-20 bushfires. 

Submissions for the NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry are now open. 

Your response and feedback will help to inform the Inquiry's report...  

Use the online form below to make a submission. You can also provide your feedback by:
The deadline for submissions is 27 March 2020, but this can be extended for those directly impacted by the fires.
Terms of Reference 

The Inquiry is to consider, and report to the Premier on, the following matters. 

1. The causes of, and factors contributing to, the frequency, intensity, timing and location of, bushfires in NSW in the 2019-20 bushfire season, including consideration of any role of weather, drought, climate change, fuel loads and human activity. 

2. The preparation and planning by agencies, government, other entities and the community for bushfires in NSW, including current laws, practices and strategies, and building standards and their application and effect. 

3. Responses to bushfires, particularly measures to control the spread of the fires and to protect life, property and the environment, including: 
  • immediate management, including the issuing ofpublicwarnings 
  • resourcing, coordination and deployment 
  • equipment and communication systems. 

4. Any other matters that the inquiry deems appropriate in relation to bushfires. 

And to make recommendations arising from the Inquiry as considered appropriate, including on: 

5. Preparation and planning for future bushfire threats and risks. 

6. Land use planning and management and building standards, including appropriate clearing and other hazard reduction, zoning, and any appropriate use of indigenous practices. 

7. Appropriate action to adapt to future bushfire risks to communities and ecosystems. 

8. Emergency responses to bushfires, including overall human and capital resourcing. 

9. Coordination and collaboration by the NSW Government with the Australian Government, other state and territory governments and local governments. 

10. Safety of first responders. 

11. Public communication and advice systems and strategies.

Friday, 14 February 2020

NSW Northern Rivers learning the hard way that state-owned Forestry Corporation of NSW is a bad neighbour


ABC News, 11 February 2020: 

When the Busby's Flat Road fire ripped through Wendy Pannach's Rappville farm in northern New South Wales last October she assumed that neighbours would share in the cost of replacing boundary fencing. 

Two neighbours — a private landholder and a company — did agree to work together, but the state-owned Forestry Corporation of NSW has refused to contribute anything despite her desperate pleas. 

Ms Pannach initially thought that it may cost her up to $100,000 to repair and replace all the fire damaged and destroyed internal and boundary fencing. 

But now, with support from charity BlazeAid, it is expected to be far less, and the shared cost of the 1.3-kilometre boundary fencing with Forestry Corp would be minimal. 

"I am working to design the fencing to maximize how much BlazeAid can do in terms of supplying labour," she said. 

"Originally it was looking at $20,000, probably Forest Corp's share would probably now be about $5,000. It's not a lot of money. 

"But if there was no other support, and with the added cost of all of the other boundary and internal fences I have to replace it, it makes a difference." 

Ms Pannach is hoping that a Commonwealth natural disaster recovery grant of up to $75,000 will help cover costs as she is ineligible for NSW disaster relief. 

But she is concerned that farmers affected by future disasters may not receive access to similar funding....

MP admits NSW Govt not 'very good neighbour' 

The state Member for Clarence, Nationals' MP Chris Gulaptis, who met Ms Pannach at a food industry group meeting in Grafton, agreed that his Government needs to do a better job at managing its forestry estate. 

"It's a legitimate concern that she has, and other landowners have, who share boundaries with government land, whether it be national parks or state forests," Mr Gulaptis said. 

"The Government isn't very good neighbour, to put it quite bluntly, and it needs to be a better neighbour. I think that Forest Corp needs to look at managing its estate a lot better than what it does.".....

Read the full article here.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Political Donations 101: cause and effect 2019-2020


THE CAUSE: Reliance on political donations

Individuals and corporations making large or regular political donations are rarely giving money for philanthropic reasons - they usually want something in return.

Sometimes it is access to a prime minister or premier, sometimes access to a particular minister and sometimes it is a barely concealed bribe in order that the donor gets a specific outcome from a particular government.

The Guardian, 3 February 2020:

The Liberal party received $4.1m from a single donor before the 2019 election, one of the largest amounts in political history, dwarfing former leader Malcolm Turnbull’s $1.75m gift before the 2016 election.

The donations, revealed in Australian Electoral Commission disclosures published on Monday, are second only to the $83.3m donated by Mineralogy Pty Ltd to Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party.

Both major parties also took significant sums of money from the fossil fuel industry, including multinational giant Woodside, something environmentalists say explains government inaction in the “face of a rolling national emergency driven by climate change”.

The $4.1m donated to the federal Liberal party and its state branches was given in multiple instalments by Sugolena Pty Ltd, a company linked to philanthropist Isaac Wakil, who made his fortune in the clothing industry and invested heavily in property, with his wife Susan, around the Sydney suburb of Pyrmont…..


The Liberals declared $22.6m in donations Labor $18.2m. Total receipts, which include all donations regardless of the $13,800 reporting threshold, other payments, returns from financial investments and loans, amounted to $165m for the Liberals and $126m for Labor.

Australia’s weak donation disclosure system continues to mask a huge chunk of political financing. 

Analysis by the Centre for Public Integrity shows that $1bn in party income has not been disclosed between 1999 and the last reporting year, almost 36% of total party financing.

But the disclosures that have been made continue to show the significant influence of the fossil fuel industry in Australian democracy. Clive Palmer’s Mineralogy, which gave $83,681,442 to Palmer’s United Australia Party, was by far the single biggest fossil fuel donor.

An analysis by the Australian Conservation Foundation found a further $1.89m in fossil fuel donations to Australian political parties.

This data explains why even in the face of a rolling national emergency driven by climate change and community demands for change, the government continues to defend and promote the industries that are the root cause of the problem,” ACF’s economy and democracy program manager Matt Rose said.

Serious donations reform is needed now to make sure our political system works for the benefit of all Australian, not just those with the biggest wallets.”

The biggest fossil fuel donor to the major parties was Woodside, Australia’s biggest LNG exporter. It gave $135,400 to Labor, $136,750 to the Liberal Party and $11,190 to the Nationals. The gas industry lobby, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA), was also a significant donor. [APPEA donated a combined total of $24,990 to the federal Liberal and Nationals parties]

Prime minister Scott Morrison recently identified gas as a key “transition” fuel for Australia’s economy, saying “we need to get the gas from under our feet”. 

He also recently struck a a $2bn deal with the New South Wales government to increase gas supply and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector…..

The federal Liberal party also declared two donations from Adani Mining Pty Ltd totalling $50,000….. [the Australian Electoral Commission identified a combined total of $97,300 as donations directly from Adani Mining Pty Ltd to the federal Liberal and Nationals parties]

Carmichael Rail Network, another wholly-owned subsidiary of Adani Australia, gave $50,000 to the federal Liberal party and $100,000 to the Nationals….. [my red annotations]

THE EFFECT: Requirement to fulfil the terms of the unwritten contract between a political party and its donors

Within the 8 months following the May 2019 federal election the Morrison Government acted to benefit certain of its donors in the gas industry sector.

Santos Limited which had donated a combined total of $42,723 to federal Liberal and Nationals coffers in 2017-18 went on to donate another $78,854 in 2018-19, with this result......

According to Lock The Gate Alliance on 31 January 2020:

The ‘energy deal’ announced today between NSW and Federal Governments looks designed to unleash coal seam gas drilling in north-west NSW, threatening drought-affected farmers and allowing Santos to drain 37 billion litres of groundwater.

Crucially, it will do little to bring down greenhouse gas emissions due to its reliance on dirty, polluting unconventional gas.

Media reports indicate the NSW Government has been compelled by the Commonwealth to make a commitment to supply 70PJ of gas for the east coast market in exchange for up to $2 billion in Federal funding for renewable energy and unquantified reduction incentives.

The volume of gas mentioned in the deal is similar to the amount Santos expects to produce at its proposed water-hungry Narrabri coal seam gasfield.

To facilitate the creation of one or more gasfields in north-west New South Wales the Berejiklian Coalition Government held a second hearing into the NSW Chief Scientist’s recommendations on coal seam gas in NSW on 4 February 2020.

As the Berejiklian Government failed to act on the Chief Scientist's original recommendations, this second hearing was a cause for concern......

Lock The Gate Alliance, 3 February 2020:

CSG hearing round 2 must deliver more than just hot air

The holding of a second hearing into the NSW Chief Scientist’s recommendations on coal seam gas in NSW is evidence the Berejiklian Government is not prepared to deal with the repercussions of the destructive industry, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.

The hearing, to be held tomorrow, is only happening because the Government was unable to properly answer questions about CSG at the original hearing, held in December last year.

Lock the Gate NSW coordinator Georgina Woods said it was even more crucial than ever now for the Government to answer questions about its forgotten promises on coal seam gas, given the state and federal governments look poised to sacrifice the north west following last week’s energy deal announcement.

It was deeply troubling to watch government representatives scratch their heads when asked basic questions about their oversight of this damaging industry at the last hearing. It demonstrated an alarming lack of attention to the serious risk coal seam gas poses to groundwater in North West NSW,” Ms Woods said.

Last week’s energy deal with Canberra has raised the very real risk that state and federal governments will run roughshod over the facts and heap political pressure on planning authorities to approve Santos’ destructive Narrabri coal seam gas proposal.

This inquiry has shown how unready and unaware the Government is for the environmental, social and economic damage that will inflict.

There is still time to stop Santos’ Narrabri gas project from puncturing holes in a recharge aquifer of the Great Artesian Basin, one of western New South Wales’ most precious groundwater resources. There is still time to make this important area a no-go zone for coal seam gas and safeguard the water resources of north west New South Wales.”

Ms Woods said it was clear from the last hearing that major recommendations made by the Chief Scientist had not been implemented.

The biggest gaps include failure to provide a three-tiered environmental insurance scheme, failure to establish a standing expert committee, and failure to develop systems that can detect cumulative impacts of the industry on precious water resources,” she said.

There are 11 expired and unused legacy coal seam gas licences languishing over the farmland, towns, and precious water resources of the drought-stricken north west that have never been through the Government’s new system for assessing areas for gas exploration.

The NSW Government is leaving farming communities in the north west exposed to unforeseen and irreversible loss or contamination of water resources and other environmental and health impacts from the CSG industry.

We need a reset from the Government that prioritises water security, people, and the needs of future generations and that means stopping the Narrabri gasfield.”

Brisbane Times reported on 3 February 2020 concerning the Adani Group's strategically timed donations:

On April 5, $12,500 was donated to the Liberal Party; that was four days before then-Environment Minister Melissa Price signed off on the groundwater management plans for Adani's central Queensland mine. 

Another $100,000 was donated to both parties in the month after Ms Price gave final federal approvals to the mine.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Approval for a controversial rezoning that could allow a second boat-building yard in the Clarence River estuary must come from the NSW Berejiklian Government


The Daily Examiner, 26 October 2019, p.3: 

Approval for a controversial rezoning that could allow a boat-building yard for Palmers Island must come from the State Government. 

At its Tuesday meeting, Clarence Valley Council voted in support of a motion that effectively washed its hands of making any recommendations, handing decision-making for the proposal which has split the local community to NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes. 

Boat-building firm Yamba Welding and Engineering has applied to have a 20ha block of land in School Rd, Palmers Island, rezoned from rural to industrial usage. Company owner Bill Collingburn said expanding his operation to Palmers Island would allow him to triple the size of his operation. 

The community has flooded the council with 183 submissions (131 against and 52 for) and two petitions – one with 689 signatures supporting the proposal and another with 445 names against it..... 

Instead of following a staff recommendation on the handover, which referenced legal advice which could have ruled the planning proposal invalid, Cr Andrew Baker sought to be “neutral”, with a wide-ranging motion covering what the council had done to date on the matter. 

Deputy Mayor Jason Kingsley successfully amended the motion, to make it more neutral. 

This was not enough for some of the residents. 

Resident Peter Sutton said the attempt to be “neutral” was misleading. “Cr Baker has twisted words and included issues that are no longer valid,” Mr Sutton said. 

But Mr Collingburn was pleased to see the council take an even-handed approach. 

“It’s just people squealing,” he said. “You talk to most people and they want to see jobs and growth in the region.”

Administrative staff advice before Clarence Valley councillors on 22 October 2019 included the following:

183 submissions were received. This included two petitions and four submissions from Government Agencies including an objection to the loss of primary agricultural land from Department of Primary Industries. The submissions have been assessed by an external planning consultant (Planning Resolutions) to provide independent advice. The consultant has provided a summary report of matters raised in the submissions and a summary of the key issues at Attachment B. 

The report by Planning Resolutions concluded that: ‘The support for the Planning Proposal is almost entirely and simply support of the business/boat building industry rather than supporting a change in zoning for this particular site. The submissions objecting to the Planning Proposal provide compelling evidence as to the adverse site impacts and comprehensively dispel the reasons put forward by the proponent for not locating the business on Harwood Island. Council has completed a proper strategic planning process that establishes Harwood Island as a suitable Marine Precinct’. [my yellow highlighting]

Council has been advised by the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces that it is not the local plan-making authority for this Planning Proposal and has no legal power to determine this application. 

Two separate legal advices confirm that the Planning Proposal in its current form is in conflict with State Environmental Planning Policy 55 - Remediation of Land due to a tractor storage area on the property being a potentially contaminated site. Whilst this matter is resolvable, a rezoning may not be considered in any form when such conflict with a state policy exists. Therefore on this issue alone the Planning Proposal is likely to not proceed.

It is noted that on or about 3 April 2019 Council was in receipt of Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel Gateway Review Advice Report which found among other things that: "The zoned land at Harwood is not practically available for the proposed use due to land ownership, access limitations, and operational requirements of the planning proposal".

It is further noted that there is an existing marine precinct relatively close by at Harwood Slipway.

Over the years Yamba Welding and Engineering has met with NSW government ministers on a number of occasions in pursuit of its business expansion.

As recently as 18 June 2019 the company, along with Nationals MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis, met with the NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales, Industry and Trade John Barilaro concerning its development plans in the Clarence Valley.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

This is the Singleton Argus article that either the NSW Deputy-Premier or his office alleges is "seditious"


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
'the offence [sedition] is one if the person urges by force or violence the overthrowing of a government, or interfering with an election, or encouraging other people to use – or groups of people – to use force or violence against other groups' [The Attorney-General, Hon Philip Ruddock MP, Alan Jones Radio Programme, 14 November 2005, quoted in Australian Parliamentary Library, "In Good Faith:Sedition Law in Australia", 23 August 2010]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It appears that NSW Deputy-Premier, Minister for Regional New South Wales, Industry and Trade & Liberal MP for Monaro, John Barilaro, is unhappy with journalists having an opinion about the mining industry, state government agencies or the region in which they live and work......



There were two articles published online by The Singleton Argus on 22 October 2019 which dealt with the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption's current review of lobbying activities, access and influence in this state.

The first was a local news article and the second an opinion piece by the same journalist on the same subject.

It was this second piece which is the allegedly "seditious" item that either the Deputy-Premier or his staff apparently decided included content intended to incite violence, public disorder or a public offence:
"Here we go again - the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is hearing evidence about mining approvals - what, haven't we learnt our lessons from the Doyles Creek and Mt Penny inquiries all those years ago?
This time ICAC's Operation Eclipse is not investigating actual corrupt conduct by individuals but rather it is seeking' to examine particular aspects of lobbying activities and the corruption risks involved in the lobbying of public authorities and officials.'
At the same time as ICAC is seeking information about the influence of lobbying on government decision making Planning Minister Rob Stokes announced the terms of reference for the review into the operations of the Independent Planning Commission.
Included in the terms of reference is a question about whether the IPC should exist at all.
Scary when one considers that the former ICAC commissioner David Ipp, QC was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald saying such a move was 'a recipe for corruption'.
The more things change the more they stay the same it would appear when it comes to planning state significant mining projects in NSW.
As an invited witness to this week's Operation Eclipse hearings NSW Minerals Council, chief executive officer Stephen Galilee voiced his strong opinions about the current state of mine approvals in NSW.
He is not happy that Bylong Coal Project was refused, that Dartbrook Underground was only half approved and that United Wambo and Rix's Creek were approved but it took too long so he was still very unhappy.
Mr Galilee is welcome is hold these opinions he works to promote mineral extraction in NSW but his opinions should not over ride due process.
We have seen what happens when mining licences are granted behind closed doors, people made millions often corruptly and the community is treated poorly or not considered at all.
No way should we go back to the bad old days in mine approvals.
We should be planning for our future where we have clean air to breath and new industries for our current mining workforce.
Instead of wasting time and money on the IPC review lets get started with planning for a just transition for our region.
The longer we put off the inevitable transition the harder it will hit our region - want to be part of that Mr Galilee?"

For the life of me I cannot see this as a journalistic call for citizens to man the barricades armed to the teeth and ready to do violence.

Perhaps in the future whichever of the Deputy-Premier's minions crafted that particular email should pause, open a dictionary and a copy of the Crimes Act before choosing his adjectives.

Then when he next rushes to the defence of his minister's 'mates' he won't rashly accuse a journalist of a grave unlawful act.

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'as long as the various sedition offences remain, governments will inevitably be tempted to use them improperly, especially when highly unpopular opinions are expressed' [Sydney Law Review,  (1992) Maher, L.W.,"The Use and Abuse of Sedition"]
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Thursday, 24 October 2019

NSW Liberal-Nationals Government to forbid planning agencies to consider potential impacts of climate change


Nature Conservation Council of NSW, media release, 22 October 2019: 

Planning changes deny our biggest challenge – climate change
The Nature Conservation Council condemns the NSW Government’s plans to forbid planning authorities considering the full climate impacts of coal mines and gas projects.
“The government is effectively banning planning bodies from considering the biggest environmental challenge of our age,” NCC Chief Executive Chris Gambian said. 
“The state government has cravenly capitulated to pressure from the Minerals Council, raising serious questions about who controls planning policy in NSW.
“Minister Rob Stokes announced a review into the Independent Planning Commission just days ago and has already undermined it with proposed legislation.
“For the past 12 years NSW has had a planning policy to consider the climate damage of coal produced in this state. 
“It is reckless and irresponsible to gut this policy when dangerous climate change is on our doorstep with fish kills and more extreme heatwaves and bushfires every summer.
“Courts and planning authorities have been trying to deal with climate change because the government has utterly failed. 
“Now the government is tying planning authorities’ hands and undermine the science-based, responsible decision making the people of NSW want.
“No wonder people are marching in the streets for urgent action on climate.” [my yellow highlighting]

Lock the Gate Alliance, 22 October 2019:

Berejiklian back down: NSW Government capitulates to coal lobby
A NSW Government proposal to prevent the Independent Planning Commission from considering downstream climate emissions when assessing mining projects is a terrible mistake that will be remembered by future generations, according to Lock the Gate Alliance. 

It is being reported the government will move to restrict the IPC from considering the effects of "scope 3" greenhouse gas pollution when considering coal mining projects, with new laws to be introduced to parliament this week.

Scope 3 emissions are the greenhouse emissions produced when coal is burned at its final destination. 

Lock the Gate NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods said the legislation would be remembered by future generations as a shameless capitulation to the coal lobby that would harm communities in NSW.

“The government is capitulating to mining industry pressure and winding back laws to address the most important strategic, economic and environmental challenge of our century," she said.

“This is a regressive and fatal mistake that will be remembered for generations.

"New South Wales is right now experiencing a severe and unprecedented bushfire season and one of the worst droughts on record due to climate change. There is so little time left to prevent the problem escalating beyond our control. 

“The public expects all responsible agencies to use the powers available to them to act to avoid harm to our communities and our environment. 

"This is absolutely the wrong move at the wrong time for the Berejiklian Government. A petty political act of vandalism against the urgent needs of their constituents, particularly those on the frontline of global heating in rural Australia.

"Instead of pretending we have no stake in global action on climate change, we need a plan that recognises that the Hunter region will need to adjust to declining coal use worldwide and to prepare our communities for the severe weather extremes that are bearing down on us."
BACKGROUND

The Guardian, 22 October 2019:

The New South Wales government has announced it will introduce legislation to try to stop planning authorities from blocking mine developments based on emissions from coal once it is burned.
The push is a response to the historic Rocky Hill verdict delivered by the NSW Land and Environment court earlier this year and comes just days after the government launched a review of the state’s Independent Planning Commission (IPC).

Environment groups and the legal firm that represented Groundswell Gloucester have described it as a capitulation to the mining industry, which has waged a campaign over recent planning decisions that either rejected mining projects outright or imposed conditions on them related to their impact on the climate.
The NSW deputy premier and resources minister, John Barilaro, said the government would introduce legislation to parliament in the next week to prevent “the regulation of overseas, or scope-three, greenhouse gas emissions” in mining approvals.....
“The government has a very clear policy when it comes to the consideration of scope-three emissions and this will now be enshrined in legislation and through changes to the Mining SEPP (state environmental planning policy),” Barilaro said on Tuesday.
The changes the government is proposing include amending the State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) to remove the requirement to consider downstream emissions (emissions after coal or gas is sold and burned).
It also plans to amend the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act so that planning authorities are prohibited from imposing conditions on developers related to downstream emissions.
“These changes will help restore NSW law and policy to the situation that existed prior to the Rocky Hill decision and will provide the mining sector with greater certainty,” Barilaro said.
The proposal is not unexpected and was foreshadowed by the government earlier this month following a campaign by the NSW Minerals Council, which has attacked a number of recent decisions by planning authorities in NSW.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 March 2019:
The NSW government prepared sweeping climate change policies to decarbonise the state's economy only to have the plans shelved when Gladys Berejiklian became Premier, documents obtained by the Herald show.
The program included a proposal to "embed climate change consideration into government decision making", and was developed with the advice of the government-appointed expert panel, the Climate Change Council.
Mark Speakman, then environment minister, led the work on two sets of policies that were to give substance to the government's aim to make NSW carbon neutral by 2050. The net-zero carbon goal was announced in November 2016 when Mike Baird was premier.....
Echo NetDaily, 4 April 2019:

Less than a week after being returned to office, the Liberal-National Party moved quickly to weaken environmental protections and local government powers by transferring them to the planning department and the premier, Gladys Berejiklian.

Under the Administration of Acts Order and associated changes made on Tuesday this week, the Coalition government have moved many key ministerial responsibilities, effectively disempowering the ministers and their departments.

Of major concern, say NSW Labor and the Greens, is the scrapping of the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), a department tasked with the oversight of environmental protection across the state. Premier Berejiklian told Fairfax’s SMH that ‘heritage would be shifted to the Arts portfolio headed by Don Harwin as minister’.

SMH reporter Peter Hannam also wrote, ‘As part of the changes, the Office of Local Government will also cease to exist as a separate entity, while the Planning & Environment cluster will end its operations as of July 1 this year’.

According to Administration of Acts Order, the re-appointed Planning Minister Rob Stokes will now exercise all the powers under the Local Government Act 1993....