Showing posts with label John Barilaro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Barilaro. Show all posts

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Calls to halt new logging in bushfire impacted areas in New South Wales are not going away


Matters are not going exactly to plan for NSW Deputy-Premier, Minister for Regional New South Wales and Nationals MP for Monaro, John 'Barracuda' Barilaro.

With only another four weeks to the end of 2020 his timetable for legislative and regulatory changes, allowing farmers and developers to commence virtually unregulated clearing of native trees and vegetation before state parliament and local government return from the two-month holiday break, is now seriously behind schedule.

Neither mainstream nor social media has let go of the idea that it is environmentally destructive to be logging already bushfire-impacted forests and clearing what remains of koala food and shelter trees in the face of a looming extinction crisis and increasing climate change.

And when it comes to the Premier, despite his best efforts Barilaro hasn't managed to weaken her enough to cause a parliamentary leadership challenge in the NSW Liberal Party.

He is not yet the kingmaker he so obviously wants to be, even though he is casting less than subtle hints across the paths of journalists that Gladys Berejiklian is off her game, tired, making mistakes and that "A break would do her good" .

These are two examples of regional and national media articles published last Friday.....

Echo NetDaily, 27 November 2020:

More than 60 per cent of North Coast forests and 80 per cent of South Coast forests were burnt in the 2019–20 black summer fires. Since that point issues around the management and logging of these and other forests have been highlighted and ‘the Guardian has revealed that the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) will likely be engaged to conduct a review to “consider the standards that should be in place for forestry operations after bushfires.”,’ said Independent NSW MLC Justin Field.

Mr Field has called on the NSW government to give an undertaking to NSW coastal communities that new approvals for logging in the state’s badly burnt public state forests will not be approved until a review by the state’s Independent NRC is completed.

It’s one year to the week since the devastating Currowan fire took hold on the South Coast. The community always understood business as usual wasn’t possible after the fires but the politics has been slow to move and a lot of damage has been done,’ said Mr Field.

This review is a political fix to try to find a circuit breaker in what has been an escalating public conflict between John Barilaro’s department and the NSW EPA. The NRC are effectively being asked to be the arbiter in this disagreement.

Logging breaches

In part this review is in response to numerous EPA stop-work orders and investigations into breaches by Forestry Corporation under the burnt forest logging rules.

I am seeking an undertaking from the Government that new approvals for logging in bushfire affected forests will not be granted until we’ve seen the outcome of the review,’ Mr Field said.

The review comes after a public dispute between Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s Department of Regional NSW and the NSW Environment Protection Authority over the ‘site specific operating conditions’ the EPA had put in place to minimise environmental damage of burnt forest logging,’ says Mr Field.

The dispute had led to the EPA warning Forestry Corporation that plans to move back to logging under pre-fire conditions would likely breach the NSW Forestry Act which requires ecologically sustainable forest management practices. ‘

Local Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith told Echonetdaily that, ‘The Greens oppose logging in native forests on a good day, let alone after catastrophic bushfires and the subsequent destruction of wildlife and biodiversity on an unprecedented scale in NSW last summer.

I and thousands of environmentalists begged the government to send in ecologists after the fires last summer not loggers, but they did any way.

The idea that with 1.7 degrees of global warming already locked in that logging of native forests is even on the table is the kind of environmental vandalism that future generations will study as pivotal to sealing a fate of extinction for koalas and platypus and countless other species,’ said Ms Smith…...

The Guardian, 27 November 2020: 

NSW’s EPA has issued stop-work orders to the state-owned Forestry Corporation for breaches 
of its licence in bushfire-hit forests on the north and south coasts. 
Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

The New South Wales government is planning a review of forestry operations in bushfire-hit coastal regions as tensions mount between the environment regulator and Forestry Corporation. 

The review, which is still to be formally commissioned, will probably be carried out by the state’s Natural Resources Commission (NRC), government sources have told Guardian Australia. 

The state’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued the state-owned Forestry Corporation with a series of stop-work orders this year for breaches of its licence in bushfire-hit forests on the south and north coasts. 

Last month, the EPA started five prosecutions against Forestry Corporation in the land and environment court for alleged breaches of its licence in a forest near Coffs Harbour. 

Because of the destruction caused by the bushfires, the EPA had set stricter standards for logging operations covered by the coastal integrated forestry operations approval (IFOA). 

The EPA’s application of the post-bushfire rules has frustrated the industry and the Department of Regional NSW wrote to the agency in September to say forestry believed environmental protections set out in its approval remained adequate after the fires. 

But MPs and residents of coastal NSW have been dismayed at the logging of fire-affected habitat given the scale of disaster and its effect on threatened plants and animals, including koalas. 

The planned review will consider the standards that should be in place for forestry operations after bushfires and try to chart a path back to the use of the coastal IFOA. 

The NRC provides independent advice to government and was the agency that delivered the report on the Barwon-Darling water-sharing plan, which found the riverine system was in crisis. 

The independent MP, Justin Field, who is based on the south coast, asked the forestry minister, John Barilaro, about the “now-public dispute” between the EPA and regional NSW and what the government was doing to ensure forestry operations were ecologically sustainable. 

Field told Guardian Australia the NRC “will effectively be the arbiter in the disagreement between Forestry Corporation and the EPA over what logging could sustainably happen in burnt forest”. 

“This is in response to numerous EPA stop-work orders and investigations into breaches under the burnt forest logging rules,” he said. 

“I welcome this review. The public has recommended that business as usual after the fires is not possible.” 

He said an independent assessment of the impact of logging on burnt forest and wood supply was appropriate. 

“I hope this leads to a conversation about a transition away from public native forestry to plantations and private land forestry.” A spokesman for Barilaro would not confirm a formal review......

Monday, 30 November 2020

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


ABC News, 11 September 2020

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

Starting with this……..

The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 November 2020:

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

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

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

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

The Social Club went broke in the early 2000s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All three companies were involved in manufacturing timber products.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Barilaro, the stealthy empire builder in 2020

When Liberal MP for Willoughby Gladys Berejiklian was sworn in as Premier of New South Wales on 23 January 2017, Nationals MP for Monaro John Barilaro (left) had already been Deputy-Premier under Bruce Baird for 38 days.

On 30 January 2017 Berejiklian made Barilaro Minister for Regional New South Wales. Twenty-six months later Berejiklian expanded this ministerial portfolio into the Minister for Regional New South Wales, Industry and Trade.

On the same day Barilaro’s regional portfolio was expanded, Berejiklianestablished the new Department of Regional NSW to better coordinate support for communities, businesses and farmers in the bush.

The new department headquartered in Queanbeyan acts as a central agency that brings together functions from the Department of Planning Industry and Environment cluster and, is being led by Secretary Gary Barnes, formerly the Coordinator General, Regional NSW, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

The departmental workforce is expected to eventually reach around 5,000 employees, according to its Linkedin entry.

John Barilaro said the department will bring together Primary Industries, Local Land Services, Resources and Geoscience and regional coordination across government… is imperative we have a government designed to properly support every corner of this State.

What this means for regional communities is that Barilaro has gathered into his ministerial portfolio the processes for carrying forward increased land clearing, increased native timber logging on private and Crown land, as well as further exploration and mining in regional NSW. 

Water security has also been included in this portfolio - which would cover planning for future water storage and water diversion.

Based on Berejiklian Government promotional material for the Department of Regional NSW it is clear that Barilaro now sits atop a portfolio which holds in its departmental domain an est. 40 per cent of all NSW residents, in around 99 local government areas which produce approximately one-third of the total NSW gross state product.

Barilaro has gathered his own party members as minsters with responsibilities within the department - Nationals MLA for Northern Tablelands and Minister for Agriculture and Western New South Wales Adam Marshall and Nationals MLC and Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women Bronnie Taylor.

There does not seem to be a NSW Liberal Party politician within cooee of the new regional department.

Five months after becoming New South Wales regional czar, John Barilaro began to flex his muscles with threats to destabilise the Berejiklian Government and the political koala war briefly erupted.

One cannot escape the suspicion that Barilaro is not seeking to raise the profiles of those mere 18 National Party members in the 134 member NSW Parliament, but is intent on creating an alternative state government situated in regional New South Wales. 

Reading Mr. Barilaro's personal and political history as played out in the media, it is evident that he is a moderately wealthy former local government councillor & businessman, unashamedly ambitious, erratic, a dogwhistler since the beginning of his political career, willing to resort to threats and name calling, flouts the road rules at will, has long been happiest pulling the house down around the ears of government agencies in the name of  'reform', is willing to put his bootheel on the neck of north-east NSW and, apparently intends to keep pushing Gladys Berejiklian until she breaks.


Wednesday, 23 September 2020

NSW Nationals in disarray in 2020

NSW Nationals Leader and Deputy-Primer John Barilaro is reportedly on mental health leave from 18 September 2020 and MLA for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams quit the Nationals on 20 September to join the NSW Liberal Party.

This junior partner in the Coalition is showing the strain of having such a divisive leader. Barilaro has been at the helm for less than four years and in that time the Nationals have lost four seats in the state parliament - Lismore, Murray, Barwon and now Port Macquarie. 

The Nationals now hold only 12 seats in the 93 seat NSW Legislative Assembly.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 September 2020:

Two senior NSW Nationals figures have quit the party and Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams has had her membership of the Liberals accepted a day after abandoning the Nationals in disgust.

Former Nationals leader and deputy premier Troy Grant last week resigned from the party, while former Water Minister and deputy leader Niall Blair has not renewed his membership.

Mr Grant and Mr Blair did not want to comment on their decision to leave the Nationals, but a source close to Mr Grant said he did not "support the direction of the party".

Ms Williams' membership of the Liberals was rubber-stamped on Monday morning, ensuring she did not have to sit on the crossbench when NSW Parliament resumes on Tuesday.

Her shock resignation on Sunday came after John Barilaro, the NSW Nationals' leader, and his MPs threatened to destroy the Coalition by moving to the crossbench if they did not get a raft of changes over a contested koala planning policy.

Ms Williams released a statement on Sunday saying: "Sadly, the events of the past weeks and months have cemented my decision."

The former head of the New South Wales Young Nationals and chair of its women’s council Jess Price-Purnell has also resigned from the party after being threatened with expulsion from the party because she publicly criticised John Barilaro's handling of the Koala planning policy issue.