Sunday, December 14, 2014


By Dr David Pascoe BVSc PhD

I am a country boy myself.  I grew up in a small Australian town based on farming.  So I understand the anger below.  And I agree that country people are unusually fine people. But I think I need to add something to the story below. 

For a start it is not true that the drought in Western Qld. and NSW has gone unmentioned in the media.  It has been mentioned quite a lot on both radio and TV -- particularly on rural programs.  Though it has admittedly never been front page news.

Secondly, I gather that ANZ bank has recently softened its policies towards drought-hit farmers -- though how helpful that will be remains to be seen.  It is certainly true that treating farming like any other business is stupidly rigid.  Longer term thinking is needed.

Finally, I am not sure that it is in anybody's best interests to  keep these people on the land.  Australia gets drier the further West you go from the East coast and by the time you get to places like Winton, farming is a very risky gamble. It may rain or it may not.

And it is certain that people taking on debt in a drought are highly likely to be cutting their own throats.  If the drought endures, as it often does, they will have no income for some years and no means of servicing their loans.  So they will then lose the lot.

The proper way to use such dry country for farming is to destock and close the gate once you run out of money.  You then go and get a job somewhere until the rains come again.  If you can get a job nearby you may even be able to do some weekend farming and preserve a small herd or flock as a nucleus for future restocking.  For many however, that way is too hard.  They borrow instead.  And the result of that is REALLY hard

There is of course traditional advice to that effect: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be". It is outdated advice in many situations but farmers ignore it at their peril. -- JR

Charlie Phillott, now 87, is a farmer from the ruggedly beautiful Carisbrooke Station at Winton. He has owned his station since 1960, nurtured it and loved it like a part of his own flesh. He is a grand old gentleman, one of the much loved and honoured fathers of his community.

Not so long ago, the ANZ bank came and drove him off his beloved station because the drought had devalued his land and they told him he was considered an unviable risk. Yet Charlie Phillott has never once missed a single mortgage payment.

Today this dignified Grand Old Man of the West is living like some hunted down refugee in Winton, shocked and humiliated and penniless. And most of all, Charlie Phillott is ashamed, because as a member of the Great Generation - those fine and decent and ethical men and women who built this country – he believes that what happened to him was somehow his own fault. And the ANZ Bank certainly wanted to make sure they made him feel like that.

Last Friday my wife Heather and I flew up with Alan Jones to attend the Farmers Last Stand drought and debt meeting in Winton. And after what I saw being done to our own people, I have never been more ashamed to be Australian in my life.

What is happening out there is little more than corporate terrorism: our own Australian people are being bullied, threatened and abused by both banks and mining companies until they are forced off their own land.

So we must ask: is this simply to move the people off their land and free up it up for mining by foreign mining companies or make suddenly newly empty farms available for purchase by Chinese buyers? As outrageous as it might seem, all the evidence flooding in seems to suggest that this is exactly what is going on.

What is the role of Government in all of this? Why have both the State and Federal Government stood back and allowed such a dreadful travesty to happen to our own people? Where was Campbell Newman on this issue? Where was Prime Minister Abbott? The answer is nowhere to be seen.

For the last few months, the Prime Minister has warned us against the threats of terrorism to our nation. We have been alerted to ISIS and its clear and present danger to the Australian people.

Abbott has despatched Australian military forces into the Middle East in an effort to destroy this threat to our own safety and security. This mobilization of our military forces has come at a massive and unbudgeted expense to the average Australian taxpayer which the Prime Minister estimates to be around half a billion dollars each year.

We are told that terrorism is dangerous not only because of the threat to human life but also because it displaces populations and creates the massive human cost of refugees.

Yet not one single newspaper or politician in this land has exposed the fact that the worst form of terrorism that is happening right now is going on inside the very heartland of our own nation as banks and foreign mining companies are deliberately and cruelly forcing our own Australian farmers off the land.

What we saw in the main hall of the Winton Shire Council on Friday simply defied all description: a room filled with hundreds of broken and battered refuges from our own country. It was a scene more tragic and traumatic than a dozen desperate funerals all laced onto the one stage.

Right now, all over the inland of both Queensland and NSW, there is nothing but social and financial carnage on a scale that has never before been witnessed in this nation.

It was 41 degrees when we touched down at the Winton airport, and when you fly in low over this landscape it is simply Apocalyptic: there has not been a drop of rain in Winton for two years and there is not a sheep, a cow, a kangaroo, an emu or a bird in sight. Even the trees in the very belly of the creeks are dying.

There is little doubt that this is a natural disaster of incredible magnitude – and yet nobody – neither state nor the federal government - is willing to declare it as such.

The suicide rate has now reached such epic proportions right across the inland: not just the farmer who takes the walk “ up the paddock” and does away with himself but also their children and their wives. Once again, it has barely been covered by the media, a dreadful masquerade that has assisted by the reticence and shame of honourable farming families caught in these tragic situations.

My wife is one of the toughest women I know. Her family went into North West of Queensland as pioneers one hundred years ago: this is her blood country and these are her people . Yet when she stood up to speak to this crowd on Friday she suddenly broke down: she told me later that when she looked into the eyes of her own people, what she saw was enough to break her heart

And yet not one of us knew it was this bad, this much of a national tragedy. The truth is that these days, the Australian media basically doesn’t give a damn. They have been muzzled and shut down by governments and foreign mining companies to the extent that they are no longer willing to write the real story. So the responsibility is now left to people like us, to social media – and you, the Australian people.

And so the banks have been free to play their games and completely terrorise these people at their leisure. The drought has devalued the land and the banks have seen their opportunity to strike. It was exactly the excuse that they needed to clean up and make a fortune, because once the rains come – as they always do – this land will be worth four to ten times the price.

In fact, when farmers have asked for the payout figures, the banks have been either deeply reluctant or not capable of providing the mortgage trail because they have on-sold the mortgage - just like sub-prime agriculture.

This problem isn’t simply happening in Winton, but rather right across the entire inland across Queensland and NSW. The banks have been bringing in the police to evict Australian famers and their families from their farms, many of them multigenerational. One farmer matter of factly told us it took “oh, about 7 police” to evict him from his first farm and “maybe about twelve” to evict him from his second farm which had been in his family for many generations. You think they are kidding you. Then you see the expression in their eyes.

And there was something far worse in the room on Friday: the fear of speaking out against the banks: when we asked people to tell us who had done this to them, they would immediately start to shake and cry and look away: They have been silenced to protect the good corporate image of their tormentors called the banks. What in God’s name have the bastard banks been allowed to do to our people?

This is a travesty against the rights and the human dignity of every Australian

So it’s only fair that we start to name a few of major banks involved: The ANZ is a major culprit (and they made $7 billion profit last year). Then there is Rabo, which is now owned by Westpac (who paid CEO Gail Kelly a yearly salary of some $12 million) According to all reports, the NAB and Bank West are right in there at the trough as well – and all the rest of them are equally guilty. For any that we have missed, rest assured they will be publicly exposed as well

But here’s the thing: when these people are forced off their farms, they have nowhere to go. There are no refugee services waiting, such is the case for those who attempt to enter the sovereign borders of this nation. The farmers simply drive to the nearest town – that’s if the banks haven’t stripped their cars off them as well - and they try and find somewhere to sleep. Some are sleeping on the backs of trucks in swags. There is basically no home or accommodation made available to take them. They camp out, shocked and broken and penniless – and they are living on weet bix and noodles. If there is someone that can lend a family enough money to buy food, they will: otherwise they are left completely alone.

And consider this: not one of them has asked for help. Not one. They just do the best they can, ashamed and broken and brainwashed by the banks to believe that everything that has happened is completely their own fault

There is not one single word of this from a politicians lips, with the exception of the incredibly courageous father and son team of Bob and Robbie Katter, who organised the Farmers Last Stand meeting. The Katter family have been in the North since the 1890’s, and nobody who sat in that hall last Friday could question their love and commitment to their own people.

There is barely a mention of any of this as well in the newspapers, with the exception of as brief splash of publicity that followed our visit.

The Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce attended the meeting in a bitter blue-funk kind of mood that saw him mostly hunched over and staring at the floor. He had given $100 million of financial assistance in a lousy deal where the Government will borrow at 2.75% and loan it back at 3.21%.

The last thing these people need is another loan: they need a Redevelopment Bank to refinance their own loans: issuing a loan to pay off a loan is nothing more than financial suicide.

The reality is that Joyce cannot get support from what he calls “the shits in Cabinet” to create a desperately needed Redevelopment Bank so that these farmers can get cheap loans to tide them through to the end of the drought.

Our sources suggest that those “shits in Cabinet” include Malcolm Turnbull – Minister for Communications and the uber-cool trendy city-centric Liberal in the black leather jacket:, Andrew Robb – Minster for Trade and Investment and the man behind the free trade deal, the man who suddenly acquired three trendy Sydney restaurants almost overnight, the man who seems to suddenly desperate to sell off our farms to China – and one Greg Hunt, Environment Minister and the man who is instantly approving almost every single mining project that is put in front of him.

At the conclusion of the meeting, we stood and met some of the people in the crowd. My wife talked to women who would hug her for dear life, and when they walked away people would suddenly murmur “oh, she was forced off last week” or “they are being forced off tomorrow” . Not one of them mentioned it to us. They had too much pride.

The Australian people need to be both informed and desperately outraged about what is being done to our own people. This is about every right that was once held dear to us: human rights, property rights, civil rights. And most all, our right to freedom of speech. All of that has been taken away from these people – and the rest of us need to understand that we are probably next.

In the last four weeks the Newman Government has removed all farmers rights to protest to a mine and given mining companies the rights to take all the water they want from the Great Artesian Basin – and at no cost to them at all.

And all of this has happened under the watch of both Premier Newman and Prime Minister Abbott.

Until Friday, we used to think of Winton as the home of Waltzing Matilda: it was written at a local station and first performed in the North Gregory Hotel. I think it was Don McLean who wrote, “something touched me deep inside…the day the music died”… in his song American Pie, and for us, last Friday was the day music died.

We will never be able to sing Waltzing Matilda again until we see some justice for these people, and all the farmers of the inland.

This is no longer the Australia we once knew: no longer our country, no longer our people, no longer the decent caring leaders we once remembered.

Right now, the banks, the mining mates, the corrupt politicians and all the ‘mongrels in suits’ have won – and the Australian people don’t have a clue what has been done to them.

Like the American Depression and the iconic photograph of Florence Owens Thompson, there is a terrible, gaping wound that has been carved across the heartland of this nation.

We need to fully grasp that, and to understand that our people – dignified, decent and honourable old men like Charlie Phillott - have been deliberately terrorized, brutalised – and sold out.

In one sense, Charlie Phillott has become the symbol overnight of every decent Australian: the simple right to live out our lives on the land we love - and the land we are still free to call our own. At least until some dangerously persuaded corrupted trendy liberal theorist decided to strip all that away.

The truth is, no Australian was ever consulted about whether or not they wanted to see their land mined into oblivion or see our precious water poisoned and given away for free, whether they wanted to be driven off their land by the greed of banking executives who saw the chance to make a profit by wiping out the weakest and most vulnerable amongst us.

No Australian was ever consulted about whether or not we wanted to see our beloved homeland sold on the cheap to greedy faceless foreigners just because some slimy two-faced minister managed to convince a weakened prime minster to meekly carry out his bidding.

Nobody has asked us. We the People. Not once.

So if we are ever going to do something, then we’d better realise that its now only two minutes to midnight – so we’d better move fast.


Tide turns on sea-level alarmists

AUSTRALIA is lucky to possess the high-quality, 128-year-long tide gauge record from Fort Denison (Sydney Harbour), which since 1886 indicates a long-term rate of sea-level rise of 0.65mm a year, or 6.5cm a century.

Lucky, because 60-year-long oceanographic atmospheric oscillations mean a true long-term measurement of sea-level rise can be made only when such a record is available.

Similarly low rates of local sea-level rise have been measured at other tide gauges along the east coast. National Tidal Centre records reveal variations between about 5cm and 16cm/century in rates of relative rise. The differ­ences between individual tide gauges mostly represent slightly differing rates of subsidence of the land at each site, and differing time periods.

For example, measurements at Sydney between 2005 and 2014 show the tide gauge site is sinking at a rate of 0.49mm/yr, leaving just 0.16mm/yr of the overall relative rise as representing global sea-level change. Indeed, the rate of rise at Fort Denison, and globally, has been decreasing for the past 50 years.

Despite this high-quality and unalarming data, it is surprising that some east coast councils have implemented coastal planning regulations based on the computer projections of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. For instance, a recent consultancy report for the Shoalhaven and Eurobodalla shire councils, informed by IPCC computer model projections, advised those councils to plan using a rate of rise of 3.3mm/yr, four times the rate at Fort Denison.

The numbers were in part based on experimental estimates of sea-level change provided by satellite altimetry measurements. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which launches the satellite platforms, says these estimates contain errors larger than the sea-level signal claimed and proposes spending more than $US100 million on launching a new GRASP satellite to rectify the matter.

Mindful of these facts, on October 28, Shoalhaven Shire Council rejected advice to use the IPCC’s most extreme emissions Scenario 8.5, applying the still highly precautionary Scenario 6.0, and using their nearest long tide gauge record (Fort Denison) to set future planning policy. The council specifically ruled out the future use of satellite or model-generated sea-level estimates until their accuracy is guaranteed.

In mid-2010, the Eurobodalla council, south of Shoalhaven, introduced a unique interim sea level rise policy that shackled more than a quarter of all properties in the shire to restrictive development controls. Predictably, there was an immediate shire-wide decline in property values.

Figures from RP Data property information specialists show that between 2011 and 2014, Eurobodalla property values suffered a 5.3 per cent loss in value compared with increases of 4.9 per cent and 7.3 per cent for neighbouring coastal shires that didn’t have equivalent restrictive sea-level policies. In the worst cases, individual properties have lost up to 52 per cent of their market value.

In three years, individual Eurobodalla properties lost about $40,000 in value. With 22,000 properties in the shire, this represents a capital loss of $880m at a rate of $293m a year. This steady loss of rateable value means householders will face higher rate increases.

If similar policies were implemented along the entire east coast there would be annual property capital losses of billions of dollars.

So it is not surprising that NSW and Queensland governments are reconsidering their coastal management policies.

Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney recently notified Moreton Bay Regional Council of his intention to direct it to amend its draft planning scheme “to remove any assumption about a theoretical projected sea level rise due to climate change from all and any provisions of the scheme”. Seeney said his intention was to use a statewide coastal mapping scheme “that will remove the ‘one size fits all’ approach that incorporates a mandatory 0.8m addition to historical data”.

At last, a responsible government has recognised that global average sea-level change is no more relevant to coastal management than average global temperatures are to the design of residential heating and cooling systems — local weather and local sea-level change is what matters.

Satellite measurements and computer model projections are not accurate enough for shire planning. As the NSW Chief Scientist has said, coastal policy needs to be informed by the best available factual measurements.

And as Seeney said: “All mandatory elements of the (planning) scheme must reflect only proven historical data when dealing with coastal hazards such as storm tide inundation and erosion control areas.” Similar policies need to be espoused by all state governments and councils.

Sea-level alarmism has passed high tide and is at last declining. With luck, empirical sanity will soon prevail over modelling.


Kinship placements for Aborigines risk creating a Lost Generation

 For six years, the CIS's child protection research has comprehensively explored the major issues facing the child protection system across Australia, and has called for the greater use of adoption to address the systemic problems that impede the proper care and protection of vulnerable children.

However, this research has, up until now, slid over the most sensitive issue - the tragic fact that Indigenous children are many times over-represented in cases of child abuse and neglect.

To talk of adoption in relation to Indigenous children is to invite the politically explosive claim that this would create 'another Stolen Generation'.

This, in part, is the reason why the NSW Government decided to exclude indigenous children from its 2013 adoption-based child protection reforms. Instead, decisions about Indigenous children who need to be removed from their parents for child welfare reasons will continue to be made in accordance with the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle (ACPP).

The ACPP means that all efforts will continue to be made to place children in 'kinship care', preferable with relatives, or members of the local community, or other indigenous people.

The theory behind the ACPP is sound. Child removal practices associated with the Stolen Generations damaged many Indigenous people by denying them contact with their families, communities, and with traditional culture. It therefore makes sense to try to maintain children's cultural identity by placing them close to home if they can't live safely with their families.

The problem, in practice, however, is the social problems in many Indigenous communities, which makes it difficult to reconcile considerations of culture and identity with child welfare.
Indigenous children placed in kinship care can be taken out of the frying pan of family dysfunction only to be placed back into the fire of broader community dysfunction. Hence, recent official inquiries in state and territory child protection systems have noted the "lesser standard care" that can be received by some indigenous children, who are placed into situations that non-Indigenous children would not be placed in order to comply with the ACPP.

What is and isn't done to protect Indigenous children has national implications. Denying Indigenous children the safe and nurturing family environments all children need to thrive threatens to keep open the gaps in social outcomes and opportunities between the most disadvantaged Indigenous Australians and other Australians - gaps that all intelligent Australians acknowledge are our deepest national shame.

This is the thinking behind the CIS's new report. We must address the 'kinship conundrum', and rethink well-intentioned policies such as the ACPP, if we are to 'Close the Gap' and achieve true Reconciliation.

My report therefore challenges much of the thinking behind the ACPP, which I argue is outdated compared with much contemporary Indigenous policy, and compared to modern understandings and definitions of Indigenous identity. What the report does not do is ignore the legacy of the Stolen Generation or deny the importance of maintaining Indigenous children's cultural identity.

What I do argue is that we need, in children's best interests, to find better ways to reconcile cultural identity with child welfare - such as through cultural support and education programs run by Indigenous organisations for Indigenous children who are adopted (or placed in permanent care).


Mum bloggers show dark side of feminist parenting

Former Australian Labor Party leader Mark Latham is having a go at feminists again

When the Greens senator Larissa Waters publicly endorsed the No Gender December campaign last week, most people thought it was just another left-feminist brain-snap.  As if buying Barbies for young girls at Christmas condemns them to a lifetime of low self-esteem and repression.

My seven-year-old daughter has a room full of Barbies, yet she’s an incredibly independent, strong-willed and capable young lady.

Over the years, I’ve met prime ministers, presidents and billionaires, but none of them have overwhelmed me with their force of personality the way Siena Latham does.  I’ve always thought the manufacturer puts something in the Barbies to empower her and weaken me – like kryptonite on Superdad.

 Senator Waters and her Green mates are off with the pixies – a fantasy world in which all parts of life are inherently political.

You get up in the morning and go to the toilet: for the Greens, that’s an act of politics. By standing at the urinal, men exercise the power of patriarchy, while women are forced to sit – a vulnerable and submissive position.

You buy your son a Star Wars lightsaber and the dark side will convert him to a lifetime of misogyny. You buy your daughter a pink dress and automatically she’ll be barefoot and pregnant in a public housing estate, denied access to the Anne Summers texts that could set her free.

It’s easy to dismiss No Gender December for what it is: a political sect that extrapolates the simple, everyday parts of life into wacky sociological conspiracies. But it’s more than that.

In the inner suburbs of our major cities, a fascinating experiment is under way. Thousands of children have been locked in a gender-neutral bubble, growing up in households manipulated by their mothers to fit the left-feminist mould. How do we know this? Through the phenomenon of mummy bloggers.


Daily Life, for instance, describes itself as “a proudly female-biased website”. One of its feature writers is Sarah Macdonald, well known for her work on ABC radio.

Like most mummy bloggers, she’s youngish, hip and self-absorbed. Her parenting techniques provide a snapshot of left-feminism in action.

According to Macdonald, “all parents” try to “raise children in a new way, unencumbered by a long, rich history of gender stereotypes”. But then they slip back into old habits, such as when “a mother coos ‘you’re so pretty’ to her baby daughter” or “a father comes home and starts ‘fun time’ ”. For any parent inclined to talk about their daughter’s appearance, the answer is clear: call her ugly.

The next MacParenting tip is for mothers to avoid being “the default parent” – the one “who has met the teacher and knows where the favourite T-shirt is buried”.

Macdonald, it seems, is unmoved by research showing parents actively involved in their children’s education help to improve their children’s academic results. If she sees a teacher walking towards her at school pick-up time, apparently she runs the other way. Her bare-chested children (having been unable to find their ­T-shirts that morning) are then forced to chase her down the street.

This prejudice against education is confirmed in other MacParenting recommendations. In trying to avoid the “dad is fun, mum is mean” stereotype, Macdonald admits to having “avoided homework [assistance] for years”, while her “kids have stopped learning their instruments”.

She’s also against participation on school P and Cs, given “it’s another area of unpaid work for women”.

MacParenting hates the idea of dads being seen as “the fun one”. So in divorced families, mothers are advised to “give their kids pizza every night”.

What’s the net outcome of this social experiment? In the name of gender equality, left-feminism is breeding a generation of shirtless, tone-deaf, overweight, pizza-eating dummies – the opposite of what progressive politics is supposed to achieve.

At the Macdonald laboratory, the results are clear: “My daughter is far more willing to whack [people] than my son and she is not a hugger”.

Here in outer-western Sydney, I couldn’t live without my daughter’s hugs. Thank goodness we’re the antithesis of nutty Green feminism.


Australia’s Secret War: How Unions Sabotaged Our Troops in World War II

BOOK REVIEW of "Australia’s Secret War"

Hal Colebatch’s new book, Australia’s Secret War, tells the shocking, true, but until now largely suppressed and hidden story of the war waged from 1939 to 1945 by a number of key Australian trade unions against their own society and against the men and women of their own country’s fighting forces at the time of its gravest peril. His conclusions are based on a broad range of sources, from letters and first-person interviews between the author and ex-servicemen to official and unofficial documents from the archives of World War II.

Between 1939 and 1945 virtually every major Australian warship, including at different times its entire force of cruisers, was targeted by strikes, go-slows and sabo­tage. Australian soldiers operating in New Guinea and the Pacific Islands went without food, radio equipment and munitions, and Aus­tralian warships sailed to and from combat zones without ammunition, because of strikes at home. Planned rescue missions for Australian prisoners-of-war in Borneo were abandoned because wharf strikes left rescuers without heavy weapons. Officers had to restrain Australian and American troops from killing striking trade unionists.


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