Tuesday, June 14, 2016
NSW farmers stepping up tree felling even before land-clearing laws loosened
Greenies are always trying to restrict farmers' right to use their property as they see fit, making a nonsense out of freehold. So when the regulations ease up a bit, farmers have got to rush in and do whatever is needed to develop their property. There are plenty of national parks for wildlife preservation but Greenies always want it all
The state's farmers have lopped paddock trees at an accelerating rate in the past 18 months even before a new land-clearing law eases controls further, government data shows.
The new figures, which reveal the rate of clearing of paddock trees has more than doubled since November 2014, come as the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists wrote to all MPs to call for a reversal of "retrograde changes" planned in the new Biodiversity Conservation act.
NSW farmers used a new self-assessment code to remove 21,716 paddock trees – or more than 50 a day – over the past year and a half.
The rate, at an average of about 50 per day, was 140 per cent more than the average over the previous seven years, data from the Office of Environment and Heritage showed. Paddock trees, judged to be single or small patches of trees, make up 40 per cent of remaining woodland cover, OEH says.
Satellite monitoring by OEH would probably have detected even more clearing but the public has been left in the dark because the O'Farrell-Baird governments had failed to release a native vegetation report since 2013, Mehreen Faruqi, the Greens environment spokeswoman, said.
The Greens had also sought information on the number of applications OEH received and what if any compliance of the self-assessment codes they conducted, Dr Faruqi said.
"If almost 22,000 trees can be removed under the existing law, then it will be a disaster when new laws that further facilitate land clearing are brought in," she said, adding the latest tree-felling numbers were "the tip of the iceberg".
A spokeswoman for Niall Blair, Minister for Primary Industries, did not address the scale of tree clearing on farms, but said "the proposed Biodiversity Conservation package aims to reverse the decline of biodiversity in NSW because the current system isn't working".
"The NSW Government is currently seeking feedback on the draft reforms and stakeholders including environmental groups and farmers are encouraged to put forward a submission before June 28," she said.
Labor's environment spokeswoman, Penny Sharpe, said the figures "ring alarm bells on how far the current biodiversity laws have already been watered down".
"If these laws proceed in their current form, there will be a return to land clearing on a scale unseen for decades in NSW with catastrophic impacts on native animals, soil, water and greenhouse gas emissions," Ms Sharpe said.
The Wentworth Group was also scathing of the new proposals, warning that "key elements [of the new act] will substantially weaken existing protections" contained within the Native Vegetation and Threaten Species acts which will be replaced by the new Biodiversity Conservation act.
The group's criticism carries additional weight because one of the signatories to the letter is Professor Hugh Possingham, a member of the Biodiversity Review Panel that reviewed the existing legislation.
The proposed law contains three major flaws including a weaker set of codes that would permit more broadscale land-clearing, a lack of mapping of areas of high conservation value, and its $240 million plan to reward private landholders protecting native vegetation on their properties may end up as "a taxpayer subsidy to farmers to degrade land", the group said.
"The watering down of laws to stop broadscale clearing is driven by a small handful of property owners who believe they have the right to do whatever they wish, irrespective of the long-term damage this might cause to the rest of society," the scientists said.
Mark Speakman, environment minister, said he had noted the scientists' concerns.
"There are a range of diverse views on the proposed reforms," he said. "The draft reforms are designed to protect biodiversity and create the best possible outcomes for the environmental future of NSW."
Miners' union determined to destroy the jobs of its members
With their obstructionism, they could well cause the loss-making operation to close down completely. But "no retreat" on wages and conditions is sacred to them
Maintenance workers at an unprofitable coal mine in Western Australia's southwest have vowed to appeal a Fair Work Commission decision to terminate their current enterprise agreement.
Griffin Coal, owned by India's Lanco Infratech, applied for the commission's intervention after more than 12 months of unproductive talks with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union about a replacement agreement for its Collie mine.
After Griffin Coal president Raj Kumar Roy complained about high wages, which were the company's biggest operating cost and had been exacerbated by the mining boom, commissioner Danny Cloghan agreed to terminate the enterprise agreement.
In handing down his decision last week, commissioner Cloghan said it would result in reduced conditions for workers but was not contrary to the public interest.
AMWU state secretary Steve McCartney described the move as an outrageous attack on the workers and their families, and a kick in the guts to the Collie community.
"We'll be seeking an injunction and appealing the decision to the full bench, as well as pursuing a fair replacement agreement for these workers," Mr McCartney said.
The commission heard Griffin Coal had racked up about $290 million in losses over the past five years and was only surviving with the financial support of the parent company.
While the company contended the termination was "necessary but not sufficient to improve efficiency and productivity", it would make jobs more secure, commissioner Cloghan said.
Mr McCartney also criticised the state government for not having a transition plan for Collie.
In April, Treasurer Mike Nahan flagged mothballing part of the Muja power station near Collie under sweeping changes to an oversupplied energy market, prompting local MP Mick Murray to question the town's future.
Ruthless union boss behind Victorian firefighter stoush
He clearly wants to chase the volunteer firefighters away so he can get more jobs for his members -- even if they have nothing to do for 6 months of the year
The union chief given unprecedented power over Victoria’s volunteer firefighters has pushed to make it harder for volunteers who get cancer associated with firefighting to access compensation.
United Firefighters Union boss Peter Marshall has also taken a stand against efforts to increase the number of female firefighters in Melbourne’s paid metropolitan brigade.
Mr Marshall is a close ally of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who last week saw off Jane Garrett, who resigned as emergency services minister after she backed volunteers over the UFU, and sacked the board of the Country Fire Authority.
Volunteer brigades have told The Australian of a culture of outright hostility from the union, a situation that flared in recent weeks as the Victorian Labor government attempts to ram through an enterprise bargaining agreement with the CFA, which has 60,000 volunteers.
One volunteer firefighter had his tyres slashed after speaking publicly against the deal.
Volunteers and the UFU are at odds over a submission made by Mr Marshall last year when he wrote to a Queensland parliamentary committee urging tougher rules for compensation for volunteer members who get cancer in that state.
“We can’t and won’t trust Marshall,” a brigade member told The Australian.
Last August, as Queensland’s parliament considered the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation (Protecting Firefighters) Amendment Bill, Mr Marshall wrote to MPs advising there was not enough evidence to support the automatic inclusion of volunteer firefighters.
For certain types of cancers — particularly those caused by toxins released from structural fires — the law “reverses the onus of proof so that provided the firefighter meets the requirements in the legislation, it is presumed that the cancer is an occupational disease unless otherwise proven. There is a wealth of accepted scientific studies that have demonstrated the increased incidence of specific cancers for career firefighters,” Mr Marshall wrote in his submission.
“There is not the same evidence or studies for volunteer firefighters.”
Mr Marshall said a different metric should apply to volunteers such that “the claimant can demonstrate that during the qualifying period for the specific cancer, the volunteer firefighter attended a specified number of exposure incidents”.
“The current wording may give rise to claims to the presumption from members of a rural fire brigade who have not been exposed to the hazards of a fire ground,” he said. “The current wording therefore may open the floodgates, which would have a direct impact on the credibility of the presumption. The current wording therefore may open the floodgates, which may have significant cost implications.”
He told The Australian yesterday the recommendations were necessary to prevent litigation. “The submission was intended to prevent volunteers from having to litigate each and every claim. Full-time firefighters have to satisfy five-year and 10-year thresholds for their cancers to be recognised as work-related,” he said. “Volunteers need criteria to protect them, or each case will end in litigation.”
Focus on the union has grown in the middle of a federal election campaign, damaging Bill Shorten in his home state.
The Andrews government wrote to the members of the CFA board late on Friday informing them they would be sacked, just hours after newly sworn-in Emergency Services Minister James Merlino received the board’s second rejection of the proposed EBA.
Last year, Mr Marshall urged the Labor government to intervene in the case of a Metropolitan Fire Brigade commander charged with accessing pornography and racist material on a work computer. When he struggled to have the disciplinary case heard under the more lenient 2010 EBA rules — rather than the MFB’s governing legislation — Mr Marshall went public, releasing a 17-page file of emails and text messages that implied he had a deal with the state government.
That deal fell over because Ms Garrett refused to bend to the will of the union.
Ms Garrett then became a target for Mr Marshall and his forces.
In December, as relations soured, Ms Garrett was targeted by UFU protesters, who “bullied and harassed” her at a photo opportunity with new female recruits.
“There are 3 per cent women in the fire services ... every other organisation celebrates when women come through,” she told the protesters at the time.
“Look at you guys, you’re yelling at us, you’re standing over us.”
Footage of the incident shows UFU members following Ms Garrett through a compound while filming her. One told her: “I’d go and get help if I was you.”
The clash came as the union was fighting the MFB on its push to raise the number of female firefighters in the service to 5 per cent. The UFU sought an injunction to stop the new recruitment on International Women’s Day last year.
“It is a total falsehood to say that the UFU is opposed to more women firefighters. Our position is totally the reverse,” Mr Marshall said yesterday. “However we do not agree with the MFB lowering the pass mark from 50 to 45, scrapping the mechanical aptitude test, then scrapping the results to pick and choose who should be firefighters regardless of merit.”
The MFB said it was not changing the physical barrier to entry, but would take into account the background of applicants once they had passed the usual tests.
In 2008, during discussions about the MFB developing “diversity training”, Mr Marshall told members: “MFB will get jack shit and nothing will happen for the next three years.”
Victoria’s Liberal Party spokesman for industrial relations, Robert Clark, said: “Daniel Andrews’s mate Peter Marshall has shown time and time again he will stop at nothing to get his way, and doesn’t care about the damage he causes.
“We’ve seen it with the endless disputes, delays and costs he’s inflicted on the MFB, his public demands on Labor MPs for political interference to drop pornography charges against a UFU firefighter, and his denigration of anyone who gets in his way. Now we’re seeing it with the power he’s been able to exercise over Premier Andrews, who has sacrificed one of his best ministers rather than stand up to Peter Marshall.”
'Defending your property should be your right': Charges against homeowners prompt petition
Community outcry over charges laid against two men who police claim used 'excessive force' while performing a citizen's arrest on a man alleged to have broken into their business, has sparked an online petition.
The Greenfields father and son, who are due to face court on July 1, were jointly charged by Mandurah police with grievous bodily harm.
On April 3, about 7.20pm, a stolen Isuzu utility was allegedly used to force entry to a business premises on Rouse Road, Greenfields. A number of items were loaded into a trailer attached to the utility.
During the incident a 38-year-old man linked to the Isuzu was detained by the two men associated with the business premises.
Police are alleging the men used excessive force to detain him, causing him to receive serious injuries which required medical treatment in hospital.
The case against the men has outraged many in the local community including Ashley Mildwaters, who has started an online petition on change.org calling for the charges to be dropped.
"A Greenfields business owner and his son have been charged over the alleged assault of a would-be thief," Mildwaters wrote on the petition page.
"Actively defending your property should be your right, the force necessary to protect yourself, your family and your property should be [decided] by you. "Not the government and not the police."
Since going live the petition has attracted more than 1,300 supporters.
Police said the man detained by the pair had since been released from hospital and, "as such inquiries into the circumstances surrounding his presence at the business premises, and his link to the stolen vehicle, will now be progressed".
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here