Thursday, August 05, 2021

Coalition argues over farm regulations to boost Great Barrier Reef health

This is another area in which the Greenies have panicked governments into doing stupid things. Run-off of sediment from farms seldom reaches the outer Great Barrier Reef, or areas where the vast majority of corals live, the head of the Australian Institute of Marine Science Paul Hardisty has said. So farm runoff could affect corals living close inshore but the vast majority of the reef is in no danger

Furthermore, the levels of pesticides and fertilizer in farm runoff would have been heavily diluted in the rivers before they reached the oceans and I have seen no evidence that such extreme dilutions are any problem to anybody

It may also be noted that coral bleaching is almost all in the Northern section of the reef, alongside Cape York peninsula. But soils on the peninsula are very poor so there is almost no farming there. And no farming means no farm runoff. So once again have a non-existent problem.

Coral bleaching is mostly caused by fluctuation in water levels

Divisions have emerged in the federal government over farming rules to improve water quality on the Great Barrier Reef, as the Coalition’s Special Envoy for Northern Australia slams regulations targeting harmful farm water runoff that has been endorsed by the Environment Minister.

Australia successfully lobbied last month to delay a decision on listing the reef as “in danger” of losing World Heritage status at a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation hearing.

A key to Australia’s pitch was its $3 billion investment to improve water quality, which is backed by Queensland government laws that mandate standards on fertiliser use for sugar cane growers to limit nitrogen runoff and for maintenance of ground cover on grazing country to reduce sediment washing into the ocean.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley said in July Australia is “on track to meet our 2025 Reef water quality improvement targets” and cited projections that factored in Queensland’s reef regulations, showing a rapid improvement in runoff to the reef.

UNESCO’s scientific advisors said poor water quality due to runoff from agricultural and urban areas and coral loss caused by mass bleaching events induced by global warming were the two key risk factors.

Queensland Senator and Special Envoy for Northern Australia Susan McDonald said Queensland’s regulations were “unnecessary overreach” and said she would “support a drastic scaling back” of the regime.

State regulations were unnecessary because farmers were already taking sufficient action, Ms McDonald said, and “improving land use methods without the need for draconian new laws”.

“[The reef regulation] applies a big stick approach to landowners to browbeat them into obeying the law rather than working with them to achieve balanced land management that helps productivity and reduces environmental impact.”

Ms Ley secured the backing of 12 of 21 countries on the committee to delay a vote on the ruling, and has until February next year to convince UNESCO its efforts to improve water quality and reduce global warming are sufficient.

Ms Ley told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age she had “seen first-hand the commitment and effort made by sugar cane, banana and cattle producers up and down the reef catchments” and regulators should work constructively with farmers.

“This isn’t the time for finger pointing – we need landholders and governments working together to achieve our 2025 targets and there are already some outstanding examples of that taking place,” Ms Ley said.

The Queensland government said penalties for non-compliance were a “last resort” and it was assisting farmers to get their practices into line with the regulations. The regulations will be implemented progressively across northern Queensland until the end of next year.

World Wide Fund for Nature Australia head of oceans Richard Leck said it would be a “terrible idea to scrap the regulations if we want to give the Great Barrier Reef a future”.

The latest Reef water quality report card produced by the Queensland government showed gains needed by 2025 outstrip the rate of progress that has occurred over the past 10 years of measurement.

“[In that time] nutrient pollution has been reduced by 25 per cent towards a 60 per cent target, and sediment by 14 per cent towards a target of 25 per cent,” Mr Leck said. “The regulations are not punitive, they implement a minimum standard that all good farms should be able to exceed.”


Bondi Residents call for ban on leaf blowers

These noisy things are one of the worst extremes of modernity. What can they do that a good old-fashioned straw broom cannot do twice as fast? I know of nothing

A push by eastern suburbs residents to ban leaf blowers is likely to fail after Waverley Council distanced itself from their campaign and one councillor called the idea “nanny state gone mad”.

The community-based Bondi Beach Precinct asked the council to consider banning gas-powered leaf blowers, which it said inflicted psychological and health damage on residents forced to stay at home because of COVID-19 restrictions.

A precinct spokeswoman said noisy leaf blowers were a significant community concern. “With current lockdown orders in place and many residents in our high-density area spending more time indoors,” she said.

“The intrusive and environmentally unfriendly leaf blowers are a significant irritant, so we feel this conversation is worth having with the aim of transitioning to better alternatives.”

The council voted in favour of a motion from Greens councillor Dominic Wy Kanak to “liaise” with the precinct about the adverse effects of leaf blowers including excessive noise and low frequency vibrations.

But Waverley’s Labor mayor Paula Masselos said the council had not called for a ban on the use of leaf blowers. She said she supported the motion because “it is our role as elected officials to listen to concerns of residents when raised with council”.

The precinct passed its own motion detailing the impact of leaf blowers, which also said residents were disturbed by leaf blowers up to 15 times a day “often at extremely disturbing noise levels”.

“Most residents agree that gas powered leaf blowers achieve nothing,” the motion said. “One operator blows it from one property to the next or onto the road, and another operator comes along and blows it right back.”

The precinct’s resolution suggested gardeners could use electric versions of most power tools or “old school manual gardening methods”.

“Regardless of the alleged productivity loss, the psychological, environmental and economic arguments for banning gas powered leaf blowers are so overwhelming,” it said.

Neighbouring Woollahra Municipal Council received six complaints about leaf blowers in the past year, while Ku-ring-gai Council on Sydney’s north shore had 13 complaints.

A Woollahra Council spokesman said no council had the power to ban or restrict the use of leaf blowers, but legislation limited when they could be used.

“We use both petrol and battery-operated leaf blowers,” he said. “As battery-operated blowers are quieter, our staff use these versions in high-density residential areas and business centres.”

Bondi Beach landscape gardener Wojtek Skibowski said he was surprised by the campaign to ban gas-powered leaf blowers given other equipment such as lawn mowers and whipper snippers made a similar level of noise. “To be honest, in six years I’ve never heard anyone complain,” he said.

Mr Skibowski also uses electric leaf blowers but he said they were not as efficient. He said leaf blowers were used for more than just getting rid of fallen leaves.

“I also use it for blowing dust and rubbish that’s left over,” he said. “To do a clean up job, it’s almost impossible without a leaf blower.”


Labor finally dumps hated negative gearing policy after disastrous election loss and backs tax cuts for well-off Australians

Federal Labor has scrapped its disastrous negative gearing policy and decided to back tax cuts for well-off Australians.

Leader Anthony Albanese wants the next election, which is due before May, to be all about Scott Morrison's 'failure to manage the pandemic' instead of tax policy.

Former Labor leader Bill Shorten wanted to scrap the negative gearing policy which allowed property investors to deduct rental losses from their income tax.

But the plan went down like a lead balloon with landlords and aspiring investors - and contributed to his shock election defeat to Mr Morrison in 2019.

Labor has also declared it will not seek to overthrow the Coalition's stage-three tax cuts which come into play on July 1, 2024.

The cuts abolish 37 per cent income tax rate which kicks in at $120,001 and lift the upper threshold of the 32.5 per cent rate to $200,000.

Labor was previously divided on the cuts because they will benefit higher earners. The average full-time income in Australia is $89,000.

Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers even allegedly called the cuts 'offensive' during a shadow cabinet meeting in June 2019.

Mr Albanese has also ditched Mr Shorten's plan to halve the 50 per cent capital gains tax deduction for assets held for over 12 months.

The move brings Labor in line with the Coalition on tax policy, therefore avoiding an argument about it at the next election.

Mr Albanese announced his policies on Monday after a meeting with Labor MPs and senators.

He said: 'Our focus is on making sure Australia emerges from this crisis stronger and more resilient – with an economy that works for working families not the other way around.

'When it comes to the economy, the next election will be about the Prime Minister's dangerous and costly failures to manage the pandemic.

'His failures on vaccines and quarantines have caused lockdowns 18 months into this pandemic, and those lockdowns are causing billions of dollars in damage to the economy.'

Mr Albanese, who has represented Grayndler in Sydney's inner west since 1996, said he wanted to provide 'certainty and clarity to Australian working families after a difficult two years for our country and the world.'

Minister for Housing Michael Sukkar said voters should not trust Labor on tax and housing policies.

'In a cynical move that is unashamedly motivated by the pursuit of power, Anthony Albanese is now trying to convince voters that Labor doesn't want to abolish negative gearing or raise taxes on capital gains,' he said.

'Ending negative gearing is an issue that senior Labor figures are deeply committed to.'

Mr Albanese already ditched Mr Shorten's unpopular franking credits policy in January.

The policy would have stopped non taxpayers - mostly retirees - claiming money back from the government for tax paid on shareholder dividends.

It was branded the 'retiree tax' by the Coalition during the 2019 election campaign.

Mr Morrison is under huge pressure over the nation's stunted Covid-19 vaccination program which has only jabbed 16.13 per cent of over 16s, leaving millions in lockdowns across three states.

'His failures on vaccines and quarantines have caused lockdowns 18 months into this pandemic, and those lockdowns are causing billions of dollars in damage to the economy,' Mr Albanese said.

'Over eight long years in government, the Coalition's record is clear in the lives of everyday Australians: stagnant wages, insecure jobs, increased costs for health care and childcare, longer waits to see a GP, and a trillion dollars in debt




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