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The Forum > Article Comments > Predatory governance under the 'Pax Ecologia' > Comments

Predatory governance under the 'Pax Ecologia' : Comments

By Ian Mott, published 24/5/2005

Ian Mott argues the impact of vegetation legislation has many ramifications for rural families.

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Too right. I read this article having returned from a Council convened Landholder meeting. I have fought eight long years with government over their mandatory “lock-up” of our private, freehold, cleared, grazing land. I cannot tell my story in 350 words. Despite our small win tonight with Council admitting they got it wrong, it was inequitable, etc..I felt vindicated and couldn’t believe my ears, despite asking them to repeat their statements and plans. Time will determine if we have again been duded.

The article is not too dramatic; it needs to be heard. It describes the impact of vegetation regulation on my family and what we have endured.

We have spent many resources on this. Time and money are gone. The emotional toll on my family is immense and has lasting consequences. Although tonight’s meeting is promising, it’s not over. We have cried, despaired and aged prematurely. Not a day has passed in the last 8 years that has been completely void of action or thought from this issue. We may have fled / cashed up except for the reality of a diminished value for our asset. We made decisions to not establish farm infrastructure or to build it at second / third choice sites as a result of government’s vegetation schemes. We have lost valuable time in establishing functionality. The supreme price is the hours, days, months, lost from productivity and time spent with my children. I feel cheated, angry and resentful. We are not alone in this experience.
Why are “experts” making these dire determinations? Either these unsuccessful, inoperable, inefficient rulings are being made due to ideological, extreme views, by inept comprehension or a serious lack of due care. Maybe it’s as simple as decision makers themselves are unaffected by their decisions. Whatever the reason, we country hicks would not be so presumptuous as to manage, administer, oversee, govern and CONTROL city folk with no experience of their life, challenges, processes and issues, yet that is what is thrust upon us. We should investigate autonomy for rural Australia as an option for progress, development and a way forward.
Posted by pita, Wednesday, 25 May 2005 12:54:25 AM
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I too have spent hours and days in vegetation management meetings,
since 1989 when I initiated the formation of our local Landcare Group, trying to demonstrate sound land management ethics. I feel betrayed as in the end common sense and science have not counted and the legislation became window dressing. Another group who have been competely duded are the local state agric departments where not only were their years of research and inovation ignored but the messenger was shot also. The question I would like raised is how the mining industry has escaped the notice of conservation in the vegetation debate? Most coal mines are by definition mining and removing brigalow (endangered ecosystems) and the sedimentation caused by their activities and associated rail infrastructure very visible, is it some sort unholy alliance between greens and government?
While I can see the attraction of New Farm States as one solution to centralised, remote decision making, as Ian suggests, I cannot see how for example Queensland could be any better off. The regional centers are also becoming more removed from the rural culture which once supported them as the population is increasingly employed in mining, tourism and education. Personally I favour the complete removal of State goverance with elevation of Local Government to fill the gap.
Posted by woodie, Wednesday, 25 May 2005 11:13:10 AM
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Ian raises some very good points, the current debate in terms of the environment has been based on political considerations rather than environmental facts. The political reality is that it is convenient and enticing for city based political groups to blame farmers as they have very little political influence and the problem is conveniently shifted to some other group in society, whilst city folk can go on happily conspicuously consuming in the belief that there is no environmental damage caused by that. Therefore farmers are always cited as the environmental problem. This is not only unfair but will eventually prove very costly to all Australians. At present farmers are in fact the only Australians engaged in genuine conservation, that is spraying weeds controlling vermin like rabbits and foxes and building soil through cutting edge farming techniques. The first thing that will stop happening under the rafts of new environmental legislation is that farmers will cease to carry out this environmental good at no charge to the community. Weeds are of particular interest here, in most cases a farmer will now be rewarded for growing weeds rather than native vegetation. The only rationally economic thing to do is to stop spraying those weeds, I have already stopped. Therefore over the next decade we will see the greatest period of extinction of native plants and animals since white man arrived in this country. That is the sad outcome of allowing those with so little knowledge of the environment to be the chief rule makers.
The problem is the political reality. Ian’s suggestion for a look at new political systems is very valid and timely. May I also say that one vote one value in the upper house in NSW caused this problem, before that there were checks and balances built into the system. As one vote one value is seemingly immovable then the only direction in which to head is separating out areas of interest into political sectors. Under the federal constitution that cant be done through strengthening local government, only through states.
Posted by Chuck, Wednesday, 25 May 2005 6:58:16 PM
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This really strikes a cord with my thinking.

I have seen the same thing ocurr in west aust, both regulations and talk back shows just recently.

How often do we hear an “expert” making comment about farmer’s management of the land that’s usually negative?

His word is often taken as gospel, yet he has no land management experience to base his comments on.

The people making these comments are more often than not, the beneficiary of a system that guarantees their income.

How is a land manager (farmer) supposed to manage the land as the “expert” says it should, with an income based on world market rate that is now roughly 10% of what it was 30 years ago?

Land care comes at a cost.
The income for land care is removed from the land careers as extremely high non world market costs.
This is as a result of govt regulations.

Maybe this site has the ideas going in the right direction?

Were 2000 people at parkes wrong?
Drought just intensifies the poor terms of trade.
Posted by dunart, Thursday, 26 May 2005 1:30:55 AM
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I understand the sentiment behind getting rid of states altogether but the Australian Constitution only recognises states, not local government. So any reform to replace states would need a successful referendum with majority of people and states. These never succeed without bi-partisan support which is highly unlikely from existing urban Premiers. They have an effective veto over that option and will use it ruthlessly. All constitutions have provision for forming new states. We just need our own community to recognise that the purpose of a state is not to produce bigger and worse urban conurbations. A successful state does not need to be dominated by a metropolis as the bulk of a state budget now comes from reimbused GST funds.
Local governments must play a key role in any reform. If it is OK to declare shires nuclear free then it is also OK for them to conduct plebicites on whether to form a new state. And obviously, any provincial cities that do not want to participate can please themselves. If they are out of the process then they cannot sabotage reform.
Posted by Perseus, Thursday, 26 May 2005 10:49:56 AM
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Excellent article Ian. I have been involved in our Constitutional land ownership and rights for the past year. There are over 200 of us in 4 states, including lawyers. The overall picture of environmental warming being used by our gov't to restrict and ultimately stop farm practices is very clear from our research. Growing trees is becoming our only viable & non-punitive form of farming, which is in fact our most dangerous as the relevant tree-harvesting company must be attached to our title deeds as a co-owner of the property.
Ultimately, these restrictions are removing our Constitutional land ownership rights without "Just Terms" compensation. We retain ownership in name of our land, but have no rights on it.
Pin us all to this type of farming means country growth stagnates. After all, no work to do means no workers. Growing trees for an income allows gov't to share in the profit from the carbon credits. Then gov't can concentrate on the cities which is what they prefer to do anyway.
We're making it real easy for them by not knowing and standing on our rights. Our constitution was not set in place to allow gov'ts to run the show, but to support its citizens in a just application of their rights to democratic freedom.
If we all approached every new regulation with a written, registered statement to the relevant gov't body, they may think twice before imposing on us.
That statement - "I will obey this law/pay this account (etc) under duress and reserve the right to take appropriate legal action in the Federal courts to recover my money/my rights/any losses of value that I have incurred, in the event that this law/account is deemed to be illegal at a later date."
Aim your letter at the person who signs off on the regulation/account and watch how few of these things would be imposed on us if there was accountability.
Posted by SuziQ, Monday, 16 October 2006 12:57:30 PM
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