Thursday, June 18, 2009

Media Release from the Invasive Animals CRC

New law creates springboard for feral animal problems
The new NSW Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill 2009 runs the risk of increasing Australia’s feral animal populations.

The Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IA CRC) is concerned with the new provision for game reserves to be established in NSW, where invasive game animals — many of which have been assessed by the national Vertebrate Pests Committee as ‘extreme’ risks — can be ‘housed’ and birds can be ‘released’ for private hunting.

"Game reserves could act as a potential springboard for invasive species. Some of the animals listed in the Bill are not established in Australia and are even listed as ‘high risk species’ in other jurisdictions. The biosecurity chain is only as strong as its weakest link and game reserves are set to be NSW’s weakest biosecurity link," said Professor Tony Peacock, Chief Executive Officer of the IA CRC.

The Bobwhite quail, for example, is prohibited in Western Australia. It is well suited to mixed habitats and known to compete with species of native quail, yet it is included in the proposed list.
"I’m somewhat flummoxed that we’re still having this debate 150 years after the ‘innocent’ proposal to bring rabbits to Australia. The rabbit has now become one of the most destructive invasive pests in Australia. The English gentleman responsible actually said at the time: ‘The introduction of a few rabbits could do little harm and might provide a touch of home, in addition to a spot of hunting’," said Professor Peacock.

The Bill also appears to conflict with the NSW Invasive Species Plan, the first goal of which is to prevent the establishment of new invasive species. The plan states: ‘The most effective way to minimise the impacts of invasive species is to prevent their initial incursion’.

Other species, such as feral spotted turtle doves, are already found in NSW and illustrate the risk of numbers of feral animals exploding. They first became established in Alice Springs in the early 1990s when just 10 birds were liberated from a backyard aviary. Since then, the population has steadily grown and today numbers are thought to exceed 8000 birds.

"Expanding the list could open a floodgate for possible establishment of problem animals. The biosecurity of the environment is a concern not only for the sake of Australia’s environmental assets, but also because of the scope for wild animals and plants to act as a reservoir for pests and diseases that have broader effects," said Professor Peacock.

"There’s a pretty basic cause and effect scenario that’s likely to result. By including these animals in the Act, there is an incentive to introduce populations that will create a new springboard for invasive animal problems," he said.

If you want to read the proposed legislation it is here

More on the Game and Feral Animal Control bill

Tony Peacock, CEO of the Invasive Animals CRC weighs into it over at Feral Thoughts

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

NSW Shooters Party: What a pack of dickheads.

Hot on the heels of their fucking over of farming communities in Gloucester and the Liverpool Plains the Shooters Party are at it again. Their latest act of bastardry is introducing a bill called the "Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill 2009", now the aim of this bill is:

Overview of Bill
The object of this Bill is to amend the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002
(the Act) as follows:
(a) to enable the Minister responsible for national park estate land to make that land available for the hunting of game animals by licensed game hunters,
(b) to expand the list of game animals that may be hunted in accordance with the Act and, in the case of any native game animals that are listed, to impose special requirements in relation to the hunting of those animals by licensed game hunters,
(c) to provide for the operation of private game reserves under the authority of a licence granted by the Game Council,
(d) to make it an offence to approach persons who are lawfully hunting on declared public hunting land or to interfere with persons lawfully hunting game animals,
(e) to make a number of other amendments of an administrative, minor or consequential nature.

Basically they want to open up National Parks for "recreational hunting" (on top of the 2 million hectares of public land they already have available) and want to establish private game reserves where feral animals can be released for the purpose of hunting (and they'd never get out would they?). The Shooters Party and the Game Council like to claim that the hunting is good for controlling feral animals (and at the same time maintain that it helps keep a healthy population of native "game species" - how does that work?) the Invasive Species Council has examined their claims:

Feral animals killed 2007-08 2006-07 Total (average/year)
Deer 410 291 701 (350)
Foxes 724 519 1243 (622)
Goats 1037 1039 2076 (1038)
Pigs 1081 983 2064 (1032)
Cats 136 143 279 (139)
Dogs 55 51 106 (53)
Rabbits 4076 2078 6154 (3077)
Hares 242 244 486 (243)
Total 7761 5348 13,109 (6554)

Given the funding given to the Game Council this equates to $323/feral animal killed in State Forests, obviously a very effective excercise.

So lets look at a few more things in the proposed bill:

Offence of failing to contain game animals in game reserve
(1) The holder of a private game reserve licence must not cause or allow a game animal (other than a bird) to escape from the private game reserve to which the licence relates.
Maximum penalty: 100 penalty units in the case of a corporation or 50 penalty units in the case of an individual.
(2) It is a defence to prosecution for an offence under subsection (1) if it is demonstrated that the defendant took all reasonable steps to prevent the escape of the game animal and, after the escape, took all reasonable steps to capture or kill the game animal.

So it's fine for feral birds to escape from a private game park and a maximum penalty of 100 penalty units should your stock of feral animals escape, a penalty unit is (from memory) $110 dollars so for a corporation the most it will cost you is $11000 or an individual $5500.

"But we went an hunted them after they escaped but they got away" which is where part 2 comes in, great excuse, fuck all responsibility. Lovely.

And one of the ammendments of a minor nature is:

[8] Section 8 Membership and procedure of Game Council
Omit “New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council” from section 8 (2) (e). Insert instead “Minister administering the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983”.

Sounds like a great bit of legislation. I'll have a bit more of a read of it and throw up some links later (and tidy up the post) but if you feel like writing to someone, here's a start:

The Hon. Ian Macdonald, MLCMinister for Primary Industries Email:
Street Address: Governor Macquarie Tower, Level 33, 1 Farrer Place, SYDNEY NSW 2000

The Hon. Carmel Tebbutt, MP Minister for Climate Change & the Environment
Email: Address: Governor Macquarie Tower, Level 30, 1 Farrer Place, SYDNEY NSW 2000

Thursday, June 4, 2009

And more bad news....

The drilling continues....

AGL drilling to go on in Hunter
5/06/2009 5:36:00 AM

BOB KENNEDY'S five-bedroom house dropped 1.8 metres over six days when mining company Xstrata Coal moved into a seam under his 40-hectare vineyard near Broke in the Hunter Valley, but he is more worried about whether the nearby brook will keep bubbling.

He and fellow producers are concerned that the gas company AGL Energy's drilling will interfere with the purity and flow of subterranean aquifers which feed the area's agricultural lifeblood, the Wollombi Brook.

The people of the Broke Fordwich Winegrowers Association area have asked AGL to excise the 26 square kilometres that is home to 25 wine labels from the company's large exploration area.

"We market this part of the world as the tranquil side of the Hunter, because it really is unspoilt. Sydney Gas said there could be over 300 wells in our valley. We are concerned about the ambience and turning it into an industrial-type site," said Mr Kennedy, from the 400-member Hunter Valley Protection Alliance.

However, AGL, which recently paid $171 million to buy out its partner in Hunter exploration, Sydney Gas, intends to keep drilling, according to its group general manager of upstream gas, Michael Moraza.

(given that the asset - the gas - is estimated to be worth $10 billion at todays prices that's not a bad deal - SQ)

"Our intention is not to excise this area and we are not prepared to give any such undertaking to the community," he said.

Mr Kennedy says this makes the coal company and the laws which govern it look comparatively good.

AGL, armed with its exploration permits, Mr Kennedy says, has produced mainly "spin" in dealing with locals concerned about exploration drill holes disturbing coal bed methane gas close to Broke Public School, the effect on the water table and the prospect of a future gas plant.

Gloucester Council and its Hunter neighbours successfully put a motion to the Shires Association of NSW conference in Sydney this week calling on the Rees Government to forbid mining or exploration within scenic protection and urban and rural residential zones.

The motion said there should be special protection for agriculture and water, and environmental impact should be counted above economic benefit to the state when considering gas and coal extraction.

(any bets on their chance of succeeding? - SQ)

Any environmental impact of gas drilling around Broke would be minimal and transitory, Mr Moraza said. AGL has hired an independent consultant and project manager to deal with community concerns.

Fred Nile & Shooters Party love miners, hate farmers.

West of the range they're not happy, not surprising really, they have some of the best agricultural land in the country with the misfortune in having a shitload of coal underneath it. These lands are the kind of areas we will be relying more and more to feed us in the centuries to come, unfortunatelly the state government, Shooters Party and Fred Nile see it differently.

Govt, Nile, Shooters unite against Greens bill protecting prime farming land from mining

Thursday 04 June 2009

Government MPs, the Shooters Party and Rev Fred Nile today indicated they will vote against a Greens bill in the NSW Upper House designed to protect prime agricultural land from mining. Greens MP Lee Rhiannon said farming communities from the Gloucester and Liverpool Plains regions would be understandably disappointed at the outcome.

"This vote will not kill off the campaign to protect our best food-producing land. Local farming communities and the Greens will now redouble our efforts to protect these rich, productive soils from mining," Ms Rhiannon said.

The Safeguarding Agricultural Land and Water from Mining Bill aims to protect prime agricultural land, and the rivers and aquifers that feed that land, from mining.

"Amid fiery debate between MPs, around thirty farmers walked out of the public gallery, shouting 'Shame! Shame!' while Reverend Nile was speaking. They were responding to claims by Rev Nile that farmers have been duped by the Greens.

"The government today missed the opportunity to recognise that the best food-producing land in NSW is a public asset that should be preserved for the future by law.

"Protecting prime farming land is critical because the world is facing the prospect of increasing food insecurity and decreasing harvests as a result of climate change.

"The road block to quarantining valuable agriculture land from mining is the NSW government which has been captured by the mining industry.

"The government pocketed $99 million from BHP Billiton and $300 million from China Shenhua to explore the Liverpool Plains areas.

"Windfalls from mining have blinded the government to the big picture issues of food security and climate change.

"The NSW Shooters Party also deserted farmers today to support the government in opposing this bill. Only yesterday the government allowed the Shooters to introduce their private members bill to expand hunting in NSW.

"Was this a deal? We will never know," Ms Rhiannon said.

Update from "The Land": Battle lost to miners but farmers dig in on land use war

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Normal service will resume......

Sorry I haven't posted recently, been housemoving to my own little shack in the country (does a half acre block count as "acreage"?), once I've finished unpacking and getting myself organised I'll get posting again. In the meantime feel free to say hello (especially if you're good looking and female).