10th July 2012
Tim Wilson from the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) was guest speaker at our recent conference in Rockhampton. A summary of his address appears below.
The Institute of Public Affairs is the oldest think tank in the world and one of the few presenting conservative ideals and independent science consistently on the world stage. It is well worth being a member and many PRA members already are. If you would like to join you can go to join.ipa.org.au It will be a well spent $88. The IPA has published Professor Suri Ratnapala’s paper which we know as Constitutional Vandalism Under Green Cover. Another publication from IPA is All states must follow Queensland and end native vegetation prosecution by Simon Breheny
IPA has also sponsored a tour by Canadian climate skeptic blogger Donna Laframboise. Donna Laframboise also questions many of the motivations and actions of WWF.
PRA is currently selling a book “Rich Land Wasteland” by Sharyn Munro as a fundraiser. It is about the effects of mining and CSG and the behaviour of mining and CSG companies and the attitude of government. She recognises the effects on the water table. It covers almost all mining areas in the country and is an easy read. If you would like to purchase a copy at $30 (ad postage if you would like to help out PRA a little more), give Fiona a call on 07 49 231 430 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Dale is currently organising a tour in August of Wandoan, Chinchilla and Cecil Plains featuring the author of the book, Tom Marland to talk about access and compensation agreements and a hydrologist.
Tim Wilson of the Institute of Public Affairs
Tim Wilson, named by The Australian newspaper in 2009 as one of the ten most influential emerging leaders of Australian society was keynote speaker at the Property Rights Australia Conference held in Rockhampton on the weekend. His knowledge and dynamic presentation impressed everyone.
With regard to certification schemes, initiated by Environmental Non Governments Organisations (ENGO’s) he had no problem if they remained voluntary and consumers still had a choice. However their own documentation showed that their aim was always to increase the regulatory conditions and eventually have legislation introduced leaving no choice for consumers or primary producers. If you join their scheme and you do not comply or if you leave, there is a massive publicity campaign against you or your industry.
ENGO’s recognise that attempting to convince six billion consumers [to adopt certified product] is a considerable task. In response, WWF has developed its Market Transformation Initiative (MTI), which seeks to target products through the supply chain. As WWF’s own assessment identifies, ‘between 300 and 500 companies control 70 per cent or more of the trade in each of 15 commodities that [they’ve] identified as having the biggest environmental impact’, and out of those companies, ‘100 companies control 25 per cent of the trade of all commodities … affecting around 50 per cent of all production’.
However the uptake of the schemes is hampered by their voluntary nature so different non market mechanisms are required by ENGO’s. Such mechanisms could include national legislation, public procurement policies, tax incentives and tax relief, and start-up grants. Financial institutions are also brought on board to enable MSIs.
These aspirations are now being put into practice, turning voluntary market schemes into involuntary ones.
WWF’s MTI strategy also outlines that while existing certification standards are useful, they are only one phase in the strategy. According to the same strategy, WWF gloats that in response to the question whether ‘government regulation [is] the next step’ it argues ‘Yes, it’s already happening [and they’ve] …already set up standards that governments are using in their regulations’.
Further, WWF also poses the question about whether there will be a time when consumers will not have a choice between products that do and do not meet their standards. WWF agrees that ‘Absolutely … [and] at some point in the not-so-distant future, this needs to be regulated by governments, not NGOs’.
One of the techniques used to get companies on board is to do the good cop/bad cop routine. Greenpeace is willing to play the role of good cop or bad cop in partnership with organisations. Its reputation for radical actions positions it particularly well to play the bad cop that can drive organisations to partner with groups that seem more middle-of-the-road in orientation. In short, an activist ENGO targets a business over their environmental, social or economic record.
Another middle-of-the-road ENGO establishes a ‘voluntary’ certification scheme that, if adopted, would address these concerns and remove the criticism of the activist ENGO. While a clever strategy, if as explicit as it appears to be written, it raises questions about whether these ENGOs may be colluding to the point of warranting questions of extortion. For business, there is a cost for developing a relationship with ENGOs like WWF. If they adopt WWF’s standards they are essentially locked in and cannot leave without criticism. Meanwhile certification standards can increase over time adding further costs that businesses have to absorb.
Property Rights Australia has consistently argued against Australia’s beef industry being involved in the Roundtable for Sustainable Beef which fits neatly into WWF’s strategy for its Market Transformation Initiative starting with a voluntary east –entry scheme but which will be ratcheted up over time.
South Australian Visitors
The Hon. Anne Bressington MLC from South Australia spoke at the Conference about how we are being increasingly governed by UN treaties. She hopes that Campbell Newman does what he has said he will do and that he is successful as others will then follow.
Also from South Australia Peter Manuel, founder of Food producers Land owners Action Group South Australia (FLAGSA) spoke on the hypocrisy of the “Year of the Farmer” when increasing fines and other imposts are continuously being placed on farmers. The South Australian government wants to charge for the rain that falls on farmers’ properties.
The Natural Resource Management Board wants to tell people how to manage their properties with fines for non-compliance. They can enter properties unannounced. South Australian cattlemen are charged a fee for a PIC number.
“We are fighting for our survival” he says.
Speakers on the Law
Lestar Manning from P and E Law gave an address on access and compensation agreements. He also gave a simple explanation of some of the hydrology of dewatering aquifers. Conduct and Compensation agreements are far too complex. They need to be more transparent. There is an unequal power between coal seam gas companies and farmers.
Phillip Sheridan from Palmer, Rennick and Stevens, Kyneton, Victoria who has worked on numerous Vegetation Management cases in Queensland outlined his concerns with the prosecution of many of the cases that have been before the courts. He welcomes the review of the enforcement of the Vegetation Management Act by Minister Andrew Cripps as does Property Rights Australia.
One key piece of advice from both Lestar Manning and Phillip Sheridan is to get legal advice from specialist firms before putting your name to anything for a mining or coal seam gas company. It is false economy and the mining companies are obliged to pay a reasonable cost anyway.
Andrew Rea from Bowen told the conference that he is dealing with at least nine different resource or resource infrastructure companies. This is a huge uninvited impost on his time. He has had to spend his own time and money on submissions and consultants. He did not invite these businesses into his life.
Trenton Hindman was fined $110,000 and a further $13,000 in costs for renovating turkey bush infested country without a permit. He showed photographs and videos of the transformation from scalded earth in the area infested with turkey bush to lush pastures of native grasses. He now has a permit to use the same equipment to treat an area adjacent to the cleared area in exactly the same manner. Trenton has appealed the magnitude of the fine.
John Purcell OAM.
Former chairman of Property Rights Australia John Purcell was awarded the Order of Australia Medal by the Queen in her Jubilee year for services to industry. At the Property Rights Australia Conference John was presented with Life Membership. In presenting the award chairman Joanne Rea reminded the audience of some of the highlights of John’s career. One of the achievements of which he is most proud is the negotiation of the Cape York Heads of Agreement which has resulted in a lifelong friendship with Noel Pearson.
As well as chairing Property Rights Australia, John was also President of the Cattlemen’s Union of Australia in two tranches from 1984-1986 and again from1994-1997. He was a founding member and played a pivotal role in organising the blockade of the Gracemere Saleyards in May 1977 which successfully stopped the sale on Monday 16th May. Most of you will remember that this was the time of the great cattle slump.
I would just like to briefly touch on a few issues of the day. In 1984 one the issues dealt with was animal welfare and the CU had played a major role in combating the inaccurate claims of the Animal Liberation Movement and opposing some of its recommendations in relation to animal husbandry practices. This could nearly have been a newspaper item of less than a year ago.
In his annual report as Queensland Chairman the year he was elected president, 1984, John told members that it was time that society stopped looking on stock stealing as a romantic pastime. He said that stock stealing is as old as the industry itself. It is enshrined in our folk lore by exploits such as Harry Redford driving stolen cattle from Longreach to the Adelaide markets.
Times change and we now see the family farm being victim of stock theft. Times must also change for the Judiciary who must see stock stealing as a serious crime committed against the owner. The Judiciary must pass sentence on those who are guilty of stock stealing in keeping with the value of the stolen stock.
Things have not improved today.
Joanne Rea. Dale Stiller, Ashley McKay, Ron Bahnisch, Christopher Leeds, Trent Hindman
Joanne Rea, Chairman
Property Rights Australia
Phone: 07 49213430
Fax: 07 49213870
STAND YOUR GROUND