28th June 2016
CSG public meeting Chinchilla
I would encourage members who can to attend a public meeting – CSG Power, the Good the Bad and the Ugly – “Looking to Remedy Failure.” At the Chinchilla Shire Hall on Thursday 30th June, 10.30 for 11.00 am start. As chair of PRA I have been asked to speak.
The meeting is being hosted by KAP and as PRA is an apolitical organisation the conclusion should not be reached that PRA is endorsing one party over another. If the LNP or ALP gave an invitation to speak I would most certainly consider it as well.
This is an event that appears to attracting media attention. One indication is that ABC radio has already gone out in the field for interviews possibly to incorporate with coverage of the meeting in Chinchilla as the “other side of the story.”
PRA conference Charters Towers June 10
The speakers at this year’s conference were excellent. In planning the conference the board went for fewer speakers with very targeted topics of current issues affecting the PRA membership. Transcripts will be made available at the following web link. Currently there is only the one published, a very good presentation by Helen Bender, the only talk about CSG at the conference that specifically was about the protection of high quality soils – http://propertyrightsaustralia.org/objectives/2016-conference
As chairman I felt that as a result of presentations at the conference especially the speech by Senator Barry O’Sullivan and then the discussion at the AGM that the members present were encouraging that PRA advance how we operate. When PRA started it was to protect people from vindictive administration from the recently passed Vegetation Management Act. We faced further onslaughts of the taking of our property rights superficially for a range of environmental causes but in reality for green preferences at elections. PRA stood its ground. In recent times, especially in the last four years, PRA has participated in a lot of submission writing and attending of hearings in the endeavour to improve legislation before it’s passed. The AGM direction from my understanding is that PRA moves to try to influence policy before legislation is even drafted.
The key note speaker at the conference was Professor Peter Ridd with the presentation – ‘The need for quality assurance of the science showing damage to the Great Barrier Reef’.
Prof Ridd demonstrated that much of the scientific work that is presently used to claim serious damage to the Great Barrier Reef has significant problems, many of which completely invalidate the conclusions. These relate to the effects of agricultural sediment and nutrient runoff, dredging activity, and climate change. He showed that much of this science has not undergone the rigorous quality assurance processes that we would expect when the results are to be used for expensive public policy decisions.
Retiring from the board after many years of highly valued service is Ashley McKay. I wish to express my personal appreciation to Ashley for his support and wise counsel.
The AGM re- elected the other current board members. Kerry Ladbrook has indicated that she can only stay on the board until another secretary can be found.
Therefore PRA is in the need of two new board members and possibly one who can step into the secretary role.
There has been no board meeting since the AGM to determine the office bearers.
Professor Ridd disciplined by University for asking for scientific excellence by Joanne Rea
Professor Ridd highlighted the need for a highly qualified agency to investigate thoroughly the science, not just reef science, which is used to make public policy decisions worth millions of dollars.
The peer review process has failed us and many of the conclusions cannot be replicated. Examples can be found across the board.
For his efforts in trying to improve the robustness of the science, Professor Ridd has been unceremoniously hauled before the disciplinary board of James Cook University. He has already been found guilty of “failing to act in a collegial way and in the academic spirit of the institution” for having sent a team who found healthy coral where it had been implied there was dead coral.
Is the Australian agricultural community prepared to allow universities to perpetuate collusion and corruption in the name of “acting in a collegial manner”?
Universities used to claim that they held a special place in the community because they were centres of excellence, encouraged freedom of thought, free expression, and respect for other’s opinion and most importantly evidence based, robust science and research which can be replicated.
Now they line up with their hands out for funding and sacrifice individuals who have the hide to question the science because it might threaten the cash cow or damage a reputation.
The message needs to get through to these inquisitional type institutions that, we the public, expect respect for anyone who is simply pursuing excellence.
Hopeland Class Action against Linc contamination
On June 18 I was asked to give a short talk at a meeting in Chinchilla for the signing up of Hopeland community landowners for a class action to recover losses from widespread contamination of mobilised toxic gases in the soil and underground water from the Linc Energy Underground Coal Gasification project. The contamination according to the comprehensive Gilbert & Sutherland scientific report is still moving. Even if a landowner currently has no contamination it may occur in the future and all landowners within the government identified 320 square kilometre Excavation Caution Zone will experience diminution of property value from the widespread publicity.
Any doubt of Queensland government culpability from failures in the approval process and ongoing enforcement of compliance to environmental standards, read this detailed investigative journalism from the Weekend Australian – http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/weekend-australian-magazine/linc-energys-ucg-plant-at-chinchilla-a-smart-state-disaster/news-story/89096454ced60874c5d8e2e967fb9c1c
Vegetation Management Reinstatement Bill
This Thursday, June 30, the Parliamentary Committee report is due. There have been hearings in Cairns, Townsville, Emerald, Bundaberg, Gympie, Charleville, Roma and Brisbane. Thank you to the PRA members who attended these hearings. Most of these hearings saw a majority of people who spoke to the committee against the Bill. Even in Brisbane that had a solid line up of the large environmental organisation all metropolitan media reported on the words of Bill Potts from the Qld Law Society. Mr Potts said that the Bill was “unjustified and a step backwards for justice”. He took apart the Deputy Premier’s statements supporting the Bill especially that the reversal of the onus of proof was no different to a traffic ticket.
PRA members, the next newsletter could well be a call for action against the Vegetation Management Reinstatement Bill. Parliament will sit in July but that will be taken up with Budget Estimates. It will be the August sittings were this Bill could be voted on. The time has come where there is a need for protest action. I believe that if we travel for a protest to be effective that it will of the nature that is original, creates media interest and has the least inconvenience to members of the public. If I as your chairman make this call for action I need your assurance that you are there with me.