Saturday, 30 June 2007

Surfin' the blogs (3)

Quotes from water diversion and Clarence River blogs displayed on "Google Search", Saturday 30 June 2007

"Not only is it obvious that Turnbull's plan would damage the environment, but it is based on old information and does not take account of global warming." [Michael Sciffer at]

"Howard is a water ignoramus..." [C Baker at]


"Don't destroy a place [Clarence Valley] that is already hurting with high unemployment and ever reducing government services." [Bella of Brisbane at]

"Keep your grubby little hands off our Clarence River Lil Johhny." [rod of northern rivers at]

"...What about the highly endangered eastern cod? What about Cubbie Station in south western Queensland? Why can't the water be moved from these cotton farms owned by Americans that are ruining the ecosystem of the upper Darling River? Answer these questions please PM." [Phil at]

Labels: , ,

Update 30 June

It is now expected that the Senate Rural Regional Affairs and Transport standing committee will deliver its report on water options for south east Queensland in mid-August 2007.

Labels: , ,

Friday, 29 June 2007

Clarence River custodians

Photographs and transcript of ABC Online Rural Hour interviews with Clarence Valley residents, Monday 25 June 2007.

Go to: Clarence River Custodians

Labels: , ,


What the Clarence Valley is fighting for

Views of the Clarence River and estuary.

Labels: , ,

Nor abridge right to use water

"100. The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade or commerce, abridge the right of a State or of the residents therein to the reasonable use of the waters of rivers for conservation or irrigation." [The Australian Constitution,63 & 64 Victoria, Chapter 12]
This appears to be the principal instrument protectively standing between the Clarence Valley and the Prime Minister's blatant attempt to raid Clarence catchment water.
The framers of our Constitution were remarkably prescient on the subject of water.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Clarence River near Plains Station

An historical picture of a large sand "slug" deposited in a flood flow channel of the Clarence River.
Bands of sedimentation and sand are not uncommon in the river and its tributaries.
Strong environmental river flows tend to mitigate against these bands permanently blocking or altering the course of the Clarence.
Increased water allocation or significant additional water diversion potentially diminishes natural flushing processes.
[,image displayed,27 June 2007]

Labels: , ,

Shared sentiment

A remark frequently heard around the Clarence Valley these days: "If they try and build a dam, I will be up there laying in front of the bulldozers."
Hold that thought!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Lack of community consultation

On the Howard-Turnbull Clarence water diversion proposals and failure to consult:
"If Malcolm Turnbull had taken the time to speak to his own people up north, he'd have realised by now that there is huge, informed and very appropriate opposition to this that cuts across party lines." [Ian Cohen MLC,NSW Greens,media release,5 June 2007]

Labels: , ,

Calling all expat Aussies

The Federal Election 2007 is now only three to six months away.
If you are still on the Commonwealth electoral roll and intend to vote, please remember the plight of the Clarence River and its tributaries. 

Labels: , ,

An interesting exchange (2)

Senate discussions on the Clarence River water diversion proposal:
"Senator O'Brien----I am interested because there is a growing body of scientific evidence which shows a strong link between river flows and fisheries productivity.
Senator Abetz----Of course there is; there is no doubt about that. I would have thought the prawn sector is one such fishery. Most of the breeding grounds are also within the three nautical mile state zone, and so that would be up for the state government planning authorities." [Standing Committee for Rural Regional Affairs and Transport, Estimates Committee, Australian Fisheries Management Authority discussion,24 May 2007,proof transcript,p.43]
"Senator STEPHENS----I look forward to seeing what happens next, given the support by the Prime Minister and the lack of support by the local members." [Standing Committee on Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts,Estimates Committee,National Water Commission discussion,22 May 2007,proof transcript,p.98]

Labels: , ,

Monday, 25 June 2007

The Valley noticed, Prime Minister

"Howard has his way on water"
'The government should be allowing these rivers to keep flowing'

THE Federal Government has used its numbers in the Senate to block a move to abandon plans to divert the Clarence and other North Coast rivers.
Last week Western Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert moved that the government 'abandon plans for damming the Clarence, Tweed, Richmond and Mann Rivers, and work with local communities, local water authorities and state governments in developing alternative sources to meet increasing demand, such as rainwater tanks, stormwater capture and storage, and recycling.'
The Senate voted 35-31 to defeat the motion.
One of those who voted against the motion was Liberal Senator and chairman of the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Standing Committee, which is investigating the Clarence diversion proposal, Bill Heffernan.
Senator Siewert, who is the deputy chairwoman of the committee, supported the motion.
Later, NSW Green Senator Kerry Nettle called for the Clarence, Tweed, Richmond and Mann rivers to be able to continue flowing.
"The Greens proposed a motion to the Senate calling for the government to pursue water efficiency and recycling rather than dam the rivers of northern NSW, but the government opposed the motion," Senator Nettle said.
"The government should be allowing these rivers to keep flowing rather than proposing to dam them.
"The government opposed a Greens motion calling for rainwater tanks and water recycling. The government is acting irresponsibly.
"The government should stop opposing common sense measures that will increase water security for all Australians.
"The Greens support sustainable long-term solutions to water scarcity that the government continues to ignore at its peril."
The motion to the Senate also noted:
n.The impact of reduced rainfall on inflows into river systems in northern NSW due to the combined effects of climate change and drought.
n.That serious water management issues already exist in these systems, including problems with over-allocation of water resources.
n.The economic value of the range of industries that depend on these systems - from dairy farms on the floodplains through to commercial fisheries.

[The Daily Examiner,Grafton,25.06.07,"Howard has his way on water",p.7,text copy]

Labels: , ,

NSW Shadow Minister for Water

"The NSW Nationals do not support the Commonwealth proposal released earlier this year to divert the Clarence River.
Steve Cansdell, the Nationals Member for Clarence has been unequivocal about his opposition to the plan and his position remains the position of the NSW Nationals.
The problem in South West Queensland is putting too many people into an area that does not have enough water. It is wrong therefore to take water from other areas now to solve a problem caused by very bad planning."
[Statement received from Adrian Piccoli, NSW Shadow Minister for Water,25 June 2007]

Labels: , ,

Sunday, 24 June 2007

An interesting exchange

"Senator O'BRIEN---Were the community to be consulted, what level of resistance do you believe exists in the communities around the Clarence River to the proposal to dam the upper Clarence?
Mr. Dodd---At a rough guess, I would say about 90 per cent of the people in communities in the Clarence Valley would be against any damming and diversion proposals."
[Senator O'Brien, Senate Rural Regional Affairs and Transport standing committee member, and Brian Dodd, Chair of Clarence Landcare Inc., in Inquiry into options for additional water supplies for south-east Queensland - Traveston Dam,transcript,proof issue,Monday 4 June 2007,p.71]

Labels: , ,

Surfin' the blogs (2)

Quotes from water diversion and Clarence River blogs displayed on "Google Search", Sunday, 24 June 2007.
"To damn this area for the sake of a Commonwealth solution to a drastic environmental situation is to create for the people who live here a drastic environmental situation."
[Caoimh at]
"...and where would we be when drought hits Northern NSW at the same [time] as Queensland?"
[Tony Healy at]
"Just another manipulative, divisive, clumsy distraction, from the most clumsy, divisive, manipulative, and self serving politician this country has seen."
[aussiewasteland at]
"I believe it's just a political stunt, the P.M.cannot help himself having a go at his home state. Queensland land has plenty of water up north and that's where they should be building the dams."
[David Barrow at]
"It may not be NSW water, John.
But neither is it Howard water."
[Andrew Sakadi at]

Labels: , ,

Copy of Clarence Valley protest e-flyer

Click bottom right of white insert to enlarge.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Maintain the rage

"As the Clarence River debate continues, it is my belief that the possibility of coastal rivers diversion to inland New South Wales still exists, and that Valley residents must maintain vigilance.
We must, as a community, continue to express strong opposition to any possible moves to investigate Clarence River diversion."
[Cr. Ian M. Tiley,Mayor of Clarence Valley,in The Daily Examiner,Grafton,23 June 2007,"Maintain the rage for river",pp.10-11] 

Labels: , ,

Have you noticed............(3)

On one hand, Malcolm Turnbull as Minister for Environment and Water Resources ordered the commissioning of a desktop study into NSW Northern Rivers water diversion and, is most positive concerning the options to dam and/or divert in the Clarence catchment area.
On the other hand, the Commonwealth: (i) has a legislated responsibility to protect the last remaining identified wild population of Eastern Freshwater Cod (found in the Mann Nymboida sub-catchment of the Clarence) and (ii) recognises an absolute cap on total water extraction/diversion volume over the entire Clarence catchment which the study options would potentially exceed if implemented.
In allowing his minister to progress these water diversion proposals, the Prime Minister has shown that he now has more hair than wit.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Name and shame

On 19 June 2007 The Greens placed a motion before the Senate which read in part: "That the Senate:....(b) calls on the Federal Government to: (i) abandon plans for damming the Clarence, Tweed, Richmond and Mann Rivers;" [C'wealth Hansard,Senate,proof issue,19.06.07,p.p. 33-34].

The motion was defeated by four votes.

Senators who voted not to accept the motion are listed here:
Abetz, E. (LIB), Adams, J. (LIB), Barnett, G. (LIB),
Bernardi, C. (LIB), Birmingham, S. (LIB), Boswell, R.L.D. (NATS),
Boyce, S. (LIB), Calvert, P.H. (LIB), Chapman, H.P.G. (LIB),
Colbeck, R. (LIB),Coonan, H.L. (LIB), Eggleston, A. (LIB),
Ellison, C.M.(LIB), Ferguson, A.B. (LIB), Fielding, S. (FAMILY FIRST),
Fierravanti-Wells, C. (LIB), Fifield, M.P. (LIB), Wells, C. (LIB),
Heffernan, W. (LIB), Fisher, M.J. (LIB), Johnston, D. (LIB),
Humphries, G. (LIB), Kemp, C.R. (LIB), Joyce, B.(NATS),
Macdonald, J.A.L. (NATS), Lightfoot, P.R. (LIB), McGauran, J.J.(LIB),
Mason, B.J. (LIB), Parry, S. (LIB), Nash, F. (NATS),
Ronaldson, M. (LIB), Payne, M.A. (LIB), Troeth, J.M. (LIB),
Scullion, N.G. (COUNTRY LIBERAL), Watson, J.O.W. (LIB),
Trood, R.B.(LIB)

Shame senators, shame. Are you so afraid of Coalition heavies that you would abandon all commonsense.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

What 113,000 people are determined to avoid

NOTE: Red colour denotes proportion of reduction in natural river flows.
An estimated 113,000 people rely on Clarence catchment fresh water flows.
This is a graphic showing how successive Federal and States governments have managed river water allocations/diversions. There is nothing to indicate that Messrs. Howard and Turnbull are capable of learning from past mistakes.
[,graphic displayed,7 November 2006]

Labels: , ,

The Greens call for North Coast rivers to continue flowing

Sent: Wednesday, 20 June 2007 9:58 AM
Subject: [Greens-Media] Greens call for Clarence, Tweed,Richmond and Mann Rivers to continue flowing.

Greens call for Clarence, Tweed, Richmond and Mann Rivers to continue flowing.


Australian Greens Senator for New South Wales Kerry Nettle today called for the Clarence, Tweed, Richmond and Mann Rivers to be able to continue flowing.

"The Greens proposed a motion to the Senate calling for the government to pursue water efficiency and recycling rather than dam the rivers of northern NSW, but the Government opposed the motion," Senator Nettle said.

"The government should be allowing these rivers to keep flowing rather than proposing to dam them.

"The government today opposed a Greens motion calling for rainwater tanks and water recycling. The Government is acting irresponsibly.

"The government should stop opposing common sense measures that will increase water security for all Australians.

"The Greens support sustainable long term solutions to water scarcity that the government continues to ignore at its peril." Senator Nettle said.

The Motion reads, that the Senate:
(1) notes the impact of reduced rainfall on inflows into river systems in Northern NSW due to the combined effects of climate change and drought;
(2) notes that serious water management issues already exist in these systems, including problems with over-allocation of water resources;
(3) notes the economic value of the range of industries that depend on these systems - from dairy farms on the floodplains through to commercial fisheries;
(4) calls on the Federal Government to abandon plans for damming the Clarence, Tweed, Richmond and Mann Rivers;
(5) calls on the Federal Government to work with local communities, local water authorities and state governments in developing alternative sources to meet increasing demand, such as rainwater tanks, stormwater capture and storage, and recycling.

More Information: Kristian Bolwell 0411638320
[Received from Senator Bob Brown's office,20 June 2007]

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

He said, she said. (2)

He said: "It would appear to me that the Clarence Valley Council and possibly yourself are unaware of the drastic water shortages being experienced in the Far West of the state and either you do not realise or do not care about the potential environmental, economic and social impacts that the drought is having on many communities within NSW.

Very shortly the Minister for Water, The Hon. Phil Koperberg, will be making a decision on the water allocation for the town of Cobar for the 2007/2008 year. Given the severe drought conditions there is every likelihood that there will be some reduction in that allocation because of the very low level of the Burrendong Dam.

If this is the case then Cobar will be facing a major dilemma with the possibility of the three (3) major mines in Cobar having to cut back production or even close."
[General Manager,Cobar Shire Council, extract from letter to JM Melville,dated 13 June 2007].

She said: The Cobar region is in the Murray-Darling Basin. This region has been aware for decades of a looming water crisis.
The mining companies operating the mines in question are not newcomers to the industry and similarly these companies have been fully aware of predicted longterm water shortages.
Now it seems that the Clarence catchment area is supposed to mitigate this widespread failure to adequately plan with regard to scarce water resources.
It would be a rare person in New South Wales who is unaware of or unsympathetic to the plight of regions affected by prolonged drought.
However, the argument that the General Manager appears to be trying to fly - that his area's environment, economy and communities should have a higher priority than those of the Clarence Valley - is flawed.
Gone are the days when interbasin transfers can be blithely promoted to compensate for the chronic over-allocation of river water.
The Clarence Valley should not be expected to place its own future at risk to satisfy the commercial needs of mining companies such as Rio Tinto and CSA Mines. No matter how many people they assert these mines employ.
I note that, in these "severe drought conditions", the only 2007 water restrictions currently displayed at indicate that hand held hoses can be used at anytime, fixed sprinklers every second day for two hours and cars can still be washed except on hard surfaces.

Labels: , ,

Monday, 18 June 2007

Excess water, what excess water? (2)

The Clarence River, west of Bonalbo near the junction of Duck Creek, in first quarter 2007 [,picture dislayed,18 June 2007]

Labels: , ,

The Greens on those water diversion proposals

Liberal Party

Senator SIEWERT (Western
Australia) (3.31 p.m.)-I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by Senator Abetz to my question during question time today on the taking into account of the impacts of climate change and reduced runoff on the SMEC study of the northern rivers in New South Wales.

The question I asked was: why was climate change not included in the terms of reference? I have already established through both estimates and the inquiry of the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport into Traveston Dam that the terms of reference for the study did not include climate change. I confirmed this when I asked both SMEC and the Department of the Environment and Water Resources on two separate occasions about why it was not included. When I asked why they were not included, Mr Dean of SMEC gave me a most unusual answer, which was that there was no definitive scientific basis for assessing those climate change impacts. When I asked the department about the terms of reference, I was told they were not a specific part of the terms of reference. That is why I asked the minister today why the terms of reference did not include the impact of climate change and reduced rainfall runoff. At this time, when we are facing both climate
variability and drought, I would have thought that they would have beenright at the top of the list of the terms of reference for this inquiry.

The minister's limited response to my question was that this government has been on board with climate change for a long time. He said that they were not climate change sceptics as they had set up the Australian Greenhouse Office in, I think, 1998. I ask again: why weren't the terms of reference drafted to include the impacts of climate change and reduced rainfall runoff? You are talking about dams; we are talking about the fact that we are already seeing the impact of climate variability on drought around Australia.

In Western Australia rainfall has decreased by 21 per cent since 1974. This has led to a reduction in rainfall runoff of 64 per cent. Dr Gill, from the Water Corporation of Western Australia, reported this at the inquiry of the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport into water policy initiatives. Professor Michael Young reported that, as a rule of thumb, when you have a decline in rainfall, the decline in water availability is normally about twice the reduction in rainfall. For example, a 15 per cent reduction in rainfall-which is what a lot of people are talking about for the Murray-Darling
system-would mean there would be a 30 per cent reduction in yield. So on one hand you could have a very conservative figure of 15 per cent, or the reduction in rainfall could go up to 21 per cent. The impact that that has on reduced runoff varies from about one half up to three times the percentage we are talking about in Western Australia.

For the life of me I totally fail to understand why the government's terms of reference for the SMEC report did not include climate change. The only thing that occurs to me is that Mr Turnbull asked the National Water Commission to commission the report-he proudly claimed in a media release on 12 April that he had asked for the report to be commissioned. I would have thought that if he were that desperate to look into getting water from northern New South Wales rivers-if he were serious-he would have taken into account how much water was available. He would therefore have had to take into account the impact of climate change, drought and reduced rainfall runoff. Considering that that has been the focus of the water debate here for a number of months-particularly for the Murray-Darling system-you would have thought that that would have been on top of the list when the government drafted the terms of reference.

Last week the rural and regional affairs committee heard from representatives of people in northern New South Wales, where we took evidence. The evidence was that the Richmond River in northern New South Wales is already overallocated, yet the SMEC report said that a dam is possible there. We heard that there are other land management issues in northern New South Wales. The Clarence River has some land management issues and there is also a fishery that is highly dependent on it. There had been no community consultation and yet the minister went ahead and asked the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation to do an assessment of the water resources that are available in the northern rivers without adequately taking into account climate change and reduced rainfall runoff. (Time expired)


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-The question is that the motion moved by
Senator Siewert be agreed to.

Question agreed to.

[Transcript received from Senator Bob Brown's office,18 June 2007]

Labels: , ,

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Surfin' the blogs

Quotes from water diversion and Clarence River blogs displayed on "Google Blog Search", Sunday, 17 June 2007:

"Big dams don't make more water, climate change will likely result in lower rainfall. We have to reduce consumption."
[J at]

"Mr B says, sure, dam the river, then we can all stand there and wee in the river and then they won't want it anyway....."
[actonb at]

"Malcolm Turnbull is no good,
Chop him up for firewood."
[Ken L at]

"Time for him [Howard] to pull on the fawn polyester slacks and the nice comfy cardy and start forgetting the name of that grim-faced lady who just brought him his morning cuppa."
[Ken L at]

"Well what can you say when a Prime Minister decides to close his eyes or refuse to open them to massive issues such as these."
[Pondering Duck at]

Labels: , ,

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Proud Valley

The battle to protect the Clarence River and its tributaries is far from over, but while the Valley waits for the RRAT standing committee report on those daft water diversion proposals, there is time to take stock of our strengths.

To that end, as a Clarence Valley resident, I would like to express my gratitude to the following:
* Clarence Valley Council, for strongly defending its mandate to protect river systems within the catchment area;
* The indigenous communities and their elders, for firmly expressing both their deep cultural attachment to the Clarence and determined opposition to any water diversion;
* The Daily Examiner, its editorial and news staff, who have given us numerous well-researched articles on the water diversion debate and kept us informed of breaking news;
* Clarence River Professional Fishermen's Association and John McGuren, who have kept industry and productivity issues before the media and the Senate;
* Local community groups, such as the Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition and Clarence Valley Landcare, who have made sure that the Valley's voice is being heard on environmental matters and potential impacts on the catchment;
* The island trading fleet, for making its concerns known when it mattered;
* The many people who signed petitions opposing Clarence water diversion;
* Locals, like Janelle Brown, Col Shephard, Lynn De Weaver, Alan Townsend and others, who have made a point of expressing their individual opposition to any Clarence catchment water diversion, and;
* All those Valley residents who have expressed a quiet determination that neither the Clarence River nor its tributaries will be plundered for short-term political gain.

It would now be hard to find one politician with an electorate in New South Wales who is not aware of the Clarence Valley's stand and, we should all be proud of that fact.

[The Daily Examiner,Grafton,14 June 2007,Letters to the Editor,p.8]

Labels: , ,

Clarence Valley gives evidence

Despite the relatively short time allocated and in the face of a somewhat abrupt attitude on the part of Senator Bill Heffernan (Chair), the Clarence Valley Professional Fishermen's Association and Clarence Landcare gave evidence to the Senate RRAT standing committee on Monday, 4 June 2007.

Labels: , ,


The Daily Examiner, Grafton, NSW: campaign logo

He said, she said

He said: "Well it's not NSW's water, it's Australian water...." [John Howard in Lismore Northern Star,online,30 December 2006,"Howard wades into water debate"

She said: Thankfully the Australian Constitution does not allow Mr. Howard free reign to indulge his centralist dreams.
Commonwealth Native Title legislation also recognises prior claim. The Clarence River, from Harwood bridge to the river mouth is subject to a registered claim currently being adjudicated.

He said: "There's a thriving fishing, prawning and boating industry in northern NSW and we don't support his (Turnbull's) proposal whatsoever." [Morris Iemma in The Daily Telegraph,online,13 April 2007,"Howard backs river raid"]

She said: This statement shows a realistic grasp of the situation and, is one that a majority of Clarence Valley residents are likely to agree with.

He said: "The Snowy Mountains report on options for sourcing water for southeast Queensland from the northern rivers of NSW provides a number of sensible options to secure water supplies for both northern NSW and and southeast Queensland;...." [Malcolm Turnbull in,16 April 2007,article,"Goodwill Must Flow Across The State Lines"]

She said: As the C'wealth Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, clearly demonstrates why appointing someone to a sensitive ministry on the apparent basis of their past generosity to the Liberal Party was not the brightest idea.

He said: "We have no constitutional power with water..." [Bill Heffernan in ABC TV,Landline,interview,21 May 2006]

She said: So why is the Howard Government pushing so hard on the Clarence catchment water diversion proposal? Ah yes, it is an election year and there are a lot of irrigators, mining companies and other bulk water users to appease.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Excess water, what excess water?

This Bureau of Meteorology [] map indicates comparitive changes in rainfall for the periods Jun/May 2005/2006 and Jun/May 2006/2007.
The purple to blue indicates an increase and the red/orange to yellow indicates a decrease.
Note that the Clarence catchment area shows decreased rainfall over a significant percentage of its total area and, no increase in rainfall over any part of the catchment.
It has recently been reported that many creeks and rivers on the North Coast were running dry and, if winter rains fail to materialise, a widespread drought declaration for the North Coast is possible [The Daily Examiner,Grafton NSW,13 June 2007,"Drought fear",p.3]

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

A balanced political perspective

From: "Stott Despoja, Natasha (Senator)"
To: [edited]
Subject: Re Clarence Catchment Area
Date: Wednesday, 13 June 2007 5:58 PM

Dear Ms Melville,

Thank you for forwarding your open letter to the Hon Malcolm Turnbull.

While state borders should not be barriers to solving our growing water crisis, the Australian Democrats do not believe that pumping water from one State to another is a solution.

The government is looking at this issue by putting the most extreme measures first.
We believe that a reasonable and measured approach to the water crisis is needed, one where we use the water available to us more efficiently.

Purified recycled water and water efficiency measures such as retro-fitting water tanks and harvesting storm water should be the Government's focus.

It makes no sense to reduce environmental flows in NSW river systems and destroy sensitive ecosystems that are essential for ecological balance and health, in order to build dams that will be useless if there is no rain to fill them. And further climate change will mean that rain can not be guaranteed.

NSW regional centres are facing their own water crises, with some southern areas already on harsh restrictions. Water scarcity will be extended up the coast if the damming option of NSW river systems is pursued.

Pumping water across catchment areas is also a very costly business and one that should not be the considered in addressing water scarcity in Queensland's south-east.

I support your stand against diverting water away from the Clarence Catchment Area.

Thank you again for bringing this important issue to my attention.

Yours sincerely,

Natasha Stott Despoja
Australian Democrats Senator for South Australia

Labels: , ,

Have you noticed ............ (2)

That the website of Chris Gulaptis, Nationals candidate for Page, [] contains no pledge to oppose Clarence catchment water diversion proposals.
Similarly, the only leaflet from Mr. Gulaptis to make its way into my letterbox was remarkably silent on this issue.

Labels: , ,

The Christians are coming, the Christians are coming!

In submission #226 the Anglican Bishop of Grafton and the Anglican community demonstrate that 'green' Christianity is relevant to Australian life.

Labels: , ,


RRAT Standing Commitee: Traveston Crossing Dam Inquiry - submission list

Starting from # 207 onwards are submissions from the Clarence catchment area and other NSW Northern Rivers regions.
Go to:

Labels: , ,


Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Clarence River saltwater estuary

Reasoned report & succinct argument vs dodgy study

Reasoned report by NSW Healthy Rivers Commission:

HRC report

Succinct argument by Professor Thom [follow links to author]:

The Brisbane Institute

Dodgy desktop study:

SMEC report

Labels: , ,

Monday, 11 June 2007

Have you noticed............

That while John Winston Howard exhorts us all to consider water as a national asset, he may possibly consider that his 'needs' make for special case category.
Media reports estimate that Howard, in an excess of prime ministerial consumption in 2006-07, will use a whopping total of 5.8 million litres of water between his two official residences [,May 24 2007,12.00,"Leaky PM's water-saving woe"].
My household average water consumption of 1.25 kilolitres per week to date this year looks positively minuscule in comparison.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Local State of Play

Ian Tiley, Clarence Valley Mayor: still strongly defending Council's opposition to water diversion proposal.
[See Mayoral Minute, 17 April 2007, at]

Chris Gulaptis, Nationals candidate for Federal Seat of Page: publicly states he opposes damming the Clarence River, but will not rule out supporting any future nationalisation of water and won't commit to crossing the floor to vote against
water diversion if elected.

Ian Causley, Federal Nationals MP for Page: apparently supports the Howard-Turnbull water diversion options and intent on flipping the bird to the electorate as he leaves the building for retirement.

Luke Hartsuyker, Federal Nationals MP for Cowper:
says he is against damming the Clarence, but confines his appearances at Question Time to asking Dorothy-Dixers on unrelated subjects.

Steve Cansdell, Nationals MP for NSW Seat of Clarence: opposes diversion of Clarence River or its tributaries to Queensland, but needs to do more than distribute a petition.

Andrew Stoner, Nationals MP for the NSW Seat of Coffs Harbour and Leader of the NSW Nationals: opposes damming the Clarence River and water diversion to anywhere, but needs to do more than talk.

Don Page, Nationals MP for NSW Seat of Ballina and Shadow Minister for the North Coast: does not support damming or diverting Clarence River water.

Ernie Bennett, Kyogle Mayor and former candidate for Nationals preselection: changes his mind every time he changes his shirt.

Note: The Iemma Government does not currently support interbasin transfers in relation to the Clarence catchment area.
Anthony Albanese, Federal Opposition Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Water strongly opposes the Clarence water diversion proposal.
[See Media Release, 17 April 2007, at]
It appears that it is NSW Labor policy that the Clarence River not be subject to such water diversion.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Political "newspeak" from Turnbull's office

Subject: Has the tide turned on water debate - Grafton Daily Examiner - 2007-04-28 08000Date: Saturday, 9 June 2007 8:59 AM

Labels: , ,

Part of the commercial fishing fleet: Port of Yamba

Clarence floodplain: at least one-third of flow is saltwater

An indigenous perspective

Update 9 June

The Bourke Shire Council motion, supporting its naked desire to plunder Clarence catchment water, was defeated after debate at the NSW Shires' Association Conference on 6 June 2007.
At the time Bourke local government area had no water restrictions in place, even though the main weir pool was barely running and its water was muddy [BSC,06.06.07].
It seems that Bourke Shire Council, along with Messrs. Howard and Turnbull, favours interbasin transfers above cleaning up its own water consumption practices or applying basic, longterm water management strategies.

Labels: , ,

Face the facts

So the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport committee has been sprung treating Clarence Valley residents like mushrooms [DEX,29.05.07,Inquiry Shuns Valley].
I was contacted by a Liberal senator on this committee after I wrote to complain.
He explained the failure to advertise in Clarence Valley media was an unfortunate oversight.
He went on to say that south-east Queensland needed water for its projected growth - that many people were saying: "Don't take our water for a dam, take water from the Clarence Valley".
The senator also told me that Malcolm Turnbull was a good man. That he had about a thousand head of cattle and rode a horse with some skill.
The senator repeatedly posed the question: where will the water come from to flush toilets?
Well, committee senators one and all, its time to face the facts.
Your alleged oversight has severely limited the Clarence Valley population's ability to access and inform this inquiry.
No matter how one skirts around the water issues involved, some unpalatable truths remain.
Queensland toilets are that state's responsibility.
Queensland's desire to pursue unsustainable growth should not be at the expense of Clarence Valley potential for sustainable growth. Nor should that state's economic ambitions be allowed to cripple our local economy.
And, it doesn't matter how many millionaires sit a saddle well - their brains are not supposed to be touching saddle leather when they mount.


["The Daily Examiner", Grafton,5 June 2007,p.8]

Labels: , ,

Friday, 8 June 2007

What Inquiry?

Date: Tuesday, 29 May 2007 2:20 PM
Luke Hartsuyker MP
Nationals Member for Cowper
29 May 2007
Dear Sir,
Re: Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Senate Committee: Inquiry into Additional Water Supplies for South East Queensland - Traveston Crossing Dam
Today I, like the majority of Clarence Valley residents, became aware for the first time that a Senate committee is currently considering Clarence catchment area water diversion proposals as part of its brief.
I became aware because the Senate committee was the subject of a front page article in The Daily Examiner, Grafton, the only major local newspaper and one which was established in 1859.
The deadline for submissions to this committee does not leave me time to prepare a considered written submission which could be presented before the committee's hearings are completed and, possibly its report prepared and tabled.
Like many other Clarence Valley residents, I have commitments which do not allow me to drop everything in order to prepare a submission which could arrive in a timely manner given such late and informal notice.
I note that, in The Daily Examiner article, you were quoted as stating that you would be prepared to write to the Senate committee if the community felt it had not had time to adequately respond.
I ask that you do write and, request that:
(i) the submission deadline be extended to 20 June 2007;
(ii) the committee report not be prepared or tabled before that date; and
(iii) the committee re-advertise its details in The Daily Examiner before 4 June 2007.
I note that the committee in question appears to have been receiving submissions since early April and, its hearings have been relevant to the Clarence Valley since at least early May.
The matter of a lack of suitable advertising goes to the heart of parliamentary procedural transparency, as well as access and equity for the electorates involved.
In anticipation and appreciation of your assistance with this matter.
Yours faithfully,


Labels: , ,

And then there was this water grab

Date: Thursday, 17 May 2007 12:10 AM
The General Manager
Bourke Shire Council
16 May 2007
Dear Sir,
Re: Clarence catchment water diversion proposal and Bourke Shire Council motion to be considered by the Local Government Shires Association [LGSA] conference in June 2007.
Bourke Shire Council has lodged a motion, to be debated at the forthcoming LGSA conference, calling for the Howard Government to further pursue the Clarence catchment water diversion proposal with the aim of diverting water to north-west New South Wales.
The motion includes reference to a Clarence water diversion scheme designed by Geoff White.
In the minutes of its ordinary monthly meeting held on 23 October 2006, Bourke Shire Council indicated that it was actively investigating funding of a Clarence water diversion scheme.
In the same minutes, Bourke Shire Council resolved to send a delegation to Malcolm Turnbull, then Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister with responsibility for water policy, and also to Geoff White of White Industries, a construction and mining group.
In a published interview on 19 February 2007, Geoff White stated that he had made a submission in favour of Clarence water diversion and that John Howard was aware of his submission [The Sydney Morning Herald,"The White Stuff",19.02.07].
I note that both Bourke Shire Council and Mr. White appear to have made formal approaches to the Howard Government ahead of its 12 April 2007 announcement of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation [SMEC] desktop study of proposed NSW Northern Rivers water diversion to south-east Queensland.
I know of no attempts by Bourke Shire Council to consult with local government or communities in the lower Clarence catchment area. This apparent omission speaks to a pronounced lack good faith on the part of Council.
There is a strong suggestion that Bourke Shire Council and certain other councils in "J" Division are now seeking to make Clarence water diversion an issue in this year's federal election, to the detriment of the populations and industries within Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour local government areas which depend on the continued health and productivity of the Clarence River and its tributaries.
The NSW Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water has made public statements which strongly oppose any Clarence River water diversion option as set out in the SMEC desktop study, on the basis of potential significant negative environmental, economic and social impacts.
These same negative impacts would apply to any new proposal for water diversion, from the Clarence River or its tributaries, to either north-west New South Wales or the Border Rivers.
Similarly, Clarence Valley Council, Clarence River Professional Fishermen's Association, Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition, Federal Nationals MP for Cowper, NSW Nationals MP for Clarence, Federal Nationals candidate for Page and many local residents have publicly expressed their firm opposition to any Clarence water diversion proposal.
I draw Council's attention to this demonstrated opposition to Clarence catchment water diversion and, ask that it reconsider this reckless push to solve its own water supply problems at the expense of others.
I ask that this letter, as a matter of urgency, be included as an attachment to the next Bourke Shire Council business paper.
In anticipation and appreciation of your assistance with this matter.
Yours faithfully,

Labels: , ,

This is a serious study?

Date: Wednesday, 25 April 2007 8:20 AM
Hon. Peter McGauran MP
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Deputy Leader of the House
25 April 2007
Dear Sir,
Re: Howard Government proposal to divert water from northern New South Wales to south-east Queensland.
On 12 April 2007 the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, Federal Minister for Environment and Water Resources, released the National Water Commission's contracted desktop study outlining proposals to divert water from the NSW Northern Rivers, with a focus on the Clarence River catchment area, to supply the south-east Queensland water grid.
I note that the Clarence catchment area currently supplies water to two local government areas experiencing sustained population growth, the Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour.The current combined population of both these areas is estimated at 113,000 residents.
I draw your attention to the following facts:
* The bulk of the Clarence catchment area falls within the 100km wide New South Wales coastal strip, which historically supplies approximately 20 per cent of the state's agricultural product. This coastal strip is likely to increase in importance, due to long-term difficulties experienced in the Murray-Darling basin with regard to water supply for food production.
* The Clarence Valley economy is heavily underpinned by agriculture, commercial fishing, forestry and tourism.
* Clarence agricultural commodities have an estimated annual value of $69.6M and, commercial fishing catches from the Clarence River estuary and North Coast ocean zones have estimated annual values of $47M and $27.6M respectively.
* Total agricultural value remains fairly consistent over time and the lucrative annual prawn catch in the Clarence River estuary is from one of only four NSW authorised estuary sites.
* Commercial ocean fish and crustacean species both breed and feed in the Clarence River estuary system.
* Bulk product transport for forestry-based industry is partly dependent on coastal shipping loading timber from Clarence River docks.
* Island traders servicing Lord Howe and Norfolk islands and, trading as far as Auckland, also depend on berthing in the Clarence River at Yamba, Harwood and Goodwin.
* Commercial fishing fleets are sited at Iluka and Yamba on the Clarence River.
* North Coast tourism, in which the Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour are integral parts, has an estimated annual value in excess of $57.4M.
The dollar values stated cover various periods from 2000-2004 and can be verified in the Commonwealth's own study of April 2005, "Northern Rivers and North Coast NSW Region: a regional profile" [C'wealth Dept. of Transport and Regional Services].
It is my understanding that, when initially approached by the National Water Commission, the NSW Dept. of Natural Resources advised that there was no unallocated water available for export to south-east Queensland. All flow being apportioned to the environment, basic land-holder rights, stock, irrigators, industry or town water supply needs.[The Daily Examiner,24 April 2007,"Federal Govt ignored advice about lack of Clarence water",p.5]
It is apparent from the wealth of publicly available New South Wales data, that any damming of or water extraction from the Clarence River or its tributaries carries potential risk of damage to the general environment, riparian zones, river bed stability and river ecosystems, as well as increasing existing river siltation and sand build-up in the sea approach to and bar at the Clarence river mouth.
All of these possible outcomes of additional hydrological stress and decreased inflow to the river tidal zone will impact on the viability of Clarence Valley agriculture, commercial fishing, forest industry and tourism.
Yet despite the aforementioned circumstances being widely known to the Commonwealth, the Prime Minister is reported in the media as stating that piping water from the Clarence River "is still very much on the agenda" [ABC Online,Local Radio, 21 April 2007,"The World today",transcript].
In the week following the 12 April announcement of the desktop study findings, The Daily Examiner, Grafton NSW, received an unusually high number of letters opposing this blatant water grab.
The Clarence Valley Council, Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition and Clarence River Professional Fishermen's Association have also publicly expressed their concern and opposition to the Howard-Turnbull proposal.
Two of the three sitting Nationals MPs whose electorates take in the Clarence Valley publicly oppose diverting Clarence catchment area water ie., Luke Hartsuyker, Federal MP for Cowper and Steve Cansdell, NSW MP for Clarence.
Many in the Clarence Valley view this proposal as flawed policy.
Further to this, I draw your attention to the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation desktop study, released in April 2007, titled "Integrated Water Supply Options for North East New South Wales and South East Queensland".
The report does not fully cost any of the water diversion options and, fails to even attempt to cost some of the most expensive elements. It admits to basing its financial analysis on a number of sweeping assumptions.
Many of the data compilations used are incomplete with some of the data being unverified and, in some cases the margin for error runs at 20 per cent and higher.
There are no in-depth environmental impact assessments. Though the study does briefly mention having to pass through areas containing old growth forest and/or high aesthetic value and wild terrain and, that the broadly preferred options would significantly impact on the environment and some potentially impact on the Clarence River delta.
No detailed proposed pipeline route inspections, dam site investigations, geological assessments, theodic surveys, or engineering investigations were undertaken and, topographic assessment relied only on perusal of military maps.
Sustainable levels of water extraction are not sufficiently identified and are just presumed to exist.
No mathematical models of the Northern Rivers systems were created and no detailed computer modelling was run.
It is presumed that the Clarence Valley will have no significant water demand shortfalls into the future.
There are no in-depth economic impact assessments.
Social impacts and indigenous cultural values are virtually ignored.
No real attempt has been made to quantify any yield impacts of proposed additional water entering the Queensland system.
The Gold Coast mayor, Ron Clarke, has recently stated that the identified Logan and Nerang rivers in south-east Queensland have plenty of water and do not require Clarence or Tweed water to be piped directly into them, that such piped water would cause environmental damage, achieve little and, that these Queensland rivers flow out into the ocean anyway [ABC Online, 16 April 2007,"Gold Coast Mayor pours cold water on pipe plan"].
A great deal of the information this study relies on has been Googled from the world-wide web and, in one instance it brazenly seeks to rely on a brochure.
Even as a preliminary document this desktop study is manifestly inadequate.
I ask that you give serious consideration to supporting the Northern Rivers region and, the Clarence Valley in particular, in its demonstrated opposition to this hasty, ill-conceived scheme.
Further, I ask that you discuss these matters with the Hon. Mark Vaile and raise the issue with the Prime Minister.
In anticipation and appreciation of your assistance with this matter.
Yours faithfully,


Labels: , ,

It's war

Date: Friday, 13 April 2007 9:18 AM
Open Letter to the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Minister for Environment and Water Resources, concerning the proposal to divert water from the Clarence Catchment Area river systems - 13th April 2007
Dear Sir,
Many river systems flowing within New South Wales borders, including the Murray-Darling, Murrumbidgee, Lachlan and Snowy, are significantly compromised by existing water storage, diversion and extraction schemes in this state and elsewhere.
The Clarence catchment area river systems are as yet relatively untouched by such water schemes.
This is not just the result of historical accident which has seen low levels of agricultural irrigation, little heavy industry and a long lead-in time to sustained high population growth.
It is also due to a conscious effort, on the part of Clarence catchment area communities and local government, to responsibly manage these river systems over time.
Nevertheless, these river systems remain variable and under stress particularly within the Clarence River delta and, some bodies of water such as Lake Wooloweyah teeter on a fragile balance.
Your announcement on 12 April 2007 of a proposal to divert Clarence catchment area water to south-east Queensland clearly demonstrates that you do not act in the best interests of your portfolio.
You appear to be acting from the world view of the investment banker you were until your election as the Liberal Party Member for Wentworth.
Water diversion will not benefit either the Clarence catchment area environment or the communities which live within it and draw communal prosperity from it.
Benefits for south-east Queensland are likely to be transitory and will do nothing to discourage continued unsustainable growth and development in that region.
There can be no guarantee sought or given, which will limit any water diversion to water dedicated for drinking only, once such water enters large dams and/or town water reticulation systems.
The only guaranteed benefits from this water diversion proposal will flow to major international water traders, multinational construction companies and, the commercial entities which fund and/or facilitate their operations.
Your announcement demonstrates the Howard Government's hostile intent towards the Clarence Valley.
Such hostile intent is likely to elicit an equally aggressive response. Civil wars are started this way.
If, in a century likely to be dominated by the effects of global warming, the Clarence catchment area becomes a focus of the first modern Australian water war then so be it.
I for one will support and/or participate in resistance to your flawed policy. Including any legal challenges, mass demonstrations or physical obstruction of construction work.
To this end, I will donate part of my modest income to those community and industry groups which resist.
Water in the Clarence catchment area river systems does not belong to Australia as you assert and, only nominally belongs to New South Wales.
It more truly belongs to the land through which it flows and, is held in trust by local communities for future generations.
Mr. Turnbull, I emphatically say to you: Not one drop from the mighty Clarence.
Yours faithfully,


Labels: , , ,