Friday, 31 August 2007

Clarence Valley - a pattern card for good water management and climate change outcomes

Ocean Watch Australia (OWA), in partnership with the NSW Dept. of Education and Training and the Geography Teachers' Association of NSW, has created a Year 10 teaching resource "Our Valuable Estuaries, Coast & Marine Environs - Making Connections".
The Clarence Valley was chosen as the lead case study area by the steering committee "in recognition of the high quality catchment and flood plain management outcomes being achieved here". [The Daily Examiner,Grafton,"State teaching resource to feature Clarence Valley",31 August 2007,p.14]
Meanwhile, the Nature Conservation Council of NSW inaugural regional Climate Change Challenge was wrapped up in the Clarence Valley this week with positive outcomes.
Perhaps all the water raiders lining up behind those 'aspirational nationalists', John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull, should consider what this says about the Clarence Valley's commitment to maintaining a healthy and productive catchment river system and acting responsibly in the face of projected climate change.
Communities, local government and industry in the Clarence Valley are working together in an attempt to achieve sustainability without expecting other areas to bail them out of any difficulties.

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Thursday, 30 August 2007

Hon. Malcolm Bligh Turnbull

Take a good look at this face. Recall his track record since entering Federal Parliament.
Does he really deserve to be Minister for Environment and Water Resources?
Should he be in Parliament at all?

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Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Clarence River entry edits

It seems that Wikipedia contributors did not see the Clarence River system as having "extremely large" water flow volumes until after the Howard-Turnbull push to raid Clarence River freshwater began.
Given the recent media coverage of Wikipedia entry edits by staff from the C'wealth Dept. of Prime Minister and Cabinet, one has to wonder why somewhat misleading 'information' was included in the Clarence River edits.
See link:

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Monday, 27 August 2007

Malcolm Turnbull jeered and booed in Brisbane

It seems that the Federal Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull, is not only on the nose in Tasmania, Victoria and the NSW Northern Rivers - he is also unpopular in Brisbane.
Actively disliked in relation to  four separate issues at the same time. Is this a record for a Commonwealth Environment Minister?
See links for Brisbane story:

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Saturday, 25 August 2007

What the Clarence Valley is fighting for (6)

Eastern (Freshwater) Cod. Listed as endangered under both the C'wealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and NSW Fisheries Management Act 1994. Existing and potential threats to this native fish species are habitat modifiers, including sedimentation, snag removal, flow modification, water pollution and migration barriers [NSW Fisheries,May 2004]

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Thursday, 23 August 2007

Financing the Clarence water raid - the billion dollar question

Given that Bourke Shire Council adopted the White Scheme for its proposed Clarence River water diversion plan, which relies on the estimated $1.5 billion dollar cost being "financed by the private sector against sales of water licences and long-term operation and management rights" [See link] and, was actively seeking to identify sources of diversion funding during October 2006 [See link] in the lead up to its early 2007 meeting with Malcolm Turnbull before he announced the SMEC desktop study recommendations, the first question posed is that of which private corporations were being approached in this attempt at a back door sale of Clarence freshwater.
The second question which springs to mind is what exactly Mr. Turnbull knew of this scheme to sell Clarence River water and operation/management rights in exchange for investment in infrastructure.
In light of the Minister's past remarks on the possible role of the private sector in financing public infrastructure, he needs to be transparent about his involvement, if any, in these early approaches to private companies.,M1 White Scheme & financing, page 121 Bourke Shire Council & funding

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Wednesday, 22 August 2007

ALP says no again to dams

The Australian Labor Party's federal candidate for the seat of Page, Janelle Saffin, and Senator Kerry O'Brien visit Clarence Valley and speak with the local fishing industry.

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John Howard, aspirational nationalist

'JOHN Howard has held a private meeting with the most senior leaders of the Exclusive Brethren, including a man under investigation by police over his massive spending on the Prime Minister's 2004 election campaign.

In his parliamentary office two weeks ago, Mr Howard met Sydney pump salesman Mark Mackenzie, whose former company, Willmac, funnelled $370,000 into pro-Howard advertising at the last election.

Willmac's spending was later investigated by the Australian Electoral Commission's disclosure arm, and then referred to the Australian Federal Police for a criminal investigation, which is continuing.

Also at the August 8 meeting were the secretive sect's world leader, or "Elect Vessel", Bruce D. Hales, his brother Stephen and elder Warwick John.

A Brethren spokesman confirmed to The Age yesterday that the meeting had taken place, but emphatically denied they had asked for Mr Howard's help on the police investigation or offered him support for his campaign against Maxine McKew in Bennelong.

Mr Howard's office said only that he had met members of the Brethren, as he did with a "wide range of groups", and would "continue to do so".' [,"Brethren meet PM in his office",22 August 2007]

For full story see:


Rogues Gallery - Part Four

A list of elected members of Alexandrina Council, South Australia. This council is actively lobbying for a Clarence River water diversion scheme.
McHugh, Kym, Mayor
Woolford, Anne, Deputy Mayor
Beckett, Mary, Councillor
Gartrell, Grant, Councillor
Davis, Jim, Councillor
Featherston, Barry, Councillor
Rusby, Trent, Councillor
Medlyn, Rick, Councillor
Oliver, Alan, Councillor
Potter, Rod, Councillor
Saunders, Ian, Councillor
Tuckwell, Frank, Councillor

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Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Fear persists on Clarence water 'grab'

It seems that many in the Clarence Valley just don't believe Malcolm Turnbull's protestations of innocence, including Clarence River fishers.

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Have you noticed............(6)

Chris Gulaptis, Federal Nationals candidate for Page, has a new website.
Unfortunately this second site also contains no mention of his alleged commitment to protect the Clarence River system from additional water diversion.
This candidate needs to grow a spine and stop his low-key posturing on the issue.
Any aspiring candidate needs to prove to the electorate that he/she would truly protect the Clarence Valley from any Howard-Turnbull water raid.
Putting opposition to such a raid out on the Internet would be a good start.
Otherwise, why should we cast a vote in their favour?

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Monday, 20 August 2007

Rogues Gallery - Part Three

LEFT: Hon. Ian Causley, retiring Nationals MP for Page and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. Will call black white in an effort to politically spin the Howard-Turnbull attempted water raid. [Image displayed at,20 August 2007]
MIDDLE: Alan Belford Jones, right-wing radio personality. Will do almost anything to support John Winston Howard, including touting the Clarence River diversion. [Image displayed at,20 August 2007]
RIGHT: Geoff White of White Industries (and jockey). Has been pushing Clarence River water diversion for some time and is architect of Bourke Shire Council's Clarence diversion scheme. [Image displayed at,20 August 2007]

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Sunday, 19 August 2007

What a difference the client makes when it comes to water studies

The Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC) desktop study into water diversion from NSW Northern Rivers catchments has been rightly criticised for not addressing possible impacts of climate change.
It is interesting to note that a much earlier SMEC report on commercial prawn trawling in NSW estuaries, including the Clarence River, did address energy and greenhouse gas issues.
The earlier report was commissioned by NSW Government (NSW Fisheries), the latter by the C'wealth National Water Commission at the behest of Malcolm Turnbull.
This tends to support an argument that SMEC may have tailored its desktop study recommendations to suit the Howard Government's current political objectives.

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Rogues Gallery - Part Two

SMEC Australia Pty Ltd aka Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation produced the desktop study citing the Clarence catchment area in its preferred options for damming and diversion of NSW Northern Rivers water.
The desktop study has been criticised as limited, inaccurate and tailored to suit the political agenda of the Howard Government.
See link for management profiles and photographs:

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Saturday, 18 August 2007

Reply to Malcolm Turnbull's letter to the editor

"Pants on fire
THE Federal Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Liberal MP for Wentworth, Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, must have set his pants on fire when penning that litany of political half-truths [DE letters,17.08.07].
  He tells the Clarence Valley that: "The Commonwealth has no plans whatsoever to dam the Clarence or any other river in Northern New South Wales."
  He may be technically correct, in that there is no actual site chosen and no engineering blueprints in existence, but Clarence catchment water diversion is definitely on the Howard-Turnbull wish list.
  His own department gives lie to his weasel words by telling us that the National Water Commission (which contracted the SMEC desktop study) has been approaching the NSW and Queensland governments as well as NOROC, in order to create terms of reference for the next stage of investigation of the SMEC diversion options and other unspecified Northern Rivers options.
  Mr. Turnbull obviously thinks Clarence Valley residents are fools. That many of us have not noticed that whenever we discover his metaphorical footprint in the dirt, a call will shortly go out from somewhere in the Murray-Darling asking the Howard Government to look at damming the Clarence.
  One has to suspect that Mr. Turnbull's recent letter to the editor was simply an attempt to hose down this issue in the lead-up to the federal election.
  I would be surprised if many in the Clarence Valley were fooled by such a ploy.
[The Daily  Examiner,Grafton,letters,18 August 2007,p.12]

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Hartsuyker toes the Howard Government line

Very predicably Nationals MP for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, falls into line behind the fiction that the Howard Government does not have a Clarence catchment dam on its wish list.
Perhaps both he and Minister Turnbull should tell this to the National Water Commission and Dept. of the Environment and Water Resources, because it seems that neither body is aware of any alleged Coalition about-face on the issue.

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Friday, 17 August 2007

Howard and Turnbull reach new heights of absurdity

John Howard has reached new heights of absurdity as he seeks to distance himself from any responsibility for his own nuclear energy policy.
According to the Prime Minister it will be commercial considerations only which will decide which communities may have a nuclear power plant in their midst.
One has to wonder if he will seek to extend that argument to any proposed new dam sites.
Whilst in a letter to the editor, Malcolm Turnbull farcically tries to convince Clarence Valley residents that a Clarence catchment dam is not on the Howard Government's wish list [The Daily Examiner, Grafton,"Turnbull responds",p.8].
C'mon fellas - do you really think the Australian electorate is that stupid?

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Thursday, 16 August 2007

Rumour hath it............(7)

According to rumour the Federal Minister for Environment and Water Resources is becoming hypersensitive over the issue of the Clarence water diversion proposals he is pushing.
It seems someone on his staff may have contacted a Clarence Valley newspaper to vehemently complain about its coverage of Malcolm Turnbull.
Apparently Mr. Turnbull is still trying to assert that he was only opening debate on the diversion issue, even though he has endorsed the creation of terms of reference to take Clarence water diversion options to stage two and further investigation.
Tut, tut - Messrs. Howard and Turnbull either must be smarting over more bad poll results or they think that Clarence Valley residents are fools.

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Senate RRAT committee leaves door open for water raiders

The Senate Rural Regional Affairs and Transport standing committee inquiring into additional water supplies for south-east Queensland firmly sat on the fence in its report, with regard to options to divert water from the Clarence River and/or its tributaries.
However, it was also careful to leave the door open for Messrs. Howard and Turnbull to continue their push to rob the Clarence River of vital freshwater flows.
Well done, Senator Heffernan - you did your master's bidding in the face of clear evidence that such water diversion is both unsustainable and uneconomic.
See link: 

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Wednesday, 15 August 2007

David Marr's perspective on the Howard regime

"Quarterly Essay Issue 26

His Master's Voice
The Corruption of Public Debate under Howard

By David Marr

John Howard has the loudest voice in Australia. He has cowed his critics, muffled the press, intimidated the ABC, gagged scientists, silenced NGOs, censored the arts, prosecuted leakers, criminalised protest and curtailed parliamentary scrutiny.

Though touted as a contest of values, this has been a party-political assault on Australia's liberal culture. In the name of "balance" the Liberal Party has muscled its way into the intellectual life of the country.

And this has happened because we let it happen. Once again, Howard has shown his superb grasp of Australia as it really is. In His Master's Voice, David Marr investigates both a decade of suppression and the strange willingness of Australians to watch, with such little angst, their liberties drift away."

[,June 2007]


Ernie Bennett betrays the Clarence in an act of bastardry

Ernie Bennett, recently unsuccessful Federal Nationals pre-selection candidate and mayor of the Kyogle local government area which would only boast around 4,000 resident souls on a good day [,15 August 2007], has just betrayed the entire Clarence River system catchment area and the estimated 113,000 people who depend on it for water security.
Mr. Bennett met with Malcolm Turnbull, Federal Minister for Environment and Water Resources, and invited that gentleman to go forward with his plans to further investigate water diversion from or within NSW Northern Rivers catchment areas.
He appears somewhat naively to think that simply telling Mr. Turnbull that no-one wants a dam on the Clarence River and, that he, Ernie Bennett would like to see the Federal Government involved in the formation of an unspecified regional water plan, will actually result in a good outcome for everyone [The Daily Examiner,Grafton,"NOROC tells Turnbull - 'hands off the Clarence",p.5]. 
At this stage it is unclear whether the constituent councils of the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils (NOROC) had passed any resolution endorsing either Ernie Bennett's invitation on behalf of NOROC or his integrated regional water plan and Federal Government involvement in planning such a scheme. 
In an effort to ingratiate himself with the Federal Liberal Party and Nationals, Mr. Bennett has perpetrated an act of pure bastardry which will see Messrs. Howard and Turnbull push even harder to steal Clarence catchment freshwater.

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Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Rogues Gallery - Part One

Click on this link to view the faces and names of some of the political rogues who are attempting to steal the future away from Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour communities, by either openly supporting or failing to speak against the Howard-Turnbull push to unsustainably divert water from the Clarence River system.

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What the Clarence Valley is fighting for (5)

Iluka Bay at low tide. Iluka is in the Clarence River estuary. It is one of the many family tourism destinations in the Clarence Valley.
Iluka is also home to part of the Clarence commercial fishing fleet and the fast disappearing Coastal Emu, a genetically distinct emu population.

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Monday, 13 August 2007

Now the Australian Parliament has a second "lying rodent"

It seems that the Dept of the Environment and Water Resources just can't help uttering deceitful words in an effort to do the bidding of Malcolm Turnbull and his prime ministerial master.

Despite Northern Rivers communities making their opposition known with good reasons and despite both the NSW and Qld governments firmly rejecting the SMEC water diversion proposals, Messrs. Howard and Turnbull arrogantly push ahead with their plan to raid north east NSW water to benefit bulk water users such as major irrigators and international mining companies.

All this just so the Howard Government can put off the day when it has to genuinely face the fact of climate change and a drying southern half of Australia and, act in the national interest instead of the interests of its political supporters.

The following letter was recently sent to me:

Ms Joyce Sarahs
PO Box [edited]
TYALGUM  NSW  2484     

Dear Ms Sarahs

Thank you for your letter of 20 May 2007 to the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, concerning the SMEC Report on possible dam sites in northern NSW.  Mr Turnbull has asked me to respond on his behalf.  I apologise for the delay in my response.

The proposal to construct a dam on the Oxley River was considered as part of a recent study initiated by the National Water Commission to evaluate possible approaches to meeting future water demands of southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales, including moving water from rivers in northern New South Wales.  The population of this part of Australia is growing rapidly and it is important that governments consider all the available options for ensuring a secure and safe water supply. 

The "desk top" review undertaken for the National Water Commission  was required to identify options for sourcing water whilst remaining within the sustainable yield of catchments and without detrimentally affecting the current and future users in New South Wales.  The review recommended five options for further investigation.  Four of the five options are based on storage and transfer from the Clarence River whilst the fifth (and cheapest) is based on storage and transfer from the Tweed River catchment.

The study report recognised that the preferred options could be expected to have significant potential environmental impact and emphasised that all options proposed required further detailed environmental and social assessment in line with New South Wales Government laws, regulations and policies. 

The National Water Commission is currently developing terms of reference for the next phase of work which it is proposed be undertaken in conjunction with the New South Wales Government, the Queensland Government and the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils.  This work would consider whether other options may exist that were not considered in the SMEC Report, undertake more detailed assessments of dam sites and pipeline routes, undertake more detailed environmental, social and cost benefit assessment of options and complete water planning of relevant catchments to determine sustainable yields.

This phase would also develop and implement a community consultation and communication process to provide information on proposed options and enable the community to contribute to the debate.

The Australian Government is also exploring other options for addressing the likely increased demand for water in the south east region of Queensland.  For example, in April 2007 the Australian Government announced a contribution of $408 million to the $1.7 billion Western Corridor Recycled Water Project in south east Queensland.  This project involves the construction of pipelines to enable the transfer of purified recycled water from advanced wastewater treatment plants in Brisbane and Ipswich to end users.  When completed, the project will have the potential to produce over 250 megalitres a day of potable water supply with purified recycled water for drinking water supply, industrial and possibly agricultural purposes. 

Your views have been noted by the Minister on the environmental impacts associated with the Oxley River option.  Thank you for your letter. 

Yours sincerely

Simon Smalley
Assistant Secretary
Water Services Branch

12 July 2007

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Sunday, 12 August 2007

Rumour hath it............(6)

A little further north rumour is saying that the Nationals John Cobb, Assistant Minister for Environment and Water Resources, has taken to characterising the SMEC desktop study preferred options (for water diversion from the NSW Northern Rivers region) as being part of the Coalition public agenda.
Now just how many steps removed is that from Federal Government policy? I guess the forthcoming Federal Election will resolve that question.

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Saturday, 11 August 2007

Coffs Harbour community says a strong "NO" to Howard and Turnbull

Coffs Harbour City Council supports the Clarence Valley position against additional water diversion from Clarence River system.

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Friday, 10 August 2007

Finally, my submission to the Senate RRAT committee is published

Thursday, 9 August 2007

B*gger the fish - we need the votes!

The dark pink lines in the Mann-Nymboida subcatchment denote distribution of the last known wild population of Eastern (Freshwater) Cod.

This large native fish is so endangered that there are only a few thousand wild fish left in Australia and, these are found in the upper reaches of the Clarence River system [ABC TV "Catalyst",transcript,23 October 2003]

Perhaps Liberal MP for Wentworth and Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull, will explain how any proposal to dam the Mann River and extract up to 100,000 megalitres of freshwater each year would assist this wild fish stock to survive into the future.

Pardon me, Minister - I couldn't quite hear what you said. I thought I heard you mutter: "B*gger the fish, I need to shore up the Coalition power base."

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Permanent water restrictions to apply across Clarence Valley

In 23 days time, on 1 September 2007, Clarence Valley Council will impose permanent Level One water restrictions across the entire local government area.
[The Daily Examiner,Grafton,9 August 2007,p.4]
Perhaps Messrs. Howard and Turnbull might like to consider what this says about the highly variable nature of Clarence catchment freshwater flows and rainfall patterns.
Again I ask - what excess water? This politically motivated push to dam and divert water from the Clarence River and/or one of its principal tributaries was always hasty, ill-conceived water policy on the run.
When is John Howard going to be man enough to admit that the call to divert Clarence water was a mistake and, give Clarence Valley residents an assurance that local communities will not be asked to surrender their own current and future water security.

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Wednesday, 8 August 2007

A Tassie perspective on Malcolm Turnbull's record as Minister for Environment and Water Resources

The following in an interesting perspective on Malcolm Bligh Turnbull.
It seems the Clarence Valley is not the only part of Australia wishing Turnbull gone.

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Tuesday, 7 August 2007


Calling all Australians living, working or travelling overseas.
It is now only one to four months until the 2007 Federal Election.

The Howard Government is still attempting to steal vital freshwater flows from the NSW Clarence River system, using every 'backdoor' method available.

When you vote, please remember that if you do not place the Liberal Party, Country Liberal Party, Nationals and Family First candidates last on the ballot paper you will be helping John Howard to destroy the environmental, economic, social and cultural values of this healthy and productive coastal river.

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NSW Government still "adamant" - no water for Howard, Turnbull & Co.

According to Phil Koperberg, NSW Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water, the Federal Government is underestimating proposed water diversion costs from the Clarence River to south-east Queensland and the Mann River to the Border Rivers region.
In today's terms, the former would likely cost in the vicinity of $3,500 per megalitre per annum and the latter might cost around $2,100 per megalitre per year.

In addition:
"Based on current data, the options to dam the Clarence River or Tooloom Creek are highly unlikely to provide reliable supplies of water for export to south east Queensland during periods of drought. In critical months, such as November, when demand for extraction is greatest, flows are reduced to a point where they would not adequately fill the proposed storages.

I am advised that the minimum flow estimates used to prepare the latest Australian Government report are based on information that is not current and, in fact, overestimates the percentile flows in the listed areas. The results were that the inter-basin proposals are feasible, but very expensive and that there are significant environmental issues. This is not different from the 1981 study.

Further, as you would be aware, the next 25 years will see the north eastern part of NSW undergo rapid growth with water security a key issue to be considered. Also, it is anticipated that augmentation of water supplies may be necessary to meet the expanded population needs for the next 50 years.

The NSW Government is adamant that the social and environmental needs of our State should take priority over any proposed interstate water transfers."
[Koperberg,P,letter to JM Melville,dated 24 July 2007]

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Monday, 6 August 2007

John Howard - old, dishonest and buying dominance

A June 2007 commissioned confidential report, "Federal State of Play - Oz Track 33", informs the Federal Liberal and National parties that their leader John Howard is seen by voters as "old and dishonest" and that the Howard Government has "bought" dominance over water policy.,23599,22193173-2,00.html?from=mostpop

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Saturday, 4 August 2007

Turnbull to meet water critics

Federal Minister for Environment and Water Resources finally decides to meet with two NSW Northern Rivers organisations.
He has allegedly pleaded lack of time to actually visit the Northern Rivers or inspect the sites from which he apparently wants to steal water.

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Clarence Estuary vegetation map

Dark green areas denote Mangroves, white areas denote Seagrass, red areas denote Saltmarsh, aqua circles denote Mangrove Limits. Map does not include all minor tributaries. [NSW Dept. of Natural Resources]
Map showing some estuary vegetation areas likely to be vulnerable to any change in Clarence River system water volume/flows.

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Thursday, 2 August 2007

Rumour hath it............(5)

It is rumoured that the Federal Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, has begun to arrange private meetings in Sydney this month with NSW Northern Rivers organisations.
Coincidentally, this sudden desire to meet appears to march with the Federal Government's renewed approach to the NSW and QLD governments, seeking their active cooperation in further assessment of those Northern Rivers water diversion options.
Perhaps Mr. Turnbull is hoping to secure an 'in principle' agreement, that further assessment of diversion options is desirable, from the likes of the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Council (NOROC) chaired as it is by a Nationals wannabee.
It is beginning to appear as through the Howard Government is increasingly desperate to get some form of endorsement, no matter how vague or thrice-removed, before it has to face voters on polling day.
However, nothing that the Government attempts will allow it to claim a mandate for any water raid on the Clarence catchment.

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Clarence River creates jobs

Clarence Valley residents have always known that a healthy and productive Clarence River creates local employment. One has to suspect that government does also.
The Federal Government recently awarded Clarence Valley Council $105,000 for the Clarence River Way Project creating a network of land and marine touring routes. 
Federal Government also announced yesterday that it is assisting the $1 million expansion of Harwood Slipway with a $445,000 grant.
Pity Messrs. Howard and Turnbull appear intent on placing the Clarence River at risk with their ill-advised push to dam and divert Clarence catchment water.

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