The Tussock Times
is an A4 Newsletter circulating in the
Anembo-Jerangle-Peak View area in
New South Wales, Australia.
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New South Wales Government releases the much-awaited proposed changes to the Native Vegetation Act 2003.
That the proposed changes were released on the morning that the Malcolm Turnbull government released the Commonwealth Government Budget for 2016 should have been warning enough that some dodgy work was afoot.
The State Government has been conducting public meetings at selected locations around the state, presumably so that later they can claim to have engaged in consulation with the community over the proposals.
But the truth is that the public consultation sites were too few and too far apart. Only a small minority of country people were able to attend.
The way the proposed Act has been presented has gained much criticism, all the detail is to be contained in a series of maps to be released in December of this year. These maps, once released, will show the extent to which the new Act will apply to each individual farm. Trying to discuss the proposed Act in those circumstances is akin to trying to discus the length of a piece of string without having seen the string.
Recently the Minister in charge of introducing the Act, agreed to take part in a “Question and Answer” session on Facebook. It was good that he did so and allowed the public to present questions but one must ask “how many farmers are of Facebook?” and “how many of them are free at 5.30 in the afternoon?”.
Most of the questions were quite clearly asked by city people who thought that gum trees were preferable to grain crops. Where questions were asked by farmers and related to the application of the Act in specific situations, to say that the Minister was devious would be an understatement.
The unfortunate truth is that farmers are a minority in New South Wales, and in Australia as a whole. Governments are elected by city populations and those populations are eager to see a continuation of the present situation where farmers are required to grow trees to offsett the carbon emissions created by the extravagant lifestyles of the city populations.
Croppa Creek farmer found guilty of murder.
Now in his eighties, Ian Turnbull, was last month found guilty of the murder of a State Government employee, Compliance Officer Glen Turner, the previous year.
The Court reports detailed a particularily gruesome murder with Turner being shot at and wounded a number of times over an extended period of time.
The media reports portrayed an ongoing fued between the Turnbull family and the State Department of Environment and Heritage.
Initially it might have been taken to be a situation akin to that of Peter Spencer, the man who went on a hunger strike on his property in an attempt to draw attention to the shameful way he had been treated.
But the two situations were in fact quite different in that Peter Spencer bought his run-down farm in the 1970's when it was perfectly legal to restore such neglected farmland, and the introduction of the Native Vegetation Act 2003 suddenly made what had been a legal business activity into something illegal with draconian penalties imposed for transgressions.
None of the city journalists seemed to realise the importance of the purchase dates. The truth is that the Turnbulls bought the property concerned in 2012. Many years after the introduction of any prohibition on farming. Their claim to have paid four million dollars for a one thousand acre paddock is hard to accept. The Turnbulls knew, and every other person in the market at that time knew, that there was a prohibition on clearing that land.
If it was a paddock of native bush then that was how it had to stay according to the Native Vegetation Act. I do have a recollection of the Government Department involved being exposed many years ago in having distorted reporting of the area illegally cleared in another case. Seems that they drew a line on a map encirling all the trees pushed then calculated the area inside the line as being the area cleared. A more honest approach might be to calculate the area of tree canopy that was cleared. Maybe there was a lot more open country in the Turnbull's 1,000 acre paddock than we have been lead to believe.
The previous owner, generally described as “elderly”, had no doubt lost his retirement nest egg with the introduction of the Native Vegetation Act when it became illegal to clear the land in question.
The Turnbull family were large scale and successful farmers and certainly did not get to be such by paying several time the market value for land.
A lot of farmers cannot accept the fact that the value of Freehold land lies only in whatever protection the community agrees to give to the title. Like a lot of others, the Turnbulls could not, or would not, accept that the city people had withdrawn support for the traditional concept of Freehold Land Rights.
The Court has now ordered the younger Turnbulls to replant native vegetation on the cleared land. The Turnbulls have responded with a claim that doing so would cost them some three million dollars.
It seems to be a standard tactic by the Turnbulls to quote sums of money that are beyond all reality.
They are established grain farmers with a range of working plant which no doubt could be modified to replant native vegetation at a much more realistic figure.
Glen Turner, the Compliance Officer, lost his life and his family has lost him, Ian Turnbull has yet to hear what he will lose.
The one person who has suffered and not received any public support is the previous owner of the land who suffered the enormous financial cost of having his land legally reduced from “farming land” to protected native bush without receiving any financial compensation.
FOOTNOTE. On the 23rd of June 2016, Ian Turnbull was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 24 years.
On the same day, The Land newspaper carried a story that one Gregory Miller had announced having secretly commenced working on a film named “Cultivating Murder” about the Turnbulls and that the release would be timed to coincide with the Parliamentary debate of proposed land clearing reforms in the spring sittings of the State Parliament.
It will be interesting to see what approach the film maker takes. I do not see how the Turnbulls can be portrayed as victims of the Native Vegetation Act in this case. Had they bought the land involved at then market price before the introduction of the Act, they could then clearly illustrate how, like so many other farmers, they had seen the value of their business assett destroyed so that the wealthy people of Sydney could continue their extravagant lifestyle and somehow claim that they were not contributing to climate change.