Letters to the editor

The Nationals, Inland Rail, fish kills, Brexit, trespass and the EU

Opinion
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What our readers are thinking (and writing).

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LINE OF FIRE

IT IS totally unacceptable that the National Party (aka The Country Party) is hanging landholders in the line of fire of the inland rail, Narromine to Narrabri section, out to dry.

Nobody would do to their worst enemy what the Australian Rail Track Corporation is proposing to inflict on the 300 landholders in the line of fire of the projected route.

Some people (probably ex Nationals supporters) will have the line, with 20 trains a day at 120 kilometres per hour, between their houses and sheds.

Others with the same traffic problems will be cut off from the rest of their land holdings without any crossings provided by ARTC to service that part of their land.

If this was to be proposed in Sydney, for example, the demonstration that followed would see the government fall ingloriously!

The ARTC, backed by the Nationals, seems to be intrangient to changing the proposed route.

Therefore to even stand a chance of staying in power, the federal government has only two options:

1. Re-route the proposed line to existing rails;

2. Or offer meaningful compensation to the affected landholders.

To be specific: when the Cobbora coal mine proposal was mooted the NSW Government compulsorily acquired all properties in the line of fire at over market price and then leased them back to the previous owners at an accommodating price.

When the mine idea was abandoned the land was sold at less than market value to whoever.

This time around the federal government needs to emulate this option;

I propose it purchases the land from owners who believe they have been financially disadvantaged for market value, plus 50 per cent.

The market value (before the rail line) should be determined as with Transgrid power line acquisitions, by the government valuer and a valuation by a private valuer and then the greatest price selected. This is history, not speculation.

That way disadvantaged landholders can exit the area with dignity instead of having their asset (ie. the property) being devalued by the ARTC and government and some sent to bankruptcy because of property values plummeting due to the “blight” of the proposed ARTC inland rail line in that part of NSW.

PETER CARTER,

“Umagarlee”, Wellington.

BREXIT DEBACLE

THERE has been talk that Queen Elizabeth II should order the British parliament to implement the will of the people of the Brexit referendum of two-and-a-half years ago. 

However, British referendums are totally unlike those in Australia.

Ours are required by the Australian Constitution to implement any change to it.

The British referendums are more like a plebiscite which, whilst indicating the will of the people, is non-binding on the parliament.

PHILIP BENWELL,

Australian Monarchist League chairman.

MEETING TARGETS

FISH dying en-masse is not an acceptable risk of the Murray Darling Basin Plan, nor a result of drought. Why? This dismissal of recent fish deaths implies the Murray Darling Basin Authority is comfortable with that explanation.

It seems to accept risk, or rather drought, as routine.

I note that a group of scientists has been appointed to ascertain the cause of the huge fish kill. We all know they died through lack of oxygen and water.

I suggest the appointment of an investigator to ascertain why there is no water in the Darling.

Something must change in the organisation, the system. 

Unless changes are implemented these failures are likely to repeat.

We must ask, does this meet community expectations?

With satellite imagery – we already have a good picture of the state thanks to native vegetation studies – authorities should be able to determine exactly what is occurring the Northern basin.

There seems to be evidence of over-harvesting of flood plainbs.

Commentary from the MDBA and reports from The Australia Institute highlight that the MDBA is relentlessly sticking to its targets, if you need further proof of that see its own literature: https://www.mdba.gov.au/discover-basin/rivers-worth-it/values-basin

This document stands as a statement of intent, yet cannot compete with clear indications that meeting watering targets is a priority.

I recommend in the MDBA’s approach to establishing why and how millions of fish have died, that a focus be the prevailing culture within the organisation, rather than just waiting for more fish to die.

Understanding the ramifications of a culture of simply meeting targets could be an important retrospective contribution.

Consider it in the same vein as the banking Royal Commission.

We must ask: who knew and who ought to have known and what was done about it?

This fish holocaust is the MDBA’s early warning sign that the Basin Plan is not working as a result of competing resources, structural secrecy (The Australia Institute report), regulatory failure (last year’s 4Corners report), politics, organisational and technological complexity and cultural beliefs.

Another warning sign the Basin Plan is not working is the denial of its socio-economic impacts – the realities of rural communities in economic collapse, increased suicide rates and mental health issues.

How are we going to fix this?

First accept this is not drought-induced disaster, it is a water management disaster.  

And secondly accept there are solutions.

I write this on behalf of all the fish whose died because their environment was mismanaged.

VICKI MEYER,

Deniliquin.

TRESPASS

PART of the NSW National's platform leading into the last state elections was a vow to put an end to the mentality of “the right to trespass” on rural lands.

This commitment was promoted on social media at the time by the sharing of an article by NSW MP Rick Colless, and I subsequently responded with the comment: “about time!” 

However, post those elections it soon became apparent that the Coalition's commitment to that promise was restricted to, and only ever intended to apply to people entering private property or enclosed lands for the purpose of protesting against mining developments and the like.  

The Coalition obviously didn't have the rights of landowners in mind with their commitment, but rather were more concerned with the delaying of potential revenue from said commercial developments. 

During the current term in office the NSW Nationals have made some worthwhile changes to vegetation laws, but have ignored the issue of members of the public entering private property at will anytime they wish and without consultation with the landowner, under the guise or pretext of fishing, whether or not they intend to fish. It's a classic case of shutting the front gate but leaving the back gate wide open.

I have pointed out to Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair that besides the issue of basic privacy that landowners are entitled to, whether they be rural or urban, this “right to trespass” is in stark conflict with both the NSW workplace health and safety laws and our biosecurity laws.   

However, Mr Blair has been a lame duck on this issue, and his staffers have stated that "Mr Ritter has opened a can of worms with this issue", and have put it in the too hard basket.

MAL RITTER,

Greenlands.

EU’s BITTER VICTORY

THE European Union failed to integrate ​the European peoples, but successfully cross-linked their individual "ruling classes"; giving rise to one, all-powerful and unstoppable oligarchy eliminating the right to personal privacy (not to mention individuals’ access to true democracy).

HOWARD HUTCHINS, 

Chirnside Park, Victoria.

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