Murray-Darling Basin. From the ABC online.

The head of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has said the historic agreement to protect Australia’s iconic river system for the environment and agriculture is in danger of collapse.

MDBA chief executive Phillip Glyde told the ABC he was concerned the New South Wales and Victorian governments might act on their threats to potentially walk away from the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

“It’s certainly under a lot of pressure at the moment,” he said.

“If it [the plan] does collapse, we go back to circumstances before 2012 where various state governments use water as they may wish, but it doesn’t look after the basin as a whole.

“It would undermine the food bowl of the nation, undermine us having a sustainable basin that is environmentally sound.”

The crisis was sparked when Federal Labor announced on Tuesday it would support the Greens’ bid to block a 70-gigalitre cut in the amount of water being returned to the environment in the northern basin.

The cut, supported by the Federal Government, was recommended by the MDBA, which said it would save 200 jobs in irrigation-dependent communities in NSW and Queensland.

NSW Water Minister Niall Blair said his Government was “deadly serious” about reconsidering its commitment to the plan.

What is the Murray-Darling Basin Plan?

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan has remained controversial ever since its introduction back in 2012.
He said the processes built into the basin plan for adjusting irrigation and environmental flows had been agreed to by all of the state and federal governments involved.

“But now, because outcomes don’t meet political desires or wants, some want to overturn the umpire’s decision,” he said.

“We’re really questioning whether we would bother with any of the other implementation of the plan, if it’s going to be treated like this.

“The hard work that’s been done bringing communities along for the difficult conversations, to then have it just thrown onto the scrapheap like this, I don’t know, we’d want to be in a position to put our communities through that again.”

But tensions are set to rise even further when Parliament considers the potential return of 605 gigalitres of water to communities in the southern part of the basin.

The MDBA said that was linked to greater water efficiencies, which would allow the same environmental benefits for less environmental flows, Mr Glyde said.

The Greens, however, have said they would also move to disallow that.

“All governments have signed up to that 605-gigalitre adjustment six months ago. If that was to fall over I think that would be the end of the basin plan,” Mr Glyde said.

“[That’s] because that method means we can achieve the environmental outcomes of the basin plan with much smaller economic impact.”

A spokeswoman for shadow water minister Tony Burke said Labor would have to read the fine print of any new Greens motion and take it to Caucus before deciding whether to support it.

Topics: government-and-politics, environmental-management, murray-darling-basin, rivers, irrigation, rural, enviro

Here we are slowly regenerating the banks of Coopers creek. Seeding edge.

I must add that a month ago an indigenous man ( unknown to me) told me on the streets of Mullumbimby that the poisoning of Coral trees along the banks of Wilson Creek, is responsible for the deaths of platypus. 2 bodies were found that I know of soon after poisoning began.


From Fred.
Politicians will soon decide on whether or not to take more water out of the Murray Darling river system. They’ll look at facts, figures and graphs and maybe hear from some big irrigators. But I want them to know what this decision means to me and my people.

I am of the Murrawarri Nation in the Northern Murray Basin. Growing up, the river was our lifeblood. It was a place to fish, to swim and it’s the home of our sacred river red gum trees.

Our people talk about how life is reborn in the river red gums. We believe that spirits return to earth on the back of a falling star, and hide behind a bush near the birthing tree. A baby growing in its mother’s womb is waiting for a spirit, and as soon as the baby is born the spirit jumps into the baby giving it its first breath. The river red gums are sacred to us because we use the leaves to communicate to our ancestors in the sky camp. If the river red gums die, then so do our spiritual connections with our ancestors.

Growing up, the river would flood once every 3 to 5 years — what the gums need to stay healthy — but right now the floods only happen once every 15 years on average. The infamous Cubbie Station and the St George Irrigation area in QLD are able to take huge amounts of water from the system and the river is in a shocking state right now.

I want you to see it for yourself. Especially the Senators who will vote on whether or not to take more water out of the Murray Darling Basin Plan in the next week.

When parliament resumes, I’ll be in Canberra calling for more environmental water in the system and for the Murray Darling Basin Plan to be implemented in full.

Will you watch the video of the sacred river red gums I have a responsibility to look after for future generations? If you share it you’ll be strengthening my hand in Canberra ahead of the senate vot

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Solar install.

Thanks to Ross, Luke and Justin for the installation of 15 more solar panels. The 8 I have had functioning for years have been relocated to collect the late afternoon sun.

Patrick Halliday…………………..Juno Energy.

And what we are not surprised about.  From the Echo.

Hans Lovejoy
Byron Shire Council have outsourced themselves because apparently we don’t trust them!
With the admission by council that they have a public trust deficit in their decision-making, councillors voted last week to pay consultants to help improve their image.
It’s the obvious gonzo political response, given no-one in the council appears to be able to hold a mirror to themselves and accept that they made the mess in the first place.
A citizens jury will be established, which will be a panel of randomly selected 28 anonymous locals who will decide on how to spend the rate-rise money on infrastructure projects. What could possibly go wrong?
Rather than just doing the job they are paid to do, councillors will outsource their powers to unknowns who won’t be held accountable.
Consultants New Democracy claim they have had success in regaining public trust with their model, something the mayor was keen to impress on the chamber at last Thursday’s meeting.
‘…We’ve heard loudly and clearly that our community does not trust us and that you think the feedback you’ve given in the past has been ignored or simply not acted on.’ – Council press release
It’s like a real court jury, where random citizens are selected to decide major court cases. Yet these unknown locals will meet after 5.30pm and on weekends to come up with council expenditure plans.
But time is limited: they will have only a few weeks to come up to speed on major budgetary implications and become adept in the dark arts of manipulation, hypnotism and Jedi mind skills that will no doubt be inflicted upon them by council staff. Could it work? Perhaps; anything is worth a go at this point.
It’s like giving a toddler a surgeons knife, or asking a child of four where the broom-broom cars should go.
So, as someone who has sat in council meetings and reported on local government for more than eight years, here’s my take on why there is a lack of trust and how councillors and staff can address it.
Equity missing
Equity is a cornerstone of government – it helps society to function because it instills a belief that the law applies evenly to every individual.
Of course it never has and this is all an illusion. But to maintain that illusion, attempts must be made to present to the public the idea of equity.
Equity has been sidelined for expediency in many cases by both councillors and staff in the last year, which has led to an erosion in public trust.
No amount of money spent on consultants or giving up their powers to a random mob of bored retirees will change that.
It’s been more than a year in office now, and the councillors in charge appear to be making the same mistakes their predecessors made; they are ignoring equity and instead blaming their problems on what they say are a small minority of vocal critics.
Or as the mayor keeps saying, there is a lot of ‘myth making’ about. Fake News! Sad.
Importantly, councillors have not focused on completing forward planning strategies, which help to underpin their legal arsenal in which they can defend against inappropriate development. The residential strategy is yet to be completed, for example.
Instead, mayor Simon Richardson and his supporters have ‘picked winners’ for developments, such as the Brunswick Eco Village and The Farm in Ewingsdale.
Further, the longstanding and clearly articulated opposition by informed community members to the activities of the government-run NSW North Coast Holiday Parks Trust in Brunswick Heads is another example of how public trust has been eroded.
The Greens majority have acted as personal lobbyists to this dubious corporation instead of backing the community.
It’s well known there is a split within the Greens; the previous ‘dark uncompromising’ Greens were ignored/ostracised entirely when the newer ‘urine-light-yellow Green’ mob took over.
It’s predictable the younger generation would want to make their mark with governance, but to cut off historical knowledge is not just idiotic, but is clearly dividing the community.
It’s not easy being light Green
There are no policies from the Greens available on the many issues that face the community, despite repeated requests. And it appears that the Greens councillors are not bound by any party policy that requires a steering committee around elected officials. Such a policy exists at the state level.
Overall, the mayor appears chaotic and unfocused – he seems easily led by simplistic and ill-defined catchphrases like ‘affordable housing’, ‘best practice’ and ‘sustainability’.
He is also often at odds with his state government counterpart, Tamara Smith, MP.
GM exits building
Here are just a few observations of previous general manager Ken Gainger, who recently retired for health reasons.
Early in his term he moved quickly to restructure what was a dreadful over-stacking of poor-performing top-level managers.
He also helped the council get back into the black after threats from the state government over the fit- for-the-future requirements.
Yet personal interference with major projects and a lack of discipline from senior staff to manage rogue employees led largely to a chaotic and untrustworthy environment.
The sale of the Ocean Shores Roundhouse site early on was a debacle, just for starters,
Conflating a Byron Bay bus terminal proposal with the masterplan (intentionally or not), without public consultation, was a major public-relations mistake. No neighbours were consulted on this proposal. Without a development application (DA), there are no public submissions and procedural fairness is lost.
Butler Street
The decision by the general manager to pursue Butler Street residents in the courts, after those residents lost defending their street from becoming a bypass, looked petty and vexatious. Councillors also seemed to not understand that it was happening.
The poorly managed and ultimately ineffective bypass that is the swan song of former Nationals MP Don Page would make a great episode of ABC TV’s Utopia.
Moving on, those who use the Byron Sports Rec ground complained that staff ignored their input about how to manage the space, and subsequently the council had to withdraw the last masterplan and present another.
Efforts to alleviate market stallholder concern on Butler Street Reserve have been largely unsuccessful and controversial because it all appears to be on the fly.
While the general manager apologised for cutting down trees in Railway Park last November, there were no consequences. Mere mortals would cop a fine, but not here.
Only an inefficient bureaucracy would ask the staff member who chopped down trees without warning to write a report about it. Thankfully in this case, councillors rejected that report.
And let’s all remind ourselves: the actions of staff and councillors are no different from ‘normally’ functioning government institutions. This is just a region that takes a very keen interest in governance. It’s an almost unbearable amount of scrutiny to be under, but we, the unwashed masses, are the better for it.
In summary: if staff were kept in line by a stricter GM, and the GM didn’t interfere with politics, the council would be held in higher regard by the community.
And if the mayor and councillors focused more on where the wheels are coming off, the community would be better served.
There, heaps of money in consultant fees was just avoided. You’re welcome.

If it is raining meet on the verandah at the Cavanbah Centre and we will do our photo etc there.
And don’t forget Council is now accepting submissions on the 2 West Byron DAs up until Easter (Good Friday is 30 March). BRG has prepared some helpful information that can be found on our website.
On Council’s website see the Local Landholder’s Development Application for the mostly the eastern end of the site (Belongil Fields area) and the Villaworld DA .
Submissions are to go to Byron Council and must refer to Development Applications: 10.2017.661.1 – Various Properties (Local Landholders) and 10.2017.201.1 – Various Properties (Villaworld).

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From the Guardian.

Environmental lawyers and academics have called for a comprehensive rethink on how Australia’s natural landscapes are protected, warning that short-term politics is infecting decision-making and suggesting that the public be given a greater say on development plans.

The Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law has launched a blueprint for a new generation of environment laws and the creation of independent agencies with the power and authority to ensure they are enforced. The panel of 14 senior legal figures says this is motivated by the need to systematically address ecological challenges including falling biodiversity, the degradation of productive rural land, the intensification of coastal and city development and the threat of climate change.

Miners receive twice as much in tax credits as Australia spends on environment

Murray Wilcox QC, a former federal court judge, said the blueprint was a serious attempt to improve a system that was shutting the public out of the decision-making process and failing to properly assess the impact of large-scale development proposals.

“We found the standard of management of the environment is poor because everything is made into a political issue,” Wilcox said. “Nothing happens until it becomes desperate.

“We need a non-political body of significant prestige to report on what is happening and have the discretion to act.”


A new exciting space now functioning near Mullumbimby.

Herbicide free Volunteers Invited to participate.


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Make it more than just window dressing.


Can we do something better here in the Byron Shire?
Around the world, more and more people are trying to find ways to improve democracy and to make it more representative.

Byron Shire Council Mayor and Councillors, together with the Research Committee of the newDemocracy Foundation


to participate in the Byron Shire Community Solutions Panel

The Byron Shire Community Solutions Panel will be a representative group of people, picked at random like a jury, that will directly influence Council’s decisions on infrastructure priorities for the next four years.

If you want to be part of making a fundamental change to how we do democracy, register your interest and availability now. You will be paid $300 for your time.

We need you.

You will be part of making a difficult decision for your community – but that’s what democracy is about. There is no qualification or pre-requisite to be eligible for selection. There is no one better, more expert, or who can contribute more: democracy is for all of us.

The Panel will bring together a diverse group of individuals and it is this diversity – of knowledge, life-experience and perspectives – that will enable the group to consider issues from all standpoints.


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Wow, truthful.


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Celebrating my birthday with volunteering on the 10th.

Byron Shire Chemical Free Landcare next fortnightly working bee will be on Saturday, the 10th of February, from 9 am to 1 pm, at Brunswick Heads Crown Land Reserve site. Meet at the end of South Beach Road fire track gate, not far from the Surf Club. Please wear boots, long sleeve shirt and long pants, a hat, gloves and bring water, rain coat and some morning tea. Tools and first aid kit will be provided.
The task will be followup Glory lily, in flower now, from the North to the South boundary.
BSCFL is a project of Mullum Seed
Mullumbimby Sustainability Education and Enterprise Development Incorporated

Nadia de Souza Pietramale
Project Coordinator
0478 272 300

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Of all the striking aspects of the subtropical regions of Australia’s east coast, the landforms, the climate, the exotic fauna… few offer as immediately impressive a sight as a fully mature Bunya pine. Reaching a recorded height of 45m, with trunks like a sauropod’s leg and sporting cones bigger than a bowling ball, few things say ancient like a Bunya Pine.

The Bunya (bunya-bunya, bunyi, booni-booni or bonya in various aboriginal dialects), while indeed still a conifer, is not a true pine. It belongs to an ancient family of coniferous trees known as Araucariaceae. The greater Araucariaceae family, literally like something out of Jurassic Park, were distributed almost worldwide during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, becoming entirely extinct in the northern hemisphere toward the end of the Cretaceous and now found exclusively in the southern hemisphere, survived by approximately 41 species across three genera. Other members of the family include the iconic Kauri of New Zealand , the Norfolk Island Pine and Australia’s other ”living fossil” the Wollemi Pine. The Bunya shares the same genus with another good food source, Araucaria araucana, the Monkey Puzzle tree of Chile.

Although its timber has been discovered to be ideal for use in the production of acoustic musical instruments, its real potential comes in its already ancient role (and bright future) as a human food source.

The Bunya was of immense cultural significance to the life and food security of the Aboriginal peoples who lived in proximity to it. Every year the trees would produce a small yield of nuts and every three years or so a bumper crop so large as to support clan gatherings of hundreds and very possibly thousands of Aboriginal people over the harvesting months. It was at these gatherings, feasting on the nuts, that they would perform activities such as extra-tribal ceremonies, settle disputes, trade goods and arrange marriages.

The value of the nut as food was not lost on the settling Europeans, reminding them of the Chestnuts from home.

Thanks to

Rain and heavy cloud preventing me from viewing the super moon last night.

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