Members of the Our Rivers, Our Lifeblood meet with Minister Burke in Canberra.
Confused about the numbers.
7 November: Friends of the Earth and the Inland Rivers Network have released their Guide to the Murray-Darling Basin: How much water does the Murray-Darling Basin need, and where?
The document provides a visually engaging snapshot of what is at stake for the environment in the upcoming Draft Murray Darling Basin Plan, due to be released on the 28th of November.
It includes photos, maps and contact details for scientists, local residents, naturalists, graziers, conservationists and traditional owners who are available to speak to the media about environmental water needs in their district.
The briefing paper details the water needs of 25 significant environmental sites from the Coorong to the Murrumbidgee.
For further information contact:
Jonathan LaNauze, FoE - 0402 904 251
Carmel Flint, FoE - 0400 521 474
Emma Hollows, IRN - 0421 572 547
As the date for the release of the Draft approaches, the lines are being drawn and the media is finding conflict a plenty: state against state; state against commonwealth; irrigators versus environmentalist.
12 November 2011: Farmers and buy-backs
7 November 2011: SA Irrigators off to the High Court
7 November 2011: River Plan science in doubt: Environmental groups challenge the 2800GL figure
4 November 2011: The Australian reports on Minister Tony Burke’s addresses the Australian Water Association
3 November 2011: Text of Minister Tony Burke addresses the Australian Water Association
3 November 2011: Communique released by the Ministerial Council sets Draft release as 28 November 2011
According to the communique of the Ministerial Council, 4 November 2011, the Draft Plan for the Murray-Darling Basin will be released by the MDB Authority on Monday 28 November 2011 and a 20 week consultation period will begin.
Christmas is coming and so is a Draft Plan for the Murray-Darling Basin. The MDBA is going to engage us. Here is am engaging script.
We need to consult about this. We need to ask about that. But we don’t get asked, we get told and then you change your minds. When we ask about specifics we get silence, delays, poor information.
Let’s call it a journey? Have to start somewhere. But why start here? Where is the science for this starting point? We started a long time ago. The Water Act requires we change direction.
How about we start small and review it in a couple of years? That is high risk for the River and therefore for our communities and economies. These reforms have a 10 billion budget. Are we getting value for money?
We can learn as we go along. We will adaptively manage the system. How will this be resourced? Who are the adaptive managers? The same people who have mismanaged us to the brink of disaster?
The locals need to be involved. Call it localism. What? How will this be resourced? You have not respected local knowledge in the past. The localism we see is parochialism and imposition of the will of powerful lobbies on all others.
There are serious constraints to running the River with more than 2800GL? Name them please? Use the infrastructure money to ameliorate the problems? How hard can it be?
Do they have a Draft Plan?
We do. It is simple. It is based on peer-reviewed science. It is consistent with the Water Act. Locals with deep ties to the regions support it. It comes to you free. Watch this space.
On 4 October members of the Our River, Our Lifeblood Alliance were briefed by the MDBA in a session that followed the details of the ‘current thinking’ of the YouTube video of MDBA Chair Craig Knowles regarding the Draft Plan.
The concerns of Alliance members regarding that briefing are reflected in their letter of 7 October 2011 to the Chair of the MDBA.
On 21 October 2011: MDBA Chair Craig Knowles responded.
26 October 2011: Announcements regarding increased allocations of groundwater from the MDB are deeply troubling.
29 October: The new SA Premier, Jay Weatherill, speaks up for SA and a strong Plan.
The Draft Plan is due for release mid-November.
From the Ground Up: Are we fracked?
YouTube of the entire Forum now on line
Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7. Part 8. Part 9.
On the 29th of September some 150 concerned South Australians packed the Bradley Forum at the Hawke Centre to engage with each other and an expert panel regarding the impacts of the coal seam gas industry on vital shared resources and human health.
Attendees representing a broad mix of government, NGOs, students, industry and concerned citizens heard from twelve expert panellists about what coal seam gas development has meant in Queensland and NSW, where rapid self-regulated growth of the industry has created deep community concern. We heard of how farmers and environmentalists joined forces in the Lock the Gate Alliance to express their outrage at the power the industry has been granted to proceed even in the face of strong opposition.
Event organiser Professor Diane Bell of the River Lakes and Coorong Action Group said, ‘In South Australia we do not yet have coal seam gas mining but the potential exists and there is much to be learned from our colleagues in NSW and Queensland. The Forum is about connecting the people, places and knowledges across the Murray-Darling, Lake Eyre and Great Artesian Basins.’
It was clear from a viewing of the informative posters and maps on display at the Forum that coal seam gas is only one form of unconventional gas to be found in our state. Do South Australians realise what large areas of land in the north of our state are currently being explored for development of coal seam gas, shale gas, and coal gasification projects?
‘These are some of the largest areas of pristine wilderness to be found not only in our state, but in the world,’ the Wilderness Society’s Peter Owen pointed out as he demonstrated the intensity of development plans for mining in the NE of the state. ‘The iconic Simpson Desert needs to be protected. Some places are just too precious to mine - the Simpson Desert is one of them.’
Several panelists addressed the connectivity issue. Unconventional gas development threatens not only these remaining untouched places, but also the precious groundwater resources of the Great Artesian Basin. Until we know a great deal more about linkages between the Great Artesian and Murray-Darling Basins, panelists advocated extreme caution in how we proceed. Impacts on ground water may not be immediately visible and indeed may not be known with any certainty until many decades into the future.
Conservation Council of South Australia Chief Executive Tim Kelly said, ‘The industry justifies its existence on the basis that gas is a clean energy source, but these claims are not well supported. How ever it is sourced, gas is always a fossil fuel with greenhouse impacts, and the more unconventional the gas, the more greenhouse-intensive it is likely to be. The industry is not transparent about what methodology it uses to calculate its emissions and unfortunately Australia’s greenhouse accounting methods have large loopholes that allow industry claims to go unchallenged. The federal government even uses the same misleading terminology as the industry, referring to gas as clean in its new climate change legislation.’
Dr Andrew Kremor, General Manager of Energy Projects at Santos, was quick to point out that, as a company, they wanted to work with the community; that they had been mining for 15 years in accordance with the law and; that they were welcomed back to properties where they had mined.
In the open Q&A session, a number of people pursued the long terms health impacts and were not satisfied by the assertion that all chemicals used in the various processes were subject to regulation.
Both Senators Sarah Hanson-Young and Nick Xenophon argued the need for federal regulation of the industry and pointed out that the moment was right for action in Canberra with an unlikely group of politicians from across the political spectrum wanting to see land holders have greater rights over their land and the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation (EPBC) Act to have greater control over ground water.
Campaigners from the Caroona Action Group (NSW), Lock the Gate (Qld) and GetUp! shared their concerns and strategies with the South Australian action group and it is clear we have much to learn.
Following the Forum, the River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group, The Wilderness Society and the Conservation Council SA expressed their joint support for a halt to any further development of coal seam and other unconventional gas until far better information is available. The groups called for an independent assessment of the full range of impacts associated with all stages of unconventional gas development, from exploration right through to combustion. They indicated that this must include investigation of:
- Human health and environmental impacts associated with the chemicals used and brought to the surface in the fracking process;
- Impacts on adjoining aquifers and how this may affect access to water for human consumption, ecosystems and agriculture;
- A life cycle assessment of the greenhouse emissions of coal seam gas.he groups also cautioned that these impacts must not be looked at in isolation, but cumulatively, which is how the impacts play out in reality.
More below and for photographs
YouTube of Forum? Stayed tuned. It is on the way
A FORUM ON COAL SEAM GAS
From the Ground Up: Are we fracked?
29 September 2011
Bradley Forum, Level Five, Hawke Building, UniSa, City West Campus, 50-55 North Terrace, Adelaide
Gather in the foyer, explore the maps and posters, meet and greet
Welcome to Country – Uncle Lewis O’Brien, Kaurna Elder
Welcome to the Forum – Diane Bell, Chair, RLCAG
Q&A - Getting informed, getting grounded: practices, politics and people
Moderator: Diane Bell. Panel: Ruth Beach, Tim Duddy, Paul Ferguson, Sarah Hanson-Young, Tim Kelly, Andrew Kremor, Sarah Moles, Rosemary Nankivell, Paul Oosting, Peter Owen, Steven Ross, Nick Xenophon (see bio notes below)
Small group discussions: What do you want to know about CSG?
Report back from the tables with questions for the Panel
Wrap up and future actions
Notes on our speakers
As a solicitor with the Environmental Defenders Office since June 2007, RUTH BEACH combines her desire to practice public interest law with her love of the bush and her wish to protect it. For the previous 14 years Ruth worked in small and large firms in both South Australia and Queensland. Her experience includes industrial law and commercial litigation. She has appeared in the Federal, Supreme, District and Magistrates’ Courts and the Industrial Relations Court and Commission for conferences, mediations, applications and trials. Ruth is a member of the Law Society of South Australia, former director of Australian Women Lawyers and former member of the Equalizing Opportunities in the Law Committee of the Law Council and of the Industrial Relations Committee of the Law Society. She is also on school committees and has been involved with a local Food Centre. Ruth is married with two children, loves cycling, bushwalking, playing with the kids and singing.
DIANE BELL is Professor Emerita of Anthropology at The George Washington University, DC, USA; Writer and Editor in Residence at Flinders University; and Visiting Professor, School of Social Sciences, University of Adelaide. Diane has published 11 books and numerous articles on Indigenous rights, women’s rights, and feminist theory and practice; served on numerous boards; and undertaken a diverse range of consultancies. Since returning to Australia in 2005, after 17 years in the USA, she has worked with eNGOs on water reform; and garnered 17% of the vote as an Independent campaigning for fresh water flows in the Mayo federal by-election of 2008. Diane currently Chairs the River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group Inc; is a member of the Our Rivers, Our Lifeblood Alliance; and Acting Chair of the Water Environmental Standing Committee for the Conservation Council of SA. A passion for social justice underpins Diane’s advocacy for the environment, women and Indigenous peoples.
In 2002, TIM DUDDY returned to his birthplace, the family property, Rossmar Park, on the Liverpool Plains and home to some of the earliest broad acre farming and irrigation in the region. Tim had been working as an auctioneer in decorative arts. When BHP Billiton was awarded an exploration license in 2005 over some of the most significant agricultural water resources in the state of NSW, Tim took decisive action and now spends most of his time working in Agricultural and Water Politics. He is a foundation member of Caroona Coal Action Group, the Namoi Water study working group, sits on Gunnedah Shire Council, and the Namoi Water study stakeholder advisory group and is a board member of Namoi Water. In the 2011 NSW State election, Tim stood as an Independent for the Upper Hunter and attracted 19.3% of first preference votes. In the long term, Tim believes that there are areas that should be set aside for agricultural production and remain immune from mining and extractive industries. The Liverpool Plains would be one of these areas.
PAUL FERGUSON is Chief Exploration Geologist and a co-founder of Geo9 Pty Ltd which was established in 2009 with the aim of providing superior advice and scientific exploration techniques to Australian farmers and other water users. Using the most advanced geophysical techniques from around the world, Geo9 has developed a scientific approach that uses geophysics to improve the assessment of risk from coal seam gas mining. The company is currently seeking funding to conduct a pilot study using this approach. Paul grew up in Mogriguy, north of Dubbo, NSW. He worked for many years with the Australian Geological Survey Organisation, now known as Geoscience Australia, and has worked as an exploration geologist in mining and water exploration in Australia, China, and Mongolia. Concurrent with Geo9 work with a team of geologists and geophysicists who are working on groundwater and minerals exploration, Paul is completing a Masters degree at the Centre for Excellence in Ore Deposits at the University of Tasmania on the hydrothermal history of Macquarie Island in sub-Antarctica.
SARAH HANSON-YOUNG lives in Adelaide and has been standing up for South Australia since she was elected in 2007. As the state’s first Greens Senator, Sarah has lobbied the federal government to protect the Murray-Darling Basin and been a strident voice for bringing compassion back to Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. Sarah has been lobbying for the creation of a Commonwealth Commissioner for Children and Young People and has a bill before parliament to achieve this. Sarah and The Greens want a moratorium on coal seam gas mining in arable farmland areas until it can be proven safe and will not cause any consequences for farmland and ground water. As on July 2011, Sarah’s Portfolio responsibilities include Immigration and citizenship, Consumer affairs, Water and the Murray-Darling Basin, Human rights, GLBTI, Youth, childhood education & care, and Tibet.
TIM KELLY is the Chief Executive of the Conservation Council of South Australia supporting the organisation in its role to advocate for and work towards a healthy environment on behalf of its member groups and other stakeholders in working for conservation and environmental protection. Tim has a long term interest in greenhouse gas emissions accounting, prevention of double counting, and effective greenhouse mitigation policy. On a part time basis, Tim is undertaking a Masters in Environmental Studies by research at Adelaide University on the topic of ‘Greenhouse accounting and its interaction with greenhouse mitigation policy’. Tim recently joined the Premier’s Climate Change Council.
ANDREW KREMOR has had an extensive involvement, spanning three decades, at executive management level in the energy and resources sector. During that time Andrew has successfully developed projects ranging from the first commercial wind farm in South Australia to coal seam gas fuelled power generation in Queensland. Andrew is now General Manager of Energy Projects at Santos where his responsibilities include the development of Santos’ NSW coal seam gas investments. Andrew holds a Ph.D. (Coal and Engineering Geology) from the University of Adelaide, a Graduate Diploma in Coal Geology from the University of Newcastle and a Master of Business Administration from Adelaide University.
SARAH MOLES has a small property near Warwick at the head of Darling River system. She has a passion for water and the Murray-Darling Basin and has been involved in community based NRM since 1993. Sarah is currently a director of the Queensland Murray-Darling Committee Inc - a Toowoomba-based regional NRM board, a member of the Queensland Great Artesian Basin Advisory Council and the national environment sector representative on the Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee. Sarah also served four years on the Murray-Darling Basin Commission’s Ministerial Council Community Advisory Committee and as an active member of The Living Murray Community Reference Group. Sarah is a fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation. Tonight she is representing the Lock the Gate Alliance.
ROSEMARY NANKIVELL is a mother, a farmer/grazier who has been working the rich black soil of the Liverpool Plains on the property west of Quirindi where she was born for more than 50 years. She spent all of her early years obsessed with horses, earned an Arts degree from the University of New England (Politics/Sociology major). Rosemary farms cattle, grain, sorghum, barley and wheat and is passionate about seeing the land remain that way. For the past three years, Rosemary has been Chairperson of the Coal Seam Gas Committee of the Caroona Coal Action Group and is deeply concerned about the impact of mining on underground aquifers and the disposal of waste water from the wells.
LEWIS O’BRIEN “Uncle Lewis’ was born in the 1930s at Point Pearce, worked for 30 years as a fitter and machinist and in 1977 joined the SA Education Dept as an Aboriginal education liaison officer. His strong commitment to Indigenous well-being is reflected in his tireless work for Reconciliation and cultural issues. He was named Aboriginal Elder of the Year in 1977, was the winner of the South Australian Local Hero award in 2003, and is an Honorary Fellow of the University of South Australia.
PAUL OOSTING is Campaign Director at GetUp!, the hugely successful independent, grass-roots community advocacy organisation which operates with the objective of empowering Australian citizens to become involved and to hold politicians accountable on important issues. Getup! has achieved success by skilfully using social media to achieve rapid reach across the community. Paul works on environmental campaigns, his most recent being coal seam gas, marine parks, forestry, and the Murray Darling Basin. In the first 3 days of their coal seam gas campaign, GetUp! collected over 65,000 signatures on a petition to the federal government, and the advertisement has raised over $100,000 dollars.
PETER OWEN has an Honors Degree in Environmental Management, a Graduate Diploma in Environmental Studies, and a Law Degree with majors in Environmental and International Law. He was admitted as a Lawyer in 2003 after working at the Environmental Defenders Office in South Australia. He was then employed as Campaigner for the Conservation Council of SA to develop a Murray-Darling campaign, before being appointed as the Campaign Manager for The Wilderness Society (South Australia) Inc in 2005. Over the past few years, Peter and the team at TWSSA have been instrumental in the protection of vast areas of land and seascape. A particular concern for Peter is mining pushing into high conservation value wilderness areas.
STEVEN ROSS is a Wamba Wamba man from Deniliquin in southern NSW with cultural and familial connections to the Mutthi Mutthi, Gunditjmara and Wiradjuri Nations. He has worked as Executive Officer for the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (2004-2010), a group that advocates for the rights and interests of Traditional Owners in the southern Murray-Darling Basin. Steven has worked on several boards including the Australian Conservation Foundation, Water Stewardship Australia and is currently on the Board of the Murray Catchment Management Authority. Steven is working for Yakurwa Indigenous Knowledge Centre and has an Honours degree in Government and Public Administration from the University of Sydney.
Having served in South Australia’s Upper House from 1997-2007, NICK XENOPHON decided to leave state politics and was elected SA’s first Independent Senator in a generation. Nick believed he could do more for South Australians in the Senate on key issues such as gambling regulation and water. Currently Nick shares the balance of power in the Senate with The Greens and Family First. Since assuming his role in the Senate in July 2008, Nick has continued to push for changes in the key areas of gambling reform, the water crisis, consumer law and food labelling. Amongst Nick’s biggest achievements is his negotiating the fast tracking of $900 million in funding for the Murray-Darling Basin, river communities and stormwater harvesting as part of the 2009 stimulus package. Nick’s approach to politics is perhaps best summed up in his First Speech in the Senate when he simply said: I would rather go down fighting, than still be standing because I stayed silent.
And thanks to Judy Horacek for her fracking cartoon: http://horacek.com.au/
T-shirts will be on sale at the Forum - $20 - cash only
Supported by the Conservation Council of South Australia, The Wilderness Society, GetUp!, Caroona Coal Action Group
From the ground up: Are we fracked?
A Forum on Coal Seam Gas Mining
5.00pm for a 5.30pm start until 7.30pm, Thursday 29 September, 2011
Bradley Forum, UniSA City West campus, Hawke Building level 5, 50-55 North Terrace, Adelaide
REGISTER NOW: firstname.lastname@example.org
Coal Seam Gas mining is emerging as a serious threat to our environment and our ground water. Share others’ experiences and join the conversation with experts, activists, politicians from across the Murray-Darling and Great Artesian Basins as we discuss:
· Coal seam gas: Where? By whom? For whom?
· Ground water/surface water: Basin connectivities?
· Hydraulic fracking: How? With what consequences?
· Land Rights: Indigenous rights, farmers’ rights, community rights
· The Murray Darling Basin Plan (Draft due Nov 2011)
Speakers and panellists include:
Rosemary Nankivell, Farmer Chairperson, Coal Seam Gas Committee, Caroona Coal Action Group (NSW); Tim Duddy, Liverpool Plains Farmer, Councillor and Environmental Advocate (NSW); Tim Kelly, CEO, Conservation Council of South Australia; Peter Owen, The Wilderness Society (SA); Sarah Moles, Secretary Lock the Gate, Darling Downs, Qld; Senator Nick Xenophon (Ind), South Australia; Senator Sarah Hanson-Young (The Greens) South Australia; Ruth Beach, The Environmental Defenders Office (SA) Inc.; Diane Bell, Chair, River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group Inc.; Paul Ferguson, Geo9 geologist (minerals exploration).
Program available soon - please come back
THANK YOU to Judy Horacek for her cartoon - T-shirts and post cards at the Forum!
Contact: Diane Bell 0427 554 194 email@example.com
The Forum is supported by the Hawke Centre at the University of SA in the interests of public learning and debate.
Today, sixteen members of ‘Voices for the Murray-Darling’ met with Minister Tony Burke in Parliament House. We each spoke of our concerns for our particular regions and there was clear consensus that the Draft Plan being prepared by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and due to be released in November must be based on credible science and that the buy-backs should continue.
The SA members of the delegation presented the Minister with two briefing documents: one on fresh water flows and the other adaptive management.
In June 2011, the Australian Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities issued a Discussion Paper: A Proposed Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Framework for use of Commonwealth Environmental Water in the Murray-Darling Basin. Public comment was invited, due 15 July - one never gets much time to reflect, research and respond.
The River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group Inc. (RLCAG) joined with the Conservation Council South Australia in taking advantage of the opportunity to comment on the proposed framework for monitoring, evaluating and reporting (MER) on the use of Commonwealth environmental water. Our comments addressed three matters:
1. Overall Approach: The need for further clarification and refinement of the overall approach with respect to (a) core concepts, i.e. adaptive management and climate change (b) resourcing of the MER process and (c) modelling;
2. Specific questions: Nos 1-6 from the Discussion Paper
3. Future Actions
4. Resource Bibliography
We are deeply concerned by the piecemeal process by which critical aspects of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan are being discussed. Every week we have another Discussion Paper, Inquiry, Referral or Policy on which we are invited to comment. This is not a good basis for decision-making re a highly interconnected eco-system.