Thursday 30 September 2010

Wild Rivers Unplugged. Part 3 - End the Blight

The Wild Rivers debate will emerge as a hot potato as the new Federal Parliament sits this week for the first time. In a three-part series, Bryan Law reviews where we are at with this important legislation, poised to have dramatic effect on the northern Cape York Aboriginal communities.

Any impetus to change the present Wild Rivers legislation has to come from the LNP, because it’s not going to come from Labor or the Greens. Labor’s going all tribal.

Any private members bill has to be genuine legislation that solves problems. It needs support from conservative independents. Warren Entsch might like to take a hand in drafting it. Last year’s draft will fail.

Support from the Greens would really tone the legislation up, but isn’t 100% required until next August, and is unlikely to eventuate for a couple of years at least.

There’s no doubt the Greens were the big winners in the 2010 elections. Nine Senators give a controlling vote WITH Labor, or a sanction that can be used AGAINST Labor (In 9 months time). Immediately they have the strategic presence of Adam Bandt in the House, which reinforces the agreement for dialogue and access between Labor leadership and the Greens.

And best of all it’s a permanent step forward in a plan - which is succeeding - for more Green influence in Parliament. Cooeee! Cobber. You’re on a winner there.

It’s likewise the case that Greens preferences got the ALP over the line in more than a hand-full of seats, and was a significant factor in Gillard holding onto office.

So for the next little while we’re going to see how this “bloc without” arrangement is going to function between the ALP and the Greens. But that’s a separate topic for later on.

The biggest obstacle to an amicable solution of the Wild Rivers issue is the arrogant and intransigent behaviour of the Bligh Queensland government. I’m going to work for the removal of that government as soon as possible. Eighteen months away at its longest.

Anyone who doubts how much trouble the ALP is in, ought simply check out the swing against Labor in key booths on Cape York Peninsula. The Wilderness Society and the Queensland ALP ought now admit that a big pile of folk on Cape York Peninsula don’t like the Queensland Wild Rivers Legislation.
  • Aurukun 85.96 +20%
  • Bamaga 46.22 -35%
  • Bloomfield 46.31 -29%
  • Coen 37.22 -23%
  • Cooktown 39.73 -12%
  • Hopevale 38.03 -32%
  • Horn Island 55.42 -16%
  • Injinoo 58.33 -24%
  • Kowenyama 63.14 -6%
  • Lockhart River 48.80 -35%
  • Naprunum 65.33 -16%
  • Pormpuraaw 42.09 -38%
  • Thursday Island 53.96 -14%
  • Weipa 49.68 -7%
Jason O’Brien isn’t going to kill himself just yet on these figures. But I’d argue that the size and extent of some of these swings signals the end of Labor’s presumed indigenous support on Cape York Peninsula and far north Queensland.

Jason’s going to have to fight hard to keep Cook in the next state election. My inclination is to assist in a little political murder of Jason O’Brien. I don’t like him very much.

But who knows, he might do something for his constituents between now and the next election. Might. Miracles happen every day (according to Forrest Gump’s mother).


MattCYP said...

Bryan, it is drawing a long bow to attribute the (uneven) swing against Labor to the Wild Rivers legislation.

Several other factors have similar or greater impact - Alcohol Management Plans imposed by Qld Govt infuriate just about everyone; paternalistic Income Management imposed by Federal Govt (but prescribed by Pearson et al) is deeply resented by Aboriginal people and is destroying local business; Warren Entsch was the member for 11 years and still had high name recognition (many I spoke to thought he was still the member); Jim Turnour had not built a substantial profile or name recognition.

Referring to your previous post, it is wildly exaggerated to say that Noel Pearson has thousands of Aboriginal supporters for his stand against Wild Rivers.

I talk to Aboriginal people about this frequently, and they are not worried about Wild Rivers; they are pleased that destructive mining proposals now have to overcome much tougher environmental hurdles; most significantly, they reject outright Noel Pearson as a spokesman for Peninsula Aboriginal people.

They resent his failure to consult with them and his authoritarian approach.

:Kevin-John: Morgan. said...

My support for anything anti-Bligh is always offered, no matter which group requests it Mike!
After thoroughly reviewing the Wild Rivers legislation, also the Water Fluoridation Act 2008, we have discovered the other new "Laws" hidden inside the writing of these legislations.
Desley and Jason, you should be ashamed of yourselves, I mean truly ashamed!
The mentality, and capability of the legal writers in Queensland, and indeed this entire country, has been shown to be that of a 4th Grade Primary school student. Nothing changes!
Besides, what sort of mentality thinks that any Wild Rivers can be told what to do? I thought Wild Rivers were just that, wild!
Let the bloody rivers and the wet plains be you fools.
You may think you can alter the weather, even alter the course of a river, or even an electoral bounday, but Mother Nature has a well-recorded history of becoming nasty against usurpers of all things Natural.

Warren Entsch said...

Is this too important for humans... this one....

A job for Superjebus???....

Bypass Abbotoir/Pisson/L@w...they are po@fters from on high.. from God the farter.. and the miracles..

One solution so far... Indigenous Representation in Parliament...

What's in a name? said...

What's the story with that weird handle, Mr Morgan? Do you have a thing for colons?

Frank said...

I doubt our wild rivers will not remain in a wild, natural state if they are dammed, polluted, eroded, have their water levels unnaturally reduced/increased, have their flow rates changed, have their ecosystems damaged, have their fish stocks depleted, or become infested with weeds and introduced species due to human interference (just to name a few things that spring to mind).

:Kevin-John: Morgan. said...

What's in a name? ....???
I would like to explain, but this blog is not the forum for such a seminar, and believe me, if it were, all other subjects would immediately become irrelevant!
Let's see now, a quick explanation of the name you have chosen here. It has two articles of punctuation in it, namely, an apostrophe and a question-mark.
Both of these articles are Glyphs, or heiroglyphs, if you wish to be technical, however, in the case of your apostrophe, you are replacing two words with one.
So, you're telling people that your name is;
What is in a name? (Adverb, Verb, Adverb, Adjective, Verb)
Add the maths to your name, and it just doesn't make sense.
Identity Fraud, was the original reason behind my choice of doing this, because it was happening to everyone, everywhere, so I began a course in the New Universal Legal Technology, and many other feilds of what the lawyers badly define as Law.
After 12 years of solid study, I have the ability to disqualify any document on the planet in ten seconds flat!

P.S. I thought a handle, was a thing you held whilst utilising an implement or something?

Bryan Law said...

MattCYP said "I talk to Aboriginal people about this frequently, and they are not worried about Wild Rivers; they are pleased that destructive mining proposals now have to overcome much tougher environmental hurdles; most significantly, they reject outright Noel Pearson as a spokesman for Peninsula Aboriginal people."

Lost me there Matt. I know that Noel doesn't speak for all. You certainly don't. I too speak with lots of Cape Bama, and there are many different views.

I think your ALP membership might be blinding you.

Bligh is gone! (good riddance).

millie said...

All explained here at:

As clear as clear. Nothing more to be said, really.

No Blake lover said...

I notice there are far more traditional owners and aboriginal elders in Canberra supporting Wild Rivers than opposing it.

This from Dr Tim Seelig ....

"Wilderness Society spokesman Dr Tim Seelig says he is comfortable the act will stand up to any scrutiny.

He says it not only protects the environment but also allows sustainable development.

"The Wild Rivers Act does not stop all development," he said.

"We have to be absolutely clear about what it does. It stops large-scale development like mining, like damming, like intensive irrigation in and very close to some of the most pristine rivers in the country."

This is also the majority held view from the people I spoke to recently in Bamaga, real people, not someone hand picked to give an opposing view.


Bryan Law said...

Errr, those in Canberra are hand-picked I'm afraid. Flown to Canberra by The Wilderness Society, and I only recognised two from Cape York. The others were from the Gulf, and other parts of FNQ. Read the testimony. There's plenty of diversity and honesty to be found there.

Surely the issue is not "Which blackfella is right? Which wrong".

Surely the issue is that some TOs are offended and pissed off by the state bureaucrats who've failed to take their interests into account, and that deals made in Brisbane on this issue are colonialist in nature.

Who will stand up for negotiated agreement, in good faith. And who would prefer personal attack based on gossip and bile?

MattCYP said...

Bryan, I think your hatred of the ALP might be blinding you.

I've come to my own view about Wild Rivers after being initially opposed - the quote from Tim Seelig above is correct - Wild Rives not only protects the environment but also allows sustainable development.

The article by Glenn Walker on ABC's The Drum is also a fair summation.

The glaring fault in the argument put by Abbott and Pearson is that they have completely failed to substantiate their claim that Wild Rivers blocks sustainable development.

If you can substantiate what they are saying, I'd be interested to read it.

As to the issue of representation of and support among Aboriginal people, I certainly have never claimed to represent anybody, but simply observed that the Aboriginal people I talk to don't support Noel Pearson's viewpoint.

Doesn't it seem a little hypocritical to you, to claim that the State has failed to negotiate in good faith over Wild Rivers, while Noel Pearson's authoritarian regime of Income Management, Welfare Reform, and Alcohol Management Plans is being imposed on Aboriginal people without their consent?

Pearson has thrown his support behind Tony Abbott, his position is now unequivocally political, and he has apparently abandoned the pretence of being an objective advocate of the interests of Aboriginal people.

Bryan Law said...

Matt, there’s was a report into the Queensland Wild Rivers Act published last week by the Social Responsibilities Committee of the Anglican Church. The Report concluded “We believe that the legislation is highly likely to adversely affect future indigenous well-being. We believe that the Act constitutes an unjustifiable erosion of hard won indigenous property rights.”

The report contains within it several case studies of present and future economic development proposals, which are analysed for the likely legislative impacts. Page 16 of the “Wild Rivers and Economic Sustainability” section of the report deals with the emerging Pongamia plantation at Lockhart River (seeds to be processed for bio-diesel fuel, no irrigation required, 80 year life-cycle of plants) and concludes that similar projects would not be able to be approved after a wild rivers declaration. Is that enough for you?

Theoretical case studies are done for a Banana farm, a fish farm, and an eco-tourism lodge. The fish farm would be prohibited, the banana farm would be heavily restricted, and the eco-tourism facility would suffer the least difficulty. Is that enough for you?

The “Wild Rivers and Indigenous Well-Being” section of the report can be found here:

It’s only 26 pages long, and it concludes “A WR Declaration will either prohibit development, or regulate development in a manner which is likely to make it more difficult to establish or conduct than it was prior to the declaration”. Is that enough for you?

The church holds out that preservation of wild rivers can be achieved, and could be consistent with the principle of prior free consent from indigenous owners. Precisely what is your difficulty with this? Why are the poorest and most oppressed people in our land being bossed about by bureaucrats in Brisbane, and why do you support the bossing?

As for Alcohol Management Plans, point me to the organisation working against them, and I’ll support it.

MattCYP said...

Bryan, I read the Anglican report earlier, and wasn't convinced.

They may be correct that large scale clearing for intensive horticulture and major disruption/diversion of streams for intensive aquaculture would not be permitted, and I think that is a good thing - but it would have to be tested.

Overall they fail to make the case that sustainable development would be prevented, and their list of examples was surprisingly thin, for a well-resourced organization that is supposedly undertaking a dispassionate study.

And you misinterpret their view about ecotourism when you say "the eco-tourism facility would suffer the least difficulty." It would be approved.

My main concern in all this is that the hysterical debate around Wild Rivers is a deliberate and disingenuous distraction. Wild Rivers is the least of our problems up here and is no impediment to reasonable development proposal. The only people who would benefit from a repeal of the Wild Rivers legislation would be the Abbott Opposition, the Pearson push, and the mining industry.

All land in Australia, including land covered by native title, is subject to the sovereignty of the Crown, and that entitles governments to regulate for land use. If you argue that governments should not be able to regulate land use where native title applies, you are arguing that the Crown does not have sovereignty. Good luck with that!

MaryO said...

Wrong report, Bryan! That’s the earlier one.

Try this one.

And the Anglican Diocese Information Pack on Wild Rivers is available here.

Bryan Law said...

Aaah Matt! You weren't "convinced" by an Anglican report, so you go straight back to blaming "the Pearson push" (and the "Abbott opposition"), and you raise for demolition a straw argument that I never used.

Party loyalty Matt?

Although it's a funny kind of Party loyalty when you leave folk no choice but to vote the Bligh government out of power - if we're to preserve land justice.

I'll ask one more time. What's so hard about negotiation and problem-solving in good faith?

Matt CYP said...

Bryan says, "What's so hard about negotiation and problem-solving in good faith?"

Nothing, obviously - but that is not what the opponents of Wild Rivers want. They are pushing this issue for the most egregious political motives.

I say again - Wild Rivers does not prevent any reasonable development initiative - its opponents have not produced one credible example of a project that has been knocked back.

And the people who oppose Wild Rivers are the very same people who prescribed and then enforced the most paternalistic, authoritarian, draconian and unfair intervention in the day-to-day lives of Aboriginal people that we have seen, the "Welfare Reform" that has generated more distrust and hostility among Aboriginal people, towards the power brokers and Liberal politicians who imposed it.

Their hypocrisy is plain for all to see.

Bryan Law said...

I think you'll find Matt that TOs WOULD accept negotiation in good faith should the Bligh government offer it. If they offer, and are turned down, then I'll be on your side. If they refuse to offer, so be it. They'll take the consequences.

Meanwhile, I can't convince you it's a real problem - because you refuse to be convinced. I'm not going to waste any more time on the impossible. Roll on the state election. My base-ball bat is ready.

Is that egregious enough for you?

Wendy Davie said...

We've heard a lot of opinion from Bryon Law, is it now time to have some balance with substantiated facts regarding Wild Rivers from those in support. Bryan it is always easier to object than to support, easier to knock down than to create. Your baseball bat will serve you well.

Bryan Law said...

I admire your loyalty Wendy, but where are the "substantiated facts" you mention? R U saying the Anglican Church publishes lies?

kate said...

Unnecessary aggression, Bryan. And counterproductive for such a complex, multi-layered issue.

In the alternative, we could try and keep it civil - and even attempt to work thru all the issues - one by one - right here on CB.

For my part, I plan to read all the Anglican material this weekend. Then post my response in here in full.

Warren Entsch said...

Believe the Jebus lies and you'll believe any bulldust.

Of course they are liars... it's their job to keep christians dumb and to facilitate mining.

Lies is their only method of operation.

They are historically compulsive liars so Matty is right and Bryan wrong.

Bryan Law said...

Sorry Kate, but I can’t see how it’s aggressive to ask people to put up!

Around this issue I’ve asked folk to go to the Senate inquiry (submissions and testimony), and to the Anglican Church reports. I’ve read the legislation, the consultation reports before declarations, and the statements of many TO’s and legal commentators. There’s plenty of “substantiated facts” around.

There’s also plenty of spin and gossip. And character assassination.

I like Wendy, and I like Matt, but I think their tribal loyalty to the ALP means they countenance the character assassination. That’s what Wendy does when she implies that so far, no facts are known. So I ask her “what facts Wendy?” No answer so far.

I asked Matt “what’s so hard about good-faith negotiation?” He says “nothing” but can’t show me who in the ALP or TWS is trying to do it. Then he goes in for more character assassination.

I wish you well in reading the Anglican report, and I look forward to reading your take on it. Could you do me a favour and comment on how you think the rancour can be overcome, and the problems resolved?

Matt CYP said...

Bryan asks, "how you think the rancour can be overcome, and the problems resolved?"

1. Acknowledge that folk who support (or aren't alarmed by) Wild Rivers are not blindly loyal or obedient servants of the ALP, Greens or AWS, but have assessed the problem objectively and maybe even changed their view.

2. Admit that the opponents of Wild Rivers have not been able to substantiate their claim that developments are unreasonably blocked - just one actual example, Bryan!

3. Agree that it is hypocritical to attack Wild Rivers for unjustly limiting the development rights of TOs, while simultaneously advocating draconian Welfare Reform.

4. Consider the possibility that your own view on this and many other issues is determined reflexively by a deep and abiding hatred of the ALP and the Greens - it's the one consistent feature amongst your swivelling positions.

Bryan Law said...

Matt, resolve the issue by having one party lose everything hey! That's really likely to work. Do we put them into the gas ovens afterwards?

As for my "deep and abiding hatred of the ALP and the Greens" well, you're one quarter right. I hate what the ALP is doing now. They could change my mind with actions whichwere community-responsive and inclusive. I notice they won't do that though. Apparently it would compromise their role as Boss.

Secondly, there's a difference between the Greens and TWS. I hope.

Try again Matt. Honestly this time.

Syd Walker said...

Anyone interested in this issue might like to check out yesterday's Fierce debate over the future of Cape York

Since the campaign against the Wild Rivers legislation began, I have waited to hear a cogent account of exactly what projects Noel Peason and his allies are concerned about. What is it that they fear the legislation might prevent?

Answers have been vague, but typically laced with assurances that only 'sustainable' economic activities are contemplated.

In the 7.30 report last night, it finally became apparent what the argument is really all about. As I've suspected for some time, it's about mining. Or more accurately, it's about the control of mining operations so they have a chance of not doing to Cape York what projects such as Ok Tedi have done to the environment of PNG.

There is a proposal for a large bauxite mine on the Wenlock River. The mine is not prevented because of the Wenlock's Wild Rivers status, but the Queensland Government does have extra powers and responsibilities under the Act to protect the river as a whole.

The Mines and Natural Resources Minister, Stephen Robertson, has chosen to impose a ban on mining within 500 metres of the river. The mining company is complaining loudly - it wants a much smaller exclusion zone. Noel is backing the company with statements such as "We have been too long in the fight for land rights for it to be lost overnight like this."

As Robertson says: "We're talking about some of our last remaining pristine river systems. Once they're gone, they're gone."

I think it's refreshing that we now have a clearer view of the real issues at stake in this unnecessarily acrimonious dispute.

Perhaps Bryan Law could explain what exclusion zone for bauxite mining he believes should apply to the Wenlock and why.

Matt CYP said...

"As I've suspected for some time, it's about mining." Too right, Syd.

I think the set back from the Wenlock for bauxite mining, a massive destructive open-cut operation, should be 10 km - at least.

More to the point, is bauxite in short supply, or commanding too high a price? No, it is amply supplied from the huge mining precinct just to the south at Weipa.

For too long, mining has trumped all other land uses, grazing, farming and conservation. The Wenlock is too precious to be destroyed in order to ship out a common low-value ore.

And the claim that this will cost Aboriginal people future jobs is just baloney. Aboriginal workers who are ready and willing to take on a mining job will find that the existing mine operators would be only too happy to employ them.

Think for yourself said...

Bryan Law says"I admire your loyalty Wendy, but where are the "substantiated facts" you mention? R U saying the Anglican Church publishes lies?"

I laugh and fall about. Of course they and every other religious business always tell the truth don't they, especially if you need to believe in sky pixies and invisible friends. What a reliable organisation to support your view Bryan! Oh and please, let's not even start with the child molesters protected by these businesses/churches and locally the Anglican church's disgusting dealings over Taylor Point.

I'd also like to think that in this century most people are more intelligent than that and can see through the Abbott/Pearson fronts for big mining business pressure to destroy the last remaining pristine areas of Australia.

Syd Walker said...

Hi Matt CYP. I also wondered whether 500 metres set-back is anything like adequate - and whether we really need another bauxite mine despoiling another pristine area.

The fact that Noel Pearson is supporting the mining company's claims that the Minister's set-back requirement is too great shows precisely why - rhetoric aside - the say-so of a few Aboriginal leaders and their allies cannot and should not be a substitute for proper, responsible environmental regulation.

I think after this episode Noel's public credibility will be shot through, leaving his cheer-squad looking rather ridulous.

MattCYP said...

Syd, sadly there is no guarantee that the mine on the Wenlock won't go ahead, despite the Wild Rivers declaration - just goes to show how "mild" the legislation is, as Glenn Walker wrote on The Drum.

Syd Walker said...

One great benefit of the recent 7.30 report Fierce debate over the future of Cape York is that it seems to have shut Bryan Law up on this vexacious topic.

Perhaps he's waiting for HQ to feed him updated spin?

Maybe HQ has gone offline?

Syd Walker said...

Lateline yesterday evening ran a report 'Wild Rivers divides Indigenous community' featuring an interview with Murrandoo Yanner of the Carpentaria Land Council.

The transcript is here

Mr Yanner's comments conclude as follows: "I think there is a bit of Machiavellian nastiness going on. I believe Tony Abbott may have a secret agenda. I believe this- My personal suspicions are this may be a ploy to divide the Labor Party and the Greens and help increase the Coalition's position. That's my personal view and nothing I have seen so far dispels that."