The Beagle Editor I feel I need to write this in an attempt to try and help some understand why i think the green movement have a lot to answer for regarding these fires and the build up of fuel. This is a complex issue but I will try my best and offer my experiences in my local area of the Mid North Coast of NSW. Those in the South Coast might see some parallels.
In 2000 huge chunks of forestry land was handed over to NPWS. They then shut down a lot of the fire trails and fenced and gated many more. They then banned all hoofed animals from the parks and kicked out the cows that helped keep the under scrub down.They also informed us they now had a no burn policy and if we got caught doing fuel reduction burns we now faced 25 years in jail.Then they disappeared back into their offices never to be seen again.
The remaining forestry lands were defunded and also left to its own devices. Ok that's the public lands.
Private land: The department of land and water conservation that was once a great organization that were staffed with people that had a pretty good understanding of on farm life and used to offer advice and also carry out capital works on country themselves changed. I often went to them for advice regarding repairing and rehabilitating land for clients Something that made up a lot of my work. They were good to work with.
Until we got a state labor government that need green votes. When they were in office they got rid of the public works side of the department and started to seemingly stack the office with young uni educated kids that seemed to tow the line of a green agenda. We found they were becoming more aggressive towards our works and had a whole new set of ideas. It didn't take long for the farmers we worked for see through their new agenda and before too long our friends there become the enemy and we were not welcome anymore.
That was ok though because they were basically pretty lazy and didn't leave their office very often. We now know why .... because they were all working on destroying the farmers.
Unfortunately something we didn't realise at first... until we were all called into public meetings so they could explain the new system they had designed for us.
First thing they took was the farmers ability to clear 5 acres a year that by this stage very few farmers did anyway down here on the coast. Can't talk for over the range as i don't know.
Next thing was we could only build dams to a certain size and they had come up with a water harvesting formula worked out on the size of the land holding that then determined how much water you could store. So dams stopped being built. They instructed us that the rain was now theirs and it only landed on our lands on the way to their creeks and rivers and into the ocean. As you can imagine the farmers couldn't understand why we were being denied water to just watch it flow into the oceans and we all become suspicious of what was going on in these offices.
Next thing you know they started turning up with maps and pink pens and had decided they could now tell you where and what you could do with your land and if they thought it was environmentally sensitive. Out come the pink pen and they just marked the map as a no go zone decided by them with no evidence or consultation needed.
By this time my business and a lot of our works been made illegal .We were never offered any compensation and told to "just reinvent yourself ".
Then come the blow of all blows the government decided to deregulate the dairy industry. Within 2 years we had lost over 600 dairies, 2 processing facilities and 14 farmers had committed suicide just in this area alone.
This meant that a lot of the farming land around here was now nonviable to farm and the majority got split up and sold to Sydney hobby farmers. They soon learnt you couldn't afford to maintain the lands without on-farm income so the land was left to overgrow with mainly lantana and other exotic weeds. There are now thousands of acres of once good productive land covered in this overgrown fire hazard.
This is about the same time the EPA, now the department of environment and heritage, arrived on the scene. They were my new gate keepers.
Everytime a disgruntled greenie decided I shouldn't be operating a bulldozer they would ring and make an anonymous complaint and out of the office would come an officer. I always tried to work within the law so we got to know them pretty well and they would turn up claiming their time had been wasted and we could continue with our works. I was never charged by them.
Until all of the sudden we started getting letters after the visits stating after further investigation they had decided not to take any further action and I would just be issued with an official warning. When i ask why I was getting an offical warning if I had done nothing wrong i was told don't worry that's just what we have to do.
Then in August 2017 the new Liberal state government changed the native vegetation act so back into the department of land and water we went to try and find out the rule changes. We were not at all welcomed and told they didn't agree with the changes and would be implementing a go slow on any works we wanted to get through for our clients under the new rules. This is exactly what they did to the point my clients would just give up trying. Again the green agenda had rared its ugly head
Now comes all our favorites the local council. They come up with a great new plan called the E4 Zone that is Environmental living zone. This was brought in without one bit of consultation with the people and just imposed on peoples lands at councils discretion.
Finally it all come to a head a couple of years ago for me. I was clearing lantana from the back boundary of a property and the new ordnance officer from council turned up and informed me I was illegally clearing. He told me this land is now E4 zoned. At that stage I had never heard of it. I was informed that meant no tracked machines allowed and even if the client wanted to build a cook pen they needed a DA. This was a rural block of 50 acres. I pointed out it was a boundary between the NPWS land and was covered in lantana 40 foot up into the trees. I then asked how do we clear it and was told with high powered poison sprayers and it will die and disappear. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. When I stated if I was fined for this it could possibly put me out of business.I was told " good "..
Council then fined me for developmental without development consent. I challenged them in court and without being able to afford representation and the fact they spent over $30,000 to make sure I was convicted I was screwed. Not surprisingly those EPA official warnings turned up and painted me as someone that had had 3 warnings and was a bad boy..Thankfully the judge saw through their game and wouldn't allow them to increase my fine from 6k to the now 120k they wanted and also only awarded them $1500 towards there court costs stating they would only get what a duty solicitor would get. But unfortunately he couldn't over turn my conviction as I had actually broken their new law. He was not happy with their conduct.
Now this is just my experience in my local area of the Mid North Coast so i don't know if this is National. But if your wondering how our lands have become so overgrown and have huge fuel loads on them I hope this helps explain my version of what has happened in my area.
Now I'm not a climate change denier but to allow these departments to hide behind this when in fact they are the biggest offenders for allowing these huge fuel loads is crazy and if we do not address these government funded departments we will only bring more of the same in the future.
I expect all the abuse I will receive and have broad shoulders so fire away. I'm passionate about our flora and fauna along with our food and water security so please try and understand I was never out to wantingly destroy our country. I was just trying my best to help supply the food for the cities like so many of the rural community were and still are.
To try and blame the current PM is just ill advised as it's a state matter anyway that I believe has been aided by these departments and I do believe they should be help responsible for their crazy green agendas.
That my friends is how I think the greens have created this situation without ever being in power.
Hope it helps some understand . I know a lot won't want to. Andrew Drain
Above: Swales cut into the landscape to conserve water are just one of the many positives of earth moving however they are so heavily controlled by environmental red tape in regards to water capture and potential sediment run off as to make them prohibitive.