You can’t blame the drought for corrupt water management.

No doubt by now you have all seen this photo, and others like it. That’s a Murray cod, like all its relatives it has survived droughts, damming of rivers, irrigation pumping and more. But this summer it died, along with thousands of other fish, because river flows in NSW are so depleted there’s just no oxygen left in the water.

Australians, or most of them, tend to go around with their heads up their bums most of the time, until a disaster grabs their attention for a few minutes. After a brief flurry of outrage and a bit of “they have to do something about this” comment on social media it’s all quickly forgotten. After the five seconds of outrage at least  45% of  Australians will keep on voting for the same conservatives who are responsible for the disaster.

The current crisis with the rivers in the eastern states has been developing for a few years now, but until this week’s fish deaths hardly anyone noticed or cared.

I blame it all on Barnaby Joyce, David Littleproud, their water-hoarding cotton-growing mates and above all, on the NSW government.

In this video Menindee resident Dick Arnold and Rob stand in the Darling river above weir 32 each holding a hundred year old fish. These Murray cod have lived through the highs and lows of this system however could not survive this man made disaster.

The NSW “Liberals and Nationals” government decided to reconfigure the Menindee Lakes last year. Part of the process involved the decommissioning of the pipeline that fed Broken Hill from the lakes. Instead of providing water to Broken Hill and Pooncarie, and a thriving irrigation farming industry, the water would be diverted to cotton farmers upstream. Many of those huge, water-guzzling cotton farms are overseas owned.

Others that are Australian-owned have had their CEOs charged with corruption.

The Menindee pipeline was to be replaced by a pipeline carrying water from the Murray River to Broken Hill. A pipeline from an already depleted river, placing more strain on a river already struggling to cope with demands on its flow.

Only a government as incompetent and as corrupt as the Berejiklian government could come up with such a stupid idea.

In 2017 Four Corners ran this program –

Pumped: Who’s benefiting from the billions spent on the Murray-Darling?

As usual with exposes like this there was the usual brief spate of outrage and then everyone – or almost everyone – went back to sleep until this week, when all those images of dead fish were all over the media.

The Australia Institute didn’t go back to sleep. They produced this, in June 2018, on mismanagement of the scheme . Result? Crickets from those in a position to make changes.

The Basin Files
Maladministration of the MurrayDarling Basin Plan: Volume I
“Since allegations of large-scale water theft were aired on Four Corners in 2017, a flood of media reports have shown that the $13bn Murray-Darling Basin Plan is not being well implemented: agency coverups, political and regulatory capture, agencies with cultures of non-compliance, dodgy water deals, alleged fraud and unlawful amendments.”

This file contains a huge amount of relevant links.

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan was yet another Labor initiative destroyed by the ATM government.

Residents of Walgett are living on the banks of a dry river. Water that would normally flow down the Barwon River, even during a drought, has been diverted and hoarded by upstream cotton mega-farms. They are relying for water on a rather dodgy bore that produces water too saline for drinking. The bore was taken out by a lightning strike a week ago and the residents had to go without any water at all for a day. That meant no air conditioning in almost 40 degree heat. Walgett residents use evaporative air coolers, they need water to run. No water = no air conditioning. I’ve lived out west, just under 150 km east of Walgett, , and I can tell you cooling is essential in summer out there. So is drinking water. The situation is so bad in Walgett that private citizens are appealing for funds to buy bottled water which they will drive to Walgett. The NSW government doesn’t want to know and won’t help.

You can’t blame Walgett’s water problems on the drought. You can, however, blame them on corrupt water management and on the interventions over the past five years of Barnaby Joyce, his successor, David Littleproud and the rotten-to-the-core NSW government, with willing help from the Queensland government. Littleproud, until his marriage fell apart, was married to the second cousin of one of the owners of Norman Farms, a cotton-growing mega-company and a very corrupt one. A responsible Prime Minister would never have made a man with such an obvious conflict of interest his Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, but Turnbull did exactly that. Morrison kept him in that position and gave him the added responsibility of  Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Drought Preparation and Response. Talk about putting a fox in the henhouse!

Meanwhile, much further south in NSW, the coal-loving NSW government is refusing to admit underground coal mines have been stealing Sydney’s water for years. ‘No place for mining’: coal mines drain water from dams.

Gas drilling companies across NSW and Queensland are still being given unlimited access to water, especially artesian water, and their drilling is damaging the Great Artesian Basin, but our governments, state and federal, just don’t care.

What will it take to make our state and federal governments wake up? When will they realise this is a very dry continent and our water resources are precious,too precious to be frittered away on industries we simply cannot support, industries like cotton growing and gas mining.


698 thoughts on “You can’t blame the drought for corrupt water management.

    • For some reason I can’t change it. I tried, won’t work. It is typed properly but for whatever reason WordPress is having a hissy fit.

  1. I am really angry about the stolen water as I read

    Bruce Pascoe book Dark Emu

    about aboriginal agriculture and aquaculture. In less than 200 years whitey has turned vast swathes of this continent into desert. Evidently inland Australia was a granary, Victoria and coastal NSW regions cropped yams and northern Australia grew rice

    I think that the Victorian Labor govt would have trucked drinking water into a community devoid of drinking water.

    As a Victorian I am seriously unimpressed that water from Victoria’s Dartmouth dam that flows into the Murray are being diverted to Broken Hill. But Broken Hill is closer to Adelaide and Melbourne than Sydney

  2. Menindee: “It’s not drought, unfortunately it is man-made. And I think someone needs to stand up and take accountability for what’s happened. We’ve spoken to a lot of locals already today, and we’ve seen them crying” – Tolarno Station farmer Kate McBride.

    “The Menindee lakes is like a nursery for these fish…they stock the Murray (River) as well.”

    • And downstream communities of water. Without water in the Darling aboriginal communities can’t hunt because there are no animals and ceremony can’t take place either

      The export Australian Table grape industry is extinct because Menindee has no water

      Presumably South Australia water now comes from Murray only

  3. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    The SMH editorial sort of gets behind Labor’s taxation policies – and gives the government’s reaction a bit of a serve.
    A cheeky op-ed in in The Australian from Chris Bowen taunts Frydenberg.
    Australians entering the workforce would be up to $533,000 better off in retirement under plans handed to the Morrison government that would weed-out scores of under-performing superannuation funds and force regulators to focus on the interests of consumers.
    Jess Irvine reports in the Productivity Commission’s finding that Australia’s banking and finance watchdogs have been “missing in action”, failing to adequately protect Australian superannuation nest eggs.
    Senior criminology lecturer tells us why Australia should not have Dutton’s proposed public register for sex offender.
    And the Morrison government’s proposal for a national register that would make public the names, faces and postcodes of paedophiles and other sex offenders has met scepticism from the states, with the NSW government expressing “preliminary concerns”.
    Has the Morrison Government learned from the Liberal Party’s Victorian State Election annihilation?,12257
    Theresa May has brought her little-loved EU divorce agreement back to lawmakers who appear determined to thwart her plans.
    The Australia Institute’s Rod Campbell examines what’s behind the huge fish die-offs in the MDB. He says drought is the catalyst, but the mismanagement of the Murray Darling Basin Plan is the cause.
    But Michael Koziol reports that water ministers have rejected claims of mismanagement over the massive fish kill.
    Eryk Bagshaw writes that union-backed superannuation funds face having their default status “invalidated” under sweeping changes that place both major parties on an industrial relations collision course months out from a federal election.
    Jennifer Duke explains how much public money was spent in finding that the ABC and SBS were not competing unfairly.
    The New York Times uses Trump’s speech on the wall to examine his character.
    According to the Washington Post Trump used his address as a dramatic escalation in what has been an unsuccessful effort to sway opinion nationally and in Congress.
    And its Greg Sargant says the real US national emergency is the threat of Trump’s collapse.
    Donald Trump’s address was a heavy-handed political tactic to try to resolve a government shutdown which is largely of his making.
    The wall that US President Donald Trump wants to build along more than 1600 kilometres of the US-Mexico border would take an estimated 10,000 construction workers more than 10 years to build, say construction industry experts.
    It gets worse. Some residents of Opal Tower in Sydney’s west face the prospect of a further six weeks living in hotels, as residents remain in the dark about when they can return to their homes.
    In the wake of the St Kilda rally, John Passant explores the ways in which fascism is creeping into our government.,12256
    Stephen Koukoulas says, “Don’t look now – you are almost certainly poorer than a year ago”.
    Jess Irvine looks at the year ahead and unveils seven economic buzzwords we need to get to know.
    Sally Whyte tells us that the main public sector union has called for the Labor Party to commit to ending the privatisation of job-seeker services as part of the party’s proposed reforms to the system.
    Australia is at risk of a relentless wave of US-style fentanyl deaths unless governments embrace law reform that prioritises education and harm minimisation above punitive law and order responses, a leading campaigner has warned.
    Staff at the Department of Human Services took more sick days than any other public service agency in 2017-18, while the National Archives of Australia had the highest overall rate of unscheduled absences.
    Michael West explains how Deloitte is gaming the tax laws for a Kiwi corporate raider.
    Confidence in the Australian property industry has slumped to a five-year low as the downside to historic housing price booms in Sydney and Melbourne begins to bite, with experts saying the worst is yet to come.
    I’m waiting for Malcolm Roberts to turn this report into “temperatures are lower now than what they were”.
    Maccas lands today’s nomination for “Arseholes of the Week”.

    Cartoon Corner

    A sad contribution from David Pope.

    Here’s Matt Golding’s daily feast.$width_828/t_resize_width/t_sharpen%2Cq_auto%2Cf_auto%2Cdpr_auto/5375cb3f2c790184126a903e0ff05c01f5d51b05,jpg

    Alan Moir with Dutton’s consideration of the Saudi-Arabian lady’s visa application.

    Some photoshopping from Mark David.

    Cathy Wilcox sums Trump up.

    Peter Broelman lines up Fraser Anning.

    Jon Kudelka has found a use for the wall.
    From the US.

  4. “Michael Koziol reports that water ministers have rejected claims of mismanagement over the massive fish kill.”

    The Minister also rejected complaints from locals who accused him of snubbing farmers, elders and residents who had gathered at a boat ramp on the Darling River to discuss the tragedy on Wednesday.

    Mr Blair said he met with locals and councillors elsewhere during his trip but was advised against stopping to speak with the group of up to 150 protesters due to security “threats”

    Video of Niall Blair’s trip down the river, speeding past gathered locals who hoped to show him what was happening to their river.

    The video was from 999 ABC Broken Hill’s Facebook page. It came with this comment –
    “NSW Minister for Water Niall Blair is on the Darling River at Menindee to see the one million dead fish that have washed up on the banks of the Darling river.

    He just came past the spot water activists and locals gathered to meet him.”

    Also on that page, this reaction to Blair’s disrespectful behaviour.

  5. Fraser Anning – the more we learn the more despicable this grub becomes.

    This explains why Anning’s wife accompanied him on his flights to Canberra for sitting weeks. I’m now wondering if he claims a wage for this “volunteer” staffer.

    And then there’s this – did he really think no-one would find out?

    Fraser Anning uses UK rapper in ‘African gangs’ anti-immigration meme

  6. We are privileged to have Bibi’s son visiting us:

    Price of travel: Israel spends $27,000 per month to keep Netanyahu’s son safe on Australia trip

    Israel is doling out roughly $27,000 every month to keep Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Avner safe while he travels around Australia and New Zealand — and Israeli taxpayers are footing the bill.

    The Israeli Walla news site reported in December that six million shekels (about $1.6 million) had been approved to fund security for former prime ministers, but also to pay security guards to watch over Netanyahu’s son, who was discharged from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 2017 and decided to travel to Australia and New Zealand.

    Keeping the 24-year-old safe on his youthful adventures is proving to be an expensive and complicated affair. Given that he plans to spend about eight months in the region. Avner’s two-person detail needs to constantly be replaced since guards would likely be unwilling to leave the country for such a long time, and more importantly because no two guards could remain consistently alert and on top of their game for months on end.

    To solve the dilemma, the Shin Bet security agency, which provides protection for the prime minister’s family, decided that his security guards would be replaced every two weeks. Guards are either flown in from Israel or are provided by the Israeli embassy in Australia directly. The cost of their flights, as well as their food, accomodation and insurance are costing Israeli taxpayers a pretty penny.

  7. Updating Some Canadian Political Prisoners January 2019

    Disproportionate numbers of First Peoples are in Canadian prisons. Society arranges this fact to not seem that extraordinary. It could be argued that aboriginal peoples are political prisoners in North America, in or out of prison. Or that this is true for all minorities. Or that as the war on terror proceeds all Canadians may find themselves in a political prison.

    Privilege and prejudice are clarified when we note that aboriginal men and women damaged in government (police) custody are not often plaintiffs in trials for damages. And properly, this account would run to several thousand pages listing the individual cases of First Peoples’ imprisonment, rising out of a society which feels compelled to treat the education of, the medical care of, the social services for, the nourishment of, the housing of, the remuneration for, First Peoples unjustly…

    Unlike the U.S., Canada hasn’t used extreme long term incarceration of Indigenous leaders to discourage Indigenous movements’ protest actions. In the U.S. Leonard Peltier was sentenced to two life imprisonment terms for a crime he likely didn’t commit. Non-Indigenous U.S. leaders of the people such as the Kennedy’s, Dr. King and Malcolm X, were simply shot, and Canada’s historical icon of revolt Louis Riel was simply hanged. The many indigenous leaders in Canada maintain relatively low profiles and are more diffusely represented in these vast spaces of the land.

    Currently, the only group of Canadian political prisoners which approaches the length of sentences given U.S. political prisoners is Canadians who are Muslim.1 They have been treated poorly in domestic prisons or left to the dogs in the custody of foreign agencies. In some cases Canada’s security agencies seemed to be outsourcing torture for information. Of Canadian Muslims damaged in custody, Maher Arar was awarded 11.5 million dollars in an out of court settlement concerning the Canadian government’s responsibility for his torture in Syria.

    Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin settled for about half of what each asked, 31.25 million apiece because of Canada’s assistance to the Syrian government in having them falsely arrested and tortured.

    Omar Khadr was to receive 10.5 million for Canada’s cooperation with the U.S. on Khadr’s incarceration and torture in Guantanamo while a minor.

  8. How the US Spent Billions to Change the Outcome of Elections Around the World: A Review

    The U.S. military state overthrows democratically-elected governments that it deems to be a threat to corporate interests.

    “There is plenty of evidence that the United States is the most depraved and dangerous “meddler” in the affairs of other nations that history has ever known.”

    Dan Kovalik is a labor and human rights lawyer, but most of all he is an anti-imperialist and an author of three books. Kovalik’s first two books tackled the specific US war drives against Russia and Iran. His third installment, The Plot to Control the World: How the US Spent Billions to Change the Outcome of Elections Around the World, addresses the broad scope of US election meddling abroad. The book provides much needed political and ideological life support to an anti-war movement in the U.S that has been rendered nearly invisible to the naked eye.

    The Plot to Control the World is as detailed in its critique of U.S. imperialism as it is concise. In just over 160 pages, Kovalik manages to analyze the various ways that the U.S. political and military apparatus interferes in the affairs of nations abroad to achieve global hegemony. He wastes no time in exposing the devastating lie that is American exceptionalism, beginning appropriately with the U.S. imperialist occupations of Haiti and the Philippines at the end of the 19thcentury and beginning of the 20th. The U.S. would murder millions of Filipinos and send both nations into a spiral of violence, instability, and poverty that continues to this day. As Kovalik explains regarding Haiti, “While the specific, claimed justifications for [U.S.] intervention changed over time- e.g., opposing the end of slavery, enforcing the Monroe Doctrine, fighting Communism, fighting drugs, restoring law and order — the fact is that the interventions never stopped and the results for the Haitian people have been invariably disastrous.”>/blockquote>

  9. Larry Silverstein, Lewis Eisenberg made billions from destruction of Twin Towers

    “So two months before 9/11 an alleged organized crime figure named Larry Silverstein got a non-low-bid contract from Lewis Eisenberg, who was the head of the Port Authority. Both of these guys are very close to Netanyahu. They are hardcore Zionist billionaires,” he noted.
    Larry Silverstein purportedly speaking in April 2000 about World Trade Center 7:

    ‘Silverstein walked out with close to $5bn in cash’

    “So Silverstein got his contract from the Port Authority. He bought the entire Trade Center on a 100-year lease. He only put down 15 million – with an m – million of his own money, along with a hundred million of his partners’ and for that he got the Trade Center for a hundred years,” the commentator said.

    “And had the Trade Center not been demolished, this would have been the worst real estate investment in history. But because Silverstein doubled the insurance money from what the Port Authority had held, and managed to get lucky on September 11, he walked out of this with close to $5 billion in cash,” he pointed out.

    “He had negotiated it with the insurance company to give him the cash settlement beforehand. And then he also claimed a double indemnity, that is he wanted to double the money because he said there were two separate and unrelated terrorist attacks, namely the two alleged airplanes,” the researcher said.

    “So he made a tremendous amount of money out of this. And the insurance company lost—or some insurance companies lost. The question is which insurance companies lost billions of dollars to Larry Silverstein, Lewis Eisenberg and the deep state 9/11 insurance fraud crime, which of course was also done for geopolitical reasons,” he observed.

  10. Another dummy spit

  11. Jewish body demands Socceroos boycott Palestine match

    The Australian Jewish Association has demanded the Socceroos boycott their second Asian Cup group match against Palestine on Friday.

    Australia will take on Palestine in a crucial Group B clash in Dubai, needing to bounce back from their opening game loss to Jordan.

    The AJA however believes Palestine is not a country recognised by the international community and that soccer has been “blatantly politicised” by the Asian Football Confederation admitting the Arab state as a member…

    The Palestine football team often encounters difficulties due to the political tension between it and Israel.

    Many of its players are drawn from the Palestinian diaspora due to travel restrictions within Israel and the AFC has had to cancel fixtures in the past involving the team due to visa issues.

    Despite having diplomatic relations, Australia is one of several countries globally which do not recognise Palestinian statehood.

  12. Will it be the world’s most expensive expensive divorce, without a pernup?

    Meet The Mistress Who Will Cost Bezos $70 Billion

    Jeff Bezos’ revelation on Wednesday that he and MacKenzie Bezos, his wife of roughly 25 years, would be filing for divorce set off a chain reaction of speculation as readers wondered whether the soon-to-be-former Mrs. Bezos would walk away with half her husband’s fortune (presently valued at a tidy $70 billion) and – more importantly – whether another woman was involved in the separation.

    And as is often the case with the world’s wealthiest, the answer to both questions appears to be yes. According to Page Six, Bezos has been carrying on a secret relationship with Lauren Sanchez, a former TV anchor and wife of Hollywood talent mogul Patrick Whitesell – considered one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, whose clients include Christian Bale, Matt Damon and Hugh Jackman.

  13. Liberal MP Ben Morton has spent his summer break rushing to confirm he is not a dual citizen, after he found out his grandfather was born in Ireland.

    The discovery, made while going through old family records over Christmas, contradicts his declaration from 2017 that both maternal grandparents were born in the United Kingdom.

    A letter from the Irish embassy received this week confirmed that Mr Morton is not an Irish citizen, and Mr Morton has said he has “never been an Irish or British citizen, only ever Australian”.

    However the new development highlights the uncertainty that still surrounds the Parliament and section 44 of the constitution, which disqualifies dual nationals from being MPs.

    Mr Morton declared in 2017 that he had conducted his own “extensive investigations” about his qualifications prior to nominating and received a letter from the British Home Office confirming he was not a British citizen.

  14. Fraser Anning claimed a taxpayer-funded accommodation and meals allowance for staying at his brother’s hotel in the regional town of Babinda.

    The travel allowances claimed by Anning are a flat-rate payment to MPs designed to cover accommodation, meals and incidentals during overnight stays related to parliamentary business.

    Babinda only has two hotels: the Babinda State hotel and the Babinda Quarters.

    The historic Babinda State hotel is owned by Anning’s brother, Harry.

    • Reducing share prices from where they never should have been ! The execs should be made to hand back the 100s of millions in bonuses earned by cooking up the artificially inflated share price . Grrrr.0

  15. Well have they ? Trump may help them decide sooner rather than later.

    Have We Had Enough of the Imperial Presidency Yet?

    The Trump administration has provided a new example of an old concept: the “imperial presidency.” That term, famously used by the historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in 1973 to describe the excesses and abuses of the Nixon White House, fell out of use almost as soon as President Richard Nixon fell from grace……………………………………….. Most important, reforming presidential power will fall on the shoulders of voters. In the end, the most effective check on presidential power is to elect presidents who will exercise their authority with some restraint and respect our democratic institutions. That is the choice voters will have in 2020.

    Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer, history professors at Princeton

  16. Very interesting thread. Surprising?

    • It was always easy to work out why Barnaby Joyce had an accounting business in a backwater like St George, and who his wealthy clients would have been, the clients that made his business thrive, made it worthwhile being an accountant in a small country town.

      Barnaby once boasted about how many clients he had, and how much they paid him.

      But the actual fact is I’m an accountant, and that’s what I’ve trained at, and that’s what I had a business at, and I had 550 accountancy clients. My biggest client paid me over $150,000 a year, so I had a rough idea what I was doing with money. I understood business

      He built up an accounting business by helping cotton farmers avoid paying tax. Then he moved on to helping the same cotton farmers rort their water quotas.

    • Leone,

      It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that his carefully-cultivated image as a back-blocks hick may also have been deliberate for precisely that reason.

  17. Can we do a swap?

    For a man whose position is strictly non-partisan, the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, has provoked more fear, anger and adoration than any other in the role in recent history.

    His critics, who suspect he is an opponent of Brexit, have tried many tactics to oust him from the Speaker’s chair. More seriously, he has been the subject of multiple allegations of bullying, which he denies. A report by Dame Laura Cox suggested he should quit over the culture of “deference and silence” concerning bullying in parliament whereby senior management “actively … cover up abusive conduct”.

  18. In 2016 the ATM government cut funding for Headspace, transferring the money to primary health providers. In 2017 the funding was again cut. An organisation that had received $156 million ended up with only 30% of that amount.

    Now FauxMo has decided to put funding back into Headspace, for the third time since October. Greg Hunt tells us Headspace’s funding is now secure for the next four years, even though October’s handout was just a one-off, meant to last only one year.

    There must be an election looming.

    Youth mental health organisation headspace has had its funding boosted by the federal government for the third time since October.

    From April 2016 –

  19. Leone,

    What I would really like to know about is the feeling in that particular community. Are they falling about themselves with gratitude? Or are they saying “Oh, yeah???”/

  20. I’m not sure diving into that water was the wisest move.

  21. This should probably come with a “this may damage your eyesight” warning.

    FauxMo, last weekend, on holidays in the Shoalhaven.

    He said he was having a “Sutherland Shire staycation”, his staff said he was only taking a couple of days off over Christmas. They lied, he lied. He’s been holidaying on the NSW South Coast, for more than “a couple of days”.

    So far FauxMo has had nothing to say about the disasters happening around the Menindee Lakes and at Walgett. Not a word. He has, however, found time to tweet about his damn joggers.

    • I can only assume he’s deliberately fanning the Twitter (etc.) flames.

      The stupid is strong with this one.

  22. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    The SMH editorial exhorts the States to resist pressure for a public register of child sex abusers.
    Jess Irvine explains why Labor must not cave in to super industry scare campaign.
    But Eryk Bagshaw tells us that reforms that could give new workers up to an extra $500,000 by retirement are set to face resistance under a Labor government after the party criticised a key recommendation of a landmark three-year review into Australia’s $2.8 trillion superannuation system.
    Shane Wright examines the phenomenon of one third of the Senate having been wiped out since the last election.
    Unions will use a seven-day strike next week to intensify pressure over the ‘exploitation’ of labour-hire workers.
    Tony Featherstone wonders how long it will be before Australia has a duopoly of food ordering and delivery companies and they exploit their market power to lift prices.
    Nicole Hasham shows us a stunning chart revealing Australia’s record-breaking run of rising temperatures.
    Peter Hannam asks what will happen when the ‘last resort’ on the Darling River dries out. It is an awful situation.
    Scientists and irrigators have turned on each other over the deaths of tens of thousands of fish in the Murray-Darling basin.
    The cotton industry says it is not to blame for the mass deaths of hundreds of thousands of fish in the Darling River and is tired of being a “whipping boy” for problems associated with the drought.
    The locals are sheeting the blame on Barnaby Joyce.
    Key sections of the Great Ocean Road are at risk of being washed away, raising safety fears and calls for the Andrews government to reroute parts of the world-recognised tourist road.
    Michael Koziol writes about the farcical situation within the NSW Liberal party as it interferes in the preselection process.
    Wind turbine supplier Vestas says the state-led, piecemeal approach on energy policy will compromise the efficiency of renewables investment.
    The somewhat intellectually challenged matt Canavan goes in to bat for oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight.
    The senior bureaucrat who reviewed building regulation for the New South Wales government has condemned the lack of action on his 2015 report, warning the defects in the Opal Tower at Sydney’s Olympic Park “are likely just the tip of the iceberg”.
    In a rather concerning contribution architecture lecturer Geoff Hanmer writes that there are lessons to be drawn from the cracks that appeared in Sydney’s Opal Tower, but they extend beyond building certification.
    Much has been said and will continue to be said about the power that Rupert Murdoch wields in our very concentrated media landscape. It is a landscape that continues to change and the ACCC just released the preliminary report on Digital Platforms.,12261
    Stephen Koukoulas predicts the RBA will cut interest rates in March.
    Sex offender registries don’t prevent re-offending (and vigilante justice is real).
    Australia’s parliaments must enforce compensation to survivors of child sexual abuse. Revelations by The Australian that only 28 abuse victims have been compensated under the $4 billion redress scheme, despite 2335 people applying, because key states and institutions have been slow to commit, are incredible.
    The New South Wales police minister, Troy Grant, has apologised for comments criticising a magistrate over the sentencing of former Adelaide archbishop Philip Wilson.
    This is a good effort! The ABC admits it has underpaid up to 2500 casual staff over six years.
    Kevin Rudd has claimed to have “key evidence” media mogul Rupert Murdoch killed off Labor’s National Broadband Network.
    Rod Myer tells us why the economic picture looks troubling after years of good times.
    He’s been president a week – and already the fat-right Bolsonaro is damaging Brazil.
    Bloomberg says Trump’s decision to abruptly storm out of a meeting with congressional leaders on Wednesday shocked some on Capitol Hill. But those who have done business with him recognized it as one of his trademark negotiating tactics.
    Michael Fullilove writes that Trump is always one temper tantrum from disaster.
    The Washington Post explains the problems of the Chines economy and what they might men for the West.
    Trump has reiterated that he may declare a national emergency if Congress does not meet his demand for billions of dollars to construct a wall along the US-Mexico frontier.
    Robert Reich writes that Trump is using the government as a bargaining chip – like a dictator would.
    And Trump has said he will scrap his trip to the Davos annual gathering of global financial elites later this month because of the government shutdown.
    The robots making jaws drop at the Consumer Electronics Show 2019 in Las Vegas.

    Cartoon Corner

    David Pope and a panicky Dutton.

    Matt Golding’s contribution for the day.

    Cathy Wilcox on water distribution Barnaby-style.

    Mark David also serves it up to Barnaby.

    And he gives us Morrison’s brush with PhotoShop.

    Peter Broelman turns the table on scatterbrain Hanson.

    Jon Kudelka has created a special fish dish.

    From the US

  23. Last night I tried to post a tweet about the productivity of cotton which I think said

    It takes 20,000 or 2,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton, enough for 1 T-shirt and pair of jeans

    A megalitre of water produces
    $623 of cotton
    $8400 of beef
    $8300 of vegetables

    Can’t find the tweet again

    • To “save” a tweet – just like it, it will go into your “likes” folder and you can access it there. Your “likes” are accessed via your profile.

      Once you no longer need a tweet you just unlike it.

  24. About the once- proposed Cubbie Station by-back and the rather dubious facts being passed around by Ronnie Salt, aka @MsVeruca.

    We really need better facts than “old uncle says”. The timeline Ms Salt gives is questionable.

    It wasn’t Howard who knocked back the idea of buying Cubbie Station for the nation, it was Labor.

    When he was Howard’s Minister for the Environment Turnbull “Did not rule out the acquisition of the water-guzzling Cubbie Station in Queensland”, but it was never a serious plan. It just came up in a list of ideas Turnbull had for dealing with future food and energy needs. Also among those ideas – reliance on nuclear power. He was just waffling on, thinking out loud, it meant nothing.

    Turnbull eyes Asian food boom

    In 2006 , during the “Millenium Drought” that has been causing huge problems for agriculture for ten years, Cubbie’s water storage was failing to keep up with demand and crop plantings were severely reduced.

    Cubbie Station down to 1pc water capacity

    That year was the driest on record for many parts of Australia (at the time). The drought would drag on until 2010.

    By 2008 the whole Murray-Darling system was in peril, with graziers blaming massive irrigation for the loss of water from the river.

    Once-mighty Darling drying up

    This is when scientists and conservationists began asking the government to consider buying not only Cubbie station but many other irrigation properties as well, as an attempt to get water back into the rivers.

    Across the Murray-Darling Basin, on average, 56 per cent of available water is being taken out, which the CSIRO described as an extremely high level of development.

    The Australian Conservation Foundation wants the federal Government to purchase six big irrigation properties on the Darling system: Cubbie Station and Balandool in Queensland, Colly Farms on the NSW Gwydir River, Toorale and Darling Farms on the Darling near Bourke and Tandou on the Darling below Menindee.

    The ACF estimates the purchase could cost up to $600 million, and return 400 gigalitres, or 400 billion litres, to the river.

    The Murray-Darling Basin Commission said up to 80 per cent of the water released from the northern rivers would be lost in transmission, and not make it to the lower lakes at the mouth of the Murray.

    It estimates the lower lakes need at least 1050GL, allowing for evaporation of between 750 and 950GL.

    Cubbie Station’s John Grabbe refuses to comment on whether the property is for sale, but he is happy to talk about his wheat crop

    On 29 October 2009 (not in 2004, as Ms Salt claimed) Cubbie Group Limited, the then owner, went into voluntary administration. A dry season had eaten away profits and the owners found themselves in debt for $300 million.

    On 31 August 2012 the Gillard government, on advice from the Foreign Investment Review Board, authorised the sale of Cubbie Station to CS Agriculture, a group made up of Shandong RuYi Scientific & Technological Group Co Ltd, a clothing and textile company owned by Chinese and Japanese investors, and Lempriere Group, an Australian family-owned company involved in wool trading and agricultural property management.The Australian company manages the station.

    The sale took place on 25 January, 2013, for the sum of at least $240 million. The Coalition approved of the sale, although it is said some National MPs and senators were not happy about an overseas company buying it.

    Cubbie goes to China for ‘a steal’

    Barnaby Joyce , you might be surprised to learn, was one of those Nats who objected to the sale.

    So there you are, a rather different story to the one that is now all over everywhere, and extremely easy to verify by using Wikipedia and then doing a quick Google.

    Barnaby did, on his own admission, have the owners or managers of many big irrigation properties (not just cotton growers) as his clients and he boasted about the money they paid him, money gained in part from successful tax dodges. Barnaby, as minister for water, was still helping those growers rort not only their taxes but their water allocations as well.

    Extra reading – this, from March 2017, sums up the whole Murray-Darling/Cubbie Station destruction issue very well. It’s a long read, but worth it.

    Cubbie Station & Water Allocation Abuse!

    It’s a shame it has taken massive fish deaths in a destroyed river to finally get the nation to take notice of a slow death that has been going on for many years, a death that could have been prevented.

    Meanwhile the interim PM still hasn’t said a word about this.

  25. Leone

    Thanks for that info about saving tweets. My brain is not functioning too well, as Razz and I have spent over 9 hours in the last two days in Emergency for treatment, and have to go in again today and don’t know how long it will take. I’ll have a go tomorrow after some decent sleep and hopefully don’t have to go back to the hospital.

  26. Got a spare $1800? Join the bleeding edge………

    World’s first foldable smartphone is glorious, and a hot mess

    FlexPai is a 7.8-inch tablet that — with its flexible display — can bend around a 180 degree hinge to turn into a smartphone. In smartphone mode you get two 4-inch displays with an option to turn one side off to save power.

    Royole says that the device can be bent more than 200,000 times before the screen starts showing signs of wear, which is equivalent to more than 100 folds every day for five years.

  27. Feldwebel Potatohead is at it again

    The government has allowed Australia’s peak legal body just 36 hours to respond to its public child sex offender register proposal, a move the Law Council has labelled “absurd”.

    Peter Dutton announced on Wednesday the government was considering establishing a register which could include the postcode, name and photo of child sex offenders. Reaction was mixed, but Dutton said the government would be asking for the views of a wide range of stakeholders, including child advocacy groups and legal representatives.

    The president of the Law Council, Arthur Moses, who urged caution when the proposal was announced, said the government then set a deadline of close of business on Friday, less than 40 hours after the proposal was announced.

  28. Business as usual for this lot

    Dan Tehan has defended the finance minister Mathias Cormann’s decision to spend almost $40,000 in travel costs in one day to promote the government’s tax plan as “within the rules”.

    Cormann booked a defence jet on 22 June last year to fly between Perth and Canberra to lobby for support for the now abandoned company tax plan. Cormann booked the special purpose flight after no commercial planes fitted the schedule, which included media duties in Canberra, a visit to Adelaide and then back to Perth in between parliamentary sittings, at a cost of $37,000, the ABC reported.

    Commercial flights for Cormann’s travel between his home state of Western Australia and Canberra for parliamentary sittings usually cost no more than $3,000.

    A spokesperson for Christopher Pyne, whose portfolio includes responsibility for defence aircraft, told the ABC consideration for a minister’s duties and the availability of commercial travel was taken into account before approval was given.

    Speaking to ABC TV on Friday morning, Tehan said there was no issue.

    “The Australian taxpayer can look at that and say it was within the rules, within the guidelines, and also he was there on business,” the education minister said.

  29. A link between brain damage and religious fundamentalism has now been established by scientists
    Religious fundamentalism is partly the result of a functional impairment in the prefrontal cortex, new study finds

    A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia has shown that religious fundamentalism is, in part, the result of a functional impairment in a brain region known as the prefrontal cortex. The findings suggest that damage to particular areas of the prefrontal cortex indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by diminishing cognitive flexibility and openness—a psychology term that describes a personality trait which involves dimensions like curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness.

    Religious beliefs can be thought of as socially transmitted mental representations that consist of supernatural events and entities assumed to be real. Religious beliefs differ from empirical beliefs, which are based on how the world appears to be and are updated as new evidence accumulates or when new theories with better predictive power emerge. On the other hand, religious beliefs are not usually updated in response to new evidence or scientific explanations, and are therefore strongly associated with conservatism. They are fixed and rigid, which helps promote predictability and coherence to the rules of society among individuals within the group.

    Religious fundamentalism refers to an ideology that emphasizes traditional religious texts and rituals and discourages progressive thinking about religion and social issues. Fundamentalist groups generally oppose anything that questions or challenges their beliefs or way of life. For this reason, they are often aggressive towards anyone who does not share their specific set of supernatural beliefs, and towards science, as these things are seen as existential threats to their entire worldview.

    Since religious beliefs play a massive role in driving and influencing human behavior throughout the world, it is important to understand the phenomenon of religious fundamentalism from a psychological and neurological perspective

    Just to prove this was a serious study –

  30. Wonderful news. Razz doesn’t have osteo-myelitis (sp). Now I see the town/city I was born and bred in is the first in Australia to do this.

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