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Friday, May 04, 2007

Agriculture going North?

Will a shift of agribusiness to Northern Australia mean that the picture of the flooded Durack River in Western Australia will become a scene similar to the picture on the left of salinated soil?
Let's listen to Tim Flannery and the voices of knowledgable people before replicating in Northern Australia what Australians of European descent have done to Southern Australia.

Back in January 2007, John Howard did a not very good job of the old soft shoe shuffle with his ministerial arrangements. The Prime Minister appointed his vile-hearted attack-dog friend and close Liberal ally, Senator Bill Heffernan, to lead a taskforce that will consider ways to encourage farmers to move north.

Miss Eagle was so gob-smacked by this horrific appointment and its antecedents, implications, and portents for the future that it has taken this long for her to try to achieve some coherence in commenting on this mind-boggling scenario.

Miss E will start with some bullet points (and a warning, dear Reader: this post is almost certain to descend into incoherence, frothing at the mouth, tearing out of hair and similar lunacies. Please be patient. Northern Australia is Miss Eagle's very lifeblood. It is her very being even though she has been transplanted to the Land of the Eagle, Creator Spirit in this part of the world.)
  1. The Howard Government has never given a damn (or a dam) about Northern Australia. "One of the first acts of this coalition government was to cut $250 million in regional projects as well as cutting general purpose funding to the Northern Territory by $12 million. In the Territory we have experienced massive cuts to the Public Service, which means not only jobs are taken out of the region but also vital services are removed. Offices that have closed in the Northern Territory include Darwin's office of the Department of Transport and Regional Development, AusAID--the Australian Agency for International Development--Radio Australia, the Office of Northern Development, and the Department of Finance's regional office. " From the maiden speech in the Australian Senate by NT Senator Trish Crossin.

  2. What does Bill Heffernan, farmer from southern New South Wales, know about Northern Australia? Someone correct me please with some good solid facts, but Miss Eagle thinks Bill knows sweet you know what. Bill was born in Junee and has not moved far. He was educated at St Joey's at Hunters Hill. For my North Australian friends, Miss Eagle wishes to advise that when she went to live in Sydney, on her first day there she went to hear Richard Rohr speak at Joey's. Miss Eagle knows of no school as posh as this in Northern Australia. In fact, Bill, most of your generation and mine who grew up in Northern Australia - and of a number of generations since - had no educational opportunities such as you had. So, Bill, the Liberal Party under Menzies, Holt and McMahon and the Liberal-National Party Coalition under Bjelke-Petersen have much to answer for.

  3. Farmers following European and North American farming practices have wrecked the soil and water of this nation, none more so than those practising farming in the older settled areas of southern Australia - where Bill has his farm.

  4. Agriculture, in some areas of the north, has not been successful. One of the major reasons is insect attack. Again, correct Miss Eagle if she is wrong by producing some facts, but Miss Eagle believes that if widespread agriculture is to succeed north of the Tropic of Capricorn heavy use of pesticides will be required. There is an exception. Genetic modification of crops is being given or will be given the green light to avoid pesticide use. This will be of great benefit to cotton which has GM crops ready to go.

  5. The cane growing industry, because of its chemical run-off, in North Queensland has been detrimental to the Great Barrier Reef and contributes to its almost certain demise. The industry organisation has been antedeluvian in its denialist attitudes. If these attitudes have changed, please give Miss Eagle the evidence. Miss Eagle is targetting the industry as a whole in these comments and the industry organisation in particular. Miss Eagle is aware of some of the insightful, innovative techniques undertaken by individual growers to prevent run-off from their farms.

  6. The grazing industry now sends more live cattle overseas than it does to meatworks. There are few meatworks in the north these days. The live cattle - and sheep - trade is severely detrimental to animal health and welfare. In fact, it is downright cruel.

So, dear Reader, are you now ready for a reality check after that tirade (minimalist, BTW. More could be said.)? Pop across to these statements by Tim Flannery.