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Rearranging the deckchairs on climate-battered country

By Frances Goold

“He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.” (Groucho Marx)

Last Thursday’s ICAC report on the NSW ex-premier’s “serious corrupt conduct by breaching public trust” was quickly countered by her assertions that nothing in the report demonstrates that she did not work her hardest for her constituents and in the public interest.

That the ex-premier somehow considered corrupt behaviour to be in the best interests of the state she led suggests that the abuse of public trust is so endemic to conservative/neoliberal political culture and its easy denial so hidebound that no one is more surprised than the protagonists when it’s called out. Even the ex’s ex – imminently facing criminal charges – is proud of his achievements as the member for Wagga Wagga, and who according to his lawyers had always worked “tirelessly for his constituents”.

Over at the Federal electorate of New England it seems also be water off a duck’s back to be cast into the political wilderness, and hands in the cookie jar or no still tough for a limelight junkie to be demoted to the shadow ministry. Perhaps this explains why Federal Nationals leader and ex-Deputy PM (EDPM) is currently working tirelessly for his electorate by bombing every stray issue, with his latest efforts focused on a demented plan to march on Parliament to rally against renewables.


Notwithstanding a decade of Coalition climate denial, gross political dereliction at both state and Federal levels, years of drought, apocalyptic fires and floods, and almost two decades of local stonewalling, the battered region of New England/Northern Tablelands is finally being called upon to assume its fair share of Australia’s international obligations to meet net zero emissions targets – global initiatives themselves cobbled together at ninety seconds to midnight. In its wake a gaggle of eleventh-hour activists (with a gratuitous swipe at the Indigenous Voice to parliament) have formed the Voice for Walcha (VfW) and ReD4NE, a dynamic duo of well-resourced organisations dedicated to scuttling whatever planetary lifeboats are ready to launch from the Walcha slipways.

My farming friends from Walcha report that the government-hating member for New England has been ramping up local opposition to renewables developments in his electorate for some time now. Last January, propped up by his senior lieutenants, EDPM summoned forth a typically incoherent yet stirring peroration at a community meeting organised by VfW in response to Danish company, Vestas, which released its Winterbourne Windfarm EIS for public comment late last year.

Presided over by lawyer and ‘lobbyist’ Mark Fogarty, leader of the NSW Nationals Adam Marshall, a semi-comatose EDPM, and graced by a spellbinding cameo from professional storyteller and wind-farm opponent John Heffernan, the proceedings unfolded more like a scene from Animal Farm than a town hall meeting to address legitimate local concerns about a windfarm project.

When not propping up the bar or hounding visaless puppies EDPM is occasionally spotted eagerly in thrall to the bloated munificence of the fossil fuel grandees, and at the Walcha Bowling Club on January 12 he rose unsteadily to the occasion to do what he does best: act as proxy climate wrecker in service to mining interests.

The plot is a simple one: Napoleon disagrees with Snowball’s ideas to build a windmill and has been instructed to nip it in the bud – in this instance by rallying the troops in opposition to windfarm developments in the New England Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) and declaring war the Winterbourne Project’s “most unsatisfactory” EIS – a detailed and comprehensive 4,000-page document (with a 322-page summary) released to the public on October 27, 2022, described by the Shadow Minister for Veterans Affairs as a “packet of poo-tickets”.

EDPM’s gift for the gaffe is legendary, for reasoned oratory – not so much. But these deficits matter little when it comes to the business end of the obfuscation and obstruction required for the job of stalling progress on renewables in NSW. After all, it’s not like EDPM is denying that the weather or the climate exist, or that he’s against renewables per se, it’s just that those turbines are some big mothers, and – unlike the mining sector and its captive politicians – the Danish developer is only in it for the money. Furthermore, in classic pot-kettle-black style, he can denounce the Winterbourne project as lacking transparency while the elephant in the room – climate change and global emissions targets – rate not a mention.

In any event, any delay of a windfarm development is a win for the fossil fuel behemoths, some of whom are positioning themselves for market share if not simply to gazump the renewables competition. And who better to prop up the back end of this three-man trojan horse than EDPM, whose scattergun bluster on any topic is matched only by his unique capacity for cognitive dissonance and a penchant for porkies (something he endorses as par for the course during his Bowling Club speech, “Don’t look for honesty in politicians”).

Indeed, his rambling rhetorical style amounts to little more than a farrago of paranoid non-sequiturs as far from the substantive issue s and interests of his constituents as it is possible to be without venturing into cuckooland.

Furthermore, being the amiable larrikin, he is and powerful friend to the landed gentry, his runaway tongue is an endearing asset for the task of discombobulating townsfolk too time-poor to wade through the maze of conspiracy theories being rustled up by a well-heeled opposition, or even address their niggling concerns with developers – certainly not before EDPM and his first lady mangle them first. [As the conveniently-positioned Newscorp loyalist opined: “You cannot claim a change from a natural landscape to a landscape of hundreds of industrial machines, which will undeniably impact cultural heritage, biodiversity, visual and audio amenity, and no plan for its disposal except for rusting on the horizon, is good for the local environment… If this were not a wind farm, this proposal would be laughed out of any planning authority for the literal monumental environmental destruction it will cause.”]

It’s unlikely anyone familiar with the science of climate change or who fought the 2019-2020 bushfires would agree that there is much remaining of the “natural landscape”. And heaven forbid that fossil fortunes ruthlessly amassed by sucking the lifeblood out of a country and its first peoples and whose monumental destruction of ecological biodiversity (yet to be fully assessed) should be threatened by some woke transition to unsightly renewables. But his mistress, Campion, has the proud backing of EDPM in their topsy-turvy right-wing campaign against the green-renewables-conspiracy: “I have to acknowledge Vikki. Vikki is pathological, she’s using the Daily Telegraph as your advertising venue… the most read article in the Telegraph. But that’s shifting other people’s opinions. So it’s going to become more and more incumbent upon you…”.

Undaunted by the patent conflict implied by Campion beavering away at the Telegraph ostensibly on behalf of the Walcha community, EDPM presses on with suggesting in a typical burst of foot-shooting logic that any divisiveness in the community was the result of the windfarm proposal per se, even as he demonstrated his unique aptitude for sowing it himself.

That dividing a community might constitute even an inadvertent element of Vestas’ mission statement is hard to fathom.

But we have a rural power index behind the Voice here, with high emitting Fleet Helicopters’ owner and ReD4NE founder boasting a fraternal connection – a family to whom the jovial EDPM is happy to cow-tow, not to mention fly with.


The Federal National Party is occasionally referred to as the ‘Miners Party’. Its leader is notorious for his longstanding ideological opposition to action on climate change – and specifically to 2050 net zero targets – demonstrating not merely his unwavering support for fossil fuels but an unbridled enthusiasm for SMRs as the way of the future. After all, he has a job to do – to lock his electorate into a permanent state of energy transition at the expense of future generations – for which no doubt he will be one day be rewarded handsomely. And it’s not as if pleasing one’s donors, especially if one must secure one’s livelihood post-politics, is foreign to the LNP business model.

Whether there is evidence for it or not, it has been claimed that local indigenous communities have not been properly consulted by the developer, an alleged oversight that provides grist for the windfarm opposition despite access to consultation and the resolution of community issues by the developers. [Let us not forget that only a generation ago if a thought was to be spared at all for indigenous communities beyond the value of their indentured labour for the carving out and deforestation of their country for mining, grazing land, livestock mustering, and domestic service, it was probably of the calibre of mining magnate Lang Hancock’s when daughter Gina was just a slip of a thing dreaming of being one of the richest women in the world. These days she is a major donor – if indirectly – to the LNP and its thinktank, the IPA, which only last year endorsed EDPM’s fulminations against net zero.]

Conflicted interests may also be the business model for VfW and ReD4NE. These range from fundamentally denialist conflations of opinion and fact by the partisan editor of the New England Times to influence-peddling potentiated by family links between ReD4NE and the local chopper fleet, and inevitably by Joyce’s friendship with mining millionaire magnet Gina Rinehart, which has long come under fire but most spectacularly when she awarded him $40,000 for the inaugural “National Agricultural Related Industries Prize” during the by-election campaign in 2017. Joyce accepted the donation, which was promptly returned on advice.


According to my good friends – who are stakeholders – the Winterbourne windfarm project has been on the drawing board for nearly two decades, and public knowledge for over fifteen years, during which time it has enjoyed community support for the generous and innovative community fund being negotiated for it. Yet, somewhat coincidentally, within the past year or so, since the Coalition’s loss to Labor in the Federal election, ‘grassroots’ opposition to the windfarm has taken hold.

Yet despite the bounteous time for the Walcha community to get around the issues and the generous community benefits built into the Winterbourne development; an eleventh-hour proposal of community-based ways has been suggested as an alternative to privatised renewable infrastructure.

Obstructionist denialist politics and issues of the survival of renewables initiatives in a shifting political landscape and the need to scale up have emerged in the UK context, for example; is the idea of community-generated energy as a timely alternative for Walcha too little too late? Is a wind farm to be put on hold until before a CORE gets up and running in a renewables – fatigued and divided community?

But time is running out, Kean’s Act has been passed, and community-owned energy alternatives being proffered to mollify communities spooked by the idea of renewable energy projects in their region may need to be reminded that, unlike CORE projects elsewhere in the world, not a single project has so far made it to the drawing board in the region.


A major problem for worried farmers and stakeholders supporting windfarms in the region is the politicisation of renewable energy issues by EDPM by means of an organised scare campaign of disinformation; they are concerned that this anti-windfarm coalition may not merely scuttle Winterbourne but may undermine community trust in renewable energy sources more broadly as a viable alternative for the region.

Perhaps the most egregious aspect of the organised opposition to Winterbourne is the insidious erosion of community trust by methods that are far from democratic. EDPM’s modus operandi traduces the democratic process where trust in its processes is critical to equitable and sensitive development and constructive liaison with developers: as he calls out a lack of consultation and transparency by the developers, EDPM himself fails to support his constituents in addressing their legitimate concerns as their Federal member, choosing instead to politicise and polarise the issues and foment division in the community, aping to the letter the wrecking game being played to the hilt by the Federal Liberals in its tactically similar campaign against an indigenous Voice to parliament.

It’s a no-brainer that issues associated with windfarm developments – as with any state significant renewables project – will need to be examined and dealt with according to due process (such as the cost of de-commissioning, the opacity of contracts with stakeholders, even EDPM’s bogeys of bankrupt “carpetbaggers” leaving farmer stakeholders with debt, or selling a farm with crippling stamp duty attached to a decommissioned turbine, or recyclability of wind turbine components), and any highly invested scare campaign will comprise – as here – a mix of true and false interlaced with mis- and disinformation bereft of science, ethics or integrity. For the time-poor and climate fatigued denizens of Walcha, winkling out the authentic from the fakes must feel overwhelming if not merely tiresome.

In a moment of blinding insight EDPM once boasted that he is a “political animal” who will “go wherever the wind blows”. As he reiterated to his spellbound audience in January, “Now I know the EIS is a packet of poo-tickets. But you know what? All I know is that if we are going to win this, you have to change the politics…You have to make it seem like myself and Adam might lose our job. When Adam and I think we’re going to lose our job our radar goes up and we start thinking… we might have to change our point of view.”

Only a small semantic parse reveals both the alliance implied by a shared single job, and the emotional blackmail implied in the mention of jobs lost.

It has been suggested that certain inadvertent conditions have paved the way for vested interests to exploit community anxieties, such as the expeditious and rapid passage of the REZ legislation and some own goals by developers regarding public reach-outs (given the contentiousness of social license). Certainly, EDPM’s Trump-like luck and craven disrespect for the rules have conspired to render him a political opportunity in a numbers game held together by such patently threadbare polarities that questions are begged as to who or what is underwriting the growing anti-renewables agitation and why.


Walcha’s open-air sculpture

Of all the objections raised against the proposed Winterbourne development, the nimbyesque aesthetic objection is perhaps both expectable and the most paradoxical (the turbines are too big, too ugly, and too numerous: they are in the wrong place, eyesores spoiling the view and so on). It is as if wind turbines are exclusively dedicated to visually offend and degrade the pastorale symphony that is New England.

The truly odd thing is that Walcha township is positively littered with contemporary sculpture -little turbines reaching the sky even. This unique aspect of the town is not centred upon the occasional monument to the fallen or legendary highwayman (‘Thunderbolt’s Way’ being a singular overstatement) but consists in its seamless integration of dozens of powerful and authentic art works into the townscape.

The unexpected scale and soaring reach of so many of the fifty or so open-air sculptures – several of them prestigious prize-winners – is a joyful surprise to many visitors unaccustomed to such a muscular and unapologetic art presence in a small country town.

In 1996, Walcha Council was approached by Stephen King, a local farmer and sculptor, to collaborate with him to create a fountain sculpture for McHattan Park in the centre of town. The decision to accept his offer and install Walcha’s first sculpture led to the suggestion by Council to form the Walcha Arts Council to facilitate an ongoing public art program. A plan was conceived and drawn up by the Walcha Arts Council and was adopted by Council into its 1998 Management Plan. The concept came to be known as the Open-Air Gallery. Currently, the collection consists of 54 sculptures and artworks by local, national and international artists. And, it turns out, the town’s open-air sculptures are progressing towards a permanent open-air exhibition of world-class status.

As it is, the edgy, rough-hewn timber and metal foundry sculptures scattered about the streets and plazas are in edgy harmony with the rolling contours of the surrounding countryside, the sculptural middens of the dieback eucalypts that mar the landscape, and the mingled reds and rusts of iron roofs, last roses, autumn foliage, and gaudy shop awnings of the town.

Sculptures of all shapes and sizes weave through the town as a living element. There are no harsh notes or kitsch – instead arresting rough-hewn elements are scattered about as if to proclaim the transcendant beauty of the utilitarian over the grandiose and sentimental that were once the hallmarks of a colonial aesthetic.

The street atmosphere of the town exudes a sense of comfortably embracing a deep history that is valued and celebrated. One senses a gritty appreciation of things larger than ourselves, with ancient timbers and abstract forms scaled to the massive landscapes beyond. Yet the figure is ubiquitous – maternal, powerful totems supporting and propping up awnings and gracing open spaces, some functional (for example, as seating) others simply lyrical, or to amuse children and visitors in playgrounds, parks, and utility blocks.

The significance of this aesthetic consensus should not be underestimated, nor the humanism of its rugged symbols of resourceful creativity, its sense of history and the acceptance of its social interdependencies – the timber came from somewhere, the iron from somewhere else, disparate elements refashioned in homage to lives lived and histories merely hinted at.

How then is this thoughtfulness, this farming spirit of co-operation, these statements of hope, and this legacy of environmental custodianship to be reconciled with community-wide objections to progressive and viable solutions to Australia’s net zero commitment?

But it turns out there is no mystery and no contradiction: it transpires that less than 10% of Walcha residents lodged submissions objecting to the Winterbourne Windfarm EIS.

One might even surmise that the remainder was submitted by a community familiar with the unromantic, deadly reality of an “agricultural wonderland” decimated by years of drought, wishing now to collaborate with efforts towards climate mitigation and restoration processes offered by safe, viable and clean technologies available at the eleventh hour. The very idea that such people in their wisdom might be persuaded by fossil fuel interests to deny reality and oppose renewable solutions to anthropogenic climate change is beyond credulity.


February 2014

So how verdant was the Northern Tablelands in 1890 – 1902? 2013, 2018, 2019, 2020?

This pastoral wonderland – so called – endured a drought that persisted on and off from 2013 until it became catastrophic for farmers enduring the lowest rainfall on record during 2019 when there were no agistments and no feed to be had across NSW.


November 2019


Then came the fires.

Rounding up

It’s hard not to conclude that community concerns regarding the radial impact of a windfarm on the agricultural landscape are being co-opted by a well-resourced campaign against to block the proposed windfarm development and undermine progress on renewables. The provincial character of this aggressive campaign is also at odds with the progressive atmosphere of a robust community that has embraced new and difficult art, and which is now confronting serious global realities and challenges. In the meantime, however, wealthy politically connected backers of fossil fuel interests will continue to wine and dine the politicians who in turn will recruit writers and artists and recent settlers into convincing the broader community to not only reject a wind farm, but renewable alternatives per se, all the while splitting the community whilst claiming to represent their interests.

Disinformation has become a tactical art form since the divisive conspiracies of the Covid era. It is a form of community gaslighting designed to foment division whilst callously and loudly deploring it.

Grassroots activism is bottom-up, beginning with large numbers. Political interference is top-down, beginning with small numbers. Fearmongering is a political tactic so manipulative that it begs serious questions as to its ultimate purpose. Here it is a cynical attempt to distract from real global threats by conflating navigable, negotiable concerns with spurious, sometimes irrefutable objections.

Solar is the alternative so far on the Coal Coast, though there are big plans for wind and a few nukes as the decommissioning of mines progresses. The outdoor setting where I sip my latte is wiped down weekly to remove the fine coal dust. We’ve just had our first few millimetres of rain after a couple months of occasional light dustings and a couple of windy days. Yet another El Nino is predicted to be just around the corner. My friends tell me that the grass and fuel that have sprung up over three successive La Ninas in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park are now metres high, impenetrable, and soon to be tinder dry.



And they are worried not just for themselves, friends, neighbours, community and their environment, but for their children and grandchildren who, like previous generations, will continue to farm around Walcha.

Sure, wind turbines are big – but then how do you define big to generations of hard-labouring, season-dependent, drought and flood-afflicted, financially-strapped, increasingly insecure farming families? How is big contextualised in the even bigger picture depicting future generations of farmers wrestling with the unpredictable impacts of climate change? How does one reconcile the image of farmers having to shoot sick or fatally bush-fire injured livestock as somehow unable to face up to man-made global warming being implicated in these tragedies? How late is too late?



Perhaps the only reconciliation needing to be made now is between the people of Walcha who are being set apart by the socially destructive divide-and-conquer MOs of vested political interests. The truth is that, while the REZs cannot be changed, each and every renewable energy development can be examined on its merits according to legislated planning processes and procedures. Now more than ever, as we squabble over the lifeboats at tipping point, government planners and elected officials are reclaiming their independence from influence so as to secure the trust of the people they represent, and who pay their salaries.

Like kindred others, farmers on the Northern Tablelands are facing up. At the same time their maverick federal member is not only failing to act in their best interests, if indeed he ever did, but is actively subverting them. It’s probably time for the adults to reclaim the Bowling Club. The people of New England are not being asked to lab test proven technology, they are being asked by all the nations of the world to engage in good faith with a global climate emergency the best way they can. If this means negotiating with governments and developers to refine the technology and rationalise impacts as opposed to torpedoing the lifeboats, then – though the transition may be difficult – community tension and division should bow to unity of purpose and community pride, economic hardship should eventually shift towards sustainable growth, and a wonderland of pastures and regenerated forests may be eventually restored to the region and its people.

But, in the meantime, the ship is going down and time is running out.


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  1. New England Cocky

    What a thoughtful analysis and commentary about the feral electorate of New England, the beautiful Walcha district grazing country that raises super fine wool and fat lambs, but sends it’s kids to pursue careers in metropolitan cities where manufacturing, advertising, banking and a multitude of other career options are available.
    Old money that lost their branch of the Commonwealth Bank thus requiring travel to Tamworth about one hour away. One disgruntled grazier rang up his former school mate CBA CEO to complain and suggest that the Walcha branch should be re-opened immediately, otherwise the grazier would get his neighbours to move their savings, investments and operating accounts to any bank that would open in Walcha. The branch re-opened the next Monday morning as usual.
    The alternative energy projects in New England have created angst because some farmers are making a motza from renting out, or even selling, paddocks for solar panels that send power directly to the Hunter region and into the national grid without any power reserved for local New England industries. But that is justified because 75 years of various councils discouraging manufacturing and processing of primary products means there is little/no manufacturing requiring electric power.
    But the previous generations of forward thinking entrepreneurs have departed this mortal space leaving their legacy of a brass foundry, and an intrastate airline, sold off by local shareholders to subsequently leave the ARM -SYD air-fare exorbitantly expensive by every standard. The early growth of Newcastle as a steel city was moderated by the wool sales from New England because one grazier made it happen.

    Overcoming the dead hand of the Macquarie Street Parliament failed in 1967 because the none of the struggling dairy farmers in the Lower Hunter knew that the Australian Constitution s92 guaranteed trade between states, even for milk into the then Sydney Milk Zone.
    Just 64km up the road from Walcha is the once proud Armidale, home to the University of New England since (1937) 1955, avoiding any proposal that would increase the work-load for academics by growing the student population. So faculties like Engineering, Drama, Medicine and External Studies have been rejected because too many professors of that time were enjoying their early retirement on a full professorial salary package. Junior academics were left to struggle financially on paltry annual contracts, some after ten or more years of study and research while the administrators, known locally as Boolacrats after the admin building, multiplied like rabbits.
    The NOtional$ party is the underlying thread to this dismal story of lost opportunities. “You cannot seal Waterfall Way between Armidale and the coast because too many of those ”new ideas” will come up the hill and upset the balance of the political sinecure”, they said in 1975. The Late Bill McCarthy (ALP) won the election, sealed the road and dragged the Armidale community screaming in protest into the 20th century. But it would take the 1999 election of Richard Torbay (Independent) to get government funding for the decades of neglect of public infrastructure like roads, schools, police stations, courthouses, water supply.
    Now throw into this scenario the EDPM, aka Beetrooter, the adulterous, alcoholic, bigoted, calculating, sexually harassing misogynist representing the NOtional$ party donors and is best at securing his pecuniary interests while accessing the Parliamentary Allowances Scheme. The solution is straight forward; the women of Tamworth seem to prefer men of his distinctive calibre and continue to vote for him ….. or is it the old New England tradition of husbands voting for their wives who are staying home bare-foot, pregnant and in the kitchen?
    The few thinking persons in New England suggest that the NOtional$ have a plan to make the region a19th century theme park celebrating the 1950s Korean War wool boom. Certainly there is little effort to develop any local economic activity, with even the Great Northern Railway neglected and in desperate need of renovation and re-opening to provide at least some public transport for the increasing number of pensioners living, often hundreds of kilometres away, from the Tamworth centred medical services.
    Given this sort of background readers may better understand why Beetrooter with all his faults is a natural fit. Wind farms are too modern and besides, only a few graziers would benefit from the rents or land sales from homing the wind generators … and that would upset the carefully preserved social & economic balance.

  2. Roswell

    Bravo, Frances. Great stuff.

  3. Andrew Smith

    Good read, and one can elaborate further on some mechanics of influence*, related to a mining magnate, climate science denial, IPA, lobbying and former leader of the Nats, using a US analogy.

    IPA is in Koch ‘Atlas’ Network, highlighted by Jane Mayer in ‘Dark Money’ & present in UK via Tufton St. think tanks, behind Brexit & anti-NetZero, former IEA @ Tufton head Fisher set up Atlas.

    In the US, apart from ‘owning’, directing and manipulating the GOP, (on behalf of donors or ‘investors’) part of ‘Koch Network’ is their ‘bill mill’ ALEC American Legislative Exchange Council to resist climate science initiatives, regulation, taxes and government.

    Over several years, especially in Abbott’s time, the Nats became something like ALEC and being tasked with blocking or stymying any centrist or Liberal Party initiatives based on climate science and regulation for the environment.

    Of course one is not suggesting that the former Nats leader had a close (working) relationship with a mining magnate, closely linked to the IPA…. Meanwhile the Nats lose support from small medium farmers and community versus catering to Big Ag, Big Mining and Big Media influence in the bush.

    *ABC and inc. RN, has been so hollowed out, it seems more about standing back and ceding (digital) audience to allow other legacy media i.e. NewsCorp etc. and now Nova Media to run something like US mid-west radio and cable strategies, direct to ageing voters in regions.

  4. Canguro

    Per the author’s reference in this excellent essay to the “conveniently-positioned Newscorp loyalist”, (para 12), aka Vikki Campion, the former media advisor to Barnaby Joyce who co-opted her employer in an ages-old repetition of feminine wiles and cum hithery that so flummoxed the beetroot-complexioned dipsomaniacal garbler and soon-to-be ingrate into abandoning his wife and four daughters for the warmth of her body aside his, it would appear that the then paramour and latterly the bearer as his newly-wedded wife of two extra children bears much in common with the former deputy prime minister in the sense of deeply-held illusive beliefs as to the status of the ‘natural landscape’.

    It stands to reason that in a former time when she was employed by Joyce, that she would have been seen to be operationally competent if she ‘advised’ – taking that term with a large grain of salt – him in ways that reinforced the Joycean eccentricity that so characterises this self-serving bumbling oaf whose sense of purpose in life extends no further than the challenges involved in maximising the flow of dollars into his pockets and ensuring that a steady supply of cold beer is at hand, and if not, whatever other alcoholic liquid may act as substitute.

    To suggest that Joyce, or Campion for that matter, have any larger purview is to be sadly wide of the mark, as expressed so often in these pages by the fine New England correspondent known as the Cocky, and again in this excellent analysis by Frances Goold, a screed of solid gold if I may be permitted a poor pun.

    ‘Natural landscape?’ Pig’s arse, one might retort! Having a nodding acquaintance with that part of the world, along with a similarly referential relationship to matters ecological and agricultural, it’s been my observation that the evident degradation in the tablelands, and not only there but sticking to the theme of this comment, is, without being hyperbolic, nothing short of a tragedy. To juxtapose the cleared landscape against what was, pre-colonial, and endeavour to compare, is an exercise bound to evoke sadness and despair and a deep sense of the extent of the destruction & devastation wrought as a function of post-colonial land possession – or dispossession if you happen to be Aboriginal – a razing of the landscape along with its history, the natural faunal & floral communities largely destroyed, to be replaced by cloven-footed animals along with feral creatures and noxious weeds that can do nothing but further degrade the already ravaged landscapes. And they call it ‘land improvement’. They – being anyone whose justifications are predicated on the basis of how many dollars can be accrued as a function of the destruction of uncountable hundreds of thousands of trees and understory flora along with the millions of birds and animals that inhabited those landscapes. Collateral damage and well-within the framework permitted under an economic framework such as the one within which we live; capitalism… where life is reduced to the acquisition of fiat currency to be exchanged for material goods.

    Campion apparently cannot see this. Nor Joyce. They exist mired within a bucolic illusion that serves them well but is, ultimately, an utter denial of reality. The question is often asked… do we get the politicians we deserve… given the evident fact of their election as a function of majority support within their electorates? It would seem as though the good folk of the New England Tablelands might well exist in some sort of temporal time-warp, out of touch, and perhaps, who knows when, out of time.

  5. Barry

    I thank the author of this topic for promoting the value of the environment over the recent modern economic model that pitched Nature as something to be conquered.

    The very entities (govt, media, resource extraction companies etc) now screeching that people need to change their lifestyles, are the same ones which spent decades facilitating & funding the destruction of land & forests worldwide.

    They visualized & created our Western car-centric cities that will collapse once petroleum is phased out.

    The players in this game had input into the feverish impulse-to-buy mechanism that drives consumer behaviors using state-of-the-art psychological tricks, eg see Edward Bernays.

    And now they pretend to all of a sudden to care about the environment.

    The corporate oligarchs have an agenda. When King Charles 3 met with London Mayor Sadiq Khan last week they stood under a National Climate Clock which warned there was only about 6 years left to limit global warming. Agenda 2030? Hello?

    In Nov 2020 at the Green Horizon Summit, KC3 spoke about a transition to net-zero carbon world. A few months later KC3 called for a ‘warlike’ effort to fight climate change, saying “We need a vast military-style campaign to marshal the strength of the global private sector with trillions at its disposal”.

    The ‘private trillions’ WC3 was talking about is your super & savings.
    They want your assets and all national resources to build ‘their’ gated communities.
    Note to peasants, you’re excluded.

    People can work out how to move forward in a more environmentally friendly fashion, there is no need for uber-hypocrites like KC3 and all his woke UN-backed underlings, including our stupid politicians, to say which way is up.

  6. Clakka

    Excellent article.

    Beetrooter is undoubtably the nastiest piece of work in the Oz political landscape. He could go back to NZ from whence his seed came, and try it on there, where agricultural fascists abound – think of their failure to address the serious toxification of their coastal water-tables, think of their collective incorporated monopolistic incursion into the Oz dairy industry to starve out small-holders solely to acquire and accumulate their land.

    It seems his lack of ability to thrive via his own choices of early pursuits including his accountancy practice have embedded a belligerent niggardly despotism in his fragile ego.

    Everything he touches and involves himself in from New England to St George is at the end of the day about his own pecuniary interest obsessively driven by his demonstrable imbibing and lack of faith.

    His desperate guile to differentiate himself from ‘carpetbagging city-slickers’ has him divisively manipulating those constituents affected by yesteryear’s traits of bucolic life; the communication reticence brought on by isolation and loneliness, and the ravages of exposure to toxins in agriculture, like drenching, dipping and weed control.

    “No worries, the loquacious, unreserved and connected Barnaby will see to it!”. Except he principally sees to himself, soullessly using his convenience tool chest, his faux gravitas, shouty incredulity, name-dropping, and dubious enablers all at the end of the day leaving his constituents to unnecessarily endure hardships as they vote for him, living in vain hope.

    That the LNP and Nationals keep endorsing him is a disgrace and a demonstration of their grasping cowardice and dysfunction.

  7. leefe


    Given that Joyce has a long history of “seducing” members of his staff, it’s a tired, cheap and probably inaccurate – not to say sexist – old trope to put his liaison with Campion down to tthe “wiles” of the latter. Campion may well be a sly, manipulative piece of work, but Joyce is a long, looooong way from being an innocent, helpless victim in that affair.

  8. Canguro

    leefe, got it, thank you. I stand corrected. Guilty of ranter’s licence. Apologies to Ms Campion. I should have know better. Will exercise greater diligence should I wade in these ponds again.

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