17 April, 2015

Water Entitlements and Allocations

Cop this for a misleading, almost non-sensical statement-

The NSW Office of Water will leave water entitlement for general security users along the Lachlan River at 100 per cent for the 2015-16 year. It says entitlement, not to be confused with water
allocations, will remain unchanged after wide consultation with users along the river.

The Office of Water's Michael Wrathall said: "It means the maximum proportion of general security
entitlement can be extracted in the next water year. So if those water users have 100 per cent
entitlement in their account, then they can extract that full amount."

Although entitlement remains unchanged, water allocations along the Lachlan River remain challenging."We announced in March that we would need 130,000 megalitres of inflow and storages in March and we'd only received in the order of a few thousand, rather than the ten's or hundred's of
thousands. So there is certainly still a fair way to go to announce new allocations."


It is however consistent with the nonsense the MDBA etc keep talking about in terms of "Water Recovery". You would think that there was a totally consistent supply with nature and variability having no role! Until such times as they talk about extractions in terms of a proportion of our highly variable actual flows, the whole debate remains meaningless! 

16 April, 2015

Bourke-A Town With Real Spirit-A Personal Perspective

Background
In August 1960, as a raw youth,just after my nineteenth birthday, pastoral house Dalgety sent me to Bourke Branch. I had joined Dalgety in Sydney six weeks or so earlier after spending three years "jackarooing" in south/west and central Queensland. Dalgety said that they would use my vast rural experience and send me to a western branch! I thought I was going as a junior Stock Salesman, but the Bookkeeper had resigned a day or two before I arrived and on arrival the Branch Manager, Jim Garnsey, told me that as I had spent six weeks filling in time in the Sydney Accounts Department, I was the new Bookkeeper! Highly revered Bourke stalwart, Dermie Murray, tells me that he sat beside me on the aircraft from Sydney and was amused at the enthusiasm of this youngster. At the time Bourle had a regular Ansett Focker Friendship air service on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

Bourke in those days was thriving. The impact of of the Korean War driven wool boom of the early 1950's was still apparent and Dalgety Bourke was a vibrant Branch with a big business. Whilst my duties largely confined me to the office I got to know the district and many of its personalities by playing cricket on Sundays with the renowned Snake Gully cricket team. We had our home field some miles out of town on Jandra Station. Matches were often played in  extremely hot weather and this induced a considerable thirst. On other hot days the back bar of Fitz's Hotel was a favourite drinking hole and I have always claimed that it was in that place that I learned to drink.

In the early days of 1961 at the farewell to Bush Brother Timothy (the Rev.Dr. Barry Marshall), I met a spirited school leaver, Gail Dugan, who, five years later, became my wife with Barry Marshall officiating at our Sydney wedding. I spent some 18 months in Bourke before being transferred to Ivanhoe. Following Jim Garnsey's resignation to become a grazier at Tilpa, I  returned to Bourke in 1965 in the midst of a roaring drought, to support new Branch Manager and Bourke Rugby coach, Peter Garry.

After spending a total of 28 years with Dalgety, I was attracted by the Swire Group's plans to become a major agricultural producer and in 1988 I resigned to succeed Dudley Dunn as Managing Director of Swire subsidiary, Clyde Agriculture, then known as Wesbeef Pastoral Company.By then Swire had bought Dudley out completely. The Swire and Clyde Chairman, Edward Scott, who through his great mate Dudley Dunn had grown to love Bourke and invest in Clyde, envisaged I would set up an office in Swire House in Sydney. I couldn't see why we needed a Sydney Office, apart from a room or two for me and one or two support staff, as well as an office in Bourke, so it was agreed that Bourke Office could provide administrative services to the growing Company whilst continuing to support the local cotton farms, gin, workshop, hotel and grazing interests (Toorale, Janbeth and Longmeadows).

So, I firmly reconnected with Bourke and made frequent visits during the twenty plus years I was with the Swire Group, both as a Director of Swire and following Edward Scott's untimely death, Chairman and CEO of Clyde.

Bourke Reunion
Against the foregoing background it was not surprising that Gail, her surviving brother Barry (Trangie) and I decided to attend the big Bourke Reunion over Easter. We had a 'phone call from long time friend Kay Violini, the daughter of Lyle and Nancy McNeil-Bourke Ford Garage proprietors and Newsagents. Nancy was a Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald's Post Office Hotel. Kay told us that she and Leo were planning on driving up from Gippsland and urged us to attend, if we could find any accommodation! As it was we fluked a cancellation at Julie Murphy's Ardsilla House and couldn't have been better looked after. Kay and Leo stayed with an old friend at Brewarrina.

The Reunion was simply wonderful and is a great tribute to the spirit, commitment, organising ability and energy of the people of Bourke. As Phillip Parnaby, who I suspect was the driving force, quickly told me, it was a whole community endeavour which had the effect of drawing people together in an unprecedented way.

We arrived on Thursday evening and attended Jenny Greentree's art exhibition and were delighted with her ongoing work and the atmosphere of the gathering. On Friday morning we 'tagged along' on the Toorale tour. This was very well planned and it was great to have Bill Stalley give a colourful picture of life in the old homestead, built by Samuel McCaughey in 1896.

McCaughey Built Toorale Homestead 1896


The barramundi lunch on the Darling was a highlight and the National Parks and Wild Life briefings were interesting and sensitive. I went to Toorale with misgivings given my great disappointment at the economic loss of Toorale (including the cotton farm) as probably Bourke's most productive property . However, it was great to be back there and the NPWL staff's enthusiasm for the ongoing diversity of flora and fauna and the Warrego flood plain was infectious. This reinforced my view that there is really no conflict between grazing and protecting environmental values with enlightened management
A low  Darling River in Front Boundary Paddock on Toorale



The Long Table Dinner on the Back o' Bourke Centre levy bank was a truly great event, again wonderfully well organised. Thank God the wet drizzle disappeared and a balmy evening ensued. Surely a single table some 150 metres long with a la carte service, must set some sort of entry for the Guinness Book  of Records?

Saturday began with a wide ranging street parade enhanced by a colourful commentary. From antique tractors and wagons to a display of medical procedures and live sheep shearing there was something for everyone. Amidst all these events there was the constant meeting of old friends some who hadn't seen each other for fifty years or more.
Kay and Leo Violini and Gail Boyd in Oxley Street Bourke with Kay's ancestral Hotel in the background
The afternoon was packed with a conducted historical tour of the Bourke Cemetery with historian Paul Roe in fine form, a spirited rugby match between the current Bourke team and a team of not so old former players, an Easter Communion Service complete with a christening of a grandchild of old friends at the Anglican Church where Gail and I first met, followed by "The Ball".The latter was more in the form of a dinner/dance with the organisers serving 500 people a quality hot meal a la carte, in the recently renovated Oxley Hall. An organisational master piece.

Daylight saving finished on Saturday night and we were awoken at 4:30 AM by  Barry with a somewhat cynical query as to whether we were going to the sunrise Easter Church Service at the Wharf. He had wound his clock forward instead of backwards! We did get to the Service at the appointed time of 6:00AM and enjoyed an Easter Service with a  wonderul backdrop of the Darling River at sunrise with active birdlife, followed by the Buster family tradition of pancakes. The Busters were very early Bourke cotton growers (1965) who immigrated from California and have been strong community centred local citizens. Pancakes were followed by the dedication of a Memorial Garden at the Bourke Hospital and a tour of the modern wonderfully equipped facility. Gail worked there as a Sister before our marriage,  after she had graduated from Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital.

After a brief break we headed for the central event of the Reunion - the Picnic Races. The first race meeting to be held in Bourke for 13 years. I understand the attendance figure was no less than 3600. That in a town with a total population of 2500. It brought back memories of regular race meetings in the halcyon days of the early 1960's. Whilst I didn't trouble the bookies, would you believe, Gail and I won the entrance raffle and look forward to five days in Darwin, all at a generous sponsors expense! Consistent with past practice we had dinner at Clyde's former hotel, The Port of Bourke (formerly the Royal) and as we had done throughout the extended weekend met even more old friends.

On Monday morning we did the Jandra Cruise on the replica of the famous old paddle steamer which plys the Bourke Weir  Pool. The skipper gave us an interesting commentary on the scale of the Bourke floods, but unfortunately had a misinformed, jaundiced view of the impacts of irrigation. I managed to constrain myself-just!


Before departing we paid our respects to all of Gail's and Barry's ancestors and siblings in the Bourke Cemetery and there are a lot there. We were accompanied by an old friend who like Paul Roe is an authority on who's who in the Cemetery and who joined us for lunch appropriately at the Parnaby's  "Diggers on the Darling".


08 April, 2015

More Wisdom From One of My Favourites

Freeman Dyson: Earth Is Actually Growing Greener
The Vancouver Sun, 6 April 2015

This week’s Conversation that Matters features Princeton University’s preeminent physicist Freeman Dyson who says computer models do a good job of helping us understand climate but they do a very poor job of predicting it.

 

Freeman Dyson is a member of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council



Dyson says, “as measured from space, the whole earth is growing greener as a result of carbon dioxide, so it’s increasing agricultural yields, it’s increasing the forests and it’s increasing growth in the biological world and that’s more important and more certain than the effects on climate.”

He acknowledges that human activity has an effect on climate but claims it is much less than is claimed. He stresses the non-climate benefits of carbon are overwhelmingly favourable.

03 April, 2015

Progress With Millennium Goals


The Truth About Warming

A chart put together by John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, that reflects how the temperature satellite data (the green line) contrasts with temperature models.

31 March, 2015

Two extracts from the Global Warming Policy Foundation

I abhor Earth Hour. Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity. The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that, instead I celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity. Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. --Ross McKitrick
  

 
In 2007 we were told on all sides that, by the end of the summer melt in 2014, the entire Arctic would be “ice free”. Polar bears were disappearing. The mighty Greenland ice cap was melting. Even as late as 2013 the National Geographic warned that the great expanse of Hudson Bay was warming so fast that it would soon reach “tipping point”, changing its ecosystem forever. How have all those predictions turned out? In fact last year’s Arctic ice melt was the smallest in nine years and its thickness is now back to its level in 2006. Several studies show that across most of the Arctic, polar bears have never done better. --Christopher Booker, The Sunday Telegraph, 29 March 2015

19 March, 2015

Alan Oxley as quoted by Andrew Marshall in The Land

"Land available to farming shrank by 15pc between 2000 and 2013 and water entitlements in the Murray-Darling Basin shrank about a third.
Then federal Water Minister Penny Wong's irrigation rights buying campaign had been motivated by drought-fuelled concern about the downstream environment's impact from what was envisaged as continuing drought.
But he said the federal government and zealous environmentalists ignored the river system's history of low and non-existent flows, targeting water extraction cuts based on almost-random figures proposed by the anti-irrigation lobby.
"There was no environmentally defensible reason for the sort of buy-back figures chosen by government," said Mr Oxley, who heads the trade consultancy firm ITS Global."

I couldn't have said it better myself!