Update No. 8 Friday 16th September 2011

Please note the newsletter subscription on the bar next to this page is for the SOT not the PLANS newsletter.

Hello everyone,

Some of you will have noticed that the PLANS Updates have been off the air for a few weeks, and consequently this week’s Update is a bumper issue.  I do apologise for this! The reason is that with only about 5-7 hours of paid time available per week I occasionally need to prioritse other things over the Updates.  This won’t happen often as long as the Updates are regarded by the committee as a core role of PLANS.

The past month has been a very busy time for the working group as we prepare for Incorporation.  It has involved debate and discussion around the governance and role of PLANS, as well as time recruiting people for the new PLANS committee, preparing paperwork and researching our legal requirements. Some of this is detailed in the newsletter item ‘I guess we still have our learner plates on!’ below for your information.

The key outcome of all of this is that the working group has made a decision that we will separate the Incorporation Meeting from the opportunity to have the wider networking event (which we hope to organise after Incorporation).  Thus the Incorporation meeting will be a brief general meeting on a date to be determined at the next working group meeting (Wed 21st September) – NOT October 2nd as previously advertised (we had also overlooked the fact it was a long weekend!).

On a sadder note Ben Gleeson and Anne-Marie Duke have  let us know they have decided to step down from the working group that originated PLANS  to focus on the many other activities they are involved in.  Annie has put a huge amount of work and thought into the development of PLANS and has been a calm wise colleague for me in particular to bounce ideas off.  Ben has brought a lot of perspective in particular to improving the governance and oversight of PLANS and his suggestions and ideas will continue to play an important role in shaping where we go.  We thank both of them very much for their great input and look forward to continuing to work with them via their other many roles in the community.

Cheers for now, Mel Hillery

In this Weeks Update

  1. Why I’m still inspired – Mel Hillery on the truly inspirational speakers she was priviledged to hear at last week’s International Conference of Eco Ideas hosted by the Manly Environment Centre-
  2. Dargues Reef Mine Hearing and Decision
  3. PLEP finally goes to the Department of Planning!
  4. Further funding from Sustaining Our Towns and our report on PLANS’ progress
  5. I guess we still have our learner plates on – Progress on Incorporation for PLANS  and an invitation to join the committee
  6. Thanks to Maxwells Services for their support of PLANS to attend their excellent Business and Operational Planning Workshop
  7. Grant opportunities -Veolia Mulwaree Trust
  8. Local events –  Walk the Greenways in Wamboin; Soil-Food Web with Upper Shoalhaven and Upper Deua Landcare Network; Controlling rabbits and foxes at Sutton Landcare, Canberra Electric vehicle festival.

What can I do? Please contact Mel at melophorus@bigpond.com if you know someone who would like to receive this weekly update, or if you have something you’d like to see included.

1. Why I’m still inspired – Mel Hillery on the truly inspirational speakers she was priviledged to hear at last week’s International Conference of Eco Ideas hosted by the Manly Environment Centre

Wow – what an amazing bunch of people are out there doing great things for the planet and for a really positive future! This conference really refreshed and refuelled my commitment to a sustainable future for Palerang, Australia and our planet! Let’s see if I can convey some of that for all of you (obviously the opinions expressed in this article are my own and not those of PLANS!)…

The conference was hosted by the Manly Environment Centre for it’s 20th birthday (now there’s a goal!) : ‘The International Conference of Eco Ideas’.  Again it was Sustaining Our Towns that encouraged and funded a number of us leading community projects  across the SE of NSW to attend.  The conference had an exceptional line-up of speakers and I have included a list of them below along with a great quote from each of them.  Skim over them now for a bit of inspiration and I’ll be working on getting them linked to websites, you-tube clips and a few of my notes so that by the next Update you’ll be able to read more on any of them that caught your imagination.

The tone of the conference was set for me by a speaker on the first morning. Polly Higgins is an environmental lawyer who is currently working at the United Nations to try and get ‘ecocide’ defined as the fifth crime against peace (after genocide and crimes against humanity etc).  Her whole campaign challenges everyone to stop accepting the norm that environmental damage and destruction is an acceptable by-product of economic activity.  If it succeeds (and she is convinced it can) it could be a game changer: ceos of corporations may face jail terms for major environmental damage and there will a duty of care from the nations of the world to countries suffering from the impacts of climate change.

The whole idea that it should become “abnormal” to accept major environmental damage as a by-product of economic activity emerged as the underlying motif of the conference, reiterated by Professor Gary Egger who linked human and planet ill health back to  economic growth, to the presentation by Mark Ogg of Zero Emmissions about their well-documented proposal to move Australia to 100% renewable energy in ten years (!),  John Hepburn of Greenpeace’s call for us to start challenging the major four bank’s investment in coal and to start moving our investments (apparently Bendigo Community Bank for example does not invest in coal) down to the fabulously inspring story of the ‘Bundy on tap’ campaign where the whole town of Bundanoon has voluntarily decided not to sell bottled water in their town and to return to the public provision of bubblers in response to their local fight to prevent the commercial exploitation of their local aquifer.

This theme of companies coming in to exploit natural resources with signifanct environmental damage and riding rough-shod over the concerns of locals seems is turning up everywhere we look right now.  We have our own example of it with the Dargues Reef Gold Mine reported on later in this update.  It will be interesting to see if the diversity of people being affected galvanises a powerful coalition of people across the country to finallly say – no, we no longer accept damage to the environment and human health and wellbeing as an acceptable cost for our (or is it their?) economic prosperity.

One issue which personifies so many of these issues is the proposal for a huge gas processing plant in the Kimberley.  Two members of the local indigenous community, Neil McKenzie and Dr Anne Polina came and spoke of the damage to the extraordinary community of Broome that has already occurred and the frontline battle they are fighting there. These are two of the most articulate and moving speakers I have ever heard. Which of us on the east coast has heard of this battle, where tactical response police have been sent in to remove black and white  grandmothers standing together to blockade company trucks? The Wilderness Society is putting this campaign as their top priority for the next year…and it deserves to be! This is one of the most pristine and spectacular parts of the planet that Australians stand to lose, as the current development will open the flood gates to an industrialisation of the Kimberley that is mind-blowing in its scale.  When you think of the local fight at Dargues reef, think also of the Kimberley – another front in the same battle – and start asking your bank manager what your money is being used to fund. If you haven’t got any money they suggest writing to the Environment Minister Tony Burke, or to get on a train and go and see it for yourself!

Here are my favourite quotes from the week:

International stories

Polly Higgins, Environmental Barrister.  “Maybe the Earth needs a good lawyer.Making Ecocide A Crime

Polly Higgins, Environmental Barrister. “ It is not a matter of slowing down the cycle of extraction and ecosystem damage…we have to cut it off completely. The damage we are talking about – mining, fossil fuel extraction, toxic waste, deforestation, oil spills –  all contribute to the death by one thousand cuts consequences for the planet”. Campaigning for Climate Change.

Garry Egger, Professor of Health and Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, author of Planet obesity. “In 1990 we had fat televisions and thin people, in 2008 we have fat people and thin televisions. We are at point in economic growth when we are starting to get negative returns both for health and the planet.” Eating for a Healthy Body and a Happy Planet.

Andy Donnelly, Earthwatch. “Remember that corporation employees are also citizens” Engaging Volunteers and Interns.

Dr Erika Techera, Centre for International and Environmental Law, Macquarie University. “International law is often criticized for being a toothless tiger but it has an important role in changing behaviour through setting standards and educating.’ Can the legal system work for shark conservation?

National stories

Mark Ogg, Beyond Zero Emmissions. “We need a new empowering narrative: that renewables can replace fossil fuels and we can do it in ten years.” Campaigning for Climate Change.

Dr Brian Walker, CSIRO and Stockholm Resilience Centre “Warren Buffet: the first rule of holes – when you are in one, stop digging” Ecosystem Resilience

John Hepburn, Senior Campaigner with Greenpeace Australia Pacific. “We need to campaign against coal as though our children’s future depends on it because it does.” Campaigning for Climate Change.

Ben Peacock, Republic of Everyone, consultant to ‘Say Yes’ campaign. “Simplify the message, make it personal and recruit recruiters”. Creating campaigns with impact.

Anne Jones, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) “An effective campaign is more than just passion and a good cause.” Creating campaigns with impact

George Malakwen, Community Action for Nature Conservation and the East Africa Environmental Network. “It puts everything into perspective when the stakes are life and death, shattered livelihoods and reduced biodiversity.Mobilising the community: the African experience.

George Malakwen, Community Action for Nature Conservation and the East Africa Environmental Network. “Working with politicians you must be very careful – it is like riding on the back of a tiger – you must keep eye to eye with the tiger or else you may find yourself inside the stomach of the tiger!” Environment Centres.

State and Regional stories

Dr Anne Polina, Save the Kimberley. “No river, no people “-  Aboriginal woman from the Fitzroy. Campaigning with Indigenous Communities.

Lyndon Schneiders,  National campaign director of the Wilderness Society.” I feel very optimistic about this campaign [Save the Kimberley]. The Preliminary social and environmental impacts have been done and approved…this started galvanizing the Broome community.  They blockaded the road to Woodside workers.. black and white together stopped traffic for 30 days.  Then the WA government sent in the tactical response group and cleared the locals away including black and white grandmothers.  A whole bunch of people were back the next day. Up to now the community is frustrating the work and holding it back. They are buying us time.

Our job is to give a hand to the people who are standing up to some of the biggest corporate players on the planet.

Consider what you are doing next dry season…we will need bodys on the line to delay delay delay. This is a campaign we can not afford to lose. This is a campaign we will not lose. Move your super, close your bank accounts.” The Wilderness Society ‘Save the Kimberley’ Launch.

Neil McKenzie, Save the Kimberley “What we stand to lose are the very first songs, the songs of the heart,where life began..

This is all our country even those who have come back recently.  It is time to give back.  We are asking you to think about what you have taken for granted.  Some people don’t know that you can be caretakers.  The only way to keep this for our children is to think now about giving what you can, what can you give up, how you can participate.  Look on the internet and get informed.”The Wilderness Society ‘Save the Kimberley’ Launch.

Dr Anne Polina, Save the Kimberley. “Our old people tell us -We will not win this with conflict or anger in our heart.  We will win this with love.

If you can not go to the Kimberley yourself, don’t stop your children from going.” The Wilderness Society ‘Save the Kimberley’ Launch.

Neil McKenzie, Save the Kimberley The important thing is that it  [the development starting with the James Point Price gas plant] will tear up the country and in the process it is already tearing the people up.  My families are fighting my families.” Campaigning with Indigenous communities.

Mary Crooks, Victorian Women’s Trust “ Golden Rules for engaging interns/volunteers..include: give real work.., find the creative fit.. and make sure volunteers feel a part of things.” Engaging Volunteers and Interns.

Michael Whelan, Southern Cross University. “Win, win, win with work integrated learning” Engaging Volunteers and Interns.

Imogen Zethoven, Pew Environment Group. “90% of the large ocean going fish have disappeared in the past fifty years…the Coral Sea is one of the few remaining places where there are still large numbers of these large fish.” Marine Environment: Biodiversity v Development.

Caroline Hoisington, Centre for Policy Development. Exponential drops in fish abundance all over the world suggests that commercial fishing might not be viable in the next fifty years. Wild catch has peaked globally, aquaculture is increasing.” Marine Envrionment: Biodiversity v Development.

Rachel Carroll – Murray Darling project.Art is like the heart where science is the brain.” Art as a Driver for Change.

Local stories

Janet Richardson, Professor of Health, Plymouth University, resident and participant of Totnes, the first Transition Town. We need to reframe climate change and peak oil as opportunities with lots of benefits for health and wellbeing…we also need to provide a hook for those not involved in Transistion Towns so that they are not actually disadvanteged by it.Are Transition Towns Healthy Towns?

Sandra Menteith, Project coordinator of Bundy on Tap in Bundanoon. “Use innovation, be the change.  Our impact was in doing this, everything else followed.’ Creating campaigns with impact.

Judy Reizes, Manly Environment Centre.The only free take-away in Manly – a shop front that doesn’t sell anything Environment Centres.

Dr Peter McDonald, the Science of Protest You don’t get successful results without getting involved in the political process and bringing science in with you.” Beginnings of the Manly Environment Centre.

Dr Nina Burridge, Planning for Change. “…all would not have happened without input of residents” Beginnings of the Manly Environment Centre.

Peter Rutherford, Senior Eco-gardener – Kimbriki Eco House and Garden “When we imagine tomorrow we bring it into being”. Imagine our Future.

Saving Sydney Harbour’s Heritage

Val Hunt, Adelaide Hills Natural Resource Centre, South Australia. “A big issue is that people are putting their heads in the sand because it [environmental action] all seems too hard – so we have tried to focus on providing the solutions and giving people the skills, knowledge and empowerment to make the changes themselves.” Environment Centres.

Carole Douglas – In collaboration with Kachchh artists – Inspiring Change. A lot of Australian coal comes to this area [of India] – roads are now very dangerous due to coal trucks…At the end of the project the artisans exhibited at an international conference which allowed them to see that they were in fact environmental educators.” Art as a Driver for Change.

Emma Lynch – Waste Minimisation and Education Officer, Manly Council “Our most sucessful projects include: the Filtered water bubbler program; Ban e-waste into landfill; Manly Food wine and sustainability festival”. Sustaining Manly.

Celia Cameron Smith, Climate Change education & special projects officer, Manly Council. “Our most successful projects include: Green Up your Life – sustainable living education program; Manly Council’s Mer-recycled Christmas Decorating Competition.” Sustaining Manly.

Phil Jenkyn, Defenders of Sydney Harbour Foreshores “Never go away”

Nick Hollo, Sydeny Harbour Fedreation Trust “Every time something is done with staff resources only, an opportunity for community investment is lost.’

Eve Clark, NSW Health Promotion, Northern Beaches. Hooray for the free lunch’ – a school kid at a school garden harvest celebration. Eating for a Healthy Body and a Happy Planet.

2. Dargues Reef Mine Hearing and Decision ( a personal reflection by Mel Hillery)

If you’ve made it with me through the whole of the essay in the item above, then you will know that a strong theme out of the Manly Environment Centre conference was that many people from many walks of life in many places are beginning to question the idea that damage to the environment, and to human health and well-being, is an acceptable by-product of economic growth.

Some of our neighbourhood might argue that we have this right here in Palerang with the recent decision  by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) to ignore hundreds of objections from the public and approve the Dargues Reef Gold Mine at Major’s Creek (see http://www.braidwoodtimes.com.au/).

One of the issues of greatest concern is the estaimated water requirement of 215 mega liters per year which will be extracted from the Deua River catchment.  Up until early last year the Deua river catchment (which provides 80% of potable water supply to 100 000 people in the Eurobodalla Shire) was severly stressed by a drought and ceased to flow in come places (Peter Cormick, presentation to the PAC).  Other issues include management of the tailings dam, the ‘loss in the system’ of Palerang Council’s unanimously supported request for specific conditions imposed on the proponent, and the glossing over of concerns rasied by a number of statutory authorities, summarised by the Department as ‘None of the statutory authorities objected to the project” (Peter Cormick, presentation to PAC).

What can I do? Councillor Catherine Moore has suggeested that the community needs to appeal the decision and has called for a public meeting. If you would like to know more contact Catherine on 0411 288 057. And for those of us living in the west of the Shire who might think it is all too far away…don’t forget that it is the Deua River that you follow through the Araleun valley if you take this route to the coast.

For further info see Submission to PAC Dargues Reef Gold Mine Cnr Catherine Moore August 2011

And Cnr Judith Turley’s SUBMISSION TO PAC re Dargues Reef Gold Mine

3. PLEP finally goes to the Department of Planning!

At Palerang Council’s Extraordinary Meeting of 25th August the Council voted for the draft LEP to be forwarded to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure. Consultation with the Department has commenced and the Department has raised a number of issues to do with the draft clauses relating to medium density development, dual occupancies and bush rock removal.  There are also a number of issues relating to heritage listing which Council had deferred. These will all be discussed at Palerang Council’s Extraordinary Meeting on 22nd September 5pm at the Bungendore Council Chanmbers.

What can I do? Making sure that the LEP reflects a community vision has been a long and exhausting process and is now entering a critical phase where we need to pay attention to the decisions being made.  Download a copy of the business paper for the Extraordinary Palerang Council meeting at http://www.palerang.nsw.gov.au/council/12821/13495.html and let your Councillors know what you think about the recommendations.  Better still go and see for yourself! Contact Mel at melophorus@bigpond.com for further details.

4. Further funding from Sustaining Our Towns and our report on PLANS’ progress

We recently submitted our August Progress Report to Sustaining Our Towns which conincided with SOT’s Program Manager Tracey Rich being able to confirm that she is able to extend our funding with a further $10 000 extension to our original $5 200 grant from them!!! This means we are about half way through our current funding and should enable us to operate into 2012 by which time we hope to have secured a grant in our own right.

The Progress Report is a good summary of our progress to date against the original aims of our expression of interest to SOT in February this year.  Both of these documents are available on this website (see Key PLANS Documents at

In summary the Progress report is able to demonstrate that we have completed most of Milestones 1 (Planning) and 2 (Doing: bottom up development of the network), and by the process of Incorporating we are working towards Milestone 3 (Funding the Network).  We have yet to achieve any of the items under Milestone 4 (Monitoring and Review).  These processes are of course ongoing and cyclical.

What can I do? We are always looking for feedback on how the network is developing…let us know your thoughts! Email Mel at melophorus@bigpond.com.

5. I guess we still have our learner plates on! – Progress on Incorporation for PLANS – and a continuing invitation to join the PLANS committee

As mentioned in the covering email to this Update, the working group has been struggling with the workload of getting everything ready that we need for Incoporation and so has decided to make the Incorporation meeting as straightforward as possible.  We have cancelled the previously advertised meeting on the 2nd October (we had overlooked that this was a long weekend!) and will advertise the meeting’s new date in the near future.

The working group would like to apologise for the disorganisation regarding dates and formats for the meeting.  It is now our intention to hold a general meeting that will be limited to the business of Incorporation and to hopefully hold the broader networking meeting further down the track.  Sorry for the confusion!

We have a number of people who have shown interest in joining the committee (we will also delay implementing the idea of the Refrence group till later down the track) but the invitation to join remains open.  The working group will be having it’s next meeting on Wednesday 21st September 2011 at 5.30pm at the Bungendore Council Meeting rooms. We are extending a welcome to anyone who is interested in joining the committee to attend this meeting and then determine whether they can make this commitment after that meeting.

What can I do? If this invitation is of interest to you, please RSVP to Mel Hillery melophorus@bigpond.com and I can send you the information for potential committee/ reference group members or any further information you require. See also for some of our key documents.

6. Thanks to Maxwells Services

A very big thankyou to Jenny Hemmings and Maxwells services who recently supported Mel Hillery to attend their excellent Business and Operational Planning workshop in Bungendore.  It is fabulous that we have training of this high calibre available to us locally.  We are hoping that the new PLANS committee will be able to take advantage of Mel’s training in this regard in the near future.  Maxwells Services’ course schedule can be found at www.maxwells-services.com.au

7. Grant opportunities

Applications for the next round of applications to the Veolia Mulwaree Trust close at 12 noon, Wednesday, October 5, 2011.  See http://mulwareetrust.org.au/ for further details.

8. Local events

Sunday 18th Spetember 2011 Walk the Greenways to Millpost Hill

See http://www.bywongcommunity.org.au/ for details.

Mon 19, Tue 20, Wed 21 September 2011 Soil-Food Web with Upper Shoalhaven and Upper Deua Landcare Network

Call Felicity on 4842 2594.

Sunday 25th September 2011 Canberra Electric vehicle festival, 10am-4pm,  nr Old Parliament House

Tuesday 18 October 2011 &.30pm Suttion Landcare Dr Brian Crooke on  Controlling rabbits and foxes


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