Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Country Tale

I have said this before, but I tend to avoid using this blog to criticise articles published in the media. That's partly because many people, not least of all Andrew Elder and NewsWithNipples do a pretty good job without me joining in,

But I'm going to make an exception today for this:
It's written by a NSW politician on NSW politics, so I think it qualifies for an exception.

First of all, who is Catherine Cusack?
Member of the Legislative Council since 2003, resident of Lennox Head. a town hear Byron Bay. She was part of the Shadow Cabinet, but missed out on the Cabinet spot after the election.

Her piece is about the deal that the Coalition made with the Shooters last week. I wrote about it at the time, but in short the Coalition agreed to pass a bill allowing shooting in National Parks in return for the Shooters agreeing to back the Power Privatisation bill.

I thought it was ugly to watch, but something that a party in government has to make when they don't control both houses. In agreeing to allow shooting in parks, the Coalition broke a promise:
Paul Howes wrote an curious piece on the Shooters deal this morning. In short, he was saying that O'Farrell should feel free to break the promises, but not this one, because it was a stupid promise to break.

He doesn't clarify which promise O'Farrell would have been an acceptable promise to break in the circumstances, but I think we can assume that the Promises That Are OK to Break woud include Gillard's promise not to introduce the Carbon Tax.

But I digress.

Now, given that Catherine Cusack is an MLC, she doesn't have an electorate to keep happy. It's therefore rare to see MLC's making a fuss about anything their party has done, given that they only need to vote in a way that keeps the party happy. Why she is sticking her head about the parapet in this way is a little difficult to understand.

But let's have a closer look at what she had to say and try to understand what she is on about.
OK, a quote from a poet. Nice start. Not usually something that foreshadows good analysis, but let's see how we go.
I'm already lost, to be honest. The farmers don't have a problem with the legislation, but only the "attitude of inspectors"? Legislation that, just 2 paragraphs earlier, she described as "draconian"?

Native Vegetation Legislation is a vexed area as there are two deeply contradictory interests in competition - farmers and environmentalists. To suggest that the issue is as simple as the "attitude of inspectors" - well, I think that's a little simplistic.
Suddenly we're onto the Solar Bonus Scheme.  For those of you that don't remember, Labor brought in a policy that helped fund the installation of solar panels on private homes.

It's true that Labor bungled it - the allocated budget was massively exceeded and the scheme brutally oversubscribed, and the Liberals tried to reign things in. Their big mistake was making the changes retrospective, which quite rightly pissed off a LOT of people.

I truly don't see how this had anything to do with "thumping the Greens" - it was sold at the time as being about fixing the financial problem that the solar bonus scheme had become.

What I suspect is that certain elements of the Coalition either had it sold to them as being a chance to stick it to the Greens, or more likely that this was just one of the games that politicians like playing behind the scenes.
No news there.
It's hard to argue with that, if it is indeed what the Shooters said. A Google Search turned this up the below LateLine transcript from a story about the deal with the Shooters:
That is a pretty awful comparison. Volunteers they may be, but they're not the SES.
I truly don't understand Cusack's point here. Is it that this deal is going to cost the government too much money? I doubt it - whether or not you think it is a good idea, letting hobbyists kill feral animals much surely be cheaper than doing it yourself.

But is she saying that no one has possibly considered the financial implications? I just don't follow the logic.
Cusack seems to believe that the deal was made because it was a better way of dealing with the feral animals, or because they have not consulted widely enough.

There is probably not a single person in the Upper or Lower House (except, of course, for the Shooters) who thinks that allowing shooting in the National Parks is a good idea. This was a deal that the Coalition has to make - that's the only reason they voted for it.

Moreover, Cusack knows that the Premier made the deal to get the Power privitisation through and for no other good reason. Presumably (and she doesn't suggest otherwise) Cusack supports O'Farrell's infrastructure plans, and she knows that it will cost money.

So, what are we to take from this piece? I don't really know:

  • Native Vegetation Act is fine, but the inspectors are the problem
  • The curtailing of the Solar Bonus Scheme was all about "thumping the Greens"
  • We need to "budget" for the "costs" of the new "shooting in parks" scheme, and
  • Baiting is much better than shooting.
Why did she submit this piece? Moreover, what is she trying to accomplish? I truly have no idea. Her constituency is the party - which of them are going to be happy with this piece?

Perhaps she is just making some trouble. Time will tell if that will be what she accomplishes.


  1. Think CC is pretty unhappy with the direction the party is taking on the Environment - has crossed the floor a number of times before. In other words, I think rocking the boat + a bit of standing up for principle is likely motive..

  2. As someone who has worked a lifetime in the environmental industry, using volunteers is always more expensive than getting professionals to do the job. They can do more work, more effectivly, in less time. Environmental management is no longer kiddies planting trees. Its a complex business that is made made more complex by people assuming that amateurs can carry out the work for less.

  3. There is a chance you qualify for a new solar energy rebate program.
    Click here and find out if you qualify now!