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Saturday, 12 December 2015

The more we find out about Harris's Budvalt the less we like

 Carinda  was a stable  farming  community where multi generational locals managed  their properties largely in sympathy with the local ecosystem and respectfully of each other. 

 That all changed when ruthless Agribusiness Harris Brothers, trading locally as Budvalt, came to town.
 This is a peep into the window of Budvalt and its contemptible conduct on the properties which it has acquired. It's doubtlessly extermely profitable for them and they pursue those profits without concern for the consequences to locals or the impacts their farming methods have on community water sercurity .
  •  It seems multiple layers of government whom we are told have oversight may be sleeping.
  •  Harris first Carinda acquisition was Miralwyn from an American broadacre developer. Since then they have snapped up Swires historic Brewon and  Rumleigh Stations.(Harris also acquired Swires 
  •  An area of the Brewon property known as Warnocks paddock once grew lush Mitchell grass described by those who value it as a dry weather stock feed as the finest example in Australia. Over local community objections aided and abbetted by government intransigence Harris ploughed the mitchell grass including the local stock route which has right of way across their property turning it into another monocultural desert of wheat. There is some justice- the crop failed. 
  • The Harris's Rumleigh property received a curious water allocation from then Water Minister and local MP Kevin Humphries. As part of this process an "aboriginal consultant" from Narrabri was brought in to sign off on aboriginal concerns without reference to the local and directly impacted Brewarrina aboriginal community. The famous ancient Brewarrina Fish traps (Baiame's Ngunnhu) experienced record water lows as a result.
  •  Budvalt also controversially acquired the Glenacre aggregation, 4 properties whose previous owners have every right to feel that they were swindled by their bank. 
  • The local economy is hurting as much of the work available goes to backpackers. The reason is the same as why miners use "fly in fly out"- non locals don't care about local communities or ecosystems and are not across the issues anyway..
  •  It is reported by local observers that Harris trucks damaged the local road and Harris ordered his managers not to repair the damage.Not profitable? 

Occupy Sydney report of January 2015,  P & J Harris and Sons of Budvalt Pty Ltd have engaged in more concerning major environmental law breaches even though it appears the Office of Environment and Heritage, the Environmental Protection Authority and the Local Land Services have no powers to prosecute. We have been advised by the OEH that the clearing, burning of trees in total fire bans, crop dusting of native trees and grasses that have been reported for the last 2 years will not result in a prosecution, it will not even go the land and environment court.

 The relevant current relevant ministers are Niall Blair (DPI Water, NSW)  and Greg Hunt (federal,  environment)
1. Peter Harris's Budvalt was given permission to extract water from the Barwon river at his Rumleigh, Brewarrina property to water his cotton crop in February 2015 during a pumping embargo on the Barwon-Darling. 
Apparently this was permitted by the NSW Office of Water based on his Water Access Licence (WAL) being a Class A licence that includes Section 48 where the irrigator can apply for special permission to pump, These licences are usually for permanent plantings such as an orchard. This Section must include consultation with key stakeholders including local affected farmers and aboriginal groups. Our inquiries reveal that  the consultation process was at its highest flawed. There is suspicion that it may be corrupt: for example the local Aboriginal community were represented by an Aboriginal representative from Moree who had no right to be talking on behalf of the Ngemba people. This approval was delegated by then Water Minister and local state MP Kevin Humphries to NSW Office of Water. News reports at the time stated that the Barwon dependent towns of Walgett and Brewarrina were experiencing critical water shortages with other cotton growers having no such access to water when there was a rise in the Barwon In May 2015.  This  process must be called into question when determining the legality of the licence grant.  

2.  In June 2015 Budvalt Pty Ltd sowed wheat into a Travelling Stock Reserve such as Warnocks Paddock on Brewon Station at Carinda
Paddock on Brewon Station,  that were once famous for native Mitchell grass that includes part of the ‘Warnocks Paddock” that has been subject to ploughing and crop dusting of native Mitchell grass and native trees.3. The Local Lands (LLS) Services website promotes that “TSRs provide pasture reserves for travelling or grazing stock. These reserves can be beneficial in times of drought, bushfire or flood. They are also used for public recreation, apiary sites and for conservation. Local Land Services manages the land to strike a balance between the needs of travelling or grazing stock and the conservation of native species”.
4. The terms of the LLS  TSR’s on Brewon Station has been totally and perhaps illegally circumvented by Budvalt owner operators Peter and Jane Harris and Sons.
5. Budvalt then applied to pump water for irrigation from the Marthaguy Creek at Carinda and to do works from “Riverview” to “Geera Cotton”.
6. The advertising of this application was suspicious as the DPI only advertised it once in the Walgett Spectator and the Koori Mail. They would have achieved about the same coverage by advertising in the Adelaide Advocate.  If Harris had genuinely wanted the Carinda people to know about his intention to pump from their creek he would have ensured the attached Development Application was advertised publicly in Carinda and was put in the print version of the Carinda Comment as one of the editors is married to a Harris manager and lives on the Harris owned cotton farm “Willewaa” at Carinda.
7.The earthworks between “Riverview” and “Geera” have already been completed, a 2 km channel has been constructed and water had already been moved between “Riverview” and “Geera” before Budvalt applied for permission.
8. The Carinda people took up a petition to object to the pumping application, it will be interesting to see if the DPI still approves the application to pump. This flyer promoting the petition is also on the Carinda Comment facebook site.

1 comment:

  1. Their house of cards is about to fall.
    Broken Hill. Darling River Action Group