Tuesday 25 July 2017


On July 24 ABC TV investigative program Four Corners screened an expose of rorts and illegal practices happening in water extraction in the Murray-Darling Basin in north-western NSW and elsewhere along the Basin.  These actions are torpedoing the Murray-Darling Plan which was developed to improve the health of the river systemas well as ensuring a fair allocation of water to irrigators along the Basin.  What is also of concern is that there is a strong stench  of corruption about  this matter. 

There have been very strong reactions to this expose around the nation as well as calls for an independent inquiry.

Following the program's screening, the peak NSW environment group the Nature Conservation Council of NSW issued the media statement printed below.



Berejiklian must remove Nationals from resource portfolios and order an ICAC inquiry 

The Nature Conservation Council and Inland Rivers Network are calling on Premier Gladys Berejiklian to remove National Party MPs from natural resources portfolios and refer the issues raised in last night’s Four Corners report to the ICAC for investigation.

Four Corners found serious maladministration by managers of the Department of Primary Industries (Water) in the allocation and enforcement of water licences in NSW, and of compliance actions in the state’s northwest.

“The rules governing water sharing in NSW have been manipulated to favour a few big irrigators at the expense of the environment and downstream communities,” Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said.  “This is an absolute disgrace.

“The government has turned a blind eye to illegal behaviour like meter tampering water theft. This scandal has happened on the watch of National Party Ministers who must be held to account for their mismanagement of one of the key natural resource agencies in NSW.

“Premier Gladys Berejiklian should remove National Party Ministers from natural resources portfolios and refer these issues to ICAC for a full investigation.

“The ecosystems along the whole length of the Murray-Darling are declining because too much water is being extracted.

“Waterbird populations in parts of the Murray-Darling have declined by more than 80%, and we have lost 90% per cent of the Basin’s floodplain wetlands. This can’t go on.”

Inland Rivers Network spokesperson Bev Smiles said: “We’ve taken far too much water out of the Murray-Darling for far too long. Mismanagement and overuse of water revealed last night are damaging the Murray Darling’s life support systems and must stop.

“The National Party has overseen possibly the biggest theft of water in the state’s history. They have been captured by a small lobby of big agribusiness irrigators who are putting their commercial interests ahead all other users and the environment.

“Putting the National Party in charge of natural resource management portfolios was never going to end well. Now we have the proof that the irrigation industry in NSW has a powerful and unhealthy relationship with bureaucrats and political leaders. This has led to poor water management for the health of rivers and the weakening of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

“If this is not criminal, it is morally reprehensible. People want the government to bring our rivers back to health, not give public resources to large private companies.”

Saturday 22 July 2017


The times of the year when native trees in the bush and your garden are in blossom are when nature provides ample food for many birds.  Everyone will notice then an abundance of lorikeets keen to make the most of pollen and nectar.

Rainbow Lorikeet       Photo: L Blain

The most common lorikeets in NSW are the Rainbow Lorikeet and Scaly-breasted Lorikeet.  Many people feed these birds in their gardens, but it is not wise to give them sugar or honey.  Their blood cells need a certain amount of simple sugars but too much is harmful to them.  While birds like drinking a sugary syrup, it is low in nutrients, particularly Vitamin B, and can lead to an unbalanced diet.  Nutritional deficiencies can result in babies with deformed feet and wings.  These birds will not survive for very long.

My advice is not to feed any native wild birds as they may become dependent and can suffer from fungal infections as a result of dirty containers and stale contaminated food.

Seeds such as sunflower seed should not be fed to wild lorikeets as it can lead to serious consequences with feeding habits.  Lorikeets possess a brush tongue.  Prolonged eating of seeds such as sunflower seed remove this natural and important pollen-consuming characteristic from the bird’s mouth.

If left to find their own food, wild birds of all species provide an essential and instinctive insect control system and pollinate our native plants.  This then helps the environment.

Bill Noonan

 This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on July 17, 2017.    

Sunday 9 July 2017


It is time for another Marine Discovery Series. This time we have Stephan Soule, Manager of the National Marine Science Centre (NMSC) outreach and education program. He will be following on from a Marine Discovery Series lecture held earlier this year on land based climate change. Understanding the principles of Climate Change due to human influences can often be confusing and complicated, Stephan will explain anthropogenic influences on Earth's Oceans through thought provoking information and practical demonstrations. 

Stephan Soule is a science communicator with degrees in Aquatic Science and Education. The joining of these two disciplines has seen him involved with local and national projects to bring the world of science to a wide audience. He currently manages NMSC's Schools Program as well as the Solitary Islands Aquarium and is based at Southern Cross University's National Marine Science Centre.

When: Thursday the 20th of July at 6:30pm.

Where: National Marine Science Centre, Charlesworth Bay (entry via main foyer, ground floor), Coffs Harbour.

No booking is required.  Refreshments will be provided.  For more information please call 02 6691 0606 or 02 6648 3900.