ARCHIVED NEWSLETTERS - 1999
Issue 12 - December, 1999
Birdsville Launch for Three Draft Strategies
The November 13 launch was a satisfying moment for the people who have been involved in bringing the community consultative process to this point. A joint meeting of the three committees for the Birdsville launch of the draft strategies was the first since they were formed.
Praise came from Barry Wakelin, Federal Member for Gray, who attended the launch on behalf of Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Robert Hill.
Mr Wakelin was present at the public forum preceding the launch, when a number of issues were discussed. He said the Lake Eyre Basin process of community participation provided 'another remarkable example of leadership within Australia, which succeed thanks to the efforts of a lot of committed people.'
It recalled Senator Hill's commitment to 'local ownership and local solutions' at the 1997 Birdsville meeting, he said and demonstrates 'a very worthwhile investment of NHT (Natural Heritage Trust) funds and matching state government contributions.'
Bookmark our Website
Also launched at Birdsville, our website will be popular with a wide range of people. Packed with information it offers a Tour of the Basin with some stunning photographs and a choice between people centred activities, flora and fauna, or landscape. We expect to build up the Tour over time and welcome wider involvement in this process.
The site has been designed with a number of roles in mind. Chief among them is the spread of information, making knowledge about the Basin as widely available as possible.
Regular visitors will use the graphics free choice to check up on Happenings, find out about meetings or access publications, side- stepping the need to download time consuming graphics.
This choice is for people who want speed of access and also those people within the Basin who suffer such poor telecommunications service that downloading graphics is not a choice. The website is also designed to accommodate older technology.
Tourists, students, overseas and first time visitors will enjoy an opportunity to 'visit' Outback Australia and 'meet' some of the locals, catchment members with a variety of backgrounds, from industry, to pastoralism, local government and conservation. See you at: www.LakeEyreBasin.org.au
Posters and Brochures
A poster and a brochure, both full of colourful pictures and information about Lake Eyre Basin and the work of the Coordinating Group and Catchment Committees are now available.
If you are able to display or distribute copies among local catchment communities or other stakeholders, including tourists, please contact the office or your local catchment member. Full contact details on the back page.
Road Signage Project
NHT funding has now been allocated for a road signage project for the Basin.
Thousands of people enter the Basin each year aware of state boundaries but unaware they are travelling within or through a catchment, unaware of the boundaries of the Lake Eyre Basin.
Erecting road signs to inform travellers as they enter the Basin is a joint project by the Cooper's Creek and Georgina/Diamantina Catchment Committees.
In addition to basic signage, the project includes provision for signs with more information to be installed at roadside rest areas. Signage partnerships with local councils, Transport Departments, and Soil Conservation Boards in S.A. will be explored.
The Coordinating Group regards Aboriginal participation and representation as integral to catchment management.
At the November meeting Group members announced their intention to redouble efforts to work closely with Aboriginal communities in order to accelerate the process. Actions have already been initiated to achieve this goal.
The Draft Lake Eyre Basin strategy incorporates a recommendation for an Aboriginal liaison person.
News from Cooper's Creek
Draft Water Management Plan
A highlight of the past quarter was the release of the Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Revised Draft Water Management Plan for the Cooper's Creek. Coordinator Nora Brandli attended three of the four public meetings organised by DNR to gain a clearer picture of public opinion. Following further consultation between CCCC members and their communities, a response was submitted to the Minister.
Talking to Shire Councils
Opening up communication channels with Shire Councils has been a rewarding experience says Cooper's Creek coordinator Nora Brandli. Presentations to nine of eleven councils have helped to dispel some misconceptions and opened the way for beneficial partnerships such as the weed project she says.
The appointment of five new community/geographic positions on the CCCC will involve intense community consultation in each of the geographic/subcatchment regions. The new positions are a result of restructuring of the community representation regions and resignations of CCCC members.
Date and time yet to be decided. Expected to be somewhere in the North of the catchment sometime around March 2000.
Strengthening Links Across the Basin
John Scanlon Chief Executive of the South Australian Department of Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs spent several days travelling in the Lake Eyre Basin with the Basin Coordinator, Kate Andrews, talking directly with community members and learning about the issues first hand.
Their travels led from Longreach, down the Cooper's Creek to Windorah, south to Innamincka and back up to Birdsville. They visited an irrigation scheme near Longreach on the Thomson river and inspected infestations of Prickly Acacia further south on the river. Members of the Longreach Landcare group and Qld Department of Natural Resources explained the work they have been engaged in to control weeds.
During the trip John met with Catchment Committee members, discussed sheep and organic beef, and swam across Cooper's Creek near Windorah. He left with a greater understanding of the people and country in some of the Lake Eyre Basin.
Joint Weed Project Initiated
A major weed control project initiated by Cooper's Creek Catchment Committee will see this catchment join forces with Georgina/Diamantina Catchment Committee, Shire Councils, Landcare and weed groups and the Queensland Department of Natural Resources. It is the first project of its kind within the catchments.
The project aims to prevent the downward spread of weeds and reduce infestations in both catchments. It will pull together the combined knowledge and experience of the groups taking part.
Cooperation with a South Australian weed project through the Department of Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs and the Department of Primary Industry and Resources is another possibility.
Stakeholders held a workshop in Longreach on Thursday, 9th December.
About the Draft Strategies
Release of the draft catchment strategies for public comment follows months of planning within each catchment to identify and prioritise resource management issues and agree on actions and time-frames for dealing with them.
The overall Lake Eyre Basin strategy seeks to bring together the issues raised at catchment level within a cooperative vision for the whole of the Basin. Together the three documents establish an integrated framework for action at regional and catchment level in partnership with governments, communities and industry. The strategies are intended to remain 'live' working action plans.
They are preliminary documents. The launch marks the start of a six month public consultation process. Comments and additions are sought and response forms are included in each strategy.
Copies of the strategies are available from the Lake Eyre Basin Coordinating Group's Longreach office. Also on the website www.LakeEyreBasin.org.au
Coordinating Group Changes
The Annual General Meeting of the Coordinating Group was held in public at Birdsville, before the open forum, leading to discussion and questions on a range of topics, from the new constitution of the recently incorporated Lake Eyre Basin Coordinating Group to the development of a database of research projects.
Angus Emmott, Treasurer of the Coordinating Group and Deputy Chair of Cooper's Creek Catchment Committee was elected Deputy Chair of the Coordinating Group. The annual terms of the skills based members of the Coordinating Group were reconfirmed to align with the date of the AGM for the sake of consistency.
Farewell and Welcome
This was the last meeting for Queensland Government observer Graeme Milligan who was an inaugural member of the Coordinating Group going back to the original Steering Group. Graeme said he will continue to take a close interest in LEBCG and Chair Don Blesing thanked him for his valued contribution.
Replacing Graeme is Jeff Smith, the Regional Service Director for the Central West Region of Queensland's Department of Natural Resources. Having worked around the Windorah, Roma, Charleville region in the 1970s as a valuer he looks forward to getting to know the wider Basin.
Another new face is Mike Keane, representing the Georgina/Diamantina Catchment Committee. He manages Headingly Station for the Australian Agriculture Company, and is keen to help the bush retain its identity.
Mike replaced Gavin Miller in September 1999. Thanks go to Gavin for his contribution to LEBCG and his involvement in the staff selection process and the LEBCG futuring workshop.
Communications Officer Leaving
Gillian Dufty has been with LEBCG since April 99. Her contract will end on 31 December. During that time she has been involved with the establishment of some core resources. These include a communications strategy, which will be released early next year. Gillian is currently working with the executive to futurise the communications role so that it is geared to fulfil the goals outlined in the strategies.
She has enjoyed the months she has spent here and thanks everyone for their kindness and hospitality. Gillian is returning to New Zealand with many exciting plans. However, she will maintain a continuing interest in the Basin and will certainly return to revisit the Outback which has cast an enduring spell.
Lake Eyre Basin Agreement
South Australian, Queensland and Commonwealth Ministers have provided the community with feedback on the consultation process which was held during 1999 for the Lake Eyre Basin Agreement.
The Ministers have also prepared an explanation of the Draft Agreement and are working towards completing their negotiations by the end of 1999.
Canberra Trip a Success
Three members of the Lake Eyre Basin Coordinating Group travelled to Canberra for the Group's first extensive lobbying trip.
Don Blesing, Chairperson, Angus Emmott, Treasurer (and now Deputy Chairperson) and Kate Andrews, Basin Coordinator, spent five days meeting with a multitude of politicians, advisers and senior bureaucrats, briefing them about the Lake Eyre Basin, the work of the Coordinating Group and Catchment Committees, and issues in the rangelands.
From Senator Robert Hill, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, to Senator Andrew Bartlett, Democrat spokesperson for the Environment, to Martin Ferguson MP, Shadow Minister for Regional Services, the response was always positive. People were keen to know more and willing to offer support.
The Hon. Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, made some great suggestions and Peter Walsh, adviser to the Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries showed keen interest in the map of the Basin. Discussions ranged from the size of the Basin, to the threat of weeds, to the inadequacy of telecommunications.
A key point raised by the Coordinating Group members was the unique nature of the partnership established between communities, governments and stakeholders through the LEB initiative. They emphasised the importance of keeping it community driven.
A meeting was held with members of each of the relevant government agencies to discuss the community advisory role required when the Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum is established next year by the Commonwealth, Queensland and South Australian Governments.
Talks about the Coordinating Group accepting this role led to discussion about Aboriginal representation and involvement in the process, continuity of funding and the responsibilities of members of the community/government partnership. The role offers a powerful opportunity for the communities and stakeholders of the Basin to create, in partnership with governments, a new model for integrated natural resource management.
Thank You Birdsville
Once again Birdsville provided an excellent venue, for the November combined meeting.
Thank you to everyone for their hospitality, especially the Birdsville Hotel and the Caravan Park for meals and accommodation and Birdsville State Schools P & C Association for catering.
The weather was beautiful too, exceptional for the time of year.
The next meeting of the GDCC is scheduled for late March 2000 in Winton.
GDCC will also be looking for a new Upper Diamantina catchment committee member next year.
The next meeting of LEBCG will be held in Alice Springs in March 2000.
Issue 11 - August 1999
Senator Robert Hill opens Longreach Office
We were delighted when Environment Minister, Senator Robert Hill made some time in a busy schedule, during the Federal Cabinet meeting in Longreach, to officially open the Plover Street office on 18 May.
In his speech the senator commented that LEB stakeholder desire, to pull together community participation, government support and local and scientific knowledge, had provided key input for the SA, Qld and Commonwealth governments when formulating their recently released discussion paper for cross-state management of the Lake Eyre Basin.
Senator Hill was able to spend a few productive minutes talking with Georgina Diamantina chair, Charlie Phillott and Cooper's Creek deputy chair Angus Emmott.
Don's position confirmed
Chair Don Blesing was reappointed for a further term of two years, at the Coordinating Group's Hawker meeting in mid August, with another review in one year. Planning, direction setting and skill building were identified as priority goals.
Website Launch in November
Watch out for the launch of the Lake Eyre Basin website at the Birdsville meeting in November. Through our website we will be able to provide ongoing information to a wide and diverse audience around Australia and the world, as well as those people living within the Lake Eyre Basin Catchment.We intend to make our website an interesting and much sought after address for people with many interests.We will also unveil our new, dynamic logo at the Birdsville meeting.
Orientation tour was a valuable experience for everyone
Landcare personnel Lachlan Polkinghorne (National Coordinator) and Sylvia Gleeson (Landcare Council EO), together with National Bushcare Link Officer Lin Wilkes enjoyed a "fantastic" orientation tour of some of the Basin.Their trip took them through the Desert Uplands at the top of the Cooper's Creek catchment, across to the top of the Diamantina catchment, down through the Channel country and finished at a Georgina Diamantina catchment committee meeting at Cowarie Station, S.A. west of the Birdsville track.
Our guests met with a range of people, seeing first hand and discussing many of the issues that face us in the Basin. These included weeds, particularly Prickly Acacia, tree clearing guidelines, diversification, surface water management, economic viability, total grazing pressure, uncontrolled artesian bores, and landcare in the rangelands.
Thanks go to the many people who went out of their way to make this a worthwhile visit. Lachlan, Sylvia and Lin take away an increased understanding of the Lake Eyre Basin to share with others and inform their work.Nora and Kate, who organised the trip and travelled with them, learned new things through the knowledge and perspectives the visitors brought with them.
It was a rare opportunity to have an International Rangelands Congress on our doorstep. The Congress provided a chance to meet and learn from others around the world and to let them know about the Lake Eyre Basin and catchment management. The catchment committees assisted several members to attend by covering or helping with registration fees. Those attending were: Charlie Phillott, Sharon Oldfield, Angus Emmott, David Brook and Jenny Bourne (who managed to attend at short notice when other committee members had to withdraw). We presented four posters at the conference: (1) Defining the Basin.. (2) Bringing people together. (3) Issues for catchment management. (4) Community-based resource management-capacity building-partnerships i.e. with government and science.
Submissions to Lake Eyre Basin Agreement Discussion Paper
Inevitably there has been some confusion about the difference between the inter-govenmental agreement (Lake Eyre Basin Discussion Paper) and our own organisation, Lake Eyre Basin Coordinating Group, given the name similarity. The Discussion Paper was prepared by government agencies, following a cross state ministerial Heads of Agreement, to "facilitate public consultation in the development of a formal intergovernmental Agreement ("the Agreement") between the Commonwealth Government, Queensland and South Australian Governments for the sustainable management of the water and related natural resources of the Lake Eyre Basin."
LEBCG and each catchment committee made a submission. All expressed a preference for the Ministerial forum as the Institutional model. GDCC also expressed concern about unnecessary duplication if separatescientific/technical and State/Commonwealth agency groups are appointed, when LEBCG already has both. CCCC made a very detailed submission which included support of a biennial conference to provide the community with direct and positive access to the ministers. Both catchment committees were adamant that nothing should stand in the way of ministerial access for the community.
The ones we've had
Mapping the Future in the Lake Eyre Basin
Maps are a powerful communication and planning tool. Computer technology has simplified what used to be a long and laborious research and drafting process. We now buy or exchange data which can be manipulated to produce many kinds of maps. This means that custom maps can be produced in a relatively short time. The Lake Eyre Basin Integrated Information System (LEBIIS), a Queensland Department of Natural Resources and NHT funded project, has worked with Government Departments in SA, NSW and NT to collect a range of data across the whole Basin.
The Georgina Diamantina and Cooper's Creek Catchment Committees and Coordinating Group members are using a variety of LEBIIS maps to help communicate some of the catchment management issues. By the time LEBIIS project funding ends in September 2000 we will have produced a range of products, from brochures to wall maps and posters, and assisted in the development of a Lake Eyre Basin Coordinating Group website.
The data managed by the project and the knowledge of the staff involved are an asset to the region. We must now look at options for continuing this work beyond the current funding, and for evolving the information system to meet the needs of the people of the Lake Eyre Basin. We have an opportunity to embark on a collaborative community, industry and government venture that will foster a network of people around the basin with mapping skills and access to LEB data.
Over the next months LEBIIS staff will be contacting a range of stakeholders to find out how they could benefit from and contribute to a collaborative information network. If your organisation uses or has the potential to make use of Geographic Information Systems or mapping products to improve your operation in the Basin we would like to hear your ideas. Contact Alun Hoggett on 07 4658 4922
Lake Eyre Basin Coordinating Group meets in Longreach and Hawker
The LEBCG meets quarterly. Since the last newsletter it has met in Longreach and Hawker. In addition to conducting its business, at each meeting the group has a public get-together to talk with local community, and a short field trip to learn about the region and the natural resource issues it faces. In Hawker the group learned about Operation Bounceback, a National Parks S.A., NHT funded project in the Flinders Ranges.
Our newest member, Phillip Toyne, is the conservation skills based member.Phillip has a great interest in and knowledge of the Lake Eyre Basin and Australia's Rangelands, having lived in Alice Springs for over a decade. He also headed the Australian Conservation Foundation for many years. The membership of the Group will continue to grow as more regions within the Basin become involved and more community catchment representatives are appointed. The Coordinating Group is working to establish the LEBCG and committees into an efficient, accountable and productive organisation. A newly formed Audit and Finance Committee is monitoring budgets and spending.
Sharon wins coveted Ibis Award
Congratulations to Sharon Oldfield, this year's winner of the coveted Commonwealth Bank Ibis award for rural productivity combined with wildlife management and conservation. This was only the second win by a pastoral property. The award is judged over six regions.
Sharon manages"Cowarie" a 3937kms²sheep and cattle station, which lies some 50km north-west of the Mungerannie Hotel on the Birdsville Track. In 1995 she became a founding member of the OBE Company, established to supply organic beef to Japan. Her recent first consignment of organic beef marked a satisfying milestone in this project. A 30% premium for the cattle lends weight to her belief in the values of linking environmental awareness to brand marketing. Sharon is putting into practice her belief in sustainable management practices which began with monitoring bird populations and recording plant species on the property.
She says she was proud and surprised by the award, a positive focus for arid areas, showing "it doesn't have to be lush and green for them to recognise long term sustainable management practices. Arid is arid and that's what it looks like all the time."
The award carries a $1000 prize at regional and $4000 at national level, which will probably be used to upgrade her computer Sharon says, "but I'm also looking at a canoe!"
Sharon is deputy chair of the GDCC.
Cooper's Creek Catchment Committee agrees on a new regional composition at its Hughenden meeting
A commitment to review the committee's makeup was honoured at the Hughenden meeting in early August, resulting in the following: Subdivision of the 2 northern river regions (Thomson and Barcoo which each had 2 members), into 5 regions, each with one member appointed by the local community.
The 5 new regional divisions are best described by their individual centres: Longreach, Muttaburra, Barcaldine, Blackall and Jundah. These join the existing regions, Cooper's Creek floodplain (Windorah) and lake region (Innamincka) each with 2 members. A four year split term was chosen (appointments every two years for half the committee members). The first appointment process will be held within the first half of 2000.
Industry and interest group participation continues in its present form, with nominations being made from within the particular group or industry.Preference will be given to community nominations for tourism and aboriginal positions. Town community positions will be filled through nominations from within and by the community. Vacant positions for tourism and science are expected to be filled soon. Resignations have been received from Bill Ballinger, Bob Morrish and Bill Scott.
Meetings begin with an open public session, offering an opportunity to raise issues of concern. Good public attendance was a feature of both the Innamincka and Hughenden meetings. Strategic planning was a major focus at Innamincka. Four presentations: (1) David Akers, Community Conservation Extension Officer, Queensland National Parks and Wildlife. (2) Daryl Bell: Marree Soil Board. (3) Bill Ballinger: Watering Australia Foundation. (4) David Noonan: Australian Conservation Foundation. Discussion ranged over many issues, including an update on proposed developments at Currareva.
Both Cooper's Creek and Georgina Diamantina Catchment Committees are striding ahead with strategic planning, and will have draft working documents completed in time for a joint meeting of all committees at Birdsville in November. The process for both catchment committees is an extension of visions and goals hammered out during the initial Basin-wide community consultation.
Georgina/Diamantina Catchment Committee meets at "Cowarie"
GDCC held their June meeting at "Cowarie" on the banks of the Warburton Creek west of the Birdsville Track S.A. The next meeting is at Camooweal,14/15 September. Thirteen committee members brought their swags from as far north as Winton, Qld. Lachlan Polkinghorne and Sylvia Gleeson (Landcare) and Lin Wilkes (Bushcare) were welcome attendees on the last leg of their catchment familiarisation tour. Local pastoralists and representatives from S. Kidman and Co. and the Maree Soil Board were also welcomed. Presentations: Daryl Bell: Marree Soil Board. Greg Campbell: Far North Consultative Committee, S.A. Sharon Oldfield: news about the southern end of the catchment; David Brook: OBE Beef. Dave Quinlan, DNR: Lake Eyre Basin Agreement Discussion Paper. A productiveCatchment Strategy workshop was held. Letter of support sent to local authorities supporting their pest management strategies and plans. Attendees enjoyed a demonstration by Rick Barrett (DEHAA.SA) of trapping techniques used to capture Kowari for research, and a field trip to Goyder's lagoon on Clifton Hill station. Thanks go to Sharon Oldfield for organising a great spot for a meeting and to SANTOS for providing generators and equipment.
Issue 10 - May 1999
New Phase for Lake Eyre Basin
Catchment Management in the Lake Eyre Basin is entering a new phase with the successful appointment of new staff, funded through the Natural Heritage Trust of the Commonwealth Government. Catchment Committee members participated in the selection process for the catchment coordinators and the information officer, advising on the job descriptions and selection criteria, and sitting on the selection panels. Thanks to those who volunteered their time, as reflected by the calibre of our new staff the job was well done.
The Catchment Coordinators
Nora Brandli started as the Cooper's Creek Coordinator in early April. Nora grew up on sheep and cattle properties in Eastern Queenland. Immediately prior to this appointment Nora was the Industry Development officer with the Central Queensland Native Flower Association. During the three years she held this position she worked with severalcommunity groups and individuals in the Central West. She has travelled widely throughout the region, both with her work and for pleasure.Nora's previous experience includes work with canegrowers and with Calliope Landcare and Rural Press newspapers.
Colin Tidswell is the Coordinator for the Georgina-Diamantina Catchment. Colin grew up on properties in Western Queensland. After finishing his schooling he worked as a stationhand, ringer, bull catcher and head stockman on properties in Queensland and the Northern Territory. Colin then moved on to work for the Department of Primary Industries in the NT as a Cattle Manager and Extension officer.
After leaving the DPI he was self-employed as a pastoral consultant in the NT. Colin then branched out to work in remote area community development. He managed several large rural and remote Aboriginal Corporations in Arnhem Land and Cape York, including the general management of a large Cape York property. Colin's particular interests are in sustainable land management and remote area community development. He believes that you can have sustainable and profitable industries in the bush and look after the environment at the same time.
The catchment coordinators will work with the committees to develop and implement catchment strategies and action plans for improving natural resource management and conservation in the Lake Eyre Basin.This will be done through: broad consultation; fostering involvement; seeking and generating necessary information; coordinating the development of community based projects, and encouraging a partnership approach between all interest groups and levels of government.
Gillian Dufty, the newly appointed Information Officer, was born in the UK but has lived in New Zealand since 1970, with a background there in agriculture, journalism and communications. For the last four years she has been the Information/Communications Officerat MIRINZ Food Technology and Research.
She has lived and worked in two North Island rural communities, as farming partner in both dairying and sheep/beef operations, and journalist on a national farming paper and subsequently a provincial weekly.
The information officer will work with the Lake Eyre Basin Coordinating Group to develop and implement a communication/education strategy to increase awareness within and outside the Basin about natural resource management and catchment issues in the Lake Eyre Basin.
Among other things this will involve: helping to establish a resource information network/centre for the Lake Eyre Basin; presenting scientific data in an accessible form; developing and maintaining information networks; writing regular newsletters, leaflets and media releases for the Lake Eyre Basin catchment management process, and maintaining information on a web site.
Landcare and Weeds
Landcare groups and local authorities of the Central West of Queensland have come together to advance the cause of exotic weed control and issues of sustainability in the north eastern parts of the Lake Eyre Basin.
The Central West Queensland Landcare Representative Working Group, formed earlier this year, has approached the Cooper's Creek Catchment Committee and the Lake Eyre Basin Coordinating Group to support several issues including the endorsement of Prickly Acacia as a Weed of National Significance and the fact that Prickly Acacia is an environmental problem.
Both of these committees met recently in Barcaldine and saw the extent of the problem of Prickly Acacia on a fieldtrip. The Georgina/Diamantina committee also learnt about it first hand when they met at "Carisbrooke" near Winton in April. It is important that people across the basin, including South Australians, understand the potential of the threat and what is required to control it.
The Coordinating Group agreed to the request of the CWQ Landcare Working Group to write to the relevant government Ministers about weeds in the rangelands. To ensure the effectiveness of people's efforts and resources it is important that weeds are addressed in a strategic rather than ad hoc fashion and that the major stakeholders are working together.
The Lake Eyre Basin committees intend to work closely with Landcare groups in the Lake Eyre Basin to address natural resource management issues. The Lake Eyre Basin Coordinating Group and Catchment Committees are funded through the Natural Heritage Trust of the Commonwealth Government, and the South Australian and Queensland governments.
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