Matt and Janet are skeptics who ran a Beef Feedlot from Narrogin, Western Australia (2 hours SE of Perth). When they spoke out against climate change policies, onerous license changes were added that drove them to bankruptcy. Readers here and at Watts Up raised over $30,000 dollars as they faced eviction in Sept 2010. (It was the first time skeptics around the world had been asked to help a cause like this, and the response was so overwhelming that Paypal still can’t list all the donations we received on Sept 18th, 2010. It breaks their site).
The Thompsons write today with an update: they’ve decided it’s unfeasible to try to run their business under these conditions and with the new carbon tax in Australia, and due to family reasons they’ve reluctantly left Australia, moved back to the USA with their four children (bad for Australia, but good for Uncle Sam). They’ve reached a settlement with the bank but fully intend to pursue their legal case against the Department of Environment in West Australia. I’m delighted to say that Matt and Janet’s indomitable spirits survived these last two years, which pushed them to the brink and they are looking forward with great hope.
Their story in brief – a story I initially couldn’t believe would happen in Australia
This all sounds so unlikely: surely good honest businesses couldn’t go broke in a first world country because their owners spoke their minds? I’ve documented every statement below on this site. No one could run a business under these conditions.
Matt and Janet moved from Texas to Australia to set up a new feedlot farm. Their business was so successful in early 2007 they were turning away customers. After Matt spoke out as a climate skeptic at a greenhouse gas reporting meeting in May 2007 the DEC changed their farming license adding 33 new conditions, one or two which were so impossible, that no bank would loan against them. They had already signed contracts based on the previous license, and the newly reduced head-count drove them to the verge of bankruptcy. DEC even admits it broke it’s own rules. Apparently the Thompsons beef-feedlot didn’t smell right, even though Matt and Janet did everything the department suggested (and more), their closest neighbours wrote letters of support (wanting the farm to grow), 900 townfolk signed a petition for them, 6000 odour tests showed there was no problem, and wait for it, their farm was right next to a piggery which had run for 28 years. But 21 verified complaints from people who wanted to subdivide land and a number of other unchecked, not publicly listed, complaints about odours that can’t be measured were enough to close them down. And you thought Rule of Law applied in Australia? Not so, if you don’t butter up, pander, bow and obey the politically correct dictums set by unelected bureaucrats and the covert green-police, you too could be subject to random arbitrary license changes that insist your business must not offend anyone anywhere (and especially not your Green land-developing neighbours).
Donations for the Thompsons children helped to keep the family in their home for another 18 months, and put them in a much stronger position to fight the ongoing legal case. A large part went towards their move to the US, and the last part was sent a month or so ago to help set them up.
From Matt and Janet:
Dear Readers of WUWT and Jo Nova,
We would like to give an update to all of you who have supported us in a variety of ways, including with donations (in-kind and monetary) for our children, writing letters, and contacting politicians and our bank.
For a refresher on the background to our story, please see the original YouTube we produced, including the important second one, Part 1 Part 2: [And/or Anthony and Jo, whatever links to your own blogs on this issue]
We returned to the USA for Christmas in 2011 on frequent flyer tickets given to us by family. Matt’s dad had been having health problems, and had had a major surgery in July. After seeing our parents again, we were moved to reconsider our living situation; namely the fact that since our business was not operating, we could no longer afford to fly our family back to the States should something sudden arise. (Matt’s dad had another surgery in February, and we were thankful to be here for that.)
In addition to the desire to be within driving proximity to our families, we had become acutely concerned over the deterioration in political, legislative and regulatory circumstances in Australia. We worried that even if we were to win our case against the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) (a case that is still in progress), the passage of the Carbon (sic) Tax in 2010 made the possibility of ever operating our feedlot again impossible. It meant that even if we won in court, most of our efforts to profitably operate our business would have gone towards convincing some bureaucrat that we weren’t causing greenhouse gas emissions, when in fact we were. Productive people do.
Finally, while in the US, Matt was offered a job in Texas, and we felt, all things taken together, we should make the heart-wrenching decision to move our family to America. This was not a decision taken lightly. We had lived in Australia for 10 years. Three of our four children had been born in Narrogin, and the first had been only 11 months old when we moved down under. We have many close, stalwart friends, and our lives in Western Australia, despite the obvious problems, had been happy and rich.
After fighting through the court system on three fronts (bank, receivers, and DEC) since mid-2010 to save our business and attempt to pay back our unsecured creditors (who have been unbelievably kind to us throughout the ordeal), we came to an agreement with the NAB and Ferrier Hodgson (the bank-appointed receivers) last month. The details of the agreement are confidential, but we feel that concentrating our legal efforts on the DEC (bringing it down to a one-front war, if you will) is the most prudent thing for us to do.
So our property has been handed over to the bank and receivers.
Very importantly, we continue to pursue the case against the out-of-control, bureaucratic and inept DEC, still hoping to pay back our unsecured creditors. Still hoping that our story will make a difference to society. Still hoping for some semblance of justice for ourselves after losing our lives savings and thriving business due entirely to a government agency’s edict, after being told by that same entity in the beginning that we could proceed.
Our children were devastated when we broke the news to them in late January that we were not to return to Australia. Matt and I have both struggled with the fact that we were not able to say good-bye to our close friends, and we have been missing them and our life in Narrogin. Adding to the pain, the subtle nuances of our legal situation required us to quietly pursue our course without communicating publicly to the people who directly contributed to keep a roof over the heads of and food on the table for our children. Had it not been for your faithful generosity, our situation would have been impossible.
While that silence was difficult, it was necessary. Walking the fine line of dealing directly with our treacherous situation and communicating openly and often has been tough. We hope you understand. From our direct communications with many of you, we are certain you do. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
On the broader front of the hoax of climate change, we are very proud that we spoke out strongly and publicly — and early on — against the attack on productivity and productive people. We know that it cost us our business, our entire lives savings, and the life of one of our closest friends.
We continue to be concerned in the extreme about the situation and the fundamental factors that led to the birth and unobstructed growth of such an insidious and damaging monster. We continue to be involved with grassroots actions, hoping to make a difference. We believe our four children and their generation deserve better than to inherit the current financial and political mess. These concerns and our actions affect our ability to produce real goods and services as we would like to, but we will survive and do what we must while doing what we can.
Thank you again for your warmth, support, understanding, and patience. Please don’t hesitate to contact us through Jo or Anthony (with “The Thompsons” in the Subject line) if you feel moved to do so. Thanks again and again.
Janet and Matt
The bottom line:
1. Free speech is very much under threat in Australia.
2 .This all would have been so different if the media had done it’s job. Should you ever be unlucky enough to be the small guy standing up to the establishment, don’t expect your tax dollars paid to the ABC will help you highlight the injustice and expose the corruption. It’s their ABC after all. And where is that supposed bastion of news: The West Australian? They don’t seem to be in a hurry to let the citizens of Western Australia know how their Department of Environment play kingmakers either.
Thanks to Anthony Watts for his influential help on Watts Up.
He has just posted an update also.
UPDATED: My comment there (edited):
There is an anti-American element in Australia, not from ordinary Australians but from the green intellectuals, who were the activists against the Thompsons. You can bet that if they were Afghan immigrant farmers they would not have been singled out, and the media would not have ignored them. The combination of skeptic, american, beef feedlot, and free enterprise was a red flag …
What happened was abysmal. We lost upstanding citizens, entrepreneurial business acumen, four promising kids, and two excellent parents.
Most Australians would be appalled but they have not even heard of the Thompsons.
We wish them every success and will follow their progress closely.
I’m so proud of them for fighting on, and not letting the sods get them down.
* * *
My many posts on The Thompsons starting in July 2010 – now
- Tyranny: How to destroy a business with environmental red tape
- Smell that evidence
- 4 days notice! The Thompsons are served notice of eviction.
- Thompsons part 4: Every slope is a watercourse
- Minister of the Environment and Queen of WA?
- Thompsons part 6: Strong Community Support
- Thompsons Part 7: Welcome to Investment Hell
- Thompsons Part 8: Mexican standoff at the Farmgate
- Thompsons Part 9: Senator Cory Bernardi speaks out in Parliament
- Thompsons Part 10: The DEC admits it treated them unfairly
- Dirty tactics? Fences cut at the Thompsons…
- Thompsons update – protest in Perth on Monday
- DEC, deceptive, duplicitous, or just clueless about money?
- Funeral for Property Rights
- Donna Faragher: armed with unpublished complaint-mail and an unbankable license — destroys livelihoods
- An update from the Thompsons down under (Nov 2010)
- Breakthrough: DEC ‘s all-purpose (green) business licence
- Update from the Thompsons: The legal limbo drags on
- Farmers fighting for a fair go. Updates on The Thompsons and Peter Spencer