A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).



Australian Speakers Agency


The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX

The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper


DEC, deceptive, duplicitous, or just clueless about money?

The DEC fight back with deception, bogus licenses (that no bank will loan money against), ask for things that have already been done, and turns a blind eye to the killer fine print clauses that make them kingmakers with veto rights over any business in the State.

This is a PR war, and the DEC response (below) is obviously designed to confuse the issue and slow down people who are asking questions. Instead of serving the people, they are deceiving the people. Shouldn’t we expect to get an honest reply from our “public servants”?

With all the emails headed into the WA Parliament about the Thompsons, people were asking DEC very awkward questions. In response DEC produced this reply (below). On face value, local parliamentarians might read that, and think this issue is resolved. Not so. Nothing had changed. DEC either naively don’t understand the World of Business, or worse, they do understand it, and are maliciously using it against their chosen targets.

DEC declare they’ve given the Thompsons a five year license for 10,000 head — but the fine print catch is that condition A1 makes it unbankable — no one would loan the Thompsons money to run a business with a license that says if they offend anyone anywhere in the world their license will be revoked without notice.

A1 The licensee shall ensure that odour emitted from the premises does not unreasonably interfere with the health welfare, convenience, comfort or amenity of any person who is not on the premises.

This is yet another delay and deceive tactic by a Minister too weak to take on her own public servants.

It’s not a five year license, it’s a five minute license

Five minutes after 10,000 cows arrive at Matt’s farm, all it takes is one noisy neighbour to start phoning in complaints that their health and welfare is being “interfered with” and DEC can take that license away. As I explained earlier, this vague condition is so sweeping and powerful it would immediately shut down Perth airport or any other business in the state should DEC choose to apply it.

This is why selective enforcement is so noxious. Condition A1 can be used in a vendetta.

DEC’s offer to fund two odour surveys is a big “So-What” — surveys have already been done, showing the odour problems are minimal, and even that has improved. The DEC ignored the recommendations of the LCCC work in any case. It laboriously investigated the feedlot and consulted with the community and declared that the feedlot ought to have 10,000 head. How much more do the DEC need?

In any case, as long as the Department refuses to issue a workable license there’s no chance the Thompsons could stock 10,000 head for anyone to run any surveys. It’s like volunteering to buy a blind man bifocals. It’s crass and coldhearted.

When will Donna Faragher stand up for the people of WA?

When will Colin Barnett step in and stop this travesty?

Are they too scared to speak because they’re afraid of offending the green bullies?

Minister For Environment; Youth

Narrogin Beef Producers

In January 2009, the Minister for the Environment, the Hon Donna Faragher MLC, determined appeals lodged against the Narrogin Beef Producers licence, and found that the licence conditions issued by the Department of the Environment and Conservation (DEC) were reasonable at the time, given the level of environmental and community concern regarding emissions and discharges from the premises, particularly odours. The Minister provided Narrogin Beef Producers with a way forward that required it to demonstrate environmental improvements, principally in waste management, to enable it to increase the feedlot capacity up to 10,000 head of cattle.

A Local Community Consultation Committee was formed, which included Narrogin Beef Producers, to provide advice to DEC on the extent to which Narrogin Beef Producers had implemented the steps set out in the Minister’s appeal determination of January 2009. Following this advice, DEC wrote to Narrogin Beef Producers on 31 July 2009, approving the Waste Management Plan, issuing an amended licence consistent with the Minister’s appeal determination, and providing approval to stock up to 10,000 head of cattle onsite.

In addition, DEC advised that it would fund two odour surveys to be undertaken when feedlot operation reached 6,000 head and at 10,000 head of cattle. The purpose of these surveys, together with an odour survey conducted in 2007, was to provide a basis for validating and demonstrating sustained odour reductions on-site.

As this licence was due to expire on 31 March 2010, Narrogin Beef Producers requested a five year licence to provide greater certainty for the business. DEC agreed to this request and issued a new five year licence in similar terms on 8 March 2010.

Narrogin Beef Producers and three other parties lodged appeals objecting to the conditions of the current licence. The Minister recently determined these appeals, and again confirmed that the feedlot can stock up to 10,000 head of cattle for the five year period of the licence. Narrogin Beef Producers must continue to manage odour such that it does not unreasonably interfere with sensitive receptors outside the feedlot. DEC incorporated the Minister’s appeal determination into a draft amended licence, which was issued to Narrogin Beef Producers on 30 July 2010 for comment within 21 days.

The Minister also determined that the Waste Management Plan applying to the feedlot be reviewed by an independent specialist with experience in assessing large feedlots in Australia, to ensure that management practices at the feedlot are sufficient to address off-site impacts. The review will assist Narrogin Beef Producers to identify measures to manage its impact on nearby residences, as well as provide consistency with approaches adopted in other States, where the feedlot industry is significantly greater.

10th Floor, Dumas House, 2 Havelock Street, West Perth Western Australia 6005
Telephone: +61 8 9213 7250 Facsimile: +61 8 9213 7255
Email: [email protected]

Click here for information about The Thompsons

Emails for our State Government

(From this post with other letters, and thanks to Jaymez)

To: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected].au, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

24 comments to DEC, deceptive, duplicitous, or just clueless about money?

  • #

    This is a license you have when you haven’t a license, a Claytons license. Who in their right mind id going to commit to the purchase of 10000 head costing no less than $5 million plus the feed for 180 days or longer on the fine print in condition A1. DEC are being totally deceiptful and so is the minister and the Premier.

    Who signed the letter for DEC? they need a barrage of e-mails. Otherwise let’s continue to swamp the minister and the premier. I did get a response from “The West Australian Goverment”, whoever that is, to say I should expect a letter from the minister. More letters are needed.

    It is no surprise that the Tea Party has had so much success in the US. Ordinary people are fed up with the dictates of so called representatives and their bureaucrats.


  • #
    John Smith

    Simple really, the DEC think we’re all a bunch of Homer Simpsons who have to be told what to think and do. Unfortunately for them the public is smarter that they gave them credit for.


  • #
    Mike S.

    In the Narrogin Reginal Library’s website, there is a file from June 2009 titled “Neighbours Responses to Questionaire about Narrogin Beef Producers”. Some of the answers make it crystal-clear that there will always be complaints about the odour:

    – “Values of properties have dropped and people aren’t allowed the right to apply for subdivision.”
    – “My husband and I want to retire, sub-divide, and make money but nobody wants to buy out here. Our social life is ruined – barbeques.”
    – “Odour is the only issue – number of cattle is irrelevant. My property value has dropped.”

    In other words, there are people with an economic incentive to do whatever they can to permanently shut down the Thompsons. Condition A1 is an ideal weapon for them. As one of the other responses said:

    – “… a small number of people object to it existing.”

    Note that – they’re not objecting to the odour, primarily, but objecting to it even existing. That’s the issue. The existence of the Thompson’s operation is seen to interfere with their property values and retirement plans. I’m sure these are the folks one other commenter was referring to:

    – “Too many whinging people around Narrogin.”

    and as long as they remain, the Thompsons will not be able to satisfy condition A1.


  • #
    Mike S.

    I should hasten to add that I’m not accusing those people (the ones with the economic incentive to oppose the Thompson’s lot) of deliberately exaggerating how offensive they find the odour. The effect could be similar to how one might react to, say, a buzzing fly that flies over your book. It’s going to sound louder and more annoying if you were actually trying to read the book than it would if you were doing something else. Similarly, because those folks have economic reasons to dislike the Thompson’s operation, they will probably honestly perceive the odour as being worse than they would if there was no economic impact. Even if the Thompson’s could somehow eliminate the odour entirely, those folks might still smell it, the same way I once continued to hear an annoying fly buzz around the house for several minutes after my wife had killed it, or another time kept hearing a song play on the radio for a little while after my daughter had turned it off (in each case, apparently just the thought of it kept the memory of the sound going so strongly in my mind that it “sounded” real).


  • #
    Louis Hissink

    Folks, this is a long term policy – the gradual debasement of private property rights by attrition. It started with Native Title legislation during the Keating government. It continues under DEC stewardship by reversing alienation of lands from the crown, back to the crown.

    I am of half a mind to think that Australia is the Fabian test case – if it works here, then it will work in the US.


  • #

    I’ve added the emails for the Parliamentarians of WA. As always, please be polite and to the point.

    Clearly to counter the misinformation campaign from DEC we will have to respond quickly in future.

    Thanks again for everyone’s help. It does get to the staff of these members if they keep being reminded of the gross injustice.



  • #

    You are a true trooper for good causes Jo.

    What the DEC has done to the Thompsons just makes me sick….. That enterprising people can be stifled by an oppressive and abusive bureaucracy, will spell the end for free enterprise in this country if it is allowed to continue uncontested…..

    It is good to see people like you in action. As Edmund Burke was attributed to have said….

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

    So, to see good people stand beside the down trodden and face a common enemy…. Is heartening indeed.

    Let’s hope that our elected representatives understand who’s side they are actually on, and curb this out of control bureaucratic monster, that the DEC has become.


  • #

    My letter to [email protected] dated 19 September is still unanswered.

    In my letter, among other points I wrote “….you advise the licence is issued on provision Narrogin Beef Producers manage odours such that it does not unreasonably interfere with sensitive receptors outside the feedlot. Yet at the same time you indicated the feedlot is to be reviewed by an independent specialist to ensure management practices are sufficient to address off-site impacts. How have the ‘sensitive receptors’ been set? Who determined what constitutes ‘unreasonable interference’? What would you do if the independent specialist returned a favourable report but the ‘sensitive receptors’ were ‘unreasonably interfered with’ (however that is determined)?”

    If the Minister or her department cannot answer such basic questions about their licence requirements in a prompt manner, then I can only conclude they have little justification for those licence requirements.

    I will be at Parliament House at 11 am on Monday to support the Thompsons.


  • #

    Has anyone worked out what the cost ( to the WA Govt.) would be shift the farm further out of town ? I’m sure not all the equipment etc would be lost –that is it could be transfered.
    I’m not suggesting that the Thompson’s “give up” but if it keeps going the way it is everyone will lose , especially the Thompsons and the banks.
    If land in the area has value for subdivision plots as is suggested by the objectors (ie it is a good place to live ) then the land the feed lot occupies must have some residual value ( not necessarily for subdivision )so why not go through the exercise of costing a relocation which the relevant authorities should fund as they are the ones who changed the rules “mid stream”. It would probably be in the bank’s interest to “assist” in relocation funding.
    Good luck to everyone on Monday.


  • #

    Mike S. @4
    what you are saying is – perception trumps reality, and nowhere more so than in politics.

    Most feedlot infrastructure can’t be relocated because it is made up of roads for heavy vehicle access, concrete bunkers for the feed, carefully levelled and compacted pads for the pens, and contoured drainage ditches and settling ponds to control run off. Also things like tree plantings to provide visual screens and reduce odour dispersal.

    Even removing this stuff would be very expensive which makes me wonder why the bank is so keen to sell, unless they have a buyer who will continue operate the site as a feedlot.


  • #

    “Even removing this stuff would be very expensive which makes me wonder why the bank is so keen to sell, unless they have a buyer who will continue operate the site as a feedlot”
    Agree with you on this comment Binny and i accept your comment about the feed pads etc not being able to be removed and that these things probably account fof the majority of the cost but there would be other expensive things that could be transfered.


  • #

    Ross their are plenty of people in the area who do not consider there is an odour problem at all and who welcome the Thompsons and the business. The issue of odours is simply being used as a way to shut down the operation by a handful of objectors. Some of those objectors clearly think their retirement or get rich plan of rezoning and subdivision (which is not an automatic right and should not be assumed by any owner of rural property), has been impacted by the location of the feed-lot. Others have an ideological objection to this type of industry wherever it is, as evidenced by the involvement of the local environmental action group. Your suggestion would give credence to the malfeasance of DEC who have pandered to this minority group.

    It is reasonable that the Thompsons be obliged to keep odours to a minimum and they understand that and have done everything possible to comply. But it is just not reasonable to expect that a feed-lot operation will not emit any odours no matter how well run. We only have to be near a cattle truck to know that the very presence of cattle creates a ‘rural’ odour. I have no idea how many cattle are on one semi-trailer, but imagine 10,000 head worth of semi-trailers together. No matter how clean they are kept, there will be odours. DEC knew that when the initial licence was issued, the local shire knew that. For DEC to then turn around and expect cattle to not smell like cattle, or a working rural property to not smell like a working rural property is as preposterous as those neighbours who want to have the rural ‘lifestyle’ without any of the real rural activities around them.


  • #

    Unfortunately there are no shortages of instances where people move to the country for the rural lifestyle and immediately start campaigning to eliminate the very rural lifestyle that that they supposedly moved to the country for. This is occurring just about everywhere in the Western world the reality doesn’t match the fantasy, so they immediately set about trying to change the reality.


  • #

    Following this advice, DEC wrote to Narrogin Beef Producers on 31 July 2009, approving the Waste Management Plan, issuing an amended licence consistent with the Minister’s appeal determination, and providing approval to stock up to 10,000 head of cattle onsite.

    This seems inconsistent with other material that has been published about the Thompsons case. I wonder if DEC can produce, in writing, this particular license document?


  • #

    The phrase “plausable deniability” comes to mind.

    These guys probably get their ideas from Julia i.e. sort of offer everybody everything, get the kudos for looking like you will do the righ thing by everbody & then do exactly as you want or whatever the current ruling faction’s advisors suggest.

    Sound familiar?


  • #

    Jaymez @ 12

    Just a little more clarification with this statement – “Some of those objectors clearly think their retirement or get rich plan of rezoning and subdivision (which is not an automatic right and should not be assumed by any owner of rural property),…………..”

    “Rezoning” and “Subdivision” are two completely separate instruments.

    “Subdivision” is in fact a “Right” because it implies the division one Title & Deed into two or more Titles & Deeds on a ‘Like for Like’ basis where the character and use are not changed by the subdivision. This has advantages with succession planning and for downsizing or upsizing adjoining land for whatever reason.

    “Rezoning” is a “Planning Instrument” and therefore is not a “Right” because it changes the character and use of the Title and Deed. It is not a ‘Like for Like’ transition.


  • #
    David L. Hagen

    Senator Cory Bernardi stated:

    “Approval was given for the construction of a feedlot to house up to 15,000 cattle—or slightly less than 15,000 cattle.”

    The DEC letter further cut the previous approval by 33% – it only refers to 10,000 cattle, not the 15,000 previously approved. DEC’s critical reduction destroys most of the profit Thompsons’ had planned on by running 15,000 cattle.


  • #

    Strewth @ 16
    Subdivision cannot be considered a right when you have to apply to subdivide and there are lots of reasons why approval may be rejected. See


  • #

    Jaymez @ 18

    You seemed to have put the cart before the horse.

    Every owner of an ‘estate of inheritance’ (freehold) land has a “Right” to sell (convey) in whole or in part (a portion or division) of their land to whomever they choose and further, to bequeath by an ‘express trust’ of “Will” the ‘estate of inheritance’ (freehold) land to his/her’s heirs and successors to be divided as they choose. This has been a “Right” in land for three hundred and fifty years.

    A “Planning Instrument” has absolutely nothing to with the sale or transfer of land per se and is not a registered ‘interest’ in freehold land as would be determinable by a search of the Title and Deed and, if it were (a registered interest) it would be a ‘compulsory acquisition’.

    A Planning Instrument is a ‘Civil’ obligation for the compliance with the ‘Definition’ within the instrument of an “Assessable Development” on land and in all other respects is nothing more than a ‘Building Code’ placed upon the personal or commercial ‘Activities’ “On Land” and forms no part (interest) “In Land” that could be transferred by Title and Deed.

    82 . Transfers
    (1) The proprietor of land or of a lease mortgage or charge or of any estate right or interest therein respectively may transfer the same by a transfer in an approved form.

    (1A) Upon the registration of the transfer the estate and interest of the proprietor as set forth in such instrument or which he shall be entitled or able to transfer or dispose of under any power with all rights powers and privileges thereto belonging or appertaining shall pass to the transferee; and such transferee shall thereupon become the proprietor thereof and whilst continuing such shall be subject to and liable for all and every the same requirements and liabilities to which he would have been subject and liable if he had been the former proprietor or the original lessee mortgagee or annuitant.

    (2) Where the consideration for a transfer is not a sum of money, the true consideration shall be concisely stated.

    [Section 82 amended by No. 17 of 1950 s. 20; No. 81 of 1996 s. 56; No. 6 of 2003 s. 30; No. 19 of 2010 s. 51.]

    84 . Proprietor may vest estate jointly in himself and others without limiting any use etc.
    The proprietor of land or any estate or interest in land under the operation of this Act whether of the nature of real or personal property may transfer such land estate or interest directly to himself and another person or jointly with any other person to himself alone or create or execute any power of appointment or disposition or create or limit estates in remainder or otherwise as legal estates of or concerning land the subject thereof without the intervention of any precedent or particular estate and also like estates as legal estates without the employment or intervention of any form of use; and upon the registration of such transfer the land estate or interest shall vest in the transferee solely or jointly as the case may be or in the person in whose favour any such power may have been executed or who may have taken under any such limitation or otherwise according to the intent and meaning of such instrument; and she he or they shall become and be deemed the proprietor or proprietors thereof.

    [Section 84 amended by No. 28 of 2003 s. 129(3).]

    Refer also the “Property Law Act 1969 (WA)” for the conveyance of land.


  • #

    Correct Strewth,

    I sold a couple of thousand acres (back paddock) to a neighbour, and it DID NOT involve the application of a planning instrument, as is MY right as the OWNER of the land!


  • #

    In the strict sense you are right Strewth, but the ability to divide your title, is not much good if you want to sell the property and there are planning regulations which you must abide by, or apply to have waived. No one would (or should) buy a title, without checking that the land can be used for the purposes it is being purchased. The fact is, you are not going to be able to sell half your block of land, if you are not allowed to subdivide it. In the Perth area as in most residential areas, there are minimum size blocks, depending on the area, the block has to be able to be serviced by driveways, and utilities and so on. So you may have a technical right to sub divide your title, but that’s not much good if you can’t sell the divided parts. Similarly in country areas there are restrictions applied including the minimum size block, how many houses can be built on it and so on. If you want to get those regulations varied you have to apply for permission and getting permission is not an automatic right.

    Blunt, it may have been a different storey if you wanted to sell off half acre titles to people wanting to build week-enders.


  • #

    Jaymez @ 21

    The Minister for “Lands” administers the Lands department, and the Minister for “Planning” administers a completely different department, the Department of Planning. The horse is now in front of the cart when it comes to land transfers.

    By the way, one cannot “Buy a Title” because the “Title” goes with the “Land” regardless of who owns the deed, one in fact “Buy’s a Deed” which goes with the owner. For example, if an absentee owner of land resides in Canada the “Title” cannot reside with him/her because the “Title” is on the land in Australia however, the “Deed” to the land can reside in Canada because that is his/her’s proof of ownership of the land that has an accompanying “Title”.


  • #

    My email sent today.
    Hello all,
    I received this response from the Hon Donna Faragher.

    If the license was robust, surely the banks would be lending money against the property/business of Narrogin Beef, and Matt and Janet Thompson could get back to feeding us.

    The current license does not appear to be robust enough to support business. Condition A1 may cause the business to become unviable. Isn’t the role of government to support a viable business rather than to use fine print to destroy it?

    Whilst I am thankful for the Minister’s response, I am not sure that the Minister and her staff are on the right track here.

    Can you please shout the Minister a sandwich and ask her to reconsider the license conditions which would allow the Thompsons to stay in business?

    As Leyton would say – Come on.


  • #

    Engineers do not have to go without insurance and face the risks involved in not being able to procure the right professional liability insurance.