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Donna Faragher: armed with unpublished complaint-mail and an unbankable license — destroys livelihoods

Donna Faragher, Minister for Environment and other stuff.

Some people have recently received replies from the Minister of the Department of Environment in Western Australia.

The ten second answer to the latest DEC excuses: The Thompsons License is unbankable; the Thompsons have already met the conditions; the complaints are unverified and often solicited, or relate to some other business, and Donna Faragher can teach you how to spell “business certainty” but she hasn’t got a clue what it is.

I’ve added my thoughts below, in between the full grey-box-quotes of the letter.


Minister For Environment; Youth

Thank you for your email to the Western Australian Government dated 22 September 2010 regarding the Narrogin Beef Producers cattle feedlot in Narrogin.

Good to see that through the magic of electronic communications it only took one month and four days to reply.

By way of background to your letter, Narrogin Beef is one of 44 licensed or registered cattle feedlots in Western Australia. The Narrogin Beef feedlot is the only feedlot in Western Australia which has been the subject of significant and ongoing community complaints about unreasonable odour. Between January 2005 and August 2009, 487 odour complaints were received, which complainants attributed to Narrogin Beef. This is a very high number of complaints regarding a licensed premises. Between December 2009 and August 2010, there were no cattle on-site and no community complaints regarding odour were received.

So DEC received 487 complaints from an unlisted number of people. Was that 22 complaints each from 22 people, or 487 complaints from one? Did it include emails? Did it include all the times DEC phoned up previous complainants to invite them to give more “feedback”? (Do solicited complaints count?) What process has the department used to make sure that none of those complaints are really about other causes, like the smell of the piggery next door? Or how about the time that I hear Coles put manure on their gardens and people complained. Janet told me those complaints were still in the file listed against Narrogin Beef. The local action group (helped by big city lawyers) also made sure that there were handy flyers around town with the local Complain-about-The-Narrogin-Beef-Feedlot-Hotline-Number (Dial: XXX YYY Winge-winge-winge). Anytime someone fertilized their garden,  there just might have been a handy reminder on the next door neighbor’s fridge to call Donna Faragher at DEC.

Bar the 21 substantiated complaints, none of the other hundreds of “complaints” and details thereof are publicly available. We know this is an inflated statistic, because 6,000 recordings were done for months throughout the local area and most days there was not even a smell at all, let alone something worth complaining about. We also know the two nearest neighbors to Matt and Janet say the smell is not an issue and they not only want the farm to stay, they want it to grow. They say: 15,000 head (as per the original Works Approval) — yes please. They ought to know. Then there’s the point that there were hardly any complaints in 2006, before Matt spoke out as a skeptic of Global Warming, but maybe cows didn’t smell in 2006?

DEC point out that the complaints have stopped now that there are no cattle. Well, when DEC, and the EDO heard that the cattle had finally gone, it wouldn’t have been too hard to phone that message around, and stop soliciting complaints eh? Modern technology and the mental capacity of a five year old with a wish list would have been able to come up with a plan as cunning as that. As it happens Janet heard that complaints were made in December 2009 — while Narrogin Beef had almost no cattle at all, but before the stakeholders realized that most of the cows were gone. Can you smell ten cows from 5 kilometers? Yes, especially when there are 12,000 pigs next door.

As it happens the petition of 900 local signatures in support of the Thompsons was collected when Narrogin Beef was operating at peak capacity, and before it made further dedicated efforts to reduce any odours.

Donna Faragher is foolish to resort to a PR war waged with unverified “complaints”.

If all it takes is an undocumented list of 487 complaints to shut down a business, then how many complaints does it take to shut down a government department?

The complaints against DEC would easily outnumber the complaints against Narrogin Beef. For starters we know that 700 people were not only angry enough at DEC to email, they actually donated money to the Thompsons children. How many emails has the Western Australian Government received in support of the Thompsons? Surely, they’ll rush to add them up for us?

In January 2009, I determined appeals lodged against the Narrogin Beef Producers licence, and found that the licence conditions issued by DEC were reasonable at the time, given the level of environmental and community concern regarding emissions and discharges from the premises, particularly odours. I 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.

Yet again, Ms Donna Faragher shows every inch of her business acumen, all her many years of experience in running commercial enterprises  (that would be “zero”). Donna Faragher was raised in prestigious private schools, trained as a teacher, and her entire working life was apparently spent as a political staffer — in other words, she’s got no idea what a business is, not even in the academic sense, let alone the real-world sense. Yet here she is, ruling on what’s  “reasonable” in the business world — being the Kingmaker of West Australian business. But hey, she has created a national park.

Faragher thinks there’s a chance that a bank might loan the Thompsons lots of money based on a license with clause A1.  This is the five year license that lasts five minutes. A1 is the clause where no one can offend anyone anywhere on the planet “unreasonably” (as decided by DEC, who’ve proved to be as unreasonable themselves as any Western Government can be). And as for the theoretical 10,000 cows, it’s really 6,000, unless the Thompsons jump through some hoops that they’ve already successfully jumped, but this time for some inexplicable reason, DEC notices.

The arduous Local Community Consultation Committee (LCCC) process that Faragher asked for resulted in a clear recommendation for “10,000” unconditional cows. Since that apparently wasn’t good enough (even though it was exactly what she requested), how do we know the new conditions will still be worth achieving by the time the Thompsons achieve them? Faragher writes about the LCCC below as if it supports her argument. Did she really sign this letter?

I also endorsed the formation of a Local Community Consultation Committee, 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 my 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 my appeal determination, and providing approval to stock up to 10,000 head of cattle on-site. 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.

It doesn’t matter what the Thompsons do, it’s never good enough. Why? Could it be that they speak with American accents, or that they’re not active vegetarians? Could it be that DEC doesn’t much like climate skeptics, or, tick all of the above? Who knows?

Could it be just a weak 35 year old minister, too easily intimidated or persuaded by senior department bureaucrats?

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. I recently determined these appeals, and confirmed that the feed lot can stock up to 10,000 head of cattle for the five year period of the licence. DEC has incorporated my appeal determination into a draft amended licence, which was issued to Narrogin Beef Producers on 30 July 2010 for comment. A copy of my most recent licence appeal determination is available to the public on the Office of the Appeals Convenor’s website at report, together with the Appeals Convenor’s report and previous appeal determinations which are also available on the website, will provide additional background about matters related to Narrogin Beef Producers.

I trust this information is of assistance.
Yours sincerely,

Hon Donna Faragher JP MLC


10th Floor, Dumas House, 2 Havelock Street, West Perth Western Australia 6005

Telephone: +61 892137250 Facsimile: +61 892137255

Email: [email protected]

Time to write — the Thompsons need all the help they can get. Please send emails to Colin Barnett (the Premier of WA). Actually, why not the entire WA State Parliament. Ms Faragher needs to know everyone is waiting for her to provide some good answers. With a proper license the Thompsons might be able to arrange a loan. Though they are long due compensation for damages as well. Faragher has let her department waste taxpayer money for no net benefit to the environment.)

The one page list of information on The Thompsons: for donations, maps, petitions and timelines.

The Western Australian Parliament. Please be polite.

[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], [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

No comments yet to Donna Faragher: armed with unpublished complaint-mail and an unbankable license — destroys livelihoods

  • #
    Brian G Valentine

    Nice looking woman, pleasant smile, hard to believe she was left to take out Enviro-nut aggression on innocent people on behalf of some bureaucrats who probably never had to work a day in their lives.

    We see the same thing here in the USA all the time, the people doing this are typically looking for a promotion or a political appointment.

    Donna now has some “credentials” for a political campaign to prove she is “every inch a tough guy” who doesn’t take “nonsense” from environmental “slackers”


  • #

    Next time these public “servants” open up their pay packets, I hope they think of the tax payers who are making it possible.


  • #
    Brian G Valentine

    They don’t care, Speedy, “taxpayers” are just fodder to “whip into line” to get a promotion.


  • #

    We have a problem in the UK with arts graduates in positions of power or influence (e.g. the BBC) requiring, you would hope, some depth of moral, business, and scientific/technical sense. They don’t seem to have it much, and get by, very well for their careers, instead by being articulate and quick to pick and deploy whatever junk-science or political-correctness is current. They are not necessarily bad people, but instead are somewhat superficial people who seem generally content with the established fashions, and who are merely riding the associated waves. It’s not my country, so I’ll not be writing to any of your addresses, but I wish you all well. I especially wish the Thompsons well. They are/were very important contributors to their local economy, and deserve to have been highly-valued as such. They also seem to be fine people in their own right. The destruction of their business is not a decent response in their circumstances, and it is an astonishingly crude and vicious response to a technical question of odour that a more civilised administration would have found better ways to address.


  • #
    Rereke Whaakaro

    Could it be just a weak 35 year old minister, too easily intimidated or persuaded by senior department bureaucrats?

    I doubt her age has anything to do with it, she could be twice as old and still be intimidated persuaded by the bureaucrats.

    She will be living in a little bubble with all of the glittering baubles of office, and congratulating herself that she is a player in the great game at a very tender age.

    She doesn’t see the bubble, in the same way that fish don’t see the water. Neither do her staff.

    There is a probability that somebody on her staff will have “cocked-up” at some stage, perhaps by not noticing that all 487 complaints came from a group of people who were in some way connected to those wanting to progress a subdivision, or indeed, because of other failures of analysis.

    The reaction of the bureaucrats, in such a case, is to close ranks and support each other. They know that it could have been them, making an error of judgement, so you cover for your mates.

    Ms Faragher will therefore be getting a consistent message from her staff. And because there is no other way into the bubble, she will probably take the advice she is given at face value. It will support any bias she might have that “conservation is good, and therefore business is bad”. But even if she did have a moment of doubt, who, other than her officials and her supporters (who all think as she does), can she turn to?

    There was a similar situation in New Zealand where a vindictive tax department official initiated a tax audit on a property developer whom he did not like. The tax department apparently find nothing wrong, so assumed that the property developer was being even more devious than they originally thought, so they kept on asking for more detailed and ludicrous information, to the point where he could not supply the documentation they demanded because it had never existed. If you believe the public version of the story, this particular situation was “saved” by a new, and business-savvy, opposition politician who wanted to make a name for himself, and was therefore prepared to hound the Minister with parliamentary questions that the Minister’s officials could not answer.

    That story may not be relevant in its detail, but it does indicate that that you need a “game-breaker” who a) cannot be ignored, and b) can get to the Minister directly, without going through the pre- and post-filtering layer of the bureaucrats.


  • #
    Rereke Whaakaro

    Speedy: #2

    Next time these public “servants” open up their pay packets, I hope they think of the tax payers who are making it possible.

    But they are tax payers as well, so of course they think about it. They pay tax to pay themselves to pay tax.

    The bureaucrats engaged in “policy formation” produce absolutely nothing that is tangible, or even measurable, and yet they get paid extremely well.

    Since the tax they pay, goes to paying their own salaries (augmented by the tax of others), their net contribution to society is, by definition, negative.

    We could save money by dispensing with the lot of them, except that then, the Ministers would then have to think for themselves, and that is a really frightening thought!


  • #

    Physical force is the ONLY thing that these mongrel communists understand!

    Reason, logic, common sense and facts are like water off a duck’s back with them!

    Viva la Revolution!!!


  • #
    Roy Hogue

    Orange @7,

    October 31st, 2010 at 6:21 am

    Physical force is the ONLY thing that these mongrel communists understand!

    I presume that by, “Physical force…,” you mean some sort of violence.

    Don’t be tempted. Just one such act can be the ruin of the entire cause as the government reacts in kind and with much greater force.

    Our Civil Rights Movement succeeded because Martin Luther King Jr. was wise enough to realize he could get nowhere with violence. Civil disobedience, yes! Go to jail for it. Yes! But his message was heard across the country and around the world because he did not do as you suggest. One step over that line makes you someone to be feared and the reaction is likely to be both swift and deadly.

    Our most influential leaders against the radical left here in the U.S. all reject any and all violence for the same reason.


  • #
    Rereke Whaakaro

    Orange: #7

    Would that be an “Orange” Revolution, by any chance?


  • #

    It’s refreshing to see a name and face put to the forces oppressing the Thompsons (and the other victims of faceless bureaucracy). Let’s see a lot more names and their financial connections with the powerbrokers of the West. We need to shine a little light into the dark dank corners of the bureaucratic cesspit.


  • #

    Great post; the operative mental process here is cognitive dissonance; the ability to marry 2 antithetical views; one the one hand the minister loves her lifestyle which is supported by the economic process which people like the Thompsons help generate; on the other she actively works to undermine that economic structure which sustains her lifestyle.


  • #

    Has anyone looked at the location of the other 43 feedlots –how close are they to the nearest town / community ? Also do they have these stupid clause A1 in their licences ?
    What I’m suggesting is there must some sympathetic owners of the other feed lots who would “compare notes” with the Thompsons , if they have not already done so.


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  • #
    Chris in Queensland

    At 35 I knew everything, At 70 now, I know, I knew nothing at 35.


  • #

    If they haven’t already done so, and unless there are overriding privacy laws I am not aware of which protect the identity of those who submit complaints, the Thompson’s should submit an FOI request for all of the complaints the minister noted. Then an analysis could be done to determine the number of actual complainers and their proximity to the feed lot. Compared to the number of other residents in the potential odour zone who have not complained and how closely located they are.

    As you have noted, if Donna Faragher wants to play a numbers game, the Thompson’s can do that too.

    Also as you have noted, how does Donna Faragher explain the lack of complaints in the earlier period of the feed-lot’s operations. The minister’s letter of justification beggars belief.

    Donna Faragher is perhaps a classic example of the ‘Peter Principle’. A good student who couldn’t decide whether she wanted to be a teacher, a school counsellor, a psychologist or a political staffer in her short post high school life, ended up being the Minister for the Environment. She had difficulty making a decision about her own fate, but can now seal the fate of others. I know no-one expected Colin Barnett to win the last election, but surely there was someone more suited to the role?

    Barnett only governs with the help of numbers from the National Party. You’d think they would have some interest in maintaining a strong regional WA rather than close it down. Perhaps all the Nationals are too busy spending the Royalties for Regions largess to bother about a Narrogin business?


  • #

    This is the stated philosophy of the Australian Liberal Party. From

    We Believe…
    In the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples; and we work towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative
    •In government that nurtures and encourages its citizens through incentive, rather than putting limits on people through the punishing disincentives of burdensome taxes and the stifling structures of Labor’s corporate state and bureaucratic red tape. •In those most basic freedoms of parliamentary democracy – the freedom of thought, worship, speech and association.
    •In a just and humane society in which the importance of the family and the role of law and justice is maintained.
    •In equal opportunity for all Australians; and the encouragement and facilitation of wealth so that all may enjoy the highest possible standards of living, health, education and social justice.
    •That, wherever possible, government should not compete with an efficient private sector; and that businesses and individuals – not government – are the true creators of wealth and employment.
    •In preserving Australia’s natural beauty and the environment for future generations.
    •That our nation has a constructive role to play in maintaining world peace and democracy through alliance with other free nations.

    In short, we simply believe in individual freedom and free enterprise; and if you share this belief, then ours is the Party for you.

    Unquote. (Emphasis mine.)

    Can Ms Faraghar please discuss the treatment that the Thompson Family have received in the light of the above. If she cannot reconcile her actions with the political philosphy of the Liberal Party, then her resignation would be appropriate.




  • #
    Ian Hill

    I’ve just sent an email to every WA politician listed above.

    Bar the 21 substantiated complaints, none of the other hundreds of “complaints” and details thereof are publicly available.

    I presume details of the other complaints have been requested under the FOI Act?


  • #

    Methinks the Minister’s surname has been misspelled: Try “Farrago”.


  • #
    Roy Hogue

    Speedy @16,

    May I borrow a line from Mark Twain and modify it to fit the situation today?

    There are lies, damned lies, statistics and the promises of politicians.


  • #

    The level and complexity of these types land use disputes runs deep in the bureaucracy today mainly through the “Local Agenda 21” initiatives that many countries have been forced to adopt under the United Nations Agenda 21 program. It matters little who is occupying such Ministerial positions in this case Donna Faragher – MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT; YOUTH , as the Local Agenda 21 initiative is the playbook

    For Western Australia, some of Local Agenda 21 initiatives can be read here and is a EPA document. Agenda 21 and Local Agenda 21 undoubtedly makes it very difficult to navigate through multiple levels of bureaucracy – and this is the goal.

    The land use planning and development system in Western Australia allocates land for various
    purposes and regulates certain types of development and land use. Planning decision-making
    influences environmental outcomes through a hierarchical or tiered planning framework. Various
    types of statutory and non-statutory processes are involved in the planning process:

    • strategies and overarching policies (regional strategy plans and statements of planning
    • region schemes and their amendments
    • local planning strategies
    • town planning schemes and their amendments
    • structure plans
    • local planning policies
    • subdivision approvals
    • development and land use approvals.

    However, understanding the elements of Agenda 21 and Local Agenda 21 will help somewhat to achieve desired land use outcomes for the public.

    I also suspect that the ministers’ need to be executing and progressing the Local Agenda 21 initiatives and are probably measured in some way. The UN rolls up reports on implementation progress of all their initiatives esp Agenda 21


  • #

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Robert J, Joanne Nova. Joanne Nova said: Donna Faragher (Minstr, Env WA) uses unpublished complaint-mail and an unbankable license to destroys livelihoods […]


  • #
    WA Secessionist

    I have never before dealt with the DEC. I had cause recently regarding a potential land development site that used to be a petrol station some decades ago, (fully remediated apparently by the oil company, takes removed etc) and had no volatile hydrocarbons detected in the soil after years of testing(no leaking petrol) and only a very small corner (few square metres) where some sump oil had leaked from a small tank underground. The DEC listed the site as “not assessed” or words similar. In effect it meant nothing could happen on the site until they had assessed the site and approved any development.

    The interesting part was that we contacted the DEC on many occasions, consulted with environmental scientists, and environmental auditors (both very expensive specialist consultants), with a view to finding out what we needed to do to have the restrictions on the site lifted. Our problem was not doing the things necessary to remediate the site. It was trying to find out what to do. None of those consulted would tell us exactly what we had to do, deliberately. The consultants because they did not want to get sued when the DEC arbitrarily changed their mind. (And they weren’t embarrassed by that.) I had the impression the DEC were enjoying our consternation at trying to play their game, a game where only they knew the secret rules. In the meantime the poor vendor of the land has probably lost 30% of its value because of this uncertainty.

    This is pure star chamber stuff.

    God help anybody seeking to get the DEC to approve anything complicated.