In Australia if you try to clear a firebreak on your land you could go to gaol

Maxwell Szulc

As Greens blame coal miners and SUV drivers for contributing to firestorms that destroy houses, ponder that one man tried to reduce the risk of fires and cleared firebreaks on his property in WA in 2011 and is currently in jail for it, serving a 15 month sentence. Most of the cleared land had been cleared before in 1970 or 1983. This was mere scrubby regrowth. He was trying to separate his property from DEC (Dept of Environment and Conservation) managed land with a 20m wide fire-break. He is due out of jail sometime around Feb 10th, though his government minders have not even fixed that date (are they having trouble calculating “15 months”?) He had previously been jailed for three months in 2010 for a similar action.

This was true civil disobedience. He knew what would happen. He felt someone had to protest and I gather he felt that at 62 and without children or a wife to support, it was his duty.

Szulc cleared his land as a protest. He was in contempt of court, he is in contempt of the DEC.

Some will say that Maxwell Szulc is technically not in jail for clearing […]

An update from the Thompsons down under

For all the supporters of the Thompsons, Janet writes to describe the kind of limbo they are living in. The eviction day October 15, came and went in a blur of work. They remain on the property only due to court injunctions, which have no certainty. Matt and Janet are their own lawyers — doing all the paperwork — with helpful advice from all round, especially Peter King. Legal suits were launched from both sides. The Thompsons are basically under siege, living week to week in their home, waiting, though not sitting still. […]

Donna Faragher: armed with unpublished complaint-mail and an unbankable license — destroys livelihoods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

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 […]