Sunday, June 19, 2016

Time for big changes in Canberra

With pre polling booths now open, Australians are getting a real chance to send a message to Canberra. An informal vote looks very attractive! Voting for an army of independents is also a good option. It doesn't matter who forms Government – bureaucrats run the show anyway. Hopefully voters in the seat of Higgins will send politicians a message by dumping Small Business Minister Kelly O'Dwyer after she turned her back on small farm businesses in favour of big corporations in the ‘free range’ debacle. and voters in New England have the opportunity to get rid of Barnaby Joyce who is less than adequate as Deputy PM. It's way past time for some fundamental changes to our constitution to reduce costs for the economy. We don't need the current duplication of services in Canberra and the States. About the only function which needs to be administered Federally is defence. State Governments deliver all other services – including health and education so it makes no sense to pay for an army of bureaucrats and Ministers in Canberra who do little but polish chairs with their backsides and hold out their hands to grab our money. The duties of a Federal Government could be adequately performed by the Council of Australian Governments COAG. This would save billions of dollars every year.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Egg farmers could be heading for trouble if they adopt the new 'free range' standards proposed by Ministers.

Egg farmers who follow the new 'free range' standards proposed by Ministers for Consumer Affairs and the Federal Small Business Minister Kelly O'Dwyer could face trouble with planning laws as well as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. I wrote to Victoria's Planning Minister Richard Wynne, asking if the Minister could intervene in the decision to allow egg producers with stocking densities of 10,000 hens per hectare to be classified as free range instead of the accepted standard of 1500 hens per hectare. Mr Nick Wimbush, Acting Executive Director,Planning and Building Systems of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning responded, saying “It is not possible for the Minister to issue a directive regarding free range egg production as each proposal must be considered on its individual merits and circumstances in line with land use definitions. However, he said “changes to national labelling laws do not change these land use definitions or the farming zone. I recommend that an egg farmer considering increasing their stocking density in response to the labelling law changes contact the planning department of their municipal council for advice about whether planning approval will be required.” The ACCC has already said that it will review is guidelines for free range egg production in light of the recent ministerial decision. ACCC action in the Federal Court resulted in several fines of $300,000 against businesses which falsely labelled their eggs as free range.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Australian politics needs a total clean-out. The States should govern Australia not Canberra carpetbaggers

It's time for a major shake-up with the political system here in Australia. We just seem to lurch along from one pathetic disaster after another.For years Australia 'rode on the sheeps back' then after the wool price collapsed we enjoyed a mineral boom. But rather than build up financial reserves our politicians squandered every dollar. If our politicians had been prudent, we would now be sitting on a pile of money rather than running a huge deficit. Australia's lunatic fiscal policies over the past few years has just about guaranteed that we will slide into recession this year. It's likely that the Australian dollar will slip to 55c US by the third quarter. At least the Federal Treasurer has made noises about cutting the excessive level of spending – but we are yet to see any action. It's way past time for some fundamental changes to our constitution to reduce costs for the economy. The Federal election won't solve any problems because it will make no difference who wins. What's needed is a total change in the way the system operates. We don't need the current duplication of services in Canberra and the States. About the only function which needs to be administered Federally is defence. State Governments deliver all other services – including health and education so it makes no sense to pay for an army of bureaucrats and Ministers in Canberra who do little but polish chairs with their backsides and hold out their hands to grab our money. The duties of a Federal Government could be adequately performed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). This would save billions of dollars every year.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Aussie election not going the way the Government planned

It seems that the election campaign in Australia isn’t going the way the government planned. The Liberal/national coalition thought that the popularity of a relatively new prime minister would be enough to guarantee victory. But the road hasn’t been smooth and even if the coalition retains power it is likely to have a smaller parliamentary majority. Almost certainly it won’t control the Senate – which was its aim in calling a double dissolution election. A series of dumb decisions and comments by Ministers has been seized on by opponents to demonstrate that the current government is out of touch with the community. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton seems to be doing everything he can to lose his seat by making derogatory statements about immigrants and refugees Australia’s Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer is also a case in point and she may battle to retain her seat. Voters in the electorate of Higgins vote for anyone but Kelly O’Dwyer No support for small business from kelly O'Dwyer Businesses in the Federal seat of Higgins can expect no support from local member the Minister for Small Business, Kelly O'Dwyer, following a decision which could force the closure of many small family farm businesses across Australia. She chaired a meeting of Ministers for Consumer Affairs which approved an intensive standard for free range egg production – allowing eggs from hens on factory farms with stocking densities of 10,000 hens per hectare to be labelled as free range – instead of the accepted standard of 1500 hens per hectare. Former egg industry auditor Phil Westwood of Freeranger Eggs said the unfair competition could spell the end for some farms. “The decision endorses corrupt practices in the industry and effectively provides unscrupulous operators with a defence from prosecution by the ACCC. A recent prosecution for deceptive practices saw a $300,000 fine imposed by the Federal Court on several farms which labelled their intensively produced eggs as 'free range'. “Now it's an open-go for intensive farms who can thumb their noses at consumers and the ACCC” Phil Westwood said. “Although voters in the seat of Higgins probably don't care about farmers, small business owners in the area should realise that they can't rely on her to support anything but big bussiness.” he added. Phil Westwood Freeranger Eggs Private Bag 245a Grantville 3984 0356788483 https://www.facebook.com/FreerangerEggs/ web www freeranger.com.au 0402070531

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Voter apathy at Australian election

Now is an opportunity for Australian voters to let politicians know exactly what we think of them.Tell the Canberra brigade in major parties that we don't trust any of them. With the Federal election now up and running, is it worth taking any time to think about how to vote? Will it make any difference? Whoever wins, the politicians will continue to look after their own interests and maintain their extravagant 'entitlements' while we lesser mortals are just expected to shut up and pay the bills. An informal vote looks very attractive! It doesn't matter who forms Government – the same bureaucrats run the show anyway. Hopefully voters in the electorate of Higgins will send politicians a message by dumping Small Business Minister Kelly O'Dwyer after she turned her back on family farmers in favour of major corporations in her 'free range' egg standard debacle. And with a bit of luck voters in New England will get rid of Barnaby Joyce who is an embarrassment as Deputy Prime Minister.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sustainability, carbon emissions, solar power

Freeranger Eggs at Grantville is an example of sustainable farming. Our farm management plan takes a three pillars approach to how the farm operates. Animal welfare is one pillar, but equally important are land sustainability and food safety. Despite all the political bickering in Canberra over emissions trading scheme targets, Freeranger Eggs has been getting on with mitigating the impact of carbon emissions. The farm's carbon footprint is limited by imposing a food miles policy for deliveries, using recycled materials and equipment whenever possible, utilising solar power and mechanical processes and an effective waste reduction programme. As a result, the 1200-chook farm generates only about 60 tonnes of CO2 each year. But it is better than carbon neutral, it is carbon positive. The average organic matter in soil tests was 4.1 per cent in 2004, in 2006 it was 6.0 per cent, and in 2009 it was 7.9 percent. Calculations based on 2-inch deep samples, show that over those five years the farm sequestered about 14 tons of CO2 per acre or four tonnes of carbon per acre on the grasslands. Further testing and calculations have not been carried because there has been a total lack of interest in the results. The farm applies no chemical fertilisers, herbicides, or pesticides and this policy increases the biological life in the soil and increases the rate of carbon sequestration. Rotational grazing is practised on the pastures – taking advantage of photosynthesis to pull CO2 into the plants and then into the roots from where it transfers to the soil. In addition, every year at least another tonne of CO2 per acre continues to be sequestered by the regular growth and replacement of Kangaroo Apples in the main paddocks. Native vegetation has been protected on approximately 100 acres of the property and regeneration there sequesters a further tonne of CO2 per acre. This brings a grand total of 1500 tonnes of CO2 sequestered on this property over five years – an average rate of 300 tonnes per year compared with the farm's carbon output of around 60 tonnes. On days of full sun the solar panels on the farm shed generate 13 - 17kW of electricity a day and as on average the farm consumes just 9kW a day it helps the bottom line. We gained international recognition in 2012 when Freeranger Eggs was voted
the Australian winner of the Energy Globe Award.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Ministers incomptence over egg standards

The decision by Australian Ministers for Consumer Affairs and the Small Business Minister to allow egg producers with outdoor stocking densities of 10,000 hens per hectare to label their eggs as 'free range' demonstrates an incredible level of ignorance as well as gullibility and incompetence. Apart from anything else, thjey seem to have overlooked the fact that each chook excretes half a cubic metre of manure a year – so 10,000 chooks will leave a 5000 cubic metre pile of manure on each hectare of land. Such a heavy nutrient load would destroy the viability of the land and would almost certainly create Massive environmental damage particularly along any watercourses which adjoin the land. As a result, this decision may make it much harder for farmers to set up free range egg farms. Local Shire planning departments will find it easier to reject applications as 'intensive' operations – effectively treating them as feed lots instead of an as-of-right use on land zoned for farming.