Sunday, June 30, 2013


Taj Mahal


After considering the downturn in business opportunities in the region, the Indian Government has decided to lease the World Heritage-listed Taj Mahal for a low impact heritage-tourism opportunity. “This will stimulate growth and create jobs,” said the Heritage Minister.

The thought is that a developer could transform the Taj into a six-star green hotel complex. “Such a project would be the envy of the world. Everyone would want to become a Rajah for a day.”

“It would create one of the world’s greatest attractions,” added the Government spokesperson. While extreme, militant heritage groups have already expressed their concerns, the Government is determined to achieve its aim. “Business is critical for the area,” said the Minister. “It will reinvigorate the region and raise millions of rupees.”

. . . . .

While this farce is obviously contentiously stupid, it is puzzling how the reported plan of the Queensland Government to lease out portions of Springbrook National Park can be considered to be sensible. It is an alarming circumstance where World Heritage seems to mean nothing at all.

 Taj Mahal
Dear Editor,

Concerning Springbrook plans a new lease on life – Gold Coast Bulletin 29 June 2013

The one core message that is missing from your report on ‘a new lease on life’ for Springbrook is that Springbrook is a part of the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia; that this area of our country has been recognised by the world as being unique for its biodiversity:

‘the high number of rare and threatened rainforest species are of international significance for science and conservation.’

It is more than a local National Park. This oversight, and the use of emotive words like ‘splashed out’, ‘left to rot’ and ‘Springbrook’s struggling economy’ in relation to the previous State Government's buy-back, displays an unfortunate bias in this report.


The buy-back was a remarkable initiative that recognised the importance of this region for the world. The expansion of the National Park was, and remains critical for its future because Springbrook National Park is a fragmented holding with a long and threatened perimeter. The history of the park is one of a slow accumulation of bits and pieces of land over many years to get where we are today. The buy-back was a continuation of this history and has played an important part in protecting this unique ecosystem for the future. Continued development, even under ‘eco’ titles, will only continue to threaten the viability of this significant biodiversity.


Expanding National Park areas to accommodate this special characteristic can be seen, not as negligent waste as is implied in your article, but as a responsible action that fulfils the State’s obligation to properly manage its World Heritage regions. The State has no requirement to lease National Park areas, or to become involved in private commercial enterprises. There are already numerous properties that could be adapted for business purposes around Springbrook National Park without using any of our National Park reserves for these purposes. National Park areas form such a small portion of our State that they need care and continued protection rather than crass commercialisation. When properly managed, the National Park will always be there for everyone to enjoy responsibly, both now and in the future. It is not as though there is any necessity for our National Parks to be developed because of any deficit in other opportunities. These areas will only continue to be degraded if we choose to lease them out.


It is alarming that your report notes that those involved in assessing future possible uses of areas that have been carefully selected to be put aside for the future to protect our World Heritage place, were two politicians and, apparently, a real estate agent. Why was no one outside of politics and business, who might know about World Heritage matters and environmental sensitivities, involved? We are not dealing with a pretty piece of real estate. This is a World Heritage region, on the list with Uluru, the Ninjaloo Coast, the Taj Mahal, Chartres, Durham Castle and Cathedral, and more. These are places that are icons for the world that cares so much for these wonders that they have been identified as part of everyone’s heritage. They have not been listed for leasing. Why does World Heritage Springbrook get treated with such careless disdain? Is this government hell-bent on getting Springbrook on the endangered list beside the Great Barrier Reef?


Springbrook does not need ‘a new lease on life.’ It has a surplus of ancient life that needs protecting, not development. It stands today as one of the wonders of the world because of its rich biodiversity in flora and fauna. That any government might choose to ignore this is simply astonishing. To think that it is sensible to lease out any portion of what is blindly seen as 'property' available for commercial purposes is irresponsible in the extreme. The world must look on Australia with bewilderment when people act like a group of ignorant ‘cowboys’ keen to cash in on something that others - not just the cliché scary, militant green groups - hold in such astonishing high regard.

Spence Jamieson


Springbrook/Wunburra Progress Association Incorporated.


Thursday, June 6, 2013


To give her some credit, Laura Nelson did publish much of a dissenting article written in response to her report, Cableway to lift tourism says alliance that was published in the Gold Coast Sun, 28 May 2013: see

Instead of using the text as it was presented to her, she took pieces and wrapped them into a new story with a journalistic format: ‘Spence Jamieson said . . . etc.’ To be fair, she has managed to keep most of the spirit of the original, but there have been some changes in the process. In seeking out an electronic copy of the published material on the Internet, I was surprised that it could not be found. So the original newsprint has been scanned and included here. One wonders what system is used to make decisions about what is put onto the Internet and what is excluded.

In all of this juggling of words there has been some omissions, but two missing words stand out: ‘prior to.’ It may not seem much to have changed, but it is a critical point to understand. World Heritage matters must be attended to first, ‘prior to’ all of the issues that arise on Springbrook - every one of them. Without this rigourous commitment, the subtleties and sensitivities that the World Heritage listing identifies could easily be trampled, destroyed, in spite of everything that might get named ‘eco.’ The biodiversity of the region is of such importance and significance that it cannot be a secondary concern. We owe it to the world to be responsible for this important place, to care for it. This may mean choosing not to do things at Springbrook irrespective of all other ambitions for place and persons. We must remember that Springbrook shares an importance on the World Heritage list, along with Uluru, Chartres and other unique places on this planet: see -  Any compromise or 'adjustment' is just not an option.


Because of the difficulty in reading the scanned text, the Laura Nelson article of 6 June 2013 has been transcribed and published here as it appeared in the paper. This will allow it to be read in conjunction with the original text. One is always tempted to modify poor expression and punctuation, especially with its attribution, but the report has been reproduced complete, without any alterations.

Cableway’s ghost haunts Springbrook

The president of the Springbrook and Wunburra Progress Association (‘Incorporated’ should have been included here) has slammed any talk of a cableway in the area claiming it would be the same as planning a cableway up Uluru.
Spence Jamieson said it was astonishing that the ghost of a cableway still lingered at Springbrook.
“What constantly seems to be forgotten is the fact that Springbrook is part of a World Heritage-listed region and its special qualities are not a figment of anyone extremist’s imagination,” he said.
“A cableway at Springbrook would be like having a cableway at Uluru or Chartres Cathedral, near Paris.
The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which is visited every year by Christian pilgrims from around the world.
“Other parts of the world which have the privilege of World Heritage sites manage them with pride, commitment and rigour.
“Just look at Uluru and Chartes,” Mr. Jamieson said.
“Springbrook is listed for its unique biodiversity, which requires special awareness, care and sensitivity as its complex ecology is not immediately obvious as a large rock or a building, even though the region might be just as picturesque.”
He said the impact of tourism on the plateau thus needed to be very carefully controlled.
“Dismissing green groups and individuals as radical borders on the juvenile. It’s clear that the rest of the world challenges this perception with our World Heritage listing.”
Mr. Jamieson said Springbrook had to be properly managed in line with the demands of the local population and any desire to broaden its tourism base while protecting the ecology of the area.
“if we press on with commonplace banalities and ignore the essence of this special region, it might soon have to be considered for an endangered listing, along with the Great Barrier Reef and that would be a very bad day,” he said.
In recent years, both Springbrook and Tamborine Mountain have been considered as options for a cableway, which protagonists believe would boost tourism in the region.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


The Australian on-line carried the following report by Greeg Roberts June 01, 2013 12:00AM -

Campbell Newman's LNP bulldozing pre-election promise illustrated with a phtoogrpah of Joh Bjelke-Petersen clearing land on his property in the 1940s: see -

MEASURES being implemented in Queensland by Premier Campbell Newman amount to the greatest rollback of environmental protection in Australian political history.

A small coterie of Nationals in the Liberal National Party government ministry, backed by the LNP's Nationals-dominated organisational wing, is overseeing the systematic dismantling of key environmental laws. Newman, supposedly a Liberal moderate, is turning a blind eye to the Nationals' escapades in the interests of maintaining LNP unity.

The passage of the Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Bill undermines Labor's tree-clearing laws, opening up two million hectares of bushland to the bulldozers. The consequences will include loss of biodiversity across the state, further shrinkage of remnant areas of native vegetation and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Newman broke a pre-election promise to keep the laws. Vegetation once protected can now be cleared if land is deemed of "high agricultural value": an open-ended definition. The protection of regrowth vegetation has been dispensed with. It is easier to bulldoze bushland along watercourses. If landholders clear specially protected vegetation, the onus of proof is reversed so they can merely plead ignorance to avoid prosecution.

Before Labor's laws were enacted in 2006, Queensland had one of the world's highest land-clearing rates; those days are returning, although there is less bushland left to clear.
Natural Resources Minister Andrew Cripps boasted when foreshadowing the move that he was "taking an axe" to the laws. And so he did: most bushland remaining on private and leased land is up for grabs.

Cripps is one of three right-wing Nationals in the ministry - along with Agriculture Minister John McVeigh and State Development Minister and Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney - who have Newman's blessing for the new environmental agenda. McVeigh opened up 30,000ha a year of state forest for logging.

Logging was stopped by Labor as part of a shift to greater use of plantation timber. The "forest wars" that once were a feature of the political landscape are returning: conservationists are outraged by a logging licence granted over rainforest in Crediton State Forest near Mackay - the habitat of the endangered eungella honeyeater.

Seeney is implementing a development blueprint that includes the scrapping of wild river declarations on Cape York. The government aims to scuttle the proposed World Heritage Listing of Cape York, one of Australia's outstanding wilderness areas. Seeney has declared the area is open for mining and agricultural expansion.

His plans mirror those of Cape York Aboriginal powerbroker Noel Pearson, who argues that environmental protections stymie indigenous economic opportunities. His opponents say preserving wilderness affords greater opportunities. They point to benefits for indigenous communities that result from protecting World Heritage-listed Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta in the Northern Territory.

Murrandoo Yanner is among many indigenous leaders who back wild rivers; they are angered by Pearson's presumption to speak on their behalf.

Cape York aside, declarations of three southwest Queensland rivers in the Lake Eyre Basin are being amended to facilitate mining and agricultural development: guidelines provide "greater efficiencies for petroleum and gas companies". The move is opposed by an alliance of Aboriginal leaders and farmers. They fear the expansion of controversial coal-seam gas projects and cotton farming in a region that is too arid to sustain it, and that Lake Eyre will suffer from the diversion of water that in good years would flow into it.

Newman also is reviewing Labor's national park declarations, signalling that many will be revoked. The protection of national parks is supposed to be set in stone, otherwise there is no point in having them. Queensland's already small national park estate will contract, and in the process the sanctity of national parks is ditched.

Newman has bowed to the Nationals' demands to allow grazing in national parks - a move with potentially serious consequences for the fragile ecology of arid zone parks. He insists this will save the lives of starving cattle, but they will be slaughtered soon in abattoirs anyway; the objective of graziers is to fatten cattle to boost financial returns, not to save their lives.

A handful of Liberal moderates in the LNP cabinet harbour reservations about the rollback. However, LNP unity is Newman's paramount concern, at the price of caving into the Nationals on environmental (and a raft of social) policies.

History repeats itself: as with former state Coalition governments before the Liberals and Nationals merged in 2008, weak-kneed Liberals are browbeaten into submission by Nationals.

Newman's environmental agenda is more destructive than that of former National Party premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, who at least protected national parks and launched initiatives to preserve the wilderness values of Cape York. Newman has signalled that 12.5million ha of land under government control is under review, with assurances only that "pristine" areas will be protected.

For all his defects, Bjelke-Petersen kept an environmental leash on extremists in the Nationals' ranks. Not so Newman. Now it is open slather.

On 27 May 2013, Campbell Neuman sent the follwoing letter to GECKO:

I think the hand written text reads: Just for the avoidance of doubt I made a commitment to retain the Vegetation Management Act - it has been retained and there will be no return to the bad old days of broad scale land clearing.

No worries? He may have kept the Act, but he has changed it! Is it just all too clever? Terms like 'the bad old days' and 'broad scale' are vague enough to cover anything.

Neuman has a habit of scribbling asides at the end of letters. Is it an attempt to clarify the spin that even he cannot believe: 'just for the avoidance of doubt'? I received correspondece from him with an enigmatic political theory scribbled after the signature that said something like:  'It's not about equity; it is democracy.'