LETTER: Labor’s mismanagement of $9m splash on Henbury carbon farm

Sir – The Gillard Government doesn’t even have a management plan for a property it ploughed more than $9 million of taxpayer funds into back in 2011.
Under questioning by [me] a Climate Change Department official conceded there had been no requirement for a finalised management plan for Henbury Station, the property bought by RM Williams Holdings for $13 million, $9 million of which was taxpayers’ funds contributed by the Labor government.
Henbury Station is a 5000 square kilometre property between Alice Springs and the Simpson Desert. Under the funding agreement, the property would become part of the National Reserve System and be de-stocked.
At the time of sale, the Government boasted this would be the world’s biggest carbon farm, even though the credits it was supposed to generate would not count under the Kyoto Protocol. And department officials confirmed yesterday that a Carbon Farming Initiative methodology has still not been approved for the property.
According to Department official Peter Cochrane, two years after handing over $9.2 million, the Government hasn’t even received a management plan for the property and doesn’t know when to expect one. The Government was unable to explain to me why it didn’t insist on a management plan before signing the cheque.
It appears there have been significant problems with those responsible for managing Henbury Station, and at least one RM Williams staff member is talking about bringing cattle back to graze on the land.

According to the department, running cattle on the property would be a complete breach of the funding agreement.
Labor’s Caring for Country program under which the $9.2 million was spent should be renamed the “Not Caring for Taxpayers” initiative.
This further example of gross mismanagement shows once again you can’t trust Labor with money.

Fiona Nash

Nationals Deputy Senate Leader

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3 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. Tony Sanderson
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    If Steve doesn’t sum it up, well I cant beat him. Spending that sort of money would have done wonders in the top end for infrastructure towards food production so Australia can boost exports. I love the pastoral country and what it produces – but a carbon farm ?

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  2. Russell Guy
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Just like the Port Augusta solution, eh Steve?

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  3. Steve Brown
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    This scheme was always a farce. No rational person let alone our National Government could have or should have accepted the premise that this property could be used as a carbon farm without the use of irrigation.
    And had irrigation been planned what a disgustingly unproductive waste of our resources. This whole affair is just another demonstration of the shear blind stupidity behind much of the carbon argument in this country.
    Much of it consists of those intent on selling rather shonky ill prepared poorly thought out schemes to a fumbling national government stupidly squandering “our” money in an ill conceived attempt to appear to be doing something to save our world.
    I don’t know what it is about Labor Governments, but if they spent as much time and money actually carrying out well thought out planned projects as they do in in printing glossy pamphlets and spruiking political propaganda in the pretense of doing something, they and our nation would be a lot better off!
    Yep, and now we have another wonderful Labor achievement! Within moments of purchasing the property cattle and other grazing animals that had maintained some kind of fire control by eating the grass were removed. They burnt the whole bloody property to the ground, emitting enormous quantities of carbon into the atmosphere almost overnight! Or wait, perhaps that the idea! We pay out money for the carbon retention in regrowth for a year or two, then burn the whole lot to the ground again! Yeh, well, when you put it like that perhaps it wasn’t such a bad scheme.
    After all what does it matter that the purchase stole away the long hoped for, long planned and dreamt about, economic opportunities for local families who have lived for generations in the area.
    Maybe now that the Feds are clearly exposed once again in another comedy of mismanaged funds they could make some attempt to regain some credibility, save some face, by buying out RM Williams’ share of this farce, and hand the property over to those I have mentioned, to be run as an operating pastoral property, as it has been for generations.
    This was always going to be a disaster and there was no more farcical prelude to it than when the Federal Minister Tony Burke was interviewed at the property on hand over, stating: “Oh it will open up new wildlife corridors”! Yeh, while standing in the middle of a five thousand square kilometer property with hardly a single fence or roadway for thousands of kilometers!
    Yeh these guys know what they’re doing alright, the world’s a safer place in their hands! Roll on Federal Election, another chance to bury a lousy incompetent Labor government Territorians, now that is something worth looking forward to!

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