I have just received the following note:
“Over 200 farmers in western NSW today blockaded state government officials from entering the Cobar property of Kevin and Gwen Mitchell, who are the latest victims of a radical green campaign that will force farmers off their land.
“Farmers trying to rehabilitate land degraded by woody weeds are the innocent victims of a political game being played in Macquarie Street to gain green preference votes in Sydney,” said a spokesperson for the NSW Regional Community Survival Group, Doug Menzies.
“The farming communities of Cobar and Nyngan are no longer prepared to stand by and let decent, hard-working families be sacrificed on the altar of green politics. Today we are preventing bureaucrats from entering a farm as a protest against a government that constantly appeases the demands of radical greens.”
Last Monday, the Mitchell’s farm was “buzzed” by a low flying plane registered to a Sydney pilot who farmers suspect was ferrying an activist from the radical green group The Wilderness Society.
Two farm workmen, who were legally clearing 250 hectares of land degraded by woody weed infestations, witnessed the plane circle and cross the area at least five times at low altitude.
Woody weeds (also called invasive scrub) are native plants that have spread beyond their natural range and density, invading formerly open woodlands and grasslands of western NSW.
Mr Menzies said that the Mitchell family reported the pilot’s reckless behavior to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
“Immediately after the incident, a prized bull went missing from the paddock and was found five days later over five kilometres away, while three pregnant cows died during calving. Cows are extremely sensitive to stress in the latter stages of pregnancy and can’t handle being spooked by low flying planes.
“Things are pretty rotten in the state of NSW when farmers can’t go about their daily chores without being harassed in the paddock from the air,” Mr Menzies said.
“To rub salt into the wound, the next day a bureaucrat from the Department of Natural Resources rang Kevin Mitchell to report a complaint of illegal land clearing and wanting an inspection of the farm.
“The NSW Government is too quick to take the word of radical greens as gospel. What has happened to the Mitchell family is nothing short of government-sanctioned harassment,” said Mr Menzies.
On 22 July 1998, Kevin and Gwen Mitchell were granted consent by the Western Lands Commissioner for a term of 10 years to cultivate the 250 hectares of woody-weed infested land.
The Regional Community Survival Group is made up of farmers and business people from western NSW who have had a gutful of the NSW Government pandering to the wishes of radical greens in a bid to win preference votes in marginal inner-Sydney seats.”
Journalist Ross Coulthart detailed some of the problems with the Wilderness Society Campaign and environmental impact of native invasive scrub encroachment, in the cover story for the Sunday Program of the 6th August entitled ‘The great land-clearing myth’.