Friday, March 9, 2012

Corridors Of Power

A BILLION DOLLARS HERE, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking serious money, as US Senator Everett Dirksen* once said, except in those days waste and pork were still measured in millions. Now that several generations of inflation and caring governance have added a zero to the running tally of monies squandered, both here and in the US, it is hard to get too upset about a paltry single billion. Small change beside the NBN, you might exclaim, as nothing against even the lowest-denomination variety of this government’s many follies! Still, there is one particular billion set to vanish that is reason for special regret. The holy cause, which involves small animals, was razzled and trumpeted in the Phage yesterday, and this was to be expected, as there has never been an ecological or environmental absurdity that ridiculous newspaper has found the will or wit to resist.

According to author Tom Arup, an Adam Morton-with-training-wheels, isolated pockets of bush are to be linked by “wildlife corridors”, which will allow hard-pressed species to nip across to neighbouring patches and spread the genes about. Make no mistake, this is a worthy goal, but there is precious little evidence to indicate the approach does any good and much to suggest otherwise.

In fact, there are only two certainties about habitat corridors, as they are more generally known.  The first is that the initial billion dollars will be a mere first installment on a scheme that is certain to grow like Topsy. The second is that property rights will take another beating as green busybodies impose their will and fantasy on other people’s land.

Actually, there is a third certainty: even a small part of that billion could do immeasurable good if only it were put to a more practical use.

For a good overview of the corridor sceptics’ view, read this recent report from New Scientist, hardly a journal of conservative thought. It mentions research by an Australian, Queensland University of Technology's Kerrilee Horskins, but don’t use the Slate link, go here instead, where the full document is available. What Horskins learned, much to her surprise, was that two species of native rat stuck to themselves, the DNA tests she ran failing to produce any evidence of roaming rodent Romeos. This really isn’t surprising, not when you think about it. Territorial creatures, they resent visitors, and why would any right-thinking rat undertake such a perilous expedition when ample breeding opportunities are to be had at home?

Other research strongly suggests corridors’ prime beneficiaries are cats and foxes, the two species, along with rabbits' bloodless predations, which have done more than any other to exterminate the small native creatures the corridor movement seeks to encourage. Again, little imagination is required: your fox or moggy finds dinner in the bushes, then trots home along the open ground or, just as likely, to the next kill. And what is a corridor? A long strip of bush flanked by open ground -- meaning foxes in particular will be able to patrol the corridor’s edge, dive into the greenery for a meal, and then emerge into the open where the going is easy, to pounce again somewhere else. That research is summarised here, starting on page 13.

All of the above crystalises the pointlessness or actual downside corridors present to wildlife. This map represents their peril to property owners:

The section above covers a slice of the Mornington Peninsula as the animal lovers at the Australian Wildlife Protection Council wish to see it. The green arrows represent proposed corridors, and it should be obvious at a glance that a good deal of private property will need to be reserved. No worries, says Arup of the Phage, who quotes these re-assuring words from Environment Minister Tony Burke: “Any linking of the corridors would only be done through existing methods of putting land into conservation, such as the work of Landcare volunteers, or when farmers have chosen to be part of environmental stewardship.''

The very next paragraph, however, says something rather different. In Arup’s words, “Under the plan the federal government would pass new laws this year allowing the environment minister to declare a national wildlife corridor. Corridors could be nominated by community groups for listing.” 

As cabinet’s environmental operative, Burke represents one our PM’s few appropriate ministerial picks -- a distinction he earned by virtue of being the largest beady-eyed creature known to live under a rock. If farmers believe they will be able to choose whether or not to allow a corridor across their properties, then they do not know Burke very well. If Burke has ever told the truth about anything it is only because his second lie accidentally reversed his first.

The National Farmers Federation is asking members for thoughts on the billion-dollar proposal, and they are demonstrating a commendable wariness: 

“One area that is of particular concern for the NFF and our members is the management of invasive animals, plants, fire and other risks within the wildlife corridors. We have called for a greater focus on invasive species and fire under round one of the Biodiversity Fund, and will continue to work with Government to ensure this commitment is made through the corridors plan.” 

Well good luck with that, Man On The Land. Those feral species will love your new corridors, and you can expect lots of grief, interference, oversight and fines, always fines, from ivory tower ecologists if you attempt to do anything about them.

And do you know the real tragedy of all this? You could shoot, poison and trap an awful lot of foxes and cats in return for a billion dollars worth of bounties. Mind you, placing a bounty on ecological green theorists might put that cash to even better use.

Oh, and one last thing. That billion dollars is going be drawn from Carbon Tax revenues. It is another pressing reason why it must never be implemeted and, if it is, dismantled as a matter of urgency.

*Thanks to reader Ian Newton for correcting the Professor's ailing memory. The quote in the first paragraph was not, as originally attributed, the wisdom of Sam Rayburn. Apolgies for a dopey error.


  1. The pain caused by native vegetation laws should be enough to see any further rubbish rules like this stomped on immediately by anyone even vaguely in favour of farming. Once the busibodies are in the gate they are more threat to farming than miners.

  2. Professor Suri Ratnalpala has written a good piece of literature on why the Vegetation Management Laws don't meet the United Nations covenant on civil and political rights. I have met and spoken with many farmers who basic civil rights have been stripped away.

    1. PhillipGeorge(c)2012March 9, 2012 at 9:47 AM

      the enviro-fascist would have a semblance of legitimacy if their core claims were even vaguely correct:--

      Australia needs a James Delingpole - a man who is unashamedly right about everything [I read it on his blog].

      Victoria is already effectively bankrupt because of these clown. Remember 700 million on a great north south pipe dream?

      If politicians had just come out and said we want everyone to strip naked and piss into the wind at midnight on a full moon their statement could have garnered them some level of respectability. Who can argue with the claim that pissing in the wind wet's one's feet. And with wet feet you have a potential treatment for dry feet. Pissing in the wind cures dry foot syndrome - it is a medical fact. The Age will run it.

      You heard it first on Bunyip.
      "The Global Warming Policy Foundation has produced yet another devastating report: this time on the economics of wind farms. Turns out they're even worse than we thought.
      Not only do the Bat Chomping Eco-Crucifixes (TM) ruin views, kill birds, cause bats to implode, destroy the British film industry, frighten horses, enrich rent-seeking toffs like David Cameron's father-in-law Sir Reginald Sheffield Bt, drive up electricity bills, kill jobs, create fuel poverty, cause old people to die of hypothermia, wipe out property values, drive people mad with strobing and noise pollution and enable smug liberal idiots to spout rubbish like "Oh, I don't mind them. Actually I think they're rather beautiful", but also by 2020 they're set to drive up consumer bills in the UK alone by £120 billion. ........
      [cut for size]

  3. Tony Burke does seem to be a stormtrooper for Labor's green jihad against sustainable production.
    He will have locked up enough land and water to feed an African famine before he's done.Worse still Labor has recalled their original eco warrior Bob Carr to the front line.It's time the Labor party were shamed and ridiculed for their misanthropic green grandstanding.

  4. FFS, will this idiocy ever cease?

    Is there anyone here who thinks that the gliberals will wind back any of this erosion of individual liberties, of which property rights are such a central pillar?

    Mark Steyn has essayed this depressing phenomenon in great detail (on the US, but equally applicable here) - two 'parties' that are indistinguishable, equally statist and equally committed to sending this country off the cliff.

    There is little chance of 'course correction' and that should make us all mightily irritated.

    As proof I tender exhibits A and B, the O'Barrell and that victorian idiot's state 'coalition' gubberments.

    Absolutely fed up.

  5. So they're finally admitting the carbon tax has nothing to do with the climate. It's just a slush fund for mad green schemes like this using our money, which we've been told would be used only to compensate those affected by the tax. Another great big lie by the lyingest government in our history. It merely adds to the public rage which will be fully expressed when these cowards are finally forced by statute to face the retribution of the electorate.

  6. Another is McAlpine paper in Journal of Rangeland Management (subscription required)investigating usefulness of corridors in connecting remnant vegetation. He found that corridors need to be wide (2 KM?) to be of any use and the remnant vegatation needs to be quite large (20 square KM?) that smaller corridors were acually a detriment to wood dwellers from predation by fringe dwellers and populations were not worth preserving in smaller remnants.

  7. Luv ya work Bunyip, but I think you'll find that the late and magnificently craggy Senator Everett Dirksen was the source of the quote, "A billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon you're talking real money."

  8. These idiots don't seem to realise the habitat corridors act as giant wicks in a bushfire situation, converting low level fires to crown fires and accelerating their rate of spread. As sure as eggs are eggs, the corridors will become overgrown with every known weed and fallen tree, and nobody, least of all the DSE (or their equivalent), will control the rubbish. But don't worry about that, the native birds and animals will be able to move much more freely!

  9. Luv ya work Bunyip, but I think you'll find the late and magnificently craggy Senator Everett Dirksen was the source of the quote, "A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there. Pretty soon you're talking real money."

    1. Ian, many thanks. I have fixed the attribution and added a note at the foot post admitting to being dim, befuddled case study in mental decline. It is quite a few years since I visited Washington and all I could recall was the irony of US lawemakers naming a luxe building on Capitol Hill after a man who produced such a memorable quote about government waste. Of course, the Rayburn building is there as well, and that is where I went wrong.

      Should have checked to be sure. Again, thanks for the correction.

  10. Support the new Green Communist Laboral Untidy Nations monumental efforts to create an International Fascist Beaurocratic Government. A truly Worthy Cause , big al gore and kruddy ruddy in Absolute Control.Yayyyyyyy hooray!

  11. Why on earth is it so important to "rescue" marginal colonies of species?
    Extinction is a fundamental part of the evolutionary process.
    It would be very hard to find a dusky antechinus or a white footed dunnart in the wilds of, say, Brunswick, though there is very little doubt they could have resided there in the dreamtime.
    Conversely it is also possible the ones on the Mornington peninsular are interlopers from Gippsland.
    No one thought to do a survey back when the urban sprawl began so we really have no idea whether they need help or not and it is just plain stupid to start now.
    England once had bears and boars in profusion but I doubt many would want them back in what remains of the woods.

    1. Don't get it, do you Aard? There's an important breeding program underway to replace curious, intelligent young humans with clinical idiots who chant fascist slogans just like the Brown Shirts of yore.

  12. "If Burke has ever told the truth about anything it is only because his second lie accidentally reversed his first."
    Careful, that could easily become the 'new normal' in Canberra.

  13. We can only hope these Agenda 21 Gaia worshippers don't start bushfires in the proposed weed corridors with their sacred torches during their victory celebrations.

    "Maurice Strong, Club of Rome member, devout Bahai, founder and first Secretary General of UNEP, has been the driving force behind the birth and imposition of Agenda 21. While he chaired the Earth Summit, outside his wife Hanne and 300 followers called the Wisdom-Keepers, continuously beat drums, chanted prayers to Gaia, and trended scared flames in order to “establish and hold the energy field” for the duration of the summit."

    From The Green Agenda - Agenda 21 - - coming to some unfortunate farmer near you.

  14. Whaddya know, Queensland's getting corridors, too.

    Funded by the mining tax... along with free tertiary ed for all (or something like that).

    1. Kae, wildlife corridors are sooooo fashionable, especially with people who wouldn't know a numbat from a cricket bat.

      You can make a case for them in places with natural populations of wolves and foxes, but that is not Australia. Our far-roaming predators are urban-fringe ferals, so the corridors will most likely encourage the very destruction for which they are being pitched as solutions.

      Plus fire. The corridors won't be burned, as burning is unfashionable amongst the theorists, so the corridors will likely end up as senescent monocultures. You'd be surprised how aggressive Australian plants can be -- poisoning the soil, for example, to inhibit the grow of competing species. Fire is the only solution to that sort of thing. But it won't happen in corridors supervised by green bureaucrats.

  15. As you know Prof, I have declined to renew my subscription to the Age, but I did see that headline over another's shoulder on the tram.
    This is the classic "look over there" tactic. The Carbon Tax cheer-squad are losing the battle on economic grounds (it WILL cost jobs) and scientific grounds (it WON'T impact global emmissions of BAAAAD CO2 one iota).
    So the last remaining "Unique Selling Point" of the CO2 Tax is "look what we can do with the money".

    I believe this is the first in a series of What the Super-Hero Tax Can Do For You covering the ability of the CO2 Tax to save hopeless causes.
    Upcoming Titles in the series include .....
    "Carbon Tax Averts Asteroid Collision"
    "Carbon Tax to Help The Tigers Make the Final Eight"
    "Carbon Tax Attributed With Cancer Cure"
    "Carbon Tax Helped My Anger-Management - Wayne Swan Exclusive"

    The Irish Lion

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