Jimboomba Times, July 18, 25, and August 1, 2012

Timing of spraying, or deliberate poisoning?   There is no evidence that anyone in this community is deliberately poisoning wild birds, or deliberately sabotaging the livelihoods of local beekeepers.  Most of the properties surrounding these farms are Land for Wildlife members, meaning they have allocated parts of their land for conservation.  Hardly the kind of people to then deliberately poison the wildlife. But the history of issues with chemical contamination affecting human and animal health in this neighborhood is extensive.  Reader, who would YOU believe?  We have written to Mr van Manen, the member for Forde, informing him of recent developments in this stoush, in the hope that he will take action on behalf of the residents – who have been asking, in vain, for action on this matter for eight long years now.

Our new local councillor for Division 4, Laurie Smith, hedges his bets.

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Click the above link to see how JT reported the findings that the birds were killed from exposure to toxic levels of Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate insecticide. Both Growcom and Cr Pidgeon jumped on this, claiming the farmers in question had assured him they don’t use this chemical – so therefore the residents should apologise to the farmers!  Sorry, but proper regulation and oversight is needed here.  Why is it so easy for these people to take the farmers’ word, but when we report the evidence of our own eyes, and back it up with damning video evidence, we are not believed?  Thanks to the JT for publishing Growcom’s letter in full, then restating the letter’s contents in another column next to pictures of residents. Fair and balanced reporting?  Our own letters were ignored.

Kim Downs takes issue with farmers’ claims they are ‘playing by the rules’.

David Hogan also takes issue with the ‘playing by the rules’ argument. – this is a planning issue, he says. I believe that those responsible for town planning in Beaudesert Shire Council, and now Logan City Council, have seriously failed residents in allowing these farms to set up near our homes in direct contravention of State Government guidelines.

Here is my response to the above call for an ‘apology’ – After a full day of email argy bargy with the JT editor, he actually agreed to publish it.  Hallelujah! That’s a strike rate of one in six, to Mr Growcom’s 5 letters in 5 weeks. Don’t mind us, or our side of the story – we only live here!

Growcom CEO Alex Livingstone expects us to take his word for it that ‘growers use … chemicals according to the rules’, and ‘Given the strict controls on their use in Horticulture, it is far more likely that the poison originated from another source’.   What ‘rules’ would these be, Mr Livingstone?   And what proof do you have that these ‘rules’ are being followed?  Does anyone from Growcom ever actually monitor these farms to ensure they are in fact doing the right thing?  Simply speaking to people and blindly believing whatever they say to protect their own interests is not enough. And that is the only thing Cr Pidgeon and Mr Livingstone have done.

I am quite certain that at no time has either Logan City Council or Growcom made any concerted effort to check what the farmers in Greenbank are spraying, and when and in what concentrations, or to reign in these chemical cowboys and force them to follow industry best practice.  In Mr Livingstone’s case, this is despite being politely contacted by a member of my household, in writing, in March 2011, asking for his help in getting the local farms to comply with State government guidelines to prevent this stoush developing.  His response was to attack the correspondent for being ‘anti-farmer’; no effort was ever made to address the issue or seek solutions.

It is the residents that are owed an apology – from Growcom and Cr Pidgeon for their inaction and their unfounded accusations against residents in the face of all the evidence, and from the farmers for their refusal to consider their neighbours’ health and safety despite repeated requests.  Promises to plant buffer zones have turned out to be just that, empty promises.  Five years ago, my own home was flooded by over a metre of water  after farmers on Begley Road filled in Crewes Creek to make room for more igloos, causing severe flooding upstream.  We have seen bird kills numerous times following spraying in Harvest Road, Thompson Road, Backwater Road, and Kingfisher Drive. They spray, then birds die. Simple. Observable. Obvious.  Attacking the residents for speaking these truths does not make them any less true.

It’s about time the people who live here were afforded some respect. Our rights should always trump those of non-resident commercial enterprises who have for years treated their neighbours  with contempt.

Liz Hall-Downs, Greenbank

Keep telling them, Crystal!  It IS obvious, it’s just that noone is prepared to help us.  Why?

Keep watching Lawrence Springborg, because we are waiting for some action and are watching to see if you’re watching!  Interesting that the spokesman for Environment and Heritage protection told the JT in the above article that soil and water testing would take place in ‘the next two weeks’ – the test samples were actually taken some time before this, something their spokesperson appeared not to know, on July 27 – six weeks after the latest birdkill.  Too little, too late, especially when the farms are given such a big window to conceal the evidence – which they have done.  One wonders why Environment and Heritage Protection would even bother taking samples after such a time lapse.  Could it be that they have been told to engineer the situation to implicate the residents? Or they they just not up to doing the job in a timely fashion?

How hilarious to read Growcom CEO Mr Livingstone complaining about ‘misinformation and fear-mongering’.  This is something he would know all about as he has been doing just that for weeks now. All residents have done is report what they have seen and experienced – and now are being vilified for their ‘inflammatory remarks’.   Apparently non-English speakers with a certificate from a 2-day course are to be believed and trusted, while residents are lectured to as though they are children.  Mr Livingstone points out that when people buy products containing Chlorpyrifos ‘there is little or no control over how they are stored, used or discarded once they have left the store’.  That is true, Mr Livingstone.  But the same is true of the farmers you are defending, and they have access to these chemicals in far greater quantities and concentrations than any of the low dose products you have indicated are readily obtainable from Bunnings – and you refuse to admit that the recent issues are very likely a result of poor handling and lack of oversight.

You can attack the residents all you like, but we live in Greenbank, we love Greenbank, and none of us would ever do anything to damage the environment in which we live. Your farmer mates don’t give a damn about Greenbank. The majority of them do not live here; to them, Greenbank is simply a place to make as much money as possible for themselves, by farming as intensively as possible, while subjecting their neighbours to chemical spray drift and fertilisers and refusing to even plant buffer zones.

As I have said many times before, the rights of residents to peaceful enjoyment and amenity should always take precedence over the moneymaking activities of outsiders.

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