You are here

An open letter to the Australian People - by Dr David Pascoe - how corporate terrorism is dispossessing Oz farmers

How Australian farmers, especially in Queensland, are living conditions akin to those of the 1930s Great Depression, victims of what has been called, "corporate terrorism". This article has been republished from Dr David Pascoe's facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/OVHRepro/timeline. It describes the scale of dispossession by banks of farmers who are unable to turn the kind of profit that mines and realtors can. It warns of how we are at two minutes to midnight in losing ownership and the ability to produce food on Australia's farms. On this facebook page there are many corroborating tales of suicide and hardship, of meetings and activism. We are republishing this on candobetter.net because Dr Pascoe appears to be leading an important reaction and offensive for Australians against the banks, the mines, the mass media, and to be calling our rotten politicians into question. This article was publicised by Alan Jones on his radio show of December 9, 2014 (to which cdb was alerted by Daisy Uriad), and he also interviewed Australian treasurer, Joe Hockey, who showed little capacity to grasp the seriousness of the problem.

Dear Men and Women of Australia,

There are two photographs on this page, and they almost look like father and daughter. One is of a young woman, the other is of an elderly man.
...
The photograph of the woman was taken in the Great Depression of 1934. Her name was Florence Owens Thompson, a 32 year old mother of seven children who was sitting homeless in a tent. The photograph was published in the newspapers of America and it enraged the nation, because people could not believe that Americans could be treated in such a way. It forced President Roosevelt to act, to step up and become a leader for his times: he launched soup kitchens, work gangs, programs for the homeless, dams and roads and railways were built – and he gave his people hope.

John Steinbeck later wrote a book called The Grapes of Wrath which became an American literary Icon. It was about a drought that made the farmers penniless – and how the banks had forced them off their land so they could sell it on o the big corporations. What happened to the farmers of Oklahoma carved a deep and shameful scar across the American identity that was felt throughout the Twentieth Century.

The second photograph on this page is of Charlie Phillott, 87, an elderly farmer from Carisbrooke Station at Winton. He has owned his station since 1960, nurtured it and loved it. He is a grand old gentleman, one of the much loved fathers of his community.

Not so long ago, the ANZ bank came and threw him off his station because the drought had devalued his land and they told him he was considered an unviable risk. Yet he has never once missed a single mortgage payment.

Today, Charlie Phillott, Grand Old Man of the West, is living like a hunted down refugee in Winton, shocked and humiliated and penniless. And most of all, Charlie Phillott is ashamed, because as a member of the Great Generation - those fine and decent and ethical men and women who built this country – he believes that what happened to him was somehow his own fault. And the ANZ Bank certainly made sure they made him feel like that.

Last Friday my wife Heather and I flew up with Alan Jones to attend the Farmers Last Stand drought and debt meeting. And after what I saw being done to our own people, I have never been more ashamed to be Australian in my life.

What is happening out there is little more than corporate terrorism: our own Australian people are being bullied, threatened and abused by both banks and mining companies until they are forced off their own land.

So we must ask: is this simply to move the people off their land and free up it up for mining by foreign mining companies or make suddenly newly empty farms available for purchase by Chinese buyers? As outrageous as it might seem, all the evidence flooding in seems to suggest that this is exactly what is going on.

What is the role of Government in all of this? Why have both the State and Federal Government stood back and allowed such a dreadful travesty to happen to our own people? Where was Campbell Newman on this issue? Where was Prime Minister Abbott? The answer is nowhere to be seen.

For the last few months, The Prime Minister has warned against the threats of terrorism to our nation. We have been alerted to ISIS and its clear and present danger to the Australian people.

Abbott has despatched Australian military forces into the Middle East in an effort to destroy this threat to our own safety and security. This mobilization of our military forces has come at a massive expense to the average Australian taxpayer which the Prime Minister estimates to be around half a billion dollars each year.

We are told that terrorism is dangerous not only because of the threat to human life but also because it displaces populations and creates the tragedy and massive human cost of refugees.

Yet not one single newspaper or politician in this land has exposed the fact that the worst form of terrorism that is happening right now is going on inside the very heartland of our own nation as banks and foreign mining companies are deliberately forcing our own Australian farmers off the land.

What we saw in the main hall of the Winton Shire Council on Friday simply defied all description: a room filled with hundreds of broken and battered refuges from our own country. And all over the inland of both Queensland and NSW, there is nothing but social and financial carnage on a scale never before witnessed in this nation.

It was 41 degrees when we touched down at the Winton airport, and when you fly in low over this landscape it is simply Apocalyptic: there has not been a drop of rain in Winton for two years and there is not a sheep, a cow, a kangaroo, an emu or a bird in sight. Even the trees in the very belly of the creeks are dying.

There is little doubt that this is a natural disaster of incredible magnitude – and yet nobody – neither state nor the federal government - is willing to declare it as such.

The suicide rate has now reached such epic proportions right across the inland: not just the farmer who takes the walk “ up the paddock” and does away with himself but also their children and their wives. Once again, it has barely been covered by the media, a dreadful masquerade that has assisted by the reticence and shame of honourable farming families caught in these tragic situations.

My wife is one of the toughest women I know. Her family went into North West of Queensland as pioneers one hundred years ago: this is her blood country and these are her people . Yet when she stood up to speak to this crowd on Friday she broke down: she told me later that when she looked into the eyes of her own people, what she saw was enough to break her heart

And yet not one of us knew it was this bad, this much of a national tragedy. The truth is that these days, the Australian media basically doesn’t give a damn. They have been muzzled and shut down by governments and foreign mining companies to the extent that they are no longer willing to write the real story. So the responsibility is now left to people like us, to social media – and you, the Australian people.

And so the banks have been free to play their games and completely terrorise these people at their leisure. The drought has devalued the land and the banks have seen their opportunity to strike. It was exactly the excuse that they needed to clean up and make a fortune, because once the rains come – as they always do – this land will be worth four to ten times the price.

In fact, when farmers have asked for the payout figures, the banks have been either deeply reluctant or not capable of providing the mortgage trail because they have on-sold the mortgage - just like sub-prime agriculture.

This problem isn’t simply happening in Winton, but rather right across the entire inland across Queensland and NSW. The banks have been bringing in the police to evict Australian famers and their families from their farms, many of them multigenerational. One farmer matter of factly told us it took “oh, about 7 police” to evict him from his first farm and “maybe about twelve” to evict him from his second farm which had been in his family for many generations. You think they are kidding you. Then you see the expression in their eyes.

And there was something far worse in the room on Friday: the fear of speaking out against the banks: when we asked people to tell us who had done this to them, they would immediately start to shake and cry and look away: They have been silenced to protect the good corporate image of their tormentors called the banks. What in God’s name have the bastard banks been allowed to do to our people?

This is a travesty against the rights and the human dignity of every Australian

So it’s only fair that we start to name a few of major banks involved: The ANZ is a major culprit (and they made $7 billion profit last year). Then there is Rabo, which is now owned by Westpac (who paid CEO Gail Kelly a yearly salary of some $12 million) According to all reports, the NAB is right in there at the trough as well – and all the rest of them are equally guilty. For any that we have missed, rest assured they will be publicly exposed as well

But here’s the thing: when these people are forced off their farms, they have nowhere to go. There are no refugee services waiting, such is the case for those who attempt to enter the sovereign borders of this nation. The farmers simply drive to the nearest town – that’s if the banks haven’t stripped their cars off them as well - and they try and find somewhere to sleep. Some are sleeping on the backs of trucks in swags. There is basically no home or accommodation made available to take them. They camp out, shocked and broken and penniless – and they are living on weet bix and noodles. If there is someone that can lend a family enough money to buy food, they will: otherwise they are left completely alone.

And consider this: not one of them has asked for help. Not one. They just do the best they can, ashamed and broken and brainwashed by the banks to believe that everything that has happened is completely their own fault

There is not one single word of this from a politicians lips, with the exception of the incredibly courageous father and son team of Bob and Robbie Katter, who organised the Farmers Last Stand meeting. The Katter family have been in the North since the 1890’s, and nobody who sat in that hall last Friday could question their love and commitment to their own people.

There is barely a mention of any of this as well in the newspapers, with the exception of as brief splash of publicity that followed our visit.

The Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce attended the meeting in a bitter blue-funk kind of mood that saw him mostly hunched over and staring at the floor. He had given $100 million of financial assistance in a lousy deal where the Government will borrow at 2.75% and loan it back at 3.21%.

The last thing these people need is another loan: they need a Redevelopment Bank to refinance their own loans: issuing a loan to pay off a loan is nothing more than financial suicide.

The reality is that Joyce cannot get support from what he calls “the shits in Cabinet” to create a desperately needed Redevelopment Bank so that these farmers can get cheap loans to tide them through to the end of the drought.

Our sources suggest that those “shits in Cabinet” include Malcolm Turnbull – Minister for Communications and the uber-cool trendy city-centric Liberal in the black leather jacket:, Andrew Robb – Minster for Trade and Investment and the man behind the free trade deal, the man who suddenly acquired three trendy Sydney restaurants almost overnight, the man who seems to suddenly desperate to sell off our farms to China – and one Greg Hunt, Environment Minister and the man who is instantly approving almost every single mining project that is put in front of him.

At the conclusion of the meeting, we stood and met some of the people in the crowd. My wife talked to women who would hug her for dear life, and when they walked away people would suddenly murmur “oh, she was forced off last week” or “they are being forced off tomorrow” . Not one of them mentioned it to us. They had too much pride.

The Australian people need to be both informed and desperately outraged about what is being done to our own people. This is about every right that was once held dear to us: human rights, property rights, civil rights. And most all, our right to freedom of speech. All of that has been taken away from these people – and the rest of us need to understand that we are probably next.

In the last four weeks the Newman Government has removed all farmers rights to protest to a mine and given mining companies the rights to take all the water they want from the Great Artesian Basin – and at no cost to them at all.

And all of this has happened under the watch of both Premier Newman and Prime Minister Abbott.

Until Friday, we used to think of Winton as the home of Waltzing Matilda: it was written at a local station and first performed in the North Gregory Hotel. I think it was Don McLean who wrote, “something touched me deep inside…the day the music died”… in his song American Pie, and for us, last Friday was the day music died.

We will never be able to sing Waltzing Matilda again until we see some justice for these people, and all the farmers of the inland.

This is no longer the Australia we once knew: no longer our country, no longer our people, no longer the decent caring leaders we once remembered.

Right now, the banks, the mining mates, the corrupt politicians and all the ‘mongrels in suits’ have won – and the Australian people don’t have a clue what has been done to them.

Like the American Depression and the iconic photograph of Florence Owens Thompson, there is a terrible, gaping wound that has been carved across the heartland of this nation.

We need to fully grasp that, and to understand that our people – dignified, decent and honourable old men like Charlie Phillott - have been deliberately terrorized, brutalised – and sold out.

So if we are ever going to do something, then we’d better realise that its two minutes to midnight – so we’d better move fast.

Regards

David

Please share this as widely as you can across Australia. You are now the only truthful means we have to spread the message.
Contact politicians, contact newspapers, radio and television stations. Demand that your voice is heard.

PHOTOS:
Charlie Phillott (left) The Australian December 2014:
Florence Owens Thompson (Dorthea Lange) March 1936 (originally photographed in b&w)

AttachmentSize
Image icon Charlie-Phillott-tiny.jpg6.69 KB
Image icon Charlie-Phillott.jpg35.18 KB

Comments

This is horrific. I did not realise the situation was so bad. We should deluge federal government representatives with complaints. As for the banks , I don't know what one can do. This article really needs to do the rounds.

We can begin by nationalising the banks and the mines straight up and place severe restrictions on the activities of the real estate industry. This is major. I think it's time for Australians to get the army on side and rise up.

This "drought" might be the new normal for Australia, and could shift Australian farmers off their land and into the hands of multinational corporations, and foreign owners. Maybe it's a covert scheme to remove family farmers, for generations the backbone of our economy and food supply, out of the equation. Land can then be internationalized, and globalized, and run for big profits.

Studies at the University of Queensland have shown that land clearing over the past 200 years may have been as significant a factor in this country’s droughts and changing climate as increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Modelling results showed a strong correlation between climate and loss of vegetation from pre-European settlement levels, with an average summer temperature increase in eastern Australia of 0.4–2.0°C, and a 4–12 per cent decrease in summer rainfall.

Previously identified as the single greatest threat to biodiversity, at its height, millions of animals were killed each year and huge stores of carbon were released into the atmosphere due to land clearing.

Huge bulldozers using chains to drag down swathes of native bushland were a common sight in western Queensland for many years - but thanks to pressure from the community the State Government has acted to phase out broadscale land clearing by December 2006. However, the Queensland Government has been accused of opening up large-scale land clearing for the first time in more than 15 years! One of the biggest examples of that discovered is in the Gilbert catchment at Strathmore where an application for 30,000 hectares of clearing, that's about 134 Brisbane CBDs of clearing, has been granted. Last year the Queensland Government amended the state's native vegetation legislation to help facilitate what it calls high value agriculture.

The Gilbert River catchment in Queensland, between Cairns and the Gulf of Carpentaria, is being slated as one of the new agricultural frontiers in the push to make North Australia a new food bowl. (see http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2014/s3978759.htm)

Backing Joyce on the drought package, Tony Abbott claims unviable farms will not receive assistance. So it will be interesting to see what the definition of unviable is. This is neo-liberalism that allows industries to "evolve" by survival of the "fittest", at the cost of human lives and welfare. Australia now operates as a global market, with global competition. Our farmers export two thirds of what they grow and with the other third they meet nearly all of Australia's agricultural needs (we are however a net importer of processed fruit and vegetables). The ideal of a family farm is over! There is no reason that we should be the "food bowl of Asia". Every country should be aiming to be self sufficient and able to support its own population.

I agree Anonymous the neo-liberal wrecking ball strikes again. I live in country Victoria and the obstacles put in front of farmers especially the family variety is unbelievable. All tiers of government of all persuasions, big business, the mainstream media, all have this moronic idea - you either get bigger or you get out. They'll never learn as we have witnessed from the spectacular failures of the Managed Investment Schemes Timbercorp and Great Southern. Nobody, but nobody runs farms better that the family farmer!!!

Farmers have enough problems running an operation that faces all the problems of the elements, plant and animal diseases, fluctuating markets, living in remote locations without having to front up to the neo-liberal goons who control governments, big business including the banks and the spineless mainstream media.

In an effort to raise awareness of the plight of these cockies, I have contacted my local federal member Sharman Stone (Lib) in an attempt to get some action in that sphere. I believe both of the major parties need jolting into reality, we have seen a sneak preview of this in Victoria recently when the Nationals lost the safe seat of Shepparton to an independent Suzanne Sheed a la Cathy McGowan at federal level. I've emailed The Age newspaper (Fairfax) making them aware of David's article. Fortunately, I don't bank with any of the big 4, they left Tongala in the lurch 15 years ago and we now have a community bank. I ask all readers to do at least the above, raise the awareness of your local politicians, harass the media and bank anywhere but the big 4.

What an excellent and provoking article by Mr David Pascoe. Perhaps a little emotional, but it hit the nail right on, in my opinion.

I am a licensed valuer in Western Australia and, at the start of my long career, in the mid-60s was a rural officer/valuer with the Commonwealth Development Bank (CDB) in Perth.

The CBD was the rural lender of last resort across Australia at that time, with the farming and pastoralist applicants then applying for development loans at 6% after first giving evidence that they had been declined by their own banks or other financial institutions and lenders for that purpose.

While carrying out my duties of inspecting the farms to determine the security value for the CBD, I interviewed and assessed the applicant farmers to establish the farm income budget and prospects as to whether the proposed loan could be serviced from present and projected income arising from the proposed development, such as increased stocking levels, further clearing and development of undeveloped land owned by the applicant, acquisition of further property to increase viability, etc.

During this time I witnessed much hardship and suffering by these somewhat pioneering families. In many cases I had to recommend that the CBD decline the applications because the development loans could not be serviced within the required format of the bank. These declined applications were usually due to poor management practices or too fanciful proposals and lack of servicing ability.

However, if these farms were re-visited today, some 45 years later, a good number of those approved and declined farmers and/or their children, would still be farming those properties today. Noticably, genuine farmers and pastoralists are in for the long haul over one to three generations in many cases.

It is well established that farmers and pastoralists depend on rainfall for their livelihood. Good and bad seasons come and go. Droughts happen across Australia, more so in the marginal areas, particularly in Queensland and NSW.

The point being made here is if the farmer or pastoralist can stick out the hard times of a drought, it usually follows that, in a normal season or seasons that follow, normality returns and farm debt can be retired amongst other things.

Mr David Pascoe suggests:

“The last thing these people need is another loan: they need a Redevelopment Bank to refinance their own loans: issuing a loan to pay off a loan is nothing more than financial suicide.”

This comment makes considerable and commercial sense to this writer.

A moratorium to defer repayment of present debt levels should be applied to genuine cases where those present debt levels cannot be serviced due to the adverse seasons experienced in the past.

An independent redevelopment bank, either at state or federal levels, could be established specifically for this purpose.
The Federal and State Governments should give serious consideration to this proposal.

Farmers in this country might find this ironic or something.

The Vatican has generally supported capitalism and the aggregation of private property through its vast worldly investments in land-banks and other assets. It is also a proponent of mass immigration, the fuel of the dastardly capitalist machine.

Popes, however, have tended to come out with some Jesus-like homilies about equality and feeding the hungry cheaply or for free, from time to time. That is, after all, their brand. (Jesus may have been a real revolutionary, but the Church is not.)

It is still good to hear Pope Francis come out with some down-to-earth comments, although I don't hear of him closing down the Vatican yet or calling for the outlawing of private property in favour of every child inheriting from their parents.

All the same, he has called the "absolute autonomy of markets" a "new tyranny".

This has given rise to a religious poem to unregulated capitalism by Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph columnist. In this ode to greed, Mr Heath blames all ills on any continued regulation. The environment or civil rights do not come into this catechism of capitalism and private property.

"So it is with great sadness that I must take exception to the Pope's views on economics and business. His hostility to capitalism is tragically misplaced. He has repeatedly savaged free markets and aligned himself with the views of Thomas Piketty, the far-left intellectual who obsesses about inequality and advocates crippling taxes on income and wealth."

Thus Mr Heath takes up his economic cudgel and stands his ground against a gentleman who many millions believe has a direct line to god. Interesting.

He concludes,

"But unthinkingly to fight capitalism – the greatest alleviator of poverty and liberator of people ever discovered – makes no sense. The sooner the world's great religions learn to love the wealth-creating properties of the market economy, the sooner they will be able to harness them to make the world a better place."

Read more and laugh hysterically at http://www.theage.com.au/comment/devil-in-the-detail-of-popes-attack-on-capitalism-20141226-12bm17.html

I became curious about this Picketty fellow whom Alistair Heath, was so down on, that he must be a good guy. As a matter of fact, I had ABC RN on this morning and who should I hear but the Gallic tones of Thomas Picketty talking of  wealth distribution/concentration.  The main feature of the segment though was  Tyler Cowan a US economist who was saying that capitalism has not failed as it has brought the 3rd world up by its bootstraps. He was all about growth as though it could go on forever and never once mentioned finite resources. He also had some argument that war or at least international tension had helped capitalism get a hold. (and do its good work) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Piketty Piketty specializes in economic inequality, taking a historic and statistical approach.[15][16] His work looks at the rate of capital accumulation in relation to economic growth over a two hundred year spread from the nineteenth century to the present. His novel use of tax records enabled him to gather data on the very top economic elite, who had previously been understudied, and to ascertain their rate of accumulation of wealth and how this compared to the rest of society and economy. His most recent book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, relies on economic data going back 250 years to show that an ever-rising concentration of wealth is not self-correcting. To address this problem, he proposes redistribution through a progressive global tax on wealth.[3][17]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyler_Cowen

Cowen has written papers in political philosophy and ethics: for example, he co-wrote a paper with the philosopher Derek Parfit, arguing against the social discount rate.[8] A recent paper has argued that the epistemic problem fails to refute consequentialist forms of argument.[9] Cowen has been described as a "libertarian bargainer", someone of moderate libertarian[clarification needed] ideals who can influence practical policy making.[10] In a 2007 article entitled "The Paradox of Libertarianism," Cowen argued that libertarians "should embrace a world with growing wealth, growing positive liberty, and yes, growing government. We don’t have to favor the growth in government per se, but we do need to recognize that sometimes it is a package deal". His argument was subsequently criticized by Bryan Caplan,[11] Justin Raimondo,[12] Christopher Westley,[13] and Doug MacKenzie.[14] Cowen endorsed bailouts in a March 2, 2009 column in the New York Times.[15] He was a supporter of the Iraq War.[16]

In 2012, David Brooks called Cowen one of the most influential bloggers on the right, writing that he is among those who "start from broadly libertarian premises but do not apply them in a doctrinaire way."[17]

In an August 2014 blog post, Cowen wrote, "Just to summarize, I generally favor much more immigration but not open borders, I am a liberal on most but not all social issues, and I am market-oriented on economic issues. On most current foreign policy issues I am genuinely agnostic as to what exactly we should do but skeptical that we are doing the right thing at the moment. I don’t like voting for either party or for third parties."[18]

".........In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting."

I have not been able to find the whole document from which this quote is extracted but it is called "Joy of the Gospel" and came out late November 2104. The following article from "The New Yorker" gives many more quotes and a run-down on how it was received in the U.S. http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/pope-franciss-challenge-to-global-capitalism

Kangaroo populations are "out of control" in western Queensland and in numbers not seen before, local graziers say.

The State Government said it was aware high densities of the animals were doing damage to pastures and crops and it was working with farmers to assist.

Just what is their benchmark, or basis, of their assumed "explosion" of numbers of native animals? Kangaroo joeys have a low rate of survival, and are known to breed more when there is food. It's biologically impossible for numbers to be "out of control". Kangaroo numbers are meant to be in accordance to natural environmental factors and seasons. Before being "out of control" there must be some numerical normality, and an increase that's above what is in the normal range!

Kangaroo population has exploded in Western Queensland

"It's incredible to see. Sometimes you could see 8,000 or 9,000, 10,000 roos in front of you, all rolling together. It is an eye-opener."
Surely tourists and city-dwellers would relish the beautiful sight of so many kangaroos, and the celebration of our unique and wonderful animals!

Farmers are scapegoating our native iconic animals for the pressures of the drought, and debt. They are accusing the kangaroos of "cleaning" out the paddocks of grass, and they are even being going so far as blaming them for causing the drought! Surely, that's a long bow to draw.

Kangaroo "harvesters", or free range shooters, are ready to pounce, and a "professional macropod harvester" says it's time to promote the industry. With bullying banks and corporate "terrorism" of threats to take over the properties, and high debts, it's no wonder that each kangaroo is seen as a threat, a consumer, when each blade of scarce gras must be eaten by livestock to gain as much as possible in the markets, to keep their businesses afloat and in survival mode.

One thing's for sure, human population has exploded in Queensland and is causing water shortages, loss of topsoil, heat islands, and environmental damage everywhere. It is also making it impossible for farmers to get finance because they cannot compete with the returns on land-speculation which all this engineered population growth keeps driving upward. Kangaroos are shot in Queensland for their meat. This wrecks the social organisation of roos that normally keeps populations comfortably within their range carrying capacity.

The more kangaroo populations are interfered with, the more out of control, but short-lived, and small in stature, they will become.

The Queensland government hasn't got a clue and is immoral and cruel on this and many other issues.

Killing "over-abundant" and "plague" levels of kangaroos could actually increase their numbers, by destroying their natural social structures. It means that killing the alpha males and those in charge of the mobs could give more opportunities for breeding, by younger males. Thus, population control goes out of the window!
Even by government sources, there are no "explosions" of kangaroo numbers. In fact their numbers are generally in decline. But, by killing selected species, local mobs could actually increase, rather than allowing natural order, and Nature, to control numbers according to the seasons. If Queensland is in a drought, they are unlikely to over-breed anyway!
Over-population of humans, and trying to extract more out of the fragile land on fringe areas, subject to floods and droughts, is more likely the problem. Kangaroos are then stigmatized as the cause, and as vile and hated "pests" to scape-goat!

Excuse me everyone, but this conversation is getting out of topic! We are talking about farmers, not kangaroo population!