What is not widely known is that Angus Taylor’s government colleagues also met with Josh Frydenberg over the #grassgate issue.
We have learned, in mid 2017 the case of Angus Taylor’s land, his brother and the confused farmers was brought before (former) Senator Wacka Williams.
Senator Williams brought the controversial issue to the federal National Party room.
The Nationals were well aware of the connection to Angus Taylor.
The Nationals, with Barnaby Joyce as their leader, voted to take up the case of Richard Taylor & the threatened grasslands.
So – Angus Taylor’s fellow government colleagues also met with Josh Frydenberg, specifically to pressure him over the issue.
As a result of this meeting and (even possibly) the meeting with Angus Taylor, Frydenberg took a most unusual step.
Frydenberg had already asked his department staff if he could alter the controversial grasslands legislation on his own & was greeted with a firm “no” from his department.
So he announced a special review into the legislation (EPBC Act) instead.
We say special, because the EPBC Act already has inbuilt reviews.
Under Sect 552A of the Act, it is comprehensively reviewed by experts every 10 years.
In March 2018 – when David Littleproud & Frydenberg announced a review into the Act – a 10 year full review was due anyway.
However, the Dept of Environment decided to peel off just the section of the Act that relates to agriculture to review – nothing else.
Which was very lucky, because the Act’s section on agriculture is also the section that interacts with the spraying of native grasslands.
Another interesting point is that up to 2018, there had been 6002 breaches of the EPBC Act (the one with the protected grasslands).
Of those 6002 breaches, only 162 had involved agriculture, or less than 2.7%.
Statistically – with so very few breaches involving farming – why the sudden urgent need for a special review of the Act & its grasslands sections, particularly as they directly affected Minister Taylor, his family, his businesses and business associates?
On March 29 2018, the federal govt announced that Dr Wendy Craik would be conducting the review into the way the environment interfered with agriculture.
Ten days later, the company that Dr Wendy Craik is employed by – won the half a million dollar contract.
Now please note, this review of the Act (“Review of Interactions Between the EPBC Act & the Agriculture Sector”) was sold to the public as a review into agriculture as a whole
Yet numerous chunks of this EPBC Act review concentrated specifically on the native grasslands portion.
There were 77 submissions to the review as a whole, (including a highly comical submission from the urban based @TheIPA) Seven submissions to this comprehensive review into Australia’s agriculture sector came from the sparsely populated Monaro alone, or just under 10%.
The confused sprayers submitted too.
Richard Taylor made a submission to the inquiry.
Stuart Burge made a submission to the inquiry.
In fact, both of these men were granted a special audience to meet with the inquiry team in person to discuss their thoughts on the EPBC Act.
Which leaves us with the most extraordinary situation.
People still under investigation for alleged illegal land clearing – one of whom was the Minister’s brother – were asked to submit their opinion of the Act under which they were being investigated for breaches.
Apart from the foxes being asked to give their opinion of the fencing around the chicken coop, the review had another extraordinary outcome.
The EPBC Act review came up with a number of recommendations (some of them quite sound to be fair) but among them was one that stood out.
Out of the whole of Australia’s vast mass, there were to be two areas selected for a special trial to see if sections of the EPBC Act needed to be altered.
And were those areas in Broome? Or Kangaroo Island? Perhaps the cattle country of the far north?
No dear reader, the two special areas chosen out of all of Australia were the Monaro and the Walgett region, NSW. And naturally, people who own or manage land in those areas would be very grateful for any changes in the legislation at all.
In summary: We have an environmental Act that has been around for almost two decades. There were statistically minimal breaches from farmers under that Act. The Act was up for review anyway.
Suddenly Minister Angus Taylor became ensnared in sections of the Act. A cause célèbre is raised. Senator Williams and Barnaby Joyce lead the charge against the issue in public & behind the scenes.
Minister Taylor himself becomes involved behind the scenes, reportedly at the behest of the NSW Farmers Federation, with which his family has strong links. In fact, Richard Taylor himself created some of the impetus for NSW Farmers to agitate the issue.
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