Nigel Carney – Flinders Ranges resident – researcher and writer

Local Flinders Ranges NRM Volunteer, Nigel Carney has submitted his resignation to the General Manager of the SA Arid Land NRM Board, John Gavin.

In an interview with the Coober Pedy Regional Times former volunteer Nigel Carney speaks frankly about some common grave concerns of NRM’s choice and use of “banned” poisons and practices on the local environment, which created frustration for him, leading up to his resignation.

“NRM has just released their plan for 2010 which has done nothing to allay my concerns”, said Nigel Carney.

CPRT:  After receiving a copy of your resignation letter dated Friday, 20 August 2010, can you explain more about your involvement with the NRM?

NIGEL CARNEY: “Two years ago I volunteered with the NRM to enable local participation with the state government in assisting to improve the local environment.

We live in an area that has suffered over grazing and mining and so this seemed a perfect way  to contribute in a basic hands on way to weed management, re-vegetation and other projects to improve the health of the local ecology for the benefit of the environment and of course our immediate community.

CPRT: Can you tell us something about your own background?

NIGEL: I am from the big city (Melbourne) and arrived in the Flinders Ranges by fateful adventure in 2006. As an ex-corporate bounty seeker myself I imagined this was my “sea change” or “desert change”.  I  soon learnt there is no escape from the past or the present, and the future IS ours to see.  I am not a ‘new ager’ but even quantum physics states that you need to see something for it to happen as that’s the nature of events.
My academic background is an economics major (Melbourne University)  and 20 years in the corporate world with 5 years as technical writer. My first tour of duty was BHP-Steel Sales and Marketing – a great team.  I was part of steel quality assessment on the ANZUS Ship Project – yes I have been a war mongerer in the past and probably still am.

In this region I am yet another new comer in the modern-day stream of pilgrims to an old and mysterious land that instantly held a magnetic attraction for me along with other people for whatever reason.

So in summary I’m not much different to others who have invaded this land.  I do feel connected though and do feel I have purpose which I didn’t feel in my earlier life despite then, having more money and trinkets! That’s the paradox I guess of seeking out a different existence, which is what I’ve learned from my indigenous friends here and the other white fella new comers. We are all part of a similar but different experience if that makes sense?

CPRT: So why have you decided to resign as an NRM volunteer?

NIGEL: “As it has turned out the energy I have contributed in ideas and local information has fallen on deaf ears and after the late 2009 consultation about the 2010 plan I can’t see any inclusion of our local advice, so that for me has undermined my faith in the board and how they manage their funding….and on specific issues we have raised of huge importance I don’t feel local sentiment or logic has been embraced and that’s a bit frustrating, especially as a volunteer. I have offered my skills and education for free and I feel a bit offended that our simple efforts to help remove toxicity in this area have not been attended.
CPRT: Can you be more specific about your experience with NRM?

NIGEL: “It’s certainly not the people.  They are all nice and say the right things but when you raise specific environmental concerns and potential solutions and they are ignored you start to wonder ?
CPRT: About what exactly?
NIGEL: “Well, for one thing animal cruelty and respect for the ecology of the land.  I envisaged from the experience and information we shared and through the consultation process that occured, that we were part of some positive change.  Maybe my expectations were too high or I am simply  naïve.
CPRT: Why do you mention animal cruelty in relation to the NRM?
NIGEL: “They [NRM] endorse 1080 poisoning of wild dogs and dingoes.  I prefer not to use the term ‘feral’ otherwise half of my friends would be targeted for the NRM campaign! 

Laika – local celebrity and avatah of love! Taken by 1080 poison

Our precious friend and loyal canine companion Laika took a 1080 bait locally, and we had to endure the hardship of watching a slow, sporadic and torturous death…I thought this was the sort of thing that would only happen in a horror movie or nazi germany, but its been happening in our own back yards.

Then we saw more dogs going through this gruesome process and so I did some research and it turned out 1080 has already been banned globally except in Australia and New Zealand.   While US Congressmen were now pushing for the ban of its manufacture our pleas to stop the torture through the correct channels have been ignored in the plan.
CPRT: So what was your reaction?
NIGEL: “I wrote to the RSPCA, met some scientists in Melbourne and then represented the issue in the community consult document presented to the NRM.

I started to feel a bit disgusted with myself that I was still a part of an organisation that apparently had a very specific and narrow view about ecology and which didn’t seem to want to comment much at all about animal cruelty.

CPRT:  What happened?

Native dingo guards her pup – the target of 1080 campaign across Australia where dingoes are baited, trapped and shot to benefit the sheep industry

NIGEL: “Nothing happened and I think that’s probably the main reason I resigned. Apart from being ignored, how could I justify to myself and my own conscience being a volunteer for an organisation endorsing the use of such horrific poisons?  The same poison that killed our friend and the same poison killing countless other canines across the outback.
In the last few months I wanted to share information about the locust plague and get some simple help with our local weed control and re-vegetation initiatives, you know simple things. But it’s been like talking to a two foot thick brick wall.  

CPRT: What do you see as the possible motivation for pursuing the use of such harmful toxins?

NIGEL: “That’s a good question and I wish I could give you a good answer..ha! I don’t think people are inherently evil but we are mass consumers of materials and energy. 

That’s the nature of homo sapiens or whatever you like to call us.  The 10 digit folks that arrived on the planet…the digital generation.  We have always been expert at exploiting the planet  and shortcuts are part of the deal when you are so smart that you can use technology to conquer the world.  I just see toxins as the stage we are at with exploiting resources and that is hydro carbons because that’s the fastest way for us to get heat and energy and we are a VERY restless species.
So I don’t know whether we are ‘pursuing’ toxicity or choosing conveniently to ignore the real consequences of our choices.   We all enjoy the immediate and luxurious consumer benefits , but who among us is aware of or cares about the longer term and other not so well published negative impacts on our environment and on public health?
CPRT: What are your concerns over the locust plague? 
NIGEL: “Chemical spraying of massive areas that includes pastures, farms all in the locale of people and towns. Diazinon was banned way back in 2000 by the US EPA on public health concerns and there is a whole smorgasboard of other dangerous chemicals about to be sprayed across South Australia.
I wanted feedback on what NRM were doing but I just got referred to the PIRSA website that said much the same thing.  But it was wrong as well.  The only safe CSIRO developed alternative listed – “Greenguard” was NOT available as many phone calls and visits to rural  suppliers across SA and Victoria testified. I got no initial response from NRM and the follow-up didn’t make sense either.  I did have a great response from the dozens of phone calls and I also visited dozens of farm supply outlets in rural Victoria and South Australia. None had Green Guard and they said it would be unfeasible to use anyway at $80 per hectare compared to the 50 to 80 cents per hectare cost of these dangerous and in many cases banned chemicals.
The whole object of volunteering and contributing to policy seemed wasted.  It felt like all the public consultations were part of a public relations game and the same dangerous chemicals and practices were going to go ahead anyway. I enjoy community service but I don’t enjoy being made out to be an idiot while animal cruelty and insane poisoning is occurring in our locale environment.”

CPRT: What was NRM’s reaction to your concerns about public and environmental health? 

NIGEL: “I am not sure I have an accurate grip on how reactions work.

I know the people I have worked with at NRM are personally concerned, but they seem to be tied up in a web of bureaucracy which has little or no effect.
As a local person I just want to get on with it,  but it’s a long stretch between the public composting toilet I imagine and the front door of the responsible ministers office.

It’s the reality gaps and time delays in between that bug me more than the people. These are good people bogged down in the depths of mysterious processes, most of which seem outdated and not helpful to the immediate issues of the day.

When I get referred to further information and some ‘other’ body that is more responsible I run down that rabbit hole to investigate and most of the time don’t find the answers make much sense to me and the other people I speak to also. Obviously as a local volunteer I source others opinions on issues that concern us.

I just think its time for the NRM to reflect on their mission and where appropriate change their stripes.

Dog Fence sign – warning of poison baits and dingo traps on land south of Coober Pedy

CPRT: How do you see that these massive programs are being funded?
NIGEL: “How is anything funded? With either money or resources, depending on what exists and what is the approved and budgeted plan I imagine.
Industries lobby and co-fund areas of common interest and concern, mainly these days it’s about money and tax revenue and royalties and the share holders of the companies that supply all these things they say will make our lives good or at least better than the cave man clan existence of those long-lost cousins.
But is it better as such or different from the old times or are we just reinventing the wheel that we never needed? If I was really to dedicate the time to follow the grubby money trail it would probably originate from ‘us’, so we probably have ourselves to blame but of course the government is an easy target because they are falling apart at the seams.
When we respond to the Australia Day TV commercials to “Lamb It This or That” because some groovy Australian teen idol says we need it – then the buck stops with us and the rest of the mob we invited to the BBQ.  So I don’t see any quick escape route for anyone in this dilemma….we are all part of the conspiracy whether we like it or not! “

CPRT:  Are you seeing unrelated communities being siphoned (taxed) to help prop up otherwise unsustainable industries?
NIGEL: “It’s hard to say. The patterns exist and I think that’s what people have noticed, so maybe we are getting smarter or they are getting dumber or both.
Taxes are paying for good things in remote communities and there is no taking credit away from the good things that get squeezed from the public purse.

The view is we may as well make the most of the funny money while it lasts.
I don’t think there is consensus on the definition of that word ‘sustainable’ – what’s sustainable to a shareholder with a disposition and need for fine wines is different to the understanding of a person living on the borderline of society growing organic veggies and pondering the best soap to use in the shower.

A lot of terminology has become rhetoric and  over time has no definable meaning, like Climate Change was as well relevant to the cave clans as it is to us but I don’t think they had the technology or the networks to convene a convention in Copenhagen, but then again maybe they did?
Maybe its fair to say outback communities share a common ethos and so are  seeing the benefits in voicing the commonly felt effect, and that can’t be a bad thing surely?”

CPRT: Have the State and Federal members in your region heard your concerns?  (Giles and Stuart)

NIGEL: “These members have heard my concerns and they have changed seats. They know who they are and they may have spoken to someone who spoke to someone else and then probably the alarm bells went off and they awoke from their sleep just in time to reach parliament.
There have been other appropriate responses from the Attorney Generals Office and a lot of other offices, but that’s a maze I have filed away, and maybe one day it will make sense. Whether there is any meaning or benefit in writing a letter is not yet revealed.  There are better things to do outside in the real world in the local community in my opinion and experience at least! ”
CPRT: On the ABC morning show today [24-08-2010] PIRSA locust program manager Michael McManus was questioned about the Green Guard alternative to locust control. Mr. McManus said that Green Guard was too slow but referred anyone interested in pursuing Green Guard to the supplier. 

What do you think of this reaction in light of the possible ramifications of using banned nerve agents which are known to affect humans?

Well, that’s another lie. I have tried to source Green Guard for 3 months and have probably spent over $200 on fuel and phone calls, including  emails to the US Agent Becker Underwood. As far I am concerned it’s now too late to use that safe alternative and on the face of it, it seems that the ability to get Green Guard in time is more likely a government hoax.
CPRT:  Later today [24-08-2010], Michael McManus was again interviewed, this time by Annette Marner of ABC.  Mr. McManus stated in this interview that only three pesticides will now be used, being – 1.) Fenitrothion, 2.) Fipronil and 3.) Green Guard.  The PIRSA website now reflects these three options only, where  before their website, updated in April 2010 stated:

“The insecticides that are currently registered for locust control are: • Carbaryl •  Chlorpyrifos • Diazinon •  Fenitrothion and for locust management in grain crops and pastures • Fipronil • Maldison.” 

How do you  view the remaining choice of weapons against the locust in your area?
NIGEL: I understand what you are saying and am sure the organic and biodynamic farms will be concerned at losing their accreditation depending on which way the wind blows on the day. Why this is happening is anyones guess, but sadly my conclusion is simply that Australia is a very immature and backward nation.

My own research reveals these products are banned elsewhere.  “Fipronil was used to control African locusts in Madagascar between 1996 and 1999, the mortality of many bird and mammal species increased, leading the government to withdraw authorisation of its use against locust swarms in February 1999…

…and Fenitrothion use was banned in Canada in 1997 after being linked to significant increased mortality of forest songbirds and was known to have harmful effects on terrestrial invertebrates including honeybees, ants and springtails”, however the negative outcomes are much broader.

CPRT: Thank you – that was Nigel Carney former volunteer for the South Australian Arid Lands Natural Resource Management group speaking with the Coober Pedy Regional Times.

Possibly related posts

Health Warning on Locust Spray


14 replies »

  1. I am a new resident of Copley,S.A. Nigel Carneys extensive research and concern over these issues of banned toxic poisons in other countries being sanctioned for use in Australia by NRM is of grave concern. The diagnosis of cancer in S.A is rising daily. The reason for this as stated by the S.A government is that “more people are getting health checks”. I believe this is yet another diversion from the reality of our already toxic environment, poisoning us slowly but surely. it is extremely disturbing that ever more toxins will be released as a short term solution leaving long term effects for us, animals and plants to suffer for years to come. SHAME on those who make these decisions that effect so many and so much for so long. May they be touched by the horrors they release.

  2. I agree with Shontal and we live in Nepabunna community and the Adnyamanthanha
    people from the area we watch and hear what happens around hear on our lands. For a long time we dont say anything but we talk together and we no the goverment gave land to people and they get money from it for a long time now. It was never there land and they got animals on it from another country and they manage things that they never have rights to manage. For a long time they been killing our dingoes and these anmials are importatn to the land. We didnt have problems with Nigel who looks after the place and thinks about how we feel and understnads our stories. Not the NRM who want more money to inspect things that arent there busness. We no they will get even with us for talking but they cant get permision from the land council for these things because our proper rights wont be found there. thanks Nigel for what you tride to do for our place. They made a big mess and all the poisons together is making us sicker. Wes

  3. It’s amazing how much we find out about the state we live in every day! How dreadful that you don’t have a choice but to have these ghastly poisonous chemicals blown across your lovely lands and into your homes and waters without consent.

    And what of a few thousand miscellaneous tourists who maybe travelling through ? area on ? particular days? Will there be a warning to the locals and travellers or are we expected to wake up each day and log on to Big Brother’s Primary Industries website in case they have a new toxic surprise for us all?

    “I don’t think people are inherently evil but …………..” is overly generous of the volunteer who justifiably resigned for admirable reasons. They certainly behave like evil, greedy, ruthless pirates.

    We have travelled vastly in order to see dingoes in the wild. On Fraser Island they are a total disgrace and if there were any real authorities we’d have already reported it. In South Australia they are slaughtered during the whelping season together with their pups.

    As for the locust, it’s an unfamiliar species to me, but what a tangled web of enterprise all happening in areas as yet not yet secured as a legal corporation!! It sounds like you are all being flim-flammed.

    If it’s any consolation to you all, we didn’t vote for any of them. Simply put their 2010/1080 plan in the bin as it won’t last much longer. There’s nothing more successful than community initiative!

  4. Thank you for highlighting what these people are, 1080 is inhumane, it has no antidote and can take 26 hours to kill Dingoes. it kills everything when secondary poisoning is taken into account. It cannot be contained and if dropped into a yard and a child or pet eats the bait they also will die.

    1080 has been banned in most of the civilized world!

    We are a bit simple in the southern hemesphere and the redneck, gungho attitude has not changed since they wiped out the Thylacine with brain dead mentality back in the 1930s in Tasmania.

  5. We read this… “Our precious friend and loyal canine companion Laika took a 1080 bait locally, and we had to endure the hardship of watching a slow, sporadic and torturous death…”
    It made us feel very sad. What a beautiful friend you had.

    These poisons must stop once and for all. The RSPCA have let everyone down too.
    What is it about money and funding that makes good people turn their head away? Chez.

  6. Wes from Nepabunna. “For a long time they been killing our dingoes and these anmials are importatn to the land”

    g-day Wes. For a long time we been killng them sheep cos those animals are no use on our land.
    go hunting more often if you got what it takes. good time to hunt now adn get the jucy lambs before they get borned. wy sit and be dum when you got plenty food around. we count dead numbers and kill more a them skum sheep.

  7. Good on you Nigel. People who act on matters of principle are all too rare. As for PIRSA, it doesn’t want to rock the boat and will continue to favour easy solutions offered by multinational chemical corporations. This is pretty much what you get with our state government badging itself as “pro-business, pro-growth and pro-mining” – all OK in their own right, but not as a package that excludes environmental and human health, indigenous wisdom and rights and respect for communities outside of the CBD.

  8. The NRM people are using the community volunteers to aid and abett unviable commercial campaigns. This statement from the nrm management board must tell us why there was no feedback and the hearing aids were turned off. Their agenda is well in place – They are a sly front for the export industry and to hell with logic.

    The dingo is in it’s right place doing what comes naturally, but the natural resource management board is seen here violating the natural in favour of the unnatural.

    Dingo numbers out of control: pastoralists (from ABC news)

    “John Gavin from the Arid Land Management Board says it will try to fix the problem with its new program, Biteback.
    “That’s baiting, trapping, shooting dogs, any way that we can to get rid of the dingo problem in the pastoral country,” he said.
    “Baiting’s still one of the most effective ways we’ve got to deal with dingos.

  9. These videos are shocking!!!! They shows the callous nature of that thing we call a government. Who are these creatures and what do they want from us?

    We’re also in an area that will be sprayed and weren’t alerted that the chemicals are probably leftover stockpiles after being banned in other countries. We also can’t seem to get Green Guard from anywhere. If anyone knows how to get hold of it, please post it here asap. Maybe it doesn’t exist if others can’t get it either.

    The feeling that the export dollar means more to these fiends than native animals of any description or human life isn’t encouraging for our children. If it’s of any value, we didn’t formally vote either.

  10. I agree Nick WA, the “redneck, gungho attitude has not changed since they wiped out the Thylacine with brain dead mentality back in the 1930s in Tasmania”.

    Across the country the pattern is the same, and that is to wipe out all evidence of stupidity and theft. There’s no chance that even the environment departments have anything on their brain but studying the land for industrial related purposes.

    Backward nation is correct. Where “iron curtains” have come down in most of the developing world, Australian try-hards have yet to test it out to find out in a few decades it simply won’t hold water let alone the loyalty of an entire population.

    The current fashion parade of would be leaders purring their propaganda is sickening and transparent. Everyone wants to “rule” what they perceive as their little world whether it’s a tiny town in the middle of nowhere or the corridors of a superficial parliament, all under the guise of “we want to help you”. This tired mantra has never produced anything decent for the populations except taxes. If so they wouldn’t be concealing or ignoring those who speak up and demand something simple like clean air and natural food without nerve damaging pesticides hanging off it.

    All you’ll get out of this latest enslaught of poison into the atmosphere is the promise of another MRI machine in some inconvenient location, while exportable crops are salvaged for the treasury.

  11. There is a very good reason why 1080 is banned overseas. In Australia it is a naturally occurring toxin in native plants and the doses that are put in baits for feral mammals are not lethal to marsupials or reptiles. Australia does not have too many native mammals. A goanna can eat 1080 baits and not be affected. On the other hand mammals are very sensitive to very small doses and the poison is particularly lethal and dangerous for humans (another mammal).

    Wild dogs are a pest as are feral birds and cats that destroy native animials and every control method needs to be used. 1080 is a useful tool in the control of feral animals.

    The placement of 1080 is regulated and if a domestic dog eats the bait is simply is wandering to places it should not be. Domestic dogs need to be controlled and kept out of areas where feral dogs and dingoes are present and it is a concern that the owners of such domestic dogs cant see that they are the ones who are irresponsible.

  12. To sean.
    How disgusting! Dingos are native. I am suspecting that Australia may have a true ‘wild dog’ also, not just dogs that people like you simply dump.
    Poison is poison, and it kills. It doesn’t know who/what it is killing.
    Nigel is fantastic! I commend you on having the guts to go on like you do. I doubt the RSPCA would help, they are funded partly by the government, they won’t bite the hand that feeds them.
    40 odd years ago I was visiting my sister in WA. Middle of harvest, a call comes in that bait is being laid in a particular paddock the following morning. A mad rush followed to drop harvest and get the sheep out of the paddock before the ‘authorities’ arrived.
    I heard or their neighbour,several years later, very nearly died from 1080. He was poisoned from skinning a couple of sheep that hadn’t been gotten out of his paddock in time.
    Maybe Sean, go skin a few sheep that died from 1080, and let us know what it feels like?
    I have always believed poisons are bad, and 1080 – should never be allowed to be made, I don’t care if it is ‘natural’.
    I accidently came across this site, so how do we make it really public?
    I am so concerned about the ‘authorities’ and poisons, I refuse to report hoppers if we get them. It is not good when people begin to fear their government.

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