Just a quick one this morning, (that’s what she said …)
I wrote two pieces last week on the Aussie bush fires. In both of them I made the point that landowners in Australia are prosecuted by government for attempting to manage their own land. I was pointed to this article dated 2013 which outlines the case of a Western Australian farmer who did clear some scrub on his property for fire breaks and ended up in jail.
As Greens blame coal miners and SUV drivers for contributing to firestorms that destroy houses, ponder that one man tried to reduce the risk of fires and cleared firebreaks on his property in WA in 2011 and is currently in jail for it, serving a 15 month sentence. Most of the cleared land had been cleared before in 1970 or 1983. This was mere scrubby regrowth. He was trying to separate his property from DEC (Dept of Environment and Conservation) managed land with a 20m wide fire-break. He is due out of jail sometime around Feb 10th, though his government minders have not even fixed that date (are they having trouble calculating “15 months”?) He had previously been jailed for three months in 2010 for a similar action.
This was true civil disobedience. He knew what would happen. He felt someone had to protest and I gather he felt that at 62 and without children or a wife to support, it was his duty.
Gee whiz; the more things change the more they stay the same. Those of you pondering where to flee when it all goes to crap may as well cross off Australia from your list. This was almost 10 years ago and if you think it was bad then, it’s a lot worse now. It all comes from what the government calls “management plans” and their intent or design is to ensure that as a landowner you have no rights.
Szulc believes that his land is his land, and that he should be able to manage it without asking permission from anyone. Those “management plans” sound innocent, but as other farmers (like Matt and Janet Thompson and Sid Livesey) have found out, the management plan is an insidious form of creeping fascism.
Why should a landowner need to get permission to clear firebreaks on his own property? Land clearing is expensive, and top-soil in Western Australia is a precious commodity (we have the poorest and oldest soil in the world, and fertilizer costs money). No land-owner would want to overdo the clearing or lose that thin layer of top-soil. The owner stands to lose the most if the land is badly managed. That is the point of the free market and ownership by individuals.
I bet you’re thinking that this guy was a bit of a lunatic and had suddenly decided to go out and clear his land.
Szulc gave notice of intent to clear land in 1990 to the Commissioner of Soil and Land Conservations. Approval was given, provided he put in a management plan. He chose not too. DEC issued a Soil Conservation Notice in 1994. By 2008 they told him not to clear any more. In Sept 2009 they posted a cease and desist notice, which he disobeyed. He spent three months in jail. He was jailed again in 2010 for fifteen months which which end in February.
Szulcs appealed but lost the appeal in July 2012.
It was a 20 year process, and the process is the punishment. Until you finally snap and they through you in jail, of course.