An update on the plight of the Thompsons in Australia

WUWT readers may recall that I asked for help in supporting this family back in 2010. The issue was an out of control agency (DEC) that granted, then revoked, an operating permit for a feedlot operation based on nothing more than a couple of neighbor complaints about “smell”.  You responded, and it made a difference. Matt and Janet Thompson have provided this update which I repeat in entirety. – Anthony

Dear Readers of WUWT and Jo Nova:

We would like to give an update to all of you who have supported us in a variety of ways, including with donations (in-kind and monetary) for our children, writing letters, and contacting politicians and our bank.

For a refresher on the background to our story, please see the original YouTube we produced, including the important Part 2:

Part 1: http://youtu.be/tgFPDcPr5yA Part 2:  http://youtu.be/pCsi1Inc-rE

We returned to the USA for Christmas in 2011 on frequent flyer tickets given to us by family.  Matt’s dad had been having health problems, and had had a major surgery in July.  After seeing our parents again, we were moved to reconsider our living situation; namely the fact that since our business was not operating, we could no longer afford to fly our family back to the States should something sudden arise.  (Matt’s dad had another surgery in February, and we were thankful to be here for that.)

In addition to the desire to be within driving proximity to our families, we had become acutely concerned over the deterioration in political, legislative and regulatory circumstances in Australia.  We worried that even if we were to win our case against the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) (a case that is still in progress), the passage of the Carbon (sic) Tax in 2010 made the possibility of ever operating our feedlot again impossible. It meant that even if we won in court, most of our efforts to profitably operate our business would have gone towards convincing some bureaucrat that we weren’t causing greenhouse gas emissions, when in fact we were.  Productive people do.

Finally, while in the US, Matt was offered a job in Texas, and we felt, all things taken together, we should make the heart-wrenching decision to move our family to America.  This was not a decision taken lightly.  We had lived in Australia for 10 years.  Three of our four children had been born in Narrogin, and the first had been only 11 months old when we moved down under.  We have many close, stalwart friends, and our lives in Western Australia, despite the obvious problems, had been happy and rich.

After fighting through the court system on three fronts (bank, receivers, and DEC) since mid-2010 to save our business and attempt to pay back our unsecured creditors (who have been unbelievably kind to us throughout the ordeal), we came to an agreement with the NAB and Ferrier Hodgson (the bank-appointed receivers) last month.  The details of the agreement are confidential, but we feel that concentrating our legal efforts on the DEC (bringing it down to a one-front war, if you will) is the most prudent thing for us to do.

So our property has been handed over to the bank and receivers.

Very importantly, we continue to pursue the case against the out-of-control, bureaucratic and inept DEC, still hoping to pay back our unsecured creditors.  Still hoping that our story will make a difference to society.  Still hoping for some semblance of justice for ourselves after losing our lives savings and thriving business due entirely to a government agency’s edict, after being told by that same entity in the beginning that we could proceed.

Our children were devastated when we broke the news to them in late January that we were not to return to Australia.  Matt and I have both struggled with the fact that we were not able to say good-bye to our close friends, and we have been missing them and our life in Narrogin.  Adding to the pain, the subtle nuances of our legal situation required us to quietly pursue our course without communicating publicly to the people who directly contributed to keep a roof over the heads of and food on the table for our children.  Had it not been for your faithful generosity, our situation would have been impossible.

While that silence was difficult, it was necessary.  Walking the fine line of dealing directly with our treacherous situation and communicating openly and often has been tough.  We hope you understand.  From our direct communications with many of you, we are certain you do.  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

On the broader front of the hoax of climate change, we are very proud that we spoke out strongly and publicly — and early on — against the attack on productivity and productive people.  We know that it cost us our business, our entire lives savings, and the life of one of our closest friends.

We continue to be concerned in the extreme about the situation and the fundamental factors that led to the birth and unobstructed growth of such an insidious and damaging monster.  We continue to be involved with grassroots actions, hoping to make a difference.  We believe our four children and their generation deserve better than to inherit the current financial and political mess.  These concerns and our actions affect our ability to produce real goods and services as we would like to, but we will survive and do what we must while doing what we can.

Thank you again for your warmth, support, understanding, and patience.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us through Jo or Anthony (with “The Thompsons” in the Subject line) if you feel moved to do so.  Thanks again and again.

==============================================================

If this episode over some cow odors forcing a family to abandon their farm isn’t enough, I felt that it would be appropriate to post this video as a reminder of what sort of mendacity the government of Australia has been up to.

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66 Responses to An update on the plight of the Thompsons in Australia

  1. From NZ, I offer my heart-felt sympathies. The battle against these tyrants may not be won by an individual, nor a family, but will take a generation to break the indoctrination that is spreading throughout the western world.

    Good luck with the future,

    Andi

  2. Geoff says:

    ” the hoax of climate change”

    I couldn’t have put it better. Best wishes for your future.

  3. JennyL says:

    Bringing up children in the US is a decidedly dangerous move.
    very bad mistake

  4. William Ballinger says:

    Australia’s loss and our (USA) gain! Welcome home and good luck. Let us know if you need more help.

  5. J.Hansford says:

    As a once productive commercial Australian fisherman, you have my complete sympathy. I have followed your story from the outset, though I can offer little but that heartfelt sympathy and the invocation of your name whenever the topic of small business in Australia is mentioned at any dinnertime conversation that has the misfortune to involve me…. ;-)

    To be honest, I think you were brave to come to Australia with the enthusiasm and expectation to be cherished for your commitment to exceptionalism… But alas, our Australian bureaucratic classes do not cherish the exceptional…. Thus it is Australia’s loss and once again America gains what is so often discarded by us… The living dreams of exceptional people.

    Fare well Mr and Mrs Thompson and kids….. For I know you will.

  6. Bill Tuttle says:

    All the best to the Thompsons. You’ve been slammed hard, but you’ve helped to slow and reverse the pendulum for the rest of us…

  7. Steve says:

    Meanwhile, the EPA is flying drones over feedlots in Iowa and Nebraska.

  8. Gary Hladik says:

    When all else fails, vote with your feet.

  9. Rhys Jaggar says:

    Topher’s video is fun. Where individuals without much power and influence are concerned, his views on free speech are spot on.

    Where, however, the ‘media’ becomes an oligarchy of ‘smart people’s views’ (in the UK’s case, that is mostly but not solely the views of Murdoch, Barclays, Rothermere and Desmond) they think they are the Masters of the Universe and politicians can’t do anything without the media destroying them.

    Topher needs to understand checks and balances where global media empires are concerned and most sane people DON’T think it’s ‘free speech’ or ‘tyranny’. They think that ‘responsible speech’ is necessary where very powerful media interests are concerned.

    Actually, the best way to preserve free speech is to limit media ownership to 5% of any one medium, that’s TV, radio, internet and print. That way, you CAN preserve free speech a bit. But even then, if the media loses money, unless ordinary folks band together and say: ‘we will subsidise our kind of free speech’, what you get is oligarchs controlling the media with THEIR kind of free speech.

    I want a Press where Rupert Murdoch is attacked as much as David Cameron or Barack Obama. Fox News is put in the media dock as often as the Conservative Party or the Labour Party. Richard Desmond’s sex life is public property. Paul Dacre’s tax returns and marital monogamy is public property. Simon Heffer’s redistrubitionist views (take from the North of England, give to the SE) are examined when he wants water taken from wet areas to subsidise dry areas (he is the most right wing journalist in Britain until his own interests are threatened, you see). I want the editor of the Daily Telegraph to say that he will make his own children sleep out under a bridge without bedding, work for 14 hours in the rain after changing outside in the rain, then sleep on a deluged campsite and do it all for ‘work experience’, without pay. Because that’s what he says is OK for ‘others’.

    I want a Press where every journalist who screws around loses their job. Because that’s a sacking offence for a politician. I want every alcoholic journalist fired and put on the front page. I want every journalist who took a hot tip from Wall Street/The City and bought shares vilified as an ‘insider trader’ (there will be quite a few).

    I want, in short, every media employee, shareholder, director and publisher subjected to the same level of scrutiny that they demand of everyone else.

    They are the people who think they are God.

    Because they think that they aren’t as accountable as the rest of humanity.

    Now Topher: please expound on how you hold the MEDIA to account.

    It’s the single biggest failing of the ‘free speech’ argument.

    And only by solving it will you get toward ‘responsible speech’.

  10. Noelene says:

    I hope somebody follows what happens with that property.Who will buy it?What will it be used for?Maybe somebody will buy it and plant trees,then live of the largesse of the taxpayers,who will pay them thousands a year to leave those trees in the ground,never to be used for anything.
    Good luck to the Thompson family,I’m sorry you were treated so shabbily in our country.

  11. @ Rhys Jaggar.
    “Actually, the best way to preserve free speech is to limit media ownership to 5% of any one medium.”
    So you agree that the BBC should be broken up and dispersed to separate owners then?

  12. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    I will not even begin to pretend I foresaw any other eventual outcome than the Thompsons moving back to America.

    And I believe a large part of their problems, why they specifically were targeted, involves them not being considered “real Australians”.

    I recall they switched to Australian citizenship. Will they have to get green cards? Are they subject to possible deportation (being as they aren’t close Obama relatives)?

  13. mike_g says:

    JennyL. You forgot the \sarc tag.

  14. Brook Acklom says:

    “I want a Press where every journalist who screws around loses their job. Because that’s a sacking offence for a politician.”
    I guess that means the likes of John Pilger would get the sack pronto. And “screwing around” a sacking offence for politicians? Don’t make me laugh. In Australia we have a Federal Labor government (roughly equal to Democrats for US readers) politician who’s been screwing around – literally – for four years and the Labor government is using every trick in the book to bail him out of trouble.

  15. JohnB says:

    Things similar to this happens in the states too, unfortunately. ReasonTV had an eye opening series of videos on it.

    http://reason.com/blog/2012/05/30/reasontv-zoned-out-of-business

  16. 2kevin says:

    Heartbreaking.

  17. Shevva says:

    Do you thing the Warmistas truly know the damage they do to make themselves feel better?

  18. Sceptical me says:

    ‘@ Rhys Jaggar.
    “Actually, the best way to preserve free speech is to limit media ownership to 5% of any one medium.”
    So you agree that the BBC should be broken up and dispersed to separate owners then?’
    Breaking up the BBC is an excellent idea. De-nationalise the vested interests and abolish the BBC license fee. I still wouldn’t return to watching TV – the Internet is far more informative and interactive.

  19. After all their struggles and long fights against bureaucracy and incompetence.

    After proudly heading up that Convoy of No Confidence.

    When Australia loses such decent, determined & good natured fighters what has it become.

    They are already known worldwide for being prime examples of the Aussie Spirit.
    They will go down in its folklore.

    Good Luck & Best Wishes to The Thomsons.

  20. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    And I believe a large part of their problems, why they specifically were targeted, involves them not being considered “real Australians”.

    The Thompsons provided plenty of capacity for managing such bovine effluent at their facilities in Narrogin. Unfortunately, Anthony doesn’t.

    Why would you choose to insult Australians in such a way? The Thomsons were as much Australians as anybody else who commits to this country as “home”, takes on the challenge to build a business full aware of the risks that the nature of the land presents; and making a go of it with their own blood, sweat and tears.

    Australians understand the principle of giving others a fair go.
    Which is NOT what the Thompsons got from the DEC.

    What you believe is irrelevant and wrong.

  21. jonathan frodsham says:

    I am from Western Australia, I have made a donation, poor them. Yes I can see that those greens went for them because of their skeptic views. Terrible. :-( Anyway next election Juliar Gillard is gone, gone and gone.

  22. “Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”
    ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
    It is courage which you possess, dear Thompsons – It is your sublime courage which will take you onward… ‘Fare well travelers’, but more than that…’fare forward’….. ‘Bless you all.

  23. Jim Barker says:

    Good Luck to the Thompsons, God Bless You!

  24. I wish those people all the best in their fight with the DEC.
    Vote Gillard OUT!

  25. jim2 says:

    [SNIP: Sorry Jim, but Anthony has a thing about Godwin's Law in general and that clip in particular. -REP]

  26. James Bull says:

    Sorry to hear they feel they had no other choice but to return to the USA, but best wishes for the future for them and the rest of us coming under the bureaucratic cosh.
    James Bull

  27. Nerd says:

    Jaggar,

    Here in USA what I’d call Democrat-Complex Media is the worst when it comes to being objective. They try to help cover Democrats’ butts whenever they mess up but hellbent on trying to destroy Republicans/conservative/libertarians/anyone that are not Democrats. So much lies… You’d have to read Andrew Breitbart’s RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION or visit Breitbart.com website to get an idea how much DCM is leaving out when it comes to Democrats. Thank goodness for Fox News as it is the only mainstream conservative media in USA to keep DCM on their toes. Obama’s administration is a joke. It’s like watching Idiocracy movie in real life…

  28. Annie says:

    So very sorry to hear of continuing pain for the Thompsons.

  29. Lars P. says:

    As Matt Ridley showed again and again in his blog we are all living better then kings centuries ago. We have tools and facilities kings could only have dreamed about. And this is due to the high productivity that people have achieved, to the fact that we have many people serving us. Through the efficiency that our industries achieved, we have hundreds of people all over the world working for each of us.
    http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/room-for-all.aspx
    There is only one thing that could derail the progress, bad policies – as he said:
    “If there are three things I fear, as a passionate environmentalist who wants to see wild habitats restored all over the world, they are biofuels, renewable electricity and organic farming. Each would demand much, much more land from nature.”

  30. Louis Hooffstetter says:

    Gary Hladik says:
    When all else fails, vote with your feet.

    Bernd Felsche says:
    Australians understand the principle of giving others a fair go.
    Which is NOT what the Thompsons got from the DEC.

    The sad truth is that in the end, they were unfairly forced off their land by unaccountable environmental beaureaucrats. – We can’t just vote with our feet. Arounsd the globe, we need to vote out leaders who practice these scientifically unsound socialist policies.

  31. PaulH says:

    “It meant that even if we won in court, most of our efforts to profitably operate our business would have gone towards convincing some bureaucrat that we weren’t causing greenhouse gas emissions, when in fact we were. Productive people do.”

    I cannot think of anything more to add to their statement. Hopefully this greenhouse gas insanity has peaked and will end up in the dustbin of history.

  32. Gail Combs says:

    Gary Hladik says:
    June 6, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    When all else fails, vote with your feet.
    _____________________________________
    I am afraid “THEY” now have that covered with the World Wide “Harmonization of laws” and “Global Governance” See: link The attitude and bureaucratic nonsense that bankrupted the Thompson’s exists here in the USA and was formalized when the food law passed in December of 2010. It also lives in Canada and in the EU. FOOD is the next big money making bubble and the power brokers are not about to let the likes of the Thompsons or you or me have a slice of it. What happened to the Thompsons has been repeated in different way millions of times but the bottom line is the transfer of farmland from individual families to large “entities”.

    Remember Friday Mukamperezida

  33. wws says:

    Good on you for coming to Texas, the most economically and politically free spot of ground in the entire world today!!!

    You will find many Californians here as well, and more every day. That’s just fine, Texas wants all y’all! If you love freedom, liberty, and your independence, this is where you need to be!

    (someone will point out that we have a couple liberal hellholes too, but don’t worry. This state’s so big that you can live any kind of life you want without having to ever set foot or even pay any attention to any of those. unlike California, they’re not big enough to ruin the rest of the state for everyone)

    Glad you’re here, this is where you needed to be!

  34. Myron Mesecke says:

    Welcome to Texas. As a native Texan I can say that it isn’t perfect but it is a pretty good place.

  35. David L. Hagen says:

    Be encouraged by Kippling’s poem If

    If

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too:
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same:.
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
    And never breathe a word about your loss:
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much:
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

    Rudyard Kipling

  36. John says:

    As my fellow Texans have said WELCOME!!! If you are in the Houston area, give me a ring, I’ll buy you a beer. And don’t worry about raising your kids here, there are plenty of exceptional schools and neighborhoods all over this great state. We’ll be happy to help you look out for them, that’s what neighbors do.

  37. John from CA says:

    Texas is a great State, the kids should love it. Welcome back to the USA!

    Best Regards,
    John from CA

  38. JimB says:

    Jenny L: You missed the part about Texas! Best state in the Union. Might try home schooling, though.

  39. Pierre Gosselin reports on the NoTricksZone blog:
    Alabama moves to protect private property rights, preventing the State from adopting laws which could unfairly injure private property rights.

    SYNOPSIS:
    Under existing law, the state, subject to certain federal laws or rules, has the right to develop its environmental and developmental policies.
    This bill would prohibit the State of Alabama and its political subdivisions from adopting and developing environmental and developmental policies that, without due process, would infringe or restrict the private property rights of the owner of the property.

    More. Please.

  40. George Tetley says:

    Ah, Paris Texas, 100% better than the other one !

  41. Hoser says:

    JennyL says:
    June 6, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Socialists and tyrants are everywhere. What’s your paradise?
    Parents need to retain their role.

    Another out-of-control bureaucracy is education. We don’t think as much about it because we don’t live in that world, now that we are older. We remember schools that were better than they are now. The problems in education became far worse after local school boards lost control over curriculum. Parents and local communities have almost no say in what their children are exposed to.

    The real evil in this isn’t the teachers or even the bureaucrats directly, The people behind the policy are in the NEA, people like Bill Ayers, Obama’s mentor and patron among the socialists. Ayers is a retired professor of education at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He’s a true intellectual dirtbag.

    I found a fantastic resource of information about the NEA and its decades-long assault on children (see the link below). You’ll be amazed. More people should know about what they are doing. We need to take back our schools. That will help us teach real science, stop political indoctrination, and help our economy (by training people to innovate, or at least have basic competence to hold a job).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Ayers
    http://www.crossroad.to/Excerpts/chronologies/nea.htm

  42. Big D in TX says:

    Howdy and welcome yall from DFW!
    Pick any city with population less than a few hundred thousand and you’ll do just fine.

    Geography lesson:
    West Texas means west of the Pecos (except for the town of West, TX – get food at the Czech Stop on I-35, exit 353!)
    The Great Frozen North is anything north of the Red.
    Vacation is anything south of the Grande.
    (These are rivers if you’re not up to speed yet.)

    Take your kids to the capitol, the Alamo, the state fair, and the Muslim outreach center, I mean space center.

    Drink a Shiner Bock, Dr Pepper for the lil’uns, and eat some Whataburger.

    Take an I-10 road trip. Shoot some guns. Enjoy yallselves.

    Our politicians ain’t perfect either, but they tend to keep their hands out of your wallet, and boots off of your land.

  43. Ted says:

    Australia is an example to us all of the mad cow disease that has taken over the ruling class and bureaucrats hopefully/please there will be a mass clearing of the insane asylum with elections in 2013.
    In the meantime all potential politicians should watch The Topher video.

    The Topher video is brilliant and practicable. The rise of the left/socialism is the greatest threat to humanity and democracy. No matter where you live in the western world you see it and are touched by it. The freedom sucking vampires never sleep = Human rights councils – Agenda 21. Political (creepiness) correctness. Introduced under such nice sounding dictates as Sustainability = do it or be punished. Civil liberty councils are another dangerous subversive element that wants to destroy a free society they choose titles that suggest freedom-loving organizations trying to create fairness and balance but the are the exact opposite.
    The morel is:
    Watch out for the kinder gentle machine gun man – he will shoot you with a look of sympathy on his face but you still end up dead!

  44. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Bernd Felsche on June 7, 2012 at 2:07 am:

    Why would you choose to insult Australians in such a way? The Thomsons were as much Australians as anybody else who commits to this country as “home”, takes on the challenge to build a business full aware of the risks that the nature of the land presents; and making a go of it with their own blood, sweat and tears.

    You speak with your heart, not your mind. Or at least the part of your heart you reveal to the world, that you acknowledge exists.

    Humans are territorial, just like any of the other Great Apes. It’s natural to frown on outsiders.

    Ten years ago, what did Australians think Americans thought Australia was like? Crocodile Dundee, throw another shrimp on the barbie, Foster’s is Australian for beer.

    So these Yanks swoop in like carpetbaggers wanting to make their fortune among the natives, who’d been working hard there for generations. Who do these Yanks think they are anyway? That must have ruffled a few feathers. Fine, tolerate them for now, they might not be so bad. But then they start handing out anti-government literature, feeling they have to educate the ignorant local officials and people? Enough of that, let’s throw those Yanks out! Shut them down and send them packing, we don’t need their kind telling us what to do!

    Australians understand the principle of giving others a fair go.

    I’ve been reading on Andrew Bolt’s blog about the great influx of “boat people” seeking asylum in Australia, at least that’s what said when they’re caught at sea, from primarily Muslim countries. (Those tagged boat people policy, many other pieces over months and years.) For the US, going by the descriptions many would be deemed “undesirables” and sent back, those without proper documentation whom we found on our soil would be called “illegal immigrants”, however the Australian Press Council warned journalists not to use that term lest they risk repercussions. (Censorship? What censorship?)

    I can read the comments, see the attitudes towards these “outsiders”, also note how the concerns are justified. There may be the principle of giving others a “fair go”, then there is the practice of it.

    What you believe is irrelevant and wrong.

    It is true, and I know it, and so should you. When you see a common human social behavior you disapprove of and want to change, first identify the roots of it which are common to all humans. We have millions of years of hardwired animal behavior to contend with, you’d have to be a rare mutant strain to not have it. I’ve searched for and found those common roots within myself of being territorial and distrusting of outsiders. What about you?

    How have I insulted Australians, when I’m just noting they’re human?

  45. Ed Mertin says:

    Texas, around La Grange, San Marcos and over past Brownwood is awesome. Lufkin and Nacogdo… yeah, Texas has a way of lifting your hearts. God speed! Best of luck.

    Eddie

  46. joannenova says:

    Bernd, there is an anti-American element in Australia, not from ordinary Australians but from the green intellectuals, who were the activists against the Thompsons. You can bet that if they were Afghan immigrant farmers they would not have been singled out, and the media would not have ignored them.

    What happened was abysmal. We lost upstanding citizens, entrepreneurial business acumen, four promising kids, and two excellent parents.

    The combination of skeptic, american, beef feedlot, and free enterprise was a red flag …

    Most Australians would be appalled but they have not even heard of the Thompsons.

    My thoughts: http://joannenova.com.au/2012/06/the-thompsons-fight-on-from-the-usa-a-business-ruined-by-green-tape-and-the-australian-carbon-tax/

    We wish them every success and will follow their progress closely.

    I’m so proud of them for fighting on, and not letting the sods get them down.

  47. Big D in TX says:

    After further reading I understand now that they moved originally FROM Texas to Australia and have now moved back.
    In that case, what was the point in leaving in the first place?
    Anyway, welcome BACK then.

  48. Alvin W says:

    Thanks for this post. I have to agree with the decision even
    though there will be sad repercussions for the children. I was
    born and raised on a farm in Texas and there are great
    opportunities there today.

  49. Jenn Oates says:

    This story really breaks my heart, and I wish you all the luck in Texas in the future. There is no better place to pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Blessings to all of you, especially the kids.

    Sigh…

  50. Richard of Brisbane Australia says:

    I have spent time with the Thompson family and heard their story, it cannot be allowed to happen to others. The Carbon Tax will ruin Australia, Julia Gillard will be voted out at the next election.
    Best wishes for the future.

  51. Jon at WA says:

    Good Luck Thomsons.
    Australia’s loss. You have returned to the ‘land of the free’ from the ‘land of the fee’. This was a fight you could not win. Unfortunately any cavalry on the horizon are similar in pedigree (the trash out of arts/law faculties) to the vultures feeding on you. When and if they arrive they would only turn you over and clean out your pockets.
    While Australia is addicted to welfare, this country will not be safe for productive people who attempt to operate within the multitude of laws and regulations.
    Though you had a family in the community of Narrogin, better to be where you can look after your parents.

  52. val majkus says:

    I put this comment on Jo’s blog but I’ll copy it over here

    This is indeed a tragic story and through it all the family have remained outwardly at least courageous and good humoured for which I applaud them.

    The DEC have behaved deplorably. I urge readers to read Jo’s post at http://joannenova.com.au/2010/09/thompsons-part-10-the-dec-admits-it-treated-them-unfairly/
    and particularly the minutes of December 2009 which Jo has linked there

    Jo also has in that post a statement from the relevant Minister

    DF: There is a clear process that is gone through in these situations. Letters are sent out advising of the problem and providing a time frame for correction. Then an Environmental Field Notice is issued and the proponent is given time to comply. Then and Environmental Protection Notice is issued, and the proponent is given time to deal with that. Only after that exhaustive process, would an operation be shut down…or limited in throughput which would lead to it shutting down. We have had the same situation with waste treatment facilities. This is standard procedure. The Department is not interested in shutting the operation down.

    The DEC never followed that procedure in this case. As a result the Thompsons lost their considerable input capital, I suspect they incurred considerable debts and they lost their livelihood. When you’re in that situation it’s very difficult to get sustained legal assistance of the type that’s needed.

    Pro productivity – what’s it mean?

  53. ntesdorf says:

    This outcome is an indictment of the present Political Climate in Australia and the corrupting effect of CAGW. . The DEC have behaved extremely deplorably. These tyrants in Canberra are destroying the Australia that we love.

    Good luck to the Thompsons for their future back in America,

  54. geoff says:

    If you want to read what the neighbours are complaining about, there’s this:

    http://narroginlibrary.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/neighbour-presentations.pdf

    It’s not just the EPA complaining – There’s an Agricultural College downwind of it that employs 60 people, 130 students live on site. They are one of the ’20’ complainants, which really means it’s affecting a lot more people.

    This story kinda smelled funny, it’s interesting to read the other side of things.

  55. johanna says:

    Sorry to hear we have lost the Thompsons, who are the kind of people any country needs, and best of luck with obtaining some recompense from DECC’s petty dictators.

    Western Australia has a particularly pernicious strain of greenies. Their current focus is on stopping a major gas project which will not only benefit the national economy (ie everyone), but in particular provide jobs and economic opportunities to some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in Australia – the local Aboriginal population, who own the land there.

    The cognitive dissonance which enables these idiots to turn a win-win into a lose-lose every single time is extraordinary. I sometimes think they must all have been dropped on their heads as babies.

  56. geoff says:

    I’ve read and thought a bit more about the complaints – the farm sounds like it has an ungodly stench of urine coming from it, so much so that residents of the town have to close windows, shut off air conditioning, take clothes off the line before the smell permiates everything.

    I imagine the Ag College teachers would be comprised of experienced farmers, vets and environmentalists and students wanting to become the same. Hardly the people that should be complaining over regular farm smells. It’s got to be pretty bad for the whole college to be complaining about it.

    Most Ag students/farmers I know are fairly conservative types, for them to be complaining to the DEC it’s got to be extend past an us vs them, greenies = bad mentality.

  57. joannenova says:

    Geoff, the Thompsons two nearest neighbours (closer than the college and also “downwind”) signed letters saying they not only wanted the Thompsons to stay — they were happy for the number of cattle to increase.

    The Ag college is also downwind of the large piggery that is next to the Thompsons farm. The piggery has been there for nearly 30 years. http://joannenova.com.au/2012/2010/09/thompsons-part-5-community-support/

  58. geoff says:

    The neighbours are also benefitting from the farm by way of fertilizer to help their own businesses, so they both have a commercial interest in the farm remaining open.

    Neighbours had no serious problems for the most part with the piggery according to the letters submitted – different kinds of smells, or at least different handling of the effulent/waste.

    Also everyone has different tolerence levels to certain things. Some people don’t mind living next to train lines either. No one seems to hold anything personal against the Thompsons, it seems like it’s purely a smell / quality of life factor.

    It would be like having an old cat lady move in next door. People across the street may love her, she might be really nice, but you have to live next door and smell the stale urine smell every day.

  59. valmajkus says:

    I’ve had a look at that link to which Geoff refers – I’m uncertain as to when those letters were written – the only one on which I can find a date is dated 20/5/2009

    the best background to the complicated Thompson story is probably Senator Cory’s speech linked here http://joannenova.com.au/2010/09/thompsons-part-9-senator-cory-bernardi-speaks-out-in-parliament/
    In that speech and I’m assuming the facts are correct the Senator says ‘Matt and Janet Thompson came to Australia from the United States in 2001. They had expertise in cattle farming and they applied their life savings to establishing a feedlot in Narrogin in Western Australia. It took a year for them to receive approval from the Department of Environment and Conservation for that feedlot, which is nearly five kilometres from Narrogin….. Approval was given for the construction of a feedlot to house up to 15,000 cattle—or slightly less than 15,000 cattle. …
    … they gradually built their farm up to house more than 10,000 head of cattle by 2007
    … in 2007 the department started to make further inquiries into the feedlot operations because of complaints about the smell
    … The end result of this is that rather than continue their licence for 10,000 head of cattle which the Thompson family had invested in—they had entered into contracts for feed and water for those cattle—the licence was cut to 6,000 for the Thompsons’ feedlot operation. They could not sustain that. They could not sustain their operations and fulfil their contractual operations with only 6,000 head of cattle. Everything, all the capital they had invested—some $10 million in input costs in the previous year—had come to nowt because this licence was cut unilaterally.
    … I would suggest that something smells in Narrogin, but I do not think it is the Thompsons’ feedlot. Something smells when people come here, invest their money and seek unbiased advice and then find that government departments are running roughshod over people who have not broken any law and have complied with all the environmental requirements made of them and find that individuals who are advising these people on how to deal with their problems are also running organisations which specialise in advising people on how to mount such spurious complaints. Something does smell in Narrogin. Having now raised it in this place, I feel it might be too late for the Thompsons. …”

    The Thompsons had a great deal of support from the local town and the letters on the site to which Geoff refers are few compared with the support I understand they received but in the end result it is the behaviour of the DEC which provided the licence and then revoked it or subjected it to the type of conditions on which no self respecting bank could continue to lend which is the problem

  60. geoff says:

    It’s a lot easier to support something when you’re not directly affected by it. A lot of the town didn’t have a very high smell rating, and the Thompsons seem like nice people, so it’s understandable that a proportion of them support the farm.

    I’m not saying that the DEC didn’t jerk them around a whole lot and fail to address the issues in a timely manner, or that the whole matter could have been dealt with in a much more appropriate way from the outset (planning approval properly reviewed, etc).

    The story just sounds like it’s blaming ‘environmental extremism’, when it’s really more that the DEC just dropped the ball on this one with the planning permits. The policies themselves serve a useful purpose, it’s just were bungled here really badly.

    Senator Cory’s speech also has a few little plot holes – he says “government departments are running roughshod over people who have not broken any law and have complied with all the environmental requirements made of them”. According to the letters I referred to earlier the Thompsons were supposedly in breach of the EPA Act, s49. http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/wa/consol_act/epa1986295/s49.html Sometimes the byproducts of purely legal activities can still impact on other peoples lives in detrimental and potentially illegal ways.

    I’m all for property rights, but you don’t have unlimited rights on a property, you have to respect your neighbours.

    Also I’m not really liking the whole “the original 40-minute consultation they were charged $4,000—at $100 a minute it is not bad money”. It’s a bit disingenuous. The lawyer would have put in a lot of research into the legal status of the farm, there’s always a lot of reading to do in terms of the particular scenario of a client. That $4000 would cover a lot more than just a 40 minute meeting.

  61. valmajkus says:

    so Geoff what evidence do you have for that statement ” A lot of the town didn’t have a very high smell rating, and the Thompsons seem like nice people, so it’s understandable that a proportion of them support the farm. ‘

    give us a link please

  62. geoff says:

    I’m basing it a bit off this:
    http://narroginlibrary.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/minutes-21st-april-2009.pdf
    and this:
    http://narroginlibrary.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/minutes-of-meeting-21st-may-2009.pdf
    and joannenova’s pages.

    I’m sure there are more.

    They mention that the ‘smell levels’ have decresed in the town somewhat, however the Ag School was not present at the April meeting to voice their dissent from the LCCC letter, or their views.

  63. donkeygod says:

    Wish you the very best. Texans, I think, are much less given to ideology than Australians. And, unless something unthinkable has happened since I lived in the USA, government bureaucrats in Texas wouldn’t dare behave like their Australian counterparts. Our loss, hopefully your gain.

  64. WTF has happened to Oz? It used to be so …. robust!

  65. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    @ geoff:

    So you’re saying that yes, the Thompsons were screwed over, it was handled badly, but despite the over 6000 negative smell tests there were some complaints so the government was justified in whipping out their enforcement.

    Sounds like a variation of “Well some of the townspeople said she dressed kind of slutty so she had it coming, but I agree he didn’t have to be so rough and could’ve used a condom.”

  66. valmajkus says:

    Geoff doesn’t get the message, the simple message is as I said above:

    The DEC have behaved deplorably. I urge readers to read Jo’s post at http://joannenova.com.au/2010/09/thompsons-part-10-the-dec-admits-it-treated-them-unfairly/
    and particularly the minutes of December 2009 which Jo has linked there

    Jo also has in that post a statement from the relevant Minister

    DF: There is a clear process that is gone through in these situations. Letters are sent out advising of the problem and providing a time frame for correction. Then an Environmental Field Notice is issued and the proponent is given time to comply. Then and Environmental Protection Notice is issued, and the proponent is given time to deal with that. Only after that exhaustive process, would an operation be shut down…or limited in throughput which would lead to it shutting down. We have had the same situation with waste treatment facilities. This is standard procedure. The Department is not interested in shutting the operation down.

    The DEC never followed that procedure in this case.

    That’s the simple message – you could argue till the cows come home about what you think about the other things like the smell, whether neighbours benefited from fertiliser, ; but it comes back to that simple question – what did DEC do; basically it shut them down because the conditions added to the licence were such that banks would not continue or renew their current overdrafts nor review their financial arrangements

    and related to that question is what was DEC procedure? Well it’s put quite simply in the Minister’s statement. Did DEC follow that procedure in this case? No. As a result the Thompsons lost their livelihood … (as I’ve said that in my previous post)
    the Thompsons lost their considerable input capital, I suspect they incurred considerable debts and they lost their livelihood.

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