Submission to the Hon Robert Brown, MLC for the NSW Shooters and Fishers Party (for the record in this section)

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Submission to the Hon Robert Brown, MLC for the NSW Shooters and Fishers Party (for the record in this section)

Post  Imadogman on Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:12 pm

Just trying to keep all the NSW access stuff easy to find....so posting a copy of the submission to Mr Brown (on occasion of the Goanna Gold Muster, Nov 3 2012) and put in some formatting so it is easy to read.

Recreational miners, fossickers, and prospectors

“Restoring the balance in NSW”

Briefing paper for
The Hon Robert Brown, MLC

Burrendong,
Goanna Gold Muster, 3 November, 2012


Who are we?
Prospectors and fossickers – or ‘recreational miners’ - in NSW come from all walks of life and are spread throughout the community.
Some of us belong to clubs or internet forums, but many do not. All of us have an appreciation of the great outdoors, a sense of the history of NSW and the desire to make use of the natural bounty of the land.

There are tens of thousands of us, spread across all parts of the state. We are generally outdoor types who also enjoy fishing, shooting and our 4WDs.

A lot of us are baby-boomers keen to explore the state in retirement and to encourage a love of the outdoors in our children and grandchildren.

Many of us invest a lot of time and money travelling throughout the state and Australia to pursue our chosen recreational activity.

Those of us here at the Burrendong Goanna Muster are mostly gold prospectors. We search for gold using metal detectors, sluices and by panning.
Many of us also fossick for gemstones such as sapphires, zircons and spinel which often occur within gold bearing gravels where we sluice and pan for the gold.

There are a few fossickers and prospectors that make a living from it, but most of us are lucky to ever cover our costs.

What are we worried about? Access, Access, Access

In a nutshell we are desperately concerned about the insidious, ongoing erosion of prospecting and fossicking access to public land in NSW, especially where that land has had previous mining operations on it.

Many areas of state forest have been converted to National Parks, Commons have been closed or leased and the 60 or so dedicated state fossicking areas have been abolished.

Many of the areas lost to gold fossickers have a long history of fossicking and have been used by generations of fossickers since the gold rush era in the 1800’s through to their closure or conversion to a reserve under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

Many important gold fossicking areas are now national parks and nature reserves under the NPW Act. The NPW Act forbids fossicking in these categories of reserve. In a number of cases some important established fossicking sites within National Parks and Nature Reserves could be opened to fossicking without damaging conservation values, however the current NPW Act doesn’t allow it.

This has a significant impact on our ability to pursue recreational mining and to maintain this activity for future generations. It also means that an interest group whose population is increasing is seeking to use an ever diminishing area, which will naturally put pressure on that available area. It means that fewer people will get to know and understand the bush.

There is presently very little balance in the way access is determined.

With your help, we would like that balance restored.

The current system favours conservation and the big end of town at the expense of the little guys. If fossickers and prospectors had fur or feathers we would likely be considered ‘endangered’ and in need of habitat protection!

This is unfortunate and has really only occurred in the past 40 years or so. Prior to that, laws were framed with small operators in mind – true to early NSW traditions – and with public access being part of the goal.

This closing down of access has been happening despite our concerns because we have not had any effective representation of our needs, not been consulted, and because the interests of green groups and big business have held sway.

As a result, very few submissions are made to National Parks when public comment is sought on a draft plan of management. Submissions that have been made regarding fossicking have not resulted in fossicking being included in any plans of management.

What’s eroding access and how do we fix it?
The lease or sale of Crown land with known prospecting history without consideration of effective future access arrangements.

Solution: ensure that when Crown land that contains known prospecting areas within its boundaries is leased or sold, that the right of fossickers to continue to access that land is maintained and is not simply subject to landholder discretion. That where such areas have been leased or sold since 1970 that amendments are made to facilitate access.

The excessive conservation bias of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWLS) results in the automatic exclusion of recreational fossicking/prospecting as an allowable activity in national parks, even though many of those areas have been the site of fossicking, prospecting and mining for a century or more.

Many national parks are available for a wide range of recreational activity – but not recreational mining -- even with a metal detector that makes a smaller hole than a rabbit or wombat! (And we fill in our holes!)

Solution: permit prospecting in those areas of national parks where mining was traditionally carried out. These areas should be identified by a desktop review and consultation with recreational miners. (It needs to be remembered that fossickers will normally want to fossick in most national parks because there is nothing there to fossick for, so in practical terms this is not a major exercise).

However, ideally access to national parks for fossicking should not just be limited to those with former mining activity, as fossickers and other recreational users of parks should have the ability to wander as they see fit. If there are heritage or unique conservation areas that are to be excluded from fossicking, they should be sign posted and publicised both at the locality and in the NPWS website.

For ease of use of National Parks, bush camping should be permitted in most areas, along with 4WD access.

The strong bias towards exclusion of fossicking/prospecting within “Plans of Management” which NPWLS draws up for “State Conservation Areas”. Fossickers are not being properly considered in these plans. In all but one case ‘consent to fossick’ has been excluded in the Plans of Management.

Even when submissions get made they are not accepted despite the very low level of environmental impact of modern fossicking techniques (metal detecting, panning and sluicing).

This is because NPWLS is not undertaking genuine consultation and places too great an importance on environmental and conservation values ahead of fair use. NPWLS simply take the view that fossicking is not compatible with conservation and in every case have not allowed fossicking. That is not fair.

Ironically State Conservation Areas (SCAs) are SCAs usually because they have mineral or other resource potential. Thus, it is usually possible for a mining company – which has the lawyers and deep pockets for technical experts – to be able to establish Exploration Leases and even mining claims in SCAs – and yet recreational mining is normally not allowed!

A number of fossickers have a comprehensive list of famous, well-used fossicking areas in national parks, state conservation areas and nature reserves where fossicking was undertaken in the past but is now not allowed. A list of areas and the reserves they are in can be provided if it is of use.

Within the NPW Act, fossicking is allowable in SCA’s if consent is written within a Plan of Management for an SCA. Many of the most important fossicking/gold areas are in SCA’s because they are the category of reserves where there are minerals and the government wants mining to be allowed.

Many fossicking areas are old mining areas that are very disturbed from mining activity or are covered with alluvial gold workings. The problem is that fossicking is only authorised (by consent in a Plan of Management) in only one of the 100 or so SCA’s in the state, that is Torrington SCA.

Solution: Plans of management for SCA’s need to automatically include the consent or right to fossick and prospect. NPWS should do a stock take of which SCA’s have mining history on them and make this information publicly available online, along with maps. If limitations for conservation or heritage values are to be imposed they must be justifiable to, and agreed with, by the user group most affected.

There needs to be a change in the NPW Act to make fossicking an allowed recreation activity in all reserve categories under the Act. Consent to fossick in a certain area within a reserve would then be given within the plan of management for each reserve. The plans of management for each reserve would indicate the locations in the reserve where prospecting could occur and any reasonable conditions that may apply.

The Mining Act unfairly pushes recreational miners, prospector and fossickers out of prospective areas within Exploration Lease areas that have been taken out by mining companies.

Often these Exploration Leases will cover vast areas of land, including many old alluvial gold fields that are suitable areas for recreational mining.

Under the Mining Act access to those areas is subject to permission of the prospecting company and the landowner if it is private land. Practically it is very difficult to identify who these companies are and the areas covered by their leases and even to communicate with them. It can turn ordinary people into unwitting trespassers.

There are a lot of these large ELs in NSW. If you want to fossick at Hill End, around Ophir, Nundle and many other prime fossicking areas you supposedly must have the leaseholder’s permission despite the fact that most mining companies only do soil sampling/drilling in very small parts of their EL.

Solution: Amend the Mining Act to allow recreational mining (fossicking and prospecting) on Exploration Leases as a matter of right. This right of access should be automatic. Where land is freehold permission of the landowner would still be important. But where it is leasehold, such as a grazing lease, it is not right that access can be denied – as it often is – without justification or appeal.

The NSW Mining Act

The rules covering where and how you can fossick and the amount of gold, minerals and gemstones you can take in a day are included in the Act. The Act (including fossicking provisions) was reviewed a few years ago, although there was no consultation with fossickers. The new Act abolished NSW’s long established fossicking reserves/areas and limited the areas where people could fossick.

Solution: Establish additional fossicking areas and restore the reserves which were abolished. Have proper representation and meaningful consultation with the recreational mining community in NSW when the Act is next reviewed.

The Mining Act makes it prohibitively expensive for recreational miners to be able to establish and work small claims.

It is astonishing that in NSW, with its rich tradition of small-time miners, it is now so complex, expensive and difficult to establish and work a small claim that very few people even try. The ‘fair-go’ has become ‘no-go’!

This change seems to have occurred since about the 1970s, when we understand the government still issued mining rights and sponsored prospecting. The mining rights were then downgraded and replaced with a fossicking licence (since abolished). These limited digging to ‘six foot down and six foot in’, the excuse was for safety reasons; also the use of powered machinery to remove material was banned, no more dredging either and no explosives.

The general campfire talk was that this was instigated by the big mining companies to drive the small miner out and give them total control of mining. Then when the metric system was introduced for some reason the’ six foot rule in/down’ was halved to just ‘one metre down and one metre in’, and a limit of 10 grams (of gold) in 48 hours (later changed to 50 grams).

Solution: That the Mining Act be amended to enable recreational miners to take out small mining leases on areas under Exploration Lease (excluding the immediate areas of active mining sites) subject only to the permission of the land owner where that is not the Crown. These leases would need to simple to establish and register and be inexpensive to hold and could be limited to a modest area with Western Australian legislation as a guide to size and conditions.

The community of fossickers and prospectors is not being effectively consulted by the NSW government when laws and regulations are being formulated.

Solution: that the Office of Environment and Heritage, the Mines Department and the National Parks and Wildlife Service establish a Recreational Miners Interests Committee that can be a sounding board for developments that affect these citizens. This group should be made up of knowledgeable and committed people and be refreshed at every two or three years. The purpose of the group would be to represent the needs and aspirations of recreational miners so that their views are fully known and understood by the government.

SUMMARY OF GENERAL NEEDS

1. That regular reviews and amendments to the Crown Lands Act, Mining Act, Forestry Act and NPWS Act enshrine and strengthen the right to prospect for minerals/gems/rocks/gold and to provide minimally regulated opportunities to prospect in areas where it has been traditionally done.

2. That recreational miners who fossick and prospect receive similar consideration in planning and legislation as fishers, shooters and 4WDers who also seek to use public land for their health and enjoyment. Many recreational miners also shoot, fish and drive 4WDs!

3. That NSW government and its ministries consult via online channels and other means with representatives of the fossicking/prospecting community when considering laws and regulations which have an impact on this activity.

4. That fossicking and recreational prospecting is properly classed as a low environmental impact activity which needs to be considered separate to the interests of the broader mining industry. That is to say: a person with a metal detector, a pick, pan or portable sluice, is NOT a mining company and should be exempt from the burden of big miner regulation under the Mining Act.

5. Recreational miners need an effective political voice. Can the Shooters and Fishers Party accommodate our needs?

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC NEEDS

1. That the right to fossick/prospect (with hand tools or detectors) is restored on western lands leases in NSW.

2. That the NPWS & Crown Lands Acts be amended to retain the right to fossick and prospect on non-urban crown land with a history of previous use by prospectors. Further, where the status of that land has changed since 1970, that fossicking/prospecting rights be restored.

3. That the Mining Act be amended to enable prospecting/fossicking and the taking out of small mining leases on areas under Exploration Lease (excluding the immediate areas of active mining sites) subject only to the permission of the land owner where that is not the Crown (Western Australia has such a law).

5. That the many historic dedicated public fossicking areas in NSW are not closed and sold-off or leased in such a way that excludes fossicking/prospecting. As in (2), where that has occurred since 1970, that such rights are restored.

6. That the NPWS Act be changed to protect and/or restore the right of recreational fossicking/prospecting on historic goldfield/gemfield areas within NPWS reserves that are currently categorised as State Conservation Areas, State Parks (e.g. Burrendong), travelling stock routes and travelling stock reserves.

7. That old goldfields in declared national parks be immediately made available to recreational fossicking in a similar way to state forests. In the interests of maximising access, ideally this right of fossicking access should extend to all areas of all national parks, except if there are genuinely unique historical or conservation requirements that in the interests of national heritage need to be met.

8. That local councils and tourism authorities be encouraged to establish fossicking areas (gold and gems) in appropriate areas (even with participation of private land owners by agreement) of their shire as means to encourage regional and interstate prospecting tourism.

9. That an online register with accurate maps is maintained of dedicated areas available for fossicking in NSW to facilitate access.
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Imadogman
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Full support

Post  philip.j.thompson on Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:26 pm

Get on board NSW turn up or tune out, I'm an old guy you guys and girls want potential in NSW get off your backsides, turn up, email and push for a legitimate recreational pursuit pirat
regards Phil

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Must happen

Post  philip.j.thompson on Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:51 pm

Things are on the move so please get involved as it begins Very Happy

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Re: Submission to the Hon Robert Brown, MLC for the NSW Shooters and Fishers Party (for the record in this section)

Post  Guest on Thu Nov 08, 2012 3:39 pm

A transscript of the video for any who had trouble hearing the speech.

Robert Brown:
Thankyou very much.
Ladys and gentlemen, when you open something like this the quickest way to do it is to say
"I declare this funtion open" and get it over and done with.
There is probably a couple of hundred people here which is a preatty good show up for the first time you have done it here.

Before i got up here Garry sent me pages and pages and pages of stuff of what i was to say and what i wasnt to say ETC.

Garry:
Come on Bob be nice to me.

Robert Brown:
And one of you guys actually sent me some papers on what he feels you guys as fossickers need in terms of representation.
It presents a picture to me that you are a group of people that dont get alot of help or co-operation from anybody out there except yourselves.
I guess the story remains that governments and people that control acess to the areas that you want to go, well thats nothing new to somebody like me.
Shooters and Fishers party was formed in 1992 because of what we could see was too much government interference in just what ordinary people like what are standing round here.
You wouldnt be able to tell the difference between a fossickers and shooters, probably quiet a few people with firearms license here in the audience.
Fishermen you can because they are allways talking and allways lieing.

Anyway look one of the i said to Steve when he presented me with this document this morning was, well ok whats the name of your people and whats the assosiation. "oh we dont have one"
Well the Victorians do why dont you? "We havnt really got around to it"
So here is the start of the lesson. If fossickers want to get attention then you have to organise yourselves. Form an assosiation. And your very lucky, as iam told that at least
one of your forums has about 4000 members on it. I know of about 3 organisations that were formed on the basis of their forums. One is a group called Austrailian Hunting Hunting Network.
They formed a club called Austrailian Hunting Network INC and they use the forum as method of communication.
Most of you who have been members of clubs or small groups ETC know how hard it is to get volenteers and how much it costs to send out news letters, well one thing we can thank the military for is the internet.
Because it solves alot of problems. So if you want goverment support to help you get access to areas to fossick you have to help yourselves... Form an assosiation rule number 1.
If you dont do that and its a case of "oh no shell be right, i have my own places. I dont care about anybody else" Well so be it but you will never ever get what you want and i take it what you want from the documentation i have been given
is to make it easier to get access to places where you can do what you want to do, fossicking,metal detect, pan, put on the scoober gear... all that sort of stuff. You will never get anywhere if you dont organise. The greatest teachers
of how to get stuff all round the world, particularly here in Australia are the greens. Have a look what they did and how they did it and you go do exactly the same thing. Thats what we did and we have been relativly succsessful.

The shooters and fishers party can help groups like fossickers, we helped the moterhome and caravan people. In fact lent them some money to go spread round various towns to install dump sites.
So you see all these signs round now saying this is an RV friendly town. We gave them about 150 grand for that.
The shooters since 1998 when John Tingle was in there, we got them something like 7 or 8 million dollers to do up rifle ranges and that sort of thing.
The fishermen, well we have done quiet a bit for them too. Got them some consessions on boat ramps and stuff, we are about to do a bit mnore there
Why? Well because fossickers, fisherman...anglers...fishermen/fisherwomen, hunters, shooters, horse riders, moutain bike riders, 4WD's have all got the same problem, access to public land. Not crown land its public land its your land.
You may not know it but you own it. The only problem is some beurocrat sitting in Sydney says "You shall not take your dog there. You shall not fossick there. You certainly cant carry a firearm. You cant fish you cant 4WD, you cant take a horse in there.
And why do they do that? Not having a shot at national parks and wildlife but why do they do that? Ill tell you why, because steel gates are about the cheepest form of management there is.
Put a steel gate up and dont have to worry about it. Anyway there in with the ramp.
If you guys get yourselves organised, what you should do this weekend around the campfire tonight. There is enough of you here, just dob in some unsuspecting sole to be a steering commitee to get an association started.
One of the things you can do as an assocation, you may have to pay 20 bucks each but it will get you 20 million dollers public liability insurence. You go try to go buy personal public liablilty insurance, 1000 bucks a year.
You get it for 4.50 if you are in an assocation. So why do you need public liability insurance? You want to go prospect on farmer browns farm, i know what farmer brom says to hunters and shooters "Oh id like to let you on but if you broke your leg you will sue me"
Show him a certificate for 20 million dollers public liabilty insurence "Come on in" and some of the public land managers are starting to do the same, if you are an "R license" hunter as they call it and you have a game council license you can get access to state forest
very very ?short? of national parks, thats a bit of a key position ??fossickers?????????? The onlreason you can do that, is because the game council when you buy that license incorperates the public liability insurance.
Other groups who formed themselves the shooting association, the hunting clubs all the fishing clubs, why do thay do it? They do it to provide cheap public liability insurence. So its not a case of paying 10-20 bucks or 50 buck or whatever it is you need to make an association
You dont get nothing for it, you will get better access because that association will come to people like me and say "Robert what can you do to get us in here, here, here, here" and ill say well thats either going to be easy or hard or it could take a year or two years or maybe just 6 months.
Or depending upon what Barry wants next week it might just take a week, just depends. Its alot harder if Garry rings me up or Steve rings me up and says "Robert can you get me into such and such" yea ok send me a letter.
So i get a letter from Garry and take it along to the minister and the minister says "Yea ok sure Robert who is Garry?" But if it was the NSW prospecting assocation signed and you tell the minister you have 4000 people on your website (she does not know its a public forum by the way,
she probably assumes you have 4000 members. You dont need 4000 members but you certainly need 400-500... certainly need everybody here to decide they want to join a little association like that. And then you leverage upon that the government, thats how you get stuff.
No good if you know a local member for parliment and rock up on his door or up to his office and threaten him with 40 prospectors in his town hwho are all going to vote against him. Yea you will get some attention but if his a national party member he has not got much power unless he lives
in 5 or 6 different electorites is Sydney, if hes a liberal he hasnt got much power if hes a local labor member hes got bugger all power, if hes a green haha hes got no power. But if hes a shooter and fisher like me or a christian democrat like poor old Fred Nile, my very good friend.
We do have power sometimes not all the time only sometimes. I was saying to Garry earlyer this morning there may be a situation where O'Farrel controls both houses of parliment after 2015 which makes me useless may as well sit there for 4 years and pick my nose.
But right now, right now get yourselves organised and i will do what i can to help you get access to areas where you cant get to now.
The other thing is when you form an association you can do what the motorhome people did, you can start going around the state talking to towns, chaimbers of commerce and councils and say we represent 10,000 tourists that bring money into towns, why dont we make your town a hill end or Stuart Town?
A fossicker friendly town, put a sign up thats all it takes and then you get some power you get negotiation power and you get services for your members. Thats what its about isnt it? Were all not "shellberights" we want everybody to have access. You would rather come to a place like this and have
a concorse with fellow fossickers than allways be out there in the bush alone then this is good fun this sort of stuff but you cant get this sort of stuff if you dont do something to help yourselves collecivly.
Politcs is a dirty word to alot of people but politics comes from the greek i think meaning of the people and you are of the people so why shouldnt you get what you want? Why should only it be.. you know the last 16 years the greens got everything they wanted, why shouldnt you get what you want?
Well there is an oppertunity to do it but you have to get off your backsides and do it yourself. And like i said have a little meeting at the end of the rally here and elect a few people and say here is your steering commitee go and do it and they will say thankyou very much give us all your email address's
and they will handle the 20 bucks for membership and they will go and organise public liablilty for you and they will start harrasing the government through people like me who like fights with the government and you will get some things you didnt have before. In fact iam that confident that if you follow
that corse of action you will get what you want ill garentee.

Have a good weekend.


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