“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





11 November 2008

Glenthorne War Hots Up

Glenthorne Farm: the houses are coming over the hill - PHOTO: Leo Davis

The following letters were published in The Messenger Press on 5 November 2008

Deed excludes urban development

Citizens, never succumb to the bullying of the University of Adelaide.

Look at Glenthorne Farm. Seven short years ago, the University made a solemn vow to use this priceless land for agriculture, horticulture, viticulture, winemaking, community recreation, research, and education. The whole deal was dependent upon the University never using the land for any other purpose. The deed it signed repeatedly forbids any urban development. The University cannot even “seek to undertake development” without written approval from the minister. The deed repeatedly, precisely “excludes urban development”. It says urban development “will not be approved”.

With the help of Senator Robert Hill, the late Greg Trott engineered this land transfer with the government, the CSIRO and the University. Trott envisaged revegetated headlands and creeklines and the investigation of drought-resistant grape varieties and organic and biodynamic minimal irrigation viticulture.

The University now says it can’t do this because there’s no water. Don’t they know what drought means?

They obviously hope to get the water for their 1,000 new houses from the reservoir across the road, or the desal plant pipe that Water SA is currently trying to push through Glenthorne. They seem unaware that 40% of McLaren Vale’s vineyards depend upon recycled water from housing, and that the figure’s increasing rapidly.

In its pompous claims about its far-sighted understanding of climate change, the University fails to address the biggest issue facing this state: the River. If its almighty wine college had kept ahead of issues of drought, climate change and stupid irrigation-dependent viticulture in the wrong places, the wine industry would be in much better shape, and the Murray might still be a river.

Now, the University wants us to believe that it will sign a solemn agreement to guarantee the money it gets from its housing development will be spent, over the next century, on reforesting the Mount Lofty Ranges.

Of what value is a document signed by this University?


Appalling farm plan

I’m appalled at the University of Adelaide’s decision to promote housing developments at Glenthorne.

Is it appropriate that the guilt of 150 years of land degradation be passed onto a few southern suburb residents by suggesting that ``if this project does not go ahead then we are basically accepting species extinction’’?

Seriously, is this research centre and 100ha of revegetation the crucial difference between survival and extinction for species?

And where does it get the figure for revegetation of 150,000ha from this money? Who’d be willing to give up 150,000ha of land for just under $66 a hectare - I’m sorry that is just plain rubbish.

Dr Paton also seems to believe that no one is doing any suitable revegetation, anywhere, ever!

What a slap in the face to all the hard-working volunteer groups I’ve worked with which do a great job with what’s available to them.

If this research is so crucial why does Glenthorne have to be sold?

It represents a chance to re-establish 200ha of a Commonwealth-listed endangered grey box woodland now that sounds more like a legacy and something to be proud of.

This proposal is arrogance of the highest degree. Where else in the world could you have land purchased by the government, for $7 million, sold to the university for $1 to be kept forever as open space for southern residents, then sold for a $999,999 dollar profit? Absurd.

Dr Paton’s vision of a woodland recovery centre is unfortunately muddying the waters.

No one denies the environment is suffering - personally I’ve spent my life and career working to conserve endangered plants - but to use an overused cliché: You can put lipstick on this pig, but it’s still a pig.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Philip for presenting a different perspective to the Glenthorne story. Asd Chair of the Friends of Glenthorne I am encouraged to hear your views. The F.O.G. have been working on the property for the past twelve years and are seeking community support to challenge the University plans. We have written to the Uni registering our concerns and asking if all other options have been explored. We would welconme an oportunity to converse with you on this issue. Peter Smytherman