And in such a cowed society, the government often gives the impression of being little more than a toadying standover man for its corporate godfather, willing to undertake any action, no matter how degrading, to help those with the real power.

In 2004, after a farming couple and their water source were directly sprayed by a helicopter with poisonous atrazine meant for the Gunns plantation next door, the then water minister Steve Kons drank a glass of the atrazine-contaminated water from their supply at a media conference to reassure the public. Kons is now deputy premier.

EXTRACT from Paradise Razed, by Richard Flanagan, UK Telegraph, June 2007