Good turnout at activist conference


Good turnout at activist conference

By Mel Bull

MELBOURNE — On June 5-6 more than 200 people attended the "Educate and Activate" weekend conference at Melbourne University. The weekend was attended by land rights and environmental activists from around Victoria and was organised by Jabiluka Action Group (JAG).

Speakers covered a range of issues including the Billa Kalina waste dump, the health effects of uranium mining and the history of Victoria's occupation and the Yorta Yorta's native title claim.

Dave Sweeney covered the success of the Jabiluka campaign to date. Shares of Energy Resources of Australia, the Jabiluka mine operator, dropped by 65% in the 34 months to the end of 1998, the mine's construction is behind by 38 months, and the recent restructuring and job losses all indicate the extent of the damage.

Monica Morgan, a Yorta Yorta activist, explained that the native title claim is only one part of their overall struggle for survival. "Aboriginal people are out of work, in jail and other institutions ... they have tried genocide and it hasn't worked", she said. Morgan highlighted the important role that activists play in the struggle: "Their place is to support the sovereign rights of the Aboriginal people and to help make the change."

Greg Adamson, author of We All Live on Three Mile Island, spoke on a panel covering the history of Australia's anti-uranium movement. Other speakers included Gary Foley, the Mirrar representative for Melbourne, Dr Jim Green, writer for Green Left Weekly and activist in the Lucas Heights campaign, Verity Burgmann, author of Green Bans, Red Unions and Robbie Thorpe, a Gunnai activist.

On the Saturday night a benefit gig was organised to raise funds for the Billa Kalina campaign.