Since launching in March 2011, the campaign to stop coal seam gas (CSG) mining has grown into one of the most powerful and broadly supported community campaigns ever seen in the Illawarra. Involving unprecedented numbers of people, the immense pressure on the government has so far put a stop to the local CSG project, which threatens the drinking water for greater Sydney.
The infamous front page of Rupert Murdoch's Daily Telegraph on August 5, screaming “KICK THIS MOB OUT” in reference to Kevin Rudd's Labor government, reminded many of the role the media play in politics.
The news in May that carbon dioxide levels had broken through the symbolic barrier of 400 parts per million (ppm), a level not seen since the beginning of our species’ evolution on planet Earth, 3 million years ago, caused a barely perceptible ripple in the mass media.
Stop CSG Illawarra (SCSGI) held its monthly organising meeting on April 21, attended by just over 80 people. The community feels it is in limbo, waiting on a decision from the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) on the local coal seam gas project. A PAC decision was expected several weeks ago on whether to approve Apex’s application to extend drilling deadlines, enabling them to start work on the project.
Rupert Murdoch's recent speech to the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) was so full of bizarre contradictions it could easily pass as satire. He spoke proudly of the IPA's founders — his father among them — who came together in 1943 “concerned about the drift to socialism”. He went on to say with a straight face: “What they wanted was simple: an Australia where men and women would rise in society not because they were born into privilege — but because they earned it with their hard work, their thrift, and their enterprise.”
Green Left Weekly's 2013 Fighting Fund appeal for $250,000 was launched in January. Since then volunteers and supporters around the country have been busy raising funds and generously sending in donations to keep the project afloat. It's relentless work, but vital in order to keep an independent media voice alive in Australia; a voice that puts the truth and journalistic integrity before sensationalism and profit.
For a moment he lost himself in the old, familiar dream. He imagined that he was master of the sky, that the world lay spread out beneath him, inviting him to travel where he willed. It was not the world of his own time that he saw, but the lost world of the dawn -- a rich and living panorama of hills and lakes and forests. He felt bitter envy of his unknown ancestors, who had flown with such freedom over all the earth, and who had let its beauty die. -- Arthur C. Clarke, The City and the Stars Capitalism stands as a death sentinel over planetary life.
The 2013 Green Left Weekly Fighting Fund was launched on January 19. To keep the project afloat, we again set the target of an ambitious $250,000. Last year we fell short, but still raised an impressive $209,000 for this vital, independent media project.
The mining industry in Australia has boomed from about 4% of GDP in 2004 to about 9% today. Mining exports in the year to March last year were worth $155 billion, or 53% of Australia's total exports. Mining profits in 2009-10 amounted to $51 billion, and the estimated pre-tax profits over the next 10 years will be about $600 billion. But who is the wealth benefiting and what are the costs of mining? And who makes the decisions about if, where and under what conditions mining takes place, and how the wealth is distributed?
More than 100 people gathered in Wollongong Town Hall on November 8 for a public debate on the NSW government's plan to lease Port Kembla for 99 years. The government hopes to make $500 million on the lease, about $5 million a year, despite the state-owned Port already making between $25 million and $50 million a year.
“If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections, and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind. If this rule were always observed; if no man allowed any pursuit whatsoever to interfere with the tranquility of his domestic affections, Greece had not been enslaved; Caesar would have spared his country; America would have been discovered more gradually; and the empires of Mexico and Peru had not been destroyed.” -- Dr.
More than 3000 people formed a human sign at Bulli Showground on October 21 to spell out: “Protect H2O, Stop CSG!”'. It was the third major action organised by Stop CSG Illawarra, after itsmass human sign at Austinmer Beach last May, and Bridge Walk to stop coal seam gas across Sea Cliff Bridge last October.
Stop CSG Illawarra is preparing for another mass, community action on October 21. They plan to form a human sign at Bulli Showground that says “Protect H2O, Stop CSG”. The sign is part of Lock The Gate's national week of action.
More than 300 people surprised unionist and community legend Fred Moore on September 1, throwing him a huge 90th birthday party. Moore said it was the biggest surprise of his life when he walked into his local community centre hall in Dapto to find hundreds of people cheering his name. It took him several minutes to reach the front of the hall as he hugged nearly everyone on the way.
About 400 people rallied in Port Kembla on August 26 to oppose the privatisation of the port. In late July, the NSW government signed off on a recommendation to lease the port for 99 years. The government says 20% of the expected $500 million to be made from the lease will be spent on infrastructure projects in the Illawarra. Unions and the community opponents say they fear a commercial operator will put profits before people and jobs at the port.
More than 50% of counties in the United States are now officially designated “disaster” zones. The reason given in 90% of cases is due to the continent-wide drought that has been devastating crop production. Forty eight percent of the US corn crop is rated as “poor to very poor”, along with 37% of soy. Seventy three percent of cattle acreage is suffering drought, along with 66% of land given to the production of hay.