There is standing room only at Singleton Diggers Club. People in hi-vis vests take turns with supporters of the village of Bulga giving short speeches to a panel of commissioners of the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC). At stake is the extension of a Rio Tinto coalmine. If it gets the green light, Saddleback Ridge, which buffers Bulga from the present noise and coal dust, will go. The 110 Aboriginal sacred sites will go. The amenity of rural life for the people of Bulga-Milbrodale and their belief in justice will go.
Many millions of tonnes of coal have been exported since activists dubbed the Rising Tide Seven temporarily shut down coal loaders in Newcastle in September last year. They were convicted on January 31 of “remaining on enclosed lands”. Each was fined $300, plus $79 in court costs. However, on March 3, they were vindicated when magistrate Elaine Truscott rejected the Port Waratah Coal Services’ (PWCS) $525,000 “compensation” claim.
In a humble local court in Newcastle on January 31, a major battle in the war on climate change began. A court is a theatrical space where we can overhear the clashing narratives around a central event. The defendants were six of the seven men and women from climate action group Rising Tide — dubbed the Rising Tide Seven. Posing as workers, they entered a Newcastle coal-loading facility before dawn on September 26 and locked themselves to the equipment 30 metres above ground. Work was brought to a halt.
In “The Return of Dr Strangelove”, a September 6 lecture hosted by Melbourne University and Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), Clive Hamilton, author of Affluenza, Scorcher and Requiem for a Species gave a short history of the research and investment in geo-engineering solutions to global warming. A move from fossil fuels to renewable energy is the logical “Plan A” response to human-caused climate change, but such a response would threaten corporate profits.