Chris Williams

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.

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