GasLand A film by director Josh Fox In Palace cinemas from November 18 www.GasLand.com.au In September 2006, theatre director and part-time banjo player Josh Fox received an unexpected letter in the mail: a natural gas company offering him $100,000 for permission to explore his family's upstate New York property, in the lush Delaware River Basin area.
Close to 5000 protesters took to the streets on November 6, demanding the next state government replace the Hazelwood power station with genuinely clean energy during the next term of office. Victoria goes to the polls on November 27. Rally organisers said Hazelwood was the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases per unit of electricity of any power station in Australia. It is responsible for 3% of the nation’s entire carbon emissions. It’s also the nation’s largest emitter of dioxin, the most toxic known chemical compound.
Climate change is the biggest threat to our future, and coal is the biggest cause of climate change, yet right now there are plans for 12 new coal or gas-fired power stations around Australia. In this context, the Camp for Climate Action is taking place over December 1-5 at Liddell recreation area in the Hunter Valley, a little over an hour inland from Newcastle. The camp will take place near Liddell and Bayswater coal-fired power stations and in the sprawling moonscape of massive coalmines in the area.
Divisions about a carbon price are hardening among Australia’s big businesses. Two distinct positions seem to have emerged in the corporate boardrooms. Some corporate groups are backing the federal government’s call for a price on carbon because they say it will allow for a more certain environment for investment. Nine CEOs of big Australian fund managers and superannuation companies linked to the Investor Group on Climate Change have formed a new panel to lobby the government for a carbon price.
Helensburgh is not renowned for climate activism. A coalmining town, Helensburgh was established around the Metropolitan colliery, Australia's oldest continually operating coal mine, in the 1880s. The coal transnational Peabody Energy, which owns the Metropolitan, sponsors local activities such as school sporting teams and community fairs. However, 35 people attended a climate-focused public meeting in the NSW south coast town on November 2.
“The coal seam gas industry is facing a rural revolt with farmers yesterday threatening to risk arrest and lock their gates to drilling companies”, the November 2 Brisbane Courier Mail said. “A massive expansion of the industry was ignited on the weekend when BG Group-owned Queensland Gas gave the go-ahead for a $15 billion liquefied natural gas plant at Gladstone that will be fuelled by coal seam gas from the Surat Basin. Santos, Origin and Shell are all trying to firm up their own massive LNG projects.”
Campaign group Safe Climate Perth reached the milestone of 2000 signatures on its no new coal petition on October 30. The petition calls for WA's parliament to stop to expansion of coal-fired power stations, mines and related infrastructure, and to fund a roll-out of renewable energy with priority access to the new jobs, with equivalent conditions, given to coal communities. The petition was launched on October 10, and Safe Climate Perth has embarked on an energetic effort to reach 10,000 signatures by Human Rights Day.
How much is QR National worth? With the sell-off of the massive freight and rail infrastructure part of Queensland Rail launched on October 10, will the “investment community” here and overseas gobble up at least 1.46 billion of the 2.44 billion shares on offer at between $2.50 and $3? If it does, the float will be worth between $6.1 billion and $7.32 billion for Queensland’s coffers (including at least $1.525 billion in QR National shares) and QR National’s managers, like those of Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, will have “earned” $65 million in fees.
In a win for community campaigners and the environment, BHP Billiton has dropped plans for a massive long-wall mine under the pristine Dharawal State Conservation Area (DSCA) on the NSW south coast. The decision came on October 26 after a review by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission that said society would be better off without the mine. Importantly, the review backed up the argument made by community groups that “remediation”, where the company would take responsibility for cleaning up the site, is a myth in these circumstances.
The seat of Brunswick is arguably the most hotly contested seat in the November 27 Victorian parliamentary elections. Based on results at the recent federal election, the new Labor candidate, Jane Garrett, is tipped to beat Greens candidate Cyndi Dawes by only 0.6% of the vote. Learning from the criticism of Labor’s negative federal election campaign, Garrett has adopted the slogan “equality, social justice and tackling climate change” in a bid to win back voters from progressive parties.