“This issue is deeper than sand-mining on Stradbroke Island”, Aboriginal community leader Dale Ruska told a group of protesters outside the Magistrates' Court on September 7. “It's also about justice for Aboriginal people. This mining company has stolen more than $80 million in illegal sand, and will probably be given a modest fine. “Meanwhile, Aboriginal people are being jailed for minor offences. We need justice for Indigenous people now.”
An important campaign is emerging against the proposal to establish a coalmine in the iconic tourist and wine-making region of Margaret River in south-west Western Australia. The campaign has attracted support in the local community, reflected in a pre-election Walk Against Warming rally attended by hundreds of people and several successful community organising meetings.
Opposition has grown to the Western Australian state government’s compulsory seizure of James Price Point, 60km north of Broome, for a $30 billion gas processing project in the Browse Basin. The Kimberly Land Council (KLC), the Greens and the Wilderness Society have all spoken out against the move. Frank Parriman, the co-chair of the KLC Traditional Owners negotiating committee, accused Woodside, the company that plans to build the project, of orchestrating the takeover.
“An oil platform explosion on September 2 in the Gulf of Mexico forced the crew to jump into the sea and threatened further damage to waters still recovering from the BP disaster”, AFP said that day. The explosion on the platform, owned by Houston-based Mariner Energy, comes in the aftermath of the BP-owned Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in the gulf in April, which killed 11 workers. Bloomberg.com said on August 20 that 4.9 million barrels of oil escaped from the leaking well.
“Businesses like making profits”, said Labor leader Julia Gillard on ABC’s Q&A on August 9. She was explaining why Labor opposed the Coalition’s proposal to raise the company tax rate by 1.5%. “If they’ve got to pay more tax and that’s going to cut into their profits, then they’ll think of a way of adding a bit more profit. “What’s the best way of adding a bit more profit in? They put up prices. “It, you know, just stands to common sense reason, doesn’t it?” The Greens lead NSW senate candidate Lee Rhiannon agrees.
Recent scenes of roadblocks, strikes and even the dynamiting of a vice-minister’s home in the Bolivian department (administrative district) of Potosi, reminiscent of the days of previous neoliberal governments, have left many asking themselves what is really going on in the “new” Bolivia of indigenous President Evo Morales. Since July 29, the city of Potosi, which has 160,000 inhabitants, has ground to a halt. Locals are up in arms over what they perceive to be a lack of support for regional development on the part of the national government.
Residents are organising to stop mining company LD Operations plans to start a new coal mine next to the town of Margaret River in Western Australia. Margaret River is five hours south of Perth famous for its wineries, surfing spots and outstanding natural beauty. A public meeting on August 1 with only one day’s notice drew 60 people. It is a sign of strong community opposition. There are plans to hold a demonstration as part of the national Walk Against Warming rallies on August 15.
On August 3, the Ecuadorian government signed a landmark deal to prevent drilling for oil in the ecologically unique Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini areas of the Yasuni National Park (Yasuni-ITT). The agreement, signed by the government of left-wing President Rafael Correa and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), guarantees that the estimated 900 million barrels of oil that lie beneath the pristine Amazonian region will remain untouched, as will the forest above.
Canwest News Service reported on July 6 that the Canadian parliament’s Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development had, at a secret June 17 meeting, abruptly cancelled a big report on the Alberta tar sands oil mining project and its impacts on water. The parliamentarians even destroyed draft copies of their final report. After listening to testimony from scientists, bureaucrats, lobbyists, aboriginal chiefs and environmental groups, the committee dropped the whole affair like a bucket of tar. The Alberta provincial government refused to testify.
After spending over two weeks on the road together, students and activists onboard the New South Wales “Indigenous Solidarity Ride” stopped at Olympic Dam on July 15 to protest against a proposed uranium mine expansion. The bus riders travelled through rural NSW and South Australia to attend the Defending Indigenous Rights: Land, Law, Culture convergence in Alice Springs over July 7-9. They also took part in the Students of Sustainability conference in Adelaide.