Environment

Writing in the May 27 West Australian, Paul Murray said WA Labor senators facing election will have to “explain to voters why they intend to support a tax that is so palpably against WA’s best interests”. For Murray, who was referring to the Rudd government's proposed Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT), it is simply a given that the interests of the people of Western Australia coincide with the interests of the big mining companies that operate in the state.
The following is abridged from a motion passed at the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union state conference in Western Australia on May 27. The motion was proposed by John Sharp-Collett, secretary of the Retired Members Division. ***
The oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is likely to be far worse than oil rig owner BP has admitted. Independent analysis carried out for the US National Public Radio (NPR) indicated the company has vastly underestimated the size of the spill. Experts told NPR on May 14 the spill could be 10 times bigger than the company says.
Five hundred farmers from the Darling Downs agricultural region attended a protest meeting at Cecil Plains, west of Toowoomba, on May 19. They protested against the expansion of coal seam gas mining on their properties. The May 19 Courier-Mail said the farmers called on the state government to place a moratorium on mining development while its environmental impacts are properly assessed. The protesters surrounded a paddock with a one-kilometre barrier of farm machinery in a demonstration of their abilityto stop the mining companies from entering their properties.
Around the world, disturbing new evidence of rapid global warming has come to light in the past few weeks. Past temperature records have tumbled. The warming is consistent with climate change predictions. Victoria and Tasmania had their hottest 12-month period recorded, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said on May 3. Victoria’s weather was warmer than average month-by-month for year to April. Tasmania was warmer for 11 of the 12 months.
"An American-based company accused of bulldozing trees in koala habitats in Victoria has emerged as the buyer of Queensland's major forests in a $603 million deal with the State Government”, said the May 19 Courier-Mail. “The deal is the first major privatisation of state assets by the Bligh Government.” This is the first of several fire-sales of public assets, including forests, rail, ports and motorways, proposed by the state Labor government since last year. Unions and community groups have strongly opposed the privatisation plan.
Gunns Limited and the entire forest industry in Tasmania is in crisis. Gunns chairperson John Gay, and fellow board member and former state premier Robin Gray have resigned from the company’s board. They were pressured to resign by major shareholders after Gunns posted a 98% loss in half yearly profit in February this year, the April 23 Hobart Mercury reported. Their profit was just $400,000 — down from $33.6 million at the same time last year.
Jess Moore, well-known community activist and part-time worker, will contest the seat of Cunningham on New South Wales’ south coast in the coming federal elections. Moore, a member of Socialist Alliance, is a leading climate and renewable energy campaigner in Wollongong. She is active in the struggle for marriage equality and helped found the Illawarra Aboriginal Rights Group, set up in response to the racist Northern Territory intervention.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's proposed tax on mining industry super-profits has, to the surprise of no one, attracted a great deal of whining from the mining sector. Andrew Forrest of Fortescue Metals accused those who supported the tax of engaging in “class warfare” and threatened to sell his mining interests overseas if the tax goes ahead, reported the May 19 Herald Sun. On May 20, he said that he had shelved $17.5 billion in new mining projects as a result of the tax.
The crude oil belching out of the floor of the Gulf of Mexico since the explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20 has formed giant plumes beneath the surface of the water. That’s the latest nightmarish evidence that the gulf oil catastrophe, among the worst ecological disasters in US history, is much worse than either corporate giant BP or government officials have admitted.

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