Friday, April 11, 2008

Holloway - we have a problem!

creek and waterfall below the eastern flank or mount gee - link to my Arkaroola Sanctuary - would U mine it? set on flickr There was some interesting discussion if the upper house of the state's parliament in early March at the time of the defeat of Mark Parnell's bill proposing a ban on mining in sanctuaries across South Australia.

Of most interest are the comments of Paul Holloway. He now seems to be, at least in the vital area of the impact of the mining boom on our surviving wild places, the acting Minister for the Environment - as well as the Minister for Mineral Resource Development - in the absence of anyone else who appears to be willing to take on the role.

Despite the usual spin that some sectors have attempted to put on this debate and its outcome, the government and opposition both opposed this bill because: A - it was always something of an ambit claim, designed to highlight the risk to these private conservation areas; B- there's a mare's nest of due-process complications specifically to do with the Arkaroola sanctuary and Marathon's exploration lease where formal resolution in the wake of the 22 800 bag dumping scandal is still ongoing; and C - it would appear that part of the proposed Beverley 4-Mile ISL (which both parties support) is within the outer boundaries of the Arkaroola Sanctuary, though not in its scenic core. So this was not a vote in favour of Marathon's mine at Arkaroola.

In fact, during the debate, Paul Holloway openly admitted that there is a problem across the state with high-conservation areas that are not protected by the reserve system being impacted by the mining industry, and that he has taken this up with the state Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME);

I think what needs to be remembered here is that we have a system of national parks where we try to assess values and set the ground rules where mining, which includes exploration, can and cannot take place. Clearly, that system is imperfect. There are some regions of the state, for tourism and other values, that probably are not in national parks but where we still would want to restrict mining. I have certainly been talking to representatives of the Chamber of Mines and Energy, and I think we also need to involve some of the conservation groups, about identifying them so that we can manage it better.

Clearly the definitive example of the imperfection of the system to date is the very existence of exploration crews at Mount Gee, in the heart of Arkaroola. If Holloway is serious this is the first problem that needs to be decisively rectified.

So what would SACOME think of the issue? Well, they've already issued a condemnation of the dumping breaches at Arkaroola, around the same time as the Premier was describing Marathon's activities as 'cowboy'. This kind of activity does not make mining look good, and there are plenty of projects across the state that do not impinge on such vulnerable habitats that would not wish, surely, to be tarred with the same brush as those that do(?)

So what does the Minister reckon they'd think? -

a grand proposal

By and large, the mining industry as a whole does not want to be involved in mining and issues which create public controversy and which create conditions that are to the detriment of the mining industry as a whole. They would rather avoid such issues. So, where there are areas of high conservation value or other aesthetic value that are not within national parks or are not within a classification of park that prohibits mining, we need to assess them. I know that my colleague the Minister for Environment and Conservation is aware of that, and we are trying to develop a system where we can ensure that we do not have these issues arise. [Emphasis mine]

A grand proposal! I completely agree that relevant Ministers, SACOME, and the conservation groups referred to in the first quote should develop just such a system, and one where the environment is the recipient of the benefit of the doubt, rather than industry. I propose that we hold him to this!

( I also note in this passage that Holloway refers to a 'Minister for Environment', so I guess one must exist - I just haven't seem much evidence of it of late! )

tedious debating tactics 101

On the subject of disagreeing with Holloway, might I cite this example of the cheapest of point-scoring from the same debate? With regard specifically to Arkaroola he said the following in reply to Mark Parnell;

I know that this is an emotional issue and I know that the Greens are committed to stopping uranium mining in any form anywhere and they will attack it wherever it occurs using whatever arguments are convenient at the time.

Offensive bullshit, Mr. Holloway, and you know it!

The trite label 'emotional issue' is a cheap debating tactic and tediously smug. (It also has overtones of Asperger's Syndrome, I've always thought. It's like all human feelings are a rather threatening mystery, best contemptuously dismissed at the outset). The Greens, and all greens, will oppose all mining at the heart of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary whether it be for U3O8, tin, copper, or clotted-cream. In fact, they'll oppose any project that threatens to permanently scar it - try whacking a series of wind turbines or a geothermal power-plant at Mount Gee and see what happens!

And as for 'using whatever arguments are convenient'? Pots and kettles, Paul Holloway - pots and kettles!

One thing I have to agree with from the debate is Mark Parnell's observation that 'it seems that any person of prominence who has ever been up to Arkaroola for a holiday is now coming out, on the record, and saying that this place is too precious to mine.'

I urge all readers of this journal - who are thereby automatically 'persons of prominence' - to do just that. Travel to Arkaroola, if you haven't already, and tell the world ( and particularly the Rann government ) just how important it is to you in its wild state.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the update mike - good analysis - yes - the mixed folios make a mockery of responsible departments so SA has lost credibility on a governmental level. What is the response at the export level where export licences are approved? Has not the dept of environment and heritage a responsibility to look at the history of the persons(s)..what about the companies and authorities that can see the irregularities of the persons(s) via their statutory reporting systems (ASX,ASIC). I think its time this is looked at i its entirety at a federal level because it looks like a lot of previously accepted jurisdictions have been temporarily overlooked. Where are the federal Greens and the Democrats when it comes to providing a role of overseer of canberra and state politics, where is the discussion about the horrendous costs Australians are paying for this mineral boom, why is the government not regarding the costs and over-riding commonsense and law to facilitate this highly questionable buy-out. Why is Rudd so excited about clean coal technology but not concerned about dirty mining processes that will leave our country broke?

    A few answers from our politicians would be appreciated to help clear this up.



thanks for your contribution - bill - i'm genuinely sorry about having to switch on the 'moderation' process but comment spammers have really been cluttering up this journal!