Wednesday, December 17, 2008

arkaroola - crunch time

magnificent mount painter is right next door to the target area - link to my Arkaroola Sanctuary - would U mine it? set on flickr A critical time has been reached in the fight to protect the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary.

Almost a year after the waste pits were first discovered near Mount Gee, in the heart of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, Marathon Resources has completed the process of removing the thousands of tonnes of waste, some of it radioactive, it had illegally dumped.

The company has stated clearly and repeatedly that it will now apply to lift the suspension that was placed upon it by the state government after the discovery of these pits. It claims to have turned over a new leaf.

If you click the link immediately above you'll see what I think of these claims - based on the company's own words. And I'm not the only one who simply doesn't believe them - as Marg Sprigg, the Sanctuary's owner told the ABC today -

"We don't want mining... We don't trust them and we don't believe they should be allowed back, we don't believe leopards change their spots."

No-one who cares for the future of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, or of high-conservation areas in general, will believe this, or be content to watch the 'dozers and drilling rigs roll back into the Sanctuary.

It's the responsibility of the state government that foolishly allowed exploration in such a sensitive region in the first place not to compound its original error.

It is vital that Labor understands that to support it by allowing the resumption of drilling will be to saddle themselves with an electoral millstone around their necks. Particularly given that former Labor Senator Chris Schacht has been a proponent of this project.

The way they will know that is from you. It's a great opportunity: the future of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is in your hands.

After all, if this egregious breach of regulations does not result in the permanent removal of the right to mine, what on earth would?

Mike Rann, already electorally over-ripe, cannot afford to alienate those who care deeply about South Australia's wild places. He needs to understand that that is exactly what he will be doing should his government allow Marathon to return.

So please contact him.
And please encourage all your friends to do so. If his office is swamped by messages from concerned South Australians he'll get the message loud and clear.

The Hon. Mike Rann
Premier of South Australia

Postal Address
GPO Box 2343
Ph. 8463 3166

As usual, correspondence doesn't have to be long and detailed, it just has to be on his desk, his screen, or his phone logs. The only real necessity is to keep it polite. I've added the text of my letter as a comment below for an example. Please add yours ( I'm certainly sure that after her long ordeal Marg Sprigg would be glad to see it.)

This is your chance to make a vital contribution to the future of South Australian wilderness.

The ABC news article is attached below -

The clean-up of mining waste illegally dumped in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is now over.

It has been almost a year since exploration company Marathon Resources was caught dumping the waste in the sanctuary.

A spokesman for the Department of Primary Industries says it will now focus on tidying up the areas where the waste was buried.

Marathon must now receive State Government approval before it can recommence drilling in the sanctuary.

The manager of the sanctuary, Marg Sprigg, says she is pleased all the waste is finally gone.

"It is a great relief to have it done, it's been almost 12 months since we discovered that the trenches had been filled with rubbish from Marathon so it's nice to have the job almost complete," she said.

Ms Sprigg says they want assurances this will never happen again.

"We don't want mining, we know that Marathon have done a very good job cleaning up but they should never have buried the stuff in the first place," she said.

"We don't trust them and we don't believe they should be allowed back, we don't believe leopards change their spots."

ABC online 17-12-08


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

the further misadventures of mister 5 percent

mister five percent - link to my 'another world is possible' set on flickrHe knows better.

I'll leave it to the many eminent scientists who are already pointing out the inadequacy of this pathetic target to review the science. But they won't be telling the Prime Minister something he doesn't already know. It's not a lack of information or understanding that brought about this craven mis-step.

For it would take a brave man - a genuine visionary - to stand up to the vested-interest elites that really run this country, and to say 'we are going to embark on a new course, and you will have to come along'.

Kevin Rudd is clearly not that man.

Which leaves us where? The performance in office of Mr. 5%, Captain Bathos in his very-nearly-the-Environment portfolio, and Penny (Just Plain) Wong has been far from inspiring, and we are left only with the usual, wretched, consolation that the other side would be worse!

We suffered more than a decade in which our Prime Minister worked boldly and assiduously to further the interests of those who hold real power in Australia. John Howard and his 'mentor' George Bush - if such a cerebral term can be held to apply to such a smug, preppy chimpanzee - will be judged extremely harshly by future generations as climate wreckers. As ecological wreckers. And, ultimately, as economic wreckers.

Their resolute failures to act, and systematic, bloody-minded sabotage of any other attempts to do so, make them directly responsible for all the human misery that inevitably ensues.

(Isn't it ironic than a bourgeois xenophobe like John Howard will be remember as one of the great catalysts of mass human migration in the 21st century?)

Many of us heaved a sigh of relief when the blinkered old warhorse went too far - even for the grasping, self-deluded, Australian Aspirationals - and was thrown unceremoniously out of office.

But, as for his following act - well, instead of the much needed (and much promised) breath of fresh air, the winds of change, we got fitful tepid gusts and mild directionless turbulence. One hopes the replacement in the US does a lot better...

And now we've simply hit the doldrums.

There's really only one question for this limp dishrag triumvirate (Mr. 5, Bathos and Just Plain Wong, that is) - if not now, when? (Plus, of course, if not you, who?)

In fact, I've written to the man himself as follows. You can too. Because he needs to remember that history does not look kindly upon cowards, particularly those who are far too smart not to know better.

The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Dear Kevin Rudd (Mister Five Percent),

You will have received a lot of correspondence on the matter of your dismal, risible greenhouse reduction target. The media is full of eminent scientists, persons far better qualified than I, stating the obvious; that this falls far, far short of what is required.

I don't plan to rehash any of these arguments, not least because you know those arguments as well as I do. If not better.

In fact, you're far too intelligent not to know what your little failure of nerve will likely have cost this nation - and future generations across the world - in the long term.

You must have asked yourself: If not now, when? And if not me, who?

I write to tell you that you are in grave danger of being remembered as one who just could not grasp a place in history. You had the rare chance to lead the nation - and the world - in the true sense of the word. And you, and your government, have chosen to renounce that opportunity.

But you know that too. I'm sure you won't really be surprised if, in the future, you have to acknowledge, with a sigh, that this was the point the slide began...

Yours Sincerely,

Bill Doyle

If you'd like to tell Mister 5 Percent what you think, he can be contacted as follows -

The Hon Kevin Rudd MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House

or simply send an e-mail via his parliamentary web page -


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

a human rights act for australia

these days might these activists be courting extraordinary rendition? anti-nuclear activists on a US warship in Adelaide in the '80s - link to my 'another world is possible' set on flickrUp until quite recently I had found it surprisingly easy to imagine a person like myself being the subject of an extraordinary-rendition.

It wasn't just a matter of watching it happen overseas to citizens of other countries (the 'they' that would do such things while 'we' of course wouldn't) - this notion lodged in my head while watching 100% Aussie concentration camps being created in the Pacific in order to conveniently disappear those whose only 'crime' had often been to attempt to escape from the clutches of this country's professed enemies.

And when watching in horror as our smug, repugnant Foreign Minister gave a nod and a wink to the disappearance of the rights of Habeus Corpus, due-process, and even humane treatment to an Australian national in the form of David Hicks.

All this was all surrounded by the carnival atmosphere of a turbulent public, sadly largely transformed into the kind of gleefully bloodthirsty mob that must once have populated the Roman Coliseum.

This was scary. Many of Australia's most thoughtful citizens - and its best and brightest - have never fully recovered from the distinctly uneasy feeling that if this was 'Australia', they wanted no part of it - and, further more, that they wouldn't be wanted anyway. They might even find themselves vigilantly, vigorously unwanted...

Now there's a chance to ensure that Australia reinstates itself as a land of principle, rather than one that might collapse under stress into a lightly-glossed mob-rule. Particularly given the now near-universal disdain following the collapse of the Bushite model of belligerent arrogance combined with a cavalier disregarded for the law and principle, and recognition of the need to move beyond it into true justice.

GetUp is now inviting submissions to the Australian Government on the need for a Human Rights Act that ensures a genuine fair-deal for all, and that the nation cannot be manipulated or panicked into surrendering its highest principles.

I invite you to make a submission. The next few decades are likely to be tumultuous, and we need to know that opponents of power, whether that power is endorsed by a majority or otherwise, will have unfettered access to a just right to be heard, whether this is in the public domain or the courts.

A copy of my letter is appended below -

Dear Fellow Australian,

As a person who has frequently found himself acting outside the 'safe' margins of Australian society I am greatly concerned that our commitment to Human Rights is shallow; rooted in notions that while we extend our benevolent notion of Human Rights to all, there are those others whose ideas are clearly beyond the pale to right-thinking persons, and who are therefore not entitled to the full suite of rights afforded to the respectable.

I immediately recall the grotesque David Hicks case - the smug, unprincipled actions of the Federal Government in refusing to take any steps that would ensure that this Australian Citizen was subject to humane treatment and swift due-process served as a signal warning to all those who did not meld with the National Groupthink of the day; you may well become a sacrifice to pseudo-populist political expediency!

That other first-world nations managed to successfully secure the rights of their nationals (without sustaining any of the supposedly terminal harm to their alliance with the US that we were told would inevitably result) is a sad indicator of the extent to which the Australian Polity had degenerated to the status of a rabble!

Indeed, the Howard years should serve as a general warning to all Australians capable of independent thought.

The treatment of Asylum Seekers, for example, was disgraceful, and absolutely in breach of our international obligations, and yet it only served to strengthen the Government's grip on power by pandering to the irrational hatreds of the majority (the infamous 77%).

Need I point out that a strong corporate state continually ratcheting its hold on power by reference to threats (perhaps real, perhaps imagined; certainly always exaggerated) and catering to the prejudices and vanities of a blinkered and self-satisfied majority is the origin, and basic condition, of Fascism? Didn't the world just breathe a vast collective sigh of relief that a regressive period strongly matching the conditions described may finally be coming to a close in the US after 8 years?

Democracies must not be allowed to degenerate into a series of elected dictatorships, and yet I believe our own Constitution would place no obstacle in the way of, say, a law that sought to place all Arab-Australians in concentrations camps ['for their protection and our own'], if that law had been formally passed by Parliament.

There are principles that must transcend whatever popular tyrannies the majority - or its representatives - may be manipulated and/or panicked into embracing.

This century is set to be a time of immense turmoil, and we need the solid protection of a fail-safe guarantee of our rights in order to ensure that we do not simply trade freedom and dignity [for all] for convenience and security [for some].

It is not hard to envisage escalating conflicts over the coming decades between environmental/social activists and entrenched authority - that tight nexus of corporate and state power that characterises all the current 'liberal' democracies. It is also not hard to envisage - particularly after Howard and his US mentor Bush - a scenario in which many such activists are characterised as 'Terrorists' and refused admission to the political arena, or even disappeared under various emergency statutes to 'protect the common good'?

With the collusion of a media designed to systematically serve corporate ends non-conforming citizens may easily be recast as UnPersons, 'beyond the pale' of respectability.

We need a Bill of Rights that ensures that there can be no UnPersons - that all are subject to a fair and transparent due process. All 'anti-Terror' law that allows for assignment of anyone to 'black holes' - beyond the reach of friends, relatives, the law and simple inquiry - for any period must not only be repealed forthwith, it must be permanently rendered unconstitutional.

Nor should laws be able to drafted that allow outrageous violations of basic rights to be cast as due process (the farcical Bushite Military Tribunal system, for example.)

The Israeli High Court has recently decreed that 'Democracies must fight with one hand tied behind their backs'. I agree; retaining this moral high-ground has been the essential success and allure of Democracy for centuries.

And for the results of a failure to do so we need only look to the massively successful, if inadvertent, recruiting campaign for anti-Western, anti-democratic ideology and violence undertaken by the Bush Administration at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

Think of it as enlightened self-interest: Democracy itself, the 40 hour-week, universal suffrage, the end of slavery and child labour; once these ideas were all the deluded ravings of the unrespectable, who were often persecuted by 'enlightened' governments, and held in contempt by the majority, for their trouble.

No one has the right to break just laws, but it just might be that, as in the past, it's the ideas of the UnPeople that hold the key to our future.

Yours Sincerely,

Bill Doyle