Saturday, January 30, 2010

the same old line

standing in amazement :  tim baier's photo of mount gee, arkaroola wilderness sanctuary - link to the full-sized image on flickr

Submissions of 'Seeking a Balance', the state government's mining access blueprint for the far-northern Flinder Ranges, closed yesterday.

Sadly, the state's Environment Minister, Jay Weatherill, continues to roll out the Labor party line, defending their fait accompli position of accepting without debate mining industry access to one of the state's premier wild areas - famous across the world, perhaps, but unfortunate enough to be sited on a small portion of this state's veritable ocean of Uranium -

"We are providing a greater level of protection for this beautiful part of South Australia but also having regarded the fact that, for decades, it's been the subject of exploration and there are mining interests that want to continue to consider those options, so that's the balance we're seeking to strike." (ABC online 29/01/10)

I'll translate: 'Miners want to "consider their options", so despite this being the most pristine wild area remaining unprotected in the Flinders Ranges we're going to see to it that they can continue to have access and ignore their having the run of the rest of the state!'

This from the man who is supposed to be the ultimate defender of the state's environment! (As to the notion that protections are being increased, see a Class A confusion.)

I've observed in the past that minerals minister Paul Holloway was effectively acting as the de facto environment minister for the 90+% of the state the mining industry has access to; now, it seems, the portfolio-swap is occurring in reverse!

As to the central absurdity of claiming that it's somehow reasonable to 'balance' access in this small section of the northern Flinders without regard to the dramatic imbalance between mining access and conservation that prevails across the state, I think state Greens MLC Mark Parnell's submission summed up the situation elegantly;

Seeking a Balance is surprisingly low on detail, poorly argued and artificially limited in its scope. It also starts off from an entirely wrong premise.

So little of South Australia is protected from mining and mineral exploration. Yet this document purports to suggest we should be ‘balancing’ the needs of mining and conservation in one of the few remaining and most highly prized wilderness sanctuaries left.

Instead, I argue that if we are truly ‘seeking a balance’ between mining and conservation in South Australia, all of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary should be off-limits to mining activity. This would ‘balance’ the virtually ubiquitous open access for mining in every other part of the State.

Even if we lower our gaze to just the Northern Flinders Ranges, this document has deliberately carved out a very small part of a much, much larger region. The focus falls entirely on the North-Eastern corner of the Ranges, yet there are other areas of significant biological and cultural value south of Nepabunna and north of Parachilna that contradict this artificial limitation.

Is it because these areas, like the areas afforded lower protection in Seeking a Balance, coincide with areas of higher mineral prospectivity?

Another deeply concerning aspect is the (apparent) complete ignorance of the previous protections over the area, in particular the Class A zones.

Throughout, I am left with the strong impression that this document has been deliberately designed to facilitate mining activity within the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary.

Even the language of ‘access’ zones rather than ‘protection’ zones implies a mind set that is focused on facilitating mining access.

I strongly urge you to scrap any pretence of ‘balance’ and instead protect the whole of the Arkaroola Wilderness sanctuary from mining activity.

By the way, while Primary Industries had announced the closing date for submissions on Seeking a Balance was the 'end of the month', the department for the environment had it as COB on Friday the 29th of January. So, I understand, straggler submissions will still be accepted over the weekend! Could this be yours?


No comments:

Post a Comment

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!