Sunday, October 24, 2010


seeking a balance - click to read the reportThe Rann government's 'mining access plan' for the northern Flinders Ranges - Seeking a Balance - was quietly put to sleep with very little ceremony on Friday.

It will be mourned by few, including, apparently, mineral resources minister Paul Holloway, who said this of it last week -

(Seeking a Balance) went out for consultation...and several from both sides came back saying they didn't like the way we addressed the issue, so the Government accepted that, and said in that case we will frame a new response and we are in the throes of doing that.

'Several'!? It seems Paul Holloway is still pursuing some false notion of 'balance' by making statements like 'several from both sides'!

Perhaps he might cast the number of responses from the industry side that criticised the plan as being too restrictive on mining as 'several', but those who favoured the preservation of Arkaroola were numbered in the hundreds, not a few tens!

There were more than 450 responses, with 82% of these opposed to a mine in Arkaroola by the Government's own count - and only 10% in favour! (See Seeking is Unbalanced.)

The fact is that the proposal to allow mining in Arkaroola received an absolute whalloping in the SaB submissions, and Paul Holloway knows it! No amount of false-equivalence can conceal this fact.

This included a remarkably embarrassing submission from the SA Museum which described it as 'greatly flawed', and needing to be 'totally rejected'!

 an unconvincing carve-up - 'seeking a balance'- p15 - click for the full-sized mapFailing to take into account the overall context of the 'balance' (or lack of it) between conservation and mining in South Australia; failing to compare apples to apples (contrasting actual biodiversity - inadequately surveyed at that! - to potential mineral prospectivity); failing to define what the very mining 'infrastructure' it proposed to allow might be; failing to establish the very biological corridors that are central to the government's own strategies elsewhere in the state - this document was deeply, deeply flawed.

This was not a great moment for the Rann Government, and can hardly lead to confidence in their future management of the region!

So when Paul Holloway says 'we will frame a new response and we are in the throes of doing that' what can he mean?

The fact is that his government has categorically proved that it does not have the knowledge to undertake the very project that Seeking a Balance was premised on; the only thing it has shown clearly is it simply does not know enough about the biodiversity and sensitive ecology of the northern Flinders to possibly claim that mining and conservation can coexist or that it could hope to supervise that coexistence!

So what possible 'response' can Rann and co. cobble together now? They simply cannot claim that Marathon can return to active exploration because they have the competence to minimise impacts on a biodiversity they barely grasp.

The fact is they should never have allowed mineral exploration in the core of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in the first place, and the only credible option they have is to acknowledge that fact and call off any mineral access, in line with the clear will of the people of South Australia.



  1. The news of the new frog species at Arkaroola has been given remarkably little air by the government. Without being a conspiracy theorist one could suggest that they might be rather scared of what a full scale biological survey of the Mawson Plateau in the current favourable conditions might find!

    Anyway, Im glad the document is dead, what a shame it was born in the first place!


  2. Eloquently said, Bill. Right on!


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!