Wednesday, July 27, 2011

'This government has done the right thing'

protected forever - the heart of arkaroola

Mike Rann's ministerial statement to Parliament on the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, 26th of July 2011


The Hon. M.D. RANN (Ramsay—Premier, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Social Inclusion, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Sustainability and Climate Change) (14:41): I seek leave to make a ministerial statement.

Leave granted.

The Hon. M.D. RANN: Last Friday, I travelled up to the Arkaroola region of the state with the Minister for Environment and Conservation and the Minister for Mineral Resources Development to announce that the area would be protected forever. Arkaroola is unique with sensitive environmental, cultural and heritage values.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order, the member for Kavel!

The Hon. M.D. RANN: See, there is a division on the other side on this issue. When I visited the stunning landscape last year—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. M.D. RANN: —I found its beauty to be compelling and asked the Minister for Environment and Conservation and the Minister for Mineral Resources Development to examine options to protect it. We engaged in comprehensive discussions in consultation with Doug and Marg Sprigg who hold the pastoral lease, and I know that the minister for the environment had meetings with the traditional owners.

The Minister for Environment and Conservation had direct consultation with other key interested parties about the future management of the Arkaroola area including meeting with the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association on two occasions. In addition, officers from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources also consulted with the traditional owners. The Minister for Mineral Resources Development also held discussions with various mining interests and the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy about Arkaroola.

Following those discussions, we decided to give the region unprecedented protection, initially under the Mining Act, but going even further with legislation to specifically exclude mining and giving clear and specific protection to the area. Marg Sprigg has said that she could not wipe the smile off her face, and representatives of the traditional owners have expressed a variety of opinions including relief and also a leader describing it as a dream come true.

Our new legislation will fully recognise the unique character of this remarkable mountain wilderness. We could have settled for what the Greens wanted, which was simply to ban mining, but we were not satisfied that this would provide enough protection from all forms of incompatible development. Such a ban could have been easily overturned administratively with a stroke of a pen by a future government. We are not only protecting it by proclamation but we are backing that up by introducing legislation to protect this unique region for all time and nominating it for further protection as well. [Emphasis mine]

This will involve a three-step process, with the first step being to reserve the area from operation under the Mining Act by proclamation, preventing further exploration and mining titles being granted in the area. The second step will be to enact special purpose legislation to protect the natural, cultural and landscape values of the area in perpetuity. This step would define the area under statute, prohibiting mining, mineral exploration and grazing in the ranges, but specifically providing for the public appreciation and enjoyment of the area, with recreational activities regulated by a strict environmental management plan. The third step will be to nominate the area for listing on the National Heritage List and to seek to have it nominated for World Heritage Listing through the UNESCO process.

It is important to emphasise that the native title rights of the Adnyamathanha traditional owners will be fully respected in this process. This week we will move to reserve the area from the Mining Act. We will have further consultation with stakeholders in the area, including the Adnyamathanha traditional owners as well as pastoral leaseholders, before introducing our bill to protect the area forever before the end of the year.

Arkaroola is one of the most spectacular areas in the world, featuring unique biodiversity with an abundance of national and state conservation rated species. Some of the area's most unique species, such as the Flinders Ranges purple-spotted gudgeon and the spidery wattle, are not found anywhere else in the world. The area also provides a haven for the nationally threatened yellow-footed rock wallaby. We will proceed with nomination of the area under the national heritage listing, working closely with the traditional owners—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. M.D. RANN: —and the pastoral leaseholders. Following that, early next year we will write to the commonwealth seeking World Heritage Listing for the area. The unique nature of the region justified the decision to end mining access.

Earlier this year we renewed the one-year exploration licence for Marathon Resources with strict conditions to allow exploration within Arkaroola, as we were legally obliged to do. We acknowledge that the mining industry needs certainty, which is why earlier this year we made it very clear that the exploration licence in no way conferred a right to mine. Furthermore, we advised that we were actively examining options for the future conservation management of the Arkaroola sanctuary, including the exclusion of mining.

We understand that Marathon has today announced it is taking advice about action to redress the impact of this decision. Marathon Resources was given a licence to explore the Arkaroola area, not a licence to mine. The Minister for Mineral Resources Development will meet with Marathon Resources later this week to hear their concerns about the impact the decision has had on their operations.

This government has been, is and will continue to be unashamedly pro-mining. When we came to office in 2002 there were just four mines operating in the state. Now there are 17, and there are dozens more in various stages of development, including the expansion of operations at Olympic Dam that will create the world's biggest mine. We have successfully worked—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. M.D. RANN: The divisions in the front bench have broken out, even before question time. We have successfully worked with the federal government to unlock an area the size of England for exploration in the Woomera Prohibited Area. The area in and around the Woomera Prohibited Area is estimated to hold—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. M.D. RANN: —mineral resources estimated to be worth—

The SPEAKER: Order! Premier, could you just hold on a moment please. Would members please stop shouting at each other across the room. The Premier will be heard in silence.

The Hon. M.D. RANN: The area in and around the Woomera Prohibited Area is estimated to hold mineral resources believed to be worth in excess of a trillion dollars. We have a major mining interest examining prospects there with keen interest. The future of mining in South Australia is assured. This government has done the right thing. [Emphasis mine]

As indeed it has...


Saturday, July 23, 2011

we won!

arkaroola campaign - we won!

Ladies and gentlemen - we won!

Premier Mike Rann announced the full protection of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary yesterday morning, having flown to the sanctuary to deliver the good news.

Here's the ABC's take -

Arkaroola wilderness mining ban welcomed

There is wide praise for a decision to prevent mining in the remote Arkaroola wilderness region of outback South Australia.

Premier Mike Rann and ministers have flown to the region to announce the SA Government will change the Mining Act as an interim measure, then introduce specific legislation to ban any mining in the area.

Mr Rann says an application also will be made to put Arkaroola on the National Heritage list, with a longer-term aim of gaining World Heritage listing.

"We have decided to give the region unprecedented protection," Mr Rann said.

The Greens have lobbied for a mining ban in the Arkaroola region and the Liberal Opposition opposed the removal of any environmental protection.

"We could have settled for what the Greens wanted, which was simply a ban on mining, but I wasn't satisfied that that would provide enough protection from all forms of incompatible development," Mr Rann said.

Earlier this year, Marathon Resources was allowed a new mining exploration licence for Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary.

The company had faced a ban after it was caught illegally dumping exploration waste in the northern Flinders Ranges in 2008.

To get the new licence it agreed to a conditions imposed by the South Australian Government for it to keep exploring the outback region for uranium and other minerals.

SA Mineral Resources Development Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the Government had made clear the area could not be mined.

"Earlier this year we renewed a one-year exploration licence for Marathon Resources with strict conditions to allow exploration within Arkaroola, as we were legally obliged to do," he said.

"We acknowledge that the mining industry needs certainty which is why at the time we made it very clear that the exploration licence in no way confers a right to mine.

"The Arkaroola wilderness area is a unique environment and as such we are giving it special, one-off, legislative protection."

Marathon Resources shares are in a trading halt.

Widespread praise

Marg Sprigg from the Wilderness Sanctuary is thrilled by the news that there will not be mining.

"It's wonderful. After 40 years or so of my family being here we've achieved what we really hoped to," she said.

SA Greens MP Mark Parnell says the Government's decision acknowledges the region's significance.

"Supporters of Arkaroola come from all sides of the political spectrum. Today the government has announced that it has listened to the people of SA," he said.

Mr Parnell tweeted: "Not surprisingly, the Premier has a dig at the Greens, but most important, no digging in Arkaroola!"

Adnyamathanha representative Enice Marsh said it was a dream come true for Indigenous people to know the area would be protected.

"I just want to thank the people that persevered with this and kept coming to our meetings so that we could document all this," she said.

Former South Australian senator Nick Minchin was involved in the campaign to protect the area from mining development and is pleased with the decision taken.

"This is not a place for mining, it is far too precious to mine," he said.

"I'm a supporter of uranium mining, I'm a supporter of mining generally and this state has a lot of potential for mining but there are some places you simply cannot mine that should be out of bounds for all time."

Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond welcomed the Government's decision, but said it should have been made two years earlier.

The Advertiser's take this morning is here. There's also an opportunity to comment, and a poll regarding whether it was the right decision.

Congratulations to Mike Rann and his team for making this historic announcement.

This is a great day for the Flinders Ranges, and a great day for all South Australians who care about their wild environment - a truly unique and irreplaceable resource.

Further, it's a great day for all Australians and all those people across the world who know true value when they see it.

And it's a great day for you; if you wrote to, e-mailed, phoned, petitioned, pamphletted, stuck the sticker on your car, spread the word - it's your victory, too! Congratulations!

A group celebration will be organised shortly - we'll keep you posted!

Thanks again. Go enjoy yourself! You've earned it...

PS A little over 4 years and more than 90 blog posts later, I can't tell you how pleased I am!

(My photos go a good run on the ABC online yesterday, and I've created a gallery below -)

arkaroola campaign - we won!

looking west to the armchair from the ridgetop track

arkaroola campaign - we won!

in the yudnamutana gorge at mining industry target hodgkinsons - a mining access track is visible at right

arkaroola campaign - we won!

sillers lookout, with the yudnamutana gorge below

arkaroola campaign - we won!

the prelude - mark parnell's early morning press release anticipating the premier's announcement - the image is from the mouth of the yudnamutana gorge

and, at the top of the page, the rugged terrain at the heart of arkaroola; yudnamutana gorge far below and the freeling heights above, as seen from the ridgetop track


Thursday, June 9, 2011

more mysterious moments; mark's motion makes it!

mark parnell speaking outside marathon resources AGM - more images on flickr

Be it forever known that on Wednesday the 8th of June 2011 the following motion was carried in the Upper House of the South Australian Parliament -

That this council—

1. Notes that it has been almost 40 months since the initial discovery of illegal waste disposal and vandalism by Marathon Resources in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary; and

2. Calls for the state government to urgently guarantee permanent protection for the iconic and majestic mountains of Arkaroola.

Greens MLC Mark Parnell's motion was carried 'on the voices'; great news!

But the truly strange thing is that both former mining minister Paul Holloway (Labor) and opposition environment spokesperson Michelle Lensink (Liberal) spoke against it!

But both spokespersons for the major parties were at pains to indicate that nothing terrible was going to happen to Arkaroola anyway via the plan they were developing!

Lensink is apparently coy about the use of the word 'vandalism' to describe what we'll call 'the fluorite incident'; "I think he [Mark P] is pushing the envelope a little bit too far." If you've forgotten the details, perhaps you could follow the link and see what you think, Dear Reader?

However, she re-encapsulated the Liberal's position and their proposal to protect Arkaroola -

...we found the government's document, 'Seeking a Balance'.... quite disturbing in that it sought to change the zoning of that area and, in fact, to water down the existing provisions that apply. Indeed, the environmental zone A [the Class A Zone BJD] protection that applies to that area states that mining should not take place unless the deposits are of paramount importance and their exploration is in the highest national or state interest that all other environmental and heritage matters can be overridden.

I think it is fair to say that my leader and I certainly share the view that, given there are some 30,000 tonnes of uranium oxide, potentially, at that site versus what is already a 2.5 million tonne deposit at Olympic Dam, it would be extremely unlikely that those national and state heritage and environmental interests would ever be overridden under those circumstances.

Indeed, my colleague the Hon. David Ridgway has tabled a bill in this place, the Development (Principles of Development Control—Mining Operations—Flinders) Amendment Bill, which was tabled in November last year and which sought to ensure that the zoning which applies cannot be watered down. [Emphasis mine]

On Labor's side former Minerals Minister Paul Holloway admitted that public responses to his government's Seeking a Balance 'mining access' plan "were overwhelmingly in favour of protecting Arkaroola from mining". He went on to outline the government's intentions -

On 22 February this year the Premier advised parliament that he had asked the Minister for Environment and Conservation and the Minister for Mineral Resources Development to lead a consultation process to identify the best conservation management framework for Arkaroola. This consultation process is currently under way. All options will be considered, including a permanent ban on mining, creating a national park and national heritage listing, with a possible view to seeking world heritage status in the future.

The consultation process, being led personally by the Minister for Environment and Conservation and the Minister for Mineral Resources Development, is well under way. It involves discussion with key stakeholders, namely, the leaseholders of the Arkaroola, Mount Freeling and Wooltana Pastoral Leases, the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association, who hold native title over the area, and several exploration and mining companies, including Marathon Resources, but also Heathgate Resources, Alliance Craton Explorer and Giralia Resources. Their views are being sought on the best options for conserving Arkaroola's unique values.

Following this consultation process the government will then be in a position to consider which option is the most appropriate to protect the values of Arkaroola. For those reasons this matter is being considered very earnestly by the government. We intend to come to a solution that will be acceptable to the community, and that is why we reject the motion, particularly part 2. Certainly, nothing will happen to Arkaroola either now or in the future that will damage the iconic areas of that region. [emphases mine]

(Let's see - the Premier proposes a ban on mining, a National Park, or heritage protection; these are strikingly different from the three options new Minerals Minister Tom Koutsantonis put to the electors of West Torrens, don't you think? Despite the fact that he is apparently 'personally leading' the self-same consultation process? Intriguing! )

Ann Bressington (Independent) and Kelly Vincent (Dignity for Disability) spoke strongly in favour of the motion to protect Arkaroola.

In fact, the proper protection of Arkaroola has the full support of the entire cross-bench. It's an embarrassment for the major parties, and something of a challenge to explain for those who deride the Upper House as somehow unrepresentative; here are the so-called 'special interests' speaking forthrightly for the majority in this matter, while the major parties are still so beholden to the power of the mining lobby - truly a special interest, if ever there was one! - that they have ended up tying themselves in logical knots!

Now, as you can see, no party wants to be seen to actively oppose protection for Arkaroola - a formal division wasn't called, and the vote was carried on voices!

It's a matter of record!

[PS - here's the link to the relevant Hansard - and here's Mark's take on facebook -

Great to see my Motion to permanently protect Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary passed in Parliament last night. Both Liberal and Labor are flip-flopping and mucking around on making a final decision, but neither was prepared to call a “division” when the vote was awarded to the Greens. So, the record stands: The Legislative Council wants Arkaroola protected. Over to you Premier.


Monday, June 6, 2011

the mysterious matter of the minister's mail-out

as seen on the front page of the sunday mail! click  to go to

Newly-appointed Mineral Resources Minister Tom Koutsantonis has recently sent a letter to (at least some of ) his constituents - i.e. (at least some of) those in his electorate of West Torrens.

This letter deals with the issue of Arkaroola, and canvasses opinions on three options he has proposed for the future of Arkaroola.

This may seem an oddly selective way for a cabinet minister to create policy on a matter of state - indeed, national - significance. Particularly in light of the responses to the state government's own 'Seeking a Balance' 'mining access' blueprint for the northern Flinders Ranges, which was overwhelmingly rejected by respondents who simply didn't want to see the mining industry in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary at all!

(Koutsantonis also cannot be unaware of the Sunday Mail's recent polling on the matter - overwhelmingly opposed to mining across all party affiliations; a result similar to online polling sister paper The Advertiser has conducted.)

However, some of us have found the content of the Minister's letter to be even more alarming!

The letter starts out well enough -

The Arkaroola Region has long been recognised as an area of unique scenic beauty with sensitive environmental, cultural and heritage values. It is a stunning landscape, rich in flora and fauna.

No arguments there. But soon we run into this little matter -

The Northern Flinders Ranges is one of the most geologically diverse and prospective areas in Australia, with a long history of exploration and mining and potential mineral and energy resources of national and international significance.[emphasis mine]

(Labor's constant refrain with regard to Arkaroola, here given as 'with a long history of exploration and mining' is a bit like suggesting that there's some meaning inherent in pointing out that a national park has 'a long history of poaching'. Um, that don't make it a good idea, or mean that it should continue, do it?!)

ah, 'potential' - now there's a word!

But it's the bit I've highlighted that's the real worry. Now, 'potential' is one of those magic words that can carry surprisingly heavy loads - indeed, the State Government's comparison of 'potential' mineral resources with 'actual' (in reality sparsely-surveyed) biodiversity values was one feature of the South Australian Museum's criticism of Seeking a Balance.

But 'mineral and energy resources of national and international significance'? Surely you're not referring to the uranium deposits and Mount Gee here, Minister?

Here's a link to the Australian Uranium Information Centre's (UIC) 'resources' page. On it you can see that Australia holds nearly 40% of the world's uranium reserves, far and away the largest chunk of any nation. And if you click the link below the chart you'll see a link to a document entitled 'Information Paper – Uranium Resources and JORC Categories'. In it you'll see the resource at Mount Gee, which is listed as 26.9 kT (26 900 tonnes) of Uranium Oxide - U308 as an inferred resource.

What is an inferred resource? Good question! Well, let's see what it says in the same document -

An ‘Inferred Mineral Resource’ is that part of a Mineral Resource for which tonnage, grade and mineral content can be estimated with a low level of confidence. It is inferred from geological evidence and assumed but not verified geological and/or grade continuity. It is based on information gathered through appropriate techniques from locations such as outcrops, trenches, pits, workings and drill holes which may be limited or of uncertain quality and reliability. [emphases are in the original]

So, there's a resource of 27 kT which can be 'inferred with a low level of confidence'! Marathon's own Seeking a Balance submission, newly released under FOI, gives a figure of 28.5 kT for the inferred resource, so let's be generous and call it 30 kT all up.

Marathon also give a figure for an 'indicated resource' - 2.8 kT. That's an order of magnitude less. What does this mean? If we return to the UIC's list, we discover the following -

An ‘Indicated Mineral Resource’ is that part of a Mineral Resource for which tonnage, densities, shape, physical characteristics, grade and mineral content can be estimated with a reasonable level of confidence. It is based on exploration, sampling and testing information gathered through appropriate techniques from locations such as outcrops, trenches, pits, workings and drill holes. The locations are too widely or inappropriately spaced to confirm geological and/or grade continuity but are spaced closely enough for continuity to be assumed.

So, we can be 'reasonably confident' that there's 2.8 kT there.

attend to your grades!

There's also a question of the grade of the resource; that is, how much of all the rock you remove is actually going to contain what you're looking for, in this case U3O8.

In Mount Gee's case it's 0.06%, and if you look at the chart you will see that's at the low end of grades for Australian reserves - Jabiluka's proven reserve of 59 kT has a grade of 0.5% (nearly an order of magnitude higher), and it's similarly large indicated (21.7 kT) and inferred (54.7 kt) resources are graded at 0.43% and 0.54% respectively. What this means is you have to dig and crush way less rock to get to the good stuff. Economically this is great news for the miners!

For another interesting comparison, the adjacent Beverly 4 Mile deposit has a 28 kT reserve - pretty-well the same size as Marathon's - but at 0.34% grade, and the In-Situ Leaching method has already been demonstrated and is operating at the existing Beverley plant! (Note: which is not in the scenic ranges!)

Bear in mind here the issue of mining underground at Mount Gee, and just how much it would cost to tunnel into the area - by far the best option environmentally, but not one without impacts, and certainly not cheap!. Perhaps unsurprisingly there's also the issue of why some in the mining industry seem to believe that Marathon Resources is proposing open pits at Arkaroola, despite the state government's having repeatedly - supposedly - ruled that out.

now, that's a deposit

Let's have a look at a an unequivocally - nothing 'potential' about it - 'nationally and internationally significant' resource, shall we? We don't have to travel far - in fact, we can stay in SA, travelling a few hundred Km's to the west to Roxby Downs and the BHP's Olympic Dam deposit.

Returning to the Australian UIC's website we discover -

Olympic Dam, owned by BHP Billiton, is the third largest uranium mine in the world, though with by far the largest single uranium resource in the world.

Mining at Olympic Dam is currently carried out by underground mining. BHP has announced plans to expand the mine from its current 4,500 tonne annual uranium oxide production capacity to 19,000 tonnes a year by 2021.

and further -

The Olympic Dam deposit in South Australia is the single largest deposit in the world.

The extent of the resource at Ranger in the Northern Territory has been confirmed as also being of world significance.

And what's the resource at Olympic Dam?

Again, according to the UIC, a total of 2.327 million tonnes - thats 2, 237 kT. Including 130 kT of proved - the highest level of confidence there is - ore reserves, and more than 1.2 million - that's 1,200 kT - of indicated and 624 kT of inferred resources. They're currently proposing the world's largest open-pit to get to it all, plus the copper and gold that is the basis of the economics of this polymetallic mine.

Need I go on?

look out for the lock out!

And yet, Minister Koutsantonis sees fit to warn his electors of the following -

Placing a ban on exploration and mining in the Arkaroola area would lock away these significant resources now and in the future. This could deny the opportunity for all South Australians to benefit from potential mining investment, employment opportunities and a return to the State from these resources, which are owned by the State.

Now, 'lock away' is about the most inflammatory rhetoric one can use in this setting - it's usually associated with diatribes along the lines of 'the Bloody Greenies want to lock away... [whatever some miner/developer hopes they'll make a lot of money out of]'. I suggest that this phrase has absolutely no place in the lexicon of a South Australian cabinet minister, let alone in a letter to his constituents!

But the idea that the owners of the world's largest uranium resource - absolutely dwarfing whatever may exist at Mount Gee - face serious hardship if denied whatever hypothetical revenue may come from a mine in the heart of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is ridiculous!

And then there's the other mines due to come on-line. But you get my point.

taking aim at the class a zone?

And is it a coincidence that the language Koutsantonis uses just happens to look like it's consciously framed in terms of the Class A Environmental Zone legislation that covers the northern Flinders?

You know, the rules that don't allow a mine unless the resource is of 'paramount importance' and mining it is in 'the national interest'?

As I pointed out in my previous post, even Marathon Resources has conceded that it is unlikely to be able to overcome these criteria, and the Liberal Party certainly don't think so! Particularly as there's that other factor to consider -

investigations have shown that alternative deposits are not available on other land in the locality outside the zone

Not only do we have the deposit in Roxby, we have an operating U mine right next door to Arkaroola (Beverley), and, as we have seen above, Beverley's new extension - Beverley 4 Mile (notably even closer to the sanctuary!) is a deposit of a directly comparable size!

And it's not located in one of the most scenic beauty spots and biologically important areas in South australia, to boot!

So, has Tom Koutsantonis served his electors well, do you think, in failing to provide any of this context?

The failure of his own government's Seeking a Balance mining access plan and overwhelming opposition to mining doesn't even rank a mention! He tosses around 'national and international' significance [ooh, sorry, that's 'potential' significance] in relation to the deposits in Arkaroola without providing any proof of his claim. Oh, and the waste-dumping scandal and Marathon's consequent suspension from drilling has apparently also slipped his mind!

And then he finishes off with -

I am writing to seek your views on the future of the environmentally sensitive areas of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. In essence, which of the following options would you support:

1. Complete ban on exploration and mining in the environmentally sensitive areas of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary.

2. The area should remain available for exploration and mining in the future, but only if and when appropriate and environmentally sensitive methods of mining are developed.

3. Exploration and mining should be permitted now, with appropriate and stringent environmental controls in place.

Well, I know which option I'd choose!

But has he provided the appropriate background information and the balance of views likely to mean that those readers who may be relying on his summation can make informed decisions, do you think? So what is he going to try to tell us any response might mean?

And, have you noticed option number two? Surely we can infer from it that such 'appropriate and sensitive methods of mining' are currently not developed? Oh dear... Well, I wouldn't argue!

Frankly, with a return to active drilling potentially imminent, Mark Parnell's parliamentary motion to for the state government to finally stop stuffing-around and finally announce the full protection of Arkaroola could scarcely have come at a better time!

And don't forget, you can return Koutsantonis' favour, and e-mail or phone and tell him what you think!


Friday, June 3, 2011

Mark Parnell moves new motion to protect Arkaroola

Hodgkinsons - a major scar in the spectacular Yudnamutana Gorge: erosion gullies in this supposedly 'rehabilitated' mining industry exploration target in Arkaroola - click to see more

I've attached Greens MLC Mark Parnell's supporter notification of a parliamentary motion calling on the state government to guarantee the full protection of the mountains of Arkaroola below.

This comes to a vote this Wednesday, the 8th of June.

Dear friends,

Last week in Parliament I moved the following motion:

That this council—

1. Notes that it has been almost 40 months since the initial discovery of illegal waste disposal and vandalism by Marathon Resources in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary; and

2. Calls for the state government to urgently guarantee permanent protection for the iconic and majestic mountains of Arkaroola.

To read my speech, go to:

Enough is enough. The State Government needs to reassure the people of South Australia that they will permanently protect Arkaroola from mining. The longer this issue drags on, the greater the risk that Marathon Resources will be allowed to bring their drill rigs back on-site.

The motion will be voted on in the Upper House on Wednesday 8th June. If you would like to help show your support for protection of Arkaroola, please contact Premier Mike Rann, Mining Minister Tom Koutsantonis, and Opposition leader Isobel Redmond.

I thoroughly recommend that you follow the link to Mark's speech, and that you contact the politicians he has indicated.

It is particularly a 'walk-the-talk' test for the Liberal Party.

Leader Isobel Redmond announced - commendably - that the Liberals would move to protect Arkaroola in September last year. In order to do so they have focussed on reinforcing the conditions of the Class A Environmental Zone that covers much of the northern Flinders -

To that end the Liberals will need to amend the appropriate legislation to prevent any reduction in the level of environmental protection that exists under Zone A as it relates to Arkaroola.

I have frequently argued that the terms of the Class A Zone, if understood in English, mean that there is virtually no chance of Marathon being able to establish a mine in Arkaroola. To show why I'll borrow the summation Redmond uses in her media release -

Zone A Protection makes it clear that mining should not take place unless the deposits are of paramount importance and their exploration is in the highest national or state interest. [Emphases are in the original]

So, it's two strikes and you're out for Marathon!

And it seems that even they agree. Here's what they write on Page 61 of their recently released submission on 'Seeking a Balance', the state government's 'mining access' plan for the northern Flinders -

"The current planning arrangements for Environmental Zone Class A are clearly heavily weighted in favour of poorly defined, high value environmental criteria.[...]

Because of Arkaroola's Environmental Zone Class A status a potentially very large and valuable resource may never be developed because of a potential failure to meet the multiple criteria test. [emphasis mine]"

In fact, the whole of section 8.3 of their submission represents one long complaint about the nasty Class A Zone that protects the 'not iconic' Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary and reveals that they had anticipated that Planning SA was going to move to a 'triple-bottom-line' exploitation criterion for the area. This would represent the kind of 'balance' Marathon are seeking, they tell us. The kind of 'balance' that puts their drilling rigs back in the heart of the sanctuary, no matter what the science says and what the people of SA may think about it.

Enough really is enough. This circus really has run waaaaaay too long. Note to the Liberals; Mark's motion does not get into specifics. The mechanism that provides the permanent protection for the mountains of Arkaroola remains to be determined.

But what is important is that the commitment be made. Unequivocally.

Before any more areas of the sanctuary have to bear the scars of exploration.

And any time you spent pointing this out to the people Mark suggests, Dear Reader, would be time well spent indeed as far as the wild landscapes of South Australia are concerned.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Arkaroola 'isn't iconic' - Marathon

 'potential consequences of seeking a balance' - click to see the full-sized image on fickr

Newly disclosed documents reveal that controversial mining company Marathon Resources told the state government that the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is 'legally' only 'a pastoral lease', and that the SA Tourism Hall of Fame listed Eco-Tourism venture isn't 'iconic' -

Marathon considers, however, that the frequent description of Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary (legally a pastoral lease) as 'iconic' is wrong or misleading.

This comes from Marathon's own submission on the state government's 'Seeking a Balance' mining access plan for the area, which the company refused to make public at the time and has only recently come to light under FOI .

The company also claimed that Seeking a Balance would risk 'energising anti-mining groups' and increase 'concessions to minority groups'. [See the bizarre chart above!]

Recent Sunday Mail polling has shown 72% of South Australians opposed to a mine in Arkaroola, in line with submissions on 'Seeking a Balance' which overwhelmingly opposed mining, with only 10% being in favour.

I think we can safely identify the true minority in danger of being conceded to here!

Marathon's submission really is quite extraordinary, and I'm not at all surprised that they didn't want it publicly released.

The 'it's nothing special' pettiness directed at Arkaroola itself is remarkable enough, but this is compounded by further insulting accusations, such as page 8's assertions that the Sanctuary must be either 'underwritten by Government hand outs' or have the mining industry 'supplement tourist activities.' Let's get this straight; here's a player in the mining industry complaining about 'government handouts' to the tourism industry?! You couldn't make it up!...

And on page 24 we get more of Marathon's opining on Arkaroola's viability as a business, this time based on anecdotes regarding the seasonality of local tourism taken from a book sanctuary founder Reg Sprigg wrote - in 1984! Last time I checked that was more than a quarter of a century ago...

But they've already quoted Reg on page 16 in order to bolster their case for, what, open-cut mining?! From - wait for it - 1973!

I could go on. But what's the point?

I will just point out that on the same page as the Reg Sprigg cherry-pick last cited Marathon accuses Seeking a Balance of possessing 'questionable methodological validity'. This is pretty ironic - certainly not iconic - coming from the people who have produced the chart posted at the top of this article!

Their second-highest 'perceived risk' is the dire threat of a 'confidence boost - anti-mining groups will be energised'!

How about the risks of environmentalists being enervated after having to spend years struggling against something as palpably absurd as a major mine in the heart of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, despite the state government and mining industry's incessant 'we're green and responsible' rhetoric? The two combined have certainly succeeded in making this one angry!

Then there's the next-highest risk - that this kind of plan might be 'replicated in other regions'. Yes, imagine the dire state of the world if The Breakaways or the Gawler Ranges were to be afforded anything approaching adequate protection from the mining industry!

(And please note the qualifier lower right of the chart - 'direction and magnitude of impacts are approximate'. They're not kidding!)

Seeking a Balance certainly was a deeply-unsatisfactory document - it's no surprise that the state government has let it quietly die - and if you want to read some real scientific commentary on it's myriad flaws you could start with the South Australian Museum's submission on it!

But you probably won't learn much from this 107 page document that veers between the tediously repetitive and the outlandish!


Sunday, February 13, 2011


as seen on the front page of the sunday mail! click  to go to

If confirmation were needed that drilling is indeed not thrilling for the South Australian electorate, today's Sunday Mail has provided it in spades.

The Arkaroola campaign is featured on the front page, with a stunning photograph of The Armchair (one of the region's wild post-volcanic peaks) on the front page of the weekly 'Insight' lift-out, in an editorial ('No place for a mine') on page 34, in a magnificent double-page photospread beginning on Page 38, and, crucially, in another double-page poll-based spread on pages 8 and 9 - Voters give Labor a right whack (which could just as well have been called 'Voters give Labor Right a whacking!', but I digress!)

Its worth quoting this piece, which is based on the Sunday Mail's own survey conducted earlier this week -

Labor's woes may be compounded by its recent renewal of Marathon Resources' exploration licence in Arkaroola - the poll found 72 per cent of people felt mining should not be allowed in the region. The "no" vote was a whopping 79 per cent among intending Labor voters - even higher than among Greens' supporters.

Arkaroola director Marg Sprigg said she was distressed by the decision to allow Marathon to continue exploring.

"We don't believe a company like Marathon should be allowed back in here," she said. "They want to do a lot more drilling in a much wider area than just around Mt Gee; they will be drilling into the very heart of Arkaroola."

Marathon is searching for uranium in a 90sq km tenement in the sanctuary. Its drilling rights were suspended in February 2008 after it was found to have illegally dumped exploration drilling waste.

The company says the area has the nation's fifth largest undeveloped uranium deposit with 31,300 tonnes identified.

Marathon chairman Peter Williams said more discoveries were likely and the new phase of exploration would extend several kilometres east of Mt Gee to assess the size of the deposit with drill holes as deep as 500m.

Relations between Arkaroola and Marathon have broken down, with Marathon now planning to fly in workers by helicopter each day from a neighboring property rather than pay to stay in Arkaroola village.

Mineral Resources Development Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the Government - which has heavily promoted its pro-mining credentials - was legally obliged to renew Marathon's licence but was considering a range of conservation options "which may include exclusion, or limiting of mining".

"This does not confer any right to mine the area," he noted. [Emphasis mine]

Here's the figures for that poll:

QUESTION 5: Should mining be allowed in the Mt Gee area of the Arkaroola Sanctuary?

YES - 22% (all), 19% (Labor voters), 25% (Liberal voters), 19% (Greens voters), 8% (Family First voters)

NO - 72% (all), 79% (Labor voters), 68% (Liberal voters), 71% (Greens voters), 89% (Family First voters)

DON'T KNOW - 6% (all), 2% (Labor voters), 7% (Liberal voters), 10% (Greens voters), 3% (Family First voters) [emphasis mine]

Note to the Labor Party - when an institution as conservative as the Sunday Mail carries not only this poll, but this editorial and a front page emblazoned with the 'NO MINE IN ARKAROOLA' sticker and the words 'Ark Up - the fight to save a wilderness' it's clear that in granting a return to active exploration in the sanctuary you have become so divorced from public sentiment that you really are at risk of being forever lost in the wilderness yourselves!

Reshuffling the deck chairs in cabinet didn't work. People want to see results, not the same rhetoric spilling from new faces. The message could hardly be clearer; the old men of the Labor Party have saddled the new blood with an albatross - or perhaps a turkey? - around their necks in the ongoing farce in Arkaroola. Either way, Labor needs to ditch the bird - or pay the price!

I'll finish with one more quotation from the Sunday Mail. I suggest that, if the situation is not swiftly rectified - it will prove prophetic;

The Mt Gee area of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, in the northern Flinders Ranges, is one of Australia's most awe-inspiring landscapes - and also the setting for what looms as one of the biggest environmental battles since the Franklin River protests in Tasmania in the 1980s.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

ark up! gear up! listen up!

sign on to the TWS cyber-action and grab yourself a 'no mine in arkaroola' sticker at monday's event - see details below sign on to the TWS cyber-action and grab yourself a 'no mine in arkaroola' sticker at monday's event - see details belowYou too can be part of environmental campaign history via the simple application of just $20.

Yes, that's all that is required to secure one of these fine 'Ark Up' T-shirts.
And this includes postage and handling! Woohoo!

They come with the message 'ARK UP' on the front and 'NO MINE IN ARKAROOLA /' on the back.

So now you can let people know that you object to any proposal to mine this unique wild area in stylish comfort, and help spread word of the campaign. The shirts can be ordered straight from the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary by phoning (08) 8648 4848 or emailing

And while you're sorting that you can listed to sanctuary manager Marg Sprigg talk about the latest developments at Arkaroola, and the history of the sanctuary's experience of dealing with Marathon Resources, via the Radio Adelaide website.

tourism industry condemns new lease

The South Australian Tourism Industry Council has strongly condemned the Rann Government's decision. It remains inexplicable why this government is prepared to bend over backwards to accommodate miners while willfully jeopardising the future of an industry that depends so heavily not only on our unique environment, but on our international image as sound environmental managers -


The South Australian Tourism Industry Council (SATIC) strongly rejects any mining activity in Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary as it is imperative that South Australia’s key tourism destinations are protected.

SATIC Chief Executive Ward Tilbrook says any mining activity in the award-winning Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary will damage the positioning and realisation of South Australia as a legitimate world class nature based eco-tourism destination.

“While mining is a finite resource, tourists are an infinite sustainable resource for the State creating 53,000 jobs in South Australia and an economic impact of $4.4 billion, with the Government declaring a target to increase the value of tourism to the State to $6.3 billion by 2014,” Mr Tilbrook says.

“Mining exploration and activity is incompatible with credible nature based tourism, Arkaroola should remain completely protected, the impact of mining activity will damage a spectacular and unique wilderness sanctuary, which is of enormous tourism value to South Australia and is intrinsic to our tourism identity.

“Tourism Australia has declared the Flinders Ranges as one of just ten unique iconic Australian landscapes, and the biodiversity, vast landscape and cultural heritage of Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is an integral part of this ‘National Landscape’ accolade.

“I urge the South Australian Government to reconsider any planned mining activity within the Sanctuary.”


Friday, February 11, 2011

drilling not thrilling the electorate!

grasswren country is drilling country! this beautiful hanging-valley on the ridgetop track is back in the hands of the mining industry

You know, I had always thought that the number one priority of any incumbent political party, whatever else they might tell you, was to get re-elected.

But when it comes to the South Australian branch of the Labor Party it would appear that 'it ain't necessarily so'!

The almost incomprehensible decision to allow Marathon Resources to return to active drilling in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is a case in point; all they seem to have managed to achieve is to sink their already decidedly, um, whiffy public stock still further!

As local daily The Advertiser noted on Tuesday -

A poll on the AdelaideNow website [The Advertiser online] found more than 80 per cent of more than 2000 respondents opposed mining in the area, and comments published online were overwhelmingly negative.

This is hardly the first such reaction!

In response to overwhelming rejection of their Seeking a Balance 'mining access' plan (SaB) from scientists, geologists, tourism operators and the public alike - and particularly the devastating criticisms from the South Australian Museum ('we advise that this re-assessment of the Environmental Classes, “Seeking A Balance”, be rejected totally' - ouch!) - what do Rann and co. do?

Quietly bin the thing, fail to issue the promised formal response to submissions (perhaps because it could only devolve into some sort of formal acknowledgement of incompetence?) - and hand Marathon another exploration lease which allows them to return to drilling!

Let's get this straight; 80% + of responders thought SaB did not go far enough, by a long chalk, in affording Arkaroola and the northern Flinders Ranges the permanent protection it deserves. 'Seeking' was Unbalanced! Playing irritating spin games along the lines of 'oh, but the mining industry criticised it too' will not do - every time the issue arises the public reaction to the prospect of mining is overwhelmingly negative; the SaB submissions, letters to politicians and the Editor, online polling, talkback... they all produce the same results - huge majorities opposed, tiny minorities in favour.

creative interpretation - just say no!

Even the Liberal Party has come out formally opposing any mine, and has proposed legislation that seeks to ensure the Class A Environmental Zone provisions of the Planning Act - which, if read in English, make any proposal to establish a uranium mine an impossibility - cannot be spun, creatively-interpreted, or 'guidelined' out of existence.

But Labor is apparently bent on pursuing this policy of electoral suicide! So much for a 'new direction'; surely Jack Snelling, John Rau, and Jay Weatherill don't want a spell in opposition from early 2014 just so they can 'get the hang of it', or something?

question, questions

I'm not the only one wondering what is going on. Greens MLC Mark Parnell asked former Mineral Resources Minister Paul Holloway a series of questions in Parliament on Tuesday -

The Hon. M. PARNELL (15:09): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Hon. Paul Holloway, the former minister for mineral resource development, a question about the granting of a new exploration licence to Marathon Resources.

Leave granted.

The Hon. M. PARNELL: Yesterday, Marathon Resources confirmed that they had agreed to accept a new exploration licence over the spectacular and iconic Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary that was offered to them by the Rann government. The response from geologists, ecologists and the wider South Australian community has been predictable: it has been total condemnation.

Also at odds with previous practice, the Sprigg family, the owners of part of the sanctuary and custodians of the rest, were kept totally in the dark about the conditions of the new licence by the Department of Primary Industries. The Spriggs were devastated to discover that the company has been allowed back in to drill for the first time since 2007, which is a clear betrayal of the commitment made by acting minister Jack Snelling on 21 December last year that the licence would contain stricter conditions.

The significant weakening of the conditions that have severely restricted Marathon's operations over the last three years has surprised many. For example, this morning on ABC radio, Matthew Abraham said:

...this program understood from a very good source before Christmas that the Rann government was considering doing the absolute reverse and, that is, not extending the mining lease, the exploration lease and in fact was considering options including making it a national park and banning mining completely from there, so quarantining it...

we don't know what happened from then until now but it was quite good information, (if) I can put it that way. We do know though that Marathon Resources is very well connected, has former Labor senator, former party secretary Chris Schacht first as a lobbyist, now he is a director of Marathon Resources. You do wonder whether he and others got cracking in the interim because that did send a bit of a shiver through Marathon Resources...

My questions of the former minister are:

1.What happened between October and December of last year to change your mind about throwing Marathon Resources out of Arkaroola?

2.Did you have any communication or conversations with John or Davina Quirke from lobbyist firm Pallidon, Chris Schacht, or Senator Don Farrell over the future of Marathon Resources between October and December of last year?

3.Why weren't the Spriggs consulted by PIRSA about the conditions of the new licence, which is a clear breach of the understanding that you previously gave in this place about the importance of the relationship with the owners of the Arkaroola Sanctuary for the future success of mining activities on that site?

4.Why has the requirement for approval of the chief executive of the environment department prior to entering the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary to carry out exploration been removed from the new licence?

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY (15:12): I suggest that the Hon. Mr Parnell reads the press statement that was put out by the acting minister, the now Treasurer, Mr Snelling, in my absence in December. That remains the position, as far as I am aware, in relation to Arkaroola. For any other matters I suggest that he put his question on notice to the new Minister for Mineral Resources Development.

Thanks for that, ex-minister! Holloway's response is, regrettably, stamped from the same boilerplate that has sunk his party so low in public esteem in the first place. The people of South Australia are absolutely entitled to answers on this issue!

So, what would we find if we went looking for Labor's position, other than their obviously allowing a resumption of drilling? Incoming Minerals Minister Tom Koutsantonis has hardly been placed in an enviable position himself! Nevertheless, it was hard not to be struck by the farcical aspects of the news item that appeared 2 days after the announcement of the new drilling lease -

MARATHON Resources may still be banned from mining in the Arkaroola Sanctuary in the Flinders Ranges.

Environmentalists and Opposition parties have slammed the decision that allows the miner to keep exploring the sanctuary where it was found to have dumped radioactive waste.

Newly appointed Mineral Resources Minister Tom Koutsantonis yesterday said as part of the new conditions Marathon must minimise its disturbance to the environment.

"Marathon has been advised that the government is considering a range of conservation options which may involve exclusion, or limiting of mining," he said.


Note to party new-bloods and Mike Rann; yes, pursuing a policy of allowing mining in Arkaroola really is going to cost you! Apart from being simply wrong, this is a serious blow to both your electoral standing and your legacy.


Friday, February 4, 2011

of suspensions, halts, and suspense!

sign on to the TWS cyber-action and grab yourself a 'no mine in arkaroola' sticker at monday's event - see details below

Marathon Resources, the company that was suspended from drilling in early 2008 after it illegally dumped waste in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary - and now wishes to return to active mineral exploration - has requested a trading halt on its shares from the Australian Stock Exchange as of yesterday (ASX)

According to the company's statement to the ASX -

The halt is to allow time for Marathon Resources to confirm the acceptibility of the terms of the renewal of EL4355 offered by the South Australian Government and, if acceptable, implement a capital raising.

Not for the first time, the interested public is left scratching its collective head, and wondering what it all means. They're to be offered a lease. We knew that was coming, sadly. But on what terms?

One person who would really like to know is Marg Sprigg, owner of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. She told ABC news -

It was great concern to think that steps have obviously been taken that we have no knowledge of.

We expected to be involved in the process regarding input into what conditions might be placed on them and it's extremely disappointing to think that after all that's gone the Government has just side-stepped. [see complete item posted below]

Marg had, understandably, wanted to be party to the negotiations in order to understand what the state government were prepared to allow in the conservation area she manages. And yet she was simply ignored; she knows no more about it than you or I do, dear reader!

Do you recall Mineral Resources Minister Paul Holloway telling parliament in September 2008 -

When I made my statement I think I mentioned a number of other conditions that Marathon Resources will have to meet before any further exploration will be permitted in that area. One of the obvious ones is its relationship with the landholders. The view I have expressed to any mineral explorer is that, if they do not have good relations with the landholders, the future of mining within those areas is likely to be bleak. [emphasis mine]

Can we assume, then, that common courtesy and 'good relations' is a rule that applies only to others, and not to the state government?

It's not exactly 'transparency,' is it?

So no-one, apart for the Rann government and the company, knows what the proposed conditions of this lease are, including the crucial conditions for any return to drilling. This despite being targetted on a wild area that is clearly dear to the hearts of so many, as the overwhelming support for its preservation that is expressed each time the issue is raised in any public forum indicates.

The Rann government has promised that the environment of Arkaroola will be strictly protected - um, fine, but this is exactly the same statement they've been making throughout! - and that the company will be faced with a year lease with no 'automatic right' of renewal.

so, what can you do?

If you're as concerned about the prospect of a return to drilling as I am, doubtlessly you're asking yourself 'so, what can I do?'

Several things - firstly, you can add your name and comments to The Wilderness Society's cyber-action regarding Arkaroola - if you haven't done so already - as more than 2600 people have at the time of writing. (the action achieved its original target of 2000 signatures in a little over 24 hours - let's see if we can achieve the revised target of 3000 in a few more!) And you can encourage your friends to join in!

Secondly, you could contact your MP, and Mike Rann's office, to voice your concern, or write to The Advertiser.

Thirdly, you could come along to the Wilderness Society's proposed action on Monday the 7th of February at 10.30 am, on the steps of Parliament House. If you can make it along, please do - and remember; the 'someone else' who'll probably make it along if you don't is actually still you!

Here's what TWS propose -

The Rann Government has given permission for previously disgraced mining company Marathon Resources to return to uranium exploration in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. The Government’s decision was held back and only announced in the week before Christmas.

The community protest on the steps of Parliament House will send a message to the Rann Government that this decision has not gone unnoticed, and protesters will call on the Government to protect Arkaroola instead of allowing Marathon to mine it.

This will be a relaxed, non-confrontational event designed to highlight the issue for those of the public who may not even have realised that a new drilling lease may be in the offing (given the 'interesting' timing of the government's announcement!).

And it will be a great opportunity to contribute, and learn more about other avenues for participating in the campaign; plus a great chance to pick up Arkaroola stickers (see at the top of the post - get yours before nearly everyone else does!) and other campaign materials.

You might even get to meet a Labor Maaaaaate (and will they have a proposal for you?!)

Here's the ABC news report in full.

The manager of Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is angry that conditions have been decided without her input for a resources company to keep exploring the area in the Flinders Ranges.

There has been a trading halt in shares in Marathon Resources while a renewal of its exploration lease is considered.

The company was caught illegally dumping waste in the wilderness area in 2008.

Sanctuary manager Marg Sprigg said she would like to have had some input into the conditions.

"It was great concern to think that steps have obviously been taken that we have no knowledge of," she said.

"We expected to be involved in the process regarding input into what conditions might be placed on them and it's extremely disappointing to think that after all that's gone the Government has just side-stepped." ABC online 4/02/11


Monday, January 31, 2011

TWS : Tell Mike Rann to protect it!

take part in the wilderness society's cyber-action to save arkaroola

The Wilderness Society has launched a cyber-action campaign in a bit to get Premier Mike Rann not to allow a return to active drilling in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary.

The state government announced the renewal of Marathon Resources' exploration lease shortly before Christmas. The government and Marathon are still negotiating the conditions of this lease; for more background see they're baaaaack!.... (If you're new to the issue more generally please read around the blog - and to see the area concerned, climb aboard the Desktop Toyota to take a virtual Ridgetop Tour via the link at right!)

These negotiations have now continued for over a month, and the state government had promised strict environmental conditions, including announcing that they were proposing that there be no 'automatic' right of renewal (irrespective of company 'compliance') for the new 1 year lease. After the amendments to the mining act - acknowledged to be inspired by inadequacies highlighted by Marathon's dumping scandal that was brought to light (literally!) in late 2007 - that were passed last year the public comment period for the proposed new amendments to the accompanying mining regulations closes shortly.

So it's a crucial time in the campaign to preserve this wild region forever.

Whenever the issue arises public opposition to any proposal to mine is overwhelming.

In parliament the Greens remain staunchly opposed - state upper house member Mark Parnell has worked tirelessly on this matter.

And the state Liberal Party has also come round to embracing public opinion. While they have not supported any of Mark Parnell's bills to simply ban mining in the sanctuary, as of last year they are proposing their own legislation that would reinforce the provisions of the existing Class A Environmental Zone that apply to the area.

These should, by rights, make any proposal to mine uranium at Arkaroola simply impossible - at least if they are read and comprehended via any sort of common understanding of the English language! I received an e-mail to this effect from the Leader of the opposition, Isobel Redmond, earlier today, in fact -

The Liberal Party is opposed to the government's attempts to water down Arkaroola's Environmental Class A Zone and we will therefore seek to enshrine its protection by amending the Development Act 1993 in this session of Parliament.

If the Labor party is looking to boost its sinking stocks of public goodwill and rejuvenate its image it need look not further than this issue! This may be Mike Rann's last chance to redeem himself in Arkaroola; and the new guard of the Labor party would doubtlessly do well to take note...