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by Raj (Sydney)
Friday, Dec. 26, 2003 at 5:39 AM
firstname.lastname@example.org c/ Millenium Bug Spray 40 Fitzroy St Marrickville NSW Australia 2204
Article sbout genersl disregard of Australian Government for social isues and specifically insane project due to commence by Barrick Gold in a virtual bird sanctuary.
And It’s Cyanide For Australia! Cyanide! Deception! And Hypocrisy!
Ngangana-gu karrai billa – Look after the land and the rivers - dya, karrai billa durai ngangana ngindu – and the land and the rivers will look after you. (Wiradjuri language)
The Australian Federal Government's has greeted the 21st century by taking Australia into the 20th century. Uranium mining and exploration has been supported aggressively, while American and European scientists face the sticky problem of decommissioning dozens of potentially unstable nuclear reactors, dinosaurs from the blinkered era of "Atoms For Peace". With all of the hard data on the environmental dangers and financial inefficiency of nuclear reactors and the worsening critical health issues attributable to depleted uranium sprayed wantonly through Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo, exporting uranium is like selling Viagra to a rapist.
Under recommendation of the World Health Organization, whose credibility may be compromised by their close friendship with the International Atomic Energy Agency, John Howard's government and State Health Ministers continue to support the silent expansion of food irradiation in this country (bet you don't know where your tea bags have been). The Federal Government even got caught paying 0 000 (research moneys) to an ad agency employed to raise public support for proposals to put a nuclear waste dump in South Australia. Transporting local and imported nuclear waste across thousands of kilometres of road or rail, and expanding mining of uranium (with radioactive byproducts like radon gas spraying into the atmosphere) surely make the Federal Government a greater threat to Australians than Baby Fat Downer’s international terrorists with their as yet non-existent "dirty bombs" – the uranium mine at Roxby Downs consumes as much water (free of charge) every day as South Australia’s capital city of Adelaide and recently spilt over 200 000 litres of contaminated water with not even a whisper from any media or anti-terror mouthpieces.
Still, our nation’s leaders have got a wonderful human rights record - bringing the
public attention to those manipulative baby-drowning refugees - oh, wait, that
was video footage taken out of context just before an election wasn't it?
Didn’t mass drownings actually occur after a refugee vessel had contact
with a Royal Australian Navy vessel? If only they'd made it to this "young and free" land where we've "boundless plains to share" they could have been jailed in the desert without trial or expedient consideration of their status. Sure, these evil foreign countries are bad enough to invade, but not bad enough to leave, and it's not like an Australian supported American bomb ever killed civillian children in their homes...At least things at home are happy enough all round that Mr Howard can promote Australia as qualified for peacekeeping duty because “we've never had a bloody civil war” at home, at least not one he's ever had to say sorry for...
Considering the state of ongoing environmental destruction, can any Australian Government, State or Federal honestly say it gives a FAQ about the country we live in? You are NOT your GNP, you are NOT Tony Blair’s tearful gratitude, you are NOT a Texan hard on…
Okay, maybe the Government's credibility is tarnished, even hanging in tatters on all these issues (no thanks to a media more fascinated by celebrity weddings, Pauline Hanson’s hairdo and a computer game war than by the investigation of humanitarian or environmental disasters). Well finally the Australian Government's doing something we can feel proud of - they're upholding the Ramsar Convention on wetlands of significance by taking one man to Federal Court….
The Federal Government recently attempted to gain environmental credibility by dragging wheat baron Ron Greentree before Federal Court because he destroyed 100 hectares of listed wetland on his property with a bulldozer. The only way John Howard could develop a green thumb is from the gangrene that effects limbs kept in dark, wet places for extended periods. They claim to be upholding the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.
Q. what's Ramsar?
A. a little place in Iran where representatives of over 100 nations, including Australia, met in the early 1970s.
They agreed that wetlands are unique environments, threatened by development, industry, technology and natural disasters, but vital for ecological and human survival. The nations signed an accord binding them to protect wetlands of significance, especially in the face of these threats. The land Mr Greentree cleared and seems bent on further destroying was listed as a Ramsar site.
5 hours inland from Sydney is Lake Cowal.It’s
- NSW's largest inland lake
- full 7 years out of 10
- home to over 170 species of native and exotic water bird, several of which migrate from Japan and China, 7 of which are listed as endangered
- habitat for 2 species of endangered bat
- a breeding ground for 2 protected species of fish
- the dreaming place and heartland of the Wiradjuri Nation and home since late 2001 to the Sacred Fire started by embers from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra
The area is subject to a Native Title Claim from the Mooka & Kalara family group led by Wiradjuri Elder Neville Chappy Williams. He's disputing the Mining Development Approval given by the State Govermnment and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to Canadian precious metal giant Barrick Gold. In 2 years, he says, Barrick hasn’t yet contacted him for discussion. All approval has been based on authority from a group of 5 Wiradjuri that “a lot of Wiradjuri do not recognize”, led by a sporting celebrity on a 2 year bond at the time for defrauding another Aboriginal organization. Uncle Chappy will be in Federal Court on February 25 to “strike out” the National Native Title Tribunal’s endorsement of the group on grounds that they do not represent the Wiradjuri Nation and their approval of the mine and continued removal and destruction of sacred sites and objects is illegitimate.
Even without regard for native claims and the area's cultural significance, how can any government in a signatory nation to the Ramsar agreement that "wise use" of wetlands will ensure their conservation in the face of development be party to such an imminently irresponsible act as the Lake Cowal Cyanide Leach Gold Project. Despite issuing the mining giant Barrick with numerous consents to destroy (approval to remove or destroy culturally significant sites and objects), New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Services (NSW NPWS) states,
Lake Cowal is listed on the National Estate because of the
diversity and number of species that inhabit the lake...Lake Cowal
also meets the Ramsar Wetlands of Importance listing criteria.
The NPWS is of the opinion that Lake Cowal
provides significant wetland habitats and drought refuge both in
area, diversity of habitat types and duration of availability
The purpose of a Ramsar listing is to see unique wetlands protected and nurtured, not retrospectively mourned.
It’s the International Year of Freshwater. Australian marathon
swimmer Suzie Maroney is on television telling us to conserve water. NSW is still in drought. Does state minister for Urban Affairs and Planning Craig Knowles continue to support a pet project that will draw up to 16 000 litres of groundwater every day and risk poisoning the surrounding Murray-Darling Basin, the Lachlan River, and Adelaide’s source of drinking water? NSW government and opposition have worked together to support the extension of Barrick's Mining Development application without reassessment of the project's environmental impact because "a ratbag element" (Murrumbidgee MP,Adrian Piccoli's fond descriptive prowess) has held things up for the world’s second biggest gold miner.
This ratbag element thinks a hole as deep as Ayers Rock is high, piles of sludge rich in arsenic and heavy metals, 50 000 tonnes of cyanide (that's worth reading again), and unsealed tailings dams which the E.I.S. indicates are likely to leak, all spread over an area of 2 600 hectares (260 000 square metres) in an organically active flood plain surrounded by major water networks might just be cause for concern. They don’t think it’s worth digging up and poisoning 76 million tonnes of sacred site for a possible 75.6 tonnes of gold (that’s one gram per tonne).
Despite years of environmental disasters worldwide and bills introduced by the Greens to ban the process Australia’s majority parties are yet to question the sanity of cyanide leach mining. You may remember Timbarra being stopped by people power, undeniable environmental threats and the exposure of violent, hired goons. You may remember a spill 3 years ago in Romania – a dam overflowed and poisoned the Danube, killing over 150 tonnes of fish, as well as all variety of wolves, deer and vegetation surrounding the river across two countries. Scientists expect heavy metals and cyanide to keep the area toxic for decades. Similar incidents in Africa, South America, and Papua New Guinea haven’t drawn similar media attention simply because the waterways involved weren’t so famous, just essential for survival.
Don’t forget that if we luck into a Free Trade Agreement, environmentally sound business practices will be deemed as “not best business practice” and therefore legally unnecessary barriers to profit.
In spite of NSW State Government greed everything might just be okay, Johnny’s new political enviro-warriors are going to get tough protecting the 11 % of Australian wetlands that remain, and they could start by exploring the following issues -
- is building toxic dams large enough to be natural bodies of
water next to a uniquely populated wetlands ecosystem “wise”?
- Barrick is under investigation, facing a U.S. district court for price fixing. They admitted that a strengthening Australian dollar will increase their project costs - is there no concern that such a company whose massive reserves of gold are inherently linked to the world economy (the World Bank likes them enough to lend $US150m when they fancy) might conspire to weaken the Australian dollar for their own profit?
- what is the current nature of Barrick's relationship with financial founder
and arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi (we don’t want to risk supporting terrorists,
- Did Barrick owner Peter Munk ask Barrick Senior Advisor George H.W. Bush who gave them access to a BILLION gold seam for 000 in one of his last acts as President ( think Khashoggi, think Iran/Contra Gate) to have a word to any Australian politician in the late 1990s?
- was Barrick's donation of $US4.5m to the University of Toronto anything to do with their conferring of an honorary doctorate for "services to humanity" upon death squad guru/ Barrick Senior Advisor George H.W. Bush the following month? Have they made donations to any Australian State or Federal Government parties or institutions since 1998?
- John Howard won’t say sorry, but does he keep having to say get fucked?
The protest camp is in place, the court action is due to go ahead but public awareness of this issue has been smothered. Uncle Chappy and his supporters will fight on, “we’re calling on all people to come and support us in our plight to protect Lake Cowal.”
To find out more check www.rainforestinfo.org.au, to help contact Uncle Chappy 0416316774
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