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Undemocratic removal of environmental laws opened Repco Rally to violence in NSW Australia

ABC Australian news reported that someone somehow placed rocks on the road where rally cars would pass at some time prior to the Repco Rally event. Apparently stones or rocks were also thrown. See Rally rock-throwing 'could have killed', ABC news, September 5, 2009 http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/09/05/2677430.htm

First day of the rally

The picture of the car trailing dust has been included for educational purposes because it shows how much dust is being thrown up by a rally car on the unpaved roads that pass through national parks of World Heritage significance. One can imagine the noise and the speed from the picture. Unless you like noise, speed, metal and dust, this would be a very unpleasant experience. For wildlife it could be a fatal experience. Politically it could represent a fatal breech in the wall of law that has preserved Australia’s wild spaces to date.

Would Repco race cars through a cathedral?

The idea alone of racing cars through national parks is appalling to many. With the position of National Parks in Australia it is a bit like racing cars through cathedrals in Italy or France, except that the damage it is likely to do in the long term is that much more significant.

It may not result directly in the extinction of endangered species but, whether it does or not, it is like a big breech in the wall. If government can get away with doing this to our National natural cathedrals, they may soon be running the equivalent of brothels in cathedrals there. Indeed, the same NSW government which overturned local democracy (the most immediate form of democracy) to force this race on Australians, is also apparently prepared to allow the Shooters Party to shoot indigenous animals in National Parks.

The car is not exactly an endangered species

Many of us live on highways or have to drive to work and find this difficult enough. It is amazing to think that the NSW Parliament actually legislated away 12 environmental laws in order to import such a rally to this area, which, to date, was a sanctuary for animals, trees and humans. The local inhabitants have complained of the risk to life for humans and other animals in the area.

Today we received a letter to candobetter.org claiming that “Greenies” threw rocks at the rally drivers.

“Rally Australia"

On September 5th, 2009 Jack (not verified) wrote:

"You greenies who are responsible for putting boulders on the road and throwing rocks might get charged with attempted manslaughter or murder if you are not careful. It is not a joke to do these things, one could expect it in a third world country but one would have hoped that in a so called educated society things like this would not happen. If you want to protest then do it in a more effective way than risking the life of another human being!”

The writer assumes that ‘Greenies’ were responsible for putting boulders on the road and throwing rocks. In fact we do not know who was responsible. However, let us take his other assertions in this paragraph. He says that we could expect such activity in a third world country, but not in an educated society. However it has been the anti-rally protesters’ contention that an educated society would not put a rally through international heritage rainforest national parks including 16 km of koala habitat. To many people the notion that we are an ‘educated society’ does not hold up because of this. Regarding third world societies: what are the criteria that make this kind of protest likely in the third world? Perhaps the quality of not having any other means to protest?

Is the writer actually unaware that 12 environmental laws were overturned to permit the rally?

Is the writer actually unaware that 12 environmental laws were overturned to permit the rally? This event has been enabled by the NSW Motor Sports (WRC) Bill 2009, which overrode 12 different planning, environmental protection and heritage laws and removed all right of appeal.[1] Or has his enthusiasm for the rally diminished the importance of this fact in his eyes? If that is the case, I suggest that he reconsider these inconvenient facts.

What more effective ways are open to people in the Green Cauldron? They have protested peacefully in the streets, written to politicians, and invoked the law. The response from the government was extreme: The government abrogated the very environmental laws that the people had invoked to stop the race. Then, when a councilor took the matter to the courts, she felt that it was given the bum’s rush. Behind the abrogation of the 12 environmental laws was pressure from Repco, a global corporation of retailers of car parts, which apparently had far more pull with the NSW Government than the democratic wishes of members of its electorate.

Even some of the competitors sound as if they understand.

"Some people don't like us in front of their house but I didn't ask to come here," French competitor, Loeb reportedly said.
"I can understand why some people don't like the rally, but I have to do my job."

Indeed he does. But the problems are not the fault of the people defending their rights and their environment. (Source: "Rock throwers halt Rally Australia", ABC News, 4 September.)

What would have been much better is if the FIA had adhered to its stated high principles of environmental standards and good governance, saying, “No, Premier Rees, we want to be good global citizens. You must find a venue for this event which is acceptable to your citizens. We cannot stand by and let you overturn your own peoples’ laws in order to run a mere race. It will not do our reputations or yours any good. People have a right to self-government. We cannot impose things they hate on them. The French Revolution taught us that.”

So much for an educated, first world society.

“And do not bother denying it had anything to do with your movement, you ARE tarred with the brush in the same way that you like to tar motorsport with the "hooning" brush.”

Why didn't the FIA or drivers stand up for democracy against Repco and the NSW Government?

It would be reassuring if people in the rally movement had stood up for democracy. Since they have not it is hard not to see them as hoons. And since their representatives have not spoken up, they look like representatives of hoons. Those perceptions will change when rally-people stand up for democracy and justice along with the environmentalists. As long as you do not you defend the wholesale destruction of laws by a dictatorial government. Candobetter.org cannot comment on allegations about people who used rocks as weapons since we have absolutely no idea who those people were. It is even conceivable that people wishing to give the environmentally concerned a bad name threw the rocks themselves. That would seem to me more likely since, from the point of view of an environmentalist – a person who defends wild spaces – throwing rocks is rather similar, although not as bad, as driving racing cars through world heritage landscapes and biodiverse hotspots.

False argument pretends area not worth protecting

"I watched the you tube video and I have never seen so much rubbish in all my life,
Mostly it looks like farming country, overgrown with weeds, so much for the environment."

I am not a resident of the area, but, to me this is what the videos have conveyed. We saw a koala crossing the road and we have been told elsewhere that the rally passes through 16km of koala habitat. We know that koalas are endangered. That, to me, is enough to tell me that the area cannot be totally degraded.

Secondly, it would not be surprising if the area is being degraded, given the kinds of forces it is subjected to. That is not the fault of environmentalists. The area was rural with forested parts. There is obviously a tension between rural, other commercial values and the environmental values of local constituents. Environmental has to win out, however, because the area is internationally recognized for its biodiverse and landscape qualities. Car races, shops and farms already take up substantial parts of this country and if we still cannot make a go of what we have already got economically, then destroying more wildlife habitat is not likely to help.

Impact of farming

"Farming does far more harm to the environment than Rally could ever do!

After having experienced Rally Australia in Western Australia for 18 years I can assure you that there will not be hundreds of wild animals killed, in any way!
If the people who live and run businesses in the towns involved have any clues they will see the prospects for adding value to what they do or in fact even starting up new ventures all because of the Rally."

Farming is certainly problematic because it converts wild-spaces for food. However the farms are already there. The rally was not. It was an additional stressor. As for the damage it might do. I have compared it to racing through cathedrals and I stand by that. This country is absolutely covered and ringbarked with roads, for Pete’s sake – how could racing car drivers possibly justify taking roadspace in National Parks? And, I do not see how you could argue to put a koala at risk just for some ephemeral potential ‘profits’ which will not sustain any human in the long term.

Little evidence for much touted 'economic advantages' and no amount of money could make this right

The Rally will bring economic benefit to the area and to the state in general, you lot rave on about eco tourism, I can assure you that if the area does indeed have something to offer then the Rally will bring thousands of international tourists.

The insistance that this rally will bring lots of money to Tweed has been knocked down over and over. Our definitions of what constitutes 'economic benefit' must differ.

"Same Rally cost WA tax-payers $6m+ p.a.

Previous speakers who praised the rally indicated that it will bring $100 million of value to the area. They do not understand what they are talking about. For example, $100 million over what period? It is certainly not for this one race that is coming up; nor for the one in two years time or the one in 10 years time. It is the accumulated value they think they might get if everything is done and all options are accepted between now and 2027. A more true picture comes from Western Australia. The Western Australian Government no longer wanted the rally, indicating that it was costing Western Australia $6 million a year and it was not getting economic value to make up for that $6 million." Source For more on the debate read here.

Our definitions of ‘eco-tourism’ must also differ. Who want’s tourists in national parks who come to watch noisy cars go round and round and tear up the earth and vegetation, kill wildlife, and pollute the atmosphere with petroleum fumes and dead soil organisms from the dust? How could anyone consider that desirable? For someone who likes quietly walking through a forest amid a community of other species, just like someone who might enjoy praying in a cathedral and looking up through the stained-glass windows and imagining they were in God’s house, your idea that racing cars through these quiet and otherly places might add to their ‘value’ seems really strange.

And the thing is, nature preservation does not cause the extinction of car-rallies, since there are roads for rallies everywhere, but roads and rallies do destroy nature. I mean, what environmentalists do and like does not stop rally fans from doing what they do and like somewhere else. For instance, the Goldcoast Super GP Rally will be staged next month, through city streets, just across the border from this one. However, if you want to do your thing in our quiet places, you destroy what we have. Look around you: the world is absolutely full of roads and noisy cars. Your kind of ‘paradise’ is proliferating daily. Ours isn’t. It is disappearing. Have a sense of proportion.

There is a huge contingent of International Rally people who follow the WRC around the world, just like the people who follow Tennis or Cricket or Footy, Yep just the same, and they will be coming to your part of the world, generally speaking they have a few bucks in their back pocket and have great fun unloading the stuff, so do not think there is no money to be made.

Obviously money is very important to you, much more important to you than beauty, wildlife, peace and quiet and democracy. Even if money were more important than place for environmentalists, it has already been shown many times that the rally has brought a net financial loss when costs are taken into account or no benefit to other communities where it has been held.

You need to try to see that environmentalists need to protect what they love and that rally values will harm what they treasure most. The rally is invading green environmental space and trying to change it. It has also destroyed democratic space, by forcing the overturning of laws. That alone should signal "Danger! Danger!" On the other side, environmentalists are not invading road-space. The huge contingent of International Rally people have lots of places made of concrete and tar and cement where they can go and they will possibly even be welcome there.

"If you think however that you should just need to stand in line with your hand out to get your share then you have your head in the sand (or somewhere else!)"

Honestly, this stuff about making lots of money out of these rallies just sounds like pie in the sky. After the rally has been run, however, I think that residents would be justified in demanding compensation for the trauma of having their democratic self-government annihilated and their environmental laws overturned, as well as their peace disturbed and their happiness destroyed by the need to go out of their way to try to protect what they love due to the failure of their governments to enforce protections which were available at law prior to the rally and were overturned because of the rally and for no other reason. Those environmentalists would be justified in demanding ongoing compensation since the intention is to continue to stage this rally for decades.

Democracy is the big question

"An event like this will always have those who are against having it, well we live in a democracy, so if it is taking place then there must be a higher number of people who want it than don't, bad luck!"

But that is the very problem. We DON'T live in a democracy in Australia anymore, and things have got particularly desperate in Tweed Shire due to the Repco Rally. By removing legal protections from the community's right to environmental protection and self-government the NSW Government has left the community in a situation of lawlessness and injustice. Did you not realise that 12 laws were put aside to run this rally? Why would the NSW government and Repco have had to go to such extraordinary lengths to impose the rally - and overturn democracy - if so many people, as you believe, wanted this rally? Why did they not just allow democracy to prevail, instead of removing it?

"I suggest that you greenies would be better off spending your time and money trying to fix up a couple of the countries biggest environmental disasters which are on your back doorstep, like the Murray Darling disaster for one!"

At candobetter we continue to represent problems with the Murray Darling and other threatened waters. If environmentalists were not busy defending multiple cherished places under attack by developers and now democracy under this rally, they would indeed have more time to dedicate to these ongoing other threats. If the rally were withdrawn from the Green Cauldron we could all get on with the other jobs.

[1] "" Source: http://www.norallygroup.org/

Comments

Any racing hoons creating noise pollution and threats to wildlife should be removed from the park by Park Rangers, with the help of police. If all avenues to justice are exhausted by the "greenies", how are they to uphold the values of the national park? Justice is more about power of corporations, jobs and income rather than policies and the environment or animals. Justice is about money and power, and those who have it can have their own way. Clearly, environmentalists don't have this money, and the State Government is corrupt enough to allow this event to happen. Our Federal Government remains silent!

Of Interest, to quote the Northern Star

www.northernstar.com.au/story/2009/09/04/drivers-kick-up-at-the-dust

Drivers kick up at the dust

LEADING drivers in this week's Repco Rally Australia have questioned the safety of the course following two days of reconnaissance in the Tweed and Kyogle shires.

At the pre-event press conference at Kingscliff yesterday afternoon, Norwegian Henning Solberg ... said dust could prove the most dangerous aspect of the rally.

Hoping to avoid the problems of dust obscuring visibility, Solberg said he had asked organisers to consider increasing the time between competitors from two to three minutes.

“I have to say and I said the same after the reccy (reconnaissance) that the stages in the forests are going to be dangerous,” he said.

“If the dust stays in the wind it is going to be dangerous. I have tried to have this moved before and they said no, so maybe we'll see what happened in Sardinia.

“I hope they can think about it because it's the stage like today that will be a problem but the stage in the forests that will be a big, big problem.”

...

Rally Australia chairman Garry Connelly said he was aware of the request but did not commit to a decision.

...

Why don't these people - who insist that rallies are different from car races and need to be held off ordinary roads - not ask some Australian farmers with huge sprawling holdings to let them race their noisy dusty vehicles around those farms? These would need to be crop farms since grazing animals could be upset by the cars. What short of crops? Cotton or wheat? Banana plantations?

But not national forests and parks. That is too horrible. I hate these rally people and the corporations behind them. They are bullies without imagination.

The Repco Rally organisers still have not shown the financials to prove the rally generated Ian Macdonald's promised $20 million to NSW and the Northern Rivers. The Telstra Rally in Dwellingup always lost money. The Repco Rally in Kyogle has lost money.

Clearly, Repco's selfish rally was only about encouraging petrol heads to exploit and abuse a local community and its environment.

Repco, the NSW Rees Government that undemocratically circumvented State heritage laws to dictate the rally go-ahead and the Northern Rivers councillors who approved the rally now must be held to account for the promised $20 million.

In his September pronouncement, Ian Macdonald MLC, promised "the rally could generate up to $100 million in direct economic benefit for the Northern Rivers over the ten year life-span of the event", "will generate job opportunities equivalent to between 30 and 40 new permanent positions or 1,500 to 2,000 part-time and casual jobs.”

If Ian MacDonald MLC cannot prove the $20 million financial return from this event as he promised and within a reasonable time [say within a month by 1 Oct-09], then a fair conclusion to draw is that he has deliberately misled the NSW Parliament and the people of NSW and Kyogle about a false expectation of economic benefits from this rally.

(Subject originally was "Hippies are c&*%s" - JS)

It never ceases to amaze me how you hippies can care about something that means so little and will never have any direct impact on you whatsoever. Oh my god, dust being kicked up in the bush. UNHEARD OF! poor little critter might get some dirt in its eye, that could be fatal! If that is fatal to it let me tell you something, it will die no matter what. There are far worse predators out there for them to worry about than "dirt" or "noise"

Cars travleiing at faster speeds kick up more dust, much more dust than a car travelling at say 40 KPH-60 KPH NSW has speed limits
which have to be adhered to, unlike rally cars which become exempt while racing.
(New NSW Govt law)

The faster the car travels the more and higher the dust is kicked up, also the further it travels, much more than normal it then spreads further and settles on animals and their nests and young.

The above comment suggests the inherent ignorance of someone who does not live on a dirt road.

We, also as locals drive lower than the aloud speed limits to suit the shoddy condition of the council unmaintained roads. Otherwise we affect neighbours homes and risk being deflected and crash off the road by potholes.

The dust thrown up is easy to dismiss from a once every 2 years spectator and from a suburban tarmac driver who has no idea.

what is dust going to do to animals?

This is a load of bullshit-you protestors should be sued for attempted manslaughter...whats more important, animals or the life of a human?

The Repco rally has an international following and you should be happy that it has generated interest in this area

Never had sand in your eye?

Nor asthma? Dust in the lungs?

What? Should james Hardie be absolved of guilt as it is" only dust"?
Animals have much keener smell than humans,that would be blocked the young would be caked in dust and risk rejection by the parents.
It is not like household dust, it is much denser, usually confined not much further than the roads.

But Rally driving at high speeds, spins wheels to throw it up much higher into the atmosphere to settle further,did you not see the dust trailing clouds?

There has been no evidence that protestors threw or placed rocks on the road, but keep swallowing what they want you to believe, Hey, they want to have the rally go through for the next 10 -20 years,So it helps to make those against look as bad as possible.

You also don't mind that D.A and environmental laws have been overridden so that ordinary people that live here have no say, Become criminals for protesting or have to break laws if they leave their properties when and if they need!

Hello?

When the time comes that your rights to drive on your local roads is overidden or wildlife and pollution is considered to matter nothing you may then not say you having rights is bullshit!

Yep it generated interest in the rally

Not the area,this is an ancient Caldera
and pocket of threatened species of wildlife surrounded by national parks and forests the last remnant in NSW!

Creeks you can actually drink from,inhabited by platypus rare as!
Maybe the bakery sold heaps of pies or the takeaway extra hamburgers.

While oil and fumes and even seemingly harmless dust choked animals in their nests, penetrated their eyes or prevented them following the scent to home.

Yes human babies are important. We would not even dare let them be anywhere near the dust, So why let lesser creatures suffer for our profit? and ignorance? Fun and attitude that says "bugger the planet I want racing cars!''

I'd like to say, I feel like my IQ has dropped from reading 2 paragraphs of that rubbish.

Get a life, you waste of space.

Editorial comment: The title was mine. The contributor did not supply one. This is not the kind of post we would normally encourage as it is a personal attack and sheds no light on the issue at hand. However, I guess it is still of some value to allow our readers to see, for themselves, the quality of Rally supporters' thinking. My inclination is not to publish similar comments in future. - JS, 22 Sep 09

From the base level of debate offered by the supporters of the rally and critical of any criticism only on the basis of 'how dare anyone criticise us wanting a bit of fun' I relegate them to the generalisation of being petrol heads with a skin full of Jack Daniels or Jim Beam and the intelligence of Tolkien or Warhammer 40,000 Orks.

In doubt? I quote the asinine rodomontade from above:

"Yes human babies are important. We would not even dare let them be anywhere near the dust, So why let lesser creatures suffer for our profit? and ignorance? Fun and attitude that says "bugger the planet I want racing cars!''

Q.E.D.