Attempts by a Queensland coal mining company to import foreign labour has been condemned by the Mining & Energy Union.Sojitz Blue has applied to import coal mineworkers from overseas whilst simultaneously offering current workers substandard work contracts and delaying negotiations for an enterprise agreement.The company operates the Gregory Crinum and Meteor Down South (MDS) coal mines near Emerald in Queensland and employs 350 workers.
Sat, 2020-06-13 12:11 by Austen Bronte and Jingsheng
It's not an easy life described within the covers of Donna Ward's semi-autobiography, She I dare not name: A spinster’s meditations on life, Allen and Unwin, NSW, 2020. In a vocabulary measured with precision but rich with imagery, Ward evaluates her experiences as an unmarried woman who achieved this status without wanting it at all. The book is very honest in its descriptions of how this came about and the importance that it has in defining the course of Donna’s life. The term "spinster," is initially called up like some daemonic creature. It is something she almost dare not name! As we read on, we realise that spinsters are not gothic inventions, but human like their married counterparts, probably equally defined by hazard.
It seems to be a case of pot luck that brought Donna to the point of which she writes, in a book finished in her sixty-seventh year.
Donna describes early years rich in experience of nature and travel, warm relationships with larger-than-life parents, and the birth of a young sister in her early childhood. This was however an event notified by her father, only one day prior, with something like sexual shame.
“He said this as if he barely understood anything about it , as if it was something Camille and Mum had cooked up between themselves that very day , something so shameful he’d had to fly all the way home to sort it out, though I didn’t think he was doing a good job of it.”
Mostly, however, her account of her childhood reads almost like a comforting and exciting slide show with non-sequential images and vignettes, depicting mostly carefree recollections. One senses though, that Donna’s parents are involved with each other more than they are with Donna, and that their relationship with her has conditions attached. In primary school, Donna experiences a “desperate relationship with spelling and arithmetic,” to the extent that she is sent to a psychiatrist. No-one can determine whether she is “brilliant or dumb.” Her mother cannot hide her shame from Donna. By the time Donna is ten, though, she is a good student.
It's in adulthood that the going gets really tough. Donna also indicates that she has a very poor relationship with her sister. Where she might have expected to benefit socially in many ways, from an introduction into her parents' well-connected circle in WA mining world, instead, having chosen to do social-work, she is marked as an outsider.
Ward moves from Perth, Western Australia, to Melbourne, Victoria, as a young woman, and predictably has to make her own way in the big city. She shares houses but mostly lives alone. She goes to university and gains her degree. She lands her ‘dream job’ but loses it to a male in the ‘recession we had to have’, as it was termed by the then Federal Treasurer Paul Keating, in 1990.
This job-loss was probably a defining point in Donna’s personal development. Where professional status might have compensated an early lack of unconditional love and brought her earning capacity and social rank up to something recognisable to her former peers, her job-loss plunges her into indeterminate socio-economic status. In parallel with other isolated social and economic victims of economic rationalism, she must individually craft a new survival path. She achieves this with difficulty, an exotic traveller in the new age, finally emerging as a neo-classical philosopher on non-marriage.
Descriptions of her social encounters give the reader a sense of her tumbling around in a sea of strangers interspersed with special friends and lovers poetically anonymised for publication as archetypes or as characters in Ancient Greek tales. Our heroine or protagonist does her best with what she encounters. The life she grapples with is one that has no markers or guideposts and she feels herself to be at the mercy of the preferences of the males she becomes involved with, or the narrative they see for their lives, with respect to other female players. Then again, it was she who decided not to go through with marriage to a Japanese fiancé. In her chapter, ‘The Weight of a child’, we glimpse another of life’s cul-de-sacs as she briefly recollects terminating a pregnancy that resulted from rape.
“I could not have that child, the conception had been so rude. The way his father pushed me onto the couch, held me at the throat, tore my panties and took his revenge, took what I had denied him years before. […] In the autumn of 1977, when the jacarandas were yellowing and the plum trees sapping their leaves, I let that child go, lest I be tied to his father for the rest of my life. I believed another child would come along. (Ward, Donna. She I Dare Not Name: A spinster's meditations on life (pp. 248-249.)
No-one seems to be looking out for Donna, our heroine. She just has to take it on the chin. Is this a failing of her character or is it due to the milieu and time she finds herself in? We found her a very likeable character. In many ways we were reminded of our own photogenic childhoods with happy pictorial vignettes bathed in yellow light, freedom, and cosiness, along with similar struggles in adulthood.
This narrative raises the question: How does a young woman in a big city, away from her parents and her natal community, find love, or find that suitable person with whom to form a family? It is clear from Ward's writing that that her drive to ‘nest’, to be part of a couple (duo), and to have a child, is very strong. It seems both hormonal and social. She wants to be part of the world of couples, to alleviate loneliness, to find security, and to change her status. In the face of disappointment, she soldiers on courageously, but her essentially solitary situation – despite friends and jobs - makes her vulnerable to predatory or incompetent approaches.
She mentions serial recoveries from the emotional hurt of broken relationships. Is life really meant to be so hurtful and stressful? Many women and men would relate to the bruising nature of the relationship-seeking process in the 20th and 21st century urban social environment.
The author describes her experiences, starting in the 1970s until the present. Dating is one way we do this in the West. Both parties do a series of interviews over dinner and this process can go on for years. There are more casual opportunities in which to evaluate potential partners, such as clubs with shared activities, like tennis, bushwalking, or Meetups; churches, political groups, universities, and work. A friend of mine met her life-partner and husband through an ad in a ‘singles magazine’ in the 1980s. These days she might have found him via internet dating services.
The quest for a mate is not a level playing field between men and women if they want children, as the woman is almost invariably up against time constraints. These constraints become increasingly urgent as she moves from her twenties to her thirties. A woman has a brief period in her life from about age sixteen to twenty-five, when she is most sought after by men her own age as well as those considerably older. In terms of sexual attractiveness, she has the odds in her favour then, more than she will have at any time in the future.
If she misses this opportunity to light on the ideal partner, or at least a suitable one, she has her work cut out. It will dawn on her gradually, as she approaches thirty, that really there is not much time and there is a decreasing number of men to choose from.
The finishing post in this ‘race’ is usually considered to be forty, after which a woman will not necessarily expect to ever conceive. If she wants to and she does, it will be a bonus in any permanent partnership she manages to secure.
The woman is, as was Donna Ward, expected, under this pressure, to make a wise assessment of the men who cross her path, to get to know them better than superficially, and to try not to get hurt. Whether she will have descendants depends on how she negotiates this situation. Adding to the difficulty of the task, in her most propitious years, she is necessarily young and inexperienced.
How could our society better provide a benign environment for young marriageable people to meet in relative safety? Should mothers give guidelines to their daughters as to how to as to how to negotiate the situations they will face? Did most mothers also have to just find their way through the minefield? Did they think, "Well I had to do it, and my daughter now faces the same challenge!"
Do most of us leave this all-important decision to complete chance? The writers' parent’s generation, reaching adulthood in the 1940s, were more connected, and their parents more so. They did not often travel far or without introductions. They grew up in more predictable communities with pathways to identifiable milestones (rites of passage) and traditions, and relatives and connections, for negotiating these. At the same time, in the Anglosphere and Europe, in the 1950s and 60s, a burgeoning manufacturing industry meant plentiful jobs. An explosion in energy resources and transport allowed people to commute by car to work, from affordable housing in new estates on land once out of reach. That meant more people could move out of home, get a job, and get married. It was called the Baby Boom. Unfortunately, the explosion just kept magnifying and accelerating globally until mass transport and travel broke time-worn connections, dispersing people, at ever increasing speed to the four winds, far away from the familiar pathways, milestones and traditions.
Thus, our heroine dispersed like a dandelion seed and landed in Melbourne, apparently without any significant connections, in a city with diminishing social capital.
Did most women of her generation negotiate the getting hitched and having children part successfully - if not forever or until ‘death us do part’ - at least for long enough to have a child or two? Why did some, like our heroine miss out, or was the experience more common than we may think? Good luck finding statistics on how many women die without having children. As you can see from the graph, the unmarried proportion of the population has been steadily increasing since the 1970s oil-shock.
Maybe those who did not partner for long enough to have at least one child lacked the connections to find a suitable partner. This seems to be the case with Ms Ward. Many of her encounters with men seem accidental, lacking formal introduction or context, and so she lacks essential information. In assuming reciprocally honest interactions, she is fooled, more than once, by men who are thus easily able to conceal the fact that they are already partnered. Positive tit-for-tat, where good deeds and bad deeds are quickly reciprocated is only possible in viscous societies, where people stay close to where they originate from. Melbourne’s population is close to thirty-five per cent diaspora. Another way of saying this is that people can get away with breaking trust in an anonymous or constantly changing population, unless they belong to a stable enclave within it. Donna didn’t.
A major part of Ms Ward's serial emotional recoveries from serial romantic disappointments come from the blow to her self-esteem, because she mistakenly believes that there must be some flaw in herself, invisible to her, but which these men can see.
A more informed perspective might explain, however, that Ms Ward is a stranger trying to make her way in foreign territory, where her pedigree is unknown, where she has little or no personal status. She does not read the signs accurately or speak the local social language fluently. She is proceeding using signs she learned in West Australia for a small network there, which has probably gone extinct. She did not avail herself of that network when she was in West Australia because she had different values from her parents. This was because she came from a different generation at a time when values were changing rapidly. In her case, Aboriginal rights and Germaine Greer were (by her account) two contemporary changes that obviously influenced her and helped to separate her from her origins. The first affected her relationship with her mining father, and the second affected her relationship with men more generally.
Apparently, she did not want to be part of the money and status oriented, environmentally exploitative, mining crowd her parents belonged to. So, she migrated from West Australia to Sydney, then Melbourne. She acquired some social credentials and connections from universities there, but they were not enough to establish her as a local candidate for the kind of marriage she wanted. She found a good job, but the 2008 recession removed that job, so what were her prospects? We don't know. Having a house is certainly a plus, if you want to attract a mate, but, although she seems to have a house, we do not know how big her mortgage is. She would have needed to be careful not to marry someone with lesser prospects, for fear of being impoverished by divorce, and that would rule out a large and growing demographic.
Ms Ward seems to assume that marriage must have its basis in love. Most people want to marry up and for love, and most who marry say they did marry for love, but how many really do? Is the number of divorces an indication?
Since Ms Ward seemed to have limited opportunities, for one reason or another, perhaps she could have ranked her priorities differently. Reading closely, her real priorities might have been marital status, children, and companionship. Unfortunately, she seemed to put love up at the top. Love is a western ideal but, unless you are very lucky, that is a musical chair game that leaves many more standing than seated, and childless if they persist as the stakes go up. It might be better to look for respect and kindness. Love might come later, and, if it doesn't, affairs within marriage are the tried and true solution.
It is easier to understand the problem of partnership in the west, if you imagine that you are arranging a marriage for someone in 19th century England or in 20th century India, where your parents work out early where you are situated with regard to income expectations and earning, education, charm, and physical attributes. Although your parents might use marriage brokers, it is still likely that they will employ those brokers to find someone within their circle, or at least within a similar circle. When they find a candidate, each set of parents checks the other out for compatibility. After that they decide whether or not to let the children meet.
Given that parents do not generally perform this role as explicitly in contemporary Western society, many young women have to fend for themselves. Perhaps a way women (and men) could try to look after their own interests better could be by cultivating a perspective as if they were their own in loco parentis. Such a perspective would indicate a major change in the concept of marriage in Australia.
Australia's mineral resources rightly belong to this and future generations of Australians, not to foreign corporations. This was what Labor Energy Minister Rex Connor was trying to bring about with the AU$4billion loan that he tried to secure in 1974.
Because Rex Connor had tried to do so through secretive and unorthodox means and had misled Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and Parliament, this was seized upon by the Opposition led by Malcolm Fraser and the Murdoch Press to launch a further campaign to destabilise the Whitlam Government. (An earlier attempt had failed when the Australian people re-elected the labor Government in the mid-term election of 18 May 1974. The 1974 election was called by Gough Whitlam in response to a threat by a rigged Senate majority to block the Federal Budget.)
The subsequent Liberal/National Coalition governments of Malcolm Fraser (1975-1983) and John Howard (1996-2007) as well as the purportedly 'Labor' governments of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating (1983-1996) removed much of the legislative controls that the Australian government had over our mineral resources. As a result our coal, gas and the remnants of Australian petroleum, in addition to metallic ore are being extracted at an ever faster rate for export to countries like China in return for their manufactured produce (much of which ends up in land-fill after a few years).
The latest example of the sell-off of our mineral wealth is plans by the Federal Abbott government to allow foreign corporations to extract our natural gas and export it overseas leaving little for Australians, at inflated prices.
To end this sell-off, a community campaign Reserve Our Gas has been launched.
Civil society groups across the Pacific criticise SOPAC and its development of a regional regulatory framework on deep sea mining (DSM). They argue that it facilitates and pre-empts DSM before Pacific Island communities have had the opportunity to debate whether this is a form of development they want.
Last week the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) funded by the EU held its 4th Deep Sea Minerals Regional Training Workshop in Fiji. The workshop was jointly organised by Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and focused on “the Environmental Perspectives of Deep Sea Mineral Activities”.
Laisa Vereti, Pacific Islands Association of on-Government organisations (PIANGO) said,
“The EU funded SOPAC DSM project needs to have a clear process and mechanism in place. Our pacific governments lack the capacity and expertise to go into this new venture. Countries need to put proper legislation and regulation in place to safe guard their resources and the well being of their people before even thinking of engaging in this new industry.”
The workshop brought together civil society, Pacific Island Government Representatives and DSM mining companies. The scientific experts confirmed that little is still known about deep sea environments and there is much speculation about the extent and nature of the impacts of deep sea mining.
The discussion at the SOPAC meeting was sometimes tense as industry and government were confronted by some difficult truths about the deficiencies in Environmental Impact Assessments and the serious gaps in capacity to manage environmental issues.
Thomas Imal, Lawyer with the Centre for Environmental Law & Community Rights (CELCOR) said,
“The PNG Government has put the cart before the horse by issuing Nautilus Minerals Solwara 1 mining licence without adequate and independent scientific studies, or comprehensive national policy, laws and regulations for DSM.”
“To date the PNG Government has ignored the concerns of communities and other stakeholders. This has been the cause of a strong backlash from PNG society culminating in the threat of a legal challenge.”
“Whilst DSM maybe a viable option for other Pacific Island states it is not the same for Papua New Guinea. We need to apply the Precautionary Principle, the uncertainties far out weight the benefits and it is not beneficial for the country at this time.”
In stark contrast to the PNG Government, the Vanuatu Government is embarking on a national deep sea mining consultation process. Under the oversight of the Hon. Ralph Regenvanu, Minister for Land and Natural Resources, the Vanuatu national consultations aim to model best practice Public Participation in Deep Sea Mining Decision-Making.
Charlie Timpoloa Harrison, Interim CEO, Vanuatu Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (VANGO) said,
“It is paramount that our people fully understand what DSM is before we develop any policy, review any mining legislation or, for that matter, develop any new legislation. All policy and legislation amendments have to involve civil society participation at the core of these national undertakings.”
“This Vanuatu process will draw on the principles and approaches embedded in Free Prior and Informed Consent and the Precautionary Principle. It will be open and transparent and will ensure that if any licences are awarded it is with the consent of Vanuatu’s civil society and on the basis of independently verified science-based risk assessments.”
Dr. Helen Rosenbaum, coordinator, Deep Sea Mining campaign said, “SOPAC is actively promoting DSM as the Pacific Panacea – the answer to poverty alleviation throughout the Pacific. However the truth is somewhat different. Many Pacific countries already have significant mining projects but still lack basic infrastructure, and good health and education systems. DSM will not be a quick fix for this.”
What would Dr Nugget Coombs think of our treatment of the environment and the economy today? Quark applies a retrospectoscope to the problem as she reports on a 1970 Boyer Lecture on environment and economy.
"…In the protracted quarrel between the nature lovers and the money spinners, certain premises have been taken for granted: we can have a rising standard of living at the cost of destruction and pollution, or we can preserve some of the quality of the continent at the cost of material comforts. ..”
A yellowing square of newsprint fell out of an aged scrap book taken from a bulging filing cabinet. It is a random piece amongst many old fragments of decades old news. It is from the Melbourne newspaper “The Age” dated Saturday November 14, 1970 and looks to be an editorial titled "Selling the future".
The subject of the article is the 2nd Boyer lecture given by eminent economist, public servant and first governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr. H.C. (Nugget) Coombs,1906-1997. According to the article, Dr Coombs declared the choice between environment and standard of living was a “false dichotomy”.
Dr Coombs, says the article, wanted Australia to conserve the
“unique treasures of the Barrier Reef and the unique culture of the Aborigines”.
The article continues ,
“He is equally insistent that we should not join in a mad scramble to sell off the newly discovered mineral resources of the nation to foreign interests to make a quick dollar .Such behaviour, he warned, is economically irresponsible and a ‘betrayal of our heirs and successors’.
It goes on to say ‘Even recent discoveries do not guarantee that Australia has inexhaustible reserves of oil and metallic ores. To sell off our rights to these capital assets in a mood of ‘mineral madness’ is to hand over the bulk of these assets to foreign enterprises interested only in short term gains.'
According to the article, Dr. Coombs
“believes we have nothing to lose and much to gain by letting some of these resources lie undisturbed for later generations to exploit. Their market value is likely to increase as the world resources of minerals are consumed and as Australian technology improves to the point where we can process them in this country instead of selling them off for a fractional benefit”
Did Australia’s technology improve to the point where the country was able to “add value” to raw materials or did global economics get in the way of this happening or being maintained? How often now do we hear of any consideration being given to future generations and the need to leave resources for them to use? Rarely, I would say. What I am hearing now is that Australia’s “resources boom” might over, meaning that we are not extracting minerals as quickly as we would like, to bolster our economy.
Oil production in Australia has been declining for at least 10 years. Where will this leave future generations? We cannot be confident that this resource will not be needed in the light of perfected “renewables”.
The old "Age" article continues with Coombs’ thoughts:
“In the meantime , our techniques for preserving and conserving the natural environment must improve. We are still in the very early stages of developing a balanced programme of ecology and if we are too greedy we may do harm which can never be repaired.”
I wonder what Coombs would say about the environment reports that have come out from the various states in the last 20 years. Environment is not important to governments today.
This has been expressed again very clearly by the Victorian government having very recently tucked Environment in with Primary Industry.
Apart from the possible conflict between the 2 sections, environment is ultimately all we have. It should have a department all its own!
Again from the editorial -
“As chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs, Dr. Coombs has his own close and studied interest in the preservation of the first human culture in this continent. Before making any further decisions on the mining of Aboriginal reserves, people in power should carefully ponder the question which he asks ‘by what calculus can one assess the relative importance of instant profits from the dispersal of wasting assets against the destruction of a way of life unique in the world?’ "
'This is not the kind of talk used in elections; it is a long sighted view of the future of the this country, as well as its immediate economic needs. Politicians on both sides of the fence would do well to read this paper and treat it with the seriousness due to a major national problem. It not only affects our lives but the lives of our children.'
The grandchildren and even great- grand children of the adults who cast their eyes over this editorial back in 1970 are now here. Have the intervening generations done the right thing by them?
At the time the article was written, the largest concentration of rock art in the world - an amazing gallery of aboriginal observation and history on the Burrup Peninsula, Dampier Archipelago - had barely been discovered. In the meantime it has been severely compromised through industrial and infrastructure projects.
Thank goodness in 2008, the Australian Government placed 90% of the remaining rock art areas of the Dampier Archipelago on the National Heritage List.
Would Coombs be pleased with the degree to which Australia adds value to its mineral exports? The iron ore that Australia exports now has a much higher phosphorus ad silica content than previously, suggesting that the highest quality ore has already been mined - an indication that we have not been thinking of future generations.
I imagine Coombs was already horrified at the time he died with the destruction of Australia’s environment and we are now 16 years further down that path of environmental destruction.
What is interesting is that “The Age” back in 1970, thoughtfully conveyed Coombs’ Boyer lecture, so remote from immediate economic considerations in its editorial.
(Article by Sheila Newman and Tony Boys.) Burma, now known as Myanmar, nationalised its oil and gas industries after a long history of foreign exploitation. Now the new government seems to be making friends with globalists and, Australian-style, setting up to sell their resources for what looks like the final gasp of the growth/industrial economy. Comments from Tony Boys, regional specialist, on how the locals may fare.
Article by Sheila Newman and Tony Boys.
Burmah/Myanmar oil and gas exploration history
In the second world war the Japanese invaded Burma (now called Myanmar) in part to gain access to its oil reserves and remained there until 1944, when they were defeated.
Scotland originating Burmah Oil Company was the sole oil company to operate in Burma until 1901, with the entry of Standard Oil.
In 1963 Burmah nationalised its petroleum industry, creating the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE). The company was the sole operator for oil and gas exploration, production and transmission, with a 1,900km onshore pipeline grid. A French energy group, Total S.A. partnered MOGE in the Yadana natural gas pipeline, along with Chevron Corporation, a US-based company and PTT, a Thai state-owned oil and gas company. (Source Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myanma_Oil_and_Gas_Enterprise.)
Foreign exploration and development corporations are eyeing Myanmar's precious minerals with a view to moving in for the kill. Industry advocates are pressing for "more open investment rules" in line with other middle-income Asian nations. Myanmar is located close to China and India with their scarily boundless appetites for raw materials, so the corporate race is on to dig it all up as fast as possible to 'kickstart' China and the rest of the world from their real-time economic doldrums and put them back on some buried sunlight time.
The international mining industry, not too fond of paying its way, is portraying Myanmar as more attractive than Australia and Indonesia since those countries enacted new taxes on mining. In the mean time Australia and the United states recently modified economic sanctions against Myanmar perhaps because its new government looks somewhat more democratic, with Aung San Suu Kyi now in parliament or possibly because the new government is talking about opening up to foreign investment and human rights have never posed much of a problem there.
What ever is happening, it doesn't look like this 'democracy' will be much better for Myanmar than what has happened in the past, just corporate rather than national, and, really, capitalist rather than democratic perhaps.
GlobalData, a UK-based business research company, in a press release, "Myanmar - An emerging natural resources powerhouse," (8 October 2012) say that the government has
"expressed interest in joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global standard for increasing transparency in the extractive sector. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the mining sector’s contribution to Myanmar’s GDP has increased from MMK15 billion ($2.3 billion) in 2000 to MMK367 billion ($56.2 billion) in 2010 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 37.6%. Myanmar holds minerals such as lead, zinc, silver, chromium, copper, gold, and precious gems.
The country also has several major oil and gas fields, but a lack of technology and low participation from foreign oil companies has left most of its hydrocarbon reserves unexploited. However, May 2012 saw the Ministry of Energy announce that foreign oil companies will be allowed to make upstream investments in 23 offshore oil and gas blocks in the country.
Myanmar holds proven oil and gas reserves of 2.1 billion barrels (bbl) and 25 trillion cubic feet (tcf) respectively as of April 2011. Additionally, the country’s energy ministry estimates its domestic shale oil reserves to be around 3.3 million barrels (MMbbl). FDI in Myanmar’s oil and gas industry stood at about $13.8 billion for 2011–2012, representing almost 31% of the country’s GDP. However, the country must become a more investor-friendly nation to attract bigger international investments, and develop its fossil fuel production."
To put this in perspective, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) ranks Myanmar at 70th in the world with estimated proven reserves of 0.05 billion (250,000,000) barrels of oil per day and 37th with estimated proven reserves of gas of 10 trillion cubic feet. World oil usage is currently around 25,000,000,000 barrels per year. There is no way of verifying the real accuracy of these estimates because the data is mostly commercially sourced and used to justify commercial exploration where it might not otherwise be undertaken. Press releases are notoriously prone to exaggerate for impact.
What does this really mean for Myanmar?
"Industrial growth in Myanmar could potentially benefit every strata of society, promoting employment opportunities and economic development ... states a new report by natural resources experts GlobalData."
Commercial press releases are also always inclined to make industrial growth and extraction sound great for the people in a country where it occurs. The reality is that corporate scale mining, agriculture and construction always take land out of traditional hands which are rarely compensated. Self-sufficient people thus displaced are expected to train and fit into a new extractive and contractual economy, which erases their place in the world and expects them to pay rent where once they owned productive land.
"Clearly this is going to mean more disruption for the Karen and other nationality people - the Kachin are also mentioned - since they are the ones who live in the mountains, where most of the mining is going to take place (but not oil and gas, which seems to be offshore).
The GlobalData press release describes Myanmar's environment as requiring
"protection from policy makers, who must control excessive felling of trees, the proper treatment of mining waste and water systems, and illegal mining. Mining without using proper safeguards can also put miners’ safety at risk, and harmful mining practices have been observed at gold mines in the states of Kachin and Karen, and in copper mines in Northern Myanmar."
If there is renewed logging then there will most probably be a government push to get indigenous peoples (IPs) totally out of the forest, not to simply prevent them from carrying out swidden farming (this was the main story in Thailand, but the Karen and other IPs managed to prevent the worst from happening - physical relocation - though some villages were forcibly relocated in the 80s.) That sort of thing is very likely to happen in Maynmar. There are plenty of Karen in Myanmar living in the flatlands, so the government is likely to just shrug their shoulders and say 'better for them in the flatlands than in the hills, where life is tough and where the hill people are destroying the forests anyway...'.
Although tin is not mentioned, I have seen a few places where Karen villages are associated with tin resources in N. Thailand. When the mining company moves in to mine the resources (generally just stripping off the surface) I suppose they have permission from the (local) government to do so, but the villagers are told absolutely nothing. They are even told lies about what is being mined or being done - it's so bad that I had to figure out what had been mined in one village about 15 years after it happened because NO ONE in the village knew what it was!! It took me a while to realize it was tin (and I had seen similar situations in two other places). There did not seem to be any serious health effects and so on, and the area was small (might have been a failure, actually) so good for them, but if there is gold found near a village, that will really mean the end. Mountains of tailings and arsenic is used in the process, I believe, so no one wants to be living near that! (There's a gold-mining area I've visited in NZ, just on the southern end of the Coromandel Peninsula - the locals were very angry. There were also gold prospectors wandering the hills all over the peninsula - the locals were on the watch out for them and sometimes even threatened them at gunpoint if they were on anyone's land. You can imagine what the situation is likely to be in Myanmar...)
If it were Aung San Suu Kyi totally in charge, maybe not so bad. I think the IPs can trust her. But she is not in charge, and even if she were, mining is likely to take place. The country has to develop, doesn't it? Do we have any alternative development scenarios in Myanmar? Not to my knowledge. So they're stuck with selling their resources for what looks like the final gasp of the growth/industrial economy.
Unfortunately, not a few people (IPs) are going to have their lives very badly disrupted by this. It's very, very sad. So is Fukushima, so is Koodankulam and everywhere where big money is imposing it's dangerous and dirty technology on the ordinary, powerless people." (Tony Boys).
An Australian Farm Institute study provides a comprehensive review of what is currently known about the amount and location of Australian agricultural land, the rate of land use change occurring, and how governments make decisions both in Australia and internationally. Whether or not there will be sufficient good quality land available for agriculture in the future has not been a high priority issue for most of the past two hundred years.
Does Australia need a national policy to preserve agricultural land?
The rate of land use is changing, and it's important how governments make decisions both in Australia and internationally. Australia has the sixth largest land area and the lowest population density of almost any nation on earth, so the question of whether or not there will be sufficient good quality land available for agriculture in the future has not been a high priority issue for most of the past two hundred years. It's assumed that land is an infinite resource.
Our large land mass gives false sense of security, but Australia has only a little more than 6% arable land, irregular water supplies, and Australia features 96 percent desert. It lacks regular water, fertile soils and resources to carry its current population load. Yet, politicians remain bent on adding millions more people to Australia.
Obviously property development is more lucrative than horticulture, and their lobbyists are far more cash-up and powerful. Food security is not high on politicians' priority list.
According to the research report, Australia is being too reckless with its best agricultural land, and future generations might regret decisions that are currently being made about the future use of that land. With urban sprawl, mining, CSG and environmental demands taking more and more land, and foreign investors also purchasing significant areas, it is legitimate to ask whether Australia can realistically plan to become the future "food bowl of Asia". It's also legitimate to ask if our government's drive for perpetual economic growth be justified if it means we pay higher prices for imported food, something that may diminish in future years with global population reaches 9 billion.
While Australia appears to have plenty of land, in reality only about 3% is actually suitable for cropping, and even less of this is considered to be prime agricultural land. Low or high Population density and population size can't be compared to the nations in Europe of Asia with fertile soils, high rainfall and high human "carrying capacity".
The report concludes that Australia currently lacks a consistent and comprehensive understanding of where this land is located, or how much of it is being diverted from agriculture each year.
Australia is now a net importer of horticultural products, whereas it was a net exporter only a few years ago. Wheat, dairy, fishing and sugar production are all down from their previous peaks.
Earlier detailed research by researcher Dr McGovern, lecturer in the Queensland University of Technology’s school of economics and finance, found that Australia exports only around 25 per cent of its agricultural product at second-stage production, not 80 per cent as has often been supposed.
There's a great international market opportunity for a four-fold increase in food production in Australia, but there's no explanation on just this magnificent feat is going to be achieved, especially if climate change scientists are correct. A free-market economy has no parameters for the limitations of Nature, and that the security of domestic food supplies must be a priority over exports.
Once high immigration - the driver of our population growth - created jobs and an economy of scale, now our population growth is threatening our local fresh food supplies, and it must be slashed. We can't rely on imported food as global overpopulation will mean countries will need the food for their own populations. Food is more important than a "healthy" GDP!
Property development and real estate is obviously more lucrative than growing vegetables. It's about short-term profits and cash flows than real planning. What's the use of economic growth - a pseudonym now for population growth - without food security?
We must stabilize our numbers or we will be no better off than bacteria in a petri dish, bemoaning the lack of room for growth, knowing our final demise but being trapped by a leadership vacuum on population and its implications for food security.
The remarks made by prominent Australian businessman and environmentalist, Dick Smith that in 100 years time people in Australia will be starving to death is not implausible.
Minister for Sustainable Population Tony Burke remains silent, while our growth-based economy continues unfettered. . It's a number-free ministerial policy.
"Minister Burke has ruled out protection for all koalas and we are concerned these northwest NSW koala populations may be left off the threatened species list, even while their populations are falling dangerously low." Zoologist David Paull: 75 per cent decline in the relative abundance of koalas in the Pilliga from 1993 to 2011. Estimates only 500 to 2000 koalas left in the area. “The spread of mines and gas wells, tree kills from coal seam gas spills and increased vehicles through the Pilliga Forest will likely put extra strain on these already declining koala populations." Wilderness Society, 29 April 2012.(This article elevates to an article a comment "Media Release - The Wilderness Society on Koalas," posted by Bandicoot on April 29-2012.)
Koalas must be included on the national threatened species list as part of Environment Minister Tony Burke's 30 April announcement, especially in NSW’s Gunnedah region and the Pilliga Forest where they face the additional threat of expanding coal mining and coal seam gas operations, according to the Wilderness Society.
“Koalas need to be protected across Australia as they are rapidly declining in numbers, especially in the Pilliga Forest, where three- quarters of the population has been wiped since 2000,” Naomi Hogan of the Wilderness Society said today.
"Minister Burke has ruled out protection for all koalas and we are concerned these northwest NSW koala populations may be left off the threatened species list, even while their populations are falling dangerously low.
“Gunnedah is known as the ‘Koala Capital of the World’, yet recent scientific studies show koala numbers across the region and in the nearby Pilliga Forest are seriously declining.”
Zoologist David Paull has recorded a 75 per cent decline in the relative abundance of koalas in the Pilliga from 1993 to 2011. He said the population was relatively stable until 2000 and estimates there are only 500 to 2000 koalas left in the area.
“In 1993 I would take tours through the Pilliga and we would always see koalas, the river banks would be teeming with female koalas with babies on their backs,” said zoologist David Paull, an associate of the University of New England. “Now, you are lucky to see them.”
Miss Hogan continued: “These northwest NSW koala hotspots are the target of very rapid and aggressive coal seam gas and coal mining expansion. The Pilliga Forest is covered by a proposal for the largest coal seam gas field in NSW, while the Liverpool Plains are threatened
by coal seam gas pilot wells at Spring Ridge and Marys Mount. Koalas in Leard State Forest are facing three enormous open-cut coal mines.
“The spread of mines and gas wells, tree kills from coal seam gas spills and increased vehicles through the Pilliga Forest will likely put extra strain on these already declining koala populations.
“The 2011 Senate Inquiry into koalas recognised the major threats to Koalas are habitat degradation, vehicle strikes and fire – all of which are likely to increase in the Pilliga Forest, Liverpool Plains and Gunnedah areas if coal seam gas mining proceeds.
“Koalas are an Australian icon that deserves Federal protection.” Contact Naomi Hogan, The Wilderness Society Newcastle: 0401 650 411
David Paull, Zoologist in the Pilliga Forest: 0424 252 244
Prue Bodsworth, The Wilderness Society Newcastle: 0427 417 870
PS: Tony Burke wants to exclude the latest modern threat to koala's from an overall protective status, yet they are a national, world-wide recognizable native animal? The Koala Capital's exclusion for coal seam mining would make mockery of any threatened status!
Partial Source: Media Release -The Wilderness Society on Koalas
On April 29th, 2012
Three-quarter of Koala population wiped out
Tasmania's Tarkine rainforests are important for their flora which has links to the ancient continent of Gondwana, and for their lichens and fossils which help tell the story of Australia's ancient flora and its evolution.
Mining companies like Venture Minerals are desperate to exploit the minerals beneath Tasmania's environmentally significant Tarkine area. Demand for metals being placed above the value of the environment.
The Tarkine region is located in the north-west of Tasmania. The area encompasses 447,000 hectares of wilderness including the Southern Hemispheres largest single tract of temperate rain forest, a wild coastline with an extraordinary wealth of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage sites. It's the habitat for over 50 threatened species.
The extensive rainforests, beautiful river gorges, buttongrass mountain tops, flowering heathlands and long wild beaches combine to make the Tarkine one of the world's great treasures.
These rainforests are important for their flora which has links to the ancient continent of Gondwana, and for their lichens and fossils which help tell the story of Australia's ancient flora and its evolution.
The Tarkine is a sensitive region rich in mega-diversity. It's one of the world's last remaining temperate rain-forests, the home of the Tasmanian Devil and many other precious species.
National Heritage a must:
The Tarkine must be put on the National Heritage List. The heritage assessment of The Tarkine will help ensure that the heritage values are considered in decision-making, so heritage protection is balanced with the social and economic aspirations of the Tasmanian community. Short-term economic benefits should not be at the expense of the un-quantifiable value of ancient woodlands, rugged coastlines, and forest habitat destruction.
Mining companies like Venture Minerals are desperate to exploit the minerals beneath Tasmania's environmentally significant Tarkine area.
Demand for metals being placed above the environment:
Chinese demand for base metals such as gold, iron, tin, zinc, lead, copper is at an all time high, and this would mean logging, pollution, roads, and heavy traffic destroying the landscape and pristine rivers.
Environment Minister Tony Burke was called on to immediately include the Tarkine on the emergency National Heritage Listing amid concerns about the impact on the Tasmanian devil population of a revised tourist road project. He denied that he made a promise to do so. His predecessor, Peter Garrett, first gave the Tarkine wilderness a one-year emergency listing, which Mr Burke let expire. Since then he has let a British mining company test drill in the area.
Mr Burke says the new plan for a tourist road is not the same as the original 132-kilometre loop road plan that was subject to a now lapsed emergency listing. One road is not similarly destructive an another?
Mining and road proposals threaten to carve up Tasmania's unprotected the Tarkine wilderness area, local defenders say.
Venture Mineral's Mt Lindsay tin, tungsten and iron mining proposal, coupled with the revival of the controversial Tarkine link road proposal, should have given Mr Burke grounds to reinstate Tarkine's emergency National Heritage listing. Heritage listings would not stop mining, but developments would have to pass more rigorous and critical environmental tests.
The Mount Lindsay tin project is the largest of several mines planned around the Tarkine in an emerging new Tasmanian environmental battle. The Tarkine National Coalition said up to nine new open cut mines are in development there. Venture Minerals predict $1 billion in revenue, with more than 500 jobs in construction and 200 in operation.
Surely the threats of mining are enough reasons for an emergency heritage listing for the Tarkine?
Mr Burke says the principle that a heritage listing automatically locks out all development is wrong. He says with or without a heritage listing, environmental protection remains. "Developments" and "protection" are inherently contradictory.
Mr Jordan who heads the Tarkine National Coalition says Mr Burke's decision to lift the heritage listing means other mining companies will not be scrutinised as closely as Beacon Hill Resources. The whole area should be protected as a national park.
The interests of miners are being placed above the Minister's obligations to the environment. All three proposed mining projects will have secured Commonwealth environmental permits during the 18 month period he had at his disposal, allowing them to avoid scrutiny against National Heritage criteria. They will also be allowed to continue exploration drilling and associated access roading without need for Commonwealth assessments.
The mining will cause havoc to the pristine condition of the area. There is nothing "sustainable" now. It's just window-dressing. What about the costs and long term damage of these industries and jobs? Mr Burke is supposed to represent the environment, not the mining industries. As with his population strategy, that come to nothing, he is now abrogating his duty to protect one of the last temperate rain-forest areas in the world.
It is wrong to destroy sacred and holy places to plunder their riches, and the same applies to Nature's sacred places.
The way The Australian writes him up, Tim Flannery, who once wrote so articulately in defense of our land and its ecology and our place in it, now seems reduced to a quasi-apologist for extreme mining technologies. The Australian writes in such an unbalanced way. See also "Fracking Democracy..."
The article reads as if Tim Flannery, (famously author of The Future Eaters), alarmed at the roughshod being run over Australian farmers' rights and the environment, is trying to get higher standards in the mining industry.
He is reported to have said that, "similar arguments applied to mining generally, and called on government and industry to do more to regulate and rein in poor performers."
The Australian cites him as saying that mining is utterly necessary for modern life.
It fails to balance its argument by giving the case for allowing population to downsize and relocalise and for people to be more self-sufficient in a slower economy to allow the planet time to heal. No attention is given to how we all work harder for less and how many of us don't see the point in producing all this short-lived 'stuff' that finishes up in land-fills. Yet it is only in order to continue producing all this stuff that extreme technologies like gas-fracking can be artificially politically justified. In the end the only reason to go on producing more and more stuff is to keep a few undeserving greedy people at the top in the positions to which they have become accustomed.
Completely different perspective operates outside our system, but we don't know of it
Here is the comment I sent to the Australian regarding their article:
"France recently passed a law in parliament to make fracking illegal. The law rescinds rights previously granted and put any schale-mining for gas on hold pending new and safer technologies. Source: JT, Edition du Mercredi 13 Avril 2011, http://jt.france2.fr/20h/ Since then a further report was released and covered on the news for France 2, Monday 3 October 2011, which said that the French Government remained unconvinced by the latest techniques proposed by fracking concerns. All permits have been cancelled. High on the list of reasons against fracking in France was the risk of contamination of water supply and its impact on agriculture and human health.
This parliamentary decision is yet more evidence for those aware of different legal systems, that the Napoleonic system in France and Europe is far more democratic - in protecting peoples' rights and communal (and national) assets and vital resources - than the anglophone systems in their various forms in Britain and her current and ex-colonies."
Let's see if they publish that.
Murdochian only spoken here
Generally, it seems that, if you want to have your opinion published in the mainstream press you may only express it in so far as it fits their paradigm. So Tim Flannery, who once wrote so articulately in defense of our land and its ecology and our place in it, now appears to be reduced to being portrayed as a quasi-apologist for extreme mining technologies. It is hard to believe that he is really behind gas-fracking. One gets the impression that he is now interfacing, on behalf of numerous committees, with a monolithic industrial mining front that speaks uniquely in Murdochian.
It is as if our press and government have rendered us incapable of imagining any other way. France's parliamentary decision to ban gas-fracking is yet more evidence that the Napoleonic system in France and Europe is far more democratic - in protecting peoples' rights and communal (and national) assets and vital resources - than the anglophone systems in their various forms in Britain and her current and ex-colonies.
Australia's mass media and government keep her citizens in the dark and feed them B.S.
Australia's lack of information and news from Western Continental Europe keeps us in the dark about other ways other possibilities, and notably enduring forms of democracy that retain local powers. We only get an Anglophone perspective on matters of importance. America, Canada, Australia are among the least democratic countries in the world, with vast and growing differences between the haves and the have-nots, in legal systems which cannibalise and destroy their own community, citizens and resources. The reason that these countries are not yet obviously reduced to the poverty of Haiti is that their citizens started out with more resources per capita. As commonwealth is transferred more and more into private hands in those systems, people who have to date been able to survive, will not survive. The growing numbers of homeless and hopelessly endebted are indicators of the social unsustainability of the current economic and legal systems in Australia, America and Canada. In France and the rest of Europe, it is virtually impossible for citizens to be left without shelter unless they voluntarily opt out - as some homeless do - albeit with every attempt made to shelter them each winter.
That this same system was able to appraise and legislate against a threat to its peoples' way of life in response to their protests is an indication that their system is more democratic and more flexible than ours.
Six months ago an Indian energy corporation, Lanco Infratech, bought an Australian coalmine for $750 million dollars. Although, at the time, it agreed to lower-prices for customers, now it is telling the West Australian government that it will stop supplying electricity to West Australians by September unless Australian customers pay double. Six months ago Indian energy corporation, Lanco Infratech, bought an Australian coalminefor $750 million dollars. Although, at the time, it agreed to lower-prices for customers, now it is telling the West Australian government that it will stop supplying electricity to West Australians by September unless Australian customers pay double.
"The equivalent of 15 per cent of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) production from export gas projects will now be required to be reserved for domestic use as a condition of access to WA land for the location of processing facilities."
So a mere 15% of Western Australia's liquefied natural gas, which according to a report (PDF, 223K, linked to from here) of the DomGas Alliance, "Western Australia’s natural gas resources, could be fully depleted within 30 years," is to be reserved for domestic use and the remaining 85% allowed to be sent overseas.
As inadequate as the 2006 provisions to protect LNG will become in the face of increasingly savage oil and gas depletion, they are better than our policies of digging up and exporting coal as fast as possible, leaving absolutely nothing in reserve.
West Australian electricity supplies under threat from foreign ownership
Six months ago Indian energy corporation, Lanco Infratech, bought an Australian coalmine from Ric Stowe for $750 million dollars. Although, at the time, it agreed to lower-prices, now it is telling the West Australian government that it will stop supplying electricity to West Australians by September unless Australian customers pay double.
The Bluewaters power station (also owned by Ric Stowe) is itself in the process of being sold to two Japanese companies, Sumitomo and Kansai Electric.
The West Australian Premier, Colin Barnett, has been accused by the opposition state development spokesperson, Mark McGowan, of failing to safeguard West Australia's power supply by not having put in place a 'coal reservation policy' similar to the one already in place for West Australia's natural gas industry.
A chief executive of the holding company for Bluewaters, Griffin Group, Mr Ashcroft, is quoted by the Financial Review as saying,
"What is unfolding here is that our Collie coal will be more and more targeted for export with domestic supplies becoming a second priortiy and only at increasing prices."
Why is West Australian Liberal Premier Colin Barnett resisting these perfectly reasonable demands that he act responsibly and reserve that minimal amount of coal for the needs of Western Australians?
There is something politically incorrect about mentioning past wars because they are almost always a source of embarassment for current governments and the pseudo-sophisticated classes that would rather we all pretended that we were being governed for our own good. Take WW2, where about 40,000 Australians and even more Japanese lost their lives fighting each other on behalf of governments which claimed to be ordering this in the name of their homes and families.
How do Australians who lost their spouses, children and parents in WW2 defending Australia's security and resources deal with the bizarre fact that today's governments are signing our agricultural land, our mineral wealth, and our built infrastructure over in peace time in exchange for a bit of cash up front? Indeed, how does any Australian? Concerns are entirely justified. In ten years time when fuel prices are reaching beyond the wages of many households, the amounts paid today by the purchasers of these energy sources will seem paltry and ephemeral.
Surely it was obvious to our current leaders that our control over these increasingly scarce resources could not be guaranteed by mere sales contracts and polite agreements?
The problems now arising with Indian coal could be the beginning of the end. Are they a sign that members of our governments are just going to surrender, in exchange for cash, the bulk of our scarcest resources to any cashed-up foreign corporation that can then search the world for the most cashed-up market, leaving Australians high and dry?
The economic policy of globalism relies in part on the notion that the intertwining of interests and ownership globally will make countries too interdependent to engage in war. The problem is that globalism makes no provision to protect the rights of citizens and individuals to self-government locally and to maintaining control of essential services and resources locally. It doesn't prevent wars either. They are going on all over the place - in the name of peace and democracy - ironically .
Food security also ignored by our cash-mad 'leaders' this week
And just this week the Senate Economics Committee rejected calls by independent and Greens senators to create a special legislative national interest test for purchases of agricultural land above a certain threshold and to require the Treasurer to publish applications of interest in Australian farms online. The proposed laws were intended to protect Australia's food supply and to reveal the true owners of the nation's farming businesses. The reason for concern is that significant portions of Australian farming land are now being acquired by foreign nations with interests which could become conflictual to those of Australians. The Senate Economics Committee appeared to evade its responsibility, and really to condemn our economy, providing as their excuse for rejecting the legislative proposals the idea that Australia needs to sell off equity in order to create industry and jobs for Australians. They settled for an audit.
2.47 Finally, the committee briefly explored the prospect of foreign ownership of Australian agricultural land, particularly the existing regulatory approach to major foreign land acquisitions.
2.48 The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) informed the committee that investment in agricultural land by foreign investors is generally exempt from the requirement to notify the government in accordance with the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975. Only if the acquisition exceeds 15 per cent of a business or corporation whose Australian interests are valued above $231 million, or where the investment is made by a foreign government or their agency, is it subject to scrutiny from the Australian Government to establish whether any national interest concerns are raised.
2.49 The committee notes that incremental purchases exceeding the threshold amount in aggregate are not required to be disclosed. The committee also notes that in some countries the distinction between foreign governments and companies is not necessarily straightforward.
2.50 Land available for agriculture is declining across the globe as expanding populations inhabit fertile land that could otherwise be devoted to food production. Although this problem is not as severe in Australia as it is in countries with a smaller land mass, urban encroachment is nonetheless affecting the capacity of Australian producers to grow food in the areas in which it is demanded, which in turn affects its quality and affordability. Competition for fertile land from mining and biofuels also threatens to reduce Australia's productive capacity.
2.51 The committee recognises that it is difficult for governments to dictate to landowners the purpose for which their land must be used, particularly when agricultural production may not presently be the most profitable possible use. However, Australian governments need to give serious consideration to mechanisms for protecting our most fertile agricultural land from alternative uses in the interests of our long term productive capacity and food security.
2.52 The committee also notes the marginal viability of agricultural production and the difficulty for potential young farmers to enter the sector, due to high land prices which combine to leave agricultural production vulnerable to structures that are less desirable than traditional family farming. Corporate farming models have the advantage of attracting extra capital to agriculture, though there are questions about the availability of labour and long term stewardship of the land. More significantly, though, Australia risks foreign companies, many with close ties to their home governments, purchasing substantial strategic interests in Australian land without needing to be vetted for national interest concerns. Australia needs to be careful that Australia's productive capacity is not undermined by foreign interests producing food on Australian land that is not intended for trade, but for direct supply to countries that have not managed their own food security needs.
2.53 The committee recommends an audit be undertaken to establish the extent of foreign ownership of commercial agricultural and pastoral land, and ownership of water, in Australia, with particular emphasis on ownership by sovereign and part-sovereign-owned companies."
The so-called 'skills shortage' in Australia is mere industry propaganda to avoid training costs. This is despite Australia have an advanced industralised base and a deep capacity as an education training nation and indeed exporter of education! Industry argues that it doesn't spend on training because their trained staff leave - what an excuse!
Yes, government and industry bleat unsubstantiated a 'skills shortage' so they can bring more and more immigrants for selfish short term economic ends while avoid financial cost of education and training locally and moral obligations to do so.
Mining companies are the worst. Their international ring-in approach sourcing foreign contractors suits mining companies to a tee - no give and all take!
Remember BHP Billiton's immoral abandonment of Ravensthorpe in WA in January 2009?
BHP had promised the Ravensthorpe community that it was to be there for the long haul so workers came and small businesses invested, only to see BHP Billiton suddenly close its nickel mine near Ravensthorpe, move out and leave about 1450 locals out of work and up to 5000 dependent people devasted.
Mineral commodity prices are fickle, but mining companies don't care about human resource planning and training. They know to just run to Australian politcians and cry we can create jobs so give us trained workers. So another round of flood gate immigration rolls to stay long after the work has gone.
Now two years on and mining companies are again crying 'skills shortages'.
But did they invest in skills training of the pervious workforce. Don't be silly, training cost seat into profits and dividends and Marios Klopers' bonuses.
Contracting is rife in many industries where employers treat workers like disposable razors. Desperate workers from developing countries will do almost anything. It is a dumbing down of Australian standards. It has encouraged 'flood gate migration' and the Laborals have no population vision.
Read More about what BHP did by abandonning Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun...
'Anger rising over Ravensthorpe as BHP departs'
by Andrea Hayward, AAP 4th February 2009.
'FADING DREAMS: A home stands waiting for buyers at Hopetoun.
TWO weeks after BHP Billiton announced it would close its Ravensthorpe nickel mine, shock has turned to despair and anger. Despite their stoicism and resolve to make the best of a bad situation, the residents of Hopetoun and Ravensthorpe face a grim reality. Some business owners face financial ruin, many will go bankrupt and those left behind could end up living in a ghost town.
Houses purchased at peak prices as lucrative investments will be worth little and the rental market will be virtually non-existent.
The shire's population which doubled with the mine's operation will halve. Many low-income earners were driven away as rents and property prices trebled.
Most of the BHP workers who moved to the idyllic seaside haven of Hopetoun will have left by the end of the month and the number of students at the new school is expected to drop from 195 to 50.
Rumours the mine would close had circulated for months. But in every small town there are rumours about something or someone and it seemed it was business as usual for BHP.
Local businesses were being encouraged and supported to set up shop and workers were continuing to arrive with their families to live in Hopetoun just days before the mine closure was announced.
Darren Swain, a site manager for maintenance and project services company Ativo, moved from Roxby Downs in South Australia to Hopetoun on December 21 with his wife and five children. He will have to again uproot his family, along with 80 Ativo employees who are now jobless.
Mr Swain said the decision to close the mine shocked everyone.
"The rumours, you just sort of dispel them the best you can because that was part of my job, to keep everyone focused on what they were doing,'' he said.
"We expected maybe cutbacks but not closure of the plant.''
On the day of the announcement, workers and contractors were told to attend safety meetings - what came next was a bolt out of the blue.
"They segregated the BHP workers from the contractors and put us up in the wet mess on the site on the 21st and said we're going to have a stop for a safety meeting and then... someone got up and read out to everyone the ASX press release and mentioned that we would all be demobilised that day,'' Mr Swain said.
No one was more shocked than the workers who arrived just days before, from as far away as South Africa, to live in Hopetoun and work at the mine.
Never the same
Life will go on for the BHP workers - the company is redeploying them to work at other mine sites and have reportedly given them packages of up to $70,000 for their troubles.
But for those who lived in the two towns before BHP, life will never be the same.
While Ravensthorpe was put on the map when gold and copper were discovered in the late 1800s, the backbone of the town has been agriculture.
Mines have opened and closed over the years but agriculture has remained the backbone of the community.
It will continue to be but the shire has been left to deal with the prospect of 250 empty houses in Hopetoun, which has been transformed from a sleepy holiday destination into a mining community with no miners.
Both Hopetoun and Ravensthorpe have been left with a scar that will never heal, shire president Brenda Tilbrook said.
"They talk about zero harm on their minesite, I would like to see them talk about zero harm to our community,'' Ms Tilbrook said.
Already someone has told her they have thought of committing suicide and the worst is to come as people struggle to keep the banks at bay.
Ms Tilbrook is convinced the mine will never reopen. In fact, she went as far to say she would bet her first born child on it.
BHP said the decision to close the mine was the result of diminished prospects for profitability.
A bleak outlook for the nickel market and the capital expenditure required to meet projected production volumes at Ravensthorpe were behind the decision, BHP said in a statement to the ASX.
BHP recognised the concerns of the local community and would honour any agreements made and keep the community updated, stainless steel materials president Jimmy Wilson said.
It is of little comfort for local farmer Brad Clarke who has set up the Stuffed Cocky cafe in Ravensthorpe.
Mr Clarke and his wife Lisa are yet to officially open the cafe but will push ahead with their plans because they have already invested in setting the business up and have no prospect of selling it.
BHP's refusal to speak to small business owners like the Clarkes has been a source of frustration.
Mr Clarke said.
"There's been very little information to allow us to know if the mine is a dead duck and it's never going to reopen or it's just gone into care and maintenance...''
It's a David vs Goliath type situation.
"The way they do business is not the way people here do business. I mean, we are up front, open with people and you tell people when you have an issue, you explain it to them and you hope they'll understand,'' Mr Clarke said.
"BHP as a multi-national company or as a huge corporate entity don't operate that way.
"I just don't think BHP takes any notice of the effects on people - collateral damage if you like.
"I don't think anyone realised that on enter this community. I'd like to see them put as much money into a suitable exit strategy.
"I don't feel that's happening.''
BHP spokesman Peter Ogden said the company was liaising with community leaders and the shire.
The company's focus remained on redeploying its workforce and buying back houses it helped them buy.
``In addition, we have undertaken one-on-one discussions with a number of local businesses to understand the impact of the announcement on them,'' Mr Ogden said.
No second chance
Yesterday, BHP announced a half year profit of more than $4 billion.
CEO Marius Kloppers said the Ravensthorpe mine was not ``the finest investment decision the company had made'' and said it was unlikely to reopen.
As locals rally together and regroup, attention has been drawn to putting a $100 million road through the world famous Fitzgerald River National Park.
But that's a long-term prospect and it's too far away to keep businesses going.
It also risks splitting the community, with some opposed to exploiting the UNESCO listed biosphere.
WA Regional Development Minister Brendon Grylls is applying pressure on BHP to fly its workers in and out of Hopetoun to other mine sites so they can stay in their homes.
But Ms Tilbrook isn't convinced it will solve many problems.
"There may be a small percentage of people who may be willing to do that, but it will not be a large, significant amount of people,'' Ms Tilbrook said.
"They came here so their husbands didn't have to fly in and fly out, and most will go back to where their support systems are.''
The greatest tragedy is all eyes were on Hopetoun.
"This was a template for the rest of Australia on how to grow a community, a residential community, how to bring in a residential workforce for a mine and it was working,'' Ms Tilbrook said.
And, perhaps the biggest question that remains is how did the world's biggest miner and Australia's biggest company sink more than $2 billion into a mine that was flawed?
The author is a shareholder in BHP Billiton.'
I think mining companies are more contemptible than the banks. Why should anyone listen to their pleas to avoid a super mining tax?
Kevin Rudd and his Federal Government ministers have lately taken to uttering the catch-cry that they "want Australia to be a place that makes things". However, this will not happen in a world of slave-labour economies, until the abandonment of protectionism, supported by both the major Australian political parties, is reversed.
Surprisingly this harmful policy began in the years of the otherwise largely economically nationalistic Whitlam Labor Government.
Martin Feil writes in his opinion piece in the Age newspaper of where this has led Australia three and a half decades later:
In the past 30 years, the manufacturing sector's share of Australia's Gross National Income has fallen by almost two-thirds. Some academics (including the Productivity Commission) argue that its employment numbers are the same but this facile argument ignores the increases in both the population and labour force.
The biggest employer in Australia is aged and health care. It employs about 1.4 million people or 12 per cent of the Australian workforce. The next biggest employer is retailing, which employs about 1.3 million people. While we have to look after the sick and the old and love to shop we must realise that we are not making much of anything.
No doubt not far behind would be other unproductive categories such as finance and land speculation. Property development, including construction, whilst superficially appearing to be a productive economic activity, merely facilitates adding more to our population for which sustainably productive employment has yet to be created. The same applies to the construction of roads, and other infrastructure to service the areas in which the new arrivals will live.
Whilst Premier Kevin Rudd and Queensland Premier Anna Bligh apparently believe that these activities can indefinitely continue to be a major component of Australia's economy, common sense tells us that they cannot.
The money that pays employees in those industries comes from income earnt in other industries, from taxes on earnings, from money borrowed from overseas and from assets sold to our overseas creditors or investors. Money is not internally generated and self perpetuating.
Mining is not the next big thing for the Australian economy. It doesn't employ many people and most of the industry is already owned overseas. The dollars look great, but most of them don't end up in Australian pockets or taxation revenue. Mining helps pay the interest but it won't earn enough to reduce the debt unless we begin to add value to the ore by further processing.
Generally, the oriental dragon is benevolent and powerful, bringer of good fortune. Until 1912, the dragon was the national emblem of China. Now, the god of Growth is the one that is worshipped!
In less than a decade, China has spun a web of strategic investments that stretches from Latin America to the former Soviet Union, from the remotest islands of the South Pacific to the huge oil fields of Angola and Sudan. In a range of resource-rich countries, China is diligently cultivating its interests.
When China announced its biggest ever loan to a foreign country recently - $US20 billion ($21.5bn) to Venezuela through its China Development Bank - it was seen as a huge, but unsurprising deal. Venezuela ranks among the top ten oil producers in the world and boasts a robust 80 billion barrels in proven reserves. While the United States remains the top buyer of Venezuela’s oil, China is emerging as a new market.
Colombia, Argentina, and Peru are smaller oil and gas producers "Peru has become the principal destination of Chinese investment in Latin America, while China has become this country's second largest trade partner," said a senior Chinese official.
The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Peru and China was signed on April 28. For China, Peru is an important source of minerals, primarily copper. For Peru, increasing trade with China is a key way of diversifying the export economy toward an area of dynamic demand.
Mining accounts for 60 percent of Peru's exports and was the motor behind the country's 6.7 percent annual growth from 2002 to 2008. Even with the global recession, the Peruvian government expects $30 billion to be invested in new mining projects by 2017, spearheaded by Chinese, Swiss and British-based companies hungry for copper, gold, zinc and silver. There has been little improvement in the health or living standards of the general public. More than 100 other communities are fighting oil and mining companies over contamination and use of land and water, according to the government's ombudsman — up from just 14 when President Garcia took office in 2006. The Asian giant has a reputation for flouting environmental standards and labour rights.
Shocking images were posted on the YouTube website and where was seen as the Chinese state mining, Chinalco, with deception and hiring people who do not live in Morococha Junin intend to approve the Environmental Impact Study to begin developing the mega project Toromocho despite opposition from the authorities and the head of the community..... It is sad to see how people really live there were repressed and battered by the police who should defend them, surprising even the deployment of members of the Directorate of Special Operations (Diroes) throwing tear gas at those who only wanted to exercise their right to Information and protest against the abuse of this multi-billion dollar mining YouTube
In contrast to other countries, in China all companies are linked to the state and the ruling Communist Party, so that its investments conform to a strategic economic and political vision of the medium and long-term goals of the country. The Chinese firm, Shougang Hierro Peru, is also accused of causing pollution and flouting health standards and labour laws as well as the right of workers to form trade unions. Moreover, local people in the district of San Juan de Marcona, where the mine is situated, have to get the company's permission to obtain water, sanitation or electricity.
Since 2004, when it stepped up its strategy, the country has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into loans and bonds and made 298 major equity investments across the globe, worth about $204bn.
The oil-rich South American nation is one of many Latin American nations to be showered with largesse by China in recent years as the Asian giant shores up its supply lines and increases its global political influence.
Vast mines in Peru and Chile that supply the world with crucial metals have started to pump water from the Pacific Ocean high into the Andes Mountains because of chronic water shortages exacerbated by climate change. More mines near the desert coasts of Chile and Peru plan to install desalination plants soon. Costs of the elaborate filtration systems have fallen over the last decade, while lofty global metals prices, boosted by demand from fast-growing Asia, may keep profits high for years to come. Chile's Escondida mine, the world's biggest copper mine, may expand a desalination system it installed years ago, said a spokesman at BHP Billiton, the mine's owner.
Papua New Guinea
Chinese government owned China Metallurgical Construction (MCC) corporation's efforts to establish the massively destructive Ramu Nickel mine in Madang Province, Papua New Guinea – the largest investment in metal exploration and mining by the Chinese outside of China – is in serious jeopardy. Local landowners are successfully initiating court cases and protests to demand mine tailings not be dumped into the sea – poisoning fish stocks and causing extreme ecological destruction – or the mine be stopped. Papua New Guinea and China's New Empire
Already, its workers have built the country's longest bridge, eliminating the need for those canoes. They have built the country's biggest wharf. They have carved out a 25-kilometre access road in the mountains. And now they are working on a 134 km long pipeline which ultimately dumps waste directly on the seabed is easily prone to damage from landslides or sabotage. Local peoples are protesting the potential damage to their land, seas and way of life. (see a)
In less than a decade, China has transformed the global timber trade, importing more wood each year than any country in history and quadrupling the amount of wood products it ships around the globe.
Nearly three decades into its unprecedented economic ascent, China is outstripping its own resources and roaming the planet for more. Its hunt for timber is driven by a voracious hunger for everything from wood to cashmere to oil.
There may be no better place to hear the echoes of China's rise than Papua New Guinea, whose local timber industry is booming. It sends four out of every five logs to China. Loggers in Papua New Guinea are cutting so fast that experts calculate that the rest of its accessible forests will be cut down within 16 years.
Third World gold mines spawn a global mercury threat
Tens of thousands of remote mining sites have sprung up mostly in Asia, Latin America and Africa, using as much as 1,000 tons of mercury each year. The mercury ravages the nervous system of miners and their families. It also travels thousands of miles in the atmosphere, settling in oceans and riverbeds in Europe and North America and contaminating fish. The use of mercury in gold mining is illegal in Indonesia because the metal is toxic to humans and the environment. But the price of gold has tripled since 2001, and mercury is the easiest way to extract it. The international trade in mercury is largely unregulated. And most of the 55 countries where small-scale gold mining is rife lack the political will or capacity to prevent the metal from falling into the hands of 10 million to 15 million poor miners.
China holds the largest human population in the world, which is growing and expanding into remote areas that formerly provided important wildlife habitat.
“China's border areas have long been considered a hotbed for illegal trade, with remote locations often making surveillance a difficult problem in sparsely populated areas," said Professor Xu Hongfa, Director of TRAFFIC's programme in China .
(photo: North Chinese Leopard source: wikimedia commons)
Xie Yan, the China Country Program Director for the
Wildlife Conservation Society , estimates that fewer than 50 South China Tigers are left in the wild, with about "10 still live in the southwestern province of Yunnan, some 15 in Tibet, and 20 or so in northwestern Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces. Even if take a step back and look at 12 Asian countries and Russia, it is estimated that only about 3,500 tigers are left in the wild, compared to around 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century.
Habitat destruction and fragmentation is the main cause, along with the removal of most of the preys that tigers need to survive. But poaching is also problematic, with most of the demand coming from practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine and the illegal trade of pelts and bones.
The Rudd government last year reversed its 2008 liberalisation of foreign investment rules on real estate, and set up a unit to ensure the rules are obeyed. Temporary residents will be forced to sell any property bought during their stay in Australia, in just one of the new rules to be imposed on the market by the Federal Government to curb a high level of foreign investment. It means that Labor has figured out what many already know — that there was a voter groundswell of anger over housing in Australia.
The General Manager of Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), Mr Patrick Colmer told a conference organised by the Australia China Business Council in late September 2009, that the Federal Treasurer Mr Swan had approved $A34 Billion of Chinese investment in 90 projects in the past 18 months and also flagged that China would probably emerge as the third-largest source of approved investment in the past financial year.
One question not addressed is how exactly Australia will distinguish between ‘public’ and ‘private’. The line between ‘public’ and ‘private’ in China can be blurry.
Australia's deputy government finance chief says the government still welcomes foreign investment, despite the tensions between Australia and China over Stern Hu's detention. But Deputy Treasurer Senator Nick Sherry says the benefits of foreign investment far outweigh any perceived costs.
There has been a big increase from Chinese buyers of cattle farms in the past six months, it has grown 10-fold. Companies like Landmark now use Mandarin translators, said Mr Hickson, real estate manager at Landmark Operations Ltd, who showed Chinese potential buyers a 405-hectare cattle ranch near Mackay, in Queensland state. Interest from Chinese buyers has gained at least 10-fold and we sold a Queensland cotton farm last week for A$15 million to Chinese buyers, said John Burke, an agent specializing in country properties for rural services company Elders Ltd.
Chinese are wealthy and they are looking for a secure investment in beef, cotton and grain properties.
The interest in farms mirrors a trend in China's demand for minerals that helped the Australian economy avoid recession during the global financial crisis.
ABS figures show Chinese investment of just $3.05bn in 2008, although a vast pool of Chinese investment has flowed into Australia's resource sector since, or is poised to do so.
Northern Australia's resources boom, with miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton fuelling China's growth, is forecast to continue to grow significantly.
However, water scarcity in the north will be a major issue for future mining, along with access to skilled labor, said the report on sustainable development in northern Australia.
Research released by Roy Morgan in late 2006 clearly shows that Australian consumers want to buy Australian and that more than two thirds consciously do so whenever possible or often. Buying Australian made is good for all of us. It creates jobs, boosts the economy and improves our standard of living. It also gives us great products manufactured by Australians for Australian conditions.
New Tax The long-awaited Henry tax review push for 40 per cent national resource rent tax that would be levied on the super-profits earned by mining companies. This new tax would only kick in once the company had earned enough to cover all its exploration and development costs on a new project, and it would only apply to the project’s "super-profits" – that is, the profits that the miner earns above a "hurdle" rate of return on the initial investment.
Australia exported $39 billion worth of products to China last financial year, with iron ore and other concentrates making up the lion's share, followed by coal and wool.
In return, Australia imported large amounts of clothing, telecommunications equipment and computers.
Feeding the dragon
In 'Feeding the dragon: Opportunities for Australian meat in China', Rabobank says China has grown to become one of the world?s largest markets for meat – including beef and sheepmeat – and demand is expected to continue rising over the next 10 years.
This will result in opportunities for Australia, with the Chinese market continuing to grow in importance for Australian beef and sheepmeat exporters, it says.
The report says China's massive population, surging income, rapid urbanisation and westernisation has resulted in the country becoming a giant consumer of a range of agricultural products, including meat.
(China's growth in GDP 1960 to 2005- wikimedia commons)
Australia producing more meat for the hungry dragon of China may bring in income for farmers, but what about the environmental costs? What about soil protection, water consumption, deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and loss of bushland and wildlife? Australian resources should be for Australia, not foreigners.
From a nation that could not meet minimal nutrition needs of its population in the early 1950s, per-capita food availability reached 3040 kcal per day in 2000, a level that is 14% higher than the average of developing countries and 8% higher than the world average. Since the early 1980s, China has shifted from being a net food importer to a major net food exporter to world markets.
According to some estimates, nearly 25% of cultivated land is contaminated to varying degrees by the over-use of inorganic fertilisers and pesticides. Soil and water scientists have found that fertiliser residues especially (in the form of nitrates) have been increasing in the soils and water sources in certain areas.
Although it is unclear how such figures are generated, it has been reported that about 10% of China’s grain, more than 20% of livestock products and nearly half of the nation’s vegetable and fruit production suffer from quality problems.
More people, finite land, and everyone must eat. It's not 9 billion, it's near 10 billion now - the projected human population by 2050. And the population of Africa will have risen from 200 million in 1950 to 2000 million in 2050, a 10 fold increase. And it's our good friend China that is buying a lot of Africa, the minerals, food, rhino horn and the rest of the soon to be extinct fauna, while the locals starve.
Since the 1980s, China has mobilized a construction force as large as the entire population of California. These workers have trebled the number of Chinese cities to 700, more than 100 of which have populations of greater than one million.
China is consuming half of the planet's concrete and steel production annually to remake itself as a world economic power, reproducing much of what is most deplorable about modern cities in the process. China's cities are also rapidly sprawling across the landscape, churning precious farmland into a landscape of superblock housing estates and single-family subdivisions laced with highways and big-box malls
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
China's carbon dioxide emissions per capita is also relatively low compared to developed countries and China has not contributed much to climate change because of its short history as an industrial nation, said Su Wei, the chief negotiator of China for climate change talks in Copenhagen. The country's carbon dioxide emissions per capita is also relatively low compared to developed countries and China has not contributed much to climate change because of its short history as an industrial nation, he said. However, China has been the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases each year since 2006, leading the United States by an ever-widening margin.
The Chinese government said in November it would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from human activity, emitted to make each unit of national income by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels.
That goal would let China's greenhouse gas emissions keep rising, but more slowly than its rapid economic growth. Beijing does not release any recent official emissions data. A failure by China to meet its own energy efficiency targets would be a big setback for international efforts to limit such emissions.
A leading Chinese government adviser has criticised the gap between Kevin Rudd's action and rhetoric on climate change, saying he has reduced the chance that the world can curb global warming before it is too late. ''If he gives up on the ETS it suggests Australia will do nothing and the private sector will get the signal not to do anything to cut emissions,'' said Professor Pan, director of the Research Centre for Sustainable Development at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
China, with 1.26 billion people, is the one area worrying most people most of the time, says Marq de Villiers, author of the recently published Water . In dry Northern China, he says, the water table is dropping one meter per year due to overpumping, and the Chinese admit that 300 cities are running short. They are diverting water from agriculture and farmers are going out of business. Some Chinese rivers are so polluted with heavy metals that they can't be used for irrigation, he adds.
"They're disgraceful, unusable, industrial sewers," says de Villiers. As farmers go out of business, China will have to import more food.
The benevolent dragon is turning into a malignant global force!
 China’s agricultural and rural development in the early 21st century
Edited by: Bernard H. Sonntag, Jikun Huang, Scott Rozelle and John H. Skerritt
ACIAR Monograph No. 116 (Printed version published in 2005)
Article originally published as "Resistance Growing to Ecologically Devastating Chinese Mining Invasion of Madang, Papua New Guinea" on rainforestportal.org o 1 Apr 10. What you can do:e-mail China Metallurgical Construction Corporation to let them know of your objection to their invasion of Madang.
Article originally published as "Resistance Growing to Ecologically Devastating Chinese Mining Invasion of Madang, Papua New Guinea" on rainforestportal.org o 1 Apr 10.
The Ramu mine's 134 km long pipeline which ultimately dumps waste directly on the seabed is easily prone to damage from landslides or sabotage. Local peoples are protesting the potential damage to their land, seas and way of life. (link)
Chinese government owned China Metallurgical Construction (MCC) Corp. efforts to establish the massively destructive Ramu Nickel mine in Madang Province, Papua New Guinea -- the largest investment in metal exploration and mining by the Chinese outside of China -- is in serious jeopardy. Local landowners are initiating court cases and protests to demand the mine be stopped. The nearly completed Ramu project will mine nickel and cobalt ore at Kurumbukari -- which is located in the foothills of the Bismarck Ranges approximately 75km south west of the provincial capital of Madang. Topsoil will be scraped off a mountainous area and then the nickel-bearing soil will be mixed with water and the slurry sent down a 135 km pipeline through heavy rainforests to an ore refinery and treatment plant at pristine Basamuk Bay on the Bismarck Sea. The ore will then be shipped to China, and the waste -- some 100 million tons over 20 years-- dumped directly into the sea.
The Ramu Mine's waste tailings will poison fish stocks and cause extreme ecological destruction of the seabed. Although the mining company describes the tailings disposal as "deep sea", tailings will be dumped at a depth of only 150 metres. Tailings will not be covered or otherwise secured -- rather they will simply be pumped out of the end of a pipeline and allowed to spread freely through spectacular Astrolabe Bay. Almost certainly the tailings will not remain where they are placed, and will spread widely in one of the last intact tuna fisheries globally. With work on the overland pipeline completed, the Chinese are now planning a series of underwater explosions to blast a way through coral reefs for the undersea section of the pipe.
Despite competing and still unresolved communal land right claims, the Kurumbukari people at the mine site have been devastated by their forced removal from their ancestral lands by police operating on behalf of MCC. People all along the project are extremely anxious about the ecological and social impact of the mine in their area, and the blatant corruption. They worry the mine will devastate the Ramu river, that the shoddy pipeline will leak - devastating rainforests and communities, and that the seabed tailings disposal will destroy their abundant marine resources. Local peoples feel impotent in the face of the ruthless indifference of the Chinese to PNG law, and the corruption of the national and local politicians who are lining their own pockets at the expense of Madang landowners.
MCC - managed by the local subsidiary Ramu Nico - was about to start blasting coral reefs to allow the laying of the tailings pipeline, when a court decision last week - on a case brought by local landowners - granted a temporary injunction stopping pipeline construction and work on the mine's seabed tailings disposal system. During court proceedings hundreds of landowners and local people protested peacefully outside the court house by holding placards showing their dismay, and were not intimidated by a heavy police presence. Representative signs read "Madang not China". "No Blasting, No dumping", and "Where is Justice?". Many countries have banned the dumping of mine waste in the sea, but Wari Iamo -- the deeply corrupted Secretary of the Department of Environment and Conservation -- has deemed it okay in Papua New Guinea. MCC is to return to court in Madang on April 12.
The entire project has been mismanaged, marked by shoddy construction; and disregard for local rights, life, and marine and rainforest ecology. Recently a devastating fire at the mine site caused the destruction of the kitchen as plastic pipes that were used to feed diesel fuel to the kitchen melted. Sexually transmitted diseases are rampant as Chinese workers have forced prostitution and even rape upon local women. Construction work has already destroyed local drinking water supplies. Lack of drainage and retaining walls along the shoddy pipeline have already caused large landslips and blockage of the only highway into the province. The pipeline is extremely vulnerable to sabotage by disgruntled local peoples.
Papua New Guinea is not a brutal communist dictatorship, but a liberal democracy where free speech and human rights are respected and enshrined constitutionally. China's rising influence in PNG threatens the country's freedom of religion, speech and land rights. The mine was conceived in the capital Port Moresby and is being forced upon local peoples without prior and informed consent. It has been alleged in local media that MCC recently provided USD 10 million to the government of Michael Somare to defend itself against a vote of no confidence, and additional huge bribes have routinely been made previously throughout the approval and construction processes. A leading Papua New Guinea geologist says the Ramu Nickel mine has been massively undervalued -- that it was sold to the Chinese for just 5% of its true value, and is worth $US34 billion and not $US1.7 billion This is another example of the "broad daylight rape" and exploitation of Papua New Guinea's resources -- already evident in Madang with grossly inappropriate foreign owned, industrial tuna and timber projects. Chinese mining investment in Madang against local wishes can only be described as an invasion of sovereign peoples, and will be resisted at all costs.
At the time of Steve Irwin's death in 2005 he was one of the most recognised and respected Australian faces here in Australia and even more so right around the world. Former Prime Minister John Howard, to his credit, arranged a $6 million federal government grant to purchase 135,000 hectares in northern Cape York, preserve it as part of the national reserve system and name it the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve as a tribute to the life and conservation work of Australia's crocodile hunter.
According to the federal Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, a stunning array of wildlife roams the property, including the endangered northern quoll and the great palm cockatoo. Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve is home to six highly vulnerable plant species. The nearby Wenlock River is the richest in freshwater fish diversity of any Australian river, including speartooth sharks, sawfish and the estuarine crocodile. Of the 32 ecosystems found on the reserve, 21 are threatened. Many of these are found nowhere in the world but in Cape York. The department of the environment says that preserving them is of global importance.
(Great Palm Cockatoo - courtesy of wikimedia commons)
You would assume, then, given this history, that nothing could possibly go wrong. Regrettable, this is not the case. A mining company named Cape Alumina has lodged a request to strip mine over 12,000 hectares in the western part of Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve for bauxite. The result, according to Steve Irwin's widow, Terry Irwin, will be a total loss of original biodiversity, including all vegetation and wildlife. She says regenerated trees will lack the hollows that are crucial for nesting birds, possums and goannas. She also says that removing the bauxite would dramatically change the natural water flows to the unique and fragile rainforest springs on the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve and damage the Wenlock River system.
I want to join with my parliamentary colleague Senator Mark Furner, I want to join with the nine scientists who have submitted a detailed report on the area and I want to join with the over 217.000 people who have signed the petition to save Steve's place in saying there should be no strip mining in Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve.
In the south we have made a lot of mistakes. We have wrecked areas in the Murray-Darling Basin like the Macquarie marshes and the Coorong. I do not think they will ever be the same again. Can't we at least learn from these sad stories and resolve to do better with Cape York Peninsula, starting with the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve? I urge the Queensland and federal governments to reject the strip mining proposal. Do it for Steve, do it for those rare fish, birds and plants, and above all do it for all those children and young people who want this area to be as beautiful in 10 years, 20 years, 100 years as it is today.
What you can do
If you are a Queensland resident, please sign the e-petition on the Parliamentary web-site (see text below), The petition is open until 17 May 2009. If you live outside of Queensland, please sign the petition on the Save Steve's Place. (www.savestevesplace.com) web site.
The petition of the residents of the State of Queensland draws to the attention of the House that the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve (SIWR), a 135,000 hectare property in Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula, is being threatened by strip mining. The SIWR is a wetland conservation property and tribute to Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, and is home to a set of three important spring fed wetlands which provide a critical water source to threatened habitat, provide permanent flow of water to the Wenlock River, and is home to rare and vulnerable plants and wildlife. Cape Alumina Pty Ltd has lodged mining lease applications which include approximately 12,300 hectares of the SIWR. Cape Alumina company documents indicate an intention to mine 50 plus million tons of bauxite over a 10 year period commencing 2010. The proposed area for mining on the SIWR contains the head waters of irreplaceable waterways and unique biodiversity which will not recover after mining operations are finished.
Your petitioners therefore request the House to ask the Minister for Mines and Energy to ensure that no mining applications are granted on any part of the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve (SIWR).
Thousands of litres of oil, gas and condensate has been leaking into the sea from the West Atlas rig since August 21 from a wellhead near PTTEP Australasia's West Atlas oil rig, 250km from shore.
(photo Wikipedia Commons)
The spill measured 70 by 20 nautical miles, with sheen visible in 25 per cent of that area, Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said.
It has been reported that the slick — measuring about 30 meters wide and 15 kilometers long — is about 250 kilometers northwest of the Kimberley coast.
An estimated 400 barrels of oil a day is leaking from the well head platform, according to the company.
Despite comments from Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson and WA Premier Barnett playing down the impact of this spill it is clear that a disaster of this scale will have serious and ongoing impacts on a range of marine life.
A relief well being drilled 2.6km under the sea to plug thousands of tonnes of oil leaking from a rig off the West Australian coast has passed the halfway mark, the company responsible for the disaster saying yesterday that it had now drilled 1.6km without incident. But PTTEP Australasia, which owns the stricken West Atlas rig, extended the deadline for completing the complex repairs, admitting it would take at least another three weeks.
The region where this spill is occurring is a ‘marine superhighway’ for a range of species including over 19 species of Whales and Dolphins, including the Humpback Whale. Sea Snakes, many bird species, fish and other wildlife will also be impacted. Dr Gilly Llewellyn, WWF Australia's conservation director, says the affected area is home to many rare species.
The federal Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts Department, Peter Garrett, confirmed some wildlife had been affected, although the full extent of the damage remains unclear. The Northern Territory Environment Centre says proof the oil slick is killing birds gives more weight to calls for new protected marine areas in the region.
The Opposition's environment spokesman, Greg Hunt, says it should pay for an independent organisation, such as Charles Darwin University or James Cook University, to carry out a survey of marine life.
The Australian Government says so far no whales or other marine mammals have been harmed by a large oil spill off the country's west coast despite the fact that fishermen are bringing in animals that have died as the result of the spill!
However, nine seabirds, four now dead, have been caught up in the slick, according to staff of the Environment Department working on Ashmore Reef.
There have been no checks so far around the rig on any effects of the oil on turtles, whales or sea snakes known to frequent the area. A private environmental consultant's report commissioned by the WWF has found 15 species of whales and dolphins, 30 seabird species and five turtle species could be affected by the oil slick. The report finds the spill could end up harming 30,000 sea snakes, which fisherman have already reported finding dead in the ocean nearby, and 16,000 turtles.
The diverse and ecologically crucial coral reef habitat of Ashmore Reef is also threatened should the spill reach this area 150km from the leaking rig.
The Kimberley region is home to one of the most significant coral reef provinces in the world. There is no good reason to put the Kimberley environment at further risk – certainly not economic. Mr Garrett is preparing to release areas in the resource-rich ocean north-west of Australia to become potential marine conservation zones.
In the 1970’s Australia said ‘No’ to oil and gas mining in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and went on to implement what was then the world’s largest marine park. The GBR now contributes well over $5 billion in sustainable income annually to the Australian economy and supports thousands of jobs.
The Marine Conservation Society's Prue Barnard says it is part of the Government's commitment to create a network of marine parks by 2012. She says the recent oil rig leak off the Kimberley coast underlines the need for sanctuaries.
“The region where this spill is occurring is a ‘marine superhighway’ for a range of species including over 19 species of Whales and Dolphins, including the Humpback Whale”, TWS said in an open letter to federal environment minister Peter Garrett on August 28.
From June to November each year, humpback whales make their way home to calving grounds just north of Broome, where they stay for four months with their calves. The Kimberley coast is crucial habitat for the humpback whale, a protected species in Australia. We wouldn’t plan a freeway through a maternity hospital and expect it to continue?
The Kimberley region of northern WA is one of the world’s great natural and Indigenous cultural regions. Its vast savannah landscapes, wild rivers, extensive wetlands, spectacular coast and rich marine environments provide a multitude of habitats that are home to an extraordinary diversity of species.
The Wilderness Society is calling on the Federal Government to declare a moratorium on further approvals and expansion of the oil and gas industry in the region.
Environment groups including the Wilderness Society are calling on the State and Commonwealth Governments to: -Immediately place a moratorium on oil and gas development on the Kimberley coast until government planning processes are complete.
- Establish large marine sanctuary zones - with the consent of the Traditional Owners
- to protect the globally significant marine biodiversity in this region, including Humpback whales in the vicinity of James Price Point.
06/06/09 PERU, At least 31 people have died in clashes in Peru between the security forces and indigenous people in the Amazon region.
Those killed included at least 22 tribesmen and nine policemen. The violence took place as security forces tried to end a road blockade. Demonstrators also were threatening to set fire to an oil pumping station of state-owned Petroperu unless the government told police to halt efforts to clear weeks of blockades of roads and rivers that have hurt food and fuel supplies.
The local indigenous population is upset at Government plans to open up much of the land in Peru's Amazonia region to oil and gas and to mineral exploration, even though much of the land is officially protected.
Local people say new laws will make it easier for foreign companies to exploit their land for natural resources.
President Garcia said that the protesters had threatened to cut the lines carrying natural gas out of the region. "What else can the government do but act with energy to impose order," Garcia said.
Alberto Pizango, the main indigenous leader, denied that Indians killed police, saying the protesters were unarmed. He called for international human rights groups to intervene.
The protesters want decrees signed by President Alan Garcia in 2007 and 2008 easing restrictions on mining, oil drilling, wood harvesting and farming in the Amazon rainforest overturned. A Duke University study published last year said contract blocks for oil and gas exploration cover approximately 72 percent of Peru's rain forest.
Critics say President Garcia’s policies favoring free-markets and foreign investments mainly benefit elites in cities and that the economic boom has not decreased poverty levels of the poor.
Over the past weeks protesters have taken over airports, blocked bridges and highways, prevented navigation along several rivers, and stopped oil extracted from the Amazon from being shipped out of the region.
This violence also has exposed the central government's lack of control over remote regions of the country. Indigenous land rights are being violated.
The indigenous groups were backed by the International Federation of Human Rights, which groups 155 human rights organisations from around the world.
Please take action to support indigenous people in Peru.
Thousands of indigenous people have protested in Peru's Amazon for much of the past 40 days, hoping to pressure President Garcia to modify or strike down a series of laws he passed last year that encourage oil, mining and agricultural companies to invest billions of dollars in the mostly pristine region.
Indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon are protesting investment laws passed under a free-trade pact with the United States and against concessions granted to foreign energy companies. Some 30,000 indigenous people have blockaded roads, rivers and railways to demand repeal of new laws that allow oil, mining and logging companies to enter indigenous territories without seeking consent or even any consultation. Indigenous communities complain that some 70% of Peruvian Amazon territory is now leased for oil and gas exploration, putting at risk their own lives and the biodiversity of the Amazon.
Peruvian state-run producer PetroPeru said earlier that protesters impeded work at pumping stations on the government-run North Peruvian oil pipeline, cutting shipments of crude oil.
The indigenous groups started the demonstrations in April, asking that Congress revoke a series of decrees they say will open their land to mining, logging and oil drilling without consent.
Officials in Peru are quick to point out that this was one of the first Latin American countries to establish local government strategies to curb the loss of biological diversity. "We made it possible in 1999, even before Brazil," María Luisa del Río, the Environment Ministry’s director for biodiversity, told Tierramérica. (www.tierramerica.info)
But experts and critics assure that the biggest problem is implementing those plans in Peru, considered one of the world’s leaders in natural wealth of ecosystems, species, genetic resources and indigenous cultures.
Scientists estimate that Peru is home to some 25,000 plant species, that is, 10 percent of the world total, and to 1,816 bird species. But this great natural heritage has been threatened in recent decades by the extraction of natural resources, and hundreds of species are in danger of extinction.
Between 2002 and 2007, mining concessions grew more than 70 percent due to incentives for foreign investment and high international prices for metals. Meanwhile, protests by indigenous and peasant communities about mining-based pollution also increased.
Indigenous leaders saying President Garcia has disregarded a U.N. declaration that protects their rights to control land and natural resources.
The protests, which have already shut Peru's pipeline that carries oil from the Amazon to the Pacific Ocean, underscore the risks of investing in a country with a poverty rate of 40 percent and a history of discord between wealthy elites in Lima and poor indigenous groups in the countryside. Despite this reality, the President declared that:
"The lands of the Amazon belong ... to all Peruvians and not just a small group that lives there," Garcia said over the weekend. "The riches of Peru belong to all Peruvians."
Garcia decreed most of the laws in question last year using special powers Congress gave him to bring Peru's regulations into line with the requirements of its free-trade pact with the United States.
Garcia, a former leftist who now fervently supports foreign investment, has sold dozens of concessions to foreign energy and mining companies since taking office in 2006. More auctions are planned in a country where mineral exports drive economic growth and the government is working to become self-sufficient in oil production.
(May 31) Truckers burned a weigh station and an official vehicle in northern Peru on Friday to demand government action against Amazon Indians who have been blocking highways in a protest against laws they say threaten their control of ancestral lands, CPN Radio reported.
The reality is that indigenous people will lose their natural heritage to the President, foreign investors, the business elite, but they will end up with nothing!
The Indians have refused to end their protests, despite the initiation of talks with the government on resolving the dispute.
Populations have been living around Lake Titicaca for 10,000 years, dating back to the Archaic period. The first communities appeared around Titicaca in 1,200 BC and since then have increased in population and have become more dependent on its water for their livelihood for agriculture and navigation.
Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake, which straddles the border between Bolivia and Peru, is a place venerated by the ancient Incas who ruled throughout South America from the 13th to the mid-16th centuries.
Living beside such a large body of water, people sometimes take for granted the effects pollution can have.
Lake Titicaca region experiences a high variability in terms of its weather patterns. There is a high level of uncertainty, and risk, living under such conditions.
The lack of sewage treatment plants around the lake causes most waste to be put directly into Titicaca and, as a result, pollution levels have been rising over the decades, thereby contaminating water.
In June 2006, a health ministry-appointed committee of experts sent to the area of Cohana, (Bolivia - a breathtaking 3,800 meters (12,500 feet) above sea level) found "the potential presence of pathogens such as bacteria, viruses or parasites" in the bay, making it the most polluted sector in Titicaca.
"Biological activity is directly affected by the water's lack of oxygen: fish that generally were everywhere now are dead," one study said.
Other sources of degradation come from the cattle industry that surrounds the lake and the loss of soil due to their impact and, with regards to the fishing industry, the introduction of exotic species and the overfishing of both those and indigenous species has left the lake with smaller and smaller fish.
In the rainy seasons of 1982-3 and 1989-90, extreme droughts caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to the agricultural industry, both crop and animal.
The years in between experienced a higher than average rainfall and culminated in the severe floods of 1986-7 causing, again, over a hundred million dollars of damage to not only the agricultural industry, but to infrastructure as well.
The stress under which the people live does not create an environment conducive to awareness regarding pollution and sustainability. The two nations, Bolivia and Peru, have had negative economic growth rates over the last 10 years.
More than 30 thousand informal unregistered small scale mining operations near the world’s highest navigable lake are causing terrible pollution to both it and surrounding rivers.
Lake Titicaca possesses the continent’s largest source of fresh water, and its preservation and protection are likely to be vital for the future of the region. The increases in the lake’s levels of pollution are alarming.
Among the many towns living off Lake Titicaca, Pajchiri Bay is the most polluted with contaminated water, fish and plants.
Officials in both Peru and Bolivia have agreed to work together to clean up the contamination of the bay after a recent investigation of the waters.
For the second straight week (6th April, 2009) Lake Titicaca (Puno Peru) took the No. 1 spot in Group F of the New Seven Wonders of Nature campaign, according to the latest ranking of contest organizer, the New 7 Wonders Foundation.
With this world rating, let’s hope it gives the Lake’s two custodians, Peru and Bolivia, the incentive to continue to work together and restore one of Natures natural wonders.
Concern mounts at Chinese government program to buy strategic Australian companies
Concern grows in Australia as Chinese government-owned businesses mount an ambitious program to buy strategic Australian companies. This program includes the bid by Chinalco to buy a major stakein the mining companyRio Tinto and the bid by MinMetals to buyoutOZ Metals. Adding to this concern have been recent news reports of Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon's undeclared free trips to China from a Chinese businesswoman friend, Helen Liu; a secret meeting between Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Chinese propaganda minister; and the ongoingefforts of communications Minister Stephen Conroy to impose a Chinese-style firewall on Australia's Internet users.
As in the past, the bogey of racism has been employed in an attempt to prevent discussion of these issues.
Federal Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner, crudely attempted to equate concerns raised by Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull with cold war 'yellow peril' racism, but was appropriately rebuked by Turnbull. Tanner's theme has also been echoed in Australian left/liberal circles.
Whether or not 'racism' motivates objections to growing Chinese influence, the fact remains that, if at some point these acquisitions and other Chinese penetration of the Australian economy are not stopped, Australians will find that they no longer control their own destiny in any sense .
Consider the story, "Bowen a sure thing for Chalco", of 26 Jun 08 in the Townsville Bulletin, which is highly sympathetic towards plans by the Chinese state-owned company Chalco to build a massive Aluminum refinery in the wetlands to the north of Bowen. It made the claim that "the Bowen community was largely supportive of Chalco". It went on to reveal that,
"... schools discussed the possibility of introducing the Chinese language into their curricula to expand job opportunities for students."
If the necessity of learning a foreign language in order to be able to secure employment in your own town is not a symptom of colonisation, then what is?
Locals oppose aluminium project because of high danger to wetlands north of Bowen
To let Chinese companies build and operate whatever factories they choose in this country, wherever they like, and to let them buy-out our resources sector, is a short-term political route of least resistance.
Our mining executives, having allowed their companies to become insolvent by gambling that the demand for our mineral resources, particularly from China, would continue to grow indefinitely, now need Chinese investment to make themselves solvent again.
Government must represent Australians
But ordinary Australians sensibly resist handing across control of our mineral wealth to the board rooms of Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Our governments must do whatever it takes to prevent this. If necessary, the funds to buy back our mineral wealth should be raised from the Australian people. A good start would be to cancel Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's idiotic scheme to distribute pocket money to Australians in the hope that the money will be somehow spent in a way that would stimulate Australia's chronically dependent and backward economy enough to avoid a depression. That money would be far better spent on buying back the farm.
Although Australia's political leaders today don't have the stomach for this, the political leaders of our forefathers who fought in the jungles of South East Asia in the 1940's to defend our freedom almost certainly would.
Update: 75% of respondents to a Courier Mail online poll believed that Australia was too reliant economically on China, 2 Apr 09. Note: although on page 35 (2nd of 2 letters' pages) of the printed version of the Courier Mail tells its reader to "cast your vote at couriermail.com.au", I couldn't find it. Can anyone tell me how to find it? - JS
Currently at risk is the 7,912 hectare Bimblebox Nature Refuge in central-west Queensland which is in direct line of a massive open-cut coal mine planned by Clive Palmer’s recently acquired Waratah Coal Incorporated. The proposed mine is one of several being planned for the region and is anticipated to produce around 3.12 billion tonnes of coal over its lifetime, which translates to around 7.2 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalents. However, the contribution the mine would make to an already over-loaded atmosphere is only one of the dirty details. A brief history of Bimblebox reveals a major inconsistency in current government policy which provides inadequate protection for vital conservation areas from development interests.
The property was purchased in 2000 by a several concerned families, with the assistance of about $300,000 from the Federal Natural Reserve System program. This was prior to the enactment of the Queensland land-clearing legislation and it was acquired for the express purpose of securing it as one of the few uncleared properties in the Desert Uplands, a region classified as a National Biodiversity Hotspot but which has less than 3% of land protected in conservation reserves.
In 2003, the Bimblebox Nature Refuge Agreement was signed with the state government to “permanently protect” the property’s conservation values. The perpetual Nature Refuge Agreement (category VI Protected Area under the IUCN classification system) is a legal covenant covering the entire property.
During the last five years, Bimblebox has become host to a number of long-term research projects conducted by the CSIRO, DPI&F, Birds Australia, EPA and the Queensland Herbarium. It is also a test case for sustainable grazing, since the property is carefully managed with a small herd of beef cattle. Profits are returned for native habitat rehabilitation and conservation.
Now that coal has been found under the soil of Bimblebox, all its above-ground assets are little more than over-burden to the coal company and the state government hungry for revenue. It is evident that nature refuge agreements are practically meaningless when coal is discovered. The agreements allow some minor provisions to reduce environmental harm during the exploration phase (a number of these provisions were violated during the exploration on Bimblebox - see attachment), but in the case where a mining licence is sought, nature refuge status guarantees no protection. Not even National Parks are secure from mining interests, as the Ranger uranium mine the middle of Kakadu National Park starkly demonstrates.
Unfortunately Bimblebox is not alone. Around 100 Queensland nature refuges are covered by mineral exploration permits, and about half of these are for coal. The extensive coal beds that underlie a large portion of Australia’s east coast (see 'Coal Map' below) indicate that this issue is not going to go away. As well as the impact on mine sites many other areas are effected with large scale developments, for instance, threatened species and ecosystems exist along the length of the planned water supply, rail and port infrastructure proposed by Waratah.
Cropping farmers on some of Australia’s most fertile agricultural land are facing similar threats from coal companies, and are having to get well organised in the defence of their land and livelihoods. However, without a comprehensive regional and national assessment of land use and climate priorities, it is likely that there will be significant struggle ahead for ‘David’ land holders against the ‘Goliath’ coal industry. In the case of Bimblebox, countless hours of volunteers’ time have already been invested in writing submissions, letters to ministers, the creation of a website and a petition – trying to explain why digging up crucial conservation and productive areas will have significant and irreversible negative impact on biodiversity, soil, and ground water.
Surely there is a clear case for important conservation and agriculturally productive areas to be exempt from mining activities.
What you can do: 1. Queensland residents can sign the petition here, the text of which is to also be found here. 2. On 21 March, vote for candidates in the Queensland electionsopposed to the the expansion of the Queensland Coal industry. One such candidate is James Sinnamon who is standing as an Independent for Mount Coot-tha. 3. To learn more of the devastation with which the Bimblebox Nature Refuge is threatened by the proposed open-cut coal mine, please visit www.bimblebox.org.
My heart bleeds for those mine workers who are now worried about how to pay for their investment properties! They have been sucked into the greed of property ownership. Their greed has led to crippling rents in Perth for those who have not been so lucky as to be part of the temporary big boom. The fly-in fly-out policy of the corporations has removed BHP et al from any responsibility for their workers.
Years ago BHP upgraded their steel mill in Kwinana then closed it down. There will soon be a shortage of steel worldwide. Now is the time for the Federal Government to invest in opening up Kwinana steel and investing in Australia’s steel industry again since most of the minerals are in WA. This will make it possible for big infrastructure projects to take place.
Spain has already begun a revolution in travel habits. Spanish high speed rail has grown by 28%. The high speed train journey from Madrid to Barcelona now takes 2hours 35 minutes. This controls carbon emissions since the VFT uses 19% less energy than other trains is more efficient than air travel that often force long delays at airports. Spain has increased infrastructure projects to combat the recession and plans to invest $145bn in high speed rail networks until 2020.
Australia could learn from this Spanish initiative by investing in such projects that would save Australian outback towns from extinction. Open up tourism and give more jobs outside the metropolitan regions.
Government public spending should have long term plans that will give workers jobs and hope for the future without our Government being forced to be beholden to corporations in China, Japan and the USA. The community doesn't want charity it wants work and security for the future. We are fed up of greedy boom bust economy policies.
There is nothing innocent about Peru! People in the world imagine Peru and think of Incas and Machu Picchu and its noble past civilisations. However, this era is well and truly over! Peru is still under the thumb of Colonialism, just the names have changed! Corruption is rife, and so is crime and human rights abuses. Mining companies are making a small minority mightily rich, and the indigenous and rightful owners of the land are suffering torture, death and death threats, loss of land, water pollution and loss of food. This is the 21st century, but all there is from the world is silence! Where is justice? This country is being raped, polluted and people are being abused, all quite "legally".
Many people in Australia are ignorant of what is really happening in Peru. They are still in the agony of Colonialism, despite "independence" since 1821! Only the names of the conquistador thugs have changed! Mining protesters are supposed to be in a democratic country, but the voices of the people are being violently crushed while their land is being confiscated, polluted and raped!
The mining company, Minera Majaz, subsidiary of the English Montericco Metals, is operating illegally on their territories. The license the company is operating with is illegal. The Chinese mining company, Xiamen Zijin Tongguan Development Consortium, since 1989 have 9% of their shares. The national coordinator of human rights has produced stunning pictures of assaults in 29 community sites of Minera Majaz.
27 men and 2 women unarmed protestors, representing the 29 communities from Ayabaca and Huancabamba, have been undefended by police or the legal system since being attacked and left in hell for three days before being released in August 3rd, 2005. Pictures speak a thousand words! They were simply exercising their right to protest.
The photographic records show how these peasants were attacked and tortured. One of them, Melanio Garcia, was killed. They were kidnapped and forced to walk barefoot on the steep paths towards the mining camp. They were tied up and sprayed with toxic substances that inhibited their breathing. Most of them were stripped, or left nearly bare, thus making them vulnerable to low temperatures and attacks. They were threatened with incarceration in Rio Seco prison with terrorists and drug traffickers and never to return home.
Senesi Jiménez Peña, the head of one community of Yanta, was struck repeatedly on the floor. Jiménez Peña was on the floor face down with his hands tied back. Fear gripped the majority.
They heard a desperate "Help me, God." And police in a mocking tone repeated that there is no God except the police.
The aggression and violence did not stop for three days. Exactly how Melanio Garcia died on August 2nd 2005 is a mystery, but the photos should reveal the extent of the violence and the possible circumstances.
There are now 300 leading environmental protestors facing prosecution in Piura and Cajamarca for “terrorist offences”. They include riot, conspiracy, theft and damage! However, they were simply protesting against environmental destruction of their homes and land and exercising an assumed basic democratic right to protect what is legally theirs!
According to spokesman and coordinator for Vicarate for the Environment, Nicanor Alvaradez Carrasco, the Upper Amazons are very rich in resources and are part of their heritage. Most of the Amazons are being overtaken by foreign companies who exploit them in non-environmentally friendly ways. Some exploit them illegally, like Minera Majaz.
Companies, like Monterrico Metals are contaminating their land, killing peasant leaders, and torturing those active in opposing Minera Majaz. The global community needs to know that these atrocities are going on!
Benefits from the mining are not being shared to the communities in northern Peru. Buckets of gold and copper are being extracted from Peruvian soil each day, but are being transformed overseas. The benefits for their country are very small. Communities are not receiving benefits, and there are no environmentally sound methods being followed. Foreigners are getting richer, while the inhabitants and the land are becoming poorer!
Minera Majaz, like other mining companies, is a threat to the environment, and is unsustainable.
According to Carrasco, after 15 or 20 years, there will be nothing left of the Amazons, or of the culture of the people or the biodiversity of the region. “Two peasant community leaders have been murdered. 50 cases of torture have been reported. 200 of us are being pursued legally and will be imprisoned in the next few months."
Alan Garcia’s government, who recently hosted Kevin Rudd and other world leaders who visited Peru in December for the APEC conference to discuss free-trade, is explicitly and implicitly supporting the mining. This corrupt government is making money and all the land of the Upper Amazons has been requisitioned by foreign countries.
"What is scandalous is that last week, military troops were sent into the region of Yanta, one of the areas belonging to the Minera Majaz concessions. These elite forces were sent there with the intention of opening a pathway for the Montericco Metals company, who had not been let in by the regions’ inhabitants in previous attempts. These peasant communities have radically opposed the mining company and have never let them enter their territories, even when it was the exploratory phase of the project. Now, the military is forcing its way in, which means that in the next few days we can expect the death of hundreds of the active peasant opponents."
There is no justice, and we in Australia should not be supporting APEC or supporting a corrupt and evil government under President Alan Garcia.
The following letter was printed in The Courier Mail newspaper of Saturday 18 October, at the top of the first page of its letters section under the heading "No way to handle financial downturn". The last paragraph, which is not included here, was not included in the version sent to the Courier Mail in an effort to keep the letter as brief as possible. The letter was otherwise printed in full, and except that the "these speculation industries" in the second last paragraph was changed to "credit and construction" and some improvements in style. I have incorporated the latter.
The credit collapse shines a spotlight upon some obvious, but somehow commonly invisible travesties.
One is the hypocrisy of the free market idealogues, now put beyond doubt as they scurry and bay for public funds to bail us all out of the abyss that their unabated greed and ambition has plunged everyone into.
Another is the tragic condition of our National and State economy, now reduced to a rudimentary three-card trick of house-building, hole-digging and ad-hoc tourism.
... lazy politicians have ... divested us of nearly every industry that produced real things for real community security and benefit.
For decades lazy politicians have swayed to the narcotic tune of insatiable resource speculators and global free-marketeers. Resultant policy has divested us of nearly every industry that produced real things for real community security and benefit.
In replacement Governments at all levels have encouraged a storm of aspiration, debt and immigration to fill the sails of money lenders, land subdividers and retail conglomerators. To pay the interest on escalating urban consumption, including delivery of just a fraction of the needed infrastructure, we've handed our mineral and energy wealth to multi-national corporations for a pittance in royalties. They have then proceeded to rip it out and hawk it overseas for a fortune.
With the house of credit-cards now falling down, and global demand for our mineral wealth stalling, we are about to find out how awfully unproductive our economy has actually become.
Einstein famously said a problem cannot be solved using the same thinking that created it. Clearly there are no Einsteins in Canberra. We can only look in horror at a 'solution' that hands out elevated first-homeowner grants, thus investing public funds into further stimulation of the very debt-creation and property value pressurisation that is the nub of the problem.
Because these speculation industries do grossly dominate our economy, we can't collapse them overnight. However public monies must be used to develop genuine production, diversity and sustainable employment within our economy. Funds should not be used to artificially respirate a diseased status quo.
Local Councils also need to re-think their habit of turning productive land into debt-encumbered suburbs that offer no durable work or production to support the inhabitants.
Local Councils also need to re-think their habit of turning productive land into debt-encumbered suburbs that offer no durable work or production to support the inhabitants. If they let our mortgage belt get too big, we'll all get caught with our pants down. It's time for some real development initiatives that support local economy and local amenity.
Why is Australia helping to plunder Peru? The indigenous people in Peru are being dispossessed of their land by a corrupt government, and the mining companies with their "free trade" agreements are being supported by President Garcia! Mining is polluting the river water at Reque and there are no hospitals or doctors. The Napo river is being poisoned because of gold mining. Cocaine smugglers are also infiltrating this area. Human corruption and greed have no ends!
Indigenous people are up in arms against these multinational companies who want to remove them from their territories, destroy their rainforests and destroy their communities. What about human rights? This is shameful to Australia and APEC. BHP, Rio Tinto and other mining companies should get OUT of Peru#main-fn1">1. The people will get NOTHING and the money will go to the president and his corrupt ministers.
The land belongs to the indigenous people, They do not want "civilisation" or to get "integrated" into the economy - and participate in all the anarchy and corruption of Peruvian cities. Nothing is spent on the people of Peru. They have few hospitals, schools, housing, roads, transport and human rights are non-existent. How is Australia dealing with such a country? The indigenous people are willing to die for their land. They are being bribed and extorted to give up and leave, and the government is intimidating their leaders with fabricated "crimes". They have been accused of being "terrorists" but have the right to live in and defend their traditional land.
We should not be taking part in APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation)! What about human rights, and the environmental costs of destroying rainforest areas? This is NOT the way to prosperity. This is poison and evil. The indigenous people want their land and to live in peace.
It is shameful that APEC and Australia are making agreements with this corrupt Peruvian government. Money is the root of all evil.
Note: after I read this I did a Google News search to confirm what was written by Vivienne. I found only a small amount about mining in Peru. These stories, inclucing the one listed below, confirm what Vivienne. However, this story seemed to be in contradiction to a 'good news' story, Peruvian forest laws overturned of 29 Aug 08 by Rick Kearns. So I e-mailed Vivienne to ask if, perhaps, her bad news story was dated. She advised me that she got the information from a friend who is from Peru and reads the online newspapers every day. She advised me that "the President in Peru has the ultimate power and can go against congress - like a king. There is no accountability or no-one he has to answer to. He is totally unpopular except for a few richer people and there is no way to get rid of him. ... I don't usually take interest in human concerns as such as I am more interested in animal rights, wildlife and environment, but these indigenous people live in harmony with the environment and are totally innocent of all the corruption and anarchy of Peru. I can't help but feel sympathy for them and the rainforest that is their home! Very concerning. Now the government is trying to frame the leaders for tax evasion(!) ... . They are poisoning the rivers and the dolphins and fish are dying." - JS
#main-fn1" id="main-fn1">1.#main-fn1-txt">↑ See Mining giant defends against BHP 5Sep08 in the Herald Sun Asked if possible joint ventures included Simandou iron ore in Guinea, Oyu Tolgoi copper in Mongolia and La Granja copper in Peru, (Rio Tinto CEO) Mr (Tom) Albanese responded that he would consider "anything that provides a positive, value-adding proposition for Rio shareholders."
Posted by Sheila Newman on behalf of Mark O'Connor.
Tonight’s Insight program on SBS (June 17, 2008) –“Is Australia running out of workers” was very interesting about how we are now digging up and shipping out our minerals so fast, and so profitably, that other employers can’t compete with the wages paid by the mining companies. Employers are desperate for staff, but with unemployment currently low they can’t get workers at the wages, or the wages and conditions, they are able or willing to pay. (The most genuine case seemed to be the orchardist who had to leave several thousand dollars worth of mandarins unpicked because she couldn’t find pickers anywhere. Other employers seemed to be on the usual lurk of wanting the government to give them cheap workers.)
We are now so greedy that we want to ship abroad our mineral patrimony even faster than our existing workforce, with all the mechanical aids and vast machines now available, can manage. So the solution proposed by short-sighted business councils and some economists is to bring in ever more people to make up the shortfall in labor.
The result is of course that the extra workers will rapidly swell the population of Australia, so that the average Australian will own a steadily decreasing share of our mineral riches, which are themselves steadily decreasing. The future will be one of an unsustainable population in an impoverished continent –in a world beset by fuel shortages, climate change, and famines. And all for the short-term benefit of mining companies and those whose fortunes depend on a rising stock market.
Of course Jenny Brockie and her staff didn’t manage to see it in those terms. They took the reckless sell-off of our once-only mineral assets as a datum. Hence they also took as a given that there would not be enough workers in the country to service both the mining industry and the other more localized industries on which we depend for all sorts of supplies and services. And they also took as given that the mining industry would be able to pay rates other employers could not.
Granted all those unquestioned assumptions, they proceeded to examine quite rationally whether 457 visas (which it seems allow employers to pay about $10,000 on average less than they would have to pay Australian workers) were the best solution, or whether we should take in even more people as permanent migrants, or on the contrary run a guest worker system for Pacific migrants, or whether we needed to better train and motivate our own youth. The dishonesties and special pleading of employer organistions were fairly well exposed, and the CFMEU’s argument about it being no kindness to poor countries to take their skilled workers and doctors and nurses was respectfully examined.
But the underlying cause of the labor shortage, and the wisdom of selling off all your mineral assets as fast as possible, was not discussed.
See also :Transcript of Insight program of 17 Jun 08 Labour Pains