Family harnesses power of social media to drive protests against forced closures of Aboriginal communities, ABC Lateline By Ginny Stein 1 May 15 Pressure is growing across Australia against plans by West Australian Premier Colin Barnett to close scores of remote Aboriginal communities.
A call to protest has spread across social media with rallies in capital cities across the country. But the protests had their origins far from any big city.
Layangali Bieundurry and her brother Nelson Bieundurry are from Wangkatjungka, a remote Aboriginal community on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert with a permanent population of approximately 200 people.
Although internet access is slow in Wangkatjungka, the call to protest against the Government’s threat to close up to 150 communities started there thanks to family support, and then spread nationally and now globally. “We knew that all our family were on Facebook, so what we did, we just set the page up and started sending out messages throughout Facebook and that is how most of our family knew,” Ms Bieunderry said.
“And then other communities started to jump on Facebook and started realising what the Government [was] going to do to us in the remote communities.”
#SOSBlakAustralia has since emerged, connecting people, communities and organisations with similar interests and concerns through the Twittersphere. “I want it to go into the ears of Tony Abbott, that’s where I want it to go,” Mr Bieundurry said………
Throughout the Kimberley, the threat to close up to 150 remote Aboriginal communities has raised both fear and anger. At Wangkatjunga, there is disbelief that the next wave in a long history of dispossession may soon hit.
The State Government has not stated which communities may close, sparking fear across the state………http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-30/protest-against-forced-closure-aboriginal-communities/6431558
The uranium lobby is one of the nation’s most powerful.
The State Labor Opposition carries on that it supports a uranium ban however this is hogwash. It was former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Government, helped along by Gary Gray and Martin Ferguson, who talked up uranium mining no less than Bob Hawke did, and who negotiated with India. State Labor despite its promises at its annual conferences will never reinstate the ban on uranium.
Western Australia ready to dice with uranium & radiation, The Stringer by Gerry Georgatos April 26th, 2015 “…….Yesterday, the Federal Government ‘green light’ welcomed in a uranium mine in the Pilbara. There are now four uranium projects in advanced development stages. The Government will sell the underwriting of revenue and jobs but it is their mining chums who will get rich not the Australian nation – but the burden of any radiation leaks will be borne by the Australian people.
Mining companies are investing huge fortunes in research, exploration and development projects for the mining of uranium. Nuclear energy is not just touted but will be the energy fuel of the future. Previous and incumbent Australian Governments have signed off uranium export deals and not just with India.
Western Australia has four uranium mining projects in the advanced stages leading to their establishment – Kintyre, Mulga Rock, Wiluna and Yeelirrie.
For now, they are mostly by the communities – Homelands – of First Peoples. The communities are being told that jobs will be waiting for them at the uranium sites. The uranium sites are being sold as world’s best practice – Continue reading
50 City of Perth armed police raided an Indigenous homeless camp at Matagarup, and drove off mostly elderly women and young mothers with children. The people in the camp described themselves as “refugees … seeking safety in our own country”. They called for the help of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees.
Australian politicians are nervous of the United Nations. Abbott’s response has been abuse. When Professor James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous People, described the racism of the “intervention” , Abbott told him to, “get a life” and “not listen to the old victim brigade.”
The planned closure of Indigenous homelands breaches Article 5 of the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).
Forced evictions are Australia’s latest racist assault on Aboriginal People, Ecologist 28 Apr 15 28th April 2015 Australia’s deliberate and calculated attacks on its indigenous population carry many of the hallmarks of genocide, writes John Pilger. And things are getting worse, not better, as states that have grown rich by exploiting Aboriginal land evict and demolish remote Aboriginal communities. Australia has again declared war on its Indigenous people, reminiscent of the brutality that brought universal condemnation on apartheid South Africa.
Aboriginal people are to be driven from homelands where their communities have lived for thousands of years.
In Western Australia, where mining companies make billion dollar profits exploiting Aboriginal land, the state government says it can no longer afford to“support” the homelands.
Vulnerable populations, already denied the basic services most Australians take for granted, are on notice of dispossession without consultation, and eviction at gunpoint. Yet again, Aboriginal leaders have warned of “a new generation of displaced people” and“cultural genocide”.
Genocide is a word Australians hate to hear. Genocide happens in other countries, not the ‘lucky’ society that per capita is the second richest on earth. Continue reading
Lomborg’s influence over key ministers in the Abbott government is quite well-known. He is seen to be at the centre of much of federal cabinet’s climate groupthink………
The real travesty of funding Lomborg’s newest franchise is that it comes from the same government that defunded the Climate Commission. This was composed of Australia’s best climate scientists, economists and energy experts, with an operating cost of A$1.5 million per year. This, more than even the most horrendous of storms, really exposes the parlous state of the Abbott government’s desertion of future generations
As such, one has to have some sympathy for Lomborg, who is a strange kind of “climate change refugee”. In 2012, the Danish government pulled all funding from his centre. Since, he has only set up shop in countries that have strong climate change-denying lobbies – both in the private sector and within mainstream media. He has enjoyed this in the US.
Lomborg operates by attaching himself to these centres as an adjunct professor, which will be his title at UWA, rather than a staff member. This offers the freedom to command remuneration well above a professorial salary – such as the US$775,000 he was paid in 2012 by the CCC and the US$200,484 paid for his work in 2013……… Continue reading
Environment Minister Greg Hunt has granted conditional approval to Canadian uranium miner Cameco to develop the Kintyre mine in WA’s north.
But Dave Sweeney from the Australian Conservation Foundation said the East Pilbara mine, adjacent to the Karlamilyi National Park, will harm the environment and people.
“On Anzac eve the government has backed the wrong diggers,” he said. “This mine plan does not enjoy broad support and the mining company has said it has no immediate plans to develop the project because of the low commodity price.
“The federal government had time to genuinely examine this plan. “Instead, it has chosen to fast-track an approval before a national holiday”.
Mia Pepper, from the Conservation Council of WA, said the mine, of which Cameco owns 70 per cent and Mitsubishi holds the remainder, also threatens water quality in the region.
“It is irresponsible for Minister Hunt to have given approval for this project at this time”, she said.
“A unique part of our country faces an unnecessary threat because of this approval.
“We will continue our work with the local Parnngurr community and many wider community members and organisations to stop a poor political decision becoming a polluting Pilbara mine”.
West Australian Environment Minister Albert Jacob granted conditional approval for the mine to go ahead last month. Environment Minister Greg Hunt was contacted for comment.
Federal approval granted for Cameco to develop Kintyre uranium mine in Pilbara, ABC News 24 Apr 15 By Tyne McConnon and Ebonnie Spriggs A proposed uranium mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region has been granted conditional Federal environmental approval.
One of the world’s largest uranium producers, Cameco Australia, wants to build the Kintyre open-cut uranium mine 270 kilometres north-east of the town of Newman.
The project received conditional approval from Western Australia’s Environment Minister Albert Jacob last month……..
In a statement, Cameco said the approval by the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt included conditions covering radiation, ground and surface water, terrestrial fauna and mine closure……..
Environmentalists fear long-term impact of uranium waste
Environmentalists have previously condemned the proposal, citing concerns over the level of radiation monitoring required of the company throughout the Karlamilyi National Park, where the mine would be located.
Campaigner Mia Pepper said current regulations for safely managing uranium in Australia were deficient. “The thing with uranium is that it’s different to other minerals. It’s radioactive, and that radiation is very hard to manage in our environment that [has] very, very dry periods and very, very wet periods,” she said.
“That radiation is so mobile in our environment when we start mining it, you know, it becomes hugely dangerous, and I don’t know of anywhere where they can safely mine uranium.
“What’s left behind after mining is radioactive mine waste, and that stays in our environment forever, really, or for at least 10,000 years. “It’s a very long period of time, and it will be there long after this company has stopped existing and long after this Government has changed.”
Traditional owners, the Martu people, signed a land-use deal with Cameco in 2012.
The company said a development decision would be made when market conditions were favourable to new uranium production…http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-24/uranium-mine-kintyre-given-federal-approval-cameco-says/6418974
So is this “methodology” the Abbott Government has spent $4million on any good?……
while cost-benefit analysis can be useful, it doesn’t work when you apply it to climate change policy.
How do you price, for example, the loss of a Pacific island nation and what that would mean for the cultures that have thrived there? What’s the price losing multiple species of flora and fauna or the Great Barrier Reef Jotzo adds:
Climate change is exceptional because it has all of these dimensions that go beyond the practical capability of cost benefit analysis.
Australian taxpayers funding climate contrarian’s methods with $4m Bjørn Lomborg centre Graham Readfearn, Guardian 23 Apr 15 Lomborg’s think tank methods underplay the impact of climate change and have ‘no academic credibility’ says leading climate economist. Danish political scientist and climate change contrarian Bjørn Lomborg says the poorest countries in the world need coal and climate change just isn’t as big a problem as some people make out.
Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott says “coal is good for humanity” and there are more pressing problems in the world than climate change, which he once described as “crap” but now says he accepts.
So it’s not surprising then that the latter should furnish the former with $4 million of taxpayer funds to start an Australian arm of Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Centre (CCC) at the University of Western Australia’s business school.
The CCC has consistently said that targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions are too expensive and money should be spent elsewhere
After a couple of weeks of doubt and confusion over the origins and the funding of the centre, latest reports suggest that the idea came from the Prime Minister’s office.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister told Fairfax media it was “the government’s decision to bring the Lomborg consensus methodology to Australia”.
More on this “methodology” and some pretty fundamental problems with it in a bit.
Students at UWA are gathering names on a petition and campaigning in protest, saying Lomborg’s appointment as an adjunct (unpaid) professor there damages the university’s reputation and is an embarrassment. The University’s Student Guild claimed that “students, staff and alumni” were outraged. Continue reading
Nuclear lobby backs Abbott’s $4m gift to climate contrarian Lomborg, Independent Australia Giles Parkinson 23 April 2015, When push comes to shove to act on global warming, Big Mining will wheel in nuclear as a ploy to stall the take up of renewables. Is pro-nuclear Bjorn Lomborg’s thinktank in WA just a cynical move by Abbott to kill the clean energy industry? RenewEconomy’s Giles Parkinson runs the ruler over the nuclear option. THE PRO-NUCLEAR lobby has welcomed the decision by the Abbott government to award $4 million to Bjorn Lomborg, a climate “contrarian” who favours nuclear energy and opposes deployment of renewable energy.
Michael Schellenberger, president of the US-based Breakthrough Institute, a pro-nuclear think tank, tweeted over the weekend that the Australian government’s granting of funds to Lomborg was no different to the German government’s funding of an environmental think tank that favours renewable energy.
The difference may be that the Energiewende, or energy transition, is official bipartisan government policy in Germany. But Australia does not – at least officially, although its actions suggest otherwise – embrace climate obstructionism and nuclear technology. And it has defunded independent climate analysis such as that from the Climate Commission.
The tweet from the Breakthrough Institute might be unremarkable, but for that institution’s recent alliance with the pro-nuclear lobby in Australia, and the joint release of an “EcoModernist Manifesto” last week that says present day renewables are incapable of providing zero carbon energy, and that nuclear fission is the only technology capable of meeting most, if not all, the energy demands of a modern economy.
This, it would appear, seems to concur with the not-so-subtle secret agenda of Australian Coalition government policy. Continue reading
In 2011, Barnett’s government displayed a brutality in the community of Oombulgurri which the other homelands can expect. “First, the government closed the services,” wrote Tammy Solonec of Amnesty International:
It closed the shop, so people could not buy food and essentials. It closed the clinic, so the sick and the elderly had to move, and the school, so families with children had to leave, or face having their children taken away from them. The police station was the last service to close, then eventually the electricity and water were turned off. Finally, the 10 residents who resolutely stayed to the end were forcibly evicted [leaving behind] personal possessions. [Then] the bulldozers rolled into Oombulgurri. The WA government has literally dug a hole and in it buried the rubble of people’s homes and personal belongings.
In South Australia, the state and federal governments launched a similar attack on the 60 remote Indigenous communities.
The closure of Indigenous homelands breaches Article 5 of the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Evicting Indigenous Australians from their homelands is a declaration of war John Pilger, Guardian 23 Apr 15 Australia occasionally interrupts its ‘normal’ mistreatment of Aboriginal people to deliver a frontal assault, like the closure of Western Australia’s homelands
Australia has again declared war on its Indigenous people, reminiscent of the brutality that brought universal condemnation on apartheid South Africa. Aboriginal people are to be driven from homelands where their communities have lived for thousands of years. In Western Australia, where mining companies make billion dollar profits exploiting Aboriginal land, the state government says it can no longer afford to “support” the homelands.
Vulnerable populations, already denied the basic services most Australians take for granted, are on notice of dispossession without consultation, and eviction at gunpoint. Aboriginal leaders have warned of “a new generation of displaced people” and “cultural genocide”.
The prime minister, Tony Abbott, has revived this assault on a people who represent Australia’s singular uniqueness. Soon after coming to office, the federal government cut $534m in Indigenous social programs, including $160m from the Indigenous health budget and $13.4m from Indigenous legal aid. …….
In announcing that the Australian government would no longer honour the longstanding commitment to Aboriginal homelands, Abbott sneered, “It’s not the job of the taxpayers to subsidise lifestyle choices.” Continue reading
KLC head says remote communities not given ‘chance to improve’, ABC Online Indigenous By Nicolas Perpitch March 27, 2015 The head of the Kimberley Land Council says Aboriginal communities should have been made aware of the criteria by which they were assessed in a WA Government report to give them the chance to improve.
A July 2013 draft discussion paper prepared by the Department of Housing, and seen by the ABC, recommended funding be stopped to 75 remote Aboriginal communities and very limited to another 53.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier has received the final version of the report and said it would go into the makeup of a new funding model to be released “very soon”.
The draft discussion paper assessed communities against 15 indicators, including health, education, access to food, electricity and drinking water.
KLC chairman Anthony Watson said communities did not know there were criteria they had to meet.
“We should have been made aware of it and at least we would have been engaged with it,” he said.
“They’ve done the study, coming in, without the consultation.
Mr Watson said communities needed to be able to demonstrate they were working towards the Government’s requirements, and at the same time traditional owners should have been consulted about the criteria. Continue reading
Judge overturns West Australian Government’s decision to deregister Port Hedland Aboriginal sacred site
WA court overturns decision to deregister Port Hedland Aboriginal heritage site http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-01/aboriginal-heritage-test-case-port-hedland/6366250/?site=indigenous&topic=latest By Nicolas Perpitch and Laura Gartry April 01, 2015 The Supreme Court has quashed a decision by a West Australian Government committee to deregister a Port Hedland Aboriginal sacred site, in a test case that opens the door to a class action by traditional owners.
In his judgement, Justice John Chaney referred the case back to the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee (ACMC).
The committee had recommended to State Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier that land and waters around parts of Port Hedland port should no longer be considered an Aboriginal sacred site because it had not been used for religious purposes.
“I conclude that the committee did not give consideration to the question of whether or not the Marapikurrinya Yintha was a place of importance or special significance because the question did not arise for consideration in light of the conclusion that it was not a sacred site,” Justice Chaney said in his judgement.
“The ACMC asked itself the wrong questions and identified the wrong issues, thereby falling into jurisdictional error.” Continue reading
Climate ‘sceptic’ Bjorn Lomborg’s Australian influence grows as he joins University of WA, The Age April 2, 2015 Markus Mannheim Public service editor One of the world’s best-known climate contrarians, Bjorn Lomborg, will establish a base in Perth as his influence in Australia grows.
The controversial Dane has struck a four-year deal with the University of Western Australia to run a policy research centre in its business school, which will focus on the nation’s future prosperity.
Dr Lomborg said he planned to spend a “significant amount of time” in Australia following his appointment this month as one of the Abbott government’s advisers on foreign aid.
That appointment was criticised sharply by the Labor opposition and environmental activists, who questioned why someone who played down the effects of global warming should be advising on Pacific Island nations, which are particularly vulnerable to climate change. http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/climate-sceptic-bjorn-lomborgs-australian-influence-grows-as-he-joins-university-of-wa-20150401-1mcowc.html
Lake Way flooding proves Wiluna unviable http://www.robinchapple.com/lake-way-flooding-proves-wiluna-unviable 27 Mar 15, (Good photos) After yesterday flying over Lake Way to see the extent of flooding in the area, WA Greens spokesperson on uranium Robin Chapple MLC has expressed deep concern about the future of proposed uranium mining on the lake bed.
“And those remote communities stand there waiting for their verdict but don’t know what they’ve done to appear before the Liberal Government’s jury.”
Remote community residents frightened they will be forced off their land: Aboriginal elder ABC News 26 Mar 15 By Lucy Martin People in remote Indigenous communities are panicking about their future, say an Aboriginal elder and MP, as the Western Australian Government maintains no community will close without consultation.
Pintupi elder Bobby West said life was good in the isolated community of Kiwirrkurra in Western Australia’s Gibson Desert.
“It’s a friendly and safe community, much better than close by in the town area. We’re not planting marijuana or selling drugs in small communities. Yeah, we got a good life out here,” he said.
It has remained that way for decades, but Mr West said residents were growing increasingly frightened they would soon be forced off their land. Continue reading
Chapple says water could increase the risk at Toro, Kalgoorlie Miner, 26 Mar 15 Mining and Pastoral MLC Robin Chapple has expressed concerns about plans to mine uranium in Wiluna after the “flooding” of Lake Way.
His comments came this week after a flyover revealed what Mr Chapple termed flooding on the lake bed. Toro Energy plans to store radioactive tailings from the proposed Wiluna uranium mine — up to 100 million tonnes — in the mined-out Centipede and Millipede pits, which will also be on the lake bed and are now underwater. The company has cited flooding as a non-issue, claiming the lake to be a natural drainage point, according to Mr Chapple.
Mr Chapple said the extensive flooding at Lake Way raised serious concerns about Toro’s ability to manage water effectively while mining on a lake bed. “I do not believe this company has properly accounted, nor planned, for potential flooding to the extent we have seen this week at Lake Way,” he said
“Not only would floodwaters of this magnitude carry radioactive material to other parts of the ecosystem, but on drying out could potentially release large quantities of oxidised uranium … into the atmosphere.
Mia Pepper Nuclear Free Campaigner Conservation Council of Western AustraliaAbout the flooding of Lake Way – the proposed site for the “Wiluna uranium project” including three pits on Lake Way. We’ve raised the issue that Toro Energy want to store about 100 million tonnes of radioactive tailings in two mined out pits on the lake bed (Centipede and Millipede) – the Department of Mines and Petroleum haven’t yet approved or even seen a tailings management plan from the company. We are focused on making sure the tailings don’t end up in this lake!