Indigenous rangers play a silent and undervalued role as leaders and educators in their communities, role models for how to progress in both worlds. It’s important to provide local, challenging, culturally relevant, real jobs to keep these leaders embedded within the fabric of their families and communities.
They need a commitment beyond 2018 that their real jobs will still exist.
[The video below does not apply to The Numbulwar ranger group, but still gives an example of the kind of work that they do]
Queensland Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program
As well as protecting the land, Indigenous rangers play an undervalued role as leaders in their communities. It’s never been more important to protect these jobs. Many conservative politicians and commentators argue Indigenous ranger jobs are not “real jobs”. This is perfectly illustrated by the recentleaking to Crikey of a secret federal Coalition government plan to radically change this successful Indigenous ranger program in order to “get participants into employment”. While the minister for Indigenous affairs, Nigel Scullion has denied he is planning an overhaul of the program, his government has not made a commitment to fund the program beyond 2018.
This question of whether ranger jobs are “real jobs” can easily be put to rest.
The Numbulwar ranger group in Arnhem Land was re-established in November 2015, Continue reading
Australia ranks 20th on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, The Conversation, John Thwaites July 21, 2016 Australia may be home to some of the world’s most liveable cities, but we have a long way to go to meet the world’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Australia ranks 20th in the world – well behind Canada and many European countries but ahead of the United States – according to a new index that compares different nations’ performance on the SDGs, which were adopted last September.
Launched at this week’s United Nations SDG talks in New York, the index marks each country’s performance towards the 17 goals. These aim to put the world on a more sustainable economic, social and environmental path, and feature 169 targets to be met over the next 15 years in areas such as health, economic growth and climate action.
The ranking, called the SDG Index and Dashboard and prepared by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the German think tank Bertelsmann Stiftung, ranks countries’ performance using a set of 77 indicators.
Australia: good water, bad energy
Australia, with some of the world’s highest carbon emissions per person, rates poorly on the clean energy and climate change goals. It also falls down on the environmental goals, with high levels of solid waste and land clearing as well as loss of biodiversity…….
The SDG Index will be updated regularly to improve its quality and coverage and allow people around the world to measure progress against the goals. Australia’s plan for implementing the SDGs within Australia is not yet clear and this will be an important item on the agenda for the re-elected Turnbull government. https://theconversation.com/australia-ranks-20th-on-progress-towards-the-sustainable-development-goals-62820
Nectaria Calan 6 July Arabunna elder Uncle Kevin Buzzacott has invited participants at the Lizard Bites Back to visit his country today, to witness firsthand the impacts of BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam mine on the mound springs in the Lake Eyre region. The mound springs are integral to the desert ecosystem and sacred to the Arabunna people, and are threatened by the 37 million litres of water per day that the mine uses from the Great Artesian Basin, which feeds the mound springs.
The Lizard Bites Back has attracted over 300 people from around the country, converging near the mine gates for a weekend of direct action, workshops on nuclear issues, and music. After two days of workshops and marches to the gates of the mine, the last day of the convergence saw nearly one hundred activists block the main road to the mine for eighteen hours. Riot police were sent in at midnight. On their way, riot police approached base camp, in what appeared to be a simulated raid.
“They approached camp in formation at midnight, shouting at people to get out of their tents,” said Nectaria Calan, co-organiser of the Lizard Bites Back. “Then, for no apparent reason, they retreated. Trying to terrorise people at a non-violent protest camp was a low move, but in line with the police’s behaviour all weekend,” continued Ms Calan. “They have spent the weekend defecting cars and trying to deter people from attending the event by telling them that the public land we are camped on is owned by BHP Billiton. They have also prevented mine workers from visiting the camp. Although they have been lodged for the weekend by the company’s accommodation, they should remember that they do not actually work for BHP.”
“Despite the petty dishonesty of the police and the ongoing abuse of their powers, hundreds of people had the opportunity to sit on country and learn about the risks and impact of the nuclear industry, and disrupt the normal operations of a mine that will leave millions of tonnes of tailings that will remain radioactive for several hundred thousand years.”
“With South Australia facing two proposals for nuclear waste dumps, The Lizard Bites back has also aimed to raise awareness about the connections between uranium mining and nuclear waste,” said Ms Calan. “A responsible approach to managing nuclear waste would begin with stopping its production.”
Co-organiser Izzy Brown said, “Until we stop mining this metal that we have no idea how to dispose of safely, we will keep returning to remind BHP Billiton and the government that the intergenerational health and environmental impacts of this industry are more important than money.”
Many participants have called for another convergence next year.
“After this weekend, this is the most optimistic I’ve ever felt since Western Mining Corporation started digging up the old country. This industry is a house of cards,” said Uncle Kevin.
“This place has a long history of struggle, and we will continue to struggle to honour the sacrifices made by the elders that struggled before us, that may still be with us if this mine was not established. We need to say sorry to the old country and begin healing this land.”
Climate scientists: Australian uranium mining pollutes Antarctic http://phys.org/news/2016-06-climate-scientists-australian-uranium-pollutes.html June 30, 2016 by Beth Staples Uranium mining in Australia is polluting the Antarctic, about 6,000 nautical miles away. University of Maine climate scientists made the discovery during the first high-resolution continuous examination of a northern Antarctic Peninsula ice core.
Ice core data reveal a significant increase in uranium concentration that coincides with open pit mining in the Southern Hemisphere, most notably Australia, says lead researcher Mariusz Potocki, a doctoral candidate and research assistant with the Climate Change Institute.
“The Southern Hemisphere is impacted by human activities more than we thought,” says Potocki.
Understanding airborne distribution of uranium is important because exposure to the radioactive element can result in kidney toxicity, genetic mutations, mental development challenges and cancer.
Uranium concentrations in the ice core increased by as much as 102 between the 1980s and 2000s, accompanied by increased variability in recent years, says Potocki, a glaciochemist.
Until World War II, most of the uranium input to the atmosphere was from natural sources, says the research team.
But since 1945, increases in Southern Hemisphere uranium levels have been attributed to industrial sources, including uranium mining in Australia, South Africa and Namibia. Since other land-source dust elements don’t show similar large increases in the ice core, and since the increased uranium concentrations are enriched above levels in the Earth’s crust, the source of uranium is attributed to human activities rather atmospheric circulation changes.
In 2007, a Brazilian-Chilean-U.S. team retrieved the ice core from the Detroit Plateau on the northern Antarctic Peninsula, which is one of the most rapidly changing regions on Earth.
More information: Mariusz Potocki et al. Recent increase in Antarctic Peninsula ice core uranium concentrations, Atmospheric Environment (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.06.010 Journal reference:Atmospheric Environment Provided by: University of Maine
The following statement is from our client
Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping (WRAD):
http://www.edoqld.org.au/news/wrad-media-release-whitsunday-residents-take-expansion-of-abbot-point-terminal-to-court/ 24 June 2016:
“Local community group, Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping,
which aims to protect the Great Barrier Reef from damage,
is asking the QLD Supreme Court to scrutinise whether the QLD Department of Environment
properly considered legislative tests when granting authority for
Adani’s controversial Abbot Point Terminal 0 expansion to go ahead.
The first directions hearing is taking place today in the Queensland Supreme Court.
Local grandmother, former tourism worker and spokesperson for Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping, Sandra Williams said,
“Our precious Great Barrier Reef is already in poor health, and Adani’s controversial port project,
which will cause irreparable damage, has raised significant concern in our community.
“Residents in our group have never taken legal action before,
but we were forced to because of our worry that the approval of the port expansion,
which will require damaging dredging and see hundreds of extra ships through the Reef each year, was not lawful.
“There is a question mark over whether the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
properly assessed the project, as required by law, before it gave this billion dollar proposal the green light.
“It is critically important that the decision, which has such grave implications for the Reef, is properly scrutinised. … ”
To continue reading the full statement, click on this link:
This week the Greens announced an ambitious policy for new national environment laws and an independent body to oversee and enforce them. The Greens’ policy on environmental democracy and its commitment to resource Environmental Defenders Officers would enable communities to hold government decision makers to account based on the merits of their decisions.
The truth is Australia’s nature protection laws are not adequately protecting our air, water, wildlife and places we love. The laws that protect nature are the foundations of a thriving Australia, but it’s clear they are not strong enough to keep the places we love safe and healthy.
The environment is not merely a matter for state governments http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/06/08/comment-environment-not-merely-matter-state-governments Why is the federal government so keen to give up national oversight of the environment, asks James Trezise. In regional Australia, coal mining and coal seam gas have altered landscapes forever, polluted water supplies and divided communities.
This came into sharp focus on Monday night’s Q&A program – shot in front of a live audience in Tamworth, NSW – where national environment laws came bursting right into the election frame.
From the get-go Barnaby Joyce was pegged down by a ropable community in Tamworth, frustrated at government failure to protect their farms and water supplies from invasive mining projects.
The Deputy Prime Minister tried to crab walk away from the awkward reality that his government approved the development of the Shenhua coal mine, a highly unpopular proposal at the edge of his New England electorate.
The crowd was unimpressed by Mr Joyce’s attempts to downplay the federal government’s ability to influence decisions on the environment. He claimed the states had all the power.
Former longstanding New England MP Tony Windsor appeared to be the local favourite on the night.
In 2013 Mr Windsor played a key role in having a “Water Trigger” added to our national environment law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The rationale for the legislative change was that state government had not been sufficiently protecting groundwater resources. This has been clear for all to see at Chinchilla, where groundwater has been polluted by an experimental underground coal gasification project.
Three decades prior to the introduction of the water trigger the federal government’s role in protecting Australia’s environment was cemented by the historic Franklin Dam case. Continue reading
Rum Jungle uranium mine in NT polluting environment 45 years after closure, ABC Radio The World Today By Sara Everingham Traditional owner Kathy Mills finds every visit to site of the old Rum Jungle uranium mine upsetting.
The site, 100 kilometres south of Darwin, is overrun with scrubby weeds, there are two abandoned mining pits, large mounds of waste rock and the water in a diverted channel of the Finniss River is tinged orange and brown from contamination.
But the great-grandmother wants to show people around in the hope it will help her family’s long battle to have the site rehabilitated.
“It has just been lingering on and on and on and many of my people have passed on and I am almost the last man standing in that people who fought for recognition of this land,” she said.
Ms Mills wants the Commonwealth to “hurry up” and rehabilitate the Rum Jungle mine — a Commonwealth-backed venture that produced uranium for the nuclear weapons programs of the US and British governments.
The mine closed 45 years ago but acid and metals are draining into the environment and the site remains off limits to the public including traditional owners.
This month’s federal budget had $11 million for the NT Government to put the finishing touches on a plan for rehabilitation.
Ms Mills said she was running out of time to see Rum Jungle fixed.
Mine took away ‘aspect of land’s importance’
When Rum Jungle was developed traditional owners had no say in it.
One mining pit was dug into a sacred women’s site on the east branch of the Finniss River and the flow of the river was diverted for one kilometre. Ms Mills vividly remembers the anger of one of her older relatives when he saw for the first time how the mine had transformed the land.
“It took away the whole aspect of the importance of that land,” she said.
But in the early 1950s the Commonwealth saw uranium as an opportunity to develop the north.
At the time, Rum Jungle was a major industrial development in northern Australia.
The then prime minister Robert Menzies came to the Top End to open it.
Notorious for environmental problems
When mining finished at Rum Jungle in 1971, no rehabilitation was done and the site became notorious for its environmental problems.
In the early 1980s, the Rum Jungle site could not be handed over to traditional owners as part of the successful Finniss River Land claim in case they became liable for the environmental problems.
The Commonwealth spent $18 million on rehabilitation in the 1980s but some of the work did not last.
At Rum Jungle, scientists from the NT Government are monitoring contamination in the Finniss River…….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-30/rum-jungle-uranium-mine-in-nt-polluting-environment-45-years-on/7460666
Air pollution increases 69 per cent as coal named top polluter, SMH, Josh DyeApril 18, 2016 Air quality across Australia has deteriorated to alarming levels with the coal industry the nation’s worst polluter, new data has shown.
The most concerning rise in air pollution is from PM10, a coarse pollution particle about the width of a human hair. Nationally, total PM10 emissions have increased 69 per cent in one year, and 194 per cent in five years.
The figures come from the National Pollutant Inventory’s 2014-15 report which collects information about toxic pollution. Non-profit legal practice Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) spent the weekend analysing the figures, which were released on Friday.
EJA researcher Dr James Whelan said the findings raise serious questions about the future of Australia’s air quality and called for tougher federal government regulation, an urgent transition from coal to renewable energy, and a National Air Pollution Control Act.
“Watching the continuing escalation of air pollution across Australia, particularly from coal mines and coal-fired power stations, is like seeing a car speed faster and faster with no police response.”
Air pollution kills more than 3000 people in Australian every year, almost three times the annual road toll, and costs the nation more than $24 billion in health care costs each year.
Dr Whelan said reducing particle pollution is critical to avoiding a public health crisis in mining areas.
“Particle pollution accounts for more than 90 per cent of the total health impacts of air pollution in general.”
Dr Whelan said just like smoking, there is no safe level of particle pollution. ……..http://www.smh.com.au/environment/air-pollution-increases-69-per-cent-as-coal-named-top-polluter-20160417-go8b82.html
Water science in South Australia could evaporate as CSIRO looks to slash 350 jobs across the country April 12, 2016 CLARE PEDDIE SCIENCE REPORTER The Advertiser SOUTH Australian water science at the CSIRO is in the firing line as the national research organisation prepares to cut 350 staff across the country in the next two years.
Staff in SA have been told job losses are inevitable with “reductions in headcount” at CSIRO Land and Water, which has 103 people at its Urrbrae base.
Other research areas could also be impacted………
Former CSIRO scientist Dr Peter Dillon said the anticipated job cuts were “economic nonsense”. He said 35 of 50 staff were set to go from the CSIRO’s urban water research area, while rural research was also thought to be on the chopping block.
“Just like building submarines, in research it takes years to develop world-leading teams and shutting down a productive area can’t be quickly reversed,” he said.
CSIRO Staff Association deputy president and Waite Campus staff representative Sonia Grocke said staff felt strongly about the fundamental change to the type of work the CSIRO had done on water, agriculture and the environment.
“We think the current round of cuts and particularly the areas of science that are being targeted will severely impact CSIRO’s ability to address major environmental events as they impact South Australia,” she said. “The Murray-Darling Basin is a good example of that.”…….http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/water-science-in-south-australia-could-evaporate-as-csiro-looks-to-slash-350-jobs-across-the-country/news-story/647fd6fdbfebfca28d4c683c4166336e
Decision on coal mine ‘defies reason’ April 4, 2016 Tim Elliott Features and investigations journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald
The decision on Sunday to approve mining leases for Queensland’s Carmichael coal mine is akin to “evil”, according to one of the world’s foremost marine scientists.
“It defies reason,” said Dr Charlie Veron, former chief scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science. “I think there is no single action that could be as harmful to the Great Barrier Reef as the Carmichael coal mine.”
The $21.7 billion project, which involves mine, rail and port facilities, would allow Indian multinational Adani to extract 60 million tonnes of thermal coal a year from the Galilee Basin, in central Queensland. Adani claims the mine will generate 5000 jobs during construction and more than 4000 during operation, with construction to begin next year……..
conservationists say the mine is an environmental disaster waiting to happen, citing particular risks to the Great Barrier Reef.
“It’s an extraordinary decision, especially coming at a time when the Great Barrier Reef is experiencing its worst ever coral bleaching event,” Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy said. “We know the bleaching is because of global warming, and Carmichael will only make that worse.”
By Adani’s own figures, the mine and its coal will emit more than 4.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. “The pollution from this mine is so big that it cancels the pollution cuts the Turnbull government committed to at the Paris Climate Summit,” Ms O’Shanassy said.
The impact of such emissions could be terminal to the reef, according to Dr Veron. “The reef is obviously in dire straights, irrespective of what anyone says, and that’s blindly obvious.
“There is extraordinary disconnect between science and the political action. Politicians think the mine is good because it’s good for economy, but we are selling out the next generation of Australians as fast as we can go.”
Dr Veron has devoted his life to studying coral reefs: he discovered more than 20 per cent of the world’s coral species, and has been likened by Sir David Attenborough to a modern day Charles Darwin.
“Roughly a third of marine species have parts of their life cycle in coral reefs,” Dr Veron said. “So if you take out coral reefs you have an ecological collapse of the oceans. It’s happened before, mass extinctions through ocean acidification, and the main driver of that is CO₂.”
Dr Veron recently travelled to Canberra to talk to government about the decline in the reef. “The politicians do listen to scientists, but that is the worst part of it,” he said. “If this was all done out of sheer ignorance, that is sort of understandable. It’s like child porn – you might say you don’t know it exists, but if you know it exists and you do everything to promote it, then that’s evil.”…….
Australian Institute of Marine Science principal research scientist Dr Frederieke Kroon has told the ABC that government policies designed to keep the reef on UNESCO’s World Heritage list are insufficient.
“Our review finds that current efforts are not sufficient to achieve the water quality targets set in the Reef 2050 Plan,” she said. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/decision-on-coal-mine-defies-reason-20160403-gnxbc6.html#ixzz44p5A45Es
The call comes as the groups formally provided the EPA with a detailed critique highlighting specific community, environmental and procedural issues, along with wider nuclear industry safety and security concerns. Over 2,000 individual submissions were made to the EPA opposing the Yeelirrie uranium proposal.
A key specific concern involves the threat of species being made extinct as a result of the project. “This proposal threatens to make 15 species of subterranean fauna extinct,” said CCWA nuclear free campaigner Mia Pepper.
“We want the EPA to reject the proposal because of these unacceptable impacts. In its current form the project is likely to cause the extinction of ten species of stygofauna and five species of troglofauna.* These creatures might be small and hard to count but that does not mean that they don’t matter.”
Many of the area’s Traditional Owners have opposed proposals to mine uranium at Yeelirrie for more than 40 years. Pastoral operators and other stakeholders have also raised concerns about the impact on scarce water resources and the problems of dust and airborne pollution from a planned 9 kilometre open pit and large stockpiles of radioactive material in a region known for regular high winds.
“There is scant economic incentive for this mine,” said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney. “The uranium market remains depressed and the commodity price has flat-lined. Cameco wants a paper approval to effectively warehouse a product that lacks social license and demand.
“Cameco – and two other WA uranium hopefuls – are racing to get assessments approved before the next state election. This might make sense for a company but it doesn’t make for good public policy.
“We are deeply concerned about fast tracked approvals for deficient proposals and urge the EPA to say no to extinction by saying no to this uranium mine.”
from THE AUSTRALIAN, 26 Oct 15 …… Robin Matthews, the weathered caretaker of Maralinga nuclear test site, welcomes his visitors with some soothing words: the endless expanse of red gibber plain is safe — just as long as you do not dig.
Concealed under the rusty soil lies 60-year-old secrets of the British Empire, where seven nuclear bombs were detonated and hundreds of minor trials using plutonium and other radioactive materials contaminated kilometres of land.
But look close enough and the remnants of the tests are there — from the salt bush that refuses to grow any taller than 30cm and marks out a wide circle in the blast zones to scattered shrapnel and dark-green glass scattered across ground zero at the Breakaway nuclear test site, created by the heat of the explosion……
Most of the land was handed back to the Maralinga Tjarutja Aboriginal people in 2009 after rehabilitation work was finished, but Defence held on to the weapons-testing range in the Woomera Prohibited Area. In November last year, the 1782sq km site was officially handed back to the Aboriginal people.
Government papers released in 2011 show the site had required further remediation, with the topsoil over the massive Taranaki trench — four football fields wide and three storeys deep and now the burial site for contaminated topsoil and machinery — eroding over time.
Maralinga-Tjarutja general manager Richard Preece said the traditional owners of the land still did not want anything to do with the area, which they described as mamu (devil) country…..
Mr Preece said Maralinga was not only a legacy for Aboriginal people, but also for all Australians who had to remediate the site and were now left with buried radioactive material.
“I find it incredible that somehow it was all right for the British government on foreign soil to create a radioactive mess that was completely left to Australia,” he said.
Trans-Pacific Partnership bad for the environment, green groups say October 7, 2015 Peter Hannam Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald “……Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the Investor-State Dispute Settlement [ISDS] provisions of the pact will allow large corporations to challenge any efforts to tighten environmental regulation.
“This is a watershed moment for the Liberals and the mining industry in their continuing assault against environmental protections in Australia,” Senator Whish-Wilson said. “ISDS will provide a massive chilling effect against improvements in environmental law at a local, state and federal level.”
Kelly O’Shanassy, chair of the Australian Conservation Foundation, said it was “a very silly idea to lock in restrictions to future policy in this country”.
Corporations could now have a look at a proposed policy change and if it threatened their ability to make profit, they would go to the courts as they did to oppose the Gillard government’s plain packaging laws to curb tobacco marketing.
“It could be the plain packaging fiasco for climate change,” Ms O’Shanassy said.
With the Paris climate summit now looking increasingly likely to fall short on locking in sufficient cuts to greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to 2 degrees, governments will need to make regular revisions of their targets beyond this year’s summit.
The TPP is likely to limit nations’ ability to take those necessary additional steps, she said: “It means governments won’t be bold and ambitious as they should be.”http://www.theage.com.au/environment/transpacific-partnership-bad-for-the-environment-green-groups-say-20151006-gk2bga.html#ixzz3o10RNuqa
Great Artesian Basin future up for discussion at outback forum in Alpha http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-07/alpha-forum-to-discuss-future-of-great-artesian-basin/6832964 By Ash Moore The future of the Great Artesian Basin will be up for public discussion over the next five weeks.
The Department of Mines and Natural Resources is holding 25 public meetings around the state, starting in Alpha in the central west today.
It will create a new draft 10-year plan for the basin when the current plan expires next year.
The department’s Mark Foreman said anyone who wanted to could have their say.
“It’s something that is vital when you’re developing a plan, talking to the community, finding out what people think,” he said.
“We’ll have different views, conflicting views and the only way we can develop a plan that works and that reflects the needs of the community as well as government policy is by having these sorts of conversations.
“The challenge is to actually work out something that actually meets the needs of both sides of the community – those who are keen for additional development, while also protecting the incredibly diverse and amazing natural ecosystems of the area – as well as those existing water users who rely on the Great Artesian Basin, as you’d appreciate, during this drought time.”
State governments calculate the required rehabilitation bonds using a standard formula but Dr Erskine said the mining companies work off their own, and often very different numbers.
“The rehabilitation costs held independently by the mining companies are often much larger than the rehabilitation bonds paid to state governments,”
An environmental scientist who works with the mining industry has broken ranks to warn that Australian taxpayers will be left with a bill running into tens of billions of dollars unless government and industry start taking mine rehabilitation seriously.
- More than 50,000 abandoned mines in Australia
- Scientist says mines must be rehabilitated
- Report says rehabilitation bonds ‘insufficient’
- Concerns over Peabody Energy’s plummeting share price prompts rehabilitation bonds questions
Dr Peter Erskine from the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute said although state governments hold financial securities for mine rehabilitation, they are nowhere near enough.
Across Australia there are more than 50,000 abandoned mines — a legacy of the early mining days when resource companies simply walked away when the profits dried up.
To avoid repeating its past, Dr Erskine said Australia must ensure that operating mines are properly and progressively rehabilitated while they are turning a profit.