Xstrata’s video parody backfires

Australia’s mining giant, Xstrata Coal, is reported to have written Mumbrella, an online  discussion site of “everything under Australia’s media and marketing umbrella” this week. The letter contains a threat of a legal defamation suit over a published video parody on Australia’s mining business allegedly posted by Mumbrella.

The Australian confirmed the letter to be genuine. Tom Cregan, legal counsel of Xstrata, wrote Mumbrella Editor Tim Burrows:

We therefore require that the video…..(and on any other website hosted by Mumbrella or YouTube) be removed immediately and remind you that all persons involved in the publication of defamatory material are equally liable for defamation. We also observe that the reproduction of the whole of the video taken from www.thisisourstory.com.au appears to constitute a breach of copyright.

The video has been deleted due to defamatory allegation.  It is purportedly produced and posted as a union campaign by former Chaser member Charles Firth. It was deleted from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union’s You Tube account in early December after a complaint from Xstrata.

As early as December, however, activist groups have put up a new site featuring a collection of parodies on Australia’s mining industry, This is the Real Story. Similar videos are also posted on You Tube, including this one:

The site comes with a Facebook page which is nearing a thousand fans.

This is the Real Story claims to be a site put up by a group of concerned satirists comprising of the Australian Satire Institute of Australia, the Chamber of Satire Studies (NSW), Queensland Satirical University, the Royal College of Japery (WA), Federal Council of Satirical Councils (Federal Branch).

“Together our member organisations comprise over 85% of all satirical output in Australia. These are the real stories about what Australian mining is doing to the economy. …These are the real stories about what Australian mining is doing to the economy,” the site claims

The main video voices over the claim of how good to do business in mining—to dig up the wealth of the earth and export it overseas. It also voices over a parody where to get mining workers– from overseas labor or indigenous which are far much “cheaper.”

The site is sponsored by the AMWU and is supported by activist groups,  GetUp! and Fair Go for Billionnaires.

The site compiles collection of video parodies about “the real stories in Mining” including that of Clive Palmer claiming the CIA to be involved in Australia’s mining conspiracy.

While mining export boom should be a good news, local workers, indigenous communities, and Green activists have been on the rise to oppose mining.

Al-Jazeera also has produced a film on the mining ventures currently being undertaken in Australia. The video claims that while natural resources are powering Australia’s economy to record highs, there is a dark side to the mining boom.

Australia is blessed with rugged beauty and a wealth of natural resources – including coal, iron, natural gas and gold. Such minerals are powering Australia’s economy to record highs. And as demand from China for more resources grows, new mines continue to open across the country. But critics say there is a dark side to this success story. Mining regions attract transient workers keen to make a quick buck, creating social and environmental problems and a rising crime rate. Mines are also draining Australia’s pool of skilled labour from other industries and driving up wages. 101 East asks: What is the cost of Australia’s mining boom?

To get involved  and get updates directly into your inbox, you can subscribe stories from the organisers.

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Take action against forests burning!

Forests shouldn’t look like these, should they?

The Huon Valley Environment Centre (HVEC) has launched a campaign against burning forests today. Community Members ignited 20 flares on the lawns of the Hobart’s State Parliament as a sign of protest.

Tasmania's forests is burning. (Photo:HVEC)

 HVEC spokesperson Jenny Weber said in a press release, “The community has demonstrated today to call for a ban on the environmentally disastrous logging burns.” HVEC claims these “regeneration burns” pollutes the world’s cleanest air turning it into a health hazard. “The entire state of Tasmania has to suffer air pollution and climate impacts, because Forestry Tasmania and the logging industry continue to pursue the archaic, ecologically unsound practice of logging andburning in the forests,”

Tasmaia's forests billow in smoke. (Photo: Huon Valley Environment Centre)

HVEC today launched an online action that will provide citizens the avenue to write to the State and Federal Ministers for Health and the Environment and the respective Attorneys General,calling on them to introduce legislation to ban the practice of “regeneration burns” in Tasmania.

“Tasmania needs a breath of fresh air and the Huon Valley Environment Centre is calling for a ban on the forestry industry’s“regeneration burns,” Weber said.

The HVEC urges community to take action against forest burning. (Photo: HVEC)

The community opposes the practice of polluting the air, threatening health and environment and damaging the clean green brand of Tasmania.

“Forestry Tasmania’s clearfall and burn method is destroying thenatural forest ecology to turn it into a loggers wonderland, at the same timethat it is dumping massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and pollutingpeople’s lungs with particulates that are injurious to health,” Weber said.

Link to the cyber action; http://banforestryburns.good.do/

Link to background briefing; www.huon.org/bantheburns

National Geographic 2012 Photo Contest

Here’s a reminder from the National Geographic:

First Place Winner of the 2011 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest:
Star Gazing at Crater Lake, Photo by Ben Canales

The 24th annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest runs from April 5 to June 28, with an entry fee of $15. For procrastinators, the deadline is extended to July 11 with an increase of $10 per entry. Digital entries are accepted online in any of these four categories: Travel Portraits; Outdoor Scenes; Sense of Place; and Spontaneous Moments.

Prizes for a winning photo include: a National Geographic Galápagos Photography Expedition; a Santa Fe Workshop; a National Geographic Traveler Seminar; and $200 gift certificates to B&H Photo.

Last year nearly 13,000 images were submitted from all over the world. The pictures captured an assortment of the places, wildlife, and people that make traveling memorable, evoking a sense of delight, discovery—or both. See the winning photos from 2011.

In an era of Photoshop and ubiquitous imaging software, it is interesting to join in a photo contest. Goodluck!

Oppose Harvey Norman’s native forests business

The Last Stand's recent marketing campaign to inform Harvey Norman's customers where do furnitures come from. (Photo: The Last Stand)

Here’s a new anti-HN’s campaign dropped into my inbox. Conservationists unite!

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Harvey Norman stores across Australia have been visited this week as part of an innovative marketing campaign to give customers the real story of where their new native forest furniture is sourced.

The Last Stand has been campaigning to highlight the role Harvey Norman plays in the destruction of our native forests. Their native Australian furniture and flooring is sourced from high conservation value forests at risk in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania. “If Harvey Norman won’t tell the truth to their customers we will” said Nicola Paris from the Last Stand. “

Conservationists across the country have visited Harvey Norman stores and done some DIY marketing, placing tags on furniture saying ‘Find out how you can win’ accompanied by a QR code which takes customers to a YouTube video which shows the destruction caused by logging our native forests for furniture.

“The myth that logging Australia’s forests for furniture ranges sold by Harvey Norman is sustainable and there is no consequence to their ongoing destruction is simply not true.

There are endangered species at risk in many of the areas Harvey Norman sources wood for its furniture. “Action is well overdue – Harvey Norman has not given any indication of changing their current practices so we are turning to creative tactics to get the facts out to their customers.” An extensive chain of custody report outlining how Harvey Norman are selling Aussie native forest destruction was published by Markets for Change and can be accessed at www.marketsforchange.org

Australian Greens face tough times: Abbott

While Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown is gone, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott warned the Greens- Labor Coalition would face “turbulent times” saying Brown acted more like a prime minister.

The Daily Telegraph said Brown quitted before the storm on carbon tax which will take effect in July this year. The paper said this is where the broader public may react badly to Brown’s departure, and where Gillard will become vulnerable.

Many will simply view this as Brown, a figure a majority of people believe is the quasi-deputy leader in a Labor-Greens alliance, leaving the sinking ship before it runs aground. Tony Abbott will make easy work of a perception that the man responsible for forcing the government to introduce the carbon tax doesn’t even want to stick around to see it start.

Resigned Bob Brown walks away with the party’s new leader, Christine Milne (Photo: Andrew Meares)

PM Julia Gillard accepted Brown’s resignation last week as Deputy Christine Milne took over the helm with Lower House MP Adam Bandt later voted in as her replacement. Brown will also quit as a Tasmanian Senator when his term expires in June. He will not seek for re-election.

Brown said he is happy to go after 16 years in public service taking active role at the forefront of Australia’s environmental campaigns. He turned his party an icon of “innovation.”

With Brown, the Greens became Australia’s third political party and used its heft to bargain with a minority Labor Government and gain the balance of power in the Senate, The Punch commented. The Greens have also been instrumental in the implementation of a carbon tax. Brown leaves the Greens in historically high numbers in the parliament, with a total if 10 members in the House of Representatives and Senate. Brown said:

“I am 67. I am aware that one should always make room for renewal in politics. A democracy is the healthier for the turnover of the depth of talent there is in its community,” he told reporters at a press conference in Canberra.

He added he will leave public office to enjoy his private life, but he will remain Green as long as he lives. He said one of his upcoming plans is to visit Miranda Gibson who has been perching on a tree to keep vigil on Tasmania’s forests.

The tree observer, Miranda Gibson, has been holding vigil on a makeshift house perched on a tree. This photo is taken by Brown himself.

However, Brown could not elude critics on his “untimely” resignation amid crumbling pubic support for Australia’s green projects. Oppositions to the carbon tax claim Brown is playing safe before the storm. The carbon tax passed the Senate in November 2011 and will take effect in July this year. Prices of goods and services across the nation are predicted to spiral as a result.

As a warning for the Labor-Greens coalition, the Labor Party was already massacred in the recent Queensland state election. The new Australian Liberal Party’s State Government is now dumping green schemes initiated by the former Labor premiere.

In Canberra, federal government offices are cutting budgets that may result into mass layoffs reducing the number of employees and projects in areas related to environment.

National secretary Nadine Flood said that some work in areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and industry assistance programs would ”simply not be done”, the Canberra Times reported.

The same paper added, “The Community and Public Sector Union, while unable to confirm the latest job cut figures, said reducing numbers to 470 would be a massive blow for staff and would seriously damage Australia’s ability to deal with the impacts of climate change.”

At the party’s Third Annual Green Oration delivered on March 23 this year, Brown addressed the “Earthians” to get involved in finding solutions to the shrinking resources of the planet while its citizenry is growing to an unparalleled proportion beyond what the planet can sustain.

He proposed that for the Earth to be able to survive in the next millennium, a “comprehensive Earth action, an all-of-the-Earth representative democracy is required. That is, a global parliament.” He added, “So democracy – ensuring that everyone is involved in deciding Earth’s future – is the key to success. “

The Punch’s editor-in-chief reacted to the speech as out-of-this-world political ramblings.

…the phrase “Fellow Earthians” was a deep ecologist ramble across a range of themes, including the possible existence of aliens, the disappearance of the dinosaurs, the fact that Bob saw a shooting star the other night and believed it was a portent heralding a new form of participatory democracy. It has been covered at length elsewhere and should you be up for a laugh, please read it in its entirety…

Australian Greens rally at the Parliament House in Canberra in 2008 (Photo: Australian Greens)

Greens Reactions

Green organizations commended Brown’s advocacy to environment, gay marriages, refugee and asylum seekers, and other issues related to social and economic equality.

SBS noted the Wilderness Society described “Brown as an inspiring leader for the Australian environment movement and a champion of wilderness protection during the past 30 years.”

Greenpeace also said Senator Brown would be remembered by future generations for his efforts to protect Australia’s natural heritage.

“He has been a steady voice of reason in a parliament dogged by vested interests and shortsightedness,” program director Ben Pearson said in a statement.

Gay advocates have called Bob Brown one of Australia’s great gay heroes.

While Milne and Brandt take the helm of the party, the Greens are also looking for possible candidate for the June election.

A potential candidate to replace Brown would be Peter Whish-Wilson, a Tamar Valley winemaker who grew up in Karratha who claimed to have worked for BHP Billiton. He said he has experience in small business, markets and global finance which will make him a different sort of Green.

“This is the biggest opportunity for us to create jobs growth and we have to incentivise companies to do the right thing. I don’t see Tasmania just through tourism: there have to be other directions and opportunities…“I am more for opportunity than opposition,” the Financial Review quoted Whish-Wilson as saying.

The Australian said Milne will seek to establish a new political support base among rural Australians and “progressive” businesses as part of an intensified campaign against the “vested interests” of the resource-based economy.

Senator Milne has also attacked the major political parties as captives of the resources sector, and savaged the “rapaciousness” of mining companies, vowing to dedicate her leadership to hastening a transition to a low-carbon economy.

BLOG LINK: Asian Correspondent 

GetUp! rallies behind Swan on mining tax

“Politicians have a choice… between standing up for workers and kneeling down at the feet of the Gina Rineharts and the Clive Palmers …”  – Wayne Swan, The Monthly, March 2012

Here’s from the email inbox:

The Government is talking tough about the need to ensure all Australians benefit from the resources we own. But here’s the stark truth: Over the next three years, as the Minerals Resources Rent Tax brings in $10.6 billion from the mining industry, around $8.5 billion will be handed back to them in tax concessions and loopholes!

Wayne Swan is making critical decisions over the next few weeks in an attempt to reach a budget surplus in 2012/13. As we’ve seen at budget time in years past, ideas are floated out in the weeks leading up to the budget to see how the public responds. Just this morning, news outlets began running the story that perhaps mining subsidies would be cut in the upcoming budget. As Wayne Swan takes the public’s temperature on this issue, let’s turn up the heat on him.

Can you make sure Swan stands up for workers by ending mining handouts? Chip in to put this ad on the air so that he hears from everyday Australians instead of mining magnates:

http://www.getup.org.au/end-billionaire-welfare

Mining magnates such as Clive Palmer and Gina Reinhart continue to rake in record profits at the same time as receiving billions of dollars in handouts (our tax dollars) from the Government.

Each year, mining subsidies on offer include (but are not limited to): – $1.89 billion under the Diesel Fuel Tax Credit Scheme [1] – $330 million under the exploration and prospecting deduction [2] – $250 million via an accelerated deprecation scheme that lets them write down their assets early [3] – $390 million in various research & development deductions [4]

This billionaire welfare is occurring at the same time as nurses, teachers, aged-care workers and other public sector workers face further budget cuts.

That’s why we’ve made an ad that highlights the stories of the people who really deserve the Government’s aid – people working for public interest, not vested interest.

Can you help get their message on TV screens before it’s too late?

http://www.getup.org.au/end-billionaire-welfare

It’s safe to say that at some point in our lives – if it hasn’t happened already – we’ll all depend on people like Clare, Michelle, Janice and Inge. It’s not right that they continue to work hard and pay taxes week in and week out, facing budget cuts and staffing shortages – only to have that money handed over to Clive and Gina so they can become even richer.

We can put a stop to it. Ask Wayne Swan to put our money where his mouth is and end handouts to big mining: http://www.getup.org.au/end-billionaire-welfare

Thanks for standing up for what’s right, for the GetUp team.

PS – With just weeks to go before the budget is handed down, the word out of Canberra is that key meetings to discuss policy options like ending mining subsidies are occurring over the next few weeks. Can you help us get this ad on the air as these important decisions are being made? http://www.getup.org.au/end-billionaire-welfare

Sources: [1] ‘Taxation Statistics 2008-09’, Australian Taxation Office. 2011. p 14 [2] ‘Tax Expenditures Statement 2011’,  The Australian Government the Treasury. January, 2012. p. 108 [3] ‘Drill Now, Pay Later’, Australian Conservation Foundation. September, 2011. p. 8 [4] ‘The Berd in the Hand Report’, Australian Business Foundation. April 2011. pp 18 – 25