Kimberly gas hub sparks nationwide protests

The dream of Western Australia to transform Broome into a dazzling New Dubai faces no paved road. The multi-billion Woodside Petroleum’s gas hub has ignited intermittent tensions between local residents and the police.

Premiere Barnett dispatches police to support Woodside, Shell, Chevron, BP, BHP-Billiton, Mitsubishi and Matsui on the road to James Price Point. (Photo: Damian Kelly)

The State Government dispatched a strong 140-200 police to James Price Point this week alerting  Green activists nationwide to join forces with Broome residents in opposing the $40 billion gas deal. Local residents say the sight of police presence has become too scary. Others call it a State Government’s “bullying”.

Whether there is a government-business collusion in return for a huge kickback, it is yet to be known. One thing is evident though– West Australian Premier Colin Barnett denied he ordered the police dispatch. He said it was the “operational decision” made by Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan.

Protest camp spokeswoman Vivienne O’Shea describes it as “unnecessary” adding that it the State Government is “spending such a colossal amount of taxpayer money to basically frighten the Broome community.”

Broome residents are against gas on Mothers’ Day (Photo:Glen Klatovsky)

Wilderness Society Kimberley campaign manager Glen Klatovsky said it was a waste of police resources and taxpayer money to send police “to crush the Broome community” which had already been traumatised by last year’s heavy-handed use of police and Woodside’s own private security force.

Today, Tasmania has also joined the action. Led by the Huon Valley Environmental Center and The Last Stand, a vigil at Pier 1 of Macquarie Wharf, Salamanca from 5 pm was held as a gesture of support to Broome residents. Video on Kimberly is likewise featured.

In a press release, Jenny Weber, a spokesperson of the HVEC said Tasmania is joining other citizens from other cities across the nation including Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, to support the people of Broome in their fight to protect one of the most spectacular places in the world.

Ula Majewski of The Last Stand also said, “Tonight, the people of southern Tasmania will be standing strong in spirit with this inspiring community in the far north west of the country. We are demonstrating our absolute support for these outstanding citizens who are taking a stand for the Kimberley, one of our most ecologically and spiritually significant landscapes.”

One of the idyllic beaches of Kimberly (Photo:ACF)

The Australian Conservation Foundation said the Kimberley is too precious to lose with its rich mineral deposits along with its historical and cultural value.

ACF believes the proposed location of the Browse Basin gas hub at James Price Point on the Dampier Peninsula will have a significant environmental impact. The peninsula’s western intertidal zone has been included under National Heritage in recognition of its extensive dinosaur trackways, but it remains in threat by the development of the gas hub.

Blog Link: Asian Correspondent

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?

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