Thursday, September 03, 2015

What ever happened to the McArthur River?

Back in 2006 the people of Borroloola and concerned Northern Territorians rallied against a proposed expansion to the McArthur River Mine (MRM).
The expansion involved turning what was an underground mine into a full open cut mine and diverting a section of a large Tropical River for kilometers through a dozed channel to avoid flooding of the mine (and theoretically to prevent contamination of the River)

Locals and environment advocates fought a hard battle with the mining company (conglomerate) Xstrata Queensland Limited. (Mount Isa Mines Ltd) , who had already proven to be incapable of preventing leakage of contaminants from the existing mine.
Despite strong evidence against the miner's capacity to protect the natural resources of the area the expansion was approved by the Minister for Mines and Energy.

The decision was challenged in the supreme court case of: Lansen and Ors v Northern Territory Minister for Mines and Energy [2007] NTSC 28.
The presiding judge Justice Angel ruled that approval should not have been given by the Minister. Basically he found that a mine classified as 'underground' could not simply be changed to an open cut mine with a nod and a wink by the Minister for Mining. See the: Mining Management Act 1990 (NT).

So then things got really dirty. The NT Government dived in to defend the mining company. They actually rewrote the law and applied it retrospectively to overturn the Supreme Court ruling. They adjusted the McArthur River Project Agreement Ratification Act 1992 (NT) pretty much giving MRM management permission to do whatever they want with the land, the river and the future of the people in the region. (read more HERE)

The mine went ahead and the river was diverted.

Protest rally September 2006
Environmentalists were pissed off, the people of Borroloola were mortified and the average Territorian didn't seem to appreciate just how much they had lost. For a Government to amend a law retrospectively in order to get what they want and ignore the health and cultural concerns of citizens, disregard environmental protection safeguards and show such contempt for the laws of the land was an insult to all Territorians but we barely heard a murmur from the average citizen... Even though this affected one of the best fishing spots in the NT. Maybe they thought it was only a Blackfella problem?

So here we are 8 [9] years later and the river is showing serious signs of contamination, people are afraid to eat fish from the river or surrounding coastal water but there has been no advice from the Department of health about the health risks connected to the river!
What's changed?
  • The environment is far more polluted than it was 9 years ago.
  • The name of the company is Glencore 


Today once again representatives from the Borroloola community returned to Parliament House to visit the Minister for the Environment. They brought a petition with 3,600 signatures on it calling for the closure of the mine and rehabilitation of their land. (ABC report HERE)


Environment Centre NT workers were also there to support the call for justice and to highlight the multiple failures at the mine and Government departments in ensuring the adherence to NT and Australian Environmental laws. The level of contamination poses very serious health risks to residents of Borroloola and surrounding communities. There could be serious consequences for not notifying people of the risk to health.

The McArther River Mine should be an example to every Territorian that our Government is prepared to stomp the lives of it's own people into the dirt rather than miss an opportunity to support extraction resource companies from making a packet at our expense!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Who's the Goose and who is Jonny?



Right now there are folks out there, rich folks, powerful folks, and they're taking what's left of our dignity and justice and they're using it for toilet paper and good people who keep battling against the odds to appeal to the law for justice... But the bastards are the ones who write the laws... 

In this scene from Mad Max Goose's prisoner (Johnny the Boy) is let off coz no one showed at the trial. Witnesses too scared to give evidence. The scenario is based on a bad ass bike gang who have no respect for the law. The culprits are obviously criminal and considered 'the bad guys' by the audience... 

Well these aren't the thugs I'm talking about. The ones who are screwing us work for the guys who wear blue ties. And and just like in the movie people are afraid to give evidence because the Government will press charges against those who inform the public about what they do!




At those times I think of the words of Jim Goose from Mad Max... 
 
Jim Goose: "Jesus, Fifi. Fifi, Jesus. Look, they’re laughing at us! Can’t you see they’re laughing at us?"

P.S. 03.09.15
What I'm talking about here specifically is the fact that Transfield Services, the mob at the centre of abuse claims in the Nauru inquiry have been awarded a continuation of their contract to manage Australia's Immigration Detention Centres! See some info about it HERE

"CAN'T YOU SEE THEY'RE LAUGHING AT US?"



Away to the sea





Seeking escape from the humdrum and grind of life, rather than taking time to pray or meditate my tendency is to absorb myself in fantasy. The romance of Bahamas and freedom loving pirate adventures is what's enthralled me over the past year.
While playing Assassins Creed Black Flag I fell in love with the sea shanties.
In Australia there's been a hell of a lot of condemnation of people who take to the open sea in the hope of finding freedom and safety abroad. They are judged as reckless and even as a threat to our national security. All kinds of cruelty has been justified in the name of saving them from themselves.
As I listen to this song I am reminded that it is the brave who take to the sea that have a chance of beating the constant threat to life and limb they would face if they stayed!



Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Education

Education. Recently a friend posted a meme on the fb which for some reason rattled my cage. The meme featured a kid asking why he has to go to school, his mother retorts “So you don’t end up being a thich fascist twat….etc… etc…” 

Although I agree totally with the sentiment, I have serious doubts about the assumption that sending our children to participate in the ‘Education system’ as it stands is any protection against their indoctrination to fascist ideology. I asked myself, what is Education anyway? I remember as a kid I declared that I was leaving school at 16 to ‘get an education’. I admit the experiences I had after leaving school were far from academic, however I did learn some things. (possibly not the most efficient or fool safe way of learning. How do I perceive the word ‘education’? Well there’s the formal title they give it at school and then there’s the concept I had when I left school that I would actually go out and seek knowledge (OK I didn’t put much effort into that). 

I remembered talking to friends who (through their own misadventures) had spent time at Pentridge prison in Victoria, they called it The Bluestone College, a place of higher learning for career criminals. They were put there to be ‘Educated’ by the state ‘correctional system’ but the college was an unusual institution. Between the bars and official curriculum preporting rehabilitation, house of corrections style, It was well known that the Bluestone College was a place where the tacit ideology of violence and crime were expertly conveyed.

Unsure that I really understood what the word education even meant I took a punt with Google, the first definition I found was this: 

1. Noun - the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.



(Yes it was the first hit, no I am not quoting the source, it’s near enough to more reliable sources and serves the purpose of my inquiry)

I looked closely at the wording of the entry. Did the definition of the word education provide any intrinsic protection from fascist indoctrination? Taking the single sentence spat out on my computer screen at face value I'd say that education as such is the vehicle for indoctrination. 
Any process of receiving or giving systematic instruction is inherently laced with the intended purpose of the instructor. 

So back to the theory that education will protect against fascism. It seems based on an idea that Fascism is bad and Education is Good. That Education is the natural antidote to people falling for bullshit ideologies. But that's just not true. Education is not inherently good or bad. It's just a means to and end.

Thinking rationally about what education actually is I reckon that the old Bluestone College offered as valid an education as any other establishment dedicated to the task. The prison system is theoretically supposed to reform people who fall foul of the law. To Re-Educate them. I started to recall language I’d heard in movies and the news about a process of correcting the behavior of dissidents and dissenters who oppose the views and wisdom of State Authority. They called that Re-Education too. 
Back to my internet searching. Well it seems that Re-Education is quite a forceful method of Education. Using fear, pain, intimidation and brainwashing etc… to assist the student in achieving the learning outcomes. It seems ‘Education’ can come in many forms.

courtesy of genius.com

Back to the meme of the kid and the parent. I'm thinking about my children who are currently enrolled in primary education. I think about the announcements from our political leaders regarding amendments they have, and intend to make to school curriculum. The manipulation of history lessons, the denial of the Aboriginal Wars, overt nationalistic studies on the events of WWI and WWII. The normalization of military images… The suppression of agencies such as the CSIRO who have informed Australians about the state of our environment and the study of natural processes… On weighing up all these things I am convinced, that Education as such offers no protection from fascism or any other ideology! Education is a device and a tool, which has been used by the powerful subdue and convert otherwise free thinking people into compliant servants of the existing power structure. Right now it appears that the State is taking advantage of their power over school curriculum to push a fearful reactive capitalist nationalism which shames the weaker members of our society and demonizes vulnerable others. The current agenda will stifle natural inquiry! 
Regardless of the many good teachers, the curriculum has a big impact on the minds of the ‘educated’ and teachers are workers who can be easily dismissed if they fail to convey the approved messages.

Of course we can use education for what we believe are good ideals or purposes but it’s still just fixing in another person’s mind ideas we think they should have. Imagine if we were free to think?

Frankly I have very little respect for ‘Educated People’ they know too much and question too little. Personally I prefer the concept Bertrand Russell describes when he talks about thought: 

"Men fear thought more than they fear anything else on earth- more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible; thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. It sees man, a feeble speck, surrounded by unfathomable depths of silence; yet bears itself proudly, as unmoved as if it were lord of the universe. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world and the chief glory of man.

But if thought is to become the possession of the many, not the privilege of the few, we must have done with fear. It is fear that holds men back-fear lest their cherished beliefs should prove delusions, fear lest the institutions by which they live should probe harmful, fear lest they themselves should prove less worthy of respect than they have supposed themselves to be."

-Bertrand Russel
Chapter 35 of Jed McKenna's book Spiritual Warfare begins with this quote. I was listening to this on my way to work this morning and contemplating the use of Education to indoctrinate Australian society today...  Nothing like burning down the establishment starting work for the day.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Moonlight Rode.

I got the timing slightly wrong with the Mandorah ferry on Thursday. "There is no 4pm departure...!" The perplexed deckie told me when I arrived an hour and 10 minutes early!
"No 4 - 0-clock ferry? But you don't understand, I've planned this trip!" (says I, scoffing and ridiculing my own ineptitude while she just huffs and continues loading supplies for the bar)
OK, time to grab some supplies after all. Keen to be moving, legs full of energy I pumped it back up the hill from Cullen Bay and purchase some bubbly caffeinated drinks and a double shot of coffee from the servo. Satisfied I would be properly charged up for the ride I rolled back down the hill at about 4:30 ish for take two of 90% Moonlight Ride.... Whooo hoooo (For reals this time baby!!)

Moon rises over town

Of course by 5pm the ferry was chockers with Mandorahites and Wagait Beach commuters. So I ride at the back of the ferry with the smokers and pet owners beside ventilation pipes for the onboard toilet. Actually despite the woft of whatever the passengers ate last night drifting up past our noses the trip was quite pleasant. They're a different breed over there on the Mandorah side. The atmosphere on the boat was a bit like I imagine Darwin must have been like 30 years ago. From the moment the boat left it's mooring in Cullen bay I felt as though I'd been set free. I could sense from the mood on board that everyone was happy to be leaving the town behind them. Relieved and grateful to be heading back to their own little piece of paradise. Bloody well good on them I reckon!



When we arrived at the Mandorah jetty I could see a young fella struggling to land a decent sized tuna! He was pulling too hard on the line and his rod was bent over on itself, looked like he was trying to muscle the fish right out of the water from the moment it took the bait. I saw the flash of silver in the water and was mesmerized. I wondered if the fish was warn out enough for him to real it all the way from the water to the top of the jetty... Nope! Not this time.


Looking back on Darwin from Mandorah... That's close enough for most people here


Twilight moon at about 90% full.

Although there's quite a few stairs from the boat to the top of the Jetty, it wasn't too hard to lug the long bike up there. Looking back toward town the moon had well and truly risen above the city skyline. I stood and enjoyed the view and a bit of banter with some locals before setting my wheels to the road. Starting out is such a great feeling! One hour before sunset is a magic time to ride.

My main concern about riding at night was the possibility of coming across wild dogs or a pack of camp dogs. It turned out I didn't come across any packs of wild dogs. I did see one dingo while it was still daylight just before I reached Belyuen community. He was a skinny scrawny fella and bolted when he saw me.


Still plenty of light as I passed Belyuen community, where they serve ice cold slushies. Good to know on a hot day.


During the day it's as if there is absolutely no shade and so the scrub looks harsh, but between 5:30 and 7:00pm it's like riding through a magical forest of exotic looking trees and mystical Cycads.  In the light of the setting sun tree trunks are highlighted with horizontal light, an orange tinge gives the whole environment a completely different feel, like a stage lit from below. Birds are going wild the forest is alive! I looked to my left and saw my own shadow growing long in grassy verge beside me.


When the sun sets and moon takes dominance of the night sky all the hues and angles of lighting change again. They don't call it twilight for nothing. You have to be in it to truly appreciate the end of sun and birth of moon. To be 'On the Road' with none of the usual constraints of time or family responsibilities, at this time of day can elevate the imagination and free the spirit! I peddled on for an hour or so after sundown without using my lights. All the traffic was coming towards me. Commuters making the long journey home from work in Darwin.
Another hour on the road passes and the cars were coming from behind me. Time to put the lights on! I need to be seen! For a little while I wondered where they might be going... then I remembered. The Mandorah pub has been demolished. They must be driving to Litchfield pub! For the rest of the journey along Cox Peninsular Road (from about 8:30 - 10:30) a car came from behind me at least every 15 or 20 minutes. Very fast and some a bit too close. I took the message and got off the road whenever I saw one coming. One fella stopped to see if I was OK. he was a friendly bloke, 'just on his way to the pub for more beer...' Good reason for me to be off the road when he and others make their way home again I reckon.


Crossing Blackmore River (Half way mark about 60km) I was flagging and needed a rest. I pulled up under the school lights at Berry Springs and scoffed some food and most of my water. From here on the traffic became far more regular. Another 15 km to Noonamah (getting hard to peddle now).  Every 5 acre allotment has a dog to guard his master's territory... not every 5 acre allotment has fencing to contain said fanged guardians. As the barking grew closer my legs pumped harder. I reviewed my pre-ride bicycle maintenance schedule. Yes I pumped the tyres... No I didn't oil the bloody chain! Now the bloody thing is making so much noise I'm drawing the attention of every dog along the way! After about 90km of constant travel I could feel the resistance of every stubborn link!

Hoons on the road passed too close, one hero leaning out the passenger window of a car thought he'd put the wind up me... he seemed to lean a bit too far, if he fell out my conscience would probably dictate that I stop and help clean up the mess... fortunately it didn't happen. 


Finally reaching the Stuart Highway I felt I had made pretty good time, but my legs were aching, my knees and back were sobbing "Enough!" At Noonamah the servo was closed but the pub was still open. A few Impex workers and locals chatting outside. I slumped againts the servo wall hoed into an orange and guzzled more water. . As I sat there wondering if I would make it home my phone rang. A fellow cycling buddy called to check in on me. Of course Ego jumped in and a sufficient portion of bravado applied to assure him that this ride was a doddle for me. "I'm just cruising. Seriously why would I want you to come out and get me! Are you kidding?"

Another 15km to Coolalinga. I struggled back onto the bike and drank the remainder of my water quickly, my thoughts focused on a frozen coke at the new McDonald's.  (All my life I've shunned the golden arches, but as I progressed past the deadly Coolalinga intersection I felt myself almost praying it would be open.) As I drew close to the store a message appeared before my eyes... 24 hr. YES! 
Frozen coke and apple pie never tasted so good!


I took it easy the rest of the way home. Enjoying the bicycle path from Palmerston. Gamba grass fires had decimated a huge section of bushland along McMillans Road, I wonder what happened to the squatters camps in there. No traffic to bother me now, the moon so bright I could see the contours of every hill and tree, the familiar sound of Curlews and scrub fowl grew stronger as I approached my home the nights are not silent when the moon is so near. Rolled up to the gate at 12:15. Not bad. Ran a hot bath to ease my aching joints. At 1am I took one final look at my companion in the sky and slumped into bed with an immense feeling of gratitude for the freedom I have, satisfied with my effort, physically exhausted and spiritually renewed.  


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Moonlight Ride

Super moon expected on the 30th August...

Plan: Cycle 130 km from shore to shore by the light of the moon, commencing by the sea at moon rise till I reach the sea again 6 or so hours later.

Not sure which bike I'll ride, probably not the one with the skinny tyres.
If I ride solo I'll do most of the trip in silence... But just in case I manage to muster some company I've arranged a bit of a playlist to take along... just need to sort out some amplification...


Will also include my 'Night' play list and the bicycle song and Fat bottomed girls by Queen.