Flat earth

I know plains are flat country but I had no concept of just how flat they can be. Out on the Liverpool Plains of NSW, as you drive up the straight flat Newell Highway you pass straight flat ‘fields’ kilometres wide.

On one side you can see where they end, as the wheat fields run smack up against the Mt Kaputar National Park.

On the other side, the rows of sorghum or wheat or stubble of one of their many other food crops stretch to the horizon and beyond.

Anything vertical, trees or wheat silos, float in fake lakes, dissolve in a wavering mirage that defies a finite end to this flat, flat earth.

As you can imagine, irrigation and drainage levels are worked out precisely.

Longwall mining for coal takes out a huge chunk 3m high for a long distance underground; subsidence invariably follows.

Boring through layers breaches aquifers, can cause the mixing of pure water with saline or acidic.

If food production is important, and until we can eat coal, only a madman would think of mining under these incredibly flat Plains.

Yet the NSW government accepted $100 million from BHP for the rights to explore at Caroona on these very Plains.

They haven’t done it yet, because the farmers have been blockading their entry for over three months.

Check out their extraordinary stand on the Caroona Coal Action Group site

Farmers say ‘NO!’ to mining

Gunnedah is the main town of the fertile, well-watered NSW Liverpool Plains, which grow much of our grain and seed crops, such as wheat, canola, sunflower and sorghum.

These flat lands are dependent on their underground aquifers and their even surface drainage. Longwall mining will wreck both.

It would be madness to mine there, so why should companies like BHP Billiton explore there?

BHP’s plans came to a halt when local farmer Tim Duddy simply wouldn’t let them onto his property at Caroona.

The court ordered him not to obstruct them, so all his neighbours did instead. They’ve been doing so for 6 weeks and they don’t intend to stop.

On Tuesday 16th September myself and 8 other coal-inflicted Hunter people went up to support the locals in a rally organised by the Caroona Coal Action Group.

They held it outside the Civic Centre where the Gunnedah Basin Coal Conference was being held.

As we were there from 8 am, most delegates must have gone in the back way, as we saw very few, although I later spotted some peeping through the glass front doors at the apparently scary protestors.

The rally was not your usual activist gathering; not a dreadlock in sight. Here we had conservatively covered books holding highly effective radical activism between their covers.

There were establishment farmers in their best moleskins and Akubras, their elegant wives equally adamant in their protest; there were worried rural families who’d thought they had a future here; there were babies and dogs and little old ladies bristling with No Mine stickers.

It was clearly a community sticking together, standing their ground against the Big Multi-national, saying ‘No’ with all the authority of People Power.

Read more

Turn the Tide, Kevin—peak carbon by 2010

Like the children of Rozelle Public School in Sydney, I’m backing this initiative: will you? Be part of creating a national visual petition to Kevin Rudd.

Gather around you whomever you know with a care for the future — whether from your family, play group, work mates, tennis club, or… ?

It doesn’t matter how few or how many. Ask for immediate and real action on climate change from our leaders.

Let Prime Minister Rudd hear the collective voices from our communities — loud and clear — with pictures.

Turn The Tide is aiming for over 1,000 images from communities all over Australia before the end of September.

Visit the Turn the Tide blogspot to see how others are doing it, and to find out how you can do your bit.

Let’s get everybody doing it!