Visual Arts – November

 

 

Tell the Truth!

Tell the Truth!

On the 23rd of June 1988, Al Gore (remember him) invited James Hansen from N.A.S.A. no less, to speak to the U.S. Congress about the unprecedented heat wave sweeping across the Northern Hemisphere. This is a seminal moment in our history. Dr. Hansen told the members of congress that he and his fellow scientists were 99% sure that the record temperatures endured were not a purely natural phenomenon. The heat-wave was partly caused by human activity: The burning of fossil fuels. The speech went viral across the globe. That was the moment the world learnt about ‘global warming.’ From that moment on the campaign to limit the burning of fossil fuels began in earnest. Unfortunately that campaign, for one reason or another, has been a catastrophic failure. In the 20 years since 1989, the amount of CO2 in the sky has not been reduced, it has DOUBLED.

Roger Hallam, one of the founders of Xtinction Rebellion calls the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement “the greatest mass delusion in the history of humanity.” Now why would he go and say a thing like that, just when we were congratulating ourselves on a job well done. Roger called the Paris Climate Accord the greatest delusion in the history of the world because the accord was based on the idea of limiting global temperature rises to either 2 degrees or 1.5 degrees. These numbers were plucked out of a hat. It is common knowledge in academic circles that 2 degrees of global warming is already locked in, a fait acumpli, a scientific fact that cannot be negotiated away. So why don’t we, the poor ignorant peasants, know this fact? Because we have been lied to on a massive scale, that’s why.

Please let me explain. It is not complicated. It is simple arithmetic.

Fact 1: As we all know, the arctic is melting. 75% of the ice has been lost in just 30 years. Soon it will all be gone, but no one is particularly worried about that, unless you feel sorry for the starving polar bears. But it is not just the polar bears that will be affected. When the bright white ice recedes, it exposes dark blue water, so instead of the ice reflecting the suns rays, the sea absorbs them. The same phenomena is happening to all the snow and ice in the world. It is confidently predicted that the full effect of all this melting will be a rise in the global temperature of around 0.7 degrees.

Now, as we all know, the global temperature has already risen about 1.1 degrees since pre-industrial times.

1.1 + .7 = 1.8

Fact 2: The ‘carbon lag.’ Apparently, the co2 in the sky takes a quite a while to transfer into a rise in temperature: from 10 to 20 years or more. It has been estimated that if we stopped all burning of fossil fuels tomorrow, (as if…) the carbon lag would still increase the temp by another 0.7 degrees.

1.8 + .7 = 2.5

Sorry, it gets worse.

Fact 3: Soil carbon. (I bet you hadn’t thought of that)There is a vast amount of carbon trapped in the soil that will be released as the temperature rises, contributing another 1 percent.

2.5 + 1 = 3.5

Not to mention all the co2 we shall continue to emit from now until whenever.

Are we starting to feel a little uncomfortable yet?

So 3.5 degrees is ‘locked in’, and that is a global average. In the middle of continents we are talking about 4degrees hotter. Unfortunately for the human race, it is not possible to grow grain at these temperatures, even if the climate were stable, rather than chaotic, as it already is.

As it turns out, the serious problem of food shortages could arise a whole lot sooner than we might like. Last year was a wild and crazy year: a taster of things to come. Crop harvests plummeted by 20% right across the northern temperate zone, from North America to Eastern Russia. All the scientists got very worried, even the computers were worried, that’s how bad it was. But we didn’t worry, did we? Because we haven’t got a fucking clue what’s going on. If crops fail for 2 more years in a row, we run out of food., and that is scary. It doesn’t take Nostradamus to predict what happens when we can’t grow enough food to feed 8 billion hungry souls. It is called ‘social collapse’, and it is not pretty. ‘Civilization as we know it’ will be replaced with chaos, anarchy, mayhem, starvation and war!

Oh, and did l mention the bushfires raging constantly all over the planet all year round, don’t forget about them. Sure, we are pretty blasé about the droughts and the floods. The cyclones we can take in our stride: Not a problem. The decimation of The Great Barrier Reef, who gives a shit? But bushfires. We worry about bushfires don’t we? Bushfires scare the living daylights out of us.

No wonder the authorities decided not to tell us the truth, we might get upset.

Now, I don’t expect you to take these rather disturbing facts and swallow them whole, without a pinch of salt. I don’t expect you to think this scenario is 100% certain. But since these facts are so dire, if there were only the remotest possibility of this drama playing out, surely every sane member of the human race would do what ever it takes to avoid such a catastrophe.

What   ever   it   takes!

Well, the moment of reckoning is upon us. Will we freeze in panic, or will we rise to the occasion. I say we rise.

Now that we have woken from our slumber, don’t think we are trapped in a nightmare: One of those awful dreams where a dark force is approaching but your limbs refuse to move, your mouth opens but you cannot speak.

This is not one of those dreams.

Yes, 4 degrees may well be ‘locked in,’ so we must unpick the lock. It is absolutely imperative that we cease forthwith, to burn any more fossil fuels. Not one more gram! We have so many things in our lives, surely we can give up just three of them: Coal, oil and gas.

OK, that is the easy bit. Then we must suck all that co2 out of the sky, and lock it up somewhere safe, like in a bank vault or something. A bit like putting the shit back in the cow after it has hit the fan. It could be a messy job, but it has to be done, and it has to be done as fast as is humanly possible. Luckily for us, just about anything is humanly possible. There are billions of us sharing this amazing planet. Literally billions of incredibly creative and resourceful people, with mouths that speak and limbs that move. Surely if we all work together, with enthusiasm, compassion and joy, we can do anything, absolutely anything, even the impossible!

Let’s get cracking, there is no time to lose.

Ben Boyang            7/10/19

Join Extinction Rebellion Victoria

Roger Hallam – Time to act now.

Guilt Free Travel

Guilt free travel!

That’s what we want, don’t we?

 

We are all know how extravagant it is to fly around the place in airoplanes, but sometimes it is unavoidable, isn’t it? Of course, the best mode of travel would be the good old train, but who wants to sit on the train all bloody day, consuming nothing but time, when we could spend our time consuming consumer items while we were consuming time at the same time, if you get my drift?

So it’s basically the car or the plane. Let’s compare them.

As it turns out, the emissions per passenger in an airoplane are roughly the same as the emissions for a car travelling over the same distance. Your standard 747 work horse, can fit about 400 average size people, if the whole plane is economy class. (or about 350 fat people) Most planes fly at about 80% capacity, that’s 320 standard size people. The plane uses about 320 times more fuel than the family car, which guzzles about 12 litres per 100ks. So we can see that one person in one car is using about the same fuel as one plane passenger. Now that beggars the question, what if we fill the car up with people? Obviously, if the car has five occupants it will be five times more efficient than the plane. This is a crucial point. The figures have a lot of variables, but taking the car will always be way more efficient than the plane as long as it has at least 2 people in it, and ideally as many as you can possibly fit. So next time you flit off to Europe – Take the car!

Now let’s imagine we have to get to Camp Binbee, in Central Queensland. Camp Binbee is a meeting place for people who want to stop the evil Adani coal mine via N.V.D.A.(That’s non-violent direst action) We decide to go by car to cut down our emissions, tick box 1, we are driving a Hyundi Gets. Tick Box 2, and we have filled all the seats in the car. Tick Box 3. But it is a bloody long way: about 2500ks from Melbourne to Bowen, the nearest town. It will take about 26 hours if we drive non-stop, so we decide to take a couple of days. But we still feel guilty about our emissions, don’t we? We really need to do something to offset them. We must assuage our guilt. It is very bad for one’s well-being to sit in a car all day feeling guilty.

We all know the token gold coins you pay at the airport are a complete joke, our guilt is not assuaged in the slightest. But luckily for us, there are a plethora of organizations vying to offset our emissions for us. I personally recommend MyClimate, and that’s not because they give me  free trips around the world whenever it takes my fancy, they actually do a really a good job, and I’m not just saying that, I’ve seen it in every country I’ve visited. The good people at MyClimate have found that the bulk of our ‘travel guilt’ accumulates in our credit card, where it can be exorcized with a mere click of a button. You may well experience a wave of euphoria pulsating through your chakras at this moment, as the burden is lifted from your soul. Yes, it’s that easy!

The standard way of generating carbon offsets is by planting trees.

1 tree will absorb 20kilos of CO2 per year. According to Quora.com we Australians generate about 20 tons of CO2 per person, per year.(and that is without the obligatory trip to Bali every year and Europe every second year). So, if you plant 1000 trees that should cover all your offsets for the rest of your life shouldn’t it? If only it were that simple. The first problem that springs to mind is: What happens when the trees die?    ( As they tend to do after about 40 years) Where does the CO2 go then? We should also ask ourselves, where the hell are we going to put all these bloody trees? There are 23 million souls in Australia, that’s 23 billion trees. Apparently we have cut down 3 billion trees in a mere 200 odd years. Well done team! So we could replace them all, and the entire country would be covered in forest and we would be reduced to eating gum leaves. But that still leaves 20 billion seedlings waiting for somewhere to grow. But if you want to go down that path you need only pay $100 to https://trees.org/ and they will plant 1,000 trees for you. Admittedly, some will have to be planted on Mars, but that’s good too. Mars needs more trees.

But surely it would be a darn site easier not to produce the emissions in the first place. (It’s hard to get the shit back in the cow after it has hit the fan, as the saying goes.) One way to stop emissions starting, would be to stop Adani’s coal mine from starting. Let’s take a little look at how this mine stacks up. Gautam Adani himself claims the mine will produce over 3 Gigatons tons (3 billion tons) of coal over the 60 year lifespan of the mine., If, heaven forbid, all that coal were burnt it would produce about 4.2 Gigatons tons of CO2. To put that in perspective, it’s a number with 9 zeros after it. 4.200,000,000 Does that help?

No, I didn’t think so. OK, let’s see what 3 gigatones of coal actually looks like: It would make a pile 365metres wide and 120 metres high. The Rialto tower is 250metre high. Now imagine all that filthy black soot being pumped into the sky, the air we breathe.

It would require 4 billion trees to soak up all that CO2, so get out your spade and get cracking!

We are faced with a stark choice: We either stop Adani right now, before he gets his foot in the door, or we plant trees till we run out of ground to put them in. So what would it actually take to convince Gautam Adani to pack his bags and piss off. How many people did it take to save the Franklin River? A few thousand determined individuals, that’s all. The vast majority of Australians are quite adamant that Adani must go. It would require less than one person out of every thousand of that overwhelming majority to get the job done. All it would take is a week or two out of our busy schedule to nip up to Central Queensland, do our N.V.D.A. training, then get out to the mine site and mill about getting in the way for a while, easy. Just like the Franklin campaign, it could become one of the defining moments of our lives. Something to tell the grand kids about over the campfire:

“What did you do in the climate war Grandpa?”

That’s when you assume a self satisfied air and wistfully reply:

“Well, Sweetie, we kept 3 billion tons of coal in the ground where it belongs.”

Then she leaps up and gives you a big hug and says:

“I love you Grandpa.”

Ben Boyang 2/10/19

If you want to find out more about taking direct action to stop Adani

go to Front Line Action on Coal

You may find it inspiring to watch this short video of Roger Hallam, who started the whole world-wide movement, Extinction Rebelion

 

Boom time!

Boom time!

Yet another mining boom. Whoopie!

Resources exports are on track to top $280 billion dollars this year.

But how much of that will end up in our pockets? I am predicting somewhere between not much and fuck all. Remember when Kevin Rudd had this brainwave, (Something he was prone to, apparently) and proposed a mining super profits tax, out of the blue. How long did that last? How long did Kevin last? About 6 weeks, I seem to recall. The mining industry gave him the sack, basically, and appointed Julia Gillard. Poor Julia didn’t know what to do. She was completely flummoxed, so the mining industry gave her a hand to design a whole new mining super tax, bringing to the table their vast knowledge and experience of tax evasion, sorry, tax avoidance.

Out of the goodness of her heart, Julia offered to forgo any taxes until the struggling miners had recouped all of their myriad expenses in getting their mines up and running. As we all know, mining can be an expensive endeavor, and many struggling miners find it difficult to make any profit at all. In fact they quite often go bankrupt just around the time the mine is exhausted, leaving the good old government to clean up the mess.

Now, I know this sounds crazy, but wouldn’t it be amazing if we, the people of Australia, owned our resources companies, then we would get all of the profit before it was syphoned off to Barbados.

Well, maybe that idea isn’t so crazy after all. As it turns out, other more perspicacious nations have already done just that: Norway, having found themselves sitting, serendipitously, on top of a vast ocean of crude oil, offered to go 50/50 with the oil companies in extracting and selling that oil. As a consequence of their foresight, Norway is now sitting on top of a vast ocean of money: 1.3 trillion dollars, the largest sovereign wealth fund the world has ever seen: 300,000 dollars for every man, woman and child in the country, so for a family of four, that’s 1,2 million dollars. It is all invested overseas and getting good returns. No one in Norway need ever work again as long as they live.

So this begs the question: Why don’t we do that too? Because we are dumb fucks, that’s why.

 

Ben Boyang 30/9/19

 

https://www.michaelwest.com.au/gas-how-australia-privatised-the-profits-and-socialised-the-losses/

The Road to Darwin

Chapter 1 – Hattah

We leave Castlemaine on the last day of July, heading for Darwin and beyond. We don’t see anything to write home about on the first day. Inglewood seems like a thriving little town, plenty of locals out in the street, until you notice they are actually shop dummies dressed up in old clothes. Good ploy though, you’ve got to have a gimmick these days if you want to stay ahead of the pack. After that we don’t see many real people, but there are flox and flox of sheeps. But they are really dirty. I am not impressed. After a few hours we come across a farmer outstanding in her field. I wind down the window and give her a piece of my mind:

“Your sheep are filthy.” I say.

“It’s a disgrace. You should be ashamed of yourself. When we go to the country we like to see nice white sheep surrounded by nice green grass.”

She ambles up to the fence, gives the vehicle the once over like it’s a mangy dog that should be shot, fondly pats the dead fox hanging off the barbed wire, wipes the sweat from her weary brow, takes off her Akubra,  swats a blowfly, scratched her crotch laconically, sticks her thumbs in her braces, spits out her chewing tobacco, assumes a nonchalant air and launches into a long and sibilant soliloquy. (due to her missing teeth, no doubt) Something about the drought, the wool price, the wheat board, the water board, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority the Government, the mouse plague, the locust plague, the dust storms…………

“That’s all very well,” I say,

“But what about our visual amenity, have you taken that into consideration?”

She just lets out a loud fart and wanders off shaking her head.

We get as far as Hattah Lakes on the first night, where we camp with a flock of wild emus. Emus can be very curious. They scare the living daylights out of our poor old deaf dog Gunyarr. I don’t complain to management, it is a National Park after all.

It’s great to sit by a log fire again, I haven’t done that since last night.

(Did you know that the television was invented just after the introduction of the electric radiator. It was designed to replace the trance-like state induced by starring into the flickering flames of the open fire.)

Next day we get sprung with a shit load of fruit and vegetables on the South Australian border. I am talking top shelf, organic, free range, biodegradable produce here. Goods we paid good money for. Such a shame to see it chucked in the bin, but there is only so many raw vegetable one can eat in one sitting. It’s all a big scam of course: We are meant to restock the larder at the next town. Very good for business. The Victorians do the same thing in the opposite direction, so I guess it’s all fair enough, but a terrible waste of fine food none the less.

I politely suggest the confiscated items could be given away to the poor. The officer replies:

“That is a matter for the Welfare Department, not Border Security.”

We cross the Murray at the cute little town of Morgan, our cute little car on the cutest little barge, like something out of yesteryear. It’s really hard to find a camp on the river. In the socialist enclave of Victoria, you can camp pretty well anywhere on any bloody river you bloody well like: The rivers and the beaches belong to the people. (Make that ‘Communist enclave’.) Not here in the Fascist State of South Australia, private property extends right through the river and up the other side.

Of course we camp there anyway, ready to tell any belligerent land holder that it actually belongs to the blackfellas, who are traditionally in favor of camping.

Morgan is the point on the river where it takes a left hand turn and heads South. That is why there is a massive pump that pumps water all the way to Whyallah on the Eyre Peninsula, some 360 kilometre to the West. Unbelievable, isn’t it? So some of the water cooling those giant smelters has come all the way from Queensland.

Being skeptical by nature, we decide to follow that pipeline and see if it really does go all the way to Whyallah. As soon as we leave the river it gets rather arid. Nothing but salt bush, dotted with stone ruins. We have crossed the famous Goyder Line. For those who didn’t pay attention in Form 2 Geography: Some time back in the late 18 hundreds, there was a wet period in South Australia. This happened to coincide with an influx of Prussian refugees. (presumably from the losing side in The Crimean War) The naive immigrants were sent North, with their goat herds in tow, on a quest to tame the wilderness and quell the restless natives. Their first mistake, one of many it appears, was to eradicate the natives before asking them probing questions about the prevailing climate in the area: A subject the local natives knew well, I might add, having studied it studiously for countless generations.

(Shoot first and ask questions later, as they say)

As you can guess, the good times didn’t last. As luck would have it, their halcyon days were an aberration, a blip on the flatline of semi-endless drought that we so quaintly refer to as ‘life in the outback’. The hapless pioneers scuttled back to Prussia, with their tales between their legs, leaving behind a treasure trove of quaint stone ruins to add to the rustic charm of the bucolic countryside.

Having failed to learn their lesson from the locals, nature set about teaching them anyway, with the help of George W. Goyder, agrarian visionary extraordinaire. George W. traversed the land with a pointy stick, drawing a long and meandering line, delineating the arable land from the wasteland. Henceforth all lands falling to the North of the Goyder line were to be referred to as ‘The Badlands’. It was decreed that no foolhardy farmer should ever sow a single seed outside that line, no matter how deceptively fecund the land appeared, for, as sure as night follows day, they would all be ruined. This maxim was strictly adhered to for as long as the latest drought persisted, but irrepressible optimists that we humans are, as soon as the heavens opened, the happy peasants forgot about Mr. Goyder and his pointy stick. (The downpour had washed away his markings anyway.) They rushed North again with gay abandon, (if you will pardon the expression) astonished to find perfectly good homes to inhabit, complete with barns and weather veins, just waiting to be filled with ‘hard working families’.

What a Godsend!

We can all see where this is heading, can’t we? Let’s leave the story here before it gets too grim.

Suffice to say, it doesn’t have a happy ending.

…so that is why the name George W. Goyder – agrarian hero, has been passed down from generation to generation of Form 3 Geography students, making sure he will go down in the annuls of history alongside the late, great Richard Bowyer Smith, fellow South Australian and inventor of the stump jump plough no less.

Now where were we? Ah yes we are passing through endless waistlands dotted with rustic stone ruins, surrounded by hills dotted with those ghastly wind turbines. They are everywhere. Such an eyesore. So glad to get to Whyallah and see the lofty chimneys on the steelworks, choofing out black smoke, just like Puffing Billy, so much prettier!

I ask a local why it is called Whyallah. He tells me an Afghan Cameleer once built a statue of the Muslim God up on the hill here and everyone would ask: “Why Allah?”. It is apparently the only statue of Allah in the whole world because whenever anyone else built one they got their head chopped off. Thank God the Taliban never got as far as the Eyre Peninsula.

Chapter 2  Whyallah and the incredible Giant Cuddle-fish

Just went for a swim with 250,000 cuttlefish. Awesome!.

For reasons best known to themselves, they have chosen to spend their most intimate moments before they die, between an LPG refinery and a steel smelter.

But I suspect the cuttlefish were there first.

They have chosen this unlikely spot because it is shallow and protected and has lots of rocks and seaweed to lay eggs under. They don’t seem to mind us swimming around about 2 metres above them while they do their thing. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever encountered.

The Australian Giant Cuttlefish can grow up to a metre long. They live a solitary life roaming the seas for a year growing big and beautiful till they all suddenly get that urge to return to the place of their birth to perform one of the world’s greatest orgies.Having 5 long slippery tentacles this involves a lot of groping, as you can well imagine.

Then they all die together. Isn’t that romantic?

Lamentably, the rapacious fishing squads were the first to discover this unique event, but they did not see a great natural wonder, all they saw was floating wads of cash!

In the late ’90s, at the height of the pillage, over 30 boats extracted 270 tons of cuttlefish in the space of a few weeks, sending cuttlefish numbers plummeting towards extinction. Luckily, some bright spark realized they were much more valuable as a spectacle than as a piece of mock crabstick at the fish and chip shop.

So now the cuddlefish flourish unconcerned by the toxic activities all around them.

One can only assume that smelting metal pollutes the air far more than the sea.

Posing                                                Guarding

Auditioning                             Hiding

Scaring                                                                                                                      Ghost

Mingling

Flirting

Mating

The locals claim the air is perfectly fit to breath, even though the entire town and it’s residents are covered with a dusting of soft grey soot. Roaming the streets I couldn’t help but notice the hospital is unusually large for such a small town, and the cemetery is vast!

I searched in vein for the mythological statue of Allah, but alas I was too late. It had been reduced to a pile of rubble, like so much of our cultural heritage:

 

ISIS woz here.png

 

 

Cars V Planes – Which is worse?

CARS

 

Emissions

2.4kg per litre

12 kilometres per litre = 200 grams per kilometer

 

+fuel production

+ petrol station building and maintenance

+ car manufacture, repair & maintenance

+roads

= 260 grams per kilometer per car

   or 260kg per hour at 100kph

 

PLANES

Emissions

Fuel consumption 100kg per hour

High altitude factor x2 = 200kg per hour

+   • extraction and transport of crude oil
• inefficiencies in refineries (around 7% [30])
• aircraft manufacture and maintenance, and staff training
• airport construction, maintenance, heating, lighting etc.

To calculate and compensate for your emissions for each trip you take by car or plane Click Here

Convoy – Episode 4 A response to the response

Bill’s Bob Hawke moment

-A riposte to those poor misguided fools who see

Bob Brown’s convoy to Adani as a damp squib.

Far too many people in this blighted country are happy to accept the standard version of why we went to Central Queensland, and what happened when we arrived. Maybe there is some weird psychology going on here: Many people on the left feel a deep and abiding sense of guilt for derelicting their duty to join us on the convoy: people who proclaim loudly and often that stopping Adani and saving the Great Barrier Reef is, without a doubt, THE most important issue in their lives. But when push comes to shove, and that claim is actually put to the test, it turns out there are many, many things more important than stopping Adani and saving the Great Barrier Reef. So naturally, when our convoy fails to achieve its lofty aims, to assuage their guilt these well meaning progressive types feel sharp pangs stabbing at their bleeding hearts, they clutch at any straw that gives relief from their anguish, grabbing at the first glib excuse that will let them off the hook. It basically goes like this: “It was a mistake! Bob Brown went up there to tell the miners what to do in their own back yard. A rude thing to do to the sensitive miners cowering in their tunnels.” A version of events conveniently disseminated far and wide by the Murdoch media machine, then parroted ad infinitum by every numbskull that has it in for Bob Brown. Every nutjob north of Gimpy was sticking the boot in: Almost the entire The LNP, most of the Labor Party, even a few mentally challenged members of The Greens, plus Clive Grease-Palmer, Gina Rhinestone-hart, Katter-the-mad-hatter and let’s not forget Bluey, the alt-right-ranger.

Although none of you have shown a skeric of interest in hearing from the horse’s mouth, I feel compelled to tell you anyway.

For anyone willing to listen, now that the horse has bolted, we were invited to the Galilee Basin by Adrian Gurabulu, a leader of the Wangan and Jangalingu peoples, custodians of the land earmarked for violation. We did not go there to stir up the miners, we went there to stir up the vast majority of Australians who said they were implacably opposed to that dreadful mine.

We hoped our convoy would help keep Adani and climate change at the centre of the election campaign. We went there to stir up one vacillating individual in particular: Bill Shorten. When the convoy returned triumphantly to Canberra for our final finale, Bob Brown invited the now defunct leader of the opposition to join him on the podium. “ Bill”, he said, “ this is a golden opportunity for you to declare proudly and loudly, your total and unequivocal opposition to that accursed mine. This could be your Bob Hawke moment.” He was of course referring to that historic moment some 40 years ago when the inimitable Bob Hawke declared: “If you make me Prime Minister of Australia the Franklin dam will never be built” and it wasn’t! But alas, Bill Shorten is not a pimple on Bob Hawke’s arse. Despite the enormous effort we all put in, traveling thousands of miles to the middle of nowhere, just to focus Bill’s mind on the leadership required at this crucial moment, he fell at the last hurdle.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him think!

Convoy – Part 3 – A short history of Central Queensland (Parts 1 & 2 below)

 

So, it seems Bob Brown and his merry band of climate defenders swung the election for the coalition, just by the sheer power of our presence in Central Queensland. Well, just for the record, we didn’t go there to stir up a hornet’s nest of disgruntled coal miners. We went there to stir up the rest of the country, the people that do care about more than their own self-interest, and we did stir them up. We had people wringing their hands and agonizing over that most difficult of choices: What do I hold most dear? My lovely money or my lovely, lonely, desecrated planet. Alas, just a few too many frightened little rabbits chose to hug their money tightly and left the planet to fend for itself.

 

So what are we to do about Central Queensland: spiritual home of every alt-right numbskull in the country? Bob Katter, Pauline Hanson, Clive Palmer, Frazer Anning, George Christianson,: a rogue’s gallery of buffoons, climbing over each other to be king of the woebegone.

It wasn’t always like this. It may be hard to believe, but Central Queensland was once the most radical, even revolutionary, place in the country. Clermont, recently playing host to gangs of greenie hating bogans and their pet politicians, once played a leading role in the great shearer’s strike of 1891. In the midst of a depression, the station bosses wanted to cut shearer’s wages. The Union called a strike. It lasted for months. Scabs were railroaded in from down south. (hence the expression: to be ‘railroaded.’) There were clashes, it got nasty, troops were called in. Union supporters down south sent guns. There were 3,000 desperate workers gathered at Barcaldine. They were angry and they were armed. It was ripe for a bloodbath, a massacre like the Eureka stockade. Fortunately cool heads prevailed. The angry workers chose to pursue their grievances via a new organisation: The Australian Labour Federation. 10 years later when Australia itself became a federation, the workers federation became the Australian Labour Party, the rest is history, they have been consistently losing elections ever since. Probably because they removed the ‘U’ in labour. So ‘you’ stopped working.

But not everyone felt it was possible to achieve radical change through the ballot box. How prescient they were. These visionaries came to the conclusion that Australia was fucked and always would be, so, in a spirit of foolhardy adventure they set sail for the wilds of Paraguay, as far from the reach of overbearing Australian authority as they could possibly get. There they proceeded to set up their very own version of Utopia. A noble cause indeed, but fraught with many unseen pitfalls, as you can well imagine. This brave social experiment would probably be described today as a cult. A cult of rechabites, who found great virtue in abstaining from the evil influence of grog and gambling and illicit sex. One William Lane being the self appointed charismatic leader, decreed from day one there was to be no fraternizing with the native women. Therein lay the seeds of his downfall. (wild oats, no doubt) This merry band of adventurous idealists being comprised of 90% men; it was only a matter of time before this cardinal rule was flagrantly flouted. It took little more than a single generation for the Australians to be completely assimilated into the local population, the English language disappearing without a trace and the distant land of jumbucks and kangaroos entering the realm of mythology.

 

Meanwhile back at the sheep ranch, the locals had discovered something even easier to sheer than sheep: Coal, favourite fuel of the industrial revolution. You can heat anything with it! (Though some things can get a little over heated). The monolithic Central Queensland coal industry began in the 1920’s in a little known little town called Collinsville, or ‘Moonguya’ by the local blackfellas. Apparently moongunya means ‘place of coal’ in the local Birri language. Maybe the blackfellas started the coal industry. The town was also known as Little Moscow because it was a nest of Bolsheviks, determined to overthrow the capitalist system by any (lawful) means. Not quite as gung ho as their Russian mentors, who had no qualms about spilling a little blood, but our own home grown bolsheviks did manage to elect Fred Paterson, a card-carrying member of The Communist Party of Australia, to the Queensland State Parliament in 1944. A feat unparalleled in the history of this sheepish nation. Well-done Fred! Alas, his glory was short lived. Sir Robert Menzies was the Prime Minister of the day, and many days hence, and he wasn’t having a bar of it. The electorate was summarily sliced up and glued on to surrounding, less revolting electorates.

That was the last we saw of Fred. But mind you, he was no upstart. Fred Paterson was a Rhodes scholar and studied theology at Oxford University no less, before straying so far from the righteous path.

So here we are, in just three generations those same coal mining familes have gone from the most radical left wing workers in Australia, eagerly following world events and grappling with big ideas, to the most right wing mob in the entire country, happy to vote for every nut job that ever walked the halls of Parliament. A place so insular and parochial they wear their ignorance like a badge of honour.

How on earth did this happen?

I have no idea, but I suspect money had something to do with it.

 

Ben Boyang 31/5/19

 

Battle of the Birds .jpg

Episode 2 Camp Binbee & Ursula The Immortal

So here we are all gathered together at the Clermont Showgrounds. A motley crew of over 100 vehicles. It is a beautiful day for the Water Festival, put on by the Wangan & Jangalingu people for our benefit. It is such a relief to sleep in and not have to get up and drive all bloody day. Driving all day every day to stop pollution doesn’t feel quite right to me somehow, but we can’t all be perfect, can we? The Wangas put on a bonza show, with heaps of singing and dancing.

They even teach the whitefellas how to dance blackfella style. Very amusing!

Then out of nowhere a wild cowboy on a horse gallops right into the middle of the arena, whoopin’ an’ a hollerin’ and waving his hat around like John Wayne. There are people with little kids in the middle of the space so it is actually very dangerous and quite irresponsible. After a couple of circuits he heads for the exit but a daft woman decides it would be a good idea to close the gate on him. Dumb idea! The horse hits the gate and knocks her unconscious, then gallops off into the distance. The poor woman has to be airlifted to Mackay for tests, but she is OK.

Apparently the wild colonial boy is none too bright and has been egged on by the evil triumvirate having the love-in at the hotel. (see previous epistle)

After that episode we need a drink to settle our nerves, but neither the bottlo nor the pub will have a bar of us. They said: “Go back to where you came from”, and other less savory expressions. I must admit I am shocked. I have never had such an ugly reception anywhere else in Australia. So we are pretty glad to get out of Clermont unscathed. Fortunately, the locals are happy enough to sell us petrol to help us on our way.

At this point the convoy and me part ways. The poor voyeurs have to turn around and retrace their steps with nary more than a days rest. I certainly didn’t drive 2,8oo ks just to turn around and go home again. So I head north, further into enemy territory, heading for the Camp Binbee*, deep in the forest within Cooee of Abbot Point, the coal port owned by Mr. Adani himself. To get there we must pass thru enemy territory. There are over 60 coalmines in the Bowen Basin. The road wends its way between humongos muluck heaps and humongous piles of coal and humongous holes in the ground, for hours on end. Coober Pedy on steroids.

The Camp Binbee is set amongst picturesque rolling hills and exquisitely beautiful grassy woodlands. Such a relief to arrive in a friendly spot and stop moving. We have definitely landed on our feet. These people are bloody well organized. The place is run like a Sandinista guerrilla camp in the Nicaraguan jungle. First pick a spot out in the woods: Put up your tarp, lay down your swag. Home sweet home! Welcome to Tarp Town. Hark, the dong of the gong. Dinnertime. Every morning we have a meeting, an opportunity to choose which task we shall undertake that day: cooking, washing up, cleaning, feeding the chooks. Then we get to decide what workshops we want to do: Non Violent Direct Action training, media, banner making, abseiling, composting, ecology, whatever anyone feels like teaching. After a very intense day we gather around the campfire and sing daggy songs we have made up about Adani.

The camp could be a model for harmonious coexistence. We share all the urksome tasks, we share the bicycle, we share the cars: It’s a sharing economy. There is a garden laden with tropical fruit. There are chooks who seem content to share their bountiful produce, though the vegans may dispute that. We even have a choice of toilets: squatting or sitting. Everyone seems to go out of their way to make everyone else feel welcome. I think this place brings out the very best in people. It is really significant that we are all there for a purpose, and that purpose makes all our grievances pale into insignificance. I have come to believe that a meaningful purpose is a key ingredient for harmonious coexistence. It is not about ironing out every little issue, it is about doing something so exciting that problems forgotten, and there is nothing more exciting than rebellion.

After only one day of rest, we are thrown into a full day of feverish activity turning ourselves into sea creatures from The Barrier Reef. We retire weary to our tarpaulin homes to sleep thru the screeching owls and the eerie cries of the curlews. At the break of dawn we spring into action. Everyone knows their allotted task. We drive in convoy to Abbot Point, hoping 8 cars in convoy will not arouse suspicion. We block off the road with tape and courteously advise the approaching drivers to park their cars and await further instructions. They dutifully comply, as if we are government employees. Power to the people! Then we swim around a bit and sing some songs, then we all die a long and agonizing death, twitching and moaning in our last moments, except for Ursula: a purple monster from the deep, who is of course Immortal. She writhes and thrashes about with rage, lashing out at the approaching constabulary, making their blood run cold, no doubt.

I don’t die either, because I am a jellyfish and as the prophecy has foretold:

The jellyfish shall inherit the earth!

It begins to rain, which we love, because we are fish. Mr. Plod shows not the slightest concern at his light cotton shirt becoming completely sodden, maintaining his steely countenance throughout the entire performance. Eventually, after much argy-bargy and toing and froing back and forth, Mr. Plod brandishes his clipboard and reads out the riot act: We are to disperse forthwith or be taken into custardy. We shuffle off as slowly as we can. bedraggled wretches that we are. Meanwhile Ursula maintains her fierce defiance, wriggling and writhing and screeching as she is arrested and dragged away.

For many of us this is the first time we have willingly broken the law. We have crossed the thin blue line. Now we are Outlaws, and it feels good, it feels liberating, emancipating, empowering, and we didn’t even get into trouble.

-Ben Boyang  – Central Victorian Climate Action  – 9 May 2019

*There are at least half a dozen groups all fighting tooth and nail to stop the Adani mine, but only the fearless activists here at Camp Binbee are prepared to engage in civil disobedience to achieve their aim. Everyone else is constrained by their charity status. If you are a charity you can garner tax-free donations, but you must forfeit your right to participate in civil disobedience that steps outside the law, like trespassing on Adani land. Furthermore you must refrain from supporting any actions undertaken by any other group that transgress the letter of the law. Bear in mind that we have a strict code of Non-violence, including no damage to property. Pretty innocuous stuff, but the powers that be have seen fit to bring down the full force of the law on this little band of climate defenders, slapping them with $10,000 fines for trespassing, as well as suing everyone they can for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To read the first episode see below

To follow our exploits go to:

https://www.facebook.com/FrontlineActionOnCoal/

Further reading-

Adani Jobs

The Guardian has published a study by The Australia Institute showing that development of the Adani mine will cost 14,000 jobs in other coalmines.

To read the article Click Here

Black Throated Finch Habitat

Click Here

Coal mining in Queensland

https://www.qhatlas.com.au/content/coal

Noisy V Indian.jpg

 

 

Convoy – Episode 1

We set off from Castlemaine on a glorious afternoon: 3 enthusiastic, intrepid activists on a journey into the heart of darkness. We are not alone. Bob Brown is leading an entourage of cars from Hobart to the Galilee Basin, Central Queensland, some 2,800 kilometres away, where Guatum Adani would dearly love to put the biggest coal mine in the world. We stop every night at some big town or city. The next morning we have a rally and Bob gives a passionate speech and the local activists and blackfellas give us a rousing send-off. We spend the first night on the banks of the mighty Murray River, then back on the road, driving, driving driving further and further from our beloved Victoria, homeland of greenies, lefties and progressive types, into the unknown.

In Sydney, Pine Esera and Isaac Nasedra from Pacific Climate Warriors tell us of their sinking shrinking homelands. Dr. Kim Loo from Doctors for Climate health speaks to us all about the terrible health effects of breathing coal combined with the terrible health effects of excessive heat: a deadly combination. Adrian Burragubba from the Wangan and Jagalingou peoples explains the situation from thier perspective. His homeland is right on top of the mine site in Central Queensland. Adrian is an angry man, and rightly so. He describes Mr. Adani as criminal and an environmental vandal. We roar with applause and pledge to never let the mine go ahead.

Driving, driving, driving.

In Mulumbimby the whole town turns up: 3,000 chanting, singing dancing joyous hippies give us cheer and boost our moral. The people line the streets to send us off, hooting and tooting. Six silent and gleaming Teslas have pride of place with Bob in the first car, smiling and waving like the Pope, followed by the motley crew: 100 cars in convoy, an awesome sight. We are in a Prius so are feeling virtuous.

In Brisbane we march on Adani Headquarters and shake our fists at the empty windows. The notorious Queensland cops try to look their sternest and soon move us off the road. WE acquiesce meekly as Bob has instructed. The whole country is watching. The Murdoch Press is poised ready to pounce. We can see the headline already: Violent radical extremist Greenies run riot.

Driving, driving, driving further and further from our comfort zone.

We arrive at a beachside hamlet called Emu Park, just outside Rockhampton, Bogan Central, to an enthusiastic welcome from a phalanx of coal miners: 100 Big burly fellas and a smattering of big burly shielas, high-vis vests covered in black coal dust. Wow, this is pretty authentic. We are agog and agaste. Most of us have never laid eyes on a real live coal miner before, but it soon becomes apparent they are not here for a quiet chat. They are milling about in an agitated state. They are cross, very cross, and we, it seems are the cause. We lock horns, deploying our superior knowledge and sense of righteousness. We point out their foolishness in resisting the inevitable demise of their beloved industry.

We assure them sincerely that we empathize with their worries for their families and livelihoods, but they show no signs of being impressed. They don’t read The Age so they don’t understand us. In fact they tell us to fuck off. “This is central Queensland. We mine coal, now turn around and go back to where you came from.”

We then have our rally and our hero: Bob of the Bush, gives yet another rousing speech, peppered with insightful interjections by our mining friends like: “Bullshit!”, and “What a load of crap”. At least they are here and they are listening. We then have a lantern parade. We invite the miners to join in but they soon get bored. A bridge too far, maybe?

As the miners leave they let us know they will be waiting for us when we get to Clermont, the little town in the Galilee Basin that is our destination. They warn us we will be shunned by the town, but our friend and comrade Adrian Burragubba assures us his mob will welcome us with open arms. His family has lived in Clermont for generations, and countless generations before it was called Clermont..

As the setting sun sets we gather for a gathering. Up till now we have all gone our separate ways to find whatever shelter we could on the long and winding road. But tonight for the first time we are having a party: Singing, dancing, and drinking of wine to nourish our sense of solidarity, for soon we must leave this idyllic coast behind and head out west, into the belly of the beast.

Finally, after 10 days on the road, we arrive at our destination: The little town of Clermont, in the heart of what the local white folks like to call coal country, but it is actually Wagan and Jagalingou country. We run a gauntlet of coal miners yelling abuse ant us, but the cops are there to protect us. A welcome change to be on the other side of the barricades for once. Apparently the local pub has given them all free beer to give them courage. I would have said ‘dutch courage’ but we don’t say that sort of thing anymore do we? The Hotel has some distinguished guests: Bob Katter, Pauline Hanson, Clive Palmer and the local LNP Rep. are all sleeping in one big bed apparently, working out their ‘preferences’. The miners are actually getting quite inventive, making placards saying ‘Start Adani’ and ‘The only wilderness is between Bob’s ears’. Bob Brown says that is quite disrespectful to Bob Katter.

The Convoy is finishing up in Canberra for a humungus rally on the 5th of May.

Bob has invited Bill up onto the podium. An opportunity for a ‘Bob Hawke moment’ where Bill declares unequivocally that the Adani mine will never go ahead. If that does not happen Bob has vowed to return to The Galillee basin with more troops and not leave until Mr. Adani leaves town and never returns.

The battle lines are drawn.

No turning back!                                                                            Ben Laycock April 28 2019

Next exciting instalment coming soon,

Direct from FLAC Headquarters near Abbot Point.

More info and daily updates:

https://www.facebook.com/Bob.Brown.Foundation/

The idea of the convoy is to make sure Adani and climate change is at the centre of the election campaign, so please share the updates on the Facebook page.

Thanks heaps, Ben

 Adani Jobs

The Guardian has published a study by The Australia Institute showing that development of the Adani mine will cost 14,000 jobs in other coal mines.

To read the article Click Here

 

Bob Brown’s Convoy to Adani

Scott No Brains-The Whore of Bable-on, our much abused Opposition Leader in Waiting, has sold his soul to the highest bidder yet again, as is his want. Bill the Dill-The Gutless Wonder, has sold his arse to the C.F.M.E.U. as per usual.

It is left to our only true leader: Saint Bob of The Bush, and his legion of ever faithful devotees to do the dirty work: Stop Adani!

On the 17th of April in the Year of Our Lord 2019, Saint Bob will be leading a crusade, sorry a convoy, to The Galilee Basin: the very basin that Mary Magdalene washed the filthy, leprosy infected feet of Jesus Christ himself, in. A holy site if ever there was one, threatened with defilement by The Heathen Hindu Blasphemer, Guatum Adani, no less!

We begin our pilgrimage in Hobart and arrive 10 days and 5,000ks later, weary and footsore.

After dealing with the Adani problem we shall then march on Canberra, or as we like to call it: Sodom & Gomorra,

to annoy the beJesus out of The Powers that Be untill The Day of Judgement.

 

All Welcome! A Family Friendly Event

https://www.bobbrown.org.au/stopadaniconvoy

Australia Day

What actually took place on the 26th January in the year of our Lord 1788?

 

Yes, it’s that time of the year again, when we have a barney about Australia Day. So in order to avoid any misunderstandings, let us delve deep into our bosoms and ask ourselves, what exactly are we commemorating?

Some of our most venerable leaders are of the misguided belief that January 26th 1788 is the day Captain Cook arrived on these fair shores.

But alas, they are sorely mistaken, for it states most clearly in Wikipedia, for all to see, that Mr. Cook arrived some 18 years earlier in the year of our lord 1770. Others are of the opinion that the 26th of January is the day The First Fleet set eyes on our dusty continent. But that was actually a couple of days earlier, on January 19th, when they entered Botany Bay, but being quite dissatisfied with the camping facilities provided, they decamped. (no BBQ Area apparently).

Yet others believe for some reason known only to themselves, that the 26th of January is the day Governor Philip proclaimed the establishment of a penal colony on these fair shores, but who wants to commemorate that? January 26th is actually the day The First Fleet entered Sydney Cove. After securing the BBQ Area, their very first act of barbarism, (but surely not their last) was to run up the nearest hill, plant the Union Jack in the ground and claim the entire continent in the name of King George III. So what we are so boisterously celebrating to this day, is the very moment the country was stolen from its rightful owners.

After that task was accomplished the convicts were allowed to disembark from the ships. Bear in mind, they had not set foot on dry land for 8 months. Naturally they set about getting to know each other,(in the biblical sense) According to Robert Hughes, author of The Fatal Shore –‘The convicts had an orgy! If that wasn’t enough, the sailors then proceeded to get drunk and join them in their licentious cavorting.’

Maybe it is this convivial display of ‘mateship’ that we commemorate today, in a somewhat less exuberant fashion?

Whatever it is, this act of commemoration we indulge in, is certainly no ancient tradition. It was only made a National Public Holiday in 1994, by one Paul Bloody Keeting no less, who should have known better.

Remember that the historic Mabo decision was handed down just two years before, in1992. That legally binding decision completely dismissing the extravagant claim shouted from that hilltop by those enthusiastic young men on that odd and fateful day so long ago.

 

Ben Boyang 2019