Bimblebox: not-so-happy Christmas
For almost two years I have been following the fate of Bimblebox Nature Refuge as mining companies propose the destruction of the Galilee Basin's landscape and the export of its mineral riches. Environmentalists and conservationists and nature lovers and farmers and graziers and concerned communities have lobbied and marched and emailed and telephoned and tweeted and blogged and made submissions and even supported objectors in court.
Despite everyone's best efforts, late last Friday came the decision we've all been awaiting, and dreading, and become resigned to while hoping against hope that common sense and enlightenment would prevail. Minister 'for the Environment' Greg Hunt in the Federal LNP government approved Waratah Coal's plans for a mega mine where Bimblebox currently flourishes.
It's a bit like when someone who's long been battling serious illness finally dies. You know it's coming but when the news hits you are still overwhelmed with desperate sadness. I suppose the worst despair won't hit in the case of Bimblebox unless the dozers arrive to crush mulga and brigalow and grevillea and wattle and gum and ironbark and poplar box, and displace koalas and wallabies and kites and squatter pigeons and finches and tree frogs and skinks and lizards and bats. That moment will be truly heartbreaking.
Hunt's crass decision is by no means the end of the fight, however. Waratah still don't have approval for transporting their black gold to an export point, although Queensland's LNP government is likely to cave in over its initial objection to more than one 480-km rail link across vulnerable floodplains from the Galilee to the coast. Potential customers for coal may convert to renewable sources of energy before Queensland's resources become available; or simply decide that Australian exports are too pricey. Or the world economy may render what is already an unsustainable and unjustifiable development totally unviable.
The Federal government may be wooing Clive Palmer (Waratah's chairman) so that his fledgling eponymous party will help them kill off carbon pricing in the Senate where he could hold the balance of power come the middle of next year. It may be all about sheer greed. What is certain is that it is a bad decision for Australia and the planet and millions of people who appreciate this continent's landscape and value its biodiversity, whether they be citizens or visitors. What is certain is that it is a shortsighted decision; an ill-conceived idea; a selfish stance globally. Ultimately nothing good will come of it. The promise of jobs, especially in the construction phase, must be counterbalanced by the loss of employment opportunities in agriculture, tourism and local manufacturing.
And so, this festive holiday season my thoughts are with all the folks whose lives would be blighted by this monstrous project; livelihoods wrecked, pasture spoiled, natural world plundered, beloved bush silenced of birdsong and invaded by the thumping and screeching of machinery 24/7. May you recharge your batteries ready for the next stage of the battle in 2014. Increasing numbers will stand with you and raise their voices in your clamour for a fundamental rethink of Australia's resource development. Otherwise, history's judgement will be harsh indeed.