Recently I attended an ‘information evening’ in the small historic town of Berrima, in what is known as the Southern Highlands of NSW, where the community was to be updated on the ‘progress’ of the ‘clean-up’ of an old disused coal site in the vicinity of the township.
The small restaurant chosen for the venue was inadequate, as it was filled to the brim, with many people standing and spilling out into an adjoining room.
For the benefit of those who did not know about this event, or could not attend, I would like to provide my impressions of the evening because it truly is an important topic for us all to be informed about.
I would like to keep emotions out of my commentary, but this would be very difficult for me because I am a passionate person, especially where the Southern Highlands is concerned.
Let me begin by telling you a bit about myself, you may have a better understanding about where I am coming from and how I’d like to see my Australia preserve its beauty. Yes, my Australia. We all need to see this country as our own, with pride, with passion and with love. I am a grandparent and was born in Bowral and have lived locally all my life. I am not a resident of Berrima, but does this mean I have no business about what happens in my own back yard? Or else anywhere else in Australia for that matter. Are environmental disasters on the Murray Darling, or in Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef etc., be important to us to take action on? I say yes, this is my Australia, what happens to the Great Barrier Reef is no less important than the unspoilt vastness of our Northern Territory, in the deserts of our interior and the wine regions of the Margaret River for example.
Our Government on the other hand, appears to be looking at everything as a common commodity, to be used up, ruined, plundered and traded for the almighty dollar, all in the so-called name of the economy, progress and jobs, or is it their own pockets they need to feather.
The Southern Highlands is incredibly beautiful, and from my early childhood years, into my teens and as an adult I have roamed extensively our incredible and diverse bushland. Getting lost amongst the caves and gorges, admiring the vast flora and fauna, looking over gullies and water falls, having picnics in clearings, by creeks and rocky outcrops. Seeing snakes cross my path or else picking black slimy leeches from under my socks. I remember vividly all I observed as a child, thick dense bush teaming with wildlife and the waterways crystal clear, no weeds, an abundance of little fish, water beetles, insects and tadpoles.
Nowadays, I take my little grandson to some of the more accessible bush paths and point out to him my observations and ask him to think about what he sees. I do not want to shock or distress him, but I do make him more aware of what our generations have taken away from him, and the importance of restoring and preserving all the nature around us.
I do not need the EPA, Government bodies or University scientists to tell me what has or has not been lost, we all have eyes in our heads, but some of us choose not to see the destruction and emptiness. The bush near towns and villages are sparse now, full of weeds and the watercourses are stained a horrible red and only a little trickle. Where has our rushing creeks gone, the teaming water life? All chocking with weeds.
So, there we sit, listening to this propaganda exercise on the progress of cleaning up the pollution from an old disused coal mine. Constant references to the inherited problem because the mine was created way back in the 1800’s. We may have needed coal mining in those days and the associated jobs it created, however in more recent years Boral bought the mine and resumed its operations and now it has been closed down for a number of years, but still spewing pollution into our waterways.
The deal is this, Boral is expected to come up with proposals of their solutions to the pollution problem, all of which have been rejected by Government bodies. Boral is also responsible for monitoring and performance management of the whole clean-up operation. After many, many years of wrangling, nothing is happening, and no progress has been made, and in the meantime, toxic pollutants are rushing into our waterways and into the Sydney water supply (Warragamba Dam).
A university scientist who has been monitoring the waterways near and downstream from the disused coal mine confirmed our worst toxic nightmares and also confirmed the death of marine life close to the mine and downstream, however, I heard from people in the room that Boral, who incidentally could not be bothered to attend the meeting, does not recognise any pollution problems at the site, yet they need to solve it.
Suggestion: get rid of those useless Government bodies and just employ professionals to work out a solution, get contractors in and get the job done? Simple? No perhaps not so simple because perhaps there is no solution to the pollution problem.
Brings me to the point. No new coal mines!!
Are our great grandchildren going to be attending packed ball rooms to see useless updates on the progress of mopping up the pollution problems we are causing today? All educated people at that meeting would have seen through the charade of that evening. Every time someone asked a valid question the response was either, this was created in the 1800’s or else that is out of my scope. I cannot answer that.
Someone on social media asked what is the relevance of this image? It was a picture of a pathetic slow running red creek, and no-one sees what is wrong with it and its colour anymore, thinking this is normal.
Water is life. Water, not coal.
The coal mining lobbyists have money to throw at protecting their own interests, feeding us with misinformation, scare mongering and propaganda reaching well into the corridors of Government. All the while we allow it, it will continue to infest and kill us and our environment.