Friday, October 24, 2008

DREAM ON HOLD Interview Mina and Robert Stem live 5km from North Head
Interview Mina and Robert Stem of Neem Aboriginal Community live 5 kilometres from North Head. They tell of their hopes and dream for the country, "coming back to country" and "Arbitrary decisions that have been made already without the peoples knowing of anything" and their concerns. "..... It's bad, it's really bad, cowardly..."

- INTERVIEW TEXT - Date & Location : Saturday 20 October 2008, 3.50pm, Neem Aboriginal Community - Dampier Peninsula - Western Australia
INTERVIEWER First of all please tell me your names and where you live?
MINA STEM My name is Mina Stem and this is my husband Robert Stem and we live in Neem Wonderland, Neem, Neem Aboriginal Community.
INTERVIEWER And how far are you from North Head where the proposed LNG plant will be?
ROBERT STEM I guess, from about 5 kilometres in a straight line.
INTERVIEWER Can you tell me what this country means to you?
MINA STEM Everything its freedom for us finally, after coming from a place like Beagle Bay you know being brought up in the dormitory with the nuns and the priests that was really wonderful but having a place to come to having a place a belonging yeah. Country.
INTERVIEWER What is your dream for Neem?
MINA STEM As to have the same kind of life that we’ve had before only turned around with the good things in life, helping people and with kindness and you know like a rehab like bush rehab. We run a bush hostel here and pick the peoples up from in town disadvantaged kids, um troubled kids old people and this is home for them this is where they can get that good feel of coming back to themselves and coming back to country.
INTERVIEWER What do you think about this LNG gas processing plant? What do you feel? What does your lian tell you?
MINA STEM I feel no good about it. I feel terrible that this whole place is going to be turned upside down arbitrary decisions that have been made already without the peoples knowing of anything it’s bad it’s really bad it’s cowardly.
ROBERT STEM Well you can go. Decisions that can be made practically made overnight and here through the struggle of the years of basically trying to get help or something out here and then there is this huge decision making process that’s gotta happen and they take years and years and years and then you get tired from that. And then you turn around and watch a project like this they can just get up and happen overnight.
MINA STEM Money splashed right on your country just like that. Billions of dollars. So much is interest in this country in this place yet there was nothing for us. Nothing. They tried to push us off to all these other different places so that we can and go and work for someone else. Where we here are trying to establish a life.
ROBERT STEM The people have had ideas of how to help themselves how to help the country how to help the communities and those decisions don’t get listened to. But then all of a sudden you get projects like this that come up and its like this this is how you’re going to live this is what you’re going to do and this is what we’re gonna make available to you.
INTERVIEWER How do you think this decision has affected yourselves not just the decision but this whole process this whole talk of a gas plant? How do you think its affected you your lives and say the Beagle Bay community? Has it divided people? Has it separated people? Or is there a united front against this?
MINA STEM Well I really hope there is a united front up against it and of course there are mixed feelings with a lot of people because you know change might be different for some might be good for some but this place has been like this forever all this peninsula, all this country up here and it has been very hard watching the traditionals fight for their country to try and keep it, you know, keep it together keep it how it always is going to be how we always dreamed that it was going to be. But now with something just built it looks so foreign in this country. Why? Arbitrary decisions.


INTERVIEWER Bob, I understand that you’re living here on Neem community I was just wondering what were your concerns are regarding the LNG gas processing plant that they are planning to do on North Head?
ROBERT STEM Well, My concerns are first concern is the initial thing the government comes up with the amount of local labour that it can provide and I believe that’s all hollow, hollow facts. As in this business is just so huge that all the labour and everything will be from interstate other countries things like that as in the machinery that’s required to construct all this to the workshops that will be around the place to build all of this we have none of that available locally. It will come interstate or overseas. And these companies will bring their own workers right down to their own servicing crews and everything like that. Broome hasn’t got the facilities to supply that. There’s nobody around here who in the timeframe that’s available, is able to be either ticketed go through their apprenticeships and get to the stage of being tradesmens or anything like that, right down to the clearing of the place the digging up of the ground for the foundations the supply of the materials. It wont come locally it will always be interstate or overseas. The other thing that I believe, and you know like once all the gear starts coming here and then there’s the actual clearing of the ground and then you’ve got to dig the foundations all of that will come from their labour forces. There’s nobody, there’s no small companies around here that can support such huge projects like that. And then the only available work that will come to the local people here will be the hands on pick and shovel type jobs, that get around, right down to I guess in the foundations of the steel fixing the concreting and the things like that. From there on I guess once they start importing all their fabricated materials into the place it starts all over again you’ve got all your trucks and the transport companies cranes all of these are big major companies that will have their own workforce.

INTERVIEWER Workers that will come onto this Peninsula, How do you think that will affect the fishing the swimming the sacred sites. How do you think 3000 people coming to the Peninsula to live and work is going to affect your way of lifestyle?
ROBERT STEM Well it will be near on like having a full on tourist season for a 12 month you know a continuous 12 month period and we notice already that during a normal tourist season here the fishing the crabbing everything there diminishes over that time and then there is a break where things can recuperate. The extra people that are moving around. There’s always people that will be exploring the place and our communities are left open. People are welcome to come in and visit but I mean where do you pull up at. As to putting fences up again and things are saying we’re closed or we’re not open and nobody’s home. I’m frightened of it. I don’t know if we’re ready to even look into a strategy of trying to support it.
INTERVIEWER If you could say one thing to Colin Barnett if he came here for a cup of tea, to have a cup of tea with you Bob, What would you like to say to Kevin Barnett? Colin Barnett.
ROBERT STEM Colin Barnett
ROBERT STEM Well personally I would like to see him just come here and I’ll offer him a cup of tea and see how we gotta go about making it and things like that. I mean as for a question I’d just like him not to come and have a cup of tea but spend a bit of time here and actually experience how we live and what we do. I guess be part of the lifestyle and exist here and he might have a better understanding of it, than coming in with a new mat a blanket and just laying it on the ground there and not knowing what’s underneath, what’s around the place he just covering everything up and then plonking on top of it he’s new picnic set. Sort of thing.
MINA STEM Prime Minister. What’s his name?
MINA STEM Kevin Rudd Mr. Kevin Rudd Where are you in all of this? How come you’ve never shown your face or taken an interest in anything that’s been happening here in this Kimberleys. All the way round these Kimberleys. Where have you been? What are you doing? You’ve not had one say in this thing only come 5 minutes on TV and that’s all we know about you. You don’t know nothing about us people. Come, take an interest. See what it’s going to do to our people. And how your arbitrary decision is going to affect the whole of this Kimberley.

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