Wednesday, July 16, 2014


This week, in the Kimberley two Indigenous meetings will be held to talk about the ramifications of the proposed fracking regime of the Canning Basin and their homelands. Agendas are based around concerns regarding usage and misuse of their precious surface & underground waters, effects to the environment, the interminable admission of poisonous emissions and of course all the social implications on socially anguished communities.

 Indigenous people all over the world are fighting resource extraction from their lands in order to fulfill their birth obligations to protect and conserve for the following of births. The depredations of fracking and government collusion with industry come as no surprise to indigenous people or the Broome community—it is yet another form of extractive colonialism laying waste to the land and water and sacrificing the health of the people for short term economic gain of a very few.
Resistance to fracking has been widespread and politically diverse.  Fracking poses dire threats to universal things we all need such as clean water and air, it naturally unifies people when they stand up to fight it. 

Importantly, local grassroots community organising has formed the base of the anti-fracking movement across the nation and now people in the Kimberley are turning their attentions to the proposed industrialised gas fields on a massive scale across the Canning Basin and coal mining in the Fitzroy Valley.

Basically, people of all different  social backgrounds who never considered themselves activists are realizing that their water supply, their wilderness and their communities are under threat. The community is talking to their neighbors, in shopping centres, and at family and community gatherings. Quietly and surely their resistance and their collective community power is being mustered against these proposed distressing and nauseating fracking industry corporations.

When the EPA and other regulatory departments neglect their legislative obligations or uphold even the basic of principles like  Duty of Care. When compliance and monitoring responsibilities are never undertaken unless brought to their attention by concern persons, the media or questions in parliament. When they: dismiss the public calls for help’ gainsay true independent umpire, deny the damages of fracking operations and than declare its safe is both unforgiveable and unbelievable. To place the control over these operations into the hands of the Department of Mines and Petroleum is placing the roasted chicken in the fox’s mouth.

However, what does become clear to many people is that these departments and their fossil fool corporate masters are deeply corrupted. People are radicalized as they start to realise that these cozy arrangements benefit a few and are actually working against their interests, dreams and future plans.

Resistance tactics have ranged from the passing of local shire or community-wide bans on fracking, community science and monitoring, to sit-ins at corrupt politicians’ offices and numerous blockades of drilling sites, pipeline construction sites and wastewater injection facilities. Across Australian grassroots resistance is playing an important role. Mainstream environmental NGO’s have taken center stage in anti-fracking organising, focused largely on seeking legislative moratoriums or bans.

While professional activist groups offer a wealth of valuable resources and experience navigating environmental law, their larger organisational imperatives and agendas can limit the vision of movements and lead to compromises and decisions that aren't in the best interests of local communities and in some cases even the ecosystems. It’s important that community organisers be aware of organisational power dynamics when collaborating with NGOs, so as to maintain local autonomy, emphasising power from below and direct involvement of community members in decision making is vital. It’s a united community power, their motivation, intent, networks, history and connection that carry successful campaigns.

It doesn’t make any sense to focus on fracking as a single issue. Even if fracking or oil drilling itself was totally banned, we know the more industry will be back soon with a new and ever-more destructive form of resource extraction.

Clearly, for this work to mean anything long-term, we have to be working towards much bigger changes in our relationship to the land and how we meet our needs, and we have to challenge the power structure that depends on the continuation of ever-increasing plunder and exploitation. What’s exciting about the anti-fracking movement is that it’s building grassroots community power and waging that against industry and government corruption. The networks of resistance we build now and the experiences we learn from will be crucial in future struggles.

Conflict over fracking in the Kimberley and within all Australian’s major Water Basins will undoubtedly be increasing in the years to come, as environmental problems and water shortages grow ever more severe and people grow ever so Fed Up.

We can all clearly see that these old fossil fools corporations have their foot firmly planted on the accelerator in fear of their never ending decline in profit margins. These injudicious mugs will not stop ransacking the land or poisoning all our water until our resistance becomes powerful enough to make it unprofitable and impossible for them to travel down their road map to destruction.

We do not have to look any further than the Pilbara to have insight into broken promises of wealth, prosperity and employment for all. There are dead mining towns and all their associated polluting rubbish all over this country.

I have total and complete faith that Indigenous communities throughout the Kimberly will create a historical united frontline of resistance to the extractive industries. Why, because they will dare the brunt of the social, economic and environmental impacts and all its associated harmful effects.

Indigenous people are taking it upon themselves to travel the dusty roads taking information and films out to the people in order for them to be educated about fracking and the tactics used by these corporations to divide and conquer. The mirror and beads game no longer works. Many Traditional Owners, Elders and leaders from around the Kimberley have been outspoken against and have and will continue to educate their people and lobby hard against fracking. Free, Prior and Informed Consent Rights are alive and kicking up lots of pindan dust directly into the faces of the profiteers.

Leadership in anti-fracking struggle has largely emerged from the powerful and deeply rooted indigenous feeling of their true sovereignty, of keeping Country strong and the water clean and flowing. Indigenous communities across the world have extensive experience defending their lands, and many have firmly drawn the line against fracking. It will be no different in the Kimberley. We’ll hold the ground.

In Australia, Indigenous people have been fighting the extractive system for longer than anyone else because they are the most impacted upon by its harmful effects.  It’s a settler colony based on a colonial, extractive relationship with the land and a genocidal relationship with indigenous people. The responsibility to confront the colonial system, support indigenous self-determination and actually transform our relationships with the land and indigenous people belongs to everyone living in the Australia: if we don’t, we’re continuing to enact a legacy of genocide and we’re destined to extinguish the life support systems of the planet.

Solidarity isn’t just about feel-good charity or lending a helping hand, it’s about building mutual partnerships that can sustain joint struggle and support collective well-being in the long term. Solidarity grows from being strongly rooted in your own struggle and recognising our deepest values and needs in the struggles of others. Solidarity demands that we know ourselves and where we stand. That entails things like learning our family/ancestral stories and the history of the land we are living on, reflecting often on what is most important to us and why, and locating ourselves and our complicities in the larger structures of oppression. To live in solidarity with indigenous self-determination, we must also be seeking self-determination ourselves. Together, we determine the future; we issue the Social Licence to operate.

The pursuit of economic growth at all costs is not only destructive for indigenous peoples but also for the rest of humanity and the planet. The focus on GDP as a main measure of progress has distorted the true meaning of progress and wellbeing. For example, damage to ecosystems, irreversible loss in biological diversity and the erosion of cultural and linguistic diversity and indigenous traditional knowledge are not factored into the balance sheet. Such ecological, cultural, social and spiritual indicators, which provide more comprehensive measurements of national and global situations, are seldom used.

The failure of the dominant development paradigm, as evidenced by the lingering global economic crisis, the environmental crisis of climate change and the erosion of biological diversity, signals the need to evolve alternative ways of thinking about and pursuing development. Indigenous peoples’ visions and perspectives of development provide some of these alternatives that should be articulated and discussed further:

Development with culture and identity can be further strengthened through genuine collaboration among indigenous peoples, academics, scientists and NGOs. When pursued correctly, with trust being the biding collaboration is can prove to be beneficial not only for empowering indigenous peoples and their cultures but also for enriching and having a positive impact on the broader society and environment.

Be prepared to be disregarded —remember the history. Keep showing up when support is requested, attend the meetings and demonstrate your commitment to Country, Culture and Community. Seek to build the networks, support and cohesion. WE HOLD THE GROUND.


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