Thursday 14 October 2010

Syd Walker’s Wild River

The fierce debate over Queensland Labour's Wild River proposed legislation, has not only divided the major political parties, but also those on the traditional left.

CairnsBlog columnist Bryan Law has been outspoken about the impact the changes will have on indigenous communities and ability to manage their own resources. Equally, Syd Walker of Friends of the Earth Kuranda and the Greens, whose writings aim to achieve "global peace, prosperity and sustainability" supports Labor's planned Wild Rivers law.

"I for one cannot understand the arguments of the handful of very vocal people, which includes Noel Pearson, Michael Winer, Tanja Major and Bryan Law, who now so stridently argue against the Wild Rivers legislation and vilify the conservation movement," Syd Walker says.

Bryan Law responds...

For the rare few who still believe that Syd Walker is in possession of any facts when he spouts off about Wild Rivers, or any other issue, read on.

In a CairnsBlog story called the Richard Dinnen Affair published on 23 September, Syd Walker said of the ABC:
  • “As a publicly-funded institution the ABC increasingly merits disgust, revulsion and contempt. These days, we have more chance of gleaning the truth about some crucial issues of global significance from the Russian media than the discredited ABC”.
    [see YouTube below]
Those who know Syd, understand the “crucial issues” to revolve around 9/11 and Zionist conspiracies.

Just a few days ago on his own blog, Syd “outed” the ABC’s Rachel Kohn as a Jew who “often presents material favourable to the Zionist cause”. Syd says that 9/11 conspiracy theories have never been given a “fair go” by the ABC.

That’s the Syd we know and love. Cooky, maybe. Deranged, probably. Fulminating about the inadequate reportage of the ABC and its wilful ignorance when speaking about things that Syd is an expert in (especially if you can find it on the WWW). Syd thinks the ABC is very, very naughty.

At the same time Syd is able to be positive about the ABC’s exceptional talents/skills whenever they fearlessly and accurately share his opinions.

That’s how he gets to describe the 7.30 Report conducting a “Fierce debate over the future of Cape York” during which Syd realises “it's about mining. Or more accurately, it's about the control of mining operations so they have a chance of not doing to Cape York what projects such as Ok Tedi have done to the environment of PNG”.

In his own words, commenting on the Drum unleashed, Syd Walker said...
  • “I'm in the odd situation of having lived near Cairns for years, but I'm yet to visit Cape York. While this issue has been prominent in local FNQ debate, I know nothing about the Cape based on first hand experience”.
I imagine that’s why Syd is unable to distinguish among traditional custodians. Who has the right to speak for country, and who does not.

Gina Castelain is passionate about stopping the Cape Alumina proposal for the Wenlock River (country she’s not entitled to speak for) but then again she supports the Chalco mining proposal for Aurukun (country she is entitled to speak for). That mine has fallen over for economic reasons.

David Claudie’s land is at the top of the Archer, Wenlock, and Lockhart River catchments, but is unaffected by any mining proposal. David is the man who devised the “we’re under threat from Native Title holders up-river” theory of Wild Rivers. There is no-one up-river from Mr Claudie.

Glen Parry, Lily York, and Peter Guivarra are cited as Traditional Owners or historical aborigines living on the land in question, but Syd doesn’t comment on their views. Why not?

Perhaps it’s because Noel Pearson is named in the report. Just like the Zionist 9/11, the existence of Noel Pearson enrages Syd, prompting him to write:
  • “Noel is backing the company with statements such as "We have been too long in the fight for land rights for it to be lost overnight like this."

    “Noel is backing the company”.

    “The towers were brought down by controlled demolition”.
In fact Noel Pearson was given two sentences in the 7.30 Report, which he used to support not a mining company, but native title and Aboriginal Sovereignty.

In an article published in the Weekend Australian, Noel Pearson makes the statement even clearer when he says:
  • "There is no dispute about preservation," he says.

    "These places are first owned by the traditional owners; second, the people of Queensland have an interest; and then the people of Australia and the world have an interest; in that order. What I object to is people starting to assert some sort of national and international priority, and let's just wipe the actual indigenous landowners out of consideration; that's what's happened here."
Read the article.

Mr Pearson has now suggested that Aboriginal people in Cape York Peninsula be rewarded for their conservation of bio-diversity and forest through compensation and inclusion in the Carbon economy: that they receive some benefit for the carbon credits claimed by the Queensland and Australian governments already.

The Wilderness Society Wild Rivers campaigner, Glen Walker, says it’s a good idea, but the credits have already been ripped off by government, and are unlikely to be returned to indigenous people.

Sounds like the same old colonialism to me, but then, what do I know compared to Syd?
  • NB: CairnsBlog has offered Syd Walker a right of reply.


Syd Walker said...

I was not aware this article was to be published beforehand. I'm grateful at least for the right of reply and will submit an article in response in due course.

I'd like to make one thing clear right now, in view of the way Bryan's article is introduced.

ALL opinions I express on Cairns Blog are my own, unless explicity stated otherwise.

I am an ordinary member (not an officeholder) of FoE Kuranda and the Queensland Greens. That's it. I do not currently speak as a representative of those groups on ANY issue - from wild rivers to unruly neocons. (I am also a member of the local library. I don't speak for it, either.)

I view this article of Bryan's as another intellectually dishonest hatchet-job on the Wild Rivers issue.

It's also another trite slur on views I hold, after much consideration, about quite different topics.

Bryan, once again, is attempting to muddy the waters. He tries to conflate a number of separate issues. Each is worthy of debate in its own right - but he seems to think that by sneering at the lot, readers will dismiss the lot.

It's an old rhetorical trick. I wonder - why does he plays these games?

More later...

Bryan Law said...

Syd accuses me of "another intellectually dishonest hatchet-job'.

I prefer to think of it as a precisely controlled demolition.

Anonymous said...

The fact remains that everybody in Queensland has to make a development application before commencing a development, and the assessment process usually gives permission with conditions attached.

Everybody (not just indigenous people) making a development application in a Wild Rivers protected area (within 1,000 metres of a watercourse) has to address the environmental impacts of their proposal on the watercourse and catchment. That 1,000 metres is not a total exclusion zone, it is the threshold for having to address the impacts.

Thus when Cape Alumina applied for permission to strip-mine on the Wenlock, they addressed the impacts by proposing to have a 200 metre setback, sediment traps, etc. The Government APPROVED the development, but with a 500 metre setback.

This proves that the 1,000 metre zone is not "locked up" as Noel Pearson would have you believe. If you can have strip-mining within 500 metres of a watercourse, then the impacts of veggie gardens would probably be allowed within 50 metres, so long as the impacts are addressed properly, which should be easy.

Likewise, you could probably have cattle-grazing within 50 metres of a protected watercourse if the river banks are protected from trampling by fencing, and water is pumped to troughs on hard standing.

I fail to see the significance of someone's opinion on 9-11 to this issue. It is Noel Pearson's distortion of the argument, which receives so much publicity, that is the big problem.

Matt CYP said...

Quite right Dave K9, and furthermore, any lawful activities already occurring can continue, and almost all of the country involved is grazing leases, so there's no question that grazing, gardening etc can continue.

As I've said previously, Wild Rivers is the least of our problems, and all this hubbub about Wild Rivers is a distraction from the fundamental structural problems which continue to suppress economic growth, enterprise development and employment on the Peninsula.

Repealing Wild Rivers would probably result in destructive large-scale mining activity, but would do nothing to address the problems that all we Peninsula landholders face, indigenous and others.