Wednesday 21 May 2014


Koalas were designed by nature to sit in trees and eat gum leaves. Two hundred years ago their trees were mostly navigable above ground, and their ranges took in areas where the water table sat higher for longer, so they had no need to drink. Apart from being occasional fodder for a Powerful Owl or python, there was little else they needed to do.
Today, with 80% of eucalypt forests cleared or severely modified, koalas must come down to earth for many reasons. Moving to new feed trees, escaping from a fight, seeking water in drought, looking for mates or searching for their own territories are all reasons for them being seen on the ground more often.
This means inevitably they must cross at least one, or whole networks of roads, and where traffic volumes and speed limits are high there is small hope for a lumbering little koala. Annually some 300 koalas are killed on Queensland's SE roads alone. For an already nationally threatened species this is a tragic and unsustainable loss.
While avoiding them is often impossible, there are some Dos for drivers that lessen the risk of becoming one of those horrified drivers responsible for killing a koala.
·         Do slow down in zones with koala warning signs, even if only fractionally - the slower pace will be a reminder to stay alert and watchful.
·         Do set a personal limit of 80kph on country roads. Most are unsafe to travel at higher speeds, even where the actual limit is 100kph, and you might also save that annoyed driver following from hitting an animal, maybe a koala, and maybe another car.
·         Do add the local wildlife care group to your mobile's contact list, and include any in planned travel locations. Call the group immediately if a koala is hit, and give location details even if it looks uninjured, and even if it runs off into the bush.
·         Do report any dead koalas. Details of causes and a body can greatly add to koala research.

- Patricia Edwards

Saturday 17 May 2014


On Thursday May 15 gas-miner Metgasco's right to drill an exploration well at the Rosella site at Bentley was suspended by the NSW Minister for Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts.

Bentley, 12 km north-west of Casino in the Richmond River Local Government Area, has for months been the site of protest  by community members opposed to gas-mining in the Northern Rivers of NSW.  The Bentley protest has been a continuation of protests against Metgasco at earlier test drilling sites at Glenugie, near Grafton, and Doubtful Creek, near Kyogle.

Minister Roberts said that he suspended the  approval on the grounds "that it did not fulfil a condition of its exploration licence, namely to undertake genuine and effective consultation with the community as required." (  Minister Roberts' Media Release   )

Metgasco has apparently misled  local landowners about the type of mining it expected to undertake at Bentley, denying that the gas was in a tight sands formation, which would have meant that fracking was required for its extraction.  The local community has been well aware that the gas is locked in tight sands and is obviously very concerned about the effect fracking would have on the agricultural activities in the area.

It is interesting that the Minister also announced that he has written to the Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) "following receipt of information concerning shareholdings and interests in Metgasco Limited". 

The protesters at the protest camp on the property next to the drill site have been celebrating the suspension as have many other members of the Northern Rivers community - and indeed other opponents of the CSG and the unconventional gas industry throughout NSW and further afield.  There is, however, general awareness that, while a celebration is justified, the battle against the invasive gas industry is far from over.

It is interesting to speculate on the suspension decision.  There may have been other factors contributing to it.  A possible confrontation between thousands of Bentley protesters and hundreds of police next week when Metgasco was to begin its preparation of the drill site may have worried the Government.  Compounding this may have been some nervousness about the approach of the state election due in March next year - particularly in the light of the State Government's concerns about the recent relevations in ICAC.

Wednesday 14 May 2014


Things are hotting up at Bentley, the site for gas miner Metgasco's next test drill  in the Northern Rivers of NSW.  Bentley is 12 km north-west of Casino in Richmond River Local Government Area (LGA) and a short distance from Lismore - the LGA which voted resoundingly against CSG mining in a poll conducted by the Council during the last local government elections.  The strength of local opposition has been shown in the attendance of protesters at the camp on a property alongside the drill site property.

For more information:  Gasfield Free Northern Rivers

Check out the video below and encourage others to do so.

Watch the Video

Tuesday 13 May 2014


Over 85% of Australians do not want products they buy to be tested on animals before sale for human use. The scientific excuse for animal experimentation is that animal skin reacts in the same way as ours. Yet when the moral issue is raised, whether it is right to use animals in this way, the argument is that animals are not like us.

In the words of Professor Charles R Magel, "Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction.”

Cruelty by humans to any type of animal is so wrong the wonder is the subject has to be discussed at all. Yet pharmaceutical and chemical companies, universities and government bodies have failed to accept animal experimentation as cruel. Nonetheless, when tested chemicals react on living tissue to the extent of poisoning, burning and blinding the animals, then the cruelty factor is glaringly obvious to all but the most compassionless person.

Leading international cosmetic companies, Johnson & Johnson, Dove, Herbal Essences, Clinique, Estée Lauder, to name a few, still subject animals to these shameful practices before shipping their products into Australia. In China, where the majority of products come from, it is still a requirement by law to trial cosmetics and toiletries on animals before they can be accepted as safe for human use.

While Australian cosmetics are not tested on animals, it is still not illegal to do so. Also many imported ingredients used in their manufacture are known to be animal-tested.

But now two women in Parliament, Green's Lee Rhiannon and Labor's Tanya Plibersek are  working to ring in the changes for animals, with the introduction of a private member's bill to ban all sales and imports of cosmetics carrying animal-tested ingredients, and the setting up of a national consultation with industry, scientific researchers, and high profile groups such as Humane Society International, Cruelty Free and Humane Research Australia.

Meanwhile the Body Shop has removed its products from China's duty-free shops, since the consumer group Choice found their products in Beijing and Shanghai airports, where authorities randomly run post-market tests on animals.
- Patricia Edwards

This article was published in the "Voices for the Earth" column in The Daily Examiner on May 5, 2014.

Thursday 1 May 2014


The mining industry and environment movement have long been at loggerheads, but conflict has escalated in recent times with the rapid world-wide expansion of the unconventional gas industry.
The growing animosity reached a new high, when Stephen Galilee (NSW Minerals Council's head) published an extraordinary personal attack on two young female conservationists, accusing them of “economic vandalism” and calling for them to be jailed for their actions in opposing coal and gas mining (The Australian , 14th April).

The claim of vandalism by a mining industry lobbyist against conservationists is a “bit rich”, given incidents such as the recent coal mine fire at Morwell in Victoria where a failure to undertake required rehabilitation and removal of fire-fighting equipment saw the fire burning out of control for weeks, spewing toxic smoke over the township, forcing inhabitants to flee their homes to escape the health risks. The real social and economic costs of that incident are unlikely to ever be determined.

The Maules Creek coal mine, protests against which triggered Mr Galilee's article, is owned by Whitehaven Coal, itself the recipient of multiple fines for environmental vandalism, as has Santos, the owner of the Pilliga coal-seam gas operation, with the latest $1500 fine, imposed for polluting an aquifer, not even covering the investigation costs. Again the potential long-term economic costs of those pollution events will probably never be known.

Mr Galilee's vicious attack focusses on two courageous conservationists, Georgina Woods and Carmel Flint, describing them as “professional activists” because they have represented other environmental organisations in the past. However, while occasionally being paid for their work, their remuneration would pale into insignificance beside that received by Galilee, who apparently fails to see that he too is a professional activist, lobbying on behalf of the mining industry, with a long history working as adviser to various government ministers on mining matters.

The only difference, other than their salaries, is that Mr Galilee lobbies on behalf of the mining industry and its share-holders, while the girls lobby on behalf of all humanity, and those that have no voice, our wildlife.
- John Edwards

This article was published in The Daily Examiner (under a different title) in the "Voices for the Earth" column on 28th April.

Carmel Flint's work for the environment was recognised by the Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition (CVCC) in 2010 when she received the CVCC's ReWeavers' Award.  Since then Carmel has continued her work for the environment, notably campaigning for improvements in environmental flows in the Murray-Darling Basin and also in campaigning against coal seam gas mining, particularly in the Pilliga.