Tuesday, 31 July 2012

News from EDO - the Environment Defenders Office - 2012-07-31

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31 July 2012

HRL Dual Gas funding withdrawn

Last Friday the Federal Minister for Energy and Resources, Martin Ferguson, announced that the Federal Government was withdrawing its $100 million grant to energy company HRL to construct it's Dual Gas coal fired power station - the very same power station that the EDO assisted Environment Victoria and Locals Into Victoria's Environment in challenging in VCAT earlier this year.  Read more

EDO runs important human rights test case

On 17 and 18 July the EDO acted in an important VCAT case about the degree to which privacy law and human rights apply to peaceful protesters.  The EDO acted for Lisa Caripis, a climate change writer and researcher who had been filmed by police when she attended a peaceful protest at the Hazelwood Power Station in 2010.  Read more.

Wild Law Workshop

Places are still available for the Wildlaw Workshop we're hosting for the Australian Wild Law Alliance.  Register now

Wild Law or Earth Jurisprudence offers a positive vision for creating Earth-centered laws and governance structures to ensure human societies can live within ecological limits and support the integrity and health of the Earth.   Read more.

Environmental Justice

The EDO launched a major report on Environmental Justice last Friday, at a day-long symposium attended by 70 activists, lawyers, academics and government representatives. The report marks the culmination of a year-long project. Read more.

Revised Murray-Darling Basin Plan progresses

On 9 July 2012 the Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council presented its comments on the proposed Murray Darling Basin Plan to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. We understand that a further Proposed Basin Plan will be made public on 6 August 2012, after which the Ministerial Council has three weeks to provide any further comments directly to the Federal Environment Minister.  Read more. 

Pressure builds on coal and coal seam gas

Last week EDO lawyer Nick Croggon spoke at a public meeting on coal and coal seam gas in Fish Creek, Gippsland, in the latest of many public meetings that EDO lawyers have attended across regional Victoria, empowering local communities who wish to exercise their rights against coal and coal seam gas in their communities. Read more.

Victorian planning zone shake-up

The Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, has announced proposals for sweeping changes to Victoria's planning zones, in a major shake-up of development controls. The changes include creating new residential zones to distinguish between low-density and high-density areas, and allowing more types of development (including agriculture) in Green Wedge zones.Read more
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Run Forest Run

Thanks to all who joined us at the Launch Party for Run Forest Run last Thursday, and made the night such a roaring success. And to all those who couldn't make it - never fear, there's still time to join our team! Read more...

VCAT workshop

The next VCAT Planning & Environment Appeals workshop will be held on Wednesday 22 August 2012. Learn how to most effectively participate and represent yourself in planning and environment matters before VCAT. Read more...
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Bees and insecticides: say no to insecticides that harm bees

Evidence is growing 

that commonly used pesticides

even when employed carefully, 

are bad for bees

See also

Strzelecki rainforest reserve 

logged, burnt and sprayed 

with herbicides.

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Monday, 30 July 2012

Dr Vandana Shiva in conversation with Dr Susan Hawthorne recently at Eltham

Dr Vandana Shiva in conversation with Dr Susan Hawthorne 
at Montsalvat in Eltham Victoria Australia on July 17 2012. 
These are two passionate, intelligent and caring women fighting 
for the rights of mother earth and all her inhabitants, including human beings. 
Presented by the Eltham Bookshop 

The audio is not the best due to the poor quality public address system in the hall. 
Video is unedited save for the start and end.

Filmed by United Natures Independent Media 
Copyright 2012.

Your chance to become a movie co-producer. 
Support needed for a very important documentary and cause. 
United Natures - a United Nations of all species, featuring Dr Vandana Shiva.
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Anne Summers to speak at the University of Newcastle : Her Rights Ar Work? The Political Persecution of Australia's First Female PM

Human Rights and Social Justice Lecture

The Human Rights and Social Justice Lecture series is one of the University's flagship events.
The series was inaugurated in 2001, and has been held annually since then. The lecture series was established to provide an opportunity for members of the University and the wider community to reflect on issues of social justice that challenge Australia.

(This is a free public lecture)

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Victorian Climate Action Calendar 2012-07-28 to 2012-09-19

Is Malaysia a good place for refugees?

Green Left Weekly Activist CalendarSUPPLEMENT: July 28

Public meeting
Malaysia: Hellhole for refugees
Tuesday, July 31, 6:30pm. Multicultural Hub, 506 Elizabeth st, City (opposite Victoria Markets). (Note: Change of venue.) Mainstream politicians and media have closed ranks to present offshore processing of asylum seekers as the only 'solution' to the 'problem' of refugees. Any discussion about what life is like in Malaysia for refugees and asylum seekers has vanished from the media. The speaker will present the facts about what life is really like for refugees detained in Malaysia.
International guest speaker: Chon Kai Choo (a leader of the Socialist Party of Malaysia). Organised by Socialist Alliance & Resistance. For more info ph 9639 8622.

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Thursday, 26 July 2012

Xstrata and Glencore - certification of the social licence - business ethics or lack of them

On 20 May 2011, The Times Business Editor, Ian King, voiced little doubt that “small” investors, at least, should steer clear of carving out a stake for themselves in this particular golden calf.
In a remarkably robust comment, King damned Glencore as "...a business with dubious morals. It trades grain amid food riots and has been accused of profiteering and environmental offences in numerous poor and war-torn countries”. He went on: "Most of those signing up to buy shares in Glencore's flotation are major Middle Eastern and Far Eastern investors. Few of the traditional City institutions will touch the shares with a bargepole. The question is, should you?"
I posted yesterday about goings on in a proposed merger between Xstrata and Glencore - particularly involving a major shareholder, Qatar Holding. To-day The Network is having a closer look at Glencore.

Are money and morals mutually exclusive when money is large, omnipresent, and the clear focus of the actors involved?  This question can be asked of many corporate players but, in researching Glencore, questions of ethics and morality come up time and again - across the globe.  I think Australians should look closely at this corporation because, if the much mooted merger of Glencore and Xstrata comes into play after meetings in September, Glencore and Xstrata will become the third largest minerals and mining company in the world and a rival for BHPBilliton and Rio Tinto.
Check these links below

In Australia, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has looked at the proposed merger and won't intervene to stop it.  What a surprise!  

Seems to me that  we need a body that can look at corporate ethics and whether corporations are worthy of receiving social licence/certification to carry out their operations in Australia.  Sometimes one thinks it would be just as easy for Hitler Inc to come into the country and build gas ovens.  Why do nations everywhere have to open wide their doors to corporate cowboys simply because they are now wearing city suits and steering, not horses, but fancy motor vehicles? 

Bolivia has nationalised Glencore mines there.  This is part of an overall economic policy carried out by the Bolivian Government under President Evo Morales.  Read more about this here.

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Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghainese ... what about Arabic to negotiate Gulf States money?

I recently said in a post "all is connected".  It is amazing just what is connected. Again, Networkers, please be patient while I ask you to follow this very long and winding piece of string.

Does your waste collection, your water involve Veolia?  A share holder is the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).  Down at Wonthaggi, the world's fifth largest desalination plant is under construction.  The major water technology player is Suez. A share holder is QIA.  Enjoying, like mois, the professionalism of English language telecaster AlJazeera? Look behind and you will find QIA.  A subsidiary of QIA - Qatar's sovereign wealth fund - is Qatar Holding (QH).  If you have been reading Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, QH is right thereQH will pop up again in the course of this post.

And now let's take a look at the Land of Oz. If political and corporate players are learning to speak Mandarin, Cantonese or ShanghaineseI can't help wondering what politicians or business executives speak Arabic?  You see, while the Chinese frequently make the news in relation to mining and agricultural investment, the subsidiaries of the Qatar Investment Authority scarcely rate a blip on the national radar.

BTW, you might like to take a look at the Board of Qatar Holding.  If you think women are having trouble getting on Boards in Australia, my guess is that Qatar won't be having any women on any boards any time soon.

Now for what I consider the really important stuff as far as Australia is concerned.

QH is the second largest shareholder in international mining conglomerate Xstrata.  I am embedding below an Xstrata Zinc Sustainability Report from which, Networkers, you will be able to ascertain not only the extent of Xstrata business in Australia, but its international presence as well.  Please note the marvellous picture (somewhat manipulated, methinks) of Mount Isa in north-west Queensland. Please go here and insert "Australia" to find more about Xstrata in Australia.

It seems Asia hasn't made it on to the Xstrata scene yet.  Funny that...!

At the moment, Xstrata is being being courted.  All was a-flutter earlier this year with a Glencore-Xstrata merger looking highly likely. Shareholder meetings to ratify the merger have been postponed but now a meeting looks likely to proceed in September. That was reported on July 12. To-day, it is reported that Qatar is active in the market buying shares. There is a lot at stake in this stoush.  Synergies are being touted as a plus for the merger: Xstrata's mining and Glencore's marketing.  Glencore clearly has ethics problems and seems to be a corporation prepared to do whatever it takes. Clearly, Qatar does not want to be squeezed out even if or, more likely, the proposed merger of Xstrata and Glencore if and when established will rival BHPBilliton for size and reach.  If Qatar is active in the market, it is clear that QH does not wish to be left an also ran in the race.

So, Networkers, keep eyes and ears peeled on this latest saga impacting on Australia's mining boom.

Oh, a political footnote.  Remember back to the mining tax ruckus which resulted in Rudd's resignation (or doing-over depending on your point of view)?  The ruckus, you will recall, was mainly caused by the "junior miners" such as TwiggyGina, Clive and their friends.  The "senior miners"  like Rio and BHPB act a bit differently.  The "senior miners" are the ones who got to the negotiating table and Twiggy, Clive and Gina didn't.  They have been sour about this ever since.  However, the then new Prime Minister Julia Gillard negotiated not only with Rio and BHPB. Xstrata quietly came to the table.  

My view is that Xstrata was not only there because of its size.  It was there because of its relationship with the Australian Workers Union (AWU), particularly in connection with the Mount Isa facility.  The AWU put Gillard where she is so that a pragmatic version of the mining tax could be sorted out and the AWU could have a role without being forced backwards in the deal.  A clever use of this blog's search and label facilities should flesh this idea out for you, Networkers.

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