There is a saying about us here in Australia:
If it moves shoot it.
If it stands still, mine it.
That saying probably came from our own droll sense of humour. This next one came from a marketing company:
Queensland. Beautiful one day. Perfect the next.
I've come up with another which expresses both sayings in one:
Beautiful one day.
Mined the next.
I am an expatriate Queenslander exiled and living in Melbourne. Many moons ago, I lived in Toowoomba on the Darling Downs. The Darling Downs and the neighbouring South Burnett region were ancestral homelands for one branch of the family tree: places like Pinelands, near Crows Nest; Bunya Mountains; Neumga near Nanango; Maidenwell; Cooyar (where my grandparents were the first to be married inthe Catholic Church there); MacLagan; Kingaroy. As you can no doubt guess, I came from farming stock at a time when most Australians living in urban areas had relatives back on the farm to whom they would go to for holidays.
The Darling Downs is a beautiful part of the world: a major granary and a major wool producer. Rich soils under cloudless blue skies for miles on end. The sort of place in which you wouldn't travel without picnic basket and thermos at the ready.
On my recent visit from Brisbane to Toowoomba, I didn't get out on to the Downs proper but the urban blight contaminating the landscape up through the Lockyer Valley to the Toowoomba Range made me wish I hadn't made the journey. When I left the Downs just over 30 years ago, the blight had started but it was minimal. Now it has sped up along Warrego Highway and the memories of rolling green paddocks made me want to weep.
Just as I want to weep when I see the video at the top of this blog. If we let this go irreparably to coal, what does this say about Australian society, Australian governments, Australian corporations. It says that we are after the quick buck taken from leasehold land, mining leases.
True, much of our pastoral and agricultural land was once taken the same way and those interests were not unlike miners insofar as they picked the most suitable country from which to "mine" its contribution to agricultural production. That sort of tenure has long since gone and there has been too much hard labour and sacrifice by men, women and children poured into winning a livelihood from the land to think to hard on the actual investment made.
We now live in a land of competing resources: mining -v- agriculture and both compete with urbanised communities for dwindling clean water resources. We are playing one resource off against another as if we can afford to play this game as long as all the balls stay up in the air.
Of course, the balls won't stay in the air. Governments will see to it that agricultural land is swallowed up to miners or land developers. As the video points out, we can't eat coal for breakfast. We can't drink clean water when it is no more because of our own carelessness and bad management. What a bequest to future generations.
Our friendly Network, Denis from The Nature of Robertson, has sent the following Statement from the Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Churches on the Darling Downs. Clearly, the churches are standing right where they should be: beside their people. Listen. Because, it is not only here that the battle is being fought. It is also being fought in the equally rich Liverpool Plains of NSW - and I am sure, dear Networkers, you will write and tell me of others facing similar impending catastrophes.