On Monday, anti coal seam gas (CSG) protesters claim they were turned away from Labour Day celebrations in Chinchilla, Queensland, because mining companies sponsored the event. Here's a full wrap of events.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE CHINCHILLA SHOWGROUNDS
From a Ninemsn report published on Monday night.
The protesters, who have been staging a blockade against attempts by gas miner QGC to build a pipeline at Tara Estate in Chinchilla, joined the Labour Day march in the town on Monday.
But Friends of the Earth spokesman Drew Hutton said when 50 people from the Lock the Gate Alliance reached the Chinchilla showgrounds, Rotary Club official Bernie Washington said they could not enter and phoned the police to block their participation.
Mr Hutton said the alliance members had permission to march in the parade and had a warm reception from local residents.
"We got to the end of the march, and he said now you clear off and pointed off into the distance," Mr Hutton told AAP.
"There was a bit of argy-bargy that went on."
THE PROTESTORS TALE
One of the protestors marching in the parade, Miriam Bauman, gives her side of the story.
Standing before the closed gates of the Chinchilla Showgrounds, I smiled and thought about the irony of the situation as I waited holding my sign with its message, ‘Lock the Gate to coal and gas companies’.
As a group of concerned Australians aged from six to seventy, we had just marched in the May Day parade to highlight our protest against coal seam mining for the extraction of methane gas. What I have seen happening to our food producing land is heart-wrenching.
We had been told by Rotary Club official Bernie Washington we could march as long as we kept our mouths shut. And this was what we did. They placed us in front of an older model tractor and several other classic vehicles. We were friendly and, with innovative peddle powered music making contraption, we even managed to provide some light entertainment.
The story was that we had disrupted the procession by not moving fast enough and not letting others through. Apparently this was one of the reasons they wouldn’t let us in at the Showgrounds. I have marched in several ANZAC Day parades and, just like those times, the pace varied at Chinchilla and, yes, gaps appeared at times but no one ever accused us of being disruptive.
My Dad was a Rotarian and he shared with me the Rotarian's 4-Way Test, which is said to be the cornerstone to all action:
Of the things we think, say or do:
- Is it the TRUTH?
- Is it FAIR to all concerned?
- Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
- Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
Obviously, Bernie had his reasons for not letting us in and I hope it had nothing to do with the fact that Queensland Gas Corporation (owned by British Gas) had sponsored the May Day celebrations to the tune of $15,000 to $20,000. You can reach your own conclusions about that.
Why was I there protesting against coal seam mining?
Well, it’s because I love the land — it’s in my blood. My brother Robert, for instance, is a fifth generation Bauman farmer. When I first became aware of the potential dangers to air, water and farming land from coal seam mining I was concerned, so I joined Lock the Gate Alliance and endeavoured to learn more. And the more I learned the more concerned I became, especially after watching ‘Gasland’ the documentary.
I’ve spoken with Chinchilla farmers Scott and Katie Lloyd whose lives have been changed forever and who never had a choice to say NO to the gas wells now dotted over their property. This is unjust and unAustralian. Their number one priority is to produce food and their number one concern is the underground water.
Can these mining companies guarantee they will not harm the Great Artesian Basin? And what if they do?
Mining, Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Tourism all provide jobs and income for our state, yet only one is unsustainable. Mining uses massive quantities of water, pollutes our waterways and is non-renewable. If it destroys our water and our farmland, what will we be left with when the coal and gas are finished? What will we drink and what will we eat?
No amount of compensation can buy clean air, clean surface and underground water, and quality food. These essentials of life are priceless.
MESSAGE SENT BY LOCK THE GATE TO CHINCHILLA ROTARY
Dear Chinchilla Rotary,
I wish to address the claims made in the media by your representatives regarding the Lock The Gate group and the Labour Day march.
I participated in the march as a member of the group and strongly object to the claim that we “misbehaved during the parade, causing a disturbance to proceedings. They disrupted the procession by going slow and not letting others through”.
I agree that we might have been going a little slower but this was due to the nature of the large musical contraption, was absolutely unplanned and was in no way intended to disrupt proceedings. In fact we had agreed prior to joining that we were to behave well and as well as make our point, add a colourful, if noisy, contribution to the parade, which I understand is a celebration of worker rights.
I request that you respond with specific examples of us “misbehaving”. Was a mess made? Were spectators abused? Were cars overturned and burned? Windows smashed? Did I miss something? I am truly curious about this as I thought we were extremely well behaved.
Apart from this, I also ask for specific examples of how we disrupted proceedings. True at one point there was a minute or so gap between us and the truck in front (what parade doesn’t have a gap?), but when asked we did try to close it (and succeeded) and apart from possibly extending the duration of the parade, how exactly did this (or anything else) disrupt the parade.
As it happened, the biggest disruption on the day was caused by Rotary officials and the police who (ironically) locked the gate on us causing a huge traffic jam outside the showgrounds for approximately 30 minutes.
I suggest that the knee-jerk reaction to us and the ensuing media spotlight has been an embarrassment to Chinchilla and the Rotary Club in particular and rather than accept that someone made an error of judgment, your representatives are trying to shift the blame to us.
I look forward to your response.
Lock the Gate Alliance