Adani Carmichael Megamine: the Franklin River of our times?

Ev­ery­body loves an epic light vs dark bat­tle – this one's hap­pen­ing right now in our back­yard!

Living Now - - Contents - by Michael Cauce


For me, if the cli­mate move­ment was a sci-fi movie, what’s hap­pen­ing right now in Aus­tralia feels a bit like Star Wars: The New Hope or, bet­ter yet, maybe Re­turn of the Jedi – be­cause, let’s face it; that’s when, with the odds against them and things look­ing bleak, the lit­tle guys step up and re­ally stick it to the man/em­pire/ multi­na­tional coal min­ing gi­ant. But I’m get­ting ahead of my­self...

I’ve al­ways con­sid­ered my­self a car­ing, con­sid­er­ate hu­man (don’t we all?). But aside from a bit of RSPCA vol­un­teer work in my youth (which had the cute fluffy an­i­mal draw­card), and at­ten­dance at the global 2003 peace rally (which I joined upon the sug­ges­tion from my part­ner when we stum­bled across it in the street), I’m not sure that, up to that point, I had ever re­ally been par­tic­u­larly con­cerned with, or lifted a fin­ger for, any­one or any­thing out­side my im­me­di­ate sphere.

There’s noth­ing like a big re­la­tion­ship break up to make you pause and take a good, hard look at your­self in the mir­ror. Youth­ful looks aside, I didn’t re­ally like what I saw. So in the midst of this soul search­ing that spanned most of 2005, I hap­pened to pick up Naomi Klein’s bril­liant book, No Logo. Quite sim­ply, this book changed the tra­jec­tory of my life. Per­haps it was just my time and an­other book would have done the job, but I’m giv­ing Naomi the props here. It’s an in­sight­ful and in­spir­ing call to ac­tion against the deeply dis­turb­ing dam­age that in­sid­i­ous big cor­po­ra­tions are do­ing to our com­mu­ni­ties and our world at large.

It’s funny but no co­in­ci­dence that she got me fired up about so­cial jus­tice and now we’re both big into cli­mate change. You don’t have to look very hard to see huge over­laps be­tween the two is­sues.


In 2006 at age 32, I found my­self back at uni study­ing IT and work­ing in a bank – could I BE any more reg­u­lar cor­po­rate Joe? I was still gen­er­ally do­ing very lit­tle for any­one or any­thing out­side my im­me­di­ate sphere. The in­spi­ra­tion from Naomi was sim­mer­ing just be­low the sur­face but had not yet fully ma­te­ri­alised into fo­cus or clear di­rec­tion. Luck­ily, that’s when I started hang­ing out with young, pas­sion­ate, ide­al­is­tic uni stu­dents hell-bent on sav­ing the world. Al­though I was look­ing for a so­cial jus­tice group to join, I stum­bled upon the cam­pus en­viro group first, which piqued my in­ter­est. Af­ter rock­ing up to a few meet­ings, I felt com­pelled to do some read­ing about this ‘cli­mate change’ busi­ness.

So it was, that one sunny April af­ter­noon, on a com­puter in the La Trobe Univer­sity li­brary, I was ca­su­ally read­ing some re­ports and news ar­ti­cles on cli­mate sci­ence, when I had what is known in cli­mate ac­tivist cir­cles as my first ‘OH F#@K’ mo­ment. That mo­ment when the penny drops. That mo­ment of deep re­al­i­sa­tion and hor­ror of just how cat­a­stroph­i­cally dan­ger­ous cli­mate change is for all life on the planet…(yay!)


It quickly oc­curred to me that if our planet were a neigh­bour­hood street, hu­mankind was act­ing like the stereo­typ­i­cal fool­ish

and ut­terly self­ish teenage hooli­gans, mind­lessly trash­ing the place left, right and cen­tre and en­dan­ger­ing ALL species’ fu­tures. On top of the very real threat to fu­ture (and cur­rent) gen­er­a­tions, learn­ing that my own species is solely re­spon­si­ble for cre­at­ing the sixth ma­jor species ex­tinc­tion event ever to oc­cur on this planet was… Re­ally. Not. Ok. I imag­ine it was not en­tirely dis­sim­i­lar to the tech guy in Ter­mi­na­tor 2 who gets told he’s re­spon­si­ble for a fu­ture army of robots that dev­as­tate the planet, who said some­thing like “I think I’m gonna throw up”.

As the im­pli­ca­tions swept over me I re­alised that I couldn’t just stand idly by and watch this global hu­man-in­duced slow mo­tion car crash un­fold. It shook me to my core in an ex­is­ten­tial kind of way that lit­tle else has come close to, save for the rev­e­la­tion that a cou­ple of daily glasses of red wine are NOT, in ac­tual fact, sig­nif­i­cantly ben­e­fi­cial for my health. (I know, right!) So with this re­al­i­sa­tion and my newly ig­nited pas­sion for jus­tice (and the hope of maybe im­press­ing a cute fe­male friend), I threw my­self into the grass­roots cli­mate move­ment.


Af­ter get­ting in amongst it with univer­sity groups, com­mu­nity groups, NGOS and govern­ment for al­most six years, I found two things. 1. My life is in­fin­itely richer and more mean­ing­ful for hav­ing con­trib­uted, along with many other beau­ti­ful, com­pas­sion­ate souls, to a cause far greater than my­self. And 2. I was burnt out. Ap­par­ently you need to be sus­tain­able in your to ap­proach to sus­tain­abil­ity ac­tivism… who knew?!

Though I re­alised that I had to take a se­ri­ous step back/out of the move­ment, the ex­pe­ri­ence had been quite ex­tra­or­di­nary. I found amaz­ing, grounded, salt-of-the-earth-type new friends. An ar­ray of ex­ten­sive new skills in fa­cil­i­ta­tion, mar­ket­ing, or­gan­is­ing, com­mu­nity en­gage­ment, and me­dia com­mu­ni­ca­tion were picked up along the way. I found the con­fi­dence to speak in front of large groups of peo­ple, on the ra­dio and in front of TV cam­eras (not some­thing I want to do again), as well as run meet­ings, do me­dia re­leases, spear­head com­mu­nity-govern­ment en­gage­ment meet­ings and more.

At one point I was even or­gan­is­ing ac­tivist stunts and speak­ing out in the me­dia against the state govern­ment’s stance on en­viro is­sues while si­mul­ta­ne­ously work­ing as a govern­ment sus­tain­abil­ity of­fi­cer… good times!


The ben­e­fits of my time vol­un­teer­ing and work­ing as an ac­tivist in the en­viro field don’t end there. My new friends showed me the empty, point­less­ness of ma­te­ri­al­ism and the rat race, the value of op shop­ping and hav­ing a veg­gie gar­den, the beauty of more mind­ful, frugal liv­ing and the rich joy of be­ing more con­nected to self, oth­ers and na­ture. (Also, FYI, if you’re sin­gle, gree­nies are usu­ally a pretty car­ing, pas­sion­ate and fit bunch. Prob­a­bly from all that med­i­ta­tion, cy­cling and or­ganic food... just sayin’). Over five years have passed since that in­cred­i­ble time in my life. And in spite of all the rich, life-trans­form­ing amaz­ing­ness that came from it, and all the won­der­ful friends who are still rolling along, fight­ing the good fight, I guess maybe I lost the pas­sion for it some­where. I still at­tend the big ral­lies and do the odd vol­un­teer event here and there, but noth­ing like be­fore.

In that time I’ve had a ma­jor change in ca­reer tra­jec­tory – a ‘ca­reer sea-change’ I some­times call it… from govern­ment en­viro data an­a­lyst to owner/op­er­a­tor of a Hawai­ian Lomi Lomi mas­sage ther­apy busi­ness. You can see the link… right?


Re-skilling and start­ing up that biz has been ex­cit­ing and has kept me pretty busy. But what­ever we like to tell our­selves, I think “be­ing too busy” is a choice. If we say we’re too busy for this or that, what we’re of­ten re­ally say­ing is that we’re not will­ing to pri­ori­tise it. It’s amaz­ing the time we can sud­denly find in our busy lives to help a loved one in dire need. Or even just to watch all that TV (when the hell is GOT start­ing up again, any­how?).

I don’t be­lieve in coast­ing through life and just tak­ing what I can from it. I like the idea that we all have an op­por­tu­nity to con­trib­ute, a civic role to play, as mem­bers of the lo­cal and global com­mu­nity. Es­pe­cially in a so­ci­ety as priv­i­leged as ours. But I guess, post­burn out, I just haven’t felt a strong enough pull to re­turn to the fray; to re­turn to the move­ment, to again stand up – like Luke Sky­walker, for what I be­lieve in, fight­ing for some­thing greater than my­self… that is, not un­til now. Not un­til Adani.


Adani, if you haven’t heard, is an In­dian-based multi­na­tional coal min­ing gi­ant (evil space em­pire?) pre­par­ing, as I’m writ­ing this, to try and de­velop one of the largest coal mines on the planet. Lo­cated in our beau­ti­ful Galilee Basin in Queens­land, it’s known as the Carmichael megamine.

And it’s a mon­ster.

As stated on the web­site:

“At the very time the world has agreed to re­duce car­bon emis­sions to stop cat­a­strophic global warm­ing, Aus­tralian gov­ern­ments are ea­gerly pur­su­ing Adani’s mas­sive new coal mine [so much so that the Turn­bull govern­ment is look­ing at lend­ing one bil­lion dol­lars for Adani to have its own rail line, which we could be spend­ing on re­new­ables, con­ser­va­tion, health or ed­u­ca­tion]. Ap­prov­ing the Adani project and its rail and port in­fra­struc­ture would open up the en­tire Galilee Basin to up to 9 ad­di­tional new mines of the world’s dirt­i­est fos­sil fuel….when we need to ur­gently re­duce car­bon pol­lu­tion, this mine takes us in the com­pletely wrong di­rec­tion. Cli­mate change will also be ac­cel­er­ated by the land clear­ing re­quired to build the mine… over 28,000 soc­cer fields or 200,000 quar­ter-acre blocks, would be cleared. Over half of the land that would be cleared is ma­ture wood­land and bush­land – im­por­tant habi­tat for many an­i­mals in­clud­ing threat­ened species...

Ma­jor heat­waves are a se­ri­ous health threat, caus­ing more deaths in Aus­tralia

since 1890 than bush­fires, cy­clones, earth­quakes, floods and se­vere storms com­bined. Longer, hot­ter and more in­tense heat­waves in Aus­tralia are be­ing driven by cli­mate change. Re­search has found that the num­ber of deaths in sum­mer com­pared to those in win­ter is in­creas­ing, sug­gest­ing that cli­mate change may al­ready be af­fect­ing mor­tal­ity rates. Adani’s mine will only make this sit­u­a­tion worse.

We are al­ready ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the con­se­quences of pol­lut­ing our air and water and the dan­gers of the cli­mate chang­ing around us. We must im­me­di­ately make the tran­si­tion from pol­lut­ing coal, oil and gas to 100% re­new­able en­ergy to stop green­house gas emis­sions reach­ing even more dan­ger­ous lev­els. The first step is stop­ping Aus­tralia’s big­gest coal mine pro­posal be­fore it gets started.”


From al­le­ga­tions of off­shore tax dodg­ing to in­flated jobs claims and cor­rup­tion, Adani has a his­tory of shonky be­hav­iour that has wrecked com­mu­ni­ties and the en­vi­ron­ment.

Adani will draw bil­lions of litres of water from the Great Arte­sian and other pre­cious basins. They’ll do this for free, threat­en­ing farm­ers, ground­wa­ter and lo­cal rivers.

Adani will not be charged a cent for the water they will con­sume. Mean­while, the Queens­land govern­ment has stripped farm­ers of their rights to ap­peal against Adani tak­ing their ground­wa­ter.


Adani’s mine, rail and port project will de­stroy the an­ces­tral lands, wa­ters and cul­tures of Indige­nous peo­ples in the re­gion. And Adani does not have the con­sent of the lo­cal Wan­gan and Ja­galin­gou peo­ple. Adani have ac­tively worked to di­vide them, to claim they con­sent to the mine.

The Wan­gan and Ja­galin­gou have three times re­jected a land deal with Adani since 2012. They have four court chal­lenges un­der­way, yet Adani is push­ing on with their plans to be­gin work in 2017.

State and fed­eral gov­ern­ments have done Adani’s bid­ding and rammed through changes to both na­tive ti­tle and water laws to en­sure their mine goes ahead, in the face of Indige­nous op­po­si­tion to the mine. Tra­di­tional own­ers have pledged to do what­ever it takes to pre­serve their cul­ture, but they can’t do it alone.


If this wasn’t enough of a call to ac­tion for me al­ready, I learned that for­mer Greens leader Bob Brown is call­ing this ‘ the en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sue of our times’ and ‘ this gen­er­a­tion’s Franklin River’. (Dis­clo­sure: I shook Bob’s hand once, so, y’know, we’re prac­ti­cally best mates.) He says: “In 40 years time peo­ple will be talk­ing about the cam­paign to stop Adani like they now talk about the Franklin. Where were you and what did you do? they will ask.” I think my mate Bob raises a good ques­tion.

To para­phrase an old quote, it seems to me that the only thing nec­es­sary for Adani to tri­umph here is for good peo­ple to do noth­ing. I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on tak­ing this one ly­ing down. This is our Franklin River. This is our planet-de­stroy­ing evil death star. We need to draw a line in the sand – right here, right now.

If you’ve ever wanted to be part of some­thing greater than your­self, some­thing that you’ll be able to proudly and re­lent­lessly tell the story of to your chil­dren and grand­chil­dren 87 times, make no mis­take; this is it.

So how do we stop it?


Luck­ily, 13 ma­jor en­vi­ron­men­tal groups have al­ready banded to­gether – the Stop Adani Al­liance – to tackle this era-defin­ing bat­tle head on. How­ever they need all the peo­ple-power they can muster if they’re go­ing to pull it off. That’s where you and I and come in. Right now there’s a rapidly grow­ing groundswell of lo­cal Stop Adani groups pop­ping up all over the coun­try. Lo­cal ac­tions are hap­pen­ing al­most ev­ery day. There’s prob­a­bly one near you.

Be­ing a part of these things can be fun, in­spir­ing AND will feel deeply sat­is­fy­ing when we’ve won! I’m not ask­ing you to give up your first born. Just com­mit­ting one or two evenings of your time will help make a dif­fer­ence on this. I know you’re busy – we’re all busy – but this is some­thing to make time for. Your voice mat­ters. Your ac­tions mat­ter. Come get amongst it!

To learn about the strat­egy of the Al­liance and join up, check out the in­spir­ing 8 minute video nar­rated by Missy Hig­gins. Go to: com­mu­ni­ty_re­sources. Then find a lo­cal group or ac­tion in your area (or start your own): n Con­nect with other read­ers & com­ment on this ar­ti­cle at www.liv­ing­

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