Lock the gate

The madness of society is not restricted solely to the goings on in the UK; where we have fracking and lobbyists, EDL and UKIP, so does Australia with Coal Seam Gas (CSG), Reclaim Australia and Tony Abbott.

But more about the fascists another time. Today I want to talk about mother Australia – my third trip here and a place I feel at home in. It’s the place that rekindled my human spirit and desire to forge a better life for those that come after us.

  

Australia, home to 25 million or so people mainly dotted around the sublime coastline, has some of the most diverse eco-systems and landscapes of anywhere on this world. It is home to the worlds largest living organism, the Great Barrier Reef, it truly is a beautiful place but also the bearer of scars of a rough history of indifference and violence towards aboriginal people and the land. 

Australia has seen a boom of engineering and colonisation over 200 years that have left it with some delicate issues with its eco-system, exacerbated in the last 6 years by the mining boom which staved off some of the economic pressures faced by the rest of the world since the recession of 2008. The trade off has been a strain on natural resources.

 

The CSG issue is what the UK call ‘fracking’ – the process of using some water to hydraulically fracture the earths crust to get some fossil fuel. In Australia, people have been launching a campaign called ‘Lock the Gate‘ to ward off would be drillers as land owners shut the doors on these vultures,  the government however, are currently in the process of changing legislation to remove the requirement for these drilling companies to ask a land owners permission to conduct exploratory drilling. As a result they get to keep what they find and the land owner gets nothing but dead land. 

Now, when I say they use ‘some’ water when fracturing, I mean 9 MILLION litres of water or more, depending on the rock formation. 9 million litres, when only 3% of the worlds water is fresh water or drinking water. 9 million litres when the South East of England is water stressed and water companies are considering pumping in water from the north to cope with the strain. 

What of Australia, one of the driest continents on the planet? Victoria recently completed a multi billion dollar desalination plant off the back of a 15 year drought to combat the situation in advance, only for it to rain a little and put off that particular problem for now, but they still recommend showers be kept to less than 4 minutes and public conveniences are supplied from collected rain water. Why, then, would they use a resource as important as water to fracture the earths crust in pursuit of an antiquated fuel source??

  

Aside from the fact that using water to fracture the earth for fossil fuel is out right madness and a sign of desperation from the energy companies to hold on to power, there are the well documented issues around what happens to the land once the earth has been fractured. There is also the issue of increased seismic activity as a result of these exploratory drills and pumping sites. 

A country with as much solar activity as Australia, it’s huge desert plains and tidal sources should be investing heavily in renewable and sustainable energy. When you consider the little things done to preserve the beauty of the country, it is amazing to think that the government are pushing CSG as a real alternative.

  

We are here because of the path that lies behind us

Conference season is all but over and the battle lines have been drawn for the run-in to the 2015 General Election. The papers today say too that the election campaign begins, but where are we?

David Cameron made a rousing speech fit for a Nuremberg rally as he followed on from Theresa May, outlining his intentions to dismantle the Human Rights Act, save the NHS and be the ‘trade union’ for hardworking people. This would be funny if it was not so serious and frankly disgusting. This is the man whose party smashed hardworking, trade union families in the 1980’s and who want to all but revoke a workers right to withdraw their labour and raise the threshold for ballots so high, that neither Boris Johnson, nor the Coalition government would have taken office with the same stipulations. This is the man who has seen thousands of people die after their benefits were cut by the cut throat, unqualified and inept assassins at ATOS and has overseen a cost in living crisis leaving 1 in 4 families described as ‘working poor’, over 1 million children in poverty and the resurgence of Victorian diseases such as rickets. It is quite literally banquets for the rich and food banks for the poor.

I think he meant what he said when he said we were the people that he and his party resented.

Further to this, the Tory party have continued unabated in the mass sell off of our NHS, built and paid for by us, our parents and grandparents, after first Labour opened the gateway with PFI contracts in their previous disastrous term in office. The NHS is safe in no ones hands but our own. If we leave it to these vultures we will face yearly prices hikes the same as we already do with the rail and energy firms. Families would soon be priced out of basic health care, a fundamental human right for all. Do not be persuaded or convinced that charging immigrants for use of the NHS is anything other than to get us used to the idea of getting our plastic friends out to pay for care. It is a classic tale of divide and rule.

Which brings me to the threat posed to human rights.

Time and again Theresa May, Cameron, Hague, whomever, tell us it is because of the threat posed to us by terrorists, hate preachers and other so-called undesirables that they wish to extradite but by whose definition will be determining the terrorists? In May’s speech she has outlined a vision of such Orwellian proportions, it left many aghast at how it could even be implemented. May’s vision is one of national censorship of extremists who use social media, yet when they have over 9000 domestic extremists on their list, people who make it their civic and moral duty to stand up to police and political corruption, fracking, TTIP, arms fairs, illegal Israeli state expansion, many without a criminal record. You can only begin to imagine just how dangerous things are getting for people who speak truth. The establishment at all levels have a very genuine fear of the social media, it used to be that we saw something on the social media and went to the mainstream news networks to confirm it, now we see something on the mainstream news and take to social media to disprove it. It is instant, live and connects us, for better or worse, in a way that they cannot abide. It is for these reasons that we are seeing clumsy and draconian attempts to break people’s faith in using it, for fear of ending up on the scrap heap or worse, in some form of censorship or detention. In the future only outlaws will be free.

The Sun manifesto Cameron

In the meantime The Sun takes credit for the potential abolishment of our human rights act and generally people don’t even bat an eyelid. A mate said to me yesterday (I am sure he won’t mind) that we could all already do what the Human Rights Act is supposed to guarantee for us long before they existed (such as the right to assembly, marry, practice religion, freedom of speech etc), but were we?

One example could be gay people’s right to marry the person they love, until recently it was still debated only getting as far as civil partnership, only with ‘gay marriage’ coming in the last 12 months. It is called ‘gay marriage’ or ‘same-sex marriage’, rather than as I call it – ‘marriage’, because to many it is still taboo. And they still face serious issues regards access to equal pension rights for their partners in the event something happens to one of them, parity with a ‘normal’ married couple is still beyond the law and that is just one example of how our so-called ‘civilised’ society doesn’t get it right even with a Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a foundation. What chance justice with a watered down bill of rights drafted by this inept bunch because they convinced us terrorists are on every street corner?

Taken from an article featured in The Telegraph, Tory plans will involve some of the following ideas:

  • Extremists will have to get posts on Facebook and Twitter approved in advance by the police under sweeping rules planned by the Conservatives.
  • They will also be barred from speaking at public events if they represent a threat to “the functioning of democracy”, under the new Extremist Disruption Orders.
  • Theresa May, the Home Secretary, will lay out plans to allow judges to ban people from broadcasting or protesting in certain places, as well as associating with specific people.
  • The plans — to be brought in if the Conservatives win the election in May — are part of a wide-ranging set of rules to strengthen the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy.

Universal…That word, universal, for all, because after two world wars in 30 years they realised the need for something resolute to hold tyranny to account and at bay, if 100 years more global war has taught us anything, is that human rights needs reinforcing, not disbanding. 

Remember nothing was given to us because we deserved it, it was given to us because we fought for it for generations. Ask yourself why they would really want to take something as precious as this away from us? Remember that we are not here because of the path that lies before us, but because of the path that lies behind us. 

‘Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people’ – Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

1984 George Orwell

Green and clean

THE BATTLE FOR BALCOMBE has taken a new twist as the first town in the UK to be identified as prey for the Fracking lobbyists have decided to ‘go green’ and get off their fossil fuel addiction. How significant this is remains to be seen but a question posed to me this week is what difference would it make?

Well to put it simply, if you reduce the demand, what incentive is there for the oil companies to supply an unwanted product? This is perhaps the single biggest reason why in 2014, despite the marvellous advancement in our technologies, we have not managed to find a way to harness all the renewable sources of energy, the sun, the wind, tidal, wave and geothermal; because the powers that be know that if we are able to get off the dependency of the oil rigs and drills, their illusionary power would evaporate. Our addiction to energy is no different to that of any of the other addictions the human species suffers with, but is perhaps the most destructive on a global scale.

There are a great many videos and experts that explain the potential of renewable energies on the Internet, that break the myths of the likes of the Daily Mail and the other energy deniers that reside in the corridors of corruption in parliament, but instead they remain enthralled to the power of the lobbyists energy firms or worse, remain ignorant themselves to the possibilities that lay at our feet. A recent example of this occurred when I had to explain the process of vertical farming to an MP who believed that capitalism had “fed the world”, despite the fact that global hunger statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations state that 842 million people in the “undeveloped” world do not have enough to eat (not to mention the half a million hungry in the UK and the fact that food bank use tripled in a year). MP’s like this have a full-time job representing the people and should be full-time students of the world around them to ensure we have the best available choices for our future and not be slaves to the corporate suits.

Technology is advancing in a way that far exceeds our grasp, the technologies of tomorrow are now a reality which can revolutionalise our way of life in the same ways the smart phone or the steam engine did, all we have to do is be daring enough to want it.