Just after Anzac Day I saw a film clip from the Bentley Blockade near Lismore, where 2000 people had gathered to block access to coal seam gas mining company Metgasco. In a misty dawn they had held their own Anzac memorial service. After ‘Lest we forget’, the camera panned to an older country woman. She said “We’re fighting a cause as important as what our ancestors did”.
Then a Vietnam veteran, wearing the medals he hadn’t worn since that war ended, said ”What we see happening here is not what they fought for”. And I thought “He’s right!”. Most of the Anzacs were young men from country Australia. One can imagine their total horror and disbelief at the destruction of their beloved countryside.
Video by @ParisandDarmin
Another older woman said “Because we have a crisis of democracy it actually creates what’s happening here. It’s beyond just voting as a citizen. We have to stand up for what we believe in. We have a huge responsibility to uphold the freedom that they died for”.
And I started to make a connection that I hadn’t really seen before.
All the wars in which Australians have fought until now have been fought on foreign soils. Australian civilians have never had to face the destruction and occupation of their own land in war. Until now.
Because Australia is now at war. Our country is being invaded and occupied by armies of largely foreign mining companies, who have come to our shores aided and abetted by our own political leaders, intent on gaining profit from our resources of coal and gas.
In the process, they will make our land unfit for food production. They will pollute our water – our most precious commodity in the driest continent on earth. They will make citizens forced to live near their gasfields sick, from pollution by the gases emitted. They will make vast areas of our land unfit to live in, and destroy beautiful countrysides. Images of the Tara gasfields in Queensland show the chilling evidence of the destruction they wreak.
Our governments are captives of the coal industry, they see only the short-term profits for the state. Their laws support the industry.
The only force now stopping these combined forces of industry and government in NSW is what can only be called a citizen army. Thousands of ordinary Australians are putting their lives on hold, often at great personal cost, to stand up against this unconscionable attack on our land and water, and our lives.
At the Bentley blockade two thousand of them rallied, bracing themselves to stand against another army, this one of 800 police, threatened to be sent by their own government to break up the blockade. The strength of their courage and commitment caused the government to back off; Metgasco’s license was suspended and the circumstances of the issuing of the license referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. It seems there are suspicious links to some of the most corrupt politicians in NSW.
I have come to realize that the Australians standing against the appalling destruction of coal seam gas mining are the true Anzacs of this century. The Bentley blockaders were the front line in an army of citizens who have organized as never before to fight this abominable industry. There are many thousands more of us behind the lines, but make no mistake, the forces of corporate and government greed that we are fighting are formidable and inexorable. They will keep on attacking. Bentley may be a battle won, but there will be more battles.
This is a war, and we ordinary Australians are the Anzacs of today, as much as any of our forces fighting on foreign soil. We are fighting for our country, for the land and water of Australia, and we will never give up.
So join the army – do whatever it is that you can do – your country needs you! With your help, we can win.