Rosemary Nankivell

Rosemary Nankivell

Rosemary is a farmer on the Liverpool Plains concerned about protection of farmland and water resources.
Rosemary Nankivell
A word from Margo
Rosemary Nankivell is a farmer, and one of many women of the NSW Liverpool Plains who have fought long and hard for years to stop the food bowl she loves being turned into industrial gas fields and coal mines. She debuted on No Fibs with a profile of the councillor who tried to stop Narrabri Council evicting #LeardBlockade from the Leard State Forest and public space beside a road.  I met her at the #LeardBlockade ACTUP 2.

Rosemary recently attended the Santos AGM in Adelaide to ask questions of management, then wrote this passionate polemic born of exhaustion and anger. It’s burnout territory, being an activist against forces far too powerful to stop.  No surprise that the promises Abbott wants to keep were to abolish the Mining Tax and the Carbon Price for polluters and keep taxpayers’  ‘direct action’ handout to miners to curb their greenhouse gas emissions poisoning our planet. This piece for #BentleyBlockade by Ruth Rosenhek advises activists to take breaks to revive and survive.

Rosemary (right) with Cherie Robinson, a farmer from Coonamble and Ken the Koala at #SantosAGM


I LIVE IN a country where mining companies are the government.

Mining and gas companies are free to dictate policy and governments merely enforce those policies.

Our politicians have been proven to be corrupt, or if not corrupt to be governing in the knowledge that their colleagues have been engaging in corrupt behaviour.

How disappointing they have become, and how out of touch with we punters that voted for them to represent our interests.

Take the proposed mining and gas projects for the Liverpool Plains. Mining and gas licenses were granted here by now disgraced ALP NSW minister Ian McDonald.

This mighty region produces above the national average for cropping. When the rest of Australia is in the grip of drought, the Liverpool Plains clothes and feeds us.

Suddenly our name has been changed. No longer are we the Liverpool Plains. Our new name is the Gunnedah Basin. We are now seen in terms of tons of coal and millions or billions of petajoules of gas.

The Great Disappointment begins like this

An Exploration License is granted over your land. Appalling community consultations are conducted. The mining company tells you in the vaguest terms that they will start drilling. But exactly where? What plans for the district? A mining company will tell you of jobs and beads and blankets for your community. They will never tell of the final outcome – the empty voided land and the destroyed water resources and landscape.

Trips through the Hunter Valley give us a glimpse of our future. It should be thought of as our National Shame. A so-called booming economy in these tiny towns has resulted in extraordinarily ugly buildings, young people, overweight and smoking, hanging around the streets while their parents work shifts to pay for these newly acquired levels of affluence.

What does a gas field looks like? The best you can do is google the equivalent in America as surely those photos of holding ponds, compressor stations, dirt roads and endless drill sites in Queensland must be an exaggeration? But no it is all true.

Your stress level goes through the roof. If you speak passionately – you are told you are emotional. If you ask too many questions you are considered irrational.

The mining company descends – an invasion of 4WD drives. It is all about access and blow the owner of the land who really is just another issue to be dealt with.

So you fight

You write letters. You make endless submissions. You talk to politicians. You think the government is listening but deep down you know where their loyalties lie. And you know for sure that they have no idea what a balanced economy looks like.

You go to public meetings, you demonstrate, you meet like-minded people and are temporarily buoyed. It even turns into a type of macabre entertainment.

You think of selling but by now your land prices have dropped so much you may as well fight it out. You are constantly reminding yourself that there are so many people facing much worse situations than you are somewhere in the world.

But there are similarities. Your life will be changed completely, your home and property devalued. Your health will – and is – be impacted. More than likely, your water resources and your property which you have guarded all your life will be irreparably damaged. One thing is for sure, your life won’t be the same again nor will you ever farm as well ever again.

Meanwhile the governments foolishly continue to delude themselves that there is no such thing as climate change and that food and water resources are infinite.

So what if some of the most progressive farmers farming on the world famous Liverpool Plains are made obsolete?

So what if these magnificent productive floodplains are mined and gassed beyond existence?

Well if they don’t care – we do!

Be warned. The multinational companies and both governments are in for a hell of shock. The stakes are too high and we will not fail the next generation.

There is nothing short of a revolution about to occur on the Liverpool Plains.

Postscript: When we are finally victorious I will drive my 4WD into a lovely garden in Mosman owned by someone on the board of a gas or coal company. I will peg out an area, call in all my mates and tell them to start drilling. If the owner objects I will call the police.