Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Paola's speech to Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining (IRRM)

Thanks for inviting me to speak. My name’s Paola Harvey, I’m the Socialist Alliance candidate for Keira. First, I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and pay my respects to elders past present and future.

Socialist Alliance strongly supports Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining’s demand that the NSW Dept of Planning not consider the development application for Stage 2 expansion of the Gujarat NRE No. 1 Colliery at Russell Vale until Gujarat NRE has developed an alternative to the transport of coal by road. We support a shift from roads to rail more generally. Greenhouse gas emissions from road freight haulage are projected to rise by at least 27% in the next 10 years. We need to increase the proportion of freight transport by rail to reduce environmental impacts and congestion. This means providing new rail freight infrastructure.

Socialist Alliance is against any new coal or gas mining on principle. Climate science has shown conclusively that to prevent runaway climate change; we need to drastically cut our carbon emissions. Most of the coal mined in the Illawarra is for coking, it’s used in steel production. But a large proportion of the coal for this proposed expansion will be thermal coal, used to produce electricity in coal-fired power stations. The Beyond Zero Emissions stationary energy plan has shown that we have the technology today to convert to 100% renewable energy, we shouldn’t be mining thermal coal. We also need to be mining less coking coal. BHP is currently researching using biochar instead of coking coal in steel production.

We strongly support the demand that trucks from existing operations be limited to 40 km an hour on Bellambi lane. We opposed lifting the curfew on track movements in the Illawarra and campaign for the right of communities to live in a safe, clean and healthy environment. Limiting trucks to 40kms an hour on Bellambi Lane would be a good start, and this should happen immediately during the transition to rail.

We strongly support the demand that a genuine representative community consultative committee be established to oversee all aspects of the operations at the Gujarat NRE No. 1 Colliery at Russell Vale. Socialist Alliance stands for community need, not corporate greed. We must over turn Part 3A. The community should be in charge of development decisions like this.

We strongly support that a 1 kilometre lateral buffer zone be established between all mining operations by Gujarat NRE and all river and dam systems and waterways, to protect them from damage through the effects of mining under, or too close to, the rivers, aquifers and wetlands that feed them.

Socialist Alliance also strongly supports that effective and independent 24 hour air quality, noise and vibration monitoring of Gujarat Russell Vale Mine and Colliery operations be established within 3 months. This monitoring must be implemented in consultation with IRRM.

Socialist Alliance isn’t just about elections; we fight for change all year round. We guarantee to vote for all of these demands if elected, but we believe change happens when people on the ground fight for it. We will continue to support IRRM, publicise its meetings and events, encourage our membership to attend and build community support so together we can build movement that can win these demands.

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