Since its inception as a subcommittee of BOSS (Boonah Organisation for a Sustainable Shire) in February 2010, Keep the Scenic Rim Scenic and our community have achieved some significant milestones in our campaign to protect our region from coal seam gas, coal and inappropriate development.
Kerry Blockade - January 12-21, 2012
The Kerry Blockade stands as a proud moment in the history of the Scenic Rim, as hundreds of landholders and supporters stood shoulder to shoulder, 24-hours a day, for 10 days, in an attempt to secure protection of our underground aquifers before further drilling for coal seam gas in our region.
Kerry Blockade Objectives
Our requests: all drilling stop until -
- all landowner bores are tested, so if contamination/draw-down does occur, landholders are able to prove their bores have been affected.
- an independent study into aquifers below the Scenic Rim and interconnected water systems – with the study to be undertaken by a mutually agreed party, and the report made Public
- genuine community consultation – including public meetings where you can hear people who know the issues ask questions you might not have thought of
- Arrow Energy not press charges against Daniel Robins – the person that staged a 24 hour + protest at the top of the drilling rig - noting that Daniel is still facing police charges
- On the first morning of the blockade, 45 local residents sat across the gate to stop Arrow workers accessing the site. Police arrived to escort the drillers, but still locals remained. Nine people were arrested that morning, in a pattern which continued for 10 days and resulted in a total of 15 arrests and significant disruption to Arrow's drilling activities. (all received no conviction for disobeying a police order, general fines were between $200 and $250.)
- During the blockade, people came from gas-affected communities across Australia to support the landholders and residents of the Scenic Rim.
- Negotiations with Arrow Energy began on day two and resulted in a cease-fire, with no drilling for two days to allow for a deal to be worked out. Arrow was to return to the site, but never did, citing safety concerns and an inadequate meeting space. Organisers felt they were unable to leave the site and claimed Arrow should return to meet at the site, as they did without incident on day three. A stale-mate followed and not deal was struck.
- On day 10, the drilling rig pulled out, but not before crushing the hats of the farmers thrown infront of the gate in a dramatic last stand. This was recorded by cameraman John Reid, who kindly allowed the footage to be posted on the internet.
- On day two, NSW school teacher Daniel Robins jumped the fence and scaled the drill rig, where he remained without food, water or weather protection for more than 25 hours. Daniel said he felt compelled to climb the rig because he felt it was the only way to stop the drilling. He was later charged with trespass, scaling a structure and disobeying a police order. A magistrate later recorded no conviction on any charge, or penalty, stating the two days Daniel spent in custody after his arrest had been punishment enough.
- The Final Stand - emotions poured over as Kerry Valley farmer Rod Anderson addressed the crowd of more than 100 people on the morning before the drill rig was pulled out. Before throwing his hat in front of the departing drill rig in the traditional Australian challenge to a fight, his message was clear:
And fancy, its just absolutely mind-boggling that good citizens and good farmers and good people with no criminal history, just blokes off the street who are trying to do the right thing for this country, are forced to come down here and bark at cars like mongrel dogs. That’s bullshit. Its not fair. The whole place here is built on generations of farmers, generations of business people that’ve done the best they can do for this community and are putting stuff back into the community.
I can’t believe that we have to justify ourselves to the government and justify our existence and farming and our concern for the water table to the government and to Arrow. Arrow should be down here justifying their existence to have the right to ruin our water. And the government’s letting them do it. So I’m here to make a stand for all the people who were too afraid to come down here because of the stand over tactics and they didn’t want to be involved and they didn’t want to be seen…they were frightened. But By Gee whiskers there’s a lot of bloody locals here that have had enough and I tell ya what: if that rig or any other rig comes back into this community there will be a shitload more people that’ll stand up and then we’re in for a good fight.
So I’m putting my hat down in protest, and all the other peoples hats down that I know that are me mates. I’ve had a gutful. Its bloody un-Australian. We need our help here from our government and its about time that someone come down here saw us."
'Drive over that' he yelled, as other landholders also threw down their hats.
Police looked on uncomfortably, as Mr Anderson then challenged the officers to move an Australian flag, placed . Then Arrow energy trucks drove over the hats as they left in a move symbolic of the way the Scenic Rim community feels about its experiences with Arrow Energy.
"Today's decision by Arrow Energy to drive over those hats - iconic symbols of the Australian bush - is the visual depiction of how we feel: a community which feels it has been ridden rough-shod over by the mining industry and the police force, which it always believed was in place to protect the people." said Keep the Scenic Rim Scenic spokesperson Innes Larkin.
"This is one small battle in the war against coal seam gas. We might not have stopped the drilling, but we know the court of public opinion is with us. This small blockade has achieved so much, with support from all levels of government, business and communities across Australia.”
“The Scenic Rim community is now fired and stands ready to help other communities in their efforts to challenge the rush for coal seam gas.” Mr Larkin said.
Lock the Gate Alliance committee member Michael McNamara told the crowd that the Kerry blockade represented a significant turning point in the fight against coal seam gas: "Arrow Energy, through their arrogance and disregard for local people, local government and the state laws under which they operate have radicalised and activated a traditionally conservative community. "
The rig was expected to depart on Monday. Arrow has announced that they have completed the exploratory drilling. Protestors speculate that the rig was pulled out early due to swelling local support of the blockade, and Campbell Newman's Saturday announcement that, if elected, he would refuse production permits in the Scenic Rim.
Support for Kerry Blockade came from communities across Australia.
- During the blockade soon-to-be Queensland premier Campbell Newman told ABC Radio that Arrow Energy should pack up and leave the Scenic Rim, as production permits would not be granted in the region. This commitment to protect the Scenic Rim from CSG and coal mining later became one of the key 'promises' for voters in the Queensland seat of Beaudesert.
- the Queensland Tourism Industry council backed the blockade
- Agforce director Drew Wagner came to give his support, saying the Kerry blockade had received more urban media coverage than CSG in general did in a year and was having a significant impact
- Bob Irwin, father of the late Steve Irwin, said similar when he visited the blockade.
- Scenic Rim mayor John Brent said his council supported the blockade's intent and even radio host Alan Jones sent his message of support via Darling Downs farmer Heather Pascoe.
- Other noted visitors who come to show support were fed member Scott Buchholz, Qld senator Larissa Waters, state member Aidan McLindon, Australia Party leader Bob Katter,LNP candidate Jon Krause SR councillors Virginia West, Derek Swanborough and council election candidates Nigel Waistell and Jennifer Saunders and Lock The Gate president Drew Hutton.
Soon after the blockade, organiser Heidi Ross wrote of her experiences in what crikey.com titled Confessions of a Blockade Virgin
The Kerry blockade will be a defining moment in the Scenic Rim and also in the fight against CSG across Australia.
Protestors on Peaks
October 16 2011 - a proud day for our Scenic Rim
Last October almost 1000 people from across our shire made their stand against coal seam gas and coal mining in our Scenic Rim and what a statement we made! Our event was reported by all major news media, ensuring authorities and governments know exactly how we feel.
Our you-tube (below) and the Channel Seven News story, show just how powerful our message was. Check out our gallery for more pictures as well as aerial images taken by photographer Andrew Peacock.
What was Protestors on Peaks all about?
Protestors on Peaks was designed to showcase our spectacular name-sake mountains and our agricultural heritage - an incredible backdrop. The event was part of a national day of action - across Australia, tens of thousands of people also marched against coal seam gas.