The Bob Brown Foundation has asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate the legality of China-based mining giant MMG’s eight weeks of works on a tailings dam in Tasmania’s takayna/Tarkine rainforest without the necessary approvals from the federal Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley. On Monday minister Ley notified MMG that she required an environment impact assessment of its plans to dump toxic wastes in the forest for the next 40 years before it could proceed.
Yesterday, following a letter to MMG from the BBF’s legal representative, Hobart solicitor Roland Browne, MMG stopped work and began removing heavy machinery from the contentious forest. Sixty-nine peaceful protesters have been arrested for slowing MMG’s earth-moving machinery.
“We believe MMG’s work on this destructive toxic dump proposal has been illegal from the outset, so we have asked the AFP to investigate. Investigations are already underway by Ms Ley’s departmental officers,” BBF Campaign Manager Jenny Weber said in Hobart today. “We want the ROAD CLOSED signs which Forestry Tasmania put there for MMG to be removed so the public, which owns the rainforest, can walk in and see it for themselves. This is part of the takayna rainforest for people to enjoy, not destroy.”
The Morrison government’s inquirer into Commonwealth environment laws called for a green ‘cop on the beat’. MMG’s invasion of the takayna rainforest, which is crucial wildlife habitat, shows why Samuels was right and Ley should not have rejected his recommendation out of hand,” Weber said.
Australian Rugby legend David Pocock is calling on Australians to defend Tasmania’s takayna/Tarkine rainforest from a toxic waste dump.
Advertisements featuring Pocock’s call will air on Sky TV, Tasmanian commercial TV on Channel 7 and online on Youtube, Facebook , The Guardian.
The Beijing-based mining corporation MMG has been road building into the rainforest to build a tailings dam for its Rosebery mine in northwest Tasmania. Yesterday the company announced a halt to the road building after Bob Brown Foundation issued a legal letter to MMG.
MMG has alternative options outside the takayna rainforest. However, the mining corporation intends to proceed with plans for heavy metals waste dump at this site despite the high-conservation values of the area, the ancient remnant rainforest ideal habitat for up to eight threatened species.
This week, the federal Minister for the Environment notified MMG that its proposed tailings dam cannot proceed without a full environmental impact assessment. Nevertheless, MMG increased the heavy machinery working on its access roads up until Wednesday afternoon the 14th of July
David Pocock visited the protest site set up by the Bob Brown Foundation where seventy one people have been arrested in non-violent direct action. Pocock says:
“The takayna rainforest is awe-inspiring and something we should celebrate as Australians. takayna/the Tarkine is one of the last tracts of old-growth rainforest in the world and one of Australia’s richest Aboriginal cultural landscapes and home to a number of endangered species, including the iconic Tasmanian devil. In 2021 we should be protecting all our remaining old-growth forests like takayna.
The mining company has alternatives. They don’t need to cut down old-growth forest - many of these trees were standing when the first Europeans arrived on these shores. This isn’t a case of Nature or jobs - there are alternatives available.
Hundreds of people from different walks of life have come to takayna to say no to this waste dump. Nonviolent direct action has a long history in this country as a way of building a better society for all Australians, and I believe future generations will thank the people who are putting their bodies and civil liberties on the line to save the remaining wilderness we have in Australia. There are few things more Australian than places like takayna or the Great Barrier Reef - we must do what we can to protect them.”
Bob Brown Foundation’s forest defenders will usher MMG’s machines out of the takayna/Tarkine rainforests this morning. That is, unless MMG defies yesterday’s notice by the federal Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley, that an environmental impact assessment is required before work on its proposed toxic waste dump can proceed.
“Citizens are on site in takayna, attached to machines, but ready to step aside if the miner does the right thing and takes its machines out. Chinese state-owned MMG will be thumbing its nose at the Morrison government if it doesn’t remove its machines from takayna/Tarkine this morning. It has options outside this rainforest. Yesterday, Ms Ley decided the miner’s proposed heavy metals tailings waste dump is a controlled action under the EPBC Act. The project’s huge impact on the environment now requires her assessment and approval before it can proceed,” BBF’s Campaign Manager Jenny Weber said.
“It would spark a national environmental showdown if MMG defied the Minister by continuing to build its access road to build the tailings dam,” Jenny Weber said.
"I'm scared that when I am my parent's age I'll be living on an unrecognisable planet, left only with the memory of forests long dead, having to explain to my own children what they meant and why they're gone. That's why I'm here today," said Clare Jacobson,
20, Tour guide.
"This action is important to me because I don't feel represented. The students I have experience climate anxiety and frustration at the lack of action. We are calling for this land to be handed back to indigenous Australians," said Thomas Friend, 34, Teacher
Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley’s declaration that MMG’s proposed toxic waste dump in the takayna / Tarkine rainforest is a ‘controlled action’, requiring an environmental impact assessment, means its bulldozers should get out of the Tarkine immediately, Bob Brown said today.
“MMG’s heavy machinery should never have been allowed into such a magnificent rainforest and wildlife area. We contend that it was not lawful and today’s decision by the Minister for the Environment confirms that opinion. MMG’s maverick behaviour has led to the needless arrest of nearly 70 good people making a stand for one of Australia’s environment gems where the state and federal governments failed. Ms Ley should be charging MMG for pre-empting her decision in such an arrogant and outrageous fashion.”
“We will have forest defenders on site tomorrow morning but they will stand aside for MMG’s bulldozers if they are reversing out of takayna / Tarkine,” BBF Campaign Manager Jenny Weber said.
“The Minister should have cleared the air properly and made a definitive decision that this tailings dam does not belong in the rainforests of takayna / Tarkine when there are several options for MMG nearer the mine and outside this priceless area,” she said.
Bob Brown Foundation’s campaign against Chinese state-owned mining company MMG's plans for a toxic tailings dam that would flatten Tarkine rainforest now enters week 8. After sixty-four arrests the groundswell of opposition just keeps building.
In two locations at the contentious site, three citizens are facing arrest for calling on MMG to remove their machines and exit takayna/Tarkine. Jill Pierce and Craig Brown have been arrested for sitting on the access road and Jane Wilson is attached to an excavator that is building new roads into the threatened rainforests.
"We are here to peacefully protest against the destruction of this beautiful temperate rainforest which is home to endangered species and ancient trees. As Tasmanians, we feel fortunate to still have such spectacular wilderness. We want takayna declared a World Heritage Area and a National Park for future generations. MMG has alternative sites for tailings, and technologies available to better manage mining waste," said Jill Pierce, 61, Social worker, health educator, and Craig Brown, 67, Doctor, GP
"These mature biodiverse ecosystems are not just glorious and awe inspiring but have numerous vital functions. Meeting John the beekeeper I understood how much leatherwood and Manuka would be lost from this proposed dam site if clearing is allowed to process. There are very few mature leatherwood sites. It’s a finite resource, important as part of the unique Tasmanian beekeeping cycle of crop pollination in spring then onto leatherwood honey flow. Tourists, farmers and orchardists are linked to these forests via honey and bees yet they are being destroyed," said Jane Wilson, 61, Vet, Winemaker.
"State and federal governments have the power to end this controversy, halt the excessive spending of taxpayer dollars on police resources, and do the right thing for Tasmania by protecting the takayna/Tarkine rainforests. For decades, citizens have lobbied governments for World Heritage protection of takayna/Tarkine, and it is now more crucial than ever, with a climate and biodiversity catastrophe looming overhead,” Bob Brown Foundation Campaign Manager Jenny Weber said
Iconic Australian writer and musician Shane Howard joined 50 people in takayna/Tarkine today to stage a protest concert on the contentious road into Chinese state-owned MMG proposed tailings dam site.
“I’m inspired by the dedication of everyday people to take such a strong stand to protect the Tarkine/takayna from desecration in the same way they did with the Franklin River in the 1980’s,” said Shane Howard.
“What’s at stake here is unspeakably magnificent old growth forest. It should not be sacrificed for 25 million cubic tons of toxic, acidic tailings. It’s the 21st century. We have to do better. Sussan Ley must act to protect the majesty of these forests,” Shane Howard said.
“It’s NAIDOC week and the theme for this year is, ‘Heal Country’. What MMG are proposing for takayna/Tarkine is the absolute opposite, particularly as there are a number of viable alternatives,” Shane Howard said.
“MMG’s current proposal is the ‘lazy and greedy’ option and nowhere near world’s best practice. By going down this path the Chinese state-owned MMG faces the very real risk of bringing shame to the Chinese people, a government who are signatories to the World Heritage Convention are threatening World Heritage value forests,” Shane Howard said.
“What is clear to me from my visit today, is that this is only just the beginning. I saw the young and old passionate people there today it gave me hope - this campaign will be the ‘Franklin’ of this generation,” Shane Howard said.
Bob Brown Foundation has resumed daily protests in takayna/Tarkine today after mining company MMG is a no show for the second day running.
“We are urging the Chinese state-owned MMG to stay out of the Tarkine, remove their machines and use their alternative options for their waste that won’t cost the rainforests,” said Bob Brown Foundation Campaign Manager Jenny Weber.
“MMG didn’t arrive yesterday to the contentious site while two takayna defenders locked onto their excavators and a beekeeper joined the demonstration. It was one day in seven weeks there was a reprieve from destruction. This morning takayna defenders have walked 6km into the Tarkine rainforest this morning, one has attached themselves to an excavator that has been building roads for a proposed heavy metals tailings waste dump. MMG is still a no show this morning
Our rainforest occupation continues in the centre of the proposed waste dump site. 40m up a tall eucalyptus our treesit camp has occupied the threatened primeval forests. Masked owls have been heard in the still midwinter nights, support continues from all around the world, as does the outrage that the threat of a toxic waste dump could be happening to our clean green Tasmania
MMG has used its mining lease arrangement to lock the forest up from public access. While awaiting Federal Environment assessments, mining company MMG is pushing ahead with access roads into 205 hectares of ancient rainforests and tall eucalyptus forests,” said Jenny Weber.
Bob Brown Foundation has been organising a relentless campaign in the remote rainforests where takayna defenders have blockaded every day since MMG arrived seven weeks ago, with more than 300 people demonstrating in takayna/Tarkine.
Hobart Primary school teacher Katherine Bougher has nominated herself to be arrested today and will join more than 60 citizens arrested including current or former farmers, nurses, doctors, tourism operators, journalists, and artists.
“These are dire days for takayna/Tarkine which should be both protected and returned to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. There must be greater protections for Aboriginal lands and waters, from exploitation, desecration, and destruction,” Jenny Weber said.
“I’m here today to protect ancient rainforest, her waters, and animals within. It’s important to me to take action this NAIDOC week as it is a time to raise awareness of the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and their land. We need to heal their country by recognising, protecting, and maintaining all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and culture,” Katherine Bougher said.
The Tasmanian Crop Pollination Association has this morning joined Australian Greens Senator Janet Rice and Bob Brown Foundation in takayna/Tarkine to protest the loss of leatherwood rich rainforest to logging and the controversial proposed MMG tailings dam.
Joining a demonstration on the access road to the controversial proposed heavy metals tailings dam, Kelly Albion, Climate Campaigner and Allison Davies, Music Therapist and CEO are locked onto MMG road-building machines.
“Leatherwood honey accounts for 70% of industry income in Tasmania,” said John Seirnicki, Vice President Tasmanian Crop Pollinators Association.
“Loss of leatherwood trees will mean added running costs to help hives recover from pollinating crops. With the growing amount of new irrigated farmland we are finding it hard to keep up with demand for pollinating hives”.
“Destruction of old growth rainforest will greatly restrict the growth and the future of new and younger people coming into the industry as the profit from pollination from pollination only will make beekeeping unviable”.
Leatherwood rich rainforest are both at risk of clearing for MMG’s toxic tailings dam and are currently being lost to logging across the state.
“Today's demonstration has been formed with an alliance of beekeepers, long-time climate activists, a music therapist, and Australian Greens Senator Rice. Our Foundation’s campaign to halt this proposed heavy metals waste dump in Australia’s largest temperate rainforests is gathering hundreds of people from all walks of life to the frontline in winter. It’s a symbol of momentous opposition to MMGs plans to flatten these rainforests,” said Bob Brown Foundation takayna/Tarkine Campaigner Scott Jordan.
“Conservationists and beekeepers are on a unity ticket when it comes to the protection of leatherwood rich forests here in takayna/Tarkine”, Scott Jordan said.
MMG Mining company moved in another machine to the contentious Tarkine rainforest this morning, protesters have shut it down. Roadworks on the site of MMG's proposed toxic tailings dam in takayna/Tarkine has been halted again as two citizens have locked themselves to excavators on the rainforest site.
Outdoor Educator Clancy Leary (23) and Psychologist/Support Worker Michael Nowara (31) have walked six and a half kilometres beyond the company's road block to attach themselves to the two excavators preventing clearing and roadworks this morning.
"Why this activism is still necessary in a world now awake to the climate crisis is a question I can't answer. We should instinctively know to protect that which allows us to live and breathe. takayna is where I live and breathe deepest. Come, see it for yourself, you will reconnect and you will understand", said Mr Leary.
"I've never been so worried about the future of the planet. So many people are becoming aware of the actions that need to take place to prevent planet Earth from slipping further into a climate crisis. Reducing emissions, shifting to green energy, saving our rainforest. People generally agree on these issues but barely anyone is willing to or knows how to take action. I want to encourage more people to take action, as much as they can. Don't take the back seat any longer", urged Mr Nowara.
The Bob Brown Foundation supports their calls to action as hundreds of people are joining the foundation in frontline actions in takayna/Tarkine. Chinese state-owned miner MMG is pushing in roads to build a heavy metals tailings dam that would flatten primeval rainforests and tall eucalyptus forests for their waste dump.
"These brave and passionate citizens are right. If we are going to defend the planet we must be willing to stand up for our wild places. We can only hope that Minister Ley wants to stand with the 62 protestors that have been arrested over the past 51 days defending the rainforests of takayna/Tarkine", said Bob Brown Foundation takayna/Tarkine Campaigner Scott Jordan.
On the fiftieth day of action against Chinese State owned MMG's proposed toxic tailings dam, protestors have continued their defence of the takayna/Tarkine wilderness.
Wilderness campaigner Jimmy Cordwell (32) has locked onto an excavator to cease clearing and road building through ancient rainforest.
“I’m here in takayna because I love rainforest and I love Tassie’s Gondwanan temperate rainforests. But more importantly, with the wild places of the world rapidly disappearing in the middle of a climate crisis and mass species extinctions, I can’t stand by and watch future world heritage areas be destroyed forever”, said Mr Cordwell.
Sixty one arrests have been made from over one hundred and sixty protestors who have entered the site in defiance of MMG's security guards.
"Here we have the Gutwein Government allowing a Chinese state-owned company to post private security to close a road into public rainforest, some four and a half kilometres before the mine lease", said takayna/Tarkine Campaigner Scott Jordan.
"How is it that Premier Gutwein, Minister Barnett, and the Gutwein Government think it is ok for the Chinese Government has more rights in our forests than Tasmanian citizens?". Scott Jordan said.