Indigenous people and the environbment

John Ford (John.Ford@JCU.EDU.AU)
Mon, 26 Sep 1994 22:00:18 +1000

In Aust we are witnessing the Australian Labor Party conference. High on
the agenda is the "Three Mines Policy"

At the moment the government (Labor) has a three mines uranium policy.
Only three mines are allowed to mine uranium. However this policy is up
for grabs.

One of the key argument for increasing the mines from three to ???? is
that it will benefit Aboriginal peoples.

There is the Q of ethics. Can we allow more uranium onto the world
markets to satisfy a certain section of the Aust. community? If not, do
we Pay them to 'keep' the stuff in the ground? What are our
responsibilities to the world? Do we allow unbrideled development? Do we
risk contributing to world pollution? Have we any 'right' to say no when
economic rationalism seems to be determining world policy?

I live in a country with abundant sunshine - solar energy. Yet we find it
cheaper to use our vast coal resources and pump billions of tons of
carbon into the atmosphere. What of countries that have neither sunshire
nor coal? Is uranium a 'suitable' alternative? Can we dictate terms to
'developing peoples? And who are we to play GOD???

I don't care much for the answers. But somewhere, sometime, someone, some
nation has to say No. There are other ways.

But to say No will restrict Aboriginal aspirations.

So the question of what happened in the past, or what damage may or may
not be done to the environemt using swidden methods pales in the face of
this one. Aust. cannot get to its 1990 target of cutting emissions into
the atmosphere yet we are seriously considering assisting the
accumulation of a future problem.


john ford