- Activism part of the fabric of life
- Protest lies at the heart of democracy
- Time to cancel all gas licenses in the Northern Rivers
- Reclaiming democracy
- What part of ‘consult’ does Metgasco not understand?
- Bentley is everybody’s victory
- Bentley Blockade: a timely warning to all resource investors
- Bentley and Social movements: an interview
- Politics + corruption = mining under martial law
- Bentley Blockade: mining vs democracy
- People power holds the line at Bentley
- Watch out for early signs of fascism
- The politics of ‘extreme energy’- the bigger picture
- Democracy vs corporate survival
- TIme for Metgasco to admit defeat and back down
- Invasive Gasfields: The people vs Metgasco (Round 2)
- Invasive Gasfields: Its one minute to midnight but communities can win
- The Good Fight Against Coal Seam Gas
- The great gas invasion is doomed to fail as communities unite and fight
- People power vs csg: the year in review
- Lismore meeting a barometer of betrayal
- Gas industry shoots the messenger
- Conflict inevitable as gas mining forced
- Nationals the biggest losers
- NSW govt puppets of gas industry
- The power of locking your gate
- …more commentary
- Stop CSG Sydney – talk by Aidan Ricketts 25/07/14
- NVDA Training 16 Nov 2013 Benley Public Hall, NSW
- Stokers Siding Direct Action Workshop
- Activist Workshop at Parliament House, Sydney
- Aidan Ricketts is guest speaker at theAdelaide Activist Workshop 2013 Adelaide Activist Skillshare Workshop
- Wordford Folk Festival workshop
- Bangalow training nv direct action
- …more workshops
- News & Events
- Activist Resources
What lies behind the visceral battle between Australian rural communities and the collective force of the mining and petroleum industry is a battle to reclaim democracy itself. The Lock the Gate movement, by taking on the mission of restoring accountability to the way that governments deal with the mining industry has necessarily positioned itself at the cutting edge of an emerging national pro-democracy and anti-corruption movement.
Democracy was hard won over many centuries and can never be assumed to thrive merely because of the presence of a particular set of constitutional arrangements. Most nations these days have democratic constitutions on paper, including notables such as Zimbabwe, Fiji, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Democratic constitutions are a necessary but not sufficient condition for the effective practice of democracy, and by far the greater part of a healthy functioning democracy is derived from the quality of the political culture in a country. Across the globe, corruption and embedded economic power are the eternal enemies of true democracy.
Guest post from Mick Daley
As the tents and the tripods come down and people start figuring out how you extract several tonnes of vehicle and associated implements embedded in concrete, the Bentley Blockade is already being analysed and dissected by journalists, academics, police, politicians, conspiracy theorists, the Mining Council and think tanks across the nation.
This blockade camp, which lasted nearly three months, was vindicated on May 15, when certain technicalities, conveniently brought to light under immense pressure from community resistance, lobbying and some peculiarly acute political conditions, culminated in an announcement by NSW Energy Minister Anthony Roberts that gas mining company Metgasco’s bid to drill in Bentley had been foiled. Up to 1000 riot police had been booked to come in on May 19 to break up the camp – projected to have been filled with at least 7,000 people, on what I’m calling for convenience ‘B’ day – in an action that it now seems was prepared for casualties, even deaths.
What an inspiring beacon of local democracy the Bentley blockade has turned out to be.
Like any conflict there is the immediate issues and then there are the wider ramifications. What appears on the surface to be simply a dispute about a speculative gas explorer gaining access to a drilling site is rapidly turning into a grand experiment in the power of local democracy to resist the seemingly overwhelming combination of state and corporate power.
Across NSW now there are numerous battles to resist the relentless imposition of both coal and gas mining against the will of regional communities. Our expectation has always been that governments act on behalf of the people and to a lesser extent that businesses seek to operate with at least a significant degree of community support (social license). People are not against all mining, nor are they against gas itself but what really has provoked a response across the state is the growing spectre of the corruption of our system of government by vested interests. It has become clear that both the past and present NSW governments are deeply compromised and captured by industrial sectors that they are supposed to be regulating.
Show up at Bentley
“We live across the road on a farm. If it is turned into a gasfield we will get really sick and so will our animals. We don’t want to get sick.”
No means No
Video material from Bentley northern NSW at site of proposed invasive gasfield. Unprecedented numbers of protectors appeared in the rain, swelling from a couple of hundred the day before to 2000 people. Speaker: Aidan Ricketts. Interviewees are local residents Liz Stops and Dr Wayne Somerville. Courtesy Gasfield Free Northern Rivers.
DEMOCRACY is about more than just elections and political parties vying for power. For democracy to work there are some other fundamental pre-conditions:
- Rights of protest, participation and association;
- Transparent government;
- Personal rights of privacy;
- A free and independent media;
- Respect for the rule of law.
Fascism is a creeping form of totalitarianism where democracy is sacrificed and government serves the interests of the powerful few (these days mostly large corporations). It may sound alarmist, but let’s ask ourselves what are the warning signs of the slide into totalitarianism, and is it possible to unknowingly elect tyranny?
The politics of ‘extreme energy’- the bigger picture
Our local battle against invasive industrial gasfields is part of a mining pandemic that has communities across the state, nationally and globally fighting for their survival. In the UK, the phenomena is called the politics of ‘extreme energy’, which describes how fossil fuel industries have been driven into desperate overreach as the end of fossil economy approaches. Whether driven by scarcity (as in the case of oil) or by the need to simply replace coal with renewables, there is a desperation in the sector that is driving a pandemic of invasive mining.
In NSW we see it in the form of a desperate bid to mine and export as much coal as possible before the carbon bubble bursts, as well as the extreme haste with which gas mining is being progressed without environmental safeguards.
The death of a thousand cuts: using multiple tactics to overwhelm your opponents
(An excerpt from of The Activists Handbook pp 67-68 available online at http://aidanricketts.com)
The idea that you may have to defeat your opponent by a death of a thousand cuts is a recurring theme in activism. You should use your strategic planning stage to get a really broad ranging grasp of all of the tactics that may be available to use in your campaign. You can still select the ones you think are most useful or appropriate and concentrate on these, but there’s no harm in having a few extra tactics up your sleeve. Particularly when dealing with governmental or corporate institutional players.
Environment protesters turn to corporate law – ABC Radio Law Report
The corporate law watchdog looks set to to throw the book at environmental protester Jonathan Moylan.
In January Moylan released a hoax press release which saw the share price of mining company Whitehaven Coal temporarily tumble.
How are environmental groups such as anti-coal seam gas activists turning the tables and using company law against energy corporations?
Damien Carrick: Hello, welcome to the Law Report, I am Damien Carrick. Welcome to the first of our new programs for 2013.
Today, environmental activists and the Corporations Law. Right now the people of northern New South Wales and south and central Queensland are battling floods, and we’re seeing people in these communities come together and work incredibly hard to help those hardest hit.
Investment Risk: An Amplification Tool for Social Movement Campaigns Globally and Locally
Article by Aidan Ricketts published in the Journal of Economic and Social Policy, Vol 15, Iss 3, 2013.
The global social movement that has arisen in response to the threat of carbon-induced climate change is a very complex and amorphous movement that operates simultaneously at a global as well as at an intensely local level. Whilst acknowledging the global complexity and significance of the social movements that have coalesced around the issue of climate change, the purpose of this paper will be to examine emerging corporate campaigning models that have been employed in global campaigns and to examine ways in which these techniques can be effectively deployed in local grass roots campaigns. The specific context of this study is the movement opposed to coal seam gas exploration and mining in Australia, concentrating on a specific case study of the community opposition that has so far effectively delayed the operations of coal seam gas companies in the Northern Rivers region of NSW
The industry’s own risk analysis provides some useful insights into the impact of these grass roots movements. A 2012 report prepared for the unconventional gas industries by ‘Control Risks’, an industry risk consultancy group, observes:
As shown by local bans in the US and Canada, national moratoriums in France and Bulgaria, and tighter regulation in Australia and the UK, the global anti-fracking movement has mounted an effective campaign against the extraction of unconventional gas through hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’). Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry has largely failed to appreciate social and political risks, and has repeatedly been caught off guard by the sophistication, speed and influence of anti-fracking activists. (Wood, 2012, p.1)
Significantly, the Control Risks report identifies locally based campaigns as a major threat to the industry noting that:
(T)he anti-fracking movement has achieved its greatest successes in banning hydraulic fracturing at the local level. (Wood, 2012, p.5)
… … …
A key dynamic that the global risk report may have failed to detect is the sophisticated way in which the efforts of localised social movements are beginning to be amplified by an emerging tactic of engaging the investment community and specifically the way in which direct action and investment risk strategies can be deployed in a mutually reinforcing way (Carrick, 2013).
Emerging corporate campaigning approaches
Corporate campaigning is not new for environmental social movements, it has been a growing phenomenon in various forms for at least the last 30 years (King and Soule, 2007), but what is changing is its reach and focus. As a technique it has matured from retail-based strategies such as public awareness campaigns and consumer boycotts (King, 2008), through to more sophisticated ethical investment campaigns (Vasi and King, 2012).
Melbourne Writers’ Festival 2013
Once Australia grew rich on the sheep’s back, now rocks and minerals carry the economy. It’s no secret that mining has a major impact on the Australian economy. On the flipside, industry expansion and its impacts on the environment are equally contentious. Political journalist David McKnight and activist Aidan Ricketts join Adele Ferguson to look beneath the surface and ask: is Australia digging itself into a hole?
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Stay calm, feel empowered
- Report from the National Toxics Network – April, 2013
- The death of a thousand cuts: using multiple tactics to overwhelm your opponents
- The ‘How To Guide’ for declaring your community gasfield free
- Organising for community resistance to CSG
- Direct Action and the CSG-Free Community Strategy: an activist training resource
- Planning and Mapping your Campaign – a guide for local action groups