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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Doing nothing - is it honourable or dishonourable?

Today I have a difficult task. I wish to discuss the politics of doing (or saying) nothing.

My first example is from the Beijing Olympics - and it is a comment on the way in which the Chinese People (there are so many of them they deserve a Capital P) are quietly protesting about the Beijing Olympics - by staying away in their droves. The mainstream media have noticed the numbers of empty seats but have not realised its full significance - as a slap in the face for the over-arching authoritarianism of the Regime in China.

Here is a little Haiku I wrote to commemorate their "passive resistance" - an example of doing nothing as a Political statement.


My second example is a local body, the Upper Nepean Groundwater Community Representative Group. This group has submitted two excellent, detailed reports. One has been published by the SCA, but buried deep with the SCA's Website. I have personally republished it. The other has not yet been responded to. That has been re-published by Leon Hall, one of the CRG members, via the Robertson Environment Protection Society website. I am glad that Leon has done that.

Some of these people have (individually) done good work as a way of providing a feedback to the local community about what the Sydney Catchment Authority has been doing with the Kangaloon Aquifer.

However, I must ask, why has this body has been so passive, and inactive, at a time when the most crucial decisions about the Aquifer are about to be made? The CRG has gone missing. According to the SCA website, they have not met since 26 November 2007 - but that cannot be right, as I know they met to finalise their submission on the Environment Assessment, in May 2008. The fact that the SCA has not bothered to publish the CRG Minutes tells you something, though. And the CRG is not demanding further meetings, or even for the records to be updated. Is this a case of simply not rocking the boat?

The SCA is preparing its final submission to the Dept of Planning under the Part 3A legislation. Supposedly it will be a "Preferred Plan" which would appear to be a shifting of at least part of the Borefield into the heartland of Kangaloon - the rich red basalt soil country which has been the home of the local dairy industry for a hundred years. This is some of the most productive land in the State. No environmental studies have been conducted on the forest type involved. It seems incredible. I have personally raised this with several of the members of the CRG, and they just say: "Oh, that can't be right". Well, I am here to tell you that it is right. I have checked with the Environmental Consultants whose job it ought to have been to do such studies, and they said: "It was not part of our Brief".

I have emailed my concerns to the majority of members of the CRG (I do not have email addresses for all of them) - and have had not a single response from any of them.

What about sticking up for the local Dairy Farmers? The SCA have even been trying to buy up their water licences, for heavens sake. That would directly put these farmers out of business- and not just for now, but for all future generations of their families. This has been reported in the local Media, and is well understood by many members of the CRG.
What is the CRG doing about this threat to the livelihood of the community?
Nothing. Nada, SFA.

So, by contrast with the Chinese people staying away from the Olympics as a kind of passive resistance, the CRG is just doing nothing. They are not lobbying behind the scenes. They are deluding themselves that the crisis for the Aquifer is over. It is not.

So, back to the theme of the day:
In my opinion, doing nothing can be honourable, or dishonourable.
Passive resistance in the face of an oppressive regime, can be seen as honourable.
Inaction because it seems there is no immediate crisis to address, or else, perhaps you believe the task is beyond your power to control, or because you have simply not thought about it enough - that is, in my opinion, dishonourable silence.

It is time for the members of the CRG to shake off their lethargy, and stand up to counted. It is now or never for the Kangaloon Aquifer. Please convene a meeting, and demand to be briefed on the SCA's "preferred plan" before it is submitted to the Dept of Planning. For after it is submitted it will be too late.

The community needs you to fulfil this role - it is after all, what you have undertaken to do. The Community needs you to recall your title - Community Reference Group.


Duncan said...

Right on Denis, when confronted by something like this you have to get stuck in, and not let up. Been there and done that twice over the same issue some years apart. Hard work but a satisfactory outcome at the end.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Duncan.
Thanks. I knew someone out there would understand what this process is like.
Good to know you had a good outcome.
It helps me keep hoping.