East Timor Update as at 17th July 2000 by plu17302


									Friends of the Earth (FoE) Australia annual report 1999 -2000
Friends of the Earth (FoE) Australia is unique in the environment movement in Australia. It is a
federation of independent groups who co-operate on environmental and social justice campaigns.
FoE operates with the understanding that the „environment‟ cannot be separated from social and
political considerations, and hence has a strong social perspective in the way it addresses its
It is the Australian member of Friends of the Earth International, which, with member groups in
61 countries, is the worlds largest environmental federation.

HIGHLIGHTS OF 1999/ 2000
Nuclear campaign
The twentieth century saw the start of the nuclear age. What is clear now is that this dangerous
industry has reached its peak and a key focus of community campaigning in the early 21st
century needs to be focused on ending this industry as quickly as possible. FoE has campaigned
on nuclear issues since its inception in Australia. The last year has been a time of intense activity
aimed at ending all forms of the nuclear threat. Throughout 1999 community activists and
Aboriginal traditional owners have mobilised across Australia to oppose plans for increased
uranium mining, new reactors and radioactive waste dumps.
1999 saw action over the Jabiluka project in the NT move from the Kakadu blockade camp and
the streets of our cities into corporate boardrooms and a range of international forums. In March,
Aboriginal leaders Yvonne Margarula and Jacqui Katona received the world‟s most prestigious
non-governmental environment award, the US based Goldman Prize. July saw intense
international attention on the issue at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Paris. Following
an unprecedented Australian Government lobbying campaign the Committee failed to list
Kakadu as “In Danger”, however, it continues to monitor both the company and the Australian
Government and the issue was formally reconsidered in mid 2000. At this meeting Indigenous
and green groups presented concerns over threats to cultural and natural values due to leaks at
the Ranger uranium mine earlier in the year. The World Heritage Bureau has sent a scientific
assessment team to Kakadu to report back at the next meeting of the World Heritage
Commission in November 2000.

In October a group of concerned shareholders created Australian corporate history and forced
North Ltd to convene an Extraordinary General Meeting in Melbourne to examine it‟s
involvement in the Jabiluka project. The opposition to Energy Resources of Australia‟s (ERA)
planned mine continues and the refusal by the traditional Mirrar owners to allow ERA to use its
existing Ranger milling facilities has further highlighted the projects vulnerability.
All of these continuing pressures have helped make Jabiluka one of the most controversial and
unpopular industrial projects in the country and have created a climate hostile to the projects
development. This was clear in November 1999 when the Chief Minister told the NT Assembly
that “Jabiluka is stalled indefinitely.” The challenge now is to turn this stall into a permanent
In South Australia community concern over nuclear issues has focussed on Commonwealth plans
for a national radioactive waste dump near Woomera. Environment groups, Aboriginal
organisations, local Government, rural communities, pastoralists and residents associations have
all taken an active stance against Canberra‟s “out of sight - out of mind” plan to deal with
Australia‟s, and potentially the world‟s, nuclear waste.
Community opposition has caused Liberal Premier John Olsen to publicly speak against the
medium and high-level waste dump plan and this concern and pressure has grown throughout
2000, with legislation expected to be passed when Parliament resumes in October 2000. The
Commonwealth assessment process has been rushed and flawed and the threat to use compulsory
acquisition powers to secure a site is evidence of the growing desperation that surrounds this
secretive project. The controversial Beverley uranium project near the Gammon Ranges National
Park in SA‟s north has also seen action in recent times. Aboriginal community members have
joined with non-indigenous supporters and activists to draw attention to the environmental and
social impacts of in situ leach mining operations by Heathgate Resources. Further legal and
protest actions are expected and recently the company confirmed that its construction plans have
been delayed because of “disruptions”. Early in 1999 FoE received funding to employ Bruce
Thompson as a South Australian Nuclear Campaigner. Bruce has spent considerable time
travelling throughout South Australia highlighting the host of nuclear-related proposals for that
Anti-nuclear activists in West Australia have been successful in persuading many local councils
to declare their regions “nuclear free zones” and to publicly oppose plans by the international
lobby group Pangea Resources to open a dump for high level radioactive wastes from around the
world. 1999 saw the WA parliament pass legislation opposed to Pangea‟s dump plan and the
issue is set to remain high on the state and national anti-nuclear agenda. Australia deserves better
than to be a global dumping ground for a cocktail of the world‟s most toxic substances.
In southern Sydney the campaign to stop the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology
Organisation from constructing a new nuclear reactor to replace the aging one at Lucas Heights
continues to grow. Residents, environment and anti-nuclear groups and the local council have
joined forces to halt this expensive, unnecessary and unsafe plan. Opponents to the reactor have
gained the support of the Australian Local Government Association and are calling for a Royal
Commission into the irregularities in the assessment and approval processes for ANSTO‟s plan.
The plan, which is directly related to the push for a national radioactive waste dump, would
mean a further forty years of nuclear operations at the site and the creation of large amounts of
long lived, high-risk radioactive waste. Local residents are committed to ending this threat to
their community and the year ahead is set to see an increase in action and attention around this
issue - reactor construction is not an Olympic event.
Community concern and resistance and the unsolved problem of managing radioactive wastes
continue to plague the industry and around the country nuclear projects remain the focus of
intense opposition and scrutiny. The coming year will be a pivotal one in the fight to disengage
Australia from all forms of nuclear industry involvement and in moving towards the creation of a
nuclear free future. There is no place in a sustainable Australia for a dangerous, dirty and
discredited nuclear industry and as we move into a new century and a new millennium it is time
to move away from this toxic trade.
The Nuclear Freeways Project
In late 1998 FoE England, Wales and Northern Ireland leaked copies of a video to FoE Australia
which outlined Pangea's plans to make Australia the site of a international nuclear waste dump.
Subsequent media attention forced Pangea to shelve their campaign to get Commonwealth
Government approval for a high-level radioactive waste dump in Australia.
FoE followed up this victory by creating the community-focused Nuclear Freeways Project
(NFP). The NFP has involved the creation of a full-scale mock radioactive shipment. It has
toured from the Lucas Heights reactor in Sydney's south west, through regional NSW and South
Australia, as well as Adelaide and Melbourne. Daniel Voronoff, the co-ordinator of the project,
worked tirelessly to ensure the project - which has a spectacular touch-screen computer display
highlighting the implications of radioactive waste dump - was a success. The support from
suburban and regional groups was over whelming, with positive media and a huge number of
individuals and groups showing their opposition to radioactive waste being trucked through their
backyards. The NFP project has run three 'stages': the initial tour from Sydney to Broken Hill;
one through through regional South Australia, and one through the Barossa and Riverina. The
third tour was sponsored by the Australian Nuclear Free Zone Secretariat and focused on
securing Nuclear Free Zones along the transport route. A successful national day of action was
also held in March.
Environmental and social justice
FoE sees the need for the mainstream environment movement to embrace a concern for social
justice as well as its traditional concerns about 'nature conservation'. Doing this will allow us to
stay at the cutting edge of social debate and improve our capacity to work more closely with a
broader cross section of society. FoE also continues its commitment to work co-operatively with
other green groups and expresses this through the dozens of productive informal alliances it
shares with other organisations. FoE has also placed considerable attention and resources into
supporting local community and environment groups throughout the country. Over the last year
this has been as diverse as the residents working to protect bushland at Manly Dam in Sydney to
active involvement to protect the shoreline of Jervis Bay from destructive housing developments.

A cross section of campaign activity
Arid Lands Project: FoE works at three levels on arid lands issues, local, national and
international. Locally, groups and individuals are involved in campaigns such as gaining greater
accountability and improved land management practices of mining companies through to support
for local Indigenous communities. A major focus at the national level is influencing national and
state government policy and programs eg. the Landcare and Natural Heritage Fund programs. At
the international level, FoE is involved in the FoE International Desertification Campaign and in
the NGO activities associated with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. At
this level a major focus is support for „southern‟ nation communities, for example we work with
other international NGOs on programs of poverty reduction and ecological sustainable
Building alliances: Earthworker. FoE helped establish this alliance: the „all union green caucus‟
which is a significant forum for developing alliances and joint projects between the trade union
and environment movements. A key project in 1999 involved negotiations with managers of
union superannuation funds with a view to shift investment into renewable energy and
sustainable timber production. FoE employed a rural campaigner in Victoria who worked with
Indigenous, farming, and local community groups and developed alliances with recreational
fishers. FoE believes strongly in the need to develop greater links with „non traditional‟ allies.
Renewable energy: Solar, wind and energy plan: FoE helped establish this visionary project in
conjunction with the Electrical Trades Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union to
promote the development of a renewable industry industry in Victoria.
Sustainable consumption: Reverse Garbage, a business established by FoE in Brisbane which
aims to reduce the amount of material going into landfill through finding commercial uses for
„waste‟ received an award for „best new business‟.
Forests: FoE became a member of the Forest Stewardship Council, which certifies timber as
being environmentally sustainable. FoE believes that the FSC has the most rigorous criteria for
assessing forest management regimes and also has a strong emphasis on Indigenous issues and
working conditions.
Biotechnology: FoE generated considerable regional and national media attention around the
issue of trials of genetically modified canola, and continues to lobby food manufacturers to adopt
GE free policies. FoE Australia established a national campaign on genetics and food production
in 1999.
International nuclear activity: FoE regularly co-ordinated campaign activity on international
treaties and issues for the Australian environmental NGO community. FoE was also appointed to
the Council of Abolition 2000.
Mining: FoE put forward a joint proposal with the Rainforest Information Centre and the NSW
Greens for a Parliamentary Bill to ban the use of cyanide in mining operations. FoE also
employed a mining campaigner who was based in the town of Laverton in the northern
goldfields region of Western Australia. This project, jointly administered with the Wongatha
Wonganarra Aboriginal Corporation, has lead o the development of a national mining campaign.
Community outreach: FoE commissioned a number of surveys of Non English Speaking
communities to determine the types of information needed by these communities on
environmental issues.
Indigenous solidarity: FoE has attempted to express its support for Indigenous people through
practical campaign support and alliances: in 1999 – 2000 this has included supporting blockades
of forestry operations in the Cobboboonnee state forest in Victoria, ongoing environmental
management work with Quandamooka Land Council in Queensland, support for the Moonlight
Creek Eco-Cultural Centre in the Gulf Country of Queensland and the opposition of the Kupa
Piti Kungka Tjuta, the senior women‟s group active against the proposed radioactive waste dump
in South Australia.
Transport: FoE was actively involved in the campaign that saw approval given to a publicly
funded rail link between Chatswood and Parramatta.
Building international links
Friends of the Earth Australia is fortunate enough to be part of a large, vibrant and growing
network of international environmental organisations.
FoE International added three new countries to its network in 1999: Centro Humboldt from
Nicaragua, which was founded to promote local development and environmental protection; the
Centre for Environment and Development (Cameroon), which works on sustainability and
capacity building with local communities and indigenous groups, organic farming and
community forestry; and CENSAT Agua Viva (Colombia), which was established with the goals
of preserving community and environmental health, as well as promoting sustainable
development in Colombia. The group has been prominent over the last year in its support for the
U‟wa, an Indigenous group adversely affected by mining exploration.
FoE International continues to work on many of the key global environmental issues:
Sustainable agriculture and food security
International Financial Institutions
Sustainable Societies
Trade/ Environment/ Sustainability
Energy/ Climate Change
The Group of 8
Ecological Debt
Maritime Issues
For further information on the activities of FoE International, see http://www.foei.org
FoE Australia is currently represented on the Executive Committee of FoE International and is
Chair of the Membership Development Committee of FoE International.
East Timor
It is apparent that the presence of UNTAET & major NGOs since the liberation of East Timor
has, as yet, yielded very little for the Timorese people and probably nothing positive from the
environmental perspective.
FoE has joined with the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Unions & other interested
individuals in attempting to build links with good local partners that are likely to promote
ecologically sustainable development activities. Many local NGOs still lack access to resources
and infrastructure. Communication with western NGOs is limited. However, there are many
small NGOs being formed by the Timorese people. There are at least 120 East Timorese NGOs
(with or without overseas links) to date but very few are dedicated to the environment. We have
identified 2 small groups interested in the environment/ conservation/ sustainable development -
namely Haburas and TMG (To Make Green). Haburas is set up by a group of ET graduates and
is very keen to move forward on the environmental front. They are both very new and are
learning to operate as NGOs. We have linked them with an experienced NGO organiser, Yoga
Sofyar (formerly with Plasma, an NGO supporting Indigenous Dayak people from Kalimantan,
Indonesia) to provide some support at this initial stage.
Also in August, an ACF volunteer, Cathy Molnar (a botanist) with a keen interest and strong
commitment to ET will be visiting ET. It is hoped that Cathy will work alongside Yoga initially
and then visiting other parts of ET to develop an overview of the situation and to develop links
for ACF/ FoE for the future. With Yoga and Cathy's involvement, we should be able to develop
stronger links with relevant NGOs in the future. We will work on practical and realistic project
proposals in partnership with the relevant Timorese NGOs in the future when their needs and
direction are clearer.
Meanwhile, we are collecting relevant data and information re East Timor, which we hope will
be useful for the Timorese NGOs. We will actively share this information with the relevant
Timorese NGOs. We would welcome expressions of interest in this work which seeks to support
the aspirations of the people of this newly established country.
The national magazine, Chain Reaction, produced special editions around the following themes:
environmental education, water, alliances, sustainability and re-thinking economics. FoE in
Melbourne produced two editions of a book on environmental justice and published the 9th
edition of the Good Wood and Paper Guide. FoE Australia also started to publish a quarterly
campaigns newsletter in early 2000.
Campaign priorities: genetics, uranium/ nuclear cycle, ecological debt
Organisation priorities: gender, structure, support for regional and remote groups, alliance
FoE Australia is composed of independent member groups. There is no centralised head office or
decision-making structures. Each group is independent in terms of it‟s campaigns, decision
making structure and fundraising. Groups co-operate on specific campaigns at a level they feel is
appropriate. Communication between local groups is facilitated by the National Liaison Officers.
In recognition of the growth of the national network, FoE appointed a third NLO in January
2000, Ann Ferguson, who is based in Brisbane.
The International Liaison Officers are responsible for communication between FoE Australia and
FoE International.
National spokespeople are nominated by local groups and are approved to speak on behalf of
FoE Australia on specific issues. The regional contacts represent the FoE network in areas where
there currently aren‟t local groups.
Decisions are made at two national meetings which are held in January and June. A monthly
bulletin keeps groups informed during the year.

FoE has groups in Adelaide, Brisbane, Jervis Bay (NSW), Maryborough (QLD), Melbourne, the
New England Tablelands, Northern Rivers Region (NSW), South West Western Australia,
Sydney, Tasmania and Willunga. It welcomed the Pollution Action Network (Perth) to the FoE
network. PAN is a long established group which works on waste minimisation, pollution and
toxics issues.
FoE has offices in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
FoE has regional contacts on the Mornington Peninsula (VIC), North Eastern South Australia
and the Southern Tablelands (NSW).
It has national campaigns on nuclear issues, genetics, trade and investment and mining. It also
has spokespeople on eco cities, forests, groundwater, Indigenous Land and Rights (Asia Pacific
region), the Mound Springs wetlands of SA, transport and water. It has international campaigners
on uranium, desertification and forests.
Produced by the National Liaison Office for FoE Australia
National Liaison Offices: BRISBANE: Ann Ferguson. PO Box 5702, West End, QLD, 4101. Ph
(07) 3846 5793, Fax (07) 3846 4791. Email: foebrisbane@uq.net.au
MELBOURNE: Cam Walker and Sarojini Krishnapillai, PO Box 222, Fitzroy, VIC, 3065. Ph
(03) 9419 8700, Fax (03) 9416 2081, Email: foe@foe.org.au
FoE Australia: http://www.foe.org.au

To top