Boggabri, a country town at war within: Roselyn Druce comments on #Leardblockade

Boggabri Court House, NSW (source: Wikipedia photographer: Cgoodwin)

Boggabri Court House, NSW (source: Wikipedia. Photographer: Cgoodwin)

By Roselyn Druce

26th January 2014, Australia Day

This opinion piece by Maules Creek farmer Roselyn Druce is a reply to the recent report published in The Courier which detailed the negative attitude of Boggabri Business Promotions president, John Shaw, to the #Leardblockade. Druce describes her piece as: “A reflection on how the surrounding farming in the local district was the driving force behind the community of Boggabri and its businesses”. Interestingly, Boggabri Business Promotions Association gave a submission to Tony Windsor and the Standing Committee on Regional Australia in 2012, detailing its concerns about fly-in, fly-out practices linked to mining in the region.

It was the farmers and graziers who supported the local businesses of Boggabri in the past, and they continue to support their country town.

Generations ago they helped build their churches; an aged care facility; attended local sporting and fundraising functions; purchased their goods from the local hardware store; put their hard earned money into the local banks; and bought food and other necessities from the local businesses at Boggabri.

But the whole atmosphere of the town has changed.

You now see white CRVs and utes with little orange flags flying. The once laid back country town, where everyone knew everyone else, is now gone, replaced with people in fluorescent uniforms covered in black coal dust, and unknown faces.

The mining in the surrounding district has created tension between neighbours and friends, destroying the local fabric of the surrounding district.

Just what would the previous generations have thought? Most did so much charity work, and friendship was top priority. They didn’t expect a thing in return when they helped out a neighbour or local charity.

It really is a sad time, perhaps the good folk of Boggabri Business Promotions will one day come to the realisation that the people involved in all this ‘protection of Leard State Forest’ aren’t doing it to upset the town of Boggabri, but to preserve the environment and Gomeroi cultural heritage for future generations, both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal, so that they too can know just how special this Leard State Forest and surrounding district is.

The local boys from Maules Creek and surrounding farming areas went to war to protect their country and their livelihoods, their farms and families, and now all that they fought to protect is at stake if the Whitehaven Mine and the Boggabri extension are allowed to proceed.

The local business community of Boggabri turn their back on the descendants of these people who helped established the very friendly country town of Boggabri, by supporting the mines.

This impact will not just be felt locally, but worldwide, as we have already experienced with these extremes in temperature. There can only be more climate extremes to come if they continue this mining of our resources, causing the temperatures to rise, and destroying precious forests, all for the sake of profit.

Here we are doing it all again, fighting to ‘protect’, only this time from a different enemy: government apathy and foreign-owned companies that really don’t consider the social, ethical or moral impact of what they are doing.

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  1. Sally Corbett says

    This is such a common phenomenon in rural towns when the mines or other developments come to town. I saw it in Dungog, in the Hunter Valley, when in 2006 the NSW state govt. proposed to construct a massive dam in the area. In the end it was called off, and many locals plus the wider community mounted a big campaign to stop it. Some local business people supported it because they believed they could prosper from it – construction workers and eventually tourism. Some hung onto this idea, no matter what, even when all the evidence pointed to this being completely untrue. Others wavered and were not confident enough to express their opposition because of what they thought the other business people would think of them. Complicated!! It seems that there’s some you simply cannot convince, but there are others who will eventually see the light. A healthy natural environment and good agricultural land are the most important of all and that’s how rural areas can prosper.

  2. Once upon a time the mining industry invested in Australia, building communities and even whole towns. Changes to the tax system – capital gains – is one of the reasons that stopped and why we now see the more efficient (?) but less community and social capital – building FIFO / DIDO workforces .

  3. John turner says

    Just imagine how the place will look in thirty or so years, when a new generation inherits the town and it’s environs. I hope the people of Boggabri have a museum, or historical society, that allows them to see what they’ve lost and what took place in a place that would have been their inheritance.
    I live near open cut mines in Gippsland, Victoria.
    In the past thirty years the power industry has been privatized and resulted in mass job losses and left towns in economic decline. I wonder how much economic growth the community anticipates in return for the loss of their precious forest and farm land?
    In Thirty years I have seen big open cut mines become so large that they are at least ten kilometres long, with more and more farm land lost, as mines expand.
    I’m sorry, because I see a sad future for Boggabri.

  4. Kerry Parkinson says

    Just visit towns like Cessnock in the Hunter Valley and see what past generations of coal mining has left behind. A Low skill workforce, and terrible infrastructure and high welfare dependency. Look further up the Valley and see the towns of Singleton and Musswelllbrook being forever changed as their environment is dug up and destroyed. Next is CSG for our area. Can’t wait for the Revolution! Understand how citizens defy the power of the big corporations and detest how they buy our governments to represent the few and not the majority.

  5. I don’t believe the real cost to the community is ever factored into mining or in fact any industry in Australia. Others have noted the damage miners cause physically and socially and then they move on. In a similar vein I laughed when the community minded Lindsay Fox demanded that industries not receive any subsidy because he had never been given any. I live in Northern Victoria and our roads are buggered courtesy of his industry that has ‘never’ had any subsidies.