About Cyanide Watch

Bearing Witness to the Cyanide
and CO2 crimes of Orica Limited

Australia's Number 1 Cyanide Corporate Criminal
outside Orica HQ, 1 Nicholson Street, Melbourne, Australia
29 February 2008


Peacebus.com was parked across the road from the glass broadside of Orica's twenty one story high headquarter building with its horn speakers pointing up and its rigs banners and flags tied to the wrought iron fence of the Parliament grounds behind.

Peacebus.com banner rig in Albert Street across the road from Orica headquarters, 29 February 2007.

We were a bunch of six activist friends plus a couple of young warriors dressed in black and bearing black motor bike helmets. The latter had been taking a break from hauling McCafe advertising through the traffic, and, attracted by the banners and liking our issue and our style, volunteered to hold banners.

Lads in Black, Shiva, Ben and Nick, across the road from Orica headquarters, 29 February 2007.

From the upper floors of the upper management of Orica, we must have looked like fleas jumping about on the street below.

Despite an emailing of a media release to all the major media outlets in Melbourne, including business and mining writers, no media people showed. No calls either but more of that later.

Small we were in numbers, but our presence did not go unnoticed by Orica and its staff.

When the PA started pumping out the STOP THE CYANIDE track, we could see clusters of office workers gathered at the glass on different floors peering down on us, some bopping to the reggae beat.

Rick and Steve hold the Lake Cowal banner above Orica's logo outside its headquarters, 29 February 2007.


The action had been negotiated with both Police Victoria, represented by Snr Constable Rob Twining, and Orica, represented by the Orica Group Security manager, Bob Fero.

Two days before we had met on the street outside Orica, Rob Twining arriving in a marked police car and Bob Fero coming out to introduce himself when he noticed the cop car arrive from his office above.

Bob Fero and I had exchanged emails about a meeting but his attempts to call me on my mobile phone had failed because of some telecommunications glitch; my phone would not receive his voice though it could receive other callers.

So seeing a sprightly and coatless corporate leave the Orica HQ and come towards us, dodging the traffic an ID tag swinging from around his neck, I guessed it must be be and told the good constable so.

"Bob Fero, I presume," I said as he came up. He grinned and shook my hand warmly. An age mate and with a faced lined by years of smiling, I liked him at once.

"This is relaxed," commented Snr Cnst Twining.

It was. And so was Snr Cnst Twining.

We soon had the action negotiated, Bob Fero returned to his office and Snr Const Twining offered to be my chauffer and drove me around the CBD to do a chore or two while we talked about protesting and protest policing.

Unlike most cops who have shaven their heads for some fund raiser or other, Bob had his hair long and tied up in a small pony tail. When I asked about it he explained that he had let his hair grow when he was off work for 15 months on stress leave. He had worked in traffic patrol but under a disaster of a commander.

He said the change in hair style represented a change of lifestyle for him and besides which hair style was no longer an issue for Police Victoria since Commissioner Christine Nixon had introduced prohibitions against gender discrimination. "We have trans-sexuals in uniform now," he said.

Rob emphasised that he and the Special Events Unit respected and protected the right of free speech and assembly and that most cops, including him personally, were as concerned about environmental issues as I.

Jess, Snr Cnst Rob Twining and Graeme outside Orica's headquarters, 29 February 2007.

When I mentioned the distrust many protesters have for the police, he said that this was understandable because there were some bastard cops in the Service. He went on to tell the stories of the bashings he had witnessed in the Fitzroy Police Station where he had been posted as a rookie.

His talked synched with stories on the front pages of the Melbourne newspapers that day of three detectives pleading guilty after being caught on camera by the Office of Police integrity bashing a suspect; this after the detectives had denied the charge and the Police Association had rallied their comrades outside Parliament in protest against the OPI.

Christine Nixon might not have been able to say sorry for the savagery of the police at the Eureka Stockade on 3 November 1854 when the Police Victoria was just one year old, but she sure was blowing winds of change through police ranks in 2008.


The only glitch in the action was a Melbourne City Council ranger who happened to drive past and take offense at the Cyanide Watch flags arrayed on the median. More precisely she objected to the steel posts driven into the turf to support the flags.

"The Council has by laws prohibiting "pegs" this to protect irrigation pipes and tree roots," she explained. "Please take them out. I am asking nicely. I'm a greenie too."

"If damage has been done, it's done," I responded. "What's the difference between taking them out now rather than later?"

"I am telling you to take them out at once," she responded not so nicely and more true to her drama queen nature.

I got on with the set up while she got on her phone because I like to let these things play out a bit. Soon a police patrol car arrived and she fronted me with the support of two cops: one a male with bristle head and the other had a blonde pont tail, female i presumed.

When I tried to ring Bob Twining, my police liaison officer, I discovered my phone would not make calls. It had reception but somehow the network was barring me. Strange, because my comrade's phones still worked.

I challenged the cops: "It is neither the role nor the responsibilty ofPolice Victoria to enforcers of Council By-laws." and turned to the now flustered Ranger. "What's your next step?"

"The flags have gotta come down even if i do it myself. Then I will confiscate them," she said.

Imaging the indignity of her struggling alone, I took pity on her. Besides which I didn't want to have a tug of war over my precious flags. I agreed to take them down and my comrades and I soon had them tied to the fence of the Parliament. The Ranger true to her word was soon gone.

Greenie Council Ranger insists on taking down Cyanide Watch flags outside Orica's headquarters, 29 February 2007.

The cops meanwhile attended to a woman who came to them weeping with distress. This had nothing to do with Cyanide Watch; she needed assistance, it seems, and happened to see the uniforms. So the Ranger called cops got to do useful policing work and the call out hadn't been in vain after all.


We handed out flyers to passers by and explained our presence to the many curious.

Taking the mike I spoke at length about Orica's cyanide crimes in Australia and the South Pacific mentioning specifically the environmental disasters associated with the Barrick/Newmont gold mine, the so called Super Pit, at Kalgoorlie, WA, the Barrick Gold mine at Lake Cowal in central NSW and Newmont's Freeport gold mine in West Papua. (See also a description of the corruption and environmenal destruction of Freeport mine by Jane Perlez of the New York Times 27 Dec 2005, a 65.7 Kb pdf)

I quoted statistics based on the Super Pit gold production where to extract 1 kilogram of gold, 240 kilograms of cyanide is used, 250,000 litres of water is poisoned, 3,100 tonnes of solid wastes is produced and 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.

No just cyanide criminals but CO2 criminals too.

I accused the management of Orica of being complicit in the crimes being committed by the gold miners against the Earth and against future generations, drawing parallels between them and the crimes of IG Farben, the German chemical corporation that supplied cyanide (Zyklon B) to the Nazi gas chambers .

Specifically I named Orica's executive: Graeme R Liebelt, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, John Beevers, General Manager Orica Mining Services Australia/Asia, Andrew Coleman, Group General Manager Chemical Services, Philippe Etienne, CEO Orica Mining Services, and Greg Witcombe, General Manager People & Community.

"May your children not despise you," I concluded. Applause from the small band of Cyanide Watch persons.

The Cyanide Watch action had been promoted as a Speak Out but only one other speaker stepped up to take the mike. She was Mia Pepper one of the organisers of the Protect Lake Cowal action group. See www.rainforestinfo.org.au/gold/lakep.html and www.savelakecowal.org/

"Can you hear me?" she asked the mighty glass facade, once the tallest building in Melbourne.

"I am asking nicely. Please stop shipping 6,000 tonnes of cyanide a year to Lake Cowal."

Mia Pepper asks nicely on behalf of the birds and fishes of Lake Cowal, 29 February 2007.

Mia and Graeme with Mia's hand sewn cyanide banner on the parliament fence, 29 February 2007.

The talking done and the lunch hour run, we packed up the action.

Bob Fero came down to offer his card and ask that i contact him and give notice of any further actions aimed at Orica. I was happy to agree.

I had asked Bob to inquire if any of the executive he was somewhat regretful that he had been unable to get any of the senior managers to agree to meet me.

"So it goes," I said. "They are important guys in high office and me just a voice from the streets."

"Be assured, Graeme, that all of them know you are here," he replied. "They heard you. The names 'Graeme Dunstan' and 'Cyanide Watch' are well known to Orica senior management.

That was affirming. In the scale of things, we may be fleas but our persistent biting has got Orica itching.

Also affirming was the chance meeting in traffic of two of the security guys who had been hired to guard Orica's door during the action. They could not help but hear what we were saying.

As I headed out of town i passed them in Flemington Road, they recognised Happy Wheels as I recognised their red company shirts and shaved heads. They gave me friendly toot and a big thumbs up.

Lao Tsu said:

"Act without doing,
work without effort.
Think of the small as large
and the few as many.
Confront the difficult
while it is still easy;
accomplish the great task
by a series of small acts."

This is how peaceful cultural transformations take place.

Graeme Dunstan
3 March 2008

Rick and Steve hold the Lake Cowal banner above Orica's logo outside its headquarters, 29 February 2007.

About Cyanide Watch.

Orica HQ action media.

Cyanide Watch media releases past

An index of other Cyanide Watch actions past

Past productions of Peacebus.com

Home page of Peacebus.com

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Peacebus.com can be contacted in Australia on 0407 951 688
and by email at graemedunstan( at )peacebus.com


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For the Earth!

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