Graeme Dunstan and Allan Roberts rejoice over a cop-shattered sign,
Saturday 4 September 2009

 

In Praise of Boulder Rollers

a report on the No Rally in the Valley protests
3-6 September 2009

What a great flowering of Greenie people power the No Rally in the Valley campaign became!

Victory to the people it was and a totally appropriate way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Terania Creek, the first ever successful defence of rainforest anywhere ever.

The biggest turn out was in Uki on Sunday 6 September where about 250 people lined both sides of Kyogle Road blandishing placards and chanting, more people than i have ever seen assembled in Uki ever! Great feeling. Great spirit.

John Seed of the Rainforest Information Centre was moved to suggest that Repco be given some kind of good corporate citizenship award for the services rendered in reviving social action in the Tweed valley.

As with the Terania battle, the proponents, the Rally organisers and their backers in government and the corporate media, are still in denial about the impact of our resistance and reviews and assessment reports are yet to come.

But the plain truth is that the racing was stopped in Byrill Creek on the first day, a PR disaster for the Rally organisers, and the Repco Rally in the Valley is as good as dead.

Should I be wrong about this and a second Rally attempt be made in 2011, I say: bring it on!

Our resistance can only grow, become more effective and make us collectively better prepared to deal with corrupt and unresponsive government as we face the challenges of climate change and peak oil.

The very extent of the Rally transgression, from Kingslciff through the Tweed valley to Kyogle and beyond to the Richmond Ranges made organising a coherent resistance a major challenge.

Praise and gratitude to the people who put in the time and effort to build this resistance. Many they were and a few warrant special mention:

Katie Milne, Greens Councillor of Tweed Shire, held firm against personal vilification and tremendous pressure. The crowd at the last protest rally in Kingscliff on Sunday afternoon crooned to her: "We love you, Katie."

Michael McNamara, deputy principal at Murwillumbah High, did admirable work researching, analysing and rebutting the Rally organisers claims and getting letters published in the press.

Scott Sledge, the all round good guy in the white hat, and his partner Danielle who, with residences in both Kingscliff and Barkers Vale, were mighty in their mediation and leadership.

Janeke, wrathful protector of Byrill Creek, was magnificent in her determination and relentless drive. If the sheer quantity of resistance placards and banners had been enough to stop the Rally, Janeke would have had 'em plastered in the pits.

But above and beyond them all, my praise and admiration goes to the unnameable hero who rolled the boulders on Byrill Creek Road and caused the cancellation of the racing stage there.

The rock of community resistance! Direct action, civil disobedience and personal courage; when push comes to shove, this is what makes the difference. Everytime. Upon such a fulcrum, big changes can turn.

Not that such action is ever popular. In Byrill Creek disinformation took off like a distress flare, the pro Rally corporate media bellowed like yarded cows separated from their calves and the No Rally Group tore itself apart in repudiation.

That's how it was at Terania Creek 30 years ago. Felled logs were rendered un-millable by steel spikes and chainsaws and a Hurford's sawmill in Lismore was burnt to the ground. No consensus decision this; rather the determined actions of a brave few working in the night.

The Norther Star, ever pro logging and pro the National Party status quo, carried a front page with a grim black border that suggested death of civilisation. Redneck rallies were organised to oust hippies from the hills and a lot hippies got very, very frightened.

It took three years, three government inquiries each of which found the logging Terania Creek a necessity, and another round of direct action protests (the Nightcap campaign) before the dust settled and when it did, the forest remained, and the government changed policy. Our resistance is now universally acknowledged as the turning point in rainforest conservation in this land and elsewhere.

In the lead up to the Rally i put a lot of effort into talking up and pouring fuel on the fires of community resistance. For this i was reviled by the fear bellies within No Rally Group Inc and the rev heads without. So it goes.

As an observation on the times, let me report how a few were those willing to be visible in Rally resistance and within these how few the brave and how many the fearful. If you think there are battalions of eco warriors out there itching for an opportunity to show courage and do civil disobedience to defend the Earth from climate change or whatever, you are deluded.

My No Rally experience tells me that, like the endless winter of C S Lewis' Narnia, we are in the grip of a far reaching fear, and that a vast passivity and paralysis on will is on the land, even as the climate crisis looms.

Lighting just one candle dispels darkness, the Buddha said.

All praise to the boulder roller!

Graeme Dunstan
written for the Nimbin Good Times
2 October 2009

Elspeth Jones and Graeme rejoice in the Happy Wheels mural Elspeth had completed in Cullen Street Nimbin, 9 August 2009

 

Graeme's campaign blog of sorts, history in reverse

Past campaigns of Peacebus.com

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