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hawke honoured for antarctic mining fight

  1. 2,375 Posts.
    Love this quote, only Bob Hawke can get away with it.

    "Bullshit - this is nonsense".

    Only a few or none in Australia are in his leauge to match this Rep.

    Hawke honoured for Antarctic mining fight
    By Nonee Walsh

    Posted Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:06pm AEDT
    Updated Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:38pm AEDT

    Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Hawke government's decision to veto the signing of the Antarctic mineral convention (AAP: Dave Hunt, file photo)

    Related Story: Hawke book 'overlooks' international achievements Related Story: Brown pushes for Antarctic World Heritage listing Former prime minister Bob Hawke has been feted for what he regards as "one of the things I'm proudest of in my career in government".

    Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Hawke government's decision to veto the signing of the Antarctic mineral convention, which would have regulated mineral exploration and mining in the Antarctic.

    It led to a diplomatic effort spearheaded by Australia and France, which resulted in the Antarctic treaty partners agreeing to the Madrid Protocol.

    It banned all mineral activity indefinitely and dedicated Antarctica as a "natural reserve devoted to peace and science".

    At a ceremony at Sydney's Maritime Museum, Environment Minister Peter Garrett announced that a post-doctoral fellowship in Antarctic environmental science would be named after Mr Hawke in honour of his leadership in achieving the mining ban.

    And a new accommodation building at Wilkins runway in Antarctica will become the R J L Hawke accommodation, although Mr Garrett predicted it would quickly become known as Hawke's Huts.

    Mr Hawke outlined how his diplomatic effort began in typically blunt fashion.

    He said he could not believe that the attorney-general and environment minister wanted Australia to sign a convention on Antarctic mining in 1989.

    He was told that it had been negotiated for years and was inevitable.

    Mr Hawke said his response was: "Bullshit - this is nonsense".

    He said a majority of his cabinet supported the signing but agreed to back the prime minister's minority view.

    "They thought they'd support the old bloke - let the old bloke see what he could do about it," he said.

    New pressures

    Mr Garret paid tribute to the former prime minister and environment groups, including the International Conservation Union, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace and the WWF, which ran major campaigns to argue for protection of the Antarctic environment.

    "It was an extraordinary bringing together of community, conservation, non-government organisations and government and look what it achieved," Mr Garrett said.

    He also outlined his small role in the campaign - telling the audience that as the lead singer of Midnight Oil he played a cassette of their song Antarctica to Mr Hawke and his adviser at Kirribilli House. It contained the lyrics: "there must be one place left in the world".

    Mr Garret acknowledged that there are again rising pressures on the Antarctic, including demands on fisheries and for tourism.

    Lynne Goldsworthy from the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition said there needs to be a new effort to restrict the human impact on Antarctica.

    "There is a new challenge to the Australian Government in the 21st century," she said.

    "Take the lead in calling for a freeze on the human footprint on Antarctica. Don't let indecision chip away, fragment or break up the world's remaining large-scale wilderness."

    Denise Boyd from the Australian Conservation Foundation said Mr Hawke had the vision and leadership to take the first steps to save Antarctica from what seemed to be an inevitable fate.

    And she said the ice loss in the Antarctic should not be treated as inevitable.

    "Today's Prime Minister has a mighty challenge to ensure that those efforts of two decades ago aren't undone by climate change," she said.
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