Through personal experience and example of mining this book authenticates CSG landholders' worst fears. i.e. buyout, widespread water depletion, cessation of farming and, despite the existence of one of Australia's oldest and best water monitoring schemes, continuing controversy over the extent of liability associated with an open cut mine that has been operational for thirty four years.
Partly autobiographical, this precautionary manual - social commentary examines the dynamics of two protest groups in a polarised community while relying upon some 170 quotes and seventy four electronic files to support claims of political, regulatory and administrative capture by mining in Queensland.
Alex Lucke and his wife Heather Lucke live in the township of Bingara (population 1300) in inland New South Wales. Prior to October 2007, Alec spent a lifetime. Mostly intensively farming pigs and poultry at Bracewell Mt. Larcom, where he and other family members, helped pioneer the meat chicken industry. Alec is unashamedly a passionate advocate for the preservation of strategic cropping land, its aquifers, the rural lifestyle and its contribution to society. Experienced environmental campaigners and political activists. Alec and Heather have written countless letters and submissions, particularly in the interests of social justice and those disadvantaged by adverse circumstances. This partly autobiographical human interest true story shares experiences of advocating against excessive pollution and the effects of mining in the heavily industrialised Gladstone Region of Central Queensland. The evidence supporting claims of political, regulatory and administrative capture by mining is so compelling as to justify the extraordinary call for a royal commission.
The Road to Exploitation
Review by Barbara Bamberger Scott
Author Alec Lucke and his wife Heather were farmers in Mount Larcom, Australia. Lucke begins this densely factual treatise with a description of his youth, the hard work, difficulties and challenges of being a farm boy. Growing up on the land, he and his siblings took to agriculture naturally and Alec became a successful chicken farmer. However, he and his community little realized that the way of life they had cherished and relied upon was going to come under attack, threatening his property, his livelihood, his health and his legacy: “This case study provides a thumbnail sketch of the main characters, policies and events that shaped our district, allowing insights into individual contributions as they opposed a politically compromised and morally bankrupt system that left us socially and economically disadvantaged.”
The region that the Luckes and other dairy and poultry farmers chose to occupy, inherited in most cases, and long used for successful food production, was imperiled by the nature of the land itself, by its hidden resource: limestone, necessary for the production of cement. The extraction of this resource by the East End Mine in the Gladstone region of Queensland may well destroy the land for agricultural use permanently, mainly because of water overuse and pollution. In the wake of this slow-moving disaster, small local businesses have been crippled, the environment is compromised, and property values have plummeted. Because it was obvious that their efforts to act to stop the mining through normal channels were being ignored, Lucke and his wife and many of their neighbors formed a group called East End Mine Action Group.
Lucke refers to the ongoing exploitation of his home region by East End Mine (the largest mining facility in Queensland) as “political capture by mining,” thus expressing eloquently how the farmers whose lives have been affected by the mining operation feel: trapped in their own homes, their hands tied by the greed and bureaucracy of others, watching the source of their livelihood (water for livestock and crops) literally stolen and evaporating away before their eyes. Since 1995, Lucke and his cohort have made continuing efforts to curtail the polluting practices of the mining company, and have been stymied, not only by the mining corporation, but by local officials who see the mine as a grand model of progress and prosperity. They chipped away at EEMAG by such pretty tactics as informing Heather Lucke that she would have to resign as its Secretary because she lived a little bit outside the region, while the mine owners came and went from their homes -- in Switzerland.
Though Alec and Heather finally gave up the disheartening effort to live out their later years in a polluted environment, and moved away, they remain active in EEMAG. Hence this book. Playing the role of political gadfly, a role that seems to suit him well, Lucke says he wants Australian politicians to read his b
Barbara Bamberger Scott
With the new book, Road to Exploitation, Alec Lucke has given us a work dense with history and facts, hard truths and wisdom. The geographical area Mr. Lucke is dealing with, the heavily industrialized Gladstone region of Queensland, may seem far away to some readers, but know that the type of land rape and lack of consequences and all the problems of trying to have a forthright coming together of minds for the well being of a community, exist in many places all over the world. What I mean to say is, this book has important things to impart to all who live and wish to continue living healthy lives on this planet. We must heed the type of warnings implicit in the story being told in Road of Exploitation. It is really all our backyards this is going on in.
The East End Mine Action Group, which Alec Lucke was a part of for many many years, faced battle with a legal system, government, and big industry, so you can imagine the labyrinth of hell they often found themselves wading in. The details of their actions are important and you will find them in the pages of this expose. The fact that Mr. Lucke chose to humanize his story, is an important thing. The history of the area, Mount Larcom, etc., is re-captured beautifully; perhaps more important than that though, real people are depicted here in ways that help the reader feel more a part of all that went on the many years this group attempted to help keep their lands from being irreparably damaged, their very water supplies corrupted. It is fighting the good fight, as they say. In the face of things though, how many of us stand and do it?
The book is a must read, as far as I am concerned. Lucke is baring witness for us all with this well researched, and lived, tale. All things that we must war against are here: corruption; greed; stonewalling; obfuscation. At times it seems impossible that any person or organization or government would so heedlessly ignore and fight against what is so obviously right. Just such a thing is faced though, and, I am afraid, is often seen happening all over. By reading this bit of history, the facts and the actions, we can learn for ourselves, once again, that money often trumps logic, even well being. To drill this into our conscious is a necessary thing. We must be aware. And ready to take action. All Lucke and the others really are asking for at this point is a moratorium on further coal seam gas drilling and a royal commission to look seriously into what is going on in Gladstone. With, Road to Exploitation, Mr. Lucke has laid out, quite clearly, why this ought to be granted. Let us all ask why it has not.