The lie: “Dolce et decorum est pro patria mori
It is sweet and proper to die for one’s country”
“Tunnelling through the night, the trains pass
in a splendour of power, with a sound like thunder
shaking the orchards, waking
the young from a dream, scattering like glass
the old mens’ sleep, laying
a black trail over the still bloom of the orchards;
the trains go north with guns.” – Judith Wright
The Lies – Big Coal and Anzac
Victoria interviews Andrew Harding – CEO Aurizon
Ian interviews David Stephens – Heritage Guardians.
Big Coal Myths
“Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” ― Albert Camus
Over the past few weeks people have been blocking coal trucks going out through the port of Brisbane. This has led to a variety of punitive actions by both state and federal governments and Aurizon, Australia’s largest freight rail company. Wild scenes occurred at the Brisbane Magistrates courts this week when police closed the court hearing charges against Aurizon Five. Paradigm Shift interviewed Aurizon’s CEO, Andrew Harding, about the conflict over coal.
VICTORIA: Please introduce yourself
ANDREW HARDING: Andrew Harding, managing director and CEO Aurizon Holdings
VICTORIA: Previous employment ?
ANDREW HARDING: Chief executive Rio Tinto’s iron ore business .
VICTORIA: What is your alma mater?
ANDREW HARDING: I went to the University of New South Wales and I studied Engineering. At the same school was Greg Combet who went on to be the leader of the ACTU and Minister for Climate Change.
VICTORIA: So you’re Maaates?
Andrew Harding: I wouldn’t say that.
VICTORIA: So why did most of Australia’s top engineers come from University of New South Wales if you’re not all maaaates?
ANDREW HARDING: UNSW is a prestigious university.
VICTORIA: I wonder how UNSW compares with Chinese Engineering schools. Why doesn’t Aurizon Holdings pay any tax?
ANDREW HARDING: We do.
VICTORIA: A little over 1% of your net income ?
ANDREW HARDING: What is your source ?
VICTORIA: Michael West.
ANDREW HARDING: Michael West is not credible.
VICTORIA: He’s a forensic accountant who worked for Murdoch who supports coal.
ANDREW HARDING: Yes, but then Michael went rogue … fancy knocking mining and energy companies for a living when they are the lifeblood of our economy.
VICTORIA: Speaking about lifeblood, why did you withdraw your application to construct a rail link between Abbot Point and Galilee Basin?
ANDREW HARDING: We already own the corridor to Clermont plus we didn’t have the customers to justify such a project.
VICTORIA: What about Adani, why did you withdraw your application for
finance to build a 388k rail line from the Galilee to the coast?
ANDREW HARDING: Adani don’t have final approval.
VICTORIA: Scott Morrison signed off on approval of water rights prior to going to the election this week.
ANDREW HARDING: Yes but they have to get through the Queensland government approvals process.
VICTORIA: The heatwave and fires in Queensland have hardened local
opposition to the plan. You say you don’t have customers but aren’t you a
monopoly which allows various rail operators to use to central
Queensland rail network?
ANDREW HARDING: Yes that’s true plus we have our own operator which is Aurizon Operations proprietary limited.
VICTORIA: Then what about BHP, Hancock, Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Peabody and Clive Palmer.?
ANDREW HARDING: I can’t discuss them because of ongoing litigation.
VICTORIA: Is that about your failure to meet competition policy ?
ANDREW HARDING: We dispute that.
VICTORIA: But there are no competitors, your railway lines run over a
network which links to five coastal terminals at three ports.
ANDREW HARDING: That’s true, from North to South the terminals are Abbot Point, Dalrymple Bay, Hay Point, Wiggins Island and RG Tanna coal terminal.
VICTORIA: Then what about Gina Rinehart ?
ANDREW HARDING: We have no choice, we will work with Gina. We’re in discussions with Jackie Trad about how much we can charge to carry Gina’s Coal.
VICTORIA: Why have you taken out a strategic lawsuit against public participation against the front line action on coal.
ANDREW HARDING: They are blocking our coal trucks.
VICTORIA: So they are a threat?
ANDREW HARDING: Not really, we’re just managing risk.
VICTORIA: You mean that Australians are turning against coal.
ANDREW HARDING: Coal is the lifeblood of Queensland. Mining in Queensland contributes 10% of gross state product.
VICTORIA: Isn’t the planet on fire and your refusal to change your
business model may have catastrophic impacts on the welfare of our
ANDREW HARDING: We provide jobs and economic growth now and in the future.
VICTORIA: School kids say you’re a fossil fool so is Aurizon a train wreck just waiting to happen?
Andrew Harding: We are not worried about the young ones, we are more concerned about frontline action on coal (FLAC).
Victoria: How so?
Andrew Harding: We have information that FLAC has rejected non-violent direct action.
Victoria: To do what?
Andrew Harding: Our train drivers are very upset, they are worried about violence.
Victoria: What’s your source?
Andrew Harding: Extinction Rebellion SEQ’s facebook page.
Victoria: Sorry? What?
Andrew Harding: There is a world wide revolt against coal, it is hitting our bottom line, investors are getting nervous and our employee’s are out on the frontline every day facing FLAC. We have to protect our people.
Victoria: But FLAC signed an agreement to pull back from NVDA, didn’t they?
Harding: Yes but we think that has spurred the young people on to
jump in front of trains. They are placing our employees lives at risk.
Victoria: What proof do you have of that?
Harding: One of our men grazed his knuckles trying to open a lock-on device.
Victoria: That’s hardly ‘lives at risk’.
Harding: Don’t be too sure young lady, there are the extreme groups like the wobblies.
Victoria: But FLAC is concerned about the planet that you are putting at risk.
Harding: Where are you from?
Harding: I think we will have to leave it there.
That was Andrew Harding CEO of Aurizon, I think he left it there
In the interest of full disclosure, like Andrew, I also attended University of New South Wales. I studied Accounting and Tax Law. We were never Maaaates.
NB: This is a satirical piece with the names of the parties left in so that we do not protect the guilty.
On Battleship Hill’s caved in trenches,
A hateful feeling still lingers,
Even now, eighty years later.
Cruel nature … has won again
– PJ Harvey
War Memorial extensions
Ian interviews David Stephens from the Heritage Guardians about the government’s proposal to spend half a billion dollars on extensions to the War Memorial in Canberra.
[Special thanks to Andy for coming up with this interview].
Andy Paine – Song for Wollar
Wilfred Owen – Dolce et decorum est pro patria mori
PJ Harvey – On Battleship Hill
Mick Thomas – Gallipoli Rosemary
Neil Young – Pochohontas
Towards Peace – a worker’s journey by Phil O’Brien and Bernie Dowling ( see https://workersbushtelegraph.com.au/books/ttowards-peace-a-workers-journey/ )