An Historic Moment of Solidarity Between the Gomeroi Peoples and UnionsNSW
On Saturday the 13th of August, I travelled with Australian Service Union Members to the Pilliga, to Coonabarabran and Narrabri.
We self-organised to go to a UnionsNSW Action supporting the First Nations People, the Gomeroi, in their fight against 850 proposed gas wells in the ancient forest and ecosystem that is their traditional lands. To fight against monopoly-capitalist extractivism. To fight for the Great Artesian Basin, the aquifer that holds 30 percent of our states freshwater. To fight for clean air. To fight for living conditions!
The Action is the first UnionsNSW resolution to oppose a Fossil Fuel project -- an historic undertaking. The day was searingly hot, unnervingly so for late-winter. The processions started in Coonabarabran, and the convoy was 50+ vehicles strong. I feel like I witnessed the birth of a close approximation to material First Nations Solidarity. As a proud Wadi Wadi man of the Yuin Nation, and an ASU rank-and-filer, hearing from 80+ year old Gamilaroi elders on their determination to fight off the Santos frontierism was as equally inspiring as was hearing union leaders like Paul Keating of the MUA and David from the IEU stating that "we know what the enemy is that is destroying the world"... "capitalism".
Hearing from Suellyn Tighe and locals on the impacts on soil quality, volunteer firefighting capabilities, the unfathomable dumping processes of waste, the capture of state by fossil fuel companies in all facets, from the Environmental Protection Agency to a Native Title not fit for purposes of First Peoples actual sovereignty the staunch union members there from the Teachers Federation, from the Nurses and Midwifes Association, from the IEU, and from others, I believe saw the picture of continued devastation this Santos project would bring. I am now proud to be assisting in some small capacities after the connections made in growing the solidarity movement with the Gomeroi.
I shed many tears on the weekend. I am campaigning for the Voice. Yet I was and am at a loss for words for why Dean Parkin would be celebrating the reneging of the Heritage Protection Act in WA for it to be politically "clearing the way for the Voice". That Act was one of the most progressive mechanisms to which First Nations on this Continent have been able to express some modicum of sovereignty since colonisation.
In September I will also find out whether or not myself and other comrades may have our convictions related to coal-train stoppages in Newcastle earlier this year, quashed. The logic of monopolist and extractivist capitalism can not square with First Peoples forms of Governance. It cannot square with a healthy future at all. It must be Voice and Land Struggles, Voice and Class Struggle, non-indigenous and indigenous alike. There can be nothing gained as Dean Parkin seems to prosecute from believing one legislative instrument, the Federal Voice will deliver our Continent and Surrounding Isles justice alone.
Together, or not at all, towards Treaty, towards Truth, and towards Socialism.
The Class Struggle is the Environmental Struggle is the First Nations Struggle.
Matt Jeffrey is a SEARCH Member.