Borroloola artist calls for apology on eve of Midnight Oil’s NT comeback tour over toxic McArthur River Mine legacy
Acclaimed artist and Borroloola Elder Jack Green has made an unusual peace offering to former-politician and Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett on the eve of the band’s return to the Northern Territory.
A painting titled ‘Beds are burning/mine on fire’, in reference to the famed Midnight Oil song, depicts the damage done historically, and in the present, from invasive mining at McArthur River, with sacred sites being swallowed by a black open pit.
As Federal Environment Minister Garrett was responsible for the decision to authorise a 6.6km diversion of the sacred McArthur River in the Borroloola’s Gulf Country, which Elders say represents the sacred rainbow serpent. The decision was taken despite clear recommendations against it from the NT Environmental Protection Agency, which warned of significant environmental risks.
“After that decision a lot of our old people passed away of broken hearts. Today the mine is a disaster for our land, water and people. Peter Garrett has to bear some responsibility. Decisions about mining on our land have always been done without the consent of our people and it is us who are now living with the consequences of McArthur River Mine’s toxic legacy.”
“We want to gift this painting to Peter Garrett so he has a constant reminder of this terrible decision, the same way our community lives everyday with the consequences.”
“It won’t change what has happened, but the community would like to see Garrett apologise for that mistake, to make sure that it never happens again. With his comeback tour here is a chance to right that wrong and speak out for us on the national stage and call for immediate mine closure and clean up.”
“Right now we have politicians about to decide the fate of our community and our future yet again with the planned expansion of McArthur River Mine.”
“Will they make the same mistake and ignore expert environmental evidence and community concerns to push ahead with this disaster project?”
“We have lead pollution killing our fish, making the water unsafe to drink, we have a toxic waste dump on fire sending poisonous smoke over our homelands and being spread across the country every Wet season. What will it take to get any government, Territory or Federal to have the courage to step in and shut it down?”