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Byron Shire
March 1, 2021

New film shines light on dirty topic

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Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: There is no place like home… actually there are no places

Local low income residents in Byron Bay are the human koalas of our Shire. They too have lost much of their habitat. We need affordable housing now, not in three years, or five years, or ten. Now.

Bimblebox is a peaceful 8000-hectare sanctuary in central-west Queensland. A remnant of semi-arid woodlands, it is home to a rich diversity of birds, reptiles and other animals, including endangered species.

Back in 2000, the rapacious land clearing sanctioned by the Queensland government was off the Richter scale. The potential for Bimblebox to face this same fate motivated a group of concerned local individuals to petition for the area to become a Nature Reserve. Paola Cassoni was one of these people.

Eventually purchased with the savings of these individuals in combination with funding from the Australian National Reserve System, Bimblebox and its numerous and diverse conservation values were protected. In 2003, the Bimblebox Nature Refuge Agreement (ICUN protected area) was signed with the Queensland state government to permanently protect the conservation values of the property.

Tragically, holding the status of ‘nature refuge’ does not automatically protect an area from mineral exploration and mining. These activities supersede all other legislation, and are granted right of way over almost all land uses. Lying in the direct path of what will be one of the world’s largest coalmines, Bimblebox is under threat.

Not just Bimblebox, though. Australia’s mining boom is creating more extensive and intrusive coal exploration than ever before, and the majority of Australians are unaware of this reality. The ‘China First’ project is largely responsible for this growth in order to supply energy to Asia for the next 30 years.

With her beloved Bimblebox in the firing line, Paola Cassoni made the decision that it was time to expose Aussies to the destruction that was taking place in their own backyards.

US filmmaker Mike O’Connell was contacted. He had just completed a documentary about resistance to coal mining in Appalachia, West Virginia, and was passionate about the subject. With the assistance of Paola and the Bimblebox owners, Mike has produced a film aimed at drawing international attention to the issue surrounding the huge expansion of coal and coal-seam-gas mining in Australia (particularly the expansions planned in Queensland and New South Wales).

While very clearly exposing the destructiveness of this industry, the film also features solutions and viable alternatives for the future, and the stories from people whose communities and their natural values have been either totally undermined or are currently under threat from coal-mining activities puts a ‘real face’ to this issue.

As the world’s largest exporter of coal, Australia has a responsibility to contribute to a sustainable future for our nation, our children, and the planet.

Bimblebox projects a convincing argument for doing things better, and smarter.

Bimblebox will screen as a world premiere at Byron Bay International Film Festival.

Further programming and ticketing information will be available over the coming weeks at www.bbff.com.au.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvkH_1_eEqI&w=480&h=290]


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