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Rock Update - 12 July 2019

Friday, July 12, 2019

Well, we all know we have lost the fight as far as local jobs and local rock are concerned. It’s no secret that Boral will be using minimal local labour and they are bringing in imported rock, as well as their own equipment.

However, the fight for the protection of our environment is far from over!

According to experts, the processes and treatments of these imported products is required to be open and transparent. My interpretation of this statement is that we, the community, should be aware of all procedures be put in place to safeguard our environment.

We may be considered a part of Australia for political reasons, but on an environmental level, we are radically different. We don’t have snakes, cane toads, midgies, fire ants and various other toxic vermin over here. Some of the noxious weeds readily available in Australia are not present here. The differences in our ecosystem, environment and climate are too numerous to mention. We must remember a harmless weed in some areas of the world can have a devastating affect in others.

Our island has remained free of these potentially dangerous weeds, pests and pathogens. We have monitored what has come into the island and been aware of any potential effects on our environment. It is no accident that Norfolk Island has been looked after so well. I am not saying we had a perfect score, but we certainly did a better job than the present system.

Whenever I came home, I loved to sit on the grass…not a major achievement for those who have lived here all your lives, but this was one of the few times I was able to enjoy this simple pleasure. In Australia, there various types of ants and spiders that live in the grass, and man, can they bite!

The other day I was moving old palm fronds. I wouldn’t be doing this if we had snakes here. Even cleaning a pool filter or pond, you need to be on the lookout for snakes. I don’t miss that at all, just sayen.

We take it for granted that we are safe when we work in the garden, run in long grass or roll down a hill. This will all change dramatically if the imported rock, sand and even equipment isn’t treated correctly before it leaves Australia, and especially, BEFORE it lands here. Although there are no guarantees it will eliminate all hitchhikers; ensuring the correct and proper systems are in place is better than having none at all.

When the Rock Group first met with the administrator about the possible importation of rock, he told us he could not help us if we used the environment as our main focus. He advised that for every problem we brought up, a management plan would be created through biosecurity services.

If this is the case, then perhaps we should be pushing for a management plan for each and every potential biosecurity issue. Perhaps we also need to insist we have a quarantine process in place for everything Boral intends to bring here, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have one in place for ships offloading our freight either.

We have been playing Russian roulette with our environment/biosecurity for long enough. If we just believe and accept that Boral is going to do ‘the right thing’ for Norfolk Island, and we do nothing, ask nothing and expect nothing, we will most likely end up with everything!

We only have one shot at this. Come September or thereabouts, it will be too late. It only takes one pregnant toad; one pregnant paralysis tick; one pregnant red backed spider to produce thousands more.

I know this sounds like I am scaremongering, but in all honesty, you should be scared, and you should be worried. Boral will come here and do their job, which is what they are contracted to do, and then they will leave. We will be the ones who live with the consequences. I haven’t heard about any funds that will be allocated to assist with the clean up/eradication of any ‘unwelcome guests’ as a result of the airport upgrade. So, who do you think will be paying for this? That’s right, us!

As a community we need to know what practises and procedures will be put in place to protect our island home.

The big question is, what are you going to do to protect our environment and lifestyle? The Rock Group has been doing all it can, but we all need pull together to look out for our island, the time for sitting back and hoping for the best is long gone!

Cherie



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