The North-South Pipeline: Impressions from Glenburn

February 3, 2009

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Yello poster billboard at the roadside opposing the pipeline

My opposition to the North-South Pipeline is well known. This has not changed after we had the opportunity to observe what is going on on the ground. Long lines of black pipe are lined up along the main highway around Glenburn these days.

Traffic is stopped at several intersections to allow the equipment of the pipeline companies to move in and out. The route of the pipe is along the Melba Highway switching sides unexpectedly. I wonder how they will get the pipes in under the highway. Will they stop the traffic and dig them in? We will know soon. Every day the residents of Glenburn are reminded of the fact that they are treated with sovereign contempt by their elected political leaders.

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The dry countryside between Glenburn and Yea

The land around Glenburn is dry these days. There are also large areas where there are hardly any trees left. Earlier residents have cut them down to extend the pastures for their cattle and sheep, a grave mistake as we know today. To re-establish trees on these barren hilltops is a challenge. Efforts to this end are often unsuccessful in this many year-long lasting drought.

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This installation was put up by local farmers

Everyone of our neighbours and residents along the prospective path of the pipeline we talked to were all opposed to it. I have not found a single supporter of the “beast”, that’s what I call the pipe.

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Plug the pipe and other protests

The pipe is going to be built, no doubt. I estimate the costs to be at least double the projected amount (from an 750 million A$ estimate, the direct costs will grow to a 1.5 or more A$). The taxpayer, this is all of us included, are going to pay this bill. The political costs are for the political parties to bear at the next election. If people still remember the violation of good governance principles and procedures by the labour government, they might not vote for them. Also people caring for the environment might vote other than labour. The country folk around Glenburn will definitely not vote labour, many of them never have. My personal wish is that labour will be defeated for the pipeline (and other such) plunder at the next election. Any government which treats their people with contempt as shown buy the Brumby administration deserve to be defeated regardless of its ideological persuasion.

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Near Devlin’s Bridge, they left an old oak tree standing and built around it. Hope the tree does not mind the digging and the invasion. In other places, especially in the Toolangi State forest, broad aisles are cut into the forest and cleared of every vegetation. I wonder how these aisles will hold in stormy conditions. Once the forest cover is cut through, they remaining trees might be vulnerable to gusty winds and storms; they might be at risk of falling over.

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Protecting the pipe from the people

The whole marked-out-route of the pipeline is fenced off. The long lines of the black pipe, I guess about 100 to 120 cm in diameter, can be seen from the road following the contours of the land. It looks like a giant worm, an earth worm so to say. I wonder if one day the pipeline will be used to pump water up-country. Instead of sucking it dry, reclaimed waste water and desalinated water could be pumped inland thereby helping the rural population to cope with the coming droughts. Of course then the rural people will have to pay for that. Melbourne Water would rub their hands in delight of the additional revenue generated.

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The “base camp” of the pipeline people, under security surveillance and protection for 24 hours a day

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This panorama view of the “base camp” attempts to depict how large the area is used for storage of the equipment, the machinery, the vehicles, the office containers and all the other gear needed to built the pipeline. But it seems to be much larger to the human eye than the photo can show.

The opponents of the pipeline have put up a wonderful website called, Plug the Pipe, full of useful material, plans, maps, audio and video clips as proof for the political plunder in the making. I myself have written two pieces in this blog describing the idiocy of the project. There is not much to add, I must say. The story of the pipe is a story of bad governance in 21st century Victoria. Let us how the next generation of political leaders will make up for the damage incurred by their predecessors.

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