The Big Australian(s)

Added on by David Watson.

In January we camped up the coast en famille, just like we have every year for the past decade, with lace monitors, spangled drongos, swifts and a motley throng of (largely city-dwelling) human beings. The ‘kids’ - now taller than me - still mercifully enjoy an unspoilt beach, a wild headland, and a game of Scrabble. As usual the weather was hot, the refrigeration poor, the swell fluky and the Macksville op-shops fecund. But something wasn’t right, something new was afoot. A strapping young family from Bulli in a flash black SUV had set up their new tent, tarp, chairs, stretchers, fishing rods and totem tennis on Site H, next door. A metre or so from our camp, emblazoned upon their esky, were the words ‘BHP Billiton – Resourcing the Future’. Did Adam work for the mines, or had he merely borrowed the esky, I wondered? Had their children been told yet about global warming? Cognisant that such conflicted issues lie at the heart of contemporary Australia, and not wishing to spoil anyone’s holiday via direct confrontation, one languid afternoon I snapped my 17-year-old son in his favourite new t-shirt, in a modest attempt to counter the spin, the all-pervasive corporate invasion.

BHP, once dubbed ‘The Big Australian’, is today one of this country’s big-four coal extractors/global warmers. In its amalgamated form the company is now 76% foreign-owned. is an international movement dedicated to solving the climate crisis. ‘350’ refers to the safe level (350 parts/million) of CO2 in our atmosphere, a level we are already dangerously exceeding.