I can’t get this image out of my head.
A road in the outback and a young aboriginal kid in western clothes bashes the long grass on the verge with a big stick. He is trying, along with his mates, to flush a goanna all under the watchful eye of an elder. The hunted creature remains hidden and may or may not have avoided the blows.
The elder has his own stick, a baseball bat in metallic blue. After a fruitless search he calls time and the hunting party climb back into a late model land cruiser station wagon.
The sound bite captured by the media crew before the elder drives away is that this country is sacred to his people and should not be exploited for shale gas.
I know it is unholy to drawn attention to the truth of this scene. An ancient culture lost but still pretending to exist whilst embracing with both arms the trappings of a new one. I am afraid that even with a few baseball batted visits to the bush those youngsters will not have a feel for country. They will know mobile phones, internet porn, Call of Duty and soggy chips.
This is sad. The generations of indigenous kids that went before had a wholesome life that was connected to the earth. The kids that climbed into the air-conditioned land cruiser will live longer than their ancestors but maybe not with the same wellbeing.
It’s just that whilst fracking probably will contaminate groundwater, clutter the landscape with drilling rigs and mess up all the local roads with traffic, resource use is a requirement for a western lifestyle. We cannot fly, drive and cavort around with technology trappings by chasing goannas. We have to exploit natural capital and subsidize our own energies from external sources. And that is a truth.
Of course it would be nice to do this with the least externalities and with care to restore any damage that is done. But let us at least acknowledge the truth that we cannot make mobile phones with a goanna.
Nor can everyone who owns a car go out and hit one with a stick.