Song for George Bender
Damien F. Mackey
TV program, 60 Minutes looked at the battleground between Queensland farmers
and coal seam gas companies.
What would you do if someone walked into your backyard, dug a big hole and put a fence around it with a sign saying ‘No Trespassing’? In all likelihood you’d shout and scream and call the police. But what if when the police came they threatened to arrest you, not those who wrecked your property and locked you out? In many parts of rural Australia this is the outrageous scenario now playing out between farmers and big gas companies, whose relentless – often ruthless – quest for new sources of gas seems to have no limits. In a special 60 Minutes investigation, Michael Usher reveals evidence showing the high-pressure, secret tactics used by some gas companies which are driving hard-working country folk from their land. Queensland farmer Kane Booth used to have a multi-million-dollar cattle business until three coal seam gas wells were drilled on his property. He says the wells affected the water supply on his land, rendering it useless for fattening his cattle. He’s now been forced to abandon the property and sell off his herd. Not surprisingly, Kane and his young family are devastated, but have vowed to fight on. However, a similar battle on a neighbouring property has had a tragic outcome. George Bender fought a coal seam gas company for years, blaming it for polluting his property. But it turned out to be a battle of attrition he was never going to win.
Reporter: Michael Usher
Producer: Laura Sparkes
Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst has written a song with his daughter Jay O’Shea which has had more than half a million hits on the web.
The song The Truth Walks Slowly (In The Countryside) is about Queensland farmer George Bender who committed suicide last year following a protracted battle with a coal seam gas mining companies, which mined his family’s fertile farmland.
Mr Rose the cattleman wont let the miners on his land He says this land is more than me I’m married to the property Six generations call this home and this is where I’ll rest my bones Beyond the tablelands you’ll see a line of blurred infinity The truth walks slowly in the old man’s eyes The truth walks slowly in the countryside
(the up and down the here and now the why the what the when the how)
the truth walks slowly I’ll sting and bite and scratch the hand of those who’d come and waste this land Their eyes are void their hearts are blank as empty as my watertank I know this country rock and stream my sweat has washed the mountain clean Now I am forced to make a stand cos I’m the one who loves this land
The truth walks slowly convictions slide The truth walks slowly ‘long the riverside The truth walks slowly it smells like dirt the truth walks slowly there’ll be no mining in our rich black earth
The truth walks slowly seems our lives go flashing by like lightning seems these times are compromised by fighting seems these times will be defined by coal seam mining The truth walks slowly but greed runs fast There’ll be no mining in our golden grass.
Rob: vocals/drums/strums Rick Grossman: bass Rob Woolf: piano/vocals Jason Millhouse: guitars Eden Cutler & Erin Pascoe: chant Stephen Baker: chant Recorded by Brent Clark