The Other Report: Poems Against the Destruction of the Beeliar Wetlands

John Kinsella and I have written a book of poems in non-violent protest against the 100 hectares of bulldozing happening at the Beeliar Wetlands. Please feel free to share this as widely as possible. About 5 hectares has been cleared already. Clearing is set to resume any day now. Please click on the image below to read/download the poems.

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Malvolio Road

In Marginata shade, with the depleted ozone
at Malvolio Road, the sandy verge is compacted
by sandals and sneakers, citizens sing
get up stand up, stand up for your rights
and a mum tells her son off for breaking black boy fronds,
and the patrolling police ask us to stay off the street
and the Federal Member for Fremantle stands with us, getting grey sand in his shoes
with his Ray Bans in his back pocket.  Meanwhile architects
and planners present their proposals to Barnett government
ministers their most important work, the Roe8
Highway Extension. The images projected on the screen
are so realistic you might think the project is already built,
the families in the photos appear so happy,
the cockatoos in the sky plentiful, the cars few
and freewheeling and the diagrams so convincing:
arrows show traffic flow and hydrology flow
and mitigation movements and meanwhile in Coolbellup
Janet works at the IGA to pay her rent, cutting open
cardboard boxes and stacking shelves. Janet knows
where every single item in the entire store goes.
On the eighth of December 2016 the temporary fence
went up across the road from her house,
and on that day, for the first time in twenty years
the family of bandicoots Janet has fed and watered and loved
stopped visiting. Two years earlier, on Kings Park Road
The Premier Colin Barnett had an idea, at the meeting table
The Premier Colin Barnett had an idea,
his idea and his alone, out of his own head Colin had an idea
where the idea came from no one present knew where,
but they heard him out, Colin was so moved by his idea
he had to borrow the architects’ notebook and make sketches;
if the people of East Fremantle don’t want Roe highway
straight through their suburb, we’ll build a tunnel,
a five kilometre tunnel underneath White Gum Valley,
that’ll show ’em, said Colin. The Premier himself was so impressed
with his ingenuity he had a sip of water from the small tumbler
in front of him. The idea was so spontaneous that those present
at the polished jarrah table didn’t know what to say,
a junior engineer was sent to draw up some plans.
That day, at Coolbellup IGA, Janet helped her neighbour
Kate find some polenta in aisle three and got a special
treat for the bandicoots’ breakfast.

 

J. P. Quinton – Malvolio Road 12th Dec 2016

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Barnett Destroys Wetland 

This photo shows the Barnett government’s orders for police presence at the Beeliar Protest this morning.

Here’s the first poem I wrote on day one of the protest – 8 Dec 2016.

It is not a great poem by any means but I wrote it while standing on the barricades and felt the need to write right there and then.

Peace
Roe8#1

You may have never protested before.

To stand in the way of the Roe 8 highway feels wrong. To take a day off work to hold a banner feels wrong. You’ll be called a bum. They’ll say you’re unemployed, have nothing better to do. The ‘mainstream’ will tell you the ‘development’ is going ahead, the ‘plans’ have been in the ‘works’ for years, that clearing native bushland is necessary for ‘progress’, that the correct environmental protection measures have been taken, don’t worry friend.

But they don’t follow their own guidelines, they say the native animals will be trapped and moved to other areas, yet we know few animals survive. On Northlake Road the fencing contractors are asked to turn their music off, the police can’t hear their intercom. The police apply suncream and help the fencing contractors move traffic cones.

The police ask one another if they are right for water and say we could be here all summer.

How does a woman, shifting from one foot to another, become a police force? How does a few scribbles on a napkin become an environmental disaster?

In the shade of a flame tree the protesters hold banners and car horns beep and a pair of pink and grey galahs fly overhead. When my parents were my age if a ‘development’ was taking place, there was no temporary fencing, portaloos were not delivered to site and the Cold War delivered renewed apathy.

When my parents were my age protesting was not illegal and developers need not chop down trees in the dead of night. I grew up where the damage had already been done; the river dredged, three billion year old wetlands filled with yellow sand.

In Tonkin Business park, giant ziggurats were built to cover toxic waste, the destruction is older than me – the river poisoned before my birth. Where there is no bush the bush can not regenerate. When I was three…