Hydro Tasmania on defensive as Sarawak team heads for Aussie showdown

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After a successful series of events and meetings in Melbourne, Peter Kallang, Chairman of the SAVE Rivers network, and James Nyurang Usang, headman from the Baram, are currently preparing for the last leg of their Australia tour in Tasmania, reports the BMF team.

In Melbourne, Peter and James were hosted at the Parliament House by Greg Barber MP and Sue Pennicuik MP, two Victorian Greens Members of Parliament. They gave interviews to local radio stations and met with a number of church and NGO representatives from Uniting Church, Friends of the Earth, the Australian Conservation Foundation and others who are all very sympathetic with the Sarawak indigenous peoples’ struggle for their lands, rivers and forests.

Green campaigners in Australia have meanwhile identified a powerful leverage to target Hydro Tasmania by asking Australian consumers to pressure Momentum Energy, a Hydro Tasmania subsidiary, which is selling certified “green” power in Victoria in a highly competitive electricity market. Momentum Energy is currently expanding into New South Wales (and later Queensland) and is very sensitive to brand damage that Hydro’s controversial involvement in Sarawak might bring about. http://www.momentumenergy.com.au/about-us

The showdown will take place in Tasmania

On Sunday, Peter and James will meet the former Senator and Australian Greens leader Bob Brown, the champion of the Franklin River, which was saved from being dammed and later declared a Unesco World Heritage site. On Sunday evening, a public event will be held with Tasmanian Greens MP Kim Booth, who has been following the Sarawak dams campaign with great interest and commitment.

Coming Monday, 3 December, the Sarawak campaigners will meet with Hydro Tasmania CEO, Roy Adair, in Launceston, Tasmania, at 8.00am for a one-hour meeting. Adair will be pressured to disclose full information on Hydro Tasmania’s involvement in Sarawak and to commit to a staff withdrawal and to severing ties with Sarawak Energy and the Taib government’s dam plans.

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A press conference is scheduled to be held in Hobart at 1.00pm on Monday, 3 December.

On Monday afternoon, the Sarawak delegation will be received by Tasmania’s deputy premier, Bryan Green MP, in order to discuss Hydro Tasmania’s involvement in Sarawak and the role of the Tasmanian government

On Tuesday, more meetings with Tasmanian politicians will be followed by a public event in Hobart. The tour will conclude with the Tasmanian government being grilled over Hydro Tasmania’s activities in Tasmanian parliament on the occasion of Government Business Enterprise (GBE) hearings on Wednesday at noon.

Tour coordinators Adam Burling and Jenny Weber can be reached under info@savesarawakrivers.com
or by phone under 0457192507 and 0427 366 929. (Country code Australia: +61)

Hydro Tasmania in the defensive

Interestingly, Hydro Tasmania have started playing down their involvement in the Sarawak dams scheme and clearly appears to be worried about the media fallout of the “Hydro Tasmania – out of Sarawak” campaign. In a media release, Hydro Tasmania said on Wednesday that the company was “not involved in flooding rivers and displacing indigenous peoples” and that they are “not providing consultancy services on the Baram dam project”. However, Hydro Tasmania acknowledge that they have “five of our people on secondment” in Sarawak. Source:
http://www.hydro.com.au/about-us/news/2012-11/hydro-tasmania-rejects-national-campaign

Research by the Bruno Manser Fund has shown that Hydro Tasmania, along with other Australian companies, are up to their necks in the Sarawak dam plans, in which they play a key role. The following Australian nationals are strongly involved in the Sarawak hydropower plans:

– Andrew Pattle, secondee from Hydro Tasmania, Project Director for the Murum Dam and Senior Project Manager for the proposed Baram and Baleh dams
– Miles Smith, Vice President and Head of Planning and Strategy at Sarawak Energy
– Graeme Maher, Senior Manager Hydropower Development at Sarawak Energy
– James Hannon, Senior Manager Contracts at Sarawak Energy
– Nick Wright, the former Senior Advisor to Tasmania’s Energy Minister, now holds the position of Vice President with Sarawak Energy

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Entura, Hydro Tasmania’s subsidiary and consultancy branch, conducted feasibility studies on the proposed Belaga, Pelagus and Metjawah dams. During the investigation, Entura identified another potential dam site, Punan Bah, which is currently undergoing a feasibility study. Entura also advised Sarawak Energy repeatedly on matters concerning the Murum Dam, which is currently under construction

Other Australian companies involved in the Taib government’s dams programne include SMEC (Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation) and engineering conglomerate GHD.

The Bruno Manser Fund is calling on the Australian and the Tasmanian governments to terminate Hydro Tasmania’s involvement in Sarawak with immediate effect and to inform all Australian nationals and companies involved in the Sarawak dam projects on the human rights and environmental concerns over these projects.

Your BMF team

P.S. More than 1200 people have already sent e-mails to Hydro Tasmania CEO Roy Adair. Support Sarawak’s indigenous peoples now and sign on under: http://savesarawakrivers.good.do/save-sarawak-rivers/hydro-tasmania-out-of-sarawak

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