The University of New England will this week host a major international conference,, bringing together leading academics with industry leaders and political advocates from both sides of the fence to discuss one of the most divisive issues of today – Mining in a Sustainable World. The conference will be opened by the mayor, Laurie Bishop, and will also feature a three-way debate between Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, Nationals MP Adam Marshall and Liberal MLC Scot MacDonald.
Conference convenor Dr Marty Branagan said the three-day event will involve delegates from across Australia and from the Asia-Pacific region and Africa, taking a ‘big picture’ and solution-oriented approach.
“The conference will hear a wide range of papers from numerous perspectives, including politicians, farmers, conservationists, economists, traditional owners, health analysts, law experts, youth, public servants and archaeologists,” Dr Branagan said.
“We hope to encourage respectful, constructive dialogue between people with diverse perspectives, taking an interdisciplinary approach to the environmental, social economic and political issues surrounding mining and sustainability.
“Most people agree that some mining is necessary. Some believe that it is well-regulated; others argue that serious, long-term consequences are often over-ruled by short-term economic concerns and vested interests, in unrepresentative and even corrupt political systems.
“Mining is important for our modern-day quality of life, supplying not only the materials to build our homes, cars and computers, but also providing the energy to heat and cool our homes and run our myriad home and office appliances.
“Australian coal powers industry both here and overseas, but its supply means that Australia is also one of the highest per capita contributors to global warming.
“Mining creates enormous wealth for some, well-paid jobs for others and adverse impacts for some communities and ecosystems. Australian companies overseas have both contributed to development in poorer countries and been accused of violating human rights and polluting the environment.
“The rapid introduction and expansion of coal seam gas has seen widespread public opposition arising, including from traditionally-conservative rural communities. We hope to uncover new ways to transform these conflicts,” Dr Branagan said.
The conference aims to be both of a high academic standard and widely-accessible to the general public, opening on a Sunday, (13 October) to allow the working public to participate.
In contrast with the expensive nature of many industry and, to a lesser extent, academic conferences, and to resuscitate the notion of universities as places for universal learning as a public good, the conference has a minimal registration fee ($20 for individuals, $100 for institutional representatives).
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