Confrontation at the Noonkanbah Oil drilling site on land sacred to aborigines in Western Australia was avoided on Thursday (14 August) because workmen decided to ban drilling on the project.
GV Oil rig convoy on highway between Perth and Kimberly (Western Australia) refuelling and drivers resting (3 shots)
GV Aircraft flying overhead
GV PAN Aborigines staging sit-in on bridge with police in attendance (3 shots)
SV Police urging demonstrators to move on
CU Reporter talking to aborigine
GV Police chief speaking to demonstrators through loud hailers, with police removing demonstrators radio and police moving in to arrest demonstrators
CU Aborigines leaving bridge
SV Demonstrators singing and clapping at side of bridge
GV Convoy moving across bridge through demonstration (3 shots)
REPORTER: "You realise that the police are going to have to move you off the bridge."
ABORIGINE: "We realise that. We realise that."
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Background: Confrontation at the Noonkanbah Oil drilling site on land sacred to aborigines in Western Australia was avoided on Thursday (14 August) because workmen decided to ban drilling on the project. The ban was imposed after the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Bob Hawks, talks with union leaders about the dispute. The Western Australian state government had decided to allow the project to go ahead despite a widespread outcry against it.
SYNOPSIS: After three days of travelling from Perth, the state capital, a big convoy of trucks carrying drilling equipment to Noonkanbah reached the Kimberley area. It was accompanied by a police guard on its 16-hundred mile journey.
On its last stretch into Noonkanbah about sixty demonstrators tried to stop the convoy. They say oil drilling will destroy sites important to the history of the aborigines who regard Noonkanbah as the home of the Great goanna, the lizard god.
The protestors tried to stop the convoy by sitting on a previously private road which the government has now declared public. The American oil company, Amax, which plans to carry out the drilling, has strong government backing.
One their long trip to the mining site, the 32 trucks had to face a number of demonstrations such as this one. They'd been subjected to several blockades by trade unionists and pelted with gravel by aborigines who have threatened to maintain disruptive action at the site. Many of the demonstrators have been arrested, including unionists who staged a protest outside the Amax headquarters in Perth. Several federal opposition politicians have likened the Noonkanbah confrontation to conditions in South Africa.
If the Noonkanbah drilling programme goes ahead, it could have far-reaching implications. Some thirty Australian and foreign companies want to prospect in the same area for oil, diamonds and bauxite.