The Sunday Times (2003)
Collette stands by her BHP criticism
September 24, 2003 | Written by Selina DayActor Toni Collette has refused to back down on her criticism that iron-ore miner BHP Billiton was raping the earth. In a statement prepared for ABC radio today, Collette said: "I do not regret what I said on the Denton program. "I was merely expressing myself as honestly as possible in explaining how it made me feel to visit a mine and see the earth blown up from the inside.
"It certainly does not reflect my gratitude towards the various communities who showed warmth and hospitality during the shoot in the gorgeous Pilbara. "I am sorry people have responded negatively to my personal belief about the way we treat the earth. "But isn't it fabulous that we are all so different and strong in our convictions - it helps makes the world go round."
Her remarks that the company is "raping the earth" and its Mt Whaleback operation is "disgusting" were made on ABC TV's Enough Rope program hosted by Andrew Denton on Monday night. They have prompted an outcry in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, where she filmed the just-released movie Japanese Story. They also are understood to have angered BHP Billiton management, who had agreed to help with the movie project only after an assurance by producers that the miner would not be shown in a bad light.
A well-known environmentalist, Collette supported the successful high-profile campaign against a $180 million tourism development for an area near the pristine Ningaloo Reef, in WA's mid-north. During filming of her latest movie, Collette visited BHP Billiton's massive Mt Whaleback open-cut iron-ore mine. She said on Monday's TV program: "That's a disgusting mine where they actually shot a huge explosion while we were there and I just felt sick about it.
"Let's rape the earth." BHP Billiton Iron Ore WA president Graeme Hunt was not immediately available for comment today. But he told patrons at the Perth premiere of the movie last week that BHP had "moved mountains" accommodating Collette and the movie crew - and had agreed to help only if producers agreed not to show the company in a bad light, and did not cost the miner time or money.
Mr Hunt said the project ended up costing both time and money, but the company was nonetheless proud to have been involved.