Narrabri Coal Mine Shut Down
1 April – Narrabri underground coal mine, operated by Whitehaven, has been shut down this morning with peaceful action. Hannah Grant, 21, and Lily Matchett, 25, have locked on to the coal conveyor, stopping the coal production line and standing up against catastrophic climate change and the destruction of country.
“We have obligations to take care of country and everything within it. If we look after the land it will look after us. Life sustains life,” said Dolly Talbot, Gomeroi Traditional Custodian.
Hannah Grant said of her actions today, “these companies are destroying land to the point of no return and causing catastrophic climate change. Around the world it is people who contribute the least to climate change who will be affected the most. End coal now.”
In 2016 we continue to break regional, national and global temperature records, while coal mines are approved for expansion and the Government continues paying lip service to climate solutions. Environment Minister Greg Hunt continues to drag his feet on formal protection for sacred land in the Leard State Forest. Gomeroi/Gamilaraay elders have been waiting too long to hear if Lawler’s Well will be saved. Government has failed to put the cultural land rights of Gomeroi/Gamilaraay people ahead of mine expansion by Whitehaven Coal in critically endangered forest. Section 9 and 10 protection applications were made two years ago under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage and Protection Act (ATSIHP Act).
Lily Matchett said today, “I’m taking action because the coal industry is running Aboriginal land and our health and environment into the ground in the name of capital. I’m watching my government do nothing to stop climate change or assist workers into sustainable jobs. There was only so much watching I could do before taking matters into my own hands.”
COAL TRAINS STOPPED IN THEIR TRACKS BY PROTESTERS
Willow Tree NSW
29 March – Coal trains bound for Newcastle from Whitehaven and Idemitsu mines have again been stopped by concerned citizens in an act of peaceful protest against the continuing expansion of coal mines. Environment Officer Anisa Rogers (23), student Linah Winoto (20) and Horticulturalist Jim Kremar (33) are currently occupying a locomotive at Willow Tree in rural NSW, stopping all coal trains from reaching port and effectively shutting down the coal production line.
Front Line Action on Coal spokesperson, Jason McLean, said of the action that “civil disobedience would not stop until the Government puts the wellbeing of its citizens ahead of that of big business.”
“We call upon the NSW State Government to help communities transition to sustainable industries, as the mining boom ends and the world moves towards ensuring a safe climate future. Mike Baird’s condemnation will not stop us from standing against dodgy companies like Whitehaven. We will stand up to them from the Pit to the Port.”
Coal production continues to expand in NSW, despite global acknowledgement that fossil fuel consumption is drastically changing the world’s atmosphere and is sending greenhouse gas emissions to levels not seen before in human existence. In addition, the broadscale clearing of carbon-dense forest by Whitehaven Coal at the Maules Creek mine is driving landscape-scale loss of biodiversity and huge losses of natural carbon stores.
The Government sanctioned destruction of the Leard State Forest at Maules Creek is causing the loss of irreplaceable ecosystems that contain at least 34 threatened species, and is home to the largest remaining intact area of critically endangered Grassy White Box Woodland in NSW. Current estimates suggest that as little as 400 hectares of unmodified GWBW are left in Australia (Australian Government Department of the Environment 2016), providing critical habitat for Koalas, Tiger Quolls and nationally threatened bird species such as the Regent Honeyeater and Swift Parrot.
“The actions of protesters this afternoon have been taken to highlight that coal has no future, and ours is on the line,” continued Jason McLean.
Over 400 people have been arrested in the long running campaign against the destruction of Leard State Forest by Whitehaven Coal.
21 March – On Sunday a protest at Willow Tree NSW, halted Whitehaven Coal’s trains from reaching Newcastle Port. Trains were stopped for 5 hours after 33 year old Jamie Dunnit scaled, and occupied, the locomotives pulling the wagons laden with coal from Whitehaven’s coal mine. This community action occurs in the midst of a government crackdown on people who try to defend themselves from the impact of fossil fuel industries through peaceful protest.
“New legislation in New South Wales means that a person protecting their communities from mining will face a similar fine to a company that is in breach of environmental regulations,” said former mining worker and Front Line Action On Coal spokesperson Jason Mclean. “The corruption that has been investigated by ICAC has clearly not been weeded out, as Mike Baird continues to protect the interests of the very same companies involved in the scandal.”
Jamie Dunnit, 33, who works in bush regeneration spent the afternoon atop a coal train at Willow Tree – “These (anti protest) laws are a last ditch attempt from a dying industry to save itself as people stand up for their rights. We are showing them that we will not be deterred from protesting. We will not be silenced”.
Over 400 people have been arrested standing up for culture, community, ecology, land and water over the past four years in protest against the destruction of the Leard State Forest by Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek mine.
Jason McLean said of the action that civil disobedience “would not stop until the Government puts the wellbeing of its citizens ahead of that of big business.”
“We call upon the NSW State Government to help communities transition to sustainable economies as the mining boom ends and the world moves towards ensuring a safe climate future.
Mike Baird’s condemnation will not stop us from standing up against dodgy companies like Whitehaven. We will stand up to them from the Pit to the Port.”