A group of about 40 protesters chanted “we can't eat coal, can’t drink gas, lock the gates” as they gathered outside Ipswich Civic Centre on July 21 to oppose the coal and coal seam gas industries.
Inside, Prime Minister Julia Gillard addressed a business and community breakfast, co-sponsored by the Ipswich City Council.
Outside, a Julia lookalike sat down to a breakfast of coal and toxic coal seam gas “fracking” fluid, in a symbolic protest at the threat coal and coal seam gas mining pose to farmers and residents of south-east Queensland.
This was followed by an alternative breakfast in the nearby Ipswich Mall.
Another group, organised by GetUp, rallied for “Action on climate change now”. The prime minister dodged both rallies by leaving via the back door.
Ipswich region Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Cassie McMahon said: “We want our prime minister to know that declining air and water quality, the threat to food security and agriculture, and the health risks of living with heavy industry, is not acceptable.”
The previous day, Lock the Gate Alliance president Drew Hutton told a Brisbane hearing of the senate inquiry into the coal seam gas industry: “This coal seam gas development is the worst public policy process I have ever seen.
“It is a ruthless exercise of corporate power, involving the complete alienation of farmers’ and landholders’ rights.
“We need a strategic alliance of rural landholders with city environmentalists in order to campaign effectively against the threat of coal and coal seam gas mining.
“Coal seam gas and coalmining are completely incompatible with farming.
“Food security is crucial. We urgently need a national food security policy.
“Drilling and exploration are also occurring right next to residential areas. Environmentally sensitive sectors also need to be protected.
“We need to develop a mass people's movement on this issue.”