More than 50 people came out to Brisbane’s Executive Building on the morning of October 29 in a fiery protest against Premier Campbell Newman’s recent decision to allow uranium mining in Queensland.
Under the banner of Queensland Nuclear Free Alliance, the protest called for a complete ban on uranium mining in the state.
Uranium has not been mined in Queensland since 1982, but Newman recently announced his decision to give uranium mining the go-ahead. Just two weeks earlier, Newman had reaffirmed his pre-election statements that his government had “no plans to approve the development of uranium in Queensland”.
Murri leader and activist Sam Watson opened the protest with a welcome to country and stressed the environmental impacts of uranium mining and its impacts on Aboriginal communities whose land it destroys. “Leave this stuff in the ground,” he said.
Robin Taubenfeld of Queensland Nuclear Free Alliance and Friends of the Earth said the community opposes uranium mining for many reasons. “You might oppose it for environmental reasons, you might oppose it for social justice reasons, you might oppose it for anti-war reasons.”
The Queensland cabinet was to meet at 10am in the Executive Building, but instead decided to meet at the Department of Community Safety building in Kedron. Tim Seelig from The Wilderness Society said Newman was worried about facing the public’s backlash on his uranium policy and “did a runner”.
Seelig was also hopeful about the potential to overturn the decision, saying: “There will be a mass fightback against this madness.”
The protesters chanted “export Newman, not uranium” outside the building, before delivering a message and several uranium fact sheets for cabinet ministers. They were barred access to the building by security.
Robert Nicholas from QLD Uncut, the community-based coalition fighting Newman’s public sector cuts, drew links between the cuts to the public and community sectors and the expansion of mining in the state. “Who is this government for?” he asked. “It’s for big business.”
He pointed out that Newman’s rhetoric about job creation in uranium mining is undermined by his huge cuts to the public service. He said the Newman government is prioritising “investment in mining at the expense of us”.
Representatives from the Electrical Trades Union, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the Socialist Alliance, Queensland Greens spokesperson Adam Stone and Labor Left activists were also present at the rally.
[The Queensland Nuclear Free Alliance meets regularly to discuss upcoming actions. For more details visit its website qnfa.org.]