The week of frontline action against the Adani coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee basin, which took place from September 16 to 23, is just the beginning.
More than 100 people, many new to campaigning, came to say: “We will stop Adani”.
Indian mining giant Adani is seeking to build Australia’s largest coalmine, with the aim of exporting up to 60 million tonnes of coal from the Great Barrier Reef coast every year.
On the other side, Aboriginal communities, climate activists and local residents want to stop this project going ahead, given the devastating effects it will have on land, water, reef and the climate
The week of action took place in a context where legal action, mass protest and political campaigning have so far not succeeded in stopping the mine.
The unpopular project has been delayed for years and so far has failed to obtain sufficient funds to get off the ground. But it is actively supported by state and federal governments.
Adani is threatening to start construction work in October and this week of action was a positive affirmation that the campaign against the coalmine will not stop until the mine is defeated.
The protest camp, Camp Babirra, was established near Bowen, close to the Abbot Point Port that Adani plans to expand with a new coal terminal. It also plans to build a new rail line, with public money. The proposed mine site is several hundred kilometres away.
All three aspects of the project, as well as the Adani corporate office in Townsville, were targets of protest action during the week. All participants were asked to make a commitment to non-violent action.
The movement understands that this campaign is part of a First Nations’ struggle for justice and land rights.
As we approached the access road to the port on September 21, Juru elder Aunty Carol Prior pointed to the sign that said “no trespass” and said that Adani should stop trespassing on Aboriginal land.
The first action of the week was a peaceful lantern procession along the beach. This provided an opportunity to discuss the issue with local residents, some of whom support the mine.
Campaigners spoke to one person who acknowledged that she had been tearing down anti-Adani posters. At the end of the discussion some common ground was reached.
Local residents were among the most active and enthusiastic supporters of the week of action. Three of the ten people arrested at the first civil disobedience action were from the local region.
Protesters were at pains to point out that our actions were directed against the Adani corporation and the climate pollution its mine will create, not the local community.
There are better ways to create local jobs and spend $1 billion of public money.
This sentiment was demonstrated with a collection among camp participants to be donated to a local sports club. While this was a symbolic gesture, the sentiment was genuine – unlike the cynical dollars in “sponsorship” coming out of the advertising budget of billionaire climate destroyers such as Adani.
One of the last actions of the week was a planned beach clean-up.
[People interested in taking similar actions in the future can take the pledge to join the movement at qld.frontlineaction.org.]