'Win for people power’ as Adani mine operator prosecuted

A Stop Adani protest outside Queensland state parliament on September 5. Photo: Alex Bainbridge

Stop Adani activists are celebrating the Queensland Labor government’s decision to prosecute the Adani-owned Abbot Point Bulkcoal for pollution violations at the time of Cyclone Debbie last year.

Announced on September 5, the move came just two days before the deadline for prosecution would have passed and after almost 18 months of foot dragging on the issue by the government.

It also comes on the back of many months of intense protests by the Stop Adani movement.

In just the past two weeks the Stop Adani movement organised a protest in the foyer of the state government building (August 24), an action outside the state Labor conference ( September 1), a disruption of parliament (September 4), and a “People versus Adani” mock court outside parliament (September 5).

A planned September 6 “Flood the parliament” protest was converted into a celebration of the decision.

Socialist Alliance representative Kamala Emanuel told Green Left Weekly that the decision demonstrates the power of protest.

“A lot of people despair that protesting doesn't make any difference," Emanuel said. "Yet, again, here before our eyes, is another example that it does.”

“Personally, I was proud to take part in these actions and I am confident that with further actions we'll be able to stop the mine altogether.”

Maggie Mckeown from the Mackay Conservation Group told GLW that “this is a win for people power”.

“People who are part of this campaign should know that their efforts have made the difference.”

She also emphasised that while it is an important win, this “is only the beginning” and that campaigners still need to stop Adani’s mega coalmine altogether.

Greens MLA Michael Berkman said the decision isa vindication of the protest actions taken outside parliament.

He told ABC News that “we have seen such a strong people-powered campaign for years now, most Queenslanders don't want to see the [mine] go ahead”, adding that the decision is “one of the last steps towards Adani’s downfall”.

However, it is important to recognise that, despite this decision, the government continues to take a soft stance towards Adani.

The prosecution has conceded from the outset that “no known environmental impacts occurred as a result of the discharge”, which will likely minimise the punishment delivered by the Bowen Magistrates Court when the case is heard next month.

The $2.7 million maximum penalty is much larger than the dismal $12,000 fine that Adani rejected last year on this same issue. But it would still amount to little more than a minor business expense for a project estimated to cost $16.5 billion.

Nevertheless, this decision should give confidence to all campaigners that we can achieve the bigger goal of stopping the mine.