Dozens of climate activists sprinted across mountains of coal, swarmed a massive coal loader, locked on to critical parts of the machine and shut down the largest coal terminal in the world, in Newcastle on September 15.
On September 13, Micah Weekes, once a coal miner and now an anti-coal activist stopped a coal train heading into the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle.
A former scaffolder from the Central Coast, Weekes worked in the coal industry for nearly 10 years. He said he was taking action because of the coal industry’s toxic impact on people’s health.
“You don’t have to work in the industry to get sick from this. My kids are going to get sick. It’s already happening. People in my community have reoccurring respiratory illnesses, cancers and tumours.”
Newcastle youth Ceder locked on to the side of a coal train in Newcastle, halting all supply heading into the world's largest coal port on September 7. Ceder was later cut loose and taken into police custody. This was the third protest action this week organised by Frontline Action on Coal against Australia’s coal industry and its contribution to global climate change.
Newcastle Police arrested a young man and woman for filming a peaceful protest on September 3, along with Sarah Barron, a Newcastle local, who had blocked all coal trains heading across Sandgate bridge for three hours. All three were taken into custody by around a dozen police, with the two who filmed the event being charged with “aiding and abetting”.
Barron was participating in “Act Up Newcastle” as part of the #EndCoal campaign initiated by Climate Justice group Frontline Action on Coal (FLAC), in collaboration with Newcastle Climate Justice Uprising.
In recent weeks the coal lobby has launched a renewed propaganda offensive, including Pauline Hansen offering support for Coalition tax legislation in exchange for a new coal-fired power station in North Queensland and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott calling for government funding for new coal-fired power stations.
Dozens of creative and disruptive actions were held across Australia under the banner of “drawing a red line” on new coal. Organised by Front Line Action on Coal (FLAC) and local Stop Adani groups, people from Auckland to Melbourne and many regional communities protested outside politicians’ offices, dropped banners over freeways and blockaded coal train lines.
Polls show more than 55% of Australians oppose the Adani coalmine, with about 70% opposing government financial support for it.
The Ngara Institute’s annual Activist of the Year award was shared by the Knitting Nannas Against Gas, whose creative and persistent nonviolent strategies have been so important at blockades and protests, and Annie Kia, who developed the hugely successful “neighbour to neighbour” community engagement process for Lock the Gate.
The award was presented on June 30 at Ngara’s annual lecture in Mullumbimby, presented by former Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs.
Charges brought against the so-called “Wollar Three” under New South Wales’ controversial anti-protest laws were dismissed by a Mudgee magistrate on June 5. However, the laws remain a threat to the right to protest.
The Wollar Three — Bev Smiles, Bruce Hughes and Stephanie Luke — were arrested on April 12 last year for protesting against the expansion of the Wilpinjong coalmine, which would expand the mine to just 1.5 kilometres from the village.
Activists opposed to the opening up of coalmining in Queensland’s Galilee Basin have taken to the streets in local actions calling on Coalition and Labor MPs to stop the Adani coalmine from going ahead.
On May 18, activists in Ballarat protested outside the local MPs office and on May 19 more than 200 gathered outside the Camberwell office of environment minister Josh Frydenberg. Rallies were also held in Brisbane and Adelaide.
Information provided by the NSW Water Office indicates that if the Bylong coalmine in the Upper Hunter region proceeds, there is a real danger of the Bylong River and local creeks drying up.
The Bylong coalmine, a project of South Korean government-owned company Kepco which supplies coal to the electricity industry, involves open cut and underground extraction of up to 6.5 million tonnes of coal for a period of 25 years. The Planning and Assessment Commission’s hearing of Kepco’s application was completed in May last year and its review report was completed in July.