Adani claims government and courts going soft on activists,’insulting workers’

Adani Australia has claimed the courts and the State Government had gone soft on activists after the campaign against the company’s central Queensland coal mine moved up a gear.

Dec 07, 2021, updated Dec 07, 2021
Activist Megan Byrnes locked herself onto a train recently

Activist Megan Byrnes locked herself onto a train recently

Adani chief executive Lucas Dow said it was only a matter of time before someone was seriously injured or killed by the actions of professional activists “who are allowed to flout Queensland laws or run riot after receiving soft sentences”.

But activists have also claimed over “legal overreach” by the courts.

It followed the recent suspended jail term handed down by the courts for an activist who locked herself on to train carriage in a bid to stop the transport of coal from the mine. The woman, Juliet Lamont, had previously locked onto conveyors at the Abbot Point terminal and at Hay Point terminal.

Last month a Blockade Australia activist, Eric Serge Herbert, was sentenced to 12 months in jail for blockading coal trains in the Hunter region of New South Wales.

Adani said Lamont had a history of arrests.

“She was given a one-month suspended sentence and a $500 fine – a fraction of the two years’ imprisonment or $7000 fine available to the courts under the Government’s Dangerous Attachment Device laws,” Dow said.

“That’s a slap in the face to the mining industry workers who obey the law and whose hard work creates billions of dollars in royalty payments that fund Queensland’s schools and hospitals.

“The man who suspended himself from one of our stacker reclaimers at our port in Bowen last week was the same activist who caused traffic chaos in Brisbane when he suspended himself from the Story Bridge in 2019.

“The Government was outraged about that at the time, but not last week as it seems the Government’s concerns do not extend to regional Queensland’s coal communities.

“Tough laws are useless if they are not applied, and it’s time the Government got serious about enforcing real consequences for activists who choose to deliberately break the law and put Queenslanders’ lives at risk.

“They use lock-on devices to halt trains and port activities and waste police time and come back to do it all over again as there are next to no penalties.”

He also complained about the activists landing a helicopter near the mine to deliver what appeared to be supplies, including a carton of beer.

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It’s not Adani’s first crack at the Palaszczuk Government. It orchestrated a damaging advertising campaign against the State Government in the run-up to the last federal election when the Government appeared to stall the approval process for the mine.

After the surprise Coalition victory, which included a big swing towards it in central Queensland, the Palaszczuk Government relented and granted final approvals for the mine.

The anti-Adani activists are associated with Front Line Action on Coal. Indigenous activists had also recently set up a camp near the mine site.

Lamont has said that she couldn’t live with herself or look her children in the eye if she did nothing to oppose the mine.

“So I’m taking direct action,” she said.

Frontline Action on Coal spokesperson Andy Paine said her sentence was “the latest example of consistent overreach by the legal system against climate activists who are taking non-violent action against industries that are knowingly destroying our climate”.

“It’s not just the prison sentences that we have seen handed out recently. There is a repeated trend of those who make and enforce the law abusing it to restrict protest movement,” he said.

Adani has started commissioning its rail line to the coast and has been transporting coal to the port. It is expected to export its first coal this month.

The Police Minister has been asked for a response.

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