Several protests were held across Australia against Indian mining giant Adani’s proposed 16.5 billion dollars Carmichael coal mine project, which has been delayed for years over environmental and financing issues. Rallies were held on Saturday in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Port Douglas in North Queensland where thousands of protesters took to streets as part of a National Day of Action, according to media reports.
“If this mine does go ahead it drives us into a dirty future and Australia is a country that’s smarter than that,” Simon Fosterling, a Bondi surf life saver at the Sydney protest, which attracted about 2,000 people, was quoted as saying by the ABC news. “I have a two-year-old daughter and I don’t want to have a conversation with her in 10 years time and the mine’s gone ahead and she says to me, ‘dad, why didn’t you do something?'” Protesters spelled out ‘#STOP ADANI’ by standing in formation on the sand.
Sydney ‘Stop Adani’ campaigner Isaac Astill called the construction of the mine an international issue. “It’s going to be the biggest coal mine in the southern hemisphere at a time when our climate is crumbling,” Astill said. “It’s an international issue and that’s why we’re seeing people around the world and in Australia coming out in their thousands to say no to Adani.”
Reports said around 2000 people rallied in Melbourne’s Princes Park carrying placards reading ‘Coal=CO2!!!’ and ‘Protect Our Future’. Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said she hoped the “big day of action” would send a strong message that taxpayers did not want their money subsidising the project. “It will affect every single living thing on Earth, that’s why people in Melbourne and Sydney and Canberra and Adelaide and Cairns all care about this mine not going ahead.” O’Shanassy said.
Between 200-300 people turned out at Perth’s Cottesloe Beach and more than 250 people rallied in Hobart, where speakers included former Greens leader Bob Brown. Meanwhile, Adani Australia CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraj said that the company was committed to create jobs in Australia and there was large support for the project in regional Australia. “We are focussed.. the project is needed in the community and we have their whole support,” he said. He, however, said there was a loud minority voice against the project.
Janakaraj said an Adani India festival took place on Saturday night in Townsville which attracted 20,000 people which was an indication that the project was supported by the local community. Speaking at the festival, Minister Coralee O’Rourke welcomed the company’s commitment and also praised Adani for adhering to and working with government to deliver a job creating project. Adani and the Queensland government have highlighted that the mine will prove beneficial for the region.
This week the company announced it would base more than 1000 fly-in, fly-out workers in both Townsville and Rockhampton. However, environmental activists are concerned about the potential impacts to the Great Barrier Reef as the coal will be shipped through areas close to the national icon. There are also concerns the coal burned will contribute to climate change, which is the biggest threat to the reef.