Protesters take fight to Adani’s front gate

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

A HAND­FUL of lo­cal res­i­dents headed north on Mon­day, join­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists from across the re­gion to protest the ex­pan­sion of the Ab­bot Point Coal Ter­mi­nal on Adani’s home turf.

Led by tra­di­tional owner Aunty Carol Prior, the con­cerned res­i­dents de­liv­ered pledges to the coal ex­port gi­ant say­ing they would do all they could to pro­tect the Great Bar­rier Reef.

Air­lie Beach res­i­dent and en­vi­ron­men­tal cam­paigner Tony Fontes said about 15 lo­cals joined the protest of more than 100 peo­ple on the bor­der to Adani-owned land.

“Air­lie Beach peo­ple have a real affin­ity for the reef be­cause of the fact we live off it, and we know the end re­sult of Ab­bot Point go­ing ahead would be very detri­men­tal for the reef,” he said.

Mr Fontes said the group held a tra­di­tional smok­ing cer­e­mony be­fore a smaller group boarded a bus to Adani’s main gate to de­liver the pledges – a 10km trip onto pri­vate prop­erty.

“That’s kind of break­ing the law, but that was the idea of course – so­cial dis­obe­di­ence,” he said.

The rest of the group hung back but also stepped onto Adani’s land in a show of sol­i­dar­ity.

How­ever, Mr Fontes warned next time they would all be knock­ing on the gate.

“You might look at it as a warn­ing shot fired across the bow,” he said.

De­spite a po­lice pres­ence on the day, Mr Fontes said there were no ar­rests.

“It re­ally boils down to, num­ber one, the po­lice on the day, as well as the own­ers, how far they want to push it,” he said.

“So the risk is un­known un­til you show up.

“Ev­ery­body was will­ing to be ar­rested, so to speak, but I’m not sure po­lice were in­ter­ested in piling 100 peo­ple into the paddy wagon.”

Bowen Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Bruce Hed­ditch said the protesters had now had their “fair say” and it was about time they re­alised the gov­ern­ment and the Bowen com­mu­nity wanted the ex­pan­sion to hap­pen.

“Places like Bowen are strug­gling,” Mr Hed­ditch said.

“This has been go­ing on far too long, this Ab­bot Point pro­posal, and it’s been op­posed all along the line by a few.”

Mr Fontes said the idea of the protest was not to hurt towns such as Bowen.

“Peo­ple shouldn’t see the protests as some­thing that’s go­ing to crush Bowen or Mackay. It’s time to wake up – we’re mov­ing on to a new econ­omy,” he said.

“First of all, it’s not about stop­ping coal.

“It’s about stop­ping the ex­pan­sion of the coal in­dus­try and look­ing to­wards tran­si­tion­ing.”

COAL FACE: About 15 lo­cals joined the 100 or so protesters who took their reef fight to Adani’s gate this week.

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