“Dozens of Protesters” Arrested Taking Direct Action at Maules Creek

Photo from The Herald

by Ian Kirkwood / The Herald

Protesters in Australia say more than 70 people have walked onto the  Maules Creek open cut coalmine near Narrabri and immobilised machinery in an ‘‘unprecedented’’ protest against the project.

Leard Forest Alliance representative Helen War said that more than 30 people had been arrested at the mine on Monday.

Ms War said three protesters who had locked themselves to machinery had been ‘‘cut down’’ by police.

She said those arrested included a farmer and a 92-year-old WWII veteran.

The NSW Minerals Council has criticised the protest, saying the protesters were ignoring the law and putting lives at risk.

Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee said Maules Creek had undergone an extensive assessment process and would go ahead regardless of any protests.

“Everyone has the right to protest, but it should be done according to the laws that keep people safe and protect the property of others,’’ Mr Galilee said.

‘‘Construction sites are potentially very dangerous places for trespassers. These reckless actions must stop before someone gets killed.’’

Ms War said the protesters wanted federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt to revoke federal approval for the project in light of a new climate change report released today.

“The people getting arrested here today are not your usual protesters,’’ Ms War said.

‘‘The fact that so many ordinary Australians have come down here to stop this mine is testament to the growing public concern about the impacts of climate change.‘‘

The latest Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change was unveiled in Japan on Monday and contains substantial amounts of information about Australia.

Ms War said the coal coming from Maules Creek would emit 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, which was as much as ‘‘New Zealand’s entire energy sector’’.

Mr Galilee said the Maules Creek activists wanted to ‘‘sit in judgment over the rest of society’’ but were ‘‘not prepared to play by the rules that apply to the rest of us’’.

“What right do protesters who choose to commit dangerous illegal acts have to judge the social licence of others?” Mr Galilee said.

“While the rest of us are prepared to abide by the law, a small group of radical activists have decided they are above the law.

“If you choose to ignore the laws and norms of society that apply to everyone else, then you also forfeit your right to judge the social licence of others, particularly those operating within the law and by the rules.’’

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