'Not Here, Not Now, Not Ever': Reef Defenders Rise Up in Australia
Direct action organizers say protest 'foreshadows a sustained campaign of civil disobedience' against Abbot Point coal project
In what is being called "a powerful escalation" of the global campaign against controversial coal mining projects that endanger the Great Barrier Reef, over 120 people on Monday peacefully protested at the Abbot Point port of Australia.
Led by Aunty Carol Prior, a Juru elder and traditional custodian of the Abbot Point area, dozens of people risked arrest by walking onto the Abbot Point Coal Terminal lands on Monday morning, vowing to protect the Great Barrier Reef and global climate by preventing Indian mining company Adani's proposed Abbot Point and Galilee Basin coal projects from moving forward.
As 350.org has noted, "If this project goes ahead, it will unlock one of the world's biggest carbon bombs."
"We are parents, and grandparents, tourism operators and farmers, traditional owners and conservationists from all parts of Australia," said Sandra Williams, a local resident who participated in the protest. "The community is saying no to this project. Not here, not now, not ever."
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The action comes as the UN World Heritage Committee prepares to meet in Bonn, Germany next week to discuss threats to the Great Barrier Reef, known as the world's largest coral reef system. Adani wants to dig up the coal reserves of the Galilee Basin and construct a massive new coal export port at Abbot Point in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area—a plan conservationists have long opposed.
"For years now, people everywhere have been raising their voices and taking action to stop the Galilee mines and Abbot Point port expansion from going ahead," reads a statement on the Reef Defenders Alliance website. "Court cases have been mounted, submissions have been lodged, petitions have garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures, financiers have been reasoned with, experts have warned of the huge financial and environmental risks, global investment banks have walked away, yet the projects march onwards. Our leaders are failing us."
The Queensland government is currently preparing to submit the controversial dredging project to the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt for approval.
Representatives of the Abbot Point port refused to meet the demonstrators when they arrived.
Though no arrests were made, organizers said they would not be deterred and suggested more actions were on the horizon, warning in a press statement that Monday's protest "foreshadows a sustained campaign of civil disobedience against construction of the controversial project which has already been ranked as having the third highest reputation risk of any project on the planet."
As Aunty Carol Prior put it, "We are standing together, united as one, to protect Mother Earth. Mother Earth—our environment—is my culture, my heritage, and my Aboriginality."
See photos of the protest below: