Authorities cut an anti-coal demonstration short after two protestors locked themselves onto machinery at the nation’s most northerly deepwater port.
Queensland Police officers arrested Frontline Action on Coal activists Jeanette Kemp and Rupert Russell for putting their arms in an elbow lock mechanism at a conveyor belt that is normally used to load coal onto ships at the Abbot Point Port, 194km southeast of Townsville.
The November 27 stunt briefly delayed Bravus Mining and Resources (formerly known as Adani) from operating conveyor belts until rescue workers safely removed their limbs from the lock mechanism and escorted them off the work site.
The equipment will be used to help load coal product from the Carmichael Coal Project, 160km northwest of Clermont.
Activist ‘very depressed’
Russell, who retired from working as a naturalist, admitted he felt emotionally down from thinking too much about the environmental theory that burning fossil fuels causes weather changes due to the rising level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
“It is very depressing, it is really depressing to know this situation we are in is already because of climate change and it is actually going to get worse,” he said in a video shared on Facebook.
He claimed it was his civic duty to put his arm in a locking mechanism to prevent coal from contributing to 60 per cent of all greenhouse gases.
“Therefore, that is what a person can do is to lock on at the conveyor belt and stop the coal going out there for as many hours as possible,” he said.
“I see myself as a foot soldier to stand-up and object.”
‘Getting on with my life’
Kemp, who still works as an ecologist, thought it would be nice to spend her time doing more productive tasks than putting her arm in a locking mechanism.
“Quite frankly, I would rather be getting on with my life,” she said in the same Facebook video.
A Frontline Action on Coal spokesperson confirmed the pair have already been released and are once again enjoying freedom.
“Rupert and Jeanette are out of the cop shop and are enjoying a coffee,” the group said on Facebook.
Group caught exaggerating delays
The spokesperson falsely claimed the pair had stopped coal exports for several hours, when the protest actually lasted for about an hour and 45 minutes.
“Both managed to disrupt coal exports from this country for many hours thanks to taking part in direct action,” the group said on Facebook.
Meanwhile, Bravus recently paid fines totalling $25,920 to the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment for failing to comply with federal regulations.
“Two minor compliance issues were raised by the department in relation to a pre-clearance survey which had expired by 24 days, and an updated species management plan not being submitted within the three month window required, following a pre-clearance survey,” a company spokesperson said in a public statement.
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The proponent blamed staff for “misinterpreting project condition reporting requirements”.
“Bravus management has since provided additional internal training to ensure our understanding of the conditions aligns with the expectations of the department,” the spokesperson said.
“Although other mining and construction companies may not make public statements regarding environmental notifications, we recognise the level of public interest in the Carmichael project holds us to a higher standard, and we therefore place significant importance on transparent communications around our activities onsite.”