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Anti-coal activist ordered to stop sharing confidential information

Galilee Blockade protestor Ben Pennings
Galilee Blockade protestor Ben Pennings

A judge has ruled an anti-mining activist must discontinue circulating private details about a $21 billion coal project and its workers.

Brisbane Supreme Court recently ordered Galilee Blockade protestor Ben Pennings to cease posting unauthorised recordings of Adani Australia employees, and stop using social media to pressure the proponent into abandoning the $21 billion Carmichael Coal Project, about 160km northwest of Clermont.

End disruption

Justice Glenn Martin said Pennings must delete posts about Adani, its employees and contractors. Martin also warned the activist to stop inviting people to provide specific information about the project, and refrain from using confidential information in anti-mining campaigns.

“The information would allow members of Galilee Blockade to identify targets for activity and to disrupt construction activities at worksites,” the justice said according to the Australian Associated Press.

“This has already, on the material relied upon, occurred on over 50 occasions.”

Costing millions

Adani estimates Pennings’ relentless activism against the project has already cost the company millions of dollars in additional expenses.

The proponent accused the activist of deliberately misusing confidential information with the intention of “frustrating or terminating the development of the mine and rail network”. The company also claimed Pennings encouraged people to apply for jobs at Adani in order to leak secret company information to him about the project through Galilee Blockade’s so-called “dob in campaign”.

“[Pennings] has not denied that he has said that he has information about who is bidding for particular types of work and, because the Galilee Blockade has that information, they can use it to get the contractors ‘out of bed with Adani’,” Martin said.

Facebook ad ban

Pennings, who chose to represent himself, did not immediately remove the offending social media posts after leaving court. He even took the opportunity to ask for donations to support his cause.

“I will be taking some content off this page soon,” he said on Facebook. “Galilee Blockade are under attack for a reason, support them how [ever] you can.”

Facebook recently decided to grant Adani’s request to disable Pennings’ social media advertising account.

“All ad accounts are evaluated for policy compliance and quality of ad content,” a Facebook Ads team representative said. “Due to your [Pennings’] ad account consistently promoting ads that do not comply with our advertising policies or other standards, the ad account has been disabled.”

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Pennings is now concerned he could lose everything due to his anti-coal activism.

“Adani claims that their legal strategy is not about inflicting hardship on me but they are still undertaking civil action, which could ultimately bankrupt my family,” he said on Facebook. “We would have to sell our family home to profit a multi-billionaire.”

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