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Protestor sued for trespassing at $21B coal project could go bankrupt

Galilee Blockade protestor Ben Pennings
Galilee Blockade protestor Ben Pennings

An anti-coal activist might lose everything after being prosecuted for intimidating mine workers and intruding a $21 billion development in Central Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

Adani Australia has launched a Brisbane Supreme Court legal action against Ben Pennings after the Galilee Blockade protestor allegedly trespassed and made threats at the Carmichael Coal Project, about 160km northwest of Clermont.

Decade of alleged offending

The proponent accuses Pennings of acting beyond the legal boundaries of free speech and peaceful assembly in the past decade by trespassing, intimidating and harassing employees and contractors who were simply doing their job.

“He has live-streamed video of our employees and our contractors and used their images without their consent or knowledge across social media channels in an alleged attempt to belittle and intimidate them,” an Adani spokesperson said in a public statement.

“He has caused distress to workers whose offices he has entered and he has used intimidation in an attempt to force meetings with executives. After almost a decade of this type of intimidation we are saying enough is enough and we are exercising our legal rights to put an end to this obsessive and, in some cases, dangerous behaviour.”

COVID-19 failed to stop activism

Adani revealed the worldwide coronavirus pandemic did not stop Pennings and other protestors from repeatedly trying to disrupt business operations and blocking both entry and exit points to the company’s mine camp and access roads.

Pennings believes he will go bankrupt if Adani wins the lawsuit, and revealed his home could have been searched for incriminating evidence until the Supreme Court finally ruled against it.

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“Adani want to silence dissent about their destructive thermal coal project that a majority of Australians oppose. They have already bankrupted traditional owner Adrian Burragubba, I will not let a massive multinational company threaten or bankrupt my family,” he said on Twitter.

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