Protestors determined to stop the construction of Whitehaven’s Winchester South coal mine in Central Queensland have today taken to the streets of Brisbane, and delivered a powerful message to politicians at the tower of power.
The crowd, including a human-sized koala, flashed cardboard stop signs and a giant message made from cut-out-letters which read “Stop Whitehaven Coal” beneath ministerial offices at 1 William St before marching to Whitehaven’s new Creek Street office.
It’s the first time the NSW-based coal company has faced a protest at its Brisbane office since applying to dig for coal north of the border.
But it appears the southern coal mining outfit has struggled to grapple with the way things work in Queensland.
“Since first finalising the terms of reference in September 2019, the Queensland Coordinator General has allowed Whitehaven an incredible four extensions to get its application in order,” said Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland Coordinator Ellie Smith.
“Whitehaven has spent two and a half years trying to cobble together an acceptable EIS and it’s still struggling. Winchester South is clearly such a hot mess of a coal mine plan, it’s struggling to get approval from even the notoriously coal-friendly Queensland Government.
“Whitehaven clearly has no idea about Queensland. Embarrassingly in its original EIS it assumed Central Queensland experienced predominantly winter rainfall, rather than during the hot humid summers synonymous with much of the north.
“If approved and built, Winchester South would bulldoze poorly-researched but well-known koala habitat, suck out 155 million litres of groundwater and dig 17 million tonnes of coal each year.
“According to its own draft EIS (page 48), Whitehaven’s Winchester South project would be responsible for more than half a billion tonnes of CO2-e during its 30 year lifespan. This includes nearly 16 million tonnes of on-site emissions if CO2-e created from land clearing for the project are included (page 46), making it extremely difficult for the Queensland Government to simultaneously meet its already very weak 30% emissions reduction by 2030.
“Whitehaven has been convicted of multiple environmental breaches in its home state of NSW, which is why we’re calling on the Queensland Palaszczuk Government to stop Whitehaven’s northern scramble and send this company packing.”
While today’s demonstration was the first time Whitehaven’s Queensland office was targeted, Brisbane-based NAB officers have been the focus of ongoing protest activity, with Move Beyond Coal and the School Strike for Climate movement demanding the bank stop lending to climate criminal Whitehaven Coal.