It’s an old adage: there’s one rule for the rich and another for the poor. And that’s precisely how courts are treating Adani’s Carmichael mine and the protesters opposed to it.
In a first for Queensland courts, on 14 March nine activists from Frontline Action on Coal were found guilty of “interfering with a port’s operations” for shutting down the Adani Abbot Point Coal Terminal twice earlier this year.
Thirteen protesters were collectively fined $80,000 for attempting to prevent runaway climate change. When Adani has faced the courts for negligence and environmental destruction, the fines have been pitiful.
Gautam Adani has enough wealth to finance the $15 billion Carmichael mine project from his personal fortune, and yet his company was fined a measly $12,000 for a coal spill in the Caley Valley Wetlands last year. Even this proved too much for the mining giant, which is challenging the fine.
“While we didn’t expect to get off lightly for a targeted action like this, these fines are far more than anticipated”, Liisa Rusanen, one protester, told Red Flag. “As a single mother surviving on a very low income, $8,000 is beyond my capacity to pay. The rest of us are all students, retirees and low-paid workers.
“When a billionaire gets a relatively meagre fine for environmental destruction, yet peaceful protesters cop $80,000 in fines, we have to ask how short term corporate profits can really be valued over ecosystems and a safe climate.
“The bigger injustice here is that corporations like Adani are allowed to go on fuelling the climate emergency, drowning Pacific islands and destroying the reef, water resources and Indigenous lands.
“As far as we know, $8,000 fines are unprecedented for any first time offenders. Peaceful direct action has played an important role in major environmental campaigns: from the Franklin Dam to Jabiluka. So we’re asking for help in fundraising and are grateful to be a part of a community of activists supporting us in this.”
Despite the charges, frontline activists are continuing to campaign in north Queensland to defend the Galilee Basin and prevent any new coal mines.
Supporters are encouraged to donate to the defence fund at
By agreeing to pass the safeguard mechanism reforms, Labor’s signature climate policy, the Greens have helped greenwash the continued expansion of fossil fuels.
Last week’s conclusion of the Royal Commission into the Robodebt scheme has once again brought national attention to the program that, from 2015 to 2019, saw nearly half a million welfare recipients hounded over unlawful fake debts concocted using faulty calculations.
The global economy has been in turmoil since the start of the pandemic—collapse, rebound, inflationary spiral. Now, “It’s the ‘Godot’ recession”, Ray Farris, chief economist at Credit Suisse, told the Wall Street Journal in early March. Everyone waits but it doesn’t seem to come. Every few months, economic forecasts flip from contraction to slowdown to cautious optimism about sustained growth.
The Australian Greens achieved unprecedented success at the last federal election, gaining their highest ever number of parliamentary seats after putting forward a left-wing platform calling for including dental and mental health in Medicare, the wiping of student debt, 1 million affordable homes, free child care and income-support increases.
There is a dangerous escalation of transphobia happening right now. The political right in the United States and the United Kingdom are rolling back civil rights for trans people specifically and LGBT people more broadly. This is being driven by an amalgamation of mainstream conservative parties, the far right, Christian fundamentalists and right-wing shock jocks and tabloids.
Hundreds of students protested across the country on Friday 17 March to demand an end to fossil fuels and taxes on the rich and big corporations to fund a shift to renewables and decarbonisation of the economy. The protests, organised by the National Union of Students, criticised the Labor government for approving major new coal and gas projects when the world needs to rapidly reduce emissions.