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