Media Release from our friends at the Leard Forest Research Node
Jamie Frankcombe, a senior Whitehaven Coal executive, on Wednesday told ABC Radio National Breakfast radio that residents in the desirable Sydney suburb of Randwick are inflicted with worse air pollution than farms abutting the notorious Maules Creek coal mine.
He referred to air pollution levels at the NSW EPA’s Randwick monitor, located at Avoca and Bundock Streets, as evidence of worse pollution than that measured in the Maules Creek “region”. However, he failed to point out that the Maules Creek regional air monitor is 7 km distant from the Maules Creek mine, and not in the direction of the prevailing wind as is Pat Murphy’s property.
“Pat Murphy’s paddocks and farming operations are just over 1 km away from the mine, not 7 km like the regional air monitor that Mr Frankcombe was referring to,” said Anna Christie from the volunteer group, the Leard Forest Research Node, which was formed to conduct community-based monitoring and scientific investigations into the coal mines of the Leard Forest precinct.
“Jamie Frankcombe’s statement to the ABC yesterday is typical of the kind of nonsense that the EPA and NSW Dept of Planning have to constantly put up with from Whitehaven Coal,” said Ms Christie.
The Maules Creek mine, at the far north-eastern tip of the Liverpool Plains, was the subject of a journalistic investigation by RN Breakfast into toxic air pollution from mine activities, including coal dust, overburden dust and blasting fumes from several blasts per week.
“Whitehaven maintains strict secrecy around the Material Safety Data Sheets for the blasting chemicals used, so locals can’t even find out what toxic effects they are being subjected to by the company,” said Ms Christie.
“Whitehaven Coal yesterday unveiled its Quarterly Production Report which revealed accelerating output of thermal coal, but we do not know if shareholders and investors are also being briefed about the record of non-compliance of the Maules Creek mine, which included 100 noise violations last year detected by the NSW EPA.”
“Whitehaven Coal states that it is the lowest cost coal producer in Australia,” said Ms Christie, “however, the cost of this on the community of Maules Creek is high. The community is effectively subsidising the mine, being subjected to a range of potential health impacts caused by dust and blasting pollution, as well as 24/7 low-frequency noise.”
“The Leard Forest Research Node is now commencing studies of dust levels in the area. This is a follow up to last year’s Pilot Study into noise levels around the Maules Creek mine where we concluded that the modelling presented to the NSW Government to gain planning approval was highly inaccurate,” said Ms Christie. “We do not believe they can control their noise pollution after 10 PM, and should not be operating during night-time hours. Whitehaven is also clearly struggling to control dust, unsuccessfully in our opinion.”
FURTHER INFORMATION: Anna Christie, Leard Forest Research Node 0425 322 186
Hear the Radio National Story “FARMER PAT MURPHY: A ‘FORGOTTEN MAN’
Narrabri, 1st April 2016:
Narrabri underground coal mine, operated by Whitehaven, has been shut down this morning with peaceful action. Hannah Grant, 21, and Lily Matchett, 25, have locked on to the coal conveyor, stopping the coal production line and standing up against catastrophic climate change and the destruction of country.
“We have obligations to take care of country and everything within it. If we look after the land it will look after us. Life sustains life,” said Dolly Talbot, Gomeroi Traditional Custodian.
Hannah Grant said of her actions today, “these companies are destroying land to the point of no return and causing catastrophic climate change. Around the world it is people who contribute the least to climate change who will be affected the most. End coal now.”
In 2016 we continue to break regional, national and global temperature records, while coal mines are approved for expansion and the Government continues paying lip service to climate solutions. Environment Minister Greg Hunt continues to drag his feet on formal protection for sacred land in the Leard State Forest. Gomeroi/Gamilaraay elders have been waiting too long to hear if Lawler’s Well will be saved. Government has failed to put the cultural land rights of Gomeroi/Gamilaraay people ahead of mine expansion by Whitehaven Coal in critically endangered forest. Section 9 and 10 protection applications were made two years ago under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage and Protection Act (ATSIHP Act).
Lily Matchett said today, “I’m taking action because the coal industry is running Aboriginal land and our health and environment into the ground in the name of capital. I’m watching my government do nothing to stop climate change or assist workers into sustainable jobs. There was only so much watching I could do before taking matters into my own hands.”
Greg Hunt MP has the discretionary power to protect the high order sacred site Lawler’s well in the Leard State Forest. The Environment Minister has finally acknowledged receipt of the ATSIHP protection application for Lawler’s Well, and still elders continue to wait for a decision.
Front Line Action on Coal Spokesperson
0427 642 245
Willow Tree NSW, 29th March 2016:
Coal trains bound for Newcastle from Whitehaven and Idemitsu mines have again been stopped by concerned citizens in an act of peaceful protest against the continuing expansion of coal mines. Environment Officer Anisa Rogers (23), student Linah Winoto (20) and Horticulturalist Jim Kremar (33) are currently occupying a locomotive at Willow Tree in rural NSW, stopping all coal trains from reaching port and effectively shutting down the coal production line.
Front Line Action on Coal spokesperson, Jason McLean, said of the action that “civil disobedience would not stop until the Government puts the wellbeing of its citizens ahead of that of big business.”
“We call upon the NSW State Government to help communities transition to sustainable industries, as the mining boom ends and the world moves towards ensuring a safe climate future. Mike Baird’s condemnation will not stop us from standing against dodgy companies like Whitehaven. We will stand up to them from the Pit to the Port.”
Coal production continues to expand in NSW, despite global acknowledgement that fossil fuel consumption is drastically changing the world’s atmosphere and is sending greenhouse gas emissions to levels not seen before in human existence. In addition, the broadscale clearing of carbon-dense forest by Whitehaven Coal at the Maules Creek mine is driving landscape-scale loss of biodiversity and huge losses of natural carbon stores.
The Government sanctioned destruction of the Leard State Forest at Maules Creek is causing the loss of irreplaceable ecosystems that contain at least 34 threatened species, and is home to the largest remaining intact area of critically endangered Grassy White Box Woodland in NSW. Current estimates suggest that as little as 400 hectares of unmodified GWBW are left in Australia (Australian Government Department of the Environment 2016), providing critical habitat for Koalas, Tiger Quolls and nationally threatened bird species such as the Regent Honeyeater and Swift Parrot.
“The actions of protesters this afternoon have been taken to highlight that coal has no future, and ours is on the line,” continued Jason McLean.
Over 400 people have been arrested in the long running campaign against the destruction of Leard State Forest by Whitehaven Coal.
Front Line Action on Coal Spokesperson
Community members have taken direct action to interrupt coal exports from Whitehaven’s Maules Creek mine this morning. One woman has occupied a coal line, stopping trains from entering the coal export terminal at Kooragang Island in Newcastle.They have taken a stand to preserve the remaining ecosystems & Aboriginal Sacred Sites in the Leard State Forest where the Maules Creek mine is situated.
Front Line Action on Coal is calling for an end to the coal industry and a shift into renewable energy sources stating that the coal industry and the Maules creek mine are detrimental to the environment, the Aboriginal cultural heritage of the local Gomeroi nation, native wildlife, ecology, water resources & community health.
Hundreds of people have been arrested over the past four years in protest against Whitehaven Coal’s destruction of the Leard State Forest since direct opposition began in 2012. Today’s action is a part of ongoing effort to protect Lawler’s well, one of the last remaining sacred sites for the local Gomeroi/Gamilaraay tribe in the Leard state forest. Gomeroi traditional custodians have petitioned Environment Minister Greg Hunt to use his powers under Section 9 and 10 of the ATSIHP Act to stop work in the Lawler’s Well area. After two years pending, Minister Greg Hunt has still refused to grant the urgent applications stating that “Whitehaven is not scheduled to clear Lawler’s Well until 2017” and therefore he doesn’t need to make an immediate decision.
Student Chelsea Lazar said of her actions today “When we look back at the destruction will we ask ourselves, why didn’t we do more ? Our government is failing us and silencing us. How much longer will we continue to watch our forests plundered, our water poisoned, our rights stolen before we all stand together and say; enough is enough.”
Community advocacy group Front Line Action on Coal has accused NSW Premier Mike Baird of continuing to protect the interests of Whitehaven Coal above the interests of the local community & global climate. Despite overwhelming community outcry, the State & Federal Governments continue to support the coal industry with economic subsidies and favourable legislation despite corruption investigations into Whitehaven Coal.
Front Line Action on Coal Spokesperson Reuben Legge said; “New ‘protest law’ legislation in New South Wales will mean that a person protecting their community from industrial scale environmental destruction will be fined more than a multi million dollar mining company that is drastically in breach of environmental regulations. This is not in the interests of the Australian Population. Coal has no future, and ours is on the line. Civil disobedience will not stop until the Government puts the well-being of the Australian People ahead of that of big business. We call upon the NSW State Government to help communities transition to sustainable economies as the mining boom ends and the world moves towards ensuring a safe climate future.”
More info: Reuben Legge, Front Line Action On Coal Media Spokesperson – 0479 154 886 [email protected]
Willow Tree, NSW 20/03/2016
On Sunday peaceful protest, at Willow Tree NSW, halted Whitehaven Coal’s trains from reaching Newcastle Port. Trains were stopped for 5 hours after 33 year old Jamie Dunnit scaled, and occupied, the locomotives pulling the wagons laden with coal from Whitehaven’s coal mine. This community action occurs in the midst of a government crackdown on people who try to defend themselves from the impact of fossil fuel industries through peaceful protest.
“New legislation in New South Wales means that a person protecting their communities from mining will face a similar fine to a company that is in breach of environmental regulations,” said former mining worker and Front Line Action On Coal spokesperson Jason Mclean. “The corruption that has been investigated by ICAC has clearly not been weeded out, as Mike Baird continues to protect the interests of the very same companies involved in the scandal.”
Jamie Dunnit, 33, who works in bush regeneration spent the afternoon atop a coal train at Willow Tree – “These (anti protest) laws are a last ditch attempt from a dying industry to save itself as people stand up for their rights. We are showing them that we will not be deterred from protesting. We will not be silenced”.
Over 400 people have been arrested standing up for culture, community, ecology, land and water over the past four years in protest against the destruction of the Leard State Forest by Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek mine.
Jason McLean said of the action that civil disobedience “would not stop until the Government puts the wellbeing of its citizens ahead of that of big business.”
“We call upon the NSW State Government to help communities transition to sustainable economies as the mining boom ends and the world moves towards ensuring a safe climate future.
Mike Baird’s condemnation will not stop us from standing up against dodgy companies like Whitehaven. We will stand up to them from the Pit to the Port.”
Jason Mclean, Media Spokesperson – 0424 555 166
Updates on twitter @FLACCoal
More photos available at
Willow Tree, 16 MARCH 2016 4:00 pm
Brisbane Unionist Scarlett Squire has stopped and occupied a coal train at Willow Tree, halting coal cargo from Whitehaven’s and Idemitsu’s controversial coal mining operations. This action comes as Unions New South Wales threaten a constitutional challenge to draconian new anti-protest laws. Ongoing resistance at the Leard State Forest has centred around protection of cultural land rights and critically endangered habitat.
Today coal rail operations have been stopped as we demand Environment Minister Greg Hunt acknowledge the failure to protect sacred sites in the critically endangered Leard State Forest. Greg Hunt has ignored Section 9 and 10 applications made under Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage and Protection Act (ATSIHP Act). These actions deny the right of Gomeroi/Gamilaraay people to access and protect their Sacred Land.
Scarlett Squire, 23, said of her actions today ‘Repressive laws designed to silence people will not stop protest against injustice.’
The union movement has been one of the many voices defending our right to protest. Mark Morey, Secretary of Unions NSW espoused the unions commitment to active democracy; “We will happily march back to the streets and the High Court to defend the entitlement of any protester to exercise their democratic right to freedom of political communication.”
Scarlett Squire is acting to highlight the struggle of Gomeroi/Gamilaraay people to protect their cultural heritage. Greg Hunt has the discretionary power to save the last of 38 sacred sites from Whitehaven Coal’s expansion inside the Leard State Forest. Lawler’s Well is the single remaining high order sacred site, and must be permanently protected through the ATSIHP Act.
“It is so hard seeing the destruction of our country. The elders have been waiting too long for answers. It is completely unacceptable that Hunt has dragged his feet on the protection of Lawler’s Well. A basic level of respect means a timely assessment and our rightful opportunity to have protection enacted,” said Dolly Talbot, Gomeroi Traditional Custodian.
Raymond Weatherall, Gamilaraay Spokesperson – 0401069492
Scarlet Squire, Front Line Action on Coal Spokesperson – 0432277490
STUDENTS SHUT DOWN COAL EXPORTS AT WILLOW TREE
WILLOW TREE, 13 MARCH 2016:
Coal trains have been stopped from Whitehaven’s coal mines between Maules Creek and Willow Tree. Four students from ANU have occupied a coal train. They are demanding that Environment minister “The best minister for coal” Greg Hunt use his discretionary power to permanently protect Lawlers Well, a highly sacred site to the Gomeroi/Gamilaraay Traditional Custodians of this land.
Today we are demanding basic respect for cultural land rights of the original Gomoroi/Gamilaraay people of this land. Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has neglected to fulfil his duty, under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage and Protection Act (ATSIHP Act), to protect significant sites in the forest. Whitehaven Coal have already destroyed or irrevocably damaged 38 sacred sites, including 10 sites of high significance. Lawler’s Well is the single remaining high order sacred site, and is still under threat from mine expansion by Whitehaven.
“I refuse to stand idle and watch on at the dispossession of Gomeroi land and the destruction of our environment,” said Victoria Herbert, 20, University Student.
“I’m here to protect the forest because open cuts don’t heal and I want a clean energy future,” said Elle Lawless, 22, University student.
Two years ago, Gomeroi traditional custodians made an application to Environment Minister Greg Hunt that he use his powers under Section 9 and 10 of the ATSIHP Act to stop work in the area and protect Lawler’s Well. Minister Greg Hunt has stated that Whitehaven will not clear the area until 2017, and therefore he does not need to make a decision under the Act.
“We are asking Greg Hunt to commence an independent report that will include oral evidence to inform his decision. We are asking him to do his job and protect our Lawler’s Well.” said Dolly Talbot Gomeroi Traditional Custodian.
“It is so hard seeing the destruction of our country. The elders have been waiting too long for answers. It is completely unacceptable that Hunt has dragged his feet on the protection of Lawler’s Well. We reasonably expect the respect of a timely assessment and our rightful opportunity to have protection enacted,” said Dolly Talbot
There are a large collection of people deeply concerned with the expansion of mining projects on Gomeroi country. Alliances between many First Nations and non-indigenous protectors have formed in opposition to these projects. Front Line Action on Coal is honoured to work alongside the Gomeroi Traditional Custodians to defend Lawler’s Well and the Leard State Forest.
Raymond Weatherall, Gamilaraay Nation – 0401 069 492
Front Line Action on Coal Contact
Chelsea Lazar – 0422 071 108
Women Stand in Unity on International Women’s Day to Save Aboriginal Sacred Site
More photos available: http://alturl.com/9nctg
Maules Creek, 8th March 2016: United with Gomeroi Women on International Women’s Day, three women, Tash Jones, Clarity “Jen Hunt” Greenwood and Chelsea Lazar have locked themselves to habitat trees within the critically endangered Leard State Forest in North West NSW. While Gomeroi women gather on Leard forest road to show support and solidarity for today’s action. Gomeroi elders are requesting Greg Hunt grant protection under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protection Act (ATISHP Act) for Lawlers Well, the last remaining sacred site scheduled for destruction by Whitehaven Coal.
“As Greg Hunt’s first cousin I am deeply ashamed by his neglect of the Gomeroi, the elders and this sacred site and I am calling for him to permanently protect Lawlers Well, now.” said Clarity Greenwood, (aka. Jen Hunt), social worker.
Two years ago Gomeroi traditional custodians made an urgent application for Environment Minister Greg Hunt to use his powers under Section 9 and 10 of the ATSIHP Act to stop work in the area, following the destruction and desecration of 37 culturally significant sites. Minister Greg Hunt has refused to grant the urgent applications stating that “Whitehaven is not scheduled to clear Lawlers Well until 2017” and therefore he doesn’t need to make an immediate decision.
“It is so hard seeing the destruction of our country. The elders have been waiting too long for answers. It is completely unacceptable that Hunt has dragged his feet on the protection of Lawlers Well. We are asking Greg Hunt to commence an independent report including oral evidence to make an informed decision. We are asking him to do his job right and protect our Lawler’s Well” said Dolly Talbot, Gomeroi Traditional Custodian Spokesperson.
These actions are a part of an ongoing campaign in which over 380 people have been arrested. Earlier this week saw a historic moment when Gomeroi/Gamilaraay men locked on to concrete barrels on a haul road to physically stop the theft of their land.
Traditional Gomeroi Custodian Spokesperson
0413 131 983
BOGGABRI, 5 MARCH 2016: This morning one man has suspended himself from a rail bridge over the Kamilaroi Highway, stopping coal trains from the Maules Creek and Boggabri mines, drawing attention to the vulnerability of Lawlers Well.
Whitehaven Coal have already destroyed and irrevocably damaged 38 Gomeroi/Gamilarraay sacred sites in the Leard State Forest, including 10 sites of high significance.
Lawlers Well is the last site of high significance in the Maules Creek Mine boundary. Despite Whitehaven being informed about the importance of this area, they have continued to seek approval to have it destroyed.
Earlier this week, two Gamilaraay men and a Githabul man locked on to defend country. This was the first time the community have taken such drastic action, having sought and experienced first hand the failure of NSW and Federal government legislation and policy to protect sacred sites.
Two years ago Gomeroi traditional custodians made an application for Environment Minister Greg Hunt to use his powers under Section 9 and 10 of the ATSIHP Act to stop work in the area and protect this last sacred site. Minister Hunt stated that Whitehaven will not clear the area until 2017, therefore he does not need to make a decision under the Act.
Hunt’s failure to make a decision leaves traditional custodians in agonising limbo, putting further strain on a community that has already suffered greatly from the destruction of Whitehaven.
“We don’t believe any Australian would think this is fair, reasonable or responsible. We have painfully witnessed the destruction of our burial sites, sacred women’s places, and our sacred crystals. Lawlers Well will be defended by our people” said Raymond Weatherall, Gamilaraay man.
“Defence of country is our right under the United Nations – No compromise! Gamil means No!” said Mr Weatherall, a statement strongly supported by Front Line Action on Coal.
“We are just a few of the many united to stop the expansion of coal and gas mining on Gomeroi/Gamilarraay country. It is revolting the disrespect Minister Hunt and Whitehaven have shown the rightful custodians of this land. We are united. Make a decision Greg, save Lawlers Well” said David Mould, who is suspended from the rail bridge.
“We will not stop. We have no choice but to fight, because this is our country, our culture, and the planet we all depend on.” said Mr Weatherall.
Front Line Action on Coal was first established in the Leard State Forest, North West NSW in August 2012. Since then strong alliances have formed with Gomeroi custodians, other first nations peoples, local farmers, and with allies across the world.
0401 069 492
MAULES CREEK 2 MARCH 2016: Today two Gamilaraay men, Paul Spearim and Allen Talbot and a Githabul man, Laurence Miles, have locked on to concrete barrels at the entrance to Whitehaven’s controversial Maules Creek project stopping work. Whitehaven coal are currently clearing the culturally and environmentally significant Leard State Forest on Gomeroi/Gamilaraay Country.
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has not fulfilled his duty under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage and Protection Act (ATSIHP Act), to protect significant sites in the forest. The last higher order sacred site Lawlers Well is still under threat from mine expansion.
“For me personally this about the protection of our sacred lands, water, animals, song, dance, knowledge and culture of the Gamilaraay nation” said Paul Spearim, Gamilaraay Nation.
Whitehaven have already destroyed or irrevocably damaged 38 sacred sites, including 10 sites of high significance. Lawlers Well is the last site of high significance in the Maules Creek Mine boundary.
Two years ago Gomeroi traditional custodians made an application for Environment Minister Greg Hunt to use his powers under Section 9 and 10 of the ATSIHP Act to stop the work in the area and protect this last sacred site. Minister Greg Hunt has stated that Whitehaven will not clear the area until 2017 therefore he doesnt need to make a decision under the Act.
“We are asking Greg Hunt to commence an independent report including oral evidence to make an informed decision. We are asking him to do his job right and protect our Lawler’s Well.” said Dolly Talbot Gomeroi Traditional Custodian Spokesperson
“It is so hard seeing the destruction of our country. The elders have been waiting too long for answers. It is completely unacceptable that Hunt dragged his feet on the protection of Lawlers Well. We reasonably expect the respect of an timely assessment and our rightful opportunity to have protection enacted.” said Dolly Talbot
“We come from the east to support the Gamilaraay in their fight to save mother earth. We are one in this fight.” said Laurence Miles, Githabul Nation.
Many people are deeply concerned about the expansion of mining on Gomeroi/Gamilaraay country. Alliances across First Nations, as well as with non-indigenous protectors are united in opposition to these projects. Front Line Action on Coal is honoured to work along side the Gomeroi Traditional Custodians.
0476 215 781
Gomeroi Traditional Custodians
0413 131 983
0401 069 492
|Media Liasons:||Meret MacDonald
Front Line Action on Coal
0424 555 166
Front Line Action on Coal
0411 378 923