As the Sydney-siders gather on Bondi Beach and the Canberrans the lawns of Parliament House yesterday, Tamworth locals gathered at our famous icon the Big Golden Guitar to draw attention to a controversial mining project proposed for the Galilee Basin in Queensland.
The national movement against the Adani coal mine includes protests across the nation and here in the New England North West Tamworth, Armidale and Tenterfield hosted protests of their own.
The demonstration follows a community walk and rally in Bicentennial Park on August 13 protesting the Adani and Shenhua mines, which attracted 134 adults and 11 children.
Local ecologist, Phil Spark believes there is a growing opposition within the New England electorate to the Adani mega mine proposal.
He believes the public won’t support the project receiving a 1 billion dollar tax payer funded loan to the foreign billionaire.
“Putting tax payer money towards a project that will massively increase carbon emissions, waste billions of litres of water needed for food production and contribute to the destruction of our magnificent Great Barrier Reef that is already under serious threat can only be described as utterly ridiculous” he said.
“Investing tax payer dollars in a project like the Adani coal mine is like investing in a video store when we have Netflix. Coal has passed it’s used by date.
“Any sort of support for this industry, in this day and age is short sighted and cannot be justified.”
Local spokesperson Penny Milson acknowledges that coal mining has been an essential part of electricity generation and in the past has created jobs and export revenue.
However, she suggests that the economic model for new coal projects no longer stacks up.
“We reject the mantra by politicians that this project is essential for jobs and economic prosperity.
“Mr Joyce should take note of the deep concern within his own electorate of this disgraceful proposal.
“The price for thermal coal is dropping as cleaner renewable energy alternatives like wind and solar become smarter and cheaper.
“New coal mines risk becoming stranded assets.”
The group is calling on the government to:
- Rule out public money for Adani – NAIF (Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund) money must be put towards sustainable industries like agriculture, tourism or renewable energy;
- Establish a National Energy Plan to stabilise the production and pricing of energy;
- Hasten the transition to a clean, zero-emissions energy sector; and
- Explain how a tax payer funded loan to the Adani mine can be justified when major Australian and foreign banks have refused Adani’s requests for loans.
A spokesman for Barnaby Joyce said coal continues to play an important part in the world’s energy mix.
“As energy demand increases, proposed projects such as Adani’s will help meet increasing energy needs in countries such as India and other developing regional economies,” he said.
"As a producer of high quality coal Australia is well placed to meet the future demand of coal in our region.
"The Australian Government encourages the sustainable development of our resources, noting the significant contributions mining makes to the Australian economy.
"The Australian Government is committed to playing its role in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while at the same time maintaining a strong economy, and keeping our energy supply secure and affordable.
"The Government’s priority is to ensure an affordable and reliable energy system as we honour our international agreements, putting Australian jobs and consumers first."