From a farming community and a small base camp, the campaign to save Maules Creek and the Leard state forest in New South Wales, from being turned into a massive new coal mine, has grown into an issue of national importance and is one of the strongest emerging frontlines for the climate movement in resisting new coal expansion.
The success of the growing campaign and the consistent direct action which has been running for over 500 days and more recently consistently with a series of running actions for last two months, can be measured in part by the increasing attacks from the mining industry in the media and efforts to shut down camp.
With headlines in the Australian like Whitehaven under pressure as Maules brawl steps up and a public campaign seeking to marginalise the protestors, as well as pressure being put on the local shire to move them on a second time, Whitehaven coal are certainly feeling the heat.
With 32 peaceful civil disobedience arrests to date, there is no sign of this part of the campaign slowing down. It is in fact, building momentum, with people from all walks of life coming together. As with the inspiring Lock the Gate movement we are seeing a more effective, pragmatic perspective in working with each other, and finding out we all have much more in common than our opponents would have us believe.
Successful alliance building is happening. We are seeing traditional owners standing with environmentalists, students standing with farmers, religious representatives standing with young activists, country and city folk working together with a simple shared vision of clean air, water, farmland, forest and a liveable climate.
In a moving ceremony on survival day (Australia Day) the Gomeroi people were joined by environmentalists and where local farmer, and head of Lock the Gate, Phil Laird paid tribute to the ongoing resistance of the local traditional owners and talked about a love of land and country.
Heads of environmental nongovernment organisations such as Greenpeace, Nature Conservation Council, Lock the Gate and 350.org joined the Gomeroi people in February to sign a historic “Aboriginal Cultural Heritage and Environmental Protection Agreement” for the area threatened by the Maules Creek and Boggabri mines.
From their media release:
“The Agreement sets out the protocols for protecting cultural heritage, lands and water and formalise the ways in which Gomeroi Elders and community will come together to protect what is jointly important to them.
Respected Gomeroi Elder, Dick Talbot said, “The common threat of open cut mining in a culturally and environmentally significant area such as the Leard State Forest has brought our communities together – we are coming full circle.”
So with people working together, and strengthening both their ties and our collective opposition, the campaign will be continue with another major convergence planned, however people are needed at camp all the time. You can find out more at Frontline Action on Coal and there is a good article from 350.org. If you are on twitter, check #leardblockade
And if you are based in Melbourne and want to talk Alliance Building, that is the subject of our next Melbourne Campaigners Network meeting tomorrow (Thursday, 6th March). We’d love to meet you.
In other news, we are continuing to coordinate the support campaign for Jonathan Moylan, whose action in sending a fake press release announcing ANZ divesting from the project was one of the key moments that brought the campaign for the Leard forest to national prominence. You can find out how to support him here.