Protesters take fight to Adani’s front gate
A HANDFUL of local residents headed north on Monday, joining environmentalists from across the region to protest the expansion of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal on Adani's home turf.
Led by traditional owner Aunty Carol Prior, the concerned residents delivered pledges to the coal export giant saying they would do all they could to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
Airlie Beach resident and environmental campaigner Tony Fontes said about 15 locals joined the protest of more than 100 people on the border to Adani-owned land.
"Airlie Beach people have a real affinity for the reef because of the fact we live off it, and we know the end result of Abbot Point going ahead would be very detrimental for the reef," he said.
Mr Fontes said the group held a traditional smoking ceremony before a smaller group boarded a bus to Adani's main gate to deliver the pledges - a 10km trip onto private property.
"That's kind of breaking the law, but that was the idea of course - social disobedience," he said.
The rest of the group hung back but also stepped onto Adani's land in a show of solidarity.
However, Mr Fontes warned next time they would all be knocking on the gate.
"You might look at it as a warning shot fired across the bow," he said.
Despite a police presence on the day, Mr Fontes said there were no arrests.
"It really boils down to, number one, the police on the day, as well as the owners, how far they want to push it," he said.
"So the risk is unknown until you show up.
"Everybody was willing to be arrested, so to speak, but I'm not sure police were interested in piling 100 people into the paddy wagon."
Bowen Chamber of Commerce president Bruce Hedditch said the protesters had now had their "fair say" and it was about time they realised the government and the Bowen community wanted the expansion to happen.
"Places like Bowen are struggling," Mr Hedditch said.
"This has been going on far too long, this Abbot Point proposal, and it's been opposed all along the line by a few."
Mr Fontes said the idea of the protest was not to hurt towns such as Bowen.
"People shouldn't see the protests as something that's going to crush Bowen or Mackay. It's time to wake up - we're moving on to a new economy," he said.
"First of all, it's not about stopping coal.
"It's about stopping the expansion of the coal industry and looking towards transitioning."