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Hogsback and troublesome protesters

KEEPING a coal mine site safe and productive at all times is a full time job that requires maximum focus and concentration. This is why miners see red – not Green - when protesters trespass on mine sites and endanger their own and other peoples’ lives with protests.

Lou Caruana

These stunts inevitably entail a contingent of media to film the protest, leading to more disruption.

The local constabulary is then called and the protesters must be coaxed or dragged from their unlawful protests.

Hogsback thinks coal miners have more things on their mind than the colourful and worthy protest banners. There is a time and place for protesting, but it is not on a mine site.

Some of the crazy stunts pulled by these groups are legendary.

One protester achieved notoriety by suspending herself upside down while in a “Bat Woman” garb.

While this may have won her admiration of her peers, she was a great danger to herself and the rescue crews that had to bring her back to terra firma.

Many coal mine workers are sympathetic to proper environmental management of their environment and many may have voted for the Greens party in the last election.

But if the Australian Greens want to be considered as a serious alternative to the mainstream political parties they need to distance themselves from extreme activist violence at coal mine sites such as Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek open cut operation, New South Wales Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee has warned.

In the Leard State Forest, where Maules Creek lies, activists have become increasingly violent, chaining themselves to fences, damaging property, sabotaging equipment, and threatening security personnel, he said.

“In one incident security guards were confronted by balaclava-clad protesters who had barricaded an access gate,” Galilee said. “The security vehicle was rammed, before the activists sped off, demolishing another private gate on their way. Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon visited protesters in the Leard State Forest as a show of ‘solidarity’, congratulating the protesters for their courage.”

In another serious incident, police were called when vandals illegally entered a mine site at night and sabotaged explosives set for a blast the following day, Galilee said.

“These people could have blown themselves up, or killed others working on or around the site. Rather than distancing themselves from these extremely dangerous and illegal actions, the Greens claimed a conspiracy,” he said.

“NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham took to the floor of Parliament and claimed that the mining company itself had sabotaged its own explosives in an attempt to implicate activists.”

Activists have also chained themselves to NSW Parliament House gates in support of unlawful and often dangerous forms of protest, Galilee said.

Hogsback is beginning to think that the political process in Australia is leading to an impasse where responsible and environmentally sensitive development of new coal mining projects are becoming increasingly difficult.

But if interest groups want to wave banners and politicians want to mouth platitudes about the evils of coal mining and its role in the destruction of the earth as we know it, then they should stay in Parliament House or the main streets of Australia’s towns and keep off coal mine sites.

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