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