BOGGABRI, 5 MARCH 2016: This morning one man has suspended himself from a rail bridge over the Kamilaroi Highway, stopping coal trains from the Maules Creek and Boggabri mines, drawing attention to the vulnerability of Lawlers Well.
Whitehaven Coal have already destroyed and irrevocably damaged 38 Gomeroi/Gamilarraay sacred sites in the Leard State Forest, including 10 sites of high significance.
Lawlers Well is the last site of high significance in the Maules Creek Mine boundary. Despite Whitehaven being informed about the importance of this area, they have continued to seek approval to have it destroyed.
Earlier this week, two Gamilaraay men and a Githabul man locked on to defend country. This was the first time the community have taken such drastic action, having sought and experienced first hand the failure of NSW and Federal government legislation and policy to protect sacred sites.
Two years ago Gomeroi traditional custodians made an application for Environment Minister Greg Hunt to use his powers under Section 9 and 10 of the ATSIHP Act to stop work in the area and protect this last sacred site. Minister Hunt stated that Whitehaven will not clear the area until 2017, therefore he does not need to make a decision under the Act.
Hunt’s failure to make a decision leaves traditional custodians in agonising limbo, putting further strain on a community that has already suffered greatly from the destruction of Whitehaven.
“We don’t believe any Australian would think this is fair, reasonable or responsible. We have painfully witnessed the destruction of our burial sites, sacred women’s places, and our sacred crystals. Lawlers Well will be defended by our people” said Raymond Weatherall, Gamilaraay man.
“Defence of country is our right under the United Nations – No compromise! Gamil means No!” said Mr Weatherall, a statement strongly supported by Front Line Action on Coal.
“We are just a few of the many united to stop the expansion of coal and gas mining on Gomeroi/Gamilarraay country. It is revolting the disrespect Minister Hunt and Whitehaven have shown the rightful custodians of this land. We are united. Make a decision Greg, save Lawlers Well” said David Mould, who is suspended from the rail bridge.
“We will not stop. We have no choice but to fight, because this is our country, our culture, and the planet we all depend on.” said Mr Weatherall.
Front Line Action on Coal was first established in the Leard State Forest, North West NSW in August 2012. Since then strong alliances have formed with Gomeroi custodians, other first nations peoples, local farmers, and with allies across the world.
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