A group of religious leaders – including a Uniting Church minister – were arrested on Tuesday for blocking construction of the Adani rail link.
Five peaceful protesters from Uniting, Catholic, Buddhist and Quaker backgrounds blockaded the rail line from Abbot Point coal port to the Galilee Basin, site of Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine.
The protesters were members of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), a multi-faith organisation that works with diverse faith communities to tackle global warming.
Queensland Police charged them with failing to comply with a police directive and obstructing a road. They have since been released on summons.
Fairfield Uniting Church minster Rev Alex Sangster was one of the church leaders involved in the protest.
“Adani wants to dig the biggest coal mine in Australian history,” Rev Sangster said.
“Pollution from the mine will dwarf the emissions of whole countries such as Bangladesh and Malaysia, and the rail link would allow the development of other mines in the Galilee Basin, with all that added devastation.
“As people of faith we cannot stand by and be silent. We will resist the defeatism of easy despair and we will put our bodies on the line for our vulnerable earth. This mine will not go ahead.”
The controversial mine has become one of the defining issues of the Queensland state election, taking place this weekend.
Earlier this month, Queensland’s Labor premier Anastasia Palaszczuk announced she would veto a $1 billon federal government loan to the mine.
Queensland opposition leader Tim Nicholls has pledged his party’s support for the loan and claims the state government’s backflip will jeopardise thousands of jobs.
ARRCC president Thea Ormerod called on faith communities to voice their opposition to the mine and stand up for those impacted by climate change.
“Stopping Adani’s mega-coal mine from being built is a moral issue,” Ms Ormerod said.
“People around the world are already losing their lives and livelihoods. Species are going extinct because of the damage we are doing to the earth’s climate.”
Ms Ormerod said ARRCC decided to engage in civil disobedience because other avenues were not working.
“We have done everything we could within the law to prompt our leaders to take action to move Australia away from dependency on coal, oil and gas,” she said.
“Non-violence is at the heart of all the major faiths. We will continue to use all legal options open to us to convince our leaders to act for climate justice.
“However, where necessary, people of faith must not shy away from civil resistance.”
Photo: Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC)