One Australian activist has been released pending summons for ‘interfering with a motor vehicle’ today after stopping drilling in Bacchus Marsh. Paul Connor locked himself to the top of Mantle Mining’s 8.5 metre-tall drill rig while hanging a banner that read ‘No New Coal Bacchus Marsh’. Another campaigner, local mother Natasha Mills, also locked herself to the drill rig at ground level, surrounded by a support crew of 15 other Quit Coal activists who occupied the drill site to stage a ‘picnic’, which featured produce from local farms.
‘We are eating locally grown food to illustrate what is at stake here’ said Mills, who is currently 7 and a half months pregnant with her second child. ‘This project will destroy prime agricultural land, all for the sake of a quick buck and the burning of brown coal, one of the most environmentally harmful practices possible.
‘Mantle’s project has so little support here among locals in Bacchus Marsh that our Mayor, our State MP and our Federal MP have all come out against it’ she continued. ‘It’s just wrong, and we’re not going to let it happen.’
The Quit Coal action drew a barrage of media attention, with every major television station in attendance. For a sample of the media attention, click on ‘dirty fight’ on the Ten News website here.
After 4 and a half hours chained to the top of the drill rig, Connor was cut free by Police from the Search & Rescue squad with an angle-grinder. ’We need Victorians to join this fight alongside us till we win it’ he said. ‘We can’t ignore the urgent warnings from climate scientists that we need to move away from coal, and blindly seek to dig it up and sell it off overseas. We have a responsibility to the world not to allow brown coal exports to begin, for the first time ever, here in Victoria.’
Because the site was on public land and they had not broken any laws, the remaining Quit Coal activists occupying the site were not arrested. They chose to comply with a police request and ended the protest peacefully, mindful that the police could otherwise physically remove them following the move on order.
Mantle also issued a statement saying that while they support the right to peaceful protest, our action will not affect their future operations.
Quit Coal will see about that.