Ex-premier fights mine 

FORMER WA premier Carmen Lawrence will be guest speaker at the Perth screening of the award-winning documentary Chasing Coral on November 2.

The screening is part of the campaign opposing the proposed Carmichael coal mine, to be operated by multinational Adani, on the north Queensland coast.

There are fears The Great Barrier Reef could be damaged and suffer further “coral bleaching”, an effect of climate change, if the coal mine goes ahead.

Professor Lawrence says she’s not surprised that a lot of Perth locals are campaigning against the mine, because “with climate change, there are no boundaries”.

About 300 people protested at a Stop Adani rally at Cottesloe beach on October 7, coinciding with events around the country.

• The Sundance award-winning film Chasing Coral investigates reefs killed off by climate change. Photo by Exposure Labs

“We’re talking about a global battle, and everyone in Australia should be alarmed about this proposal,” Professor Lawrence told us.

“We’d be destroying one of the world’s natural wonders in exchange for a pollution coal mine whose proponent has been fined for pollution even in India, where it’s really hard to get that done.

“And the amount of employment, which they claim to care about in Australia, which is generated by a mine of that size is tiny compared to the amount that would be lost by the tourism operators and small businesses that rely on the Great Barrier Reef for their livelihood.”

The federal government is considering loaning a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money to the Adani Group to get the mine started.

Oil spill

The Indian multinational has argued the mine will export coal that’ll help bring electricity to India’s poor to help them out of “energy poverty”, as about 300million people living there have no electricity.

Professor Lawrence says the international community is “not buying the line that this is good for the poor of India…the Indian government itself is now moving away from coal because of the serious health effects of pollution.”

She says Adani was fined when one of its ships sank off the Mumbai coast, causing an oil and coal spill, and it was also fined by the Indian government for constructing the Hazira Port—without approval—which caused environmental damage and cut off fisherpeople from the sea.

The documentary Chasing Coral is a Sundance award-winning film about divers, photographers and researchers investigating coral deaths caused by climate change.

• Chasing Coral director Jeff Orlowski. Photo by Richard Vevers

In March, Adani’s operation at Abbot Point released coal-laden stormwater into waters close to the Great Barrier Reef (the Queensland government fined them $12,000 and the company appealed).

The potential movement of coal ships in those waters has raised concerns, but the major threat is through “coral bleaching,” an effect of climate change that leads to the coral losing its colour and ultimately dying.

Professor Lawrence, a psychologist and director of UWA’s Centre for the Study of Social Change, has seen protest movements come and go, but says the Stop Adani movement has a broad and sensible base.

“It’s very broad: A lot of people in the renewable sector can see the craziness of this, you’ve got the people involved with protecting the reef, you’ve got indigenous people in the local area, you’ve got scientists of all stripes who are convinced of the idiocy of going ahead with this, so you’ve got coalitions across the board including the local landowners whose water supplies are imperilled.”

She says companies like Adani are unlikely to be deterred by protest, but governments, which grant approvals and dole out loans, can be swayed. Stop Adani Perth’s film screening’s at Citiplace Community Centre on November 2 at 7pm, tickets $10 via Eventbrite or $15 at the door and the proceeds go to the Stop Adani campaign.

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