Resource industry calls for 'harsher' penalties after 'anti-coal' activists' target coal trains near Collinsville

Ben Harden
By Ben Harden
Updated December 17 2021 - 2:57am, first published 1:00am
Frontline Action on Coal activists' climbed onto the coal train near Collinsville last Wednesday. Photo: Supplied

The resource sector is calling on the Queensland Government to enforce stronger penalties, following a rise in "illegal" and "dangerous" anti-coal protests across Central Queensland.

This comes after Police arrested three professional environmental activists, who allegedly locked themselves onto a Bravus coal train near Collinsville, blocking the transport for several hours on December 15.

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This is the third time this month that activist group, Frontline Action on Coal, have "illegally" stopped a coal train.

"We are doing this to remind everyone that Bravus exporting of coal is a disaster for our climate that needs to be resisted," a statement from the group read.

'Frontline Action on Coal' activist locked to the tracks of the Newlands rail line in Central Queensland on Wednesday. Picture: Frontline Action on Coal

A Bravus Mining and Resources spokesperson said the actions of the activists' were "not safe, and against the law".

"Train drivers and port workers are just trying to do their job and hold real concerns about the near misses when their train could have run a protestor over or when they could have re-activated a conveyor belt and unknowingly killed an activist illegally locked-onto it," the spokesperson said.

It is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed by the actions of these professional activists.

- Bravus Mining & Resources spokesperson

"The activists involved in these illegal protests are a small group of repeat offenders who think their ideology puts them above the law, and this latest act is another example of them running riot after receiving soft sentences."

Current penalties 'not sufficient'

Bravus and Resources is calling on the state government to implement harsher consequences for those convicted of illegal actions that disrupt mining operations.

"We respect that people have differing opinions but these protests are not a safe or appropriate way to express those opinions," the spokesperson said.

"The penalties in Queensland are clearly not sufficient to deter these extremists from deliberately and repeatedly breaking the law and do not reflect the seriousness of their crimes."

'Toughest laws' in the nation

Police Minister Mark Ryan said Queensland has some of the toughest laws in the nation and protestors who damage certain types of infrastructure could face substantial fines and even 14 years imprisonment.

"To support police, the government is making the biggest investment in police in more than three decades, an investment that will deliver more than 2000 extra police personnel," Mr Ryan said.

The two Frontline Action on Coal activists' spent several hours shoveling coal from the coal hoppers on Wednesday. Picture: Supplied.

Activists' should front the police response bill

LNP spokesperson for Police and Burdekin MP, Dale Last said that protesters should be forced to meet the cost of the Police response as both a deterrent and to ensure resources were available to support victims of crime.

"The court proceedings relating to these activists prove that they are well-resourced and know exactly what they are doing," Mr Last said.

"They are diverting police resources from other crimes and other duties and it's time they paid for that."

"Taxpayers shouldn't have to bear the cost of chartering a plane to fly police in from Brisbane because a protester won't accept the umpire's decision. These projects generate jobs, provide revenue for government and, above all, they abide by all the necessary checks and balances."

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Mr Last labelled the protesters cowards and said it was time for the Palaszczuk government to act.

"Here we have criminals who have committed their crime and run away to Brisbane or New South Wales instead of having the guts to face the music," he said.

"If their trip to New South Wales was to return home, that means they either breached the border closure that was in place, or they had completed quarantine which is not cheap."

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Ben Harden

Ben Harden

Queensland Country Life Journalist

Based in Rockhampton, Central Queensland. Contact: 0437528907

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