SYDNEY – Around a thousand protesters took part in a rally at Parramatta Park in Sydney on Saturday as part of a countrywide campaign against a coal mine that an Indian conglomerate plans to dig in Queensland.
During the demonstration, participants held up placards that said, “Save the reef, stop Adani,” “Planet before profit,” “Care for the world.”
“It’s a great response, much more than I expected and people are waving their support along the highways,” Bob Brown, former leader of Australia’s Green Party, who’ was leading the convoy, told EFE on Saturday.
The Bob Brown Foundation’s Stop Adani Convoy of vehicles, which is heading north to Coffs Harbour, will reach Brisbane on Sunday.
The convoy, consisting of 200 vehicles including a dozen electric cars, drove north after the rally, passing by Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s press conference outside Westmead Hospital.
“Morrison was diverted by cries of ‘Stop Adani’ as the convoy slowly passed,” a media statement by the foundation said.
At the rally, Aboriginal leader from the Adani mine site region in central Queensland, Adrian Burragubba, said he, his father, and grandfather were born at Clermont where the convoy arrives next week, and described the Adani mining company as “thieves,” according to a media statement by the foundation.
The convoy, which aims to raise awareness among people before national elections on May 18 to stop Indian billionaire Gautam Adani’s proposed mine, was also cheered on by roadside gatherings near Newcastle and Taree.
“This is the biggest electoral environmental issue since Tasmania’s Franklin River dam was stopped 36 years ago. We have doctors and farmers saying that we voted for this Government but not this time. Adani has become a potent vote changer. Strong conservative independents and the Green Party are getting those votes, while the Labor opposition sits on the fence and doesn’t commit to stopping Adani,” Brown said in his interview to EFE.
The convoy includes doctors, farmers and other business-people, who are worried over the effect of coal-induced global warming on the country’s future economic, employment and environmental development.
Green leader Richard Di Natale had also joined the convoy over Easter.
Resources minister Matt Canavan had earlier labeled the convoy as “do-gooders and bludgers.”
“A difference between me and Matt is that he grew up in the city and I grew up in the bush.” Brown had said in the rally in Sydney. “Another is that predictions that the coal-worsened climate emergency may rob the Murray-Darling basin of 90 percent of its food productivity in the lifetimes of Australia’s school kids worries me but not him. That’s despite the jobs-rich renewable energy option being so readily and safely available,” he added.
“A third difference is that I accept the Great Barrier Reef is already half-dead from multiple factors including burning coal but Matt Canavan doesn’t have a clue about how to save the reef or the 64,000 jobs dependent on it,” he added.
Legendary Australian artist Ben Quilty, international best-selling novelist Di Morrissey and renowned composer Nigel Westlake have added their support to the convoy as it heads north to Queensland.
More than 800 people have signed up to join parts of the convoy’s 5,000-kilometer route to Canberra on May 5.