Anti-gas mining campaigners at the Bentley blockade near Lismore have been buoyed by a surprise visit to the camp by several headlining Bluesfest artists.
Award-winning Australian band The John Butler Trio, the US-based Nahko and Medicine for the People as well as local festival favourite Nicky Bomba yesterday turned up at the camp to belt out a few songs in a show of support for the blockaders.
The previous night at Bluesfest, John Butler told thousands of fans during his perfomance about the Bentley blockade, giving the hundreds of people there a massive boost.
He railed against the ‘crackhead’ mining companies ‘addicted’ to fossil fuels, a greed which was ‘contaminating our land and water’.
The responding applause and cheers was thunderous.
It was not surprising for one of the north coast’s favourite performers, who has always lent his support for environmental causes and won the hearts of thousands of environmentally conscious music lovers everywhere.
He told APN Media after the impromptu gig at Bentley that ‘as long as this community’s strong and has its roots firmly in the ground they can’t stop us’.
‘We stopped the South Coast forest from being logged 20 years ago and this is how you do it,’ Butler said, looking over the huge campsite.
He said he’d been supporting environmental causes for two decades, citing the derailing of the controversial gas hub project in WA after many protest campaigns in which he was involved in as one proud moment.
John Butler was joined on the Bentley stage by his wife Danielle Caruana to perform a song she said was appropriate for the blockade, called ‘Losing You’.
‘We feel like it applies to country because the love we share for the country that binds us is as deep as the love we have for our children, friends and partners,’ Ms Caruana told APN Media.
She said the massive movement against coal-seam gas (CSG) mining on the northern rivers was being watched by people all over the world.
‘The ripples are being felt very very far away,’ she said.
To see David Lowe pics of the visit got to https://www.flickr.com/
Meanwhile at Maules Creek near Narrabri where a massive coal mine has also sparked widespread community unrest, residents have been stopped from attending Good Friday church services due to NSW Police road blocks.
Long term Maules Creek resident and Boggabri parishioner, Wilma Laird, was told to go home or make the trip via Narrabri increasing the round trip by 160 kms, according to a campaign spokesperson.
Mrs Laird said she decided to go home as a result.
‘I have been attending Good Friday services in the Boggabri Parish for 77 years and I’ve never been stopped at a police road block before, it’s outrageous,’ she said.
The police roadblocks have been setup to prevent ongoing protests that target the controversial coal mine there operated by Whitehaven Coal.
Mrs Laird said ‘I feel like my civil liberties have been violated.
‘This is not China that we are living in. Whitehaven Coal might be planning to ship coal to China but we don’t live under Chinese rule yet,’ she said.
Nearby resident, Roselyn Druce has also been stopped.
‘Previously the police have stopped and searched my vehicle, carried out ID checks and prevented visitors from travelling to my property,’ said Ms Druce.
‘Today they prevented family from coming to my place, on Good Friday.
‘New South Wales is officially a police state, firmly in the grip of the mining companies.
’The rights of everyday people at Maules Creek are being trumped by the interests of Whitehaven Coal.
‘No one asked us if we wanted to live in a police state next to a coal mine. No one asked us if we wanted to have our groundwater, air quality and health affected.
‘These people trample over anyone and everyone to make their profits. The state gets its cut and people don’t trust governments anymore. This isn’t a movie, this is real,’ Ms Druce said.