A Byron mother and her daughter have been fined a combined $16,000 for their part in an action that stopped Adani’s Abbot Point coal loading facility for about eight hours in January.
The Indian corporation was fined just $12,000 last year after releasing more than eight times the amount of sediment it was licenced for in the wake of Cyclone Debbie. The company has vowed to fight the fine.
Juliet and Luca Lamont took their action in memory of their late husband and father Tom, who died while he and Juliet were making a film about the fate of Greenpeace activists jailed in Russia.
Death brought lives into focus
The pair joined the group Front Line Action on Coal in early January where they successfully stopped Adani’s coal loader while Juliet and another participant locked on with ‘dragons’ (metal sleeves).
Juliet told Echonetdaily that the death of her husband Tom ‘really crystallised and brought into focus what we wanted to be doing with our lives, which was fighting for a better planet, basically’.
‘You really have to work out how you want to live your life when something as tragic and sudden as that occurs,’ she said.
‘Tom had done a lot of aerial photography for Greenpeace when they had quite a big coal spill into the wetlands so part of it was a tribute of going back to a place that he wanted to protect.
‘So that was a big motivation for us to go back there.
‘The other part is that what’s happening with Adani is insanely criminal – and ordinary people are being pushed to say enough is enough.’
Plant shut down
On January 11, after waiting in nearby bushland for two days working out a plan, Luca, Juliet and three other activists entered the plant and shut it down for eight hours by locking on to a metal conveyor belt.
Despite the apparent danger of such massive equipment, Juliet said she wasn’t scared during the action.
‘One of the activists had a lot of experience with heavy machinery so he made sure that the site was safely shut down so that’s when we locked on – once we knew that had happened.’
Juliet, Luca and the three other activists were slapped with fines for trespass, non-compliance with a police order and a new charge, which was the first time it had been used in Australia, ‘interfering with the operations of a coal port’.
‘The magistrate was really at a loss as to what should be our punishment for that because it hadn’t been meted out before,’ Juliet said.
‘We’ve ended up getting no criminal record but $8,000 in fines each, which is apparently one of the highest fines ever given to peaceful protesters in Australia.
‘Adani were fined $12,000 [for pollution] and they’re already appealing that so in terms of comparative justice, there really is none whatsoever. It’s disgusting,’ she said.