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Byron Shire
October 19, 2021

The Stop Adani convoy’s first birthday

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The Stop Adani convoy on 5 May, 2019 in front of Parliament House.
Photo Antoinette Tombrook.

Antoinette Tombrook

It was the first anniversary of the Stop Adani convoy on 5 May. We had joined the convoy at Byron – kickstarted with the massive rally at Mullumbimby showgrounds – on Easter Sunday, 21 April 2019.

The grand finale for the Stop Adani convoy was the 5,000-strong rally in front of the new parliament house on 5 May. The gathering was huge, collecting people from all over Australia and from Canberra and surrounds, that would join to create an historic momentum for change.

It is extraordinary that that was only a year ago. Though politicians were practising ‘political distancing’, we were not distant from each other, but standing as one, with the single proposition of keeping our warming world clean of coal.

Talking to ghosts

Parliament was apparently empty; its ministerial content were on a mission to keep Australia full right-wing on an election tour d’Australie. If we, the environmental movement, have got anything wrong, it’s the absence of dialogue with the preoccupied vote-collecting representatives.

I have to admit, walking out can be an effective tactic to silence protest. It seems the applicant makes their claim to a ghost. That’s how I experienced my protesting on the green lawn with the modern iciness of Parliament House in front of us. We were applying to a ghost, an invisible barrier to the rescue of our blue planet.

The line-up of speakers, and the unity of over 5,000 people holding up signs, clapping hands, and cheering at the speeches that were addressing the serious issues of a global catastrophe made for an unforgettable demonstration of people power.

It was a peaceful gathering of people with a sincere interest and honest agenda to bring on the turning of the tide. The distant politicians had better come, watch, and listen, instead of attempting to ignore us. Their absence spoke louder than words.

Direct action?

We won’t go away, the problems will not go away; as long as the problems are present, we will be present.

Among the guest speakers were Richard Flanagan; Adrian Burragubba a Wangan and Jagalingou man representing the traditional owners of the land on which the Adani mine is being developed; Blair Palese; and two school strikers, Tess and Taliah, who delivered an impassioned speech that was outstanding and thought provoking. Bob Brown has a gift for rallying people like no other. And Paul Kelly performed the beautiful song My Island Home.

Richard Flanagan asked who would be prepared to get jailed for locking-on and blocking access to the mine site, and hands went up everywhere around us. I was in awe of the courage of activists who were able to step out of their comfort zone to commit to such action that hampers the proceedings of mining companies. I am not at that point yet, and I doubt I ever will be. The physical on-site protest is, and must remain, a measure of action that not only reaches the headline news, but delays and stops destruction processes effectively.

Authentic voice

The speech by Adrian Burragubba, for me, was the most authentic and deeply convincing:

‘The first law that was here is not the law of the land, the law is in the land. It is our dreaming. The dreaming of the Jagalingou people… This is why we stand so strong against the Adani project. This part of our dreaming which is being affected…

‘Adani is an environmental terrorist who destroys the whole country… The man is a polluter who destroys everything that’s in the land. With the racist discrimination comes the destruction of our homeland… When they gave the water licence to Adani that was it, that was the declaration of war upon the Jagalingou people and our sovereign rights, and the rights of our ancestors…

‘We don’t want an uncivilised government. We want a respected government that protects us… It’s not over, and we’re gonna win.’

Between the lines I could hear the suppressed anger manifested in the soul by hundreds of years of foreign occupation and dispossession from the land that always was (and always will be) theirs.

For the Indigenous nations to forget and adapt is near impossible. The absence of treaties, the continued negative reporting by mainstream media, lost court cases, and stolen land rights – particularly by mining companies – underlie their agony. As does the shunned and ridiculed Uluru Statement from the Heart that requests constitutional reforms.

Irresponsible politicians

A few of us sought a spot away from the sun, and our little shelter, where a handful of people met by chance felt like a refuge, not from the rallying mob – but from the harsh realities that irresponsible politicians in power throw at our communities. The real threats that exploration licence after exploration licence are granted.

There are moments of hope, and even euphoria in our collective actions like this rally. But besides the present sensation of being part of a motivated movement for change, there was the nagging thought that if our actions were without consequence, they were without significance. Only time, the thing we haven’t got, will tell. 

The convoy, the rallies and the final rally in Canberra were our moment to speak up, our time to protest, the expression of our united consensus on the issues of degradation and destruction. Bob Brown committed to his action and with him, thousands of Australians. And Adrian Burrugubba came hurtling down the highway from his homeland in Central Queensland to seize the opportunity to voice his opinion on behalf of his people.

Active resistance

I believe that the force of active resistance and public dissent will make an impact. That the call for sanity must put pressure on the government and on the policy makers to stop Adani as a symbol of stopping fossil fuel dependence. I believe this will carve inroads for positive change that may lead to a new definition of human society to be adopted by governments in order to implement the universal law of true prosperity. A law where the health of the natural environment and the health of the people who inhabit this environment would never be put at risk or compromised. The inclusive law would work reciprocally, securing economic and ecological protection of assets in perpetuity.

The fight to stop Adani’s mega coal mine continues. The worldwide impact of COVID-19 has brought one hopeful shift – concerning the economic unfeasibility of the project (which we already knew); but unfortunately the clearing of land and construction of the rail corridor are well underway, making the fight that much harder. Find out more at the Adani Watch website (www.adaniwatch.org) put together by wilderness conservationist, Geoff Law.


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9 COMMENTS

  1. If time could be rewound this convoy would never take place. It did the complete opposite of what it was trying to achieve

  2. Yes i do agree it had the total opposite outcome
    That was hoped for ..dont agree with this project on the grounds that the water needed to run the ongoing operations is not sustainable !!

  3. Just how good was that #%$%^$ Bob Brown and his convoy of shame – they should run it before every Federal election, just to remind voters that Coal in king.

  4. Barrow old son, ‘water’; the only reason you object to Adani. Yes, Adani getting free water is an abomination in the first instance when we don’t have the ‘water’ to piss away on coal mining. And Adani has still not proved the source of water for the Doongmabulla Springs an outback oasis that flora and fauna depends upon for survival. But all that no less an abomination of the Climate Emergency ( have you looked it up yet???) that Adani will continue to fuel. And further to those issues we saw the trampling of Native Title Law Rights, we will see the destruction of vital habitat that threatens The Australian Bird of the Year, the Black-throated finch, the Ornamental snake and the Yakka skink, The Protest Convoy was 1000% the right action! Staying silent to a knowing wrong is NEVER the correct respone.

  5. Joachim you seem to be a expert regarding Global warming !! However you really need to come to terms with the fact that your line of thinking regarding Global warming is in the Absolute
    Minority, this is irrefutable Joachim !! The Greens are minorities!! And so are Global warming
    Enthusiasts. The way you and these minorities
    Present this Global Warming hysteria, anyone
    Would think the world is going to end tomorrow?
    And yes i did read the link Joachim ! And had some
    Relevant points . ! However Joachim please as requested on numerous occasions as to why the Byron Shire council has declared a Climate emergency!! Just a few examples , not really hard you were all for it . There will be no response from
    You Joachim because there is NO climate emergency in the Shire nor any other shire in Australia.. absolute betrayal of Rate payers.

  6. Great celebration-lumbered us with 3 more years of Neanderthals. It is wrong the mine but why aren’t they protesting against other mega mines there like our dinosaur Clive.

  7. Would it be possible for Bob Brown to do the Convoy again in time for Ann P’s election in October?
    I think she is Dead as a Dodo politically and will get flogged. It just to be sure be sure Bob and. Convoy would seal it.
    Plenty of people have put up their hand to fund the Convoy.
    Cheers
    Thanks in anticipation

  8. The ‘other Emergency’ is Barrow & his ilk. [I’ve been
    a bit too quiet due to eye surgery & net problems].
    And yes, Rod. I am tired of Neanderthals who are
    supposed to represent me; they wouldn’t know
    where to start. It’s all ‘parrot language’ our polly
    crackers & their followers know. Mark thinks…
    ‘coal is king’. Ouch! Heaven have mercy. As for
    Clive P. ScoMo & co will wish him well. Buddies
    through thick & thin. Can’t imagine Bob Brown
    bothering with this lot.

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