The peaceful protest combined the strength and the passion of the farming and environmental movements of Queensland to put pressure on the State Government to protect farming land and nature refuges from the encroachment of all forms of coal mining and the potential poisoning of waterways.
The rally began with a a procession of children on ride-on tractors, representing the future of farming in Queensland's Darling Downs, and ended dramatically when attention turned to the roof of the Parliament, as two members of Friends of the Earth unfurled a large banner with the words: "Don't undermine our farms".
Friends of the Earth coal seam gas spokesperson Drew Hutton expected a diverse and colourful crowd of people concerned by the unprecedented expansion of the coal and gas industries to attend. As Mr Hutton said to the protest “ People won’t just sit back and watch as the Queensland Government gives coal and gas mining companies the okay to turn our irreplaceable farmland and environment into an industrial wasteland. Our climate and nature reserves are under threat and farmers and rural residents can’t rely on the state laws to protect their land, groundwater, communities and livelihoods from mining. Our most productive food growing areas and irreplaceable artesian water resources are under serious threat”.
The protest has been prompted by the Queensland Government’s plans to double coal exports and allow 40 000 gas wells on the Darling Downs. This has brought together farmers and environmentalists from across the state.
The Peoples Assembly brought together groups Friends of the Earth, Save our Darling Downs, Community Climate Network Queensland, Friends of Felton, and the Queensland Conservation Council, to raise their concerns about the threats posed to valuable cropping land, rural communities, the Great Artesian Basin and our climate.
As Mr Hutton said “this People's Assembly has combined the strength of the farming and environmental movements. We are here to put pressure on the government to stop the reckless expansion of coal and coal seam gas mining on high quality agricultural land and nature refuges”.
This protest follows on from the dynamic protest actions at the Community Cabinet meeting in Roma last week, and the massive community gatherings at Kingaroy on Tuesday to call for an end to underground coal gasification in Queensland.