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Selfish activists rob Queenslanders of an additional 45 nurses

22 December 2021

Selfish activists rob Queenslanders of an additional 45 nurses

Anti-fossil fuel activists who illegally stop trains and lock themselves onto railway tracks and port machinery are costing Queensland funds to pay for critical health workers.

Adani Australia CEO and Country Head Lucas Dow said the Queensland Government lost enough money in coal royalties to pay for 45 nurses’ salaries for one year each time anti-fossil fuel activists blocked railway lines and stop trains in the Bowen Basin.

“Queensland can’t afford to lose millions of dollars in royalty revenue generated by our coal industry at a time when critical health workers are needed more than ever,” he said.

“Last week repeat-illegal protestors blocked the Newlands rail line near Collinsville for one day and shoveled coal out of a stationary train for a social media PR stunt.

“This meant trains hauling coal from many mines in the Bowen Basin could not use the line and could not deliver coal to the coast for export.”

At current coal prices and foreign exchange rates* this equates to a loss of more than $3.4 million in royalty payments to the Queensland Government, which based on an average Queensland Health Registered Nurse salary of approximately $75,000** the lost revenue could have funded the annual wages for an additional 45 full-time nurses.

This lost revenue cannot be regained as the coal export terminal operates continuously and there is rarely if ever any spare capacity on any given day.

On September 30 this year the Queensland Health Minister and health ministers from other states and territories wrote to the Federal Government asking for “immediate additional Commonwealth funding” for hospitals.

Mr Dow said that as well as causing serious workplace safety issues and putting their own lives at risk, anti-fossil fuel activists were robbing the State of revenue at a time when it was needed most.

“It’s time the Queensland Government backed hi-viz workers and made sure the penalties handed out to people who are involved in illegal protests are tough enough to deter them from reoffending,” Mr Dow said.

“These extreme activists’ actions are putting workers lives at risk and robs Queenslanders of revenue which should be used to employ more nurses and teachers and build better schools, hospitals and roads.

Blocking the railway line for one day prevents around 29 million tonnes of coal valued at around $27.3 million from reaching the coal export terminal at Abbot Point near Bowen. More than half of this coal is high-value metallurgical coal.

One of the activists involved in last week’s illegal activity was Kyle Magee who has been part of an illegal protest every month for the last three months in a row.

He was sentenced to six days in custody and was fined $500, which didn’t deter him from returning to stop the train on the Newlands line.

Soft sentencing has also seen repeat offenders like Juliet Lamont who was arrested after locking onto a train a fortnight ago and been arrested four other times in the last few years, given a one month suspended sentence and a $500 fine – a fraction of the two years’ imprisonment or $7,000 fine available to the courts under the Government’s Dangerous Attachment Device laws.

“Tough laws are useless if they are not applied, and it’s time the Government got serious about enforcing real consequences for activists who choose to deliberately break the law,” Mr Dow said.

“A strong democracy depends on people being able to express diverse opinions, but this should be done in a way that’s legal, safe and doesn’t put lives in danger.”

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