Young Queenslanders make history taking on Clive Palmer’s coal mine
Young Queenslanders have made Australian history by challenging billionaire Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal over infringement of human rights.
Youth Verdict, an organisation founded to use the law to fight for the rights of young people, has formally notified the Queensland Land Court they are active objectors to Clive Palmer’s Galilee Coal Project.
This will be the first climate mitigation case to challenge a coal mine over infringement of human rights, as well as the first time a group made up exclusively of young people have challenged a coal mine.
The landmark challenge will argue that the mine’s contribution to climate change will have impacts on six human rights in a way that is both unreasonable and unjustified.
Youth Verdict co-founder Mel McAuliffe said the legal challenge was important to ensuring a climate safe future for young people in Australia.
“The human rights of my generation are threatened by coal mines that drive climate change and cause prolonged droughts, intense heatwaves, more frequent floods and deadlier bushfires,” said Mel McAuliffe, who lived through the impacts of climate change during the Millennium drought on her family farm in Central Queensland.
“We deserve a safe future but Clive Palmer’s coal mine puts that at risk. That is why Youth Verdict is challenging Clive’s coal mine, to fight for our rights and our future.”
Youth Verdict are challenging approval of the Mining Lease and Environmental Authority of the proposed Galilee Coal Project – comprising four underground coal mines, two open-cut coal mines and a 453 km railway line in central Queensland.
The mine is expected to produce 40 mtpa of coal, generating around 2.9 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emission over the mine’s 30-35-year lifespan.
Townsville student and Youth Verdict member, Billie Tristam, said the court case would be fighting against his coal mine to protect human rights of young people everywhere.
“Townsville was hit very hard by the 2019 floods, some suburbs lost absolutely everything. I have friends who have only just moved back into their houses now,” said Bille Tristam.
“Clive Palmer’s coal mine will produce consequences. Horrific consequences like bushfires and floods. Youth Verdict are launching a court case that will be fighting against his coal mine to protect our human rights. We will be protecting our families, our generation and the next generation.”
The case will argue that Clive Palmer’s Galilee Coal Project, proposed by the Palmer-owned Waratah Coal company, will interfere with human rights now protected under the new Queensland Human Rights Act, which came into force in January 2020.
This court case follows in the footsteps of groundbreaking climate litigation filed by young people in Canada, and Greta Thunburg’s complaint to the United Nations.
Youth Verdict will stand alongside The Bimblebox Alliance, who are also challenging the Galilee Coal Project to protect the Bimblebox Nature Refuge.
Supporting the case is Libby Harward, and her 9 year old daughter Lola, who are Quandamooka people with a connection to the islands of Mulgumpin and Minjerribah.
Libby Harward said they are supporting Youth Verdict’s case due the disastrous impacts Clive Palmer’s coal mine would have on the rights of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Queensland.
“I worry about the disconnect of people to Country because of climate change. Children won't have Country to connect with in the same way, and the stories that we tell won't be something that they're experiencing,” Libby Harward said.
“I worry they’ll disconnect from culture and spiritually disconnect. We lost so much of our culture because of colonisation we’re now getting the chance to get our language back and re-learn our knowledge - but now the environment is changing because of climate change and I worry my children won't get that connection because it won't be there anymore. This is all caused by greed and not thinking in the long term.”