Sheena Gillman speaks for The Bimblebox Alliance after the court decision. photo Malcolm Paterson
Historic decision on the Land Court of Qld hearing for Waratah Coal Pty Ltd v Youth Verdict Ltd, The Bimblebox Alliance Inc & Others
On Friday 25 November 2022, Land Court of Qld President Fleur Kingham recommended Waratah Coal’s applications for Mining Lease and Environmental Authority be refused.
Provided below is information and quotes from the Decision. You will find the full document at the end of this post.
President Kingham spoke extensively of the climate risk, weighing it with possible benefits of the mine, concluding with:
“In the end, I have decided that the climate scenario consistent with a viable mine risks unacceptable climate change impacts to Queensland people and property, even taking into account the economic and social benefits of the project,”
About the Bimblebox Nature Refuge President Kingham said:
“Bimblebox is in the Desert Uplands. Its ecology is not unique, but its ecological condition is very high. When Bimblebox was established the Desert Uplands was subject to extensive clearing The ecosystem on Bimblebox was, and still is, underrepresented in the protected area estate. Bimblebox is surrounded by properties cleared for grazing.”
“The owners have conservation agreements with both the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments, which they have faithfully observed for almost 22 years. In that time, they have built a community of people who come to Bimblebox for conservation, education, scientific research, recreation, and artistic purposes.”
The impact of subsistence from mining is uncertain and if mined “it is likely the refuge will be lost and the ecological values of Bimblebox seriously and possibly irreversibly damaged,”
Above: Sheena Gillman (on right) of The Bimblebox Alliance standing with representatives of Youth Verdict. Monique Jeffs (on left) of Youth Verdict and Murrawah Johnson (centre) of Youth Verdict. Photo Malcolm Paterson.
On human Rights President Kingham said:
“I have found that several human rights would be limited by the Project. For the owners of Bimblebox, that is their right to property and to privacy and home. In relation to climate change, I have found that the following rights of certain groups of people in Queensland would be limited; the right to life, the cultural rights of First Nations peoples, the rights of children, the right of property and to privacy and home, and the right to enjoy human rights equally. Doing the best I can to assess the nature and extent of the limit due to the Project, I have decided the limit is not demonstrably justified.”
“For each right, considered individually, I have decided the importance of preserving the right, given the nature and extent of the limitation, weighs more heavily in the balance than the economic benefits of the mine and the benefit of contributing to energy security for Southeast Asia.”
After the recommendations were handed down Bimblebox Nature Refuge co-owner Paola Cassoni said:
“This is a huge sigh of relief for us after the 15 years’ nightmare of fighting this mining project. Hopefully we can now go back, with the help of our volunteers, to fully concentrate on looking after Bimblebox.”
Youth Verdict First Nations Lead and co-director Murrawah Johnson said:
“We are overjoyed. The voices of First Nations Queenslanders have been heard. A court has recognised the human and cultural rights of First Nations peoples are impacted by climate change and has recommended that this mine not be approved.”
John Brinnand who represented himself against Waratah Coal said:
“This decision not only protects Bimblebox but establishes precedents which will have profound consequences including the saving of lives, species and cultures.”
Adrian Burragubba and Coedie McAvoy are Wangan and Jagalingou traditional custodians of the area of land stretching across the Galilee Basin. Here they are celebrating the court win with John Brinnand, who also fought the legal case against Waratah Coal, representing himself. photo Malcolm Paterson
EDO Managing Lawyer Sean Ryan said:
“This is a great day for nature conservation and our climate. It’s also a hugely significant legal victory for First Nations peoples seeking to protect their cultures and communities from the impacts of climate change.
“The final decision on whether or not to grant Waratah’s mining lease and environmental approval falls to the Queensland Government. We urge the relevant ministers to act swiftly and in accordance with the court’s findings.”
“At over 2 billion tonnes of carbon emissions, this mine would have had a significant impact. It’s possible to have a safe climate without this coal mine – but we can’t have one with it.”
The Bimblebox Art Project:
It was a great honour to have the Bimblebox Art Project included as evidence in this Land Court hearing by helping to demonstrate the ongoing importance and value of the Bimblebox Nature Refuge. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in the Bimblebox Art Project through the art camps, exhibitions, talks, panels, exhibition tours, galleries, etc. Together we are part of the social and cultural community of Bimblebox and we’ve built a unique cultural legacy about this nature refuge and the threat of this mine that reaches well beyond the boundary fence.
In the below court findings document you can see references relevant to the art project at these lists: , -, -, , .
The full court finding is here.
For analysis in The Conversation, of this landmark result go here.
The Bimblebox Alliance and Youth Verdict were represented by the EDO (Environmental Defenders Office).
Mr Brinnand represented himself.
Youth Verdict with First Nations families who provided on country evidence about the impacts of climate change on their country, culture and community. photo Malcolm Paterson.