Holy protests at the Maules Creek mine site have kicked up a notch with the arrest of two religious leaders.
An Anglican Minister has been arrested this afternoon after taking part in a blockade at Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek mine site.
Minister Byron Smith was arrested at around 3pm after he blocked access to a truck trying to enter the site.
Chair of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, Thea Ormerod, was also arrested.
The two were taking part in a prayer vigil at the site today in protest of the mine’s development.
As Australian Mining reported, the clergy decided to join the blockade in support of activism which has been ongoing for several weeks.
A Catholic priest and a Buddhist monk along with three other Uniting Church Ministers as well as lay people were also at the site in the north-west of NSW today.
Spokesperson for the group, Rev. John Brentnall from Gunnedah, said the people blockading should be seen as “protectors rather than protesters”.
“They are trying to protect our water for agriculture, our air, the Leard Forest with its critically endangered wildlife and a safe climate for our children, as well as the Gomeroi people’s sacred sites.
“Those who are destroying the forest for an open-cut coal mine are interested only in short-term profits. While profit has its place, all the great religious traditions place it well below other values we hold dear,” continued Brentnall.
Whitehaven says it is committed to going ahead with the project and says it has all the necessary government approvals to do so after the project underwent rigorous scrutiny from regulatory agencies.
The company recently won a court case aimed at halting the mine’s construction.
The Minerals Council of Australia has called for The Greens to stop supporting acts of civil disobedience as activism becomes increasingly dangerous.