Mother and daughter arrested after coal mine protest

A mother and daughter have been arrested after occupying a tree for 20 hours in protest of Maules Creek mine.

Julia Lamont, 44, and daughter Luca, 16, were taken into custody on Saturday night after scaling a tree within the mine site.

The pair were protesting against plans by Whitehaven Coal to clear the Leard State Forest as part of the construction of Maules Creek mine.

“The passing of my partner has been a massive driving force behind my need to get my priorities in order and take action against corporate and government disregard for our environment and future,” Juliet Lamont said.

Tom Jefferson was a photographer with Greenpeace and was in the process of making an environmental documentary when he passed away. 

“Every minute of the tree-sit with my daughter Luca to protect the last of the Leard Forest was worth it because it’s the right thing to do, the only thing to do. All families who care about the future need to join the fight now,” Lamont said.

Yesterday, ecologist Tiffany Harrison also suspended herself from a make-shift tree house in the forest.

The protests were part of a the  six day ‘bat attack’ rally aimed at disrupting Whitehaven’s work at Maules Creek mine.

The project is close to 90 per cent complete, and is already exporting coal.

NSW Minerals Council chief Stephen Galilee said the increased level of illegal action by anti-mining activists highlights the need for the state government to implement tougher deterrents.

“Over the last few years we’ve seen the unprecedented mobilisation of professional anti-mining activists, who move around regional NSW like locusts, opposing mining projects and the jobs they bring,” Galilee said.  

“Some of the individuals involved are repeat offenders with a history of radical anti-mining activity.  These people have never seen a mine they didn't want to shut or a mining job they didn't want to cut.”

Last week the council called for the charity status of organisations like Lock the Gate to be revoked.

Galilee said groups that engage in illegal protests should not qualify for tax breaks.

“We are calling on the Australian government to review the DGR [Deductible Gift Recipient ] status of all these groups,” Galilee said.

“Groups that flout the law or encourage others to do so should not receive special treatment.”

Lock the Gate national co-ordinator Phil Laird said the move was another bullying tactic from the mining industry.

“It’s outrageous that the mining industry thinks it can shut down a charity which was created to provide basic support for farmers who are being booted off their land or having their water supplies ruined by multinational mining companies,” Laird said.

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