Doctor Bob Brown.
Doctor Bob Brown. AAP - Jeremy Piper

Welcome mat pulled on anti-Adani protesters

Dear Dr Bob Brown and your anti-Adani convoy, welcome to Queensland, the best state in Australia, and home to the biggest selling newspapers in the state, and .

The weather is great and usually the people are just as warm. But Queenslanders are also frank.

On Thursday, we published a front-page story about residents in Clermont telling you and your convoy to turn back because they are pro-Adani and desperate for jobs.

Your foundation responded by putting out a press release labelling me an "activist journalist" and inevitably taking a swipe at The Courier-Mail.

This newspaper has a proud history of making Queensland a better place and it is only as strong as our connection to our communities.

Anti-Adani campaigner Dr Bob Brown. Picture: AAP/Jeremy Piper
Anti-Adani campaigner Dr Bob Brown. Picture: AAP/Jeremy Piper

We give a voice to the voiceless, to people who don't usually know how to navigate the political system. It is our job to let them be heard.

You have taken offence that we have labelled you and your convoy "blow-ins" but many of your protesters do not live in this state.

History shows Queenslanders do not bow down to those from interstate who try to tell them how to live their lives.

You have a right to protest. But people in north and central Queensland have the same right to push back in a peaceful way and there's no point having a glass jaw about that.

The problem with some activists is that they have become so noisy that they have drowned out the voices who don't agree with them and even target their businesses, their farms or their homes. Or they call them names or make extreme comments. Many of these people are the first to call out the extreme comments from those on the Right.

Some of your supporters have used a private Facebook "Stop Adani Convoy" page to label Queenslanders "red necks" and have made the abhorrent connection to coal jobs and the Nazis who had the role of exterminating Jews in gas chambers.

Many people in regional and north Queensland want these mining jobs. They want a future for themselves and their children.

The seasonally adjusted March unemployment rate in Queensland is 6.1 per cent. In NSW it is 4.3 per cent, in Victoria it is 4.6 per cent and Tasmania has the highest jobless rate of 6.7 per cent.

In February, the Townsville youth unemployment rate was 17.4 per cent, in Fitzroy it was 14.2 per cent and in Mackay it was 7.3 per cent.

Anti-Adani protesters stage a sit-in last December in Brisbane. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled
Anti-Adani protesters stage a sit-in last December in Brisbane. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled

Thermal coal exports are expected to be $27 billion this financial year and in 2017-18 they were $23 billion. That helps pay for many social services, including health, education and welfare services.

When you travel safely on our roads this week, you do that partly because resources have bankrolled our infrastructure. It is Greens policy to phase out thermal coal by 2030 - in just 11 years.

Dr Brown, many Queenslanders are not climate change denialists but we have a long memory.

Your legacy as the Greens leader is voting down the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2009. You must own your share of setting back policy on energy and climate change by a decade.

I know how hard then climate change minister Penny Wong begged the Greens to work together on climate change. Why? Because I was one of her climate change advisers.

That fact probably doesn't suit your "Murdoch newspaper" quip in your press release but it is time for other facts too.

Man-made climate change is real. The majority of climate change scientists agree on that principle but they can't find consensus on what the exact outcome will be in terms of temperature increases and rising sea levels.

There is a range, and it swings between the mild to the extreme. There is also no agreement on the mechanism to address climate change. It costs lots of money, especially for those on lower incomes.

As a world and a country we are taking action on climate change (in fact, scientists believe they will be able to engineer cattle that burp fewer emissions). Innovation and technology are proving we are not business as usual.

But you know, Dr Brown, that even if Australia stopped coal mining tomorrow it would have a negligible impact on the globe's carbon emissions. Arguing the Great Barrier Reef will die if Adani goes ahead is inarguably false.

The issue of climate change has become like a religion but it is science and common sense that must guide decisions.

If Adani does not dig up our good quality coal (which has lower levels of ash, mercury and sulphur) it will get it from Indonesia, which has poorer coal quality. There is only one atmosphere, and it does not matter where thermal coal is burnt.

That means the coal from Indonesia will produce more emissions for every unit of electricity produced. That is bad for the environment. So you and your protesters are pushing for something that is not only bad for the environment but comes as the expense and well being of Australians.