Stop Adani: Interview with a campaigner

More on the largest mine project in Australia. 

Terry Kain is a member of the Perth ‘Stop Adani’ volunteer-run campaign, a group that has been protesting against the Adani mine project in recent months. They hope to raise awareness on environmental, political and economic factors for the mine, create a paradigm shift and cease it’s funding.

Who exactly are you and what is your role within the campaign? What do you guys do?
My name is Terry Kain, I’m a remedial relaxation masseur and previous mechanical engineer currently living in Mandurah. It’s only been two weeks since I’ve joined the ‘Stop Adani’ group. ‘Stop Adani’ is an offshoot of a national group, the group in Perth is pretty small. Our aims are, as it says, to ‘Stop Adani’, and specifically, we’re targeting banks. They’ve lined up to fund Adani before, and one of them is still waiting in the wings to help if they can— that’s the Commonwealth Bank. They’ve already helped Adani by facilitating the water license— which means an unlimited use of water from the Artesian Basin until the year 2077. We do a lot of stuff, but at the moment that’s what we’re concentrating on.


What exactly are you protesting and where are these protests going to be held? Is anyone allowed to join?
We can’t say what our next course of action is going to be because Facebook and social media are monitored. One of our important strategies is to take our target by surprise. I can tell you what we’re doing just before we do it, we send out texts saying what’s happening and where we’re meeting. Our next protest will be within these next two weeks. We do general protests as well though, we gather people in the city, have posters, music and speakers, so the public can see. We like to cause a bit of disruption, get the public’s attention.

We definitely do lots of stuff on Facebook but many protests are planned and performed by the core group, and there’s a way we communicate with each other. We have meetings where we plan what we’re going to do, and how we’re going to do it. Just before we do it, we let other people know about it— but this is just before. We have certain people within the core group who usually deal with communications. We are driven by a passion to value the environment.


Was the public exposure of this issue the first time you had ever heard of the Black-Throated Finch and its endangerment as a species, as well as the endangerment of other surrounding wildlife?
Definitely the Great Barrier Reef which is severely damaged, and all that marine life that depends on that environment— that’s been in my mind for years; years and years. The bird, to me, is a recent bit of knowledge. I looked it up and found that Adani had put four million dollars away and promised nearby land as an offset, but of course, when the experts look at this, it’s impossible to actually recreate a habitat and provide for it. That little bird needs a variation of trees and seeds to survive— it’s already endangered.


Besides for, of course, the survival of the Black-Throated Finch and the Great Barrier Reef amongst well as other environmental surrounds and factors, what else do you hope these protests may achieve?
You know what? In 2015-2016 there was huge bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef— but do you know what else happened? Kelp forests died in Tasmania, oyster farms suffered tremendously, they’re going to have to close, same with salmon hatcheries. The Murray River got 1700kms worth of algae blooming— which had never, ever happened that much before. Numbers of mangroves in North Queensland died from the heat. There’s a myriad of stuff going on. If we put a lot of coal on the market, we’ll be burning 1/10th of our global budget of carbon. If the coal is at its maximum, we’ll go up from 3000 ships on the Great Barrier Reef to 8000. Coal is going to be cheaper, to encourage people to buy more— it’s going to completely set us back in controlling global temperatures. We must spread these messages, inspire people, try and change current realities.


Have you come across any trouble with planning these protests as far as legal procedures go?
I’m pretty new to the (Adani) movement but…yeah. We have to really watch what we do. That’s what it’s like, we have to be careful with the law. Each person who gets arrested is kept away from site for a few weeks, and usually gets a fine.


Do you have any further plans to protest the Adani mine after the first, initial protest/s you have in plan?
‘Stop Adani’ is pretty big— I mean it’s big in the east. How I feel about it, personally, is I see the energy in these group meetings that we have, and it’s lovely. You have a look and think ‘that person is really committed to this’ and, of course, we feed off that! We are encouraged by it. I can’t see it diminishing, put it that way. At least until the Commonwealth Bank says they won’t fund it.


Have you had to endure much cynicism in the planning of the protest/s?
Some of the attitudes are way off. I do my little bit to not offend, but I still try and educate people a little about what’s really going on. I find that the wider community, it’s a conservative place. I certainly find an incredible lack of knowledge, illiteracy with science and kind of just… an inability to understand. There really is an ignorance about the damage that’s happening.


Realistically, do you think Adani could possibly cancel its projects plans as a direct result of your campaign?
The whole thing is bizarre to me, it really is. India has some of the biggest solar generated areas. It’s changing very quickly. They’re going to land with a stranded asset. The controversial environmental damages are definitely a needle in their side. They have obstacles to go over. But what might really turn this project over, is the economics. It’s turning more and more against coal production. The Indian government is building some coal stations, but they’re really going more into renewable energy— very strongly. If we can hold Adani up enough— which is what we do, one of our strategies is to delay as much as we can— it may be unviable. That’s our hope.


In the future, what do you think could be done to prevent the Australian government from approving these kinds of projects?
This mine has been scrutinised than any other mine I can remember. Why? Because in the Queensland Land Court, so many farmers are having their say. That water license for the Artesian Bay is going to ruin land. Once you have no water, your land is useless. The thing is, all coal mines should have received the scrutiny this one has, but they haven’t. So, we found out a lot through court cases. More and more people who have the right to challenge in a court are doing so. Governments often tend to skirt around environmental issues, but in court cases it’s hard to.

Under oath, the economist that Adani hired to speak about job opportunities that the mine would provide, said in court that it’s 1400 jobs— that’s all. He had to tell the truth. Malcolm Turnbull had said it was 10 000, and before that Adani said it was 10 000.

That was the number that was being thrown around, and some people still say that. It’s not. It’s also going to subtract 1500 coal jobs from nearby coal fields. You might find that a greater number of locals are now more alerted to what’s really happening, or going to happen. Land is going to be lost, whole towns are going to go under. We’ve got good chances of making governments accountable in the future.


Thanks to Terry for having a chat to us on this topic. Stop Adani can be reached through their ‘Stop Adani’ and/or ‘Stop Adani Perth’ Facebook pages for queries and discussions about current political/economic/environmental issues, campaign membership, upcoming public protests and other forms of support.

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