Australian school kids lead mass coal mine protests

Schoolchildren yesterday led demonstrations across Australia against a controversial coal mining project in Queensland state.
Schoolchildren yesterday led demonstrations across Australia against a controversial coal mining project in Queensland state.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SYDNEY • Australian schoolchildren led thousands of demonstrators in nationwide rallies yesterday calling for a suspension of plans by Indian mining company Adani to construct a controversial coal mine in the country's north-east.

The rallies across major cities followed a protest last month that saw thousands of students defy Prime Minister Scott Morrison and skip school to demand the government take action on climate change.

Schoolchildren invited adults along to yesterday's event, helping to boost numbers. "We are taking a stand that our leaders are far too afraid to take themselves," 14-year-old Jean Hinchcliffe told protesters.

"We are the people that have been fighting and will keep fighting for a brighter future - not just for ourselves, but for our children and our children's children's children, and all future generations," she added to rapturous applause.

Indian mining firm Adani vowed last month to press ahead with the construction of the controversial coal mine in Queensland state, although the project will be dramatically scaled back from earlier plans.

Work on the Carmichael mine could start within weeks.

Protesters called on both the government and the opposition to stop the project for now.

"The leaders of Australia need to start acting," said Sammy Lightfoot, 12. "Schoolkids are the next generation of Australia... so I think they should have the biggest voice."

Mr Morrison last month said "kids should go to school" when asked about children missing a day in the classroom to protest.

Students yesterday creatively rebuked Mr Morrison, who goes by the nickname ScoMo, taking selfies with a giant ScoMo puppet, carrying a school grade card for climate science labelled "FAIL" in red writing.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 09, 2018, with the headline 'Australian school kids lead mass coal mine protests'. Print Edition | Subscribe