CONCERNED CITIZEN: Russell Chiffey, of the Coffs Coast Climate Action Group, was arrested at a protest at Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker's office in Coffs Harbour on Monday, June 6, 2017.
CONCERNED CITIZEN: Russell Chiffey, of the Coffs Coast Climate Action Group, was arrested at a protest at Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker's office in Coffs Harbour on Monday, June 6, 2017. Keagan Elder

Climate warriors battling for future generations

GOING gently into the good night is not an option for the Coffs Coast's senior climate change warriors.

Instead these upstanding citizens in their 60s and 70s are politely but firmly storming the barricades of the establishment, holding demonstrations and sit-ins, occupying politicians' offices, blocking access to mine sites, locking themselves to gates and bulldozers and flooding the in-boxes of banking executives and investors with their objections to funding environmentally-damaging projects.

They are united in their opposition to what they see as decisions which will be disastrous for the environment they cherish and for the future of their descendants.

Included in their number are Coffs Coast Climate Action Group members Ron Ryan, Russell Chiffey, John Ross and Susan Doyle.

The four senior Coffs Coast residents were among activists who refused to leave Federal MP Luke Hartsuyker's office on June 5, until they were given an appointment with the National Party politician to discuss Indian company Adani's proposal for a giant new coal mine in Queensland.

The rally ended in the arrest of several of the activists, including grandmother and foundation action group member Susan Doyle, who was given an infringement notice and fined $350.

Now she is planning to support Queensland grandparents in their protest action against the coal mine in the Galilee Basin and the proposed expansion of the Abbot Point coal loader, which opponents say will contribute to destroying the Great Barrier Reef. Veteran environmentalist David Attenborough saif the reef could be gone in decades.

"I'm concerned for the future of the planet," Susan said.

"I've got grandchildren and things will start to become difficult for them.

"How could they consider building the world's biggest coal mine - and near the Barrier Reef?

"I'm very concerned about the lack of action from the government (on climate change).

"I've worked in the solar industry and I know how easy (renewable energy) is.

"With jobs, it is common sense that people working on one industry can be retrained in another and I feel the same about the car industry.

"We need industry and I see people queuing up for expensive electric cars from overseas.

"Instead of sitting and crying I took action. I went to non-violent direct action training.

"The video of us being arrested went viral and the photos have been widely shared.

"I don't want personal publicity but I feel so strongly about it, that it's fine."

Nurseryman, bookshop owner and long-time Landcare volunteer John Ross said he had been reading about climate change for 40 years.

John was among activists at the Maules Creek coal mine site who locked themselves onto gates and machinery to protest the mine and the destruction of bushland involved.

"Taking action stops me from boiling over in anger about what is happening," John said.

"We seem to be ignoring massive changes.

"The (political) devotion to digging things up and selling them is mental.

"There would be three to seven times as many jobs in deploying solar and wind, for the same investment."

John said the politicians' figure of 10,000 future jobs at Adani's proposed Carmichael Mine was wildly exaggerated and Adani's own consultant had suggested less than 1500 jobs, many of which would probably be pulled from existing Hunter Valley coal mining workforces.

"When the climate goes crazy we are all in trouble," retired teacher Russell Chiffey said.

"Natural disasters like the Victorian bushfires tend to draw attention, but of course people forget.

"You have to make people take notice.

"If people sit by and do nothing you lose your democracy."

"I'm a pretty slacko member and I don't do too much," said Rod Ryan, self-described 'eccentric old bastard'.

"But there are too many dickheads in control and they are taking us in the wrong direction."

The meeting with Luke Hartsuyker which the Coffs Coast Climate Action group first applied for in April, has now been booked for a date in July.

Mr Hartsuyker has been reported as supporting the Finkel Review into electricity prices, which includes a clean energy target.


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