In November 2022, our clients made history when a Queensland court found Clive Palmer’s enormous Waratah Coal Project should be rejected

Weeks later, Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal applied to the Queensland Supreme Court to overturn the recommendation of refusal that Land Court President Fleur Kingham handed down.

Youth Verdict and The Bimblebox Alliance have vowed to defend the Land Court of Queensland’s historic ruling against Clive Palmer’s massive Galilee Coal Project last month. 

The groups won a clean sweep on human rights, climate and environment grounds and have said they will defend this decision against Palmer’s appeal.

President Kingham recommended the Galilee Coal Project be rejected because it would have unacceptable impacts on the ecology of Bimblebox Nature Refuge, on the human rights of its owners and all Queenslanders, including First Nations people, and on the climate. [1] 

While President Kingham’s recommendation is not final or binding, the Queensland Government must consider the decision when making its final determinations on whether to issue the mining lease and environmental authority.

Youth Verdict First Nations Lead and Co-director Murrawah Johnson said:

Climate change is happening right now and First Nations peoples are on the frontlines of those impacts. President Kingham’s ruling last month was the most significant decision on climate change and human rights in Australia.  

“It was the first time this court, in accordance with First Nations’ protocols, went out onto Country to hear evidence in a mining objection hearing. It was the first time a fossil fuel project has been recommended for refusal because it would infringe the human rights of First Nations peoples through climate change.

“The case has been historic in re-connecting environmental protection and cultural rights of First nations people through the Queensland Land Court process and we won’t stop fighting.” 

Bimblebox Nature Refuge co-owner Paola Cassoni said:

“We stand 100% by the Land Court’s decision — it was based on science. President Kingham put the writing on the wall for this coal mine, but rather than read the message, Waratah Coal wants to erase it.  For The Bimblebox Alliance, there can be no going back now — there is simply too much at stake. To ensure nature and people have a liveable future, we must stop new coal mines destroying our world once and for all.”  

Youth Verdict and The Bimblebox Alliance are being represented by the not-for-profit environmental law firm the Environmental Defenders Office.

EDO Managing Lawyer Sean Ryan said:

“It is not surprising Waratah is seeking to overturn this decision — it must have sent shivers down the spine of the whole fossil fuel industry.

“For the first time, the Land Court has rejected an argument fossil fuel companies have used for decades to minimise or deflect responsibility for the harm their products are doing to our climate. The Land Court roundly rejected the ‘substitution argument’, also known as the drug-dealer’s defence, that if they don’t dig up and sell the coal, someone else will.

“Demolition of that argument represents a significant threat not just to Waratah Coal’s Galilee Coal Project, but all future fossil fuel proposals in Queensland. Essentially, the Court found that we can have a safe climate without this mine, but we can’t have one with it.

“Our clients intend to defend this decision and the important principles upon which it was based wherever they have the opportunity.” 


[1] Waratah Coal Pty Ltd v Youth Verdict Ltd & Ors (No 6) [2022] QLC 21, 25-11-22