The Queensland Land Court’s recommendation of refusal of the massive Galilee Coal Project will stand after Waratah Coal dropped its legal appeal on Friday.  
It now falls to the Qld Resources Minister Scott Stewart and the Qld Department of Environment and Science to decide whether to issue the mining lease and environmental authority required for the project to proceed. Historically, Ministers and departments have always followed Land Court recommendations.
Waratah Coal’s withdrawal of its appeal is welcomed by Youth Verdict and The Bimblebox Alliance who argued before the Land Court the mine would destroy the nature refuge and infringe the human rights of people in Queensland, including the cultural rights of First Nations Peoples, by contributing to dangerous climate change.
Youth Verdict First Nations Lead and Co-director Murrawah Johnson said: “Youth Verdict worked hard to ensure that First Nations ways of being and cultural practices were incorporated in our evidence and formed the foundation of our arguments. They were strong and could not be denied.
“It is Youth Verdict’s hope that the success of our First Nations-first human rights case and the wins throughout the case — such as On-Country and concurrent evidence from witnesses — allows more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to object to climate-destroying fossil fuel projects proposed throughout Queensland in defence of First Nations cultures and our collective future.
“The difference with this case was taking the decision maker, in this instance the Land Court, to where climate change and its negative impacts to First Nations peoples and cultures is clear, obvious and irrefutable. We now call on the Queensland Government to reject Clive Palmer’s Waratah mining lease and environmental approval applications.”
The Bimblebox Alliance spokesperson Sharyn Munro said: “The discontinuation of this appeal gives hope to us all — the inhabitants of Bimblebox, the people of Queensland and future generations. The court’s most important finding — that emissions from Australian coal burnt overseas do count in Queensland — stands unchallenged and can be used by anyone objecting to new thermal coal projects in this state.
“Land Court President Kingham made clear in her judgement that coal projects should not be assessed only for their economic return, but also for their impact on nature and human rIghts. The court’s refusal of this project has dethroned King Coal, removing its previously unreasonable rights over all else.
“We pay tribute to Professor Will Steffen, who sadly died last month and cannot celebrate with us today. Professor Steffen provided critically important expert evidence during the case and is to be remembered for the tremendous contribution he made to global efforts to tackle climate change.”
Environmental Defenders Office Senior Solicitor Alison Rose: “It is very significant that President Kingham’s decision now stands.
“This mine would have destroyed the Bimblebox Nature Refuge and added 1.5 billion tonnes of climate pollution to the atmosphere, undermining hopes of limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees. It is likely that these impacts will now be avoided because these emissions will now stay safely locked in the ground where they belong.
“All the evidence tells us that there is no room for new fossil fuel development if we are to have any chance of a liveable planet.
“This case marks a line in the sand and sends a very clear message — continued development of coal in 2023 is incompatible with our human rights.
“The people who have tirelessly protected the Bimblebox Nature Refuge can rest assured that future generations will enjoy the fruits of their labours free from the spectre of open-cut coal mining.”
In a legal first, the Land Court travelled out on-Country to Gimuy (Cairns) and Erub and Poruma Islands in Zenadth Kes (Torres Strait) to hear oral evidence about how climate change is currently affecting people’s ability to practice and develop culture, live on Country and protect their Country.
The Land Court found that if the mine were to be approved, burning the coal overseas would contribute to further climate change that limits the human rights of people in Queensland, including the cultural rights of First Nations Peoples.