May 1, 2015

Would members of the public please leave the Court

I've just been banished from the Land Court. Not just me, you understand. I haven't been evicted for squeaking in horror and disbelief at the argument that Adani's Carmichael Mine would be better for the survival of the Black-throated Finch than if the bird were left to its own devices where it's hanging out currently. Or crying out in frustration at the claim that adding 40 million tonnes of Galilee Basin coal to the seaborne thermal coal market in Asia Pacific will not increase demand for coal.

No, just before lunch Adani requested the Court be closed for part of financial analyst Tim Buckley's evidence due to its commercially sensitive nature. They did the same thing a week ago apparently, when Adani Mining's financial controller was in the witness box: I wasn't there that day.

I immediately concluded that I had been rumbled. The public, with environmental protectors in their midst, were being evicted because I had been 'live tweeting' some of the exchanges during Mr Buckley's evidence, such as,
'What do you think of the idea that India will be the saviour of the Australian thermal [coal] export market?
Absurd.'

Adani's lawyers didn't have the correct paperwork to hand; the judge thought it highly irregular that the request be granted therefore; but Coast and Country's legals did not protest. I think all parties wanted the evidence finished today: Mr Buckley was the last witness. No one wanted a delay as a result of a procedural blip.

I must say, however, that when such issues are at stake – and I mean the go-ahead of a potentially unviable mega-mine at the expense of ecologically valuable vegetation remnants and endangered bird species – not to mention the Great Barrier Reef – then I believe all procedures should be followed to the letter. And that should have included a formal request to the public – and there is a significant interest in the Adani case – to leave the Court. As it was, information percolated through confused observers, and then we all slunk away into the torrential rain. I was advised that there was nothing to be gained from returning to Courtroom 17 at resumption, just to be told I couldn't stay.

What an anticlimax to five weeks' attendance. How disappointing. It goes against the grain for the people to be ejected from the Land Court. It just ain't right.



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