The Rally Against T4

17 March 2013

Newcastle is built on coal and steel, but we've put much of that tradition behind us. Newcastle is losing it's reputation as a gritty, grimy industrial city and embracing a more cosmopolitan future. Yet for all that, Newcastle is still the world's biggest coal port. In the face of climate change, decreasing supplies of fossil fuels and new energy technologies, Newcastle continues to bring pollution to the world; every time Beijing suffers through unbreathable air, it's coal from Newcastle helping to poison Chinese citizens.. I hope one day that changes. So it seemed like insanity when I heard of T4, the proposed new fourth coal terminal for Newcastle harbour. T4 is not just another coal loader - it would more than double the existing capacity of the port. Twice as much coal. It's hard to imagine. I mean, we live less than 2km from the existing coal loaders - and 500 metres from the main rail line feeding them - and every surface in our house is covered in coal dust. We have to wash down the picnic table in our garden every time we eat there, clean coal dust off the clothesline before hanging up laundry, brush down the walls. If the coal dust was twice as bad, we'd just have to move. The suburb would be uninhabitable. Not in my backyard? I'm issuing an open invitation to any journalist or politician who wants to see what the coal dust here is like now. Please drop me a line, come and see my backyard, and tell me you'd be happy to have dust twice as bad in yours, with your children breathing it in.

Anyway I'm not the only one who feels this way, thank goodness. Yesterday DH, BabyG and I joined over 1000 other committed folks - some who'd travelled from areas as far afield as Mudgee, Sydney and Gloucester - to protest T4. T4 isn't a job creating new development opposed by a bunch of Greenies (as it is, currently Port Waratah coal services employs only a handful of people, so this is not about job creation - even the PWCS T4 page fails to mention any new jobs). It's not that we oppose progression or want to go back to the dark ages. Personally, I love electricity, love my gadgets. But coal is a dead technology. Coal burning electricity is on the way out, and those who've invested in this know it, and that's why they're rushing to build T4 to extract as much money as they can before their investments become worthless. T4 will not guarantee a comfortable life for many workers - it will only serve to make a few rich people even richer whilst thousands suffer, communities strip mined, residents throughout the Hunter breathing in coal dust from the (uncovered) coal trains, us poor saps near the terminal forced to cope with filth and fearing for our children's health. We're not a bunch of NIMBY hippies, just people gravely concerned with what T4 will mean for our region and the world.
Setting off
Mascot for the day, King Coal
Living with coal dust, this is only half funny if it is completely cute
Heartening to see the great turn out

We're angry and we are not just going to take this

You can just make out the office of State MP for Newcastle Tim Owen in the background. He supports T4  - I'm sure he does, the people who want this thing to go ahead are prepared to spend a lot of money to make it happen. All we have on our side is our voices. I for one will keep fighting this. If you've a few minutes you can help too - please send an email letting Tim Owen and NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell know you're opposed. This isn't about new jobs or helping an ailing economy. It's about 15 new open cut coal mines, 50 extra coal trains per day disgorging coal dust through the Hunter, increasing our already overlarge contribution to global warming. We must stop T4.


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