John Key decided that opening the new Wellington headquarters of the Australian mining company that plans to open a massive new coalmine on the Denniston plateau is the sort of thing a New Zealand Prime Minister ought to do. A whole lot of people turned up last night in downtown Wellington to tell him, in no uncertain terms, that we didn’t want a bar of Bathurst Resources, the Denniston Mine, or National’s support for coal mining and contempt for the environment and the climate.

A coalition of groups including Coal Action Network Aotearoa organised the protest and groups including CANA, Forest and Bird, and Generation Zero were well represented, as were the Green Party with several MPs, the Labour party and the Mana Party.

According to our headcount, 230 people came along. I was impressed by the energy of the crowd, and by their ability to keep their energy levels up for 90 minutes in the case of most people, and over 2 hours for those who stayed right to the end to farewell Mr Key (about 30 of us). We had a range of excellent speakers from Forest and Bird, CANA, the Green Party, (and apologies to other groups I may have missed out) and some well-led and determined chanting.

Bathurst were sufficiently spooked to release a press statement earlier in the day painting themselves as the “good” coalminers, in contrast to the wicked, lignite-mining Solid Energy. They didn’t mention the close ties they already have with Solid Energy in other areas.

Here is some media coverage of the protest: Radio NZ, TV3, Stuff

And here is Mike Smith’s excellent video of the protest:

A good-humoured but passionate crowd, some choice banners and placards (see the video) and a location with great acoustics. John Key, Bathurst Resources, and the mining industry hangers-on who attended the opening got our message loud and clear.

– Tim Jones