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Jonathan Moylan: Anti-coal protester with public support faces huge costs at Supreme Court

Update, 24 Sep 2013 : The Sydney Morning Herald reports, "Mr Moylan was committed to the Supreme Court and will be appearing there on November 1."
See also: Hunter Valley food bowl plan faces urban development pressures of 1 Oct 2013, (last updated, 25 Aug); Stop CSG! Illawarra (last updated, 15 Sep). Paul Craig Roberts mentions the threat to underground water supplies as a result of fracking in the US in The Real Crisis Is Not The Government Shutdown of 2 Oct 2013.

In January this year, Jonathan Moylan sent a press release on ANZ letterhead to the ASX stating that the bank will withdraw financial support from Whitehaven’s Maules Creek open cut coal mine on ethical grounds. The case has now gone to the Supreme Court and Jonathan is facing up to 10 years jail and more than $700,000 in fines under s1041E of the Corporations Act. Jonathan's supporters feel that this is the exercise of might against right and point to ASIC's failure to prosecute big offenders in corporate crime. Anglophone law and industrial policy have a long history of persecuting democratic activism and have made it much harder for local people to organise against power than under the Roman Law (Napoleonic) system in continental Europe. This needs to change.

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Context to ASIC prosecution of Jonathan Moylan

This case against Jonathan Moylan is the first time an individual has been prosecuted under s1041E of the Corporations Act.

ASIC is currently subject to a Senate Inquiry investigating its inaction in relation to prosecuting major corporate white-collar crime.

Last week, former Gunns chairman John Gay, who was prosecuted by ASIC for insider trading, received a $50,000 fine for an offence which carries a maximum penalty of $220,000 or 5 years’ jail. While ASIC praised the result, the Shareholders Association slammed the fine as “too lenient”, saying Gay “clearly profited at the expense of shareholders”, and that “where a director has pleaded guilty to insider trading we would have thought that there would have been the potential for a jail term...”.

Moylan acted on a matter of principle for no personal gain. The impact of Moylan’s action on shareholders has been exaggerated and should be seen in context. An investor who held $10,000 in Whitehaven shares and sold at the low point on the day of Moylan's action you would have lost $881 (shares fell from $3.52 to a low of $3.21 before recovering). Had the investor not acted and held their shares, at today's share price of $2.01 the investment would be worth just $5710.41, a drop of some 43%.

Cumulative Environmental Impacts

The mines will clear the largest remnant of bushland left on the Liverpool Plains, Leard State Forest, which is part of a national biodiversity hotspot.

The mines will impact on habitat for up to 396 plant and animal species and as many as 23 threatened species.

It is estimated that the mines will lead to a 5-7m drop in the water table and up to 18,000 tonnes of dust being dropped on surrounding farms each year.

Total greenhouse gas emissions from the coal produced will, when burnt, exceed 60 Mt/yr of CO2 equivalent - a total greenhouse impact greater than that of 165 individual nations, including Sweden, Hungary and Finland.

This is the context in which the Maules Ck coal mine was the subject of a media release by Jonathan Moylan which has now led to his prosecution by ASIC.

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The Liberal government wants to make boycotts illegal — criminalising our ability to hold corporations to account when they jeopardise our health or our environment. It would make it illegal to call on another individual or company to boycott a product because it was unsafe or destroying the environment.
Tobacco giant Philip Morris is suing the Australian government to overturn public health laws aimed at reducing teenage smoking.

SumOfUs- Sign the Petition

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the so-called “free trade” agreement currently under negotiation between the US, Australia and several other countries.
Probably the most dangerous feature of the agreement as it now stands is the introduction of an Investor State Disputes Settlement (ISDS) system, in which foreign corporations are allowed to sue countries in order to protect the profitability of their investments.

The TPP is another step in the direction of total market deregulation in the interests of international big business and is another threat to Australia’s national sovereignty. The fundamental assumption is that corporations can sue sovereign states, but sovereign states cannot sue corporations operating in their territory. For example, the TPP could be used to block the Australian government’s requirement that cigarette companies use plain packaging. If the policy was successfully challenged, Australia would either need to pay “compensation” to the relevant corporations and/or remove the rule altogether.

Wikileaks Party: Why Australians should be worried about the TPP

These threats are about corporations accumulating enormous economic and political powers, through agreements and "free" trade agreements. They are becoming more powerful and bigger than sovereignties and governments. It's a worrying development, of economic predation on the rights of normal people in democracies to determine what's good and not welcome for their own communities, to actively protect the environment and ensure best animal welfare outcomes in industries.

30 Greenpeace activists, including an Australian man, have been charged with piracy after a protest at an Arctic oil rig last month. The group held a protest on September 18 in which several activists scaled Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Barents Sea to protest plans for drilling in the pristine Arctic.

Russian investigators have charged 13 of its activists and one freelance videographer with piracy over an ocean protest against Arctic oil drilling. The charges comes despite president Vladimir Putin's statements last week that the activists "of course are not pirates". The group has denied the charges and accuses Russia of illegally boarding its ship, the Arctic Sunrise, in international waters.

In 2014, the U.N. will receive competing claims on Arctic territory from all of the Arctic nations, and as Russia made clear in 2007, when its explorers planted the Russian flag on the seabed beneath the North Pole, it wants the lion’s share of the Arctic, as well as the seas of oil and gas beneath it.

Putin said that “It’s completely obvious that of course they are not pirates.” But it was also obvious, Putin said, that “these people violated the norms of international law and got dangerously close to the [oil-drilling] platform.”

Russia is stepping up its claim to the Arctic Ocean and the abundant reserves of oil and gas there as its well-exploited Siberian wells are beginning to dwindle. The Arctic represents a lucrative alternative for a country whose budget still heavily relies on natural resource revenues.

Gazprom, a Russian state-owned energy giant,told Reuters that it plans to begin oil production on the Prirazlomnoye platform — the same rig approached by the Greenpeace protesters — by the end of the year.

Humanity's race to secure depleting natural resources for economic growth will mean threatening more remote and extreme locations, and invading pristine areas of our planet. Energy is becoming the new GOLD, and environmentalists and activists are being labelled along with criminals, terrorists and pirates if they dare come in the way of nations, and corporations trying to secure their share of resources!

"The oceans are the last free place on the planet" says wanted fugitive Paul Watson. He believes Sea Shepherd's campaigns against Japan in the waters around Antarctica have saved more than 5,000 whales since they began.

"We look at ourselves as pirates of compassion in pursuit of pirates of greed," he says. "If the oceans die, we die, simple as that."