Anti-coal activists at the controversial open-cut coal mine at Maules Creek, near Narrabri, are at times surprised to find themselves accompanied by a Uniting Church Minister. Rev John Brentnall joined a blockade for the third time on 26 November, together with three Buddhists and another Christian, this time at the gate of a coal processing plant in Gunnedah. On a previous occasion he was arrested.
Why would a Christian Minister work in such unlikely ways? John explains: “Like many other Christians, I interpret the word ‘neighbour’ to include not just the people who live next door but all of humanity. Not just the ones who are alive now, but the ones in the generations to follow. I also include all living creatures.”
John cites the various objectionable impacts of the coal mine. He is concerned about the health impacts of toxic dust; the mine’s heavy use of water in a drought-prone agricultural area; the destruction of the last remaining intact Box Gum grassy woodland, habitat for dozens of endangered species; and the destruction of various sacred sites of Gomeroi Traditional Custodians.