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Bowen mum tells protesters: 'Stop putting lives at risk'

IN PROTEST: Emma Briggs and Juliete Nelson lie with their hands locked under the railway track on the Abbot Point.
IN PROTEST: Emma Briggs and Juliete Nelson lie with their hands locked under the railway track on the Abbot Point. John Andersen

A STRUGGLING couple with eight kids to feed was left in limbo after anti-Adani mine protesters chained themselves to a rail line on Wednesday.

Thirty-six year old Jodie Toms, who resides 30km west of Bowen said her husband Arthur was driving home from work with $500 of groceries when police stopped him on Gee Dee Road at 2.30pm due to concerns protesters could throw themselves underneath oncoming cars.

After protesters were cleared approximately two to three hours later, Mr Toms drove home only to find that around $200 worth of groceries were spoiled.

The large low-income family relies upon Mr Toms' minimum wage retail employment and family tax benefit payments.

 

The Toms family,  Maddison, Jodie, Arthur, Letty, Ethan, Corbin (at Back), Xander (at front) Indianna and Shelby Toms have called for protesters to be less disruptive to local people.
The Toms family, Maddison, Jodie, Arthur, Letty, Ethan, Corbin (at Back), Xander (at front) Indianna and Shelby Toms have called for protesters to be less disruptive to local people. Contributed

Ms Toms said she wanted protesters to understand that they were disrupting more than just mining operations when they pulled extreme stunts.

"We have a family of eight children who eat large amounts and we couldn't get a proper dinner on the table for them, they had to eat leftovers," she said.

"We have a child with autism and he had a meltdown and was crying for hours because Dad usually comes home at a certain time and dinner is always on the table at a certain time, we explained this to police but it didn't help."

Ms Toms said her four year old son Xander suffered from a rare blood disorder which stopped blood from clotting.

 

Xander Toms suffers from a rare blood disorder
Xander Toms suffers from a rare blood disorder Jodie Toms

She was concerned the family wouldn't have been able to get him urgent medical attention in case of an emergency due to the blocked road.

With respect to her own view on the proposed $16.5 billion Carmichael mine project, Ms Toms said any jobs which flowed onto the Bowen community would be a good thing.

"My husband would love a better paying job, he was unemployed for three years due to Bowen being dead," she said.

"I think it would be an amazing boost to the town and it would be really good for the community.

"(The protesters) don't know how many people in town are struggling financially, especially after the cyclone."

Ms Toms said she respected the group's right to protest, but they should not allow residents to suffer as a result of their Adani feud.

"They are affecting peoples lives, if they want to have a protest then do it in an area where they won't cause havoc on peoples lives," she said.

"They need to remove themselves from roads and stop putting peoples lives at risk, if no-one knew they were chained to the train track it would have affected the train driver if there was an accident.

"Just do it peacefully and respectfully."

Aware that the Front Line Action Against Coal protesters intended to escalate their actions, she said they needed to be more understanding.

Ms Toms said she and her husband approached the "Front Line Action Against Coal" group and asked for compensation for the spoiled groceries.

A Front Line Action Against Coal spokesperson said they had reached out to the family and offered to reimburse them for any financial burden.

"Frontline Action on Coal has been informed that a peaceful action conducted this week delayed a family with an unwell child from returning home due to traffic being stopped by authorities on a road adjacent to where the action was taking place," the spokesperson said. 

"We are currently speaking with the family, (and we) have extended our sincerest apologies and offered compensation for the costs they incurred.

"The intention of the action was to highlight the damaging impacts that Adani's coal mine would have on communities and the climate. We extend our apologies to anyone who may have been unintentionally impacted by the action." 

Topics:  adani carmichael mine project bowen gee dee road


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