In January of last year, environmental activist Jonathan Moylan distributed a fake media release stating that the ANZ Bank was revoking a loan facility for Whitehaven’s Maules Creek coal mine in the Leard State Forest in northwest NSW.
By Matt Myers, Socialist Party
This successful prank immediately caused a sell-off in Whitehaven’s stock. It was done in conjunction with other protest activities organised by Front Line Action on Coal which Moylan helped to co-found.
As a result of this stunt Moylan was brought to court to face charges of “disseminating false information to the market”. He faced the prospect of 10 years jail and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
In July he pled guilty and was sentenced to 20 months jail however the judge immediately released him on the condition of good behaviour. The judge importantly noted the unusual circumstances of this case in which Moylan did not gain any economic benefit from his actions.
When compared with the ongoing damage that big business is causing to the environment Moylan’s prank pales into insignificance. Clearly protecting the future of the Leard Forest far outweighs any minor damage that was done to profiteers. The fight against the Maules Creek coal mine continues.