Young environmentalist Billie Tristram, 14. Picture: Evan Morgan
Young environmentalist Billie Tristram, 14. Picture: Evan Morgan

Schoolgirl’s clash with Clive Palmer

A 14-year-old Townsville schoolgirl is standing in the way of Clive Palmer's bid to develop a big coal and rail project in central Queensland's Galilee Basin.

Billie Tristram is a member of Youth Verdict, which is one of the parties behind a legal bid announced yesterday to challenge the Waratah Coal project, claiming it infringes the new Queensland Human Rights Act.

"I've always been passionate about the environment and wildlife but it wasn't until I was 12 years old that I started to realise climate change was a huge issue," Ms Tristram said. "When Townsville experienced a one-in-100-year flooding event, I was shocked to see what happened. … With climate change, that will become more frequent."



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Activist legal service the Environmental Defenders Office is bringing the action on behalf of Youth Verdict and groups including The Bimblebox Alliance, which wants to protect the Bimblebox Nature Refuge threatened by the mine.

It is likely the case will come before Queensland's Land Court after the Government assesses Waratah Coal's mining lease application.

A spokesman for EDO could not say yesterday how the case would be funded, while a spokesman for Clive Palmer said they would not be discussing the case.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the action was a novel attempt by a minority group of young activists to use the court system to delay or prevent economic development.

But Ms Tristram said Clive Palmer's coal mine would produce horrific consequences like bushfires and floods.

"Human rights to me is about quality of life. Knowing that we will be safe. Knowing that we will be able to thrive," Ms Tristram said. "We all have these rights but coal mines like Clive Palmer's are impacting our human rights."

Originally published as Schoolgirl's clash with development titan