In what we promise is a very real story, Queensland's Nationals MP George Christensen is going to war against an ice cream company, calling out Ben & Jerry's for their opposition to the controversial Adani coal mine.
The proposed Carmichael coal mine near Townsville has been embroiled in a political, economic and environmental brouhaha for years now, with the prospect of thousands of new jobs pitted against the impacts it would have on the Great Barrier Reef. Indian coal company Adani wants to build its mine, to be the largest in the southern hemisphere, in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland, and transport coal from there via rail to the coast -- right on the cusp of arguably Australia's greatest natural wonder, the reef.
The proposal includes a terminal at Abbot Point, which would see large ships passing around the reef, as well as massive dredging in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Christensen is among many Coalition members very in favour of the mine, citing massive employment opportunities and other economic benefits -- but green groups have been waging a long campaign against the mine, citing damage to the reef and the possibility of contamination in the event of an accident. T
he fight has been going for years, and is set to spark again when the recipients of the government's $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund are announced. The Carmichael mine is tipped to receive $1 billion of that, and has been praised by deputy PM Barnaby Joyce and resources minister Matt Canavan, but former Greens leader Bob Brown announced this week a new push to lobby against the mine.
This is where ice cream comes in. Ben & Jerry's, an American-based company, is supporting a series of events next week in capital cities across the country called 'Scoop Ice Cream Not Coal'. The company is getting behind a 'Stop Adani roadshow' in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, giving out free ice cream as opponents of the mine hold public rallies.
"Right now, foreign-owned mining company Adani wants to build the biggest coal mine in Australia's history. The coal from this mine would cook the climate and wreck the Great Barrier Reef," Ben & Jerry's wrote in Facebook event invitations for the event.
"This fight against Adani's mega mine is our line in the sand - no more coal for the sake of the climate, the Reef & future generations. Don't miss out on the chance to help us win one of the biggest fights of our generation. Secure your seat and get your tickets now!
"Plus! Scoop ice cream - not coal! Free Ben and Jerry's ice cream!"
Well, George didn't like that.
Christensen said Ben & Jerry's were "against local jobs" and called for supporters to boycott the brand and "get a good Aussie-owned and made ice cream like Bulla instead".
Unfortunately for Christensen, his suggestion didn't go down as well as he hoped. He is one of the handful of politicians in parliament opposed to halal certification, and many of his supporters are also anti-halal, but -- you guessed it -- Bulla's ice cream products are proudly and prominently certified halal.
In the comments on his post, it's running about 50-50 between people criticising Ben & Jerry's entering the Adani debate and people criticising Christensen for recommending a halal-certified brand. Can't win 'em all.
In a statement, Ricky Rosen from Ben & Jerry's told The Huffington Post Australia they stood by their support for the campaign.
"Ben & Jerry's has a long history of fighting for climate justice, specifically in Australia the wellbeing of our iconic Great Barrier Reef. We did this successfully in 2014 with WWF and the 'Fight for the Reef' campaign, and we're proud to do it again by joining our friends at 350 Australia in the fight against the proposed Adani mega coal mine," he said.
"We are urging our fans to get involvedb y coming along to the roadshows and showing their support next week. We look forward to seeing everyone there, even George Christensen."
The Stop Adani rallies are happening next week. For more information (and, apparently, free ice cream) click here.
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