Protesters back activist in Adani battle

Robyn WuthAAP
Environmental activist Ben Pennings has been backed by anti-Adani mine protesters outside court.
Camera IconEnvironmental activist Ben Pennings has been backed by anti-Adani mine protesters outside court.

Protesters armed with placards and loudspeakers gathered outside a Queensland court as prominent activist Ben Pennings again took on mining giant Adani.

Mr Pennings was met with wild applause at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, as he and his legal team arrived for the next stage of his battle with Adani over the controversial Carmichael project.

Environmental activists and indigenous groups have tirelessly campaigned against construction, bringing numerous legal proceedings.

The most recent brought by Mr Pennings was last year won by Adani.

The Queensland Supreme Court ordered Mr Pennings to remove social media posts that encouraged company employees to disclose information about the project and stop using confidential information.

Adani also launched civil proceedings claiming the campaign was a breach of the company's confidential information.

As part of that action, the mining giant seeks to cloak its material in broad confidentiality orders to stop its disclosure to Mr Pennings.

They fear the environmental campaigner would use the information as a weapon against the company.

"Our affidavit material included material that is very critical of Mr Pennings as a person," lawyer Graham Gibson told the court.

"He cannot be trusted to maintain the confidentiality of any material that he is exposed to and has demonstrated that in various respects."

Mr Pennings' legal team argues the activist would have "a fundamental difficulty in defending the case" if the confidential orders are granted.

"Adani says Ben has taken its confidential information but won't tell him what that information actually is," lawyer Kiera Peacock said.

"This creates a real tension with Ben's fundamental right to natural justice, to know the case he has to defend."

Outside court, Mr Pennings said the application made it impossible to defend himself legally.

"I need to know what exactly Adani says I did wrong so that I can actually defend this case and end the ongoing pain this is causing my family," he said in a statement.

The company is building its 10 million tonne-a-year thermal coal mine in the Galilee Basin, which could be expanded to six times that size.

Adani is also building a rail line that will be opened to other companies if it gets the tick of approval to mine the coal-rich region.

An environmental activist group encouraged people to "infiltrate" Adani by getting jobs to obtain information about the Galilee Basin coal project against the Indian mining giant.

Justice Susan Brown is expected to reserve her decision.

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