Lock The Gate Alliance has questioned the double standards on law enforcement applied to mining giants and community members, after news today that Jonathon Moylan has been charged by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).

In January this year Moylan sent out a press release, appearing to be from ANZ, announcing that the bank had withdrawn a $1.2 billion loan to Whitehaven Coal. The ANZ loan to Whitehaven Coal is to fund the new Maules Ck coal mine near Gunnedah in NSW.

Moylan is charged with breaching section 1041E of the Corporations Act and faces 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $495,000.

“Today, young Jonathon Moylan has felt the full force of the law – something that multi-national mining giants rarely feel in this country” said Drew Hutton, President of Lock The Gate Alliance.

“In fact, it has been alleged that Whitehaven Coal provided false and misleading information to the Federal Government in order to get their Maules Ck mine approved, but there has been no action taken against them.

“In contrast, Jonathon Moylan has today been charged with breaching section 1041E of the Corporations Act and faces 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $495,000.

“We are asking ASIC to reconsider their decision and withdraw the prosecution – the penalty is clearly disproportionate to the offence and Mr Moylan has apologised to anyone affected by his actions.

“Whether you agree with his actions or not, Mr Moylan’s intent was obviously just to tell the world about the plight of the people and environments at risk from this massive coal mine.

“Moylan’s action focussed the nation’s attention on how the proposed Whitehaven coal mine will destroy thousands of hectares of Leard State Forest, threaten water resources and rip apart the farming community of Maules Creek.

“It seems extraordinary that this young man now faces a decade in prison while Whitehaven Coal is forging full steam ahead with its plans to destroy the amazing Leard State Forest, despite strong evidence to suggest their approval was based on false information” he said.

Moylan will appear before Downing Centre Local Court on July 23.

Information or comment: Drew Hutton 0428 487 110

Background on Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek open-cut coal mine proposal

· Public land: Most of the mine falls within Leard State Forest, a public forest managed by the state government, which is home to hundreds of native wildlife species.

· Groundwater impacts: Environmental Impact Assessment report predicts that impacts on groundwater resources will last more than 1,000 years, including a 5-7 kilometres depressurisation zone.

· Dust pollution: Open cut mine operations at Maules Creek will drop thousands of tonnes of dust on local communities, threatening the health of farming families.

· Community: Land purchases for mining development and offsets, combined with impacts on local livelihoods and quality of life, are contributing to rapid population decline in the area.

· Environment: 2,000+ hectares of native vegetation would be cleared, including 544 hectares of critically endangered woodland.