The gate that helped start the Lock the Gate movement is now on a farm in Tasmania
Just over 10 years ago, a group of farmers and environmentalists gathered outside the Queensland Parliament in Brisbane to campaign against what they saw as the expansion of coal and gas development. at the expense of Australian agriculture.
- The Lock the Gate Alliance started 10 years ago, around an old gate in front of the Queensland Parliament
- The alliance has since grown to include more than 450 local groups and 120,000 supporters
- Former Darling Downs farmer Rob McCreath provided the gate for the initial protest and took it with him when he moved to Tasmania.
The protesters called themselves the Lock the Gate Alliance and said they were prepared to go to jail to stop resource companies from exploring or exploiting their land.
But as with any demonstration, they needed a centerpiece – something to gather around that would do well for the cameras.
A man needs a door
The day before, Darling Downs farmer Rob McCreath got a call from protest organizer Drew Hutton.
Drew called me and said, ‘Rob, do you have an old rusty door that would look great in a photo? “” said Mr McCreath.
“I only had that one because it wasn’t that big so I could put it on the back of the ute.
“I kind of had it in my head somewhere in the house because it’s old fashioned, but I never got into it.
“It worked for Gandhi”
The alliance has come a long way since 2011. Lock the Gate says it is now made up of 450 local groups with more than 120,000 members.
Mr McCreath admits that when he was protesting in 2011, he had no idea how big the movement was growing.
“The idea being that it’s non-violent, but you just refused to cooperate, so the principle was to lock the door on the mining and gas companies and refuse to cooperate.
“It got a lot of attention really quickly and I was on Radio National with Fran Kelly and she was asking how many farmers were going to participate. I really had no idea.”
Mr McCreath believes the secret to the alliance’s success lies in the simplicity of the basic concept.
“I had never heard of civil disobedience before, and Drew told us how Mahatma Gandhi used it to protest against the British occupation,” he said.
“It worked for Gandhi. It will also work for the farmers.”
A great adventure
Protest came and went, but the gate remained in place, and when Mr. McCreath decided to move, the gate accompanied him on a 2,000 mile journey.
“We sold in Queensland and bought a farm here, so we brought it with us. There was no way I was putting this one in the offsetting sale,” he said.
“There was a stack to keep and a stack to sell, but this was in the stack to keep from the start.
“I don’t know if we’ll take it with us if we have to move again. It’s pretty well planted in a post now, and it’s doing a job.
“It will certainly last a very long time. It contains a lot of steel, so for hundreds of years it will still be there.
“Maybe we’ll put up a sign: here’s the door, lock the door.” “