The press release hoax by anti-coal activist Jonathan Moylan represents a new and insidious form of sabotage by green extremists against productive activity in this country.
A member of the green activist group Front Line Action on Coal, Moylan distributed a fake press release to media outlets stating that the ANZ Bank cancelled a $1.2 billion loan to the developers of the Maules Creek coal project, located in the expansive Gunnedah Basin of NSW.
The share price for Whitehaven Coal, the Nathan Tinkler-owned company granted a tenement to develop the mine, fell from $3.52 to $3.21 within less than half an hour on the back of the fake release.
The fall in share price effectively wiped about $314 million from the value of Whitehaven, a significant blow for many shareholders with a stake in the company.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Green politicians and prominent left-wing commentators have quickly lined up to praise Moylan's actions.
Federal Greens leader Christine Milne supported Moylan's actions as being 'part of a long and proud history of civil disobedience,' whereas Lee Rhiannon tweeted a congratulatory note to Moylan 'for exposing ANZ investment in coal mines.'
The former head of the green think-tank Australia Institute Clive Hamilton described the action as a 'highly creative' example of 'virtuous malfeasance, hostile actions motivated by the public good aimed at damaging a company's interests.'
While the green-left might seek to elevate Moylan's actions to those of Mahatma Gandhi, it is closer to the truth to contend that the Moylan affair is a white-collar extension of systematic attempts by extremists to sabotage the mining sector, just as they have done to the native forest industry.
The symbolic epicentre of green activism against forestry companies and workers is in Tasmania, the political home of the Greens leader who herself has been intimately involved in campaigns to halt value-added production within the industry.
When people with extreme mindsets cannot win an intellectual argument in the first instance, they tend to resort in exasperation by throwing their own bodies against their perceived grievances.
And this was certainly the case for at least three decades, with many scenes documented of ecological protestors chaining themselves to trees, sabotaging bulldozers and other forestry capital equipment, and marching in numbers down the streets of Hobart and other capital cities.
Law enforcement authorities, who gradually dealt with violations of private property and infringements upon productive activity with an increasingly light touch, have done little to deter the desire of the extremists to oversee the demise of forestry as a viable concern in the Apple Isle.
Julie Novak is a Research Fellow with the Institute of Public Affairs. She has previously worked for Commonwealth and State public sector agencies, including the Commonwealth Treasury and Productivity Commission. Julie was also previously advisor to the Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Her opinion pieces have been published in The Australian, Australian Financial Review, The Age, and The Courier-Mail, on issues ranging from state public finances to social services reform.