Gunnedah, a mining town known for its deep roots in coal and mineral reserves, has recently found itself in the midst of a racial controversy that has cast a shadow over Whitehaven Coal, one of its major employers.

Luke Mitterer, an employee at Whitehaven Coal, has recently come under intense scrutiny for a racist and violent comment posted on Facebook on Sunday, 15th of October, 2023.

The comment, filled with derogatory terms and explicit threats, targeted an individual, making aggressive remarks towards them and their children. The shocking message read: “I’m gonna wrap a fckn bar around you and your piece of shit kids heads you scabby coon bitch I hope you get t boned by a truck and die painfully for you giving birth to such mongrel kids you asshole.”

Luke Mitterer: A Symptom of Whitehaven Coal Gunnedah's Racial Problem?

The racist nature of this comment has ignited a firestorm of criticism not just towards Mitterer but also against Whitehaven Coal for employing an individual who harbours such extreme prejudices.

With many questioning the culture at Whitehaven Coal, asking if the company has a broader problem with racial discrimination or if this incident was an isolated case.

A Symptom of Whitehaven Coal Gunnedah’s Racial Problem?

Whitehaven Coal’s management is yet to release a public statement about the incident.

But the community and various advocacy groups are demanding immediate action, pressing for Mitterer’s termination and urging the company to undertake thorough internal reviews and implement anti-racism training for its workforce.

The incident with Mitterer also brings back the spotlight on racial tensions in Gunnedah, a town previously mentioned in discussions about treatment towards the Indigenous community. With reports of Indigenous individuals being arrested on mere suspicion and other acts hinting at racial profiling, Mitterer’s comments may indicate deeper-seated racial biases in the area.

“My Grandson picked up his new push bike from turners bike shop on Thursday. He paid it off over 2 months with his pay from his permanent job. Well he was down town and the coppers pulled him up about no helmet which is fair enough but they started saying did he pinch it. He was upset about how he was treated so he rang me I told him just give them your DOB name and address. I could hear how they were treating him so I had a few words to say then the male cop snatched the phone ° out of his hand. Said can I sit down on the bench to eat his maccas and the female cop said sit in the gutter. He feels like they only pulled him up was because he is Aboriginal. Can’t a 16 year old have a real nice bike. That he paid for out of his pay”

Terry Moore

This controversy serves as a crucial reminder of the continued existence of racial prejudice, not just in isolated pockets but even within major corporations. Many are urging Whitehaven Coal to take this incident as a wake-up call, reflecting on its hiring practices, internal culture, and the values it wishes to uphold in the future.

As Australia continues its journey towards inclusivity and understanding, incidents like these underline the importance of vigilance against racism at all levels.

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