Coal pro­test­ers fined

Fined over Acland ac­tion

Dalby Herald - - NEWS - John Weekes John.Weekes @news­re­gional­me­dia.com.au

PRO­TEST­ERS who fixed them­selves to a rail­way to op­pose a ma­jor coal pro­ject have avoided a $558,000 resti­tu­tion or­der.

But civil ac­tion could still loom for Emma Jade Dorge and Jonathan Ma­noel Pin­heiro, who protested at the line near Jondaryan in June.

Yesterday, po­lice prose­cu­tor Mar­shall Bo­s­tock said the pair had “one arm each in­serted in a PVC pipe up to the armpit”.

The de­vice was called a “sleep­ing dragon,” he told Bris­bane Mag­is­trates Court.

Con­crete sur­rounded the pipe. The pro­test­ers could have freed them­selves yet chose not to, Mr Bo­s­tock said.

He said rail and mine op­er­a­tions were af­fected for six hours be­fore “spe­cial­ist” po­lice dis­man­tled the dragon.

New Hope Group, owners of the tar­geted New Acland coal pro­ject, wanted $427,746.

Queens­land Rail, Aur­i­zon, and Qube Hold­ings also sought money in the “ex­tra­or­di­nary” resti­tu­tion bid, de­fence coun­sel Pa­trick Wil­son said.

“The coal wasn’t de­stroyed, the coal wasn’t lost, the pro­duc­tion was de­layed.”

Mr Wil­son said it was consistent with prior cases for the court to make no resti­tu­tion or­der.

He said his clients had “bright fu­tures” but lim­ited means.

Mag­is­trate Ja­son Schu­bert gave the pro­test­ers credit for timely guilty pleas.

He said their “mo­tives may have been un­selfish” but a need for de­ter­rence re­mained.

Pin­heiro was fined $1400 and Dorge $1200. No con­vic­tions were recorded.

The mag­is­trate said his de­ci­sion did not pre­vent pos­si­ble civil ac­tion.

Out­side court, Dorge said she was proud of the protest and “pre­pared to take on any­thing” to en­sure New Acland’s Stage 3 mine did not pro­ceed.

“Cli­mate change is al­ready hap­pen­ing and it will be cat­a­strophic in my life­time,” Dorge said.

She said con­cerned peo­ple had to put their “bod­ies on the line”.

The $900 mil­lion Stage 3 pro­posal has po­larised lo­cal opin­ion and in­spired sev­eral long-run­ning court cases.

Protest sup­port­ers out­side court un­furled a ban­ner say­ing “No new coal, no Acland # 3”.

New Hope Group yesterday af­ter­noon de­clined to com­ment.

It has pre­vi­ously de­scribed its mines as “a ma­jor em­ployer and eco­nomic spur” for the Dar­ling Downs.

Last month, the Land Court ruled New Hope must ap­ply to the Co­or­di­na­tor-Gen­eral to change some en­vi­ron­men­tal au­thor­ity con­di­tions for the Stage 3 pro­posal.

PHOTO: JOHN WEEKES

COURT DE­CI­SION: Emma Jade Dorge and sup­port­ers out­side court.

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