Coal protesters fined
Fined over Acland action
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.
COURT DECISION: Emma Jade Dorge and supporters outside court.