Gladstone Harbour Dredge Protest – environmental activist challenges court

MEDIA RELEASE
Date 20 January 2012

Environmental protest given the green light in Queensland


Today in the Brisbane magistrates court, Magistrate Jim Herlihy gave the green light to environmental protestors in Queensland to take action to protect the environment from coal and coal seam gas development.

“This is a great day for Queensland, and a great outcome for the environment” said Derec Davies from Friends of the Earth.

“Gladstone Harbour is sick, and protest action from the community has been validated today. Federal Environment Minister Burke and Queensland Environment Minister Darling, Fishery Minister Wallace, and the Premier Bligh have been slapped in the face today by the Queensland courts”.

On the 9 Nov 2011 environmental activist Derec Davies boarded and stopped the controversial dredging in Gladstone Harbour. Gaining national media attention and connecting dredging impacts to the Great Barrier Reef and the activities of Queensland's coal and coal seam gas industry.

“No fine, no conviction, and the damages claim thrown out. This is an exceptional win and sends a clear signal to Minister Darling that the environment and the concerns from the community will come before industry in the eyes of the law”, said Davies.

Today Mr Davies appeared in the Brisbane magistrates court to fight the Gladstone Port Corporation's $35,000 damages claim.

Magistrate Herlihy stated “The courts are not in the business of closing down genuine protests.” He then went on the discuss the merits of Gandhi, and noted the “dead fish in Gladstone”, and associated discussion around coal seam gas protest in the Scenic Rim Region of Queensland.

Australia's coal and coal seam gas development bubble has placed unprecedented pressure on the Great Barrier Reef.

“Minister Darling and Premier Bligh know the recent Gladstone Fish Health report and on-going community outcry is a huge embarrassment and challenge for their leadership. With  pressure from the UN World Heritage Committee to stop the dredging in Gladstone, and now the Queensland courts, when will Minister Darling face the people of Gladstone and hear their calls”.

“The risk to the Great Barrier Reef from 34 new coal mines, 4 coal seam gas ports is far to high. Queensland is fueling global climate change with our coal and gas exports. Our government should not destroy our reef for the profits and the energy needs of other countries”.

“Communities across the state are fighting back”, said Davies

The UN World Heritage Committee visit is scheduled for March 2012, the outcome of today's court paves the way for legitimate protest to continue”, said Derec Davies of Friend of the Earth.

Media contacts:

Derec Davies, Friends of the Earth        mob     0421 835 587


 

MEDIA ALERT
Date 19 January 2012

Gladstone Harbour Dredge Protest – environmental activist challenges court.

On the 9 Nov 2011 environmental activist Derec Davies boarded and stopped one of the controversial Gladstone Harbour dredges. Gaining national media attention and connecting the dredging impacts to the Great Barrier Reef and the activities of Queensland's coal seam gas industry.

Mr Davies will appear in the Brisbane magistrates court tomorrow and fight the Maritime Safety Qld $35,000 damages claim.

WHERE: Out the front of the Brisbane Magistrates Court. Crn George Street and Turbot Street, Brisbane.

WHAT: pending the court hearing Derec Davies will address the media and outline the court results. Including comments on the recent Gladstone Science Panel report.

WHEN: Friday 20 January 2012. From 9:40am

VISUAL: Usual court appearance interview. Able to link to recent coal seam gas protest footage from Beaudesert and Ipswich.

Interview support from Drew Hutton from Friends of the Earth and Lock the Gate Alliance.

Australia's coal and gas bubble has placed unprecedented pressure on the Great Barrier Reef. In November 2011 environmental activist Derec Davies boarded and stopped dredging activities at the site of Queensland's LNG coal seam gas facilities. Arrested by police, Mr Davies is due to appear in the Brisbane magistrates court and will challenge the $35,000 damages claim requested by Maritime Safety Qld.

Derec Davies has been charges under the Transport Operations and Maritime Safety act. The charges carry a total maximum penalty of $74000 or one years imprisonment. The charges are: s184 – Illegally Boarding of or remaining alongside or hovering near a ship, s190(1) – Obstruction of master or crew, s85 – Obstruction of Harbour Master.

On behalf of the Maritime Safety Qld, the prosecution lead by Maritime Safety Queensland will attempt to set an example of Mr Davies action by claiming a restitution order of $35,000.

“Clearly the State Government is highly embarrassed by the recent media and results from the, so called, independent Gladstone Fish Health Scientific Advisory Panel Final Report.

Analysis by external science commentators, and as stated in the report itself, clearly show the entire study a disappointing missed opportunity”, said Derec Davies.

“The action taken by Friends of the Earth and the community representatives of Gladstone stands. The report statement doesn’t actually mention dredging, increased ship movements or anything specific about the industrial activities at all”.

“Minister Vicki Darling has hand balled comment of this issue to the lead agency responsible for the environmental damage – the Gladstone Ports Corporation – in the face of a report that clearly states there is no adequate baseline studies done in the area that enable the detection of change and its relationship to different events, including the dredging. The study was a
waste of time, and money. Yet the destruction to our reef continues”, said Davies.

“Vicki Darling, Minister for the Environment, needs to take responsibility for the terrible environmental damage being inflicted on the dugong, turtle and dophins. Minister Darling must be publicly commented for stopping the dredging activities on the earlier this month (11 Jan 2012). The report has paved the way for the Minister to administer her powers and she should be commended publicly for taking this action”.

The Bligh Government and State owned Ports Corporations will fight to set an example of this protest in the hope it will deter future protests. But with the development of massive coal and gas ports in Gladstone Harbour and Fitzroy River delta, Abbott Point and others impacting on the Great Barrier Reef, it is unlikely to do so.

“The risk to the Great Barrier Reef from these coal and coal seam gas ports is far to high. Climate change is real and Queensland should not be destroying the reef for the profits of a few fossil fuel shareholders and the energy needs of other countries. Friends of the Earth and communities across the state are fighting back”.

“Minister Darling and Premier Bligh know the recent Gladstone report and on-going community outcry is a huge embarrassment and challenge for their leadership. With the UNESCO's World Heritage Committee visit scheduled for March 2012, protests are sure to continue”, said Derec Davies of Friend of the Earth.

Media contacts:
Derec Davies, Friends of the Earth mob 0421 835 587