Gladstone Harbour Dredge Protest – environmental activist challenges court


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 Gladstone Port Corporation $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 November 2012. From 9:40am

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

OPTIONAL: 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 the State owned Gladstone Ports Corporation.

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 Gladstone Ports Corporation, 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