Adani protester calls for return of camping chair after guilty plea
A 63-year-old environmental activist defended her role in a blockade on a construction site in Bravus, saying her actions were “necessary” in the face of an “impending climate blackout”.
Carine Marie Visschers, of Cairns, appeared in Bowen Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, pleading guilty to trespassing and contravention of police instructions at the construction site of the Carmichael de Bravus railway project April 9.
The court heard a group of protesters come to the Mount Coolon site around 6 a.m., putting up anti-Adani signs and banners that blocked workers’ access to the site.
At the time of her arrest at around 9:30 a.m., Ms. Visschers was inside the construction site, seated on a camping chair blocking the path of vehicles attempting to work on the coal export railway.
The court heard that she refused to leave the site on her own, despite repeated warnings from security and police.
Arrest officers took Ms Visschers to Collinsville Police Station, confiscating the camping chair, along with three anti-Adani banners and signs, a flashing beacon and a walkie-talkie, before releasing her on bail.
Representing herself in court, Ms Visschers read a prepared statement when asked to speak.
The statement explained that Ms Visschers had been a law-abiding citizen all her life, but decided to participate in “non-violent civil disobedience” at the Bravus site out of desperation to deal with the “climate crisis”.
“I am convinced that my action was necessary,” Ms Visschers told the court.
“Legal and socially acceptable methods of political engagement such as petitions, marches and appeals to local representatives have [produced] very few results. ”
Ms Visschers said she had taken steps to minimize the impact of her actions on people working on the construction site and had been polite and cooperative with the police.
She asked Magistrate Ron Muirhead to consider the “time, financial and emotional costs” she had already suffered in being taken into police custody and traveling to Bowen from Cairns for her court appearance.
She also asked if she could get her camping chair back, as it was “in great condition” and she didn’t want to see it get lost.
Police attorney Sergeant Emma Myors called for the confiscation of all confiscated property and said Ms Visschers should be fined to deter other protesters.
“The inconvenience caused by these protesters at sites like this is enormous,” said Sgt Myors.
“They essentially prevent employees from fulfilling their legal obligations.”
Mr Muirhead acknowledged Ms Visschers’ “personal beliefs” and her lack of criminal history, but told her: “In the end, you broke the law”.
He chose not to register a conviction, but imposed a fine of $ 600.
He also rejected Ms Visschers’ request for the return of her property, telling her that any item used in committing an offense should be confiscated, “unless there is a very good reason not to do so” .
Originally published as Adani protester calls for return of camping chair after guilty plea