News

$2000 fine for Lock the Gate protest

Beef Central, 12/12/2011

Conservationist and Lock the Gate Alliance president Drew Hutton has indicated he plans to appeal a court’s decision to fine him for obstructing the operations of a coal seam gas company.

Mr Hutton appeared in the Dalby Magistrates Court last week after being charged under Section 804 of the Queensland Petroleum and Gas Act for obstructing a resource company without reasonable excuse.

Mr Hutton argued that he had a reasonable excuse to obstruct Queensland Gas Company when it tried to access Paul Keating's property near Chinchilla in March because he had the landowner’s permission to be there, and the obstruction was motivated to stop an unreasonable interference to the landowner's activities.

However magistrate Matthew McLaughlin did not agree, saying the landholder Paul Keating was "complaining about something he had formally consented to".

Mr Hutton was found guilty and fined $2000 with no conviction recorded.

Before the court appearance Mr Hutton said the case would test section 804 of the Act to determine the rights of all landholders to stop CSG companies from entering their properties.He said after last Thursday's decision that his barrister believed grounds existed for a successful appeal. 

Greens Senator Larissa Waters, who was in Dalby last week to support Mr Hutton along with Greens leader Bob Brown and Katter’s Australian Party leader Bob Katter, said the court did not allow the consideration of environmental evidence, including “the potentially devastating impacts of CSG on the environment, water resources and agricultural land.”

She said the judgement showed that the law was allowing CSG companies to ride roughshod over the environment, farmers and communities, and said the Landholder’s Rights bill she has recently introduced to Federal Parliament would give landholders the legal right to lock their gates against coal seam gas, if passed.

Australian Party leader Bob Katter said laws should be changed to give landholders greater control over what happens on land that they own. 

 

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