Three protesters who scaled MP Andrew Constance's Bega office building last month have pleaded guilty to a range of charges in Bega Local Court on Tuesday, July 27.
As well as "locking on" to the roof of the building, the protesters left a pile of woodchips in front of the Bega MP's office and banners indicating they were protesting the logging of native and state forests.
The court heard submissions from their solicitor that 64-year-old Andrew Turnbull was an active member of his local church and a grandfather; 53-year-old Susan Andrew was a school teacher; and 29-year-old Jarrad Holinger was a volunteer for the Sapphire Community Pantry and for Potoroo Palace.
The solicitor spoke for all three individuals concurrently and said if there were another way for citizens to bring forestry corporations to accountability, than another more suitable action would have been taken.
She said protests represented, "a means to keep governments accountable" and that there needed to be a balance between the law and protestors. She said they felt it "their duty to protest and protect".
Bega Local Court magistrate Doug Dick said he acknowledged there were differing opinions on the matter, but that the penalties announced would "send a clear message that the actions of the individuals are not acceptable in a court of law".
"This is not a court of morals," he said.
He also spoke of the danger that police officers who attended the scene had to put themselves in to remove the protestors from the building.
On the day of the sentencing all three submitted a guilty plea to each of the offences.
Andrew Turnbull was ordered to pay a fine of $800 for destroy or damage property, $800 for hide tools/clothes/property to unlawfully influence a person, $200 for wilfully prevent free passage of a person, $100 for refuse/fail to comply with direction, and $800 for resist or hinder police officer in the execution of duty. Totalling $2700 in fines.
Jarrad Holinger was ordered to pay a fine of $600 for risk safety of another by climbing building/structure, $100 for refuse/fail to comply with direction, $200 for enter inclosed land without a lawful excuse, $800 for hide tools/clothes/property to unlawfully influence a person, and $800 for wilfully obstruct officer in the execution of duty. Totalling $2500 in fines.
Susan Andrew was ordered to pay a fine of $600 for risk safety of another by climbing building/structure, $100 for refuse/fail to comply with direction, $200 for enter inclosed land without lawful excuse, and $800 for hide tools/clothes/property to unlawfully influence a person. Totalling $1700 in fines.
A number of the trio's supporters appeared outside the court on Tuesday morning with flags, gas masks, flowers, and played instruments and sang songs about "climate justice".
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