Petrina Harley is one of three members of Scarborough Gas Action Alliance arrested last November for stopping Woodside’s operations on Murujuga (the Burrup Peninsula where Woodside operates and proposes to process Scarborough gas).
Their action, for a day, stopped hundreds of vehicles from entering the site.
“We did it because Woodside plans to go ahead with the mega-polluting, heritage-destroying Scarborough gas project”, Hurley said at the time.
“Construction on Scarborough gas is due to begin … Now, more than ever, we need direct action,” they said.
The actions took place on the land of the Mardudhunera, Ngarluma, Yaburara, Yindjibarndi and Wong-Goo-Tt-Oo peoples, and the Whadjuk Noongar people.
Woodside Energy’s Scarborough gas project is one of the most polluting fossil fuel projects being proposed in Australia.
It is estimated that it will emit an estimated 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide over its lifetime — the equivalent of 20,000 daily flights across the world for 25 years.
It will also damage the marine environment and cultural heritage sites at Murujuga.
Asked whether the change of government would help preserve this precious site and stop contributing to disastrous climate change, Hurley told the Green Left Show in September she did not hold out much hope.
“Labor is very good at doing the small token stuff … but … Woodside is a massive donor to both the Labor and Liberal parties.
“The idea that we need gas for jobs and growth is ludicrous … The tourism industry alone employs far more people than the mining industry does. A lot of these new [fossil fuel] plants will be automated, so they will not offer many jobs and those they do offer will be short-term.”
She added that governments are also throwing workers on the scrap heap. “They are not looking at the workers’ long-term futures. They should be retraining people and investing in renewable plants and energy and taking the workers along with them.”
Harley has been campaigning against Woodside in Perth for more than two years, including running educational stalls, attending lectures, writing submissions and petitions.
She was arrested a week before Scarborough was to make a final decision on the Scarborough gas project, depending on investors.
Perdaman, which wants to set up a fertiliser plant in the World Heritage-listed Burrup Peninsula, eventually became a major one.
“We went up to Karratha just before Perdaman announced its decision,” Hurley said. “I felt compelled to [take action]. The time was right and the momentum was there, as it still is.”
Greenpeace, Save the Songlines campaign and the Scarborough Gas Action Alliance are campaigning to save the Murujuga rock art from being destroyed and against more fossil fuel projects.
Harley said she is pleading not guilty. The court needs to hear her “extraordinary emergency” defence, she said, which will focus on Woodside’s harm to the climate if the project is allowed to go ahead.
“It will cause far greater harm than any harm we may have caused in blocking it and disrupting business.”
Harley will face court in Karratha on December 1.
[You can help the activists out by donating to their fighting fund here.]