Bulga protesters acquitted

On July 20 last year Wonnarua Elders Kevin Taggart and Patricia Hansson were part of a small group of Bulga residents protesting plans by Rio Tinto to close Wallaby Scrub Road as part of its expansion of the Warkworth mine.

Police arrived and arrested the only two Aboriginal people present.

Singleton Magistrate Andew Eckhold acquitted both of all charges on June 2, and reminded the court that the country was about to celebrate the 25 anniversary of the Mabo judgement which recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait or native title in Australia for the first time and as Aboriginal Elders they had a right to protest against the destruction of their country.

During the hearing questions had been raised about the legality of Rio Tinto’s decision to blast on that day as it had not been advertised.

Eckhold asked what would have been the police response if they had been notified that an illegal blast was about to take place.

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