Extinction Rebellion activists treated as terrorists

The offending chalk stencil. Photo: Extinction Rebellion WA

Six activists accused of chalking a sign on a Perth City walkway were raided by an anti-terrorist outfit in the early hours of August 19.

The WA State Security Investigation Group searched five homes for hours before taking six people into police custody. They were charged with property damage and were fined nearly $2000 each.

Two of those people charged are relations and have been ordered not to associate until their court hearing next month.

The messages were chalked on the overpass during a protest, organised by Extinction Rebellion (XR) WA, in response to Woodside’s proposed $16 billion offshore Scarborough liquified natural gas (LNG) project.

The government has given the go ahead to an underwater pipeline connecting the gas field to Woodside's Pluto LNG facility on the Burrup Peninsula to process the gas for export.

The messages on the overpass had symbolic value as it joins Parliament House to St Georges Terrace, headquarters of the big mining and fossil fuel companies.

Woodside says the estimated 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon emitted from the Scarborough gas project is “negligible”.

The Conservation Council of WA said it is the equivalent to emissions from 15 coal fired power plants. 

Despite community pressure on government not to approve it, Minister for Environment, Climate Action and Commerce Amber-Jade Sanderson gave it the green light, days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its Code Red emergency report.

“Using an anti-terrorism unit to intimidate non-violent climate activists demonstrates the Western Australia government’s subservience to the fossil fuel and mining corporations who effectively govern the state, XR activist and Socialist Alliance candidate for Fremantle Petrina Harley told Green Left.

“Labor has consistently proven itself equal to the Liberals in its determination to protect and promote the interests of the billionaire carbon polluters; the Scarborough approval is just the most recent example.

"The mutual back-scratching by politicians from the two major parties and the resource sector is perhaps best illustrated by former WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt," Harley continued.

“After resigning from government prior to the March election, Wyatt soon reappeared as the newly-minted board member of both Woodside and Rio Tinto.”

Wyatt was a former treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs when Rio Tinto knowingly destroyed the sacred Juukan Gorge site in the Pilbara last year.

“Both Labor and the Coalition are committed to carbon emission trajectories that would lead to the worst case scenarios outlined in the IPCC’s report,” Harley said. 

“The deployment of the Security Investigation Group is a dangerous escalation in the criminalisation of non-violent protest,” she added. Grassroots movements, like XR, need to be supported as well as the freedoms of speech and assembly Harley concluded.