Extinction Rebellion tells naked truth at NSW Independent Planning Commission

October 14, 2020
Extinction Rebellion action at the Independent Planning Commission. Photo: AJ Tennant

On October 13, half-naked Extinction Rebellion (XR) rebels protested at the NSW Independent Planning Commission for giving approval to Santos for its Narrabri gas project.

The rebels, painted in colourful flames to symbolise the devastation of the climate-fuelled bushfires, had super-glued themselves to the building as part of their protest aimed at getting governments to act on climate crisis.

If it goes ahead, Santos will be allowed to construct 850 coal seam gas wells on 1000 hectares of a 95,000 hectare site, including the Pilliga State Forest and grazing land. It will destroy natural habitats and threaten key water sources on Gomeroi land.

Police issued a move on order, before five rebels aged between 29 and 70 were taken to Surry Hills police station. Three rebels who signed their bail conditions were detained for 8 hours. They will appear before court in November.

Two rebels who didn't sign bail conditions were detained for 24 hours, and had their original bail conditions changed to include having to report to a police station once a week.

They face court in a week on charges under the Crimes Act of "destroying or damaging property" (spray paint and super glue); being on "inclosed lands" (remaining on premises after being asked to leave) and contravening the summary offences act (for "willful and obscene exposure" near a public place).

One protester, 29-year-old Violet said in court: “We must stop the corruption of the fossil fuel industry and its influence on our political institutions and media.”

Sixty-year-old Sharron, who was arrested, told Green Left: “I am doing this action to highlight the climate crisis and the heating of our planet. Gas is not the right path out of recession and governments should be backing renewable energy. It’s a critical time. I have 5 grandchildren and their future is not looking good.

XR said the NSW government had completely ignored the opposition of the Traditional Custodians, local farmers and conservationists to Santos’s gas project. More than 23,000 individual opposition objections were lodged to the project, compared to about 300 positive submissions.

A former judge and committee member at the Centre for Public Integrity Paul Stein QC told the October 1 Guardian Australia: “The IPC shouldn’t have the word ‘independent’ in the title anymore, because they’re essentially under the control and direction of the minister [NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes].” XR has also questioned the independence of the IPC.

The Naked Truth action was one of many being organised as part of the Spring Rebellion. Actions began on October 11 and continue until October 17.

[This article was updated on October 15 to include details of the activists' imprisonment and the charges bought against them.]

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