Environmentalist Bob Irwin, father of the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, said he will continue to protest against the coal seam gas (CSG) industry despite his arrest at a protest on April 12.
Police detained Irwin along with Queensland Greens spokesperson Libby Connors and Queensland Party MP Aiden McLindon at a protest organised by Lock the Gate at Tara, 300 kilometres west of Brisbane.
They were charged with disobeying a police direction. They will appear in court in May.
Irwin told ABC Online on April 12: “I've actually witnessed the devastation that's taking place out in the Tara district, not just to the people but to our environment and I’m quite angry.
“We've got to think of our future and our children and our grandchildren.”
Friends of the Earth member Cassie McMahon, who was involved in the protest, told Green Left Weekly: “They chose to do civil disobedience where they sat in front of a Queensland Gas Company (QSC] vehicle outside the gates of [QGC plant] Kenya.
“They remained sitting on the road, they were given a directive from police to remove themselves from the road, and they did not comply with that request and were therefore arrested for not complying with a police direction.”
Meanwhile, other CSG protesters, sitting in a gum tree in the path of a bulldozer at the Tara Estate, say police have threatened them with terrorism charges.
The latest high-profile arrests mark an escalation in what has become a prominent “David and Goliath” story in the national media.
They follow the earlier arrests of Friends of the Earth campaigner Drew Hutton and Brisbane grandmother June Norman in recent weeks.
Hutton was arrested for blockading a site for a crucial QGC gas pipeline. Hutton had the landowner’s permission to be on the property.
The landowner, who had initially agreed to the pipeline, has changed his position, claiming QGC has breached the contract. He now demands the company cease work on the property.
McMahon explained how the landowner came to change his stance.
“He had acquired a solicitor who he has now found out is involved with QGC and feels as though he was given misinformation” she said.
“Plus he became aware of the impacts of coal seam gas both on his land and on his health.”
She said Lock The Gate is planning a festival at Tara Showgrounds from April 29 to May 4.
The “Rock The Gate” festival will include speakers, workshops, seminars, live music and a “kids’ festival”.
“People both in Tara and also the wider community are welcome to come to hear more about coal seam gas and the impact it’s going to have on our land, our water and our future, as well as the opportunity to learn new skills and have a great time,” said McMahon.
“The Lock The Gate campaign is based on encouraging landholders to lock their gate to coal and the coal seam gas industry, not to get involved in signing documentation and contracts to allow the coal seam gas industry to enter their property.
“By doing that they are actually empowering themselves and their community.”
[For more details of the festival and the Tara campaign visit the Western Downs Alliance website at www.westerndowns.group-action.com .]