No right to report civil disobedience? Why @margokingson1 pleads guilty at #leardblockade


When I was charged with trespass at the #leardblockade on March 31 (see Getting #leardblockade arrested, WTF is journalism and who’s the extremist: @margokingston1 interview with @dailytelegraph), I sought legal advice on whether I could plead not guilty because of the implied right to freedom of political communication under the Constitution.

There is no legal basis for press freedom in Australia and the right to free political communication implied by the High Court is very narrow. But I thought it was worthwhile exploring the freedom’s limits because civil disobedience – the ultimate citizen’s public act of political expression – is on the rise, partly due to due to Government inaction on global warming and subservience to the fossil fuel industry.

Sydney Barrister David Hume, briefed by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, advised that I had little chance of success, and I will therefore plead guilty when my case comes up again at Narrabri Magistrates Court court in late June.

My case was complicated because I trespassed on the Whitehaven Coal mine site to report. However it is inevitable that the High Court will be asked to protect citizens’ rights to political protest and the media’s right to report political protest given escalating moves to crush civil liberties and the right to organise enviro-boycotts by State and Federal Governments.

So, for your information, here is my charge summary by NSW police, and Mr Hume’s legal opinion.

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  1. Its coming, the trend by Liberal Fascist Governments and Labor to define protest as “eco terrorism” and the penalties are anticipated in Tasmania for example $10,000 fine and or three months gaol.
    This new “liberal” Government in Tasmania is determined to prevent Forestry Protests as it tries to re-enter declared Conservation forests of Global Significance.
    It is my belief, using the Frank Hardy defence, that Eric Abetz is the nigger in the woodpile, he drives the “new Liberal” Governments both state and federal in their anti conservation policies.
    Will Hodgman (Tas Premier) tried several years ago to rid the Liberals of his influence but now joins the mob.
    The question is Will WIll obey the Abetz/Abbott line or Will Will forge his own path.
    We await the evidence, but not with much anticipation !

  2. As corporations own a lot of property, including land, it seems outrageous that ownership can prevent reporting on public issues. I can also see that it would be hard to stop so called journalists entering property for the sake of harassing people for a sensational article. Activism is our democratic right, so is the free press (!). Perhaps the issue is the individual rights to privacy and non trespass, not a public company. Thanks for your work.

  3. Neil Forscutt says

    Margo, plead not guilty and make the bastards build a case.

    These paragons of virtue are quite prepared to walk past “No Entry” signs to arrest an individual, yet they expect you to take notice of trespass.

    Did they present warrants? What did those warrants say?

    They are like actors, they can only do what others have decided they must do.