Thursday, 27 December 2012

Lock the Gate activitist has conviction overturned

The LNG/ CSG industry remains highly controversial because of environmental, health and property rights issues. Lock the Gate is at the centre of protests in the gas fields and chief activist Drew Hutton, who was arrested last year during a protest, has had his conviction overturned, as the Sydney Morning Herald reported recently:

A QUEENSLAND judge has overturned the conviction of Drew Hutton, co-founder of the Greens and president of the anti-coal seam gas group Lock the Gate.
Mr Hutton was arrested on March 29 last year while protesting on QGC's gas fields near Tara on Queensland's western Darling Downs.
Last December Mr Hutton was convicted in the Dalby Magistrates Court under section 805 of Queensland's Petroleum and Gas Act, which provides for fines of up to $50,000 against anyone who obstructs an oil and gas company from entering, crossing or carrying out any other authorised activity on land covered by an exploration or production licence, on condition that they have been properly warned by the company.
But District Court judge Fleur Kingham acquitted Mr Hutton - the only person so far to have been convicted under the law - on the basis that he was not properly warned by QGC. Her judgment criticised the ''awkward and ambiguous drafting of s805''.

Mr Hutton said it would be a ''brave or foolish policeman'' who arrested anyone under the Queensland law.
''It's been the main bluff the government and companies have been using against landowners from day one. The other one is that landowners would be taken to court.
''We've called [their bluff],'' he said.''This makes it a lot easier for people to lock the gate.''
Mr Hutton, a long-time environment campaigner who has been arrested while protesting before, spent a night in Toowoomba jail last year after being arrested at Tara, after he refused to sign a bail agreement that required him to avoid QGC sites.

Read more:


  1. This may not be the complete outcome which Drew Hutton sought but it is enough to have the judgement state that the drafting of s805 was "awkward and ambiguous". It will make it harder for others to be convicted if arrested & charged under section s805.
    It's my opinion that Drew Hutton would have had enough warning by QGC of the possibility of his arrest. He is after all a very expierenced activist and knows just how far to push it before the possibility of an arrest. It's my belief that he did seek to be arrested under this section of law so as to test it in a court.
    As the newspaper report linked to above states Drew Hutton had financial backing to do so, "Mr Hutton's appeal was funded by Kjerulf Ainsworth, son of billionaire poker machine king Len Ainsworth, who has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Lock the Gate.

  2. This is a youtube just released filmed at the time of Drew Huttons arrest. It doesn't show the arrest itself rather the lead up beforehand.

    The film maker, John Reid emailed this link out with these words, "Im not a member of any pro-mining or anti-mining organization, But I was really p!$$ed off by the arrogantce of the QGC executives and employees, by cheating Bryce into accepting $1400 a year for a gas well that produces between 300 and 500 million dollars per year in revenue. They lie, cheat and swindle residents and farmers alike out of royalties,and a fair go.. They force farmers off their land... "

    There are no live links in comments so you will have to copy & paste the youtube link below.

  3. Hi Dale there are obvious injustices in the CSG industry's dealing with some landowners and even residential property owners in areas such as the Tara Estate, which Lock the Gate recognises. Similar to the injustice to commercial fishers and harm to the environment in Gladstone in associated dredging works. Because groups with Green links recognise this, it does not make the causes wrong despite what some 'anti-Green at any cost' individuals might think.s

  4. Hmmmm..... if the gentleman in question's whole motivation was / is to see a totally fair and safe deal for farmers (indeed, all property owners) while not setting out to otherwise obstruct another industry which a great many believe we need (not even Australians can live on bread alone), I would say "hear, hear". I wonder if the source of his benefactor's wealth causes him any concern? Afterall, problem gambling is a big social issue in our country.

    As the US moves closer to its 'financial cliff' (I hate that term) and markets and currencies are again jittery, just think for a moment how absolutely much worse the outlook would be if the US was not now successfully exploiting its 'unconventional gas' sources. 'Gaslands' scared the bejesus out of many when it told its hyped-up story, but then balance began to prevail.

    Whatever, cricet at the 'G' is much too exciting, with Aussies away, so must exit, stage left. Hope you all had a great Christmas, with a rewarding new year to come.
    Cheers al

  5. What you say is fair enough in principle Al, but it's the scattergun approach with multiple approvals, no real answers to environmental problems such as the very real risk to the Artesian Basin water tables and the fact that many farmers have not been given all the facts in their dealings with the developers, that lies behind many of the problems. Plus acknowledged health effects especially on young children in areas such as the Tara Estate on the Darling Downs.
    It is not a case of black and white or green. Solve the problems and much of the opposition will fade away, I imagine, but that will not be easily achieved.


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