An Extinction Rebellion (XR) protester said the federal government has “betrayed” Australians over its inaction on climate change before he was sentenced over his role in disrupting politicians’ commute to Parliament.
Early yesterday morning (11 May), 35 members of the non-violent movement that focuses on calling for action on climate change held a Budget Day blockade outside the Comcar depot in Fyshwick.
In court documents, police said a crowd of people blocked the depot’s exit gate and prevented cars from transporting politicians to Parliament House.
During the protest, Eric Serge Herbert entered the depot and chained himself to a Comcar vehicle, where he remained for about two hours. He told police he wanted to go to court to see a magistrate but refused to provide them with his name or address.
Herbert was arrested and appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday afternoon (11 May), where he entered guilty pleas to charges of trespass and not giving his details to police. He asked the prosecution to publicly read the facts describing the case against him into court records.
The 21-year-old from Queensland, who represented himself, then had his moment in court to say why he had chained himself to the car.
“Today, politicians are talking about the budget where they will be sentencing more of my generation to a horrible death by refusing to omit fossil fuels and rejecting the basic climate science,” he said.
“My intention with this protest was to disrupt the proceedings and air my disgust at their betrayal of their citizens.
“My actions were an attempt to prevent the total annihilation of my species.”
He asked Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker “to exercise the powers she has to send a message to the Australian Government” by dismissing his charges.
He also suggested she “do the right thing” and write a letter to the government to “let them know you won’t be involved in the criminalisation of climate protesters”.
Chief Magistrate Walker said while Herbert had cost the community time and money, he did so to address climate change, and he wanted to bring his offending to public attention.
She said she hoped Australians could “avoid annihilation”, but it was not her job to send a message to politicians.
“It’s not for me to write policy,” she told him.
“My job is to enforce the law.”
She recorded convictions and fined him $200 before telling him he was “free to go”.
An XR spokesperson said three other protesters, who also attached themselves to the entrance with chains or glue, were also removed by the police.
One was Jane Morton, who said she was a clinical psychologist and had locked herself onto a gate for her children.
“I am fearful that unless we take the strongest possible emergency action, that they will live to see collapse,” she said.
“Our disruptive action aims to sound the alarm and pressure our political representatives to act.”