Galilee swipes at Pocock verdict

NEW South Wales Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee has renewed a call for tougher activist penalties after former Wallabies captain, David Pocock, avoided a conviction for his protest at Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek project last year.
Galilee swipes at Pocock verdict Galilee swipes at Pocock verdict Galilee swipes at Pocock verdict Galilee swipes at Pocock verdict Galilee swipes at Pocock verdict

NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee.

Blair Price

In late November he and local Rick Laird chained themselves to an excavator at the Gunnedah Basin site in NSW for more than 10 hours.

“We were a group of eight Canberrans, including public servants and a philosophy lecturer, and a local Maules Creek farmer who have grave concerns about the future of Australia and the legacy we will leave for generations to come,” Pocock later wrote of his protest.

Pocock pleaded guilty to the charge of hindering workmen at the Gunnedah Local Court last week, while the other charges of entering enclosed land without lawful excuse and hindering the working of mining equipment were dropped.

Magistrate Peter Miszalski ultimately considered Pocock’s good character, early guilty plea and the non-violent nature of the protest in making a section 10 dismissal of the charge.

Whitehaven, which has previously complained about ‘fly-in fly-out’ protesters at Maules Creek, declined to comment but Galilee did not hold back.

"No one should be allowed to be above the law, whether you're a sportsman, a celebrity, a country music singer or anybody else," he told the ABC.

"And putting other people at risk in terms of their safety is irresponsible, it's indulgent and it's time a strong message was sent that it is not acceptable to do so.

"We've been calling now for a long time for increased penalties for a strong and effective deterrent. You can't stop the [Maules Creek] project any more. It is time for people to accept that.”

Pocock, who made his Brumbies playing comeback last month after returning from a second knee reconstruction, was issued with a formal warning from the Australian Rugby Union following his arrest last year.

Section 10s can be applied to first time offenders and if the offence is considered to be of “trivial nature”

Despite activist campaigns throughout its construction to date, the $767 million Maules Creek project is three months ahead of schedule and $25 million under budget.

Whitehaven most recently targeted full first stage capacity of 6.5 million tonnes per annum run of mine in mid-March.

The mine was officially opened by NSW Premier Mike Baird last week, with first export railed to port in December.

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