National environment group the Australian Conservation Foundation has thrown its weight behind the 14 protesters who face jail time for unfurling ‘no new coal and gas’ banners in the Queensland Parliament in November last year.

The protesters, who are aged between 24 and 82, were charged with ‘disturbing the legislature’ under a Queensland law that is punishable by up to three years in prison.

Their case will be heard in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday 23 October.

“Queensland already has bushfires burning and many people are rightly concerned about a potentially catastrophic summer ahead of heatwaves and fire, fuelled by the continued burning of coal and gas,” said ACF’s campaigns director Paul Sinclair.

“Australians see how the people and places they love are threatened by extreme, fossil fuel powered weather right now.

“People must be able to protest peacefully about climate inaction without the threat of doing prison time.

“Santos and Woodside and other fossil fuel companies don’t need to protest to get the attention of politicians. They can buy access into Australian parliaments.

“Non-violent protest is an important plank of Australia’s democracy.

“Several of these protesters are from the medical field – they are respected doctors and psychologists – they have never done anything like this in their lives before, but they are so worried about what’s happening to our once safe climate through the burning of coal gas that they are prepared to risk going to jail.

“Anti-democratic laws that stifle peaceful protest are springing up in many Australian jurisdictions, and should be repealed,” Dr Sinclair said.

Rae and John Sheridan

Long-time ACF members Rae and John Sheridan are two of the protesters who face possible jail time for ‘disturbing the legislature’ 

The 14 Queensland protesters disrupted state parliament for three minutes on 30 November 2022, unfurling banners that read ‘Don’t expand, don’t export coal and gas’ and ‘End fossil fuels now’.

They will be represented in court by the Environmental Defenders Office.

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