Protesting grandad charged after stopping works at CQ mine

A 69-year-old grandfather joined a second protester in locking themselves to machinery at Bravus’ (Adani) Central Queensland Carmichael Mine site.

David Ross McRae, 69 and Samuel James Pottenger, 29, both used attachment devices, known as sleeping dragon devices, to lock themselves to a 670-tonne excavator in the pit, in order to stop work at the site.

Clermont Magistrates Court heard police were called to the property, about 200km north west of Clermont, at 6.30am on November 12, 2020.

When police arrived some three hours later, they were informed the site had been shut down with machinery unable to be used to avoid any injury at the site.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Paul Cramp said police requested for the men to remove themselves, and shortly after they complied with police direction and released themselves from the attachment devices.

The pair faced Clermont Magistrates Court on January 14, 2021.
The pair faced Clermont Magistrates Court on January 14, 2021.

The site was shut down for a total of five and a half hours, the court heard.

McRae and Pottenger pleaded guilty at Clermont Magistrates Court on January 13 to trespassing at a place of business, unlawfully damaging mines (interfering with infrastructure) and using a dangerous attachment device to cause the halt to operation of plant or equipment.

Solicitor Sue Higginson said it was important to note the pair voluntarily released themselves at the request of the attending police officers, and the mine site was not a fully operating mine but rather “a couple of excavators working on the land”.

She said McRae, who turns 70 this year, was a retired grandfather of three who was an active member of the Rockhampton community, umpiring cricket and volunteering with Meals on Wheels.

Formerly a schoolteacher, Ms Higginson said McRae shared a deep care and concern for the environment and had been regularly campaigning for the reduction of mining.

“He knows what he’s done is wrong but he believes it’s one way to bring attention to the climate emergency,” she said.

Ms Higginson said Pottenger’s motivations were similar, in trying to bring about change through the peaceful, nonviolent protest.

“He’s aware that his actions alone can’t stop Adani, but hopes it can raise awareness.”

Magistrate Ron Muirhead took into account the pair both pleaded guilty at the first possible opportunity and that they did comply with police directions on the day of the incident, although what they did was still a criminal offence.

McRae and Pottenger were each fined $1000, with no convictions recorded.


How to activate your free Courier Mail subscription

Premium Content How to activate your free Courier Mail subscription

Did you know you can get even more – for free?

Road remains closed with weir still over its capacity

Premium Content Road remains closed with weir still over its capacity

Drivers are urged to use an alternate route while the water levels continue to...

Landry disagrees with deputy PM on mining camp quarantine

Premium Content Landry disagrees with deputy PM on mining camp quarantine

“I’m elected by the people of Capricornia, so I stand up for the people of...