VIDEO: Peace-makers fined for protest at Stanage Bay Rd
YOU MAY not agree with the law, but that does not give you the right to break it.
That is the strong message Magistrate Cameron Press drilled into three peace activist 'pilgrims' who appeared in Rockhampton Magistrates Court yesterday morning after being arrested while protesting on Commonwealth land within a five kilometre radius of Talisman Sabre exercises at Shoalwater Bay.
Simon Moyle, Greg Rolles and Simon Reeves, appeared charged with trespassing on Commonwealth land, entering a defence installation with a photography apparatus and obstructing a Commonwealth public official in the performance of his duties.
A group of 10 supporters gathered in the gallery and in a show of defiance and disrespect to Magistrate Cameron Press, some had bare feet in the gallery and refused to stand when Mr Press entered the court.
The court heard at about 10am on Wednesday, the men were detained by Australian Defence Force personnel after they were located during routine patrols on Stanage Bay Rd at Shoalwater Bay, where access was off limits to all persons except authorised personnel.
Police were called to attend and when they arrived Moyle, Rolles and Reeves told them they had travelled from Victoria and were on the land because they were fighting for a cause they passionately support.
During court proceedings, all three men argued they were acting on religious philosophy when they decided to protest on the Commonwealth land.
"I am a Christian and believe in love thy neighbour and trying to commit no harm to one another. We are aware of the risks associated with what we do. I'm prepared to put my body on the line for peace," Reeves said.
"Australia is preparing to fight and invade other countries. This is part of my Christian non-violent defence. I'm trying to live as a Christian in a time of warfare," Rolles said.
"I am a Baptist Minister from Melbourne and I came here because I have deep convictions about what war causes. I wanted to share with the soldiers the grief that broken bodies and blood brings," Moyle said.
But Magistrate Cameron Press did not see religious philosophy as a justified excuse.
"I don't see how you can rely on Christian philosophy to support your risky behaviour," Magistrate Press said.
"How would that philosophy stand if you had been killed on the land or had caused injury or death to someone else?
"How does that protect you from ordnance blowing up?
"It is a dangerous activity that you engaged in. I accept you are peace-loving Christian men trying to help the world, but you are not entitled to break the law."
All three men, who had previous convictions relating to trespassing on Commonwealth land, were given fines for their actions.
For trespassing on Commonwealth land, Magistrate Cameron Press fined Reeves $500 and recorded a conviction.
Rolles was convicted and fined a total of $600 and ordered to forfeit a mobile phone and sim card to the crown for trespassing on Commonwealth land and entering a defence installation with photography apparatus.
Moyle, who faced the more serious charge of obstructing a Commonwealth official in the performance of his duties after refusing to walk to a police vehicle, was fined a total of $900 and ordered to forfeit a compass.