Three Extinction Rebellion members have had their charges dismissed after numerous climate change protests in the past month, while one will take his matter to a higher court.
Sarah "Daisy" Edwards, Eric Serge Herbert, Lesley Michelle Mosbey and Dr Nicholas Orde Jamison Abel fronted the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday to face charges arising from various protests between August 3 and 11 this year.
The court heard the protests included the disruption of peak-hour traffic in the city, splashing red paint on one of the Department of Agriculture's signs, and an incident at Parliament House where a pram was set on fire.
All defendants were self-represented. With the exception of Dr Abel, they all pleaded guilty to trespassing and property damages related to Commonwealth properties.
Ms Edwards, 48, said she "acknowledge[d] the offences but I also acknowledge that I'm proud of my actions to protect the future of children".
The registered nurse said the splashing of red paint at the Department of Agriculture building was to highlight "the blood of the children being killed because of the inaction of our government".
She tendered a statement that quoted Justice Mordecai Bromberg, who found that Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley had a duty of care to protect children from future personal injury caused by climate change.
"To say that the children are vulnerable is to understate their predicament," Justice Bromberg said.
Ms Edwards, who also pleaded guilty to defacing, tendered an ACT Greens letter to the Prime Minister calling for urgent climate action, as well as citing the territory's government in 2019 declaring a state of emergency.
"I speak here not only as a registered nurse but as an aunty to young children in Brisbane ... they are my world," she said.
"I'd do anything to protect their future."
Ms Edwards, who sighed heavily at times, said she could not sit back and watch the "social collapse and starvation" that may result from climate change inaction.
She said the urgency to stop carbon emissions overrode her fear of potential jail time, and argued for leniency based on her good character and co-operation with authorities during court proceedings.
Mr Herbert, 22, said his motivation was to stop Ms Ley's decision to appeal the Federal Court declaration about her duty of care.
"Obviously if that were done, our criminal actions here would not have taken place," Mr Herbert, who also admitted to an obstruction charge, said.
Dr Abel, 77, said he maintained his not guilty pleas for two counts of damaging Commonwealth property. His matters will go to the ACT Supreme Court.
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The Commonwealth prosecutor made similar arguments in all cases, saying the offences were not trivial and that the damages were "against the public's purse".
The prosecutor said there was a need to deter the defendants and the general community from committing offences during protests.
She argued for convictions but not for jail terms.
Magistrate James Stewart dismissed all charges for the three who pleaded guilty, saying their four to 11 days in custody while waiting for court proceedings were adequate punishment and that fines were "inexpedient".
"It's not a general comment about demonstrations at all. Both of the damaging Commonwealth property charges sail close to requiring a sentence of imprisonment," Mr Stewart said about Mr Herbert.
He said the public needed to understand that Ms Edwards was of good character and had only one record for similar offending.
He gave similar reasons in dismissing the charges against 59-year-old Ms Mosbey.
All defendants had a number of other charges dropped. Dr Abel is set to front court again in November.
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