A protester has been fined $40 after telling police he was mining magnate Clive Palmer when he was arrested for breaching the ACT's lockdown restrictions.
Andrew George, 32, labelled the billionaire businessman "a climate criminal" when he appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Saturday morning, following a night in police custody.
Court documents show the Ainslie man went to the Symonston premises of a company called XTEK on Friday afternoon.
When police were called, members of the group he was with told officers they were "here for a peaceful protest to raise awareness about the political situation in West Papua".
Police told those present they were in breach of lockdown restrictions and would be issued with infringement notices at a later date.
But officers ended up arresting George because they were initially unable to establish his identity.
He told them he was Clive Palmer and that he lived in Toowoomba.
George later repeated this to a sergeant at the city watch house, adding he did not know his date of birth.
Police figured out who he was through an analysis of his fingerprints, and offered him the opportunity to sign a bail undertaking to appear in court on October 15.
"He declined on tape to sign the undertaking, stating he would see the magistrate in the morning," court documents say.
George did exactly that on Saturday, when he appeared in court before magistrate James Stewart.
He pleaded guilty to charges of failing to comply with a public health direction and stating a false name to police.
Representing himself, George told Mr Stewart the court was sitting on stolen land and that "sovereignty wasn't ceded".
"It's similar to what's happening in West Papua at the moment," he said.
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George said people there were being displaced so companies could mine minerals.
"Innocent farmers and villagers are being murdered," the 32-year-old told the court.
"I've seen the photos. It's horrific."
George said he had been protesting on Friday "to raise the alarm" and "call out the complicity" of Australians in this situation.
He told Mr Stewart he had given police the name Clive Palmer, "which, you may know, is a fossil fuel magnate".
"He is currently what I would call a climate criminal," George said.
"I think climate criminals need to be treated the same as war criminals."
Mr Stewart thanked George for the explanation, asking him about his financial situation in order to sentence the man fairly.
George, an Extinction Rebellion member, replied that he was unemployed and "just trying to do my best to protect the climate and vulnerable communities".
"I do benefit from the government allowance currently," he said.
Prosecutor Sam Bargwanna told the court he did not wish to comment on the veracity, or otherwise, of George's views.
But he said the actions of people gathering for protests in Sydney and Melbourne showed what could happen in terms of COVID-19 transmission when people breached restrictions.
Mr Stewart said he would have considered a non-conviction order if not for the fact George's criminal record already contained convictions for "broadly similar activities".
The magistrate imposed $20 fines on each charge.
"I'm waiving the court costs because you've spent the night in custody and you're not a man of financial means," he told George.
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