Climate protestor loses appeal despite ‘imminent danger’ to world

An anti-Adani mine protestor who blocked a Queensland railway line in 2018 has lost an appeal against his conviction because the judge was not convinced the agitator had an honest and reasonable belief climate change was “such an imminent danger to the world” sufficient to commit a crime.

Brisbane District Court Judge Ray Rinaudo AM yesterday dismissed an appeal by Greg William Rolles against convictions for trespassing and interfering with a railway and contravention of a police direction on a Bowen Basin rail line in November 2018.

Rolles, 39, a former geography teacher from Victoria, was initially fined $7000 and ordered to pay $2233 compensation by Acting Magistrate Ron Muirhead after a summary trial in the Bowen Magistrates Court on 28 May 2019.

The court was told Rolles had placed a large tripod structure over a section of track at Bowen’s Buckley Road Rail Station, climbed to the top of it and remained there until police could attend, issue him with repeated warnings to desist and then took him into custody when he failed to comply.

He claimed the protest was staged to stop coal trains getting to the Adani-owned Abbot Point terminal.

Rolles appealed his conviction and penalty in the District Court on the grounds he was not given a fair hearing at his trial.


Judge Rinaudo partially granted Rolles’ appeal against sentence, substituting the original fine with one for $2361.60 and $638.40 in compensation payable to rail freight operators Aurizon.

However, he dismissed Rolles’ appeal against conviction and a request to adduce further evidence.

“I am not satisfied (Rolles) had an honest and reasonable belief climate change was such an imminent danger to the world to the extent that, if that was the real state of things, he would be excused from criminal responsibility,” Judge Rinaudo said in his 18-page decision.

“(Rolles) is a recidivist protestor who travelled from his home in Victoria with the intention of disrupting the delivery of coal by train from the Adani coal mine.

“Therefore, in (Rolles’) mind, climate change was not such an imminent threat that he had to protest immediately in Victoria. He was satisfied he had time to travel to Queensland and obtain the necessary equipment.”

Read the decision.

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