Rebels from Extinction Rebellion WA were hauled from their beds by the State Security Investigation Group early yesterday morning and arrested as a result of inquiries connected to some chalk art on the bridge between Woodside and Parliament.

On Thursday 5 August, they covered the pedestrian footbridge linking the WA Government and the fossil fuel industry with messages alerting the public to the deadly path approved for Scarborough Gas. If it goes ahead, Scarborough gas will be the most polluting fossil fuel project in Australia and create the same annual carbon pollution of over 15 coal-fired powerplants.

 The six were charged with property damage by graffiti and have each been asked for nearly $2000 in reparation costs. Their bail conditions were not to ‘associate’ until their court dates in around a month’s time, and not to go within 200m of Woodside. Of the six arrestees, two are a mother and daughter who have been barred from contact until their court dates.

The action was filmed and posted to the XRWA Tiktok account.

 One rebel, Carmen, a mother of two teenage daughters, had her home raided by police for four hours from 7.00am before being taken away to the local police station. Carmen says

“I’m not discouraged by these attempts to scare people out of holding Woodside accountable for their complete disregard for life. If Woodside is so concerned with property damage, perhaps they should reconsider the threat Scarborough Gas poses to significant Aboriginal rock art.

What’s worse – some washable chalk on a bridge, or a fossil fuel giant that will permanently damage Aboriginal rock art and destroy any chance we have of a safe climate?

There is no room in this debate for negotiation or compromise, humanity is in CODE RED for survival. Traumatic dawn raids and onerous bail conditions do not scare me, they only serve to galvanise my resolve.”

Ms Stobaus wanted to refuse bail and go into custody because of the unreasonable bail conditions, however decided against it so she could be with her two daughters.

Kelly Hawes was laid with an additional charge for changing the text of a Woodside billboard from ‘Australia’s leading natural gas producer’ to ‘Australia’s leading natural gas polluter’ in May. Woodside is seeking $4809.84 in restitution from Ms Hawes.

Ms Hawes, a PhD student studying marine science said of the arrest:

It was ok but it was a little stressful having cops essentially burst through my door at 7.00am and immediately seize my phone.

They also charged me for an action in May where I painted over a Woodside roadside billboard to correct their statement: ‘Australia’s largest natural gas producer’ to ‘Australia’s largest natural gas polluter’.

I feel like this is overkill… My bail conditions involve not associating with anyone who was part of the action which I think is a little extreme. I’m not sure why it’s happening so suddenly and why they’re being so extreme about chalk. I stand by what I did and I would do it again. We have to fight to stop Woodside’s Scarborough Gas expansion. 

This follows the publication of the latest IPCC report last week, which made clear the ‘unequivocal’ and ‘irrefutable’ evidence that mass fossil fuel production is rapidly driving the planet towards climate catastrophe. This report dominated headlines early last week, in WA and around the world, and it is concerning that WA Police have applied a heavy-handed and excessive response to a handful of rebels sounding the alarm about Woodside’s Scarborough Gas plans.

The WA government is increasingly deploying hard-line authoritarian tactics to stifle any criticism of their mates in the gas industry. The pedestrian bridge between Woodside and Parliament is heavily trafficked by lobbyists and politicians trapped in the revolving door between the WA fossil fuel industry and the WA government. Hopefully a few of them got the message loud and clear last week: We are accelerating off the climate cliff edge and Woodside is hitting the gas.”

Rowan Newton, a member of XRWA Western Suburbs:

My house was raided by 5 state security officers with a search warrant for the alleged crime of criminal damage. For over two hours I was required to watch on as they searched everywhere from my underwear drawer, under my bed, my car, everywhere looking for evidence that I had taken part in said heinous crime. My phone was also seized despite me explaining this was essential to my work as a disability support worker.

I was arrested and spent a further two hours in Perth watch house being questioned and processed.

I am home now and in utter bewilderment and disbelief at such a dramatic response to spray chalk. I want to talk with my friends but now cannot for nearly a month until my court date. I wonder now, are Woodside on edge? Is constant embarrassment on the streets and in the papers finally making them concerned that they are losing their social licence for horrific projects like Scarborough gas?

I wonder what police would find if they dared to rummage through Woodside’s dirty laundry?”