In March 2020, 70-year-old retired grandmother, Laraine Newton, and four others entered Parliament and headed for the viewing gallery to listen the debate on whether an act should be passed. If passed it would allow the extension of North West Gas Development (Woodside) to continue sending gas to the processing plant for another 25 years. After Greens Tim Clifford MLC had spoken, the rebels glued their hands to the railings and threw Clean State fliers over the edge, presenting in a unique way, the cold hard facts about this damaging project and why it should be stopped in its tracks.

The Burrup Hub gas project has been in the pipeline for three years. While the mega Adani mine in Queensland has been a more public affair, this development, four times the size of Adani, has been kept very low key. But these stealth tactics have not gone by unnoticed by Extinction Rebellion rebels. This gargantuan development will take Australia’s climate crisis to a new level.

Clean State stresses:

“It makes WA’s commitment to reaching net zero by 2050 impossible and is in direct breach of Australia’s commitments on climate change. This project undermines international action towards the Paris Agreement and directly breaks public promises made by Woodside, Shell, BP and BHP to take climate change seriously.”

NPhotograph courtesy of Nanceye Miles Tweedie (@miles_tweedie_photography)

 If Burrup Hub, also known as Scarborough and Browse offshore gas fields, goes ahead, there is no way that Western Australia can reach the Paris Agreement emissions by 2050. In fact, it will pump out eleven times the total annual emissions for the entire of Australia. That’s it. In one fell swoop, this development makes a mess of our children’s futures. Laraine says:

“We all have grandchildren; we want a planet left where they can live and thrive. If we don’t act now, then we are leaving them with social unrest, food shortages, catastrophic weather systems and the extinction of so much of our biodiversity. We have to remind the government of their moral duty to prevent this. We must make a stand.”

Laraine has been involved with XRWA since 2019 and has been arrested four times prior to this. The serious threat this gas project poses to the future of the planet drove her to disrupt the proceedings in parliament last year and risk arrest one more time. Although being arrested is well outside her comfort zone, taking action is an antidote to the anxiety and stress of the imminent crisis.

Tragically, on 24 March 2020, the North West Gas Development (Woodside) Agreement Amendment Act 2020 (WA) was passed. A triumph perhaps for Mark McGowan, though certainly not for his children or future grandchildren.

In the viewing gallery the police moved in to arrest the rebels. Because the glue only lasted for a limited time, their hands were removed from the railing and they charged with trespassing.

On Wednesday July 21st 2021, they appear in court for trial and are pleading not guilty using the ‘emergency defence’.

“If you saw a house on fire and you broke in to save the person inside, you are technically breaking and entering, thus breaking the law. However, if you are trying to save someone’s life, this can be countered by ‘emergency defence’.”

This defence was used by some rebels from the spring rebellion in 2019 but failed as the judge deemed the action of sitting in a road not an appropriate action for an emergency. But in this case, our ‘house’ is burning down and the extension of the Burrup Hub is adding fuel to the flames. To those who know about this project like Laraine and her fellow rebels and all of Extinction Rebellion, this is an emergency. The defence will call on a number of expert witnesses to prove that we are in a climate crisis. What we need to do now is alert the rest of Australia that out house is burning down. On 23rd July, join XRWA in their action highlighting the dangers of the Burrup Hub Gas Project.

“None of us want to be in this position, but we have been forced into this position because the government is not taking this matter seriously.”

Laraine is nervous about the upcoming trial, she is not a natural public speaker, she is not a criminal; she is a grandmother who wants to know that her grandchildren will have a safe and healthy world to live in. Let’s all make sure that happens.