Magistrate delivers protesters lecture on East West benefits

Herald Sun: Magistrate delivers protesters lecture on East West benefits. 18 June 2014. Angus Thompson.

Anthony Main at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court. Picture: Paul Loughnan Source: News Corp Australia

A Magistrate lectured East West Link protesters about the project’s benefits yesterday as he convicted anti-tunnel activist Anthony Main of wilful damage.

Magistrate Jonathon Klestadt told Main and co-accused Ashley Hall that as a “long-term resident of the western suburbs” he was “acutely aware” of the need for a road connecting Melbourne’s east and west.

“Irrespective of one’s political allegiances or personal views, I cannot be swayed seriously that such a need doesn’t exist,” he said.

“The West Gate Bridge is a nightmare at all hours of the day. Footscray Rd and Dynon Rd carry far more traffic than they were ever designed for.

“The ends of these roads are continuously clogged by traffic,” Ms Klestadt told the pair.

Main and Hall pleaded guilty to damaging temporary fencing surrounding a drilling rig on Charlotte St, Collingwood, about 5.30am on January 15.

Prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Roy Brandi said Main, helped by Hall, had grabbed the fence and bent the frame of the panel to get into the fenced off area.

Main was fined $350 and ordered to pay a further $630 for police witness costs and $180, to be split between him and Hall, to replace the fence.

Hall, a university tutor, was placed on a six-month good behaviour bond and ordered to pay $350 to charity and $630 to police witnesses.

Main has twice escaped conviction for protest-related offences in 1995 and 2009.

Main’s lawyer, Patrick Gordon, said the East West Link protest leader felt “deeply” about the impacts on his local area of the $6-8 billion project.

“His actions are a reflection of a man who does care about what’s going on in his community,” Mr Gordon said.

But Mr Klestadt said the pair’s actions could potentially could lead to more “sinister” activism.

“Somebody lights the match; somebody puts the match to the fuse,” he said.

Outside court Main was critical of the magistrate’s revealing his views on the project.

“I think it’s very disappointing that the magistrate chose to bring his views into the courtroom,” Main said.

Asked whether he was prepared to further damage property as part of the campaign, Main responded: “We can’t perceive any specific scenarios.

“But what we can say, in general terms, is that this campaign is unapologetically going to engage in mass peaceful protests and different types of civil disobedience in order to try and get this project stopped.”

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