Coal Giants’ Compo Claim Fails on Technicality
Magistrate Elaine Truscott has today dismissed a $525,000 victims compensation claim brought against 7 climate change protesters on behalf of Port Waratah Coal Services in Newcastle Local court.
We are relieved that the claim was rejected but have our concerns that the Magistrate’s decision was based on insufficient evidence, rather than rejecting it as an abuse of NSW Victims Compensation laws. We are now calling on the NSW Government to amend the Victims Compensation Act to prevent peaceful protesters from being targeted again.
We are very happy that the court has ruled in our favour, and dismissed this exorbitant compensation claim. We are very grateful to our amazing legal team including solicitor B.J Kim from the Environmental Defenders Office and our Barrister Ken Averre from Forbes Chambers.
However, we are very concerned with the grounds by which the decision was made. Essentially, PWCS lost their claim because they were unable to provide sufficient evidence of the exact amount of profit they forewent due to our protest.
Magistrate Truscott made it very clear that, had PWCS prosecuted their case more effectively, the compensation payout would have been awarded. We find this very disturbing.
Large corporations should not be allowed to pursue peaceful protesters using Victims’ Compensation laws. These laws were designed with the intention of compensating victims of violent crime. That some of the world’s biggest mining corporations attempted to use the Victims’ Compensation Act against us was a gross abuse of this legislation. It was corporate bullying.
Newcastle coal exports are directly contributing to climate change, and are Australia’s biggest and fastest growing contribution to the problem. To maintain a safe climate we must begin a just transition away from the environmentally destructive coal industry. This must start with a ban on any new coal infrastructure or coal expansions.
If PWCS truly placed the safety of people ahead of their own profits, they would be planning to phase out coal exports, not double them. Climate change is killing at least 300,000 people per year, according to Oxfam.
We have made it very clear that we will not be silenced by corporate bullies and we will not let the issue of climate change be ignored. While the government and coal industry continue approving coal expansions they will be met with protests from the community.
Visit the Rising Tide Website to see details of our 6th annual Newcastle Harbour Blockade on March 13