Qld protesters defy proposed protest law

Queensland climate protesters have denied claims of booby-trapping traffic-stopping devices.
Queensland climate protesters have denied claims of booby-trapping traffic-stopping devices.

Protesters have disputed claims they are filling devices with glass and butane gas to harm authorities who remove them from Queensland roads and train tracks.

The state Labor government is drafting laws that would outlaw items like steel cylinders or drums filled with concrete that make it hard to remove protesters.

Climate activist John Williams locked himself to a drill rig at the site of Adani's thermal coal mine on Wednesday, in defiance of the proposed laws that have been condemned by environmentalists.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has bewailed the inconvenience "extremists" like him cause police.

The police have had to travel for over two-and-a-half hours to deal with this issue, she told parliament.

"Let me just reiterate, 99 per cent of protesters are doing the right thing, and I encourage people in this state to exercise their democratic right in a lawful way."

The government will consult with the community on what items will be covered by the new offence, with laws to be introduced by the end of the year.

Protesters caught using them will face up to two years in prison or a $6,500 fine, and up to one year behind bars or a $2,600 fine for possessing them.

It comes after the arrest of dozens of Extinction Rebellion climate protesters who have brought major Brisbane thoroughfares to a halt in recent weeks.

They say stopping traffic gets people's attention, and want communities to collectively find solutions that would lead to zero carbon emissions by 2025.

Ms Palaszczuk is not happy about it.

She says some protesters are filling those devices with pieces of glass and butane gas containers that could injure anyone who tries to cut them out.

Environmentalists say that claim is baseless.

"There is no evidence of booby trapping lock-on devices, and to do so would go against Extinction Rebellion's principles and strategy of non-violence," the group said in response.

"It is not okay to misrepresent peaceful protest, and silence dissent through fear tactics."

Frontline Action on Coal spokesman Andy Paine said the premier's concern would be better directed to the health impacts of continued inaction in the face of climate crisis.

Galilee Blockade, a group of citizens against mining thermal coal in that region, say the government is returning to the Bjelke-Peterson era.

Spokesman Ben Pennings has refuted claims activists from that group are laying traps to harm authorities. He pointed out that setting mantraps is already an existing criminal offence.

Australian Associated Press