Olivia Williams and Barbara Crossing locked themselves onto a 44-gallon drum to block the Abbot Point railway line at Bowen.
Olivia Williams and Barbara Crossing locked themselves onto a 44-gallon drum to block the Abbot Point railway line at Bowen. Frontline Action on Coal

'I don't know where you think you have the right to do this'

TWO anti-Adani protesters who blocked a railway line at Abbot Point have been blasted by a magistrate for hindering an industry Bowen was 'built on'.

Magistrate James Morton gave Olivia Maree Williams and Barbara Gay Crossing a dressing down over their actions when they appeared separately in Bowen Magistrates Court last week over the October 1 incident.

"I don't know where you think you have the right to do this," Mr Morton told Crossing.

"This community is built on workers."

Mr Morton even went so far as to tell Crossing to "go back to your own community and worry about what happens there".

"Don't worry about what's happening here," he said.

Williams, 22, of Brisbane suburb Moorooka, and Crossing, 56, of Brisbane suburb Highgate Hill each pleaded guilty to obstructing a railway, trespass on a railway and contravening a direction of police.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Emma Myors read the same facts to the court in both cases.

She told the court police were called to a gathering of protesters at the Abbot Point railway crossing on Abbot Point Rd, north of Bowen, at 5am on October 1.

Police arrived to find protesters standing across the railway line, stopping trade vehicles stopped on either side of the railway crossing, Sgt Myors said.

Williams and Crossing were sitting on each side of a 44-gallon drum "in the proximity of the track", with the pair locked onto it with a locking device they could release themselves, Sgt Myors said.

Additional specialist police were then brought in to unlock the pair from the drum using power tools.

While doing so, they found loose steel and scrap metal mixed among the concrete, causing a risk to the police, Sgt Myors said.

"There was an enhanced risk to the officers," she said.

Sgt Myors told the court Williams had protested recently in Brisbane against climate change.

"She has involved herself in this sort of behaviour before," she said.

The court was also told Crossing had also been before the court, but it was 30 years ago.

"They were relating to activities of peace and singing songs of peace in time of war time," her solicitor Sue Higginson told the court.

Ms Higginson, who represented both women in court, told the court how Williams, who has been working as a teacher, was "deeply concerned about climate change".

"She, along with many other Australians are standing up hoping to transition to renewable energy."

Mr Morton, however, said that was not going to work.

"This is how the world works," he said.

When told by Ms Higginson that Williams was protesting about the difference between thermal coal and coking coal, Mr Morton asked how she knew what she was blocking on the day of the protest.

"How does she know what's on the conveyor belt going onto ships?" he asked.

"She wouldn't know."

Ms Higginson also told of volunteer work Williams did by founding the Brisbane Climate Choir, volunteering at an Oxfam shop and packing school books to go to students in Papua New Guinea.

She asked no conviction be recorded as it would impact on her career as a teacher.

"Her activities were driven by deeply hold concerns."

"She believes she has done her bit and now wants to do activism on the right side of the law."

In her defence of Crossing, Ms Higginson told the court how her client worked at a women's house to provide shelter to women facing domestic violence and had done so since the late 1980s - stopping only for a time when her son was born.

She told of how Crossing was a member of the Women's Legal Service Committee and had done hours of work for a drop-in centre.

Ms Higginson also spoke of her client's concern about climate change, but asked that no conviction be recorded as she did not think it would "serve any penalty purpose".

"She is worried about climate change throughout the world," Ms Higginson said.

Mr Morton placed both women on 12-month good behaviour order, with a $1000 recognisance if they break them.

An extra condition that the pair could not enter or approach Abbot Point Rd or coal loading facility was also placed on them for the 12 months.

No convictions were recorded for either woman.

"What do you believe you've done?," Mr Morton asked the two.

"Have you stopped the coal being loaded? The answer is no.

"You've slowed a train down and stopped workers getting home. But it hasn't stopped the coal.

"We've been using coal for a long time. You'd better get used to it."