When I was charged with trespass at the #leardblockade on March 31 (see Getting #leardblockade arrested, WTF is journalism and who’s the extremist: @margokingston1 interview with @dailytelegraph), I sought legal advice on whether I could plead not guilty because of the implied right to freedom of political communication under the Constitution.
There is no legal basis for press freedom in Australia and the right to free political communication implied by the High Court is very narrow. But I thought it was worthwhile exploring the freedom’s limits because civil disobedience – the ultimate citizen’s public act of political expression – is on the rise, partly due to due to Government inaction on global warming and subservience to the fossil fuel industry.
Sydney Barrister David Hume, briefed by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, advised that I had little chance of success, and I will therefore plead guilty when my case comes up again at Narrabri Magistrates Court court in late June.
My case was complicated because I trespassed on the Whitehaven Coal mine site to report. However it is inevitable that the High Court will be asked to protect citizens’ rights to political protest and the media’s right to report political protest given escalating moves to crush civil liberties and the right to organise enviro-boycotts by State and Federal Governments.
So, for your information, here is my charge summary by NSW police, and Mr Hume’s legal opinion.