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King condemns protest action at Woodside boss' home

3rd August 2023

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

     

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PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King has condemned environmental protesters who were this week arrested outside the home of Woodside boss Meg O’Neill.

WA Police this week laid charges against four members of activist group Disrupt Burrup Hub, alleging the protesters were planning to commit an act of criminal damage.

The ABC News reported that police prosecutors allege the protesters went to O’Neill’s home with spray paint, and that another protester had planned to lock herself to the house in order to cause disruption.

“This was not a ‘harmless protest’,” O’Neill was quoted by media outlets.

“It was designed to threaten me, my partner and our daughter in our home. Such acts by extremists should be condemned by anyone who respects the law and believes people should be safe to go about their business at home and at work.”

The activist group is opposing Woodside’s development of the Scarborough project, which will include the installation of a floating production unit (FPU) with eight wells drilled in the initial phase and 13 wells drilled over the life of the Scarborough field. The gas will be transported to Pluto LNG through a new, approximately 430 km, trunkline.

The Scarborough and Pluto Train 2 developments are expected to cost a combined $12-billion, with Woodside’s share of capital expenditure amounting to $6.9-billion.

Scarborough gas processed through Pluto Train 2 will be one of the lowest carbon intensity sources of liquefied natural gas (LNG) delivered to customers in north Asia, with first LNG cargo targeted for 2026.

Campaigners from the group have previously targeted art within the Art Gallery of Western Australia, spray-painting the Woodside logo over the 1889 piece Down on His Luck, have faced court over spray-painting the gas giant’s logo on the Perth Police Center, and have faced court for allegedly attempting to evacuate the Woodside annual general meeting in April by deploying stench gas and yellow smoke flares. This same tactic forced Woodside to evacuate its own offices in Perth in June this year.

A media adviser for Disrupt Burrup Hub, who is also one of the newly accused, said in a statement on Thursday that there was never any intent to enter O’Neill’s home during the "peaceful protest".

“At no point was the safety or security of Ms O’Neill or anyone else under threat from one 19-year-old with a spray can. Any intimidation felt can perhaps be more reasonably attributed to the presence of more than a dozen counter-terror police camped out overnight inside Ms O’Neill’s home,” the statement read.

In an interview with the ABC this week, King said that the action taken by the protesters was a step too far.

“This is beyond the pale to go to someone's house and – to go to someone's house for such activity, you have to plan these things. So, I wonder what other activity they've been undertaking. And clearly, given the police are involved, it's potentially criminal activity.

“Obviously, it's before court, so we'll wait to hear what happens there. But this is not legitimate protest activity and I've been to rallies and protests myself and I don't object to them one little bit, but when it spills over into this kind of invasion of people's private world and their homes, where they've got every right to feel safe, it's just unacceptable. And I've had threats against me as well from certain groups, so I have some understanding of what people go through when these things happen and it's entirely unacceptable,” King said.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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