Court applauds rooftop protesters in face of police charges
FORMER Maclean High School student Scarlett Squire has been praised by a Queensland magistrate during sentencing for a rooftop protest against tough immigration laws, declaring that if she were his daughter, he would "probably be very proud of her".
The Young Labor president along with Ellen McGovern and Kelly Purnell scaled the roof of Federal Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton's electoral office in Brisbane on November 2 to protest against the Federal Government's legislation to prevent asylum seekers in Nauru and Manus Island from the forcible return of refugees or asylum seekers to a country where they were likely to be subjected to persecution.
During sentencing last week, Pine Rivers Magistrate Trevor Morgan handed down a $100 fine each to the trio and recorded no conviction, despite more than $10,000 of police resources spent during their three hour stand.
"Despite the fact that many people might disagree with your protest, you have a valuable right in our community to protest and if one of my daughters was caught doing something like you did, I'd probably be very proud of her," Mr Morgan said.
Mr Morgan also spoke harshly of the charges levelled at the trio, who entered early guilty pleas to charges of unregulated high-risk activities and obstructing police.
"Next they'll be prosecuting people for climbing up on the roof to clean their solar panels," he said.
The comments have raised the ire of Queensland Chief Magistrate Ray Rinaudo, who said "from time to time judicial officers may make a comment about an issue they feel strongly about, however the court is generally no place for political commentary".