A climate activist claiming to share a name with one of the biggest mining billionaires in Australia has faced court after being removed from a gas and oil protest.
On Monday morning, a group of Extinction Rebellion activists entered the foyer of the South Australian Drill Core Reference Library in Tonsley, South Australia with plans to protest the gas and oil industry.
Two protesters were arrested and faced the Adelaide Magistrates Court the following afternoon. No other protesters were charged.
The court heard that when the group was asked to leave, two of the activists, Violet Coco and Carmen George, refused to leave the premises and sat on the floor until police arrived.
When asked for their personal information, both women refused to give their names to officers until, after some time, Ms Coco told police her name was “Gina Rinehart”.
The duo was taken to the Adelaide City Watchhouse and charged with trespassing and failing to provide personal information to police.
Both protesters pleaded guilty to all charges.
Ms Coco told Magistrate Kate White she had studied philosophy at university and believes that sometimes to do the right thing you have to do the wrong thing.
“Sometimes doing the right thing isn’t always following the law,” Ms Coco said.
“As a peaceful protester, it is my democratic right to engage in protests and I understand that I broke the law and I am really sorry that I did that.
“I do request your honour provide me no conviction or penalty, as protesting is such an important part of our democracy.”
The court heard Ms Coco had a history of similar offending across the country – one which gave Ms White the impression Ms Coco would likely offend again.
The maximum penalty for both Ms Coco and Ms George’s charges is $3750, but given their early pleas and time spent in custody overnight, Ms White did not impose crushing sentences.
“This is not a situation where your early guilty plea really reflects genuine contrition in a sense of remorse or regret,” Ms White said.
“It is nonetheless something that I give you full credit for.”
Both women were fined $600 for their actions and convictions were recorded.
Outside court, members of the Extinction Rebellion told NCA NewsWire the threat of custodial sentences will “never” deter the activists from trying to stop the planet from being “murdered”.
“Extinction Rebellion is responding to the climate catastrophe – the climate catastrophe is only going to get worse,” they said.
“We’ve got a climate emergency, and we wish everyone would get out on the street, too.
“The oil and gas industry is recklessly endangering our lives and our planet, while our governments normalise their behaviour – even celebrate it.
“We need to put an end to our dependence on fossil fuels, not keep expanding their production.”