LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – Legal action against me for having entered the Katherine electorate office in breach of a trespass notice served on me by the Member for Katherine Sandra Nelson has now been withdrawn by the police.
I visited the electorate office on September 4 to speak to Sandra about a matter of community concern.
I raised the issue of the decision to lift the moratorium on fracking being made by a mere eight of our 25 MLAs with herself being one of the 17 MLAs who didn’t vote, thus depriving her constituents of a voice on this controversial issue.
Sandra maintains that it was a democratically made decision, an opinion that I believe is contrary to that of most of her constituents and fellow Territorians.
Sandra has now stated publicly: “I voted in line with the stance of Katherine residents.”
This would merely have been a vote in the Labor Caucus, not a vote in the Legislative Assembly where the decision to lift the moratorium was made. Openness and transparency of government with the Labor administration have been sadly lacking.
I reminded Sandra that due to unusual circumstances she was elected in a conservative electorate despite being a Labor candidate.
Sandra campaigned for election on an anti-fracking platform in a region where there is strong opposition to fracking.
It is believed that she personally opposes fracking and played a major role in the implementation of the moratorium.
I told Sandra that she is displaying more loyalty to the Labor Party than to her constituents however Sandra refuted this.
When I left the office I made a derogatory but non-expletive comment about Sandra.
This did not justify the serving of a trespass notice. The Attorney General’s office suggested that the notice is invalid and that I should ask Sandra to revoke it. I wrote to Sandra about this matter in mid December but she did not respond.
On October 30 I was invited by the Chief Minister’s Executive Directer of Economic and Environment Policy Ian Satchwell to attend a climate change forum scheduled to be held in the government centre, but there was a last minute change of venue to the electorate office.
I attended the forum and was evicted by the police acting in accordance with the trespass notice.
I was summonsed to court on November 27 but the matter was adjourned until December 14 and then adjourned again until January 17. It has now been dismissed.
I certainly did not enter the Katherine electorate office with any criminal intentions and there was no inappropriate behavior by myself at the forum. The Member for Katherine did not attend the forum.
Climate change is a matter that should be of concern for all citizens. I fervently believe that I had every right to attend a public forum convened by the government in a government office to discuss the impact of increasing temperatures for all Territorians.
It is embarrassing for any citizen to be removed from a public event by the police.
Understandably I will be seeking an apology from the Member for Katherine for her actions.
I have incurred some costs in defending myself so I will be submitting a bill to Sandra. No doubt this will be met from her electoral allowance. I might even throw in a considerable sum for stress compensation.
Bruce Francais (pictured)
Police drop MLA's trespassing charge
LETTER TO THE EDITOR