Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Climate change protest

From The Newcastle Herald...
Photo by Dean Osland

22 Dec, 2009 04:00 AM
NEWCASTLE councillor Michael Osborne is standing by a climate change protest that led to his arrest, despite a call for him to reconsider his civic leadership role.

Cr Osborne was back home in Tighes Hill yesterday after spending about eight hours in a police cell on Sunday.

Newcastle City Council's sole Greens representative was one of 23 protesters arrested and charged after a six-hour blockade of coal trains near Sandgate.

Environmental group Rising Tide organised the action, to express disappointment that the United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen failed to produce a legally binding treaty to reduce carbon emissions.

Cr Osborne is due to appear in court on January 19.

Newcastle Liberal councillor Brad Luke said yesterday that if Cr Osborne was found guilty of a criminal offence, he should reconsider his position on the council.

Resigning, or withdrawing from council matters temporarily might be considerations.

"How can he, as a civic leader, enforce rules in Newcastle if he can't obey laws in Newcastle himself?" Cr Luke said.

Cr Osborne said there was no reason for him not remain a councillor.

"I'm obliged to represent the interests of residents and ratepayers," he said.

"There's a lot of residents and ratepayers who are very unhappy with what happened at Copenhagen and the fact that carbon pollution is still being put out into the atmosphere and nothing's being done about it.

"I think it's [the protest] setting an example."

"I would encourage all elected representatives to take real action on this."

A council spokeswoman said a councillor might be disqualified from civic office if convicted of an offence and given a custodial sentence.

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